The Indescribable Gift

Last year, when I was home with my daughter during maternity leave, I made a list of things for which I was grateful. Don’t you love making a list like that? If you’ve never done it – do it today! It will change your perspective and attitude ASAP. Life is a gift.  And there are so many little gifts along the way.

Our Sunday School teachers, Marian and Reed Ashwill, in the Fellowship Class at First Baptist Dallas, remind us often that “God tells us every day He loves us.”  Are you looking for it?

When we are actively looking for daily gifts, it is easier to rest in and be transformed by the greatest gift.

This picture is from June 2012. This is the verse I wrote on the floor of the new worship center at First Baptist Dallas. The people of First Baptist Dallas put the Word of God on the foundation of the church – it’s just perfect. First Baptist DThe Greatest Giftallas has, since its founding, been a beacon of truth – the truth found in the Word of God proclaiming that Jesus has come to save sinners like you and me and to give us freedom through the free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9).  And here we all stood, writing Scripture that will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8) on the floor of the building we would use as a launching point to share the Gospel with the world.

Even in the midst of life’s hurts and chaos, my foundation, like the foundation of our church, is the Word of God. The Word of God tells me that I have firm possession of the ultimate gift (John10:27-28); and therefore, I have joy.  The greatest gift is unshakably mine.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

Did you write a Bible verse on the church floor foundation? I would love for you to share which one and why!

About the Writer:
Caroline Moore is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

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A Christmas Conversation

I have a favor to ask of You. Favors are difficult for me. For me to ask a favor I have to come to grips with a few things. I am going to have to admit that I need help, that I cannot do this thing by myself. Now, I’m usually a pretty independent person, so admitting that is hard for me.

Next I have to acknowledge that You have something that I need, and I am going to have to reduce myself in such a way that will tell You I am interested in what You can offer me. (Another struggle with my independence factor).

Following that I am now faced with an uncertainty. Will You be willing to give that certain need to me? Have I done something to offend You that would prohibit the favor from being given? Do I need to offer something in return? It seems as though I have put myself at Your mercy. At this point I really don’t like the way I’m feeling.

So, you see, asking You for this favor produces a whole line up of self-evaluating questions that bring with them uncertainty, insecurity, and dependence on something of which I cannot control the outcome.

What is the answer? Grace. Immeasurable, persevering, glorious grace.Gift

I’ll never forget the day I understood this beautiful word. My mother told me this way: “Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” That was pretty simple for my young mind, don’t you think? Over the years I have come to understand that grace is a gift, you know, one of those special things that someone gives you that you neither deserve, nor is there any expectation on my part other than gratitude. It’s favor sent in my direction.

And now I know that with You, Lord, all the self-evaluating questions that come to my mind grow beautifully insignificant. It really has nothing whatsoever to do with me. It has everything to do with the Giver of the Gift. I simply hold out my hand and receive the Gift gratefully. And my question? It’s one You’ve heard before. Will You come into my heart? Will you forgive my sin? Will you grant me the favor of becoming my Savior? And from your word, I know the answer is “YES!”

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

About the Writer:
Pam Brewer is Director of Women to Women Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.

The Gift of Life

Being a part of the First Baptist Dallas Women’s Ministry has been a huge encouragement to me in many ways. Finding grace, mercy, solid teaching, accountability, friendship and opportunities to serve has made the difference between life and death for me. Spiritually speaking, I have witnessed a complete change in my life from utter despair to renewed hope and joy in the Lord.

Walking through the doors of our church was definitely on my “Top 10” list of emotionally challenging things for me to do, as was walking down the aisle to become a member of our church. It is encouraging to me how much the Lord has blessed the choices in my life that were perhaps the hardest for me to make.

Choose LifeAs humbling as it is for me right now to admit, especially seeing the complete gift that she is, there is another choice that has changed my life in so many ways. That gift is my daughter. The news of her life growing inside of me was not one accompanied with laughter and anticipation, but an undeniable fact proceeded and followed by night terrors, tears, and hard choices. As her birth date grew closer, I vividly remember feeling two things primarily: alone and scared. Looking back I can see the overwhelming support of family, church, and friends. I can see God tenderly holding my hand and moving me forward to make the tough decisions based on trust that He would be enough. But what I celebrate right now is the unmatched grace that God has shown me to help me accept the gift He wanted to give me.

I wonder how many times I have not been willing to accept the gifts that God wanted to give me. I wonder how many times God wanted to do something especially good out of something especially difficult for me. I ask you the same question: is there something in your life right now that is beyond you? A person, a situation, a need, a desire that is too great for you to render to God? A call to obedience that doesn’t fit into your plan? My prayer is that God would encourage your heart to trust that He blesses obedience.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Though I may not always respond in trust when presented with a choice to obey or disobey, I know God loves me enough to give me new opportunities to witness His faithfulness. When God asks something of me in obedience, I am learning to see it as a gift, not a burden. And in light of the Christmas season, I think of the obedience that Christ displayed coming to this earth to be born as a baby, live a sinless life, and die on the cross. Had He not been obedient to the Father’s will for Him to be punished for our sins, we would have never known the forgiveness that His death and resurrection won for us.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Lyndsay has a blog dedicated to sharing and celebrating the work of Christ through her experiences as a missionary, world traveler, knowledge seeker, and recipient of God’s lavish grace.

The Gift That Matters Most

Christmas to so many people means a time of giving gifts. For so many Christians, we too fall prey to losing sight in the reason for the season. We get caught up in the lines at the mall in hopes of getting the little picture of our kiddos on the lap of a holly jolly man in a red suit. We bust out the little guy on the shelf to place around the house to keep our young ones on their toes about good behavior. Then on Christmas Eve, we file into a local church, listen to a beautiful candlelight service, and then hurry home to get into bed so we can rip open gifts under the tree the next morning. But are we missing the real gift of Christmas — the greatest gift?
the Gift

Every year I try to think of ways to create a tradition or keep one alive in our family; with three children with autism, I find it more challenging every year. How do you teach concepts like gratitude and giving to children who don’t grasp even the most tangible of ideas? What exactly do I want my children to remember, to learn, to take away from Christmas?

So as the calendar turns to December we are faced with the message of Christ versus a jolly old man and his helper placed on a shelf — I’m not here to judge or shame you into not participating in either of those things — I simply am telling you what we have considered for our family. Since our boys don’t have the foggiest clue who the man in the red suit is, nor do they have a clue who the baby in the manger is, I thought very carefully about which one will have the bigger impact on their lives.

What do I want them to remember, to learn, and to take away about Christmas? I want them to remember a home where we celebrated Jesus, not a made up man from the North Pole. I want them to learn that a baby was born in a manger, lived a sinless life, humbled himself to live as a servant, died a terrible death on the cross and rose again on the third day — all for us!

Jesus gave us all the greatest gift. That’s the story I want to tell my kiddos. That’s the life memories and lessons I want them to grow up knowing. And since I don’t know exactly what my kiddos are learning, I want to make sure I am pouring in only the best of the best into their little hearts, minds, and ears.

So in our home, we will be focusing on the gift of life, the gratitude of having a Savior, and the tiny baby who was born in a manger. My kids may never be able to tell me the story of Christmas or sing about a flying deer with a red nose, but my faith is in the sovereignty of God and His plan for our family. I trust in Him and know my job as a mom is to point my children towards Christ, teaching them about the real gift.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

About the Writer:
Tamie is a stay at home wife and mommy of three kids with autism. She is a member of First Baptist Dallas and enjoys spending time hanging out at home with her family or a quiet dinner with girlfriends. Tamie is passionate about encouraging other woman in their daily walk with the Lord.

Tamie’s personal blog is about her journey rearing three kids with autism and the lessons the Lord is teaching her along the way.

God Answers “KneE-mail”

I have a three-year old niece whose vocabulary is coming together quite nicely. Every time she comes over to visit, she’s added a few more words to her repertoire. However, there are times when she’s attempting to tell me something and I can’t quite interpret her “Three-year-nese” – much to her chagrin. Seeing the frustration on her sweet little face after she’s painstakingly repeated herself twice, I absorb the blame and ask her, “Can you show me?” Her face lights up from the brilliance of her aunt’s suggestion, and she quickly takes my finger and drags me behind her so that I can discover what she knows she’s been saying all along.

Like my precious girl, have you ever gone before God’s throne of grace in prayer and when you got there felt the disappointment build in your heart because you didn’t know what to say or how to say it? I know I have. When I find myself at that point, I usually am so weighed down by the heaviness of my heart that I can only “speak” in tears instead of words.

A Gift Like No OtherWith the Christmas holiday approaching, my heart is so elated to share with you the good news that God not only understands our tears and keeps record of them (Psalm 56:8), but He never struggles with interpreting our “Broken-nese.” We owe that all to the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26 – 27 says, “ … the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

That means when we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit takes over and speaks to God on our behalf!

The Holy Spirit leads God by the finger, so to speak, and says to Him, “See, Father! This is what they really mean!” And if that weren’t enough, Romans 8:34 is a beautiful reminder that, “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s what I’m most thankful for this holiday season. I’m grateful to be loved by my heavenly Father so much, that He has not only made provision for my life in eternity through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but He still cares about my today and has made additional provision for me through His Holy Spirit.

I pray you take courage that if this holiday season finds you with a heavy heart, you would run to our Father’s arms through prayer. You may not know what to say or how to say it, but rest assured, the One who knows what you have need of even before you ask is there – waiting, with arms wide open to inform you that He knows what you’ve been attempting to say all along.

About the Writer:
Christmas reminds Nicole of the Trinity in that Jesus signed her name to The Book of Life, the Holy Spirit sealed her for the day of redemption and her awesome God leads her not into temptation, but delivers her from the evil one! The holidays always prompts her to reflect on the greatness and graciousness of her God and draws her to the conclusion that, indeed, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, she’s His”!