The New Living Translation
The Key to Courageous Conversations

They said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4

Most of us spend our lives trying to project an image of beauty and competence.

Certainly, we want others to think highly of us, but one of the things I respect most about people is their ruthless honesty—about themselves and their situations.

Nehemiah had a plum job.

He was working closely with the king, and he lived a life of luxury.

His heart, though, beat in unison with God’s heart.

He cared about the things God cares about, and when he heard that the people in Jerusalem were suffering, his heart broke.

He didn’t minimize the problem, and he didn’t fly into a panic of mindless activity.

Instead, he let the brutal truth sink in, and he responded appropriately: He sat down and wept.

Nehemiah had a courageous conversation with the messenger, then he had a courageous conversation with God.

Only courageous people are known for their honesty.

It’s a lot easier to look the other way when we see needs in our lives or in the lives of people around us.

We can give the excuse that we’ve tried as hard as we can or that we don’t have time to help a person in need.

But excuses don’t cut it.

Like Nehemiah, we need to let the truth sink into our hearts so we can respond with genuine compassion.

This is just the first part of Nehemiah’s story.

He then took bold action to gather resources, inspire the people, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Successful action, though, starts with ruthless honesty about the need.

What are some needs in your own life and in the lives of those around you?

How would being honest about those needs become a springboard for change?

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth. But most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.” Winston Churchill

From The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar by Zig Ziglar and Dwight “Ike” Reighard

 

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What is Conversion?

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I remember some years back when I was just starting out in youth ministry, I was working at a church that liked to handle decisions for Christ in an altar-call sort of way. You know, where someone up front asks people to raise their hands and then perhaps come forward to pray and accept Jesus into their heart. Well, in the youth meetings I was working with, we did a similar thing, except we pulled people quietly to the side so as not to embarrass them, and took them off to a different room to explain the deal, and pray the prayer. After one of these sort of clandestine conversion moments, one of the girls who had just gone and “prayed the prayer” came up to me and said, “So how do I actually become a Christian?” The whole altar call, praying the prayer thing, hadn’t answered her deep heart questions about what it meant to follow Jesus.

As a young youth leader who had grown up in this tradition of altar calls and decisions for Christ, I remember being more than a little disturbed that it hadn’t really “worked.” And yet, the older I get and the more I think about it, the more I realize that the decision to follow Jesus is a process, and the decision to continue thinking about what it means to follow Jesus is a process, and this whole “life with Jesus” thing is a process that won’t be complete until we graduate to the next life.

The idea that someone wanted to follow Jesus but didn’t really “get it” was disturbing to me, and yet now I realize that none of us will ever completely get it, because we are talking about a relationship with God here. God is a great deal bigger than we can ever get our finite minds around. As we follow him, and learn more about his heart and his will for our lives, we will see more and more of him revealed, but there will always be more that we don’t understand.

And that’s okay.

As I read through the Gospels, I find myself struck by Jesus’ willingness to work with the disciples who didn’t get a lot of what he was trying to tell them. In fact, it took them almost three years to get the idea that he was God, and then they still had no clue what he was doing by allowing himself to be crucified. And yet, while Jesus continued to teach them and while he wanted them to understand more and more about himself so that they could experience the abundant life he had come to offer (John 10:10), the most important thing was that they had made the rather improbable choice to follow him, and that they continued to do so even in the face of all the stuff they didn’t understand.

Learn more about the New Living Translation, enjoy inspiring articles, sign up for free edevotions, and find your next Bible at www.newlivingtranslation.com.

 

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What’s Your Why?

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Meet Mawi Asgedom. Mawi was born on September 29, 1976, in Ethiopia at the onset of civil war within the country. Mawi’s father had to leave the country when Mawi was a toddler, leaving him behind with his brother, sister, and mother. Every day, Mawi’s mother cared for her small children amidst war and death. Every night, she looked at her three sleeping children and wondered if they would survive another day.

Mawi’s mother knew what she had to do. Early one morning, she woke up the children and packed what little food and belongings she had. Then she began walking. For days she walked through war-torn Ethiopia toward the border of Sudan, trying to shake off the dust of fear and hunger and death.

Mawi’s mother knew that she might not make it. A mother traveling on foot with three small children is an easy target. Yet she kept walking, determined to reach Sudan, where she hoped she could find her husband.

She did. Reunited, the family spent three years in a refugee camp in Sudan before receiving the news that they would be sponsored by a family in the United States. They were going to America! In 1983, Mawi and his family settled in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton. They were poor. They didn’t speak the language. Mawi started school with virtually no formal education.

Nevertheless, he learned English quickly, and his teachers found him to be a bright student. He joined the basketball team and ran track. Nearing his senior year of high school, Mawi learned that he had earned a huge scholarship to Harvard University.

In 1999, just sixteen years removed from a refugee camp in Sudan, Mawi Asgedom delivered the commencement address to an audience of 30,000 on the campus of Harvard University.

Mawi was transformed by the sacrifice of his mother. Today, he speaks to teenagers all over North America, inspiring them to make the right choices, to never give up. He writes books for educators and has dedicated his life to making a difference in the lives of others. He has told his story on Oprah Winfrey’s show and has written about it in his best-selling book, Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard. 

I met Mawi about a month ago. He was speaking to educators in Toronto about his mother’s sacrifice. Why did his mother walk barefoot across Ethiopia? She wanted to save her children and give them a better life. He encouraged us to ask ourselves, “What is our why?” That is, why are we motivated to do what we do as educators?

When I listened to Mawi’s story about his mother, the furthest thing from my mind was answering the question of “why” as an educator. Instead, I was asking myself what my “why” was as a Christian. As I sat taking notes, I found myself writing down other words: Jesus, the cross, my sins. My mind kept wandering across the world to the cross where Jesus was crucified. Enduring pain, humiliation, and rejection, Jesus carried through on his promise to his children. Just before his death, Jesus asked a “why” question himself: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46, NLT).

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What was Jesus’ why? To save all people from their sins. This included those who rejected him, spat on him, and laughed at him. This includes those who today do the same.

What about you? You know the sacrifice Jesus made so that you could live. All Jesus asks in return is that you give your life to him and tell others of his wonderful journey: from life on earth, to death, to resurrection, to ascension into heaven. What’s your why? I don’t know about you, but if an average day of mine was put under scrutiny, I don’t think I’d like the answer to the question “what is Ron’s why?” I know what I would have to leave behind: my desire for material things, my need to climb the ladder at work, my dedication in ensuring my kids’ success, and my hours spent obsessing over my favorite sports team.

In Philippians 3:8-11, Paul talks of a life in Christ:
“Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (NLT)

Learn more about the New Living Translation, enjoy inspiring articles, sign up for free edevotions, and find your next Bible at www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Ron DeBoer is a writer and educator living near Toronto.

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How to Keep Breathing When All Seems Lost

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From the earliest days of our marriage, I longed for and prayed for a large family.

My dream of love-filled, chaotic Christmas mornings came true when my only son presented me with the six most precious grandchildren on earth. They lived hundreds of miles away, but miles can’t affect the love of a grandma.

Each phone call was a treasure and each visit a joy of epic proportions. Is there a treasure of more worth than a ringing phone followed by six little voices yelling in unison across the miles, “I love you, Mimi!”?

Fourteen years of ever-increasing grandparent bliss came to an abrupt end with a sudden and bitter divorce.

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Anger, hatred, and vengeance tore my world apart when my ex-daughter-in-law definitively declared my husband and I were no longer allowed any contact with our six little loves.

We had no rights or recourse.

The pain was beyond what words can convey. A good portion of our prayers were simply tears squeezed from broken hearts. “Why?” “What is the purpose?” “How can we I go on?”

It was six years before the first of our babies was old enough to re-establish contact. The sound of her voice on the phone bathed my shredded heart with a life-regenerating balm.

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Over the next two years, two more of our precious ones came of age and chose to come back into our lives.

As I was in the process of directing the portrayal of Paul in Romans 8 of the NLT audio New Testament, Breathe, the fourth contacted us and came for a visit.

It was the first time we had even spoken to her in over ten years.

I listened in as the words of Paul, voiced by Kurt Naebig, sprang to life . . . and the words of God, penned by Paul, sprang to life within my heart:

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

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Three of our grandchildren have chosen to relocate to be close to us and one visits and calls on a regular basis. But there are still two who have grown up outside our world.

The twins were only five years old the last time we saw those sweet little faces. It has been twelve years since we held them close.

We do not know the purpose in our lives or the lives of our grandchildren for the years of separation and pain.

But as I heard Kurt Naebig read Romans 8:28, I was impacted again with the fact that God has a plan for my life and my grandchildren’s lives.

True faith stands through times that seem hopeless, secure in the knowledge that all things work together for good.

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Even when traumatic loss rips all sense from life—the Holy Spirit strengthens us, prays the prayers that are too agonizing to voice on our own —and allows us to walk forward, ever closer to the glory revealed to us through Jesus.

There are days when success is remembering to just breathe.

Just breathe deep…. and inhale the grace and goodness of God. 

And then—exhale the stress and the strains of life. 

There is a way to breathe—that exhales worries and inhales the Word. 

It’s a strange grace—how in the spaces between the words of His Words — our soul finds the space it desperately needs to finally breathe.

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The Breathe Bible Audio New Testament is a remarkably vivid listening experience that transports you into the world of the Bible. Performed in the New Living Translation by a cast of internationally acclaimed film, television and recording artists, this captivating multi-million dollar audio production features cinema-quality sound with an original music score. It’s an experience you will never forget. The Breathe Bible Audio New Testament—“It’s like being there.” Not only are 18 CDs are included in this premium audio product, it also includes a code to receive the user friendly mobile App for free! Listen however you like!

Learn more HERE.

This story was written by Brenda Noel and originally posted on Annvoskamp.com.

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Breathe Bible Giveaway (Plus get a FREE Gospel of Mark for signing up)!

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The Breathe Bible Audio New Testament is a remarkably vivid listening experience that transports you into the world of the Bible. Performed in the New Living Translation by a cast of internationally acclaimed film, television and recording artists, this captivating multi-million dollar audio production features cinema-quality sound with an original music score. It’s an experience you will never forget. The Breathe Bible Audio New Testament—“It’s like being there.” Not only are 18 CDs are included in this premium audio product, it also includes a code to receive the user friendly mobile App for free! Listen however you like!

Created by an award-winning team, this dramatic production features a cast of leading Hollywood entertainers, over 80 supporting actors, a full-orchestral score, and cutting-edge sound design. Stars of stage and film such as Kevin Sorbo (Voice of God), Josh Lucas (Jesus), John Rhys-Davies (narrator), Jesse McCartney (Matthew), Hill Harper (Mark), Corbin Bleu (John), Christian Stolte (Luke), Marshall Allman (John the Baptist), Wintley Phipps (Peter), and Bailee Madison (Young Mary Mother of Jesus) headline this $2 million production, bringing a new level of excitement to the forefront of Bible audio innovation. Features the New Living Translation, the first translation created to be read aloud.

Learn more at: BreatheBible.com 

Enter to win a FREE copy of the Breathe Bible and get a FREE Gospel of Mark for signing up! That’s over 2 hours of free audio just for singing up!

Here’s how to enter:

  • Fill out the Gleam form below.
  • Follow the directions for sharing to earn extra entries.
  • We’ll choose 25 winners on 3/26!
  • Must be 18 years old and a US resident to enter.

 

Breathe Bible Giveaway

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THE BATTLE OF MY LIFE by Joni Eareckson Tada

For 50 years I have survived as a spinal-cord injured quadriplegic. But that’s a walk-in-the-park compared to my battle against stage III breast cancer. Less than a week after I discovered the lump in my breast, I was at the doctors for a needle biopsy. As soon as the results were in, I was in the hospital for a mastectomy. Then, after several uncomfortable weeks of recovery, I was finally able to begin treatment – five months of chemotherapy. It all happened so fast, I hardly had time to process what was going on!

On the night before my first round of chemo, I read Jesus’ words in John 21:18, “… someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Yes, that day my husband had to dress me and take me where I “did not want to go” – a dreary chemo clinic.

JoniinBlueI felt absolutely overwhelmed. After all, I’m a quadriplegic. Plus, I deal with chronic pain. I often thought, Lord, this feels like way too much for me to handle. Are you sure you know what you’re doing? Where you’re leading me? Yet sitting there, hooked up to an IV with a steady drip-drip of poison being infused into my veins, I knew the answer: “Who have I in heaven but you, Lord? There is nothing on earth that I desire above you; My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).

Whenever I’ve prayed that way, the most extraordinary peace would wash over me. And so, during the three-hour chemo infusion, I would spend my time reading my Bible or praying through my intercession list. Often I would jot notes of encouragement to others. Once the infusion was over, I never tried to rush back to work; I was just too exhausted to do much more than head home for an early night.

My battle against cancer made life go slower. And given Galatians 5:25 which says “keep in step with the Spirit,” it’s obvious the Holy Spirit wanted me to take life in very small steps. It happens to anyone who suffers. Everything is more basic, more simple. I got up in the morning and prayed, “What will please you today, Lord?” I heard Him whisper, Seeing you eat 45 g of protein before lunch. “And what will please you this afternoon?” Back away from your computer and enjoy my hummingbirds at your feeder. “And this evening?” Give the Food Network a rest and pray.

Now that the most arduous part of cancer treatment is behind me, I wonder, what will the future hold? More than ever, I realize how brief, fleeting, and frail our lives are. We are but blips on the eternal screen; wisps of smoke, here one moment, and gone the next. That means what we do in the here and now counts. This is what I must remember on mornings when I feel like “I can’t take anymore.” Every day we either nudge our souls closer to heaven, or away from it – there’s never middle ground.

Yes, it’s been hard. Jesus hung on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to suffer hell, but not so that we wouldn’t have to suffer here on earth. This battle against cancer means something. So if you are dealing with a bad medical report – maybe even cancer — hang in there. God may just want you to live your life in very small steps, too. Yet take heart! Remember that your suffering is giving you something eternally precious in common with Christ!

 

About the Author:

Learn more about Joni here – http://www.joniandfriends.org/jonis-corner/jonis-bio/ 

Helpful Resources:

Beyond Suffering Bible NLT

Where Struggles Seem Endless, God’s Hope Is Infinite

by Joni and Friends, Inc

There is hardly a person who doesn’t know someone dealing with a disability, disease, chronic illness, or other form of personal suffering. The Beyond Suffering Bible is the first study Bible to directly address those who suffer and the people who love and care for them. From bestselling author, singer, and radio host Joni Eareckson Tada and the experts at Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability, the Beyond Suffering Bible is filled with thousands of notes and features that invite readers into a conversation about suffering and its place in each person’s life. Each feature has been carefully created to provide readers with valuable information, meaningful encouragement, and challenging applications as they encounter God’s Word.
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7 Myths about Creative Journaling in Your Bible: It’s More Than Coloring! (10 Bible Giveaway!)

Guest post by Amber Bolton of @biblejournaling: Inspire Bible TOUR workshop leader, youth pastor, and long-time Bible journaler

 

I’m sure they exist, but I’ve never met a person who didn’t like to color. Give someone a marker and you are sure to find them doodling on the page, writing their thoughts, making lists, or being creative. Coloring is used in therapy and in schools to calm children, and there’s no surprise that adult coloring books are in grocery store checkout lanes. Coloring has never been a fad. So, what about coloring in our Bibles and creative journaling?

 

Is creative journaling just making pretty pages? Is it more than an adult coloring book? These are the questions we’ve been exploring as we crisscross the country on the Inspire Bible TOUR (check out inspirebible.com/TOUR). We are meeting people who have a hunger for understanding God’s Word and want a creative way to respond that is more than just coloring. The Inspire Bible is all about our hearts and how they interact with God’s Word. It’s a form of Bible study.

 

The Inspire Bible TOUR has given me the chance to help people feel confident and encouraged to get into God’s Word and respond in the margin. The goal is that the margin becomes the place where truth sinks into our hearts and pours out in the beauty of our lives. I’ve encountered people who walk into the workshop feeling like they are not creative and leave with confidence to study and respond to God’s Word in a unique way. There are so many myths when it comes to creative journaling. Here are just a few.
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Myth 1: I am not creative.

Everyone is creative in their own way! God made us in his image and he is creative. He’s THE creator. You don’t have to be a talented artist to mark up the margins of your Inspire Bible. It’s not about a pretty page, it’s about using the margin to respond to what the Holy Spirit is saying through God’s Word. Some people journal, others make lists, still others use all the embellishments and paints they can find. Be uniquely YOU in the margins.

 

Myth 2: I don’t know where to start.

So many people that I’ve met on TOUR are nervous to start marking up their Inspire. They don’t know where to begin and are afraid they will mess up. Know this, you will misspell a word or accidentally spill paint all over the page. It’s OK. Give yourself grace to get a little messy. There is no place for perfectionism when we come before God. We come with humility and an open heart. Give yourself permission to be free when you encounter the Inspire Bible. I encourage people to start in one of the Gospels or Romans. Maybe even Psalms. Read a whole chapter at once so that you can really get an understanding of the context. Jump in!

 

Myth 3: I don’t know what to put in my margin.

Creative journaling is more than coloring, it’s a study. I’ve created a process for creative journaling that helps me stay focused on responding and living out what I learn. Here’s what I do: 1.Pray (invite the Holy Spirit to speak through God’s Word); 2. Read (read a portion of scripture); 3. Ask (What stands out? What does this passage tell me about God? How am I to live differently based on this passage?); 4. Respond (THIS is what you put in your margin.) I answer one of those three questions in the margin of my Inspire. I’ll either write or draw what stands out from the passage, or bullet-point what it tells me about God’s character. Sometimes I’ll journal about how I am to live based on the passage. The margin is for you to process what you’ve read. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, it just needs to remind you of what you’ve learned.

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Myth 4: I don’t have time.

It does not take long to fill our spiritual tanks through creative journaling. I typically spend 30-45 minutes in my process from beginning to end. I have a little corner in my office dedicated to creative journaling where I keep all my supplies and Inspire Bible. Even if you don’t have space, I’m sure you have a small tote you can keep your Inspire and a few favorite supplies in for an “on the go” option. I’ve never regretted setting aside time to spend in God’s Word, but I have regretted passing it up. It doesn’t have to be every day! Creative journaling is just one of the ways to study God’s Word (personally I think it’s the most fun way!). So, switch it up. Maybe you read a passage and journal, another day you read and go for a run, another you gather friends and spend hours in your Inspire together!

 

Myth 5: I don’t have all the right supplies.

I encourage people who are new to creative journaling to start with what you have in your house. Don’t go out and buy all the supplies you think you’ll love. You’ll be overwhelmed—and out of money. It will take a little time, but you’ll soon find which supplies you love most (I’m all about the embellishments and TomBow pens!) Follow us on Facebook (Inspire Bible) to see what supplies we love, or come to a TOUR event and you’ll get to try out a bunch of supplies at the table! There are lots of social media groups that share their tips and supplies that work well. The last few pages in the Inspire Bible are great “trial” pages to see if a new supply will work or have bleed through. If you are unsure, use those pages to test them out!

 

Myth 6: I don’t want to do this alone.

Creative journaling is both personal and corporate. I love spending time alone in my Inspire, but I also crave going through the process and learning from others (and sharing supplies). There are many social media groups who have “weekly” pages/challenges. They are encouraging and helpful! It’s a great way to share with each other what you are learning. What if you were to start an Inspire Bible study group in your church? That could be a really fun way to connect with others and share supplies!!

 

Myth 7: I have someone in my life who would LOVE creative journaling, but I don’t know how to get them started.

There are a few really great ways to help your friends, or even get started yourself! Attend one of the Inspire Bible Tour workshops this spring (locations will be announced soon). OR…. join us for our live online workshop on Saturday, January 7th at 10 a.m. (CST). This online workshop will be an opportunity to learn the process, get tips, and go through techniques! This is a super fun Christmas present to yourself or someone you love. Register online at amberbolton.net. And, there’s some really fun happy mail that comes with the registration, including the Intro to Creative Journaling book by Amber Bolton, a fun T-shirt, and the Inspire: Psalms book!

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10 Bible Giveaway!

Enter to win a copy of of the Inspire Bible Large Print NLT!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Download and print this Christmas themed coloring sheet – Download Here
  2. Get to work coloring, painting, or however you’d like to express yourself.
  3. Post a picture of the end result on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
  4. Use the Gleam form below to submit the link to your creation.

We’ll choose 10 winners on 12/26!

 

 

Inspire Bible Large Print NLT

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Five Ideas for Battling the Winter Break Blahs

 

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It’s an elementary school highlight—winter break. I don’t know too many kids who have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads anymore, but the freedom of rolling around in the snow, having no homework, and just playing are definitely floating through many kids’ pre-break daydreams. But as days stretch into weeks the winter break glee can quickly wear off and is often replaced by a chorus of “I’m bored.”

We have a few ways you can not only get through the winter break blahs but also use this time to grow as a family by hiding God’s Word in your hearts. And—it’s FREE!

On hiddeninmyheartbible.com there are FREE interactive downloads to help memorize 10 of the most beloved verses in the Bible. These include songs, coloring pages, devotionals, and games. Here are five ways you can to use these resources to have fun and remember God’s Word!

 

 

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Bible Memory Song Party: Especially if you live in the frozen north, kids—and moms and dads too—can quickly catch cabin fever. Ward it off with a fun Bible Memory Dance Party. Download the free Bible memory songs, then play them as you dance around the house. You can turn it into a Bible Freeze Dance game where you pause the music sporadically and everyone has to freeze in their current position. See who can hold their pose the longest.

 

 

 

psalms-activityBible Game Challenge: Download the 10 Bible memory activities and see who can complete them the fastest and still get them all correct. Then take the memory verses and create your own games. See if family members can beat the quiz master.

 

 

 

 

 

psalms-coloringColoring Contest: There are free coloring pages and verse line-art to color. You can have a coloring contest, even posting the entries on social media to see whose pages get the most votes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

psalms-lyricsWe’ve Got Talent Videos: Whether you want to be a superstar or hide behind the camera, you can have a fun family activity making Bible Memory Song Videos. There are several different ways you can do this. Pick a song, memorize it together, and then record the performance as a family. Make it into a contest. Have every member of the family pick a different song to memorize and perform. Tape the performances and then post on social media for friends and family to pick who they like best. Don’t sing? Video the dance party, lip sync, or just have fun displaying your family’s unique talents.

 

 

 

 

psalms-verseFamily Devotional Time: One of the best parts about winter break is the chance to step out of the normal, hectic schedule and spend time together. Included in the free downloads are samples of the Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible’s Core 100 devotional section. This includes the memory verse in three translations, a short devotional about how to apply the verse to daily life, and a prayer. It’s a great way to come together as a family and grow closer to each other and God by hiding his Word in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

ll%20imprinting%20standingThe Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible was created to encourage kids not only to read God’s Word but also to hide it deep within their hearts. One hundred of the Bible’s core verses have been set to music by renowned children’s author and song writer Stephen Elkins. The 100 songs include a variety of genres and are available in the New Living Translation, New International Version, and King James Version, and all songs are free with the purchase of the Bible.

 

Shop now HERE.

 

 

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Aetherlight Bible and Game Key Giveaway

It can be a challenge to excite young people about the stories of the Bible, and it can be even harder when those stories have been told and retold so many times they seem to hold no surprises or insights any more. The better known the narrative, the more inoculated some children seem to be to the wonder of God’s story in those pages. That’s why we are excited about the work Scarlet City Studios is doing with The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance.

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The game tells the story of the Bible in an allegorical world, with fantastical inventions and exciting characters that capture the imagination and slip “under the radar” of a generation that might have seen one too many flannelgraphs. The latest Aetherlight release is the third episode, which introduces Jefferson, a brilliant but unintentionally arrogant scientist who may hold the key to saving the game world of Aethasia from a global catastrophe. It is an allegorical retelling of the story of Joseph, and it creates a way for young people to interact with the story beyond the surface facts they are used to hearing.

Jefferson has a remarkable and colorful mechanical suit, a nod to the technicolor coat everyone knows so well, and his story is picked up at the point where Joseph is thrown in a pit by his brothers. In the game, Jefferson has been researching the melting of the arctic Snowmoors region, but before he can complete his work, he is falsely accused and imprisoned by a vindictive recruit from the Usurper’s academy. While being held in the Grease Pits, he shows his capacity for problem solving and leads the player to solve the meltdown crisis there. The overseer of the Snowmoors, Baron Fairrow, then commissions him to repeat the task for the entire region, and in doing so he is reunited with the rest of the Resistance and helps complete their mission.

While there are obvious touchpoints in the story, what is most exciting about this retelling is the way the game explores the deeper themes of the scriptural narrative. The game’s creators have taken pains to explore what the story is about. From the outset, players are aware that they have been prepared for what is ahead, even if they don’t understand how or why. As the game unfolds, those preparations become apparent, revealing how even in the midst of Joseph’s troubles, God’s purposes were being worked out. Similarly, while the events of Joseph’s story are recognizable in the adventures in Aethasia, the deeper themes of Genesis come to life for players. Jefferson’s insistence on solving the problem of the environment melting reflects the heart of God to preserve life—all life—that is seen in the way the Egyptian famine was averted in Joseph’s day. As they work through challenges alongside the brilliant young scientist, players are given the opportunity to understand how God uses people’s skills and availability when they acknowledge his call. While the game’s central figure, the Scarlet Man—a kind of “Angel of the Lord” figure, a representation of the various theophanies of the Old Testament, who leads and guides the Resistance—is notably absent throughout this chapter of the adventure, his involvement behind the scenes is clear. This is shown most vividly in the Dreamweaver device players are able to craft, a tool that lets them see hidden clues and objects, preparations the Scarlet Man has made for them without them even realizing they were there.

Engaging young people with the Bible is a vital part of their spiritual formation, and inviting them to see their part in the grand narrative of Scripture will always be of the utmost importance. We are excited to see tools like The Aetherlight taking this challenge seriously and offering creative ways for kids to participate in the story of God and understand its rich relevance and timeless truths in a way they can call their own. The third episode of this groundbreaking game continues that trend, and we look forward to many more biblical stories coming to life for the next generation through the land of Aethasia.

 

Enter to win a FREE Bible and a FREE The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance game key! We’re giving away 10 of each to 10 lucky winners!

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Here’s how to enter:

Fill out the Gleam form below. Follow the directions to earn extra entries. We’ll chose 10 winners on December 7th!

 

 

Aetherlight

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5 Reasons Kids Should Memorize Scripture (And a 10 Bible Giveaway!)

A photo by Samantha Sophia. unsplash.com/photos/NaWKMlp3tVs

 

The old Sunday school song tells us, “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” Though there is truth in these words, it is just the start. If we truly want our kids to “grow, grow, grow” in their faith, the words of Scripture need to be hidden in their hearts. Moses understood this as he prepared the people of Israel to enter the Promise Land without him.

“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

 

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Every day we send our kids into a world that can be confusing and filled with different ideals and temptations. We try our best to protect them. We want to put a shield around them, to guard their hearts and minds. But the time will come when they are faced with circumstances where the decisions they make will be their own.

As parents we need to prepare our children for how to respond in a Christlike way when faced with temptation or difficult decisions. What did Jesus do? He quoted Scripture.

“But Jesus told him, ‘No! The Scriptures say, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’” (Matthew 4:4)

With smart phones filled with easy access to Bible dictionaries and quick reference searching, Bible memory can seem as old fashioned as that Sunday school song, but the reality is that it’s more important than ever. Here are a few more reasons why we should have our kids, and ourselves too, hide God’s Word in our hearts.

1. Deep roots. For a tree to flourish and grow it needs to have deep roots to stay strong when storms come. This is true for our spiritual growth as well. By memorizing Scripture, God’s words are planted in our memory and grow deep and strong. They become a natural part of our thinking and responding.

 

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2. Future battles. We don’t know what the future holds or what battles or struggles our children will one day face. What we do know is that in this world there will be trouble, but having Scripture hidden in our kids’ hearts can help them face whatever life throws at them.

 

3. More like Jesus. Not only does memorizing Scripture allow us to act more like Christ in the face of temptation, it also allows us to hear His voice and His words as we go through each day. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind’” (Matthew 22:37). If we want our kids to be fully immersed in loving God, they need His words in their hearts and coursing through their thoughts.

 

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4. Others. Jesus went on to say, “A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39). When Christ’s words are our words they help us to better relate to others and to put others above ourselves. They remind us of Christ’s sacrifice for us and how we, too, should put others above ourselves.

 

5. Bonus: Peace of Mind. As parents we will never be able to keep our children from being hurt or facing difficult circumstances, but if w
e have helped them to hide God’s Word in their hearts we can have peace of mind that they are facing life with the best protection. God is with them every step of the way.

 

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The Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible was created to encourage kids not only to read God’s Word but also to hide it deep within their hearts.

One hundred of the Bible’s core verses have been set to music by renowned children’s author and song writer Stephen Elkins. The 100 songs include a variety of genres and are available in the New Living Translation, New International Version, and King James Version, and all songs are free with the purchase of the Bible. Additional interactive features encourage school-age kids to engage with the Word in every place of their life.

Learn more about the Bible features and download free memorization resources HERE.

Purchase Hidden in My Heart HERE.

Enter to win a free copy of the Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible NLT, teal, LeatherLike edition!

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Here’s how to enter:

 

On hiddeninmyheartbible.com we have provided free memory-enhancing downloadable resources for 10 verses. Download the resources and share a story, video, or photo using the resources with #HiddenInMyHeartBible. It could be your kids singing, a Sunday school class working on an activity, a completed coloring page, or what God has revealed to you while learning these verses. Share for a chance to win a new teal LeatherLike Hidden in My Heart Bible. Let’s get God’s Word into our hearts together.

Submit your entry using the Gleam form below.

We’ll choose 10 winners on 11/20.

Hidden in My Heart Giveaway

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