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Words of Worth, Inc has a new look and an updated website with some added features.Please view our website at

http://www.wordsofworth.com/

Our blog has moved to and can be found either on our website or directly at  http://www.wordsofworth.com/blog/

We are very excited about our new look and our new features and would love you to move with us!  One way to make it very easy for you to follow us is to subscribe by email on our blog page in order to receive notification that we have posted a new blog.

Thank you for following us and supporting us and we hope you will continue with us on our journey!

Because words matter and God’s Word matters most,

Cammy and Sheryl

December 1st? Already?!?

imagesEven though Christmas seems to start earlier every year, with the tinsel and colored lights sharing shelf space with the Halloween candy (sigh…) we seem to always be so surprised when the calendar turns to December 1st.  Yesterday, I heard three different people exclaim, “December starts tomorrow!  How did that happen?” I had to resist the urge to respond, “Same way it always happens!”

But if the arrival of December 1st is shocking, then brace yourself:  tomorrow is December 2nd and that means it’s also the first Sunday in Advent.  Since Advent Sunday “moves around” every year, it is a little bit hard to keep track of the date to begin reading your Advent devotions and prepare your heart for Christmas.  So if you are one of the ones caught off guard this year, we have some instant and possibly overnight shipping options to the rescue.  No worries if you are reading this later that December 1st, grant yourself some charity – it’s never too late to focus on the “reason for the season”.  You can still order a book and catch up before the 25th!

We highly recommend the following Advent Books and tried to include a couple that are age appropriate if you are looking for a family devotional.

The first book is “God is in the Manger” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Sheryl and I read this one last year and agreed that to read a devotional written during a treacherous time in history while Mr. Bonhoeffer was imprisoned gave an amazing perspective on the true meaning of Christmas.  It is available for your e-reader and you can find it here:

http://www.amazon.com/God-Manger-Reflections-Advent-Christmas/dp/0664238874/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354376810&sr=1-5&keywords=dietrich+bonhoeffer

The ministry team at Desiring God did a “deep dive” into a reservoir of sermons and articles and is offering a FREE Advent devotional called “Good News of Great Joy” for your e-reader.  Both Sheryl and I  downloaded it onto our  iPads, but it can be downloaded to an e-reader.  Either way, this is a fantastic resource and you can’t beat the price!   Here’s the link:

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/good-news-of-great-joy-free-advent-ebook

A longtime favorite in my household is “Jotham’s Journey” by Arnold Ytreeide.  We first discovered this historical fiction Advent story when someone gifted the book to us along with the appropriate candles and a wreath!  (No pressure though – we no longer use the candles!)  Your older children (age 8 and up) will be captivated by the adventures of Jotham as he makes his way to Bethlehem facing thieves, robbers and kidnappers along the way!  There are a few intense scenes that might be a bit much for younger children but my kids have loved following Jotham and his friends on his journey through Israel.   Note:  This is actually a series of books so you can be ready for the next three years.  I am also THRILLED to let you know they are available for your e-reader!  Hooray!  You can start on time!   Look for Jotham, Bartholomew, Tabitha and Amon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Jothams-Journey-A-Storybook-Advent/dp/0825441749/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354377525&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=johthams+journey

Finally, for those of you will “littles”, there is a precious and tender devotional written just for them entitled  “Advent Storybook – 24 Stories to Share before Christmas”.   It is geared for little hearts and minds age 4 and up telling the sweet story of Benjamin Bear who is so impatient for Christmas to come.  Although it is not available in electronic format, Amazon assures me you can have it by December 3rd or it might be available at your local bookstore.  You can preview it here:

http://www.amazon.com/Advent-Storybook-Stories-Before-Christmas/dp/0735819637

We sure  hope these offerings will inspire you to set aside some time everyday this month in the Word of God asking Him to show you the true LOVE of Christmas.  Because words matter and God’s Word matters most…  (ct)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”   John 1:14

“What if?”

From time to time I tend to worry about “what if” kinds of things. Do you know what I mean? I’m talking about the kinds of things that didn’t go wrong, but they could have, and what if they did? Cammy will frequently bring it to my attention when I do that and then she will remind me of a short scene in “Parenthood” in hopes that it will be an antidote to my worry.   

The scene involves Steve Martin being so high about his son’s little league game, and he questions that it is demented that a grown man’s happiness depends upon a 9 year old catching a pop-up! And then he says, “What if he missed?” and his wife said, “But he didn’t.” Martin persists however, “But what if he had?” and again his wife says, “But he didn’t. You threw 12 million pop-ups to him in the back yard. You cut down the odds considerably!” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW2ebN3PWT0

How often do you worry about the “what ifs” in life when in reality the odds of them happening is drastically reduced?  Or what if the reality is that you could have done something about some “what ifs” but you didn’t? An anonymous poem drives this point home:

Remember the day I borrowed your brand
new car and dented it?
I thought you’d kill me, but you didn’t.

And remember the time I dragged you to the beach,
and you said it would rain, and it did?
I thought you’d say, “I told you so.” But you didn’t.

Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie
all over your car rug?
I thought you’d hit me, but you didn’t.

And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance
was formal and you showed up in jeans?
I thought you’d drop me, but you didn’t.

Yes, there were lots of things you didn’t do.
But you put up with me, and loved me, and protected me.

There were lots of things I wanted to make up to you
when you returned from war.

But you didn’t.

What if in this Thanksgiving season you took the opportunity to say “thank you” to those who have not fulfilled your “what if” worries, but instead, have loved you, protected you, and provided for you? What is you thanked them for being patient with you, and for putting up with you despite the things you have done wrong? What if you do? I’m sure you’ll be happy that you did! (sv)

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…”

Philippians 1:3

Traveling Companions

During the month of October, I tried to study a different Biblical virtue everyday and journal a few thoughts about what that virtue “looks like” in my life.  Towards the end of the month, the verse for the day was Psalm 25:21 and I had two virtues to consider:  “Honesty and Integrity”.

“May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.”

Depending on the Bible translation you use, it might say “preserve” instead of protect but the original meaning of the word is “to guard” so the image that immediately came to mind was someone protected by bodyguards – one on each side.  Flanked, if you will…

Now I don’t know one thing about driving cattle (shocked?) but I do know from watching cowboy movies that “flanked” cattle can be steered in the right direction.  What would my days look like if I walked around fully aware of being guarded and protected by Honesty and Integrity?

Integrity has an interesting meaning – it’s not just adherence to moral principles though the explanation does incorporate that aspect of the word.  It is also “the state of being whole, entire, undiminished, unimpaired, of sound condition”.  The word picture that accompanies that definition is the “integrity of a ship’s hull”.   That’s a profound image!  Is my integrity going to hold up in rough waters?

A couple of Psalms back – Psalm 23 – we have another picture, that of the Lord as a Shepherd.   There we see the shepherd leading while goodness and mercy follow all the days of our life!  So now we are surrounded:  The Lord in front, integrity and honesty on either side with goodness and mercy bringing up the rear!

I drew a little word picture in my journal that looks like this:  (my artistic skills are severely lacking)

  Lord Jesus  Shepherd

Integrity   (me)   Honesty 

      Goodness   Mercy

This simple sketch made me think of a couple of other verses:

“You hem me in behind and before; You have laid your hand upon me.”  Psalm 139:5

and

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”   Isaiah 58:8 

With this kind of protection and loving support, my path can be secure.  Looking to the right and left, there is moral guidance, God is leading out front, and if I need a reminder, I look back and see His Covenant reminder of Lovingkindness.

I don’t know about you, but knowing I have these traveling companions makes my journey ahead look a whole lot smoother.  (ct)

Playing Favorites

Recently I watched an episode of a sitcom about a family in which the children asked the parents if they had a favorite child. The mom immediately assured her three children that they were all loved infinitely, while the dad clearly declared his oldest son as his favorite child.

The show reminded me of a similar scenario in my own life and one that is probably quite common in many families. Children tend to question, “Do Mom and Dad have a favorite child?”

I am the youngest child of three, and the only girl in my family. Often my dad will say that I am his favorite daughter! Easy enough for him, right? However, it was never enough for me to be the favorite daughter because that never said as much as being the overall favorite child. My status as the choice child had to transcend genders!

I am not quite sure how this all started, maybe I was insecure growing up with two older brothers, but for many years I have had an ongoing competition with my brother Rick, the second born in our family. We have competed for years to declare who the favorite child is…Rick or Sheryl? Interestingly, we never included Ron in this contest as we just ruled him out as non-threatening right from the beginning! So for many years, Rick and I, okay more me than Rick, would do outrageous things to declare our supremacy in the hearts of our parents.  I had my picture glazed on plates and mugs that were used in holiday dinners, wrote poems such as, “Twas the Night before Sheryl’s Birth”, and even lined the long walkway to my parents’ front door with pictures of myself , the favorite child, perched on sticks as a way to welcome my family on that particular holiday. This campaign raged for years until….until my parents ended the debate.

During one August family gathering, my parents had a birthday party for my oldest brother Ron. Remember him? The one Rick and I cast aside as “not a threat” in the favored child competition? When it was time to sing and cut the cake, my parents unveiled a huge sheet cake that had a picture of Ron on it as well as icing writing that read, “Happy Birthday to our #1 child!” That brought the competition to a screeching halt!

Not one to give up so easily, I then tried to declare that I was God’s favorite. However that effort was short lived because early on in that pursuit, I read Job 34:19:

…who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?

My family and I have many fun memories of the contest for favorite child and we often laugh together as we recall and remember our holiday tradition. However, these days I have stopped jockeying for the favorite position within my parents’ hearts and within God’s. My parents don’t play favorites and neither does God. However, God does grant His favor (to gaze steadily with interest) on us as He pleases. He granted favor on Noah, Samuel, David, Mary and many others as they humbly served Him and were obedient to His will.

I hope my family always happily remembers the contest for the favorite child, but more than that I pray we would long to be remembered by God with favor. Like Nehemiah, I do not seek to be the favorite as much as I seek to be favored by knowing Him, spending time with Him, and obeying Him. (sv)

“Remember me my God with favor.”
Nehemiah 13:31

My! How You’ve Grown!

You may not be aware of it, but out in cyberspace, October was designated as an “Ultimate Blog Challenge” month.  The idea is simple and genius for bloggers:  pick a topic and blog about it everyday for a month.  The challenge is designed to increase productivity and traffic to your blog.  The desired end result?  Develop a new daily habit of blogging (writing), read other people’s blogs, be inspired and maybe even make a few friends along the way.

You may have noticed that we didn’t participate in that challenge.  :)

Actually I didn’t even know about it until my friend in Mississippi accepted the challenge and invited me to view her blog.   You can visit her here: http://changedmyplans.blogspot.com/

However, one day towards the end of September, as I was rummaging through a stack of papers, I found a calendar that lists a different biblical virtue for every day of the month.  So I decided to work through that list and journal about each virtue during October.  Journaling is simply old fashioned blogging only typically no one sees it which is a good thing since my journaling grammar is atrocious and my punctuation is practically non-existent.

But today I need to post a real blog out “there” so I will open my journal and let you peek inside.  The virtue for the day is “Grow in Grace” and the Scripture is
2 Peter 3:18

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…

The verse starts with “but” – as in “But grow in grace…”  That means I gotta back up a little.

“You therefore, beloved,… be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your steadfastness.”   (2 Peter 3:17)

People were distorting the message – nothing new under the sun – and Peter’s final words were a warning not to get carried away by unprincipled teaching but “grow in grace”.  The word “grow” used here means to augment and become greater.   It’s the same word used of Jesus in Luke 2:52.

Interesting it says grow IN grace and not grow in the knowledge of grace.  We are to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and grow IN grace.  I think this means in our understanding of His grace toward us and then our grace toward others will be a REFLECTION of His grace.   It’s far easier (for me) to grow in knowledge.  But we need emotional knowledge to go along with our stacks of facts.

To grow IN something means I am experiencing the benefits of it myself.  I can’t invite anyone else into my grace but I can invite them IN to experience the Lord’s grace.  To repeat an example I often use in my teaching, if I get inside a cool room, I have the full benefits of the air conditioning in that room.  I can’t extend those benefits to anyone unless they come inside with me but the cool air they feel is not my doing.  It is coming from the air conditioning system or to extend the analogy – it’s from the Lord.

Same thing with grace – I can only invite someone to experience His grace, not mine.  But hopefully I’ve reflected “growing IN grace” so that they accept that invitation.  (ct)

Note: You can find the Biblical virtues list at Revive Our Hearts.

http://www.reviveourhearts.com/articles/31-biblical-virtues-to-pray-for-your-children/

Although this list of virtues is for children, I have been praying through them for myself!

Hitting the Wall

It’s called “Hitting the Wall” and it is a well-known and much dreaded phenomenon among athletes – the professional elite and amateur runners – especially in long distance races. Hitting the wall typically happens around mile 18. A simple definition would be: when a runner runs out of energy.

One famous marathoner put it this way, “It felt like an elephant had jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and was making me carry it the rest of the way in.” – Dick Beardsley on his second marathon in 1977.

Earlier this week I received an SOS from a friend out on the racecourse. She was at mile 18 and staring at “The Wall”. She wasn’t physically running at the time and she may have even been sitting in her chair drinking coffee but due to some heart wrenching circumstances, she was facing a drain of emotional and spiritual energy. She is currently participating in the same race we are all running: The Life Marathon.

She needed a fresh supply of endurance. The elephant in the tree had launched itself down on her back and there were still miles left to travel.

We talked, we prayed and we finally laughed a little.

The next morning as I jotted down some specific requests on her prayer card, I asked God to show me exactly how to pray for her. Wouldn’t you know every verse and passage I read that day was on perseverance? God is kind, isn’t He?

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

Now the context of this verse is unity but the devotion book I was reading pointed out what the author called “the twin sisters of grace – endurance and encouragement”. Endurance and encouragement! The author goes on to say, “I praise you for these twin sisters of grace. One without the other would not be enough. Endurance without encouragement can atrophy into heartless stoicism. Encouragement without endurance can wither into short-lived enthusiasm. Give us both, bunches of both.” (Everyday Prayers, Scotty Smith)

What an amazing insight. We don’t want to just clench our teeth and trudge forward while our heart grows cold and free of passion. Neither do we want to have a burst of energy that will only get us a few more yards down the road before we collapse under the weight of that elephant on our shoulders. We need both endurance and encouragement; God is the God of both.

Now as I pray for my friend, I imagine her moving forward flanked on either side by the twin sisters of endurance and encouragement. The elephant is still there but she has help managing the extra burden. She can do it and so can you. God is able and willing to help. (ct)

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

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