Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ornaments of Grace

About the time Thanksgiving leftovers have all been eaten, the Ferguson household begins pulling Christmas decorations out of the attic and preparing for our favorite holiday of the year.  The tree is put in place; the staircase is wrapped in garland and lights; the stockings are hung in birth order across the mantel. Then, as Christmas music fills the air, my favorite part of the decorating festivities begins – taking the ornaments out of the boxes and finding their places on the tree.

Christmas ornaments tell a story of who we are, where we’ve been, and what we have done. Our ornament from 1987 reminds everyone it was Mark and Mindy Ferguson’s “First Christmas Together”. A 1989 rocking horse announces the year of our son Brandon’s birth. An ornament from 1991 proclaims the new life we found in Christ that year. 1993’s contribution is a plump, pink teddy bear sitting in a swing, reminding all that our family was completed with the arrival of Brianna. We have keepsakes from family vacations, mementos from school sport achievements, and, of course, several handmade construction paper treasures from the kids’ preschool and elementary days. Ornaments tell stories as they adorn our trees. 

We all know ornaments are decorations. However, according to Webster’s Concise Dictionary of the English Language (Trident Press, 1997), an ornament can also be a “person considered as a source of honor or credit.” 

Hebrews 1:3 tells us, “[Jesus] is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” As Jesus prepared to face the cross, He prayed to His Father and said, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do”(John 17:4). And as He hung on the cross, taking the punishment for your sin and mine, Jesus revealed the grace of His Father by giving us the most precious gift the world has ever received. 

The salvation offered to each of us who choose to place our faith in Jesus Christ can never be earned. It is a gift of unmerited favor; a gift of grace. Jesus is an ornament of grace. His life, His death, and His resurrection all serve as a source of honor and credit to our gracious and loving God. 

This Christmas as we celebrate the gift of Jesus –God’s ornament of grace—remember that you, too, can be an ornament of grace as you tell others of the unmerited favor and unfailing love you have received through faith in Jesus. You can bring honor and credit to our Lord as you serve others and do the work God has called you to do during your days on this earth. Like the ornaments on our trees, your life can tell a story of where you have been, who God is, and what He has done in your life. I challenge you to be an ornament of God’s grace in 2014.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).   

Merry Christmas! I love you. - Mindy

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Quick, Get Up!

Is there something causing you to feel like a captive today? Here’s a little encouragement from the life of the Apostle Peter.

King Herod had James put to death with a sword and arrested Peter, guarding him with four squads of four soldiers each. But the church was earnestly praying for their leader. The night before Peter was to be brought to trial, he lay captive between two soldiers, bound with chains. The situation seemed hopeless.

“Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists” (Acts 12:7).

Sometimes circumstances leave us feeling like we are bound with chains; held captive by obligations or burdens or patterns of sin. It seems the enemy has placed squads of evil soldiers to ensure we remain bound. 

Without Christ, the situation seems hopeless. Circumstances and burdens keep us bound. But if we choose to get up and follow Him, we’ll discover our chains have fallen off and we are led to blessed freedom in Christ. The hopeless is hope-full.

In Him we are free from the law of sin and death; free to keep walking in the midst of hardship or persecution; free to live hopeful and abundant lives here on earth; free to look forward to eternity with our Savior.

Is there something causing you to feel like a captive today? Are you lying on a cold, cement floor of discouragement, bound up with chains of despair? 

The Lord is whispering, “Quick, get up!” His light is shining in your prison cell. Get up, my sweet Sister in Christ. Get up!

Follow Jesus. 

Is that the clinging of loosed chains I hear falling to the floor? 


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Happy Easter!

Easter Sunday is March 31st. As the celebration of Christ’s resurrection approaches, let’s take a moment to reflect upon the profound significance of the empty tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. –Matthew 28:2

The Empty Tomb was a Proclamation
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. – Matthew 28:2
The earth quaked as the divinely commissioned angel pried open the sealed tomb, rolled away the stone and took a seat on it, presenting the world with the glorious evidence of the risen Christ. The empty tomb proclaimed—Jesus has risen!

The Empty Tomb was a Testimony
The angel said to the women…He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.-Matthew 28:6
God’s angel invited the women who came to the tomb to go inside and see the place where they had seen the body of Jesus laid in the tomb (Luke 23:55). They saw the place where he had previously lay. They saw the strips of linen that had wrapped their Lord’s body, “lying by themselves”(Luke 24:12). The empty tomb testified, “it was impossible for death to keep it’s hold on Him!” (Acts 2:24).

The Empty Tomb was a Confirmation
The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again. – Luke 24:7
Jesus told his disciples he would be “killed and on the third day raised to life” (Matthew 16:21). The prophets proclaimed that God would “not let [His] Holy One see decay” (Psalm 16:10). The empty tomb was confirmation that God keeps His Word, that He has a divine plan that cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2), and because Jesus was the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20), we can trust that we, too, will have eternal life through our faith in our risen Savior.

Because of the empty tomb, we can confidently say,
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! –Job 19:25-27

Happy Easter, my sister in Christ. Celebrate. He is Risen!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blog Tour for Eyewitness to Majesty

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to write the new Eyewitness Bible Study series for AMG Publishers. The first study in the series, Eyewitness to Majesty: Peter was released on January 14, 2013 and the second study, Eyewitness to Glory: Moses should be available later this year.

Through the Eyewitness to Majesty Bible study, we walk along with Peter as an eyewitness to the life of Christ. I found the Apostle Peter's story and perspective encouraging. The former-fisherman and zealous follower of Jesus is mentioned more times in the four gospels than anyone other than Jesus himself. Peter was praised more than any other disciple. He was also rebuked more than any other disciple. His imperfections make him lovable and his victories give us hope. The apostle Peter's relationship with Jesus reminds us that we serve a merciful, loving God who uses imperfect vessels to accomplish His divine tasks.

If your women's group is looking for a fall Bible study, I would love for you to consider Eyewitness to Majesty: Peter: Abandoning Self for Christ. If you're like me, you'll grow in your relationship with our Savior as you see Jesus through the eyes of Peter.

Selecting a Bible study for your organization or small group can seem overwhelming at times. To learn what others have to say about Eyewitness to Majesty: Peter, tap into my blog tour February 18th - March 1st. Those involved in the tour are women who love God and His Word. They will offer information such as reviews, interviews, and candid thoughts on this ten week, in-depth Bible study. You never know, you just might win a free copy by posting a comment on one of their blogs!


Monday, February 18th: Visit Lori Kasbeer's blog: http://lorisbookreviews.com/  

Wednesday, February 20th: Visit Cyn Rogalski's blog, Still Waters and Ponderings:

Friday, February 22nd: Visit Kathy Ide's Blog: www.KathyIde.com/Blog 

Saturday, February 23rd: Story Writing Studio Blog: https://storywritingstudio.wordpress.com

Monday, February 25th: Visit Jill Potts Jones's Blog:

Thursday, February 28th: Visit Teasi Cannon's Blog: http://teasicannon.com/blog/

Friday, March 1st: Visit Karen Jordan's Blog: http://karenbarnesjordan.com