January 30, 2017

Live Full, Walk Free with Giveaway!

Happy Monday, friends! If you love our Inscribed Bible Studies, you will be excited to meet today’s guest. I’m thrilled to welcome our newest Inscribed Bible study teacher, and my friend, Cindy Bultema.

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God has given Cindy a beautiful story of redemption that will touch you like no other. She lived for years a lonely, rejected, cocaine-addicted single mom, living an empty, self-defeating, rebellious lifestyle, until the amazing day she met the One who set her free.

Her newly released Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World, celebrates her NEW life in Christ. She is now a married mother of 4, and this summer marked her 20th anniversary of being cocaine-free. Hallelujah! Only God!!

I know you have a deep love for Bible Study so that is why I’m extra excited to share this book with you. Cindy teaches from 1 Corinthians. Chapter by chapter, she will take you through Paul’s teachings and equip you to live a set-apart life for Christ in today’s sin-soaked culture.

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Enough of my words, let’s hear from Cindy:

Overcoming Addiction

Life wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.

As a red-haired, freckle-faced little girl, my childhood dreams included being a cheerleader, driving a fancy car, wearing sparkly things.

However, my story did not progress as I had planned. My young adult reality would have made for a depressing TV movie: bullying, betrayal, and rejection.  As I sought to fill my emptiness and loneliness, I sampled everything I could from the “smorgasbord of life.”

Food.  Shopping.  Alcohol.  Men.  Drugs.

Nothing worked.

Before long, I found myself as a single mom. Used.  Abused.  Alone.

Not knowing how to calm the caverns inside of me, I turned to outside remedies again. The bar became my nightly hang-out, and alcohol and cocaine use quickly consumed my life.

On the outside, everything looked fine. I worked hard and loved my 2-year-old son. But on the inside, I was still empty and hurting.

In the midst of my mess, I reached out to a friend’s mom and shared the web of deception I had created, and an intervention was arranged. Compassionate Christian women held yellow pads filled with strategies. Go to AA. Pursue inpatient therapy. Tell my parents.

None of the proposals appealed to me. I left the gathering with a fresh sense of self-confidence. “I can do this. I don’t need their help. Everything is under control.”

I discovered willpower alone is not enough to overcome the allure of addiction.

Soon the cravings were overwhelming, and I caved in to my temptations. Before long I was back in the bar making the same self-defeating choices.  “I’ll try again tomorrow” became my evening tune.

Two weeks later, I accidentally overdosed on cocaine.

After driving myself to a med center, my parents were quickly notified.  One concerned nurse informed my mom she should say her goodbyes to me, her only daughter.  The doctor’s prediction as they rushed me by ambulance to a local hospital: I would be dead on arrival.

Thankfully, I didn’t die like they expected (whew!), and the cocaine overdose became my “bottom.”  Out of desperation and a determination to survive, once again, I asked my friend’s mom for help.  This patient woman shared with me four simple words that have changed my life— 

“Cindy, you need Jesus.”

And on that day, freshly discharged from the hospital, I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to enter into my life and save me.

Can I just say – best decision ever?  Life has never been the same.

Willpower alone is not enough to overcome the allure of addiction – but Jesus is.

Jesus alone can rescue, redeem, deliver, restore, and open up prison gates and set any captive free. There is no one too far gone from His redemptive reach.

Now I wish I could share it’s been an easy, carefree journey of sobriety and freedom.   Not so much.

Although Jesus delivered me from my pit of despair, I’ve also had to do my part, including:

  • Pursuing a daily relationship with Jesus Christ through His Word and prayer.
  • Renewing my mind with Truth. 
  • Leaving behind the “old” life, involving: letting go of any alcohol/drug related friendships, and avoiding tempting environments.
  • Stopping secrets and lies, exposing all areas of my life to His Light.
  • Getting to the “root” of the problem through Godly counseling.
  • Asking for ongoing accountability.
  • Discovering and practicing healthy new habits.
  • Praying!  I ask God daily to protect me from temptation, replace my cravings with His satisfaction, surround me with women to build me up, and fill my heart and mind with Truth.   

The good news? This year I celebrated 20 years of sobriety. Yay, God!

Please know I’m not a trained therapist, just an ordinary girl transformed by an extraordinary God.  There isn’t a day I don’t invite Jesus to do His powerful work in my life. I’m desperate for Him. But I must show up to do my part as well. Life’s worth it.  Jesus is worth it!

How about you?

If you’ve been searching for something to fill the emptiness and find yourself ensnared by the lure of addiction, please remember, willpower alone is not enough to set you free. 

Sweet friend, you need Jesus.  Please don’t wait another day.

Giveaway

Leave a comment before 5:00 pm Friday (2/3) sharing a specific verse God spoke into your heart during a dark time to redeem or deliver you. We will choose one name to win a copy of Cindy’s study and the accompanying DVD. I will announce the winner Tuesday, February 7th.

More about the book:

Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World is a six-chapter journey through 1 Corinthians. A six-session DVD is also available providing additional teaching from Cindy to enhance your study. For a FREE chapter of Live Full Walk Free, a set of A-Z scripture cards, and other resources, visit Cindy’s blog here: http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/.

More about Cindy

With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.

September 28, 2015

Taming the To-Do List Giveaway

Today I’m excited to introduce my friend, Glynnis Whitwer, and share her new book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your BEST Work Every Day.

I keep a to-do list next to my computer, and it drives my day. In fact, a great day for me is when I have crossed everything off that list by the end of the day! The problem comes when I have not and those tasks carry over to the next day. That, my friend, can sometimes take me to the edge, worrying how I’ll get it all done the next day.

Can you relate?

Glynnis’ book helps with this dilemma. Rather than focus on getting “through” our “to-do” list, she helps us bring balance to our “to-do” list. Through personal stories and Scripture, she exposes a word many of us identify with … procrastination, explains what it costs us, and equips us to overcome it. They key is not to get all things done or more things done, it’s to get the “right” things done each day. It’s God’s agenda first, not our own.

Don’t you love that? So freeing!

Below please find a message from Glynnis’ heart to yours. And when you get to the end of the post, leave a comment sharing at least one way you struggle with your “to-do” list for a chance to win a copy of Taming the To-Do List!!

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I faced hard, challenging work, which quite honestly made me wonder what I’d learned in four years of college. It was easier to plead busyness than to admit I felt under-qualified and afraid to try. Would my work show I didn’t have what it took?

Procrastination popped up its bossy head as I got involved in church, volunteering and leading small groups and Bible studies.  But its influence escalated when I answered God’s call How Can I Procrastinate When I’m So Busy?

Looking back, it’s obvious procrastination has been a life-long companion of mine. Only I didn’t see it because I was so busy.

Plus, it’s always been easy to find other things to blame. But digging down deep unearths the truth: I put things off that I really should do, I could do, but I choose not to do. And in doing so, my to-do list gets out of control.

Procrastination first showed up in school when I’d wait until the last-minute to finish an assignment. Just good enough to make the grade … but never feeling like I’d done my best.

It then showed up at my first job, when to write and speak.

It hasn’t controlled all areas of my life, but it’s impacted me enough that I finally said “no.” No to the lies that tomorrow will be easier.  No to the fear that I’ll look like a fool. No to the threat that my best isn’t good enough.

And I also finally said “yes.” Yes to addressing the underlying issues of my procrastination. Yes to being brave enough to face some weak areas.  Yes to hard choices that bring my responsibilities under control.

It turns out, my procrastination had a root problem. When faced with a choice between two tasks, my tendency is to choose the easier of the two.

For example, if I know I need to get housework done on a Saturday morning, but I also need to do some shopping. I’ll choose shopping, and then never quite get around to that cleaning.  Or if I want to work on a creative project, but I also need to answer emails. I’ll start on the emails, thinking I’ll eventually get around to my project, but then never do.

With enough choices like that, I leave undone the work that will make the most impact on my life.

I’m learning, with God’s help, to be honest with myself about why I procrastinate doing certain things. Some times the answer is easy. But sometimes I have to dig deep to discover some fear or perfectionist tendency that’s keeping me stuck.

Sometimes, I just don’t know the best thing to do next. This is when I desperately need wisdom beyond what I can muster to make the best choice. To find wisdom, I need to silence the demands of many, to hear the commands of One.

God is faithful, and His Word promises we can receive wisdom.  In fact, it’s a gift from God. Here is what James 1:5-6 says,

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

My goal in dealing with procrastination isn’t to get more done. I want to get more of the right things done. Rather than follow my to-do list, I want to follow God’s to-do list for me.

It’s not easy, but it is possible. Thankfully God is faithful and an ever-present source of help. With His help, I have a manageable to-do list … most of the time.

Glynnis Whitwer is a wife, mother of five young adults and executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her latest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day is available from Proverbs 31 Ministries. As a bonus for purchasing from Proverbs 31, Glynnis has prepared two time-management planner sheets to help you get control of your to-do list.  CLICK HERE for more information.

Thank you, Glynnis, for joining us today and for generously donating a book to give away. Okay, girlfriends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Taming the To-Do List!!

Blessings,

August 25, 2015

Love Your Neighbor Giveaway with Amy Lively

How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird

I met Amy Lively at She Speaks many years ago. She attended my session on “How to Start a Neighborhood Bible Study.” At the end of my teaching, Amy approached me, eyes gleaming, barely able to contain her enthusiasm. She explained how she felt that same nudge. She knew God was calling her to step out in faith … to invite. To do a new thing in her neighborhood.

Well, thank goodness Amy obeyed. Because the Lord has taken Amy’s passion, obedience and her very first invitation and transformed them into an amazing book, “How to Love Your Neighbor without Being Weird,” and an international ministry. To learn more about her book and her ministry, click here.

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Today, Amy and I not only want to share a bit of her story with you, but we are praying that today’s message will encourage and equip YOU to step out in faith and do the same!

Amy has generously offered to give away a gift package to help you do just that! So in the comments below share who you would invite and/or how you would use her gift in your neighborhood.

Here is a bit more of Amy’s story …

Have you ever thought, “I want to love my neighbor, but I don’t know how”? How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively is packed with practical, adaptable tips and tools for introverts or extroverts, and people who live in big cities or small villages. If you want to get rid of the guilt about disobeying Christ’s #2 command to love our neighbor but don’t want to alienate or offend your neighbors in the process, this book is for you.

Amy wasn’t always a good neighbor – in fact, she says she wasn’t always even a good believer. In Chapter One she tells her story of running from God for 20 years before natural relationships with godly women changed her spiritual destiny—and this happened outside of church, at coffee shops and playgrounds. Once Amy returned to the Lord, however, it was as if Jesus was locked inside her house! She lived in her neighborhood for seven years before she attempted to get to know her neighbors, and even this was done kicking and screaming. She fought the Lord for a long time before finally inviting 89 neighbors over for coffee. This gathering of women in homes became an international ministry called The Neighborhood Café, and this book was also an outcome of her experience in her own neighborhood.

The Neighborhood Cafe

You may be asking, “Isn’t it ‘loving my neighbor’ when I support world missions or witness to my hairdresser?” Yes, it is… but we have globalized the definition of neighbor to include everyone in the whole wide world, conveniently excluding the people who live right next door—the ones who can reject us. Jesus had a different way of loving His neighbor. He simply sat down with His neighbors at their tables, in their homes, and they did life together.

Loving our neighbor means investing in relationships – it’s sometimes messy, but it’s always meaningful.

If you’re struggling to build relationships with your neighbors based solely on religion, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird teaches you six other areas where you can interact and engage with your neighbors: family, government, education, business, arts and entertainment, media. Along with religion, these seven areas have shaped every culture in every generation, and they are active forces in your community today. These areas impact the people living around you, and the influence of the Gospel is desperately needed in each area.

Amy's Giveaway

 

God knew what sociologists and archaeologists have also figured out: your entire community is safer, stronger, wealthier – and even lives longer! – when neighbors know each other’s names and are involved in each other’s lives. And on a spiritual level, loving our neighbors blesses us even more than it does them. You’ll never lean on God more or see Him more clearly than when you obey His #2 command.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win Amy’s BIG giveaway to help YOU invite your neighbors to get to know Jesus. Her BIG Giveaway includes:

  • 2 MUGS Adorable “Love Your Neighbor” mugs, one for you, one for your neighbor!
  • 10 CARDS to ask your neighbor over for coffee, board games, BBQ – you name it! Invite one neighbor or the whole block, whatever works.
  • 2 COFFEES Single-serve Columbian coffees.
  • 2 COASTERS to put under your steaming mugs.
  • 1 BOOK A signed copy of Amy’s book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird.

I’ll announce the winner Friday in my next blog post.

Blessings,