Monday, November 28, 2011

Fellowship of Christian Bloggers

Thanks to Tony Kummer, creator of the Devotional Christian website, for including Saved by Grace in the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers!

children's ministry blogs

If you have a moment, please visit this website including many inspirational Christian blogs. We are honored and blessed to be included here.

Tony also has a related children's ministry website with many great ideas and free resources for sharing Jesus with children.

May you all have a blessed week!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Be Thankful for the Giver!

With the Thanksgiving holiday begins the official Christmas shopping season, as stores vie for our attention and our dollars while we seek the perfect presents for our loved ones. No matter how much we try, some gifts fall short, and instead of the joyful surprise and appreciation we had hoped for, we hear a polite “Gee, you shouldn’t have,” or “It’s the thought that counts.”

Often we try to give our loved ones, especially our children, what we know they need instead of what they think they want. Classic books, educational software, warm mittens and socks get left behind under the piles of wrapping, while the child disappears into his room with the worldly video game given by a well-meaning family friend or relative. For an older son or daughter, a membership to a towing and roadside protection emergency service has a lot less appeal than a gift card to the mall, until that fateful night when their car breaks down on a dark, lonely road.

Hopefully as the child grows up he would realize that Mom and Dad gave gifts motivated by their deep love and caring, wanting to nurture him and to guide him along the right path. Better yet, he would be thankful not only for the gifts, but for the giver, realizing that he was blessed with loving parents who wanted to encourage their child to follow God’s perfect plan for his life.

It may be a lot to hope for such maturity in our children, especially if we ourselves are less than thankful for the gifts God gives us. Even when things are going well, we tend to gloss over God’s many blessings upon us. In the Thanksgiving season, and whenever we take the time to reflect on God’s provision, it is easy to give thanks for what we perceive as blessings -– religious freedom, prosperity, good health, loving relationships, quality time with our family.

But do we faithfully thank God for those blessings that are harder to recognize? When we go through trials of sickness, financial loss, death of a loved one, rejection, divorce, do we give thanks? Our first reaction may be to question God or to be angry with Him. Yet Paul tells us to give thanks in EVERY thing, for this is the perfect will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

How is it possible to be thankful for trials? Clearly not in our flesh, but only through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who teaches us that God is sovereign and all-powerful; that He loves His children infinitely (1 John 4:9); that it gives Him great pleasure to give His children good gifts (Matthew 7:11); and that He works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

This side of glory, we cannot always understand or see the amazing ways that God is using tribulation in our life to accomplish His perfect will for us. We do know that trials can strengthen our faith in and dependence on God, can build our character by conforming us more and more to the image of His Son, and can give us the compassion and experience needed to help others going through similar circumstances (Romans 8:16-18; Phil. 3: 10-14).

If we trust and love God, we can be thankful for all things. The phrase “He really shouldn’t have,” truly applies with Him, because it is beyond our comprehension that the Creator of all things would willingly subject Himself to the suffering needed to pay for our sins in full (Colossians 1:12-29; 1 John 3:16). With Him, the thought really does count, because He thought enough of us to give His only Son as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8:32), so that all who repent and trust in His death, burial, and resurrection have eternal life (John 3:16; 2 Thess 2:13-14; Romans 1:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). How amazing that as Jesus faced the agony of crucifixion and the even more painful separation from His Holy Father as He took on our sins, He thought of us and prayed for us in the Garden of Gethsemane! (John 17)

At Thanksgiving and always, let us give thanks not only for every thing, but especially for Him, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer (Psalm 103:3-5; 104:1-15) Who loves us enough to give His only Son to save us, to clothe us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), to give us eternal and abundant life in His presence (John 10:10), to adopt us as His children (Romans 8:14-17) and joint heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:6-7), and to appoint us as His ambassadors on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) and joint rulers with Him in eternity!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Praise Him with Dance!

As born-again Christians (and active members of a Baptist church), my husband and I often get funny looks when people learn that we are dancers. God has blessed us with musical, dancing, and choreographic abilities, and we believe He would have us use these gifts to His glory and to spread His Word to an audience unaccustomed to hearing the Gospel.

It is true that the Bible condemns worldly forms of dancing, such as the dance Herodias’ daughter performed to entice Herod to execute John the Baptist (Mark 6:22-28), or the naked dancing of the Hebrews before the golden calf idol they had made (Exodus 32:18-25).

However, about two thirds of the references to dancing in the Bible portray it in a positive light, as a form of praise, worship, and expression of joy. Dancing is contrasted with mourning (Ecclesiastes 3:4; Jeremiah 31:13; Lamentations 5:15), and it was used to celebrate victory in battle (1 Samuel 18:6; 30:16) and the return of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:25). Miriam led the Israelite women in a dance of praise after God parted the Red Sea to deliver them from Egypt(Exodus 15:20-21). David danced before the Lord to praise Him for bringing the Ark back to Egypt, and when his wife Michal disapproved, she was punished by not bearing any children (2 Samuel 6:14-23).

Two of the Psalms call on worshippers to praise God with dance as well as music!
Psalm 149:3 Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Psalm 150:4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Through the years it has become clear to my husband and me that our ministry is to dance to Christian music for audiences that may be largely unchurched, in settings that are more secular than sacred. Our prayer each time we set foot on the dance floor is to honor Him with our dance, to dance for His glory, and to soften hearts to His Word. We have been blessed to have missionaries and people in church leadership praying for us in this mission.

If God calls you to a specific work, He will see you through it! God has blessed our ministry by granting us the strength to continue in physically demanding choreography, including overhead lift work, despite my husband’s heart condition (mitral valve regurgitation) and our age. We are old enough to be the parents or even grandparents of most other performers in this style, and we have been dancing together for more than 20 years even though the career of a male dancer in this style is usually limited to 5 years or less because of injuries and overuse.

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness; His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); and with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Philippians 4:13)

Isaiah 40: 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

He has opened doors for this ministry exceeding abundantly beyond what we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and it is amazing to look back over the years to see how He began preparing us for it long before we were even saved! (Jeremiah 29:11)

Lately God has also blessed me with Christian lyrics to secular and classical songs, which we dance to in the hope that the audience will be more attentive to the words when they recognize the music, and that the next time they hear the tune, their hearts will remember the Christian message.

Some of our pieces are on YouTube:
“Save Me!” (2011; lyrics/vocal by Laurie Collett)

“All I Need is You” (2011; lyrics/vocal by Laurie Collett)

“Power and Joy” (2009)

“O Holy Night” (2008)

“Silent Night” (2009; Theatrical Waltz)

If you feel so led, please view them. Your prayers for this ministry would be greatly appreciated.

To lead souls to the Lord, believers need to go where the lost are, bringing God’s Word and the good news of the Gospel outside the church (Matthew 28:19-20). In any endeavor, vocation, or hobby, God calls us to do all to His glory, that others may see Him through us and want to follow Him.

Colossians 3: 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Have you ever wanted a “do over?” Unfortunately, we can’t take back ugly words spoken in anger and haste, nor can we wipe from history’s pages mistakes we’ve made and hurts or wrongs we’ve inflicted in the process. Time and opportunities lost can never be bought back.

But our God is a God of second, and third, and seventy times seven chances (Matthew 18: 21-22). The moment we put our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation, we became a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). This change is so dramatic that Jesus spoke of it as being born again (John 3: 3-8).

With His grace, we can start over every time we repent of our sins and ask Him for forgiveness. We can put behind us mistakes of the past and reach forward to our brilliant future (Philippians 3:12-14) as His children and ambassadors. He can wash away our sins, turn our sorrow into joy and praise, and renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 30; Psalm 51).

He divided time into day and night (Genesis 1:5), so that we could remember not to carry over hurts, grudges, or anger into the next day (Ephesians 4:26). We can cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7) each night as our head sinks into the pillow, and we can praise His name each morning as we realize that His love is as faithful as the sunrise. Each day is His special gift to us, worthy of rejoicing over (Psalm 118:24), and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Meditating on His Word is the perfect way to renew our mind (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23). Rather than letting the world dictate what we think and how we act, we can keep our eyes fixed on Him and focus on His light, love and goodness (Phil. 4:6-10). If we ask Him to, He will align our mind more and more with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), being conformed to His image even if through sufferings (Phil. 3: 9-10).

Like Paul, we should be torn between the desire to be here on earth with our loved ones, serving them and others while we seek to do God’s will, and the desire to trade in this ailing body and corrupted heart for the glorified, sinless being that awaits us (Phil. 1: 20-24; 2 Corinthians 5: 1-8; Romans 8:18-23). Our ultimate renewal shall come in our holy new body, with our new name (Revelation 3:12), living eternally with Him in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

One Extra Hour!

What would you do with one extra hour? For those regions observing Daylight Savings Time, this Sunday is the time change most of us prefer. As we set the clocks back one hour, it seems like we get an extra hour to sleep or to stay up late doing what we enjoy or what we need to do. Of course, we don’t really get any extra time. The clock keeps on ticking, and our time left on earth gets shorter with every passing second, as does the time before we will see Jesus face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). Our life is “but a vapor” (James 4:14), as short-lived as the visible puff of air we exhale on a cold day.

As we compare our lives with those around us, we notice that money, talents, health, intelligence, power, beauty, and other blessings are not distributed equally among us. Every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17), and God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), distributing them according to His divine plan and His holy justice. The devil, who relentlessly paces the earth (Job 1:7) and who is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), jockeys to obtain position and favor for his henchmen, while trying to remove these advantages from believers who are productive for God.

But in terms of time, each of us has the same opportunities and limitations. Each of us has 24 hours in a day, no more and no less. When that day is gone, it’s gone forever. We can’t store, buy, borrow, steal, or create time.

But we can redeem the time! (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). With prayer and the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can make each moment on earth have eternal significance. Once the clock stops on earth and we enter eternity, time lasts forever. So our top priority here should be to maximize our experience there, realizing that we will enjoy eternally the rewards we earn for our earthly service.

Every soul led to Christ, every believer encouraged and uplifted, every gift given with the right motive to further His kingdom, will be the gold, silver and precious stones that will endure the fire of judgment (1 Corinthians 3: 12-14) and be a crown we can lay at Jesus’ feet (Revelation 4:10-11). Imagine what it is like to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21; Luke 19:17) and to be rewarded with positions of responsibility in the Millennial Kingdom!

God created and controls time just as He created and controls everything else. One day to Him can be as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), and His power is so unlimited that He created the universe in six literal days (Exodus 20:11; 31:17). He created day and night as a measure of time (Genesis 1:5), and set aside one day of seven as a day of rest to divide time into weeks (Genesis 1:31-2:3; Exodus 20:11; 31:17). His creation and alignment of the sun, moon and planets gave rise to time divisions of months, seasons and years (Genesis 1:14).

He designed our bodies to have internal rhythms in tune with those daily, monthly, and yearly cycles. Because He even designed atoms to have their own internal frequencies, extremely accurate atomic clocks can measure time using the microwave signal that electrons in atoms emit when they change energy levels.

Time marches on, but nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26). He can even stop the sun and moon in their tracks in answer to prayer if it serves His purposes (Joshua 10: 12-14). He can add 15 years to a life that should have ended, although when He did so for King Hezekiah in answer to his prayer (2 Kings 20: 1-11), there were negative consequences that Hezekiah could not have anticipated, including defeat by Babylon (2 Kings 20:12-18) and Hezekiah’s son Manasseh growing up to be one of the most evil kings Israel ever had (2 Kings 21: 1-6).

If you knew that that extra hour on Time Change Sunday, or any hour, would be your last, how would you spend it? I think most believers would get their hearts right with God by earnestly repenting of their sins, making right any wrongs by asking others for forgiveness and by forgiving them, expressing love to family and friends, and telling everyone who would listen that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

But we are not promised tomorrow (James 4:13), or even another hour, so as we decide how to spend our time, shouldn’t we make the above our top priority? Yes, the demands of work, school, family, and everyday life are many and pressing, but we can find ways to redeem the time and make every moment count.

Before we rush off in twenty different directions tilting at windmills, we can take time to read God’s Word (Psalm 119:97,105,133),and to pray that He would open the right doors, show us the right paths, and guide us through the day’s journey (Psalm 5:3; 143:8; Mark 1:35). The peace and wisdom found in prayer will order our thoughts and steps (Psalms 37:23; Proverbs 3:5-6), calm our anxieties, and make us more focused and productive in all we do. Whatever we do, we can do it to glorify God in an attitude of service and excellence (Colossians 3:23).

While showering and dressing, we can renew our minds (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23) with Christian radio or CDs. If we’re stuck in traffic, we can use the time to listen for God’s directions and to pray for our loved ones. While we wait in a checkout line at the supermarket, we can pray that all those in the store who are not saved will come to know Christ as their Savior, and that all the believers there will grow in faith, wisdom, and fruitfulness. Or, we can strike up a friendly conversation with the person behind us in line and pray that God will open the door for us to witness.

In the waiting room at the doctor’s office, why not bring our Bible to increase our wisdom, joy and peace, instead of thumbing through old magazines? Someone might ask us about what we’re reading, and it could be a divine appointment to share the meaning of God’s Word in our life.

In a sense, every hour that we’re on earth is that “one extra hour,” because it allows us a new beginning, a time to start over in ways that are pleasing to Him. So let’s not waste our allotted time – let’s redeem it!