Book Review ~ Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust


Sharla Fritz’s engaging new book, Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust, is a home-run hit for this girl who struggles with waiting: for answers, for direction, for healing…for my fast-food order…for everything! I stew…I squirm…I sweat. I don’t like waiting! (Can you relate?)

It’s difficult to wait well, isn’t it? Everything in our instant world says, “Why wait?” And yet, the reality is, many times we must. This book is teaching me there’s a purpose for every “pause” in my life, even when I fail to see it as I wait.

Receive encouragement, comfort, and hope as you wait in this season: of life, of the year, of your career, of struggles, of relationships, and more. Whatever the reason for your wait, know that the Lord holds your hand. He is at work, even when you don’t see it. Don’t despair in the delay; it may be a divine interruption for His purpose and His plans…all in His timing and by His grace for you in Christ. And while you wait, you can do so expectantly, confident of God's provision. What might He be teaching you? And what actions can you take, even while you wait?

Through the historical accounts of women in Scripture who waited on the Lord (such as Sarah, Hannah, Martha...and more), you and I can learn to wait WELL. With Biblical depth and wisdom, the author give us a fascinating peek into the cultural context (including backgrounds, timelines, and maps!) of personal narratives in Biblical history. And she provides practical application, enabling us to relate with each woman, personalizing their stories to ours. 

“[God] specializes in coming through when everything appears hopeless to us.” - Sharla Fritz

If you’ve ever had to wait (and who hasn’t?!), this book is for YOU! It’s a must-read for personal growth and study; it’s a perfect choice for small-group or large-group Bible study; and it’s a welcomed gift for a friend. Thank you, Sharla!

With authenticity, grace, and even a bit of humor, Sharla shares her own personal stories, too, having lived through multiple reasons and seasons of waiting! In addition to her insightful teaching of this difficult topic, she's provided creative study questions for growth and reflection, and the opportunity to dig deeper in Scripture, where the Holy Spirit will speak into our lives and throughout our seasons of waiting. May the Lord enable us to see the “pause” in our plans as an opportunity to grow in trust of the One who is working in the midst of it.

Meet the Author! 
Sharla Fritz, Author

Sharla Fritz loves to speak with women's groups and to share about her own struggles, victories, and failures, speaking about how God is miraculously present through them all. 

Sharla is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, musician, and retreat leader. She is also a pastor's wife, mother and grandmother, and confirmed chocoholic. Sharla and her husband, John, live in a Chicago suburb. She is the author of several books, including Soul Spa, Bless These Lips, and Divine Design.

Visit Sharla's website and learn more about Waiting: http://www.sharlafritz.com/2017/07/what-you-waiting-for/ 

Download a FREE Excerpt or Purchase here: http://books.cph.org/waiting

The Savior’s Grace Place Menu: Breve Blessings

Did you know...?? Your Savior has a “menu” of sorts (yes, you read that right!) and it's filled with the very best of His abundant provision and served up to you. 
In this excerpt from Sip, Savor, & Drink Deeply (found in both the Bible study book and the devotional), you will receive a selection from The Savior’s Grace Place menu by way of the description of one popular coffee shop beverage. Other selections include: Mocha Mercy, Cappuccino Comfort, and Latte Love, to name a few. And guess what?! Your cup overflows with an endless supply of each menu item, poured out in abundance by His grace and generously served up to you today and every day. Enjoy...

BREVE BLESSINGS

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Ephesians 1:3

A breve is perhaps the least known beverage on a coffee shop menu. This delicious drink is created simply by substituting half-and-half or light cream for the milk in any espresso-based beverage. Take your latte, cappuccino, or mocha, and simply replace the steamed milk with a creamier option and—voilĂ !—you have a breve. If you’re thinking, But I’ve always added cream to my coffee, keep in mind that a breve is more parts cream than coffee. It’s really rich. 
We are brimming with God’s breve-rich blessings, overflowing for us in Christ and found near the front of The Savior’s Grace Place Menu! His blessings are not limited to the past. (Sigh. My cup was rich and running over at one time.) They’re not restricted to special moments and milestone events we log in our memory books. In our sin, we are shortsighted. Not only do we fail to remember or recognize some of our blessings, but we neglect to acknowledge and praise our Savior as the one who provides each and every one of them. We bring our shortsightedness and neglect to the provider Himself, who knows our failures and forgives all of them for Jesus’ sake, blessing us “with every spiritual blessing,” beginning with the forgiveness we receive at the cross and flowing forward with the blessings of faith, peace, love, joy, and more!

Today’s blessings that fill our cups may have a new look, a different flavor than yesterday’s blend, and we may not yet recognize them to be the blessings that they are. Maybe they’ll appear through new means, revealing God’s continued provision in a different way.

One day, while waiting in line at my local coffee shop, I was startled as a woman appeared suddenly and grabbed me by the arm. With a smile larger than my grande breve, she exclaimed, “Can I pay for your drink? I am so blessed today, I just want to share my joy!” By God’s grace, this woman recognized His rich blessings in her life and let them overflow onto me.

Praise be to God, our cups of Breve Blessings are brimming over! The Lord’s blessings really do spill over from our cups of plenty; our cups overflow (Psalm 23:5).

Dear God, help me to recognize Your rich blessings as they flow into my life, sometimes through unexpected means. May I give You glory as I acknowledge and praise You for each and every one. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Drink Deeply: God is the giver of every good and perfect gift - every blessing - both physical and spiritual. All that we have comes from His hand. Read Ephesians 1:3-14, which begins, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." We "bless" or praise our triune God - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - for His countless blessings, beginning with the spiritual blessings in Christ we read about here.

1. According to verse 3, you are blessed in Christ. Find and mark every "in Christ" or "in Him" across this passage. Why is "in Christ" so significant?

2. Because you are "in Christ," united with Him in your Baptism, you are a recipient of every spiritual blessing from heaven. Read the passage again, looking for some of the countless spiritual blessings you receive by His grace.

3. According to verse 6, the blessings you receive "in the Beloved" - in Christ, the one He loves - are the result of what?  [The blessings we receive are the result of God's grace, not something we earn or deserve.]



Reprinted with permission



Sip, Savor, & Drink Deeply: He Knows Your Name

I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. 
Isaiah 49:15–16

I stepped inside my favorite coffee shop the other day and two familiar voices called out together from behind the counter, “Deb!” A warmth flowed into me as if I’d already taken my first sip of hot latte, and I thought, They never forget me! As I approached the counter, we began the friendly rapport we share each time I walk into their shop. Sometimes I’m grabbing a cup to go; other times I’m meeting a friend. But that day, I arrived at my favorite coffee shop alone, ready to sit with my Savior for a time of devotion, writing, and prayer.

I’ve become what some would call a “regular” at this shop, and when I arrived that day, the baristas not only knew my name, but they also knew my favorite flavor blend, served up just the way I like it. “Let me guess, Deb: a halfsie again today? Half raspberry and half white chocolate; half skim and half whole milk; a half shot of espresso. Am I right?” I laughed and nodded. We chatted a little while longer, then I headed to my table and opened my Bible.

As I began to read, they delivered my drink. The side of the cup read “We love Deb!” with a big heart. Once again, a warmth flowed through me, this time as I pondered the expressions of love printed on the cup and written across the pages before me. I paused to pray, thanking God for the baristas’ reminder that I am known. I am loved.

While my barista buddies know my name, label my cup with love, and learn a little more about me each time we meet, there is One who knows me completely (Psalm 139) and loves me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). He created me in His image (Genesis 1:27) and sent His Son to the cross to save me from my sins              (1 Corinthians 15:3). He calls me His child (John 3:1–2), and He will never forget me (Isaiah 49:15).

Even better than seeing my name handwritten on the side of a cup is knowing my name is engraved on the palm of God’s hand. And so is yours. He loves you! He knows your name.

Father God, You know my name! Thank You for expressing Your everlasting love for me across the pages of Scripture and at the cross of Christ, my Savior! In His name. Amen.

From Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply Devotions by Deb Burma © 2017 CPH. 
Reprinted with permission

Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply ~ Join the Launch Team!

Take a Break from the Daily Grind...

Join the Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply Launch Team!

I’m on the edge of my seat as I share with you that my new Bible study book, Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply, will be released May 23rd!  I cannot wait for you to grab a cup, pull up a chair, and take a sip…to drink deeply of God’s overflowing gifts that are YOURS in Christ!

Here’s the scoop: I would absolutely love your help to spread the word about Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply and its upcoming release!

This unique Bible study book will speak to any woman who’s thought, “I could use a break – a coffee break – with a friend!” (Even if she sips hot chocolate, chai tea, or a flavored steamer.) Just imagine what the Savior has in store for us each time we meet Him with our cup of coffee (or the like) and, more important, with our “cup”—our self—a vessel created and chosen by God, redeemed in Christ, and ready to be filled for His purpose...

I’m partnering with my publisher, CPH, to form a launch team for this special study ...that it may find its way into the hands of every woman who could use a "refill" (and couldn't we all?!).

Imagine having the opportunity to share with others what you receive: God’s latte love, mocha mercy, java joy, and every overflowing gift He pours out to you...

I’d LOVE to have you join us!

If You Join The Launch Team, Here’s What You Do…

1. Read an electronic advance review copy of Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply (The CPH marketing team will send you a free digital copy!)

2. Share information (and your excitement!) about Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply on your social media channels, at your favorite coffee shops, around your community, at your school or place of work, or in other places where women love to gather around a cup, ready for a refill! 

3. Post a review of Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply on cph.org, Amazon, and/or Goodreads.

As a Member of The Launch Team, Here’s What You Will Receive:

1. A free download of Sip, Savor, and Drink Deeply, so you’ll be filled to the brim…before anyone else!

2. Upon the book’s release, a free autographed copy. (I’d be honored to sign your book and write to you, praying for you as I do!)

3. Exclusive access to a private Facebook group where we’ll dialog about topics and details, I’ll answer your questions, and you’ll get behind-the-scenes book updates as we prepare for its release. (We’ll get to hang out online as we sip from our cups…)

4. Some cool coffee swag mailed right to you! (You won’t believe the fun stuff created by the marketing team!)

·         Are you excited at the thought of sharing this book that's overflowing with God’s breve blessings, grande grace, and more??
·         Are you active on social media or your own blog?
·         Do you love Bible study time, alone or with a group of friends?
·         Do you jump at the chance to share books/topics you love with your church, co-workers, book club, fellow students, family, or friends? 

If YES, please fill out the form below! Limited spots are available on this unique launch team, so don’t delay! Enter no later than April 21st – how about now?!  Thank you so much!


12 Ideas to Guide Your Child to a Life of Prayer

This post first appeared on The CPH blog (click to view) under "Everyday Faith".

“Momma, momma, huwwy! We need to pway!” My toddler ran to me the very moment he heard the siren from a fire truck speeding past our house down the nearby highway. I scooped my little guy into my arms and held him close. Together, we talked to Jesus, asking for help and protection on behalf of the people who may be hurting or in danger.
Just as my husband and I sought to teach our children that prayer can and should be our first response in every situation, you, too, can lead your growing children to pray, helping them see the need for it and the power of God in and through it. You can remind them that their loving heavenly Father’s eyes are always upon them, and that He hears and answers every prayer. They can draw near to His throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) because of Christ’s sacrifice for them at the cross!

Here are 12 ideas to help you along the way:
  1. From your children’s earliest toddler years, you can teach them to stop and pray for others when they hear sirens or when they witness any other potentially scary situation.
  1. Encourage your growing child, and praise her for her humble words given to God in prayer. No matter how long or short her prayer, it is a beautiful offering to Him.
  1. Teach your child how he can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), offering pop-up prayers in the middle of the day and developing an attitude of constant prayer and dependence on God.
  1. Pray for and with your child on the spot as a crisis or need arrives: when she walks through the door in tears, when you learn of another family’s illness or accident, or when another person suddenly comes to mind.
  1. Develop a prayer habit for your family at regular times in your daily routine, such as mealtime, devotion time, and bedtime, if possible.
  1. Sing the doxology or a table prayer set to music, and encourage your children to sing with no inhibitions as they offer praise and thanks to the Lord.
  1. Pray with them about big and small things, revealing that it all matters to God. He is a God of details and desires that we bring them all to Him.
  1. Encourage your children to be honest and forthright in their prayers. God knows every hair on their heads, so He surely knows everything on their hearts. They can pray about anything, even those things that they can’t talk to you about.
  1. Tell your child that however his heavenly Father answers his prayers—yes, no, or wait—he can expect God to change and grow him as a result of his prayers.
  1. Present your child with a journal, and encourage her to record her prayers and others’ prayer requests. Encourage her to look back to her past journal entries, recognizing God’s provision and answers along the way.
  1. Model prayer as you teach it to your precious children. Pray openly and honestly. Let them hear you confess your sins and praise your Savior. Let them listen as you thank Him for the many blessings of the day and as you hold them up in prayer.
  1. Pray the Scriptures for and with your children, inserting their names into them. Here’s a great place to start: “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you [ child’s name ] may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9–11).
Scripture: ESV®.  Portions excerpted from Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Coffee Break!

Let’s meet for coffee. Oh, wait. You’re in front of your screen; I’m in front of mine, and we may even be across the country from one another, but I think we can make this work. (I know…we’re not on Skype and we’re not chatting live, but I’m writing and you’re reading, and if you will grab a cup, I’ll do the same!) And in a sense, we’ll be “meeting” for coffee - gathering (as girlfriends in God love to do!) around a cup.
We can even call it a “coffee break!” Yes, a break. A time, if ever so brief, to sit back for rest, reflection, and refreshment. And coffee…a mere beverage? Hardly! The word “coffee” is so enticing, even if a cup of Java or Joe is not the drink of your choice. Why? Because the word “coffee” – the invitation,“let’s meet for coffee” – means so much more! (Maybe you’re enjoying a chai tea or a cup of hot cocoa or a flavored steamer right now!) 

For years, I was not a coffee drinker, but I rarely passed up an opportunity to “meet for coffee” when someone called. The atmosphere, the aroma, the amazing pastries behind the counter…all were enticing. And today I am a changed woman! While a black cup of Joe still doesn’t call my name, some newer creations simply SING to me! (With names like “White Chocolate Mocha” and “Vanilla Hazelnut Cappuccino” and “Creamy Caramel Latte,” how can I resist??)  
When a loved one or a friend invites you to meet for coffee, what she is really saying is that she wants your company, alongside that hot beverage. The conversation and camaraderie can fill and energize and refresh as much or more than the coffee in the cup after its consumption. “Coffee” is an event, an occasion, a holiday, if you will. 

A woman once shared with me how her family had faced years of hardship and financial struggles. As she and her husband worked tirelessly to put food on the table, there was no money left over for extras. But they kept a coin jar in the kitchen. As their small change accumulated, on rare occasion, they would delight in one treat: They would go out for a cup of coffee! I remember thinking, “Not dessert or chocolate?!” No. Coffee. The pick-me-up; the rare treat of choice for a special time together.
The Lord invites you to meet Him for a break – for a REAL pick-me-up. Even better than a coffee break with a loved one or a friend. He, too, really wants your company. He desires to spend a special time together with you. (It need not be a rare treat, but a daily delicacy!) The conversation that He initiates in His Word, and the camaraderie – the friendship – that He provides with His constant presence can be more filling than any other. Just imagine what the Savior has in store for you each time you meet Him with your cup. With your cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Sure! More importantly, with the “cup” that is you – a vessel created and called by the Lord, to be filled and used for His purposes! He invites you to take a seat, put up your weary feet, and extend your “cup” to Him.  

“[Jesus said,] ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28 As you find rest for your soul from the hurries and hassles of your life, you will be refreshed as you reflect upon His Truth for you, and you will be filled anew with energy and strength, purpose and direction for the day ahead. Hold out your cup to Him; He is filling it already.
 
As you sit down to meet your Savior for coffee, remember a few fun things…
·         Arrive with a Right-Side-Up Cup! (Check first to make sure your cup is not turned up-side-down!) Ask for a teachable, receptive, and open heart to receive every Word of wisdom He has for you today. Then hold your cup under His steady stream of grace.

·         Sip Slowly & Drink Deeply! “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10b As you sit with your Savior, sip His Word slowly, savoring every taste before you swallow. With every sip, you are refreshed; with every swallow, warmed and invigorated. Bring it to your parched lips and drink deeply as it flows into you. God’s divine power at work in His Word entices us in new and exciting ways each time it is read, as we receive everything we need from the One who called us and gives us life in His name! His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 

·         It’s a Bottomless Cup! The beauty of drinking in God’s Word is that the more we consume, the more our cup is filled. We cannot keep up with our Savior who continually pours His grace upon us. Our cups never run dry when His mercies are flowing!

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23


      Thanks for meeting me for coffee.
      I’m going for a refill.
      How about you?



Making Appearances: Your Daughter and Social Media


This post first appeared on The CPH blog (click to view.) 

Your daughter stares into the screen of her phone, deeply engaged in social media. Many of the images are recognizable. The comments are personal. Some elicit laughter. Others hit a little too close to home. Still others leave her feeling uncomfortable and upset.

What your daughter may not realize is that the limited view of her friends via social media—shared for the world to see—are skewed, a little or a lot. As friends share flattering photos and make enviable remarks, they give her the false impression that everything in their world is ideal. They may be “making an appearance” before their peers, attempting to build themselves up, to appear a certain way. 

The result? Your poor princess ends up feeling inferior to or resenting her friends, whose goal may not have been to intentionally hurt anyone but merely to look good to others. In other cases, friends may share suggestive images or inappropriate content to seek negative attention and end up causing even further hurt as a result. In still other cases, so-called friends may attempt a direct attack against your daughter, using social media as the means for cyberbullying.

Research reveals a direct correlation between time spent on social media and negative feelings of self-worth, especially among growing girls, who often struggle with confusion and uncertainty regarding their changing appearance, their acceptance by peers, and their very identity. Researchers from the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Australia surveyed more than 1,000 adolescent girls. Dr. Amy Slater reported, “Our findings demonstrate a worrying correlation between excessive media use, particularly social media and the internet, and lower self-esteem, body-esteem and sense of identity and higher depression” (Medical Daily).  

I’m not advocating a ban of social media for our girls (once we’ve determined that they are old enough and prepared to make use of it). So many excellent Internet-driven tools for connectivity, conversation, and education have the potential to powerfully and positively impact our children when used with discretion and when our children’s eyes are wide open to the potential deception and harm that can be found in them. 

You have the opportunity to let social media be a great teaching tool for your daughter.

  • Be the mom. Set limits and explain them clearly; define appropriate and inappropriate use and provide clear-cut guidelines as you also educate yourself about the latest trends in social media.
  • Alert your child to the very real dangers that exist. Don’t mince words. If you’ve determined that she is ready for social media, then she must also be ready to understand the inherent dangers: Internet pornography, sexual innuendos, crude language, cyberbullying, and other vices exist across cyberspace. Help safeguard her by providing ample information, for her protection. 
  • Pray for and with her, asking God to guard her heart and guard her eyes: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways” (Psalm 119:37). 
  • Establish a level of care and trust so she knows she can approach you with concerns and every possible scenario that may appear before her.
Your daughter is “making an appearance” before her peers when she sports her first smartphone, when she sets up her first Facebook page or Instagram account , and every time she texts, posts, pins, or tweets (or whatever term the latest social media uses to define sharing something across cyberspace!).

 What kind of appearance will she want to portray? 

  • Help her to think carefully about the image she wishes to project, about how she wants to represent herself publicly.
  • Encourage her as you remind her of her true identity as a godly girl. The image she projects doesn’t have to try to impress because she is made in the image of God.
  • Share God’s Word of truth, which tells her that she is being transformed into Christ’s likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). With God’s help, her every appearance before others can be a reflection of Him by her character, as she chooses to reveal it.
What an opportunity! As she shares images of herself, words, interests, video clips, and more, she is free to express her unique identity as a chosen princess of the King, a redeemed child of God in Christ Jesus.


Scripture: ESV®.  Portions excerpted from Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.