Heart Wide Open (Table Talk, Week 8/8)

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A Special Phone Tree Heart-to-Heart Discussion Series

Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus: (My Top 5 Quotes from the Final Chapter of this Book):

“If all we have with the Lord is a history based on the memory of when we first believed, we may as well be friendly strangers. We won’t recognize His touch or hear His voice.”

18373194“Run hard after Jesus today, tomorrow,  and the day after that, and you can discover the delights of an increasingly close relationship with Him.”

“…our Creator, Redeemer, and Intimate Friend…lives and breathes, and He won’t fit in any compartment of our lives, regardless of how large a place we give Him or how nice and organized we keep our shrine. He isn’t meant to be a part of our lives; He is our life.”

“To never finish seeking God is to live the greatest adventure this life offers.”

“God doesn’t want to be the Great Spectator of our lives. He desires to live life with us, in us, and through us…”

Table Talk: Having a heart that is wide open requires much of the one who earnestly desires it. It requires a willingness to be open, a willingness to be taught, a willingness to be admonished, a willingness to be wooed, and a willingness to be transformed. It is a journey and an ongoing adventure that calls for truth, examination, and surrender on every level. It – a heart wide open – is about Christ more than it is about self. It is about Him having full access to the life of His disciple and ultimately full reign over his or her being.

Table Talk Discussion…The Final Question:

Are you willing and ready to trade your mundane, tedious, boring faith for an exuberant, vivacious and lively life with Jesus?

Prayer: LORD, we want You more than we want ourselves! In fact, we just want You. Teach us to appreciate the more. To crave the more. To find ourselves in the more. In the name of the Savior, Jesus who is the eternal Christ. Amen.

To Read an Excerpt From This Book and To Order Your Copy: Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

To connect with the author, visit Shellie Rushing Tomlinson.

The Great Surrender (Part 1/3)

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“So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure.”

James 4:7 (The Voice)


There is a struggle that exists in the lives of those who choose to follow after Christ. The struggle – the battle – comes from internal factors just as much as it comes from external factors. It comes from old man tendencies that go up against new man desires.

The struggle that reveals itself is like an ongoing head-to-head war that confounds and confuses all those who are engaged in it.

” For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns].”

Romans 7:15 (AMP)

But what can be done to combat this?

What can be done to deal with the inevitable and unavoidable struggle that persists in rearing its ugly head in the lives of Christians?

How do we or rather how can we get to the place of the “Great Surrender?”

Stay connected to the Phone Tree over the next two weeks to find out more. At the end of this series, there will be a special giveaway for Beautiful Mess:Motherhood for Every Moment by Sherry Surratt and Tracey Eyster.

Our next Sunday Series will be featuring this title. Starts Sunday, November 2, 2014.

2 More Reasons Why I Love Tyndale Blog Network|Book Recommendations/Reviews

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Title: The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional: 365 Days of Intimate Communication with God 21556306

Author: Chris Tiegreen

About the Book: “This year, learn to listen for the voice of the One who loves you most.” We know for sure that God speaks to His people. Throughout the pages of Scripture, time after time, He guides, instructs, corrects, inspires, encourages, and reveals. Inspired writers even call Him “the Word.” He has always been vocal, and He always will be.But what does He say to “you”? How does He say it? How can you know when you’ve heard Him? In “The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional,” Chris Tiegreen will help you discover patterns and practices you can adopt to hear God better. Listening to God is a process, a journey, and an adventure. He promises that those who seek Him will be rewarded with His presence and His voice. And the words of the living God are powerful and life-changing.”

Phone Tree Review: The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional by Chris Tiegreen was a comprehensive collection of Scripture, Biblical history, personal thoughts/insight and prayers.

Written in such a way as to invite the reader to focus his or her attention on God and His Triune being and influence, the devotional did indeed promote intimacy and invite reflection.

I appreciated that the author’s words caused me to think deeply and to slow down and consider my faith walk, as well as my relationship with the LORD.

I have elected to use this devotional as my personal OneWord devotional for the remainder of this year and into the next. I found that it ties in perfectly with my determined OneWord focus.

Rating: 5/5 Stars *****
Recommend: Yes
Options: Bible Study Ministries, Church Libraries, Gifts-Gets
Status: G
Other: I would love for this to be in a journal format. It would have been great to write out my thoughts post each devotional.


Title: Tell Me About Prayer 21539500

Author: Stephen Elkins

About the Book:Train ‘Em Up is an interactive, fun-filled, and affordable series that uses a train locomotive theme for teaching kids core Christian beliefs and principles. In “Tell Me about Prayer, ” a friendly train conductor, Mr. Steve, teaches kids what prayer is all about, how we should talk to God, and why our conversations are so important to Him. Through bold graphics and interactive songs and stories, Train ‘Em Up makes it easy for parents and teachers to explain biblical concepts like prayer in a way that helps with attention, memorization, and recall while building a solid faith foundation. Each book in the series includes a CD with sing-along songs and narrated stories with sound effects, plus a colorful sticker sheet!

Phone Tree Review: Tell Me About Prayer is a delightfully colorful and cute, kid-friendly book that introduces young children to the concept of prayer.

I really liked the layout and content of this book. I appreciated the easy to read format and the CD addition, as well as the Scriptural integrity. The use of the train-all aboard approach was playful and inviting, and I think kids will adore it.

Rating: 5/5 Stars *****
Recommend: Yes
Options: Family Read Along/Aloud, Church Ministries and Jr. Bible Classes, Private Christian School Libraries, Gifts-Gets
Status: G
A complimentary copy of each title was provided by Tyndale House Publishers via the Tyndale Blog Network program in exchange for an honest review. The words I have expressed are my own. I was not expected to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Heart Wide Open (Table Talk, Week 7/8)

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A Special Phone Tree Heart-to-Heart Discussion Series

Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus: (Quotes from the Book): “The list of personal attributes we’re encouraged to add to our faith is capped off with brotherly affection and love.

It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to see that God intends for us to walk in love…

Crazy, often confounding, new and improved love – this is the everyday life God expects of us because Christ has made it possible.

…Christ in us empowers us to love as God loves!”

18373194Table Talk: LOVE. We know we should have it and we know we should do it, but oftentimes, it is one of the hardest, most difficult, most challenging things to do. Why is that? Is it because it requires something of us? Is it because once we embrace the lesson regarding it, then we have no excuse not to demonstrate it toward God Himself or any others? Is it because it brings forth a transformation of being that changes us from who we once were into who we are now called to be?


Thankfully, we can love beyond ourselves because Christ now lives in us. His love – which becomes our love when we choose to follow Him – enables us to love the LORD with our all and to love others as ourselves. His love equips us to extend grace as well as to receive it. His love empowers us to love in spite of any negativity or obstacles caused by situations or by people.    

Table Talk Discussion Questions:

1) If you had to define love, what would you say about it?

2) Do you think that in order to effectively love someone outside of yourself, you have to love God first?

3) What Bible verse on love resonates the most with you and why?

4) Considering the lives of David, Paul, and Peter, what were some of their greatest demonstrations of love toward the LORD and toward others?

5) What does it mean to love the LORD with your all?

6) Is it possible to love someone who has hurt you? Forgive someone who has wronged you? Discuss.

7) Are we meant to be transformed (as it relates to love and loving outside of self) by Christ?

Prayer: LORD, all that You require of us is possible through Christ. That includes love. Help us to love like Christ loved. Teach us to let go of all those things that are anti-love. We trust You to transform us in every way.  In the name of the Savior, Jesus the Christ who is LOVE itself. Amen.

To Read an Excerpt From This Book and To Order Your Copy: Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Heart Wide Open (Table Talk Tuesdays, Week 6/8)

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A Special Phone Tree Heart-to-Heart Discussion Series

Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus: (A Quote from the Book): “Learning to take my eyes off myself and to trust solely in the finished work of Christ has given me a taste of what it means to live before God – and it has convinced me that the only way to stay free is to live as His slave.” 18373194

Table Talk: So many of us who have been made free in Christ still live in bondage to something or to someone. Believe it or not, this bondage very much  includes bondage to self. Why is this so? Why do we allow ourselves to be chained and shackled by our own fears, insecurities, doubts, weaknesses, challenges, or unbelief?

Table Talk Discussion Questions:

1) What is the difference between self-examination, self-love, and Christ-love regarding self?

2) What are 3 things you can definitively say about yourself regarding your trust level with the LORD?

3) Is freedom in Christ an easy concept to grasp?

4) Do you fear believing that you are well and truly free?

5) Once Jesus Christ has freed you, can you ever go back into bondage? Discuss.

6) What does it mean to be delivered? Saved? Sanctified? Set free?

7) Can beauty and riches be found in knowing that you are a slave of Christ?

Prayer: LORD Almighty, we believe and yet we are afraid sometimes to do that very thing. We trust and yet there are times when we don’t trust enough. We focus on self when in actuality, we should be focused on You. Forgive us. Please. We want to be a people who are centered and grounded in Christ-love. We want to be a people who live free and who find value in surrendering, in submitting, and in sacrificing. Father, we dare to believe You in all that You have said and shared. We dare to believe that we are free! Teach us to live free every day of our lives. In the name of the Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

To Read an Excerpt From This Book and To Order Your Copy: Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

HIS (My Worship, Reflection, and Life at Present)

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Many of you know that my ONEWord experience for 2014 has been focused on the word HIS. In all that HIS encompasses, my mission, my aim, has been to connect with the Most High through it.

I confess that it has been a highly enlightening journey. I have learned more about myself in the last few months than I thought possible.

Some of the things I have learned…

1) Only God…

Only God makes me good enough, worthy enough, strong enough, and well enough. Without Him, I can do nothing to make things “right.” I cannot do for myself or for any other without His provision, His help, or His blessing.

2) Falling does not mean failing…

Making mistakes, having faith slip ups, or stumbling and forgetting how to get up does not equate to an automatic fail in God’s eyes. Falling does not mean failure. God knew that I would fall magnificently. He knew that I would forget how to push up, pull up, lift up, and even look up. BUT, He provided an avenue for me by way of Jesus. Jesus, the person who loves me and saves me from the world and from myself daily. All I have to remember to do is to fall down and humble myself before Him and trust that He will pick me up.

3) Every day is a day to celebrate God anew…

Every day that I am given, I am invited to celebrate God. I am invited to partake of and to praise Him because of His majesty. I am invited to worship. I am invited to express and to demonstrate my adoration for all that He is in His I AMness.

4) Discover the joy…

Sometimes I have gotten so caught up in doing life that I forget to find the joy in it. I forget to find the happiness. I forget to see this life in Christ as a wonderful and wonder-filled adventure in faith. Finding the joy in God’s being and in His presence, in Jesus and in His keeping, and in the Holy Spirit and in His teaching should translate into every part of my existence.

5) Touching grace…

In terms of my Scripture focus (Ephesians 3:17-19), I am still digging into it. I have come to better see it and understand it through the aspect of grace. Grace – that devastatingly miraculous and wholly beautiful language of love. Even now, it astonishes me. It is hard to put into words just what it means. It is beyond beyond and still more than that. And I am allowed to touch it every single moment of every single day that I am gifted with.

6) Forgive and…

I have learned huge lessons on this front, and they have all been quite clear. I am to forgive others  – those who have hurt me, who have made unfair judgments or accusations regarding me , and who have called me something other than who I am. I am to forgive those who have abused me, ridiculed me, harbored ill feelings toward me, and who have acted harshly against me just because they thought they could. But the biggest forgive lesson to date has been about me forgiving myself.

7) Learn the lesson and move on…

In each good, bad, hard, easy, challenging, and/or awe-inspiring moment, there is a lesson for self and there is a lesson for others. Each lesson should point to God and lead to His glory, ultimately. Sometimes the teach has seemed like it’s stuck on repeat, but I have come to believe that that’s because of me. So, at present, I continue to remind myself to learn the lesson and move on. (Translation: Humble self, exalt God, confess Christ and be honest about sins and struggles, repent and turn from the unholy, and BE…transformed, cleansed, made well, delivered.)

I pray that this honest and real-time talk regarding my ONEWord will in some way encourage you and perhaps bless your life. In the meantime, please take a moment to listen to 2000 Years. This song is inspiring to me and has helped me to examine myself many times over. Maybe it will impact you in the same way.

God Bless,







Heart Wide Open (Table Talk Tuesdays, Week 5/8)

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A Special Phone Tree Heart-to-Heart Discussion Series

Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus: (A Quote from the Book): “…we can study the Word,  quote the Word, and speak the Word. We can sit and stand in the church year after year. We can have amazing head knowledge about the Bible. But until we submit our own desires to God’s and apply resistance to the ‘weight’ of our flesh, our faith won’t grow…Only our own personal resistance training – regularly moving aside the weight of our flesh to choose God’s will over our own – leads to increased faith.

18373194Without a doubt, yielding our will to God’s can be very difficult. The flesh gets loud about demanding its way. But when we submit and choose humility – exalting the Father’s will over our own will – we’re empowered to obey through the grace of the One who lives in us…Christ lives in us to obey for us.

Table Talk: There are two key points that Tomlinson made in Chapter 5 that I would really like to emphasize this week.

1) until we submit our own desires to God’s and apply resistance to the ‘weight’ of our flesh, our faith won’t grow

2) Christ lives in us to obey for us

Do I even need to say more than that? These powerful words definitely speak for themselves. And what should our takeaway be? Simply, this – submit to God, resist the flesh, and let Christ live in us. He’s already done it – whatever IT is or whatever we need IT to be – for us. He has given us the pureness of His life, the trueness of His Spirit, and the wholeness of His love, instead of the death we deserved.

Table Talk Discussion Questions:

1) What is the Biblical definition of submission and why is it important to understand?

2) Do you have a problem with submitting to God or with surrendering your will to Him? Why?

3) Are the desires that you have in sync with the desires that God has for you?

4) Is it each one of us individually who moves aside the “weight” of our own flesh, or does the LORD actually do it for us?

5) What does it mean to you to know that Christ lives in you?

6) Does knowing that Christ lives in you and obeys for you cause you to look at faithful obedience in a different way?

7) How do faith and grace connect?

Prayer: LORD God, every day we are reminded of the greatness, the magnificence, and the exaltedness of You. We recognize what Most High really and truly means. (Please forgive us, however, when we momentarily lose our minds and forget.) We celebrate You God and trust ourselves only in Your keeping. We confess that we struggle with submission, with surrender. And we admit that we need Your help with this. This weight that we have held onto for far too long has become burdensome;  it encumbers us greatly. We need You to enliven us and to deliver us from ourselves. In the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

To Read an Excerpt From This Book and To Order Your Copy: Heart Wide Open – Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson