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

Faith, Family and Fun|A Phone Tree Book Review and Recommendation

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Title: Get to Know King David 

Author: Nancy I. Sanders

About the Book: “A shepherd and a king, David lived an adventurous life. He protected his family’s sheep from lions and bears. He fought a giant with just a sling and stone. He even spent years hiding from men who were trying to kill him. And eventually, David became a great king. But David was also a man of God. Learn more about this hero from the Bible and his exciting place in history. Discover what it was like to grow up in ancient Israel and then be a king of God’s people. King David – part of the Get to Know series – will teach you everything you need to know about an imperfect young man whom God used to do great things!”

Special Features:

- Color Maps and Photos

- Scripture References and Fun Facts

- A Word Bank

- Student Resources and Source Notes

- A Detailed Glossary

- An Illustrated Timeline

Common Core Standards:




Phone Tree Review: As soon as I got this book in hand, I knew that I would love it. It was so colorful and so visually appealing that it invited me into its pages right away. Because the subject matter addressed David – shepherd boy, psalmist, warrior, worshipper and king, I was certain that it would be interesting. The truth of the matter is that this book is not only interesting, but it is also very thoroughly captivating. With rich details and meaty content, Get to Know King David is a dream come true for parents who want to provide their children with a good, solid Biblical education regarding key figures from the Bible.

Rating: 5/5

Recommend: Yes

Bookshelf Worthy: Yes

Audience: Children (6-10 years old)

Category: Christian Non-fiction

A complimentary copy of this title was provided by Zonderkidz via Book Look Bloggers 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 4/8)

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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): “Having a quiet time shouldn’t be the end goal, but sometimes our routines suggest it is. We carve out a block of time and go through our checklist of reading and praying while the clock ticks away. If we’re “successful” – if we manage to stay with it until our time is up – we congratulate ourselves and get on with the real business of the day. And all the while we wonder why we don’t more intimately know the God who chose us, redeemed us, and promises to give us life in its fullest measure.

Heaven help us.

The One who holds our breath in His hand desires our company. If the mission of our quiet times is to know Him, I have a sweeping suggestion: instead of trying to find time in our day for God, let’s determine to find God throughout our day.

We can set aside routine times to read the Bible and pray, and we can stencil His words on our walls, but if we want to know the One who speaks them, we need to invite Him into what I fondly call the Marvelous Mundane.” 18373194

Table Talk: As I read through chapter four of Tomlinson’s book, I couldn’t help but think that everyone should read it at least two times over. What she said made so much sense. Getting lost in “priorities,” confining self in the straight jacket of routines, and inadvertently taking the wonders and majesty of God for granted – these were my thoughts. This is what we all tend to do. Isn’t it? As we live life, we often fluctuate between what we deem as important and what the LORD conveys as is important to Him.

What I’ve just said should cause us to pause and think. To reflect deeply. To inhale and exhale…to breath in our real truth. Tomlinson’s words, “…determine to find God throughout our day,” that is what we should do. But you know what it will require? It will require that we shift our mindsets. Actually, it will require us to be dependent on God to help us transform our way of thinking.

Table Talk Discussion Questions:

1) Do you ever find yourself trying to “schedule” God into your day?

2) If you have tended to time manage God, how does it make you feel when you cannot get it done or make it happen, in terms of spending time with Him, studying/reading His Word, praying, etc.?

3) Is there anything wrong with carving out quiet time with God? Discuss.

4) Do you think that there is a perfect formula that you should be following as it relates to how to be with God?

5) What do you think is the value of inviting God into your day?

6) Can you think of any person from the Bible who consistently invited God into his/her day on a regular basis? What can you learn from this?

7) Would you be willing to commit to spending at least one day this week tracking God and His majestic glory in the “Marvelous Mundane?”

Prayer: Oh Father, that we would see You and desire You above all else! That is our wish. That is our hope. That IS our joy. Isn’t it? Help us dear LORD. Help us not to get sidetracked or waylaid in the priority of priorities. Help us to witness You in the unremarkable just as much as in the remarkable. Blast our way of thinking out of the water, and grant us a holy transformation through Your Living Water. In the name of Christ Jesus. 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 3/8)

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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): “No other book lives and breathes as the Bible does. Engage the Author and listen. Ask Him to let you hear His voice and feel His breath in its pages.” 18373194

Table Talk: The Word of God is alive! It speaks. It teaches. It inspires. It encourages. It admonishes. It directs. It answers. And still, it does more than that. When was the last time you spent time losing yourself or rather finding yourself in its truths and promises? Whenever you are at a loss or whenever you are in a gain, the Bible is the place where you are guaranteed to experience God anew.

Table Talk Discussion Questions:

1) Do you believe that the Word of God speaks?

2) Is it possible to have a conversation with the LORD through His Word? If so, what would this look like?

3) Do you, like David, meditate, contemplate, delight in, and pledge not to forget God’s word?

4) What excuse do you use or have you used to avoid spending time with God through His word?

5) Have you sought God in prayer about your attitude toward Scripture? (This includes, but is not limited to, your attitude regarding Scripture reading, meditation and reflection, memorization, comprehension, and application.)

6) Have you ever noticed that the more time you spend in the Word, the more time you want to spend with the Word?

7) What was the last thing you heard from the Word of God and what impact did it have on your life and/or life circumstance?

Prayer: Father, forgive us. Forgive us for forgetting how important it is to spend time with You through Your word. Forgive us for forgetting to connect with You through prayer.  Forgive us for not believing, in part or in whole, that You speak even in today’s day and age. Help us to have a heart for You like David did, like Peter did, like Paul did. Scratch that, help us to have a heart for You like Jesus did. In the name of the Beloved Son and Savior of all, Jesus. 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

Gideon: Your Weakness. God’s Strength (PTBS – 7)

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A Phone Tree Bible Study Series

Gideon: Your Weakness. God’s Strength. 2cb702be-dafa-4d5e-923f-df23c7f1b270

Week 7: No Other Gods

Summary: What do the words, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” mean? Clearly, they mean that there should be no other little “g” gods in our lives. We should esteem the God of heaven and Him only should we worship. In truth, these words should guide every action, decision, and/or thought that we have. They tell us so much about God and about what He desires of us. He wants us to understand that we should have no other images, likenesses, or idols before Him…period. There is nothing else and there is no one else who can be the strength, courage, might, direction, provision, or power that we need in order to endure and/or to overcome.

From Priscilla to Us:

“It’s much easier to exchange this severe term idol for lighter, less harsh terms that are easier on the ears and less convicting to the heart. We call them bad habits, issues, obsessions, cravings. Carefully, craftily, we steer clear of saying idol just as Israel’s leaders navigated around the word melek. But, honestly, we aren’t fooling anyone any more than Israel did.”

This Week’s Assignment:

1) Describe the meaning of no other gods before Me in your own words. (After you have completed this, do an in-depth study on the Scripture reference.)

2) Answer the following questions:

- What do you tend to worship? (In other words, what or who do you tend to revere, praise, honor, celebrate, and/or give a place of importance?)

- “Do you find it difficult to use the word idol in relation to anything in your life? If so, why?” (Page 153)

- If you have been guilty of giving little “g” gods a prominent place in your life, have you confessed it to God /prayed about it to the LORD?

3) Read the remainder of your member book. Log your discoveries and write down any other aha lessons that you have come across.

4) Go back and revisit your notes and reflections from this entire study. After you deeply meditate on what you have learned, end (or rather begin anew) with the LORD. Appreciate that He is your personal bravery, your needed courage, your absolute strength, and your God Almighty. Understand that He is your salvation.


Blessings and thank you for participating in and supporting this very special Bible study series. I pray that your life has been changed for the good through it. If you have learned nothing else, please know this – the God of heaven loves you and knows you. He is mindful of what you are dealing with. He knows of your struggles and your weaknesses. He gets it. More than that, He, as your strength, has given you of His power, grace and love and He supports and fully provides for your deliverance through Jesus Christ our Savior.