Category Archives: Free Christian Resources

Are You Optimizing Your Brain Fitness?

A week ago, I wrote about Alan’s attending the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatrists’ annual meeting and the tidal wave of Baby Boomers hitting retirement age, and I suggested that we start learning to surf so we don’t get crushed. This week, I want to offer a few ideas from what I’ve been learning in my own quest for health.

Are you familiar with The Great Courses? I am a fan. Through audio or video, this organization can bring a world of research and learning via professors from some of America’s best universities right into your car or home. I can drive and learn, sit quietly on a couch with notebook in hand, or work out on my elliptical while absorbing information.

Granted, these college-level courses won’t keep you awake like Hollywood’s glitzy entertainment, but they are excellent resources for brightening your brain! I ordered a couple of series last fall and have been completely satisfied with the quality of their programs and what I’ve been learning. My personal favorite way to optimize both brain and body fitness is to work out while keeping a notebook right beside me for scribbling down ideas. Stopping to write notes does effect my workout stats, but I figure the mental stimulation is worth the hit to any personal pride that may be lurking behind my attempts at physical conditioning.

Simple tips from the series on Optimizing Brain Fitness that impressed me:

*In an experiment with rats, those who were fed 35% less food lived 35% longer!
*Best diet tip? Stop eating deep-fried foods.
*Walking 1 mile daily decreases your chance of developing Alzheimer’s by 50%.
*Get enough sleep. The current generation is getting 45 minutes less sleep per day than the older generation, but it’s had a negative effect on learning.
*Power naps are good; they reset your energy and help process learning.
*Most important aspect of memory is learning to focus and pay attention!
*”If you can see, look. If you can look, observe…attend…study!”
*Your brain needs exercise, so take up some new hobby.
*Scientists have discerned that you improve long term retention more by repeated testing than by more study.

This last bit of research made me understand why we have tests in school and in life! The Lord is training us to learn and grow, not just have brains full of data that doesn’t stick!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Just in case you’re interested in more information about The Great Courses, I’ll include their contact information: https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses. 1-800-832-2412. For classes on Christianity, though, I’d rather refer you my son Jonathan’s Aqueduct Project [https://aqueductproject.org/ ], or the new Center for Global Theological Education, which he’s developing at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

The Greatest Fact of All Time…

Do you ever wonder what Easter is really all about? The following was written by the father of one of my closest friends from college. Mr. Ward traveled widely with Gideons International and spent most of his retired life giving away Bibles and sharing Christ with everyone around him. He lived a full, vibrant life and died suddenly from a heart attack, but Marcy (his daughter) told me that she half expected him to sit up on the stretcher as they were carrying him out, just to share the gospel one last time! Through this tract, he is still sharing the good news about the greatest fact of all time. Do you know what it is?

The Greatest Fact of All Time…

 is found here:  www.greatestfact.com  Please check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s formatted much more clearly on the website above, but if you don’t want to have to click again, Mr. Ward’s daughter has also given me permission to share it here as well:

The Greatest Fact of All Time

…is that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things.

Where do you learn this fact?

The Bible, in chapter 1 of John’s Gospel, says,

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

We learn here that the Word made all things—and that there was nothing the Word did not make.

But who is the “Word”?

John 1:14 says:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So the Word had a body of flesh, and John says he saw Him. Again 1 John 1:1 speaks of Him:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…

So, it’s clear that the Word is a man!

Then who is this man?

The Word is none other than Jesus Christ!

With this in mind, we can read John 1 and substitute the name Jesus Christ!

1 In the beginning was [Jesus Christ], and [Jesus Christ] was with God, and [Jesus Christ] was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Yes, the greatest fact of all time is this: Jesus Christ is the Creator of the entire universe.

But why did Jesus Christ become a man?

Jesus became a man because you and I have a problem. It is the same problem every person has—sin!

The third chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans makes it very clear that we are all sinners.

10None is righteous, no, not one

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

Yes, we are all guilty sinners. Then Romans 6:23 warns:

For the wages of sin is death…

Since you and I have sinned, we have wages coming—death. This is both physical death and spiritual death. Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in hell.

About hell Jesus said in Mark 9:48,

…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

These wages must be collected!

Is there any hope?

Yes! There is hope! There is good news! Jesus received your wages. He died for your sin. He took your place. But He did something else very wonderful. When He died, He purchased a gift for you. The whole verse in Romans 6:23 reads:

For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ purchased a gift for you—eternal life!

How can I have this gift?

Consider 1 John 5:9–10

9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

If you don’t believe this testimony, you are actually calling God a liar.

What is this “testimony” I must believe?

The testimony you must believe is found in 1 John 5:11.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

God has given you eternal life. It is a gift! He wants you to have it!

But do you have it? Not necessarily! A gift must be received, and God’s gift must be received!

Let’s illustrate it like this:

Suppose I offered you some money as a gift. If you don’t receive my gift, you won’t have it. You must receive it. In the same way you must receive God’s gift. If you do not receive His gift, you will never have it.

How can I receive God’s gift?

To illustrate, let’s suppose I put the money in a bank account. The money represents eternal life and the bank account represents Jesus Christ. If I transfer the bank account to you, you get the money. When you receive Jesus Christ, you receive eternal life, because eternal life is in Jesus Christ.

Let’s read 1 John 5:11 again:

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Eternal life is in Jesus Christ. Therefore, when you receive Jesus Christ, you have eternal life as stated in the next verse (1 John 5:12)

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

How do I receive Jesus Christ?

A very clear answer is found in Romans 10:9-10.

9 …if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 for with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

What does it mean to confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth? Perhaps it could be like this: “I will take Jesus as my Savior and Lord! I will trust Him for my salvation from sin.”

Then believe with your heart (not just your head) that Jesus Christ lived and died for you, that He arose from the dead, and that He is alive forevermore. He is not in a grave, or even on a cross, but alive and with God the Father.

Then what?

You will be saved!

In other words, you will have the Jesus—you will have eternal life.

So why not do this:

  1. Repent and agree with God that you are a sinner.
  2. Confess Jesus Christ with your mouth as your Lord and Savior.
  3. Believe that He lives and that He was resurrected from the dead.

And you will be saved!

And here is the great offer!

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

—Romans 10:13

In other words, if Jesus Christ were here, He might say to you, “If you will ask Me, I will save you from your sins, and I will give you eternal life.”

Since Jesus Christ is God, He is here now!

How can I call on Him? How can I receive Him?

You can call on Him through prayer. You could talk to God like this:

O God, I come to You in Jesus’ name. I believe Your Word. I believe Jesus Christ lived and died for me, that He arose from the dead, that He is alive! And, Lord, I agree with You. I am a sinner; I am lost; I want to be saved. I call on you now with all my heart. Save me. For Jesus’ sake. Thank you, Lord, for saving me. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Now the greatest fact of all time for you is this:

  • You are a new creation of this wonderful Lord (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10)
  • You are a child of God (John 1:11-12; 3:3)
  • You can know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13)
  • You can come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness when you sin (1 John 1:9)
  • He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b)

Read the Bible daily. Pray daily. Read the Gospel of John first.

If you have asked God to give you eternal life, then you understand the true meaning of Easter—”Resurrection Sunday!” If so, would you be willing to contact me either on this blog or at my email (kathrynwarmstrong@gmail.com) with any other comments so I can pray for you? God bless you!!

 

 

 

West Michigan Writers’ Conferences: Past, Present, and Future

Last Friday night I attended the JOT Writers Conference. If you enjoy writing and need a little inspiration, this is one A+ way to grow! JOT is the brainchild of the Weaklings, a group of five men who are successfully pursuing writing careers and live in the Grand Rapids area. About twice a year, they sponsor conferences to encourage and educate writers. I especially appreciate just about every aspect of their conferences:

*They are totally free (and you don’t even need to RSVP)! *They are just one evening long. *They are able to attract some highly successful writers (who also speak for free)! *The organizers are excellent human beings with altruistic egoisms. *The two I have attended meet at Baker Book House, which is a great venue.

*After several brief, TED-style talks with Q&A’s afterward, you’re welcome to leave (making your time commitment only about 2 hours), or you’re free to  mingle and enjoy some snacks, or you can curl up in a corner and write until 11:00 pm if you want!  Does it get any more accommodating than that? I don’t think so!! They haven’t scheduled their next conference yet, but you can connect with them here if you’re interested:   https://jotwritersconference.com/

Also, if you’re got some serious time and money to invest, there are several other writers’ conferences in our area. I’ve attended the first two in the past, although I won’t be able to make them this year. Here is a little information with links:

September 28-30, 2017. Maranatha Christian Writers Conference, celebrating their 40th year. Their website is:  http://www.maranathachristianwriters.com/

October 6-7, 2017. Breathe Christian Writers Conference, which will be held here in Grand Rapids. Their website is: http://breatheconference.com/home/

April 12-14, 2018. Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, Grand Rapids.
Their website is: http://festival.calvin.edu/

Grand Valley State University used to sponsor writers conferences, although they do not currently. Instead, they offer a “Writers Series” with a half a dozen guest speakers throughout the year. You can access information on their 2017-2018 series here: https://www.gvsu.edu/writing/grand-valley-writers-series-12.htm

For those of you who live in other areas, if you’re interested, google “writers conferences” and see what comes up! If you can afford to travel, Billy Graham’s Training Center, The Cove, is hosting The Asheville Christian Writers Conference-Writers Bootcamp on February 16-18, 2018 in North Carolina: http://www.ashevillechristianwritersconference.com/

Happy writing. Happy hunting!

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3).

 

Wildfires: Lord, Teach Us to Pray!

While hurricanes are flooding America’s southeastern seaboard, over 100 wildfires are devastating America’s northwest, and it’s now one of the worst years in U.S. history for acreage burned! I was praying yesterday with three women from California and Washington state, where smoke and heat are making it hard to be outside in some areas. My brother, who lives just east of California’s Bay area, said his thermometer read 114° a few days ago and was over 100° for several days, although it’s now “cooled” down to the 90°s. Yikes! Don’t you wish we could somehow take some of the drenching rains from the east coast and deposit them as showers of blessing on the west coast to stop the fires? There are so many horrible situations around the world where we cannot change what’s going on, but I know the God who can. What? Is God that powerful? Yes! “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17). But…could it be possible that the fires and hurricanes are actually fulfilling God’s word? Yes again. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word…” (Psalm 148:7-8).

I know from the book of Job that righteous people can (and do) suffer, but I also know the Bible is full of admonitions for people to return to him after they have forsaken his word and his way, which is what we, as Americans, have been guilty of doing. Unprecedented epidemics of pornography, drugs, alcohol, and other addictions are running as rampant as forest fires, destroying our homes and families. We’re being flooded with hurricane-force winds of ungodly cultural changes, where our morality has turned black into white, exalting as good what God’s word condemns as evil.

God’s word is clear to us: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). America is on fire and is being flooded morally and spiritually. Could it be that God is using the fires and floods we see physically as a merciful reminder to us to turn from our sins and repent?

I’ve been listening to a wonderful series by Jim Berg, called Quieting a Noisy Soul, and one of the things Jim teaches is that God is merciful!  However, true mercy is “rescuing us from our miserable condition,” not giving us whatever we want! Anyone who is living apart from God’s love and laws is in the most miserable condition of all, because they are separated from God and without his eternal life.

God’s word calls us to repent and come to him: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). There is a way to recover from addictions…and it starts by turning to God for help: “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death” (Psalm 68:20 NIV).  “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).

Are you in need of a Savior? “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour” (Isaiah 43:11). God can do what no one else can do for us! He can send showers of blessings on the West Coast and turn away the hurricane from the East Coast. Even better, He is also able to cure us of our addictions and teach us the truth so that we won’t be “carried about with divers and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:9). There is no one else who can, which is why I say with King David, “In him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:3).

If you’re in need of spiritual counseling, you can contact me at my email address as a last resort (my name written out as one word—kathryn w armstrong—via gmail), although I would also like to encourage you to find a trustworthy, godly pastor or Christian counselor who lives in your area and with whom you could have better contact.

If you’re interested in joining with me in prayer for ourselves and our nation, please feel free to join our weekly on-line prayer group, which meets every Thursday at noon (EST). You can access it here:  https://aqueductproject.org/prayer-center/

(then, after you’ve opened the above link, click on the link within it that says:  To enter the Prayer Center and to join a live video conference call, please click here.) Here is more information on the next one:

Thursday, September 14, 2017, at 9:00–9:30am, (UTC-08:00), Pacific Standard Time
To determine the time of this service in your local time zone, click here.
Prayer Leader: Mary DePuy

If you’re interested in learning more about how to pray, please join us in a weekly seminar on prayer, which is occurring at noon (EST) every Monday for the next 9 weeks. Information and how to access it can be found here:

https://aqueductproject.org/prayer-seminar/

Here is more information on the next prayer seminar:

Monday, September 11, 2017:
Prayer in the New Testament
Lecturers: Matthew Dereck and Jonathan Armstrong

In this first official class period, we will introduce the spiritual discipline of prayer as the proper beginning point for theological study. “Theology” means “God-speech,” and we must learn to talk with God before we can learn to speak properly about God. This session looks into Jesus’ prayer life and his seven prayers recorded in the Gospels.

(Let me know if you have any trouble accessing these resources, and I can try to help you figure it out. It’s pretty easy, but I had trouble the first time, too, so I know it helps to have someone “walk you through it.”)

What’s the Aqueduct Project?

Thank you to my many Facebook friends who hit the “Like” button in support of Aqueduct Project’s new Facebook page. I also got a number of messages and questions asking about both the Aqueduct Project and my son, Jonathan, so this morning I want to share just a little bit about what’s going on.  Jonathan (Dr. Armstrong) accepted a new position with Moody Bible Institute, who are very graciously allowing him to develop a “Center for Global Christian Theological Education” (which he refers to as C-GATE).   This center will be based in Chicago, so they sold their home in Washington State and have moved back to the Midwest. Jonathan has also been given a sabbatical for research and writing, so after a wonderful visit with us this summer, Jon and his family have gone to Germany for the fall semester (which is his wife, Gerlinde’s, homeland). They will rejoin us for Christmas and then go on to Chicago to look for a place to live. The new center will open at the beginning of January, 2018.

Last night, I got a wonderfully encouraging call from one of my Facebook friends, who directs a Bible school in New Delhi and is interested in materials from this new program (which will be a coordinated effort on Jon’s part, orchestrated both through Moody and the Aqueduct Project). Right now, the program is in the developmental stages, but the goal is to be able to provide high-quality evangelical Christian training wherever around the world there is a desire to learn about the Bible. Jon has been producing lectures and developing a network of resources for several years now, so a limited amount of training is already available, but this should exponentially increase in the next few years.

From this mother’s viewpoint, I think Jon’s passion started as a young teenager, when we visited China together and he saw the great need for teaching in the churches there. Back in the 1990’s, I believe the Chinese Christian church had become the largest in the world, with thousands of people coming to Christ each day but precious little scripture to read. Beyond that, there is the challenge of reaching the global Church, many of whom live in countries where financial constraints make college-level courses an impossible dream even if they are available in some of the largest cities.

Moody Bible Institute is enabling Jonathan to partner with them in trying to meet this overwhelming need!  Here’s a note from his last adventure two weeks ago: “I attended on Saturday the graduation ceremony of 281 Ghanaian pastors who completed Moody Bible Institute’s experimental certificate program. This is an experimental program for which audio recordings of Moody theology classes have been translated into the local language by a Ghanaian ministry partner. These translated courses are then uploaded onto solar-powered audio-players and distributed for free to students. This system allows us to conduct a form of theological education in extremely remote locations (where there is no electricity or internet, and perhaps most amazingly, even where there is no literacy!).”  As a believer with a heart to “go into all the world” with the joyful gospel of redemption, peace and good will that God desires for all men, this thrills my soul no end! If you’re a Christian, would you please pray with us for wisdom and grace as Jon moves forward with the development of resources for the global church community? If you have a lifetime of study and experience in the ministry and would consider contributing study materials that you’ve generated over the years, would you please let me know? If you’re interested in participating in learning yourself, or in helping develop a study group in your area for fellowship and learning (since education is much more enjoyable when there are real, live people with whom to discuss issues and think about things), please let me know that too! Or, go directly to The Aqueduct Project Facebook page, or connect directly with the Aqueduct Project through their website: https://aqueductproject.org/

Sometime after January 1, there will also be more ways to connect via C-GATE (Center for Global Theological Education) at Moody in Chicago, IL (America).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

 

When Is God’s Messiah Going to Come to Earth?

A gentleman was discussing my thoughts on taking Genesis 1 literally and said that I’d best be careful, or pretty soon I’d be trying to figure out on what day the Lord is going to return. Obviously, the Bible says that no will know the exact time, but another friend sent me this fascinating video. It’s only 11 minutes long. I’d love to have you watch it and let me know what you think! Thanks.  🙂

 “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour
wherein the Son of man cometh
” (Matthew 25:13).