One Word

Compassion sent a challenge out to their bloggers  to seek the Lord for a word for 2014 instead of making a New Years Resolution.

Literally, ONE word.

If the Lord was to give us one word for 2014 what would it be?

I did this a couple years ago and the word then was prayer.  

Like before, I knew my word before I was even sent the email from Compassion. The Lord gave me that word a few weeks ago...and it began with a conversation with my Area Commander's wife!

I am not one who "rests" well.  I am more the restless type.  I do relax by reading, writing, etc but it seems I have a built in spring, always bouncing up to see what else I can get into.  We've been in the midst of the "busy season" at work this month.  Christmas kettles, budgets, food drives, etc. keep one hopping.  Days off seemed like a luxury.  

I mentioned that I was looking forward to resting over the holidays...while leaving the cell phone on in case of emergency.

I was challenged by the word given to me by my AC's wife.  That word was TRUST.  In a nutshell she defined rest as trust.  Can I relax, turn off my cell and trust God will look after my unit without me for a few days.

I had to chew on that one.  I still am.  She was not the first one to ask me that question in the last 2 months.  I think God is trying to tell me something.  TRUST.

I was reflecting on this word when I was reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  Sadly, I am not always trusting in the Lord when life get's busy.  I feel like I have to keep going like the energizer bunny.  I know I need to stop, rest and trust.

I want to be like the psalmist who says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:7)

I am taking the word to heart.  Over the last few days I have left my cell phone alone and it has been way more relaxing.  I went a step further and stayed offline for a couple days as well.  It felt like I was in a detox!  I was able to play more with my family and focus more on other things.

 I could get used to this trust thing!

So what is God speaking to you for the New Year?


A Christmas Thought

I was listening to an Andy Williams Christmas CD this week and there was a track on there called One Solitary Life.  It was a Christmas column by a man named Jimmy Bishop.  I wanted to share it here:
He was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant teen who knew not man. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never married or owned a home. He never held a job, yet paid taxes. He never set foot inside a metropolis. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He received no awards, no medals, no prizes from His peers. 

While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He had no lawyers, no friendly juries, no fair hearing. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had - His cloak. After He died, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Those who stood watch could not explain His disappearance. 

And yet two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is still the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this "One Solitary Life." 
Makes you think doesn't it?  

One life, that changed the world.  One life that forever changed me. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11) 


The Preacher's Sourcebook

I went back and forth on rather to request Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook for review or not.  Every time I went to the booksneeze page, I gravitated towards the title...and finally made the call.  I am glad I did.

Edited by O.S. Hawkins, this book is a collection of sermons, outlines and sermon starters for every week, special occasion and holiday.  I appreciated that in the introduction, Hawkins points out that this book is not intended as an "easy fix" for late Saturday night sermon preparations.  It is just one of many tools intended to assist the Pastor or speaker in their own study of the Word.

I enjoyed flipping through the book and as I was preparing my Christmas sermon, I decided to see what the book contained on the topic.  I already had my message planned out and, true to the intent of the book, I found some additional material I could sprinkle in to my message.  I cannot say I will use it every week, but the Preacher's Sourcebook will be that extra tool I look at when preparing my messages.

The book also includes a cd where every sermon is available in a .rtf file.

This makes a great gift for any pastor or seminary student.  It would also be perfect for those who enjoy Bible studies, either on their own or in a group. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”


The Vanishing Evangelical

I have only read one other book written by Calvin Miller and that was well over a decade ago.  The Vanishing Evangelical was Miller's last book before his passing.  I was intrigued by the tagline of restoring what really matters.

It took a long time to get there.

Miller's book was long on the problem facing the Evangelical church today, scant on Scripture and at times seemed to drone on and on with little hope.

Despite that, there were nuggets of gold and kernels of truth sprinkled throughout.  I found myself agreeing with some of his conclusions about the problems facing the church today.  I also could not deny that the focus of many is no longer Jesus but our own Christian narcissism.  I also found it true that many today have strayed from the Word and no longer know what they believe and have watered down the truth about The Truth!

Sadly, I don't feel any better about the problem reading this book.

Calvin Miller clearly sees the problem and the way out involves getting to know God again, maybe for the first time!  He calls the reader back to the Word, prayer and faith.

My prayer is the reader grasps the hope that the book ends with and doesn't get bogged down by the sadness of a fading evangelical movement.

"This book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books in exchange for an honest review."


Finishing Well

The end of the year is fast approaching and before we know it, Christmas will have come and gone.

I do enjoy celebrating the birth of Christ.  However, I believe we should celebrate His birth year round.  Jesus came for a reason and it was not so that we could give lots of presents and sing fun songs.  (Nothing wrong with those traditions by the way.)

Jesus, loved us so much that He came to die! John 3:16 is not just a cool memory verse.  It was the reason Jesus came into this world. He lived to die!

That is the reason I celebrate Christmas.

I enjoy the Christmas parties and presents, but I enjoy spending time in His Presence more.

The older I get, the more I realize how much time I waste on things external instead of things Eternal!  I find the end of the year is a good time to reflect on whether  I am loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself.  (Luke 10:27)   Am I spending time with the Lord, seeking His face with my whole heart?

I ask these questions because I want that relationship with Jesus Christ to grow, day by day, until my life on this earth is no more.

I want to finish well.  This year, next year and for all the years to come!  I want to know Him more.
His birth is only the beginning of the party.  There is a greater one coming, one I look forward to more and more each day.

(The image above is attached to a neat Christmas devotion for families:  http://www.southsidebiblechurch.net/Content/10300/235010.pdf)


Not Just the Love Boat

I have a confession to make.  Back in the late 70's and early 80's, I was a Love Boat junkie. Don't ask me why but that show was one of my guilty pleasures.  So I was very excited when I saw this new autobiography by Gavin MacLeod, This is Your Captain Speaking.  To my wife's amusement (embarrassment maybe), I continued to hum and sing the Love Boat theme while reading this book.

As for the book itself, it is just what you would expect from an actors autobiography.  Gavin MacLeod drops a lot of names in this book.  You read about his numerous encounters with the rich and famous and how his acting has opened many doors for him in life.  The book is pure nostalgia for fans of his work on the Mary Tyler Moore and the Love Boat.

Gavin also talks about his bad choices, from alcoholism to divorce.  He speaks about his ego and how he tried to be the "Captain" of his own life.  The book then moves to a new level when Gavin talks about how he came to faith in Christ.  Not only that, but God restored his marriage, which had ended in divorce a couple years before.

Gavin continued to act, but with a new focus.  He worked with his wife Patti as hosts of a 17 year marriage program on TBN.  He also became a spokesman for Princess cruise lines.  He also talks about what he feels is his best work now, The Secret of Jonathan Sperry.  This move has been used to lead many to Christ over the last 5+ years.

I enjoyed this book and any fan of MacLeod's work as an actor will find this book a nice cruise through his life.  His journey of faith is interesting and encouraging.  You can't ask for much more than that.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”


The Man At The Counter

The man standing at the counter was pouring his heart out.

"I may not make it through the winter.  If I die, will you remember my name?"

We could see his pain and began praying for him.  He doffed his cap, and bowed his head.  As we continued praying, tears rolled down his cheek.  After we finished praying, he began to cry out to the Lord.

He mentioned his struggles, his addictions and the fact that he felt his life was near it's end.  Yet he also began to pray for us.  He prayed that God would bless the work we do, that God would watch over us and help us to help others like him.

Some would write this off as the rambling of an intoxicated man. 

Yet that line, "would you remember my name", resonates with me.  I assured him that we knew him, would never forget him and more importantly that Jesus would never forget him. 

How often do we forget though?  How often do we forget that each person we meet has a story.  We can write off whole segments of society, or write a check for others to do the work...but we are all called to be ministers of grace, ministers of hope. 

How often do we listen for the stories of those around us?  We often ask people how they are but do we want to hear the truth?  Do we take the time to actually listen?

Jesus did, He still does.

Lord help us to have listening ears, listening hearts and to be your hands of grace to everyone we meet.


Real - A Book Review

Real by Jamie Snyder encourages readers to become a 24/7 follower of Jesus.

The book is divided into 3 parts: The Real Question, the Real Life and the Real Answer.  All three sections left me feeling different things about the book.  Part one really seemed to be to narrowly focused on the question "If Sunday didn't exist, would people know we were Christians."  Snyder spent way to long looking at variations of that question. I kept waiting for him to move on to the ways we could become the 24/7 follower of Jesus.

Once getting through part one however, the book began to pick up steam and seemed to hit the marks that Snyder promised at the beginning of the book.

I loved how he ended each chapter with discussion questions and a prayer.  I also found the 7 areas he focused on in part 2 to be encouraging, challenging and motivating.  I particularly liked his section on Mad Love.

The book also wrapped up well.  If not for the first section, I would say this was a great book.  I would still recommend this book though for anyone wanting more out of their relationship with God!

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program.


Glimpses of Hope

Wars, floods, hurricanes, famine, tornadoes, poverty, sickness and pain.

You can't follow the news without seeing a daily does of all of the above.

I have heard for years that in reference to the news: If it bleeds, It leads.

What we don't often hear though are the stories of hope.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29 :11

It may be hard to have hope in the midst of hardship, yet if you look for it, you will find the stories of those who are looking to a future beyond the suffering of the present.

At times during my teen years, hope was the only thing I had.

By the early 80's we were a middle class family.  My Dad had his own business, we owned our own home and though we had other problems, poverty wasn't one of them.

My folks moved to Tennessee when I was 14 and we all gave our lives to Christ within a few months.   Within a couple years, the bottom fell out of our middle class life. 

My Dad's business wasn't doing well, then we lost our home.  We moved and moved again.  Then we got behind on the rent, and our electricity, and before long we were in a deep, deep hole.

The church we were attending wondered out loud what "sin" we had committed to go through this suffering. 

As for me, I found it a struggle to have joy.  I tried to remain upbeat but the continuous blow after blow began to take it's toll on my faith.  Where was God?  Why did we suffer like this?  Was there any way our circumstances could change?  Well change they did, as we had to leave our most recent home and were driving around in our van, homeless.  We found a one room cabin for a month and then it was on the road again looking for another home...and another.

At the lowest point, all I had left was the little glimpses of hope God provided in the midst of the struggle. 

Like the lady who offered to pay for me to go to Bible College.  (I didn't at the time.)
Like the fact that we always had a place to lay our head.  Even if that place wasn't our home.
Like the time God provided for me to go for a week to California to volunteer at a missions base.

In the midst of all this, I saw God provide, one day at a time, day after day. 


Now, looking back on my life, I see how God was always there.  He never left me, even in the darkest hours.

He is a God of Hope!   


Here There be Giants

Reading through the book of Numbers, I got caught up in the story (ch. 13) of the 1st time the Israelites were about to enter the promised land.  They were there, on the cusp of entering the place God had told them He would give them.  He had prepared them for this...the promised land.  He directed Moses to send out spies (scouts) to check out the land and to report back.  Moses chose 12 men and sent them out to with instructions to report on the land (the trees, food sources, layout, etc) and the people.  He wasn't asking for an assessment on what he thought their chances were, just a report on the DETAILS of what they saw.

These 12 men spent 40 days spying out the lay of the land.  They came back and the Israelites gathered to hear their report.  Ten men praised the land but focused on the fact that they saw GIANTS!  Tall men of big build who would eat the nation of Israel alive.  They told the people that the land would devour them and it was hopeless.  Despite the fact that God said he was giving them this land, the 10 spies told stories that made the Israelites knees turn to jelly.  However, 2 spies went counter to this narrative.  Joshua and Caleb spoke truth.  they said, Yes there are giants there but we can do this.  God is giving us the land, let's take it.

No one else was wanting to take them up on this.  The people doubted God and wanted to turn back.  The Lord told Moses that because of this, they would wander around until this generation died off and that it would be their descendents who inherited the land.  All except Joshua and Caleb who gave the true report and had the faith that God would do what He said he would do.  It took 40 years, but the people did end up taking the land after the previous generation passed. 

I read that story and I think about God's call on my life.  There have been times that I have faced giants.  Obstacles that would seem to say I should not pass.  Yet I knew God called and I had to precede. 

When I was living in East Tennessee, I had a good job and though we were not well off, we were making ends meet.  I was moving up the ladder at work and new opportunities were presenting themselves.  However, my wife and I felt the Lord calling us to Canada.  It was not an easy choice.  We spent months in prayer.  We wrestled with the decision and wanted to make sure God was calling us to make it.  There came a point where we knew, yes this was the direction God was calling us in. 

That did not go down easy with everyone.  I remember being counseled by some to turn back from this decision.  I was leaving a "good job and a home" to go to a place where we had neither.  To top it off, we felt the Lord calling Sarah to go 3 months ahead of me.  She did and as soon as she departed, the Lord opened new doors for both of us.  Sarah was able to present her testimony in ways she had never had before.  I had an opportunity to begin lay counseling training without distractions.  Later, when we reunited in Canada, we had what looked like many giants before us.  I was unemployed for the first 2 years as I sought landed immigrant status.  God saw us through this time and opened the door for me to find work with the Salvation Army in Smithers.  I began running the local food bank part time and did that for nearly 4 years while my wife worked part time at the local Christian bookstore.  There came a point where I needed full time work as Sarah was pregnant with our second child.  Just as I thought I would need to look elsewhere for employment, God orchestrated events in a way that I was promoted to full time work at the exact moment Sarah had to stop working. 

Three years later and he has expanded our ministry even more as we both became soldiers in the Salvation Army.

It would have been easy to say, Here there be Giants and to turn back from obvious obstacles.  Instead, we persevered and have seen God expand our family, our calling, our ministry outreach and our love for Him and each other.

If God has called you, then press forward despite the giants!  Let Him take you into the place He has called you to be.


Leaving the Safe and Sound

"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. "(Luke 15:1-7)

I love this parable.  Jesus follows it up with one about a lost coin and the story of the prodigal son.  All stories about the rejoicing that goes on when the lost (sheep, coin, son) were found again.  Stories about the rejoicing when a sinner repents.

Yet to me, I see a story of so much more.  Especially in this parable of the lost sheep.  I see a man who left the 99 who were safe and sound, and went out into the night looking for one in danger.  He put himself in harm's way to find that one lost sheep.  He did not know what he would encounter, but out into the night he went: searching, seeking, with love and care for the sheep in his heart, hoping to find the straggler before harm came upon him.  When He did, he rejoiced!  The "lost" was found.  The "dead" was alive again!

A great picture of Jesus.  Jesus who leaves the 99 safe, sound and secure in Him and goes out into the night looking for the lost, the sick, the depressed, the disappointed, the wounded and the enslaved.  He not only seeks out the sinner but the disenfranchised, the ones hurt by other believers, the unloved and the bitter.; those who have known safety within His flock, but whose confusion and pain has led them off the path.  He pursues the brokenhearted, the lonely and even those whose choices put them where they are today.  He doesn't give up, He doesn't surrender.

He loves.

He calls us to do the same. 

We are surrounded by "lost sheep."  The streets are filled with them.  We cross their path at work, shopping and walking downtown.  We see them and yet we do not always look with the eyes of Jesus.  Jesus looked with love.  He saw what they could be and not what they were.

He pointed them to the Father and he called them with love.

He calls us to do the same. 

We are called to leave the safety and security of this world and to seek out the lost sheep, pointing them to the life eternal.

In Love, let us seek out those who are hurting and walk with them, sharing not just in word but in action and deed as well.

Let's be seekers.  Seekers of the Lost Sheep.


Wounded By God's People

I've been wounded.  I've been hurt by God's people.  So when I heard that Anne Graham Lotz was releasing a new book with Zondervan called, Wounded by God's People, I immediately acquired a copy.

A quarter of the way through the book I was a bit bored.  Half way through the book I was planning a negative review.  Three quarters of the way through God orchestrated events in such a way that I could talk with someone who had wounded me and vice-verse.  Now that I have finished the book, I believe every person who has ever been hurt by God's people should read this book.

Anne uses the story of Hagar, found in the book of Genesis, as the Biblical underpinning for this book.  I found the links to be forced at time.  I believe she made the right choice by using the story of Hagar.  However, my issue was that she also added "thoughts" to what Hagar may have been thinking, feeling, etc.  In doing so, I became quite distracted by these "thoughts" and felt she was forcing links at times where there were none.

This happened less frequently through the book and as it did, I felt the book began to improve and Anne began to hit her stride.  She was truly digging up ground that needed to be addressed and poked holes in any justification or defense the reader might throw up.  Anne not only addresses the wounded but the wounder as well (often the same person).

I would highly recommend this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com®  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”


Am I Ashamed of Jesus?

Apparently I am ashamed of Jesus.

I don't truly love Him.

I have worked in and out of ministry for 22 years and been a Christian for 29 years.  I have been a pastor, missionary and counselor. Throughout the week I share Jesus with those I meet via my job in ministry. I spend time sharing with others and trying to point them to the Savior.

However, nearly every week I am told on Facebook that if I do not forward the latest "Christian" post spam, then I am ashamed of Him and that He would deny me before God because I had denied Him before men!

How did this happen? How did Scriptures like Mark 8:38, where Jesus had been talking about taking up our cross and following Him, get misappropriated to mean if we did not forward Facebook posts we were dishonoring God? Why is Matthew 10:33 flying around on my Facebook telling me to forward various of nonsensical stuff to everyone on my list? Why am I being browbeaten by Luke 9:26 and told that I don't love God enough if I don't forward these posts to all my friends?


You can call this a rant. It's ok.

I find myself disturbed by this misuse of Scripture.

The Bible is God's Word. According to 2nd Timothy 3:16, "Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God's approval."

Now I believe the internet can be used as powerful tools in sharing God's Word. To teach, encourage, correct and train people in the the Word. However when we manipulate Scripture to encourage people to send cutesy (or spiritually manipulative) posts around the world we do a major disservice to the body of Christ!

It's sad really.  The internet can be used to share your testimony, encourage the body of Christ and to be a true witness but when I read a misuse of Scripture I immediately delete the posts from my page. So before sending the next forward of the latest Christian Chain Image stop and look at the Scripture you are sending. Is it applicable, appropriate and used in a way that will glorify God? If it is then by all means send it. If it only furthers the "blessings and cursing" of a chain letter with a bit of Scripture added, do everyone a favor and hit delete.

(This post originally appeared back in 2009 and was geared more towards emails I was receiving at the time.  I have now updated and adapted it for Facebook.)


The Baby Mobile Illustration

I never put much thought into baby mobiles before.  However, I was consulting with my friend at the Brain Injury Association (Where I am a client in good standing) and she used a baby mobile to talk about how brain injuries impact everyone in the family.  Her point was that if you touch one of the pieces hanging down, all will move and sway.  In that vein, my head injury has caused sway and movement in my family as we have all had to learn coping skills and balance in this new reality.

So what does that have to do with the Body of Christ?

I was reading 1 Corinthians the other day and came across this verse in chapter twelve:

"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." (1 Corinthians 12:26)

I was reminded of the baby mobile illustration when I read this.

Sin, that thing we try to hide from others, once revealed, (and let's be honest, it's always revealed), can cause others to suffer as well.  What we do in secret can negatively impact not only us, but everyone around us.  Even a "simple" lie complicates all of our relationships. 

Sickness, pain, fear, you name it... can cause all around us to be shaken and rocked to our core.

The same holds true for positive things as well.

One person in a family becoming a Christian will cause people around them to contemplate their own relationships (or lack thereof) with Christ.  Joy is contagious and as your spirits are lifted, you will also lift the spirits of those around you.

The choices we make can shake our foundations, sometimes to the very core.  They can also change our lives and the lives of those around us.

I like Joshua's challenge to the people of Israel:

"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

We all make choices; why not make a choice to live a life pleasing to God?

Then when those around us are moved, it will be for the glory of God!


One Foot in Front of the Other - Just A Thought #58


I see that word and it brings up a lot of different thoughts.

Hard work.
2 steps forward, one step back.
Falling down...a lot! 
Blood, sweat and tears.
Failure...more than once.

The Bible talks about perseverance and endurance often but there is a story I was reading in 2 Kings 5:1-19 that really resonated with me. Maybe it was because I am in a place where the idea of perseverance has become a reality.  We live in a world filled with pain and hardship.  In this world, we get glimmers of grace and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Recently I have had to persevere through some pretty significant issues.  Like the man in the picture...it feels like a slog up a long path, one foot in front of the other.  

It is how I have been living lately.  

I won't lie, I wish our problems had instant solutions.  In this fast-paced, answers now society, we don't like waiting for anything.  Waiting for answers, healing, guidance, etc does not fit that plan.  Yet that is what God calls us to do.  To wait, to persevere.

So getting back to 2 Kings.  Naaman was a mighty warrior of some renown.  He was also a leper.  Eventually he heard about a prophet who may be able to heal him.  He traveled with many gifts and finally came face to face with Elisha.  He wanted instant answers but was told that he had to dip seven times in the Jordan River.  He got angry, not liking what he heard, and left.  

Cooler heads prevailed and encouraged him to listen to Elisha.  He went to the Jordan,  dipped in seven times and came out healed!  

I can so relate.

When I come to God, I don't want delayed answers.  Like Naaman, I have sometimes gotten angry with the answers I did receive. I especially don't like it when the answer is to persevere.

Yet God's ways are higher than ours.  He has a plan.

I can obey or kick against it.

I want to obey.

Which means I have to persevere at times.  Times like now.  I don't know how long it will be before we see the other side of this challenging time, but it doesn't matter.  God is in control.

In the meantime, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep my eyes on Him!


Christians and Mental Health - How Should The Church Respond?

What should the church be?

The church should be a place where it’s OK to struggle with depression.
The church should be a place that’s home to the recovering and the relapsing addict.
The church should be a place where leaders can have faults and not be afraid to share them.
The church should be a place where we’re not afraid of pain.
The church should be a place where condemnation is replaced by redemption.
The church should be a place where love becomes an action verb.
The church should be a place where people with mental health issues feel loved and cared for.

In fact, the church should build up their knowledge on mental health issues. The church should understand the symptoms and make themselves aware of the resources available in their community.  

A few years back I took a 10 week course that dealt with various kinds of mental health issues and it was an eye-opening experience.  My whole view was shifted in so many ways.

What should the church be?

It should be a place where love prevails.  

I have seen that love in church after church around the world.  I have seen the love of God displayed over and over to those in need.  

Sadly, I have also seen the opposite.  

I find myself reflecting on how Jesus would respond to someone in pain.  Of course we have numerous pictures of how Jesus ACTUALLY did respond.

Jesus healed the sick.
Jesus called people to the Father.
Jesus spoke to the need and provided living water.
Jesus forgave.
Jesus loved.

Not only did Jesus love but He also told us to love one another. (John 13:34)  That is how the church should respond to people with mental health issues.

By loving one another.


Christians and Mental Health - What Are We Afraid Of?

Cancer is a hideous disease and when Christians meet someone suffering from this illness, they will pray, serve and love them through the process.  They do not blame the victim.  Ailments of the body are prayed over and help is extended to the one suffering.

Not so with mental health issues.  I remember growing up in the church and the response to someone with mental illness often times tended to be that those people were somehow 'possessed' or allowing Satan to run rampant in their life. 

People with mental health issues are sometimes afraid to mention their suffering around other believers because of the condemnation they feel they may receive.  Depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. have often been minimized and are little discussed in the body of Christ.  In fact, I have met some who seem to act like they wish it would go away. 

Mental health and Christianity were in the spotlight recently when Pastor Rick Warren lost a son to suicide.  His son had struggled with mental illness his entire life and after a long bout with depression, ended his life.

We in the church are called to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31).  In fact loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves are considered the two greatest commandments.  So why do we sometimes fail to love our neighbors with mental illness?

What are we afraid of? 

Can God heal a mental health issue?  Absolutely.  He is a miracle working God.  However just as God does not heal every person with cancer nor does He heal every person with depression. 
Sometimes we are called to persevere.

I believe the church should be an inviting place.  A place where all those with problems, be they spiritual, physical, social, financial or mental are welcomed, loved and cherished. 

400 million battle mental illness worldwide.

God loves every one of them. 

Shouldn't we?


All In - A Book Review

All In is a new book by Mark Batterson.  I have not read Marks previous books, though I did glance over Wild Goose Chase.  I was drawn to this book, like most books I read, by the premise.  Being All In for Jesus Christ sounds like the kind of book I wanted to read. 

When I first dug into the book, it seemed at times somewhat cliche.  Some of his statements would make great bumper stickers.  In fact, I think some of them might be.  I had to set that aside though and dive into the meat of the book. 

I dog-eared quite a few pages after that.  One of those pages talked about the church being a verb and that we are called to charge!  That resonated with me.  Another page that got marked up was talking about how the prophet Elisha set fire to his plowing equipment and disposed of his oxen, going all in with God and following Elijah!  That call to part with the past and make a clean break, moving forward with Jesus Christ, had me taking stock of my own commitment to God.

One story he shares had my eyes watering.  I thought maybe it was just me but when I read the 2 pages to my wife, she started wiping her eyes as well.

By the end of the book, I found myself challenged to plunge deeper into my relationship with God, to not be afraid to step out despite how it looks, and to embrace the adventure of faith in Christ.  Not bad.

All in is due to be published in Sept. by Zondervan and should be added to your reading list.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 


Get Out

"On the Plains of Hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the Dawn of Victory,
 sat down to wait, and waiting - died."  William A. Lawrence

I love this painting by the late James E. Seward.  He is one of my favorite artists.  This depiction of Peter stepping out of the boat is quite encouraging.  Usually I see this Bible scene (Matt. 14:22-33) depicted with Peter already sinking and Jesus reaching His hand out to lift Peter back up.

However, before that happened, Peter WAS walking on water.

He got out of the boat, in faith, and began walking towards Jesus.  It was only when fear and doubt crept in that he began to sink.

Those other 11 guys, they stayed in the boat.  Maybe some were scared, doubtful or even amused at Peter's boldness.  One thing they all had in common...not one of them joined Peter in stepping out of the boat! 

If I had been in that boat watching Peter do what I saw Jesus doing--walking on water--, I would have forever asked myself, "What if?"

What if I had gotten out of the boat?  What would have happened?  Would I have sunk, or walked in faith despite what I saw around me.  Those thoughts might have even turned into regrets.

Who wants to live a life of regrets?

Peter may have been impulsive.  He might have spoken without thinking.  He definitely was not afraid to step out in faith and out of the boat when most people would say his idea of walking to Jesus was impossible.

Not only did he walk to Jesus but after Jesus did lift him back up out of the water, he walked WITH Jesus back to the boat.

I for one want to live a life with no regrets.  I want to walk in faith to and with Jesus.  How about you?


I finally "GET" Paul

The Apostle Paul.

Greatest Missionary Ever!

A Learned Scholar.

Wrote the Majority of the New Testament.

Totally Unrelatable.

I just never got Paul. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy his writings and am currently walking through 1 Corinthians as part of my devotions.  However, of all the people we read about in the Bible, I found Paul to be the one I related to the least.  He always seemed to be on another level. 

From the time of his conversion as recorded in Acts and through each of the books the Lord led him to write, I found Paul to be someone I could not relate to.

That is, until recently. 

I was reading through 1 Cor. 2.  In particular, I was reading verses1-5 which says, "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.  (2)  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  (3)  And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,  (4)  and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  (5)  so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

I know Paul had a thorn in the flesh. (2 Cor. 12:7)  I also know he was not afraid to speak up, even confronting the Apostle Peter when he needed it.  He butted heads with some and spoke out against sectarianism and legalism.

Sometimes you read the Word of God and things just click.  While reading 1 Cor. 2:1-5, I always focused on verse 2.  In fact I have quoted that verse often and made it my own determination as well.  This time I was struck by verse three where Paul mentions how he came to the Corinthians...in weakness, fear and trembling.

There is an image of Paul I had not seen before.  Weak, fearful and trembling.  Now those were things I could relate to.  He also said that his message was not in words of wisdom.  All this was so that the people's faith would be in the power of God, NOT in the wisdom of men.

This passage encouraged me.  Ever since my head injury, I have felt weak, fearful and trembling when sharing God's Word.  To know that God used Paul DESPITE those feelings and grew the Corinthians' faith through His (God's) own power gives me renewed hope.

God can use anyone.  He can use weak and fearful Paul.  He can use me and He can use you!

Be encouraged.   


The Possibility of Peace


Life has a way of wearing you down.  The daily up and down grind can make you feel as if you are on a roller-coaster as you deal with physical, emotional and financial issues.

I was reading 1 Corinthians this week as part of my regular devotions.  I didn't make it past the 3rd verse of the 1st chapter.  That verse says, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 1:3)  It's a wonderful greeting Paul gives in his letter and it got me thinking how great it would be if we greeted each other with grace and peace today! Peace seems to be lacking in so many lives, yet God is a God of comfort.

I looked up the word peace in the dictionary and I found two definitions of peace that resonated with me.  The first one is a state of calm and quiet.  The other is freedom from disturbing thoughts or emotions

Both are fitting descriptions.

A state of calm and quiet.  Probably the thing we think of most when we think of peace is quiet.  Just a chance to take a time to rest and relax. No worries, no distractions, just quiet.  Jesus often went away with the Father for some alone time.  Sometimes the crowds followed Him and sometimes He got alone but He never stopped setting aside time for rest.

How often do we set aside time for rest?  There is always something to be done, someone who may need us, demands on our time.  We give in to every whim of life.  Why not set aside time to refresh?

Freedom from disturbing thoughts or emotions.  This definition is one I am struggling with the most.  I can't just turn off my mind and rest.  I lay in bed and the days activities run through my mind as I recall the good and the bad while planning the next day.  I too often recall the hurts of life and the conflicting emotions that come up as I try to do what's right and yet so often do the wrong thing.  (Romans 7:15)

So I come back to this greeting in 1 Corinthians.  As I read this verse, I was also reminded of Psalm 23.  Particularly I am drawn to the verse that says, "He leads us beside still waters."

There is truth in that verse.  This past year has been an...interesting...one.  I've taken some hits in unexpected ways, seen God bless me in others and through it all...through the worst of it...I can say that I know His peace.  It is a peace that truly passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and yet it is undeniably His peace.

So my wish for you, my greeting, is that of 1 Cor. 1:3, grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


5 Questions With Jim Galvin

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Jim Galvin.

From his website: Jim is an organizational consultant specializing in strategy, effectiveness, and change. He is relentlessly focused on releasing the potential of leaders and organizations.

As an author, Jim has written many best-selling books and instructional resources. He has won the C.S. Lewis Medal Award for Children’s Literature three times and has been honored by the ECPA as a Gold Medallion Award finalist fifteen times. His products have been translated into more than thirty-seven languages around the world. He is most well known as the co-creator and co-senior editor of the best-selling Life Application Study Bible.

His latest book is “I've Got Your Back."  

OK, let's get to it:

1.Why did you write I've Got Your Back?

The editors of Christianity Today asked me to write it. Ten years ago they were noticing that Millennials entering college at that time had little interest in learning about leadership. They foresaw a growing leadership vacuum in the Christian world when Baby Boomers would begin to retire. They could find no textbook that would help college students formulate a solid theology of leadership. Writing a book like that was a big challenge for anybody. I tried to get out of it, but eventually felt that this might be something that God wanted me to attempt. The project ended up taking ten years to complete. I tore up the first manuscript to start over from scratch because I had made the classic error of writing for my peers instead of my target audience, young adults. The book is composed of a leadership parable in the first part and a concise theology of leadership in the second part.

2. One of your characters in the book says, "The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war." Can you explain what you mean by that?

That is a military saying that means the more you practice and drill at home and on your base the fewer mistakes and casualties you will experience when you engage in real combat. In the story, Jack, the mentor, was answering the complaint that his application assignments were getting harder and harder each week. For us, we also need focused practice if we expect to lead or follow well in stressful situations.
3. What does it mean to "follow well"?

If you create a five-point scale with following poorly at the bottom and following courageously at the top, we should want to be a good follower in every area of our life. We can’t follow at level 5 all the time, but level 4 also represents a follower who is fully engaged. So following well means following at levels 4 or 5 in every area of your life.

Do you have to be a leader to understand this book? 

The book is primarily about followership. It so happens that leadership and followership are two sides of the same coin. The book is written for anyone who lacks confidence in leadership and also for those who want to develop their leadership abilities by connecting truth from the Scripture on what it means to lead and follow well.

5. What do you hope the readers take away from the book?

If you want to be a good leader, then you first have to learn how to follow well. First, the required character development is identical.  Second, the role of the leader is to help others follow well.  How can you help someone else follow well when you don't know how to do it yourself?  If someone displays leader behaviors and nobody follows, did any real leadership actually occur?  Followers, collectively, have real power.  If you have average followers, you need to have a good leader.  But if everyone is focused on following well, you can easily get by with an average leader. 

Thank You Jim!

If you get the chance, check out Jim's website here and the book website here.  Make sure to pick up a copy of I've Got Your Back.


I've Got Your Back

I've Got Your Back by James C. Galvin is an interesting book.  It is described as a leadership parable and that premise was intriguing enough for me to give it a try.

I have been in a 2-year management training program through my work with the Salvation Army and have read quite a few leadership books over the past year and a half.  This was definitely one of the better ones I have read. 

I will admit, when I first started reading this parable, I was not impressed.  It took me a chapter or two to get into it.  However once I became comfortable with it's rhythm, I began to get into the story.  At one point I was struggling with where I thought one character was heading in dealing with an abusive pastor but the story did address the issue in a way that I ended up agreeing with.

This book is divided into 2 parts.  You have the leadership parable and in the later part of the book you will find the author outlines the principles contained within the story.  You can read either part and get the same teaching or read them both and have the re-enforcement of the principles contained within. 

I ended up bookmarking quite a few pages and used it with a staff training day.  It also challenged me to learn to follow well. You will need to read the book to understand what I mean by that but don't be hung up on the idea of being a leader.  You don't need to be in a position of leadership to learn from this book.  Order a copy of this book and you won't be sorry.

You can learn more at the book's website: www.tenthpowerpublishing.com/ivegotyourback

This book was provided for review by Handlebar Publishing and Tenth Power Publishing. 


Chickles and Peese

It has been 1 year since my last concussion.  It was not my 1st (or 2nd or 3rd or you get the point)...but hopefully it will be my last. 

I held out hope that the symptoms from this last concussion would pass away completely.  I remember the concussion I had a few years back left me unable to remember words like "eggs" for a few days.  It eventually eased and I went back to normal.  However, I know now that concussions build one upon another and even a mild concussion can leave you with a...mental limp. 

Which is where I stand today. 

The first month after my concussion was pretty rough. I slept a lot, tired easily and jumbled words and names.  My wife later said that at times I was like a zombie.  I was responsive but really, really mellow.  I suffered from headaches and was unable to read or focus for long or on anything in particular. 

Months passed, as did a majority, but not all, of the symptoms.  It has been a journey that has on one hand frustrated me to no end, and on the other, left us laughing.

For example, when company came over recently, instead of offering them a plate of sliced pickles and cheese, I offered them chickles and peese.  A friend who works with brain injured individuals told me that what I am experiencing is a form of mental fatigue.  In the evening, when I get tired, my words will still jumble around.  My reading time at one sitting has been reduced and I will occasionally say the opposite of what I mean, or insert a completely random word when telling a story.  My short term memory is spotty at times and after a taxing time mentally at work, I find myself napping more.

I have found comfort in these days through the Word of God.  I particularly like Galatians 5:22-23 which says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.."

I have always been a bit impatient and this season of my life is teaching me the value of waiting.  Through all of this my peace is growing as well.   I am in a new season in my life, and only God knows where He will take me next.  I look forward to the continuing adventure!

Whether it is illness, injury, unemployment, or another situation, we may at some time in our lives find our pace needs to change, and we are challenged by new limits.  It is then that we may truly see that our security and identity lie in Christ, not our own abilities. 


When Did I Start Growing Up?

I remember this commercial well as a kid growing up in Pennsylvania and later Tennessee.  The catchy tune stuck with me and it was something I remember singing even into my early adult years.

I didn't just sing it, I tried to live it as well.  I did not want to grow up.  I loved being a child and tried to hold onto my childhood as long as possible.  

As I reached adulthood, I became a fan of flea markets, yard sales and antique stores.  Anyplace I could find retro toys and other items from my youth appealed to me.  I may not have been able to afford them, but I sure got pleasure from these regular trips down memory lane.

The older I got, the more I seemed to embrace my childhood.  I continued my baseball card collecting hobby, watched vintage cartoons and acted somewhat...immature at times.  When my daughter came along, it gave me the chance to introduce her to some of things I enjoyed, so that I could somewhat selfishly enjoy them again.  When my son came along, it gave me an excuse to walk down the boys toy aisle with him as opposed to doing so by myself.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying your childhood or being young at heart.  There is also nothing wrong with growing up.  I have heard whole sermons based on 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."

Those sermons usually condemned immaturity, and not just spiritual immaturity.

I have to admit though, I liked being a kid at heart.  I like collecting baseball cards, some superhero books and even the occasional toy from my youth.

However, over the last couple years, I have noticed some subtle changes.  I still collect these items, but my mindset is changing.

Somehow I began thinking like an adult in other parts of my life. 

I no longer feel the need to "argue" the Gospel.  I want people to come to faith in Christ but see the value in balancing grace and truth in how I present the message of hope.

I am willing to die for what I believe, but what I believe is being refined to Jesus Christ and Him crucified. "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)

I began embracing a new mindset in my interactions with others:  "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18) 

Probably the biggest change, and one that has been coming along a bit more slowly, is a working out of James 1:19 where we are encouraged to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. 

One day, I looked in the mirror and saw grey hairs.  People began telling me I had matured in my interactions and that they feel I have become more well-rounded.  Somehow I began growing up.

It's actually not so bad.  Don't get me wrong, you'll still see me in the toy aisle, and I will be buying baseball cards until my wife cuts out my allowance.  However, you will also see a calmer me.  Someone who is more relaxed in his faith and trusting more in the King of Kings.  

If that is what it means to grow up, I am ready for it. 


He Fights For Me - Just A Thought #57

My wife wrote this piece and gave me permission to post it here:

Our son's screams filled the air, “You're killing me! Stop!” My efforts to remove a splinter from his foot were not appreciated. I decided to stop until he could regain his composure. Eventually we ended up putting him in the bathtub to soak it, as it became evident that any further attempts would have to be delayed until he was asleep. CJ has very instant and intense emotional reactions, which means that reasoning with him just doesn't work much of the time.

I wonder if this is sort of how I relate to my heavenly Father? Do I fight the processes by which He intends to make me whole? Do I surrender myself to His kind, loving, nurturing hand, or do I doubt His intentions towards me?

When I think about the way CJ's emotional response works against him, and even hurts him,  I realize that the same applies to me. Though I may not literally scream and kick, I think sometimes deep down, there are some negative beliefs which keep me from experiencing the benefits of His care.

Like my son screaming that I am hurting him, my own inner turmoil keeps me from hearing God's firm, yet gentle commands: “Trust me. I will be here for you. Listen to me: I want you to cling to me. I am your safety and your supply. I won't leave you alone. I am your healer, your provider, your rest...” Instead of realizing the safety provided in His arms, I stay busy figuring out solutions, and pulling away from His tender touch.

But now, says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for your life. Because you are precious and honoured in my eyes, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you... '.” Isaiah 43:1-5

My son may not hear me as I attempt to assure him that I am on his side, but it is true, nonetheless. Likewise, whether I choose to believe it or not, the truth remains that I have a Father who fights fiercely for me, who loved me enough to give his only son for me, who will be with me always, and who waits for me to understand how precious I am to Him.  


Why Men Cheat

Let me clear up any confusion about why men cheat. 

Despite what some ministers and authors may tell you, the real reason men cheat can be boiled down to one, three letter word.

The reason: SIN

Let me give you some background to why I am writing about this.

Last week I came across a video clip of Pat Robertson answering a question on his show, the 700 Club.  I will go ahead and post it here.

Now, as much as I disagree with Pat Robertson, he is not the first minister or author I have heard who has laid the blame for husbands cheating at the feet of the wife.  I almost didn't post the video because I did not want o focus on Robertson himself, but on this viewpoint in general.

A few things come to mind when I hear this line of thinking that women should do more for their husbands so they won't stray. 

First, it's not Scriptural.  There is no Scriptural justification to the line of thinking that a man strays because the women is not keeping the "home fires burning."  Let me point out a passage of Scripture that addresses why men cheat.  It is found in the book of Genesis.  Eve has believed the enemies lies and eats the fruit God forbid them to eat.  Adam then CHOSE to eat that fruit as well.  Adam made a choice.  He CHOSE to disobey God.

Men, and women for that matter, cheat because they make a CHOICE to disobey God and to no longer stay faithful to their spouse.  That choice to sin cannot be laid at anyone else's door. 

Secondly, to blame the women for a husbands moral failure does a disservice to the victim.  I wish more Christians would practice active listening instead of feeling the need to run off at the mouth and blame the victim of someone else's sinful choices. 

Finally, by saying that men have a tendency to wander, as Pat Robertson implied, is just plain offensive.  Not every man chooses or is tempted to sin in this way.  However, we all (men and women) are tempted to sin.

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."  1 Corinthians 10:13

That way out is to turn to the Father!  It is to run to the King of Kings, dig into His Word, and to pray without ceasing.  Surround yourself with other believers and seek their prayers as well.  When one is finding satisfaction in Christ, he won't need to search elsewhere for satisfaction.

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15

The choice is yours.


5 Questions With Ted Kluck

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

It's been awhile but I'm back with another interview.

Today's guest is Ted Kluck.

From his website: Ted Kluck is the author of several books, on topics ranging from Mike Tyson to the Emergent Church. Both Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church (with Kevin DeYoung) won Christianity Today Book of the Year awards, and Paper Tiger: One Athlete’s Journey to the Underbelly of Pro Football won a Michigan Notable Book award in 2008. His work has also appeared in ESPN the Magazine and Christianity Today.

Ted has played professional indoor football, coached high school football, trained as a professional wrestler, served as a missionary, and taught writing courses at the college level. He lives in Grand Ledge, MI with his wife Kristin and sons Tristan and Maxim. He once owned a used Volvo and currently has a boxing ring in his basement.

His latest book is “Finding God In The Dark” from Bethany House.  I recently reviewed his book here: Finding God In The Dark

OK, let's get to it:

1. How did Finding God In The Dark come about?

In general, it came about as a result of spending lots of time in the spiritual, metaphorical dark (as opposed to the actual dark).  I'm, prone to bouts of anxiety, darkness and depression anyway, but in the book I wrote about some specific circumstances - infertility, a failed adoption, career struggles - that led to a long, pervasive feeling of "darkness."  At some point I met my co-author Ronnie Martin ( a former rock star), we became fast friends (because, I think, we understood this propensity in each other...and because we like the same movies) and the idea of the book was discussed.  

2. Why, in your opinion, do we struggle to believe God is good?

Because life sometimes, or even often, sucks.  Because other Christians sometimes, or even often, disappoint us.  The problem with living in a fallen world that is stained by sin, is that each day we're surrounded by a lot of dark circumstances.  In this, we're tempted to say things like, "How can a God who is good allow _________?"  Fill in the blank with your difficult circumstances.  Sometimes these circumstances are a direct result of our own sin, sometimes they're spiritual attack, and sometimes they're just where God wants us at the time to sanctify us.  But in any case, they're still hard. 
3. You call Psalm 51 a "blueprint for confession."  Can you explain what you mean by that?

This is a really comforting passage for me, as it is for a lot of people.  David, who was both "a man after God's own heart" and also responsible for a big time Sin-a-Palooza (adultery and murder), gives us an amazing example of what humble confession looks like.  He acknowledged in the passage that he has sinned against God, and that he desperately desires a clean heart.  He then asks God to restore his joy...which is an amazing, counter-intuitive, but beautiful thing for those of us who have ever felt guilty (which is everyone).  

What would you say is the key to finding God in the dark? 

The easy, Sunday School answer is "Jesus."  Come to think of it, that's actually the real answer.  I could drone on and pontificate about humility (important), confession (important) and repentance (important) and some more about community (important) and God's Word (paramount), but that's what the book is for (droning on).

5. What do you hope the readers take away from the book?

First, I hope people who are struggling feel less alone.  Ironically, churches can feel pretty isolating when you're hurting.  I think the enemy uses this...as I've often felt, in church, like everyone else is absolutely excelling in life while I'm circling the drain and am a complete spiritual, personal, and financial failure.  This isn't true.  But more importantly, regardless of circumstances, I hope the book encourages people to find their hope and peace in the cross of Jesus Christ.  He's our only hope for dealing with guilt...and our only comfort in this life and the next. 

Thank You Ted!

 If you get the chance, check out Ted's website here and make sure to pick up a copy of Finding God In The Dark today.


Finding God In The Dark

Finding God In the Dark is a new book by Ted Kluck and Ronnie Martin.  The tag line says "Faith, Disappointment, and the Struggle to Believe."

Well this was the perfect book for me to read going into my vacation from work.  In fact, it felt like I was reading my life story of late. 

Which is what I like about this book.  Kluck and Martin have written a book that is relatable on so many levels.  Not everyone can be an author (Kluck) or a musician (Martin) and yet, if we are honest, we have all had our share of struggles and disappointments.

The authors bring things right to the forefront and address some tough issues.  From unbelief and self-sufficiency to  doubt and trying to re-make God in our own image, the authors leave no stone unturned. 

Ronnie Martin wrote one line that I feel sums up the book quite well.

"Knowing that God is greater than our doubts gives us greater hope in Him." Page 107

Do yourself a favor, if you are struggling to believe, if doubt is creeping in or you are just downright dissapointed with God, then grab a copy of this book today.  Couple this book with prayer and the Word of God and you will find a new perspective on life.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and (Bethany House" in exchange for an honest review."


Celebrate Pentecost, Celebrate!

When Pentecost, the Fiftieth day after Passover, came, all the believers were together in one place.  Suddenly, a sound like a violently blowing wind came from the sky and filled the whole house where they were staying.  Tongues that looked like fire appeared to them.  The tongues arranged themselves so that one came to rest on each believer.  All the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak.  (Acts 2:1-4)

This Sunday marks the day on the calendar when Christians celebrate the Day of Pentecost.  We celebrate the Holy Spirit coming and filling believers.

Sometimes lost in that celebration is the history of Pentecost.  I believe we need that history to fully understand how significant this event truly is.

What was Pentecost?  It was a solemn festival of the Jews, so called because it was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the sixteenth of Nisan, (Mid March to Mid April) which was the second day of the Passover.  It was called the feast of weeks, because it was celebrated seven weeks after the Passover.  It was instituted to oblige the people to go to the temple of the Lord, there to acknowledge His absolute dominion over the country, and to offer Him the first fruits of the country.  In addition, they were to remember and give thanks to God for the law which had been given them at Sinai on the fiftieth day from their flight from Egypt!

A celebration of the law!

Imagine that celebration!

Woo-Hoo...the law!


Things have changed now though,.  Instead of celebrating the law, we celebrate the Holy Spirit filling each and every believer.

We went from celebrating law to celebrating life!

How do we get from law to life?

Jesus Christ!


At the end of Acts chapter 2, we see that when the Spirit came, thousands repented and were baptized!  The church grew by leaps and bounds and a genuine love for others was on display!

This summer, why not choose life? If you have already made that choice, then you really do have a reason to celebrate Pentecost!


Resting Well - Just A Thought #57

Mark 6:30-32, "The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves."

Sounds like the apostles were busy and Jesus knew they needed a break.  Do you ever feel like you don't even have a chance to catch a quick meal before you go, go, go?

Do you feel like you rest well?  I am not talking about sleep, though that is an issue for many, but resting and refreshing in the Lord?  Do you take time away to renew and refresh yourself in His presence?  Are you stopping from the hustle and bustle to reconnect with the Father?

How well do you rest? 

I am SLOWLY learning the value of rest in the midst of a busy season.  I have intentionally pulled back from some things...even some of my leisure activities, in order to rest more.  I am finding my thoughts turning to the Lord as I seek His wisdom on what to pick up and what to lay down.

We should allow rest to shift our attention.  To pull back from the things that keep us busy and to re-focus on the Kingdom of God.

We should use this time to get refocused.  Our priorities may need to be re-shifted as we seek to balance our relationship with God, family, work and play.

Do we truly slow down enough when we rest?  As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a season for everything.

God gave us days to work, but he also calls us to take a Sabbath, a time to rest.  We should not feel guilty when we slow down and stop to breathe.

"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." (Hebrews 11:9)

We may work well but do we rest well?