Thursday, August 08, 2013

Dear friends,
As I am busily at work on my latest book, a devotional called, NOTHING CAN KEEP YOU DOWN: the Life of Joseph, the Favor of God, and the Breakthrough God has for You!, please remember you can access all my previous posts by scrolling down to the TOPICS sidebar.

This past year and a half I have been at work on a novel for the Christian Women's market, have compiled many of my posts into several devotionals, and have plans for a new website/blog. But until I can get it up and running, please stop in here at FAITH FUEL and refresh yourself with God's peace and love while scrolling through my previous posts.

God bless you all richly as you trust in Him.
He never fails us!

P.S. Stay tuned for updates about my novel, EXPECTING YOU.


EXPECTING YOU is the heartwarming story of a simple seaside summer in New England, one woman’s journey through the complicated world of guilt and regret, and the unexpected gift of perspective that guides a grieving heart toward home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TAKING ACTION: A Book Review

If there was ever a book I would recommend to an earnest seeker of God, a long time Christian, a questioning, bitter skeptic, or a passionate follower of God, this is the book I would recommend, without qualms, without reservation.

I can't remember the last time I endorsed a book so heartily.

This book, TAKING ACTION by Reinhard Bonnke, is full of wisdom, sound thinking, keen spiritual insight, doctrinal integrity.

-Do you have questions about how the Holy Spirit operates?
-Are you looking for guidance and wondering if you're hearing God correctly?
-Have you ever had a bad experience with the supernatural gifts?
-Do you wonder why there are so many problems when people try to operate in the spiritual gifts?
-Is there such a thing as God's power, in action, in our lives?
Can we be sane and sober minded and yet powerful people of God?

If you have ever asked any of of these questions, or all of of them, then you'll want to read this book.

My copy is completely marked up with notes and exclamation points and underlining unlimited! Reinhard Bonnke writes with authority, confidence, and conviction, yes; but it's balanced with humility and an understated ego. You'll find some practical advice in here and good sound counsel. There's a light humorous touch, at times, and that is so welcome when you're reading through weighty matters.I can't tell you the last time I respected a Christian author so highly!

I particularly loved the chapter on FAITH, and Bonnke is right: "there is no subject that calls for explanation from the Scriptures more than faith and the gift of faith. We particularly want to bring help on this matter." Have you ever had questions about how, exactly, you're supposed to "move mountains" with faith? Bonnke is tackling the outrageous claims of Christ, and he doesn't shy away from a single one! He will warn you, though, about what we have already seen happen with these explosive subjects: "Now, about doing the impossible- awful mistakes have been made."You see? The man is not afraid to deal with reality even when discussing the supernatural.

Bonnke is traversing difficult waters but still centering in on the soundness and reliability of God's Word and God's love. He writes about miracles and powerful things that can take place when we walk with God, but "the object is not to pull off a few sensational wonders, like stage tricks, but the redemption of the world."

This author visibly preaches God, as evidenced by his worldwide ministry; but he preaches our responsibility in partnering with God as well: obedience is a key word throughout the book. You won't find snake handlers and magicians and crooked, corrupt Personalities proclaiming that word, first. Bonnke writes, "Note carefully that anointing is not a kind of emotional pleasure, but it comes into activity when we serve."(Italics mine)

But along with service and obedience and discipline, you can expect anointing and power to live this life! And Bonnke will carefully explain how this occurs, how the Gifts operate, how to wisely use them, and what, exactly, they are. Expect to learn some Greek and Hebrew, expect to understand the context of Scriptural passages- in fact, expect to realize you need to study the Bible more, not just skim it!

I eagerly present to you this book for your consideration; this author, who I personally endorse "as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2Tim 2:15)

I'm not sure the world will note the wisdom in this book. But if you read this, you will find a world of life changing possibilities waiting to be explored, if you seriously consider whether or not there's truth in not only what he says, but in what God says is possible.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I receive books free from the publisher.I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

How's Your Father Doing??

What a long weekend it was! We left on Thursday and drove south to visit colleges for our daughter, and then on Friday arrived on our son's college campus to attend his Graduation Ceremony on Saturday. We went from the highs of celebration to the lows of exhaustion, from the highs of the powerful commencement address that stirred our souls, to the lows of the late night packing up of his dorm room. Late, late night.

And then early, early morning we were up to prepare for a long 14 hour drive home that turned into a harrowing 17 hour drive--extended and lengthened due to all the stops along the way to check on four weary travelers in two cars, the one car overloaded with a car-top carrier and bursting out the seams.

I still haven't recovered. In fact, my left eye burst a blood vessel in the white of my eye, so I look as ravaged by stress as I actually feel. And though Safety Bill really took on the whole responsibility of the packing and the driving, I could not shake the Anxiety that rose within me. I hadn't slept well before we took the trip, and I certainly didn't sleep well during the trip.

I'm not sure if sleeplessness precedes an Anxiety Attack or if it's the ultimate outcome of it-- but either way, I was a mess. And I knew I was.

You should have heard my prayers late that night as Bill labored past midnight to get our son packed up before the 9am deadline the next morning. I prayed like a desperate person. I prayed about all the things that were burdening me-- and the trip home was only the tip of the iceberg. Launching a son into the world as a fully functioning adult is no easy thing, for some parents. There were financial burdens (since we were maxed out after four years of college, and now had a daughter heading to college in a year). I felt like a conglomeration of crisis points had converged and been presented to me to suddenly solve. I wasn't thinking rationally, really. And I was conjecturing all the worst case scenarios. And so I prayed frantically and pleadingly. It wasn't a pretty sight, and I certainly don't think it was music to God's ears.

You see, HE was listening to me, alright. But God was concerned about my state of mind and my well-being and He could tell...I was not well. And you see, I'm a reflection of who God is because I'm His child. He's my Heavenly Father. I'm told in Scripture, repeatedly, not to worry, and I'm supposed to know that God cares for my every need.

But the way that I was praying, as the hours got later and my physical reserves depleted themselves, sounded like I was frantically trying to get God's attention. I felt desperate to get a measure of peace, and I couldn't seem to access that promised peace. And so I prayed harder but in reality I might have been doing more pleading than praying. And I'm not so sure that a child pleading for her Father to help is a good reflection on that Father.

GOOD Fathers hear their children, the minute they call. Good Fathers WANT to help their children, and want to alleviate their fears. If you have a good father, people can tell: they look at you and see that you're well cared for, that you have a healthy self-esteem, that you are obviously loved and you know that you are.

Every time you call on your Father, the way you call Him says something about you....and something about Him. Think about that for a minute, because this isn't a judgment statement but rather a statement about reflection.

What do we reflect when we pray? Obviously when we are in trouble, when we are situationally anxious or worried, we won't always immediately express the confidence that we would normally have in God because our adrenaline is coursing through us, and our fight-or-flight response is heightened. But for the most part, if we have learned to trust God, if we have learned to rely upon Him, we should be able to express a measure of that even in our desperate prayers. Because our relationship with our Father is the Constant, and not the variable, our times of crisis-praying should still reflect, in some way, what we know is true about that relationship.

So as I prayed late into the night, that night...I began to hear myself. I heard the frantic tone in my voice ( I pray out loud). I heard the circuitous pleading. I heard the troubled voice of a child who does not know that God is listening, already responding, already deeply involved in her situation.

And I started to pray differently. I began to quote the promises in Scripture. I began to declare Who God says, in His Word, that He IS--not the way that I felt, in that moment, that He was (which was far away, inaccessible, hard to reach). I began to pray differently because I realized I sounded like an abandoned child. I sounded like a child who'd been living on the streets, hand to mouth, without a guardian or protector or Defender. And while I felt like one, in that moment (because Anxiety will run you into Dark, into the Deep Unknown of Despair), still I knew that I had a good heavenly Father--not a bad One, not an incompetent One.

I'm a reflection of Him. I'm a child, and spiritually speaking, though I'm supposed to mature, I still will always be a child in the sense of me belonging to Someone who created me. He's the eternal Father and always will be One. This aspect of our relationship will always be there.

And so every time I pray, how I pray will reflect what our relationship is like, and what kind of a Father I have, what kind of a child I am.

This is no small thing. What kind of a Heavenly Father do you have?? How do you know Him to act towards you? Do you understand His heart's motive? When He is silent, do you think that means He is also uncaring and cold? Your resulting conclusion will reflect what kind of a child you are, and what kind of a father you think God is.

Let me remind you, in case you're going through a crisis, in case you're feeling very anxious or worried or stressed out: God definitely cares about you, and does not want you to feel anxious or worried. He knows that you and I will battle these awful feelings that cause our stomachs to feel sick and our heads to ache and our fingers to tremble--but He does not want you to feel this horrible emotional pain because He does not want you to feel UN-Loved. Loved children are secure. Children who know they are loved feel loved.

What good is it if Somebody loves you- but you don't feel like they love you?? 1 Corinthians 13 begins with "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." I'd like to add, that if you have a Heavenly Father who loves you, but you don't feel love, then you are--in your mind-- an unloved child. And what does that solve? What does that reflect? Unloved children have horrible parents. and children don't get to choose their biological parents, so it's not the child's fault if he or she is not loved by the parent. No child should be un-loved. Maybe the definition of "child" should really be "one who is loved."

And friend, you are loved. You have a Father who is merciful and constant in His watch over you. He tells us, in His word, over and over, not to worry. He does not want us consumed with anxiety. He wants to to be at peace, and to be at peace with Him- because "He himself is our peace" Eph.2:14.

He is our Peace. He is our Father. Call on Him today. Try out the voice of a child who is loved. Start speaking the words of a child who knows he can ask, freely, for help. Try asking boldly, because Your Father loves it when you trust that He is Good.

And when you bump into an old friend who asks you how your Father is doing, tell your friend what you've been learning about your heavenly father (even if they were asking about your human father).

Tell your friend that your Father is doing well...and therefore so are you.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Talk to the Father- (A Book Review of Father Hunger)

 I have to give this book a special recognition that I call "the book anointing." I've blogged about this before, that sometimes certain books seem to leap off the shelves and call for me to read them. And sometimes certain books resonate with me so deeply, and speak to me "where I'm at" that it's like the book was anointed and appointed for me.

Well, this book, Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson, gets the Book Anointing designation. No sooner had I received it in the mail, than 24 hours later I wound up miraculously having a heart to heart conversation with my own earthly father.

"For some reason, I felt like I should stop over," my Dad said to me, sitting down on a stool at my kitchen counter. We sipped tea and had a real honest talk about our relationship, about what fatherhood is all about, about our family history and our hurts.We needed to have this talk. It cleared the air. It opened the doors of understanding.

That's what will happen when you read this book.(I'm not saying you'll have an unexpected talk with your own Dad, but you may just wind up having a good long talk with your Heavenly Father.)

Now Douglas Wilson get get a little pedantic and a little too moralistic, but I think the reader can handle a little passionate exposition of truth. Some statements you might not agree with. Some statements are boldly proclaimed and you wonder if you have to swallow the conjectured point completely, like "Simply put, masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility." Hmmmm, I'll have to contemplate that.

Expect to cover a very broad array of topics underneath the concept of what Fatherhood is and deals with: gender roles, the role of the state, Atheism, Education (if you went to boarding school you'll want to read his opinion on that!), the Church,etc. You might sometimes think he's going off track.

But there are some poignant and powerful points he makes that might rock you off your feet. "Fathers are speaking about God the Father constantly" he says, even if what they are saying indirectly leads to an awful depiction of what God the Father is. Hopefully you had a loving human father. Chances are, though, he was a very human father, and therefore you've got some "issues" to deal with.

Chapters 11 and 12 are not for the faint of heart, but boy are they eye opening! There's some very frank discussion of sexuality and gender roles.

At the end of each chapter, he has some great study questions called "Questions to Consider." This book could be a great resource for study groups and it would certainly prompt some vigorous discussion!

I hope you consider reading this book, if for no other reason than that you need to know God as your Father in a better way. We all do. Since earthly fathers are human and botch things up, and human fathers are an indirect representation of the Heavenly Father, this book could shed some light on some "issues" you might have in your theology of the Father.

This book is deep, weighty, controversial, and not at all a light read. But it's impacting and illuminating as well. 

Because everyone is hungry for more of the Father's love, even if they don't realize they are.


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.

Friday, April 27, 2012

If You're Angry and You Know It

Yesterday was a rough day. Ask Harry. I yelled at him for hovering around my feet as I went in and out of the sliding door to the deck in order to grill the chicken for dinner. Of course he was hovering--he's a dog, and loves grilled meat. Any kind of meat, really. Heck, he'll even munch on paper and tissues out of the garbage, if we don't empty the wastepaper cans right away.

I don't normally yell at him. Then again, Safety Bill doesn't normally snap at me when he comes home from work. He's normally very slow to get angry and long on the patience and love. And then our daughter was acting like a belligerent teenager yesterday, and got her feathers easily ruffled when normally she's very mature and sweet with me. She's 17, and we still haven't hit a stage where I wish she would go off to college and mature.  I don't want her to ever leave home. But yesterday I could actually envision it.Yesterday I wanted everyone to leave home, the dog included, and leave me alone.

Pressure. Frustration. Disappointment. Anger.Oh, I felt all these things yesterday. There was a lot going on under the surface too. Everyone is dealing with challenges and decisions to make. Each one of us is facing important decisions that have to be made. And we've all been praying. A lot, really. We've all been seeking God, seeking His will, trying to step out in faith, trying please Him with our actions of faith.


But remember, if you're stepping out in faith, then you're stepping out of your comfort zone. And there's only so long that you can deal with being out of your comfort zone before you realize you are, and you freak out a bit. Sometimes we've been trying so hard to please God, and going that extra mile, and then we hit a wall--it's a wall that we know God could have easily removed for us. We feel almost slighted by God. It's like we're a child that gets up early to surprise their parent by cleaning up the kitchen, and the parent walks out into the sparkling clean kitchen and....merely nods. Doesn't say a word. Oh, it's a pleasant nod of acknowledgement, but we were expecting so much more than that!

Well, I'm that child. And I felt close to a throwing a tantrum yesterday. I was frustrated. Bewildered, a bit.
 How much more could I show God that I was trying to change and grow in Him? I felt dejected. Angry, really. I didn't want to be angry with God. It's not a good feeling. Most people aren't even sure that you can be angry with God. 

But every healthy relationship includes an honest sharing of emotions and feelings and thoughts, one to the other.Actually the healthiest of relationships have a "safe zone" where each person can share their feelings without fear. With "safe" people, we can afford to let our anger out. We can risk being vulnerable. We can say, "I feel so angry with you right now."

Of course, there are healthy ways of expressing anger, and then there are dysfunctional, abusive ways of dealing with anger. Let's be clear on that. Let your anger out--but don't shoot it out. Don't shoot it out like an arrow with a poisonous tip!

"BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger," Ephesians 4: 26 tells us.
Would somebody care to explain how that's done, I always used to think the minute I'd read that verse. Because I don't know about you, but I don't know many people who know how to be angry and yet not sin. Getting angry, and not sinning, is like getting on and staying on a balancing beam that's a 1/4" wide-- would you know how to stay on perfectly and not fall off??

I really don't think, though, that God would tell us something that's impossible to do. I wonder if we've misunderstood what the sin is, in anger, and what's acceptable, when angry.

Anger builds up the more we've felt slighted, frustrated, misused, ignored, hurt.....The point is, that Anger builds up. And maybe we shouldn't let it. Maybe we should learn to quickly acknowledge the first sign of it and admit it, right away. Of course some of us are more prone to getting angry at the first sign of anything, and some of us have to be prodded to express our feelings. You know which one you are.

Here's the GOOD NEWS: God is the very first person you can safely go to, when angry. In fact, He is the best one to go to when angry so that your anger doesn't grow volcanic and explosive and out of control. Because, you see, you can tell God what you're feeling and you can talk it out with Him. Even if HE is the One you feel angry with, tell Him what you're feeling.

But here's a warning that you need to be aware of when you feel angry with Him: Don't curse God, or accuse God, when you're angry. Just tell Him how the situation looks to you, how it feels to you--don't malign Him, though, and attribute evil motive to Him. Be very careful with what you indirectly are saying.

That's what Job understood. That's how Job prevailed through one of the worst trials a person can go through. Job experienced an unexpected series of losses, when he'd been living right with God, and he didn't understand why. In fact, Job had been going out of his way to show God that he respected His ways. He even made sacrifices to God on behalf of his partying children who apparently didn't worry about living right with God like their father, Job, did.

And when faced with unexpected, horrific tragedy that Job didn't see coming, he still refused to accuse God of evil motive. "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing."(Job 1:22)

Oh, Job was hurting! He was frustrated and angry. He was in shock, almost, astounded at what God had apparently allowed, or caused, to happen to him. You see he didn't know what God had in mind or why this had happened but he knew one thing, for sure: that though it looked like God was out to kill him, Job would still trust God's motive and plan for him.(Job 13:15)

Can you do that? You can if you have really come to know God, know His heart, know what He was willing to do in order that you could be made right with Him. You see, if you truly understand that God loves you with a sacrificial love, a merciful love, a love that says "Come unto Me all ye that labor and I will give you rest," then you would never accuse God, or curse Him, or charge Him with wrong doing.

Instead, you would say,

"God, I don't understand!"
"Lord, it feels like you're ignoring my prayers"
"God, I feel so angry!"
"Lord, it looks like You are not with me!"
                              and God would say, "I can see why you say that. Tell me more. Let's talk about it."

We will not always get a Birdseye view of what's going on, or why God is allowing something in our life. We will not always get a clear answer from Him, even after hours of tears and prayer and journaling and petitioning and sharing of our feelings. What will we get is the knowledge that He hears us--and cares. "I love the LORD because he hears my voice, my pleas for mercy," the psalmist writes. He bends down, and listens to us. He's willing to hear your heart. He wants to answer you. And He is... answering you.

Job kept his trust in the Lord, even though it looked like he had no reason to. It almost looked like God was out to get Job, that's how bad the situation was. Why trust someone who's out to hurt you? Can you trust someone who doesn't have your wholeness and well-being in mind? Exactly.

You see, the reason why Job did trust God is that he leaned on something more than circumstantial evidence: he knew the motive of God's heart. He knew the God of Covenantal Promise, the God who would send a Savior to earth that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. That's God's motive.That's His heart. That's why He's trustworthy. That, and so much more. He's the number One most Trustworthy Being I know.

Now go back to your anger. Wait, you're not feeling so angry and frustrated? Yeah, me neither. Do you now have a bit of quiet hope that your situation is not shrouded in retributive punishment--but in grace? Do you see, now, how God desires to turn your situation around, to turn your mourning into dancing? To turn your anger and frustration into chortles of delighted laughter at how big He is, how much He loves you, and how NOTHING will ever stop Him from being the God of the Universe, your Heavenly Father, the One who truly cares...for you.


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Real Thing

Peace to you all!

I feel like a hippie from the sixties, when I say that. But they didn't have a monopoly on the concept of peace, nor a perfect understanding of it. I refuse to let it be an expression pertaining to only them.

Jesus said, "I am leaving you at peace. I am giving you my own peace. I am not giving it to you as the world gives. So don't let your hearts be troubled, and don't be afraid." (John 14:27)

If you get a moment's peace from your kids' fighting and bickering, it might really be just a moment. If your marriage enjoys some peace, it might be because there have been no "issues" that have recently arisen. And if the world experiences a ceasefire in some region of some country, the fighting will cease for a season, but just for a season.

There is no lasting peace in this world. There is no lasting peace created by the world. There's only One person who not only holds continual peace for you, but who IS actual Peace, Himself. But if you feel frustrated that you haven't tapped into His peace, remember: He doesn't give it the way the world gives it.

If Jesus left you with peace, HE LEFT YOU WITH PEACE. Don't let anyone take it away from you. He gave you peace of heart and mind. It is flavored and imbued with His essence. Christ was never alarmed or fretful when He walked this earth. He was presented with many opportunities and reasons to be anxious or upset, but He did not give in to anxiety or agitation. So if He says He gave you peace, this is a quality Peace He has given you! This is an abiding powerful peace that you can rest upon and lean on and cling to and soak in!

It's YOURS-- He gave it to you. And He hasn't changed His mind. It's still yours. You see, the world and your kids and your daily problems will give you a moment's peace or a bit of peace now and then, but they can't give you lasting peace. They really can't even GIVE you peace, period, because they did not create the concept of peace nor are they able to hand you the actual substance of peace.

HE IS OUR PEACE, the Bible tells us. If I want God's continual presence in my life, then I should also expect the manifestation of peace. I can walk in peace even in unsettling circumstances. I can lay hold of this peace with my mind set on receiving what has already been given to me.

I will not be anxious or troubled. Say that again. I will not fear. I will not be anxious or troubled. I HAVE HIS PEACE.

"Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble," Psalm 119:165 tells us. What kind of peace have you been given? Great peace. Abundant peace. You're in good standing. You won't fall or stumble about. You are not orphaned or without resources. You are not in hot water! If you have Peace, you have the promise of His love, His favor.

You've got the peace that passes understanding, which means that people won't be able to figure out why you're so relaxed, so expectant of good, so capable of not only making it through the day, but making it through the day like the day was made just for you.

This is the day the Lord has made, and yes, we can be glad in it-- because we've got peace like a river. I know the source of the river. But as to where my peace goes, that remains to be seen.

You see, I'm taking it with me, wherever I go.