Tuesday, May 22, 2012


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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Every Step I Take

I thought I'd start out this post with some simple powerful truths that you need to know for today:

Today is already a very good day.

You've got some choices to make today, but I know you will choose well; so I'll say "good job!" already.

You've got God's favor working on your behalf, even if you can't see it; so just know that you've got way more going for you, than against you.

Lately I've been realizing that I know more than I think I do--but that isn't even the victory. It's not what you know that matters so much as what you do with what you know. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:24 that successful, healthy people are those who put into practice the good things that they know. There's knowing something, and then there's doing something with what you know. But take heart, you are doing this already. God has given you a head start...when he designed your brain.

I've heard some people say that they've never gotten a lucky break. And I know some people who feel like God has failed them when they asked for His help. They didn't feel like they got specific direction from God. I've had times, myself, when I feel like God has let me loose in a fog and yet told me to follow Him. "Oh, this is just ducky," I've muttered to myself as I go bumbling about. There have been times when it didn't feel like my steps were at all ordered by God, much less directed by Him.

But let me share with you something about how God is leading you right now (because He IS leading you). He designed you, designed your brain, to aid you in the actual taking of every step. He designed you so that you will not fall. He thought of the concept of equilibrium and balance. Even if you're in a wheelchair, God wants you to know you can stand in Him. Even if you're lying down, beseiged in exhaustion or grief, God wants you to know you can be upright in Him. He designed us that that we can take actual physical steps of progress-- and that's not even the beginning of tapping into His storehouse of wisdom and insight and revelation.

Ruel Hinaloc writes in The Brain More Than a Computer about how our brain helps us take steps of progress. "Although extremely fast, computers handle only one piece of information at a time, whereas the human nervous system processes millions of pieces of information simultaneously. For example, during a stroll in the springtime, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, listen to the song of birds, and smell the flowers. All these pleasant sensations are transmitted simultaneously to your brain. At the same time, streams of information flow from the sense receptors in your limbs, informing your brain of the moment-to-moment position of each leg and the state of each muscle. Obstacles in the footpath ahead are noticed by your eyes. On the basis of all this information, your brain ensures that each step is taken smoothly." (italics mine)

If God cared enough to make a brain that ensures your steps will be smooth and steady, how much more will He give you the emotional and spiritual assistance to make those physical steps endued with power when they become steps of faith as well!

You've got a lot going for you. You've got an incredible brain, designed by God, to aid you in taking steps forward. And then add to that ALL of heaven's resources at your disposal. Just trust God for that next step that seems so hard for you. It's not hard. It just seems hard.

When you think of it, you were designed for progress. You were designed for forward movement and you were designed to stay upright as you make progress.

So, repeat after me:

It's a good day, already. (Psalm 118:24)

I know how to choose wisely, and I will do so. (Phil. 2:13)

There is more going on for me than against me. (Rom 8:31)

There now. You've already made progress. Now take another step. And then another.

I'll look for you at the next pit stop, further on down the road.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: Opening the Gates of Heaven

(I'm pleased to now be doing Book Reviews for Charisma House. So here is the first review!)

I so wanted to immediately LOVE this book, but I got bogged down with tedious, although Scriptural, multiple details within the first couple pages. So much information! The author, Perry Stone, writes on an important topic but supports almost every statement with some Biblical reference to the geography of Israel, the specifics of tabernacle sacrifices, geology specifics--and that's all in the first chapter!

Perry, Perry! I want to exclaim. Help us out here! This is the reason why many people are frustrated in their prayer lives: they can't figure out what they're doing right from wrong because it all seems so hard, so much, so confusing.

But there are many nuggets of gold in this book-- you just have to expect to do the hard work of a miner and dig for them. I wouldn't try to read this book in one sitting, that's for sure! A page a day and you could have plenty to chew on and think about.

And one minor detail: for some reason, there are so many references to what God did back then, back in 1982, "many years ago," sometime back in..., I recall when.... , that it seemed like answers to prayer happened, for him, long ago. It's just how it came across to me, initially; but as you read you discover, of course, that God is working NOW as well as then in his life, and God will give you history with Him as well as a future. It was just a reminder to me, though, that we need to tell a current story of God's favor and deliverance and help.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 13: it's motivating, encouraging, and specific. There are some concrete truths that he puts words to that are helpful, such as "Grace is unearned and is a free gift from God, but favor may be deserved or gained." Hmmm, tell me more, I think. He addresses questions such as "Why some (people) seem more 'highly favored' (than others)?"

The last chapter is powerful: "Important Principles for Opening Heaven's Gates." And that's when you discover that, like getting through this book, walking in "the favor of answered prayer and blessing" is not walking, or tiptoeing, through the tulips. You want favor with God? You want your prayers to be answered? Don't give up after saying one prayer, after reading one chapter of a book on prayer. Persevere. Study God's Word.

Make the pursuit of God your aim, and the answered prayers will follow.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Charisma House, a Strang Company, as part of their Book Review Blogger 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.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When You're Down...But Not Out

Yesterday I folded laundry, made a pot roast, worked on a chapter in the book I am writing. If anybody had been watching me do all this, they might have thought it was pretty insignificant, my day. Nobody would have been able to tell I was doing all this...by faith. Because the truth is, I felt like lying down, pulling the covers over my head and going to that murky place of dream land. Any dream I could have slipped into would have been better than the reality I was experiencing.

I'm not going through any severe trial or catastrophic circumstance. What I am experiencing, though, is the doldrums, the spirit of heaviness. I feel exhausted but more than that I feel helpless, incapable. There are a number of reasons why I've lost confidence in my God-given abilities, but the point I want to make here is this: sometimes people are acting on the last bit of energy, faith, and hope that they have.

You see them doing a load of laundry, and really they are doing an incredible feat of accomplishment because they would rather just go to bed and forget everything. You see them walking their dog, but really they are taking step by step, in faith, because they are trying. Period.

We have no idea of what some people are experiencing because we don't always see what they are feeling. We see them as capable and talkative, and in reality, they are mustering their last bit of strength and faith just to talk to you.

Yesterday there was a knock on my door. Harry went ballistic with his barking. I could barely hear the guy, when I opened the door, because I had Harry by the collar and was trying to restrain him. He's a sweet dog but don't mess with his territory or threaten his masters. This guy was no threat, but Harry didn't know that.

"Would you like to see the seafood and meat we have for sale?" he asked me hopefully. I couldn't even hear the name of the company, but even if it had been legitimate and known for delicious food, I already had a freezer full of meat. And we're not much for seafood, except for in the summer time. So I told him no thank you, and I hope he heard the sincerity in my voice. He might not have because Harry had not ceased to growl and bark.

He left and I went back downstairs to work on the laundry. But immediately I felt something in my spirit for this man- and it was compassion. What a hard job he had, I thought. I wouldn't like to have to go door to door-- not in this day and age, not in this economy. But the operative words were "have to." He probably had no other choice. He probably had a family to feed. He probably had something better to do in previous years, but wound up with this job to do--because it was the only thing he could do.

So I prayed for that man. Oh I prayed a thunderbolt of blessing to come and hit him. I prayed for a flood of encouragement and provision into his life. It was too late for me to go call him back to my house, and I really couldn't have bought much from him other than maybe a steak for that night. But it wasn't too late for me to reach him through prayer.

Maybe it was good that I was feeling so low yesterday, so dispirited and discouraged. That allowed me to relate to someone else who literally had a hard road ahead of him. That caused me to pray for, and bless, that man. And believe me, we do have the power to bless, and not curse.

It is no small thing to ask God to bless someone. God loves it when we pray for others and want others to have what we would want to have. So I wanted this man to be lifted up. I wanted this man to know hope and strength. I wanted this man to get a break and get a better way to make a living. I wanted his family to see him come home and say to them, "I don't know why- it was a crummy day in sales- but I feel encouraged. I feel hopeful." And then out of that encouragement, he may try to send out a resume again. He may try to start that business. He may decide to go back to school and get that degree that everybody told him he was too old to get. He just might decide that he can keep going.

Friend, no matter how down you feel, God will send someone to encourage you or pray for you. Be assured that He will not let you stay down when you feel down. He wants to lift you up. He wants to answer prayers that are spoken over you by someone else who saw you struggling to do things...by faith.

In Judges 6, we read the account of an Angel greeting Gideon with an amazingly positive proclamation, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." Gideon did not feel like a mighty warrior. He didn't even look like one. But the Angel is there to tell Gideon about the mission assigned to him of saving Israel from the Midianites. And here's the incredible thing the Angel says to him,"Go in the strength you have." The little that you have, use it. The bit of strength you have, fight with it. It might be more than you realize.

Today, please know that if YOU are reading this, and you need encouragement, I care about your predicament. But more than that GOD CARES. He cares about salesmen out on the road, about stay at home moms who are exhausted, about teenagers overwhelmed with choices, about men who are out of work and out of hope as far as they can see. He cares about you doing the ordinary things that are taking seemingly extraordinary strength to do. HE sees you trying to take the next step of faith. He sees you using the bit of strength you have-- and He wants to multiply that strength.

So, go throughout your day, you mighty warrior!! There is more strength on its way to you. More blessing. More power.

There's just, simply...MORE.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spiritual Exhaustion

This post is for exhausted people only. If you're pumped up about life and you've got everything figured out, enjoy your day and God speed. See you next post.

Okay, if you're still here reading, it could be that you've had a hard week so far, or maybe a rough month, or maybe it's been a really long winter. You might feel beyond tired-- you're actually weary. You feel like a wet noodle,maybe. If you're floppy and you know it, say amen.

But I've got some good news for you, friend. You can be weary and weak and just about out of steam. In fact you might have one last little prayer of "Help, God!" in you and you're about to utter it pleadingly- and even then you're not sure it will availeth much.

Can I tell you something about spiritual exhaustion? It happens. It happens to the best and the brightest and the strongest and the most well-intentioned of us. The fact that it happens is not the thing I want to tell you. That's just what I want to establish as our base line truth. Here's what I want to tell you though: spiritual exhaustion is not necessarily evidence that you've done anything wrong. In fact you may have been doing many things right, lately. You've prayed up a storm. You've read your Bible faithfully. You helped someone and never bragged about it. You've tried to utter blessing and not cursing when you've been hurt or rejected. You've tried to do good and not cause pain. You've tried, period.

Last summer, on vacation, my son tried and tried to skim board. Skim boarding is when you take a board and "skim" across the surface of the water-- but it's shallow water. You can't drown in it. You're just supposed to glide across it. Glide, I said. Not pound the surface. Not fight the current.

And now let's enter the "deep" end, here: you were not meant to always be pounding the surf, hitting against hard wave after wave. You were also meant for gliding. You were made for "easy" times too.

Don't get offended about that word easy. So many Christians do. I can hear all the pulpit pounders telling me that life is hard and the life of a disciple is harder and get ready to fight the good fight. And fight again. And fight to the end.

Do that. Fight when you need to. Contend for things when it's a matter of faith verses sight. But don't forget to glide....when you can. When there's a wave of ease and opportunity, by all means, take it! When Christ offers a yoke that is "easy" and a burden that is light, He is talking about ceasing from trying so hard and accepting the suitable and comfortable yoke of obeying what He's asked you to do. And sometimes obedience requires such perseverance and denying of self. And sometimes God sends a wave of refreshment and He expects you to take it ...and glide. Step out into the Spring air and breathe deeply. Enjoy that late evening walk. Take the hand that is offered to you instead of saying, "Oh, no, I'm fine."

Psalm 46:10 tells us to "Be still and know that I am God...." Stop all the strenuous exertion and get a revelation of how powerful He is and how weak and floppy you are. It's okay to be blown away by the contrast. One commentary on this verse digs deep into the meaning of "be still" and explains that it has to do with casting down or letting something fall. "...to be relaxed, slackened, especially the hands: It is also employed in the sense of not making an effort; not putting forth exertion; and then would express the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue."

I'm all about persisting in prayer, persevering in prayer. I believe in contending for the promises of God. I believe Scripture tells us, over and over, that we must be bold and strong and obedient and faithful. But it also tells us that when we are weak, HE is strong. When we are "relaxed" He is still powerful--and not at all offended by our taking a glide across the water and shouting "weeee!" as we go.

Stop striving to make things happen. Let God see you relaxed and expectant at the same time. I can raise my hands to heaven and pray and I know this pleases God. But I can also let my hands hang down in exhaustion and marvel at the fact that God is never weary. I can honor Him even in my weakness; perhaps because when I know I am weak, I might just realize, in a greater way, how strong and powerful and capable God is. When I understand this, really understand this, that's my faith in God showing. I might even display more faith in God when I am going through a time where I'm weak and exhausted-- if I can admit He is not offended by my fatigue and I am not resistant to His offering of help and grace.

Be still before Him. Let go. Let your hands flop down in fatigue if you have to. Rest easy in the knowledge that He's got a wave of refreshment coming to you. It's for you. It's yours for the taking. Glide on it.

There's more where that came from.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Caution!! Open Doors Ahead!

Safety Bill and I had just fallen asleep. Well, I was about to enter that deep stage of sleep when little noises and nagging thoughts start to disappear and you give in to that wave of blessed slumber that should hopefully last for about eight hours. Mine lasted for about eight minutes-- because I woke to a strange whimpering, scratching sound. It didn't sound like our dog Harry because he either barks with conviction or cries pitifully (and theatrically, at times). This was more like a very panicked cry for help and the sound of struggle.

"Did we leave Harry outside by mistake?" I whispered to Bill, elbowing him awake. If it was a robber in the living room I didn't want to advise him that we were awake.

"No, I brought him in. He was with me downstairs just before I came to bed."

Oh. Now I knew what the noise was and where Harry was: he was between a rock and a hard place.

My poor shaggy boy is now about ten years old and getting slightly arthritic and more than slightly unbalanced. He has fallen down the last couple of stairs a couple times and scared us and ourselves by his lack of ability to do things he used to so easily do.

I ran to the door leading to our downstairs finished basement and carefully but quickly opened it. It was dark and there was the sound of his nails scrambling on the top painted step; and then he flopped into me. He could have fallen the other way, down the stairs.

You see, he was at the top of the stairs, but the door was clsoed. It was dark. (Bill had left Harry asleep on the couch downstairs when he had come up to bed.) The stairs are slippery because they are a painted wood, with kind of a enameled coating. The stairs- each tread- are narrow. Harry is wide. And thus his predicament: he was waiting for us on the very top step, leaning against a closed door, his body half falling over the step and threatening to tumble down. He was in the dark. And what scared him the most, I think, was not that the door wouldn't open if he cried out or barked loudly, but that the door would suddenly open and he'd lose his balance and tumble down.

You know where I'm going with this, don't you? Opened Doors are not all that they're made out to be. You think you're waiting for an opportunity so you can get to something better, but if God opens the door suddenly, are you ready for it? And more than that, just the door opening itself can sometimes be a violent act, a scary sudden thing. Opened doors are not necessarily safe.

Oh, I don't mean that God will ever lead you into unsafe, sinful territory. He won't ever, ever, tempt you to fall. God does not work that way. (When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone...James 1:13). But God will bring you into a promised land filled with giants. He will bring you to the edge of the Red Sea with a chasing army thundering behind you. He'll open doors alright, but then you'll find yourself with greater responsibility, greater opportunities to need a miracle. You'll find yourself between a rock and a hard place, or in Harry's case, between the top of the stairs and a closed door.

But I would rather perilously rest against a closed door that I want to open, than to stay at the bottom of the stair and just pitifully cry and whimper for God to do something in my life. You want God to move in your life? You want a long-awaited door to open for you? REST AGAINST IT.

Fall asleep praying about your problem. Let God find you with your hand to the plow- even if he finds you asleep. Be like the widow in Luke 18 who kept asking for justice and because of her persistence, received it. Let Him find you faithful in carrying out the tasks that you CAN do, such as actually climbing up the stairs. You can do that. Even if there's a closed door at the top of the stairs, at least climb up the stairs and position yourself, in faith, at that closed door. .

You know, I'm pretty much an expert when it comes to closed doors. (Some of these closed doors never opened or still haven't opened.) I would rather be an expert on opened doors, and I pray someday I'll get there, but for now, let me tell you what I experientially know about closed doors. There are different kinds of closed doors. The kind of closed doors I want to have in my life are closed doors that could have, might have, opened, given the right timing, the right situation. But I never want to have doors that are closed because I was asking for something wrong. I don't ever want God to look at me with that knowing look that says, "Lauren, really? You want me to open a door that is actually sinful to open?" May it never be that I ask God to open a door for me that is sinful or that leads to sin.

But if we ask God to open doors that we KNOW are in His will- these are doors that lead to healing, that help others, that bless others, that use our God-given talents and gifts- then if these doors don't open, we know it's not because they're not in His general will. We know it's not because we asked wrongly. They're not against His will- they're just not in His specific will for that specific time and place. For some reason--God's reason.

Think about Joseph (in the book of Genesis), in prison, waiting for release from that dark place. He's praying for God to open the door and get him out of there- because he never deserved to be there in the first place. But circumstantially speaking, God allowed his brothers to gang up on him and put him in a pit and then sell him off as a slave. God allowed the defamation of Joseph's character when Potiphar's wife falsely accused him of rape and he wound up in prison. He wound up without any resource for deliverance, unless God opened the door for his release. His only recourse was God sovereignly, powerfully and at the right time, getting him out of prison. And GOD DID.

You have to know with conviction, when you're leaning against a closed door, that it is right for you to press against it. You have to know that you are, to the best of your conscience, asking for something good- not evil. And then once you know this, you have to entrust yourself and the door-opening to God's timing and providence. There will be some doors that don't open-- and not because you asked for something bad or sinful. And there will be some doors that eventually open, maybe after years and years of waiting. Notice the "some" the "eventually", the "maybe." Because we only know in part, we only see in part.

When I opened the door last night, I did it carefully and with the knowledge of what could happen. I knew Harry was leaning against the door and he was in a dangerous place-- he could fall and tumble down the stairs if I jerked the door open too quickly and he lost his balance. But it most certainly was my desire to open the door and let my poor sweet dog come up and be with us. Bill did not deliberately leave him downstairs in the dark as some kind of punishment. Harry, as sweet and not-very-bright as he is, hopefully knew that, even if he didn't know the particulars and how and why he came to find himself resting against the closed door.

I want to take care to consider the doors before me. I can easily rule out some that I should never try to open. And then there'll be some that I think He might want to open. And then there'll be some that have not opened for a long time, but I'm still resting at the doorstep against the closed door. I'm not afraid to wait or rest there. I'm trying to stay ready to tumble forward if it suddenly opens. And most of all, if a "great and effective door" opens to me, I know it could be sudden and scarey and it could catapult me into unknown territory in which I will need Him more than ever--and will need Him to open more doors further down the road.

But one thing I know now: God's love is in front of every closed door and behind every closed door. An opened door does NOT mean I get more love from Him. I am loved, right now, where I am--opened door or not. My shaggy bear of a dog knows this truth. He was relieved when I opened the door and he flopped forward. Then he walked over to the living room couch, jumped up, made a little nest for himself with the cushions, and promptly fell asleep. His trial of waiting was over.

I went back to bed thinking about the particulars of what just happened, envisioning myself wedged on that top slippery step, pressing up against the closed door. Maybe I identify with Harry too much! But he's such a trusting sweet dog. It was clear to him that the door would eventually open. Yours will too. And if it's not the door to your dream, if it's not the direct answer to your problem right now, there most certainly will be an open door to more grace for however long you find yourself having to wait at the top of the stairs, resting at the closed door.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Invisible Ceiling Above You

It all depends on your perspective- but there could be a ceiling of limitation above you, whether you see one there or not. According to Wikipedia, "A ceiling is an overhead interior surface that covers the upper limit of a room. It is generally not a structural element, but a finished surface concealing the underside of the floor or roof structure above"(italics mine).

You may not see this ceiling but it could be there: it's the limitations that you, or others, put on you. Try to break through that invisible ceiling and you'll see what I mean, because you'll sense resistance and pressure and limitation. Perhaps, in your family, no one has ever gone beyond a high school diploma. Or maybe you're facing a career change and it doesn't make sense to those who know you, but deep down inside, you're yearning to break through that barrier that says you don't deserve to be that fulfilled in a job. Maybe there's a ceiling on your finances or a blockage in your ability to do that one thing you know you need to do- and it's scaring you.

Of course there may be some people who don't feel like they have any limitations on their lives and maybe some are exploding through their limitations even as I write this. But chances are, if you're reading this, you might have an invisible ceiling above you, and you're realizing it now.

Let me help you get this negative covering off you. It's not really a structural element anyhow. It conceals things more than it supports things. We have dear friends who have entertained royally for months, maybe years, with a big gaping hole in their kitchen ceiling. We sip our coffee, standing underneath the exposed beams. We love their gutsy, loving hospitality that says they don't have to have a pristine perfect kitchen before they can invite people in.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself what, exactly, is your ceiling made of? What's blocking your view of God's resources, His available help? Why does it seem like problems are so big and God's promises, well, don't seem bigger? It's your ceiling. It's that limited faith: you want to believe, you try to believe, b ut you just can't believe big enough, sometimes.

Jesus addressed the issue of our limited faith in Matthew 17: 20 and said, "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” He didn't say it won't seem impossible, just that it won't be impossible.

Ah, you have seen your invisible ceiling when you address the word seem. What things seem to be are, many times, imposing, impossible, impenetrable. When things seem overwhelming, you're hitting your head against that ceiling of limited faith or constricted faith. Yes, you can start with a mustard seed of faith, but you won't get too far in your journey of doing great exploits if it only stays the size of that seed. Start with a mustard seed of faith, yes; but LET that mustard seed GROW, because when it does, the mustard seed explodes into a plant incredibly huge in proportion to its size at the beginning. I would venture to say that the mustard seed explodes through its ceiling of limitations.

And you know what's on the other side of the ceiling of man's limitation? Heaven's floor. Remember, the ceiling conceals the underside of the floor above you. If your mustard seed of faith is growing, you'll start to hit the ceiling of resistance and then go through. You'll go from the constraints of this earthly life to the principles of the kingdom of heaven. You'll discover more and more that what things seem to be are inconsequential compared to the truth of what Jesus says they will not be: they won't be impossible.

So speak to your ceiling. It's probably yellowed with age and cracked, anyhow. It's not serving a good purpose. And when you walk around with an invisible ceiling above you, you really can't see the forest for the trees. Or I should say, you can't see heaven above you. But if you pull down the rest of the crumbling plaster above you, pull down those strongholds of resistance to new things and resistance to new journeys, you'll see God's arms opened wide, and the smile on His face. They've been there all along.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Loud and Clear

Well my dear blog friends, for those of you faithfully dropping by here to see if I have gotten going on my intention to make things "loud and clear" here at FAITH FUEL, the answer is No, I am not yet at the point of broadcasting live or vlogging, but I haven't been silenced either. Sometimes when you're trying to break through into doing something new and you haven't completely succeeded, you can at least say you haven't stopped trying.

And you know why I'm trying to make a change in how I get my messages to you? Because certain people in my life are prodding me to do this and I have been resisting as though they were asking me to jump into a pool of alligators. I like writing down my thoughts and my struggles and my "lightbulb moments" of sudden illumination that I share with you all here; and I love speaking at Retreats and Conferences and Bible Studies. But to speak out into the blog world and try bringing you some words of encouragement in that manner- well, I would; I mean I'm not against doing that; but really, is that what I should be doing? (Can you hear the resistance?!)

My husband, Safety Bill, has been telling me that Change is in the Air. He says he can almost smell change coming, that it smells like something fresh and new. I don't smell anything. Well, other than Harry, who is in desperate need of a bath and total mowing- I mean, grooming. The only thing I sense is that I'm used to writing my thoughts and I'm used to posting them quietly. The only way you'd hear my posts is if you read them out loud. And now I've got a bit of prodding to change things, change the way I do things. Change the way I come across to you, how I come across to you.

But the key thing is that we do cross over- from resistance to cooperation, from fear to faith, from old ways of doing things to new ways of doing things. I don't even think you have to know exactly what you are doing when you start to make concrete changes in your life. Nobody would make changes if they waited till they were exactly sure of what they were doing!

I'm never exactly sure of what I'm doing- it's more like I'm sure of what- or Who- is motivating me to make the changes that I will eventually not be sure of. Does that make sense? I'm sure that God is behind the prodding for these changes. And actually, I'm sure God is behind not so much the changes themselves, but the willingness I need to have to make these adjustments and turning points.

God looks for bendable people. Flexible, bendable people are not willy nilly in their convictions- they're just open to how their convictions will be carried out. They know that when all is said and done, things just might look completely different than when they first started out on their new journey to Change.

Maybe you feel impressed to take a certain path, pursue a certain job, and you're just about to reach out and lay hold of it when- poof- it almost seems to evaporate. The offer is withdrawn; someone else gets the job. Maybe a serious relationship that you thought for sure was going to lead to a proposal of Happily Ever After is now a relationship crumbling into the dust. Maybe the Answer that you fasted and prayed for is now turning out to not exactly be the answer you were looking for. But, hold on! Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Cor. 13:12) Sometimes we only get part of the picture; sometimes we get a partial revelation of what God is doing but then we add to that partial our idea of what's happening. We need to get used to saying "I only know in part, but I can fully obey God." God is after our willingness to pursue Him and His will in all things. He knows we only see in part, but He's got the full picture. He will lead, and keep leading you, into the fullness of His will and His abundance.

Stumble about, if you have to- but at least stumble forward. Stumble into change. Thrash and flail about it, but do it anyway. That's what I'm doing. My techno-son is helping me make this transition with changes coming to my blog and website. My husband is prodding me. My friend Scott who has a ministry going through changes is encouraging me to get going. And most of all, God is calling me to enter into the Transition Time with gusto and excitement for the new things He has ahead. I don't really know what the changes I make now will lead to in the future. But I do know that my willingness to change- to move with God- will definitely keep me hearing Him calling me onward- and I will hear Him loud and clear.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NEED a SPEAKER for an Event?

I have taken a break from posting here at FAITH FUEL in order to pursue other possibilities of communicating the Good News to my friends far and wide. (Hint, hint- how about hearing my posts and not just reading my words?I'm looking into doing Video-blogging or what you call vlogging). While I am transitioning to new avenues of communicating with you all, please know that I am available to speak at Women's Events, Retreats, and Conferences.

Please see my Speaking site for more information:


God bless you all richly!