Frustration, Faithfulness, and God’s Timing + CD Giveaway

One of the unique differences between Christian artists and the majority of other musicians is openness about the muse for music. Christian art is about testifying to the God who is, glorifying Him through song.

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The story behind Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden is a real life example of the reason for the hope she has in Jesus. In the title track, Jobe describes the desperation she felt when her sisters’ infant James Ivy arrived stillborn. Jobe was pregnant at the same time. The loss bore all the tragedy of shared dreams shattered and hope falling limp before the Lord.

But God.

In His perfect timing, He brought healing and revived hope for Jobe when months later a garden at her new home began to bloom. It had looked a mess, and she wasn’t sure what it would produce. She discovered, climbing up with fresh life, ivy.

Her reflection resounds in the title track lyrics: “For this moment you planned ahead that I would see your faithfulness…”

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My friend Lois recently wrote about her own experience with God planning ahead for her when she received a birthday lost in the mail months late- but God timed it right when she needed it.

Another friend, Christine, wrote of reaching just the right person in customer service. God’s timing of the call resulted in conversation leading to a personal connection through which she can share the reason for her hope.

Still another friend told me how she was frustrated with the difficulty of locating and entering a food pantry to drop off bags of rolls. She arrived just in time to witness a man sadly turned away because the available bread racks were empty. Handing him the bread, she was able to tell him God loved him with the full conviction of knowing God had timed their visits so they would meet.

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Our Lord goes before us (Deut 31:8.)

Into the garden in the spring. Into the mail system’s mess to delay cards. Into the customer service queue to connect people. Into the food pantry where a man in need of bread and the bread of life could be handed both at once.

The hope and awe bound up in recognizing God’s profound faithfulness are themes throughout Jobe’s CD. Direct praise is cultivated through “I Will Sing.” Stories of His inexplicable faithfulness ring out through “Miracles.” Awe resulting in drawing nearer to the Lord is represented through “Closer to Your Heart.”

Whether we’re waiting for the Lord to reawaken our hearts or reflecting on the majesty of God, we can be certain He is faithful. He who began the good work will complete it. He’s planned ahead. He’s gone before us and made a way.

The narrow road leads us to the abundant expanse of God’s glory. Praise be to our faithful God!


Interested in winning a copy of the CD? Comment on this post before 5pm EST of Friday, Feburary 10th!

You can also purchase a copy by clicking here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Only residents of continental U.S and Canada

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

 

Deja Vu and Milestone Moments

You’re sitting on the side of the road in your car. It’s just broken down. As you sit and wait for the tow, you think of all the mess of your life of late. The list of complaints is probably long.

Then you remember the last time your car broke down. It almost feels like Deja-vu, as the same worries and fears flood your mind again. The stress subsides quickly however; you recall how God provided last time. You wake up to His presence.

Taking a step back, you praise the Lord for a reminder of His faithfulness. It’s amazing how He uses even unfortunate circumstances to point us (over and over!) to Himself.

We all have moments like this. Our Lord uses parallel circumstances to remind us of His character and to reinforce His work in us. “Deja-vu” moments can be spiritual milestones marking God-defining moments.

Two Biblical examples of such milestones come to mind.

1. David, the Chased


Shortly after encountering David early in 1 Samuel, we learn that he had to flee from the king he served. King Saul, fearful of David’s popularity and might, was intent on killing him. So began David’s ministry as a public figure elected by God. A number of Psalms outline David’s learning to rely on the Lord for his deliverance and future, though enemies persecuted him (See Psalms 7, 27, and 53 for example).

Eventually, David became king. He was referred to as “the man after God’s own heart”. His reign was marked by extreme prosperity and rampant popularity. Over time, David committed prideful, bold sin. His family found itself in turmoil in more than one circumstance.

Then, David was chased again. His own son, Absalom, had decided he would take the throne and kill David to gain rule over the kingdom.

On the run again, David was reminded of the difficulty of being personally persecuted and betrayed. In the parallel circumstance, God reinforced David’s need for reliance on God and God’s own reliability.

Psalm 3:3 highlights David’s choice to again trust in the Lord in his difficulty: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

2. Peter, The Fisher of Men


When Peter became a disciple of Jesus, he was a fisherman out on a boat, having poor luck. He obeyed Jesus’ strange command to let down the net on the other side of the boat. Catching an abundance immediately, Peter was amazed. He committed to following Jesus. Christ told Peter he would make him a “fisher of men” (Mark 1:17).

From then on, Peter was a disciple. He was zealous, even to a fault. Come Jesus’ shocking arrest, however, Peter did the very thing he swore he’d never do: he denied his Lord and Savior -three times! Ashamed, Peter continued to seek God in his failure. He was around to discover that Jesus was raised from the dead, for example.

One day after the resurrection, Peter had Deja-vu. Out fishing and having poor luck, a man showed up on shore. The man suggested exactly what Jesus had those years before: try the other side. Up came a ton of fish. John recognized what was happening, and as soon as he told Peter, the ever-excited disciple ran to Jesus (John 21.)

It was then that Jesus reinforced Peter’s calling, even charging Peter with being a shepherd for His human-flock.


For both these men, God used a “Deja-vu,” or parallel, experience, to reinforce truth about His own character and His work in their hearts.

As we encounter situations and circumstances, like sitting on the side of the road when our car breaks down (again,) we might find that God is reminding us that “the Lord plans our steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

We sometimes find ourselves “back” in moments that have proven to be significant in our spiritual development.

When there, we are blessed to remember who it is that guides us, and how surely He is at work in this world, regardless of all that tries to distract us from His glorious presence.

{This post was originally published on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Is Christmas Biblical?

“Celebrate annually the coming of Christ. Make it a time of beauty, family, and tradition. Put up lights and a tree. Watch many movies. Gorge yourself on treats. Be happy every day of the season. In so doing, you will glorify the Lord.”

– 1 Snickerdoodle 3 (AKA not in the Bible!)

The Bible never tells us to celebrate Christmas. In fact, Scripture warns us about traditions like celebrating holidays. “For the sake of your tradition (you have) made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6). In another verse, the Bible references “hollow traditions.”

How many of those do we have?

Christmas is full of traditions that have very little to do with God. Few of us can connect Christmas trees to Christ. Fewer the concept of decorating gingerbread houses or dressing up in fancy outfits to attend parties blaring music about Rudolph and Santa.

Does that mean celebrating Christmas is unbiblical?

Probably not.

God offers plenty of examples of commanding, embracing, and rejoicing over celebrations.

Whether or not the celebration of Christmas is biblical has a lot to do with how and why we celebrate –and even more to do with what’s in our hearts.

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Some of the main hallmarks of traditional Christmases are Biblical, but we must be careful.

  1. The Spirit of Giving

God loves a cheerful giver” –2 Corinthians 9:7

Gifts are one of the first things that most people think of when they think of Christmas. In Scripture, we find the ultimate example of giving. Christ, in coming to save us, gave Himself up for us. God, in sending Christ, gave His only son to save us.

All throughout Scripture we find examples of giving. God gives good gifts. Christ gives peace and joy. We are encouraged to give with the understanding that all that we are and all that we have is Christ’s. It’s a joy to give of His plenty and in His love!

The Risk: For many, Christmas gifts are about getting. For many others, gifts are stressful, accompanied by the frustration of selection and people-pleasing. Over-spending also undermines the “cheerful” part of what makes this part of Christmas at all Biblical.

  1. The Celebration of Christ’s Coming

“Celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” –Psalm 145:7

Christmas, when it comes down to it, is a celebration of Christ’s coming! This whole time of festivity and adornment and gathering is in His name. It is to be a time of praising Him and beholding in wonder all that He has done, is doing, and will do.

Some of us praise Him with lights that shine like He does. Others by baking cookies as sweet as His kindness while enjoying the company of people He’s given them. Make the connection between these joyful traditions and the joy of our Savior.

The Risk: Christ often gets only an “honorable mention” around the massive celebration of His birth. Much of the celebrating- many decorations, traditions, songs, etc., have nothing to do with Him. That’s fine. Not everything we do needs to be deeply impactful. But we must be careful not to miss the point. That means prioritizing accordingly and not focusing on the world’s offerings above our awe of the Lord.

  1. The Gathering of Loved Ones

“Love one another with brotherly affection” Romans 12:10

The true Gospel of Scripture is as personal as it is corporate. We are all loved by Christ, and we are all precious to Christ. There is no division in the body of Christ, but the unity of love. Christmas is a time of gathering with loved ones to praise Him with those in the body and point those who are not to the One eager to welcome them with open arms and make them new.

The Risk: All too many a Christmas gathering is obligatory and exclusive. Many of us take the social aspect of Christmas for granted, settling for fun, comfortable, and casual. We neglect to realize the significance of sharing His love with those who are familiar and unfamiliar. We must not turn from God’s desire for us to make the most of every opportunity and to build one another up.


Of all times of the year to be living for Christ’s glory, Christmas offers a special opportunity to rejoice in and serve the Lord.

Celebrating Christmas Biblically means celebrating it as those sustained, filled, and loved by the One we celebrate. Watch out for the easy pitfalls that turn the celebration into less than it truly is.

Lord- let us mind our hearts while we celebrate yours! 

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

You Brought Me Here Why?

I remember the excitement when the phone call came. “We just have to finalize it, but you can schedule that moving truck,” the Midwestern man’s voice exclaimed. Expectantly, we did.

We waited.

But the paperwork never arrived. Weeks later, the same voice apologized on the phone. Unforeseen circumstances arose. The position was cancelled. We’re weren’t moving to Iowa. We were moving though… we had to.

We waited.

Living out of suitcases at my in-laws’ house, we sought work.

We waited.

My husband showed me a job listing. It wasn’t what was expected. We knew one person in the whole region. But the Lord said yes with perfect clarity and abundant confirmation. One Skype interview and a phone offer later, we were scheduling another moving truck. This one was bound for the unknown of Minnesota.

With just two weeks to prepare and little in the bank, we signed a lease online with high hopes.

We’d waited.

The Lord had made the way. We believed it.

Then we pulled up to the apartment complex….

Read the rest of the wild story over on Abby McDonald’s Anchored Souls Series, where I’m honored to be included. 

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This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Waiting Isn’t Passive

Our days and lives are filled with waiting. For good, for bad, for new, for people, for change. Waiting is a God-designed practice.

However, as the worn, torn magazines in waiting rooms around the world can attest, patience in the waiting isn’t a natural virtue.

Waiting makes some of us crazy.

In fact, I’m pretty sure if God wanted to test us before we entered heaven to see how much we learned on earth, my exam would be “Sit right here. He’ll call you when He’s ready.”

I’d be pacing the clouds, trying to get through to the Lord via the prayer line: “Hello God. You brought me here. This is the appointment you set. How is it you are not on time?!”

What maddens me most about waiting is the helpless feeling of having no control over what’s going on. Waiting seems passive, and I am not passive.

Truthfully though, waiting isn’t a passive process.

Much like active listening, active waiting is a participatory activity.

Active waiting looks like this:

  • Preparing
  • Anticipating
  • Hoping
  • Being brave and courageous
  • Watching

These are words God features in His Word. They are spoken by God in reference to His call to wait.

With a brief look at what God says about waiting, I’m finding the idea “godly waiting” means sitting quietly doing nothing while completely at peace is just plain wrong.

We shouldn’t wait on the Lord feigning patience.

We can actively wait, participating as God does with a patience that anticipates.

His example of waiting isn’t glamorous or easy, but it’s clear:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9

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Waiting isn’t about speed or suffering, but being purposeful.

God’s waiting is done with the perfect, purposeful patience of One who knows the wait is worth it.

God believes you and I are worth waiting for- that all people still coming to repentance are worth the wait.

In waiting, He does not sit idly by. He exposes our need for repentance and brings us to it. He offers forgiveness. He enjoys transforming every person up until the last one He is waiting on.

With God, waiting isn’t about the end, but about the beginning.

We wait as those preparing, anticipating, hoping, being brave, and watching carefully because there are new beginnings brought about by the Lord Himself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting on good news or bad. Whether you’re waiting for dreams to be realized or simply for something to change. Maybe you feel all that’s left to wait for is an end of some sort.

Wait assured: God has a beginning ready for you and your “not yet” time is not a wasted time. Instead, your waiting is participation in God’s plan for your life. No sitting on hands required- they have a big job to do praying. No self-muttering needed- you have Someone waiting with you.

He’s demonstrated it for all of time to know: waiting is a purposeful place of peace, joy, and growth for the faithful.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Confession: I’m Not a Fan of Devotions

Soul H2O Launch Team

My love-hate relationship with devotions started in college. It was my first time immersed in a Christianese culture. I didn’t know much about Jesus, and I didn’t care about the Gospel. I just wanted to be a good person and prove myself worthy to the God I didn’t understand.

In waltzed a dorm-mate one day, announcing she was about to do her “devos.” The word weirded me out.

Since those early days and eventually getting to know Jesus as my Savior, devotions still aren’t my thing.

For me, many devotionals are frustrating because they: 

  • Preach Christian psychology or self-help instead of the Scripture I need
  • Tackle huge topics that get me thinking, but offer no resolution or practical application
  • Are super wordy, in which case just give me a whole book
  • Build day by day, and I’m not that regimented
  • Are bulky, funky, hard covers that I’m too lazy to haul around with me for daily time
  • Tempt me to worship the devotional habit instead of worshipping God

My list says a lot about me and my shortcomings.

But it also speaks volumes about one of the rare devotionals I enjoy!

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I love this devotional book- it’s the exception to most of my “anti-devotional” issues.

Soul H2O, by Sherry Stahl, is a Biblical, digestible, concise companion for straight-up Bible studying and for ordinary life.

Each devotion is 1-2 short pages. The book is soft cover, and it fits in purses, backpacks, and my car’s glovebox. You don’t have to read it every day to keep up.

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Best of all, each devotion is simple. Instead of overwhelming me, Sherry’s words just refresh. They function like the title suggests: to quench thirst for good news from the Lord.

For example, devotional #4 refers to taking “every thought captive” to Christ.

Sherry then goes on to exhort: “Choose today which thoughts you’ll play on the record player of your mind.” The devotion centers on how our thoughts repeat. The thought is simple, Biblical, and gave me practical encouragement to walk with the Lord that day.

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Each of the devotions begins with a Bible verse. Short paragraphs with brief relatable anecdotes and simple life-applicable points about the verse follow. Sherry concludes with a brief prayer and references for additional verses if you’d like to study the Word yourself.

What I appreciate most about Soul H2O is its focus:

Instead of being about big life changes and heavy topics, Soul H2O offers basic life sustenance.

Such a simple blessing, but so important. That’s why this devotion has so blessed me. It’s a cool drink to refresh my Spirit and remind me of the simple vitality the Lord offers us day by day.

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All that to say, I’m grateful to have been part of Sherry’s launch team. It is a joy to recommend Soul H2O to you. Whether you love devotionals or can’t stand them, this one is for you. Soul H2O will refresh your spirit, make you smile, and bring you to praise.

To find a copy of Soul H2O, visit Sherry’s website here.

** I received this book free from the publisher, Word Alive Press, when I joined Sherry’s launch team. 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.”

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Peace for a Lifetime Review-It’s Possible!

You and I pick up books for a variety of reasons. To be entertained. To understand more deeply something we know. To get lost in a story. There are many reasons to delve into Peace for a Lifetime. The one that compels me to encourage others to read it most is that this book will introduce you to parts of yourself you have not previously known if peace is something your struggle with.

In the very beginning of the book, Lisa points out that most of us learn about different aspects of ourselves from a young age. We’re taught to take care of ourselves physically. As our social skills develop, we learn what it means to be a person among other people.  In church, we learn how to maintain our Spiritual health. Few of us learn to care for ourselves emotionally.

The very idea sounds weird, right?

We think that emotions happen to us. No one can tell us that what we feel is right or wrong because feelings are subjective. In Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa explains that God created emotions for us. They are gifts and they are useful. Further, emotions don’t have to master us or remain a mystery.

Throughout the book, readers learn about the development of emotions, the different types of emotions, and how to experiences emotions in the healthiest manner possible. Lisa addresses the consequences of emotions running unchecked and misunderstood.

Many wonderful, crystal clear questions and lessons in the book make one thing obvious: to make peace with ourselves, we have to get to know ourselves. That means knowing and handling well our emotions. Lisa offers a multitude of tools to help us in this process.

A few specific praises about Peace for a Lifetime:

  • The tools given are useful for people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Lisa’s approach is from a Christian perspective, but she is respectful of those doubting or questioning God
  • Examples from Lisa’s counseling experience make the principles she provides very practical
  • Although hefty, the book is neatly split into sections that can easily be studied over a long period of time
  • As a counselor, Lisa is able to explain concepts effectively to those of us with little or no knowledge of psychology

If you’d like to dive into a challenging but life-changing book, I encourage you to pick up Peace for a Lifetime. In another  blog post, I wrote a personal story about one chapter that was especially impactful for me. So many chapters were equally eye-opening.

I’ll spare you all the details. However, along with the encouragement to read the book, I have to offer one warning: you might find that some of the topics are painful or difficult. Put it down for a week and practice feelings those emotions just as Lisa explains. But pick it up again and finish it.

It’s worth it!

You can find Peace for a Lifetime on Amazon on starting on Monday, March 7th! Also, check out Lisa’s site and wonderful words for the heart.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.