by: Rory Vaden, TarcherPerigee, December 31, 2012.
Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden is an energetic look at the mindset that creates sustainable success. In some Christian circles, I often hear the mantra, “God doesn’t want you to just survive, He wants his children to thrive.” I enjoyed Rory’s book for three reasons:
- He doesn’t use cliches (like the one above), he teaches and tells memorable stories.
- The book’s seven steps are clear . . . simple to understand and admittedly harder to apply.
- He doesn’t put much of the responsibility in for your success in God’s hands, or make success a matter of the right confession and beliefs. After teaching, inspiring and motivating his readers, his final chapter’s summary is bolted to the only axle that moves the wheels down the road. You and I have to do what we believe.
As new year pokes it’s head up from the eastern horizon, my fresh calendar’s blank pages carry a deep promise of new hope. Today, in the middle of a Michigan winter, the sky is blue and the temperature is soaring to 55 degrees. A new president has been sworn in. Christians and even some political voices prognosticate good things. Rising tides lift all the ships in the harbor.
Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.
By: Nancy Guthrie, Tyndale House Publishers, 2009
In his work The Problem of Pain, prolific Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  For some reason, much of the contemporary Christian world has forgotten God’s purpose of pain, or maybe we’ve never learned it. Into this gap between success focused, performance centric worship and the reality of pain and suffering experiences by many Christians, Nancy Guthrie speaks. Drilling down into eleven specific circumstances, Nancy challenges her readers to find God rather than run from Him when they experience pain, suffering, grief or unanswered prayers.
Prayer is a conversation with God, two way communication where we enter into God’s presence and listen to his priorities and learn about his heart as well as tell him what is happening in our lives. It’s not that God doesn’t know about our lives. He does. But the most important part of prayer, and maybe most neglected, is when we take time to listen. Check out these scriptures, and tell me what you think in the comments below.
Successful self-publishing in a Digital World
Who holds the keys to your publishing success? Before the digital revolution of the last decade, publishing companies held the keys to the gates to the publishing kingdom. Their acquisition editors manned the giant pulley that lowered, or raised the drawbridge, and the moat was filled with monsters that denied access to all but the stout hearted knight, or those that knew the king. The rest of us writing peasants were confined to the banks, hoping that the proposals and queries we through at the little windows at the top of the castle wall would find their way through the tiny openings, and be delivered to the editors in their ivory towers.
“Father, I pray that they’re all one.”
On Tuesday mornings, I meet in a coffee shop for Bible study with five friends. In addition to the energized conversation over Scriptures and authors, this bakery prepares one of my favorite treats. Their Danish pastry ring has light, flaky crust topped with apple, cherry and cream cheese frosting, drizzled with confectioners glaze, and coffee in a dozen different flavors. As the six of us wrestle with the Scriptures, the coffee shop lattes and pastries are an illustration of our differences. We often argue about what’s important in a particular passage, even debating our understandings of the central doctrines. Yet we’re all growing. We’re moving toward the same goal – a deeper revelation of Christ in us and through our lives.
In the past six months, I’m hearing a lot about Grace, and to tell you the truth, I’m confused. Maybe I’m in a bubble, but I don’t understand how or why ministries are developing the message of grace into a subculture of the gospel. Most of these ministries and their preachers are presenting the truth of the gospel (more on that later) because grace is essential, no, the core of salvation.
During the past few decades, religious thought and public discussions about how personal faith influences public life have been relegated to the kids table. When the “grown-ups” in the room discuss ‘more important adult’ issues, including politics, education, ethics in leadership and social building blocks, those who want to influence our culture do not want to be troubled with the ideas of immutable, unchanging, or inconvenient truth.
I’ve walked with Jesus for over three decades. The road isn’t always smooth, but I’ve learned these two simple truths.
- God is always faithful.
- His Word is always True.
Yet when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to, how often do we blame him and doubt his faithfulness?
Our prayers can be hindered by our own, internal selfish desires, attitudes, character or emotions. Our prayers can also be hindered by spiritual forces we can’t see, and yet they affect our lives none the less. Because of every life’s uniqueness, God doesn’t give us a One-Size-Fits-All solution to a weak or stale prayer life. (beware of those who do)