Monthly Archives: January 2014

Who’s in Your Balcony? (Encouraging book: “Balcony People” by Joyce Landorf Heatherley)

Oh, the days of cheerleading.

Peer pressure at its’ peak.

Mine peaked in Middle School as we know it now.  In my school days, (when we had to walk a mile in the snow to school) we attended “Junior High”, which included sixth thru’ ninth grades.

Seemingly every girl in eighth or ninth grade tried out for cheerleading.

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Clueless, I signed up.

What, pray tell, had I gotten myself into?  We had to attend several practice clinics.  Quickly, try-outs were upon us.

Bad-n-sad memories of not making it in eighth grade surface.  Oh, but then came ninth grade and by some miracle, I made it.  You haven’t “made it” ‘til you make the cheerleading squad.  Or, at least that’s what appeared to be true.

Shallow, naïve, junior-higher that I was, our new cheerleading squad became my new friends.  Dumping my old friends for girls I didn’t even know was my “M.O.”   Horrors.

We quickly learned new cheers, cheering for football and basketball games.  Humorous given I had no knowledge of sports, much less which cheer to do, etc.  Follower…Very insecure follower.

So, had I known of the concept we’ll discuss today, that of “Balcony People”, I’d have told you my tally was a big, round, fat zero.  Oh, but wait ‘til you see how many we have!!! Hang with me…

One of my favorite gifts I received for Christmas this past year, a must-read, is Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley.   Joyce has the gift of opening your eyes to people in your life.  She talks about people with the gift of affirmation: Those who go around affirming others, not dragging them down.

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Those dragging you down are known as  “evaluators”, also known as “basement people”.  Know any of these?  Making a mental list?

“Basement people” spew snide remarks such as, “you’ll never make it…you can’t do that…”, inflicting judgment, damage, and unnecessary critiques.  Note the lower location of this moniker. (!!!)

One woman wrote to Joyce and asked, “Please keep reminding us how much God loves us.  We need that love, not the constant judgment we pour on ourselves.”

We got a large dose of judgment last week (check out “When Grace Rescues You From Judgment”), so this week we’ll discover “Balcony People”.

Joyce asks, “Who is the special affirmer who catches quick glimpses of the flames from the fires of your potential and tells you so?  Who, by his or her words, helps you to respect and believe in your own value as a person?”  We can dub these sweet souls our personal cheerleaders.

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Joyce douses any doubt you may have should you think you don’t have any affirmers.  She said, “I have known only a few genuine affirmers, but one affirmer is worth a thousand evaluators.”

She adds, “The need for affirming one another is crucial to our process of becoming real, not phony or hypocritical, people of God.  Affirming brings authenticity and credibility to our faith as it is lived day by day…Otherwise, we miss one of the main concepts of the Holy Scriptures—to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens.”

These affirmers, or “Balcony  People”, “practically hang over the rail, cheering us on.  As you begin to think of who in your life may be in your balcony, you’ll find it fun to discover these people do not have to be alive.” Do you love that?

One of Joyce’s friends shared his list of Balcony People: Number One:  The Lord (think about THAT!!!),  Paul the Apostle, and David the Psalmist, for starters.  Joyce added Peter the Apostle as well as her Mother who had also gone Heavenward to her list.

One aspect I love from Joyce is she includes her children on her list.  I’d like to think our boys are in my balcony.  That completely warms my heart.  You?

I have to say my biggest cheerleader/balcony person is my husband, John.  Love is blind comes to mind, God bless him.  (Kidding.  Sorta.)  Amazing grace.

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Jumping backwards to Middle School or Junior High, I can tell you I was not in my Mother’s balcony.  I gave her enough trouble to bond with her “basement people”  for years.  Awful.  By the same token if you have middle schoolers right now, never fear, for they will mature to cheer you on later.  Pray hard.

Joyce gives us one of my all-time favorite verses:  Hebrews 12:1 “telling us to run with patience (and perseverance) the race that’s set before us ‘since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands’”.

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With that in mind, here’s the kicker to this whole concept of “Balcony People”…

Joyce admits, “Listing the people who were in my balcony, I concluded, was only half of what should be written.  So I got out another sheet of paper and put down all the names of people to whom I’d be a “balcony person.”  She continues, “It was time to concentrate on my balcony people and on being a balcony person to others.”  Whoa.  That turns the tables a tad, huh?

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Taken from Liz Curtis Higgs Facebook page, “‘The Choir’ by Ofra Zimbalista, three life-size statues made of painted aluminum in 1995. You can almost hear them singing…”

Joyce teaches us to look for and cultivate the following three traits of a “Balcony Person”:

1 – “They Love.”

2 – “They Listen.”

3 – “They Care from the Heart.”

Joyce directs us to the entire sixteenth chapter of Romans where Paul is cheering numerous people onward.  Joyce calls it the “Biblical ‘balcony person’ passage.”  She says her “favorite balcony motto from Paul is ‘whatever you do, do it with kindness and love.’” (I Corinthians 16:14)

When Jesus was juggling the disciples’ arguments over who was the greatest among them in Luke 9, He gave them the formula, as Joyce calls it, “for being the best manYour care for others is the measure of your greatness.”

 

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In closing, Joyce shares a memory of her grandson being very fearful of an unknown noise:  A big garbage truck screeched to a halt in front of their house.  Joyce said, “James looked up to her yelling, ‘Hug! Hug!’ And the look on his face screamed, ‘Hurry!  Hurry!’”  She added, “I remember reaching down for him and wallpapering his little body to my chest.”  Precious…

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From that experience, she paralleled the noisy “pandemonium of this evil world making us desperate to be:

Hugged,

Rescued

Home safe…

We are shouting through our panic, ‘Hurry!  Hurry!’”

Then she poses, “What is the frightening noise in your life?…

Is it the noise of:

Cancer

Divorce

Rejection

Discouragement

Depression

Loneliness…?

Whatever is pounding loudly in your mind, your body, or your soul,

LET ME BE YOUR BALCONY PERSON.

LET ME HUG YOU WITH MY WORDS.

LET ME WALLPAPER YOUR SOUL TO MINE.”

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Joyce reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s words:  “Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own.” (Check out the whole passage:  Ephesians 1:4-14)

Joyce further encourages: “You and I are His children.   I believe in you.  I’m leaning way, way over your balcony railing; I’m waving my coat above my head, and I’m yelling above the frightening noises of your world, You can do it!  Keep at it!  Keep on!  God’s here beside me; yes that’s right, He’s here, and He’s not sitting down.  YOU  are His child, He is YOUR Father.  and we are BOTH in your balcony cheering YOU on together!”

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I pray this concept of Balcony People has encouraged you…

Who’s in your balcony?

Whose balcony are you in?

May God guide us all to be more attentive to those whose paths we cross.

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to Kristen Sauder.  She went to be with Jesus on Wednesday, January 22nd.  She was a balcony person to countless souls.  She pressed on and I know she is now cheering us on side-by-side with our Lord.  If you’d like encouraging words to endure our brief time on this earth, I have two websites for you.

Bob Rusell preached the eulogy at Kristen’s funeral.  An excerpt of it can be read from his blog entry from January 26th.  Go to:  www.bobrussell.org

Kyle Idleman preached on “How to Make a Difference” in the “It’s Not Too Late” series, also this past Sunday, January 26th.  He showed a clip of Kristen filmed just a few weeks before she died.  She’s encouraging all of us to make the most of our time left.  Go to:  www.southeastchristian.org and go to “sermons”, then click on the one from 1/25-26.  Grab some Kleenex before you do….)

 

 

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Only Five Days ’til You Can Seize the Opportunity to Hear Kyle Idleman at Book Club on January 27th! Men and Women Are Welcome!

Only five more days ’til we have the awesome opportunity to meet and hear from pastor and author Kyle Idleman! Kyle’s coming to Branches Book Club at Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC) on Monday, January 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  MUMC is located at 11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, Ky 40299. Please RSVP to Kelly or Nancy at 245-8839. (For more information, click here.)

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If you live anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky, grab a friend and come join us!  While we normally just have “hen parties” at Book Club, this meeting is open to men and women.  I’m bringing John, my better half, because he always loves to hear Kyle speak.

Kyle will be speaking on one of his books, “Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart“.  You’ll also have the chance to ask him questions.  (He  has a new book due out in March.  I’m hoping we can find out more from him about it too!)

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One of many Scriptures Kyle cites in Gods at War is Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Kyle suggests, “I want you to examine your heart to find out where your allegiance lies and where your glory goes…Because everything flows from it, your heart is the frontline for the gods at war.”

Friends, this will be a spectacular evening!  Just when you think perhaps this may not apply to you, Kyle will show you this is indeed for everyone.  Case in point: The  chapter “god of me” made me think, “Nah, I don’t need to read this one…” , altho’ I  did, and well, I s’pose the fact that John says if I had a website, it’d be:  www.neverwrong.com.   Alrighty then…perhaps a wee bit of pride could be a wee bit of a problem.  Now stop that laughin’….

Hope to see you Monday the 27th!  Spread the word!!!

Mega prayer request:  Please pray for Kurt Sauder and his family.  Our dear friend and Bible study teacher, writer, mentor, Kristen Sauder, went to be with Jesus this morning.  God Bless her and her family.  Let’s pray for her sweet children and husband.  You may find out more information on her website:  www.furtherstillministries.org

‘Til next time!

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When Grace Rescues You From Judgement (Amazing Book: One Light Still Shines – My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting by Marie Monville with Cindy Lambert)

“One should not judge a book by its’ cover.”

Well, I do.  Show me an eye-catching photo, design, or a hook-line-and-sinker phrase on a book’s cover, and I’m sold.

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By the same token, we are not to judge others.

Well, I do.  I keep trying not to, but the very next pitiful-poor-person who crosses my path is usually categorized within three to five seconds  

Each and every time (nearly), I beg the Lord for forgiveness, and then whip around and “categorize” again.  (Categorize being a very functional word for the dysfunctional act of judging.)

The tirade in my brain ensues:

“Probably homeless.”

“Probably too tired to fool with make-up today.”

“Oooh!  Very, very full of himself.”

“The worst!  Bad botox.”

“Must be color blind.”

“It ain’t the 70’s anymore, pal.”

“Women drivers!”

Now that you’re certain I’m on a highway headed South, and I don’t mean Florida, please indulge me in a few more minutes of confession.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran up to a neighborhood drugstore.  Wanting to print some pictures, I snagged a chair, plugged in my pic-stick-thingy and began editing and ordering.

Out of the corner of my eye, a tall, young man began walking by me.  Not once, but several trips later, I became nervous and secured my purse with me up off the floor, into my lap.

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To add to my anxiety, my order went haywire.  Deciding to take the stick back home and ask hubby for help, I removed it, put it in my purse, draped my purse over my head, over my shoulder, secured it with a bungee cord (kidding) and headed for the front door.

The very same young man, who I’ll call “Circling Buzzard”, was now near the front door.  Oh, wait!  This gets better!  He was now at the counter.  Well, not exactly at the counter.  He was behind the counter.  Yes, folks, crawling with humility I tell you, this young man was working behind the counter.

 

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My “Circling Buzzard” is employed by this drugstore???  And yes, every time since then,  when I’ve returned, he’s been there working.  He’s the nicest young man, always ready to help.  Having misjudged him, I am in-the-slammer-convicted, one hundred percent.  (I believe the Lord orchestrates this man’s schedule around mine as a grace-filled reminder.)

We’re  taught by God, in His Word, not to judge.  Over and over and over.  Here are three of two hundred and eight times we see the word “judge”:

Luke 6:37 says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. ..”

Romans 2:1 says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

Matthew 7:2 says, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I recently grabbed a book, yes, because of it’s cover, which includes the most amazing stories of grace, forgiveness, and overcoming judgment I’ve ever read.  Ever.

Let’s chat about One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting by Marie Monville with Cindy Lambert.

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I had only a smidge of a recollection about the Amish Schoolhouse Shootings.  All I remembered was the country being in awe of the Amish families who so willingly forgave the shooter and his family after the loss of their little girls.  Any time God gets the glory, nationwide, people pay attention.  (I was stunned to discover it happened over seven years ago, on October 2, 2006.)

I was aghast at the details:  The shooter, Charlie Roberts, walked into the Amish Schoolhouse.  He let the teachers and the male students go.  He tied up the remaining ten girls, ages seven to twelve, shooting each one.  Then he shot himself.  Five of the girls died, while the remaining five were seriously injured.

Out of honor for these families, let’s read their names and offer up a prayer on their behalf:  Naomi Rose Ebersol, age seven, Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, age thirteen, Anna Mae Stoltzfus, age twelve, Lena Zook Miller, age eight, and Mary Liz Miller, age seven.

I do not recall all the slanderous press and excessive attention “the Shooter’s Wife”, Marie received.  (How would you like that label?)  She had mountains of judgment against her from people all over the world. The media worked hard to hunt her down.

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The happy flipside of that were the mountains of support, emails, prayers, and gifts showered upon Marie and her family.  She recounts encounter after encounter that’ll take your breath away.

Marie and Charlie had three children:  Carson – eighteen months, Bryce – five years old and Abigail – seven years old.  They lost their firstborn daughter, Elise, only twenty minutes after she was born.  Apparently, unbeknownst to everyone, Charlie never got over her death.

So why would Marie be bold enough to share this story?  How had her faith survived?  How had she stayed sane, and been able to trust enough to remarry?  How had she changed?

She answers, “The secret is this:  No matter how tragic your circumstances, your life is not a tragedy.  It is a love story.  And in your love story, when you think all the lights have gone out, one light still shines.”

There are two parts in the book I had to re-read to make sure I’d comprehended them correctly.  They are so astonishing, so only-God-could-pull-this-off, so full of amazing grace, I still can’t believe them.

While you’re still stunned over the shooting, thru’ Marie’s eyes, something potentially frightening transpires.  She looks out the window of her parents’ home and suddenly sees a troupe of Amish men walking down the street, then into their yard.  Holding her breath, (I realized I was holding mine!), for fear of their reaction, she hollers to her Father.  He goes out to meet them.

Upon their coming face-to-face, one of the Amish men embraces her Father.  He melts into their arms.  And one, by one, the rest of the men hug him individually.  They told her Dad they had forgiven Charlie.  Marie said, “They poured grace unimaginable and divine mercy generously into our lives.  Before my eyes, the gospel was being powerfully lived out.”

Grace.  Amazing Grace.  God’s  grace.

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The other part that grabbed me and still won’t let me go was at Marie’s husband’s funeral.  Thanks to the police who’d done a great job keeping the media away, Marie and her family had been somewhat insulated.  That is, until the day of the funeral arrived.

When the cars carrying Marie and her family arrived, the media was in full force.  Anxiety building, Marie wondered what to do, how to protect her children, etc.  As she was scrambling for ideas, out of the corner of her eye, near the building, she saw some movement.  Within seconds, countless Amish people flowed effortlessly from around the building, lining up, forming a wall of protection so that Marie and her family could exit the car without being visible.

Marie calls this her wall of grace.  Isn’t that the most beautiful picture?  Families who had lost their little girls, surrounding the family whose father was the one who shot them, along with their friends, supported, forgave, and protected Marie and her family.

Grace.  Amazing Grace.  God’s  grace.

As God would orchestrate, while in my car today, I heard a song, I Am, by David Crowder.  The lyrics speak to those of us such as Marie who have gone thru’ storms of any size: “There’s no space that His love can’t reach.  There’s no place that we can’t find peace.  There’s no end to Amazing Grace…I Am, holding on to you…in the middle of the storm, I am Holding on…!”  Watch and listen to soak in the rest of the lyrics:

Thankfully, by God’s grace, He built on the already strong faith Marie had.  She clung to it as her very lifeline. She’s rooted like a redwood, rooted with her faith like we’re talking about for 2014.  Brutally honest, yet with open hands to God,  she received the filling-to-overflowing strength needed to get thru’ each day.  She cites Scripture after Scripture that sustained her.  What an example to us all.

When speaking of the Amish, my favorite quote of Marie’s is:  “Their love was abundant; it was selfless; it was extraordinary.  It was as if a host of angels was gathered there, pouring out rivers of grace from heavenly vessels.  My heart was showered, washed clean of Satan’s clinging stench, then doused with holy oil.”

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Don’t miss the “rest of the story” in Marie’s book.  The theme of redemption runs throughout.  Like me, you’ll still be shaking your head.  God is good.  All the time.

To find out more about Marie, visit her website:  www.mariemonville.com

To watch Marie’s testimony, watch the below YouTube.

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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GREAT NEWS! Come Hear Kyle Idleman at Book Club on January 27th! Men and Women Are Welcome!

Only two weeks ’til we have the awesome opportunity to meet and hear from pastor and author Kyle Idleman! Kyle’s coming to Branches Book Club at Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC) on Monday, January 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  MUMC is located at 11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, Ky 40299. Please RSVP to Kelly or Nancy at 245-8839. (For more information, click here.)

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If you live anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky, grab a friend and come join us!  While we normally just have hen parties at Book Club, this meeting is open to men and women.  I’m bringing John, my better half, because he always loves to hear Kyle speak.

Kyle will be speaking on one of his books, “Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart“.  You’ll also have the chance to ask him questions.  (He  has a new book due out in March.  I’m hoping we can find out more from him about it too!)

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One of many Scriptures Kyle cites in Gods at War is Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Kyle suggests, “I want you to examine your heart to find out where your allegiance lies and where your glory goes…Because everything flows from it, your heart is the frontline for the gods at war.”

Friends, this will be a spectacular evening!  Just when you think perhaps this may not apply to you, Kyle will show you this is indeed for everyone.  Case in point: The  chapter “god of me” made me think, “Nah, don’t need to read this one…” , altho’ I  did, and well, I s’pose the fact that John says if I had a website, it’d be:  www.neverwrong.com.   Alrighty then…perhaps a wee bit of pride could be a wee bit of a problem.  Now stop that laughin’….

Hope to see you Monday the 27th!  Spread the word!!!

‘Til next time!

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Don’t Make Me Come In There… The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels Makes You Think

Ahhhh…Motherhood…. A time when you finally admit, “Never say never!”

How ‘bout a for instance?

“I’ll never be one of those Mothers who chucks a pop tart in the back seat to my child on the way to school.”  Busted.

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“I’ll never plunk my child down in front of a TV and let him/her sit for hours.”  Busted.

 “I”ll never scream and yell like a  possessed person at my child.”  Yeah, right.

To this day, our boys’ favorite seemingly-possessed-style-of-parenting was me shouting “May Day!  May Day!” at the top of my lungs when something really went awry.  As if “the troops” knew I was waving a major white flag?

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After years of experimentation (!!!), probably the biggest attention grabber in my mothering was lowering my voice, in a do-or-die whisper.  Whispering won out way over yelling.  Greatest fear factor:  Whispering “Don’t Make Me Come In There!”

So what exactly do you do when someone’s whispering to you?  You sit still, ears at attention, and you listen

This week I’d like to share some highlights from an intense book by Bill Hybels:  The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond.  It had me from its’ title…

Not such a gutsy gal, I prayed this book would give me some gargantuan guts. (I s’pose “Guts for God” sounds better…)

Allow me to share the wealth:

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Bill begins with informing us he’s been on a fifty-year odyssey of hearing whispers from God.  Bill expounds: “Inaudible whispers at that!…My entire journey comes down to a series of unplanned promptings from heaven that have charted a course for my life even I never could have foreseen.”

Sound crazy?  Perhaps.  But…to encounter Bills’ experiences all over the world  immediately hooks and leads us, the readers, to want to learn to listen expectantly and prayerfully.

After citing Samuel’s story, how he became a prophet of God from listening to God  in I Samuel 3, Bill shares a poem one of his teachers gave him which he memorized in the second grade:

“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear,

An open ear, O Lord,

Alive and quick to hear

Each whisper of They Word;

Like him to answer to Thy call

And to obey Thee first of all.” (A hymn by James Drummond Burns)

Titus 3:5 returned to Bills’ memory when he surrendered his life to Christ:  “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Soon after that, a Christian man offered to buy Bill dinner.  Over burgers, the man asked him a show-stopping question:  “What are you going to do with your life that will last forever?…I’m just curious what you’ll do that will outlive you and all of those earthly accomplishments.”

Oh boy…that’ll make you think, huh?  My husband, John, is always saying upon his death, he just hopes he’s missed.  Not remembered so much for what he did, but because if you are missed, you have touched others’  lives.

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We are forever and a day laughing at obituaries that rattle on and on and on filled with clubs and organizations people belonged to as if a resume is needed…for heaven?  I don’t think so.

Bill also reminds us of Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV)

Billy Graham, in his book Day by Day, tells us what the Holy Spirit does for us:  “The Holy Spirit illuminates the minds of people, makes us yearn for God, and takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.”

Billy’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, in this month’s Decision Magazine said “Learning to recognize the voice of God is critical, not only for our own peace of mind but also for developing a personal relationship with Him and for living a life pleasing to Him.”  There’s the peace found from Romans 8:6.

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Well how exactly do we hear from the Spirit?  Bill gives us five filters to help us test every whisper we receive.  He says, “No matter how confusing, challenging, or unsettling a prompting may be, if it passes the following filters, I obey it every time:

Filter #1:  Is the Prompting Truly from God?

Filter #2:  Is it Scriptural?

Filter #3:  Is it Wise?

Filter #4:  Is It in Tune with Your Own Character?

Filter #5:  What do the People You Most Trust Think About it?”

The best way to learn more about these, in addition to the book, is to watch the below YouTube clip where Bill talks about this whole concept and explains the filters.  It’s only eighteen minutes long.  The testimony included will bring you to tears.

Stormie Omartian, in her book Lead Me Holy Spirit affirms the concept of being rooted in our faith:  “The Holy Spirit is the power of God flowing through you, and that puts you on solid ground, like a house built on rock.”

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Last week we talked about how we want to become rooted like redwoods in 2014. All of these  authors we’ve heard from today are textbook examples of Colossians 2:6-7:  “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward:  Just go ahead with what you’ve been given.  You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him.  You’re well constructed upon him.  You know your way around the faith.  Now do what you’ve been taught.  School’s out;  quit studying the subject and start living it!  And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” (The Message)  Don’t miss those last two crucial sentences!

Look at how The Voice puts it in verse seven:  “Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundationBe strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.”

May it be with us…

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to Senior Pastor Bill Hybels.  You can watch his sermons from Willow Creek via Willow’s website:  www.willowcreek.org or via Bill’s website:  www.billhybels.org  He’s currently preaching a series called Stronger which will bring “laser-sharp clarity to what it takes to grow stronger in key areas of your life.  Growing in your faith by taking action and experiencing God’s power along the way.”

John and I’ve been blessed to hear Bill speak on several occasions. With communication skills extraordinare, he never ceases to amaze us. He always gives God the glory too.

Thanks, Bill, for being so honest with us and your family and your congregation.  One of my favorite books you’ve authored is Too Busy Not to Pray.

Blessings to you for a Spirit-filled 2014!)

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Happy New Year! Fun-n-Grace-n-Rooted for 2014…

What’s your favorite memory from 2013?  We have been blessed with several, but one particular evening brings a boatload of laughter for us.

My way-more-patient-than-I-deserve-husband recently had a thirty-fifth high school reunion.  For you Louisvillians, John went to Ballard High School.  For me, growing up in Lexington, and going to Henry Clay High School in the ’70’s (!!!), we were “taught” to rival Ballard akin to how The University of Kentucky rivals the University of Louisville.  (GO CATS—couldn’t resist…)

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Anywho, because John goes to events with me I know he doesn’t really want to attend, I figured I’d best be a good sport and go to this reunion where I’d know basically no one.  To my surprise, I knew a couple of people and greeted them like long lost friends.

To my astonishment and high level of amusement, I realized that every single person I met and talked with had trouble hearing.  Granted the room had lousy acoustics, but this “problem” became comical.  We fifty-somethings were going to need to add “hearing aids” to our Christmas lists!!!  Guessing no one was brave enough to do so.

The most recent Costco catalog arrived yesterday and I said to John, “Oh, looky!  They have hearing aids on sale!!!”   File thirteen it went…

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Moving right along….another fun memory from 2013 includes reading some mountain-moving books. Books that made an impact on me, and, I pray will on you as well.  I plan on sharing some tidbits of these with you over the next few weeks.  We’ll have fun in 2014, soaking in some incredible grace, while learning how to be more grounded, or my new favorite word from our walk today, “rooted” in our faith.

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Here’s a preview of coming attractions we’ll discuss:

 329480_w185The Power of a Whisper—Hearing God—Having the Guts to Respond
by Bill Hybels

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One Light Still Shines—My Life Beyond The Amish Schoolhouse Shooting
by Marie Monville with Cindy Lambert

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To Heaven and Back—A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels and Life Again
by Mary C. Neal, M.D.

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Balcony People
by Joyce Landorf Heatherley

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Prayers and Promises for Worried Parents—Hope for Your Prodigal—Help for You
by Robert J. Morgan

In addition to talking about books, we’ll have some interviews of friends and authors who are well-rooted in their faith.  We’ll also talk about interesting road trips and travels, sprinkling in some chocolate treats from time to time.  One always needs incentives to keep one going, doesn’t one???!!!

Finally, for a new thought for the New Year, let’s hear from Billy Graham and Craig Groeschel.  In a daily flip calendar by Billy Graham, Unto the Hills, he tells us, “How many times in your life have you wished you could start all over again with a clean slate, with a new life?  Resolve to allow God to wipe your slate clean by confessing your sins and letting Him give you a brand new start.”

Billy adds a beautiful verse from Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

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Craig Groeschel puts it in layman’s terms:  “For many, it is difficult to accept that the past has passed.  Sometimes, it’s so hard to just leave it there, where it belongs.”

 Oh, we’d best repeat that:  “The past has passed.”  We must “leave it there, where it belongs.”

So, let’s vow to start out this year anew.  Don’t worry about resolutions. (I’m busted already and it’s January the second.) Let’s do strive to grow our faith, to develop strong roots together.  We’ll have fun-n-grace, and will be rooted like redwoods.

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My dear friend Liz Curtis Higgs will be blogging about “50 Favorite Proverbs” this year.  (Click here to go to her blog as she’ll be asking you to send in your favorite proverb.)  I’d like to cast my vote early and show you one of several verses we’ll be marinating in re: rooted.  Look at Proverbs 12:3 from The Message:  “You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm.”

‘Til next time!

 

 

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