Monthly Archives: September 2019

Who’s Your Constant Companion? Let’s look to Anne Graham Lotz and her new book for some answers…

Friends! Mark your calendars for next Tuesday, October 1st. Why? You’ll be able to snag a copy of Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion.


I found this book to be a superb learning tool (turns out I’m not the only one who forgets they’re filled with the Holy Spirit!), a beautiful peek into many personal and poignant, heart-warming stories of Anne’s and of her family’s, who we all admire, plus excellent ways to become better acquainted with the Holy Spirit.

The book’s divided into 7 parts:

(My favorite is Appendix A: “Learning How to Hear the Holy Spirit’s Whispers When You Read Your Bible.” All four are very thorough!)

There are 27 chapters within these 7 parts. They’re short and sweet, each packing a punch. You’ll find yourself more than once saying, “Wow, I had no idea!”

Anne calls the Holy Spirit her Divine Companion and claims He’s a divine necessity. This was evident when she wrote the book. During this process, her own Father went to Heaven. She was already a widow, and six months after losing her Father, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, having to undergo the horrid effects of chemotheraphy.

She tells us, “Through the ups and downs, the tears and joy, the grief and comfort, I have experienced the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit.”

It’s not lost on me that this very week our family is also dealing with loss. My sweet Father-in-love, who was 91 years young, went to Heaven on Sunday morning. It was a glorious day and a blessing for Dad (I called him Possum) to no longer suffer. Our family would covet your prayers for my Mother-in-love, Adeline, Bill’s wife of almost sixty-nine years as she travels this journey.

After Anne’s children took care of her for fifteen months after Danny’s death, she learned the Holy Spirit can comfort us through the love and care of others. But when she did walk thru’ the door of her empty home, she realized she was still never alone. Her Comforter and Friend were with her all along. She sensed the presence of the Spirit of God. The number of reassurances such as this one fill the book.

One of several “aha” moments occurred when she says, “When He comes to indwell us, the newest believer has as much of the Holy Spirit as the oldest believer has, because we don’t get a person in pieces. Yet regrettably, He seems to get us in pieces.” For example, we give more to Him on Sunday than any other day, buzzing about our own agendas. Ouch and oh-so-true.

Another convicting (but in the best of ways) activity Anne includes is a list of sins for us to take an inventory of. Pure fun, huh?!!! She suggests reading thru’ the list 1-3 times. (See Appendix C)

At one time, Anne felt like she was far away from the Lord. She couldn’t quite put her finger on the problem. After reading thru’ the list a total three times, she said, “I realized I wasn’t as wonderful as I thought I was!” She was happy (and relieved) to report her relationship with the Lord was restored.

Don’t miss her trip to India that almost didn’t happen. The brutal attacks from Satan were so numerous you can’t imagine. It was if she had an iron-clad will to proceed full steam ahead. The lives that were reached for Jesus were almost too numerous to count and many who were with her said their team brought light to the darkness in that country. (See Chapter 6, “Our Strengthener.)

Two other examples I’d never thought of are:

1 – If God said Abraham was His friend three times in Scripture (2 Chronicles 29:7, Isaiah 41:8, and James 2:23), Anne reasoned, “why couldn’t I ask God for me to be His friend?” (This was the inspiration for another beautiful book by Anne, The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God Filled Life)

Anne shares with us that one of the things she misses most about her Mother was her understanding and her ability to give her children wise counsel, comfort, and encouragement. She also said she never tired of hearing her Mother pray. She says, “The tone of her prayer was as tho’ she was speaking to a powerful and well-connected FRIEND.” There again, the lovely bonus of being God’s friend.

2 – If Solomon could ask God for wisdom, why can’t we? (2 Chronicles 1:10) One of Anne’s many gifts is showing us multiple ways we can apply God’s Word to our lives. As my friend Caroline says, “This, friends, is where the rubber meets the road.”

A beautiful pray-er, Anne includes written prayers at the end of many chapters. I found myself putting many of her quotes in my journal. She always gets to the heart of the matter, quickly, while I spin in circles!

One more tidbit, so as not to reveal the whole book (!!!), is we learn the Holy Spirit is “the Fire of God.” Anne reminds us that fire is used to describe the Holy Spirit all throughout the Bible. She said, “The Holy Spirit sets our hearts on fire for God Himself…You and I should be FIRED UP all the time!”

She continues,

Here’s the BEST application question: “What is the spiritual temperature of your heart? Cold? Lukewarm? Or is it on fire? What practical steps can you take to fan into flame the fire of the Holy Spirit?”

You also don’t want to miss where Anne shares what her Mother wrote in her Bible when she became a Christian. I’m not about to spoil that for you. It’s beautiful.

Now you know what I’m about to say…Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this book! You will LOVE it.

And checkout Anne’s website. It’s full of great information, most of which you can download for your small groups or your own use:

‘Til next time!

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YOU’RE INVITED TO OUR FIRST BOOK CLUB MEETING OF THE SEASON, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd! Special giveaways and message in store…

Friends!  Branches Book Club gals would like to invite you and your friends to kick off our season Monday night, September 23rd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., at Middletown United Methodist Church.

 

We’ll be discussing Amanda Barratt’s excellent novel, My Dearest Dietrich.  You can read my review of it here.

 

 

Amanda has been most gracious and sent us a boatload of goodies:  bookmarks, postcards with quotes by Bonhoeffer, recipe cards for Apple Kuchen, etc.  You can take these home with you.

 

Amanda also made us a lovely, personal video we’ll get to watch.  She was on a book deadline for her next novel which we’ll get to hear about, so it was extra generous of her to take the time to speak with us!!

 

You’ll be stunned at her wisdom and strong faith at such an early age.  I hope you caught her on the Eric Metaxas show recently. Here’s the link to her interview.

 

If time allows, please bring something German to eat.  (Kroger has German potato salad.  LOL). Please call Nancy Tinnell to rsvp (502)245-8839.

 

Load up your car with friends and neighbors!  You don’t want to miss this fun night!

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

We hope to see you Monday night, September 23rd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!

 

‘Til next time!

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Brace Yourself for What David Platt is Serving Up

Friends!  Ever find yourself a tad uncomfortable while reading a book?  Such was the experience for me while reading David Platt’s newest book, Something Needs to Change:  A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need. (This is a GOOD THING tho’, hang with me…The book releases September 17th.)

David does an outstanding job of taking us readers with him on a hair-raising week in the Himalayan mountains.  We join him and his team of four others, complete with wild helicopter rides, bus rides, hiking on trails where a misstep could be your last, sleeping in a sleeping bag in places with no electricity, freezing temps, and plenty of jumping spiders. I kept thinking, “They are way braver than I’d ever be…”

David tells us from the get go:

He tells us that that is his prayer for this book. (And you’d best tuck your toes under the table as they’re about to get crushed. Again, this is a good thing.)

One favorite aspect of the book is David’s journal entries. He works his way thru’ the book of Luke during his week in the Himalayans.  His insight and life application ideas are worthy of copying into our own journals.

Each chapter is a day of their week’s travel, usually to a different village each time.  We learn frightening stats, such as, “half the children were dying before their eighth birthdays. Many weren’t making it to their first.” Another awful discovery was the death of sixty people from cholera because a village had poor sanitation and unclean water. Yet another huge problem is the amount of trafficking of young girls “often starting when they’re about seven but even up to fifteen years old.”

They learn the traffickers are smart, knowing how poor most of the villagers are.  They pretend they’re trying to help these families and they lie by promising they’ll help these girls get jobs, giving them money up front to entice them. Sadly most of them never return.

David poses many questions we, ourselves, would also consider.  The big “why?” pops up multiple times accompanied by pleading with God in David’s journal entries.  Many villagers David and his team meet have never heard of Jesus. The mystery the team all agrees on is this question:

Aaron answers David with why we need “to believe the Bible and to show that belief by spending your life sharing His truth and love in a world of urgent spiritual need. Not merely physical need, as important as physical need is. But to live like people’s spiritual need is their most urgent need.”

They discuss the village that was so adversely affected by the cholera.  They were able to get water filters and medical kits and a sanitation system to them…”but, as helpful as those water filters are, the fact is, they won’t get anybody in that village to heaven…What that village needs more than anything else is the truth of God’s love, which will give them life forever.” Let that soak in for a minute…

Halfway thru’ their week, David and his team get to attend a church service in another village.  They arrive after a grueling, two-hour hike.  They notice “tiny lights in the distance slowly making their way up the trail.”  David recalls the stress some of his congregants experience in a mere fifteen minute trip to attend church in the States.  The villagers that night made a “two-hour hike up a narrow mountainside in the freezing cold, followed by a two-hour hike back down the same mountainside in the pitch-black darkness after the service.” Yes, well, that will make you never take our freedom and flexibility of attending church services for granted again, right?

Likewise the prayers David concludes each chapter with not only make you think, they move you to action.  One morning David prayed,

Later that day he met a gal named Maya who chose to come up the mountain and work in a medical clinic after going to nursing school.  Maya repeated almost verbatim David’s prayer when asked why she was there.

Don’t miss the science lessons revealing the creativity of God in Day 5.  Who knew trout poop would lead to food for villagers in the Himalayan mountains?  And how a tree in northern Alabama is uniquely designed by God to soak up horse urine for the spread of the gospel in the Middle East. Huh?

Spiritual warfare is another challenge not only David’s team encounters, but one the villagers live with daily.  Some don’t know enough about it to recognize it.  The stories the team learn will make your hair stand on end.

David admits their seven days in the mountains felt like weeks.  We readers would agree considering all they accomplished each day.  I believe the Lord stretched their time to show them multiple needs to be addressed, opening all of our eyes.

The entire point of this book is found in its’ title:  Something Needs to Change.  David’s questions at the end of each chapter give us readers ideas, causing us to realize the sense of urgency with which we should all be living.

Don’t miss the opportunity to read and savor this book.  It will kick your brain into high gear plus David’s vulnerability on every page will do two things:  First, it’ll make you feel better that such a man of huge faith and trust can waiver and question God just like we do.  Second, it’ll make you just as uncomfortable with these challenging scenarios as David is and will cause you to become more aware of ways we can help those around us.

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and grab Something Needs to Change.

‘Til next time!

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Next Time You’re Down in the Dumps, Grab “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet—Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things” by Sara Hagerty

Friends! Havin’ a bad day? One of those where everything goes wrong? Chances are, if you’re not, someone you know is.

I’ve got just the cure. It’s one we all know, and yet forget daily.

My good buddy, Liz, loaned me a boatload of books recently, and this one, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty has been an eye-opening blessing for this woe-is-me girl. 63823EB Many times when I read a book, I try to come up with one, single, take-away word. “Adoration” is our inspiration in this book and “adore” the verb to put into action.

You may already be familiar with Sara’s blog, www.everybitterthingissweet.com She has information on her book, resources, her posts for the blog, plus an incredible section with fantastic printables under “Adoration”. (I chose this word before I knew she had an entire section in her blog about it!!!)

Brutally honest, Sara journeys us readers thru’ some tough times in her life. She’s been blessed with friends who she says “wore a brand of Christianity that was attractive, but foreign.” (to her) She continues, “They acted as if they believed God didn’t just tolerate them; He enjoyed them.” These fascinating friends “approached their days with a confidence that God had something for them…” Wow, don’t we all want that?

In the midst of three equally difficult trials (infertility, lengthy adoption processes and her father dying of cancer), Sara said, “God was revealing this kind of availability to me in both the big aches and the everyday small ones.”

With eyes opened to a different perspective, she told her husband, “…all this mess—was fodder for discovering His love anew.” Small newborn baby legs in mothers lovely hand with soft focus on babie's foot Here comes the adoration part….This is what Sara does and what we all can do. She reveals, “My first step in inhaling adoration was inviting that language into my everyday ache.” She began with one word or phrase from the Bible, depending on her particular need or worry. For example, from Psalm 36:5 and 57:10 she read, “Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Sun Ray Shining Through The Clouds In The Blue Sky Then she’d pray:

God, You are faithful.

You are faithful when I am fearful.

I can count on You.

You will not leave me when You see my failure.”

Here are just a few of Sara’s discoveries about adoration (This is my favorite part of the book and what I believe to be the most powerful):

“Adoration is exploration. The Father loves to be explored.

Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory.

Adoration makes walking with God more than just reacting to a series of externals.

Adoration CALLS the circumstances, no matter how high or low, into proper submission in our hearts.

Adoration ROOTS us in a reality that no amount of pain and no amount of blessing can shake.

Adoration STEADIES US. Inspirational Typographic Quote - Slow and Steady It REPATTERNS our thinking.

It CENTERS our lives around a God-man instead of forever trying to make sense of the God-man thru’ the lenses of our circumstances.

Adoration ALIGNS US under Him… THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE LIFE IS FOUND.”

Another excellent part of the book is found at the end of each chapter where Sara gives us several Scriptures to look up which pertain to the chapter. The “For Your Continued Pursuit” passages bring light and promises from His Word to bless you, the reader.

Sara’s vivid style makes you feel like you’re riding in the car with them many times and you say, “Oh no!” out loud more than once! However, with her “adoration-eyes-on”, she shows us God is on her side, fighting for her and her family. And just wait ‘til you see how God builds their family. (Not spoilin’ the fun! You must discover this for yourself! You need to take the journey with her.)

I pray we’ll all open our eyes, filled with adoration for our Creator, our Heavenly Father, our Constant Companion.

Sara says the experience is like a “minute-by-minute communion” that makes her feel alive. Wouldn’t you love that too?

Romans 15-13 ‘Til next time!

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