Category Archives: Life Lessons

A New Year’s Resolution Worth Your Consideration…

Resolution, Schmezolution.

If I had a nickel for every New Year’s Resolution I’ve been-ever-so-desirous-of-but-ditched, I’d be rich. Same song, different year…How ‘bout you?

Therefore, I’m not making any resolutions this year…

Wide-eyed tho’ you may be, It was my resolution to not make any resolutions….

Until…..I came across a lovely idea we can all do. It comes from a book my friend Mary gave me by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby in their noteworthy devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day. 

Experiencing god

The entry from December 23rd is entitled The Wisdom of Spiritual Checking. The Blackabys discuss how we’re all used to having our progress measured in lots of ways. For example, we’re given tests in school, employee evaluations at work, and let’s not forget those charming physical exams from your docs.

My doc had a sign that read:   “Eat Less. Exercise More” in every single exam room. I always challenged his nurses to place me in a room without that sign, but alas, they really were In. Every. Single. Exam. Room. (As were the obnoxious scales.)

Hiding Numbers

The Blackabys point out that while we’re measured in many areas of our lives, we’re rarely measured by our spiritual growth. We learn from Luke 2:52:

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The Blackabys remind us of Paul’s words:   “When he was a new Christian, he behaved as a spiritual child, but as he matured in his faith, he began to act like a spiritual adult.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11) They build their case by saying “There’s nothing wrong with acting like a baby when you are an infant, but…

… it is the obligation of every believer to strive for maturity.”

Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity….” (ESV)

The Message is more my speed: “So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on ‘salvation by self-help’ and turning in trust toward God…”

3D Keep Calm And Trust God Button Click Here Block Text

The Blackabys suggest, “It is helpful for you to measure the progress in your spiritual life from time to time.”

How, we wonder, would one do such a thing?  Our authors recommend we ask a mature Christian if our actions reveal our maturity. Another question to ask yourself comes from the Chairman of the Board of the school our boys used to attend (I’ll never forget it.): Are you more mature in your faith today than you were six months ago?

Photo of a funny surprised girl

I know, yikes! Let’s vow to pray about these questions this week.  Ask God to bring to mind someone you can ask about your spiritual growth.

Along with the Blackabys, my mentors all agree that time spent diving into God’s Word, via a Bible study and quiet time is invaluable. 

There’s still time to sign up for four fun Tuesdays (the month of January) for a brand new Bible study, taught by my dear friend and mentor, Liz Curtis Higgs, starting tomorrow, January 7th, from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., at Christ Church United Methodist.  What a way to begin a new year!  Call the office to jump in:  (502) 897-6421.  They’re at 4614 Brownsboro Road, here in Louisville.  Lots of my Tuesday Bible study buddies are diving in too!  We hope to see you!

Women Bow And Pray

Meanwhile, I pray your brand new year begins with blessings a plenty!  May we all “grow up in Christ.”

Here’s to a happy-n-healthy 2020!

‘Til next time!

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Four Fabulous Phrases Plus a Crazy Fun Fact for You this Christmas…

One verse.  Four names.  It’s all we need this Christmas Week…

But first, a question:

How’s your memory? You may say, “What memory? My train of thought just left the station…”

C-train, Calgary

I’ve been up a creek without a paddle after numerous grocery runs. Forgetting milk isn’t as big of a deal-breaker as forgetting hamburger when you’re making tacos.

Forgetting names is my strong suit. I meet someone and instantaneously, poof!, their name evaporates. Infuriating. Frustrating. Embarrassing.

Further forgetful, I forgot to order a book in a recent order of gifts and cards from a favorite catalog company known as Bas Bleu. (www.basbleu.com ) The book? Wait for it….

You Can Learn to Remember: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life (You Can… (Watkins Publishing)) by Dominic O’Brien

You can learn to remember

I thought, “Wow, for $9.95, why not?” Excited to open my package a few days later, the memory book was MIA. I looked at my order list. Nope, I did not order it. How can you forget to order a book on remembering?

Well, one thing I did learn this Christmas season, is I can remember one Scripture verse. You can too. It’s been my go-to phrase. Repetition helps! (If you think you can’t do this, trust me, if I can, you can.)

Best book for doing so? Obviously your Bible, but add this one to it and you’re in business: 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Rob Morgan.

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I’d like to give you the verse I learned and recommend simply repeating these four fabulous phrases (names), especially this week, praising our Lord and Savior. He is our gift this Christmas, and every day, as we roll into, gulp, can it be, 2020???

Christmas Nativity Scene

Isaiah 9:6 says,

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be on his shoulder,
And his name shall be called
WONDERFUL COUNSELOR,
MIGHTY GOD,
EVERLASTING FATHER
PRINCE OF PEACE.” (ESV)

These four fabulous names are gifts for us we can give back to the Lord in praise to Him:

1 – Wonderful Counselor:

Jesus told His disciples in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Not only is the Holy Spirit our Advocate or Counselor, my favorite gift He offers is when we are so overwhelmed we don’t know what to pray for, He steps in and mediates for us.

Romans 8: 26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Remember “Wonderful Counselor”!

Gift

2 – Mighty God: Our God is Mighty. Think Mighty Warrior. Psalm 50:1 says, “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” (ESV) Mighty is, well, mighty. Praiseworthy. Remember “Mighty God”!

Gift Box

3 – Everlasting Father: Everlasting is forever. Our God is our Forever Father. HCSB says, “Eternal Father.”

Isaiah 63:16b says, “You, O Lord, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your Name.” Always was. Always is. Always will be.

Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Remember “Everlasting Father”!

white gift box with blue ribbon

4 – Prince of Peace:

A prince of anything is someone who’s in charge of something. i.e. Prince Charles. Prince William. Prince Harry.

To learn our Savior is the Prince of Peace should bring us all the peace we can handle. Who doesn’t want peace, especially at this time of year?

Praise Him for giving you and me peace. Don’t forget Jesus’ words in John 14:27…

John 14 27

 Focus and allow His peace to saturate your heart. Offer peace to your family this Christmas! Remember “Prince of Peace”!

Single red gift box with silver ribbon on white background.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a crazy fun fact my friend Pat sent me:

This is a tradition you may wish to start in your own home this year. It comes from the lovely country of Iceland.

Did you know Iceland sells more books per person than any other nation in the world, especially during the Christmas season? They call it Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood”.

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual 'Christmas Book Flood". Photo courtesy of npr.org. Click image to view article.

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood”. Photo courtesy of npr.org. Click image to view article.

The tradition has a twofold purpose:

1 – Each person must receive at least one book for Christmas to take to bed with them on Christmas Eve.

2 – Along with taking the book to bed, each person must have some chocolates to go along with their book reading! How crazy fun is that? (You can bet I’ve shared this discovery with my better half. Hint, hint, hint. )

I pray you and your family have a most memorable (!!!) and blessed Christmas and Happy-n-Healthy New Year. I look forward to spending more time with you as we learn about helpful Scripture and books and authors in 2020.

Don’t forget (!!!) the four names:

Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God.

Everlasting Father.

Prince of Peace.

These two beautiful songs via YouTube may also help you remember and worship:

In 1741, George Frederick Handel composed a song based on Isaiah 9:6 which you can watch the London Symphony Orchestra perform on this YouTube link:

A more contemporary twist to Isaiah 9:6 came out in 2014, sung by Aaron Shust, “Unto Us”. Both of these are wonderful.  Enjoy!

See you next year!

‘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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A Man Walks into a Bar…(When Today May Be Your Last)

Friends! Lest you think I’m vying for late night TV, a man really did walk into a bar.  John and I were right there, and this is no joke…

Being empty nesters for a handful of years, we’ve developed hilarious habits. My favorite habit happens to be eating out. (Emphasis on O-U-T.)

Recently, while dining at one of our favorite haunts, Porcini’s (www.porcinilouisville.com), something happened which opened our eyes… porcini-store-front2 John and I were talking to one of our favorite waitresses who informed us EMS would be arriving soon. Seems a guy literally walked in off the street and hollered, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Sure enough, we began to hear sirens. A fire truck and an ambulance pulled up out front. Before we knew it, the EMT’s were whisking a stretcher, occupied by this guy, thru’ the door, and up into the ambulance. Off they went. Ambulance car back at the white background While I don’t know the outcome, it sure made me think: What if that evening, that man didn’t live to see the next morning?

Which of course leads me to pose three huge questions to us all:

What if today was your last day on this Earth?

– Are you sure you’re Heaven bound?

– While you’re at it, are you aging gracefully?”

Not too long ago, several of us were finishing up the Bible study on Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain? by Bob Russell. As God would orchestrate, we were on Chapter Eleven which discusses the trials of aging.

Bob shares the painful process of watching his Mother succumb to Alzheimer’s. Several of my friends are dealing with this very scenario as I type. It’s not easy by any stretch. My own Mother died of Advanced Dementia.

Bob tells about two final encouraging visits he had with his Mother, long after she quit recognizing him. They began as seemingly futile. One visit, when Bob was about to leave, he decided to read the 23rd Psalm to his Mother. Like a switch was turned on, she began to quote it with him, word for word. psalm23 On another visit, Bob and his brother, John, began singing a hymn, and their Mother suddenly sang along with them. Bob said, “God is at work in ways we never see. I thanked Him and praised Him on my way home.”

Here’s the bottom line: “It’s only human to fear the unknown, of course, but at some point, genuine trust in God should make the difference.” May we truly trust, daily.

Bob reminds us, “Revelation 2:10 is a promise from the mouth of Christ: ‘Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.’”

Bob talks about people aging gracefully, and of some who do not. You’ll be astonished to learn about Florence Nightingale.

You’ll get tickled when Bob discusses those who get so consumed with all their aches and pains they take themselves out of the battle before it’s fought. Does anyone or several someones come to mind? Clouds and female hand waving with a white flag to surrender Or have you heard, “Oh, we must make the trip, for this could be Aunt Edna’s (or fill-in-the-blank of your longest living relative) last Thanksgiving!” Bob says if we are to age gracefully, we must “live life to the fullest, and let God decide when the curtains are going to close.”

Finally, one more point to consider: “The truth of heaven should also impact our feelings of urgency in sharing the Gospel with those we love.” Old Bible With Sword Do you have a friend or family member who needs to hear the Good News? I keep thinking of that man We saw who came into the restaurant, right off the street. Did he know the Lord? I pray so.

Bob concludes, “Every act of God carries more meaning than our minds can grasp. No matter how we mourn, no matter how sad some days can be, we must believe that God is loving and good, and that someday, in His presence, we’ll see the whole picture and understand that the darkest moments of this life were necessary ingredients to the brightest miracles he was planning.”

May our eyes be opened to those God places in our path.

Press on, friends.

Be ready.

‘Til next time!

(FYI: The teaching DVD’s to Acts of God are incredible. They include clips from the movie of the same name, memorable teaching by Bob, and helpful nuggets from God’s Word. I highly recommend it for your small group/Bible study. You can find these at The Living Word Bookstore, www.livingword.org or, you can order them from www.actsofgodthemovie.com or www.cityonahillstudio.com )

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Get a Front Row Seat to Surviving a Storm with Rick and Karen Santorum

Friends!  I recently caught a fascinating interview with Senator Rick Santorum on the Eric Metaxas Show.

I’ve always respected Rick immensely and didn’t realize he’s currently a Senior Political Commentator on  CNN.  He’s on Anderson Cooper and on Chris Cuomo and one of the morning shows each week!  (Which rock have I been under?)

The other wonderful discovery from Eric Metaxas’ show was learning about a book Rick and his wife, Karen, wrote called Bella’s Gift:  How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation. (Their daughter, Elizabeth, helped them write the book.)

As with many of Eric’s guests who write books, upon hearing the interview, I immediately ordered the book.  Reading the book is like you’re sitting down with Rick and Karen (each of them have written several chapters) while they walk us through a whale of a storm they experienced and continue to live with each day.

Parents to eight children, one of which died soon after he was born (Gabriel—his death was their first storm they encountered prior to the current one they’re enduring. Karen wrote a book about Gabriel and their experience:  Letters to Gabriel), we see how their last child, Bella, impacts the entire family which is hugely miraculous.

Bella was born with Trisomy 18.  Most babies born with this condition don’t survive more than a few days. You’ll be astonished at some of the doctors Bella had who never called her by name, wrote her off as untreatable, considered her not worth their time, while calling her “incompatible with life.”

The first few days of Bella’s life were frightening to say the least, charting unknown territory.  Karen says, “A strong prayer chain strengthened and sustained us. Our families and friends were the hands of Christ during her hospitalization.”  And you can see how they remain strong week in and week out throughout the book.

The Mama Bear in me surfaced quickly and Karen, more than once, called this instinct we moms have her “inner Grizzly Bear.”  Happy with relief over finally finding docs who were on board, compassionate, and who gave Bella wonderful care, Rick and Karen brought Bella home where she’s blossomed, has six siblings who adore her and I’m happy to report is now eleven years old!

Frightening trips to the hospital keep the Santorum family on their toes, along with multi-faceted daily care for Bella.  How did they survive the early years and how do they keep putting one foot forward every day? And how in the world did Rick run for President during all of this?  (You must read the book to find out!)

You will be inspired by bold faith, gut-level honesty, and pearls of wisdom both Rick and Karen generously share.  Additionally, you may wonder (and marvel) at how they held their marriage together.  Plus you will never look at a special-needs child the same again, that I can promise.  The Santorum’s teach us, “We see that value is not determined by what society calls ‘usefulness,’ but, rather, value is measured by our capacity to love.”

While each of the eighteen chapters has the word “love” in its title, each offers a glimpse at the many ways love affects us and how we can learn to emulate this beautiful kind of God-given love toward one another.

My two favorite chapters are Chapter 13:  Love Unifies (by Karen) and Chapter 14: Love Encourages Selflessness (by Rick).

In Chapter 13, Karen reveals advice she gives newlyweds based on her own marriage and experiences.  She says, “It’s good to understand that marriage is never 50-50. Sometimes, whether it’s emotional, physical, or spiritual, one of you will need the encouragement and strength of the other. You will give 90 %. …Believe and love each other through the imbalances. …because there’s no room for selfishness in marriage.”

She quotes Ephesians 4:26 as their go-to verse:  “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Karen says when they do have a conflict, Rick always says, “I’m not going anywhere, so let’s just work it out.” I love that and Karen closes with, “Amen.”

Karen and Rick emphasize the importance of family in every chapter.  Because their children were old enough to take on many chores, etc., they were a huge help to Karen managing the care for Bella.  She grew up in a large family and she says,

The Santorums consider Bella a gift to their family for a lot of reasons, and Karen says, “One of the most important reasons was to revisit and strengthen my understanding of love through the fear of loss…Rick and I both understood that ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.’” (I John 4:18)

Last week I wrote about a book by Lloyd John Ogilvie called Facing the Future without FearPrescriptions for Courageous Living in the New Millennium.  Lloyd was the Chaplain to the Senate during the time Rick was a Senator.  In Rick and Karen’s book, Rick credits Lloyd, along with a priest, for transforming his faith. You will see in each chapter how strong their faith is which helps them navigate this storm they’re enduring.  God’s impeccable timing is nothing short of miraculous.

Karen closes Chapter 13 with, “Our love for each other and for our Lord has unified us through all the ups and downs. The twists and turns of life have brought us even closer together.” This chapter is inspirational and filled with words of wisdom on the loss of a child, on surviving a storm, and on how to preserve your marriage.  As with each of the chapters, it offers multiple Bible verses (she calls them “sacred Scripture”) you’ll want to write in your journal asap.

Regarding their storm, Karen said, “Venturing into uncharted, stormy seas, my vessel was my faith, and it separated me from the sea of madness and sorrow.”

In Chapter 14, Rick speaks about the importance of family and shows us how “Love Encourages Selflessness.”  He says, “Families are the foundation of society, so when families are healthy, so is the country.” We get to learn of Rick’s childhood and how he saw what it meant for family to come first.

Rick addresses selflessness both in families and in marriage. He teaches us the acronym for FAMILY:  “Forget About Me I Love You.”

Rick once had the opportunity to meet Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  She said something he never forgot, “God does not call on you to do great things; He calls on you to do little things with great love.”

Chapter 15, “Love Begets Peace,” opens with a lovely quote from Madeline L’Engle:

I am certain Rick and Karen have been a beautiful visual of the light of Christ to scores of people they’ve encountered. Whether it was in the political arena, or in hospitals or doctors offices where they’ve  been with Bella, their light from our Lord is causing many to want what they have.

It’s no coincidence Karen used to be a neonatal intensive care nurse. More than once, when they had to call 911 for Bella, Rick and the children chime in it was Karen who saved Bella.  Any time Bella gets a simple cold, it usually goes into her chest, causing breathing to be difficult and a downward spiral to her health.

What Karen and Rick have done for Bella, not just for her as their child, but for thousands of children with special-needs, fighting for their rights and the perfect care, is above and beyond, making all of us realize afresh we are all created by the same God who loves each and every one of us, each with our own purpose to glorify God as He would orchestrate. Amen and amen and thank you, Rick and Karen Santorum for this beautiful, eye-opening book.  God Bless you and your family!

‘Til next time!

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A “Fear Not” a Day Keeps the Devil Away

Friends! Remember your parents telling you “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?”  I didn’t fall for that for long. To this day, I have to force myself to sit down and eat an apple. Don’t ask me why…

Fun sidebar:  A more interesting proverb about the apple first appeared in 1866 in Wales,

“Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

While most medical experts agree this isn’t true re: docs, some say the act of eating an apple can keep the pharmacist away. Do try this at home…

I have even better medical news (as in “prescriptions” to lower your stress, coupled with giving-peace-of-mind-news), thanks of course, to a book with my name on it. Not literally, but you’ll learn why this book jumped out at me recently…

The book? Facing the Future without Fear:  Prescriptions for Courageous Living in the New Millennium by Lloyd John Ogilvie.

Lloyd was the  61st Chaplain to the U.S. Senate from 1995-2003. Prior to that he pastored First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California for twenty-three years.  He also authored fifty plus books!

Sadly, Lloyd John Ogilvie died just this month (June of 2019) at 88 years of age. U.S. Senator Mark O.Hatfield said to hear him preach was like experiencing a “living gospel.”

In an interview in 1989, Ogilvie said,

Now, to the book:  First off, and primo to remember, Lloyd teaches us there are 366 “Fear nots” in the Bible.  One for every day, including leap year! Thence the title of this post:  “A ‘fear not’ a day keeps the devil away.”

Each of the book’s twelve chapters are “prescriptions for courageous living.”  If I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose Prescription #9:

 

Lloyd took a survey of the causes of fear and many answered, “imaginary fears.”  He said, “Some went on to explain that many of their worst fears never happened. And yet they continued to be victims of their gloomy imaginations.”

Look at these ever-so-true words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Some of your hurts you have cured

And the sharpest you still have survived

But what torment of grief you’ve endured

From hurts that never arrived.”

It never occurred to me to confess our fearful imaginations to the Lord and BEGGING (my word choice, lol) Him to make our imagination “a channel of His vision and NOT a breeding place for fear.” Lloyd adds the importance and the dire need of our understanding what the Lord intended for our imaginations to do, that it must frustrate and distort His original purpose when we don’t consider such.  What a way to think!  Lloyd assures us if we do this, “then we can claim His power to live out each day as fearless, imaginative, and healthy Christians.”

Let’s reiterate those three adjectives!  FEARLESS, IMAGINATIVE, and HEALTHY!!!

Lloyd continues to define imagination for us:  It is:

“The God-given ability of the thinking brain to form and hold images of thought.

“The drama department of the mind, giving our ideas form and structure,

“It produces the motion picture version of our thought.”

And, if that’s not mind-blowing enough, we’re reminded of Joel 2:28-29 which says,

Lloyd said, regarding the above verse, “It’s not only the prediction of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, but it’s also the promise of the renaissance of the imagination.”  Friends, I HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED THIS BEFORE, HAVE YOU?

Frankly it was a relief to discover later in the chapter that Lloyd had never considered this before either until he kept reading Paul’s words regarding “the fullness of God.”

Let’s read Ephesians 3:17-19:

Now, tuck your toes under the table as they’re about to get stepped on:  Lloyd then asked himself this question:  “If I have been created to receive all of the fullness, have I responded with all of my life?”

He had the revelation he’d been using his imagination to promote fear, not faith, so he made a deep commitment to the Lord re: his imagination and prayed for the fullness of His Spirit to fill it, heal it and use it to help him see himself and other people and the church the way the Lord does. This was a huge “aha” for Lloyd and is also, I’m sure, for us readers! WOW.

The end of the chapter includes six points to recap the wealth of information we’re given in Chapter Nine. The sixth point is my favorite because it truly reminds us to bookend our days with prayer:

I must admit I was deeply saddened to learn of Lloyd’s recent death because I wanted to write him and tell him how much this book has meant to me.  Being fearful is one of my many activities du jour which produce ridiculous worry, thence the need to “readjust” my imagination just as Lloyd advises.

I nearly fell out of my chair while reading another faith-equipping book (which I’ll be writing about next!), called Bella’s Gift:  How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation by Rick and Karen Santorum with Elizabeth Santorum.

I’m sure y’all remember Rick and his run for presidency.  He tells us early into the book how Lloyd John Ogilvie transformed his faith, calling Lloyd a “great man of God.”  (This was while Rick got to sit under Lloyd’s preaching and teaching when he was Chaplain to the Senate!)

Finally, another big fan of Lloyd was author and pastor John Ortberg.  When John was a student at Fuller Seminary, he would sneak over to Hollywood Presbyterian (where Lloyd was the pastor) to watch and learn.  John said, “LLoyd John Ogilvie was a kind of statesman in the world of evangelical Christianity whose type is sorely needed and will be badly missed. He deeply valued the life of the mind and was a model scholar-pastor. At the same time, his commitment to a life of prayer and a fresh experience of intimacy with God shone thru’ almost every sermon…How good God was to lend him to us for a while.”

Dash away, dash away all to your nearest bookstore and grab Facing the Future Without Fear:  Prescriptions for Courageous Living in the New Millenium. You will be so blessed!

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Life Lessons, Scripture

What Can We Learn From A 92-Year-Old Prayer Warrior?

Friends!  I mustn’t let one more minute fly by without revealing a discovery I predict will change every reader’s prayer life.  It’s a delightful discovery because it’s based on the woman who inspired the character, Miss Clara, in the movie War Room. 

The book?  The Audacious Molly Bruno:  Amazing Stories from the Life of a Powerful Woman of Prayer

Molly Bruno is the incredible prayer warrior we become acquainted with. We get lovely sneak peeks into Molly’s life, thanks to her daughter, Marie Armenia, who authored the book.

The Foreword is by Stephen Kendrick of the Kendrick brothers who co-wrote and produced the movie War Room.  Molly became friends with them and with the cast (including Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, etc.) She especially became close with Stephen.

She prayed for the movie fervently during production, sadly passing away just as it came out. However, the crew sent her the movie early so she could see how it turned out. She declared she was proud of every single detail.

This inspiring book includes, get ready for this:  EIGHTY, count ‘em 80, Life Lessons from Molly.  Each chapter includes recipes for:

 

PLUS, the end of the book has two appendices:  One of the list of Molly’s Life lessons AND the recipe for Molly’s Meatballs!  What a resource to treasure!

First I’d like to share a couple of endorsements and then I’ll share just a few highlights without giving away too much of the book.  There’s so much you’ll be blown away by, I don’t want to spoil the discoveries for you!

Tim Enloe said, “The secret of Molly’s life was that she was wonderfully, unusually dependent upon Jesus.”

Ralph Duncan said, “Molly Bruno models how an ordinary mother can partner with God in shaping the world!”

Ivey Harrington Beckmann said, “Molly Bruno did not walk on water, but she was the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she went…Marie Armenia has captured the effervescent soul of her mom and given women the lifeline of Molly’s exceptional wisdom so they can navigate the rough seas of life with faith, hope, and laughter.” (Don’t miss that word “lifeline!”)

One of the first things we learn about Molly is revealed to us by her daughter, Marie.  Marie declares her mother was “a nuclear -powered witnessing machine.” We readers get to see Molly in action, first-hand.  Molly and Marie take us by the hand and mentor us along the way.

Marie tells us that prayer for her mom “was like eating candy to her—a sweet JOY to her.”  It was Molly’s way of living.  Her two-word solution was always, “Let’s pray.”  It’s not a coincidence that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.

Chapter Two contains one of my many favorite Life Lessons, #14:

This lesson came on the heels of 9/11 hitting in New York City, the very week Marie and her husband were moving her parents to Nashville, Tennessee from the Big Apple.  Lo, and behold, with the terrorist attack and all that came with it, there were no moving vans in NYC.

Marie kept trying to relay the severity of the situation to her mother who was not to be dissuaded, praying like she always did.  It wasn’t three more minutes until the phone rang and a man from a moving company posed the most curious question, “Does anyone there need a moving truck?”

No, I’m not kidding, and this kind of scenario is in every single chapter.  You will flip, I promise. (And don’t miss the chapter on dreams.  Uncanny and total proof our Lord is in every detail of our lives.)

And, I love Molly’s Life Lesson #16:  “If prayer is your first response in every situation, it will become your children’s first response in every situation.”  That should make us all parent differently, huh?

Chapter Four is hands down another favorite:  “The Recipe for Reading and Understanding the Bible.” Marie tells us her parents, who were married for seventy-two years, recited Hebrews 4:12 in unison every night before they fell asleep:

Marie reveals her son recorded her parents reciting Scripture together because what could be more beautiful than seeing this sweet couple in their 90’s, reciting Scripture?  Marie said, “It’s like they were memorizing their marching orders from their heavenly Commander in Chief.”

This rolls right into Molly’s Life lesson #27:  “There is no age limit on memorizing Scripture. Do it with your children and your grandchildren. And keep doing it until you see the Lord.”

Here’s where we need to call upon Rob Morgan’s excellent book, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart for a little help.  Just a thought…

Chapter Seven is killer funny and killer convicting.  The subject? “The Recipe for Being a Wife.”

Here’s THE question:  “Would You Want to Come Home to You?”

Marie tosses us these two verses:  “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife…Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:9,19

Yes, well, we all know the saying, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”  I remember hearing one of our boys saying, “Steer clear of Mom, she’s in a mood.”  Super proud of that.  Sigh.

Molly taught Marie, “The wife sets the tone for the home.”  And she takes it a step further teaching us to, “overlook what someone else was doing to me in an attempt to see why God was allowing it to happen…Nothing touches me unless God allows it. What is God trying to teach me by allowing this in my life? Is there something He is trying to dig out of my heart?”

Let’s discuss just one more wee, tiny point  and then y’all can dive into the rest of the book…Chapter Eight is the “Recipe for Being a Mom.”

One of my very first Bible studies I attended included the part in Genesis where Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, who he and Sarah had waited for for years and years, even decades.  (See Genesis 22) I could not grasp how in the world Abraham could have the faith and trust in the Lord to prepare his one and only son to be sacrificed.  (Still have trouble with it, truth be told. Still learning, Lord. Doubting Thomas is the first friend in Heaven I wish to talk to…)

I was struck by what Molly said to her daughter with faith as bold as Abraham:  “Marie , if you wind up in China because that’s God’s will for your life and I never see you again while we both live on this earth, that’s fine. I’d rather never see you again and know you are in the center of God’s will for your life than to have you live right next door to me and be out of the will of God.”

This, my friends, is HUGE.  Can you/could you say such?  I immediately thought of our friends, Nancy and Matthew Sleeth, whose two children and spouses and one granddaughter (and one grandson arriving this month, Lord willing) all live in Africa as missionaries.  I recounted Molly’s words recently to Nancy saying I’d thought of her with her kids clear across the world.  Nancy smiled and said, “Yes, but we will have eternity together.”  Gulp.  I realized at that very second my own petite faith had miles to go to reach that kind of trust.

Oh, now you know what I’m going to say, “Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and snag The Audacious Molly Bruno!”  There’s so much more to becoming acquainted with a quintessential, inspirational 92-year-old prayer warrior. Savor all eighty of her lessons and share them with your family and friends.

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Scripture