Tag Archives: Anne Graham Lotz

Books to Help the Grieving Process in the Death of a Loved One (with help from Nancy Guthrie, Dee Brestin and Zig Ziglar) Part 2 of 2

Friends!  Last week we learned about a children’s book about the death of a child and ways to handle such.  This week we’ll get to look at a handful of books by different authors which are equally helpful.  If you’re like me, usually at a loss for words, grasping for something, anything, I believe these authors offer a number of nuggets.

First up is author Nancy Guthrie.  She and her husband, David, lost two of their three children to Zellweger Syndrome where babies only live less than six months with no known cure. Hope was their first child, followed by Gabriel.

Unbelievably, Nancy wrote Holding on to Hope:  A Pathway Through Suffering to the Heart of God not long after both babies went to Heaven.

Their story was first published in Time magazine on 7/16/01 in an article called, When God Hides His Face:  Can Faith Survive When Hope Has Died? The Guthries think so.

I must share three stats that will make your hair stand on end:  “The odds of carrying a recessive gene for… Zellweger Syndrome are 1 in 160. The odds of two carriers meeting and having a child who suffers from the syndrome are about 1 in 100,000.

David and Nancy, already the parents of a healthy son, Matt, drew that 1 in 100,000 chance when they had Hope, who struggled with life for 199 days. After Hope was found to have the ailment, David got a vasectomy. The odds of a woman becoming pregnant after her partner has had the procedure are roughly 1 in 2,000.”

Nancy did indeed become pregnant with Gabriel, who also had the syndrome and lived about six months. How does one cope?

I’m beyond thrilled to report Nancy and David’s faith has remained intact, and their friends from church have been “an unfailing pillar of strength.” Nancy said while pregnant with Gabriel, “If God would ask me to suffer this significantly, I think He has something significant He wants to do with it through me, if only just in my heart.”

I know what you’re thinking.  I thought it too. (Reminds me of Job.)

In Holding on to Hope, Nancy walks us thru’ parts of the Book of Job, holding our hands, digging for pearls we can cling to. She tackles these subjects with vulnerability that’ll make you weep: (At the end of the book, there’s also a section of Scriptures on each of these topics.)

Nancy and David, along with her numerous books she’s written since their children’s deaths, are a visual of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

In the chapter on Intimacy, Nancy says, “It is one thing to believe that God is faithful and will supply all your needs—even in the darkest of times. It is another thing to experience it. In the darkest of days, we’ve  experienced a supernatural strength and peace that could only come from God. Perhaps you have too.”

Nancy says her husband, David, “…always feared a tragedy would occur in his life. But …now that the tragedy has come, the fear is gone. Now that he has experienced his greatest fear, and experienced God’s supreme faithfulness to us through this difficulty, he no longer fears tragedy in our lives. We know God more fully because we’ve experienced Him more fully through our sorrow.”  Wow.

Anne Graham Lotz wrote the Foreword of Nancy’s book. She says, “Holding on to Hope is like a beacon of Light, drawing the reader to God and God alone. My prayer is that God will use this book to rescue you from the depths of being buried alive in the debris and rubble of your own life experience, …planting your foot on the solid ground of His Word, setting your spirit free to soar in the rarefied atmosphere of genuine worship.”  Wow again!

Don’t miss this little powerful book, plus here are four others of Nancy’s I especially like:

Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow

The One Year Book of Hope

What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)

This one is by David and Nancy:

When Your Family’s Lost a Loved One:  Finding Hope Together

Nancy’s also written outstanding Bible studies. (I have her newest on order:  Even Better Than Eden:  Nine Ways the Bible’s Story Changes Everything About Your Story)

To see what else Nancy’s written and to learn more about her go to her website:  www.nancyguthrie.com

And if that’s not enough resources, oh yes, there’s more… (Variety is truly the spice of life.)  Two more beautiful and helpful books on dealing with grief are:

The God of All Comfort:  Finding Your Way into His Arms by Dee Brestin. Dee shares about experiencing the loss of her husband and how worship was (and is) a healing salve to her soul.

The Confessions of a Grieving Christian by Zig Ziglar.  This was a fairly recent discovery for me.  I didn’t know Zig lost an adult child.  It’s comforting to hear his honesty and see the God of hope at work.

Next week we’ll pick back up with another new children’s book which is happy and bright (after reviewing such serious material!), followed by helpful resources for reading to your child or grandchild, as well as for ourselves!

SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME.

Sigh.

‘Til next time!

 

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Perfect Gift Idea for History Buffs: “Mrs. Oswald Chambers—The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional” by Michelle Ule (Part 3 of 4)

Friends! I’m sad to report I’ve just finished a total page-turner, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, however I’m GLAD to report it’s a must-read for you and the history buffs in your life!  Hurry and grab some copies for Christmas gifts! You’ll be a hero to whomever you give it to.

Author Michelle Ule has gone to amazing lengths (I cannot even fathom the amount of research she’s done to write this book.) to give us glimpses of life with Mr. and Mrs. Oswald Chambers.

Don’t miss Michelle’s website as she’s included loads of extra tidbits from her research. http://www.michelleule.com

Reading Mrs. Oswald Chambers is akin to opening a treasure chest, each chapter more mind blowing than the previous one.  You’ll fall in love with each person you meet, some friends and some family of the Chambers’, plus you’ll feel as if you’re traveling with them, about to have tea at their table, or sitting in one of Oswald’s classrooms.

I confess I’d never considered learning more of Oswald or his family until I caught Michelle being interviewed by Eric Metaxas recently. (www.metaxastalk.com Interview aired October 19th, 2017) After hearing Michelle’s discoveries, I promptly ordered her book.

I have the well-known devotional My Utmost for His Highest thanks to a copy my Mother gave to my Father.

I also learned there’s a modern-day version of the devotional which is on my Christmas list as some of the original entries are a tad tricky to comprehend for this feeble brain of mine.  (This scenario reminds me of the time we read Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven for Book Club.  It was like attending a class at the seminary.  Shortly afterwards, the children’s version came out and we were all so happy. I digress…)

Michelle’s book reads like a novel.  Her skillful writing introduces you to Oswald and “Biddy” as she was called, allowing you to see how they met and watching how they lived their daily lives. Everyone loves a good love story, especially a true one!

Biddy’s name evolved from the nickname Oswald gave her, “Beloved Disciple” which she said was a mouthful.  A sweet one at that!

Their lives exemplify Romans 8:28 like I’ve never seen…

Biddy was a good student growing up, however repeated cases of bronchitis caused her to miss so much school she had to drop out. She ultimately landed in secretarial school and became highly proficient as a stenographer, able to take down 250 words/minute vs. an average 150 words/minute.

Don’t you know upon meeting Oswald, clearly orchestrated by our gracious God, Biddy was the one who took down all of his speeches, talks, sermons, word for word, accumulating trunks full of his wisdom.

It was Biddy who compiled My Utmost for His Highest, which wasn’t published until ten years after Oswald’s death. He died seven years after they married.

This devotional, now translated into many different languages, has NEVER been out of print and is still today the bestselling devotional of all times. (It is one of twenty-nine books Biddy put together.)

After Biddy and Oswald married, they were blessed with a one and only daughter they named Kathleen.  Sadly, Kathleen never married. She was only four years old when her Daddy died, thus her memories of him largely came from her Mother’s stories.

Biddy and Oswald’s love for the Lord and His Word is hugely inspirational to us readers.  We see them plan their days, bookending them with prayer and reading of Scripture. Their prayer times and study of God’s Word were non-negotiable.

Their utter trust in God and His sovereignty is equally inspirational. They never worried about money from the very start of  their marriage and Biddy didn’t change that tune once she was widowed.

Biddy prayed this prayer every morning, “I give the day over into God’s hands, completely so that He will look after who comes.” Biddy’s friends said she was known to drop whatever she was doing when someone stopped in, brewing countless cups of tea.

It was fascinating to me to learn Biddy and Oswald faithfully read The Daily Light.  I first learned of this book from Anne Graham Lotz.  She’s republished it thanks to her learning of it from her Mother and Grandmother.

Anne’s Grandmother gave a copy to her Mother, Ruth, who in turn gave a copy to each of her children when they were ten years old.  Anne has now given copies of The Daily Light to her children and grandchildren.  This way, they’re all reading the same Scripture every day.  It was the Bagster family who originally published the book in the late 1800’s.

Early into the book we glean tidbits about Oswald:  “The six-foot tall man who addressed the congregation that December was in his early thirties. Angular and lanky with deep-set blue eyes and brown hair swept from a receding hairline, Oswald Chambers relished opportunities to talk about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God himself.”

“Genial, with a playful sense of humor, and gifted with words, he talked quickly and with an intensity that captured his listeners’ attention. Oswald lectured extemporaneously, without notes. His only goal:  ‘To have honorable mention in somebody’s life in introducing them to God.’”

Devoted workers/teachers/missionaries, Biddy and Oswald did manage to escape for a holiday each year where they could recharge. Both lovers of nature and God’s creation, they referred to their al fresco picnics as “My Heavenly Father’s Dining Room.”

How they later wound up in Egypt during World War I is a grand story you won’t want to miss. Their ministry’s impact was far reaching, one soldier claiming he realized the reason he was enlisted must’ve been for the Lord to reach him thru’ Oswald’s preaching. That’s one of many, many heartwarming stories.

Oswald’s determination to reach as many people for the Lord as possible caused him to burn the midnight oil.  I worried about his health wondering how he could possibly keep up such a rigorous schedule.

You’ll not want to learn about his untimely death, however Biddy’s reaction and dedication to the Lord following Oswald’s death are what kept her going. What she accomplishes afterwards is simply miraculous.

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Mrs. Oswald Chambers—the Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional for yourself and for your friends this Christmas.  I promise you all will be beyond blessed.

‘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

Friends! I pray today finds you well and that perhaps you’re getting to experience a beautiful spring day.  It’s been a wild-n-crazy week in the Hoagland Household. (Translation: Not enough hours in the day.)

I found a post on a most helpful and interesting book by Bill Hybels which I wrote about a while ago, worthy of a reprise. Please enjoy.

Next week,  I’ve got a fun, new devotional to share with you. It will lift your spirits every day.

May you have a blessed week and hear from the Holy Spirit thanks to Bill’s great thoughts…


 

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.

 bigstock-Hot-Strawberry-Toaster-Pastry-41906824

“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?

bigstock-White-Flag-Clipping-Path--2195366

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:

329480_w185

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 Thy 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.

obits

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 a recent  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. 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!

 

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Let’s Pray Like We’ve Never Prayed Before…(With help from Anne Graham Lotz)

Friends! Anyone besides me ready for the political hoopla to cease and desist? Who knows where we’ll be come November 9th, post-election, but the good news is the commercials will be off the air. Better yet, as our daughter-in-love, Diana, reminded us the other night, God will still be on the throne.

No worries, I refuse to talk politics. Even better news: There is one wonderful, blissful way to stay distracted from all of it: prayer. Fervent prayer at that.

I recently was blessed to read Anne Graham Lotz’ newest book: The Daniel Prayer—Prayer that Moves Heaven and Changes Nations. It’s become my favorite manual on prayer.

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A forever fan of the Graham family, Anne in particular holds a special place in my heart. Years ago when we read The Magnificent Obsession—Embracing the God-Filled Life by her for Book Club, she agreed to Skype with us from her home in Raleigh, North Carolina. Unfortunately a few days prior to that she learned her husband, Danny, had been scheduled for a procedure on his heart the very day we were to Skype.

He’s since gone to be with the Lord, God bless him and their family. At the time, however, he wasn’t in good health and this procedure was needed as soon as possible. Anne’s hands were tied. We, of course, understood.

Anne went above and beyond to record a video message for us, personally addressing our Book Club gals, that we got to show that evening. The fact she took the time to do that for us in the midst of all she was juggling still tugs at my heart.

Anne begins The Daniel Prayer by discussing the dire condition of our world. She says, “There are three reasons I believe God’s patience may be running out. One: We have willingly intentionally, deliberately taken the lives of almost 60 million children. Most of these abortions were not done for medical reasons, but for the convenience of the mother as a means of birth control.”

“Two: Our defiance of God’s institution of marriage.”

“Three: Our abandonment of the nation of Israel.”

Anne adds, “…it is especially concerning to see the United States of America, a nation founded on faith in God and dedicated to His glory by our first President and the Continental Congress, defy Him, seek to remove Him from public life, and rebel against His ways.”

Her solution? (Which is available to us all…) PRAYER. Prayer straight from Daniel in the Bible. (See Daniel 9:1-23) Daniel’s prayer gives us a beautiful model which Anne walks us through, giving us excellent examples we can use anywhere at any time.

Woman with bible

The book’s divided into four parts: Preparing for Prayer, Pleading in Prayer, Prevailing in Prayer and Patterns for Prayer. It’s the Patterns for Prayer that are my absolute favorite. They include prayer that’s “centered, compelled, confident, contrite, and clear,” plus a prayer for battle.

She especially addresses (and warns us about) spiritual warfare. Throughout the book she gives beautiful Scripture to help us with our prayers.

She dots humor throughout each chapter which is a welcomed relief from the serious subject matter. I got tickled at her confession about having trouble waking earlier each morning to pray.

She finally marched out and bought an obnoxious alarm clock which so severely startled her and Danny the next morning, they nearly each had a heart attack! It was that same clock, tho’, that helped her conquer what she called her “blanket victory.” Hey, whatever it takes, right?

She said, “Prayer helps us anchor our faith in God. It’s like setting our spiritual compass so that regardless of the twists and turns during the day, the needle of our focused faith always turns to God.”

Travel geography navigation concept background - vintage retro e

While the humor is fun, Anne’s pressing questions are not! (Oh, but they’re good medicine!!!) For example, she says, “When Daniel bowed his knees to God, it was an outward gesture that revealed his inner attitude of humility, reverence, submission, and allegiance to the One so much greater than himself or any earthly king or world ruler.”

Then she poses, “When was the last time you prayed on your knees? Try it. The difference your outward position makes in your inner attitude as you pray may surprise you.”

Anne believes the Daniel Prayer is “a 911 call for urgent help. The Daniel Prayer is storming the gates of Heaven with what Eugene Peterson calls ‘reversed thunder’—praying God’s Word back to Him…” (The prayers in the back of the book walk you straight thru’ Scripture.)

She shows us five characteristics of the Daniel Prayer we can all strive for in our prayers. Check these out:

daniel-prayer-characteristics1

Anne’s writing is so filled with passion, you’ll be beyond blessed by reading this. I’ve literally highlighted and dog-eared her book to death.

I’m praying she’ll make a Bible study from it, however, your small group could easily go chapter by chapter and turn it into one. It’s a resource you’ll return to over and over.

To close, let’s receive Anne’s encouragement from chapter 7:

the-daniel-prayer1

This very week our Tuesday Bible study group was discussing the political frenzy surrounding us.  We agreed to pray more and worry less. Thankfully at the same time Max Lucado wrote a piece about his prediction for November 9th.

Like only Max can do, his words bring further comfort:  “Understanding God’s sovereignty over the nations opens the door to peace.  When we realize that God influences the hearts of all rulers, we can choose to pray for them rather than fret about them. Rather than wring our hands we bend our knees, we select prayer over despair.” (Don’t miss his article from 10/13/16 in the Opinion section of Fox News.)

Amen.

‘Til next time!

P.S. Fun fact: I first learned about Anne Graham Lotz’ book thanks to an entertaining and educational interview done by Eric Metaxas with Anne on his show this past May.  It aired on 5/9/16. You can listen to the interview by going to Eric’s website: www.metaxastalk.com

 

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Practical Insight for 2015 from Anne Graham Lotz, Inspired by her Dear Mother Ruth…

Reverend Billy Graham, his wife Ruth, and their entire family have fascinated me for years. As a little girl, I can remember my parents tuning in to watch Billy Graham at one of his many Crusades. (We had one, and only one black and white television in those days, just to date myself.)

When the Crusades were on, I got to stay up late. I’d like to report I became a changed child on the spot, but sadly, my all-about-me ways stayed put for more than a few more years. Good news is many a seed was planted in my heart.

MustardSeed

Who knew years later I’d have the chance to connect with Anne Graham Lotz? As is customary with her family, she did something beyond generous for our Book Club.

Trying to keep up with technology, our Book Club began Skyping with our authors. This was a huge treat to “meet them” and hear from them on the spot.

I approached Anne’s Assistant and asked if Anne might consider Skyping with us. She knew of our church, Southeast Christian Church (www.southeastchristian.org ), and after a time of prayer and consideration, we gleefully received the green light.

Our selection that month was one of my favorite books by Anne, The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life. It’s a must-read. (There’s a companion Bible study with it that’s also outstanding.)

MagnificentObsession

As our time approached for the Skype, I received a frantic email from Anne’s Assistant. Anne’s husband, Danny, because of his frail health, required a procedure on his heart. Docs were able to do it the very day of our meeting, preventing Anne from joining us. Disappointed, yes, but we totally understood.

Only a few days later, I received a mind-blowing email from Anne’s Assistant:

“Because Anne feels so badly for cancelling the Skype, she has made a short video, addressed to your attendees, you’ll be able to show the night of your meeting.” Goodness, how kind and thoughtful of her! I’ll never forget it. We were all so blessed to hear from her on such a personal level. She wrote me a handwritten letter after our meeting.

Recently I received the January issue of Decision magazine. (It’s a publication by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. www.bgea.org )

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Anne’s article, challenging as always, is timely for us with 2015 already in progress. I love Anne’s honesty…see if you can relate:

As I reflect on 2014, blessings come to mind. So do burdens.

Prayers that were answered, and other prayers that remain unanswered.

Friends who stood by me, and others who avoided me.

Days when I had health and energy, and other days when I was so tired I felt I couldn’t hold my head up one more moment.

Times to relax, and times of enormous stress.

Hope that filled my heart, and disappointments that crushed my spirit….”

With that, Anne gives us a glimpse into her days with her Mother, Ruth, knowing she, too, “must have had days and weeks and months and years” like Anne’s.

RuthGrahamPhoto

Ruth had a small gold-framed saying she kept over her kitchen sink, of which she gave Anne a duplicate. It reads:

“Praise, Pray and Peg Away.”

Anne says it’s become her motto for 2015. Her version looks like this:

Praise Him for His Position, Power and Purity.

(Just a few of the relevant Scriptures she suggests are: Isaiah 6:1-4, John 12:41, Philippians 2:5-11, Ephesians 1:20-23, Matthew 28:18, Acts 10:36, John 14:13-14, Romans 10:9-10)

Pray.

(Philippians 4:6-7, Acts 1:6-9,14, John 14:1-3, 1 Peter 4:7, Mark 13:32-33, James 5:16-18)

Persevere.

(Hebrews 10:23-25, Romans 8:23-25, James 1:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7, Romans 5:1-5 and Hebrews 10:35-39)

She concludes her article with a challenge:

“As we face another year,

     would you join me

          in claiming and clinging to His promises

                with praise, prayer and perseverance

                     until our faith becomes sight?”

I pray Anne’s and her Mother’s very practical insight blesses you and encourages you to “Praise, Pray and Peg Away”.

For me, and I suspect you, to “peg away”, or persevere, is key.

Of all the verses Anne suggests, James 1:3-4 in the Message really resonates. Eugene Peterson dubs it:

Faith Under Pressure”:

Butterfly

 

Ever the humorist, I’d like to show you Ruth Graham’s tombstone. You can see it at the unforgettable and most moving Billy Graham Library. (www.billygrahamlibrary.org )

“End of Construction—Thank you for your patience”

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Let’s agree with Ruth and Anne to PRAISE, PRAY AND PEG AWAY…. praying for perseverance throughout 2015.

‘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.

 bigstock-Hot-Strawberry-Toaster-Pastry-41906824

“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?

bigstock-White-Flag-Clipping-Path--2195366

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:

329480_w185

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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