Tag Archives: Bill Hybels

More on Gathering Around a Table with Help from Shauna Niequist’s book: BREAD AND WINE

Friends!  The past few weeks we’ve been looking around with mission-minded eyes from our back yards to our front yards, perhaps plopping down turquoise picnic tables in them.

This week we’re going to mosey on inside, and try a few recipes in the kitchen, making some unsuspecting guests at our table very, very happy.

Even if you’re challenged in the cooking department like me, you’ll be so inspired to try what author Shauna Niequist suggests in her super fun book, Bread and Wine—A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (with recipes).

Shauna’s honest, no-nonsense style and wit make this book a page-turner.  Divided into three parts, most chapters, which are lovely vignettes, include a recipe.

All her chocolate recipes call for my favorite ingredient:  dark chocolate. The one I most desperately wish to try ASAP is her three-ingredient “Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse”.  I know…  She dubs it “cheater mousse”.  LOL.

Sensing some of her readers may be cooking impaired, Shauna offers entertaining tips, a list for what to stock your pantry with, and menu ideas.  It’s the best!  Plus, for those of you who need to eat gluten free, she either shows you how to make the dish GF, or it already is GF.

You’ll become acquainted with Shauna and her husband, Aaron, their two boys, Henry and Mac and many of their unique friends. Her Supper Club sounds like a blast.

Her extended family makes cameos as well and you’ll get a feel for how real they are. In reality, I’m sure it’s tough to escape from under the microscope of her Dad’s mega church, Willow Creek.  (www.willowcreek.org )

Also an accomplished author, Shauna’s Dad, Bill Hybels, clearly loves his family.  Getting a peek into their family is so sweet.  Their devotion to one another is beautiful.

I love how Shauna calls her Mother, Lynne, “a global soul: a poet, an activist, a woman of creativity and conviction and vision, a woman I aspire to be like in a million ways.” Lynne is also a fantastic author.

Just as author Kristin Schell showed us easy ways to be hospitable via a turquoise table, Shauna does the very same at her dining room table.  She proclaims, “Fuss not!”, blissfully chucking perfectionism out the window.

This is how she puts her foot down:  “You can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving…” I need to make that quote into a sign and hang it in our kitchen!

Here, Shauna’s readying to prepare a meal…

My Mother was a long-suffering perfectionist.  When John and I would go home to Lexington for dinner, she’d spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  We’d serve our plates and she insisted we “go on and eat.”  We complied, but by the time she fixed her plate and came in to eat, we were all nearly done. There we sat.

One petite example:  Jelly was never served in a jelly jar, it was presented in a crystal bowl, silver spoon at the ready.  To this day, I still laugh when I whip out the ketchup and barbecue sauce bottles, salad dressing bottles, etc. and set them on the counter for everyone to self-serve.  (Mother would be horrified. Shauna would say, “Yes!  You can do this!”)

Above and beyond striving for simplicity, Shauna and I could be buddies on many levels. In addition to being a mom of boys, I adore her love for bread.  I’d go one step further and confess my love for bread and butter. (Any of you Whole 30 advocates out there are cringing.)

Shauna explains her title beautifully:  “…I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine…The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.” To me, that makes communion that much more special.

Another of many favorite quotes in the book is: “Many of the most sacred moments in my life, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place around the table.

Something extraordinary happens when we…

Slow down,

Open our homes,

Look into one another’s faces, and

Listen to one another’s stories around the table.”

We also learn early on Shauna bravely put herself in a culinary boot camp.  I applaud her effort. Her experience filters throughout the book in an encouraging if-I-can-do-this-you-can-do-this way.

One statement from the Intro’ seems to be a goal of the book. We readers get to see it in action in each of the meals Shauna serves.  I see it in three parts:

What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to

(1) Rest and

(2) Connect and

(3) Be fed at my table.” (I added the numbers.)

Dash  to your local bookstore.  Find this book and flip thru’ it.  My guess is you’ll see enough recipes you’ll want to try, especially when you learn the stories behind them…even better!  Bread and Wine would make a great gift as well.

‘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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to share the wealth:

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

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

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

“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear,

An open ear, O Lord,

Alive and quick to hear

Each whisper of 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.

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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 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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Four Fabulous Kinds of Love in February Part 1 of 4: Love for God with Help from Stuart, Jill, and Pete Briscoe…

Ahhh, February. The month of love. Any of you guys out there reading this better have “buy chocolate for ____________” on your calendar…

Gift boxes of gourmet chocolates for Valentine's Day

We gals really appreciate it even if we say, “Oh no, please do not buy me any this year.” Just know we do NOT. MEAN. A. WORD. OF. IT. (!!!)

This month we’re going to have some fun with four different kinds of love:

Love for God,

Love for Spouse,

Love for Family, and

Love for Friends.

We’ll be exploring ideas from God’s Word and from excellent authors who can teach us a thing or two or ten.

Just when I thought our beloved Naples, Florida couldn’t get any better, Hubster and I were blessed with an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy it even more. On Sunday, January 24th, we attended Covenant Church of Naples (www.covenantnaples.com).

Pastor Trent Casto delivered a sermon on ‘The Lion of Hell” which caused each of us to walk out of there with both eyes open, hearts beating more rapidly, and much more on the alert for the prowling lion/thief/father of lies who’s looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Translation: Major wake-up call!

In addition to being blessed by an applicable sermon, we noticed in Covenant’s bulletin we could return on Wednesday to have “Breakfast with the Briscoes”. As in Jill, Stuart, and Pete Briscoe! For real???

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Guessing many of you have either heard of the Briscoes or have read one of their many, many excellent books. Their books cover every topic you can imagine such as Bible studies, women’s ministries, prayer, marriage, family, aging, renewal, children’s books, etc.

Two of my personal favorites are Time Bandits: Putting First Things First (LifeChange Books) by Stuart

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And A Little Pot of Oil: A Life Overflowing (LifeChange Books) by Jill

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Stuart and Jill hail from England, married in 1958, and praises to our Lord landed in the United States, ministering at Elmbrook Church (www.elmrook.org) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for thirty plus years. They’re “retired”, altho’ still travel and speak everywhere while being in their 80’s! They are still goin’ strong. Stuart said when asked when they were going to quit speaking, “As long as we’re able, we’ll go!”

Their youngest son, Pete, pastors Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas (www.benttree.org). He, too, has written several books. He is very articulate, clearly loves the Lord, and is fun to watch interact with his parents.

The three of them have an amazing ministry, in addition to all they do via www.tellingthetruth.org. It offers messages that are broadcast all over the world via six hundred radio stations in eight different countries! Their website is a wonderful resource with invaluable teaching. (Podcasts, etc. are available PLUS they have a FREE APP you can download on your phone!)

Let’s get to the questions Pastor Trent posed to the three Briscoes. Each and every one of us can benefit from these.  Consider your love for God in each of these scenarios:

QUESTION #1 – How do you find joy and purpose in your everyday life?

Stuart said we must keep everything in perspective, especially from our human vantage point. He quoted Theologian Dr. Vernon Grounds who said, “aging means diminishing”. We must embrace slowing down, finding joy in each and every stage.

He told us he loves enjoying different generations. He and Jill are blessed with three children and thirteen grandchildren. Each month, he asks his grandchildren for a few sentences’ worth of an update—for their “beings and doings in the last month”. Then he publishes them in “Pappa’s Monthly Round-Up” so they can keep up with one another. Grandparents, take note!

Stuart told us he used to be a runner. One day he was out jogging and became really tired. He slowed to a walk and suddenly realized what he’d been missing: trees in bloom, green, green grass, blue skies, he heard birds singing, etc. He added, “It’s amazing what you see when you take the time to slow down.”

He quipped that in England there’s a trajectory to your life: you start out playing rugby, then soccer, then you just run, then you walk and play golf, and finally you become a bird watcher. We all laughed at this, and yet while Stuart said he and Jill are now birdwatchers, they still were quite spry moving around on the stage, up and down the steps, etc. He may have been fooling all of us!

Bird Watchers

Pete said one lesson he’s learned was that he does not find joy and purpose in success. He pointed us to Galatians 5:22-23 which lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

He said, “Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We must be available to the Spirit and receive joy and purpose from Him.”

Jill said when you can’t praise Him for what He’s allowed, praise Him for what He has done. She cited cancer as an example. She doesn’t believe we should praise Him for the cancer, but praise Him for our caregivers, medicine working, family surrounding us, etc.

Praise Him that we find joy in Jesus, within us. There’s joy in serving Him. Look for the invisible qualities of God that are visible in His Creation. She cited Psalm 16:11 which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…”

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QUESTION #2 – Each of you are leaders in different capacities. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Stuart replied that “leaders are intended to lead with followers following—a followship if you will.” He offered three suggestions:

A – Lead them where they are, not where you think they should be.

B – Lead in the direction they’re willing to go, not where you’re determined they should go.

C – Move at their speed, not yours.

IF you’re able to accomplish all three of these, two things will happen:

1 –Rapport is built.

2 –Momentum is generated. As a leader, you need momentum because nobody can steer a stationary vehicle!

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Pete said he loves the opening line of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you….” He said, “As a leader, you must remember that!”

Two levels to consider are “is this working?” and “is this not working?”, all the while remembering it’s not about you! Piece of cake, right???

Pete quoted Bill Hybels’ book Courageous Leadership illustrating the difference between “Capitol L” leaders and “Little ‘l’” leaders. He talked about leaders who are visionary, entrepreneurial, motivational, directional, strategic and managerial. Many audience members nodded recognizing some of their own particular styles.

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He admitted, “It’s tough to not get hung up on performance. At the end of the day, people still want to know how well you know Jesus, not how well you perform.” John and I talked about this later and he said, “This reminds me of that saying, ‘People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.’” Amen.

Jill confessed she’s quite the instigator, full of ideas. While this is a gift of hers, putting the ideas all together, coming up with a plan, and implementing it is not. Therefore, she learned to invite help.

When she and Stuart first arrived at Elmbrook, she realized she was the “minister’s wife”, therefore she must surely have a job to do. She gathered the women of the church and asked them to write out what their expectations of her were. (Can you imagine?)

Not surprisingly, their lists, upon lists, upon lists of expectations not only overwhelmed Jill, but she almost instantaneously realized she could do nothing on those lists!

After her cup of tea in a time of crisis (great suggestion!!!), she realized, thanks to the Lord, she’d just chip away a la Ecclesiastes 9:10 and “do unto the Lord”. Even if her efforts were bad, she was trying with all her might and praying harder than ever.

QUESTION #3 – In your own walk in Christ, what is the single greatest discipline a Christian should develop?

Jill suggested three things: prayer, solitude, and silence. No performance. She said, “Jesus will mentor you when you pray to Him.”

Young woman praying in the church

Jill recalls a visit to Viet Nam thirty years ago. They were led to a secret church. After hearing Jill pray, one young gal who’d also risked her life to be there said, “I love how well you know Jesus. I want to know Him like you do.” Jill realized that how we pray suggests how deep our relationship is to the Lord. Now that will make you think!

Stuart believes there’s more than one discipline. He said, “Both dependence and obedience are required.” These produce trust. Let that soak in a minute…

He pointed us to Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 where He tells His disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey all the commands I’ve given you…”

Pete believes the discipline of knowing who you really are is of paramount importance. He threw us a curve ball. He asked, “How many of you are sinners in need of a savior?” To which we all raised our hands.

He corrected us by saying, “We shouldn’t identify ourselves as sinners, we are saints now, saved by grace. Perhaps we’re saints who sometimes sin, but we cannot mistake our identities…

There’s so much Christ has purchased for us. Knowing Him more today than yesterday should be our goal.”  How great is your love for God?

After the Q & A we had the opportunity to receive two books:

Improving with Age: God’s Plan for Getting Older and Better by Jill and Stuart Briscoe

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Experiencing Life Today: 365 Day Devotional by Pete Briscoe

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Sadly the morning flew by and it was time to leave. Pete, Stuart and Jill all gave John and me lots to discuss and ponder. We got to meet and speak with each of them and they were positively lovely, engaging and sincere.  Their love for God is contagious.

Take the time to explore their website: www.tellingthetruth.org.   You will be blessed!

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Every. Single. Day…(Savor by Shaunna Niequist is a must-read.)

Brush your teeth.

Floss.

Wash your hands.

Woman Washing Hand Under RunningTake your vitamins.

Don’t forget your meds…

Especially if some of the above phrases come from your doctor, we’d all be wise to heed his or her advice. Every day. Right?

Every. Single. Day.

What if we added one more daily activity, guaranteed to help us and all those who cross our path?

I ran across this idea in a new devotional I’m crazy about. (One can never have too many devotionals, right?) You may want to consider this for a Christmas gift for your friends or family members. Little fun fact: in addition to three hundred and sixty-five devotions, about every ten to fifteen pages, Shauna includes fun recipes!

It’s called Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist. (www.shaunaniequist.com ) Shauna is a beautiful young wife to Aaron and Mom of two boys, Henry and Mac. She also happens to be the daughter of well-known preacher, teacher and writer, Bill Hybels and his sweet wife, Lynne. (www.billhybels.org and www.lynnehybels.com )

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Shauna wrote this devotional to teach us readers ways to savor our lives. This encompasses our children, friends and family, our community, God’s creation, etc. She says, “This is my attempt to clear away space and noise, inviting you to hear the ‘drumbeat’. God’s always speaking, always.

He’s always moving,

Always present,

Always creating,

Always healing.

The trick, at least for me, is paying attention.

The trick is savoring.

As God would orchestrate, my Wednesday Bible study group just finished Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. We declared it’s a manual for the Christian Life. Priscilla says we must put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) daily…and, in a gazillion other ways, she says we must have our faces planted in His Word every day.

Every. Single. Day.

I just so happened to bring Shauna’s devotional with me to Bible study for Show and Tell.  Don’t you know that day’s devotion was right out of Psalm 1:1-3

“Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is a like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Note we’ll be blessed when we delight in His Word, when we meditate on it day and night.)

Eugene Peterson’s wording from the same passage above in The Message is simultaneously amusing (“Smart-Mouth College!!!”) and to the point:

“How well God must like you—

You don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,

You don’t sling along Dead-End Road,

You don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,

You chew on Scripture day and night.

You’re a tree replanted in Eden,

Bearing fresh fruit every month,

Never dropping a leaf,

Always in blossom.”

You know the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Same can be said for our Christian walk. The more we study the Bible, the more we become Christ-like, yielding fruit for Him, bearing “fresh fruit.”

Apples On Tree

Joshua 1:8 tell us, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

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Psalm 119:97 simply says, “Oh, how I love your law!   I meditate on it all day long.

Friends, these are just three of seventy-one verses in the Bible on Meditation. (Check out www.openbible.info to see more.) My Life Application Bible says, “Meditating means spending time reading and thinking about what you’ve read—asking yourself how you can change so you will live as God wants you to.” As my friend Caroline says, “That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Shauna says her Dad suggests:

“… every Christian needs to spend time alone with God every day, praying, listening, reading the Bible, letting ourselves be reminded that we are God’s creation, God’s children.”

Every. Single. Day.

Shauna adds, “God wants his people to trust Him daily, to need Him and follow Him every morning with new faith.”

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She confesses, “I couldn’t live well without regularly reading God’s Word.

Every. Single. Day.

Should you find yourself saying, “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but I don’t have time for that.” I challenge you to simply give it a try. You’ll be surprised when you give God your first few minutes of the day, somehow your minutes and hours are more plentiful. Just try it. (You can also get some more ideas from this: “BUT I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A BIBLE STUDY”)

Every. Single. Day.

‘Til next time!

 

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

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

How ‘bout a for instance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to share the wealth:

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

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

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

“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear,

An open ear, O Lord,

Alive and quick to hear

Each whisper of They Word;

Like him to answer to Thy call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filter #1:  Is the Prompting Truly from God?

Filter #2:  Is it Scriptural?

Filter #3:  Is it Wise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

May it be with us…

‘Til next time!

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

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

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

Blessings to you for a Spirit-filled 2014!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Balcony People
by Joyce Landorf Heatherley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Til next time!

 

 

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But, I Don’t Have TIME to Pray! (Beating Busyness – Part 2 of 4)

How do you say “no” to one of your children’s teachers?  I was pondering a big “no thank you” when one of our son’s teachers called the parents in and drove a hard bargain.  She asked each of us to sign up for a weekly visit to teach memory verses!   A gargantuan deer-in-the-headlights expression consumed my face.  Problem is, I’ve been known to fear Scripture memory*, much less teach it!

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At the time, these were fifth graders, so what’s the big deal, right?  But…. fifth graders are pretty savvy.  Plus I discovered the simple-but-endearing verse “Jesus wept” had already been taught!  Bust!

Good news:  I Thessalonians 5:17 had not yet been taught, and it too was only two words! (“Pray continually.”)  Powerful verse, pitifully coward-like attempt on my part, I know, but that’s the exact verse I marched in with.

I took blue pieces of paper (to remind us of a blue sky) and taught these little darlings what an “arrow prayer” is.  We all drew arrows pointing heavenward, and recited “Pray continually” together.  We talked about the letter “a” also standing for “ambulance” and how we can shoot up arrow prayers for the patient inside when we see an ambulance.

These astute learners added the  letter “a” also can stand for being on the” alert” for anything or anyone who may need a quick arrow prayer.  They even came up with “a” for “antennae”—as in we should have our antennae up!  Who was teaching who here?!!!

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This week, we’re going to address Beating Busyness by applying margin to our lives in the area of prayer.  Last week we talked at length about margin (But I Don’t Have TIME for a Bible Study!), learning margin is the space between our load and our limits.

When we spread ourselves too thin, we push out God and our closest relationships.  Best news: margin beats busyness and we’re discussing four ways, one each week, to do that.

Many of us claim there’s not enough time in the day to add prayer to our list, but I’d like to show us all it is very possible.  Our friends and family will be blessed!

When asked about the secret of his evangelistic crusades, Billy Graham said, “We have three secrets:  Prayer, Prayer and Prayer!”

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Let’s begin by praying for a friend near and dear to my heart.  Many of you know Kristen Sauder.  She’s my younger-but-wiser friend, is married to Kurt and they have four children.  She’s written excellent Bible studies, hosts a wonderful radio program (“Excellent Things”, weekdays here in Louisville on WFIA FM…), is a gifted speaker, and teacher.  She’s recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Lord, we come before you today to lift up Kristen and Kurt Sauder.  You have gifted them to minister to so many of us.  Please guide the doctors, aid the radiation to diminish the cancer, strengthen Kristen to endure, comfort her family, and enable us to minister to them.  We praise you that you are in control and we trust in you.  In  Jesus’ name, Amen.

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That’s more than an arrow prayer, obviously, but just that paragraph took only eight seconds.  See how this can be done?  We all can help so many by praying for them.  I Kings 8:28 says “God listens to our prayers.”  And Proverbs 15:8 tells  us “God delights in our prayers.” (See below for more Scripture on prayer.**)

Bill Hybels wrote an excellent book on prayer called Too Busy Not to Pray.  In his chapter Slowing Down to Pray, Bill  says “Busyness is akin to something the Bible calls worldliness—getting caught up with society’s agenda, objectives and activities to the neglect of walking with God. ”  Whoa.  Surely we don’t mean to neglect God, do we?

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Therefore, taking time to pray is paramount to our Christian lives.   Bill adds, “Prayer unlocks God’s consistent and prevailing power in our lives. Prayer is a bridge from despair to hope, from fear to confidence, from spectating  to participating.

Bill offers another excellent tool for prayer beyond an arrow prayer.  He highly recommends, as do many of my faithful prayer warrior friends, keeping a journal.  Am I hearing some of you groan?

Journals aren’t for everyone, so not to worry.  However, if you like seeing answered prayer, this is the way to go.  You’ll then realize the value and power of prayer.  NOTHING is impossible with God! (See Luke 1;36-38 in The Message.)

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Journaling slows you down long enough to think about  for whom and for what to pray.  “Journaling  gives the body a brief rest.”  (We’ll be talking more about the importance of “rest” in a couple of weeks.) “Journaling focuses the mind and frees the Holy Spirit to operate, if only for a few minutes.  It’s time to slow down, reflect, and listen.”

One of many favorite books on prayer is Catherine Martin’s Passionate Prayer—Discovering the Power of Talking with God.  Catherine really feels strongly about taking the time to pray.  She says, “Step away from the life of hurry and find the rhythm of walking and talking with Jesus.”

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She talks about “When someone asks how we are doing, our response of ‘fine’ really means:

“Fine”  according to the  world:  Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.”  Uh, that would be me on occasion.  You?

“Fine”  according to our prayer livesFaithful to God, Inspired by Him, Nourished by the Word, Empowered by the Holy Spirit.”  Slight difference, huh?

Savor these words from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7:   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Dave Stone, Senior Minister at Southeast Christian Church preached an excellent sermon recently on the above verses plus a few more.  He maintains our focus is key to navigating this world.  He showed us in Philippians that Paul did not allow the world to change his focus.  (To watch the sermon, “Live With It:  Focus”, go to www.southeastchristian.org )

The Life Application Bible says, “Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers.  Do you want to worry less?  Then pray moreWhenever you start to worry, stop and pray.”

Catherine Martin adds, “When we pray, the world can see the change in who we are and what we do.  Enriching our lives of prayer is WORTH the time and energy.”

Next time you tell yourself you don’t have time to pray, take a second, literally, and ask God to help you.  Talk  to Him.  See from James 4:8** below that when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

Finally, let’s return to that hammock picture from last week.

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Look at it, picture yourself lying in it, swinging back and forth with a lovely warm breeze in your hair.  Now,  enjoy this visual from Ole Hallesby, a Norwegian theologian:  “To pray is nothing more involved than to lie in the sunshine of His grace, to expose our distress of body and soul to those healing rays which can in a wonderful way counteract and render ineffective the bacteria of sin.  To be a man or woman of prayer is to take this sun-cure, to give Jesus, with His wonderworking power access to our distress night and day.”

Next week, we’ll be discussing the need to diligently guard our calendars.  White space in your calendar equals more margin in your life.

‘Til  next time!

(Today’s blog post is dedicated to my prayer warriors:  Becky Pippert, Jane Chilton and Doris Bridgman.  They’ve taught this “Doubting Thomas”  the power of persistent, unrelenting prayer.  Numerous times over the years, they’ve been a life-preserver to my sanity, all by simply offering to pray.  Thanks, girls!  Love y’all.)

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*Three  great resources on Scripture memory:

Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts  is memorizing one hundred and eleven verses from Matthew 5,6, and 7, plus has the Romans Project on Chapters  1, 8, and 12.  She’s giving us, the readers, great ways to do this on her blog:  www.aholyexperience.com plus she shares about a new i-phone app called Scripture Typer.  Check it out!

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Rob Morgan has authored an excellent book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.  Billy Graham talks about Rob and this book in his book, Nearing Home.  Both are powerful.

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 Kristen Sauder, whom we prayed for earlier, wrote a super neat Picture Scripture:  Bible Memory Like You’ve Never Seen it Before notebook with excellent visuals, depicting lots of Scriptures. Great  way to memorize. You can find this via www.furtherstillministries.org

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**A few favorite Scriptures on prayer:

 James 4:8a  “ Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (This and all the below Scriptures are in the  NIV version.)  The NLT from James 4:8a says, “Come close to God and he will come close to you.” And the NKJ says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all  the Lord’s people.”

Luke 18:1  “ Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 18:20  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Colossians 4:2   “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

James 5:16  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Romans 8:26 “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 with groans that words cannot express.”

 

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