Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God

My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God,which releases Christmas Day. This is a personal invitation for you to join me and many others in reading this book!  (I ordered mine on Friday.)

To learn more, watch the Wonderstruck Video:

Margaret recently posted a great warning on her site that those who have read Wonderstruck have experienced the following symptoms:

-An inability to stop smiling

-An uncontainable desire to pray

-A loss of interest in judging others

-A quiet, unshakable confidence in God

-A renewed ability to see the wonders of God all around

I have read a sneak peek of Wonderstruck.  I am impressed with the number of times Scripture speaks of people being amazed at Jesus.  There was something interesting and compelling about Jesus that created amazement in the hearts of people.

Margaret is a good writer and has a message.  I have read one of her books (Scouting the Divine) and enjoyed the book very much.  

You can Follow Margaret on Twitter  or on Facebook.  I read her blog regularly.  I purchased my book here but other booksellers have the book as well.

Free Copy of Tim Keller’s New Book to Be Given Away

KellerLike many, I have been blessed by Tim Keller’s books.  Keller’s newest book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (written with Katherine Leary Alsdorf) will no doubt be an interesting and helpful.

This Friday, one copy of this book will be given away in a drawing to readers of this blog.  Don’t miss this opportunity to win a copy of this new book.  You can enter this drawing by simply leaving a comment below.

In EVERY GOOD ENDEAVOR, both Christian and non-Christian readers will find insight for such important questions as:

  • How do I choose a profession that fits my skills and has meaning?
  • Can I stay true to my values and still advance in my field?
  • How do I connect what I learn on Sunday morning with what I do the rest of the week?
  • How do I make the difficult choices that must be made in the course of a successful career?

Keller writes, “work—and lots of it—is an indispensable component in a meaningful human life. It is a supreme gift from God and one of the main things that gives our lives purpose.”

Again, to be eligible for this drawing on Friday, please leave a brief comment below.

 

Book: A Faith of Our Own

TrailerSlideA Faith of Our Own

The subtitle of this fine book is Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars.  The author is Jonathan Merritt.

Jonathan Merritt is a young author who has written an interesting, even compelling, book about what it means to take Jesus seriously while engaging in both political and cultural issues.

Merritt has an unique background.  In the book, he describes a breakfast meeting that he and his father (a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention) had with Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Virginia, when he was 17 years of age.  Shortly after that meeting, Merritt would begin his study at Falwell’s Liberty University.

From there, Merritt began a journey of reconsidering the phenomena of the culture wars in light of Jesus and his kingdom message.

The book is laced with interesting biographical sketches of Merritt’s life including some interaction with a prominent Washington think tank and a meeting with Billy Graham.

If I Could Say What I’m Really Thinking

Yesterday, Anne Jackson’s new book, Permission To Speak Freely.JPG Permission to Speak Freely arrived in the mail.

Last night, I read the entire book.

No, I don’t normally read an entire book in one evening. However, this book was different. Perhaps it was her raw honesty that kept me engaged. Maybe, I was captivated because I felt as if I was looking into the soul of many, many people who I have known through the years. It could be that I was seeing myself in places.

In May 2008, Anne asked this question on her blog, FlowerDust.net:


What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church?


Hundreds of people responded. This book, in part, is a reflection on this experience.

The book opens with a wonderful, candid discussion of fear. I found this to section to be particularly helpful. Anne writes:

I realize Fear isn’t only affecting me, but humanity as well. As I look around today, I see him hooking into many people I encounter. Their hearts are fighting for their dreams, yet Fear claws away at their spirits, telling them their dreams are impossible.

These people want to have a family, go back to school, quit their jobs and move to Africa, ask that girl out, volunteer at a shelter, stand up for justice, pose a question, right a wrong, or say hi to their neighbor, but Fear soaks into their bloodstream like a paralyzing virus and prevents them from taking a step in the beautiful, wonderful, difficult life in front of them.

Fear wants to stop our stories.

You might be interested in visiting the Permission to Speak Freely website or Anne’s blog. The book is available for purchase here.

  

Tuesdays With Tozer (Guest Writer–Margaret Feinberg)

(A.W. Tozer has written a number of books which I have found helpful, convicting, and inspiring. Another very good writer, Margaret Feinberg, recently posted a series on her blog entitled, “Tuesdays with Tozer.” Each post contained a quote from Tozer and then Feinberg’s reflections on that quote. You can find Margaret Feinberg’s blog here. You might enjoy reading her books such as Sacred Echo and Scouting the Divine. Margaret is a good writer. I have read one of her books and regularly read her blog.)

Tragedy.jpg

The following is a post which appeared on her blog earlier in the year:


“The scriptural teaching that the work of God through the church can be accomplished only by the energizing of the Holy Spirit is very hard for humans to accept, for it is a concept that frustrates our own carnal desire for honor and praise, for glory and recognition.”

–A.W. Tozer, Tragedy in the Church: The Missing Gifts



These are the opening words of Tragedy in the Church by A.W. Tozer. Not one to mince words or beat around a metaphorical bush, Tozer cuts to the point and reminds us of our desperate need of the Holy Spirit. Desperate-because our need is greater than we can ever know. Desperate-because God has a way of responding profoundly to those who ache deeply for Him. Desperate-because God rewards those who urgently, actively seek Him.

As Tozer suggests, our dependence on the Holy Spirit humbles us-reminding us of our inadequacies, weaknesses, and inability to do things on our own. Our need for the Holy Spirit is yet another in a laundry list of reminders that we are not God. But oh, how we need Him.



Father, Pour your Holy Spirit afresh on and in me today. Stir up the hunger for your Spirit in my life that you may be the one who is given all honor, praise, glory, and recognition. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Strengthening the Soul (1)

Last week, I was in Chicago for a three-day class at Wheaton College with Ruth Haley Barton, author of Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. busy.jpg

The class was great.

It was an opportunity not only to listen to Barton but to reflect on my life and relationship with God. There were wonderful times of silence, teaching, prayer and conversation. One of the blessings of the week was getting to be with the four wonderful people at my table.

Much of her material came from her book. What was incredibly helpful was the opportunity to spend time in another setting thinking my life and about my ministry.

The following are several statements that she made in class that were significant to me. (The quotes here are directly from the book.)

  • If Jesus were speaking to us today, he might also point out that when leaders lose their souls, so do the churches and organizations they lead. (p. 13)
  • These cries are gut-wrenching and consistent: there has to be more to life in leadership than many of us are experiencing. In all this listening to my own life and to the lives of others, I have become convinced that the more that we are looking for is the transformation of our souls in the presence of God. (p.14)
  • Truly, the best thing any of us have to bring to leadership is our own transforming selves. (p. 19)

I once knew a person in a church who routinely referred to the ministry of the church as “business as usual.” He spoke as if this were a good thing! Listen, business as usual is what is killing churches. In far, far too many churches, good, well meaning people are incredibly busy with church activity and yet experiencing no real life. They are simply doing what their leaders are doing. Their leaders are often good people who also are incredibly busy with church activity.

Barton is right. The best thing any of us have to bring to leadership is our own transforming selves. There is something powerful about a man or woman whose life is open before the Lord and who is experiencing real transformation into the image of Christ.

I came away from this class this week resolved to do several things:

1. I want to spend more time in solitude and silence tending to the needs of my own soul. I have just not been as attentive to these needs over the past year as I have been in previous years. I really became aware of this in this class.

2. I want to spend less time on things that just do not matter. I really enjoy this time of life. Yet, I want to spend my physical and emotional energy on things that matter. Yet, so much of the busyness of everyday life often involves doing things that just don’t matter. I find myself thinking: “Why am I doing this? How did I get in the middle of this?” So I am really giving some thought as to how I am spending my time.

(For the next few weeks, I will be posting a series each Monday entitled “Strengthening the Soul.”)


Question:

Do you sense that many people around you live with a parched soul?

What has busyness cost you?


Words to Remember from Mother Teresa

I am reading Henri Nouwen’s book mother-teresa.jpg Spiritual Direction.

It is very good.

I love the following story about an exchange between Nouwen and Mother Teresa. As you read this excerpt from the book, think about the significance of her response to Nouwen after he had the opportunity to share some of his concerns:

Once, quite a few years ago, I had the opportunity of meeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I was struggling with many things at the time and decided to use the occasion to ask Mother Teresa’s advice. As soon as we sat down I started explaining all my problems and difficulties — trying to convince her of how complicated it all was! When, after ten minutes of elaborate explanation, I finally became quiet, Mother Teresa looked at me and quietly said: “Well, when you spend one hour a day adoring your Lord and never do anything which you know is wrong . . . you will be fine!”

When she said this, I realized, suddenly, that she had punctured my big balloon of complex self-complaints and pointed me far beyond myself to the place of real healing. Reflecting on this brief but decisive encounter, I realized that I had raised a question from below and that she had given me an answer from above. At first, her answer didn’t seem to fit my question, but then I began to see that her answer came from God’s place and not from the place of my complaints. Most of the time we respond to questions from below with answers from below. The result is often more confusion. Mother Teresa’s answer was like a flash of lightning in my darkness.

(p. 5)


Question

What do you think about her response? How might her response actually be refreshing?



Free Book Giveaway (Talking Back to God)

This week, I will be giving away a free copy of Lynn Anderson’s new book, Talking Back to God: Speaking Your Heart to God Through the Psalms.TalkingBack.jpg

This is a book that Lynn Anderson has been living, long before he even wrote the first page. Through the years, I have had the opportunity to catch a glimpse as to how the Psalms have impacted Lynn Anderson’s life and consequently his teaching and mentoring. The book is also a wonderful opportunity to step into the life of a man who has walked with Jesus for many years and yet who is still very intentional about his own growth.

This is a helpful book for anyone who wants to be intentional about prayer and in one’s own use of the Psalms. Lynn Anderson’s book is a guide to personal prayer. It is also a book that gives practical help in using these Psalms for one’s own spiritual formation.

The book is both practical, inspirational and can be a helpful guide. I think you will be glad you read this book.

To be eligible to win a copy of the book, simply leave a comment in one of this week’s posts, beginning today.

(The winner to be announced next week)