I did something very brave. In the week prior to writing this, an opportunity arose with two of my kids that I decided to take advantage of. I asked them, "As your mother, what have I done right? What are you glad I did as you were growing up?" Parenting is one of the issues Kathy and I tackle in The Warrior's Bride, and it's one of the topics young moms ask me about today. As I look over my twenty-plus years of parenting, these are my best tips for each stage of your child's life.
E.M. Bounds wrote in his book The Necessity of Prayer that "trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the prayer chamber." Interesting. I'd guess that most of us understand on some level that we need to increase our trust in God. After all, faith and trust are inseparable. You cannot have faith in something you do not trust, and as trust grows, so does faith. So, we must ask this question: Is trust tied to prayer? Is increasing faith in God truly as simple as focusing more on prayer? And if so, what does that look like? A prayer closet? More time on our knees? A prayer formula of some sort?
Exciting news! Extinguishing Embers, the third book in the Embers series, is NOW AVAILABLE on Kindle! If you've missed any of the books in this series, you'll want to start from the beginning. Keep reading to get the links to each book.
It was one of those seasons in life when God gets quiet. I wanted reassurance that I was on the right path. When that didn't come, I sought more information, guidance on the next steps might be and what the future could look like. I craved clarity. Exactness. God's audible word. I heard . . . nothing. Sigh. Most of us understand that God is still working for us and around us even if He's not talking to us at the moment. But in that moment, His silence can be tough to endure. What do we do to make it through with our faith intact or stronger than it was before? We remember. We look back to what God was doing behind the scenes when He got quiet before.
Words are powerful. Yeah, yeah. Who rolled their eyes a that opening statement or decided to check out of this post? Go ahead, it's okay to be honest. I prefer it. Hit the delete key if you want, but this issue is bigger than many of us -- okay, you can insert my name there -- want to admit. We (I) have a tough time getting some things through our (my) thick skull. In my book Igniting Embers, the heroine is worried about the incoming hurricane. She repeats phrases from Scripture to remind herself Who she belongs to: The Lord is my Shepherd, my Rock and my Fortress. Other than a quick pick-me-up or feel good moment, does this practice of positive self-talk really do any good? How do the words you choose affect your behavior?
Strongholds. If you think of them like a high-security prison, the four walls surrounding the person encased within would be fear, shame, powerlessness, and hopelessness. If you would have asked me last month what the biggest, most fortified walls in my strongholds are, I would have easily said fear and powerlessness. I don't make it much of a secret that I battle fear, and powerlessness is like a first cousin working to keep me subservient to fear. They held me in such tight bondage for more than thirty years that I now actively fight them when I see their evidence in my life. I don't do this perfectly, and sometimes I hesitate to step into battle with it. But most of the time, they don't win. Shame, on the other hand, stood silently by. It is still a suppressing force around me, but it went about its work much more quietly than fear. Much more stealthily than powerlessness. It hid in the shadows, casting its tentacles in subtle ways I dismissed and overlooked because the fight with fear was more prominent. Perhaps you easily see shame all around you, or perhaps, like me, its presence is more subdued. In either case, as speaker and author Christine Caine says, it's not the life God has for us. Keep reading to see my review of her book Unashamed: Drop Your Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny.
Once upon a time, there lived a great truth-teller. Have you heard this one? Growing up, I loved story. I would read all kinds of things, but I was particularly drawn to fiction. Books like Green Eggs and Ham and To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street captured my young imagination long after I'd put the book down. Some book lovers are die-hard fiction fans. Others are solidly non-fiction only readers. But both have value. Non-fiction relates through logic. It involves the brain and invites the reader to follow a path of argument or assumptions. It blatantly challenges us to learn and to change. Its value is easy to see. But fiction? Don't discount it so quickly. Even books written for pure entertainment can teach you something that you may not easily learn any other way.
My heart sank as I sat across a coffee shop table listening to a friend talk about her latest experience with church. Another set of flawed humans casting judgment based on another set of human traditions, and my friend was found wanting. In my travels all over America, I've seen a lot. Words casually used in one state are curse words in another. Different places have different rules for dancing, drinking, and playing card games. Even blue jeans or simple pants can cause a stir. While many Christians will readily admit that these kinds of topics are not critical elements of salvation, we can't blindly ignore them altogether. They cause problems among us, so we must wrestle with what the Bible says.
I have skeletons. I don't specifically talk about a lot of them, but it's not because they are hidden away in the proverbial closet. When God brings a lady to me that would benefit from hearing part of my story, I openly share those moments when life sucker punched me or I chose to act in a way that wasn't God's best. This is not something that came easily to me, and truthfully I still hesitate before I confess my failures and shortcomings. No one likes to look foolish. None of us wants to be thought of as less than. And I certainly don't jump at the chance to admit how out of control I sometimes get. So, what is the point of sharing? And how can we do so in a manner that glorifies God even when the choices we made do not?
A popular notion is finding its way around Christian circles today. Perhaps you've heard it or even said it. It sounds good, so maybe you've put faith in it. It goes something like this: Everyone needs a Timothy, and everyone needs a Paul. If you know anything about these two men from the New Testament, this sounds good on the surface. But something about it has always bothered me. I didn't realize what it was until my daughter came home from her small group recently. They've been reading a book together, and this concept came up. In our discussion about it, I realized that she was troubled by the exact same part that bugs me. And that sent me into prayer and deeper study, wondering as always: Is this popular notion biblical?