Friday, July 29, 2011


Pondering the Psalms has been such a beneficial thing for me to do. I am renewing my mind through His word. I have been on the journey for several months now. I have learned that my emotions are okay. They are God given. Believing feelings is not okay always, they deceive. No matter what is going on, God is faithful and His love remains unchanged. So today I hit Psalm 100 (NLT) and I just want to pause and reflect on it.

1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!

I often ponder this, when I am pondering about God, the cross, His love, does it make me want to shout in awe? Or does it become a dull truth to me?

2 Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.

Is this how I approach Him? Or do I just go through the motions?

 3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Do I trust He made me, I am His securely, I find rest in Him? Or do I think I am god, I need to make my own security, fretting the entire time?

 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.

Do I come to Him with thanksgiving and praise in all things? Or do I find myself grumbling and complaining not able to trust?

 5 For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Do I truly believe this? That everything allowed through His hands is good? That He is faithful to my children and children's children and beyond? Or do I think I know best and fight Him in unbelief?

Lord, this is my prayer today. May I be all these things this Psalm reflects. It is wonderful to pray Your word back to You. Thank You for Your word, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for the cross.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mary Mary and Natalie Grant - Women of Faith Atlanta


Love these ladies! These are the musicians that will be at the Woman of Faith event in Atlanta. Will you be there?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: Futurecast by George Barna

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

This is a fun book for me to review because I am a lover of statistics and probabilities. I am very interested in social trends and behavior. This book is packed with this information. It is also written in an informative way that flowed together well.

The America we have today is the America we've allowed to happen. ~George Barna
Yet he also states that we do not have to leave it the way it is. We can promote change by living Christ-like character out in society. Being Christ to others but it starts with ourselves loving God and then loving others. This is what promotes change.

Topics like family life, attitudes and values, media, and religious beliefs were explored through surveys conducted. There were some interesting trends that surprised me like "experts estimate that kids now use 80 to 90 swear words per day." and people consume "31 hours of television in a week." These are just two among many.

In religious trending I saw that many people in America claim to be Christian making our nation a large majority Christian nation, however many of those self proclaimed Christians are really not true Christ followers. Meaning their lifestyles do not reflect it. They do not live it out. However, Evangelical Christians are still the biggest percentage of religious groups in America and that was encouraging to me. The other religions percentages were smaller than I suspected at only 6 percent which includes, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism. Surprisingly 10 percent of Americans claim to have no religious faith at all. 

This book is really good for the study of our nation and how it is changing. It takes a good look at how technology is changing things rapidly as well. It does not predict the future of events because our society is so fast and changing rapidly however the trends do give us a good idea where we are headed and what we need to work on. It is a good informative read. I recommend you pick this one up.

To receive a copy of this book from click on the link above.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jonah Week Four

A cry for help in a desperate situation, we find our dear Jonah now in the belly of a sea creature. In all the slime and decaying food product he sits or lays, not sure how this is done in a fish belly. I am pretty sure though it did not remind him of what a baby would feel like in a mother's womb.

Jonah finds himself in a nasty gross place yet he is finding himself thankful. Being in this fish meant that the death he deserved he did not get. Instead by God's grace he was saved by the fish. Just as salvation is a gift of God that we do not earn or deserve. It is just given to us. We are saved from death to life.

I just had to post this video for this week. I love it!

Jonah 2 is his prayer to God. This week we will explore this.

Read his prayer all the way through and then let us discuss it. First it is evident that Jonah is a man who knows Scripture. Here he is sitting in a stinky, tight, dark place but reciting Scripture. It is so important we memorize Scripture and store it in our hearts. In this prayer Jonah is praying Scripture which I love.

Copied from commentary. Here are the Psalms he prayed.
  •   In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple (Psalm 18:6)
  •  Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me (Psalm 42:7) 
  • For I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You (Psalm 31:22)

    Chapter Two starts like this.
    Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said,  “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! (Jonah 2:1-2, NLT)

    Have you ever felt like you were in the land of the dead? This is how Jonah felt. Yet God heard his prayer. It does not matter how far we have strayed if we are His He will always hear us when we cry out to Him. He is waiting for us to return to Him. He will not force you to return. He may step up the heat in His pursuit of you but He will never force anyone to come to Him. 

    “For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me.
    All Your breakers and billows passed over me" (Jonah 2:3 NASB).

     Jonah knows it was God's plan for him to be tossed into the sea though it was through the hands of the sailors. These sailors are in a location off shore. Jonah is now in the middle of the after math of the storm. It had ceased its raging but any winds or storms will affect the surface currents of the ocean. It seems that this overtook Jonah and he started sinking down. The ocean waves are also breaking over him. It is too much.

    Have you experienced life's waves and breakers being too much to handle? Have you ever felt one thing after another go wrong. It hit you like waves not knowing when it would stop and if you could even rise up above it?

    “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple." (Jonah 2:4NASB).

    Jonah knows this is all his fault. He has run from God. He feels rejected and thinks he has been expelled from God's sight (this is often where the enemy would like to sow in us the guilt of shame) BUT take notice of this, He remembers God's goodness and faithfulness and in faith he says we will look again toward God's holy temple. There is no condemnation for us who are in Christ (Romans 8:1) no matter what we have done. Sin has consequences but His grace has taken away all guilt and shame.

    "Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head. “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. “While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple." (Jonah 2:5-7 NASB).

    Jonah had literally hit rock bottom. The word for descended in the original language is used once again here. Thus indicating Jonah falling further down closer to death. He did not think he could get out of the pit he was in. He got a seaweed wrap in the process but mind you not the good kind. Yet God reached down and got him out of the pit. He used the fish to save him. And take note of what Jonah yet again remembers....He again remembers the Lord and His love and faithfulness to those who are His. He believes though in the pit that his prayer will still be heard by God.

    Have you ever descended into a pit because of poor choices? It is so easy to do. We make one compromise then another and another and before you know it you hit rock bottom. Yet God can reach down into that pit and lift us up. We must confess before Him. Cry out to Him. Jonah came clean about his situation when he told the sailors what he was doing. His crying out to God shows he knew he needed God. God saved him from drowning by the fish.

    "Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love.
    But I'm worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I'll do what I promised I'd do! Salvation belongs to God!" (Jonah 2:8-9 Message).

    I love how the Message words this last part of Jonah's prayer. He sees the importance of God being our first and foremost heart's desire. Any other focus is hollow and takes us from the Lover of our soul. Jonah's false God was judgementalism (Jonah 4:2). He did not want God's mercy to extend to anyone outside of his Israelite circle. So He ran. Everything spun downward because of this idol. Here is where we see him turn. He turns from his judgementalism back to worshiping God. This puts him back on the right path. He again is able to be thankful in all things even in the belly of a fish he is still in. He says he will fulfill his promises to God. He realizes salvation alone belongs to God. We have a turning point in Jonah! It is great to see.

    Now Dee Brestin has done a Bible study on idols of the heart. These idols can be summed up into three areas, Idols of Security, Identity, and Comfort. If we seek to get our security outside of God alone then that thing we seek is an idol. If we seek to get our identity anywhere outside of God then that thing is an idol. If we seek to get comfort anywhere outside of God then that thing is an idol. These are the deep root idols and they surface through our actions.

    An example of a challenge for me continues to be needing to be in control. I have a hard time trusting all the decisions my husband makes. Now that can come out as disrespect toward him. It can come out as manipulation to try to sway him in my direction. It can come out in just plan judgementalism toward him. When really the issue is not my husband it is this idol in my heart. I think if I am in control then I will be secure. God says the only way to security is trust in HIM. He has established the order of things in my home. If I do not trust my husband's God-given leadership then I am not trusting God. It is a deep root idol of security but comes out as sinful action or behavior in various ways.  If you want to study this more go over to Dee's blog and look up all the stuff on idols. It has been so liberating! 

    With that said, can you identify a possible deep rooted idol in your life? Thoughts?
    What do you think Jonah's was based on all we learned so far about him? Of course we cannot know for sure but can make good guesses based on his actions.

    Jonah returned to God because of his remembering God's character of love and faithfulness. That too is how we turn back. God is our everything and we cannot lose sight of that. He is our salvation. That is why is is so important to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday maybe even every hour. Doing this is a way we can live God's grace.

    And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land (Jonah 2:10).

    This is amazing. When Jonah sorts things out in his heart, God speaks to the fish and Jonah is now free. He is now on dry land. A second chance he is given.

    Questions to answer
    1-What are some Scriptures that you have hidden in your heart for hard times or challenges?

    2-Share an example when you felt like you were in the land of the dead. How did God save you?

    3-Have you experienced life's waves and breakers being too much to handle? Have you ever felt one
    thing after another go wrong. It hit you like waves not knowing when it would stop and if you could even rise up above it? How did God intervene?

    4-Have you ever descended into a pit because of poor choices? How did God get you out?

    5-With that said, can you identify a possible deep rooted idol in your life? Thoughts?
    What do you think Jonah's was based on all we learned so far about him? Of course we cannot know for sure but can make good guesses based on his actions.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: The Quotable Rogue, The Ideals of Sarah Palin in Her Own Words

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

I really liked this book. I have been intrigued by Sarah Palin from the moment she hit the scene. This book is full of quotes from this woman. It is broken into various topics and then words spoken by Mrs. Palin. That is the simply lay out.

You can learn alot about someone by the words they speak. If you are interested in learning more about Sarah Palin then pick this book up. It is very interesting and informative. And unlike other quote books the publisher varies font size and shape making it a pleasing read on the eyes.

To purchase a copy of this book from Amazon click on the link above.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Women of Faith Atlanta - Here I Come


I am so humbled to be selected by Thomas Nelson publishing (Booksneeze) to be a blogger for the Women of Faith Event in Atlanta. I am very excited about this. It will be a fun filled, word filled weekend of encouragement. I will also be tweeting throughout the event. I hope it will feel like you are there if you are unable to join us.

The conferences are all over the United States, Check out the link here to see the closest one to you.

If you are going to make it to this event in Atlanta then let me know. I would love to meet up with you!

Here too is a preview video of the conference. Check it out!

Book Review: Seeing the Unseen by T.W. Hunt

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

As usual I really love everything I receive from NavPress. They just flat out publish good stuff. This book by T.W. Hunt was very encouraging in the life of faith. Basically we live in a world where we can see and touch the things around us. It is our reality. However, there is an entire world that is unseen that is just as real. It is that life and reality we have to live in faith.

All the things here we deal with on a daily basis are only temporary. We must have proper faith to trust in the unseen things to come. T.W. Hunt explains the role of faith in our lives and how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit work that in our daily lives.

After all, the greatest point of Christianity can only be received by faith. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior it is based on faith alone. We have to trust He did what He said He did for us. That is something we cannot see but trust by faith.

To get a copy of this book from click on the link above.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jonah - Week Three

No other world religion of any kind has a pursuing God like ours. The major difference is that we have the ability of having a personal relationship with our God. Not because of anything we have done but only because of His grace. We can earn nothing from Him, He freely gives. Now that is an amazing God. Listen to this wonderful song to prepare your heart for worship. For this week.

We ended last week with Jonah tossed in the water instantly calming the ferocious storm. God is a ferocious lover. He will go great and unthinkable lengths for us. Do you believe this? If yes it will really change your life. I just love this next part of the study.

And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17
(Picture is from
This verse is an amazing part of this book. God loved Jonah so much that not only did He pursue him in the storm but also God appointed a great fish to swallow and transport Jonah. Three days and three nights he was on this first class slime ride. This part of the story is one example that many atheists try to use to discount believing God. Things like this are just too hard for them to believe. But if you know God and believe He made all things and He controls all things then it is not too far fetched to believe God could use an animal to transport a person. God does what He pleases and it is not the only time He used His creation in His works.

I mentioned earlier that Jonah was mentioned in the New Testament also. I want you to get this. Jesus Himself referenced Jonah. Jesus proves that this is real history. It is an actual event that actually happened in the history of the world. Sadly even some proclaimed Christians doubt this happening. It is fact though. Listen to Jesus.

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, "Teacher,we wish to see a sign from you." But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 
Matthew 12:38-41
Prior to the scribes and Pharisees talking to Jesus, they are accusing Him being a demon because He has just healed a demonic man. They are so hard hearted they just could not get it. It is so very sad. Many moralists or legalists walk around today thinking they know Him but actually they do not. This is a place to check your heart. Does it long for the Savior alone? Or recognition of power, honor, what the Savior will give you, or a following of man? Don't fall into the trap of needing the approval of man by right living. You cannot earn God's love by right living either, you must have a relationship with the Savior.
Jesus speaks of Jonah here. I love this part! In all we have learned about Jonah and all the wrong things he has done, as God's prophet he not only points us toward Christ with words but also with action. Jonah's time in the belly of the fish is in direct relation to pointing us toward Christ Himself in the tomb! Can you believe that? The reluctant Jonah was used to point to the greatest time in the worlds history, the death and resurrection of Christ. Now my heart just wants to shout hallelujah. God uses the most ordinary, stubborn servants for His extraordinary purposes. I am always in awe of this when I see it. I wrote an entire study on this when I wrote, Abundant Grace: Lessons from the Family Line of Christ. It is at the Kindle store and Sunday Scholar for sale, but if you are interested I will send you a free copy. Just let me know.

I am in awe. We can be very hard on Jonah running from God. Yet, God used this moment as a very sign that pointed to Christ and our salvation. Now, do not think that I am saying disobedience or delayed obedience is okay, it is not. However, God uses it all. He knows we are dust. He knows what we are going to do and uses it anyway for His greater purposes. This is one of Jonah's most embarrassing moments as a prophet yet the miracle of it, the appointed fish, the "new life" Jonah receives from repenting and getting back on course is used in a huge way. Does this make you want to just stop and worship? You can do nothing absolutely nothing to thwart God's plan. Period. 

Like Christ, Jonah was used to satisfy God's wrath in the horrible storm. But unlike Christ, Jonah deserved the storm, Jonah ran from God. Jesus satisfied the wrath of God taking all of our sin on Himself. Jesus did not deserve this. He was the only one who lived fully sinless. He was fully God but he was also fully man. He satisfied the wrath of God when He did nothing to deserve it.

Above also states that the men of Ninevah repent. This is not a surprise to you if you have read this book of the Bible. We will look at this in the weeks to come. Just as Jesus was in the earth for 3 days and 3 nights, Jonah was in this fish. What happened in there to Jonah? How did he get out? That is what we will look at next time. This is enough for this week. 

Our assignment?
  • Ponder the cross.(Hebrews 12:1-3)
  • Ponder God's great and deep love for us. So much love that before the world was formed He planned Jesus coming and dying for you. (Ephesians 1:4)
  • Ponder Jesus giving up all His riches and glory of Heaven restricting Himself to skin and bones limiting himself to humble means for us. Dying and being separated for the first and only time from the Father taking our sins so we don't have to carry them.(Philippians 2:8)
  • Ponder Him beating sin and death once and for all so we can be free.(Hebrews 10:10)
  • Ponder Him doing this so we can be friends and children of God with all the rights a family is entitled. (1 John 3:1)
  • Ponder the Holy Spirit being sent to live in us and seal us guaranteeing our inheritance in Heaven. (Ephesians 1:13)
  • Ponder Christ. Ponder His deep love for you. (Zephaniah 3:17, John 3:16, Isaiah 62:5)

Write a praise or prayer to God thanking Him for this. What is most striking or meaningful to you?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jonah - Week Two


Listen to this to prepare your heart. Last week we saw Jonah running, oh but this week we will see God's relentless chase. How He loves us and will do whatever it takes to get us back. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Wherever you are He will pursue you. He wants you on His path.

This week we will look at Jonah 1:4-16. I have linked to it if you want to pull it up online to read. I linked the NLT version. I like to read through this one but study in ESV or NIV or NASB mostly. It is quite a bit of info so just take it all in.

This portion of Scripture opens this way, "But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart" (Jonah 1:4). Last week we saw how Jonah ran from the task God gave him. He was planning on going the furthest place away from God that was possible. This is how God responds. I am just in awe of God's pursuit. Luke 15:4-5, NLT, says it best, "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders." Because of one gone astray He throws this violent storm on them. God has the power to stop a ship. God will get back His man, Jonah, and pick up a few others on the way.

Now I want you to consider this, the ship was about to break up. This issue of Jonah's disobedience did not just affect Jonah, it also affected those around him. Just with our sin, it is never personal. It always effects those around us. That is enough to make me rethink poor choices.

The culture of the time was polytheistic. The people believed in many different gods. The response to this disaster was calling out to those gods to try to stop this storm. This even cost them precious cargo because they had to start throwing it overboard to save the ship. But how did Jonah respond?

 "But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”" ~Jonah 1:5b-6.

It is interesting to me that Jonah could sleep so soundly through this. It just shows you how being steeped in sin can exhaust us. It overwhelms us. Separation from God is not what we were made for.  Just for a second I want to contrast this with Jesus in a familiar scene. Just as being steeped in sin can exhaust us, so can serving others. Read Mark 4:35-41. We see another storm situation and another panicky crew. This time Jesus is sleeping I believe because He rests securely in His Father's care. It is a great examination of our faith when storms arise. Do we panic or can we also rest securely in our Father's care despite the circumstance?

I find this very interesting because prophets were Christ-like characters for the people. They point to the One to come. Hebrews 1:1-2 states it like this, "Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe."

We will see another interesting comparison of Jonah and Christ coming up next week. I love that all Scripture will continually point us to Christ. As we study the Old Testament we need to keep our Jesus glasses on. We need to always be looking for clues of Him. It makes Scripture more meaningful and Christ centered.

Now the crew practices an ancient tradition of casting lots. It was a type of drawing straws. Proverbs 16:33 states, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD" (NIV). The lot of course fell to Jonah it was his fault and he knew it.

Now the crew quizzes Jonah. They want to know who he is and what his business is. Jonah the prophet now shares his testimony with them. He says, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9). Again here is the name of the Triune God. Yahweh (which I think last week I said Jehovah...but really the name God is using is Yahweh, I will correct that.) The covenant keeping God. I also find it comical that Jonah is running away from the Maker of the sea by the sea. Ironic, huh?

After hearing this testimony the crew is struck with fear. This word for fear is the proper word used for fearing the Lord in the Hebrew. They are now exceedingly afraid by knowing that the Lord can crush them. It is a healthy respectful fear. Their natural question is what can we do then? They were upset to be put in this situation.

Jonah says to throw him in the sea and it will stop the storm. He is afterall the one running from God. Jonah knows it will stop the storm. But the crew is afraid to do this to a man. This storm is the most outrageous storm you can imagine. It just keeps getting worse.

The response of the crew is to row. They appear to care more about the lives of others than Jonah did. They want to reach land they cannot imagine throwing Jonah into this mess. However when they see they cannot get past this storm they listen and throw him in. This is their prayer, "Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons" (Jonah 1:14, NLT).

Interestingly the word used for the crew "throwing" Jonah over is the same word used when God "hurled" the storm on the sea. I find that interesting. Just as the first week how God said "arise" and go to Ninevah but Jonah "rose" and went the opposite direction.

The instant Jonah was in the sea the storm stopped. Just like when Jesus said to the storm, "quiet, be still." At the sight of this this crew became real believers of Yahweh. This is their response, "The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him" (Jonah 1:16, NLT).

Now I really do love this because if Jonah was not here in this situation would these men have come to know the Lord? Even in our sin God still uses it for His purposes. There are new believers because of it. This goes to show that absolutely nothing we do will thwart God's purposes. Nothing. We may find ourselves in a very bad and uncomfortable place for a time but God never gives up on us. Never.

1- Are you surprised by God's relentless pursuit of Jonah? Why or why not? If God is the same as yesterday, they wouldn't He pursue you in this same way? Do you see this happening in your life? Give an example.

2- Our personal sin will always affect those around us in some way. Have you considered this? Share an example in your life where you saw this. Or let us pray for you if there is a way right now you need to turn back.

3- Have you ever been utterly exhausted spiritually because of your sin? Explain.

4- Even the weakest of testimonies, like Jonah's above, can cause change in people's hearts. It never depends on us. God is the mover of hearts. He just allows us to take part in His greater work. Share how God wooed you to Himself with the group. Also I keep thinking of Naomi and Ruth. Naomi was in the middle of a pity party when Ruth decided to follow her and God's people this is just another example of this, God's power drawing us.

5- God uses this situation to bring great glory to Himself. He brought new believers into the kingdom. There is nothing that can stop God's ultimate plan. Nothing. Does this thought help you any?

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Struggle with Fear in Health

Oh how I am in awe of our amazing bodies. How God made them to move and work is astonishing. Yet the complications do make it difficult for man to figure them out. Since the fall disease entered into our world. We have horrible illnesses that exist. Some of which there is no cure. Some things still cannot even be figured out.

This has been so hard for me. For the past 14 years I have struggled with this cycle of good health/bad health. No one can really figure it out (except for the battle with Lyme disease). But I have been drawn and pointed to God in a way that is wonderful through it. I get to know Him better this way. I get to trust in faith this way. I get to share in the mysteries of His suffering in this way. It kills a little more of my flesh and conforms me more into His image. It is definitely a good thing but a very very hard thing.

It is easy to fall into the sin of fear or worry. But I have come to the place that I can rest securely in His hand. I can lament this to Him for He cares for me. I know He holds me and gives me all I need. Whether it pans out to be MS or some other undiscovered condition, all that matters is HIM. It is no mystery to Him. I will not concern myself with things that I cannot understand (like David prayed in Psalm 131). I will trust my good, loving, and gentle Father. He does not allow anything to touch my life that will not in the end make me stronger.

The enemy of our souls wants to use these things to destroy or even kill us. He wants us turned away from God. Do not fall into this trap. It is easy to do. Trust your loving Father who never lets you go, ever.

As I write this, I do fear I am coming out of remission. My body grows weaker and my pain increases. I am almost certain my optic nerve is inflamed again, due to visual issues. Will it go full blown again? Only time can tell. I would appreciate your prayers because this is how we help each other. I want to walk whatever He allows in trust. It is not easy to trust in the unpredictable but I will press through in faith. He is good. He loves me completely and He loves you the same.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Small Victories, Social Skills, and Autism

With our autism experience we have found that our daughter has many food aversions and requirements. She is such a small girl so we just want her to eat. I don't mind this issue much. We dochallenge her to try new things even just a bite and get happy and celebrate when she does. 

Today some lessons were learned. As we were starting our school day my youngest kept saying she wanted toast. When she envisions toast it has to be toasted, no crust, peanut butter and grape jelly spread just right. As I was reading our Bible lesson my oldest was preparing toast for herself. She thought it would be a nice thing to serve her sister.

She brought out a piece of toast to my youngest but it still had the crust on it. It was slathered with butter that was still visible and clumpy jelly. I knew this was going to be an issue. I watched the situation play out. My youngest just looked and slowly took the plate. She said thank you. She paused and then approached me and whispered her dislike of it wondering what to do about it. I am so proud of her practicing her social skills. I know our social skills training is working!! Before she would have said something like, "Yuck I can't eat this." She said, "Thank You." That is a HUGE step.

I told her it is okay to accept a gift graciously and not eat it. Then I was worried about my oldest who is highly sensitive. I was afraid she would have her feelings hurt and be hardened in serving her sister again. But as I whispered prayer to God and watched her countenance it was joyful and peaceful. She was okay. She understood she can serve in joy because God calls us to serve for Him alone, not based on the response our service brings. What a thrill! Thank you Father for using these things to teach us these lessons. Oh to be more and more like You. That is the goal. Love this little victory. I want to remember this. So I write it down as a memorial stone.

Book Review: The God I Never Knew by Robert Morris

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

I love reading books on the Holy Spirit because not many people write about or speak about this person of the Godhead. People respond differently when talking about the Spirit because people have done weird things in the name of Him. Yet some people deny Him altogether. There is a balance. Spirit filled living is what God calls us too. This is surrendering our lives to the Holy Spirit. People often cannot grasp what this means for fear they will have no control. But that is not what walking in the Spirit is.

This book talks about how God desires our friendship and friendship with the Holy Spirit is possible. God lives in believers through the person of the Holy Spirit. I really liked all that was said in this book about that. However, after that section the rest of the book discusses how we need to receive a third baptism of the Holy Spirit. He explains in great detail and with grace where Scripture points this out. He also addresses misconceptions about this topic and apologizes for those who take it way too far.

I liked the way the author wrote this. He kept it mostly centered on God clearly explaining his argument. It is interesting because what He is saying about baptism and prayer languages is something I have heard before but  never explained so well. I don't agree with everything he wrote but like the author I want all God has for me and it may look different to different people. Semantics play a part in this as well. He may use the word baptism and I use the word surrender. Overall, it was a good read. It challenged me and helped me think through where I stand on certain issues.

This book is scheduled to be released August 16th. To get a copy from Amazon click on the link above.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Jonah - Week One

Explanation of How This Will Work
First I am so excited to be digging deep into the word with you! I pray this will be an amazing experience for all of us to be challenged and drawn closer to God. To get started, you can leave a comment below on the bottom of this post. Just click on comments to do so. I would love for each of you to introduce yourself and tell us what you would like to get out of this study. We can keep this in mind as we fellowship and pray for one another.

Because of the problem of spam comments your comments will not show up until I approve them. So a better place to post answers and thoughts would be on our Facebook page. Find it here. I have linked you to the place where you can just type your answers. Easiest spot. You may have to like the page to do this I am not certain of this. Hope this all makes sense.

Now I think this may go beyond 4 - 5 weeks after contemplating what treasure is in this book of the Bible. Hope that is okay with you all. This week we will contemplate just the first three verses because there is a lot of history to discuss to get us into the setting. Read this entire book through and come with your questions or thoughts as we study along. Please feel free to make this as interactive as you like. Unless noted otherwise all Scripture is from the ESV Bible.

The book of Jonah is formed from only 4 chapter breaks and 48 verses. It is an easy quick read. However as we dig deeper into this word we will learn a lot about God. The truth is God had salvation available for all nations beyond Israel in the works from the beginning but it did not really open up like this for the majority of people until Jesus hit the scene. When Jesus left He told the disciples to, "Go forth and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Before this the Israel nation alone were considered the chosen people of God.

The setting of Jonah is during the period when the kings of Israel ruled. The Israelite nation is split into northern and southern kingdoms. Sadly Jeroboam II was ruling the northern kingdom and Israel was in a sinful state. We often see this pattern in their history. The ruler of the nation often sets the tone for the people. This was a time of great sin when people did what seemed right to them. It reminds me of today. It probably would have been very similar. Many today do what is right in their own eyes as well. The period of Jonah was also during a time of prosperity for Israel.

Who was Jonah? He is mentioned in two places besides this book in the Bible. Once in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament. We will look at the mention in the Old Testament today.

2 Kings 14:25 states, "He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher."

The "He" mentioned in this verse is the king Jeroboam II. Jonah prophesied that Israels borders would be restored. He is a true prophet because what he spoke came true.  This word Jonah was given to speak was a popular word. Prosperity is something everyone wants to speak. You know the saying, "Don't kill the messenger." Jonah probably had a good life. He was probably well liked and wealthy. Also do not forget that the only people who heard from God were the prophets. This was a position of privilege.

However just like in any life a task will come that one does not desire to do. This happened to Jonah when God told him to speak to a certain people group, the Assyrians. The Assyrians were a cruel people. They would torture and kill people in awful ways. Some of their work is what horror movies are made from except it was real. I will spare you the details but if you look them up you will see they even made statues honoring this torture done. These people had a history of irritation with Israel. They were an enemy.

Now this is where we will begin with the book of Jonah.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.  ~Jonah 1:1-3

I really want you to pay attention to word repetitions. They are important. Here we see that God has given Jonah, His chosen prophet an assignment. God tells Jonah to ARISE and go to Ninevah. But Jonah ROSE to flee. Arise and rose are the same word in the Hebrew. They mean "to rise,to be fixed." God tells Jonah to go one way but he goes another. It is like our minds needing to be fixed on God yet at times we fix them on other unimportant things. Jonah's mind had caused him to flee! Now I am going to post a map of what is going on with this flight.
                                          (found map at
Joppa was the port city where Jonah was going to get on a boat headed for Tarshish. During this time, this was considered the furthest spot you could go. Tarshish is about 2000 miles away from Joppa. Nineveh would have been only about 500 miles away.

Jonah's thought was to run away from the presence of the Lord. Which we all know we really cannot do. Jonah would have probably known the Psalm that states, "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me,and your right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10). But Jonah was trying to get away from the place God dwelled, the sanctuary.

Why did Jonah run?
Honestly we need to let the word answer this for us. No speculation needed. Jonah 4:2-3 tells us, "O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live."

1- What does Jonah know about God from these passages? So what do we learn about God from them?
Jonah did not want God to extend mercy to this enemy. Have you ever felt this way? I mentioned that Assyria was a cruel enemy. Perhaps they had hurt some of Jonah's relatives in the past? Maybe Jonah was struggling to forgive them for something? He really wanted nothing to do with seeing these bad people come to repentance. How have you been like this? Can you relate?

2- Jonah was probably comfortable in his life when God gave him the assignment to go to this enemy. Have you ever been given an assignment from God like this? Something you did not want to do? How did you respond? Do you still need to respond? It is never too late.

3- Another important thing to take note of is that the words, "went down" to Joppa and "went" on board in the Greek mean, "to descend, decline, to sink". These are indicators of Jonah's sinking deeper into sin as he flees from God. The further we let ourselves sink the harder it is to get out. The more choices we make toward sin the easier it becomes and the more numb we feel. Any examples of this you would like to share with the group?

4- Is there someone you are struggling to forgive? Is there someone you are struggling to extend mercy? Please share and I will pray for you. None of this means what they have done is right. It frees you to be free in who God made you to be.

5- Lastly the word LORD in this passage is Jehovah. It is the name for the Triune God (God the trinity). It is the name that God introduced to Moses when asked who to tell the people God was. God said, I am. He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, He is the one who holds all life, He is self-existent, He is the covenant keeping God. He is sovereign. He is everything. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Even if He gives us an assignment we would rather not do shouldn't we do it anyway because of who He is. He chose us and sent Christ to the cross for us to make us acceptable to Him. He did that all in love. We can trust Him. Do you know Him like that? Explain.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jonah Pilot Study Online - Intro

Does God care about all people? Does He want us to forgive our enemies? What about terrorists? What about those who have greatly wronged us or our family? What does God think about this? What do you think about this? Truthfully these are hard things to think about. But the book of Jonah addresses the character of God in these things. We will find all of these answers. Whatever our thoughts are now we must make them line up with the word of God

When you hear about the book of Jonah what questions do people ask? Maybe some like, Is this book about a whale? A crazy sea adventure? A stubborn servant of God? A wicked people? The answer to these questions are yes. It is about all of these things but most importantly it is about God. We will see His heart and His relentless love for us. We will see His amazing mercy and grace. We will see His great power.

Let’s get started. You will need your Bible and if you like to mark it for deeper study then get some colored pencils to aid you in this process. Let’s dig into this amazing book that reveals the character of God in ways that may surprise you but ways that undoubtedly will change you.

I will post the first part of this study Tuesday July 5th. This will be the beginning of it. Please sign up or email me if you would like to be a part at angela [at] refreshmysoul [dot] com. I am looking forward to it. May He change us through it. May we grow to know HIM better through it. This will probably be a 4 to 5 week study and I would love for it to be interactive. Please leave comments on your thoughts and answers to questions. Please spread the word and let me know if you are in.

Listen to this song to prepare your heart...Start by reading through the book of Jonah...More to come Tues.

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