From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

“Walk by faith, not by sight…When I gave you My Spirit, I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength. That’s why it is so wrong to measure your energy level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless. By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.” – March 11

I love reading missionary biographies such as Gladys Aylward and Hudson Taylor. They accomplished incredible things for God and I wondered, how did they have the physical strength? How did Gladys Aylward walk many days without food and caring for over 100 children? How did Hudson Taylor suffer through the poor conditions of the China interiors? How do many of our present day missionaries find the courage to do those difficult things for God?

I should not measure my abilities with the challenges ahead. I have God’s strength which is limitless.

On leadership: Is it more important what you do or who you are?

“The best thing you can bring to leadership is your own transforming self.” – forgot where I heard that.

23
Feb

I said I would read one book at a time, but I broke that rule. There are so many books I want to read. So I buy them and read a couple of chapters from each.

I bought several Francis and Lisa Chan’s new book You and Me Forever to support their ministry.

Some quotes I like:

Sometimes people are paralyzed by fear of failure. They are so afraid that they might do the wrong thing that they do nothing. We need to learn to err on the side of action, because we tend to default to negligence…. For example: Why not assume you should adopt kids unless you hear a voice telling you not to? That seems more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27) … One reason we don’t err on the side of action is the harsh criticism we receive when we fail. People are quick to point out action that ends badly. But we rarely recognize the sin of omission. We criticize the guy who fed too much sugar to starving children rather than criticizing that thousands who fed them nothing. (p.16)

In a way, if we don’t get it right in our marriage relationships, it won’t really matter how well we do beyond that.

Marriage is a big deal when you think of it that way. God does so much work in our minds and hearts through this relationship. Marriage is one of the most humbling, sanctifying journeys you will ever be a part of. It forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and pride. But it also gives as a platform to display love and commitment. (p.35)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16
Feb

I’m reading/listening to this. Here are some ideas that stood out to me:

“What is leadership itself? What does it mean to lead people?” Here is a simple definition, that leadership at its heart involves change. It involves movement. Leadership is movement. The leaders help people to move from where they are to a better place in the purposes of God.

Leadership is not caretaking. There is nothing wrong with caretaking. The people need to be taken care of, but that’s not the specific task of leadership. People need a leader to help them to move or else they typically won’t move. They’ll typically stay where they are, afraid to move – that’s the way we are. The sheep need a shepherd. 

To build on this, we can see that fundamentally there are two things that leaders do. I know that this is an oversimplification but it’s also a very useful one, to clearly articulate the nature of what it is that leaders do. Leaders think and leaders act. First, the leaders think, because leadership involves movement. Where are we going? Leadership involves definition of direction. Where are we going? Leadership involves definition of direction. Articulation of direction, articulation of means by which we will go there. Leaders think. Leaders are thinking outside of the current situation. They’re looking into the future. They’re looking into the possibilities. Hopefully they’re looking at the face of God and they’re being challenged by Him. They themselves are being challenged personally. And then out of that life comes the direction, the vision, the purpose of God in order to help the people to move there. So, first leaders think – they explore, they think outside of the normal patterns of action, the normal ruts that we find ourselves in for so much of our lives. We need leaders to help us get outside of that. This is the essence of what leaders do.

This is good stuff. I encourage you to read/listen to Healthy Leaders.

15
Jan

I was talking to my pastor today and we are both people with ideas!

If we have unlimited resources in money and manpower, it would be our Disneyland! It would be so fun to do everything that we envision our church can do.

We want our church to have impact, not numbers, a church that builds bridges to the community, not walls, a church that partners with other churches and ministries, not duplicating or competing with other Christians.

All this is up to God to lead and open doors.

And I am excited to see what God will do this year.

13
Jan

Job, in all his suffering, never denied God. Yet, something was missing. It wasn’t enough just to persevere in our believe in God.

In his book on prayer, Tim Keller says,

Throughout most of the great Old Testament book that bears his name, Job cries out to God in agonized prayer. For all his complaints, Job never walks away from God or denies his existence – he processes all his pain and suffering through prayer. Yet he cannot except the life God is calling him to live. Then the skies cloud over and God speaks to Job “out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1). The Lord recounts in vivid detail his creation and sustenance of the universe and of the natural world. Job is astonished and humbled by this deeper vision of God (Job 40:3–5) and has a breakthrough. He finally prays a mighty prayer of repentance and adoration (Job 42:1–6).

Through prayer we not only accept God’s will for us, but to acknowledge His place as God in our lives.

12
Jan

If  you have the YouVersion Bible app, you know there’s a 14 Days devotional plan by Tim Keller. The selected readings are from his new book.

I am on Day 9.

“The question the book of Job is posed in it’s very beginning. Is it possible that a man or woman can come to love God for himself alone so that there is a fundamental contentment in life regardless of circumstances (Job 1:9)? Yes, this is possible, but only through prayer.”

I find this to be true in my life. Whenever I pray, I have God’s perspective and I can rest in his sovereignty. When I do not pray, I feel out of control and everything seems to depend on me.

Thank you God, for the gift of prayer.

Whenever we experience pain, from a minor headache to a broken rib to a life-threatening disease, our first prayer is for God to take away the pain.

I don’t think that’s right.

As I age, can I expect my life to be pain-free? If my knees hurt and my neck is stiff, isn’t that just a part of growing old in a fallen world? Why should I expect God to answer my prayer to take away “normal” pain in my life?

As C. S. Lewis famously said, “But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Recently I’ve been having indigestion/acid reflux throughout the day. When I began to pray about this, I felt that God must be using this pain to shout to me about something. He’s trying to get my attention. I asked God what it is that He wanted to tell me that I couldn’t hear otherwise.

And He did tell me. I can’t tell you how, but as a follower of Christ of 30+ years, there are times when I “know” what my Lord is telling me. I won’t go into details of what He told me. It wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me. It’s deeply personal actually. It usually is when God speaks to you in a personal way.

My lesson learned is, don’t be too quick to pray for relieve from pain. First ask God, “I know You want to tell me something that I need to know. Can you make it clear to me what it is?” If you don’t sense an answer right away, keep asking. Keep asking until all you are asking is to know God Himself.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying it’s wrong to pray for pain to go away. I do pray that too. But it shouldn’t be our first or most urgent prayer.

As Apostle Paul says, “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”  When God answers that prayer of knowing Him, it is much deeper and more satisfying than relieve from pain.

I think of Joni Eareckson Tada, one of my inspirations. Of all the people who “deserved” to have some relieved from her suffering, Joni should have received healing from God.  Yet she suffers daily chronic pain and she continues to serve her Lord.  If my bit of neck pain gains me a closer walk with God, I can live with that.

06
Jan
stored in: Thoughts on life

I don’t want to call them resolutions. Let’s just say they are notes to self for 2015.

  • Read the Bible – each book 20 times.
  • Focus my life and daily activities on love. “…the foundation for people-transforming ministry is not sound theology; it is love.” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp, p117).
  • Declutter.
  • Laugh more.

There’s one leftover from last year.

  • Read one book at a time, finish one book every 2 months.

My theme for 2015 – Kindness. A pleasant disposition and concern for others.

 

 

Every time I want to blog, something comes up  - fold the laundry, answer that email, water the plants.

Blogging is one of those things, like exercising, that is a good thing to do and you would actually enjoy it once you start, but you find an excuse to procrastinate. Next thing you know, the day is gone and “there’s always tomorrow.”

I would like to engage my blogging discipline again. When a thought comes, just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to make sense. I know I’ll enjoy it once I start.

Raindrops are forming continuous hundreds of thousands of circles on our pool as I look out the window. It reminds me of the simplicity of life. Let’s not make it complicated.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?”

27
Aug
stored in: Thoughts on life

I appear to people my age that I am tech savvy. I have a blog :)  I actually don’t know much.

I credit my son and husband for helping me overcome my fear of technology. They help me with everything.

I only know enough to get by and do what I want to do.  And that’s enough for me.

So thank you, son, for helping me engage the 21st century and beyond. Please help me stay connected to the world.

Thank you, hubby, for taking care of all the details in the things that I don’t want to learn.

 

There were many good reviews of this book, so I was really looking forward to reading it.

The plot itself did not disappoint. However, I found the heroine, a precocious 11-year old written by her in first person, rather annoying. I know the pranks she played on her sisters are suppose to add human interest to the story, but to me, she was rather mean and vengeful. It was hard to put up with her throughout the first half of the book.

The murder mystery part of the book was very good. The resolution was satisfying. But I confess I skipped many parts because it got laborious reading detailed descriptions of people and settings that does not contribute to the mystery.

I give it a 3.75 stars.

Mary Roberts Rinehart is often called the American Agatha Christie. But if The After House is typical of her books, then I am not impressed. NOT Agatha Christie.

I do like Rinehart’s writing style, but the resolution to the mystery was not satisfying. She was a prolific writer, so if the library has anymore of her books, I’ll read another, just to make sure I’m not missing anything.

 

You know that feeling of coming home after a fun vacation, a let-down of being back to the usual, the mundane, back to the mess you made before you took off for vacation? I’m feeling it now, after a fun 5 days in Seattle.

Here are my reflections about that: It made me realize that I have much to learn to have my JOY anchored in Jesus, not in my circumstances. The “happiness” that I have from my great life is not always true JOY.  If it were I would not lose it. Rather it is happiness based on circumstances that I mistaken for JOY.

I have a great life, no complaints, I love my  regular ordinary life. But I am so satisfied that I don’t seek true JOY. As C.S. Lewis says, ““It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

I make a lot of mud pies.

 

Too bad my favorite authors are dead. Dorothy Sayers’ books has humor, mystery, character development, and the style that I like.

Strong Poison was fun to read though the ending was not completely satisfying. There were too many coincidences in favor of the good guys. Nevertheless, Sayers is one of my favorite mystery authors.

For the past 1 1/2 years I’ve been pondering how to help parents at my church be the faith leaders in their own home. I know most of them want to, but they don’t know how. Like me, many are first generation Christians, so they did not grow up with parents who modeled that for them.

I’ve held and continue to hold workshops and discussion groups where we open the conversation on hot topics parents face: how to talk to your kids about sex, how to help your kids succeed in school, how to get your kids to be responsible, etc.

No matter what the topic is, the central theme that I try to get across is the same – parents, you need to teach them about God.

Now that’s I’ve read Mark Holmen’s book and also attended his seminar and keynote on how to take faith into the home, my thinking on helping parents be the faith leaders at home is much more clear.

I bought this book, Church + Home because Mark Holmen was one of the speakers at a conference I was looking into attending. I figured if I read the book, I won’t go to the conference, which was several months away. However, the book was sitting on my desk, literally sitting on my desk, for a few months without getting beyond the first chapter. It seemed to be just another book about how the home is lacking with no practical solutions offered.

Then I decided to attend the conference, heard Mark, and I was excited to read the book! The book is much better after I heard Mark speak. His passion for faith at home does not come through enough in the book. He is so much better in person. Even though I could hear him in my mind as I read the book, it really doesn’t make the kind of impact that he made on me in person.

A few quotes:

“Of all the things you can do as a leader in Christ’s church, there is nothing more important than helping to bring Christ and Christlike living into the center of every home.” p.52

“Satan knows just how strong the Church can be when its members gather together around a common vision. It’s like grabbing a handful of pencils and trying to break them all at once – not very easy to do. However, if Satan can divide the family in the Church, it becomes more like breaking a single pencil – which is a lot easier for him to do.” p.81

I highly recommend the book, but if you ever get to hear Mark Holmen live, the book will read much better. I am hoping that God will open the way for him to come speak at our church one day.

P.S.  I emailed Mark with a question and he responded to me within 5 hours!

23
May
stored in: General

I love the ideas on this site.

I especially like this.

Glow in the dark stars in a hallway

Aimee Herring

Glow-in-the-Dark Stars as Nightlights

Create a well-lit path he can follow from his room to the bathroom. Line up stars near the baseboard and make sure they get plenty of light during the day. You’ll get fewer bumps (or cries for Mom) in the night.

 

As my husband and I were walking out of the library, our favorite place to hang out, I saw this book in the featured section.

Everyone loves Sherlock Holmes, however I did not like this book.

The idea that the descendants of someone who took Moriaty’s identity and  the descendants of another villain find each other and are out for revenge is intriguing and very complicated.  But I just didn’t like the writing style of little character development and too many killings.

I read half the book, read the ending, and am returning it to the library.

Just to keep track of what I’m reading, this is a Peter Wimsey mystery that was entertaining, well-written, and had a satisfying ending.

It looks like Jill Paton Walsh has taken Sayer’s Peter Wimsey to continue his detective adventures. I have not read Walsh, so maybe I’ll give her a try next time I’m in the mood for some mindless reading.

I made a resolution this year to read one book at a time. I confess I have not kept to that resolve. I am having a hard time finishing a book on family ministry and have strayed to other books.

So many books, so little time…

 

I don’t usually read Christian fiction, but was attracted to this book because it’s co-authored by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. I did not know Bill Bright wrote fiction. As it turns out, he didn’t exactly write this book. “The story and the writing are primarily Ted’s; the heart of the message and the canvas, if you will, are primarily Bill’s.”

Blessed Child is an exciting story with a lot of action. There is an explicit spiritual message woven throughout the story. It’s a page turner. To be honest, the ending was just ok. I wouldn’t mind reading more of Ted Dekker.

A couple of good quotes:

“The real power? You think that real power is found in the miracles? God does them, of course, but other things like loving are much more powerful than healing…God can form a world and straighten a crooked hand with a whisper, but to lure a black heart – that’s the amazing thing.”

“Whoever said that a straightened hand was more dramatic than a healed heart anyway?”