Fight Back with Joy – Margaret Feinberg

Margaret Feinberg’s new book, Fight Back with Joy is out and and it is another fantastic challenge brought to you in only the way Margaret can deliver.  Over the years there have been many authors who have challenged me into a deeper walk.  But none have connected FBWJ Bookwith me in such a real and personal way as she has in her latest book.  She has shown a great determination to fight for joy in the midst of her battle with breast cancer that is inspiring!

You have joy because you are drenched in the grace and mercies of God.  #fightbackwithjoy

Over the past several years, I have followed Margaret on her trek to discover God with sheep and through vineyards.  I have been Wonderstruck by God through His many divine moments in my life.  I have been reminded of the Spirit’s Sacred Echo of His call upon my life.  For me, Fight Back with Joy, has tapped into a real and personal look into her life.  Not in a way that says, “Hey look at me.” But rather, “Hey and look at how God has been working in and through my life.  Look and see the Joy of the Lord.”  As I have I read her story I have laughed, cried, and called my wife into the room and said, “Hey, you have got to hear this.”  

I believe you need to read this book.  I know you will not be let down.  You will be encouraged and you will have a spark set off in your heart with a search for joy that can only be found and lived out in Jesus.  Take a moment to walk with Margaret as she takes you on her journey to #fightbackwithjoy.  

The Secret To Living A Defiant Joy: An interview with Margaret Feinberg

One of my favorite authors, Margaret Feinberg, has been through a brutal fight with cancer and shares the unexpected lessons she discovered along the way in her new book and Bible study Fight Back With Joy.

It’s been inspiring to learn how Margaret has been practicing a defiant joy, and I thought you might like to get an insider’s look, a sneak peek of the video and read an interview with Margaret.

Preview the 6-Session DVD Bible Study, here.GREAT-JOY

Your newest book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, was born out of your
fight with a life-threatening illness. What was your difficult diagnosis, and what has your journey to health entailed?

For the last 18 months, I’ve been battling breast cancer. Breast cancer isn’t just one
disease it represents thousands of different diseases with their varying components and factors. Being diagnosed under the age of 40 is significant. I’ve been through a brutal year of chemotherapy, radiation, and more surgeries than I can count or want to remember.

Why did you write Fight Back With Joy?

I studied joy for a year and was putting the finishing touches on my book on joy—just two weeks from turning it into the publisher, when I received the diagnosis. I had been pursuing and activating joy in my life in the relatively good times, now I had to do it in the midst of darkness, depression, and torturous pain. Through the process, I’ve discovered the breadth, depth, and power of joy—that despite hundreds of sermons and many decades in the church—no one had told me of before.

FBWJ BookIn Fight Back With Joy book and Bible study, you really push the reader to reevaluate their definition of joy. Why do you think this is so important?

Much of the teaching I’ve heard on joy over the years is oversimplified. I remember those days in Sunday school learning that JOY is spelled Jesus, Others, Yourself. While that made perfect sense at 9 years old, I’ve seen how distorted that can become as an adult.

I see friends who love Jesus but spend so much time pouring into their kids, grandkids and others that their joy looks something like this: jOy.

Technically, it still spells joy, but more than anything, these men and women who are so exhausted, so empty, so running on fumes from pouring into others need to pause and take time to focus on themselves. Laying hold of joy right now will require them to reevaluate for a season and discover the joy that comes with JYo.

I also noticed how most of the definitions of joy define it more by what it isn’t than by what it is. I constantly heard that happiness is based on circumstance but joy is not dependent on circumstance.

Biblical expressions of joy turn out to be far different than what I had been taught. I am now convinced the writers of the Bible would say that, the reason we have joy is because we have great circumstances. If you are a child of God, you are drenched in the grace and mercy of God.

No matter what you’re facing: Your circumstances are better than you think.

If you’re not experiencing joy, perhaps it’s because your definition of joy is too narrow.

On a scale of 1-10, how hard was it for you to write this book and Bible study?

An eleven! This journey has been the most painful experience of my life. And, to share about it requires some vulnerability. Okay, a lot of vulnerability. And, that’s really, really hard. But I feel like I’m finally ready to share what God has stirred in my heart along the way because although cancer has been the most painful journey—it has also been the most joyful. And no one is more surprised than I am.

Pick up a copy of Fight Back With Joy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble today.



Conversations in the Sky

Why is it that some of the best conversations happen at 30,000 ft.?  Some of the best conversations I have with strangers are on airplanes.

On the flight to San Antonio, I sat with someone who had just attended the inauguration.  The interesting thing about the conversation was something he said about being there.  He told me the best part of the event was hearing Rick Warren.

I sat there and was amazed by what he was saying.  He didn’t give me anything real specific about what Rick Warren said… he was just very impressed and that he was the best part.

My flight back I sat next to Ann.  She lives in Atlanta.  I was reading The Barbarian Wayby Erwin McManus.  (Yes there are going to be  a couple of more posts from this book).  This opened up a great conversation about purpose and seeking God. 

After I finished talking she asked me if I ever fasted.  She went on to tell me that she is reading a great book on fasting that is/was on the New York Times Best Seller list.  It’s called Fastingby Jentzen Franklin.  Some of the things she said to me reminded me of what Craig Groeschel had to say while at Catalyst.

To see Jentzen Franklin’s teaching on Fasting click here.

I wonder if the conversations are always so good at that altitude because so much prayer goes into each flight?

Kyrie Eleison (pt. 2)

In The Message, Genesis 42:9 states, “Joseph, remembering the dreams he had dreamed of them…”  I don’t know for sure but it sounds like Joseph didn’t dwell on the dreams.  As I read this verse, I began to think that maybe he had let them go but due to the circumstances he recalled the dreams he had.

It almost sounds like the dreams he had as a teen allowed him to understand the circumstances that he was  living in many years later while serving Pharaoh.  God was there all of the time in the middle of it all.  Psalm 1:6a, “God charts the road you take.” (The Message).  There is comfort knowing that no matter where we find ourselves God is there.  He is in the middle of all we experience. 

In Psalm 23 we read that God is our Shepherd.  W. Phillip Keller states in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,

To think that God in Christ is deeply concerned about me as a particular person immediately gives great purpose and enormous meaning to my short sojourn upon this planet. (17).

Yet the staggering fact remains that Christ, the Creator of such an enormous universe of overwhelming magnitude, designs to call Himself my Shepherd and invites me to consider myself His sheep – His special object of affection and attention.  Who better could care for me? (19).

Job has always fascinated me.  I still have a difficult time grasping his life and the things that transpired.  After-all he was a man totally devotedto God.  Yet through all of the circumstances in his life there was so much pain, disappointment, heartache, and gut-wrenching questions.  At the end of all of it all Job answers God.

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.  You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’  I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.  You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’  I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!  I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”  (Job 42:1-8, The Message).

Job – a man totally devoted to God – came to know God in a way he would have never known had the road he traveled not had a life changing struggle.  He got to know God firsthand through the devastation, pain, loss, and struggles he experienced in his life.

In Genesis 42:7, Joseph’s brothers bow to him – not knowing at the time that he was there brother.  His brothers sought food to take back to Canaan.  When Joseph reveals to his brothers who he is – he tells them not to despair over what they had done- that it was all in God’s plan.

“Come closer to me,” Joseph said to his brothers. They came closer. “I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives. There has been a famine in the land now for two years; the famine will continue for five more years—neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me on ahead to pave the way and make sure there was a remnant in the land, to save your lives in an amazing act of deliverance. So you see, it wasn’t you who sent me here but God. He set me in place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-8, The Message).

My take away from reading these chapters is that Joseph remained true to who he was in loving God.  He stayed true to the purpose for his life… despite his circumstances… despite the things that had happened to him that made him a slave in Egypt…

Ultimately, Joseph’s circumstances were the result of the road God had prepared for him to travel.  Many times we blame others, ourselves for “bad” decisions, and we blame God for the circumstances in our lives (especially when the circumstances are less than desirable). 

When I was young I thought of growing old,
of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road,
or only wished what I could be

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going will you follow
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

Sleepy Saturday, Gas Prices, and Thoughts on Personal Growth

Today is one of those sleepy-lazy days… I don’t feel like doing anything.  Gas prices are keeping me at home.  I left my Jeep at work yesterday because it was out of gas.  Gas stations were marking off pumps (saying they were out of gas… I kind of doubt it… I expect those to reopen once the others are out with much higher gas prices!!) If it gets as bad as the media hype!

I just went to my office and picked up the Jeep and found a Chevron station near my house with gas for 3.99/gallon (they are practically giving it away) with no limits on number of gallons allowed to purchase.  $85 dollars later my Jeep is full and parked!!

I am looking forward to October 9 and 10.  In fact, I can’t wait for these two days.  I will be attending the Catalyst Conference 2008 in Atlanta.  I have been hoping for an opportunity to get a way for something like this. God is good!

I want to grow.  I’m just not sure where to focus on my personal growth.  I know that all areas of my life are in need of challenge.  I know at the conference I will be challenged in all of these areas: (Spiritual, leadership, finances, and relationships). 

I’m reading Developing the Leader Within by John Maxwell this weekend.  This is the first book of many I have purchased by Maxwell.  Yet, it is the only one I haven’t read… I think I bought it in 1999.  It’s weird how at times I will buy a book and try to start reading it but for whatever reason it just doesn’t click.  I started on it this morning and the gears were engaged. 

As I read, I am reminded of successes and not so good experiences in leadership through the years.  It is really engaging my thoughts as it pertains to my work today and those I have the pleasure of trying to lead through my job.  It also is helping me think a bit more about my manager and things I can do to help myself maximize my time I get with him one-on-one each week. 

Leadership is Influence. That’s it.  Nothing more; nothing less.  My favorite leadership proverb is:  He who thinketh he can leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk. (John Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You. Pg. 1).

Another way I desire to grow is by being coached by my good friend Jason through Ministry Coaching International.  I’m not sure when I will be able to get this going… but it is something I do want to pursue.  If you are looking for a way to grow I encourage you to check out Ministry Coaching International.

What are you doing to grow?  What are you reading?  Who are you meeting with?  In what areas do you see the need for growth?

Heavenly Father’s Day

Passages I am reading these past few days.  John 14:12-14.  Take note of verse 13.

12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (NIV).

“So that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” 

The FOCUS of our lives is God… bringing glory to the Son – who in turn gives the glory to God.  How do we bring glory to the Son?  By obeying the teaching of Jesus.  See John 14:23-27.

23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

 25“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV).

I learned something or noticed something a month or so ago while fasting.  Normally when I fast I spend my time thinking and praying about the situation or need I have.  This past time I FOCUSED on God and His Son.  Not on my specific need.  I didn’t really think about this at the time… but later it came to mind that this was how I spent that day.

So… why bring this up now?  Because this is what God is teaching me.  Our lives are to be spent giving ourselves to Him.  Our purpose for living.  We aren’t to seek the things of God but rather God.

God is supernatural.  He wants us to live life supernaturally.  In The Love of God, it states, “Has God been trying to bring into your life the fact that He is supernatural, and have you been asking Him what He is going to do?  He will never tell you.  God does not tell us what He is going to do; He reveals to us who He is.” (Oswald Chambers, 114).

God wants us to get close to Him.  On the eve of Father’s Day, draw near to your Heavenly Father… solely for the purpose of drawing near to Him… the benefit will be that He will draw near to you.  But don’t do it for the benefit do it for the Father.

So… what’s your “niche”?

Animals all have something that they do.  That’s how they are made.  Horses, pigs, cows, elephants, lions, tigers, and bears – oh my!  Look at each of these and you can easily see what their “niche” in life is.  You never see a pig trying to do the work of an elephant. 

But as humans we are different.  Each of us has the capability of trying new things in order to find out just what it is we like to do.  It’s interesting – we know what things in life grab our attention or where we find enjoyment.  That’s a choice we can make on our own.

But ultimate fulfillment is never found in doing those things.  Our fulfillment is only found in God.  Stanley Grenz in Theology for the Community of God quotes Augustine, 397 AD, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in thee, O God.”  We are created to look for Something beyond what we experience here on this earth. 

We are continually on the move to something yet undefined.  That is to say, humans are never completely satisfied with the present.  We are always seeking the new, the “future,” the not-yet, that which surpasses the present.  We are continually shaping and reshaping our environment in an unfulfilled attempt to create a “home” for ourselves. (Grenz, 171).

Within the cosmos we are the restless creatures that look beyond the material universe for ultimate fulfillment.  We are designed to find our meaning and identity in relation to, and only in relation to God. (Grenz, 173).