The Clouds…

I stepped outside last night and the feel of the cool air was refreshing.  I gazed up into the sky to look at the stars.  It’s a beautiful sight just to stare at what God has created.  Throughout time men and women have looked up and seen the same site I looked upon last night.  As I could feel the breeze coming in from the west I could also see the clouds moving in to obstruct the beautiful view.

The winds of change can bring so much that impact our lives.  Some times these winds bring news of great hope, love, joy, and happiness.  Other times these winds bring clouds of  hurt, disappointment, and despair.

We all experience these winds at some time in our lives. We have experienced them with our friends and loved ones:  The bad news of cancer, the unexpected death of a friend, the loss of a job, or the horrible end of a marriage – all bring it…

If we aren’t alert to the troubles that these clouds bring, we will fall into a trap that will blow us off of the path God has intended for our lives.  I’m sure if we are both honest we have all been there at some point in time within our faith walk.  Margaret Feinberg writes about her life where the “marvel of life” was misplaced.

Faith invites us into an enchanting journey—one marked by mysteries of divine beauty, holy courage, irrepressible hope, unending love. But in my life, any sense of the splendor of God had faded. I knew I needed a fresh encounter with God to awaken me from my sleep, to dis- turb me from my slumber.

And so I prayed for wonder.

Palms extended, wide-eyed with expectation, I waited for an answer. And God did not disappoint. For me, a prayer for wonder asks the Lord to expand my capacity to see and savor the divine gifts all around. (Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck, 7).

When we look through the lens of the Holy Spirit we can see the good in all things. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (NIV).

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. (Psalm 91:1-2, The Message).

Seeking doesn’t always bring answers but rather more questions.  These are lyrics by The Choir, in TheLoudestSoundEverHeard_covertheir song, The Forest, from their newest album, The Loudest Sound Ever Heard.

More is hidden than revealed. Sometimes the path to understanding is concealed. It hurts to be alive, your pain is real. Go on laugh until you cry, it’s good to feel

The sun will shine. The sun will shine on you. The sun will shine. The sun will shine on you.

I believe the sun will shine on you and me, my friend. I have learned to trust the turning of the seasons. Even now the sun is breaking through the clouds again. But I still don’t know the causes or the reasons

So, in the wake of unanswered questions how do you deal with change that comes throughout the seasons in your life?  I have found praying and reading the Bible are two of the best ways to deal with that which I can’t understand on my own.  Just as those stars have been there throughout time – God is always here with us.  He is not out there somewhere but right here among us.  If the clouds have obstructed your view of God – pray! Pray that He will reveal his marvelous love… may you be filled with the wonder, excitement, and joy of his love.

The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8, The Message).

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The wonders of God are all around

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 toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life. This book will turn your prayer life upside down, stir your desire to live more abundantly, and take your relationships with others to the next level.Blog Post Wonderstruck Cover Art Image

To learn more, watch the Wonderstruck Video.

Margaret recently posted a great warning on her site that those who have read Wonderstruck[www.margaretfeinberg.com/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

And from what I’ve seen, they’re all true! I wanted to share some thoughts that stuck out to me as I read a sneak peek of Wonderstruck:

Margaret’s ability to draw my attention to the most simple and basic thoughts concerning God and His pursuit of a relationship with me are beautiful.  Her introduction has drawn me to a place to pray – to ask God for wonder.  I am confident you will also have a similar experience as you read Wonderstruck.  I pray I never lose my sense of wonder in my pursuit to know Him more.  That’s why as I embark on this journey through Margaret Feinberg’s, “Wonderstruck,” I’m joining her and praying for wonder.  I hope you will too. 

Many of us say we want to experience God, but we don’t look for his majesty. We travel life’s paths with our heads down, focused on the next step with our careers or families or retire- ment plans. But we don’t really expect God to show up with divine wonder.

God invites us to look up, open our eyes to the wonder all around us, and seize every opportunity to encounter him. This isn’t a passive expectation but an active one, the kind prompting us to elbow our way to Jesus, knowing he longs to meet us with a hearty embrace and sometimes even twirl us through the air. (26-27).

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff. I’ve seen the book for as low as $7.95 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble for all you savvy shoppers.

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 (releasing Christmas Day)—a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life. To learn more, watch the Wonderstruck Video.

Blog Post Wonderstruck Cover Art ImageAs you may or may not know, I’ve been a fan of Margaret Feinberg and her books for the last few years. I recently received the insider’s scoop about Margaret’s new book. Here are some highlights from the interview:

Where did the inspiration for the Wonderstruck book and Bible study come from?

Have you ever had one of those seasons where everything goes wrong, and when you think it can’t get worse, it somehow finds a way? Most people who have worked in ministry have experienced those seasons—some may be in one right now.

My husband, Leif, and I had just gone through one of the roughest years of our lives. In the aftermath, as we processed the pain and loss, I had an unexplainable desire in my heart. I began praying for the wonder of God. In essence, I said, “God reveal yourself, your whole self to me. I want to know you as Wonderful. I want to know you as I’ve never known you before and see you in places I’ve never recognized you before.”

God did not disappoint.

What do you mean by “the wonder of God”?

Sometimes talking or writing about wonder feels like tying kite strings to clouds. It’s ethereal, and you can never quite get a grip on it. But if you look in the dictionary, the two main definitions of wonder are: “being filled with admiration, amazement, or awe” and “to think or speculate curiously.”

Those definitions come together beautifully in our relationship with God. That’s why I define the wonder of God as those moments of spiritual awakening that create a desire to know God more.

In other words, the wonder of God isn’t about an emotional experience or having some cool story to tell your friends, but the wonder of God makes us want more of God—to go deeper and further than we’ve ever been before.

Why are you calling people to #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK?

If you look in the Gospels, what you’ll discover is that those who encountered Jesus were constantly left in wild amazement. They were awestruck by the teachings of Christ, the healings of Christ, the mind-bending miracles of Christ. Within the Gospel of Luke we see words like “awe” and “wonder” and “marvel” at every turn. If this is the natural response to encountering Christ, how much more should it be for you and I—who are invited to live in relationship with Christ as sons and daughters of our God Most High?  We even created a free PDF that looks at some of these Scriptures. For a free copy, email us at wonderstruck@margaretfeinberg.com and we’ll send you one.

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on TwitterFacebook, or her blog. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff. I’ve seen the book for as low as $7.57 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble for all you savvy shoppers.

Do you live Wonderstruck?

My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has a new book and 7-session Bible Study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God (releasing Christmas Day)a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life. Wonderstruck will help you:

  • Recognize the presence of God in the midst of your routine
  • Unearth extraordinary moments on ordinary days
  • Develop a renewed passion for God
  • Identify what’s holding you back in prayer
  • Discover joy in knowing you’re wildly loved

 To learn more, watch the Wonderstruck Video.

In Wonderstruck, Margaret guides the reader on a journey to discover the wonder of God.  I have personally begun to look for God and to see Him in my life in wonderful ways as a result.  I have begun praying to see God’s wonder in all things around my life.  God has not disappointed! God is nearer than we realize – we just need to take the time to look for him.  When we seek Him we will find Him.

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff. I’ve seen the book for as low as $7.57 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble for all you savvy shoppers.

God enjoys the prayers of his people

Have you ever walked into a room where candles or incense were burning? If so, you know how the aroma fills up the room. Depending on how well you like the aroma will determine how you respond to it.

I have a pastor-friend who told me several years ago that he was praying for me. He was specifically praying for me to be full of joy. I was in the midst of a time where I was very frustrated with how life was going. I was praying, reading scripture, serving in church… you know, all the “right” things. He was right I lacked joy!

It was during this time that I found out my wife was pregnant with my 4th child. I quickly did the math and realized this baby would be 16 years younger than the oldest and by the time she would reach high school I would be… well, we’ll leave that for a later post. I was stunned at the news. I was literally speechless all day. I sat in silence until that evening then I went outside and started a fire and I just sat there and I prayed.

I didn’t walk away with answers to all the things going on in my life. I didn’t have some major revelation from God in that moment. My circumstances hadn’t changed. I walked away changed… just a little. I walked away with a glimmer of hope and assurance I hadn’t felt for a while.

While reading and praying I was drawn to Revelation 5. It was in verse 8 where I read that the prayers of God’s people are in bowls of gold.

…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. (Revelation 5:8, The Message)

I stopped here and pondered the thought that our prayers are a sweet-smelling aroma before God. He delights in our praying that he finds in our words. David prayed, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:4, NIV).

A prayer marked by faith is never about what happens on our terms or time lines, but God’s. Faith-stained prayer brings us to a place of trust and hope. (Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck, 17).

Every year I enter into December with a sense of hope and anticipation that great things are going to happen. This year has been no different. As I look to the future, I am reminded that my hope is in Jesus. My trust is in him. Before the things of God are revealed in my life, I’m understanding His desire for me to come before Him and pray. I believe this December is to be a time of drawing away from the crowd and settling down in the quietness of prayer. Seeking the face of God.

Have you been accused of cheating on God?

I keep reading James 4 and 5.  It seems like for the past couple of years I will go through moments where I keep going back to these two chapters… over and over.  The other morning I sat down to read and James 4 came to mind so once again I begin to read.  The words, “You’re cheating on God.” stood out to me.  My first reaction was, “No, I’m not.” Until I read the next couple of verses.

You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”  (James 4:4-6, The Message).

If you have been keeping up with me the past week or so – you will know I have been reflecting a lot from Margaret Feinberg’s new book Wonderstruck.  I have been more focused on the wonder of God and how He takes the opportunity to show up in our lives.  Margaret’s thoughts have led me down a path that looks for how God plans on showing up next.  I have been finding that life is a bit more wonderful when I live with this kind of expectancy.

God wants our attention.  Not only our attention but our affection… deep love and commitment to Him.  He desires for us to want only Him.  The book of James reminds us, “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.”  I asked myself, “Where have my pursuits and thoughts been?”  Career, money, family, that problem I can’t seem to conquer, some sin, and/or God’s will more than God Himself – These are all areas in which any of us could be accused of cheating on God.  Now why any of us would really do that is really the mystery.  While I sit here and ponder this I really wonder how in the world I could ever put anything else before God.  His love for us goes beyond what any language can communicate.  In fact, His love is best communicated through the life of His Son – Jesus.  But, I know the attraction to flirt with the world is there.  The way James puts it each time I decide to give my focus and affection somewhere else – I am cheating on God.

It doesn’t have to be a sinful thing that moves us into flirting with the world.  It could be a good thing… even a godly thing… as long as it takes the place of God then we have walked into a situation that could lead us into relying upon ourselves, someone else, or that thing that has won our affection more so than God.

So, where do your thoughts take you?  Are you living in oneness with God or are you cheating on Him?