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?

Run to God!

I’m not very patient!  And I have been in this season of life for a long time now…  at least much longer than what I have wanted.  I guess you can figure out that I am not where I want to be.  However, this season has been all about growing me into the man God desires.  It’s been about fine tuning my voice and His story He wants to tell through me and my journey.  I understand that.  It’s not been easy – at all.  There have been some days where I’ve wanted to give up.  Give up on my dreams, desires, hopes, and even God.

Five or six weeks ago I was ready to do just that – give up!  No matter the arena – things were not working out.  Dead ends in all directions.  I was tired and not wanting to seek any longer.

The best thing I could have ever done was to reach out to a friend… who also reached out to me!  I let him know where I was, what I was thinking, and the deep emotion I was feeling.  He is one of those friends I have prayed with for many years.  He has believed in me during a time when I didn’t believe any more.  I’ve asked God several times, “Why have you allowed me to go through a season like this?”   I read this tweet yesterday and it seems to be appropriate for my question, “Jesus extends #grace to us no matter where we are on our spiritual journey and no matter what doubts or denying we’ve done.” (@mafeinberg, Margaret Feinberg). 

I don’t understand why any of us go through situations that are this difficult, trying, hard, and faith-shattering.  I do know, and have known for many years, God’s grace is more than I can grasp this side of heaven.  Why I live with these doubts and questions is beyond me. Yet, by faith I move forward.

I’m reminded in Proverbs 3:5-8,

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! (The Message).

I would bet you have had a similar experience(s).  Maybe you have already been through it and are on the other side living out your life-long dream.  You have experienced the grace and the hope He gives.  If so, I can’t encourage you enough to share it with someone else.  Walk along someone else and be the one who will believe and have faith when they can’t.  Maybe you are like me in the midst of or are just coming out of a very trying time in life… beginning to see the light.  All I can say is don’t give up.  Run to God for He is and will be your strength if you allow Him to be.

Be humble.  Seek His face.  Ask God for wonder.  Continue to walk the path God has laid out for you and move into your destiny in Jesus Christ… even if each step means you are taking it by faith and not by sight.

Faith invites us into an enchanting journey—one marked by mysteries of divine beauty, holy courage, irrepressible hope, unending love…  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).

Run to God… I’m praying for you today!

The other side of the mountain

After my run up Pine Mountain I spent some time sitting enjoying the scenery and the cool breeze.  I was the only one up there for the first 10 minutes or so.  I was later joined by a woman who apparently ran up behind me then two other men who had hiked up with water bottles in hand and walking sticks.  They sat down near me talking business and an acquisition they were considering.  I thought it was an interesting way to discuss business.  Based on their conversation (I wasn’t listening in at all – I promise) they go up there often.

Once I was done taking in the sites and conversations I decided it was time to go.  As I began the RunKeeper app on my iPhone I decided to run the other side of the mountain too.  The purpose for the run beyond the exercise and scenery was to hear from God that morning.  My checklist was complete with the exception of hearing from God.  It wasn’t until I was heading back up the mountain on the other side that I encountered Him in a way that was real and personal.  I had not been satisfied with just making it to the top.  I wasn’t going back home without knowing the experience was complete.

As I was reading Colossians this morning I was reminded of a previous post, When your path intersects with God….  The run back up the other side was exhausting.  I wasn’t taking in the scenery any longer.  I was only concerned about getting back to the top to enjoy the view.  That’s when I related the run back to my life and how too often I stop focusing on the beauty of the journey when things get tough.  In hindsight, it makes me see how much I enjoy living on the mountain top.  The words of Paul in Colossians 3 are fitting as I’m reminded of “the other side of the mountain,”

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides.  Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.  Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is.  See things from his perspective. (Colossians 3:1-2, The Message).