Book Review: Close Enough to Hear God Breathe

So I am supposed to do a book review on Close Enough to Hear God Breathe by Greg Paul.  Did I read the book?  Yes, I did.  Do I have an opinion on the book, uh, not really.  I'm kind of speechless.  It was a combination of Greg Paul's personal story, intertwined with Scripture and thoughts about the intimacy of God.  How can you critique someone's life story?  I don't think you really can, or should.

So again, how do I feel about the book?  Well, he juxtaposes a lot of hurt and pain alongside God's redeeming love.  For me the style was slightly strange but I think I saw what he was trying to say and agreed with what he had to say.  He would tell bits of stories, go off on a story about God and then come back again to his personal story and kind of finish it off.  It was kind of like hearing about a "family secret."  You heard enough to make you curious about what was really happening, enough to create a scene in your own mind, but you never got enough pieces of the story to understand what was really going on. 

If you want to read the book you can, if not, you don't have to:).  It was a shorter, relatively easy read and it may speak to different personalities better than it did to my own.

In Christ,

I received this  book for free as part of the Booksneeze by Tommy Nelson Publishing.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are mine and mine alone.

My Hokey Pokey of Grace

My aunt sent me a video the other day about Brennan Manning's newest book:  All is Grace

You'll have to watch the video of it to understand the emotion behind the book...  Anyhow, as I watched the video I was reminded of how Brennan Manning was one of the first people who opened my life to the idea of grace as a lifestyle.  The next morning, I was singing "The Hokey Pokey" in the kitchen, with my kids of course, and it reminded me of how my journey with grace has been:

 "I put my right hand in, I pull my right hand out, I put my right hand in and I shake it all about."

You see I have been dancing with the story of grace for the last 13 years.  The names that have been influential in my story of grace have been Brennan Manning, Philip Yancy, Shane Holden, Wayne Jacobsen, John Eldredge, my father-in-law Keith, Erwin Mcmanus etc.  You see, as I have danced through this journey, I've put myself in and I've pulled myself out.  When I have put one body part in, I've danced and enjoyed it, but I soon pulled out.  The Father, however, didn't stop pursuing me with this angle of love. 

What kept pulling me out?  One, it was too good to be true.  Two, I've been reading my Bible since I was 8 years old and there were too many "scary" verses.  Also, I often heard from pulpits that if I got too comfortable in grace, I would start down the slippery hill to hell.  But as I've continued to immerse myself in the Word along with these conversations with others, my inhibitions kept unraveling.  I think the piece that kept holding me back is that I still thought I had an important role to play to keep this thing together.

However, a couple weeks ago I listened to the sermon Understanding the New Covenant by Neil Rhodes and that put the last piece into place for me.  See through this sermon he showed how the New Covenant that we live under was established between The Father and The Son (Isaiah 42:6).  We are just beneficiaries of the New Covenant!  It's taken a couple of weeks to settle into my spirit, but wow, it has been so freeing.  For someone who has spent the majority of her life as a performance-based lover to find out WHY I didn't need to perform (in fact never needed to perform) was so freeing.  So when I was singing "The Hokey Pokey" and I put my whole self in I realized that I don't need to take myself out anymore.

I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for dancing with me all along the way and knowing that there would be a day when I got it!  I look forward to the next song, because I am now all-in on grace.

In Christ,


In Sonlight, we are currently studying the section of American history where two worlds are converging. Reading about it, has been heartbreaking. Sonlight, does a good job of allowing you to see things from both sides (the Natives and the Europeans) and to show the many errors of man's ways in the events that took place. One of the books that we are reading is the The Incans, Mayans and Aztecs by John Holzmann. This book approaches the study of these cultures from a Christ-centered perspective. One of the interesting things I learned as we studied the Aztecs is that the history of them settling in Mexico had many parallels to the story of Abraham settling in Israel. As I read this, my heart broke for the inability of the Spanish people to bring the message of the Gospel to these people. I could see so many ways where they could have taken what the Aztecs were already doing religiously and point them to Jesus, how He fulfilled the law and that they no longer needed to make sacrifices to cover their sins. It would have been such a beautiful, freeing message for these people (especially for families who no longer wanted to sacrifice their relatives to satisfy god). Instead, all the Spaniards could see, besides gold, was the Aztecs ungodliness and they were hell-bent on destroying it. Instead of using the Aztecs search for God and their longing to be righteous, as inroads to bringing the Gospel, the Spanish, only saw their sin and they went about destroying it man's ways. The Incans even had a “god” that only a few worshiped that they said was the creator of all mankind and the world. However, they believed this god was unknowable. Oh, if only the Spanish could have been like Paul who walked the streets of Athens and told them that “the God of the unknown” they worshiped, has made Himself known to them through the person of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:16-34).

So, the question becomes, does this in any way shape or form apply to us as believers today? The main pastoral influence in my life right now is Erwin McManus of Mosaic Church. His Sunday gathering has entered into a study called "The Truth Between Us." They began the series on September 11, and started with the topic, Islam and Christianity. I must say that when I heard about the study part of me was cringing with fear and the other part was curious with excitement. I debated in my mind, whether the series was even worth listening to or if it was something that I should skip. But, as I mentioned in the beginning, the Holy Spirit has been priming me with questions completely separate of this series.
My initial fear, after hearing about the series, was that the Gospel and beauty of who Jesus Christ is would be watered down, overlooked, compromised and/or excused when looking at and comparing it to Islam. However, another way God has been teaching me and preparing me to listen to this series started in John 1 (I told you I love that passage right now):

John 1:5
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overpowered it.

You see, Jesus is Light and darkness does not overpower Him! As Christians, we do NOT need to be afraid of entering into darkness. We carry the Light, and the Light of the Gospel has the power to change and overcome the darkness that it encounters. What I love about this series and what Erwin has done through it, is he has challenged us to encounter peoples of other religions to find bridges, in which we can bring the Gospel of who Jesus is to them.

It is so easy for me to look back 500 years ago in history and see how the Spanish blew it. That there were so many ways they could have used what the Mayans, Incans and Aztecs already believed to draw them to the beauty of who Jesus is. However, it is nearly impossible for me to think that anything Muslims, Buddhists, Atheist, etc believe or do has anything to do with God. The main thing that keeps me from even going there mentally is fear. I cannot do the talk justice, because it was beautifully laid out, but what I learned is that we do NOT need to be afraid to sit, discuss and listen to people's of other faiths. If we believe we have the TRUTH, the LIGHT of the world in us, then the truth that we bring and the light that we bring is more powerful than the darkness.

My challenge to myself as I listen to and through this series is to take God at His Word. First, God says He has created every human being with a longing for eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  If that is true, then every human being is finding a way to fill that hole.  We also know that we have an enemy who masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).  So we should not be surprised when other religions have enough truth to bring them to some sort of temporary satisfaction.  Many of the things they do, desire to do and try to do are attempts to quiet the hole within their hearts.  Instead of running from people of other religions and beliefs we need to take Jesus at His Word and GO into all the world and make disciples. Do I believe Him enough and believe the power of the Gospel enough that I can enter in discussion with people's of other faiths, listen to them respectfully and have confidence that God will reveal bridges that I can cross to show the beauty of who He is to them?

If this discussion in any way piques your curiosity then I would recommend that you take time to listen to Erwin's message: The Truth Between Us: Islam and Christianity.

In Christ,

Grace IS Dangerous!

In this last year, I've come to a greater understanding and acceptance that I truly am a child of God (thanks to resources such as Birthright and discussions with my father-in-law).  Sometimes, when a light bulb turns on you are able to see things so much clearer.  It has been exciting to re-enter the living Word of God being secure in my identity as a child of God.  I've been trying to read the Gospel of John, but I can barely stand it because it is so overwhelmingly beautiful.  I can now see why this book is usually recommended for new believers to start with when they begin reading the Bible.

John 1:1-18 are such beautiful verses and as I glanced at them to write this post, I was again overwhelmed by all the angles I could discuss.  However, I am going to grab only one small nugget from there but it is oh, so worth sitting in and reflecting upon that whole passage.

John 1
vs 14
The Word became a human and lived
among us.  We saw His glory-the glory that
belongs to the only Son of the Father-
and He was full of grace and truth.
vs 16
Because He was full of grace and truth,
from Him we all received
one gift after another.
vs 17
The law was given through Moses,
but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ!

As I read this, the two words that jumped out at me continually were the words GRACE and TRUTH.  When Jesus walked on this earth, the two things that He was full of were GRACE and TRUTH.  That is how He revealed Himself to us and we have the privilege of living in that beauty.  It is cleary different then living according to the Old Covenant.*
The one thing the American body of Christ seems well-versed in is the law; how to live a moral life, what it looks like and doesn't look like.  However, according to John, the two things that defined the life of Jesus as he walked upon this earth, grace and truth, are the two things that seem so far from our grip and understanding.  Throughout my journey in Christianity, I have heard so many Christians shy away from grace.  I've even had a reader stop reading my blog because of my emphasis on grace.  "If you just teach grace," they say, "it's dangerous."  They are absolutely right!  Jesus is dangerous, and grace is radical. It is only by grace that we can freely walk out our faith.  The problem is that instead of embracing the dangerous beauty of grace, we try to tame it and have people focus on the law and the do's and don'ts of the law.

If grace is scary to you, I would encourage you to go on a journey to discover and understand it.  Don't try to tame it, but learn to walk in it.  If you do, you will be walking in the reality of who Jesus Christ is.


(So that was all a tangent!)  Over the last 3 months, I've had 4 people ask me how to hear the voice of God.  Wow, that is a tough question, when I had to put words around it.  If you are a Christian, you already do hear the voice of God, but you may not be recognizing it as such.  Understanding, who Jesus is, will help you recognize His voice. 

Perhaps, it is a female thing, but I have lots of "voices" influencing my day, everyday. Am I measuring up to what so and so thinks or asked of me..., if I do such and such is that okay? Frankly, it is tiring to listen and try to measure up to so many voices!  After reading these verses in John 1, I have been challenged to listen ONLY to the voice of Jesus.  What a concept!  How do I recognize it?  It is the One and only voice full of Grace and Truth; and in that voice and that voice alone do I find rest. (Read John 10:1-14 for verses supporting the concept that our Good Shepherd does talk to us and that we need to recognize and follow only His voice).

In Christ,

P.S. Are you following my blog on Facebook yet?  If not, you can find me under pages: For His Glory Alone.  I currently have a link there for a great sermon about the *New Covenant.  Check it out!

Sacrificing humans

In Sonlight, we are currently reading Incas, Aztecs and Mayans by John Holzmann.  Yesterday, we were reading how the Aztecs would make human sacrifices to satisfy the Sun god.  The information was just mind-blowing.  After they finished their greatest temple they sacrificed between 20,000-50,000 people in celebration.  My kids asked how many people that was and the only analogy I could come up with was when we go to the Brewer Stadium it usually has about 50,000 people in it.  Their eyes just widened.  The other mind-blowing thing is that people would do this willingly.  They thought they needed to die to satisfy this god.

As I was reading this to my children, I was reminded of a post written a couple years back called God above all gods, which discusses our God, Yahweh, asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar.  I was able to ask my kids what happened?  "God provided a sacrifice and Abraham didn't end up doing it!"  Exactly!  So often when this story is told the focus is put on Abraham and his courage.  I personally think  this emphasis loses the AMAZING, distinguishing BEAUTY of God's love.  If you study history, you will see that human sacrifice to satisfy "god" has been common in cultures, and that people willingly engage in that practice!  God, of course knew this and in the beautiful story of salvation, He made it absolutely clear that He is the One who provides the path of salvation because of His great love for us.

Jeremiah 32:25
They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom
 to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek,
 though I never commanded
—nor did it enter my mind—
that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.


As we are reading about this in the Incans, Aztecs and Mayans, the book is quick to point out that demonic forces were behind this culture and how it worked and operated.  We stand amazed how a culture could be so "blind" to allow such atrocities to occur.  We think we have somehow become "enlightened" above religion.  However, demonic forces still operate in our world today and even to a greater degree.  All demons care about is the blood of human life, they could care less how the humans ease their consciousness about it.  As I read about in Love you More and have begun reading in A Heart for Freedom gendercide of females especially all around the world is commonplace practice.  According to A Heart for Freedom, China's one birth policy has taken 400 million innocent lives.  It is easy for us to still judge what is happening across the ocean while ignoring the fact that in our own culture we allow the exact same thing to happen in the name of "woman's rights."  Let us learn from history.  As we look back and can judge other cultures for their ignorance in the name of religion let us not kid ourselves, the exact same thing is still happening but it is cloaked under a different ideology.

And last but not least let us not lose focus of the beauty of Yahweh, who is the giver of life, and that through the understanding of the power of His love, Jesus Christ has the power to bring incredible change and healing to all human lives.

In Christ,

Book Review: Love You More

Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My DaughterI recently had the opportunity to do a book review of  Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting my Daughter by Jennifer Grant.  The book is Jennifer's memoir of the process of adopting her 4th child from Guatemala (her first three children were from natural birth).  I was drawn to the story because a quarter of my blood is Guatemalan and so the fact that her daughter was from there piqued my curiosity.  In addition, foreign adoption is becoming more commonplace these days and I was curious to read someone's story about it.

I enjoyed the story.  I think she did a good job of balancing the hardships and realities of adoptions alongside the beauty and the wonder of adoption being a wonderful piece of a God story.  Reading this book gives you a good perspective on adoption, including why people think adoption is immoral (a concept I had never heard before) and resources if you are considering adoption.  Don't worry, reading this story will not make you feel guilty that you HAVE to adopt.  She in some ways even discourages it, if your heart motives are not coming from love.  However, she does emphasize the wide-spread problem of orphans in this world and challenges us as believers to find practical ways to address the problem.

If you are curious about adoption for any reason, whether you have friends that are adopting or you desire to do so someday, this book is a nice, safe, easy way to start exploring the thoughts and concepts around adoption.

In Christ,

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tommy Nelson publishing.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Defining "The Church"

As you know, I've been reading "The Unstoppable Force" by Erwin McManus.  It is a book about "the church."  The principles, thoughts and ideas presented in this book have been so refreshing for me to read.  I was sharing some concepts from this book with a friend saying, "The principles and ideas in this book would be great for you BUT the book is about the church..."    However, as the words slipped out of my mouth, I felt the Holy Spirit putting on the brakes and He was asking me, "Wait a minute, what exactly is "the church"?"

You see, as I've stopped to ask this question over the last couple of years, the Lord has been blowing up my nice Christian boxes.  My former definition (as expressed through my language and how I lived my life): church is the gathering of believers on Sunday mornings.  My new definition: "Where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is (Matthew 18:20)."

If you've been around Sunday gatherings for awhile you've heard this story come out of the preacher's mouth:

"On Sunday mornings everyone hops into the car, the husband,
wife and children have been fighting, but the minute they enter 
church on goes the happy faces." 

We sit in the pews, chuckle and nod with a knowing expression.  We know that it is easy to smile at the pastor on Sunday and it's easy to love people that we only rub shoulders with for 2 hours once a week.  But it is an entirely different story, to live with the concept that where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is.  If you will allow this to be the definition of church then when does church primarily happen?  For most, the answer will be, in our families. Would you have treated your kids and husband that same way in the front of "the church"?  If your answer is no, my next question would be, why not?  Is it because you are seeking the approval of man or that your accountable to God when you enter the building because that is where His presence is?  Because it's not as if God is sitting in the "church building" on Sunday waiting for you to show up and put on your "everything is great smile."  He LIVES in you 24/7 by the way.  So when you are at home, with your family, sitting around the dinner table, not in your Sunday best, there He is.  You are having church. 

Just this week, I had "church" at a waterpark.  Perhaps you think I'm being slightly sacrilegious when I say that it was one of the best "church" experiences I've had in a long time.  But floating down the lazy river, we were sharing our hearts, our struggles, encouraging one another in the faith and giving each other the hope to carry on.  Sitting in a pew Sunday after Sunday, shoulder to shoulder does not create osmosis of the Spirit.  How am I to know my neighbor's marriage is falling apart or that a mother is at her wits end and REALLY needs help through a smile and ashake of each other's hands 3 seconds before the sermon? 
I would like to leave you with this quote from Erwin, (People mistake Sunday gatherings to be a place where we) "Come to meet God INSTEAD of coming WITH God to meet each other.  (In addition), many come to worship God instead of coming worshipping." 

For myself personally, during this time of transitional thinking, I am being very intentional about my words.  For me it is a distinction that I need to make in order to bring what I believe in mind and heart out into how I live my life.  When I use the word, "CHURCH" it will be referring to every believer living life with each other any day of the week.  "Sunday gatherings" is my terminology for the traditional gathering of believers on Sunday mornings in a building.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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