{Online Book Study} Thimble Living

Cindy1Written by: Cindy Morrone

One of my greatest concerns not just for me; but for all of us is that we will not live this life; the one chance we get, to the very fullest. We’ve all experienced a loved one pass from this life into the next and have witnessed what we can bring with us. In the end, it’s a single casket perhaps with small, nonetheless meaningful trinkets and our best dress or suit.

That in our journey we would rely on the weakest of things instead of tapping into someOne so powerful that the miraculous occurs. That we would miss amazing opportunities. Like Priscilla describes in God Is Able, “Trading adventure for what feels to us (deceptively) like complete control. As a result, not only do we miss out on feeling the wind of destiny and abundance in our own hair, we also potentially clog up the pipeline of blessing for others coming up behind us.” (pg. 116)

The weakest of my things are many: My cup of morning coffee after 8 hours of sleep. Being physically able to run. My appearance. Intimate connection with my husband. My daughters’ behavior and achievements. Financial stability. Just to name a few.

Do I depend on these things to give me strength, endurance and happiness? I sure can. Do I rely on these things to empower me? I sure can.

Just let the coffee carafe break before the first cup is poured and my reliance is obvious!

It doesn’t take long though to realize that these things are only weak imitations of empowerment.

They are fleeting; ever-changing and so temperamental. I haven’t gotten 8 hours of sleep in a very long time. My left hip is starting to pain. My appearance tells my age. My husband and I disagree. My daughters’ behavior and achievements are rightfully their own and not for me to own. Our financial stability is certainly not what it used to be.

In their proper place these reliances may help for a time; in a moment but there is so much more available to us!!

Radical living is having a dependence and connection with a power Source that never changes or depletes—God’s power. “And it is from this unending, boundless, limitless supply of God’s power-engrained character that we (yes, you and I) draw our own power.” (Priscilla Shirer, pg. 102)

Relying on God’s power I can have a meaningful and productive day even without the required hours of sleep; I have hope that even as my body ages I have purpose and giftings that reach beyond the physical; I can forgive and love my husband despite our differences; I can pray for and watch the Lord work in the lives of my precious daughters and I can trust that the Lord will provide for all our needs and then some. I can even make it through a morning without a cup of coffee!!

As Priscilla explains on pg. 117 God’s power is readily available to us believers the moment we believed (Ephesians 1:13).

To ‘not yet’ believers this power is readily available, ‘That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ (Romans 10:9). And instantly without payment, cleaning up, being perfect, meeting some religious checklist it’s yours for the taking and using and living.

Radical living!

At the end of my time I don’t want it to be about what lies in the casket with me but who and what fills the room I have left behind. That what is noticed is love that surpasses the trials and tribulations of this life; forgiveness that heals and brings together detached relationships; and an all encompassing hope and peace. That the things that are said in tribute breathe new life into those listening. Not because of this lady but because of what she believed in and how she lived her life. A radical life live-r sourced by her God!

{Online Book Study} Pointless

IMG_6200Written by: Christianne Williams

I was exhausted. I sat on the floor, staring straight into what appeared to be a dumping station but was in fact, my daughter’s bedroom. How had it gotten to this state? Wasn’t it only last week that I had gone in and straightened it all out, organizing everything, giving every little thing a place? Hadn’t I made it easy for her to clean it up again by dedicating bins to specific toys? The exhaustion I was feeling wasn’t physical but emotional, I was feeling drained. Keeping the room of a five-year old tidy is like shovelling in a snow storm, or brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. Pointless.

So I began the mission to try and recover order and peace to this territory of disaster. I was crying a little at the task that loomed ahead as my 14-year old came in and began to help. It picked up my spirits a bit to have a partner in crime. He worked alongside until the whole room was back to its organized state. I smiled at him and thanked him for helping me without being asked, what a blessing that had been. I still had time in my day to work on other things and a tiny bit of my sanity had been saved. How wonderful it is when someone steps in to help you out of difficult situation!

I feel in life that we approach things like that. We begin feeling overwhelmed, like we must do it all on our own. For some reason we’re afraid to ask for help, maybe because we fear rejection. Perhaps we feel God is too busy. Whatever the reason, we miss out. We serve a God who has no end to His power because it’s part of who He is, part of His very being. ‘This means the vast ocean of His power has no bounds. It knows no limits.’ I had to stop and let that sink in. We struggle through not because we have to but because we choose to. It’s not God’s will for us to go it alone.

I’ve found something else to be true also. It’s much easier to believe that God’s power is able to work in someone else’s life rather than my own. I can believe that God is working things out for good for my friends and family but I find it awfully hard to believe sometimes that God is concerned and active in my own circumstances. Haven’t we all been there? A friend or acquaintance comes to you with a request, it’s a big one, and we agree to pray and believe that God will intervene, that He will bring about an end. We believe it with all of our being, we can picture God performing great feats to make this happen. Yet, when we’re faced with something in our life we feel as though we’re bothering God by asking for His help. We feel too insignificant to come before our all powerful, all encompassing God to ask for His divine intervention. We seem to believe that His power is available for others but not us.

I sat alone in a room, trying to find the energy to get a job done that seemed overwhelming, but my son saw my need of help and came to intervene. I look at this and see that so many times we sit alone, while God is there with us, more than willing to help, more than able to empower us to do more than we could ever hope to do on our own, yet we never ask. Instead we tire ourselves, we become discouraged, we lose hope, and all the while He’s just there, trying to show us His love and care. Moving over into the fast lane, opening ourselves to God’s never failing power, will change us, for the better, forever.

{Online Book Study} God Is ENOUGH

image1 2Written by: Ashley Sigrest

Five years ago I was struggling in every area of my life it seemed. Though it appeared I had many people in my life, I always felt alone. Every relationship felt strained from my marriage, to my family, to my friends. This overwhelming feeling finally caught up to me one day as I was stuck in traffic. In fit of anger and frustration I yelled at my radio about a particular relationship that was bugging me that day.

Yep. The radio. I guess if you’re going to have a tantrum being alone in your car is a good place to be. It wasn’t the radio that answered back to my outburst. In the midst of my sobs God gently asked me, “Am I not enough for you?

Yes, God! You’re more than enough!” I knew this to be true, but instead of soaking in His presence each time the weight of loneliness was too much to bear, I would find a physical comfort to soften my hurt. Food, television, music, a book, writing, a friend. These seemingly innocent things became my substitute source of comfort. What I didn’t realize at the time was I had made them into idols that could never satisfied my need to belong.

My heart broke when I heard God ask me that question. I felt ashamed and convicted and in that moment I repented. His presence filled my car with peace and comfort. I began dealing with my loneliness by seeking Him first, but I also had to search myself to see what fault I had in other relationships that might be causing me to feel alone.

I wish I could say I never again turned to physical things when I felt hurt, but sadly I have. The more we seek Him each day and spend time with God in His word, in prayer, and worship, the stronger we become in His Holy Spirit. That longing we have to be loved and cared for was filled the moment we gave our lives to Christ. We cannot let our human feelings blind us to the truth of Whose we are.

Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:23-26 ESV)

I don’t know what you’re going through in this season, but friend I pray you know that God is right there with you. Call to Him in this moment and do not delay. He is enough.

{Online Book Study} Power Up

Megan01Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Twice in my 39 years of life I got the bright idea that I was going to be a runner. Not only was I going to start running, but I was going to run two half-marathons to add those to my list of accomplishments in life. This wasn’t something God was calling me to do. Honestly, this was about the shiny medals someone would drape around my neck at the end and the excitement of being able to put that 13.1 sticker on the back window of my car.

I started training for the first race the week before I was scheduled to run. No, that is not a typo. Exactly one week prior to running 13.1 miles, my longest distance of walking/running was 5 miles. Not wise, my friends. The excitement from my two running mates and the energy from the other 15,000 runners pushed me right through those first six miles. Then the adrenaline was present and pumping over the course of the next three miles which made that part of the run bearable. On mile nine, I called on God. “Please God, give me the strength to get through these last 4.1 milesI can’t feel my legs and my lungs feel like they are going to collapse.” This was the conversation I had with God during this phase of the second half I ran too. “Please God, get me to the end.” He did. And I have the shiny medals to prove it. But I left both of those races thinking, “Why in the world didn’t I call on Him sooner? Why didn’t I ‘power up’ with God from the beginning?” In addition to the poor training prior to these races, I wasn’t using the One source who could push me through. In “God is Able,” Priscilla Shirer says this, “But I know from the testimony of God’s Word that ‘power’ is one thing we should never feel short on. Even if we do get tired, exhausted even, we don’t need to feel impotent. God’s power doesn’t negate weariness; it just enables us to press through it with an uncommon persistence. No matter how tall our challenges are, His power in us is greater still.

Shew…

We recently had a quick scare in our family and as I am in panic mode trying to think of what to do next, our daughter goes immediately to God in prayer. She didn’t wait one millisecond before lifting our situation up to our Heavenly Father. Why? Because she trusts in His power. She knows it is limitless and readily available at all times.

Ya’ll, I try to do ‘it’ on own my own way more often than I care to admit. And ‘it’ encompasses many things.

Whether ‘it’ is an issue at work, a troubled child, a friend in need, a desire to eat healthy and exercise, or a plethora of other things, sometimes He is my defense rather than my offense. We all do things to ‘power up’ before our day.

Some have coffee. Some go for a run. Some take a shower…hopefully all take a shower☺. Friends, none of those things are going to give us lasting power to get through all of the hours in the day. But He will. If He can make the sun stand still, He can give you the power to get through every single thing you may face in this world. Call on Him and flex those muscles. You’ve got the Lion of Judah inside, beside, ahead and behind. Now that, my friends, is the real deal.

Joshua 10:12-13,Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies.

{Online Book Study} Power

FullSizeRenderWritten by: Melissa Lefevers

I got out of my car and walked up to the door. I took a deep breath and smiled knowing that the meeting would be sweet and full of laughter. I opened the door and slowly walked in breathing in the familiar smell of coffee. I decided to try something a little different and walked over to a corner of the coffee shop where I have come for almost four years now.

I smiled as I saw a sweet college girl and hugged her neck with the anticipation of the other girls who would soon follow. I have had the unique privilege of meeting with these four girls regularly for almost four years now. We have walked through much of life together. There have been tears, laughter, heartache, anger and lots of fun. Mostly though, a lot of Jesus.

We chatted for a bit, catching up. But then it was down to business. I asked about how life was and how they were growing in their walk with Christ. That always opens up the flood gates and makes way for an overflowing of conversation. School is about to start again and there is some uncertainty of the aid that will be given. That is a huge burden for these girls.

One of the girls has even thought about maybe changing her major because of the expense or some time off to work and then finishing. Y’all, it was like light bulbs started lighting up my mind and I got all excited. All I could think about is how good God is to bring me to, “Turbo”, Chapter six in Priscilla Shirer’s God is Able at that very moment. I was quickly reminded of how Priscilla talks about tapping into the power we already have in the Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit is working in us and God so wants to show off in that.

I grabbed that sweet girl’s hand and said, “Don’t— not yet.” I urged her not to give up on the dream God had given her because of hardship. I urged her to pray and cry out to God to do a miracle in her life. I also encouraged her to ask God if maybe if this particular hardship was His leading her in another direction. Most importantly I asked her to pray that God would give her peace with it her decision and the courage to follow through.

She smiled and said, “Ok I will.” We continued with the rest of the meeting and it was spectacular. I drove home full of thoughts about everything we talked about. Even after I got home, I continued to think about those sweet girls and thanked God for the relationship that I have with each one of them.

I was reminded in that prayer time how, just like that sweet girl, our plans in life often get rocked and we don’t know what to do. God interrupts our plans and we get scared, confused and we forget. We forget that we have His power in us —and we quit. We have the Holy Spirit and His powerful strength working in us. It is not wimpy sort of strength but the same powerful strength that raised Christ from the dead. Wow! That power is working in us so that we can experience God in a way that is unthinkable.

I don’t know about you but that truth gets me excited. It gets me excited that my thoughts about my marriage do not match up to reality. (You know those irrational thoughts have happened to you before) But it’s going to be ok. We have the power to love our spouse even when we feel he is unlovable. We have the power working in us to help us when our marriage gets rocky. We have the power working in us to comfort us in time of troubles. We have all we will ever need working within us.

Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Let’s allow that power to work and watch our great God give us mercy in our time of need. Our God is truly Able.

{Online Book Study} You’ve Got the Power

NathanWritten by: Nathan Hill

I can remember just over a decade ago when I was a newly credentialed pastor and all I wanted for my ministry was to see students come to faith in Christ, have lives healed at my every prayer, and to lead congregations into fantastic times of worship. I was a pastor now, and I was accustomed to doing well at whatever I did—and so I determined that these things were going to take place in my ministry.

Six months into ministry, however, it seemed that the opposite of what I anticipated was taking place. A young girl passed away on my first weekend as a pastor, despite my prayers (and the prayers of many others). Two students confessed faith in Jesus at a Thanksgiving rally but did not embrace the walk of faith that characterizes such a confession. And, it turns out I was the only one in the youth worship band—I did not find that fantastic at all.

How far away from the power of God operating in my life and ministry did I feel at that point? Quite far. In fact, I can recall one evening in my church office where I browsed the Internet to see how easily I could course correct my career—just one more year of study and I could have a Bachelor of Education and teach high school biology! It seemed quite appealing at the time, and I reasoned that I would still be making a difference in the lives of teenagers.

I never did leave pastoral ministry because—despite the powerlessness I felt—I knew that God had called me to this place and that if I endured I would get to participate in whatever great things he was doing in the lives of the people around me.

Fast forward a dozen years, and I am at a youth conference with a group of teenagers. It is the time when we are supposed to pray for the students, and yet I feel quite unprepared for this task. I am a little too wrapped up in my own prayers and petitions in that moment, and I confess that I wish we would perhaps linger in personal/individual worship instead of corporate prayer with and for one another. Nevertheless, I fulfill the role that I have been assigned, and so I lead the leaders in praying for students.

In that moment I simply said to God, “Well, I’ve got nothing up my sleeve. You play your cards and I’ll follow your lead.” In the next hour I was prayed for and prayed with many students and young adults. I delivered several distinct prophetic words that I feel God placed in my heart in the moment. Several students had dramatic experiences with Christ, and I pastored them through what God was possibly doing in their life right then. And, I watched leaders take their lead from me and minister in the same ways. It was a fantastic night.

As you read this chapter and go through your week, I want you to consider where you can take the pressure off yourself and hand it back to God. It’s his gig after all. You just need to show up and follow his lead.

But don’t forget to follow. Perhaps the most challenging statement in the chapter this week was the idea that our lack of embracing God’s power does not only affect us—it may just hold up someone behind us whose heart is ready to follow God.

God is the engine, and you are the vehicle. Allow the engine to rev and idle as it chooses, and be ready to move when the engine says go.

{Online Book Study} Week Four Teaching

DorettaWritten by: Doretta Zinck

This week we will be reading and discussing Chapter 6 from Priscilla Shirer’s God Is Able.

“Turbo”

…according to the power that works within us…”

Power…hmmm, what do you think of when you hear this word? Here with this “prison doxology” we look on Paul as he’s singing and worshiping. In one of his lowest times he talks about this power that is in us. Really Paul, did you feel powerful? In rising above what could only be the worst of human conditions, the power Paul finds is the ability to see that God was in control. Now that’s turbo power!

The human idea of power sounds big and loud and looks like it has control. In this example the power we see is in the heart of the apostle, in his faith to believe from a place where his human abilities were insufficient for the day, yet his spirit exhibited great power. Let’s think about the power that works within us. Like a light switch, we all know that the electricity is there but unless we actually flip that switch into the on position, it goes unused. A lot of Christians are living a very unfulfilling life because they haven’t stopped to turn to Him, to learn of who He is and of His power. They just don’t know what potential lies ahead, what possibilities are waiting to be explored.

As Priscilla writes, “the more we ‘walk by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16-25), refusing to gratify and yield to the flesh, His power and influence continues to grow and mature in us. As a result, we see more and more of the Spirit’s power start to ‘work’ in our lives.”

  1. What is your idea of power?
  2. Are you seeing any evidence of God’s power working in or though your life?
  3. Where would you like to see that power work?

{Online Book Study} An Invitation

Cindy1Written by: Cindy Morrone

The fourth bedroom in our century old home sat empty most of the time except for the occasional slumber party. It was the perfect room for ‘another’ in our calling to foster. But oh, it needed so much work before we could invite a precious one in.

Some walls were panel while the others were drywall. The carpet was worn beyond acceptable. There was electrical work to be done. And then of course furniture was needed.

Not to mention the unknowns in such an old home?! At one time this room had been a kitchen when the house was a duplex, who knew what we would find once we started to replace the walls.

By then we were down to one income and these renovations seemed impossible for us; financially. And even if we had the finances for the materials, we didn’t have the skill or even the time to make this room what it needed to be.

We struggled and questioned, shouldn’t we have it all together to be able to do what God has called us to do? Shouldn’t we have the necessary finances, skills, resources and time?

We knew we didn’t, so we prayed.

We asked the Lord to provide; we reminded Him that this was His calling on our life and we needed help; His help in a big way.

And He answered in a mighty way.

He sent two wonderful men with the skills and knowledge and the biggest of hearts that turned this unusable room into a safe haven for those in need. They volunteered their time and energy and would only accept a cup of coffee for their payment. They will probably never know what a miraculous gift this was to us!

The little bit of money I had saved; the very last of it from working was just enough to cover the cost of the materials. And the timing of completion was just perfect.

As we looked over the finished room we couldn’t help but know that our God had done this! In no way could we have done this on our own. We experienced exactly what Priscilla in her book God is Able describes on page 109, “When we request and He answers, we are enabled to know beyond any doubt that He was the One working in our experience.

And that’s how it has been for us and fostering. We have witnessed prayer after prayer being answered by our God working on the behalf of us in need. My friends, this is something we can’t do on our own so we ask. And as explained by Priscilla, “When we truly ask of the Lord, we’re not just hoping in general; we’re relating with our Father. We’re asking and seeking and knocking, just as His Word instructs us to do (Matt. 7:7). And when He gives, when we find, when the door is opened to us, we don’t sit there wondering how in the world that happened. By inviting us to ask, He is continually connecting His life to ours. Every blessing becomes another noticeable expression of His loving care,…” (Pg. 109)

And in that room and in this house we have witnessed, “Some of His work—dare I say, some of His best work—is performed on the most ordinary days, in the most ordinary places, with just ordinary people. Like us.” (p. 103)

So friends, I am convinced that it is not about us having it all together before we can relate with and witness miraculous happenings by our God but so much more!! Exceeding and abundantly more!! It’s when we accept His invitation to ask Him into all our everythings that He is able!!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen”

Ephesians 3:20-21

{Online Book Study} I’ve Made Plans

IMG_6200Written by: Christianne Williams

Exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…

I’ve made plans in my life. In fact, I’ve made plans for vacations, for seating arrangements on long car trips, for visits to amusement parks, for weddings, births, photo sessions, Sunday school lessons, you name it, I’ve planned it. That’s just part of who I am, I like to know what’s coming. I don’t do well with the unexpected and I’ve been known to cry a little when things don’t work out as I envisioned them. So when I pray, I’ll admit, I usually come to God with some agenda of my own, some plan that I’ve worked out to try and help Him along.

I’ve usually thought through all of the potential problems, worked out the best possible routes to take and am just coming before Him to have Him okay it. I’m also a dreamer, if you mention we’re going to do something or go somewhere, I’m already envisioning how it will go…it will be a sunny day, nice temperatures, no wind and if I wake up and it’s raining, well, no room for an alternate plan. You mean that’s not what you were thinking? Sorry. This is me being honest, I’ll often times just plan the fun right out of things. And, usually I end up feeling let down and defeated because things seldom turn out exactly how you want them to.

So these chapters are hitting home with me because they’re causing me to think about times I’ve come to God, asking Him for something that I desperately wanted, needed, had decided would be perfect for me or my family. I would lament and beg, not leaving room for God to change my heart on the issue, just telling Him how much I needed Him to make this work out for me. I would spend months trying to twist His arm, asking myself the whole time, “doesn’t

He hear me? Doesn’t He see how desperate I am about this?”

You see, in my limited knowledge I could only come up with something that looked good from the outside, not seeing how it would affect my life or the lives around me, years down the road. I had decided that I needed to settle for the plan I had come up with instead of allowing God to change my heart and plant a seed that would grow into His amazing plan for my life. I was relying on my own wisdom which is flawed instead of tapping into His divine, never failing, wisdom.

One time early in ministry, I had decided that a certain opportunity would be perfect my husband and our family. I prayed earnestly that God would make a way. I could see only good things happening, basing all of my theory on outside observances. Well, after months of invested prayer, it did not work out for us. I was crushed, heart broken, and feeling like God had let us down. I mean, we were looking to serve others and that had to be His will, why had He shut the door in our faces? As time passed, my heart healed and God began to show me how this would not have been right for us, in fact it could have caused us to leave full time ministry very early on.

He had a better plan. He opened something up for us where we learned from more seasoned leaders, grew strong friendships, no, it wasn’t perfect, there are always problems, but this was a perfect fit for us. Also from that experience we can see divine appointments that happened along the way. It was much better than the plan I had come up with on my own.

I wish I could say that times like these cured me from trying to make my own way, but they haven’t. I still need to be reminded that God will do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that I can ask or think, but I have to ask Him to give me a heart that is for the will He has for me and be willing to allow Him to change the desires that aren’t from Him.

{Online Book Study} Still I Will Say…

MandyWritten by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Unanswered prayers…

Are you thankful that God hasn’t answered some of your prayers?

Seems sort of counterintuitive to me. And yet, as I sit here typing these words, I am ever so grateful for the times that God did not give me what I asked of Him.

If I have learned anything in my thirty-two years of life, it’s this: That God really does know what’s best for me. He won’t just plop His treasures and gifts into my life in any old meaningless fashion. Quite the contrary, actually. He demonstrates the magnificence of His incredible and vast love for me with each and every answered prayer. He is so much more intentional than we give Him credit for. He takes each prayer I pray, no matter how big or small, and grows my confidence in the fact that He truly is, most certainly and without a doubt, able.

When I think back through the years to some of the relationships, desires, and ambitions I asked God for— begged God for— I am so grateful He chose not to answer my shortsighted prayers the way I was asking Him to.
Certainly wouldn’t have said it back then—back when there were some situations that had me frustrated, impatient, and panic-stricken. Back when things that were important to me at the time weren’t panning out my way. But now, years down the line, far removed from the impetuous, impulsive experiences that were spurring me on to such urgent demands of Him, I can see more clearly. I can see that He was doing things beyond my wildest expectations—even in denying my requests.
Beyond.” — Priscilla Shirer, God Is Able, pg. 75 & 76

As I think back to the times I too felt frustrated that God was perhaps ignoring my prayers, or worse, believing the lie that He had turned His back on me…I am saddened at the missed opportunities to embrace God’s presence and simply, wholeheartedly trust Him.

Trusting God sounds so simple, yet we all struggle with it from time to time. Especially when we aren’t getting what we want, when we want it. It really is our choice what we believe after we release our prayers to Him.

Do we choose to believe God doesn’t answer our prayers, that He isn’t listening? Or, do we choose to believe in those very moments of vulnerability that God is actually working all things together for our good? (Romans 8:28)

I think of that song ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ and think the words are a perfect way to conclude my thoughts:

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be Your Name.