Sunday, October 30, 2011

When we grieve the Holy Spirit.....(AKA Roadkill part 2)

Part one can be read here.

When I was wrestling with concept of "grieving the Holy Spirit," I began looking deeper at the "how" we grieve the Holy Spirit, what happens as He is grieved, and how do we alleviate that grief.  This post is about the "how."

It is always a dangerous thing (especially to your pride) to ask the Lord to reveal your sin.  Ask me how I know.   Be honest many times have you thought you have confessed all your sin only for the Lord to reveal more? So you confess more.  And then He  reveals some more.  And you confess. And then there is still more.... until you are broken and the pride you started with is shattered and you realize you are nothing but a sinner saved by grace and the pride your started out with is gone and replace with deep gratitude for what Christ has done for you.  Yep.  Been there.  Lots.

Well, that is where I found myself in talking with the Lord about grieving the Holy Spirit.  I asked Him a simple question and my prayer went something like this:

ME:  "Lord, it must be difficult to grieve the Holy Spirit.  He must be able to bear alot.  I do know that your Word tells us that His job is to convict of sin, reveal  truth, and to comfort. So, I am not really clear on how we can inflict deep sorrow (definition of grieve) on Him.  Really?  Can't He bear it?"  

As I sat and listened and search the Scriptures, I began to write in my journal and below is what I recorded:

"Quite frankly, it is very easy to grieve the Holy Spirit.  It is easier than you think.  His "first name", if you will, is "HOLY" and He cannot tolerate sin anymore than I (God) can."

And I began to weep as I came to understand, yet again for the upteenth time, how the HOLY Spirit dwells within me (us) and EVERY sin causes Him grief.  

Think about these things and see if any hit close to home:

*Inward sin - those no one sees but we know about (our thought life, our hearts)
NOTE:  Anytime our heart is set on anything other than Christ and pursuing Him, we grieve the Holy Spirit because Christ wants us and our affections.  Anytime we set our minds on earthly affections...Col 3..the Holy Spirit knows that worldly affections will damage our souls and He is grieved.

*Outward acts of sin

*Forgetting God/Neglecting God 
- what about when we never pray?  really pray?  (I am not talking about grace at meals but deep prayer.)
- rarely read His Word?
- never seek to do good in His world
- living for ourselves

*Does not the Holy Spirit grieve when we choose novels over Scripture?  Facebook over Prayer? friends over missions? 

* Would you be grieved if you should write letters of great importance to some beloved family members (spouse, parent, children) and they ignored them? 

We can say we have no time for God but the Holy Spirit sees us as our fingers surf the internet.

We say we have little time for Bible Study or reading the Bible but the Holy Spirit sees how many hours we spend in relaxation and amusement.

AND He is grieved.  He knows you and me have chosen the world over the Lord.

What would we be doing with our time if the Almighty God was physically present in the room with us?   

Stay tuned for Part 3....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Clipston does not disappoint!

A Place of Peace..... Book 3 in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series.... A Great Read!

Book Description:  Miriam Lapp returns to the Amish community she once belonged to when she hears of her mother's death. Amidst her grief and some painful lies from her past, she is forced to face the people who rejected her. Losing her once fiancĂ© and being shunned by her father becomes an excruciating test of her faith. A Place of Peace is one story you won't soon forget.

My thoughts:  Wow!  I read Books 1 and 2 in this series and I have to say Clipston just gets better with each book.  Read my previous reviews Here and Here  I predicted that she is an author to watch as she developed her style and she has become one of my favs. 

In A Place of Peace, Clipston again gives you enough background that you are not lost if you did not read book 1 & 2.  Her main characters of Timothy and Miriam are believable and you do find yourself tearing up on occasion as you become engrossed in their lives.  Clipston does an excellent job of weaving two main plotlines of Timothy and Miriam's stories with the story of Miriam's niece.  The story keeps you enthralled from page 1 and it is an easy, fast read.  I don't want to spoil the story lines here but I do want to encourage you to read it .  There is a reason this book won all the awards below!

A Place of Peace was a CBA Bestseller, a Christian Book Distributors Bestseller, and received Romantic Times Four Star review!

I give it 4 stars!

I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.  As always, all opinions are my own!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wage War!

So, I post a few days back about "Serving Roadkill"...the idea that our family has gotten comfortable with  some choices that are just not good choices.  I wouldn't say they were awful...meaning we are not sitting over here, letting our children enjoy the vices of the day.  However, we have allowed the enemy to sneak in our household in small ways....we have let our guard down.

And wouldn't you know it?  what does our pastor preach on this Sunday?  Waging War!

Rather than bore you with my paraphrase, here is a link to the sermon.....
Wage War by David Platt
Listen to it....

Monday, October 24, 2011

Musing Mondays.....

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

This week's question is....

Do you listen to audiobooks?  Why or why not?  

Yes and a family, we have listened to several audiobooks. Especially when my children were younger.  But I have to clarify...these were usually radio dramas more than unabridged "true" books.

I have found that I don't like audiobooks for myself.  There is something beautiful about holding a "real book" and reading it for myself.  Maybe because I am a visual learner?  I like to READ the words...I have not been able to get use to listening to someone read to me.  But the audio dramas are so different in that there are sound effects and numerous voices and it is similar to a movie just without the picture.

What about you?  Would you like to join in this musing?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Serving up RoadKIll (we do live in Alabama)

It seems our family has been feasting on carrion.

Dead and decaying flesh.  Or something similar to it.  It stinks.

As I studied this earth-shattering revelation, I realized it was just semantics.



By now you are wondering how in the world did I make this discovery?

During our family time, we were reviewing Ephesians 4:29-32 which says:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (bold emphasis mine) 

We have kinda skipped that part before....always focusing on "the talk" that comes out of our mouths and then v. 31, what you need to "get rid of".  

But this time, the Lord said, "You grieve me."  

What?  What do you mean?  

To grieve is to have deep sorrow.  To grieve someone is to be the one INFLICTING the sorrow.  


How Lord?  How can we grieve the Holy Spirit?  (and what does this have to do with Road Kill?  hang on, you will see)

I began to search the Scriptures to find the answers....How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? 

    *By rebelling against the commands of the Lord (Isa 63:10, Ps 78:40) - that is called SIN.  (just thought I would simplify things) 

    *By resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:31)  (when He leads us and we disobey His promptings/urgings....and that is called SIN...again, simplifying here)

It is easy to grieve the Holy Spirit.  He lives in us and is with us ALL THE TIME.  

And it hit me....Roadkill is in our diet.  Because see, our family has allowed the gross, dead, decaying things of this world to creep into our lives.  And the pure dove of the Holy Spirit is grieved because He does not like Road Kill. 

Matter of fact, can you invision a dove trying to eat RoadKilll?  no, it is usually a  vulture.  

Would you bring Road Kill in your house and put in on your couch?  Sit it next to your children?  stench and all it brings with it?  

Worst, would you actually cook and make a meal from it?  and ingest it?  

But that is what we are doing when we tolerate sin and choose less than God's best for us personally and as families.  We are bringing Roadkill into our homes.  We are eating it, ingesting it, picking maggots & bugs out of teeth.  AND WE MUST LIKE IT because we don't do anything about it.  

And the Holy Spirit is grieved.  Not angry.  Grieved.  Deep sorrow and angst over our hearts and over our choices.  

So, personally, I don't want to eat any more RoadKill.  I want a new diet.  I want to clean out my personal sanctuary and my home.  

Want to join me? 

As a side note, for those of you who don't believe we have been serving up RoadKill here in Alabama, check out these recipes here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A radically different fiction book

Sunrise on the Battery is not your typcial Christian fiction book.  Beth Webb Hart brings a new, fresh perspective to writing and the story line is not one of the classics of "unsaved person(s), tragedy occurs, salvation happens, problem solved."

The story is about the Scovilles, two parents who have centered their lives around "arriving" into the elite society of Charleston, South Carolina.  Mary Lynn and Jack have diligent planned and worked toward every piece of their lives so that their three beautiful children would have a place in society, a place that neither of them had growing up.  However, Mary Lynn discovers something deeper, more meaningful than teas and luncheons.  Jack, on the other hand, is just fine without religion unless it helps them meet their "mission statement".  But something happens on their trip to Europe when all Jack has to read is Mary Lynn's Bible.

I don't want to share the rest of the story here but I do want to add that if you have read Radical by David Platt then you will be able to appreciate how Beth Webb Hart is able to weave the truths in Radical into this fiction story.  Simplified, it is like Radical in fiction-form.  In another way, Sunrise on the Battery will challenge you to consider your own life in how your Christian beliefs match what you live.  The Scovilles can hit close to home in many ways.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by this author.

4 stars

I received a free copy of this e-book in exchange for my fair and honest review.  As always, all opinions are my own.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Can we have a chat?

Recently, I posted an interview here about a book entitled Praying through your Adoption. I have had every intention of revisiting this subject matter because of two reasons - Praying and Adoption.  Both of those topics are very important to me and very personal.

But I have struggled with where to begin.  There is not a simple introduction about our family's journey through prayer or through adoption.  I guess the easiest way to start is to say that without prayer, we probably wouldn't be a family.  I honestly don't think our marriage would have made it those first years had we not found ourselves calling out to God and spending time searching His Word for wisdom, for peace, for comfort.  As a young married couple, we faced a few crises that drove us to our knees.  And honestly, for that I am thankful.  For you see, prayer is the foundation upon which we built our relationship.  So as we faced struggles later, prayer was a natural response.  It is where we find our comfort.  It is where we are at the most peace.

I am sure some of you are curious as how this correlates with adoption.  Let me see if I can simply share how it ties together.

We, like many of you, have an adoption journey.  After 18 months of adoption paperwork and finally being in the position to be matched, it all came to a halt when the rules changed and we were one of three families affected.  Appeals were made but to no avail.  The Lord had shut the doors and our adoption journey ended with the loss of a child.

Prayed?  oh yes.  We had prayed every step of the way.

Our response upon the final denial?  With great trust in our Sovereign God, we were able to say to our agency that we were trusting that God knew what was best and that no, we did not feel any injustice by the governing authorities.

But we were thankful to our God who had said no -  as this was His plan for our family.   At the time, we could not understand it, but oftentimes we are not called upon to understand God's ways.  We are called to obedience and to faith.

God allowed us to see and to know that our journey was not in vain.  You see, while we were taking all the necessary steps to Joy (that was to be her name), there were some friends whose hearts were being stirred to action.  God had already been dealing with them about adopting but they later told us that it was our forward movement that gave them the "umph" to do it.  Every time I hear their daughter say "Momma" or "Daddy" my heart is full of joy at what God did in bringing them together as a forever family!

But God has done more......He has stirred in me a burden for those who are in the adoption journey.

And we have lots of those families around us:).

But I don't mind.....praying is not that hard, really.  Sometimes the Lord wakes me up early in the morning to pray and I might lose a little sleep.  But that isn't a hard price to pay when you have friends on another continent struggling with court issues, food woes, or attachment problems.  Why wouldn't I give up a few minutes of sleep?

But I digress.

Prayer.  Gut-wrenching, in the trenches, "I am going to pray for you and I mean it" kind of praying.

The kind of praying that says "let me bear this burden with you" so much that when you are on another continent, I will set my alarm and rise in the wee hours here, to pray for you there.

Yes, praying through the paperwork stages but what about the other struggles?  the ones many adoptive families carry in silence once they get home?

Adoption is hard.  The journey to get to the child is difficult but the ultimate test is in the parenting once you have them.  They are children, and all children have issues whether they are your biological or adoptive children.  Parenting is hard so why would parenting adoptive children be any easier?

The book, Praying Through your Adoption, is a nice, simple resource....maybe a beginner handbook of sorts.

As one adoptive mother noted about the book, "The stories of individuals/couples who have adopted are inspiring and truly demonstrate God's hand in adoption.  These are great and give great insight into the adoption process.  Having so many testimonies from all different countries really helps to see a global perspective on adoption." 

However, my personal recommendation if you are looking for information on praying while you are in the adoption process would be to study Prayer!  And to find a few serious Prayer Warriors that will commit to praying with you as you walk the journey the Lord has set before you.

Any way a child comes into a family, they are not here until they are here.  Anything can happen and does happen with both domestic and international adoption.  Prayer is our lifeline with our Sovereign God who controls all can you live without it?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not such a treasure.....

Book Review:  Treasuring Emma by Kathleen Fuller

Emma has put everyone else first in her life. Now at nearly 25, has she missed her chance at marriage?
Emma was Adam's first love but circumstances made them both choose different paths in life. Emma's heart breaks all over again when Adam returns to the Amish community of Middlefield, Ohio, years later.
For the past ten years, Emma has been a care-giver. First for her mother who unsuccessfully battled breast cancer, and now for her grandmother who gets more frail with each passing year. Emma has always put the needs of others above her own. With more time on her hands, she determines to focus on herself and her dream of opening a rescue shelter for stray animals in the community.
With Adam's return come feelings Emma's long buried. They're older and life hasn't turned out the way they thought it would. Adam's feelings for Emma are stronger than ever, but will he be able to convince her to put the past aside and give their love a chance?

I have read several other books by Fuller so I was excited to read Treasuring Emma.  However, I wasn't too far into the book before I realized that this novel was not going to be anything like Fuller's other books. I had to make myself endure to the end.  Major disappointment.

There are several things about Treasuring Emma that are lacking.  First, the intro into the characters and storyline lead you to believe that Emma is going to start a business with animals.  This never happens.  Emma is also described as "frumpy" and "old maid-ish" but really?  she is only in her early 20s?  Fuller could have come up with something better than the typical "frumpy old maidel" Amish character.  That girl gets played more in the Amish genre than anything else.  But what about Adam?  Emma's main love focus.  This should be fully developed and woven in the story but it seems that Fuller spends too much time introducing secondary characters without getting all the main characters in place.

Emma's sister and family are some of those secondary characters.  While her sister is a tad annoying I didn't really mind her in the story.  The dilemma is why is she the kind of character she is because it doesn't add to what is happening.  It seems to just bring chaos vs. climatic tension.

Overall, this book seems like Fuller took a bunch of different characters and plot lines from various stories and tried to weave them all together in one book.  It didn't work.  It is by far the worse book I have read by her.  Very disappointing.
2 stars

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Booksneeze in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book Review: A Promise of Hope (Book 2) by Amy Clipston

This is book 2 in a series by a new author.  (Review of Book 1, A Gift of Grace, can be read here.)

While this is book two, Clipston does a good job of providing the reader with enough information that you are not lost if you did not read book one.  She does a great job of character development in both books that it is easy to pick up and join in the story, understanding who everyone is and how they relate.

We find Clipston again magically able to weave numerous conflicts and characters in a way that makes you keep reading and reading.  The story begins with Sarah Troyer mourning the loss of her husband Peter.  She is left to grieve his tragic death while simultaneously discovering several surprises and uncovering a few secrets of her husband's former life.  Her own brother, Timothy, has secrets as well.  What will Sarah do and who can she trust?

The difference in this book than book one is that Clipston does a much better job with the climax and ending!  Hallelujah!  In the first book in this series, Clipston builds and builds and then quickly resolves the conflict in what felt like 1-2 pages and the book was over.  This time, the resolution and ending seems more natural, allowing you as the reader to find closure with the characters.

I definitely will read book 3.  I think Clipston is a writer to watch!

4 stars

I was provided a free review copy of this book by Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.