Thursday, 19 January 2012

You Can't Quit!

I'm stopping in to say good-bye to my readers for a short time.  I'll be traveling to Europe in a few days, so my blog may suffer neglect for a couple weeks again.  But first I'll let you know what's been going on in my life recently.

I'm doing hard things.  It seems almost like I haven't been a rebelutionary until this year, now that I'm no longer a teen.  The last few weeks have stretched me to what I think is the max, and the road won't be getting easier any time soon.  I'm going through a big life change at the time, and there have been a number of other things also coming up to make it more difficult.

But even in this time, I have been learning.  Here's a brief list of some of the things that learned in the last few weeks.  As the Lord gives me grace to keep moving forward, perhaps I may expound on them in the future.
  • Winners don't quit.  Quitters don't win.
  • Sometimes the most effective sermon/motivational talk in your life is the one God gives you and you preach to yourself.
  • Giving up may seem easier now, but it will only lower your confidence and make it harder next time.
  • God's promises don't expire.
  • In order to encourage/inspire others, you must be an overcomer and face the challenges in your life.  You must be willing to fight.
  • God's grace is sufficient for each day.  In hard times, He gives just enough strength for the next small step.
This road ahead of me right now is not easy and to be honest, I'm afraid.  But at the moment, my only reasonable option seems to be to trust God and persevere.  Even in difficulty, I can say He has been faithful thus far and He promises to lead me the rest of the way.

The first words of the following song describe how I feel at this point.  But I know I'm not alone.  My desire for this time is that it would bring me closer to God, that I would run to and hide in Him, and encourage others to strive after greater things.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

In The Final Summit, a sequel to The Traveler's Gift, traveler David Ponder has become a successful man by implementing the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success.  Now he has been chosen by the archangel Gabriel to be the leader of a summit to prevent the final destruction of the world.  Together, the travelers must determine what humanity needs to do in order "to restore itself to the path toward successful civilization."

The Final Summit provided a lot of information about historical figures, both well-known and little-known.  The character of Winston Churchill often lightened the tense mood with his humourous personality.  The conclusion the characters came to was simple, but if applied, the ending principle could perhaps have a significant effect on the reader's life.

This story had some good insights, but they weren't profound.  I didn't glean as much from it as I did from The Traveler's Gift.  I felt the pacing was slow at times and the author took a long time to get to the point of the story, which he could have expanded on a little more.  I had to push myself at times to get to the end.  The story was good, but it wasn't life-changing for me personally.  Overall, I was a little disappointed.  The Traveler's Gift  should be read first, and was in my opinion a better read.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book through Booksneeze.  I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Looking for Vision?

I recently happened upon an article by John C. Maxwell on vision.  Please read it to understand what I'm about to say. I wasn't sure about everything he said, but much of this article I understood from experience.  Maxwell begins his article with a few very important questions.  "Where does vision come from?  How does a leader develop a clear vision for the future?"

It seems to me that Maxwell puts vision and leadership together, and the more I think about, the two go hand in hand.  Leaders have vision.  In order to be a leader, you have to have a vision.  Who will want to look to you if you don't?  When I look at my generation, this is something that is greatly lacking, and the church is no exception.  Youth are wandering around with no clear direction, no vision for the future and are content to settle for the mediocre.  It often grieves me to watch their lives.

I understand what Maxwell writes about feeling your way through the dark.  That's the hard part.  The thing about vision is, it's not clear in the beginning.  For a long time, I have believed that God has something much greater in mind for my life, but I couldn't see what it was.  I still can't, but I do believe he is beginning to shed some light on it and show me what He wants from me.  He does that you know.

Isaiah 42:16
"And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them."

God doesn't always give us the full picture right away.  Sometimes He sheds just enough light for the next step.  I'm experiencing this in my life right now, and it's scary.  I don't know where this path in front of me will go, and I don't always know if I can handle what's ahead, but he gives the grace to get through one day at a time.

Maxwell believes that passion is the beginning of vision.  I had to think about this, but I think I agree.  It reminded me immediately of an article I wrote a few months back called "What Do I Do Now?".  I  have concluded that a part of the reason so many single young women are discontent is because they don't have any meaningful task they love to pour themselves into.  Until they have a love for something, a work that they can pour themself into, something they truly care about, they likely won't have vision.

I really liked how Maxwell said "Desire alone is surely not sufficient to develop a vision."  This is so, so true.  He explains that our knowledge and abilities must be complemented by passion in order to make a difference.  And passion, a desire alone for something, won't get you very far if you don't have the necessary knowledge or skills. 

A verse that has meant a lot to me recently is Proverbs 19:2: "Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way." (ESV)  I read this when I first began to learn about vision and it's place in my life.  It showed me that I needed to develop certain knowledge and skills if I wanted my dreams to fly.  But ultimately, passion is what will drive your vision and make it a reality.

A lot of people wander through life because they don't know what they truly want and they don't have anything that drives them.  It won't always be clear at first and sometimes you'll have to feel through the dark, but until you have discovered those things, you will not have vision.  So find out what it is.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Alien Love by Kevin Abell

Kevin Abell is releasing his new book Alien Love this month! Having already had the privilege of reading it, I'm here to share my review with you.  First of all, Kevin is a friend, so perhaps my review could be considered biased, but I am being honest here.  He wouldn't have wanted anything else.  I might also add though that the author was to me a writer first; it's only because he published his first book that I ever got to know him.

I might as well begin by saying that I was afraid to read Alien Love.  Don't get me wrong.  I wanted to read it, but I was afraid of what it would do to me.  Love isn't always my favourite subject of discussion.  It's the area in which I lack the most as a Christian.  I often avoid messages specifically on love because they never make me feel good about myself.  I also don't like it when other Christians make love sound easy. Kevin doesn't.  In short, I likely wouldn't have read this book if Kevin hadn't written it.

To describe what this book is about in one line, I think I would have to say this: it's an overview of what love is and how it's demonstrated, a hard look at our sinful nature, and an explanation of the Gospel and the Christian life.  Kevin explains what love is and examines the attributes of love as described in 1 Corinthians 13.  He describes the seriousness of sin, how it's all equal, how we're all equally guilty and can only compare ourselves to God's holy standard.  He then goes on to lay down a clear explanation of the Gospel and the Christian life in a way that anyone can understand.

There were numerous things I particularly enjoyed about Kevin's book, of which I will share a few.  First of all, it's simple; he doesn't get complicated or stuff his writing full of deep theology.  He starts his chapters off with stories, often from his own life which kept me engaged throughout the book and often amused. He illustrated the attributes of love in a way that gave me a fresh perspective.  He explained that if we really understand God's creation and love for mankind, it will dramatically change the way we treat those around us. Kevin also isn't afraid to speak truth, talk about sin for what it is, nor does he shy away from often messy topics.  This is much needed in our time.  Throughout the book, he keeps coming back to the Gospel and effectively points his readers toward Christ.

Having said all that, reading Alien Love will NOT make you feel good about yourself if you read it with an honest, open heart.  It made me quite uncomfortable at times and I didn't always like everything he had to say. But it was truth straight from God's Word, and it didn't change just because my flesh didn't like it. Reading this book made me see once again how miserably I fall short. It exposed my sin, my lack of concern for the lost, and showed me how much still needs to change in my life. If this book doesn't leave you examining your life, I'd have to say you missed the whole point.

Has this book changed my life?  Not yet.  But I do believe that if I apply the principles in this book to my life, it will change me.  I have no doubt about that.  As a reader, I must move past the intellectual understanding and actually live it.  It's not easily done, but I know it will be worth it.

Kevin has a sincere desire for people to come to Christ and it reflects in Alien Love.  He doesn't write like someone who has it altogether, but is real and honest.  Although I haven't read The Edge of His Cloak in two years, I'd have to say his writing has improved much since then. Alien Love is a book I would highly recommend to all my readers.

Kevin writes an excellent blog at Blue Collar Christianity, which you can check out as well.  He is also having a book launch later this month.  For readers that live in the area who would like to hear Kevin speak and get your copy of Alien Love (available in paperback and hardcover), it will be held at the Aylmer Old Town Hall on January 28 at 6:30pm.  Please come out and show your support. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

When You Feel Unworthy

"Have you ever felt God calling you to serve in a certain area, but thought you weren’t worthy? As I’ve been seeking the Lord’s direction at this point in my life, I’ve been battling with many doubts, questions and feelings of inadequacy. I believe that God has given me a message to share with others, but I often wonder if I can."

Read the rest of my article in January's issue of Lighted Lamp.