Tag Archive | obedience

My Stubborn Heart (Book Review)

This review was initially posted on Sept. 11, 2012 but I have reposted it here because it was one of the top five books in the Romance category of the INSPY awards of which I was a judge.

On a whim I had clicked to download a free ebook on amazon as I so often do – and yesterday My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade just happened to be the book I decided to open and read.  It seems that lately every book I pick up by Bethany House, whether historical or contemporary romance – have been beautifully written and have touched my heart. This book is no exception.

Kate is on a break from her job as a social worker and on a three month stint to help her Grandmother restore an old family estate.  She has reached the advanced age of 31 with no husband and is constantly reminded of her lack by those around her – as well as the loneliness she feels deep inside. Yet she has determined and prayed that she would never settle for any man – but only the one God would have for her.

Matt has had a career as a hockey player, fame and beautiful wife. After his lovely bride died of cancer he walked away from everything he knew, even shutting out family and friends, to live a hermit’s life and live with his grief and subsequent anger at God for not answering his prayers. Accepting the job to work at renovating an old home, he shows up to work to find that there is an annoying woman who keeps coming by to talk. He doesn’t want to talk, he wants to be left alone.

Over time though Matt has a change of heart as Kate worms her way in with her light banter and teasing. She is not afraid to challenge him as she is determined to help him escape his self made prison. Definitely attracted to this “hottie” she feels that he is above her reach and tells herself they could only be friends. The heart doesn’t always listen to logic.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but I loved the challenge of this book as it looked spiritually at two key issues: 1) Can you trust a sovereign God with your prayers and that He, knowing what’s best will answer them in His perfect timing?  2) How far are you willing to go to obey Him?

This book is not preachy at all – but it deals with the honest gut-wrenching decisions we all at times have to face at the foot of the cross and as we deal with the painful realities of life. Becky Wade does a beautiful job weaving that all together in a compelling story.

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Your Courage, My Obedience

Two years ago I attended the Leadership Summit that Willow Creek Community Church puts on. I love learning more about leadership and God always has something profound to speak to my heart about at these events, usually on a more personal level than in how to lead better.

But good leadership ultimately begins in the heart.

Leadership in the Christian context ultimately begins with being able to follow a leader – Jesus.

That year, 2011, I had a “word” for the year and that word was “courage.”

Scary word.

God revealed to me repeatedly how much fear I had about the path he had me on. Fears I could do nothing about. He also showed me that often in His word the concept of courage was coupled with the words “Be not afraid.”

Courage means stepping forward in spite of our fears. If it were easy courage would not be necessary.

At this conference we were given broken pieces of terracotta pots. As we sought God in prayer we were to write on the clay, His words to us.

Mine says “Your courage, my obedience.IMG_0286

It hit me then that courage really isn’t mine. I do not have it in my flesh to persevere against difficult odds. It is only something I can do as I submit myself to God and obey and let HIM deal with the consequences of those actions. He knows better than I do what those ripple effects of obedience will be. I have to trust Him for the results. My only job is to obey what He leads me to do.

A year and a half later I still look at that and remember. I’m challenged once again that I have to cast my fears at His feet and step into the scary work He sometimes calls me to. Ministry is hard and it has a cost and if we think differently we are probably not following God. It should scare us. It should stretch us beyond what we think we can do. God calls us to live beyond ourselves often so that we are forced to depend on Him.

Last year I stepped into being even more serious about my writing. I stepped down from leading a ministry to write more because God called me to. The minute I decided to obey, God started opening up doors and affirming my choice. When my ministry responsibilities were done, instead of feeling a loss, I felt a huge weight off my shoulders and greater freedom to lean into His calling on my life – to write. To encourage. To redeem some of my pain through words. He pushes me further with every step and fear rears its ugly head and I’m reminded once again that it’s HIS courage – not mine.

My job is to obey regardless of how I feel.

Having said that, in what ways are you being challenged to obey, and what’s holding you back?

Leadership as an Identity (book review)

Crawford W. Loritts, Jr is a wise and humble speaker. His book, Leadership as an Identity, reflects those same characteristics.

Pastor Loritts’ book challenges the view of Christian leadership as being far more than a set of skills and giftedness or even personality. It’s not a book on “how to” lead well. This book instead dares to say that leadership for a Christian is something other than that. It is an identity that a believer assumes when God calls that person to lead. This is manifested best when the leader embraces four key characteristics: brokenness, uncommon communion, servanthood and radical, immediate obedience. Crawford points to these being the four underlining character traits of great leaders in Scripture, and in the church through history.

This book is written in a very easy to read style drawing on Scripture as well as the words of wisdom from Christian leaders that have withstood the test of time and trials and exhibited these four characteristics. Loritts contends that only when a leader submits to these processes in their walk with God, can they truly be called a Christian leader and glorify God in the manner in which they fulfill that assignment that God has given.

These are not easy traits to seek and ultimately they are the calling of everyone who wants to claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The responsibilities and challenges that leaders face in the church, however, make these traits far more essential to wrestle with.

Having read many books, this could easily qualify as one of the best of any leadership book out there. If you are a leader in the church, whether you are paid staff or volunteer, whether you lead adults or children or serve in a soup kitchen, this book is for you. It is a book to be read, underlined, savored and prayed over in the pursuit of leadership that will stand the test of time and bring the utmost glory to God in the process.  Then read it again. It’s that good.

Congratulations to Pastor Loritts on obeying God in putting these thoughts on paper and sharing them with a wider audience. May the church be blessed and God glorified all the more because of the words on these pages.