Hooked in the Heart (& Giveaway)

Hooked in the Heart (& Giveaway)
We're taking a little break from our trust series. Thank you because one of your comments to my last post "Come Cuddle Close" inspired an upcoming post. ****** It is an honor to have my friend Scott Grant share from his book, Hooked in the Heart: Appreciating the Artistry of God in Everyday Life. I was privileged to go through the two year Intern Program under his leadership. I have also appreciated his tender heart toward God and others. He is giving away two copies of his book, Hooked in the Heart: one in Kindle format and one in paperback. Here's an excerpt: Another chance       It could have been a nice moment, but I missed it.               My wife Karen and I were driving to church Sunday in separate cars because of our different schedules. She arrived first and parked her car. By the time I arrived, she was standing beside her car, waiting for me. When I pulled into the parking lot, she smiled at me and pointed to an open parking space next to her. But I parked in my usual spot, several spaces away from her.               “Didn’t you see me?” Karen asked. Well, yes, I saw her, but I had already made up my mind where I was going to park, and I was preoccupied with my responsibilities for the morning. It wasn’t until I had almost stopped my car that I realized she was inviting me to park next to her.               Two days later, as I shared coffee with a friend, I told him the story. He told me that a few days earlier, he came home from work at dinnertime with a burrito. His wife had prepared a pot of soup and offered it to him, but he ate his burrito. He regretted his actions at home, just as I regretted mine in the parking lot.               I told him, “I hope we learn to be more observant.”               That afternoon Karen and I each had appointments with the same dentist. Hers was at 2:00 p.m. and mine was at 3:00 p.m. When I pulled into the parking lot, she was standing next to her car. Her appointment was over with, but she was waiting for me to arrive.               She smiled at me and pointed to an open parking spot next to her. This time, I smiled back and thought to myself, “Isn’t God good? He’s giving me another chance.” I parked next to her, got out of the car, and gave her a hug.               It was a nice moment, and it was impossible to miss.               The Scriptures say that God goes before us (Isaiah 45:2, Matthew 26:32). I wonder: when we get to where we’re going, does God sometimes stand in front of us, smile at us, and gesture for us to come near? I think he does. We don’t see the invitation with our eyes; we sense it in our hearts. But we don’t respond. We have our own ideas about where we’re going to park and what needs to get done.             I hope we learn to be more observant. Scott is generously giving away two copies of his book: one in Kindle format and one as a paperback. (The paperback winner must have a U.S. address.) To enter, leave a comment saying why you would like a copy of his book and Scott will pick the two winners by Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 8 p.m. PST. Please leave your e-mail in the Disqus comment form so we can contact you if you win. Your e-mail will remain private. Soul Stops Moment: What spoke to you from Scott's story? When have you experienced a second chance? What helps you to be observant to God's invitations to you?   Scott C. Grant’s experience both as a journalist and a pastor gives him a unique vantage point from which to explore the spiritual life. As a pastor at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, he teaches, writes, counsels, and leads the Intern Program, which trains men and women for ministry. He enjoys looking for God everywhere, especially in the vicinity of trout streams and golf courses. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Sunnyvale. Find Scott on Facebook and on his blog, Hooked in the Heart. Also linking with encouraging friends: Kelli of Unforced Rhythms and Laura Boggess and Playdates with God.

Come Cuddle Close (& Tips)

Come Cuddle Close (& Tips)
Welcome to the seventh post in our trust series. I use "our" because I learn from your comments. Thank you. I write as someone who prays, "I believe Lord, please help my unbelief." **** After Sunday dinner, our girl says she wants to talk and cuddle. A nice surprise. When she stands, her head is by my cheeks. Tweens can be a little like toddlers in how they push away to explore the world, then return to mom for security before launching out again. I leave the dirty dishes like wobbly guards at time's gate. Photo used with permission of Flickr User: Amanda Michelle Bindhammer (Sorry, I don't have an actual photo of us cuddling...so here's a mama with her pup.) We snuggle under a plush blue blanket while her head rests on my chest. Her hair tickles my nose. My arms enfold her shoulders. Sniffle: I remember when I could cradle her whole body in my arms. She groans whenever I get nostalgic. I sigh as contentment wraps around both of us. A cocoon of tender love surrounds us. Later I wonder about how God enjoys my presence when I cuddle close enough to hear His heartbeat and just be. For too much of my adult life, I mistakenly thought God wanted me to do more before He could really love me. It was an unconscious (and unrecognized) driving force in my life. The truth is: I've done nothing and can do nothing to earn God's love (Romans 5:8) because it is a love gift. It's been a hard concept for my heart to fully embrace despite my head knowledge. My heart needs to receive God's words of unconditional love until they soak like rain into my parched heart's soil. My heart needs to listen long enough so God can plant seeds of truth into my heart's soil. Yes, my heart needs to listen long enough for those tender green seedlings of trust to push past darkness. Yes, we pull weeds (aka confess & repent of sin) and water with God's Word, but we trust all true growth comes from God. Yes, we serve as a grateful response to God's love. and not as an item on our to do list. But let's first cuddle close to God's heart. Here are some suggestions for coming close to God: (Please don't put pressure on yourself for your time with God to look, feel or sound a certain way. Relax. It is all good.) Remember, God promises when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. Go for a walk/run and ask God to help you to see and hear Him. Listening to music that helps you to focus on God. Create art. Journal in response to Scripture, a poem or a song. Read God's Word or listen to it being read (a favorite: Max McLean reading Romans 8). Retreat: maybe, you carve out 10 minutes or an hour of your day, or attend a retreat (where the focus is connecting with God). Recently, I've been watching this video on God's love letter to you over and over (which also includes link for a printable PDF). Invite a trusted friend in Christ to share how s/he observes God's love in your life. After you've drawn close to God, ask how you can serve another in love...pray? send a note? call? bring a meal? give a gift anonymously? Soul Stops Moment: What helps you to trust God really wants you to cuddle close to Him? What helps you to come close to God? Linking with sweet friend Laura Boggess...Her book, Playdates with God invites us to experience God's love more intimately and releases in one week. Can't wait. I saw The High Calling's Link-up via my friend Monica's great post...so I'm linking up with THC's "Pursuing God" link-up here. Also linking with encouraging friends: Kelli of Unforced Rhythms and Jennifer Dukes Lee's Tell His Story,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays. And the super-encouraging Holley Gerth    

Sometimes trust is a tender green seedling

Sometimes trust is a tender green seedling
Welcome to the sixth post in our trust series. I use "our" because I learn from your comments. Thank you.   Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: Robert Payne Sometimes trust isn't shiny like polished silver. Sometimes trust is like a tender green seedling pushing out of dark earth. Sometimes trust looks like a person teetering at a cliff, gripping a rope held by a friend. And that friend is God. Sometimes trust looks like a prayer to God - just one's raw heart. I read Kelly's trust-full and beautiful poem  and her words exemplified trust in God. Here is the last stanza of Kelly's poem: "Teach me to love, tenderly, the cool darkness, to prize it along with the light."   - Kelly Chripczuk It's not unusual to ask God, "Why?" during dark times. Asking God "Why" with an open hand and honest tears is different than asking God with a closed fist. After I read Kelly's poem and Betty's comment to my "Prayer for Trust", I wonder how our response to dark times, or our view of God, hinders us from trusting God. Dear wounded one, please know I am not minimizing your heartache or hurts. To recover from a wound inflicted by broken trust is difficult. I know it's messy and takes much longer than we would like. But our recovery takes a tender step of trust like Kelly does in her poem. She implicitly trusts God has something good for her, even in the dark. I wonder if she is claiming promises such as Romans 8:28-29 or James 1:2-4. In my own life, I cling to God and to His promises the tightest in the dark. Kelly's words remind me of the psalmist's words: If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,    and the light about me be night,”12 even the darkness is not dark to you;    the night is bright as the day,    for darkness is as light with you. -Psalm 139: 11-12 ESV God is with us in the darkness and He is not overwhelmed.  May we be like that tender green seedling reaching past the dark toward the Light, trusting the darkness is not the end. Light and new life will come out of the darkness. This song "Be Still My Soul" by Kari Jobe embodies trusting God (Subscribers link here to hear song with lyrics.) One of my favorite lines: "In every change, He faithful will remain."      Soul Stops Moment: Where are you in your trust journey with God? How have you trusted God in the dark and found Him to be faithful? I hope you're recording those times so they can be a memorial to encourage you when dark times come again. Maybe you can pray along with Kelly in the last stanza of her poem? Or with David in Psalm 139? Or using the lyrics from Kari Jobe's song? My previous post was about Brennan Manning's biggest obstacle to trust and how he overcame it. I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Charity Singleton Craig, Jennifer Dukes Lee's Tell His Story,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.    

What was Brennan Manning's biggest obstacle to trust?

What was Brennan Manning's biggest obstacle to trust?
Welcome to the fifth post in my series, where we explore trusting God. I write as one who regularly prays, "I believe God, help my unbelief." I write as one who has seen how trusting God affects how I live and how well I love others. ***** For some of us, trusting God addresses the heart of our most painful relationships. Before I share what Brennan Manning wrote, I don't believe he is blaming his parents as much as he explains how their actions affected him as a young boy then as an adult. Later in his book, Ruthless Trust, he talks about how as an adult, God redeemed his relationship with his parents. Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: JOPHIELsmiles "The biggest obstacle on my journey of trust has been an oppressive sense of insecurity, inadequacy, inferiority, and low self-esteem. I have no memory of being held, hugged, or kissed by my mother as a little boy. I was called a nuisance and an pest and told to shut up and be still...when I was a child, he [my father] was never there." - Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 13 In his book, Manning also shared a traumatic childhood incident with his father which occurred when he was six that "haunted him for years." But in his father's later years, his father "became the kindest, gentlest man" Manning had ever known. As an adult, Manning came to understand because his mom, orphaned at age 3, had received little affection or attention in her early years, she was "incapable of giving it away." What made Manning's view of his mother change? As an adult, while praying one morning, he had a vivid image of his "deceased mother at age six in the orphanage, kneeling on the windowsill, her nose pressed against the glass, tears streaming down her face as she begged God to send two nice people who would adopt her."(15) This image of his mom at age six caused all of Manning's anger and resentment at her to disappear. Sobbing, Manning "asked her forgiveness," which his mom granted. As his mom hugged and kissed him, Manning said "the greatest enemy of trust in my life was disarmed."(15) I don't know how long Manning struggled with his feelings toward his mom. But I wager he probably prayed about their relationship over many years. I don't know what your relationship with your mom or dad was like, but I know our earliest relationships teach us about trust. And they affect how we see God. Manning's advice on how to grow in trusting God: "In order to grow in trust, we must allow God to see us and love us precisely as we are. The best way to do that is through prayer. As we pray, the unrestricted love of God gradually transforms us...so that we can discover we are seen by God with a gaze of love." His advice follows what God promises in 2 Corinth. 3:17-18 because it is in God's Presence, His Spirit, where we discover the freedom to be transformed more into Christ's image. What does that mean? When we are honest with God in prayer about what we're struggling with, whether it's bitterness over a broken relationship, or an addiction, it gives us a chance to experience God's love and forgiveness. There is nothing you can tell God that He doesn't already know. He loved us at our sin-ugliest (Rom. 5:8). It is God's love that gives us the willingness to do the hard work of forgiveness or some other step toward healing. Maybe the hard work is to tell someone you need help. You can trust God with your problem. His solution may not be what you wanted but it will be done out of love and wisdom (Isaiah 55:8-10). It may take years but slowly our trust in God will grow. Soul Stops Moment: What is one step you can take to trust God in prayer today? What struck you about Brennan Manning's experience? Is there someone you can ask to pray with you and/or for you? I would be happy to pray for you if you let me know. Thanks for being here. Linking with encouraging friends: Kelli of Unforced Rhythms And the super-encouraging Holley Gerth    

A prayer for Trust

A prayer for Trust
Welcome to the fourth post in my series, where we explore trusting God. I write as one who regularly prays, "I believe God, help my unbelief." I write as one who has seen how trusting God affects how I live and how well I love others. ***** Dear Friend, Can you hear God inviting you to talk to Him? Can you see God patting a spot on the sofa for you to sit next to Him? He longs to converse with you...Please trust His heart toward you is one of love.   "For thus the LORD GOD, the Holy One of Israel has said, 'In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength, But you were not willing.' " - Isaiah 30:15 NASB Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: Chrisada "God is the friend of silence--we need to listen to God because it's not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters." - Mother Teresa Prayer: Gracious God, I confess my unwillingness sometimes to quiet before you. Instead I prefer busyness instead of being still before you. Forgive me for believing my efforts are more important than first depending on you in prayer. Please give me the grace to repent and to put my trust in you. Help me to trust you by making time to rest and to be in Your Presence. Silent and listening. Help me to trust spending time with You is not a waste of time. Help me to trust You will be my strength as I release my problems to you in prayer. Thank you for being my strength. I receive Your strength to do what You call me to do today. Let me not worry about tomorrow, but let me be aware of Your Presence in my present moment. In Jesus' name, Amen. Our trust in God grows as we exercise trust by seeking Him in prayer. Here are some helpful tips from my friend Jean on how to listen to God in prayer. Soul Stops Moment: Did a phrase of Isaiah 30:15 speak to you? Or maybe the whole verse? Or maybe a phrase from the prayer? If a particular phrase resonated, I suggest writing it down and making it a focal point of prayer this weekend or week. I still have Jeremiah 17: 7-8 (link to the first post in the series) on my refrigerator and I'm memorizing it. Want to join me? P.S. I'm working on a post dealing with obstacles to trust. Today's post shows how our unwillingness to exercise risk (topic of the 2nd post in the series) by going first to God with our problems prevents us from obtaining the benefits of trusting God ...the third post in my trust series dealt with how sometimes the good things in our lives can hinder us from fully trusting God. Linking with encouraging friends: Barbie of The Weekend Brew and Sandra of Still Saturday and Kelli of Unforced RhythmsAnd the super-encouraging Holley Gerth