How To Be Unpopular

Today I’d like to share with you two very intriguing books I recently read that both release today. (Happy book birthday!) Each of these books cover somewhat unpopular topics in Christianity today, in my experience. The first is the greatly expanded and revised edition of Signs of the Times by author Greg Laurie and the second is Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell by author R.T. Kendall.

As you may have noticed from my previous book reviews, I enjoy reading books that challenge me, make me ask hard questions of myself or my faith, or push me out of my comfort zone. Both these books did just that.

I was eager to read Signs of the Times, the subtitle alone – What The Bible Says About The Rapture, The Antichrist, Armageddon, Heaven, and Hell – promised answers to questions I had always been afraid or embarrassed to ask. You see for most of my childhood I grew up in small, Hispanic, Pentecostal churches so hearing about end times and how we were in them was a regularity. I heard often that “Jesus was coming!” but I didn’t necessarily know what that entailed. As I grew up I read the “spooky” book of Revelation but honestly didn’t have that much understanding of it. I’ve never, in my 31 years heard a sermon or participated in a Bible study that explained the end times in a way that I could keep up with or understand – it seemed like my teachers always had such a theological base and understanding of these things that didn’t allow me to catch on or keep up with what was being taught. To be honest, I was expecting my experience with this book to be more of the same but my curiosity on the subject and my desire to finally grasp some understanding of what I always believed to be such an important part of the Word of God compelled me to give it a read and I am so glad I did. Not once while reading this book did I feel overwhelmed by its content or left behind(pun intended 😉 ) by the author. Instead, I felt informed and encouraged to further my study of this important and sometimes controversial topic. This doesn’t need to be a topic that we as Christians are afraid of or embarrassed about or wish wasn’t a part of the Word of God. The truth is, we are in fact in the end times – just because we may have heard it all our lives doesn’t make it any less true, it actually makes it even  more true because the time of Jesus’ return is drawing nearer. Greg makes this point so clear in this book which can be just as easily read and understood by a believer who is new to the faith as a one who has been in the faith for many years, and not to mention someone who may not even be a part of the faith–yet. It’s an unpopular topic in most circles but it is one we should be familiar with to say the least.

We need to be ready to go at any time, because the Lord will come for His own, and snatch us away in the twinkling of an eye.  – Greg Laurie, Sign of the Times

R.T. Kendall’s new book – also releasing today – Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell was another I was not expecting to have the impact that it did on me. To be honest, my thinking was, “I don’t care about being either of those things, I just want to make it heaven” and R.T. addresses that exact thinking in one portion of the book. What I love about this book is that I believe it can speak to so many people in my generation and this social media age.  There are so many Christian “influencers”, bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, etc – most  trying to figure out the winning formula for more followers, sponsorships, and publicity or better put “popularity”. I’m one of them! We each feel like we have a message worth sharing(hopefully the message of Jesus’ saving blood) and we try our best to get that message out there and if we have to suffer by being popular here on earth so be it [sarcasm implied]. But in his book R.T. challenges his readers not to seek popularity here on earth but instead to seek it out in heaven through evangelism, turning from sin, standing firm in our faith, and simply pleasing God in all we do. He does make the point that sometimes as we strive for popularity in heaven we may, as a side effect, gain popularity here on earth but that should never be the focus of our service or we risk losing both.

As for being famous in hell, R.T. reminds us that hell is a real place and the devil is a real enemy. He warns us not to fall into the two categories of 1. focusing on the demonic all the time or 2. never dealing with it at all. He says, “…one should not be afraid of the devil…He is pitifully weak compared to almighty God. Do not be like some who have more fear of the devil than they do of God!” He warns that we should have a healthy awareness of the devil and his demons – but we shouldn’t go running around looking for demons to exorcise like the 7 young men in Acts 19 who tried to cast out a demon from a demon-possessed man “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches” (Acts 19:13) and ended up running away naked and beaten when the demon manifested and overpowered them all. He tells us that the qualification for being famous in hell comes down to two things: having boldness and courage and having been with Jesus. That’s all it takes. And after reading his book, I believe him.

Some want to live within the sound

Of church or chapel bell;

I want to run a rescue shop,

Within a yard of hell.

-C.T. Studd

I’m thrilled that I got to read these books together as I feel they really compliment each other well. They each challenged me in their own ways to be unafraid of how the world looks or thinks of me and to live and embrace the complete Word of God, without fear or shame because it is the inerrant word of truth. Pick up a copy of Signs of the Times by Greg Laurie and Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell by R.T. Kendall today wherever books are sold and come back to discuss. I’d love to hear your thoughts on each! Can’t wait to hear from you. 🙂

 

Each of these books were provided to me as advanced reader copies.

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It’s Time to Get Desperate

I recently had the privilege to read an advanced reader copy of the new book written by best-selling author John Eckhardt entitled Desperate Prayers For Desperate Times(releases August 7th). What intrigued me most about this book was the premise that, using the prayer of Hannah as a model, we as believers could learn how to receive breakthrough in our own lives. We all know the story of Hannah: barren woman, taunted by her husband’s other wife, cries out before the Lord, Eli mistakes her prayers for drunkenness, God opens her womb, she dedicates her son, Samuel, to God and he is raised in the temple, she has other children, the end – right? That’s honestly how I always looked at her story. She was a woman to be admired for her persistence and faithfulness and she was definitely someone to emulate when faced with infertility issues or simply longing for motherhood but beyond that I never gave her story – or her legacy – much thought. Until now, that is.

He didn’t give us the stories in the Bible to put us to sleep at night. He gave them to us to build our faith in the impossible and so that we can declare, “If He did it for Hannah, Josiah, David, the people of Israel, and the blind beggar on the roadside, He will do it for me!”

What impacted me most in John’s discourse about Hannah was that her deep desire for a son lead her into such an intimacy with God that she was able to see what God was desiring for His people and do something about it. John writes, “For seventy years before Samuel came on the scene, Israel had not heard from God. Through prayer Hannah not only received what she wanted; she also opened a portal to the heavenlies.” BAM! Revelation bomb! And it didn’t stop there. Throughout the rest of the book John explained how desperation can be a tool that God uses to partner with us to bring His vision to earth, IF we will persist. Listen, I’m a woman who longs to see God’s glory manifested in the earth but I’m also a woman who struggles daily with discouragement, fear, and doubt. I am in a desperate season! I am desperate for God to move in my heart and help me find freedom so the thought that this season could be a time where God not only delivers me but makes me a partner in bringing deliverance to others had me literally pounding on my dining room table and shouting burden-lifting praises.

As you cross over from desperation to fulfillment, realize that what you have received from God is not just for you. Your time being perfected in the wilderness—the strength, faith, and boldness you received during that time—has prepared you to believe for that same level of increase, blessing, deliverance, and prosperity to be released in the earth. It is time to pray for more than just you and yours.

In Desperate Prayers For Desperate Times, John encourages his readers to stop being “spiritual wimps”, to learn how to fight during these seasons of desperation, to be pliable in God’s hands, and to get rid of anything in our lives that would keep us from the glory of God. He also warns readers not to take matters into their own hands and produce Ishmaels and Dans first rather than Issacs and Josephs; and I believe that’s a much-needed warning in these days of instant gratification. John speaks directly and honestly and the end result is a book that challenges and compels its readers to press in to prayer, tear down anything that hinders, and bring heaven down to earth. Seasons of desperation should not be something that we try to avoid or escape. In fact, I am now convinced that every healthy believer should have seasons of desperation in their lives – not desperation that leaves us wanting and in lack but desperation that wakes us up to persistent prayer and breakthrough not just for us but for all mankind.

Although we may go through dark seasons of desperation personally, as we put our eyes on God, we begin to see that the desperate times extend beyond us and into the whole world. As we continue in prayer, God will show us His compassion for the world, and our prayers will begin to align with His plan to not only have His glory manifested in our lives but to have His glory fill the entire earth.

What are you desperate for and how can I join you in prayer for breakthrough? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

God said, “Go!”

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Her Perfect Work – God said, “Go.”

Five months ago I was on fire. I had plans. I had goals. I was on a mission. I was going places. Then all of a sudden God said, “Go!” But not in the direction I was headed, he sent me in a totally different direction…

Late last year I resurrected my  former blog, My Life as a Sacred Song. I was so excited. I had plans to write at least 3 posts a week building up to daily posts. In early January I began re-branding the blog, translating my posts for my Spanish-speaking friends, and preparing for a move to WordPress with a February 1st grand debut. But before that day could come, on January 22 to be exact, my husband asked a question that I quickly realized was prompted by the Holy Spirit. His question was, “Is it crazy that I just want to pack up everything and move to Florida?” My answer was a simple but heartbreaking, “No.” You see in the months (and to be honest years) leading up to that moment my husband had given his all – to work, to ministry, to me and our daughter – and he had gotten to the point where he needed more out of life than what he was currently getting. So I couldn’t blame him for having the desire to start over somewhere new even if I was content where we were. I had watched him move through life with little satisfaction for too long not to be supportive now that I had a chance to do something about it.

Before we could move forward with any plans we had to come before the Lord and ask for his direction. In my experience, if I ask the lord for confirmation of something he is pretty quick to respond but the swiftness of his response on this occasion literally took my breath away. I vividly remember, not even 48 hours after my husbands question, leading my church in worship when in my spirit I heard Him whispering to me, “I am leading you out from this place…everything is going to be ok here WHEN you go…it won’t be easy but if you trust me it will be worth it…” This was the first time I literally experienced gut-wrenching pain but in an audible voice I shouted, “I’ll follow you, even if it hurts!” However, even after that experience I still doubted. I said to myself, “Maybe I misinterpreted things. Maybe I didn’t hear what I thought I heard. Maybe I was mistaken.” I was in denial so the very next day He spoke to me again, even more clearly, this time through a YouTube preaching by Pastor Joann Rosario Condrey – God said Go! I can’t tell you how many things were said in that message that were precise and exact to my situation even down to her mentioning the song I was singing the day before while he was whispering to my heart. So from that moment on, in my mind, it was a done deal – we were moving across the country; leaving our church, our family, our friends and home in Michigan and trusting God to provide and bring us into a new life in Florida.

And he did, seemingly without warning we were on our way. Within a week we had rented out our home and within two we were moved out. In mid February my husband left to Florida to secure a job, which he did within a week of arriving. By the end of March, on my 29th birthday, we were approved for a town-home in West Palm Beach and on April 10th we moved in.

Just
Like
That.

Through all the stress and the tears, the doubt and the setbacks, God kept proving himself faithful but in the back of my mind I kept thinking about the plan I had. The beautiful new website sitting un-launched. The missed deadlines and the lost readership. I had to put my plan on the back burner so I could be there for my family, so that I could support my husband in the move and make sure all my daughters emotional needs were being met after being uprooted from the only place she’d known as home. And then finally, just yesterday, I felt the stirring again, I heard the voice again say, “Go! But not to a different state or city. Go forward with your plan! Go forward with your goals! Go forward on your mission! Go!”

So here I am on June 1st, well past bedtime, giving new life to this old dream. And I’m so happy. I don’t know where the journey will lead from here but with the experiences I’ve had with the Lord in these last 5 months I know that he’s got a bigger better plan than the one I have in mind. And I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

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