Book Review: Whisper by Mark Patterson
I've been thinking a bit about hearing from God. The idea was on various twitter and Facebook pages because of some negative remarks on the tv show The View about Vice President Pence perhaps being crazy because he "hears Jesus speak". Apologies were given and the VP didn't seem to mind. But it got me thinking people outside the faith community clearly have questions about what believers mean when they say they hear from God.
Frankly - people inside church have questions too. I've talked to confused kids and concerned adults who were worried their faith was suspect because they didn't have audible conversations with the Almighty. Conversations usually include talking about how God speaks when you read the Bible, when you pay attention to your conscience, when circumstances bend together in serendipitous ways. And sometimes there are miraculous stories where God did in fact make it clear through sound or situation what He was trying to communicate.
From now on, when I talk to someone who is wondering about listening for the action of God I'm going to encourage them to read Mark Batterson's new book Whisper. Batterson's book works through the seven ways God speaks and left me encouraged. One of Batterson's contentions is that our society is too busy, too loud, too distracted and this is why people can't seem to hear the voice of God. His advice to take a break, shut everything off and be quiet enough to listen is refreshing. Whisper contains practical steps to take to settle your soul and stories of people who have found God's voice to be the very thing which filled up the silence.
Bottom line? You want to hear God? Shut up long enough to let Him speak.
I've been on a diet since the New Year. 2018 is a land of low carb substitute food. The resident chef at my house is a fantastic fake food creator. My favorite's are the spaghetti squash lasagna and the carb free apple crisp. (Hint....its not made with apples). I am thrilled to report my pants again fit. Not a "Oh Wow Mindy you look amazing" pant fitting way. More a "Thank goodness these button" kind of way. But whatever.
So yesterday was Presidents' Day. Our family loves any excuse to celebrate and a day off for the kids seemed like a great reason for lunch out at the new restaurant in town.
Golden Corral just opened down the road from my office.
I thought briefly about trying to maintain my low carb diet while out to lunch with my family. Briefly I thought this. Golden Corral is a large buffet which specializes in southern comfort food. They do have a salad. bar. But I didn't get that far.
Any will power I had I threw out when I put the large airy butter dripping roll on my plate, just next to the butter milk biscuit and blueberry pancakes. Fried Chicken. Pulled Pork. Mashed Potatoes. Think large delicious feeding trough. Accurate description. I did have broccoli. I think the cheese sauce I topped it with might have been made with carbs.
I chose Diet Coke as my drink and the irony was not missed. When I hit the dessert line I was in a calorie coma. This did not stop me from choosing a piece of peach cobbler and a piece of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. They also had a chocolate fountain. This one was lovely. I told my husband I wanted to see if I could dip an ice cream cone in the chocolate fountain. He said this was a bad idea. I adjusted my plan and instead ran a bowl of ice-cream through the chocolate fountain This was perfect. Genius idea.
Here is my point. If you are on a low carb diet - don't go to Golden Corral.
Seems obvious right? And yet how often do we set ourselves up in life for failure?
Here is a tiny piece of advice I'm preaching to myself.
When in temptation.....Flee. Run. Don't settle in at the trough.
Vivian Rose is four years old. Her parents gave permission to share her photo and their plea you'd join in praying for a miracle. Dad says 'Our greatest hope is that Christ would hear our cries, that the chorus of prayers, that abundant faith would compel him to spare her.'
Pray God's healing over her body, pray binding over the tumor, pray protection through treatment, pray for courage to be greater than fear, for laughter to be louder than tears and for God's great glory to shine on this child.
That's the Book: Philippians
hI woke up yesterday with a full schedule and a headache. It was dull and so I added two cups of coffee and ignored said headache. This worked okay through a finance committee meeting at church, held through making Valentines with the preschoolers and I was distracted by the fantastic sermon at church enough to enjoy an after service lunch with friends. Then the headache amped up the volume.
I feel a little lame comparing the depths of persecution the apostle Paul faced with my Sunday headache, but hang in here with me. I have a point near the end. Here at the start though let me tell you Philippians is my father's favorite book of the Bible. I grew up on these words. The consistency of the message, the good cheer in the book even in the midst of suffering and the centrality of Jesus make Paul's letter to the church of Philippi a must read, must study, must learn for any earnest believer. Even on the days you have a headache.
Philippians begins with a declaration about what sort of long view the Christian faith is all about. Keep your eye on the prize. Today's struggles are difficult -but Christ Jesus has already won the war.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
Yesterday after lunch, I had to take home a couple of visitors. One was my daughter's friend from school. The second was my good friend from Rwanda. She's in the states for a couple of months taking English classes. Her host family lives across town. What a joy it was to have her at church with me yesterday. Her faith and her courageous testimony remind me to strive to spread the gospel without fear. I want my daughters to hear her stories of forgiveness. The family of faith can challenge our assumptions, push us to see the purpose in our pain and stretch us to learn to trust Jesus fully. Friends who have walked ahead of us can shine the light. This is the call of Paul to the Philippians.
"Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus Every Knee Will Bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2: 1-11
By the time I was driving home yesterday my headache had taken over I limped into the house and headed straight for the bath. My husband told me my face looked droopy. He brought me ice. Two hours later I was still a mess. I was laying on the couch when my daughters came and started trying to talk me into going for a walk to the park.
The Park?? You want me to get off this couch and go to the park?
My eldest was explaining that sometimes fresh air and a walk help. The youngest looked gleeful at the idea of a first playdate outside this year. My husband had already been overseeing outside rollerskating and was now engaged in dinner prep in the kitchen. I never call him away from dinner prep. Gotta have priorities.
At any rate this verse popped in my throbbing head.
"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast he word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain." Philippians 2: 14- 15
All things? Do all things without grumbling? Here is the conversation which happened next.
Me: I'm having an inner battle.
My eldest: Huh?
My spouse: She means she's trying to decide if a walk will help the headache or make it worse.
Me: Nope. I'm battling between MY self and what Jesus wants. It's the same battle every day.
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus may Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may grain Christ". Philippians 3: 7-8
Here's the deal. My headache was not a big deal really. Annoying. But Jesus still wanted me to slay my selfishness and look to the needs of others in all things. I lay there feeling sorry for myself a little longer. And then I hauled myself up and put on my shoes and my girls and I went for a walk. I'm not saying this in the least to say I'm doing the right thing. I'm sharing this story to show you how daily little things we can do through His strength. And the daily little things add up to big glorious wins in the battle for our soul, for the souls of our children and to advance the gospel. How you treat your spouse when he's impatient matters. How you respond to that annoying person at work matters eternally. How I act when I have a headache reflects the condition of my heart.
"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 12-14
You want to know something amazing? When I got back from the walk - my headache was significantly improved. I'll head to the chiropractor probably later today to address the underlying issue but I'm grateful for the win with my kids yesterday. The book of Philippians calls me to turn to Jesus in everything - in my worries, in my stress, in my priorities, in my little and big issues. It;s a gorgeous calling. If you struggle with the battle between what your self wants and what Jesus wants, Philippians is a great battle plan.
"Be anxious for northing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever if of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Philippians 4: 6-8
Here you are - my favorite tool to learn about the Bible. Outside the actual Bible.
Ahhh…it’s February, the month of love. Everywhere we see pink and red and hearts and chocolate (let’s not look at the scale for a while!) and romance and blah blah blah.
Okay to be honest, Valentine’s Day has never been one of my favorite holidays. It’s not because I’m jealous of other relationships, or because I have unrealistic expectations. I just think it’s kind of funny to have a day where we love people extra when we’re called to love people more and more…ALWAYS. But on the other hand, Valentine’s Day is a great day to REMIND us to take a little extra time to show people how you care and to reassure them that you love them.
The Bible has a lot to say about love. And for those of you who know me, you know that my life “verse” (chapter, really) is the love chapter itself. But I discovered the other day, accidentally, while flipping through my Bible during Sunday morning service, there’s a chapter in Romans entitled “Love in Action.” This, of course, piqued my curiosity. I bookmarked said chapter and then picked it up later that night and ended up writing several pages based on, literally, the first verse.
Romans 12:1 – “Love must be sincere.”
It’s four words but, man…can those four words make all the difference in the world. For starts, we hear the word “sincere” a lot. But do we know what it means? Thanks to Google, I had the answer easily at my fingertips.
free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings.
(of a person) saying what they genuinely feel or believe; not dishonest or hypocritical.
So...what does this mean? It means that love cannot be a lie. It cannot be used as an excuse for personal gain. Love must be felt in order to be true and genuine.
What is love? What should I feel to know that it is truly love? (Romantic, friendship, family, anyone.) In order to find that answer, let us consult the love chapter itself…
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Let’s break that down a bit. What are some questions we should ask ourselves when we tell others we love them? What are some questions we should ask ourselves when others tell us they love us? (I love bullet points…)
• Love is patient (can I put up/be patient with this person? Are they patient with me?)
• Love is kind (do I feel any meanness towards this person? Are they mean towards me?
• Love is not envious (do I want what this person has? Are they consistently making comments about how they wish they had what I have?)
• Love is not boastful or proud (do I feel the need to shove my successes in this person’s face or hog the attention? Do they never let me get a word in edgewise because they’re too busy bragging about themselves?)
• Love is not dishonoring (disrespectful) (do I feel the need to put this person down? Do they make me feel disrespected?)
• Love is not self-seeking (does this person only benefit me? Do I only benefit this person? Is it mutually beneficial or are we each only seeking something for ourselves?)
• Love is not easily angered (do I have a temper with this person? Do they get mad at me often?)
• Love is not a grudge-holder (did this person do something to me that I am still holding against them? Are they holding something against me that I’ve already sought forgiveness for?)
• Love is an evil hater and is joyful in truth (does this person bring out the best in me and I in them?)
• Love is protective (am I willing to put myself on the line for this person? Would they do the same for me?)
• Love is trusting/trustworthy (am I someone this person can trust and can I trust them?)
• Love is hopeful (do I always seek the best with this person? Does this person have an optimistic outlook with me?)
• Love is perseverant (will I ever give up on this person? Will they ever give up on me?)
• Love is unfailing (will I always strive to love this person no matter what? Will they always strive to love me?)
Aren’t bullet points fun?
Now that we have a detailed list of what love is, let’s go back to Romans 12 to see what we’re supposed to do with this sincere love.
Romans 12:10a – “Be devoted to one another in love.”
How? (More bullet points, yay!)
• 12:10b – “Honor one another above yourself.”
• 12:11a – “Keep your spiritual fervor” (intense, passionate feeling)
• 12:11b - “Serve the Lord” (in serving the Lord He will provide people to whom you can show sincere love)
• 12:12a – “Be joyful in hope” (Encourage! Hebrews 3:13 says “Encourage one another daily, so long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.)
• 12:12b – “Patient in affliction” (do not be harsh to or belittle those who are struggling)
• 12:12c – “Faithful in prayer” (pray for your loved ones constantly. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always. Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”)
• 12:13 – “Share with those in need – be hospitable.” (be aware of people’s needs and meet them)
• 12:14 – “Bless those who persecute you” (repay meanness with kindness)
• 12:15 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.”
• 12:16 – “Do not be proud and unwilling to associate with people of low position.” (Be humble enough to show love to those who need it. As Jesus Himself says in Luke 5:31, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” And bear in mind… “low position” is a worldly standard. We are all God’s children. Jesus showed the ultimate display of love by sacrificing Himself for ALL of us.)
If you’re still lost… just look to Jesus Himself. The Bible says that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Ask the age old question; “WWJD?” What would Jesus do? How would He love this person? How does He love ME?
Sinking Deep – Hillsong Young & Free’
“Love so deep is washing over me, Your Face is all I seek, You are my everything.”
Show some sincere love in action. Today, tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, every day.
Francine Rivers has again written a book I couldn’t put down. My family was thrilled when I finished and emerged from my book coma. The Masterpiece is a deep story of brokenness and redemption, of joy and laughter and of the great glorious grace of Jesus. River’s characters display believable reactions to crisis and I cheered for their breakthroughs. If you are looking for a weekend read to encourage your faith pick up a copy.
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.
A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.
Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.
Click on the Amazon link to purchase the book. I've also included a link to an interview with the author.
In the new book, Nourish, Katie Farrell, RN details her walk from imbalance and destructive behavior to her new normal healthy approach to diet and body. I appreciated the author's openness about her struggles with body image specifically detailing her walk through anorexia and bulimia. This book feels like a chat with a friend over coffee who invites you to flip through her recipe book and gather what works for your life. I would add one word of caution - the author's healing was nothing short of miraculous - which I don't doubt at all - but I know frequently God uses counseling or other in depth programs to help those who struggle with destructive body image. I'd hate to have anyone feel like God didn't want them to be healed simply because they didn't receive the same release this author did. God uses many tools to heal people - this book may be a great option to explore.
I received a complimentary review copy of the book I'll be giving out to one subscriber on the QuirkE-Mail list. If you haven't signed up yet you can do so HERE.
I found a new song yesterday which describes me perfectly. Maybe you can relate. It's called Second Guess Girl. Its all about trying to figure out what to do in a messed up and beautiful world. Some of the lyrics mirror my heart.
Is it time for a speech or for silence
Are you calling for peace or defiance
Is this darkening counsel or wisdom
Are we all perpetrators or victims?
It’s a hard world for a second guess girl
With one hand and another
I try to take it in but it leaves me spinning
Trying to love my sister and brother
Is this confidence born of a calling
Is this ego and pride before falling
Are we standing to fight for what’s right
Are we angry and hopelessly blind?
I take in a lot of other people's opinions in books and blogs and sermons and conversations over coffee. I watch opposing views from people I trust on both sides of many debates pass by quickly on my twitter and Facebook page. I can get rilled up and ready to march with the best of them. Or sometimes I preach a gospel of peace. To fight or to reconcile?
Sometimes I second guess Quirky Faith and the platform mentality. I wonder if this blog is about preaching the truth or getting attention for myself? I've been down that road often enough I know its both and the goal is always to kill the self and glorify God. Easier said than done. And yet we're called to shine a light and be ready with an answer.
See what I mean? Second guess girl.
If you're tracking with me can I suggest an exercise in sanity and stability. In classic Mindy fashion I'm talking about making a list. Of what I know for sure.
1. There is a Creator. He loves me. He loves you too.
2. I don't want to do life without Jesus. Ever.
3. The Bible contains words of life. Every second in the book is a good idea.
4. Work is honorable. But there is no greater joy than helping someone.
5. Art and music and food and friends matter.
6. My parents rock.
7. I want to grow old with my spouse at my side. He's my guy. Steadfast heart.
8. If my children learn to love Jesus then my life is a success. They are my most important priority.
9. I'd step in front of an angry bear to protect my little sister. She'd do the same for me.
10. Having a voice is important. Knowing when to shut up is more impressive.
I don't know a lot of things. I second guess my methods and my opinions and my time. But when I see clearly what I know for sure it helps keep the roller coaster in line. I second guess frequently - but I'm overwhelmingly grateful for the solid truths in my life.
What do you know for sure?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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