Food for the Soul
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Audra Jennings

Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.

Posted 6/6/11 at 4:15 PM | Audra Jennings

Hope and encouragement during difficult times

It seems that each week another area of the country is hit with tragedy, leaving many hurting people struggling with loss. Whatever the situation or circumstance, author Margaret Wills offers readers hope and encouragement.

Is there sustaining comfort to be found for the suffering, perhaps flailing, faithful? Dr. Margaret Wills, Ed.D, asserts that there is, and in her book, Pressing into Thin Places (Brown Christian Press), she invites questioning, thinking, and hurting readers to recognize glimpses of wonder and to draw strength and find rest in the presence of a loving God.

Dr. Wills knows from her own experiences that life is not simple and that we all need encouraging words and reasons to hang on to hope. With transparency and refreshing gentleness, Wills tackles universal fears, disappointments, wounded relationships, and even death and beckons readers to pull aside the veil and to see into that “thin space,” as the Celtics called it, where all that separates heaven and earth becomes almost transparent.

Wills answers questions like, “How do we keep from falling into despair when pain and suffering weigh heavily upon us?” and answers honestly questions about doubt, mystery, and the experience of not knowing. Wills offers wisdom to cultivate a listening heart, encouragement for the downhearted, reassuring words for the faltering, and comfort and rest for those in any stage of their faith journey.   

Q&A With Margaret Harrell Wills, Ed.D

Author of Pressing into Thin Places

(Part 1)

Q: Your book is titled Pressing into Thin Places. What is a “thin place”?

In the Celtic tradition, a “thin place” is the place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent. It is a place where we experience a deep sense of God’s presence in our everyday world. A thin place is where, for a moment, the spiritual world and natural world intersect. It can be a sudden momentary awareness or profound unexplainable experience.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places is a collection of stories, experiences, and learned truths expressed through poetry and prose. How are you hoping that readers connect with the experiences shared and those “thin places”?

Through the book I wanted to share a few “thin place moments” and encourage readers to have eyes to see the gifts of thin places through their own experiences. There are moments when we do feel the divine breaking through into our world. We feel unified and connected with God. It is not an intellectual knowing; it is felt in the spirit. Every once in a while, God draws the curtain and lets us see. He gives us reminders that, though we are tethered to this earth, there is another realm of reality just as real. Every once in a while, He lifts the veil. He thins the space between heaven and earth. He lets us experience the “thin place.” Ultimately, He helps our faith.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places gives readers permission to be authentic and to acknowledge doubt, questions, even depression. Often we experience guilt over these sometimes realities, fearing they show a weak faith. But how can facing these circumstances or emotions actually strengthen faith and reveal the presence of God in our lives?

 We all have ups and downs. We are emotional beings. This is part of life. But can we dial up different thoughts? Can we change our feelings? Many times, I believe we can. Not too long ago I came across a verse in 1 Samuel 30. The chapter talked about a time when David was defeated by his enemies, rejected by all those around him and discouraged to the core. In verse 6, it says, “And David strengthened himself in the Lord.” How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord? I believe we do what a verse in Psalms suggests: “And then one day I went into your sanctuary and thought” (Ps. 73:17). We strengthen ourselves in the Lord by going into His presence and letting Him guide our thinking. Many of the Psalms tell us that David worshipped and meditated on the scriptures. This was no exception. He received new purpose, vision, and authority. He waited patiently to become king.

Q: Why do you think we fear admitting doubt or struggles with faith?

 Fear wants to rise and speak to the bottom corners of our mind. It will remind us not to be vulnerable. We will remember what happens when we risk psychological safety or abandon feelings of superiority. We will remember our nakedness. We will feel the wash of old fears and the pull of old attitudes and the temptations of old behaviors. But our heart, where our choice and our spirit live, desires our Father and His Kingdom. And our Teacher taught us to pray.

Q: It seems that more and more we all encounter people who profess to believe that God exists, but the crisis of faith arises in God’s goodness. What do you say to the reader who struggles to believe that God is good and loving?

 Jesus says we can trust our Heavenly Father. We are safe, we are protected, and we are guided when we cooperate with God’s purpose and God’s way of doing things. We become participants in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God’s grace on earth. Jesus reminds us over and over again that we must have faith. We must believe in the fact that we are safe and that “good” will result as we submit our will to His Way. This submission is powerful. It defragments our life and gives us spiritual significance and wholeness of soul. This submission results in the process of spiritual transformation. Along the way, we are rewarded by “faith surprises” as resources of the Kingdom of Heaven are available to make changes in us, in others, and in the way things are.

Q: What do you hope that readers will take away from Pressing into Thin Places?

 At the crux of this message of greater connection with God is the gospel message. Jesus encourages us to see our short space of time on this earth in the light of eternity. He instructs us to remember that there are two realities: a physical reality and a spiritual reality. We are first and foremost spiritual beings called to follow Christ’s teachings.

Pressing into Thin Places: Encouraging the Heart toward God

by Dr. Margaret Harrell Wills, Ed.D

Brown Christian Press – May 2011

ISBN 978-1-934812-99-0/208 pages/hardcover/$16.95

www.pressingintothinplaces.com

 

Posted 6/6/11 at 3:58 PM | Audra Jennings

The Hidden Gifts of Helping



The Hidden Gifts of Helping explores the very personal story of author Stephen Post and his family’s difficult move—what turned out to be a journey of faith. Post also tells about their experience with the healing power of helping others, as well as his passion about how this simple activity—expressed in an infinite number of small or large ways—can help you survive and thrive despite the expected and unexpected challenges life presents.

Post’s story is a spiritual journey that we can all relate to at some time in our lives. Intertwined with supporting scientific research and spiritual understanding, the book demonstrates that by looking outside of ourselves we gain better well-being and strengthen our faith. This book can become your companion and guide to the power of giving, forgiving, and compassion in hard times. 

In this moving book, Post helps us discover how we can make “helping” a lifetime activity. “We can be anywhere, so long as we are helping others and caring for them. This is probably the one source of stability in our lives that we can truly depend on, and so in the end we are never really out of place,” states Post.

Post hopes that his family’s story will help readers in the same way the stories of others have helped him. Keep reading for an excerpt from a section entitled “God-Winks and Grace Notes”.

Although the universe often seems random and meaningless, we always need to remember that life is a gift from God and that there is meaning and purpose behind it. One way we can remember that is through what I call “god-winds and grace notes”—those improbably yet perfect events in life that some call “just coincidence,” but that feel as if they could only be orchestrated from above. Many people want or need to feel that God is working in their lives, and particularly in times of some brokenness; that God’s love is absolute despite all their shortcomings that God has been working in their lives from the very beginning and all along the way to bring them closer. Those God-winks are reassuring.

One of the ironies of our move from Cleveland to Setauket was that although Mitsuko and I figured we would weather the storm fairly easily, we were terribly worried about how Andrew would adjust. What a harsh thing to move a youngster away from his lifelong friends! I didn’t know it then, but our worry was quite unfounded. This move would turn out to be a tremendous and positive growth experience for our son. Still, at the same time, I was dearly in need of a God-wink or tow. And, so as often happens, I had to wait for them.

A year-and-a-half after the move, I happened to be in New York City on business and stopped by the Church of St. Thomas on 53rd and Fifth because it is just so beautiful architecturally, and because my dad went there when he was a boy growing up on the upper east side of Manhattan. I stumbled into a noon communion service. After it was over, I approached the priest, Rev. Andrew Mead, and began to tell him about our move and our worries about our son. “Fourteen now,” he winced, “that’s a tough age.”

He told me that when he was that age, his family moved away from a place he liked a lot because his father had to take a new job. He remembered his mother’s words exactly: “Andrew, I know this hurts, but we have to do this for Dad.” He said that even today, fifty years later, the fact that he recalls such detail shows what a dramatic transition this was. Two Andrews moving hard at the same age! This was more than coincidence. It was maybe God winking at me, or so the mind is wired to think…

…I had wandered into this church and just felt the urge to talk to this stranger about all that was on my mind. And it so happened that he empathized deeply, because he had moved at about the same age as my son and shared the name Andrew. I took this as God’s gift, as an experience of God’s love through another person. Our national survey indicates that most Americans do have this sense that God’s love inspires other people to connect with us at times. The encounter with Rev. Andrew Mead was somewhat confirming of this move. People are wired to want that confirmation. People look for God-winks, little signs that God is with them behind the scenes.

The Hidden Gifts of Helping by Stephen G. Post

Jossey-Bass ~ February 22, 2011

ISBN 978-0470887813/Hardcover/224 Pages

www.stephengpost.com/hiddengifts/  ~ Become a fan on Facebook

Posted 6/6/11 at 2:48 PM | Audra Jennings

Protect yourself from the peril of false end-of-the-world prophecies

Author Hon Hoh

Protect yourself from the peril of false end-of-the-world prophecies

Written by Hon Hoh, author of The Trigger

The prophecy of 89 year-old televangelist Harold Camping last weekend created a few laughs for some and a few tears for others. It might have been more humorous had the thousands of ethnic Hmong in Vietnam not converged on northwestern Dien Bien province a few weeks ago after hearing broadcasts on Camping’s global religious broadcasting network, Family Radio, that Judgment Day would fall on May 21. False end-times prophecies can be perilous for those who take them seriously. And for those who don’t, there’s the risk of placing all prophecies– both true and false, in the same boat and thereby desensitizing themselves to the ones that are true. One day, the Lamb will surely return.

How do we protect ourselves from the peril of false doomsday prophecies? The short answer is: by knowing the truth. Of all the things that can be said, perhaps this is the simplest and most significant. If we know the truth that is found in God’s Word, we have nothing to fear concerning the lies of Satan.

But of course, the devil knows the Bible too, and understands it better than many believers. Anyone, even non-Christians, can and does quote the Scriptures, often out of context just to prove their own point. Satan used the Old Testament to his own advantage when crossing swords with Jesus in the wilderness. The Son of God won that contest and overcame the three temptations by rightly discerning the Word of God. So, the ability to quote verses by itself will not sufficiently protect us from prophetic deceptions.

We need to go further if we are to guard against false Judgment Day prophecies. We need to know the whole counsel of God regarding the Second Coming so that we can rightly interpret the word of truth, and when we do, we shall be able to boldly discern any “prophetic word” with compassion and confidence. More end-times predictions will likely be uttered as we approach December 21, 2012 and beyond, but Christians can gird their loins by digging in the Word concerning the last days.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Trigger by Hon Hoh

About The Trigger and author Hon Hoh:

Do each of us play a role in the kingdom of God?  Can the choices we make affect God’s timing of future events?  Hon Hoh examines these questions while taking his readers on a riveting adventure in The Trigger: A Novel on the Revelation.  Through twists and turns, readers will be led on a powerful journey. 

Hon S. Hoh is a gifted teacher of the Word.  He is a minister committed to the calling that God has placed on his life.  He began studying the Book of Revelation in Bible college, and he is passionate about reaching people with the truth and love of Christ.  Hoh’s mission for writing The Trigger is fourfold:

  • To help others understand the Book of Revelation
  • To inform others regarding an important End-Times theological view other than the one with which they’re comfortable
  • To provide motivation to engage the Great Commission as expressed in Matthew 28:18-20
  • To prepare for the very near unfolding future, so that we are not caught off-guard

The Trigger: A Novel on the Revelation by Hon Hoh

Living Impact – May 2011

ISBN 978-0-578-07195-4/355 pages/paperback

www.livingimpact.org

Posted 5/20/11 at 2:40 PM | Audra Jennings

Are you fully engaged in your life?

Ever been lost in a car on the way to an important event?  If so, then you know that people are the only animals that speed up when they’re lost or confused.  It’s only as a last resort that we’ll finally hit the brakes, put the car in park, and set about the humbling task of asking for directions.  The sad truth is that many of us live our lives the same way: lost, directionless, and never slowing down enough to find the real answers we need.  Unfortunately, slowing down and doing less are foreign solutions for today’s problems. 

For readers who are finally ready to stop speeding along and start slowing down enough to find some answers, John Busacker’s new book, Fully Engaged: How to Do Less and Be More, offers practical advice on how to do just that.  In a world full of countless options and disorienting decisions, we have to allow our internal GPS to stop and recalculate the direction of our life.  As we do so, we’ll find greater abundance, contentment, and peace of mind.  FULL POST

Posted 5/20/11 at 10:30 AM | Audra Jennings

The Importance of Fathers

The Importance of fathers in the lives of their sons

There is no denying the importance of a father’s role in the lives of their children. Fathers have an especially important role when it comes to raising their sons to grow up to be men of God. Without the loving support of their fathers, young men face the turbulent journey to manhood without knowing what that really means. But where do you start? That can be the hard part. Boys are faced with many different challenges, and it is the father's responsibility to help them navigate those and make wise decisions as they head into their next season of life.

“Your son is going to get his view of manhood from you or someone else. Dads must make sure they are giving their sons a clear definition of what it means to be a godly man. More importantly, dads need to model the practices and principles they are teaching their sons,” states Braxton Brady, author of Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man. FULL POST

Posted 5/19/11 at 5:06 PM | Audra Jennings

When do you talk to God?

New release teaches children that they can pray

any time, any place, and about anything.

In That's When I Talk to God, the husband and wife writing team of Dan and Ali Morrow tells the story of a child learning more about prayer. From thanking God for best friends and the flowers in the garden to praying for hurting people and the courage to do things that scare her, she comes to discover over the course of one sunny Saturday that we can talk to God about everything. And at the end of the book, when she asks if God ever talks to us, both she and young readers will learn about all the ways God does in fact speak to us, including one big way—through His Word.

Targeted to children four to eight, That's When I Talk to God mirrors the day of the typical child, creating an opportunity for readers to put the practices in the story to use in their own lives. Through beautiful illustrations and an engaging, familiar character, readers can relate to That's When I Talk to God. Children will learn to go to God with their fears, their joys, their questions, and their desires. They will also learn the hows, whens, and whys of praying to the Lord in a way they can easily apply to their own experiences. And adults will be reminded to communicate the benefit, simplicity, and beauty of prayer. FULL POST

Posted 5/19/11 at 9:58 AM | Audra Jennings

Teaching Fruits of the Spirit through Team Sports

Putting Character before Competition

Authors teach children the fruits of the Spirit by applying them to team sports.

Sometimes, when we think about little league sports, the first thing that comes to mind are pushy coaches and over-competitive parents. However, there are many positive character qualities that children can develop while playing team sports. Kathryn Nixon and Ana Boudreau help to instill these virtues in their two books, The Spirit in Baseball and The Spirit in Football. Their books are based on the fruits of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

The Spirit in Baseball applies the fruits of the Spirit to each aspect of playing the game of baseball, such as:

I LOVE my teammates. They are my friends. We spend a lot of time in the dugout together! I am PATIENT and happy to wait until it is my turn to bat. I do my best to be GOOD to others. I congratulate the other team if they win the game. FULL POST

Posted 5/18/11 at 11:55 AM | Audra Jennings

The Life Book Movement has big plans for the 2011-12 school year.

Printing is underway for 1.2 million Life Books, and half of those have already been spoken for. Don't miss your chance to let the churches in your area know how they can get involved in this fall.

What is the Life Book Movement? Founded by The Gideons International, The Life Book Movement is an innovative strategy to reach high school students with the Word of God. The movement is a Christian mission centered on The Life Book, a unique presentation of Scripture designed to engage high school students with the truth of God's Word, created by Carl Blunt, president and CEO of The Life Book Movement. The Life Book presents a brief overview of the Old Testament and the Book of John using an interactive format with honest student comments and real-life questions in the margins. Readers are drawn into the only story that can change their lives forever.

The Life Book Movement works with churches throughout the country by providing free copies of The Life Book for students to give as gifts to their friends and classmates during school. Blunt's organization brilliantly takes advantage of a student's freedom to distribute religious literature by getting The Life Book into the hands of Christian high school students and having them pass the books out to classmates at school—a practice that is acceptable, as long as the books are not distributed by school staff or other adults. In less than two years since the Life Book Movement got it's start, over half a million Life Books have been distributed and the movement is growing by leaps and bounds. FULL POST

Posted 5/18/11 at 11:35 AM | Audra Jennings

Preparing readers for the Second Coming

Hon Hoh, a teacher of the Revelation, takes readers on a riveting journey

Do each of us play a role in the kingdom of God? Can the choices we make affect God's timing of future events? Hon Hoh examines these questions while taking his readers on a riveting adventure in The Trigger: A Novel on the Revelation. Through twists and turns, readers will be led on a powerful journey.

Hon Hoh is a gifted teacher of the Word. He is a minister committed to the calling that God has placed on his life. He began studying the Book of Revelation in Bible college, and he is passionate about reaching people with the truth and love of Christ. Hoh's mission for writing The Trigger is fourfold:

· To help others understand the Book of Revelation· To inform others regarding an important End-Times theological view other than the one with which they're comfortable· To provide motivation to engage the Great Commission as expressed in Matthew 28:18-20 · To prepare for the very near unfolding future, so that we are not caught off-guard

FULL POST

Posted 5/17/11 at 3:09 PM | Audra Jennings

A call to revisit and return to God's original script for living

Q&A with Frank Viola,author of Revise Us Again

Q: Your latest book talks about living from a renewed Christian script. What does it mean to rescript our lives?

As Christians, we are handed a script by which to live. This script is written by our denomination, religious background, the Christians we know and fellowship with, as well as by social and cultural environment. The Holy Spirit is the great Editor. His job is to descript us from those beliefs, behaviors and traditions that do not map to Jesus Christ and rescript us into His image.

Q: Revise Us Again talks about the ten areas that Christians should look at rescripting. Can you tell us about some of the most important ones?

The ones that resonate the most with readers so far are: Revising Christianeze (including the phrases "Let me pray about it" and "The Lord told me"), Revising How We Hear the Lord's Voice, The Three Gospels (legalism, libertinism and liberty), Revising the Felt-Presence of God and Revising our Attitudes (being captured by the same Spirit we oppose). There's also a chapter on meeting an aspect of God wherein He refuses to meet our expectations. So our view of God's dealings in our lives needs to be revised. FULL POST

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