Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Got sheep?

As I've written before, I've kicked up my scripture memorization habit a knotch this year. In doing so, I'm memorizing two scriptures each month along with thousands of other "Siestas" that follow the Living Proof Ministries Blog (Beth Moore). I can't tell you how much this has blessed me. Not only am I "hiding His Word in my heart", but God has allowed me to share these scriptures with others at the most providential times. I've allowed God to lead me directly to each scripture He's wanted me to memorize, and it's as if each scripture has been intentionally meant for me to share with another. The one that continues to pop up over and over is from the little known minor prophet, Habakkuk. Now, Habakkuk is usually not the book of the Bible that most people turn to when searching the Word for scripture verses to memorize like they might the Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels, etc. However, there is a very powerful group of verses towards the end of the book that is especially now bringing comfort to many people in light of the current economic times we're living in...

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

I love how Habakkuk made a choice in spite of the circumstances or perhaps because of the circumstances. Either way- Habakkuk chose to be joyful, to trust in God who saves. He knew that looking directly at the situation provided no hope, but looking above the situation to the One who provides hope is where joy can be found. It's in those times of uncertainty, times of struggle, times when we have "no sheep", times when we see clouds before's in those particular times, that intentionally looking to find joy in God alone can get us through each day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

An evening with Paul Young - author of The Shack

The words of this post aren't sufficient enough to describe the utter joy I experienced after spending last Wednesday evening at a local church listening to the heart of Paul Young. If you aren't familiar with Paul, he's the author of the best selling novel, The Shack. If you've been following my blog for awhile, you might remember that one of my earliest posts was on The Shack. I still say that it is one of the best pieces of fiction I've read in a very long time (perhaps ever).

The evening began with Paul sharing a bit of what led him to write The Shack...his wife asked him to write a book for his children for Christmas. With the manuscript complete, and no financial resources to have it professionally printed, he prayed that God would guide him. God's answer to Paul..."You give this to your kids, and I'll give it to mine." So, he came up with enough money to run 12 copies of it at the local Office Depot. He distributed the copies to his children, wife, and a few other family members and friends. For those that had the privilege to read it, they knew that it couldn't just stop there and encouraged Paul to have it professionally printed. With the help of friends and family, he was able to have 1000 copies printed. That began what led to a book that has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and is radically changing the lives of its readers.

As the evening went along, Paul also became very transparent in divulging different aspects of his past that caused him to live in his very own "shack" for 11 years. However, the little nuggets of wisdom that he shared throughout the evening allowed me to fill many pages in my notebook. God has certainly blessed this man beyond belief and restored, many times over, the "years the locusts have eaten"! The evening ended with a book signing and an opportunity for pictures. However, what possibly impressed me most was that he gave each person requesting a signed book, a personal note in the book and a hug! He was a pure delight!

Here are a few of the nuggets Paul shared that spoke volumes to me:

"God's love is 100% all the time. Everything He does is motivated by love."

"God pursues us with relentless affection!"

"What is it about the way you love me right now that I don't get?" (What Paul prays when fear shows up. Remember the Bible says that "perfect love casts out fear".)

"There is healing in the receiving and giving of forgiveness."

"Let's bring our secrets into the light, because we're as sick as the secrets we keep."

"Even the wrath of God results from His love, because He does nothing that isn't first motivated by love."

One last note - if you haven't read this book, PLEASE DO!!! You won't be disappointed.