Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fervent - A Book Review

Fervent - A Book Review

Broken.  Disheveled.  Discouraged.  Barely clinging to hope.  Those are the words that encapsulate where I found myself as I picked up Priscilla Shirer’s book, Fervent.  I felt broken by the looming threat of marital dissolution.  Earlier in 2015, my husband and I separated and I found myself contemplating divorce as the year neared its cyclic close.  I looked in the mirror and I was emotionally and spiritually disheveled from the harsh beating inflicted by gusty winds of uncertainty and icy storms of confusion.  Discouragement over the future lurked along my horizon and I was barely clinging to hope. I sat alone in my small, one bedroom apartment and, through tears, opened the pages of one of the most life changing books I’ve read. Ever.

Immediately, I was incited against the dark forces that had held me captive for the last year.  Things about myself that I had forgotten began to resurface in my memories.  New words emerged.  Called.  Equipped.  Armed.  Empowered.  Only moments into the pages, a shift began to occur in my thinking and suddenly, I felt a surge of strength.  Of passion.  Of purpose.  Of anger.  How dare the enemy aim to rob me of not only my identity in Christ, but also all of those things for which Christ died on my behalf.  To hell with you, devil, became the new message ringing in my ears as I began to take captive every defeating and disheartening thought that had occupied my mind prior to opening the Spirit saturated pages of Shirer’s book.  As the words took root in my heart, I began to see that this was no ordinary volume.  It wasn’t written for the sweet child who prays innocently for a piece of candy after dinner.  Neither was it addressed to the prideful Pharisee type who offers up prayers of gratitude that he’s not like others.  It wasn’t even written to the one who already has a strong and faithful prayer life.  No, it was written to the worn out, desperate woman who’s on the edge of the seat of despair.  To the one who is about to give up.  To her who is considering quitting.  It was written to the defeated, the hopeless, and discouraged.  It was written to me.  So if that’s also you…if you’ve lost your fight, forgotten your position of victory, or feel your candle is about to burn out, allow me to recommend Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent. Reading it will leave you changed.  Hungry for victory. Angry over the enemy’s lies.  Fervent in prayer. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Just as I am

In the above scene, you hear four of my favorite words, and, I venture to say, four words that we all long to hear.  "Just as you are..."  Not, "after you do this," or "when you change this," but "just as you are."  In my meager 35 years of living, I've stumbled (literally) upon the profound truth that as human beings, one of our vital core needs is acceptance.  We desire to be who we are, as we are, but because of demands from parents as children, spouses or significant others in adulthood, teachers in school, or employers at work, we succumb to the temptation to remain hidden.  Crouched down in the shadow of interpersonal expectations, external demands, and the cultural climate of showiness, we are unknown to ourselves and to others. The curtain in front of the authentic self remains drawn until some crisis or distressing situation brings it center stage, curtains fully drawn back.  Plunged forth by heartache and cracks in life's foundation, one's true identify only surfaces when confronted by the anxiety of forever remaining the same. A new fear emerges - that of change.  Behind the various masks worn to appease the masses or small collection of friends, co-workers, and family, is a deeply complex, sometimes troubled, individual, with likes, dislikes, desires, aversions, and overall perceptions of the world around him.  The discovery of one's true self is seldom a journey of willingness and delight.  It's muddled with uncertainty and pebbled with difficulty.  Carl Rogers once described a patient's path in this way: "struggling to be himself, yet deathly afraid of being himself - striving to see his experience as it is, wanting to be that experience, and yet deeply fearful of the prospect..." Why go down that road when the less challenging course is settlement on the comforting planes of "I am who I am?"  Even God, in Exodus 3:14, said "I am who I am," so it seems a worthy example of imitation.  And it's true..I'm okay. Just as I am.