Category Archives: Healing

Do You Want to be Transformed?

Transformed: Challenging Myths About the Power-Filled Life by Christy Wimber

Transformed: Challenging Myths About the Power-Filled Life       by Christy Wimber

For those of us who are serious about our faith, the idea of becoming transformed is always a priority. We’re always looking for the next step in our metamorphosis into Christlikeness. That’s why I was excited for the opportunity to review Transformed: Challenging Myths About the Power-Filled Life by Christy Wimber (Kregal). I was eager to learn what John Wimber’s daughter-in-law would add to my Christian walk. Her chapter topics increased my enthusiasm: what Jesus said yes to, mercy, renewing the mind, identity, grace, and calling. She identifies transformation as a journey, not a destination and focuses on deliberate, sacrificial choices as vehicles for transformation. All good ideas.

Unfortunately, the book fell short of my expectations. I think there were some good ideas in it, but they were often lost in a rambling narrative that would have benefited from a strong editor. Her writing was not tight and she often didn’t choose the best words or phrases to make her arguments. Her points were weakened by redundancy and rambling. Callout boxes didn’t reinforce or repeat important concepts. They were simply the next sentence, with little reason for being set apart. There were few stories or examples – just narrative. And while she offered some good theories, there was little in the way of practical “how to.” The result was a book I was not eager to return to and few memorable points.

I would love to see this book rewritten and re-edited. It’s clearly a concept needed by today’s Christians. But sadly, this edition doesn’t cut it.

Brave is the New Beautiful

Brave is the New Beautiful:

Brave is the New Beautiful: Finding the Courage to Be the Real You by Lee Wolfe Blum

Life is hard. It seldom goes like we planned. Bad things happen to good people. Life comes crashing in — or oozing in. And we’re expected to be brave?

As Americans, we want easy answers, quick resolutions. As Christians, we want Jesus to wave his magic wand and make it better. The reality is, answers are seldom quick or easy or perfect. The big question is then, what do we do? How do we react or respond? How do we find hope in the midst of the hopeless?

Lee Wolfe Blum is brave. And beautiful. As a therapist in an addiction and eating disorders program, she explores what it means to be brave, facing her own demons and telling the stories of other women who have faced theirs. In the process, she makes it clear that while there are no easy answers, there is Jesus. But not just the “right answer” Jesus. No, the real, gritty Jesus who meets us in the mess.

Blum weaves her own story of burnout and her resultant quest for wholeness with the stories of other women in a gracious and gentle way. But this is not the typical namby-pamby “isn’t Jesus sweet?” book that I so often review. Blum tells raw, authentic stories of vulnerability laced with faith. Her writing is beautifully crafted, but not every story has a happy ending. Some don’t even have an ending. Just like in real life.

Brave Is the New Beautiful: Finding the Courage to Be the Real You reads smoothly, but I wouldn’t call it an easy read. It moves deeper with each chapter and offers hope without guarantees. Just like real life. It will be a resource in my ministry. My only complaint is that she wrote it for women only. I would love to give a book like this to many men who are also facing tough stuff. Who also need to be brave.

 

You’ve Got Power!

You've Got the Power!

The Very Same Explosive Power That Raised Jesus From the Dead Lives in You!

Do you ever feel like it’s Good Friday all the time? Like your life is a walking death, filled with pain and defeat? Like God forgot you and threw away the key? Frankly, that’s a common mindset among Bible-believing Christians. So many Christians I know exhibit more of a victim spirit than a victory spirit. And yes, sometimes I do too.

I get it. Life can be hard. Sometimes very hard. We hear every day of the unfairness, the hardships, even the atrocities that seem to plague the inhabitants of this little green planet. We feel as if nothing we do can or will make a difference.

But is that true?

I know. It seems like it. We seem to be helpless. We feel like the ten spies who returned to Moses with a message of defeat after discovering that the inhabitants of the Promised Land were giants. “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Do you ever feel like a grasshopper in the face of the giants in your life? Do you feel defeated before you begin? If so, then today is for you. Today is the day you can take back your power. The day you can begin to conquer your giants.

How so, you ask? Sure, Jesus’ resurrection bought our salvation. That’s all well and good for eternity, but what about today? What about the giants I face today? What about my depression? My fears? My debt?

Here’s what today means for you:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

That’s God’s promise to you on this Resurrection Day. Whatever you are facing, however low you feel, the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you! The word for power in verse 19 is dunamis, from which we get our word dynamite. And if that weren’t enough, Paul modifies dunamis with two other superlatives, incomparably and great, which basically mean “to surpass or exceed in greatness.” It’s as if he were reaching to find a phrase that would express the incredible magnitude of this power. And then he goes on to explain the impact of this power. Not only did that power place Jesus above everything, including your problem and the demons activating it. It also put everything, including your problem and the demons activating it, under his feet!

So the next time you feel discouraged, disheartened, or defeated, remember that power which raised Jesus from the dead and let it enlighten your heart with hope. Rise up and take your rightful place. Look your problem in the eye and put it under the feet of Jesus.

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

Photo Credit: Brendan Sceroler

Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control

"Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of control from Seven Women in the Bible" by Shannon Popkin

“Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of control from Seven Women in the Bible” by Shannon Popkin

What do Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Miriam have in common? According to Shannon Popkin, they are all “Control Girls.” And what is a “control girl?” It’s a girl (or woman) who, one way or another, believe that it is good, right, or necessary to take control. They take control over their husbands, their kids, their circumstances, and try hard to control God. Their motives and methods are different, but the result is always the same – tragedy.

In Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, Popkin has taken a topic I’ve seen little written about and tackled it well. She is an excellent writer, skillfully blending solid biblical study with personal examples. She goes deep by lesson 2, which I appreciated. And every lesson was peppered with good strategies, penetrating application questions, and depth I seldom see in a women’s book. Great job for her first book. You’ll want this book for yourself, your women’s group, or for someone you love.

My only complaint about this book is that she aimed it squarely at and for women. Sure, we need it. But her points are equally pertinent to men, and I’m sure she could have found a half dozen men to write about. I would love to use a book like this for a co-ed Bible study or in ministry with male clients. But hey, let’s get the women in line and pray for the men!

 

Ministry Team Training

Bay Area people, would you like to receive training to serve on a ministry team? I’ll be conducting training for The Collide ministry team on Saturday, June 18 from 1-5 pm at Neighborhood Church, 1290 Pomeroy Ave., Santa Clara, CA. and Pastor Del has opened it to my contacts as well. The training is free, but you must register at Register at www.thecollide.com/ministrytraining. Space is limited.

This class is for people of all ages, and denominational background. It’s a simple hands on training to teach us how to discern what the Holy Spirit is doing in a ministry moment, and how to partner with the Holy Spirit to help bring people into a breakthrough moment with the Lord.
*Please note that FREE lunch is provided, beginning at 12pm, however no childcare will be provided during this time*
This first training class will include some of the following subjects:
  • The Collide Mission and Vision
  • Goals for Ministry at The Collide
  • Basic Altar Etiquette
  • Theology of Healing
  • Diagnosing the Spiritual Need
  • Basic Deliverance
  • and so much more…

 

Hunting Hope

When I receive a book for review, I can usually tell within a few pages if it’s one I want to keep or pass on. If it’s one I’ll tell clients about or one I’ll shelve and forget. Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light by Nika Maples is not only a book I’ll keep and recommend, but also one I’m ordering for my ministry’s bookstore. I began underlining on page 2 (page one was very short) and I have tabs throughout. My indication of a good book.

So what’s so great about this book? Other than everything?

Authentic Voice:

First, Maples speaks with an authentic voice. She is a survivor of systemic lupus and a massive brainstem stroke that left her a quadriplegic at age 20. She fought her way back and became a public school teacher in her native Texas. She still struggles with the lupus and with falls. But she has learned how to mine God’s character and conform hers. She doesn’t sugarcoat her points, but rather shares from the depths of her discipleship.

Excellent Writing:

Not only does Maples make good points. She makes them well. She has the ability to turn a phrase, and then illustrates her points with great stories—most of them aimed at herself. Hunting Hope is a good read, a compelling read.

Transformational Points:

Maples has been tested in the fire. She had to learn to trust God or die. Her writing isn’t theoretical. It’s real. And transformational. If readers will pay attention, she offers hope for those trapped in situations that don’t seem fair. She shows God to be faithful. She says, “when we have nothing left to lean on, we learn to lean on God.”

It seems that most writers are either all miracle—believe God will heal everything all the time. Or no miracle—just thank God in the suffering. Maples says, “We should always ask for a miracle, but while we wait, God’s calming presence in our lives is a miracle in itself.” She focuses on obedience: “God unfolds His plan after the person takes a step of obedience, not before.” She affirms that wounded warriors have a vital place in the church: “Our worst life experiences may be exactly what qualify us to lead with authority…. The darkest moments of our lives might be the beginning of our divine mission on earth. So many times, the battlefield is a training ground.” And she recognizes that trials are just an exercise. An opportunity to grow in godliness.

My Only Complaint:

I’m usually not a fan of discussion questions in books. They are usually trite. But this is one book I wished Maples had added discussion questions. Now I’m going to have to write them myself. I’m pretty sure I’ll be teaching this book.

So please, I don’t say this often, but BUY THIS BOOK.

Hunting Hope Nika Maples

Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain

Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain by Matt Bays

Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain by Matt Bays

Is your life perfect in every way? Then you probably won’t like Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain.

Do you have absolute, unwavering, all-the-time, no matter what faith and confidence in the perfect plan of God? Then you probably won’t like Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain.

Do you prefer a perfectly linear book that moves systematically from start to destination, you definitely won’t like Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain.

But if you’ve ever wondered, “Where are you, God?”  or “Where were you, God?” you’ll appreciate Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain.

If you’ve ever wanted to shout, “God, you’re doing it all wrong!” you’ll love Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain.

Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain by Matt Bays is a raw, gritty, irreverent, meandering look the experience of one man – and all of us – as we question God and his ways in the face of pain and doubt. Bays’ story is one of childhood emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, but he weaves into his story those of suicide, cancer, disability, and unanswered prayer. The story he shares with us is a long journey of authentic questioning. In fact, he took a hiatus from God, inviting him to prove himself. Or not. Bays says, “Unexpressed doubt can be toxic.” And so, he went on a quest to express, explore, and challenge his doubts, inviting God to show himself. Or not.

In the process of this meandering journey, Bays’ subplot is that of his journey toward healing. Again, he is in no hurry, exploring his memories, his feelings, and truth. One critical concept that is so often underestimated is that whatever happened to us can’t be undone. Only healed. Yet we all too often blame what happened and who did it to us, as if we could rewind our life and make it better. And since we can’t rewind, we decide we can never be healed. Bays says that while the offense can’t be undone, it can be rewritten from this point forward. That is the best we can expect, and it can be enough.

This is an uncomfortable book. It doesn’t tie up our faith into a neat bow. In fact, it doesn’t tie up much of anything. But it’s well worth the read and will become required reading for many of the women I mentor. Especially those who believe that they are forever beyond healing because of their past. And those who believe God doesn’t play fair.

 

 

 

Addiction: A Thought for the Church

In all likelihood you have someone in your life with an addiction. Maybe even yourself. Addiction issues came to the forefront during my high school years in the 1960s, with the Viet Nam war, the war on drugs, and the Summer of Love. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, eating disorders, gambling, internet, porn… the list has grown as we have become more aware.

Need a Hug?

Need a Hug?

But the common denominator, especially within the Church, has always been, “Addiction = weak person.” We look down on those who need a crutch to get by (because of course, we don’t need that crutch and let’s not talk about my crutch, ok?). We judge. We offer recovery programs to help those people. I know. I’ve been there…

So I was intrigued by an article entitled The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think.  Author Johann Hari offers another explanation, backed up with some fascinating research on both rats and humans. It’s a long read, but well worth the time. Bottom line, he says that both rats and humans need love and a stimulating environment. That the chemical addiction (and I would argue, non-chemical addiction) is less compelling than the loneliness, the boredom, the lack of connection. OK, that might be simplistic. But is it?

I’ve seen people with serious addictions heal rapidly when they finally understand God’s love and see it demonstrated in the people around them. That’s what did it for me. I called it a miraculous healing, but was it or was it that I was finally safe? Finally loved? Finally seen?

Sure, sometimes people need prayer, accountability, and discipleship. I certainly did. But is it those factors that change them or the fact that someone finally sees them for who God created them to be. That someone is bold enough to debunk the lies they have believed, often since childhood or even infancy. That someone is willing to speak Truth to their wounded spirits. Over and over, as needed. Is that why “hire a friend” (aka therapy) often makes a difference?

So what does that mean for the Church? For you and me? Maybe we need to judge less and love more. Criticize less and speak Truth more. Shun less and hang out more. We have the words of life, and we can share them, even with those struggling with addictions.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Come Empty: Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love

Come Empty: Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love by Saundra Dalton-Smith

Come Empty: Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love by Saundra Dalton-Smith

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is a physician who has seen the impact of emotions on physical health. As a speaker, she teaches women how to eliminate negative emotions, find grace in difficult places, and experience personal renewal by drawing near to God. In Come Empty: Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love, she puts all this together in 80 devotionals, divided into seven categories. Each devotional includes ‘Your Heart’s Cry,” “His Reply,” a scripture reading, and two questions for “Growing Deeper” in two pages.

Her topics are generally right on, and her understanding of the issues is generally excellent. She addresses single and married women in all stages of life, so her audience is pretty generalized. Her approach is to allow the reader to vent through the first section, and then to hear God through the second section. I generally like such a format.

However, I had mixed feelings about this book. While the content is excellent and useful for many of the women I minister to, the writing is flat. It was hard to pinpoint the weaknesses; it just lacked pizazz. I’m sure it will be useful for many women, especially those still struggling with the issues Dalton-Smith addresses.

Thanks to Litfuse for this review copy.

How to Get What You Don’t Want

Did you know there’s a sure-fire way to get what you don’t want? Yep, and many people practice this method everyday. They speak their reality into existence with their words, and what they speak is what they don’t want rather than what they do want.

Sometimes we Create Our Own Mess

Sometimes we Create Our Own Mess

How often have you heard someone say, “I’m so bummed because I’m not married yet.” Or “I’ll probably never have children. It’s getting too late in life.” Or “I’m sure I won’t be able to get a job as good as the one I had before.” Or “I’m hopeless! I’m such an idiot!” Maybe you’ve said at least one of these yourself.

Do you realize that your words have creative power? Do you realize that, like the God whose image we are created in, we can speak reality into existence. Matthew 9 is filled with such stories: the man whose daughter died, the woman with the issue of blood, the two blind men. In each case, Jesus healed them and commended them on their faith. After healing the two blind men he said, “According to your faith be it done to you” (Matt. 9:29). All of these people spoke in faith, believing that Jesus could and would heal them.

Jesus hasn’t changed. He still acts according to our faith. What do you have faith in? What would happen if you stopped speaking in faith that the negative will happen, and rather, spoke in faith that Jesus will indeed provide what you need or desire? If you’re creating a reality you really don’t want, there is a way to change that.