Sunday, November 30, 2008

Forsaken



It is time for the FIRST Blog Tour! On the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!






The feature author is:



and his book:


Forsaken
B&H Fiction (October 1, 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James David Jordan is a business litigation attorney with the prominent Texas law firm of Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C. From 1998 through 2005, he served as the firm's Chairman and CEO. The Dallas Business Journal has named him one of the most influential leaders in the Dallas/Fort Worth legal community and one of the top fifteen business defense attorneys in Dallas/Fort Worth. His peers have voted him one of the Best Lawyers in America in commercial litigation.

A minister's son who grew up in the Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois, Jim has a law degree and MBA from the University of Illinois, and a journalism degree from the University of Missouri. He lives with his wife and two teenage children in the Dallas suburbs.

Jim grew up playing sports and loves athletics of all kinds. But he especially loves baseball, the sport that is a little bit closer to God than all the others.

His first novel was Something that Lasts . Forsaken is his second novel.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Fiction (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805447490
ISBN-13: 978-0805447491

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Even in high school I didn’t mind sleeping on the ground. When your father is a retired Special Forces officer, you pick up things that most girls don’t learn. As the years passed I slept in lots of places a good girl shouldn’t sleep. It’s a part of my past I don’t brag about, like ugly wallpaper that won’t come unstuck. No matter how hard I scrape, it just hangs on in big, obscene blotches. I’m twenty-nine years old now, and I’ve done my best to paint over it. But it’s still there under the surface, making everything rougher, less presentable than it should be. Though I want more than anything to be smooth and fresh and clean.


Sometimes I wonder what will happen if the paint begins to fade. Will the wallpaper show? I thought so for a long time. But I have hope now that it won’t. Simon Mason helped me find that hope. That’s why it’s important for me to tell our story. There must be others who need hope, too. There must be others who are afraid that their ugly wallpaper might bleed through.


What does sleeping on the ground have to do with a world-famous preacher like Simon Mason? The story begins twelve years ago—eleven years before I met Simon. My dad and I packed our camping gear and went fishing. It was mid-May, and the trip was a present for my seventeenth birthday. Not exactly every high school girl’s dream, but my dad wasn’t like most dads. He taught me to camp and fish and, particularly, to shoot. He had trained me in self-defense since I was nine, the year Mom fell apart and left for good. With my long legs, long arms, and Dad’s athletic genes, I could handle myself even back then. I suppose I wasn’t like most other girls.


After what happened on that fishing trip, I know I wasn’t.


Fishing with my dad didn’t mean renting a cane pole and buying bait pellets out of a dispenser at some catfish tank near an RV park. It generally meant tramping miles across a field to a glassy pond on some war buddy’s ranch, or winding through dense woods, pitching a tent, and fly fishing an icy stream far from the nearest telephone. The trips were rough, but they were the bright times of my life—and his, too. They let him forget the things that haunted him and remember how to be happy.


This particular outing was to a ranch in the Texas Panhandle, owned by a former Defense Department bigwig. The ranch bordered one of the few sizeable lakes in a corner of Texas that is brown and rocky and dry. We loaded Dad’s new Chevy pickup with cheese puffs and soft drinks—healthy eat­ing wouldn’t begin until the first fish hit the skillet—and left Dallas just before noon with the bass boat in tow. The drive was long, but we had leather interior, plenty of tunes, and time to talk. Dad and I could always talk.


The heat rose early that year, and the temperature hung in the nineties. Two hours after we left Dallas, the brand-new air conditioner in the brand-new truck rattled and clicked and dropped dead. We drove the rest of the way with the windows down while the high Texas sun tried to burn a hole through the roof.


Around five-thirty we stopped to use the bathroom at a rundown gas station somewhere southeast of Amarillo. The station was nothing but a twisted gray shack dropped in the middle of a hundred square miles of blistering hard pan. It hadn’t rained for a month in that part of Texas, and the place was so baked that even the brittle weeds rolled over on their bellies, as if preparing a last-ditch effort to drag themselves to shade.


The restroom door was on the outside of the station, iso­lated from the rest of the building. There was no hope of cool­ing off until I finished my business and got around to the little store in the front, where a rusty air conditioner chugged in the window. When I walked into the bathroom, I had to cover my nose and mouth with my hand. A mound of rotting trash leaned like a grimy snow drift against a metal garbage can in the corner. Thick, black flies zipped and bounced from floor to wall and ceiling to floor, occasionally smacking my arms and legs as if I were a bumper in a buzzing pinball machine. It was the filthiest place I’d ever been.


Looking back, it was an apt spot to begin the filthiest night of my life.


I had just leaned over the rust-ringed sink to inspect my teeth in the sole remaining corner of a shattered mirror when someone pounded on the door.


“Just a minute!” I turned on the faucet. A soupy liquid dribbled out, followed by the steamy smell of rotten eggs. I turned off the faucet, pulled my sport bottle from the holster on my hip, and squirted water on my face and in my mouth. I wiped my face on the sleeve of my T-shirt.


My blue-jean cutoffs were short and tight, and I pried free a tube of lotion that was wedged into my front pocket. I raised one foot at a time to the edge of the toilet seat and did my best to brush the dust from my legs. Then I spread the lotion over them. The ride may have turned me into a dust ball, but I was determined at least to be a soft dust ball with a coconut scent. Before leaving I took one last look in my little corner of mir­ror. The hair was auburn, the dust was beige. I gave the hair a shake, sending tiny flecks floating through a slash of light that cut the room diagonally from a hole in the roof. Someone pounded on the door again. I turned away from the mirror.


“Okay, okay, I’m coming!”


When I pulled open the door and stepped into the light, I shaded my eyes and blinked to clear away the spots. All that I could think about was the little air conditioner in the front window and how great it would feel when I got inside. That’s probably why I was completely unprepared when a man’s hand reached from beside the door and clamped hard onto my wrist.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stanley the Christmas Tree review

This is a cute children's book I'd like to tell you about.

Here is a summary I got from the website:

Stanley’s lifelong wish for a Special Family to spend his Christmas with seems lost when,
on Christmas Eve, he finds himself standing in an
alley with the Trash Can Family.

Alone and rejected, teased by the trash cans, Stanley is flocked by new
fallen snow and even in his loneliness feels proud when the cans agree,
“he is the best looking tree ever set out.”

Are the trash cans to be Stanley’s “Special Family” or is there a surprise waiting
to make his Christmas, “A Wish Come True?”

Stanley the Christmas Tree, A Wish Come True is a story for all ages.

A text enriched book for the entire family.

MY REVIEW

This is a sweet little book that is perfect for Christmas. The illustrations are lovely, beautifully bright and colourful. All three of my kids listened to me read the entire story which is always a good sign! Owen is my 5 year old son and his only complaint was that he wished there were MORE pictures since not every page has an illustration on it. Aiden is 6 and I think he enjoyed the story the most out of my three. Olivia is almost two and her favourite part was definitely the pictures. Both of my sons have asked me to read it several times which is a wonderful endorsement in my opinion. This book would make a nice addition to any child's Christmas book library!

Find out more at Stanleythechristmastree.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dove Campaign for REAL Beauty




I LOVE the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. I think it is brilliant. It is a message all women and girls need to hear.

What is the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty? Here is a brief explanation from the website:

Too many girls and young women develop low self-esteem from hang-ups about looks and consequently fail to reach their full potential in later life. The Dove Self-Esteem Fund (DSEF) was established as an agent of change to inspire and educate girls and young women about a wider definition of beauty. The DSEF is committed to help girls build positive self-esteem and a healthy body image, with a goal of reaching 5 million girls globally by 2010. It has already reached 2 million young women.

The Dove Self-Esteem Fund is part of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, a global effort designed to widen today’s stereotypical view of beauty. In the U.S., the DSEF supports the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Girls Scouts of the USA to help build confidence in girls 8-17 with after-school programs, self-esteem building events and educational resources. In the United Kingdom and other countries, the Fund supports Body Talk, an educational program about body image and self-esteem in schools. Since 2006, the Dove brand has conducted nearly 2,700 self-esteem educational workshops around the world.


You can visit www.campaignforrealbeauty.com to download free self-esteem building tools for girls, moms and mentors including: - True You and Mirror, Mirror booklets - Interactive exercises -Workshop Facilitator Guide DVD You can also visit http://www.rocketxl/dsef/assets/ where you can find the following awesome videos...









And my personal favourite- it actually brought tears to my eyes:




As that last video says- Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does!

The Mission Minded Family



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Mission Minded Family

Authentic (July 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Ann Dunagan lives with a passion for the LORD and the lost. She is a homeschooling mother of seven (ages 7 to 21), an author, and an international minister alongside her husband, Jon Dunagan. In 1986, the Dunagans founded Harvest Ministry, focusing on remote city-wide outreaches, church planting, National Evangelism Team Support (NETS), training orphans, and motivating others for missions. Ann has personally ministered in 29 nations: speaking to women, preaching in villages, training children and youth, and encouraging parents and teachers. She enjoys fervent worship, time with family and friends, and writing. The Dunagan family is based in Hood River, Oregon.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Authentic (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068438
ISBN-13: 978-1934068434

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Releasing Your Family to God’s Destiny

God has a destiny for your family. He has an individual plan for each member, as well as a “corporate” purpose for you as a family unit. God will help you, as parents, to train each child toward God’s mission for his or her life, and He will help you to focus your family toward making a strong impact for His kingdom—in your community, in your church, in your children’s schools, and in the world.

The Bible says in Psalm 127:4, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” This verse recently “hit” me in a new way as I was attending a graduation party. During the evening, a group of church leaders, led by the graduate’s father, gathered to pray for this young man. He had been raised to have a fervent heart for God and for world missions, and we prayed for God’s purposes to be fulfilled. As I laid my hands on the graduate’s mom (my dear friend Karen), I could sympathize with her mixed feelings: happiness and pride combined with a sad realization that this season in their family’s life was coming to an end. As we prayed, I “saw” (in my mind’s eye) her eighteen-year-old son as a straight arrow in a bow. Afterward, I leaned over and whispered in my friend’s ear, “You know, Karen, it’s not enough just to aim our arrows; to hit the target we’ve got to release the string!”

As our children grow, there will be repeated times of releasing each one to God: letting go of a little hand as a baby takes that first wobbly step . . . letting go of total educational control as a child steps onto that school bus or enrolls in that first college course. Or what about that moment when we let go of the car keys and an eager teenager plops into the driver’s seat of our car and takes control of the steering wheel?

Sometimes it’s very scary.

As I write this chapter, my husband and I have a nearly twenty-year old son climbing a dangerous mountain and then the following week heading to Oxford, England for a summer-long study-abroad program. Our eighteen-year-old son just graduated from high school and will soon be moving to a university two thousand miles from home. Our nearly sixteen-year-old daughter is just about to get her driver’s license.

No matter how many times I have released my children, I continually need to rely on God’s fresh grace for today’s particular moment. Whether it’s dropping off a little one into the arms of a church nursery worker or dropping off a young adult at an international airport, I need to trust God.

Just like Hannah released her little Samuel, I have surrendered each child to the Lord; yet I still have times when God convicts me that I need to rely on Him even more. At a deeper level, I need to continue to trust Him. With faith, I need to trust that God will direct each of my kids to fulfill His purposes (without me pushing them to do what I want). I need to trust that God will bring just the right spouse for each of my sons and daughters (without me trying to make something happen). And I need to trust God that He will protect my children as they begin to step out to fulfill His destiny (without me worrying or trying to figure it out).

As I have thought about this need to totally release each of my children to God’s purposes, I have tried to imagine—in my own finite way—what our heavenly Father must have experienced when He released His Child. God never struggles, but I believe He can relate to my feelings (and yours). He too had to release His Son—His only Son—in order to fulfill His plans for this earth.

Imagine with me:

What if someday God called one of my children . . . let’s just say, for an example, to go on a summer mission trip to Calcutta, India?

Would I be able to send him or her with confidence and joy?

If my husband and I prayed about the particular outreach and God gave us His peace about it, I know I would. My husband and I would uphold our child in prayer, and we would trust God’s direction. And as a mom, I would rely on Him for grace.

But the sacrifice God made was far greater . . .

What if someday a child of ours decided to move to Calcutta, India, for perhaps ten months . . . or ten years . . . or even longer? Could I handle that?

That would be much harder.

Although it would be difficult to live so far apart, I would do my best to support him or her through regular prayer and communication (and I would definitely hope for e-mail access!). If my grown child had a family, I would really miss getting to know my child’s spouse and his or her family; and I can hardly imagine how much I would yearn for time with those future grandchildren. Yet, if God was calling my child, I would let my child go . . . and rely on Him for extra grace.

But God’s sacrifice was still far greater . . .

So, to take the analogy one step further, what if my husband and I, back in time about twenty years ago, were expecting our first child, and God told us that He wanted us to surrender this precious newborn—right from birth? What if God said He had chosen a poor couple in Calcutta, India, to raise our baby? What if He said our little one would grow up in some obscure squatter village . . . would live among filth and poverty . . . would spend his life helping people . . . and, in the end, would be rejected, hated, and brutally killed by the very people he was sent to help?

Would I send my son to do that? How could I?

But (perhaps) that is a glimpse of what God did for us.

If we are going to raise a generation of world changers, it is likely that we will need to surrender our children into areas that may make us uncomfortable. He could call our child to pioneer a megachurch in a crowded inner city or to raise a large, God-fearing family in a quiet rural town. He may want our child to impact a corrupt political system or to redirect a greed-motivated business. He could call our precious son to enlist in the military or our pure daughter to have an effect on the media. He could call our child to Cairo, Egypt . . . or to New York City . . . or maybe even to Calcutta, India.

As mission-minded parents, will we “let go” of those arrows and encourage each child to fulfill the Lord’s plans? Or will we be God’s greatest hindrance?

It’s a heart issue, and it’s big.

Just as God released His Son for us, we need to totally release each of our children—again and again, every day—for His eternal purposes.


Pursuing God’s Purposes

An excerpt from The Missions Addiction, by David Shibley.

We whine, “I just want to know my purpose; I’ve got to reach my destiny.” We race all over the country to attend “destiny conferences,” and we devour tapes and books on “reaching your full potential.” It would be amusing if it were not so appalling. Even cloaking our self-centeredness in Christian garb and jargon cannot cover the nakedness of this cult of self that has infested much of the church. How can we ever hope to discover our purpose in the earth with little or no interest in His purpose? How will we ever know our destiny when we have so little identification with God’s destiny for the nations? It certainly is good to pray, “Lord, what is Your will for my life?” But even this can be a self-absorbed prayer. It is far better to pray, “Lord, what is Your will for my generation? How do You want my life to fit into Your plan for my times?”

Pursuing God’s purposes, not our own, is the path to personal fulfillment.


We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations

A missions hymn, by H. Ernest Nichol (1862–1928)

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,

That shall turn their hearts to the right,

A story of truth and mercy,

A story of peace and light,

A story of peace and light.

Chorus:

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright,

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,

That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,

A song that shall conquer evil,

And shatter the spear and sword,

And shatter the spear and sword.

We’ve a message to give to the nations,

That the Lord who reigneth above

Hath sent us His Son to save us,

And show us that God is love,

And show us that God is love.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,

Who the path of sorrow hath trod,

That all of the world’s great peoples

May come to the truth of God,

May come to the truth of God!

Chorus:

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright,

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.



“I have seen the Vision and for self I cannot live;

Life is less than worthless till my all I give.”

Oswald J. Smith


MY REVIEW

This is a wonderful book. It is just packed full of inspiring thoughts and ideas to get your family mission minded! I loved all the stories spread throughout the book. It is well written and easy to follow. This is a book you can pick up and thumb through anytime to find ideas, you don't have to read from front to back since it is broken up into handy sections. I found The Mission Minded Family to be a very engaging book all around.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I LOVE CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!!! CLOSED

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to Little Missus Sunshine, Karin, Michelle Sutton of It's Not About Me, Onangelwings of Maria's Space, and Shoz for winning great books!

I love Christmas. Love it. Not only is it Jesus' birthday but it is also MY birthday. In honour of Christmas and my 33rd birthday I have some wonderful books that I would like to give away as my Christmas present to you all!

If you would like to know more about the book just click on the cover.

1. Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn


2. Igniting the Moral Courage of America by Dean Kilmer


3. Keep the Faith by Faith Evans


4. One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling



5. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore





6. Dragonlight by Donita K. Paul

















7. The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann



















Would you like to win???

1. Leave me a comment here telling me which books you want to win!

Want extra entries? Leave a SEPARATE comment for each step you complete please...

2. Add my button to your site and leave me the link.

3. Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link to the post.

4. Twitter this giveaway and/or follow me on twitter (tarasview).

5. Stumble this giveaway or site.

6. Subscribe to this blog in the reader of your choice.

7. Follow this blog.

8. Go leave my husband some comment love on his photoblog, his regular blog, or his flikr stream. You can do this as often as you like, just make sure to come back and tell me you did it!

9. Go read my mom's blog and leave her some comment love. Trust me, she is NOT your typical mom. You can do this as much as you like too, but again, make sure you come back and tell me so I know!

10. Tell me something delightful. You can do this as many times as you like earning yourself unlimited entries. Merry Christmas :)

I will choose the winners on December 10th and you will have 48 hours to claim your prize. Please leave me a way to contact you if you win!

Don't forget to enter my other great giveaways...

The First Escape



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The First Escape

SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A motorcyclist and former rock band roadie turned Anglican minister, Graham Peter (G. P.) Taylor has been hailed as "hotter than Potter" and "the new C. S. Lewis" in the United Kingdom. His first novel, Shadowmancer, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2004 and has been translated into 48 languages. His other novels include Wormwood (another New York Times bestseller which was nominated for a Quill book award), The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street, Tersias the Oracle, and Mariah Mundi. Taylor currently resides in North Yorkshire with his wife and three children.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $ 19.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414319479
ISBN-13: 978-1414319476

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
















Saturday, November 22, 2008

In Charge



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


In Charge: Finding the Leader Within You

FaithWords (November 10, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Myles Munroe is the founder of the Bahamas Faith Ministries, a network of outreaches and churches headquartered in Nassau, Bahamas. He is a gifted orator and speaks to audiences around the world as both a preacher in church and parachurch settings and as a motivational speaker at large business gatherings and for other non-church organizations. He's authored more than a half-dozen books.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (November 10, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446580465
ISBN-13: 978-0446580465

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter 1


“I’m In Charge”: The Battery and the Wire

Who’s Got the Power?

“The value in each human is the gift they were born to deliver to humanity”




Which one of these is the most important part of a car: the battery or the terminal wire? You’ve probably never heard of the little red wire that connects the battery to the rest of the engine in the car. If you’re like most people you will say, “The battery. It has the power.”

Your car has about 60,000 parts. The battery says, “I’m in charge of all of them. Nothing starts without me. I’m the battery. I have the power. Power! Power! Power! I’m the one who starts everything. Nothing starts until I arrive. I’m the power. I’ve got the power to start the engine.”

Does that sound like some people you know?

Well, if the battery is the most important part of the car, let’s disconnect the wire. The battery costs about $150. The little red wire missing from the car costs about $10. You have 59,999 working parts and only a $10 wire missing. Without it, the car will not start. Your car may be worth $40,000, $50,000 or $100,000, but it can be immobilized by this $10 wire. You want to go somewhere. You have something to do! The car says, “I’m ready, but there’s a little $10 wire missing.”

The battery says, “I’ve got the power.”

A spark plug says, “I’ve got the fire.”

“The engine says, “I run the car!”

That little wire is very quiet. He does not have to say, “You need me. You can’t start without me.” All the other parts soon realize it, and they say, “Go find the wire.” The terminal wire was created to transmit electrical current from the battery to the generator and to the engine to ignite the spark plugs that provide the fire to turn the pistons and turn the engine over. In essence, the little terminal wire was designed to be the “leader” in the area of electrical transmission. In the domain of the terminal wire, the terminal wire is in charge. It might be just a little wire, but it could shut down the engine.

If that spot is empty, the car shuts down.

Each one of the car’s parts is a leader. A spark plug can never be a battery. A battery can never be a manifold. A manifold can never be a generator. Therefore, in the domain of the battery, the battery is in charge. It is unique because only it can be the battery — no matter how jealous the battery or the spark plug gets, no matter how much the steering wheel wishes to be a battery.

Each part is important. Every component of the car was designed to lead in a specific area and to serve a purpose or function in the context of the whole. Each one is a leader!

This concept of leadership contradicts the philosophy that leadership is reserved for a small, elite group of individuals “chosen by providence” and entitled to lead the masses of incapable subordinates in need of guidance by those of superior status. It is a direct challenge to what I was taught in the colonial experience of my childhood.

My view of leadership is this: each of us has an inherent gift and must serve that gift to the world. You are a leader. You have power. Your gift is your power. You are in charge in your area of gifting, your domain. You have a leadership spot to fill and a function to carry out. Your gift determines that spot and that function. Just as the value of the terminal wire is determined not by size or cost but by function, your value is not determined by anything but your gift. Someone needs your gift, and you must serve it to the world. You also need the gifts others bear to live.

So who’s in charge? You are! Who’s got the power? Everyone of us.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chat with an author!

WHO:

Joanna Weaver, pastor’s wife, mother of three and author of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life,” which shows women how to maintain closeness with Christ while balancing a busy schedule. She compares the life of a woman today to that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament, who experienced life struggles such as daily demands, resentment and feeling inadequate. Weaver shows how women today can draw closer to God, serve Him better and experience a greater joy.

WHAT:

“Authors at Abunga” Weekly Online Chat with Joanna Weaver at Abunga.com, an online bookstore offering family-friendly materials.

WHEN:

Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008
11 a.m. – Noon PST / 1 – 2 p.m. CST / 2 – 3 p.m. EST (LIVE)
At
www.Abunga.com/AuthorsAtAbunga

DETAILS:

During this busy season, Weaver offers advice and encouragement on how to minimize stress while staying focused on the important aspects of the upcoming holidays.

Weaver has also written the companion book, “Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out,” in which she gives additional insight into how readers can find hope, healing, wholeness and joy. A pastor’s wife for more than 26 years, Weaver speaks to women around the country on issues of the heart and drawing close to God.

For information, visit http://abunga.com/featuredauthorweaver.

Abunga.com is an online bookstore founded to provide families a protected shopping environment. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., Abunga.com offers safety with more than 2 million family-friendly titles; savings through distributor-direct prices and support to nonprofit organizations by donating 5 percent of each transaction to a consumer-selected charity. For more information, visit www.Abunga.com.

Pure Gold



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Pure Gold

Authentic (September 15, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


PAM DAVIS is an author and motivational speaker who views her charge as bringing the timeworn truths of Scripture to life. Pams candid teaching style not only enlightens but also entertains, leaving her audiences with a refreshed desire for the living Word of God. She lives with her husband, Steven, and three children in Fort Worth, Texas.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Authentic (September 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068640
ISBN-13: 978-1934068649

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Gold and Grace

I remember a time in college when I headed to the beaches in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for spring break. No, I wasn’t there for something honorable, such as being part of a missionary team doing beach evangelism. In fact, I was more like the prodigal son in the company of swine about to come to my senses.

I sat in my car, thinking, I can’t find you, God. I’ve tried everywhere, good places and bad, but I can’t find you. I’ve tried church, seminars, books, even Bible college.

Then I said out loud, “Running in circles, where to start?” And in my heart, an answer followed: “The answer lies within your heart.”

Hmmm. So I put my hands on the steering wheel and continued out loud, “Running in circles, where to begin?” And again in my heart I heard, “Quit seeking outside and seek within.”

This was such a novel thought. As a child, I had asked Jesus into my heart to save my sinful soul. So where did I expect to find him, except in my heart? As a confused college student, I suddenly realized the extent of my disorientation. Looking for God and his grace out there was like driving the wrong way on a highway. I’m doing everything right—foot on the gas, hands on the wheel, eyes on the road. And yet something’s terribly wrong—I’m causing one crash after another, and I have the dings and dents to show for it. Not to mention the fact that my anxiety is off the charts.

This reminds me of the story of a woman driving down the highway when her cell phone rings. It’s her husband, and frantically he shouts, “I just heard on the radio that a car is driving the wrong way on the highway you’re on. Please be careful!”

“Dear, it’s not one car,” the woman responds. “It’s hundreds of cars!”

We can easily be like that—disoriented. We can easily be disoriented from the truth that if we’re saved by God’s grace—through Christ Jesus—then he’s not merely out there as a transcendent reality. But he also lives immanently, within our spiritual hearts, guiding and equipping us from within. Maybe we become disoriented so easily because we live in a culture so foreign to this biblical truth of a God-within reality. So that there is no confusion as to the term God-within reality, let me quote the words of Bible teacher Arthur W. Pink: “The great mistake made by most of the Lord’s people is in the hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone.”1 If you have been born again by the Spirit of God, then indeed within you is Christ’s nature, and within him is the God-within reality.

Whether you’re driving on a highway or trying to find God, disorientation can be deadly. Jesus knew this. He sent a messenger to a group of Christians to point out their disorientation and to reorient them. No wonder these believers were disoriented. Look at the foreign environment where they lived. Their society focused on freedom so much that they named their city “Rights of the People.” They built their city in honor of a woman; so if a statue stood at the edge of town, it would have been a woman. These people, richest among their neighbors, established an elaborate banking system. Their textile industry made their citizens among the most finely dressed of their era. Their sophisticated medical school boasted advanced treatments.

No, this isn’t a city in your country! It was Laodicea, the home of a church Jesus sent a messenger to. Listen to his words: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich” (Revelation 3:17–18).

Could Jesus be talking to us? Could our environment be so similar to that of the Laodicean Christians that we’ve also become disoriented, claiming we do not need a thing? His words are addressed to the “church.” Could we—the church—be in a state of spiritual bankruptcy even though we’re saved? If so, what did Jesus mean that we can buy gold from him and become rich?

Let’s find out together—just in case we’re the ones driving the wrong way.


The Commodity: Grace That Yields Life

My friend Laura2 was a worker ant, or so it seemed. When she got up each morning, she organized her day, her husband’s day, and their four children’s day. Efficient, organized, and with a mind that worked at lightning speed, she was a vital member of her church, Parent-Teacher Association, and her husband’s business. I felt tired just listening to her schedule, and I often sighed in amazement at all she seemed to accomplish every twenty-four hours.

Yet this worker ant, who was part of God’s kingdom, grew unresponsive spiritually. Instead of the once-glowing and enthusiastic woman I loved to laugh with, my friend grew uniform and almost militant in her pursuit of productivity. Her spiritual life seemed to exist in a hole that she dug deeper and deeper away from the light. I remember praying, “God, she doesn’t have to be a worker ant. You recreated her to be a queen—one who has wings and can leave the hole she’s digging herself into to visit the heavens. You’ve transformed her and made her capable of breeding spiritual life.”

An opportunity arose in God’s divine timing. One day Laura came over for coffee and noticed a sticky note on my refrigerator that reads, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.” As she read it, she became deeply irritated and cried out, “If I don’t plan things, they won’t happen!” I countered, “Then what? You fail?”

After a moment, tears spilled from the corners of her eyes. Happiness, satisfaction, and joy had subtly been linked to productivity instead of to a relationship with Christ. That was okay for a worker ant. But not for a queen.

As we worked our way through a box of tissues together, we talked about the “have to’s” of life: have to take care of her family, have to fulfill what she felt God wanted to do through her in her church, have to be a helpmate in her husband’s business. Then the challenge surfaced: If she didn’t plan, how would she accomplish all the have to’s? What resource could she draw on?

I told Laura that God had been teaching me how his grace is a resource that yields life. We can accomplish our activities as a manifestation of that life. Each day we can experience joy instead of the slow death of a numbing routine. I knew because I had experienced it both ways. Like Laura, in my attempt to be an obedient Christian, I had somehow missed the message that we not only begin our salvation by grace but also live it out by grace. In fact, I had found a verse that said this perfectly: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3:3).

It took some time, but Laura began to yield to God. As she saw him working within her each day, his grace brought excitement and childlike anticipation to her life. Somehow, she still accomplished all the necessary tasks—not always in the order or the ways she anticipated—but they got done. This new way of living surfaced another, more powerful, force behind Laura’s need for productivity: her desire to be in control. Slowly and intentionally she discovered that when she yielded her control to Christ, she experienced his divine grace—the spiritual sweat of God’s diligent work in and through us.

In addition, like a queen ant, she hatched “eggs”—eggs of life. Because Laura possessed grace, other people she came into contact with were dusted effortlessly with life. The worker received grace by faith to be a queen.


Disgustingly Lukewarm Believers

Each of us must receive from the Holy Spirit the very real spiritual commodity of grace to live Christ’s life deposited within us. Receiving this grace comes through faith—faith in God instead of faith in self. Jesus desires that we possess all his riches: “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you” (John 16:15).

However, most of us are like Laura used to be. We get so wrapped up in getting through each day in an orderly fashion that we forget to put our faith in God. As we gradually transfer faith in him to faith in ourselves, we become lukewarm.

Jesus addressed this phenomenon in his message to the Laodicean Christians: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:14–16).

Jesus used strong language with these followers. He said, “I am about to spit you out.” Actually, that’s a nice way of saying, “I want to vomit you out”! Why did these Christians sicken Jesus so much?

In the ancient world, the master of the feast served cold beverages to refresh and revive or hot beverages to soothe and comfort. However, a lukewarm beverage—like drinking warm salt water—can make you sick. The Laodicean Christians knew this well, because they piped their drinking water from a city a few miles to the north. So by the time it reached their city, it was often lukewarm and even sickening to drink.

Yet instead of vomiting out these apathetic believers, Jesus offered them gold! This isn’t gold as we usually think of it. It wasn’t a tangible treasure. In fact, the Laodicean Christians had that. They paid more than twenty pounds in gold to Rome for taxes each year, yet Jesus called them “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Instead, Jesus offered gold that the Old Testament prophet Malachi described this way: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3).

God’s pure gold is his grace. Only this kind of gold can make us truly rich. Instead of us being wretched and afflicted, his grace enables us to endure troubles. Instead of us being pitiful, God’s grace supplies us with the power to perform. Instead of us being poor and empty in satisfaction, his grace gives us wealth of significance. Instead of us being blind, the Lord’s grace enables us to perceive eternal reality. And instead of us being naked, impoverished morally, and dishonoring of our purpose for existence, God’s grace allows us to be clothed in right standing with him and able to offer righteous acts that will revive and comfort our disoriented world. All this will happen as we buy gold from Jesus.

The word buy is interesting (Rev. 3:17–18). Isn’t God’s grace free? Should Jesus have said, “receive” instead of “buy”?

Jesus is specific and intentional, and he indeed does say, “Buy.” Why? Because when you buy instead of receive, your heart moves toward what you desire at a cost. In essence, Jesus was saying to these Christians who lived in a materially abundant society, “Don’t just desire to be rich in God’s grace; take action at a cost to yourself to receive grace.” Let’s examine what that looks like.


Physical and Spiritual Gold

Even though God’s grace is spiritual gold, we can understand it better by comparing it to physical gold. For example, we know from artifacts of ancient civilizations that physical gold has been treasured since the beginning of history.3

Grace—spiritual gold—has also been treasured since the beginning of history. Philo, a first-century Jewish philosopher asserted,

The just man seeking to understand the nature of

all existing things, makes this one most excellent

discovery, that everything which exists, does so

according to the grace of God, and that there is

nothing ever given by, just as there is nothing

possessed by, the things of creation. On which

account also it is proper to acknowledge gratitude

to the Creator alone. Accordingly, to those persons

who seek to investigate what is the origin of

creation, we may most correctly make answer, that

it is the goodness and the grace of God, which he

has bestowed on the human race; for all the things

which are in the world, and the world itself, are

the gift and benefaction and free grace of God.4

Physical gold is also rare and beautiful. Even primitive people greatly desired this precious metal. However, they didn’t value gold for its beauty alone. They thought gold was divine—the sweat of the gods.5 When the ancient Egyptians discovered gold nuggets in riverbeds, they concluded that the gods had been working in Egypt and that the nuggets of gold provided evidence of the gods’ sweat. They also believed that this rare commodity held magical power to cure illness and give knowledge.

Grace, spiritual gold, is certainly rare and beautiful—so rare that we can only find it in one source: Jesus Christ. Grace is also mystical, because we can’t explain how grace given by Jesus Christ can cure illness, give knowledge, and impart life. The apostle Paul expressed it this way: “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! . . . For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ”

(Romans 5:15, 17).

Further, grace is truly divine. We could say that God’s grace is the spiritual sweat of his diligent work. Jesus said, “My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too, must be at [divine] work” (John 5:17 amp).

I like this summary of God’s grace: inexhaustible, unmerited benefits that give us joy, pleasure, goodwill, thanksgiving, and the essential benefit—spiritual life.


A God of Grace

Almost everyone knows the Old Testament account of Noah and the ark. But in the many retellings of these events, we often miss the point. God revealed his abiding presence, provision, and authority, showing himself to be a God of grace, to Noah and his entire family and to generations that followed.

When I think about the story of Noah, I envision it like this:

In Noah’s time, lust had replaced love. The lust

for wealth led to murder. The lust for sex led to

beastly unions. Noah tried to remind his friends

and coworkers that they were fortunate to have

life in their bodies, to have food in their bellies,

and to have children in their arms. All this

provided evidence of the goodness of their God.

But they wouldn’t listen. They didn’t care. Their

evil thoughts and actions vilely betrayed the love

of their unseen God.

Alone, with his eyes toward heaven, Noah

searched for God’s formless face. Silently, he

declared his devotion to righteousness, knowing

in the pit of his being that this pleased God. And

God responded, “Noah, I’m going to put an end

to all people, for the earth is filled with violence.

All the people of earth have corrupted their ways.

I am surely going to destroy both them and the

earth.” The words sent a shock through Noah’s

body. But before Noah could respond, God

added, “But you, Noah, have found grace in my

sight.”

Of course, the rest of Noah’s story is well

known. God instructed him to build the ark,

to gather pairs of every kind of animal, and to

prepare for the flood. Noah and his wife, and

their sons and their wives, along with the animals,

were the only survivors of the flood.

After the floodwaters subsided, Noah stood

with the grass moist beneath his feet and his

sun-kissed face toward heaven. He beamed as

tears streamed down his cheeks. Birds fluttered

overhead. The jackrabbit and kangaroo seemed

to race. Horses galloped by as bears rolled in

the grass, scratching their backs. With his hands

clasped behind his back, Noah felt a fragile hand

in his own. He turned and again was enraptured

by his own mate’s eyes. “God has made a new

home for us,” she whispered tenderly.

At that moment, voices they’d heard a

thousand times registered in their ears: “Mom!

Dad! Look!” Turning toward their children, Noah

and his wife saw the heavens as a brilliant canvas

cascading with vibrant colors. A new home, a

new land, love, harmony, blessing. Fixed on the

glorious sky, Noah declared, “This rainbow is a

sign of God’s grace toward all life on the earth.”

(author’s summary of Genesis 6:9–9:17)


Eternal Drudgery or Eternal Dynasty?

Even today God testifies that he a God of grace. Yet we often fail to stake our claim on the gift of grace in Jesus Christ. Like my friend Laura, we face a choice of what we want to participate in. We might call it eternal drudgery or eternal dynasty. So often we choose the drudge—and we end up feeling lost, hopeless, useless, numb, stale, and even obsolete.

God, however, wants us to choose the dynasty and that is why Jesus warns: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

What keeps us from making the obvious choice—the lifegiving choice of God’s grace? I believe for most of us it is a fundamental misunderstanding of grace. Jerry Bridges wrote, “I suspect most of us would say we declared permanent bankruptcy. Having trusted in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, we realized we could not add any measure of good works to what He has already done. However, I think most of us, actually declared temporary bankruptcy. Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us to Heaven, but we think they earn God’s blessings in our daily lives.”6

For most of us, just trudging through life day to day blinds us from seeing our need for God’s grace. Look at the following areas of life, and think about how each of these can challenge your need for God’s grace.


• Spiritual life: Do you feel barren or empty? Or do you sense that you’re growing and even reproducing life in others?

• Physical life: Do you constantly sense a decrease in force or energy? Or are you alive with energy provided by your relationship with the Holy Spirit?

• Mental life: Do you feel like you’re regressing from a state of stability—maybe feeling lost or even having perverse thoughts? Or do you feel vivid, charged, and stable, with your experiences creating pleasant and fulfilling memories?

• Emotional life: Do you go through most days feeling numb, lacking power to respond? Or do you feel passionate about your relationship with the Lord—having a relationship that you could describe as glowing or on fire?

• Appearance: When you look in the mirror, would you describe yourself as lacking radiance, cold, or even steely? Or would you say that you’re bright, glowing, and animated because of your relationship with Christ?

• Activities: As you go through each day, week, month, and year, do you see the things you need to accomplish as decreasing in quality or as too uniform and listlike in nature? Or do you find a variety in your activities that allows you to approach them with a sense of vigor and a satisfaction that you’re accomplishing tasks out of your love for God?

• Relationships: Do you find yourself easily offended or sense that your relationships with others are stale? Or would you describe your relationships as pure, vital, and functioning because of who you are in Christ?

If the first question in each of these areas describes you more often than the second, you might sum up your feelings by saying that your physical existence is more an experience of death than life.

But is that really what you want? Instead, most of us would rather answer yes to each area’s second question. Those questions describe true life when we embrace God’s precious treasure of grace.

How conscious are you of God’s desire to extend his grace to you each day? Maybe your image of God is one of a detached king in an air-conditioned heaven, feasting on grapes and wine. But that’s not who God is at all! Instead, he is working, creating you in Christ to be a work of grace and to do his works of grace. God is a hands-on God, who works efficiently, extending grace with his hand of Light—Christ. God touches us with the Holy Spirit, causing us to grow, have life, and bear fruit for him. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 15:16).

“I chose you.” Those three words alone illustrate how God actively works in our lives. Pastor and teacher Oswald Chambers commented on those three words: “That is the way the grace of God begins. It is a constraint we cannot get away from; we can disobey it, but we cannot generate it. The drawing is done by the supernatural grace of God, and we can never trace where His work begins. Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself.”7


The King’s Throne: God’s Throne of Grace

I will never forget one of the most dramatic examples of God’s grace at work that I have ever witnessed. In October 1996 Yankee Stadium was filled with people on their feet. The roar was deafening. The pitch was thrown, and the home crowd went wild as the pop-up was caught, and the New York Yankees won the World Series. John Wetteland, the thirty-year-old closing pitcher, was swept up in the air by his teammates. My husband, Steven, and I sat in front of our television set with tears streaming down our cheeks as we watched John scan the stands, searching for his wife, Michele.

I first met Michele in the spring of 1990, when both of our husbands were in major league spring training camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet I’d heard of Michele much earlier. Before either of us got married, our future husbands, Steven and John, were roommates during winter ball in Puerto Rico. Apparently, the women pursuing John in his single days were notorious, and the other ballplayers teased John about his pursuers, referring to them as a harem.

Michele was busy pursuing God’s will for her life, attending college and working part-time. When John, the renowned “king of the ladies,” visited her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, for a series of games, Michele was certainly intrigued and fascinated, but not captured. Michele already considered herself part of a harem—she was a bride of the Lord Jesus, and she resided in his court, respecting his kingdom’s rule.

This posed a problem for John, who indeed was captured by Michele. Instead of being lured by John’s gold and the prospect of more gold, Michele turned away. Like the Grinch in the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, John was struck with amazement: What’s this? No cards? No calls? No boxes? No bows?

Intrigued and fascinated by whatever commodity could compete with his own, John met the lover of Michele’s soul—the Lord Jesus Christ. Admitting that he’d been trying for years to fill a void in his life that he never could fill, John surrendered himself to God’s kingdom and received an overabundance of grace—the spiritual gold that really satisfies.

Steven and I watched as John stood beside Michele and their twin daughters to receive the trophy for the Most Valuable Player in the World Series. Emotion-filled words choked from his lips: “I would first like to thank Jesus Christ—my point man. Then my wife, Michele, who is my rock.” John was correct with this declaration, because the Rock of Jesus Christ is inside Michele Wetteland. Her spiritual grasp was stretched in her courtship with John, and now she’s richer in every way for choosing to possess God’s grace, instead of merely the world’s gold.


Thrones of Gold

All of us must make the same choice that Michele faced. Will we place ourselves or the world or a myriad of other things on the throne of our lives? Or will we become royal children of God, placing him on the throne to rule and make us rich with his grace? As followers of Christ, each believer becomes part of God’s royal spiritual kingdom. Since we are his royal children, God doesn’t withhold any good thing from our spiritual life. The psalmist wrote, “The Lord God . . . gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11 nlt).

Of course, the false thrones of the world certainly look attractive. This was true even in ancient civilizations. The pharaohs and high priests of Egypt sat on gold thrones, and their palaces and temples sparkled and gleamed with gold. They sat on hammered gold-sheathed furniture surrounded by golden statues. Gold thread shimmered in draperies, tapestries, and clothing. The very walls shone with gold. At night royalty slept on gold beds. When Queen Hatshepsut rose from her morning bath, she powdered her body with gold dust. The Egyptians buried their royalty in gold, wrapping their bodies in yards and yards of linen strips with golden jewels placed in the wrappings. The coffins that held the wrapped bodies and the jars that held their vital organs were covered in gold. We could say that a royal Egyptian’s journey through life to afterlife was a path of gold.8

In contrast, God offers us his true throne of grace. He and Jesus are seated on this throne of grace. Yet God’s grace also pervades every part of his kingdom. He purchased his royal children’s salvation with grace. We, his heirs, are covered with grace. We display his grace, and we sit with him by grace. Because we are royal children of God, our journey through life to eternity is a path of grace.

The writer of Hebrews described the Lord’s throne this way: “We have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. . . . Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16).


God’s Grace: Spiritual Wealth

You might recall the Old Testament account of Sarai and Abram. God gave this husband and wife an opportunity to exercise their faith and to increase their capacity to receive spiritual wealth—God’s grace. God initiated his grace by calling Sarai, and by faith she received grace when she obeyed God by following her husband.

Sarai was stunningly beautiful. Living in the excitement of a metropolitan city, this woman had looks, wealth, love, and servants. Even her name was a blessing: “my princess.” Yet for all the things Sarai had, she lacked one thing—a child. In her day, nothing she possessed compared with what she lacked.

Then God told Sarai, through Abram, to leave her familiar surroundings and travel with Abram to an unknown land that he would show them, promising that it would be worth their while. The land they journeyed to was occupied by another nation, and the people there were experiencing a famine. This meant that Sarai and Abram faced famine as well when they arrived. What were they to do? Trust in self-rule or God’s rule? God had placed them on the road, and they would learn that God would preserve them on the road. They would learn to follow, not lead.

Fearing for his life, due to the famine in the land, Abram decided to take an independent journey, traveling from the land of God’s choosing down to Egypt and right out of God’s perfect will. Then, fearing that the pharaoh might kill him and seize Sarai for his harem, Abram stepped further out of God’s will and hatched his own plan.

Abram said to Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you” Genesis 12:11–13).

The choice Sarai faced didn’t appear to be a grace-laden path at all. Instead, it appeared to be a dead end, where she would lose her chastity, her honor, and her promise for a happy and fulfilled life. She found herself at a crossroads of two kingdoms: not Egypt’s or her husband’s, but self-rule or God’s rule. Certainly, self-rule seemed reasonable, because Sarai thought she would lose everything. Assertiveness, as we will see later, wasn’t something she lacked. Yet God promised her what self-rule could never give her: a child.

So Sarai trusted God, yielding to her husband and obeying his wishes. This placed her right in the gold-adorned court of Pharaoh, Egypt’s ruler. The Egyptian courts at this time were lavish in golden d├ęcor. The Egyptian goldsmiths were experts at combining different colors of gold in their patterns. Adding iron gave gold a purple hue, copper made it red, and silver made the gold pale yellow.

Draped in an array of physical gold as part of the king’s harem, Sarai remained obedient to God. Although she was physically trapped in Egypt, she had not ventured spiritually from the court of the King of Kings. God rescued this royal child and, consequently, her husband and their entire entourage, sending “great plagues” on Pharaoh and his household. This all happened before Egypt’s king could violate her in any way. Abram, her husband, was shamed for his lack of faith in attempting to sustain his life apart from obedience to God.

With Sarai’s spiritual grasp stretched by exercising her faith, she possessed more grace/gold than when she arrived; she left Egypt as a wealthy woman spiritually as well as materially. Pharaoh treated Abram well for Sarai’s sake, and Abram acquired sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and servants.


The Golden Path of Grace

Sarai chose the path of grace. This golden road leads away from trusting in self-rule toward complete reliance on God. As Christ’s followers, we all face this choice. Will we place ourselves or Jesus Christ on the throne of our lives? If we choose to let Jesus reign, God promises that we will experience the richness of his grace in our present life and in eternity. The apostle Paul eloquently described this great gift of grace: “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]” (Ephesians 2:10 amp).

Did you catch that? God has prepared paths for us, and we should walk in them! Yet we so often stumble on the path, failing to live the abundant life God has for us. Paul addressed the reason for our stumbling: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone.’ As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’” (Romans 9:30–33).

How interesting that Paul described Jesus as a stumbling stone. Think about that. You don’t stumble over a mountain or even a huge boulder. You stumble over a nugget that’s right under your nose, because you didn’t see it. That’s the way it is with God’s grace. His grace is right under our noses, there to meet our every need throughout each day. But instead of realizing it, and instead of kneeling down and receiving it, we stumble along in unbelief.

Walking the golden path of grace isn’t a scurry through the mall or a race measured by speed. It’s a deliberate, intentional climb up the jagged face of a mountain with stones mixed in with hard dirt.

When we think about the consequences of stumbling while climbing a mountain compared to stumbling on a flat terrain, we understand why the psalmist declared, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). A light on a dark and dangerous mountain, pointing out nuggets that when overlooked would become stumbling stones, would be the difference between a steady assent and a bloody heap of broken bones.

In the same way, as we travel up the golden path of grace, God’s written Word is the light that points to who Christ is and the grace we can receive. When we see and receive nuggets of truth of who he is on our individual, prearranged path and trust him completely, we are never put to shame. “I want those already wise to become the wiser and become leaders by exploring the depths of meaning in these nuggets of truth” (Proverbs 1:5–6 lb). Possessing his spiritual richness and abundance sounds better

than a bloody heap of broken bones!


—————————— Nuggets——————————

G od’s

R iches

A t

C hrist’s

E xpense

——————— A Prayer of Grace ———————


Lord God, we acknowledge we exist only because of your grace toward us. You are our Creator, and we praise you for our very existence, our planet, and all that spans beyond our universe. We acknowledge the rarity and beauty of your grace given to us in Jesus Christ, and we know that no one can come to you apart from him.

Father, we acknowledge that you are always working in and around us, pouring out your grace as you re-create us in Christ Jesus to do the very works of grace you have preplanned for us. We acknowledge that two roads exist in life. One we walk by our natural resources that lead to destruction. The other we walk intentionally as a spiritual road of grace that leads to life. Thank you for providing this golden road of grace and the gate, Jesus Christ, by which we gain access.

Help us, Lord, to slow our pace, to take our steps cautiously, so as to live the abundant life you have prearranged and made ready. Amen.


——————— Questions for Reflection ———————

• Reflect on a time when you or your family was lost. How did it make you feel?

• What were some of the reasons you lost your way?

• If walking the golden path of grace isn’t a scurry through the mall or a race measured by speed, how conducive is your lifestyle to carefully walking the golden road of grace? Is your goal to keep pace with grace or pace with the world?

• Consider a time when you have stumbled in unbelief in difficult circumstances. How did God show you he was present and there for you?


Notes

1. Arthur W. Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1955), 200.

2. Not her real name.

3. Richard B. Lyttle, The Golden Path (New York: Atheneum Books, 1983), 15.

4. Philo Judaeus, The Works of Philo (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995), CD-ROM.

5. Lyttle, Path, p. 21.

6. Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 17.

7. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1935), 73.

8. Lyttle, Path, p. 10.

 
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