Stepping into the Light: The Blog
It's the last day of August 2009 and here are five reasons August was a really good month for me:
- I sat down with someone who felt a bit sad and shared with him the story of what it was like for me when my late husband died and what God provided in my life afterward. Going back to Jae's deathbed over lunch made me cry a little, but the young man with whom I shared it said he felt more hopeful that real love can happen more than once in a lifetime, and that's a good thing.
- I watched my husband Benjamin forgive a friend who did his best to deeply wound him with words. He accepted the following apology and talked over the incident calmly with his friend. Mature behavior in one's man is a real turn-on.
- My husband gave me more reason to admire him when he gave someone in our church a second chance, but had sense enough to add locks to a couple of doors. Married men, if you don't know, your wives are thrilled with any opportunity to feel proud of you. (Any married lady who has not made this clear to your husband, start letting him know.)
- Seeing many, many dear friends we had missed was one of the highlights of a trip to Tennessee for a Faith Conference at Faith Mission Ministries, Inc. Sharing the trip with our two boys and several members of our church seriously sweetened the experience for me and my husband.
- On August 2nd, we officially became part of the Faith Mission Ministries family of churches under Bishop Harold K. Browning. Our church is no longer made up of St. Stephen's people and Koinonia Faith people. We are St. Stephen's Koinonia Church and we have each other's backs. We're in love with God and the work He has called us to do is our focus.
Those are the highlights of August for me, but not the end of my list of things for which to thank God this month. At the same time, bad things happened too, but reminding ourselves of the good makes the bad seem so much less worth mentioning.
What were your August highlights? Remember that when you share your stories of what He has done, God is glorified and you may just increase someone else's hope.
By Yvette Nietzen:
2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. (NKJ)
We had ahalf breed pit bull that had everything going for him here. He had food, fresh bones, a large yard, and even a doghouse with a warm blanket to sleep in, and owners that cared for him.
One particular morning, a female dog wandered into the yard. (Continue to the Fresh Wind Ministries blog to read the full post.)
By Matthew Costner:
Today’s been a hard day. I woke up early to get to my first meeting at 8:00, and then spent the next several hours casting vision and sharing dreams about Valley View (the church I pastor) to the folks I was meeting with. I left to rush home to have 2 more phone meetings, and then the last phone call that I was going to make was to my dad to get him to pray for the things that I have felt heavily called to participate in and hopefully get my church to participate in. Enter here the conversation that no one wants to hear… My dad informed me that a dear friend to him and our family committed suicide. (Read the full post on A Holy Mess, a blog by Matthew Costner.)
Late Sunday night, I read halfway through quite an inspirational book. Here is an excerpt from page 13 of Sandy Hancock's book "Letting Go: Pathway to an Amazing Life" :
"A couple of months after my son was born, he was taken away and placed in foster care. Within a couple of months after this happened, my husband left me stranded while I was in an auto part store."
How did Sandy get from this low point in her life to claim a life full of love and contentment? How can you let go of whatever is keeping you from claiming the life God meant for you?
"Letting Go: Pathway to an Amazing Life" will teach you where and how to find the hope you need to let go of whatever is holding you back and move toward God's best for you. Here is a video of author Sandy Hancock to tell you more:
Enter to win a free copy of "Letting Go" by leaving a comment below.
In Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife: He Speaks…Can you hear Him? author Kathryn Bonner shares her true confessions, revealing her teenage pregnancy and the many different ways God has spoken into her life, through subtle and profound ways, and even through humorous means, shedding light on the unique voice of God! Anyone from the outside looking in would think Kathryn’s “charmed life” had always been just that. As you read this page turner of confessions, you will discover that has not always been the case. Discover how to take steps with God, believing Him to guide and direct you, even when you don’t know where He’s taking you! Are you ready to hear Him speak into your life? Kathryn’s prayer for you is to know how God reveals Himself to you. You will learn to hear Him, and recognize His voice after reading Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife: He Speaks…Can You Hear Him?
Anyone who leaves a comment to this post will be entered in a drawing to win an autographed copy of Confessions of a Pastor's Wife: He Speaks...Can You Hear Him.
Kathryn, when and how were you first inspired to write Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife?
I write about this in the intro of the book. It was literally like a burning bush moment for me. In 2004 God gave me all of the chapter titles all at once. He was literally speaking this book into me! I never expected it! It’s one of the reasons the subtitle is "He Speaks, Can You Hear Him?" I literally ran into my office and grabbed my prayer journal and began writing all of the chapter titles down as fast as He was delivering them to me. They came in perfect speed―it was overwhelming and awesome! I stood there in amazement staring at each chapter title―knowing what would be in every single chapter! Of course, immediately thereafter began to have all of the feelings of being unable, unworthy, and unqualified to do this work. But it was God who gave it to me and He who made the way for it to be completed.
What was the process of writing this book? Was this an all-at-once kind of epiphany or did this take years, collecting thoughts and ultimately putting them together?
I mentioned before how God gave me the book to write in 2004, but it wasn't until 2006 that I really began to write it. He had to build my faith further, nudging me along. One of the ways in which He continued the prompting was that He provided me with a life coach to hold me accountable, to push me. Then once I finally surrendered all of the self-doubt, unworthiness and fears I began standing in this beautiful place of faith, with His power. He gave me a joy around it and then I began to write. It was like opening up a vein, it just began to flow. There were times when I couldn't pull myself away from the writing, that's when the writing is great! That's when you feel the power of God, the Holy Spirit moving through you, Him speaking. That's the gift He gives me in it. I am so thankful for this gift. It's all from Him, all of it. I love it.
In the chapter of your book called "Discovering God", you say that there are "moments when God speaks to you through your dreams". Does God still speak to you in your dreams?
Oh yes, He sure does, and I hope He never stops! He also speaks to my husband in dreams. Dreams seem to be one of the ways He has revealed major transactions that are headed our way. He speaks profoundly to me through the dreams. It’s not every day, but when it happens it’s intense. In the book I write about some of the dreams He has given me that have come to pass. He’s also done so with Bruce.
You talk about the many ways in which God speaks to us. Do you hear His voice audibly or is it an inner sense of His voice? Also can you share a few ways in which God speaks and reveals Himself to us, while backing this up through Scripture?
I don’t hear Him in an audible voice, it’s with an inner voice that I hear Him, and I hear Him through His Word. Some Biblical references in which God speaks to us are: Exodus 3:14: God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" ACTS 9:15: "But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.'" 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
The book frequently takes a humorous approach; I found the chapter titled "The Bug Truck" to be deep and absolutely hilarious all at the same time. It has a kind of an intimate "Ya Ya Sisters" kind of thing. Do you think of your book as something that will appeal more to women than to men? Why or why not?
Women love it, and they laugh as they fly through the pages and then they cry as they land on the very next sentence. It’s been very soul stirring. You know, at first I thought that it would have an appeal mainly to women; however, I am getting incredible feedback and actual responses from men. Men are really able to relate to this book on numerous levels. They have shared how parts of it have essentially moved them emotionally as well. This book is about marriage, talks about becoming a blended family, and talks a lot about Bruce and his approach to our marriage, speaks to raising our children, financial concerns, and being a supportive partnership in marriage. So it has been speaking volumes to men, which I am glad to hear... God is good.
How did your husband Bruce support your efforts with the book?
Bruce was totally supportive. He was an encourager to me. He prayed for me, he knew that this was something new for me and he enjoyed the process along with me. I think he was rather fascinated with the way that God had spoken this book into me.
Was he at all curious about just how much "confessing" appears in the book?
I'm sure he was a bit, but interestingly enough he wasn't asking to read it, he wasn't asking me what I was writing. I found that interesting, because if it were him writing a book, I know that my curiosity would get to me, I'd want to read each page as it was written. He didn't do that at all. He just watched me as I wrote, sat back and smiled at it all.
What do you think is the essence of what you felt compelled to say?
Oh wow, that feels like a loaded question! There are so many things regarding faith, family, how God moves and so much more. I think the two main things that I want people to recognize is how God uses each of us, and the other thing would be the most beautiful and profound ways He speaks to us. He uses you to speak into my life, into my heart, to hear Him. This book is a portion of my life story, (not all of it certainly and there are more books to come). In this non-fiction faith story, you will find pieces of your very own faith story as you turn the pages, you will hear the quiet whispers being spoken lovingly straight into your very own ears. God has a way of speaking; He has a desire to be heard, and to be trusted by us. He has such wonderful and glorious things to reveal to us, not only through His powerful Word, but also through all of His people. I am compelled by God to share the ways in which HE SPEAKS to us, all of the many and wondrous ways… through Dreams, through Wise Counsel, through the Stillness of Meditation Alone in our Closets, through The Whisper of the Wind, through a Bumper Sticker, through Children, through the Clouds, and in so many other ways! None of them are farfetched at all! I want it to be known how the Holy Spirit works, in the holy and mysterious ways. He wants us to hear Him so He uses the multifaceted ways to grab us, ways that He knows we will hear. The Bible reveals to all of us many of the ways He speaks. Through Clouds, through Donkeys, through Burning bushes and the list goes on and on. Our lives are a walk of faith, struggle, joy, and more struggles and more faith, but we are never alone, never without El Roi – Our God who sees us.
How has the book been received so far by those who have read it?
It's been really cool for me. My sister called after she read it and said "Wow, I'm so surprised, pleasantly surprised!" She didn't realize the writing ability that I had; I laughed and said that I had no idea either. My mom and dad love it, and of course they would. My mother-in-law raves about it and says I should be on Oprah, which makes me laugh. Bruce loves it, of course. My kids adore it; my sons-in-law enjoy it and are proud of me, Of course each of my family members would respond that way. What has been wonderful to see though is all the reader responses on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, all give it 5 Star ratings, even men have made comments on it. The other blessings are the emails and calls and notes that I have received telling me how the book has moved them, how it's spoken to them, increased their faith walk, made sense in areas of their lives where they needed that exact Word from God. Others, tell me that there are so many places that they can relate, and still others tell me that they feel like they know me better, and understand the way that God speaks because of it. This is the essence of the book, and speaks directly to the subtitle "HE SPEAKS CAN YOU HEAR HIM?"
What, in your opinion, will readers find most surprising about the life of a pastor's wife?
That we are just as human as they are, we make mistakes. I will make more mistakes, certainly not intentionally, just because I am human. I am very honest and candid in sharing my truth, my life, and my confessions of when and how I have messed up, done things the wrong way and what I've learned from it. I think that they can have certain expectations of who we are as a pastor's wife, or who we should be, that in reality we just aren't. And yet, they may also find that to be refreshing. I am a leader among women, and enjoy that role, and I am a woman who loves the Lord with every inch of myself and want so badly for the world to love Him as much as I do. I hope that they find me to be normal, very real, and see that I am trying to walk out my faith the best I can. They may be surprised to note that in my daily living I am a bit ditsy, (OK, maybe that won't really be surprising!)
What are your plans for the future in the publishing world? Think you have any more books in you?
Oh yes, there are at least four more to come. I have also written a Bible Study Companion to this book, it’s in the first stages of completion. I have written a guided Biblical Meditation titled "In The Potters Hand" which is derived from Jeremiah 18:1-5, and it is beautiful, and profound and straight from God. It can be found on www.AwakeningsLifeCoaching.com. I am also in the beginning stages of the second book now. This is truly a calling the Lord has placed right in the middle of my heart.
What else does God have you doing these days, Kathryn, and how can our readers connect with you?
I am in the process of writing more books, and just finished the Bible Study Companion to this book. I am a Life Purpose Coach, and I do two day 1-1 individual retreats facilitating Life Plans for women, the part I love―which is an amazing thing to witness― is when a woman discovers her purpose and passion. My husband also does Life Plans for men. We do couples' Life Plans as well. I am an instructor through LPCCI for those who are interested in becoming a Life Coach. I am an international speaker and enjoy traveling to the various parts of the world encouraging and sharing the wonders of God! My websites are www.AwakeningsLifeCoaching.com (based on Isaiah 50:5 “He awakens me morning by morning…) and www.KathrynBonner.com I am putting together a Writers Retreat in September for Christian Women. They can register for this retreat and find out more about this opportunity by going to my website www.WomenOfPassionatePurpose.com.
We all want the gift of forgiveness, but how gracious are we when it's our turn to forgive? Do we wonder, "What's in it for me?"
Turns out, there is a lot in it for you when you forgive. Don't pass up your blessing.
We all enjoy FREE gifts too. For a FREE copy of "The Gift of Forgiveness", a 13-page e-booklet packed with wisdom about the benefits of forgiveness--from the Bible and from personal experience--send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment to this post, and I will email "The Gift of Forgiveness" to you.
The only things keeping you or me from exhibiting God's own creative power are our deficiency of faith, our failure to see through the eyes of God, and the limits placed on us by our physical bodies. [Is that you asking, "Oh, is that all?"] Jesus is quoted in in Matthew 17:20, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible to you."
Why is the tiny mustard seed a symbol of faith? The seemingly insignificant mustard seed simply does what God created it to do, having no doubt. The miniscule mustard seed becomes a powerful herb, harvested for its many gastronomic and health benefits.
If we lived up to our potential like the mustard seed, what would limit our ability to live in the image of God?
(Photograph of mustard field by Crystal Woroniuk, copyright 2009)
Faith depends on the power of God and thus rises above the limits of reason, which depends on the power of the human brain. Faith "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is not limited to human knowledge, logic, or understanding. This message stands out in the Bible, which requires its believers to "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Does this mean that the faithful should not be rational?
A jetliner is meant to soar through the air, to take its passengers from one location to another far away. The jet has wings for this purpose. The jet also has wheels and without its wheels, the jet can't get off the ground to fly. Think of the wheels as reason and the wings as faith. How does this illustration change your perception of the two scripture verses mentioned above?
(Photograph by Pablo Barrios)