Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jesus and the Beanstalk by Lori Roeleveld

I've been hearing about this book for a while now. Heard it wasn't like anything else out there. Heard it wasn't going to be "for everybody." 

Once I finally got my hands on it, I understood.

It is NOT like any thing I've ever read. It's part Christian living, but not like what you think of when you hear "Christian living." It's part devotional, but not like what you think of when you hear "devotional."

It is other.

Which is appropriate, because overcoming giants? Living a fruitful life? That requires something OTHER.

You don't need me to tell me you that. You already know. You already know that the usual stuff isn't going to cut it. And that's why you need to read this book. 

Lori is not interested in patting you on the back and telling you a fluffy story. This is a grown up story for grown ups fighting grown up giants in grown up battles.

If you're looking for a book full of platitudes that will make you feel better, this book isn't for you. If you're happy remaining childish in your faith, then you should pass.

But it you want to take your childLIKE faith and put some muscle on it? 
If you want to explore what virtue looks like in this day and age?
If you want to learn how to use Biblical knowledge in battle?
If you have issues with self-control (um, ouch), know you aren't always as steadfast as you should be, get a little nervous about "godliness," struggle with how to juggle affection and confrontation, and suspect that there is something missing in the way you love...then Jesus and the Beanstalk could be the very thing you didn't even realize you were looking for.

I know. Some of you are getting a little antsy. This sounds a lot like to-dos and those of us who consider ourselves to be recovering legalists tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to anyone telling us we NEED to do ANYTHING other than trust in Jesus.


This book is not about condemnation. 
This book is not about doing more or pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.

It IS about putting on the whole armor of God. 
It IS about growing in our understanding of Scripture.
It IS about seeking holiness and righteousness.
It IS about Biblical sanctification. 

It is OTHER.

And it can help you live a life that will point others to Jesus and the extraordinary, better-than-any-fairytale life He offers.

About the book: 

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life (Abingdon Press, September 2016)

What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?
Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalkexplores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:

-Affection for others
In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dcnopJ
About the author:

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is the author of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and Red Pen Redemption. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

God Calls Everyone to Care, But . . .

The image flooded social media and I couldn’t look away. A little boy covered in dust, dazed, alone, having been pulled from the rubble of a building. A little boy who could have been my Drew. Same size. Same age.
What if that had been Drew?
What if that was our life?

My questions bubbled into lament. Why, God? How can You stand it? How can You let it go on? And how can You tolerate those of us who go on about our lives as if there is nothing seriously messed up about our world?

I sobbed. I raged. I begged God to show me what I could do. 

I know He calls average moms to extraordinary work. They visit a slum, a quarry, a certain street, and nothing is ever the same. They begin ministries that save thousands of lives from slavery and starvation. I could do that, too.

I was willing. As a teenager I was ready to go anywhere. Learn any language. Take any risk to spread the gospel. I was standing on my tiptoes in the dugout, ready to take my place in the lineup. But I never got the call. Not for that, anyway.

I went to college. Got married. Got a good job. Had a daughter, then a son. I started writing, and we had another son, and then the writing took off and I got published! 

And then God led our family to homeschool the boys. Homeschooling! I did NOT see that coming but, okay. 

I continue to homeschool and write and God has continued to bless those pursuits, but as I sat there bawling my eyes out over a very real child halfway around the world, I had to ask . . . What about the big stuff, God? What can I do?


(You know how it is when your kids have really ticked you off and you don’t speak so you can avoid saying something you’ll regret? Yeah…this silence may have been a much holier version of that…read on).

I slept that night with the prayer of, “Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus,” on my lips. In the days that followed I wrestled with the relative ease of my life. I live in a nice house in a safe part of town. I live in a part of the country where my faith is rarely questioned, much less mocked. I homeschool two of my three children. That’s about the most radical thing I do, and where I live, it’s not that radical. I write inspirational romantic suspense. My stories have a message of faith, and at some point there will be some nasty reviews about them because of that, but so far I’ve suffered nothing that could be called persecution for my faith.

But I would risk all of that if God would just put me in the game!

God let me wrestle with why He has put me here, doing what are relatively easy things for the Kingdom, when I am so willing to do more . . . until He’d had enough. 

That’s when He pierced me with this...

What makes you think I love your neighbors any less than those people around the world? When did you decide the people in your city didn’t need to hear about me? Or that the people who read your books don’t need to hear the Truth in exactly the way you’re telling it? Have you forgotten who I AM? 

What makes you think I don’t already have you doing something *big* - or it could be big if you’d quit worrying about why I haven’t moved you to the Middle East and start focusing on the ministry you have in your own home and on your own doorstep. What could you do for My Kingdom if you cried as much over the lost, broken and hurting in your own sphere of influence as you are over that child?” #Dropsmic

I’ve been living with that reprimand for a while now and I’ve realized something.

God calls everyone to care, but God doesn’t call everyone to go. At least not the way we usually define "go."

Sometimes He calls us to stay. To stay in our nice subdivisions and be bold about our faith. To stay in our comfortable churches and use them as the launching pad for reaching our communities. To stay in our jobs and be a light to our coworkers. To exhibit God’s love on the soccer field and in the rehearsal hall. Sometimes he calls us to stay in the house writing a book and to trust Him that it will somehow play a role in the larger Story He is writing. 

He calls us to stay put and to be intentional about entering into what He is already doing. Right where we are.

This isn’t a call to stick our head in the sand and pretend that evil doesn’t exist. 
Staying put doesn’t mean staying oblivious and staying put doesn't mean we don't cry out to God on behalf of our broken world. It doesn't even mean that we don't continue ask Him what He would have us do.

But if He tells us to stay, we need to remember that wherever we are called to be—it matters. 

We can be sure God has important work for us to do. What might He do through us if we realized that as far as He’s concerned, we all have a big role to play? That no location or ministry trumps another? That whether we are serving in Africa, Aleppo, Alabama, or the Annual Company Softball Tournament, if we are being obedient to His call, then our work has eternal significance?

He has called all of us to extraordinary work. 
I don’t know about you, but I need to get busy.

Colossians 4:17b - See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord. (ESV)

I’d love for you to leave a comment and share how and where God is using you, and how you are joining Him in His work whether it’s in your own home or around the world. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Turns Out I'm Just Like Gideon

I don’t like talking about this. 
It feels like bragging. 
I’d much rather let someone else share the good news while I nod, smile, say thank you, and we all move on.
How do you tell people you won an award (or, um, two) without it sounding cocky or prideful?
I don’t know.

Covert Justice won the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel and a few months ago it won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense.

Why was that so hard to say? It’s ridiculous really. Especially since my #1 love language is Words of Affirmation. I crave approval the way a kid craves sugar. But even when other people talk about it, it makes me uncomfortable. I appreciate it, but I don’t know what do with it. 

So I’ve been talking to my heavenly Father about it. About why He’s chosen to give me such lovely affirmations and about why I’m simultaneously ecstatic and embarrassed by them.

don’t have a definitive answer. I may never get one. But this weekend, I got a glimpse, a snippet, a clue into what’s going on. 
Turns out, I’m just like Gideon. 
Two fleeces. Two awards.

You know the story, right? God calls Gideon to a work he doesn’t think he can do, so Gideon asks God to prove it. To prove to Gideon that all of this hasn’t been in his imagination and that He will be with him in battle. Instead of God turning Gideon into a little pile of Gideon dust, God agrees to the test! One night, the fleece is wet and the ground is dry, and still Gideon doesn’t quite believe. The next night, the fleece is dry and the ground is wet. Boom.

I didn’t ask God for a fleece, but I might as well have. He knows my heart. Knows my fears and insecurities. 

Now, I have to wonder if when I sit down to write a new story and am overcome with panic that someone’s going to figure out that I.AM.A.FRAUD.—does God want to grab my face in His holy hands and turn it around until I see those two awards sitting on the mantle? The two awards for a book that I didn’t think I could write. For a book that His fingerprints are all over. For a book that has opened up opportunities for me that I never could have imagined.

Is He waiting for me to finally believe?

Not to believe that I can do anything, but that He can do everything. 
Not to think that I have any reason to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, but to understand that I have every reason to shout from the rooftops how awesome He is, and to cheerfully and with a peaceful heart move forward into the battle He’s calling me to fight. 

Is He wondering just how much He is going to have to do to convince me?

I wish I could tell you that this realization has left me raring to charge into the fray. That my fingers are twitching with the possibilities. That I’m thrilled to find out how God is going to show up in this next chapter.

But the truth is, I’m still afraid. 
My mouth is dry, my chest is tight. My fear of failure is off the charts.
So I do what I always do. I try to figure it out. I work myself half to death this week and I get caught up. I get caught up on the laundry, the housework, the bills, the school schedule.

And I kid you not…five minutes after I think, “Okay. I’m going to survive this. This is going to work,” I get an email that sends me right back into panic mode.
It’s a good email. A positive one. But it contains marching orders. There’s more to do.

And once more, I wonder why God picked me for this and then I think about Gideon. He figured it out. He gathered his army—and God sent most of them home. We all know why—so no one would ever be able to say he’d won in his own strength. The battle is the Lord’s. He will win it. And anyone watching, anyone listening to the story as it’s told later, will have no choice but to say, “God did that.”

So this is where I am. 

I’m marching into battle armed with a few words and a few ideas and a whole lot of questions. I am terrified, but I know that anything good that has ever happened or ever will happen is because of Him. I am clinging to these words from Thessalonians… He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” 

If you want to know how you can best support my writing, pray that I will stay close to Jesus and that I will rely on Him to do what only He can.
He’s amazing and when I’m not hyperventilating, I really am excited to see what He’s going to do next.

Thank you for joining me on this wild adventure with Christ.
Grace and peace,