Friday, August 13, 2010


My husband smiled at me this morning after I handed him a paragraph to read out of Francis Chan's Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. "Sounds like The Land Between," he responded, at which point I held up the other book I'm reading by Pastor Jeff Manion. "Double-dipping?" he asked. I just smiled back. My husband finds particular delight in this exchange because it is usually I who rolls my eyes at this peculiar habit of reading more than one book at a time.

It's probably not as peculiar a habit as I think it is. Many of you might be asking, "What's wrong with that?" To which I would point out some obvious draw-backs, such as how much it clutters the night stand, not to mention getting confused about which book contained which paricualr piece of wisdom. My poor ADD-addled brain hurts just thinking about it.

Your next question might be "So why are you doing it now?" Well, I just can't help myself. God has been speaking to my heart lately about some pretty weighty things, not the least of which is how we have been facing this particular season of our life. Yesterday I mentioned that Howie has been out of a job for about a year. That's a hard place to be, as some of you well know. And although our marriage is well-intact and we are both as committed as ever to sustaining it, it has not been without its struggles.

Recently, my own frustration level was so high that I had to admit to one of my pastors that my thoughts toward Howie lately had been of an imprecatory nature. "Imprecatory?" you ask. Think David's Psalms, where he calls down God's hand of judgment on his enemies. Some how I don't think Stormie O'Martian (The Power of a Praying Wife) would approve and frankly, I wasn't feeeling that great about it either.

That's why I went to my pastor and his wife. I wanted to know how a godly wife handles the type of frustration I was feeling. Thankfully, I have the kind of relationship that allows me to share this way and after a healthy dose of reality and wisdom, I am still able to look my pastor in the eye and say, "Wow, thanks!" Armed with some homework assignments and after Howie's own trip to see the pastor, I'm feeling a little bit better these days.

Then we both had an opportunity to attend a leadership conference where we heard the message that inspired the book, The Land Between. Or maybe the book inspired the message. In any event, Jeff Manion was speaking and we bought the book! If there is a message out there for someone stuck in transition, this is it. Since I was already reading Chan's book and I really need the message of Manion's book ~ yes...I am double-dipping!

Boy am I glad I am. Let me just share with you the two quotes that so spoke to my heart this morning.

From Chan:
"So, if you say you want the Holy Spirit, you must first honestly ask yourself if you want to do His will. Because if you do not genuinely want to know and do His will, why should you ask for His presence at all?" p. 51

and Manion:
"People often quote a common proverb in time of pain and tragedy: 'Time heals all wounds.' I do not find this statement to be necessarily true. Some people heal over time, while others become deeply embittered and acidic...While offering us a greenhouse for growth, the Land Between can also be a desert where our faith goes to die - if we let it. The habits of the heart that we foster in this space - our responses and reactions - will determine whether the Land Between results in spiritual life or spiritual death. We choose." p. 21

I came away from my reading this morning certain that my frame of mind can be the single best ally or my worst enemy in pursuit of godly character. By the way, one of my pastor's homework assignments for me was to wake up each morning and make two lists in my journal. One is a list of all the things I can praise God for, the other is all the things of which I am thankful for Howie.

Wanna do some double-dipping with me? Read these two verses: Romans 8:6 'For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace' and Romans 12:2 'And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.' I guess if I want to get through this tough time of transition in our lives, I really do need to guard my mind-set.

Which brings me back to double-dipping. I used to see it as a confusing and messy way to live. But in reality, when I'm egaged in it, it can be a delightful way to hear confirmation from God. Most importantly, I need to keep dipping daily, especially into His word. After all, this sheep's gotta eat too!


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