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Waiting for the door to open

When God closes a door….

We don’t usually talk about what we’re supposed to do after that – how we are to occupy ourselves after a door is closed. No, what we’re used to hearing, what we WANT to hear, is “…another one opens.” And, yes, it generally does!

What, though, do we do in the in-between time? The pastor that I had growing up frequently said “It’s what you do in the in-between times that matters.” For instance, it’s easy to praise Him when the proverbial door has opened wide and you’ve been ushered in. It’s easy to lift your hands and sing praises when He’s opened up a window from Heaven and poured out blessings.

It’s even pretty easy – moreso for some – when all hell is breaking loose because it’s all you feel you can do. You lift your hands, calling out to Him, trusting Him, because there is nothing and no one else.

When you’re just waiting, though, it’s a little different. Some of us long-time Christians call it “being in the desert.”

When God closes one door and has yet to open the next…

I tend to refer to this time, not as a desert, but I say, “I’m in a holding pattern.”

I don’t feel dry, after all. I simply feel like I’m in the waiting room. I know where I came from. I’m pretty sure of where I’m going (at least the direction).

I’m just not sure where the door is; or, if I do know the location, if I should open it yet. Maybe the window is shut to me for now.

The way I figure it I’m in the lobby for either of two reasons: 1) I’m not ready; or, 2) my destination is still begin prepared.

I have no way of knowing whether or not my destination is still being prepared as I’m not yet there. That leaves me with two options: 1) complain about being in the holding pattern for so long; or, 2) prepare myself so that I’m ready for whatever is behind that door.

Let’s look at it this way: I’m at the doctor’s office. I’ve been waiting for an hour. I can lose my patience, make a move to push things along faster (e.g., “I want to see the doctor now!”), only to find out that the doctor hasn’t seen me yet because he’s waiting with a patient that has just had a heart attack and is currently awaiting an ambulance. Essentially, I’ve made a fool of myself. The doctor is saving someone’s life while I’m yelling like a petulant child.

I sometimes feel like that’s how God sees us but His grace abounds.

I can try all of the various doctors on the street until I find one that will see me immediately. Yes, my temporary need – that of being seen, has been met; but, since I’ve ended up in a cardiologist’s office, I’m probably going to walk out no better than I was before because my problem was a broken bone.

Now, I’ve wasted the cardiologist’s time, my time, God’s time, and the original problem – my broken bone – has acute pain. Clearly, I didn’t choose well that time either.

What about this? What if I sit in the lobby patiently, with a good attitude? I pull out a notepad and begin writing down what I would like to discuss with the doctor. I might even open up my smart phone and look up all of the information available to me about this bone.

I’m prepared. I’m prepared to share my concerns, my options, my questions with the doctor. I’ve gotten so involved with my studying and preparation I didn’t even realize it was my name that was just called. “Coming right now!” I eagerly say.

“I’m so sorry for the wait,” the nurse will say; and, I will respond, “Oh, no sweat! I didn’t even notice the time, honestly. I kept myself busy figuring out what I wanted to talk to the doctor about.” The nurse is pleased now because I’m the fourth patient since the heart attack victim; and, I’m the first to not complain.

I go in and speak with the doctor and he’s pleasantly surprised that I’m prepared. I’ve saved his time. I understand the use of that bone and how this injury is going to effect me. I understand the hard work that lies before me. I know there’s going to be self-discipline involved and patience. These are two traits that I have already learned and practiced while sitting in the lobby!

Why do I share this scenario? Because, what are you doing in the waiting room?

What are you doing while in the waiting room?

Are you preparing yourself for the door to open? For your name to be called?

“…Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the good news of peace. Always carry the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of salvation along with the sword given by the spirit, that is, the word of God…” (Ephesians 6: 14-17)

You see, we have a lot of preparation that has already been directed to us, assigned to us. These are our “Initial Patient Forms,” if you will. This is our prep work, the work we do, before we are called.

These forms are our foundation to our file. All other treatments and decisions will be based on what these documents say about us: our medical history, our current history, etc.

Your battle readiness is based upon your foundation of His word. Whether you can weather the storm is determined greatly upon how you fortified your soul.

God help me to do my homework during the holding pattern.

I want my “current state of health” to say things like, “She is surrounded by truth, covered in righteousness, and constantly sharing God’s good word. She walks in faith that cannot be extinguished in any situation. She is covered in His salvation and walks in God’s anointing at all times. She knows His word, lives His word, and is full of His word.”

What will your “current state of health” say?

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Bible Review & Giveaway: (in) courage Devotional Bible

*I received this book for an honest review and that’s what you’ll get. No money was exchanged.

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I was asked to review the new (in) courage Devotional Bible by Holman Bibles, written in the Christian Standard Bible translation. For those of you unfamiliar with CSB (Christian Standard Bible), don’t feel bad. It’s still fairly new. “It is a modern English Bible translation of the Christian Bible. Work on the translation was completed in June 2016, with the first full edition released in March 2017.”**

“The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a major revision of the 2009 edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The CSB incorporates advances in biblical scholarship to improve upon translation decisions, word choice, and style. It also removes some of the novel features[which?] of the HCSB, based on feedback from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers.
The HCSB was translated by an international team of 100 scholars from 17 denominations. The HCSB New Testament was released in 1999, and the entire translation was released in 2004.
Work on the CSB revision was undertaken by the Translation and Review Team, a trans-denominational group of 21 conservative Evangelical Christian biblical scholars. Backgrounds represented include Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, conservative Anglican, and non-denominational Evangelical churches.”[4]

To put it short, Holman Bibles has taken the Bible and tried to make it easily readable without leaving out or discounting the Word Itself. My personal opinion is that this is a great starter translation. I have a 16 year old little cousin that is receiving one of the CSB Bibles from me as a gift soon. I truly believe this is a great translation for those who find it hard – for whatever reason – to sit down and delve into God’s Word.

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I often say this to people: I don’t care which translation you read so long as you start reading. A lot of people freak out when I say that but here’s my philosophy: if you’re really hungry for God’s Word, you’re going to want to know more and delve deeper. People can experience a church and walk away. People can experience Christians and walk away. A person doesn’t experience the true text of God, with a hungry heart, and merely walk away. They don’t have a true encounter with God and walk away. I’ve yet to meet one. So, my belief is that most Christians that hunger for God and His word will do as I did – they will evolve as their relationship with Him does. I didn’t start reading KJV.

I know. That’s shocking for many of you. Settle down. The fact is that when I was 16 it wasn’t doing it for me. The first Bible I actually read was The Precious Moments Bible. Know what translation that was? NKJV. That’s right – New King James Version; and, I really didn’t start delving into until I was around 15 or 16. If I had access to something like CSB, I would’ve delved much sooner.

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The beauty behind (in) courage Devotional Bible is that in this era of creative Bible journaling, Bible distributors are beginning to realize that many of us want to make notes and do devotionals within the one book. In a sync-my-phone-with-my-laptop-and-ipad world, we seek to simplify. Honestly, I like this because seeking God and reading about Him should be simple. Life is complicated, seeking Jesus shouldn’t be. 9781535924955.in01 (1)

The CSB (in)courage Devotional Bible invites every woman to find her story within the greatest story ever told—God’s story of redemption.

As you study God’s Word, 122 women from the (in)courage community come alongside you with 312 devotions, sharing stories of how God’s story has changed their lives. Because of His grace, they have found beauty in the brokenness and hope in the hard. With each devotion, they sing the praise of the One who has authored their story.”

Some of the features that are included in the (in) courage Devotional Bible are:

  • 312 devotions by 122 (in) courage community writers – women just like you and I
  • 10 distinct thematic reading plans
  • 66 book introductions connecting each book of the Bible to the whole biblical narrative
  • stories of courage from 50 women of the Bible
  • journaling space
  • topical index
  • two-column text
  • them verses
  • specialized presentation page

Not sure you want it just yet? Easy, you can actually download a sample!

If you are not quite sure if this is for you, I want to encourage you to consider picking a woman in your church – maybe a young woman or a new-to-Christ woman – and gift them this Bible. That’s what I’ve decided to do with my copy. The Lamb’s Book of Life has recently acquired a new name within it and I want to gift her this to show her how loved she is and to give her a stepping stone closer to Christ.

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**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Standard_Bible
[4]“Holman Christian Standard Bible: Original Translation Team and Translation and Review Team” (PDF)A PDF document containing the full list of original translators of the HCSB, and translators of the CSB.
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Review & Giveaway: I Can Only Imagine

*I received a copy of this study material for an honest review of the materials.

Have you seen the faith-based blockbuster film I Can Only Imagine? If not, you’ve been beaten to it by my six-year-old. That’s right. Even my six-year-old boy sat through it and soaked it up.

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If you thought the song was moving and anointed, you have got to go see this film as soon as possible. If you’ve already seen the film, then you know. You know it’s got gritty reality and God’s grace – two things this world needs a better balance of.

That’s where the I Can Only Imagine small group (or individual) study comes in.

What’s weighing on you? Maybe you’ve lost someone or you’re struggling to hold onto your health. Maybe it’s a fragmented relationship or one you never even got to have. Maybe you’ve experienced something unspeakable or did something that feels unforgivable. Something or someone has left you feeling rejected, guilty, and broken.

Before he became the lead singer of MercyMe, Bart Millard suffered a painful childhood. Abused by his father, Bart built walls around his heart. He couldn’t see hope.

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Dennis Quaid as Arthur Millard, Bart Millard’s father

In the I Can Only Imagine Study, Bart shares his own personal story with you. He watched a monster become a godly man. He came face to face with his own brokenness, and he saw God transform a lifetime of hurt into a beautiful and enduring purpose. In this 4-week study, Bart will lead you on a redemptive journey to:

  • recall your past wounds
  • reorient your present identity
  • and reimagine your future.

Surrounded by brokenness, it’s hard to imagine a loving father, complete forgiveness, and eternal restoration. But when you learn to see yourself through God’s eyes, you will finally find rest in his approval, purpose, and eternal hope. Reveal the heart of the God who loves you…more than you can imagine.

*Features exclusive scenes from the movie, I Can Only Imagine

If you’re looking for a study for your small group, yourself, your tribe, or just your best friend or spouse and yourself, then I highly suggest this study. This study is both time conscious and yet also intensive and thought provoking.

It includes:

  • 4 twelve minute episodes on DVD featuring Bart Millard of MercyMe
  • One copy of the Leader’s Guide with discussion questions for 4 sessions
  • One copy of the 28 day I Can Only Imagine Journal

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I Can Only Imagine small group study DVD

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I Can Only Imagine small group journal

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I Can Only Imagine leather journaling notebook

(refillable, handcrafted in Haiti, printed in the US)

As one of my followers and for reading this blog, you can get an exclusive 10% discount with the code frontgate10 by clicking HERE and purchasing the I Can Only Imagine Study Series and/or the journal.

Can’t wait to purchase or just want to take the chance of getting a second copy for a friend or loved one? Enter below to win a copy of this amazing Bible Study…

Win ICanOnly imagine

Want more information on this and more resources for your study groups? I Can Only Imagine – PDF Catalog.

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Review & Giveaway: Worship with Higher Vision

Week after week, Higher Vision Church is packed with nearly 3,000 adrenalized God followers. The 12-year-old multigenerational congregation just outside of Los Angeles is quite diverse, and that diversity takes center stage on Higher Vision Worship’s debut album, For Your Kingdom.

“When we design worship experiences at Higher Vision, with every light that moves and every video, our focus is on Christ,” explains Higher Vision’s Sean Loche (formerly of the groundbreaking group Worth Dying For) who produced the album. “And we’re always asking, ‘How are people engaging? How do we help people feel safe and loved in the power and presence of God?’ We try be a place for people to ‘jump in the pool.’ Sometimes they want to jump full-on in — and sometimes they just want to get their toes wet.”

That same vision for Higher Vision the church was applied to the songs on Higher Vision Worship’s For Your Kingdom. “The album feels like a miracle,” says worship pastor April Ashburn. “It feels like there’s something for almost everyone. Different styles and yet a well-rounded whole.”

There are songs on For Your Kingdom that tug at the heart, and then there are others like “Broken the Chains” that squeeze and don’t let go. “I just thought how crazy is it that God created everything,” explains lead pastor Jared Ming, who wrote the song while thinking and praying about a struggling friend. “Yet there’s still a song in heaven that angels cannot sing. The angels worship, but we worship differently…. We’ve been redeemed and forgiven. Angels can’t sing, ‘I’ve been redeemed.’”

The 13-track album rebounds from those lighter moments with energetic worship such as the high-energy title track, the electronica-flavored “Trust in You,” dance-tinged tunes like “Freedom of Your Love” and “Hands Held High,” and then dives back in with heartfelt ballads such as “He Is Here” – which paints a sound picture of God’s presence and our response to it.

“We can get stuck in a cycle of grasping for God’s presence only to realize that God is here all around us,” says Ashburn, who penned the song. “Sometimes we just need to become aware of his presence — and then our response isworship.”

Higher Vision not only wants For Your Kingdom to be an experience the congregation can carry with them wherever they go, but also they want it to speak to those who may not yet have Christ in their lives.

“There’s just so much darkness going on in the world,” says Loche. “Every day you read the worst, most horrific news you can imagine. We want to just be a blip of good, a blip of light in a dark world, to atheists and to Christians.”

For more information, visit www.highervisionworship.com

My Take…

I was given this CD for my honest opinion and that – as always – is what you’ll get.

If you’re a fan of music from such ministries as Elevation Worship and Passion City Church, you’ll be a fan of Higher Version’s For Your Kingdom. With a mix of EDM-like (Electronic Dance Music) and live music, Higher Vision Worship helps to usher you in to the presence of God in your home or car.

I especially liked track 10 – Hands Held High. The songs are a good balance of tempo, praise, and worship.

Being a praise & worship leader (not pastor), and coming from a family of gospel singers, I have my own views of what “praise” and “worship” mean. Very simply put “praise” is when you express approval or admiration of someone or something. “Worship” is deeper though. It’s when you show reverence and adoration. Some would say “The quick songs are praise. The slow songs are worship.” I don’t like to put songs in a box that way. I believe even a fast song can be worship. You may find that to be true, yourself, with the For Your Kingdom CD.

Want to win For Your Kingdom?

Check them out for yourself:

https://youtu.be/FTUIh01ZP2s

Want it now? I can’t blame you.

Your Kingdom Pre-Order Link:

https://sc.lnk.to/HghrVsn

(2 songs are available for immediate download)