Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
50 Ways To Feel Great Today by David B. Biebel, DMin, James E. Dill, MD and Bobbie Dill, RN - REVIEWED
50 Ways to Feet Great Today is a book that every single person should have a copy of!! Finally!! Someone has written a simple, straightforward, well-documented book filled with ideas and suggestions to renew your mind, your body and your spirit – just like God intended!! Begin with Doing Something Spontaneous! How about Make Someone Laugh? Or enjoy time outdoors feeding and watching the birds. Or, my favorite, unplug the tv, internet, cell phone, computer and all other gadgetry and Read a Good Book!!
Truly, this book is a gem of a resource, and while it seems so simple that anyone could think of it, apparently no one has until now because people I know are more stressed out, depressed, hopeless and frustrated than ever before! Overall general health is suffering because we don’t take proper care of our minds, spirits and bodies, and as Christians, each of these operate as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Don’t you want to take the best care you can of God’s temple? Don’t you want to be a bright and shining light for Christ by being the best you you can be?
If winter doldrums have you down; if life has dealt you some harsh circumstances and your heart and mind are tattered and torn, please pick up a copy of 50 Ways to Feel Great Today! Keep it handy and refer to it often! You’ll be feeling better in no time!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:David B. Biebel, DMin, is a minister, an award-winning author, a health educator, and medical editor of Today's Christian Doctor. He is the coauthor of 70 Ways to Beat 70. He speaks often on health-related subjects and has been a guest on many radio and TV programs. He lives in Florida.
James E. Dill, MD, and Bobbie Dill, RN, were among the first husband-wife Christian medical teams to help establish truly holistic medical practice, which they have been involved in since 1978. Jim is a board-certified gastroenterologist and Bobbie is a nurse, certified in women's health. They reside temporarily in various places around the United States, as Jim provides "locum tenens" medical care. James and Bobbie are coauthors with David B. Biebel of 70 Ways to Beat 70.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
“God will protect me.” (p. 111)
Nate Langley’s soul and mind have been crying out for God’s protection for quite some time by the time readers begin Sharon Gillenwater’s latest story, Jenna’s Cowboy. During his time in the military Nate cried out to God as never before. Now that he has returned home to Callahan Crossing, he discovers there is much to be thankful for, but in spite of the blessings Nate discovers that his mind and body are still fighting a war that seems to have no end.
Jenna Callahan Colby can’t believe how much Nate has changed since returning home from the War on Terror. She can’t believe how her heart is drawn to him in spite of the wounds in her soul left behind when her husband walked out on her and her son Zach. As friendship is renewed and Jenna and Nate begin to tentatively explore their relationship, it becomes clear to them both that their hearts are still pretty ragged and torn. Will there ever be a chance to discover the possibility of the love and romance they long for?
Sharon Gillenwater has been writing strong Christian romances for a long time, and she has created something extra special in Jenna’s Cowboy. This story deals with battle scars and the fallout that often follows soldiers back into their private lives after serving their country during war time – otherwise known as post traumatic stress disorder. Gillenwater skillfully incorporates this emotional struggle into the budding relationship between Jenna and Nate, and she uses their faith and the faith of those who love them to lead them toward healing and wholeness. She also draws some interesting parallels between the emotional scars in Jenna’s personal life and Nate’s struggle to deal with the events of war time that have followed him home.
Jenna’s Cowboy showcases characters who lean upon God for their strength during dark, confusing circumstances, and yet realistically portrays the fact that fragile emotions are a real result of horrors neither Jenna nor Nate ever planned for. Christians must struggle in this world, but thankfully God is faithful to redeem even the darkest of situations. As Jenna and Nate take small, uncertain steps toward healing with the hope that they will find their way to one another along the way. This is a very special story!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Turning the Paige was my introduction to Laura Jensen Walker’s work as well as the series The Getaway Girls. I enjoyed it! It was well-written, the characters were believable, and I related to their struggles. I wish I could say the same for Becca By The Book.
Becca By The Book features Becca Daniels, the only non-Christian member of the Get Away Girls Book Club. While I think the concept of a book club that travels to destinations within their stories is fabulous, I was not enamored with this story. While I appreciate the way Becca’s friends ministered to her, loved her, and encouraged her throughout the story, and while I believe as Christians we are all called to reach out in love to the lost around us, I got really put off with Becca’s taking the Lord’s name in vain time and time again. I know the character is unsaved, but the author could have had her say any number of things that would have indicated her lack of control over her tongue rather than taking God’s name in vain – multiple times. As I read, it seemed the story focused more on glorifying Becca’s negative, snarky attitude toward Christians and I grew increasingly annoyed at her poking fun of anything related to Christianity.
I realize there are a lot of Christians who feel they are “too good” to love the unlovable. I’ve been a volunteer with a local women’s rehab facility for almost three years now, and believe me, it’s not pretty. I know there are Christians who whack people up side the head with their convictions, and that’s not right either. In my opinion, Becca takes looking at Christians through a non-Christian viewpoint to the extreme.
The whole dating bet scenario with Ben was a plausible idea – and a good example of similar weaknesses between saved and unsaved people and how they are handled. The way Ben and his church ministered to Becca was realistic and touching at times. But none of it overcame my distaste of Becca taking the Lord’s name in vain, nor the amount of time I had to endure her character making fun of, putting down or making a caricature out of the Christians in the story.
Perhaps the hounds of heaven are pursuing. Becca. I hope so. But I think there was a
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Jensen Walker is an award-winning writer and popular national speaker. Her previous novels include Daring Chloe, Turning the Paige, and Reconstructing Natalie, chosen as the first-ever Novel of the Year for Women of Faith® conferences. The author of several non-fiction humor books, Laura lives in Northern California with her husband, Michael, and their canine daughter Gracie.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16
Ted Dekker is crying peace and safety rather boldly in his latest book, Tea With Hezbollah. Sometime in the last couple of years Dekker has gotten hung up on the fact that people label one another, and to him, the label Christian has become a thing he really doesn’t like. Therefore, he has decided to go sit at the table with his enemies – and they really aren’t his enemies, but just races and religions he has not completely explored or understood – and ask them some “People magazine style” questions. It is his intention to prove that the Muslims, Jews, Christians and any other religious group he can dredge up just need to love one another like the Good Samaritan did in one of Jesus’ parables and things will work out alright.
He states from the outset that the book is not religious, political or in any way serious, it is simply he and a well-connected friend enjoying the freedom of their wealth and traveling all over the world asking questions like: “What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? What are your hobbies? What do you think about the parable of the Good Samaritan?” Ooh-kay….that’s real coherent thinking. No one has ever doubted that the Muslim/Arab world isn’t made up of human beings who laugh, who cry, who hurt, who rejoice. No one has ever said that loving your enemies wasn’t a command Christ gave in the Bible. But to decide that all Americans hate the Arab world or vice versa is as fictional as anything Dekker has ever written.
But Dekker, and his buddy Mediaris just want to know why we can’t get along and love one another. Without Christ – not Muhammad, not Buddha, not Tom Dick or Harry, but Jesus Christ – loving anyone is impossible. As a matter of fact, loving Christ, following Christ and living your life as His child through the shed blood of Christ upon the Cross comes with a price… John 15:19 tells us that: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Yes, we are to love our enemies as ourselves just as Christ also commanded. But our love will be met with hate. He said that too.
Most importantly of all, Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” That is why we should love our enemies enough to tell them the truth.
Dekker has written a book about the oldest debate on earth. Bottom line, you either believe what Jesus said is true and that His death on the cross atones for sin, or you don’t. You can explore the humanity of man all you want to, and you will NEVER find the answer you’re seeking. You want the answer to loving your enemy? Try the Bible.
I do have an extra copy of this book to give away, and because I have committed to do so, I will. I'll mail you a copy if you leave a comment on this post. Myself, I am now completely disenchanted with this man.
FROM THE PUBLISHER:
Is it really possible to love one’s enemies?
That’s the question that sparked a fascinating and, at times, terrifying journey into the heart of the Middle East during the summer of 2008. It was a trip that began in Egypt, passed beneath the steel and glass high rises of Saudi Arabia, then wound through the bullet- pocked alleyways of Beirut and dusty streets of Damascus, before ending at the cradle of the world’s three major religions: Jerusalem.Tea with Hezbollah combines nail-biting narrative with the texture of rich historical background, as readers join novelist Ted Dekker and his co-author and Middle East expert, Carl Medearis, on a hair-raising journey. They are with them in every rocky cab ride, late-night border crossing, and back-room conversation as they sit down one-on-one with some of the most notorious leaders of the Arab world. These candid discussions with leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, with muftis, sheikhs, and ayatollahs, with Osama bin Laden’s brothers, reveal these men to be real people with emotions, fears, and hopes of their own. Along the way, Dekker and Medearis discover surprising answers and even more surprising questions that they could not have anticipated—questions that lead straight to the heart of Middle Eastern conflict.
Through powerful narrative Tea With Hezbollah will draw the West into a completely fresh understanding of those we call our enemies and the teaching that dares us to love them. A must read for all who see the looming threat rising in the Middle East.
Ted Dekker is the author of many nationally bestselling novels, including Bone Man’s Daughters, The Circle Trilogy, Thr3e, and House, which was coauthored by Frank Peretti. His unique style of storytelling has captured the attention of millions worldwide. Visit him at TedDekker.com.
Carl Medearis is the founder and president of International Initiatives, LLC, an organization that promotes cultural, educational, and commercial exchange between the East and the West. He is an advisor on Arab affairs to the members of the U.S. Congress and leaders in international business.
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Whitaker House (March 2, 2010)
Danette Crawford is an author and evangelist who founded Joy Ministries in 1989 and serves as the organization’s president. Danette earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a minor in Bible from Lee University and a Master of Arts in counseling from Regent University. Joy Ministries, based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and focuses on serving the needs of low income women and families. Her television ministry, Joy in the Morning with Danette Crawford, is syndicated around the world, reaching over 165 million homes each week. She has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, and TBN programming and has appeared on the 700 Club, Living the Life, and Paula White Today.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (March 2, 2010)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Are you in a storm the size of Texas? Are you looking up from a dark pit with high walls but see no ladder in sight? I want to extend a rope of hope to you!
If you feel like you’re in a pit, relax. You’re not the first person to find yourself looking up from within what feels like a deep, dark hole. In the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, we read about a guy who found himself in his own pit—literally! His name was Joseph, and he was the eleventh son of a great patriarch named Jacob. The worst thing about Joseph’s pit was that Joseph’s brothers were the ones who threw him in there. Talk about rejection! For Joseph, that pit looked like a dark dead end, but it was truly a pathway to the palace—a direct route, at that. (See Genesis 37:11–37; 39:1–6, 20–23; 41:39–44.)
In the New Testament, we read about the apostle Paul, a respected Jewish leader who became a Christian, won souls for Jesus, and consequently found himself in his own pit. You see, being in a pit is a situation common to everyone—rich and poor, male and female, young and old, privileged and blue-collar. Paul’s pit was in the shape of a ship in a raging storm. Everyone wanted to jump off that ship, but God told Paul, “Don’t abandon ship—you’ll come through this!” (See Acts 27.)
I want to encourage you today—don’t abandon ship! Yes, you may be in the midst of the biggest storm of your life. Yes, your pit may seem overwhelming. But I can promise you that it’s only temporary. This too shall pass. It’s temporary as long as you make good choices and wise decisions as a result of your obeying Father God and doing what He tells you to do.
No, you are not alone; the Lord is with you no matter how deep and dark your pit may be. And no, you are not the only one who has ever been in that pit!
GRAB AHOLD OF THE WORD—YOUR ROPE OF HOPE
Both Joseph and Paul needed a rope of hope. There’s a rope of hope for you, too! It’s here right now in front of you. The other end of your rope is tied directly to the Word of truth—the Bible. God’s Word provides a map to guide us out of any and every pit that we find ourselves in. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (nkjv). In other words, we all experience “pits” in our lives, but we must grab ahold of the rope of hope and be determined to climb out.
John 8:32 says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth on its own doesn’t set you free; it’s the truth that you know that sets you free. Our map to get out of the pit is the Word of God, but we must read the map. We must study the map, or we could stay lost in the pit. I travel a lot by car, and I always study the map before I leave. (I don’t like to use a GPS!) If I don’t study the map or refer to it during my trip, I’m just about guaranteed to get lost. Finding my way is as easy as reading the map, but I have to read it. I can’t obtain the knowledge by osmosis. The same is true with our map out of the pit.
(Insert call-out box) READ IT…’CAUSE YOU’LL NEED IT!
The good news is that every pit has the potential to be temporary because the Word assures us that God will deliver us from every affliction. One important key I have learned is that I must never quit; I must never give up. If I never quit, if I never give up, I can never be defeated. But if I decide to quit and give up, I will spend the rest of my life in the pit. The choice is really up to me. If I have a pity party in my pit…well, I’ll be there for a while! But if I grab ahold of the rope of hope every day, I can climb out of the pit and be back on the path to the palace.
DON’T LET THE LOCUST STEAL FROM YOU
What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten. (Joel 1:4)
As an adult, I can look back and recall many times when the enemy sent locusts into my life to eat away at the blessings and the life that my heavenly Father had for me. These “locust attacks” became pits, and I had to choose not to allow them to be permanent states or seasons in my life.
Years ago, I was reading the Bible when I came across the above Scripture, Joel 1:4. I didn’t really understand it at first, but then the Lord started showing me that it described my life—one locust attack after another. And those locusts had stolen years of my life from me.
The locust of rejection had eaten away at my joy and self-confidence. The locust of anger had eaten away at my peace. And the locust of unforgiveness had eaten away at my very being. What wasn’t stolen in one locust attack was stolen in another. Years of joy, peace, and happiness were stolen from me when I was in the pits of abuse, divorce, and abandonment. I then began looking to the people who had hurt me to repay me for all of my losses.
Joel 2:25 says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” In other words, we are assured that the Lord repays us for all the years that the locusts have stolen from our lives. Other people can never repay us for years that have been stolen—only the Lord can. In reality, it’s not people who have stolen from us but the hand of the enemy. When we look to other people to repay us for our pain, we dig a deeper pit due to the unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts. That’s a dangerous place to be, because unforgiveness prevents us from ever getting out of the pit!
EVERY CHOICE CREATES INCREASE OR DECREASE
Every day of our lives, we make hundreds of choices. Those choices always produce either increase or decease in various areas of life. For example, when I decide to get up early and exercise, I make a choice that increases my health, even though it may decrease the amount of sleep that I get. Stop and think about it. Every decision creates increase or decrease. We must be led by the Holy Spirit and choose wisely.
When we panic in the pit, we often grab ahold of anything we can get our hands on—anything that we think might keep us from going deeper into the pit. Actually, the opposite usually proves true. If we panic in the pit, the thing we grab on to actually serves as a shovel and takes us deeper.
You’ve probably seen this before—a person who grabs on to, for example, a new relationship in an attempt to get out of a relational pit. What happens? Instead of getting out of that previous relational pit, she winds up going even deeper into it. Or perhaps you know someone who grabbed a drug or a drink in attempt to numb the pain from his pit, only to find himself in a deeper, darker, even more painful pit. Don’t panic in the pit. The key is not to react out of our flesh, or carnal instincts, but to act out of our spirits!
ACT, DON’T REACT
A good example of acting rather than reacting is found in the twentieth chapter of 2 Chronicles. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, heard from some of his men that a vast army was coming against him, and that they weren’t far away. They weren’t just an army; they were a vast army—a really, really, really big army! And they were not only coming after Jehoshaphat; they were also coming to destroy the whole city and everyone in it. They were advancing quickly. (See 2 Chronicles 20:1–2.)
It’s one thing when a storm or a battle is coming, but it’s a whole different thing when that storm is the size of Texas! The Word tells us that Jehoshaphat was alarmed, yet he did not react out of his flesh. Rather, he acted out of his spirit, meaning he took a deep breath and went to God with his troubles. (See verses 3–12.)
When we react out of our flesh, we freak out. We cry, we scream, we yell, we emit any other series of unproductive responses. Some people even run away from God at the very time when they need to run to God the most. Jehoshaphat didn’t react out of his flesh; he acted out of his spirit. Verse three tells us, “Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” And in verse four, we read, “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord.” In the midst of the biggest battle or storm of Jehoshaphat’s life, he inquired of the Lord. He didn’t inquire of his friends, his pastor, his boss, or his spouse. He came before the Lord in fasting and prayer, and he encouraged those around him to do the same.
(Insert call-out box) DON’T PANIC IN THE PIT
Jehoshaphat was alarmed when he learned that a vast army much larger than his was coming to make war with him. He was alarmed, but he did not panic. He did not react. He acted. Many times, we react emotionally to our pit or to the crisis at hand. As a result, we waste all our time and energy, and we don’t help the situation at all. As a matter of fact, we may even make things worse.
After waiting many, many years to get married, I found myself in an abusive marriage to a man who had a sexual addiction. After dating for a year, we got married, and I immediately saw a side of him that he had never allowed me to see.
It took me a few years to realize that my husband had a sexual addiction, but as soon as I did, I panicked in the pit! I didn’t act out of my spirit by any stretch of the imagination. I reacted out of my flesh with a full-blown panic attack in the pit.
By His grace, God had supernaturally kept me hidden under His hand of protection, even though I had been raised in a fatherless home. I was very naïve in many areas, and I was vulnerable to my husband’s deception as a result.
When we find ourselves at the edge of a deep, dark pit, reacting out of our flesh is the worst thing we can do. When we react, we react out of our flesh, our emotions, or our natural minds. Reacting to the pit or the battle you are up against acknowledges how big and how powerful the enemy is. But when we act out of our spirits, we acknowledge how big and powerful God is. This enables us to come successfully out of every pit that dares to entrap us.
Unlike me, Jehoshaphat acted. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast that he might hear from God on how to handle the situation at hand. Not only did Jehoshaphat seek the Lord, he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. Everyone in the surrounding towns came together to fast and to seek God’s direction. The people responded according to how Jehoshaphat handled the situation. If Jehoshaphat had panicked and had come unglued, the people around him would have done the same thing. When we react out of our emotions and we don’t act out of our spirit, we give place for the enemy to defeat us. But, if we act out of our spirit, if we look to the Lord for how to handle the situations we face, then we always come out on the winning side.
(Insert call-out box) DETERMINATION WILL GET YOU WHERE YOU NEED TO GO
“Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord.” To resolve essentially means the same thing as to determine. So, Jehoshaphat determined to inquire of the Lord—not his friends, not his coworkers, not his family, but the Lord! And think about Joseph. That young man was totally alone in his pit, without a friend or brother in sight. So, whether we are alone in the pit or sitting there with the opinionated words of others swirling about our heads, our first and best option is to inquire of the Lord and get His opinion on things.
When the people of Judah all gathered at the temple, Jehoshaphat stood up and prayed. He started his prayer by acknowledging God as the all-powerful, all-knowing God. He prayed, “Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you” (2 Chronicles 20:6). When we acknowledge God for who He is, we don’t have any trouble letting Him be in control. But when we forget what He’s done for us in the past and doubt what He will do for us in the future, we start acting out of our own strength; we want to take control ourselves.
Jehoshaphat acknowledged God in his situation. As a result, he looked to God for the solution to the problem. The Bible instructs us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). We need to recognize and acknowledge who God is in the midst of our pits and battles. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in acknowledging how big the opposing army is or how deep our pit is that we get distracted and forget that God is bigger and is still in control.
When we panic, we try to do in the flesh what can be done only in the Spirit. When we get in the flesh, we can dig an even deeper pit. It is my desire that you will refuse to grab a shovel but grab the rope of hope instead and determine to climb out, no matter how deep your pit may seem today!
Jehoshaphat was determined to inquire of the Lord. Determination will get us just about anywhere we want to go. If we are determined to go in a direction that’s opposite from God’s direction for our lives, we can. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be fun, but our determination can take us in that direction—at least for a little while.
DETERMINATION—A GREAT GIFT
The Bible is full of great stories of men and women of God who went from pits to pinnacles in their personal lives or careers. Have you ever heard someone comment, “Today was a Jonah day”? When someone says that, you know she means that she’s had a very hard day or experienced an above-average rough time! Well, let’s look at how rough it got for Jonah.
The Lord directed him to Nineveh, where he was to convict the people of their wickedness. But Jonah was determined to go to Tarshish instead—and that’s exactly where he set out to go! His trip didn’t last long, and it wasn’t pretty, but that’s the direction in which his determination took him.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. (Jonah 1:1–3)
Jonah paid the fare to go in the opposite direction from the Word of the Lord. At the time, the fare seemed cheap, but the fare for disobedience is always extremely expensive. Sometimes, it can cost us everything, including our lives.
Because of God’s great love, He sent a violent storm to give Jonah another opportunity to use his determination to take him in the right direction. The storm was so violent that the ship on which Jonah was traveling threatened to break up. As the seas became rougher and rougher, Jonah admitted that everyone on the ship was going through the storm as a result of his disobedience.
Storms can come in our lives as a result of our disobedience, other people’s disobedience, or directly from the hand of God to prune us and cause us to be even more fruitful. Job is an excellent example of this.
When we walk in disobedience, God often allows storms to come into our lives to get us back on track. Not only does He allow storms to get our attention, but He supernaturally provides a way out of the storms, as well.
After Jonah confessed his culpability for the storm, he directed the sailors to throw him overboard. So, “they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:15, 17). After the storm subsided, Jonah woke up in the whale’s stomach with his head in a tangle of seaweed. Now, that’s a pit! What was the first thing Jonah did when he realized his predicament? He prayed.
ALWAYS PRAY IN THE PIT
Always pray in the pit! If you aren’t sure how to pray, you can borrow a few words from Jonah!
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:1–9)
Immediately after praying, Jonah was delivered from his pit. “The Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10). God repeated His command for Jonah to preach His message to the people of Nineveh, and this time, he obeyed.
The Lord brought Jonah up out of the pit, and He will do the same for you today. It doesn’t matter how or why you got in the pit. The important thing is that you don’t quit in the pit, but you grab ahold of the rope of hope and climb out.
(Insert call-out box) FROM PITS TO PINNACLES
There’s nothing like a pit to get you to pray. Some of the best prayer meetings that I have ever had have been while I was in a pit! Don’t quit in the pit, but pray like you have never prayed before.
If we are determined not to quit, we can successfully make it out of whatever pit we find ourselves in. As a young Christian, I felt as though I didn’t have any gifts that I could use to bring glory to God. I told God, “I can’t sing, I can’t play the piano…God, I don’t have any gifts.” It was years later when the Lord said to me, “Danette, your gift is the gift of determination.”
Well, I had never considered determination a gift. But all of us have gifts that we don’t even realize. God gives us whatever gifts we need to fulfill His call and purpose for our lives. As I look back over my life, I can definitely say that God gave me the gift I needed the most—the gift of determination.
Perhaps it will help you if I share some of my very personal “pit stops.” Or, maybe I should say “pit pauses,” because I had to remain determined not to stop at the pits. My prayer is that this book will encourage you to make your times in the pit temporary seasons. Yes, we all have pit experiences. So, in the following pages, I want to teach you what I have learned over the years. But most important, I want to encourage you to be determined never to quit in the pit but always to grab on to the rope of hope—God’s Word. And remember, the Word promises us double for all of our trouble! (See Job 42:10.)
Monday, January 25, 2010
Life for Kelly McGregor is a daily drudge of driving her overbearing father’s mules along Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Canal. She dreams of one day owning an art gallery where her own drawings and paintings are on display. But these dreams don’t include marriage. . .not after seeing what her father has done to her mother. How then can Mike Cooper, a general store owner, make her realize he is different than her father and wants to support her artistic talent? Will Kelly learn that dreams can walk hand in hand with a love created by God?
Kelly’s Chance is the first non-Amish book I’ve read by Wanda Brunstetter. Set in the late 1800’s, Brunstetter takes a look at the life of a young woman who has grown up under the harsh hand of a canal worker. Kelly McGregor leads a pair of mules mile after mile as they pull her father’s canal boat, and she must do so with no pay and no show of gratitude from her father. Her mother doesn’t fare much better as she must stay on the boat with her ill-tempered husband and make sure that his meals are prepared and that his boat is well-supplied. The only hope either of these women have in their lives is their faith, and at the point we meet Kelly, her sister has run away to be married, and Kelly’s faith is left in tatters.
God is moving in the McGregor’s lives as well as the life of store-owner Mike Cooper. Mike has been praying for God’s direction in his life regarding marriage and a family, and it seems his prayers have been answered when Kelly walks through his door. However, he quickly learns that Kelly’s heart has little room for his affection, because her heart’s desire is to paint and open her own art gallery. Their relationship begins with about as little hope of success as Kelly feels she has of ever being set free from her tyrannical father.
Wanda Brunstetter’s novel is the first in the Brides of Lehigh Canal, so you know from the beginning that a romance will take center stage in the story. Mike and Kelly’s relationship has a difficult time from the outset, but their difficulty is the story line that pulls the reader toward the ending. Kelly’s Chance was an easy read, and I have to be honest and admit it felt more formulaic and predictable than any book I’ve read in quite some time. The story was okay, but a lot of the elements didn’t feel realistic and toward the end the relationship felt super rushed toward a conclusion. Thus the ending…well, it was predictable. That said, I’m going to move on in my reading and leave you to decide whether or not to pursue this series. You can read more details here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Wanda enjoys writing about the Amish because they live a peaceful, simple life─something she says we all need in this day and age.
Using the knowledge her Amish friends have shared with her, Wanda has also produced several children’s titles in the Rachel Yoder─Always Trouble Somewhere series, an Amish cookbook, and a devotional collection entitled The Simpler Life, which was released in July 2008 and celebrates the virtues of the Amish lifestyle. Wanda and her husband are members of the fellowship of Christian Magicians.
Wanda is also a member of the North American Association of ventriloquists, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Northwest Christian Writers Association. She lives in Washington State, where her husband pastors, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements across the country.
Other books by Wanda are A Sister's Test, A Sister's Hope, and A Sister's Secret
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Hey folks! I'm still making time for Steven James and his Patrick Bowers Thrillers! They are phenomenal!!
“Slipping past their defenses, taking them out unaware.” (p. 480)
Agent Patrick Bowers is in
The timing of each event in The Rook is strategically placed to draw the reader deep into the hearts and minds of the characters. From the outset, Bowers is struggling with secrets from his past alongside his deep desire to connect with Tessa and find a way to express his deep love and longing to be a father. Yet in what appears to be a random act of violence, both he and Tessa are thrust into a plot of national intrigue. Once again, the reader is left in a desperate race against time as Patrick and his team members frantically try to figure out what is going on around them.
There are deeper emotional issues woven into this second Patrick Bowers Thriller. Steven James not only places the reader alongside the players for both good and evil, but he plumbs the depths of Bowers’ heart as he struggles to move past the loss of his wife and reach out to Tessa. He also finally recognizes that his relationship with agent Lien-hua Jieng might be more than just a work-related partnership. Beyond all of this, the reader also comes to know Tessa in a much deeper and meaningful way, and oddly enough it is her eclectic character that James uses to bring an electrifying dimension to this story.
Steven James is a brilliant writer. Each word, each phrase, each scene is succinctly and powerfully written to wring every ounce of emotion out of the reader. Along the journey, the reader’s heart will ache, will laugh, will cry as the very spirit of each character is placed within the crucible of terrifying trial. Slowly, but surely, they are being drawn to the One who is able to rescue them from themselves. It is a breathtaking journey!
Pick up your copy from Revell today!!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Christy Williams severed her relationship with her only sister, May fifteen years ago. Her life has spiraled downward over the years, and she finds herself all but caged by an abusive relationship and her own addictions. False accusations and a desperate stand against her demented ex-boyfriend leave Christy feeling both lost and yet strangely free all at once, so she determines to at least attempt to see her sister one more time.
Since losing her parents and being abandoned by her only sister, May Williams has found both faith and peace amid very uncertain circumstances. Her job on a local cattle ranch is in jeopardy and the ranch itself is soon to be foreclosed upon regardless of every attempt May and her friend Ruth make to satisfy the bank’s demands. When Christy shows up unannounced, May’s spirit feels a bit overwhelmed and she is forced to examine her own heart and her feelings toward Christy.
Thicker Than Blood begins as a contemporary tale of broken family relationships, wrong choices and broken hearts. Yet along the way, the pace accelerates and the story morphs into a suspenseful tale of greed, abuse and a battle against the darkest desires of the human spirit. Christy brings danger right to her sister’s doorstep, and soon they are all in a race against time to preserve life itself.
Thicker Than Blood shares what is true about the desire to belong to God and be loved unconditionally. The story captures the struggle for mankind’s inability to fully grasp the grace of God and the redeeming love offered to each of us no matter where we are or what we’ve done. This was a fabulous debut novel, and I look forward to reading more of C.J. Darlington’s work in the future!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
About the Author:
C. J. began writing the story that would become Thicker than Blood (her first novel) when she was a fifteen-year-old homeschool student. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over a decade, scouting for stores similar to the one described in the novel before cofounding her own online bookstore. Thicker than Blood was the winner of the 2008 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel.
C. J. co-founded the Christian entertainment Web site TitleTrakk.com with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Visit her website www.cjdarlington.com for more info.
- The 1st chapter of Thicker than Blood
- The "Story Behind the Story" of Thicker than Blood
- More endorsements from Jenny B. Jones, James Scott Bell, Susan Meissner, and more!
- Our interview with C.J. at TitleTrakk.com
- Buy Thicker than Blood at Christianbook.com
- Buy Thicker than Blood at Amazon.com
- List of the other 85+ Thicker than Blood blog tour participants!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010)
A man who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago and the author of more than 150 books. For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. Dubbed by many as the “pastor’s pastor,” Dr. Wiersbe skillfully weaves Scripture with historical explanations and thought-provoking questions, communicating the Word in such a way that the masses grasp its relevance for today.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Isaac was the son of a famous father (Abraham) and the father of a famous son (Jacob), and for those reasons he is sometimes considered a lightweight among the patriarchs. Compared to the exploits of Abraham and Jacob, Isaac’s life does seem conventional and commonplace. Although he lived longer than either Abraham or Jacob, only six chapters are devoted to Isaac’s life in the Genesis record, and only one verse in Hebrews 11 (v. 9).
Isaac was a quiet, meditative man (Gen. 24:63), who would rather pack up and leave than confront his enemies. During his long life, he didn’t travel far from home. Abraham had made the long journey from Haran to Canaan, and had even visited Egypt, and Jacob went to Haran to get a wife, but Isaac spent his entire adult life moving around in the land of Canaan. If there had been an ancient Middle East equivalent to our contemporary “jet set,” Isaac wouldn’t have joined it.
However, there are more Isaacs in this world than there are Abrahams or Jacobs, and these people make important contributions to society and to the church, even if they don’t see their names in lights or even in the church bulletin. Furthermore, Isaac was a living part of the divine plan that eventually produced the Jewish nation, gave us the Bible, and brought Jesus Christ into the world, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Isaac wasn’t a failure; he was just different. After all, the people in each generation have to find themselves and be themselves and not spend their lives slavishly trying to imitate their ancestors. “Men are born equal,” wrote psychiatrist Erich Fromm in Escape from Freedom, “but they are also born different.” Discovering our uniqueness and using it to the glory of God is the challenge that makes life what it is. Why be a cheap imitation when you can be a valuable original?
No generation stands alone, because each new generation is bound to previous generations whether we like it or not. Isaac was bound to Abraham and Sarah by ties that couldn’t be ignored or easily broken. Let’s look at some of those ties and discover what they teach us about our own life of faith today.
HE RECEIVED HIS FATHE R’S INHERITANCE (25:1–18)
Abraham recognized his other children by giving them gifts and sending them away, thereby making sure they couldn’t supplant Isaac as the rightful heir. Along with his father’s immense wealth (13:2; 23:6), Isaac also inherited the covenant blessings that God had given Abraham and Sarah (12:1–3; 13:14–18; 15:1–6). Isaac had parents who believed God and, in spite of occasional mistakes, tried to please Him.
Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael (chap. 16), wasn’t chosen to be the child of promise and the heir of the covenant blessings. God promised to bless Ishmael and make him a great nation, and He kept His promise (17:20–21; 25:12–16); “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac” (17:21;
Rom. 9:6–13). Ishmael was on hand for his father’s funeral (Gen. 25:9), but he wasn’t included in the reading of his father’s will.
Ishmael pictures the “natural” or unsaved person (1 Cor. 2:14), who is outside the faith and hostile to the things of God. But Isaac pictures those who have trusted Jesus Christ and experienced the miraculous new birth by the power of God (1 Peter 1:22–23). “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). Ishmael was born a slave, but Isaac was born free (4:21–31; 5:1–2); and Ishmael was born poor, but Isaac was born rich. Every believer in Jesus Christ shares all the blessings of the Spirit in Christ (Eph. 1:3) and is part of Christ’s glorious inheritance (vv. 11, 18).
From the moment of birth, we’re all dependent on the older generation to care for us until we can care for ourselves. We’re also indebted to previous generations for guarding and handing down to us the knowledge, skills, traditions, and culture that are extremely important to daily life. Imagine what life would be like if each new generation had to devise the alphabet, invent printing, discover electricity, or design the wheel!
The most important part of Isaac’s legacy wasn’t the great material wealth his father had left him. Isaac’s most important legacy was the spiritual wealth from his father and mother: knowing and trusting the true and living God and being a part of the covenant blessings that God had graciously bestowed upon Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. How tragic it is when the children of devout Christian believers turn their backs on their priceless spiritual heritage and, like Ishmael and Esau, live for the world and the flesh instead of for the Lord!
HE PRAYED TO HIS FATHER’S GOD (25:19–34)
Genesis is a record of ten successive “generations.” Generations come and go, but the Lord remains and never changes. “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps. 90:1 NKJV).
A devoted home (vv. 19–20). When Isaac was forty years old, God selected Rebekah to be his wife (chap. 24; 25:20), and we have every reason to believe that they were both devoted to the Lord and to each other. The record indicates that Rebekah was the more aggressive of the two when it came to family matters, but perhaps that’s just the kind of wife Isaac needed. Whatever mistakes Isaac may have made as a husband and father, this much is true: As a young man, he willingly put himself on the altar to obey his father and to please the Lord (chap. 22; Rom. 12:1–2).
A disappointed home (v. 21). Isaac and Rebekah waited twenty years for a family, but no children came. The entire book of Genesis emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the wisdom of His “delays.” Abraham and Sarah had to wait twenty-five years for Isaac to be born; Jacob had to labor fourteen years to obtain his two wives; and Joseph had to wait over twenty years before he was reconciled to his brothers. Our times are in His hands (Ps. 31:15), and His timing is never wrong.
Like Abraham, Isaac was a man of prayer, so he interceded with the Lord on behalf of his barren wife. Isaac had every right to ask God for children because of the covenant promises the Lord had made to his father and mother, promises Isaac had heard repeated in the family circle and that he believed. If Rebekah remained barren, how could Abraham’s seed multiply as the dust of the earth and the stars of the heavens? How could Abraham’s seed become a blessing to the whole world (Gen. 12:1–3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:6)?
It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth. Even though every Jewish couple wanted children, Isaac wasn’t praying selfishly. He was concerned about God’s plan for fulfilling His covenant and blessing the whole world through the promised Messiah (3:15; 12:1–3). True prayer means being concerned about God’s will, not our own wants, and claiming God’s promises in the Word. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer and enabled Rebekah to conceive.
A distressed home (vv. 22–23). One problem soon led to another, because Rebekah’s pregnancy was a difficult one: The babies in her womb were struggling with each other. The Hebrew word means “to crush or oppress,” suggesting that the fetal movements were not normal. Since Rebekah wondered if the Lord was trying to say something to her, she went to inquire. Isaac was fortunate to have a wife who not only knew how to pray, but who also wanted to understand God’s will for herself and her children.
In salvation history, the conception and birth of children is a divinely ordained event that has significant consequences. This was true of the birth of Isaac (chaps. 18, 21), the twelve sons of Jacob (29:30—30:24), Moses (Ex. 1—2), Samuel (1 Sam. 1—2), David (Ruth 4:17–22), and our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 4:4–5). Conception, birth, and death are divine appointments, not human accidents, a part of God’s wise and loving plan for His own people (Ps. 116:15; 139:13–16).
Imagine Rebekah’s surprise when she learned that the two children would struggle with each other all their lives! Each child would produce a nation, and these two nations (Edom and Israel) would compete, but the younger would master the older. Just as God had chosen Isaac, the second-born, and not Ishmael, the firstborn, so He chose Jacob, the second-born, and not Esau, the firstborn. That the younger son should rule the elder was contrary to human tradition and logic, but the sovereign God made the choice (Rom. 9:10–12), and God never makes a mistake.
A divided home (vv. 24–28). Esau probably means “hairy.” He also had the nickname “Edom,” which means “red,” referring to his red hair and the red lentil soup Jacob sold him (vv. 25, 30). The twin boys not only looked different but they also were different in personality. Esau
was a robust outdoorsman, who was a successful hunter, while Jacob was a “home boy.” You would think that Isaac would have favored Jacob, since both of them enjoyed domestic pursuits, but Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite. Rebekah was a hands-on mother who knew what was going on in the home and could contrive ways to get what she thought was best.
It’s unfortunate when homes are divided because parents and children put their own personal desires ahead of the will of God. Isaac enjoyed eating the tasty game that Esau brought home, a fact that would be important in later family history (chap. 27). Isaac, the quiet man, fulfilled his dreams in Esau, the courageous man, and apparently ignored the fact that his elder son was also a worldly man. Did Isaac know that Esau had forfeited his birthright? The record doesn’t tell us. But he did know that God had chosen the younger son over the elder son.
A friend of mine kept a card under the glass on his office desk that read: “Faith is living without scheming.” Jacob could have used that card. Before his birth, he had been divinely chosen to receive the birthright and the blessing; thus there was no need for him to scheme and take advantage of his brother. It’s likely that Jacob had already seen plenty of evidence that Esau didn’t care about spiritual things, an attitude that made Esau unfit to receive the blessing and accomplish God’s will. Perhaps Jacob and his mother had even discussed the matter.
The name “Jacob” comes from a Hebrew word (yaaqob) that means “may God protect,” but because it sounds like the words aqeb (“heel”) and aqab (“watch from behind” or “overtake”), his name became a nickname: “he grasps the heel” or “he deceives.” Before birth, Jacob and Esau had contended, and at birth, Jacob grasped his brother’s heel. This latter action was interpreted to mean that Jacob would trip up his brother and take advantage of him. The prediction proved true.
The fact that God had already determined to give the covenant blessings to Jacob didn’t absolve anybody in the family from their obligations to the Lord. They were all responsible for their actions, because divine sovereignty doesn’t destroy human responsibility. In fact, knowing that we’re the chosen of God means we have a greater responsibility to do His will.
HE FACED HIS FATHER’S TEMPTATIONS (26:1–11)
True faith is always tested, either by temptations within us or trials around us (James 1:1–18), because a faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted. God tests us to bring out the best in us, but Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us. In one form or another, each new generation must experience the same tests as previous generations, if only to discover that the enemy doesn’t change and that human nature doesn’t improve. Abraham is mentioned eight times in this chapter, and you find the word “father” six times. Isaac was very much his father’s son. Abraham Lincoln was right: “We can not escape history.”
The temptation to run (vv. 1–6). When Abraham arrived in Canaan, he found a famine in the land and faced his first serious test of faith (12:10—13:4). His solution was to abandon the place God had chosen for him, the place of obedience, and to run to Egypt, thus establishing a bad example for his descendants who were prone to imitate him.5 The safest place in the world is in the will of God, for the will of God will never lead us where His grace can’t provide for us. Unbelief asks, “How can I get out of this,” while faith asks, “What can I get out of this?”
When Isaac faced the problem of a famine, he decided to go to Gerar, the capital city of the Philistines, and get help from Abimelech.6 Isaac and Rebekah were probably living at Beer Lahai Roi at that time (25:11), which means they traveled about seventy-five miles northeast to get to Gerar. Even after arriving in Gerar, Isaac and Rebekah may have been tempted to go south to Egypt, though God had warned them not to consider that possibility.
God permitted Isaac to remain in Philistia and promised to bless him. God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be greatly multiplied and one day would possess all those lands. Thus Isaac had a right to be there as long as God approved (12:2–3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:3–8; 22:15–18). God blessed Isaac for Abraham’s sake (25:5, 24), just as He has blessed believers today for the sake of Jesus Christ.
We can never successfully run away from trials, because God sees to it that His children learn the lessons of faith regardless of where they go. We can never grow in faith by running from difficulty, because “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character” (Rom.
5:3–4 NKJV). Like David, we may wish we had “wings like a dove” so we could “fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6 NKJV), but if we did, we’d always be doves when God wants us to “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa. 40:31).
The temptation to lie (vv. 7–11). Isaac could flee from famine, but when he put himself into a situation that offered no escape, he had to turn to deception to protect himself. Abraham committed this same sin twice, once in Egypt (Gen. 12:14–20) and once in Philistia (chap. 20). Remember, faith is living without scheming, and telling lies seems to be one of humanity’s favorite ways to escape responsibility.
Isaac was asked about the woman who was with him and, like his father Abraham before him, he said she was his sister. But when Abimelech saw Isaac caressing Rebekah, he knew she was his wife. Why did Isaac lie? Because he was afraid his pagan host would kill him in order to obtain his beautiful wife. His lie was evidence of his unbelief, for if he had claimed the covenant promise when he prayed for children (25:21), why couldn’t he claim that same covenant promise to protect himself and his wife?
The English poet John Dryden wrote, “Truth is the foundation of all knowledge and the cement of all societies.” When people don’t keep their word, the foundations of society begin to shake and things start to fall apart. Happy homes, lasting friendships, thriving businesses, stable governments, and effective churches all depend on truth for their success. The American preacher Phillips Brooks said, “Truth is always strong, no matter how weak it looks; and falsehood is always weak, no matter how strong it looks.” Truth is cement; falsehood is whitewash.
When he found himself in difficulty, Isaac was tempted to run and to lie, and we face these same temptations today. Isaac succumbed to temptation and was found out. It’s a sad day when unconverted people like Abimelech publicly expose God’s servants for telling lies. What an embarrassment to the cause of truth!
HE DUG AGAIN HIS FATHER’S WELLS (26:12–35)
Isaac inherited flocks and herds from his father, who had lived a nomadic life, but now the wealthy heir settled down and became a farmer, remaining in Gerar “a long time” (v. 8).
The blessing (vv. 12–14). Isaac and his neighbors had access to the same soil, and they depended on the same sunshine and rain, but Isaac’s harvests were greater than theirs, and his flocks and herds multiplied more abundantly. The secret? God kept His promise and blessed Isaac in all that he did (vv. 3–5). God would give a similar blessing to Jacob years later (chap. 31).
But Isaac was a deceiver! How could the Lord bless somebody who claimed to be a believer and yet deliberately lied to his unbelieving neighbors? Because God is always faithful to His covenant and keeps His promises (2 Tim. 2:11–13), and the only condition God attached to His promise of blessing was that Isaac remain in the land and not go to Egypt.
God also blessed Isaac because of Abraham’s life and faith (Gen. 26:5), just as He blesses us for the sake of Jesus Christ. We’ll never know until we get to heaven how many of our blessings have been “dividends” from the spiritual investments made by godly friends and family who have gone before.
The conflict (vv. 14–17). In spite of his material blessings, Isaac still suffered because of his lie, because the blessings he received brought burdens and battles to his life. Seeing his great wealth, the Philistines envied him and decided he was a threat to their safety. (A similar
situation would occur when the Jews multiplied in Egypt. See Ex. 1:8ff.)
“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22 NKJV). Had Isaac not lied about his wife, God would not have disciplined him but would have given him peace with his neighbors (Prov. 16:7). Because of his sin, however, Isaac’s material blessings
caused him trouble.
The Philistines tried to get Isaac to leave their land and settle elsewhere, and to encourage this they stopped up Abraham’s wells and deprived Isaac’s flocks and herds of the water they desperately needed. Water was a precious commodity in the Near East, and adequate wells were necessary if you were to succeed in the land. The crisis came when the king commanded Isaac to move away, and Isaac obeyed.
The search (vv. 18–22). No matter where Isaac journeyed, the enemy followed him and confiscated his father’s wells and also the new wells that Isaac’s servants dug. To find a well of “springing water” (v. 19) was a special blessing, for it guaranteed fresh water at all times, but the Philistines took that well, too. The names of the new wells that Isaac’s men dug reveal the
problems that he had with his neighbors, for Esek means “contention,” and Sitnah means “hatred.” But Rehoboth means “enlargement” because Isaac finally found a place where he was left alone and had room enough for his camp and his flocks and herds.
Whenever Abraham had a problem with people, he boldly confronted them and got the matter settled, whether it was his nephew Lot (13:5–18), the invading kings (chap. 14), Hagar and Ishmael (21:9ff.), or the Philistines (vv. 22ff.). But Isaac was a retiring man who wanted to avoid confrontation. Since he was a pilgrim, he could move his camp and be a peacemaker.
In every difficult situation of life, we must use discernment to know whether God wants us to be confronters like Abraham or peacemakers like Isaac, for God can bless and use both approaches. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18 NKJV). Sometimes it isn’t possible, but at least we should try, and we must depend on the wisdom from above that is “pure” and “peaceable” (James 3:17).
Looking at Isaac’s experience from a spiritual point of view, we can learn an important lesson. In the Bible, wells sometimes symbolize blessings from the hand of the Lord (Gen. 16:14; 21:19; 49:22; Ex. 15:27; Num. 21:16–18; Prov. 5:15; 16:22; 18:4; Song 4:15; Isa. 12:3; John 4:14).9 The church keeps looking for something new, when all we need is to dig again the old wells of spiritual life that God’s people have depended on from the beginning—the Word of God, prayer, worship, faith, the power of the Spirit, sacrifice, and service—wells that we’ve allowed the enemy to fill up. Whenever there’s been a revival of spiritual power in the history of the church, it’s been because somebody has dug again the old wells so that God’s life-giving Spirit can be free to work.
The assurance (vv. 23–25). Beersheba was a very special place for Isaac, because there his father had entered into a covenant with the Philistine leaders (21:22ff.). Beersheba means “the well of the oath.” The Lord comes to us with His assuring Word just when we need encouragement (Acts 18:9–11; 23:11; 27:23–24; 2 Tim. 2:19). No matter who is against us, God is with us and for us (Gen. 28:15; 31:3; Rom. 8:31–39), and there’s no need for us to be afraid. In response to God’s gracious word of promise, Isaac built an altar and worshipped the Lord. He was ready to meet his adversaries.
Like his father Abraham, Isaac was identified by his tent and altar (Gen. 26:25; see also 12:7–8; 13:3–4, 18). Isaac was wealthy enough to be able to build himself a fine house, but his tent identified him as a pilgrim and stranger in the land (Heb. 11:8–10, 13–16). A fugitive is fleeing from home; a vagabond has no home; a stranger is away from home; but a pilgrim is heading home. The tent identified Isaac as a pilgrim, and the altar announced that he worshipped Jehovah and was heading to the heavenly kingdom.
Like Isaac, all who have trusted Jesus Christ are strangers in this world and pilgrims heading for a better world (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). The body we live in is our tent; one day it will be taken down and we’ll go to the heavenly city (2 Cor. 5:1–8). Life here is brief and temporary, because this tent is fragile, but our glorified body will be ours for eternity (Phil. 3:20–21; 1 John 3:1–3). While we’re here on earth, let’s be sure we build the altar and give our witness that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.
The agreement (vv. 26–33). Isaac’s strategy paid off, because the Philistine leaders came to him to settle the matter of the property rights (21:22ff.). Fortified by God’s promises, Isaac was much bolder in his approach, and he confronted the Philistines with their misdeeds. It’s worth noting that Isaac’s conduct during this conflict made a great impression on them, and they could tell that the Lord was richly blessing him. More important than possessing his wells was the privilege Isaac had of sharing his witness with his pagan neighbors. (For a contrasting situation, see 1 Cor. 6:1–8.)
Isaac and the leaders were able to reach an agreement. To seal the treaty, Isaac hosted a feast, for in that culture, to eat with others was to forge strong links of friendship and mutual support. That same day, Isaac’s servants found one of Abraham’s wells (Gen. 21:25–31) and opened it, and Isaac gave it the original name, Beersheba. “The well of the oath” now referred to Isaac’s treaty as well as Abraham’s.
More conflict (vv. 34–35). Isaac was at peace with his neighbors, but he had war at home. His worldly son Esau had married two heathen wives who caused grief to Isaac and Rebekah. (Later, just to provoke his parents, he married a third heathen wife. See 28:8–9.) In view of Esau’s sinful lifestyle, we wonder that Isaac wanted to give him the patriarchal blessing (chap. 27).
All of us would like to find our Rehoboth (enlargement) where we have plenty of room and no contention, but Isaac’s Rehoboth was found only after he endured conflict. It’s through difficulties that God enlarges us for the larger places He prepares for us. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Ps. 4:1). When the troubles of our hearts are enlarged and we trust God, then the Lord can enlarge us (25:17) and bring us “into a large place” (18:19). If we want room, we have to suffer, because that’s the only way we can grow and feel at home in the larger place God gives us when we’re ready for it.
©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Be Authentic by Warren Wiersbe. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.