Thursday, March 10, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: "Tithing - test me in this" by Douglas LeBlanc

TITLE: Tithing; test me in this
AUTHOR: Douglas LeBlanc
GENRE: Spiritual Growth & Christian Thought
ISBN: 978-0-8499-4608-0

PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: "Stories of people who live a generous and happy life (and why you'll want to live that way too.) Journalist Douglas LeBlanc travels the nation to talk with believers whose lives have been enriched by the ancient spiritual discipline of tithing. He discovers people along the way who do not understand the practice as an onerous law but as God’s call to a life of generosity and compassion. The effect on their lives is dramatic. LeBlanc talks with a variety of believers—from a pastor in the south side of Chicago to progressive Episcopalians, from an Orthodox rabbi to an Eastern Orthodox priest and his wife. By holding their gifts with open hands, they are drawn deeper into a life of joy and sharing that begins in the very heart of God. A volume in the eight book classic series, The Ancient Practices, with a foreword by Phyllis Tickle, General Editor."

I was hoping that somewhere in this book it would talk about the history of tithing in depth. How and why it started. How it became such a taboo in our culture. I was hoping for all this in addition to real life examples of people who have been blessed by tithing...

*to read the rest of my review please go HERE.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spiritual Warfare

I was in the woods. There were dark skeleton trees surrounding me. The sun peeking through the branches even seemed dim. And there was something up there... in the trees...

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
So many things have happened since Thanksgiving and I wish I could say they were all good. Actually something pretty bad happened to some of my family recently. Not my immediate, hubby and kids, family. I can't tell you who it is and I can't tell you what it was, until it's all sorted out, but it's very much not good.

Before that, we had a brush with identitiy theft, but God caused my hubby to check his bank account almost as soon as the charges were made and despite the bank doing their best to make a nightmare of it, we were not out any money and the inconveniences from the whole thing are fairly minor in retrospect. I do hope they catch the selfish individual who did it. This person went online and ordered a ton of expensive novelty items from a goth store called Hot Topic. I pray that even if the police never catch this thief, that they will be overwhelmed with guilt until they repent and find something more honorable to do with their time and talents.
And before that we were all sick at some point or another for about 2 months. Some of us... *ahem* Some of us were sick for a week once, and some of us were sick for the whole 2 months.

And I had a dream that I was in the woods. The trees were naked and still and the dim sun peeking through the branches didn't warm the atmosphere. There was something up there. Something in the trees. Some sort of larger predatory bird. Many of them, sitting up in the trees, camoflaged, waiting. Waiting to swoop down and pick at the weak. At the first sign of weakness. Just waiting for a chance...

And that's when I knew that all these things that were happeneing were not coincidence. We were under spiritual attack. Some of my family, not my immediate family, still is. But when I had that dream it prompted me to get back on track in my prayer and Bible reading. I've spent nearly an hour every morning reading and praying lately, and I'm ashamed to say that's the most I've ever spent in my life on a regular basis with God. I was close to God as a small child, and by the time I had the self-government to have a specific time with God, I was a struggling teenager wrapped up in my struggles instead of dedicating time to God. I've come to be closer to Him again only since having kids and those of you who are mamas of only littles know that it's hard to get longer than 20 seconds without interruption to do anything. Many of us don't even get to go to the bathroom alone. My usual Bible readings were as many verses as I could get in on the internet before the next kid crisis, and short one liner prayers throughout the day, and finally I would try to pray as I lay exhausted in bed at night and wind up falling asleep a sentence or two into it. But as I determined to have this Sweet Hour Of Prayer every morning, God has allowed the teething (and usually crying) baby, to either sleep in late, or be happy in the Jumperoo while I read. The toddlers make it very difficult but as long as I get after them consistently, it is doable. I fill cups, change Bug's diaper, and bring them breakfast in bed. Then I set the timer for an hour and put it up on their shelf and they are allowed to get out of bed to get a toy to take back to bed, but they must stay, eat, and play on their beds until the timer dings. I make sure that they know this is because Mommy needs some special time with Jesus every morning, and because they know I'm doing this, they often beg me to read the Bible to them after the timer dings and they are allowed to get up.

If you feel that you or your family is under spiritual attack, I strongly encourage you to start or reinstate your own Sweet Hour Of Prayer! Perhaps if you already pray in the morning alone, you may wish to add a Bible and prayer time in the afternoon with your kids or before bed with your husband. Perhaps a prayer group online or with some other couple or some of your close friends. You will have to pray that God will help you to set this time aside for Him, and that He will show you what hour in your day is the one that you will have the least distrtactions. If you are not sure what to read or pray or where to start, I suggest that you just start at the beginning of the New Testament and read a chapter, slowly, letting it sink in, before beginning to pray. Thank God for His provision, for His love, for whatever you hold dear, and then cast all your burdens on Him and let go of them, in faith that He will work everything out for good to those who love Him. A chapter a day and if you feel you have more to glean from it, you can read the same chapter several days in a row until you feel that it has sunk in enough to move on to the next. When you have finished the New Testament, start over, this time at the beginning of Genesis, and you will be amazed how much more meaning the OT has when you are looking at it and thinking "So THAT's why/where/who/what/when..." after reading the NT. If you are having trouble knowing what or how to pray, I recommend purchasing one or more "Powere of a Praying ___" books by Stormie Omartian. I have The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent and I use one of the prayers in each as a springboard for my prayers for my family every day. I have gone through both of them several times over and will continue to do so as they are very good ways to launch a prayer for a specific person for a specific need in their life. A great couple's devotional is Night Light by James and Shirley Dobson- don't let the seeming simplisticness of the early questions throw you. It gets deep fast and some of the discussion questions are HARD to actually talk about!