Saturday In The Psalms—Overcoming Overwhelming Problems

…whom shall I fear? … of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Not just enemies are confronting David, but entire armies of wicked people had him surrounded! War and trouble are on every side, trying to overwhelm David.

Yet David is not just not afraid, he is filled with joy!

Why? He has heard God, even in the midst of the evil turmoil, say, “Seek My face.” And David responded, “Yes, Lord, I will seek Your face!” In fact, David declared there was nothing more fortifying for him than to be in God’s presence, gazing on God’s beauty and majesty, and learning more of God’s ways.

In this place David has peace, joy, protection, salvation, courage. In this place David’s overwhelming problems are overcome by God.

David’s conclusion is one for all who are experiencing overwhelming problems—

Wait on the Lord;
be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
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Live Dead Life (book review)

I have been a big supporter of the Live Dead movement ever since this initiative was launched. So I was more than happy to read Live Dead Life by Joy Hawthorne, even though it was written as a 30-day devotional for students. Although written by a teenager for other teenagers, I was instantly hooked!

Joy is living in a country that is closed to the Christian message, and yet she is daily living out her Christian testimony in such a genuine and winsome way that it is having a positive impact on the Muslim members of that country. I can see why, because the book had a profound effect on me too!

As I read this journal and pondered Joy’s setting contrasted with mine, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why aren’t I doing more to tell people the Good News about Jesus?” I think this book will provide that same tug on your heart as well.

Parents, read Live Dead Life with your son or daughter.

Youth pastors, read Live Dead Life with your students.

This is a life-changing book! You can download Live Dead Life free by clicking here.

I recently had an opportunity to interview Joy Hawthorne—

Craig T. Owens: I am curious as to the seed thought behind this book. Did you simply start a journal for your own thought-processing, or was there a book idea in the back of your mind right from the beginning?

Joy Hawthorne: The original thought of a Live Dead book for teens was not my idea, I was asked to write the book. Writing a book was something I might have imagined I would do when I was older… the idea of writing a book as a teen probably would not have crossed my mind until one of my Live Dead mentors asked me to consider it.

As I started to work on it the seed definitely grew. At first, it was on a couple major topics (like fear or calling) and then it just really grew out of my life and sharing what God was speaking to me in my heart with others. As it developed, my mentor suggested it be a 30-day devotional including Live Dead values.

CTO: I can tell that a major audience for your book is other teens that are living in the same sort of environment in which you are living. How would you suggest that students in the US read this book?

JH: I can see how other TCKs [third culture kids] would connect with it more because we have an understanding of each other and connect with our lives that way. Living as a TCK has been such an adventure, and that is something I would want kids in the US to see and join me in the journey that way. This book is intended to fan into flame a deeper intimacy with Jesus and obedience to whatever He asks for ALL teens, not just TCKs.

My life living worldwide has shaped some of the ways I walk with Jesus. Hopefully, from seeing through my eyes a bit, other teens would be able to see the world with eyes that are little more wide open. It’s easy to focus on the stuff that bugs us daily in our little corner of the world, but I wanted to encourage following Jesus and being a part of what He’s doing worldwide. I would love if other teens can see a little more of what ordinary life overseas is like and watch God doing extraordinary things.

CTO: How has writing such a journal (and sort of bearing your soul to the world) changed you?

JH: Writing the journal is a way that I do process things. I write in my in my journal that way and it helps me think and respond to things. Bearing my soul to the world sounds kind of scary to me feeling so broken but something I’ve discovered from writing is that I have a voice. Everyone does. We just have to choose to use it, to not stay silent when God asks us to speak but choosing to follow Him in what we say and do in a way that brings Him glory. Being a quieter person, it is a hard choice for me to speak when I’m scared. Writing something others will read is choosing to use my voice, and also a choice to open myself to let God use me.

A verse that has really encouraged me to speak is Esther 4:14, about being here for such a time as this. That pretty much hits what I’m here for. Created for this time and place for His glory.

CTO: Will there be other books from Joy Hawthorne in the future? If so, any hints as to what you may be working on? 

JH: There’s no ‘next book’ I’m currently working on, but writing about what God is doing in my life and sharing it to bless others is something I love to do. If I felt God was leading me that way I hope I’d be willing to follow Him and do it again. So I’m open to it, writing will probably be something I will always do, love, and grow in.

I am a Live Dead Publishing book reviewer.

Tuning Out Enemies

“…they thought to do me harm”Nehemiah

Nehemiah had enemies on almost every side as he attempted to complete his work (the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem). Check out his enemies’ strategy and his response to them—

Enemy’s tactic #1—Get Nehemiah preoccupied with attending meaningless meetings.

Nehemiah’s response—“I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?”

Enemy’s tactic #2—Send out letters slandering Nehemiah.

Nehemiah’s response—“There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.” Then he prayed, “God, give me strength.”

Enemy’s tactic #3—Try to scare Nehemiah into running away.

Nehemiah’s response—“Should someone in my position run from danger? I know that God wouldn’t like that.”

Nehemiah had a vision from God and he stayed focused on that.

  • It determined his priority
  • It set his daily agenda
  • It gave him discernment
  • It gave him courage

The result: “When all our enemies heard [that we had completed our project]…they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.”

A mark of a godly leader is one so focused on God’s plan that he pays no attention to his critics or enemies.

This is Part 7 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

15 More Quotes From “Run Today’s Race”

Oswald Chambers’ book Run Today’s Race was originally published as a thought-a-day calendar. Here are a few more short, thought-provoking quotes.

“When we say ‘Thy will be done,’ do we say it with a sigh? If so, we have never realized that the character of God is holy love; nothing can ever happen outside His purposeful will.”

“‘Why does God bring thunderclouds and disasters when we want to green pastures and still waters?’ Bit by bit we find, behind the clouds, the Father’s feet; behind the lightning, an abiding day that has no night; behind the thunder, ‘a still small voice’ that comforts with a comfort that is unspeakable.”

“Beware of interpreting Scripture in order to make it suit a pre-arranged doctrine of your own.”

“The New Testament view of a Christian is that he is one in whom the Son of God has been revealed, and prayer deals with the nourishment of that life.”

“In order to be able to wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, we must obey, and it takes a courageous heart to obey.”

“The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a ‘happy Christian.’ Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and He prays ‘that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.’”

“If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it better, drink it in communion with Him.”

“We must distinguish between the burden-bearing that is right and the burden-bearing that is wrong. We ought never to bear the burden of sin or doubt, but there our burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. He wants us to roll them back on Him.”

“The reason we know so little about God’s wisdom is that we will only trust Him as far as we can work things out according to our own reasonable common sense.”

“Take time, strangle some other interests and make time to realize that the center of power in your life is the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”

“The essence of Christianity is that we give the Son of God a chance to live and move and have His being in us.”

“God rarely rebukes us for our impulsive plans because those plans work their own distress.”

“God will never begin to teach me His will in other matters until I do what I know.”

“‘Ye are the light of the world.’ We have the idea that we are going to shine in heaven, but we are to shine down here ‘in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation’ (Philippians 2:15). We are to shine as lights in the world in the squalid places, and it cannot be done by putting on a brazen smile, the light must be there all the time.”

“Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in? The devil? No, the cares of this world. It is the little worries always. … All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.”

Please check out my full book review of Run Today’s Race by clicking here, and the first set of quotes I posted from this book is here.

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

“Like” A Lion

“The Bible says the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. The keyword is like. He is a poser, and his bark is worse than his bite. Refuse to believe his lies or to cower to his intimidation. When he reminds you of your past, remind him of his future! Fight back with the words of faith. Fight back with songs of praise. …

“A lion’s roar is meant to communicate dominance—to assert its authority in a territory. And the only thing that will silence a lion’s roar is the roar of a more powerful lion. … satan may roar at you, but he cannot touch you. He is the one in a cage. You are the one that’s free.” —Mark Batterson, in Chase The Lion

Thursdays With Oswald—The Wisdom In Appearing Foolish

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Wisdom In Appearing Foolish

     A man can kill his own wisdom by living a part; he can atrophy his real life by keeping up a certain role. … It takes a tremendous amount of relationship to God for a man to be what he is. … 

     A wise man who has built his life in confidence in God will appear a fool when he is amongst people who are sleek and cunning. … If you stand true to your faith in God, there will be situations in which you will come across extortioners, cunning, crafty people, who use their wits instead of worshiping God, and you will appear a fool. Are you prepared to appear a fool for Christ’s sake? …

     If you are going to be true to God, you will appear a fool amongst those who do not believe in God, and you must lay your account with this. Jesus said, “Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men…,” and it tests a man for all he is worth to confess Jesus Christ. 

From Shade Of His Hand

Oswald Chambers is referencing Solomon’s words—Extortion turns wise people into fools, and bribes corrupt the heart (Ecclesiastes 7:7).

True wisdom comes from a trusting relationship to God as He is revealed in His Word, which to cunning people “who use their wits instead of worshiping God” sounds like pie-in-the-sky foolishness. Much like satan did with Eve, they will ask you, “Did God really say that?” and you are faced with a decision: will you stand true to God’s wisdom and look like a fool in their eyes?

Jesus said it would take the courage that comes from a sold-out relationship to Him to be able to endure the bribes and barbs of the world’s cunning people.

I pray we can all be wise enough to be willing to appear as fools in the world’s eyes!

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