Quick Fixes to Deep Problems: an Excerpt from Radically Normal

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Today’s excerpt is from Radically Normal: You Don’t Have to Live Crazy to Follow Jesus by Josh Kelley. Josh has been a pastor for 15 years and holds a BA in biblical studies from Pacific Life College. Originally from northwest Washington, he is currently on a year-long, cross country speaking tour, joined by his wife Marilyn and their two daughters.

Get Radically Normal for free when you sign up for Vyrso’s daily deal! Enter your email address on the Radically Normal product page and you’ll receive your free ebook in an email.

One fine summer afternoon, I was working in the drive-through at Starbucks and had a customer order a Venti sugar-free, heavy-cream, no-whip Caramel Frappuccino Light. Allow me to translate. That’s a 20-ounce Frappuccino made with sugar-free caramel syrup, but instead of milk, she wanted unwhipped whipping cream. But (and she was very clear about this) she didn’t want any whipped cream on it.

As she pulled up to the window, I was curious to see what sort of person would order a Venti heavy-cream Frappuccino. I don’t want to be insensitive, so I’ll just say she looked the part. I chatted with her as her drink was being made and asked (as casually as I could) why she didn’t want any whipped cream on her drink.

“It’s because of the sugar in the whipped cream. I’m on a diet that lets me have as much fat as I want but no sugar.”

As I handed it to her, I said, “Just so you know, the base syrup we use has a little bit of sugar in it. Not much, but a little.”

“Oh,” she said. “That must be why I haven’t lost any weight.”

I’m rarely left speechless, but words failed me. I just grunted some sort of goodbye as she drove off. Let me get this straight—that drink had almost 70 grams of fat, and she thought a couple of grams of sugar was the reason she wasn’t losing any weight?

Even now I have to wonder. Did she really believe the sugar was the reason for her weight problem? Somewhere deep down, she must have known that losing all that weight might require a little more work than skipping the whipped cream on a 750-calorie drink. It’s easy to point fingers because her problem was so visible, but all of us crave quick fixes to deep problems. And quick fixes usually make problems worse. [Click to tweet!]

When I was young (but old enough to know better), I hated to stop playing when I had to go to the bathroom, so I’d just pee my pants. Cold days were the worst. I vividly remember that feeling of having to pee so bad but not wanting to go inside. There were a few glorious moments when I enjoyed the relief and the newly acquired warmth. But the relief was short-lived. Soon the warm turned to cold, and then came the chafing of my skin against the cold, wet denim, followed by that distinctive smell. I continued doing that until the third grade, my only year in public school. The shame of peeing my pants on a field trip motivated me to start using the bathroom.

Sin is the moral equivalent of peeing our pants. It begins as a shortsighted solution to a genuine problem or a short-lived pleasure at the expense of long-term happiness. I basically see God’s rules like him telling us to use the bathroom.

***

Get Radically Normal for free when you sign up for Vyrso’s daily deal! Starting November 3, you can get a new 24-hour deal each day through November 27. Once you enter your email address, you’ll receive your freebie in an email. Be the first to know what’s on sale—sign up for the daily deal!

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3 Ways to Manage Challenges as a Leader

The Painful Side of Leadership

Equip yourself to lead. Through October 31, get 20 ebooks about leadership for just $2.99 each!

Being a leader isn’t easy.

People experience painful relationships, choices, and circumstances, but leaders are expected to make the tough calls and gracefully navigate these points of tension.

Leaders are people too. They’re still susceptible to anger, feelings of inadequacy, and disappointment. They collide—perhaps more frequently than we think—with people and situations that require a thick skin, incredible patience, and a steady hand.

Author Jeff Iorg in his ebook, The Painful Side of Leadership, unpacks three ways leaders can handle painful situations with grace and ease:

1. Have realistic expectations

Anger, disappointment, and frustration usually stem in leaders that have unrealistic expectations for themselves, the people they lead, and what is attainable. This doesn’t mean thinking the worst of people, it means balancing your vision—where you want to go—with the reality of where your team is.

2. Manage your emotions

Acknowledging and being transparent about your emotional highs and lows isn’t a bad thing, but allowing your emotions to run the show is a different story.

Jeff Iorg writes, “When we feel threatened, whether the threat is real or imagined, we often lash out in anger.” Learning to manage feelings of anger, discouragement, and inadequacy, especially when it comes to criticism, is important.

Celebration and joy are just as important to manage. Let positive emotions, praise, and excitement flow!

3. Practice spiritual disciplines

Reading the Bible on a daily basis, resting on the Sabbath, and consistent prayer habits build you up and connect you with God’s wisdom. These habits combat busyness and prevent emotional burnout. They serve as reservoirs of hope, patience, and wisdom to draw from during challenging times in leadership.

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Want to read more on handling painful challenges as a leader? Get The Painful Side of Leadership for $2.99. See more ebooks like this in the $2.99 leadership sale.

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What Are You Supposed To Do With Your Life?

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Today we have the pleasure of sharing an exclusive look at Johnnie Moore’s new ebook, What Am I Supposed To Do With My Life? This ebook aims to provide spiritual direction and clear guidance on the most frequently asked question Moore hears as the campus pastor at a Christian university. Take a look:

Young evangelicals are constantly told that our teen, college, and young adult years are a “waiting period.” We’re waiting for jobs, for spouses, for God’s calling. This isn’t the season to get to work, but the season to wait until God shows us what we’re supposed to do with our lives. So we’re supposed to pray and to wait for an answer, and when the answers don’t come, that’s when we start asking God to “send a yellow pigeon into our bedroom window at five p.m. on Thursday” if he wants us to be a missionary to a tribe of pigmy people. Since the end to the waiting period is vague, we start getting increasingly desperate to know what’s next, and then the prayers get crazier and crazier.

This kind of “spiritual waiting” isn’t helpful; it’s actually harmful. We may think it is grounded in faith, but it often comes out of fear. We are so afraid that we’ll do something God doesn’t want us to do that we demand proof after proof of his will so that we can make faithless, risk-free decisions. We are so afraid of taking a chance on what we might think is God’s will that we try to shift responsibility entirely to him, asking for him to give us a miracle and then while we’re waiting for the miracle we tell our friends that we are “waiting on God.” We want him to remove from the decision all of the ambiguity and uncertainty. That way, if things go wrong, we can shake our heads and tell ourselves that “everything happens for a reason,” and comfort ourselves with the thought that at least we did what God told us to do.

But did we? Is this how God speaks to us? This idea of “waiting for God to move” lulls us into the belief that these years—some of the most important years of our lives—when our habits and personalities are being formed, when we learn how to function in relationships and in the workplace, are not really that important after all. It shifts responsibility from us to God, leaving us free to waste our time with video games, fool around with relationships without serious intentions, and distract ourselves from our future plans with the technology and its drama we invite upon ourselves. This is one of the reasons why “thirty is the new twenty,” why our generation struggles to focus on serious things, and why we so egregiously delay adulthood. We agonize over decisions and often put them off, saying that we are waiting for confirmation from God that we are doing the right thing. In the meantime, we fill the space between “asking” and “hearing” by wasting valuable time on meaningless pursuits. Rather than swimming ahead, we’re just treading water, looking for a blinking sign to drop from the sky and tell us where to go and what to do.

We want God to answer all the “W” questions for us first—the who, what, when, and where. But is this really necessary? I don’t think it is. I don’t think we should embrace this type of attitude; instead we ought to embrace an attitude that believes that now is as important as the future, and that so much of the will of God is realized in the everyday decisions and moments that we can let roll by unrecognized while we’re waiting for God to answer bigger questions and to provide us with supernatural signs. Meanwhile, every season of life is equally important and every daily encounter matters just as much as future goals, and somehow these passing moments, which you’re tempted to discount, are actually the building blocks for your future.

Nearly every twenty something I know is playing this waiting game; rather than jumping in with both feet, they are twiddling their thumbs, waiting for a dove to descend from the sky or a dog to walk around the corner of a building. Meanwhile God has them—us—in lives that keep on ticking, day after day, and he’s given us a book filled with words of advice that we’re to apply to our lives every single day. There is always a logical direction to follow, a next nearest step to take, and often the will of God is more about following that next nearest step than it is about waiting for God to send a sign. It’s about being the person God would have you be in whatever situation he has you at the moment.

Sometimes we say that we’re “waiting on God” when God is actually waiting on us [Click to tweet!] He is expecting us to start taking life seriously and start taking advantage of the opportunities he has already given us, as opposed to waiting for the next new thing. He’s expecting us to live our current season to its fullest.

***

Want to read more? Pre-order What Am I Supposed To Do With My Life? on Vyrso today!

Reprinted with permission from W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson.

 

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Get Equipped to Lead with $2.99 Leadership Ebooks

Transformational Descipleship

We’ve partnered with B&H Publishing Group to bring you 20 titles on leadership for just $2.99 each through October 31. Get these resources today and get equipped to lead.

Improvement and growth in a skill or practice doesn’t just fall into our laps, we have to actively seek it out and look for opportunities to learn. What better way to grow as a leader than to explore different views, methods, and models of leadership from other professionals and leaders?

Through October 31, get 20 ebooks on leadership for just $2.99 each. You’ll find resources to help equip you for leadership in ministry and pastoral roles, the marketplace, parenting, mentorship, and more.

Here’s a taste of the leadership advice and guidance you’ll find in the sale:

Leaders must recognize that their success is measured not in the number of followers they gather but in the number of leaders they unleash into God’s mission.”

Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow

“More time with fewer people equals greater kingdom impact.”

Mentor Like Jesus

As strange as it may seem, the surest way for a leader to succeed is to put others first, including the families of those he leads.”

The Leadership Lessons of Jesus 

Learn and grow in leadership with resources from Eric Geiger, Ed Stetzer, Richard Blackaby, and more for just $2.99 each. Explore these resources today!

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5 Tips for Praying with Your Family

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While contemplating what it means to be a leader in the home, I remembered a post that my friend Jayson wrote in 2012, 5 Tips for Praying with Your Children. Many of you might have missed the post two years ago, and I felt that this previous content would fit well within our leadership theme this month. Here are 5 tips for praying with your family:

1. Plan Your Prayer Time

If you don’t plan for prayer time with your family, it just isn’t going to happen regularly. It is amazing how life can get in the way of something that is so important. By the time you get dinner, bath time, and all of the other daily details taken care of, an evening can really get away from you. Make a plan for prayer time—even if you don’t have kids—and stick to it.

 2. Take Advantage of Impromptu Opportunities to Pray

Don’t compartmentalize prayer and the chance to lead. The more we can communicate that prayer and our relationship is something we set aside time for and a natural reaction to daily events, the better your family will understand their relationship with God. So when you’re on the way to Grandma’s and you pass an ambulance with its lights on, take a moment to pray for the people involved. When your child is having a hard time with another kid at school, take a moment to pray about the situation.

3. Make a List of Things You Can Pray for with Your Family

Get a little notebook and ask your family what you should pray for—even if it is just you and your spouse. Not only will it help them keep focused, it makes a wonderful keepsake that you can pass along to your kids or grandchildren.

4. Discuss Answers to Prayers

When you keep a regular list of things you’re praying about, you see God at work. Going over things you have been praying about regularly enables your entire family to see the different ways God answers prayer. The point isn’t to tell everyone how God is answering prayers but for your kids, your spouse, anyone to tell you. It’s spectacular to see your family growing more aware of God’s hand in their lives.

5. Incorporate Scripture into Your Prayers

Does your family have a memory verse this week? Are there some verses from your devotions that you can pray about? Help you and your family internalize God’s promises and character by praying those things back to Him. Encouraging your family to pray the Scriptures is a powerful way to make the Bible come alive.

 

What does praying with or for your family look like? Share your thoughts in a comment!

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Knowing God: An Interview with J.D. Greear (Part 2)

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Today we are continuing our exclusive two-part interview with J.D. Greear, author of the new ebook Jesus, Continued. You can pre-order Jesus, Continued on Vyrso today! 

In some of your writing about the book you say, “Through depth in the gospel and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we can go from guilt-driven to grace-driven and gift-driven.” Can you give us an example of what that looks like in practice?

When we feel like we are responsible to save the world, we will feel like we are never doing enough—never being radical enough, never sacrificing enough. We’ll always feel guilty that we could be doing more. But when we focus on the fact that God doesn’t need us, that he multiplies loaves and fishes to feed multitudes and pulls $100,000 tax payments out of fish’s mouths if he wants, that burden is gone. When that burden is removed, we can be radically generous in response to God’s grace (that’s grace-driven), and fully surrendered to what God is telling us to do (gift-driven).

Recently I read that Pentecostals are the most effective mobilizers for mission on the planet. That is because they focus less on the enormity of the task and more on what God is directing you to do in his Spirit. The size of the task is crushing. Sensing that God has an assignment for you is empowering. The Baptist and Reformed communities are good at emphasizing the size of the task, which we need to hear, and feel. But we need to take our eyes off the field and look to the God who brings life back from the dead and multiplies our meager resources to feed thousands. Compared to the size of the task, we are nothing. Compared to the size of our God, the task is nothing.

God does not need us to accomplish the Great Commission for him, but wants to accomplish it through us.

For those that are currently mission-driven but burned out, weary, and longing for joy, what is one way they can start living a satisfied life in relationship with God through the Holy Spirit?

I sympathize with those who feel burned out from their mission-driven convictions. As I mentioned above, I would often pursue the mission with zeal, only to end up feeling paralyzed by the weight of it all. I toggled between summers of feverish activity and winters of guilt and fatigue.

The burden of that conviction nearly crushed me. My despair drove me to the Scriptures, and that despair eventually gave way to one of the most surprising insights I’ve ever had, one that has radically redefined how I see my service to Christ.

That discovery? God doesn’t need you! He never has. He never will. For anything. Ever. In Psalm 50:12 God says that if he were hungry, he wouldn’t come to me. God never approaches me as a needy God.

So it turns out I had vastly overestimated what I had to contribute. I didn’t have “more” I needed to give; I actually had nothing God needed to begin with. Nothing.

God is not now, nor has he ever, looked for “helpers” to assist him in saving the world. That doesn’t mean he isn’t calling us to give ourselves generously to that mission or to be sacrificially generous with our neighbors; it’s just that he’s not looking for people to supply his needs. He’s not short on money, talent, or time. He has never commanded us to go save the world for him; he calls us to follow him as he saves the through us.

So instead of asking the question, “What needs to be done in the world?” I should ask, “What is the Spirit of God leading me to do?” Just like Jesus told his apostles to wait on the coming of the Holy Spirit before they went out to the world, we are to look to the Holy Spirit for his direction in what God would have us do. We don’t “wait on” the Holy Spirit like they did, since we have him in our souls already, but we adopt the same posture of humble dependence on him that they had, looking for where he directs us to go.

Do you have any other examples of people that have moved from being weighted by the Great Commission to living empowered and focused based upon God’s gifting and speaking?

I am honored to be a part of a church where I hear stories about God empowering specific people for specific callings all the time. Their stories actually helped me to see how central the leading of the Spirit is in the pages of the New Testament. I could tell a dozen stories, but I’ll choose just one that makes the point beautifully.

I have a friend, Tony, who has adopted five kids, four from Ukraine and one from Kenya (and he says you have no trouble telling which ones are which!). The four from Ukraine he adopted at once. When I asked how he came to that, he replied that one summer he and his wife set out to study the book of Romans together. They felt struck by Paul’s admonition that those who know the gospel should become like the gospel. The more he learned about his own salvation, he said, the more he longed for a way to respond to Jesus for his great grace.

But how should they do this? As Tony and his wife prayed through that question, he came to Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 1:5 that God has adopted all believers into his family; then he read Paul’s command in Ephesians 5:1 for believers to imitate their God. “What better way to put the gospel on display,” Tony thought, “than to adopt an unwanted child?”

Tony asked God for the opportunity to do just that, and did God ever open that door! Tony went on a mission trip to Ukraine. While there, the orphanage director told Tony that someone had just brought in a set of four siblings. The kids, ages two through eight, were about to be split up and placed in orphanages around the country . . . unless someone came forward to take all four. When a worker brought the kids out to Tony, he saw four scared little children, all holding hands. They thought they were being called in for discipline. In that moment, Tony knew the Spirit of God had answered his prayer. “Those are your kids,” the Spirit said.

“I know I can’t take care of all the orphans in the world,” Tony said. “But God told me to take care of these four. I know adoption is not God’s will for every family. But it was clear it was the Spirit’s direction for us. We wanted to respond to the gospel, and this is the way the Holy Spirit directed us to do that.”

What is one takeaway you hope people embrace after reading Jesus, Continued?

I want readers to see that personal, interactive relationship has always been God’s plan for his people. This book exists to lead people to that experience if they’ve never had it, and help clarify it for them if they have. God has always been a God who is close and present with his people—but only since Jesus returned to heaven has he taken up residence inside of us.

But how do we know when God is speaking to us, leading us? More havoc has been wreaked in the church following the phrase, “God just said to me…” than any other. How do we balance what God has clearly and definitely said in Scripture and how he moves, dynamically, in our world today?

I also want to help readers understand how closely the Spirit connects to the gospel. Many Christians today talk about the gospel and the Word; others talk all about the Spirit. But these connect at the deepest levels. The deeper you go in the gospel, the more alive you become in the Spirit. By believing the gospel message, Paul says, you are filled with the Spirit (Gal 3:1–3), and if you want to grow more full with the Spirit, you must keep plunging deeper into the gospel message.

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You can pre-order J.D. Greear’s new ebook Jesus, Continued and download his other titles today on Vyrso.com! 

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Free Leadership Titles For a Limited Time

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I’m really excited to announce that two of our top leadership ebooks are free today! John C. Maxwell’s Be All You Can Be is free today only, October 16, and The Heart of a Leader by Richard Blanchard is free through October 17. You won’t want miss out on adding these two ebooks to your collection!

Here is some more information on the two titles:

Be All You Can Be:

America’s leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, gives you the tools you need to be a more effective leader. In this powerful book filled with easy-to-grasp truths you can put to work right away, you’ll discover the principles of success that can really help you succeed. Maxwell will guide you through four key steps:

Know: Discover the principles for fulfilling your God-given potential.

Show: Learn how to model the principles so others can see them at work.

Go: Roll up your sleeves, get out into the world, and live what you’ve learned.

Grow: Experience living at your full potential, continually assessing your progress.

As a result, you’ll gain considerable hope for the future, which in turn will give you power to overcome in the present. Successful living and leading starts now: Accept the challenge to Be All You Can Be.

The Heart of a Leader:

Arranged with your busy schedule in mind, this book offers you Blanchard’s most important concepts in an accessible format. You can reach for instant motivation and insight on a daily basis or soak it up in one reading. Powerfully challenging and deeply inspiring, The Heart of a Leader will enable you to develop the courageous heart of a true leader, master key attitudes and actions to impact lives around you, and enjoy the profound wisdom that only Ken Blanchard can deliver.

Get Be All You Can Be free through October 16 and The Heart of a Leader free through October 17. Pick up your copies today before these limited-time discounts expire!

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Knowing God: An Interview with J.D. Greear (Part 1)

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Today we have the wonderful opportunity of sharing with you the first of a two-part interview with J.D. Greear, author of the new ebook Jesus, Continued. You can pre-order Jesus, Continued on Vyrso today!

Tell us a little about the background for your latest title, Jesus, Continued.

Early in my ministry, I secretly felt frustrated with my faith, because it seemed like the people in the Bible had a fundamentally different experience with God than I had. My relationship with God seemed to be one-way. All of God’s presence seemed stockpiled in the past: he created the world, died on a cross, and then inspired a Bible to tell us about it. God was like a busy teacher who had given me an assignment and then stepped out of the room, leaving me to get it done on my own. I had a “relationship with God” in the sense of praying to him about my problems and trying to trust that he was working—somewhere, somehow—to help me. But I didn’t have any real interaction with him. God was a doctrine I knew about rather than a person I knew.

I related to the Holy Spirit the same way I related to my pituitary gland: grateful it’s in there; know it’s essential for something; don’t really relate to it. It certainly wasn’t a sense of the presence of God with me, or a living, moving, dynamic Person.

Jesus, Continued is a book for anyone who shares that feeling. It’s about how the Holy Spirit God is actually present with his people, and through him we have the kind of fellowship with God the disciples had with Jesus (1 John 1:3). He moves in us, speaks through us. He calls us to follow as he goes about accomplishing the Great Commission through us. Mission is not what we do for him, but what he does through us.

This book is for those Christians who want to see God move from being someone they know about to someone they feel is truly present in their lives, someone they interact with personally. It is also for those who have gotten a vision for mission but soon grew weary at the size of the task or their inability to accomplish it. I’m thinking here of everyone from burned out pastors and missionaries to zealous college students and weary mothers.

What was the inspiration behind Jesus, Continued?

I took the title from Acts 1:1, where Luke says that in his former book—the Gospel of Luke—he “wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day he was taken up” (Acts 1:1). The implication is that Acts is what Jesus is continuing to do.

What this means is that the work Jesus began in his earthly ministry he now continues through his Spirit by the church. It’s not that in the Gospels Jesus worked, and now we, in his absence, work for him; during his incarnation Jesus worked through his earthly body and now he works through us.

I believe this is a crucial message to recover. When we approach the Christian life as something we do for God, we quickly feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and eventually burned-out. But when we are filled by the Spirit of God, drudgery is transformed into delight, and the crushing weightiness of the task becomes empowerment for specific callings the Spirit gives to us.

Was there a particular moment that you encountered God speaking to you through the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit appears 59 times in the book of Acts, in 36 of those he is speaking. I see no reason to think he has ceased moving and speaking to his people today, though those movements of us never takes on the weight or authority of Scripture (that level of revelation has ceased; the canon is closed). Scripture is complete, and contains all we need to be complete (2 Tim 3:16-17) But just as we see in the book of Acts, we need the Spirit to move dynamically in our lives to show us how to pursue and execute his mission.

And as I explain in the book, we always need to weigh our experience of God’s Spirit speaking to our spirit with other factors, like the testimony of Scripture and the wisdom of our Christian community. But the Spirit of God can and does speak to us individually. One particular way I’ve experienced that is through what I call “holy ambitions.”

When the Spirit of God wants to work in his people, he often starts by stoking the fires of a particular, holy ambition for a particular ministry or need. The fire of passion for God to do something in your generation, or on your campus, or in your family, grows to a fever temperature inside of you. It’s less of a “word” from God that it is a holy discontent with a situation, a broken heart over injustice and pain, or a burning passion to see God glorified.

For example, Scripture does not record God ever telling David that he wanted him to fight with Goliath. God did not summon David to a “holy huddle” in the pasture in which he said, “OK, David, there will be a giant there, and he will say this . . . and then you get 5 rocks, and then . . . .”

David simply found himself in a place with a defiant giant, burning with holy zeal. He assumed that meant God wanted him to fight. Furthermore, God gave David no assurance that he would defeat Goliath on that day. David simply believed God wanted him to fight the giant and trusted God with the outcome.

I’ve had a few moments like that in my life. For instance, I spent two years living as a missionary in Southeast Asia. Shortly after I left, the worst tsunami on record swept onto the island, killing more than 100,000 people. When I returned and stood at the very spot where the tsunami had come ashore, I sensed God telling me that he would send a wave of salvation through that same area, and that our church was to continually place people there on the ground believing it, waiting for it to happen.

Not every ambition in our heart comes from God, but God certainly uses holy, burning desires like those as a compass to point true north for your life, to show you where he wants you to go and how he wants you to be involved in his mission. You likely will experience it as a holy discontent—a conviction that God wants something different than what the situation currently is. You sense him inviting you to lay hold of his willingness and release his power.

What’s one of your favorite Scriptures that empowers people to live fruitful lives?

In John 16:7, Jesus told his disciples, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” In other words, if they understood what was being offered to them in the Holy Spirit, they would have been glad he was returning to heaven if that meant getting the Spirit. Having the Holy Spirit in them would be better than having him beside them.

That’s a staggering promise. How many Christians today are experiencing the fulfillment of that promise?

When the disciples had Jesus beside them, he wasn’t just a force or a principle. He was a person, someone they interacted with. Someone who spoke into their lives.

The Holy Spirit is to be the same for us. He desires to have fellowship with us (1 John 1:3). And he is to be our guide, as we see him guiding his church throughout the book of Acts. He powers our ministry the way he did those first Apostles. In some ways, the book of Acts can be seen as one extended commentary on Jesus’ promise in John 16:7. The Spirit inside the apostles was even more empowering than Jesus beside them.

He gives us resurrection power over sin, applies the promises and warnings of Scriptures to our hearts, and shows us what parts of the Great Commission belong to us. He turns “good” ideas into “God” ideas. These things make his presence inside us even better than Jesus beside us.

***

You can pre-order J.D. Greear’s new ebook, Jesus, Continued, and download his other titles today on Vyrso.com. Be sure to check back Friday for part two of our interview with J.D. Greear.

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Preparing for Parenthood: An Interview with Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

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How can soon-to-be parents make steps to prepare for such a big shift in life? In her new ebook, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood, Suzanne Hadley Gosselin seeks to help new parents understand the key issues related to the arrival of a new child in their homeWe had a chance to ask Suzanne a few questions about parenthood and her ebook, Expectant Parents.

New parents are inundated with so much information about pregnancy and childbirth. What makes Expectant Parents stand out from other resources for soon-to-be parents?

Many pregnancy resources give soon-to-be parents health information and practical advice on newborn topics, such as diapering, sleep schedules and doctors’ visits. Expectant Parents focuses on what you can do during this unique season to prepare emotionally, socially and spiritually for being parents. It’s also a marriage book, in that it offers a lot advice from experts about strengthening your relationship with your spouse in preparation for the adjustment of adding an infant to the family.

What were some of the experiences you had as a new parent that you felt unprepared for?

My biggest adjustment was the life-change whiplash that came along with leaving my full-time job as an editor to stay home and care for my son. Even though being a stay-at-home mom had been my dream, I didn’t realize ahead of time the social interactions that would be lost and how lonely and isolated I would feel in my new role.

Also, I didn’t fully realize how having a baby would shift the dynamic between my husband, Kevin, and me. Our son was born several months after we celebrated our one-year anniversary, so we were still very much newlyweds. While our shared joy in having a baby was a really special bonding experience for us, the stress of sleepless nights, newborn care, postpartum hormones and life changes increased our need for communication and empathy. We couldn’t focus on each other the way we had pre-baby and had to learn to be intentional about date nights and conversations that strengthened us as a couple.

What are some ways couples can and should connect during pregnancy?

Knowing they’ll have less quality one-on-one time once the baby arrives, I encourage parents to embrace the season of pregnancy as a time to really enjoy each other. That might mean taking a special trip, planning a few more date nights or just making time for intentional conversations. Pregnancy can be a very romantic time for couples, so they should take advantage of that and work on building solid communication skills and unity that will serve them well as they tackle parenthood together.

You say in Expectant Parents that when you and your husband walked into Prepared Childbirth Class for the first time, you thought, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” Why did you feel that way, and how do you think other new parents can identify with that feeling?

Hearing someone talk about every aspect of the childbirth process and the tasks of caring for an infant can feel really overwhelming. There’s definitely a sense of “there’s no going back” that hits. There’s also a sense of deep responsibility — I think both moms and dads feel in different ways — as you realize another human being is going to be totally dependent on you for everything. You suddenly realize all the things you could do wrong and wonder if you’re up to the task.

What guidance would you offer to dads for helping their wives deal with the physical changes they’re experiencing during pregnancy?

Some women embrace the physical changes more than others, but all women appreciate feeling like their husbands find them attractive during pregnancy, no matter how much weight they’ve gained or how many stretch marks they’ve added. Compliments go a long way. A positive word from her husband about her beauty can erase a day’s worth of defeating thoughts a woman may have been feeling about her changing body.

Practically, a husband can also arrange for his wife to get a haircut or go on a maternity clothes shopping spree—anything that makes her feel lovely. During my last two pregnancies (which went through the summer) my husband budgeted for me to have a pedicure each month so I could feel pampered and wear cute sandals when I didn’t feel as confident in my clothes.

Dads often don’t feel quite as comfortable as moms with newborns. How can new moms make their husbands feel important, competent, and comfortable with a baby?

One really easy thing moms can do is accept the help their husbands offer. Usually a dad will want to do something, whether it is change diapers, bathe the baby or drive Mom and Baby to the first doctor’s appointment. Wives can encourage their husbands to be involved by allowing them to take charge in areas where they feel comfortable. Also, incorporating special “dad traditions” can help men bond with their newborns. Kevin used to lay Josiah on his chest for a little daddy-son snooze each afternoon when he returned home from work.

What are some fears new dads struggle with? What help and advice does Expectant Parents offer them?

Many dads worry about finances and how they will provide for a child. They may also worry about leading their family spiritually, especially if they didn’t have the best model growing up. Expectant Parents reassures men they are not alone in their fears and that God has equipped them not only to do the job but to be a powerful force within their new family.

What is the number-one piece of advice from Expectant Parents you would share with parents for preparing for delivery day?

Be flexible with your expectations! You may be planning on natural childbirth but end up needing a C-section. The most important thing is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. So go in prepared, but be ready to let go of your idea of an ideal birth experience if you need to. Also, invite God to be part of the experience. Pray during labor. Listen to worship music. Have someone write memory verses on your white board. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that God is with you and a huge part of this amazing miracle.

***

You can download Suzanne Hadley Gosselin’s Expectant Parents on Vyrso today

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