Saturday, April 19, 2014

Launching a New Book - God Called - He Needs Your Decision!


Do you have even a few hours available to help make a difference for the kingdom? 

As we launch this new book, I wonder if you'd pray about helping get God Called into the hands of many more Christians.  


Do you have even a few hours available to help make a difference for the kingdom?  I wouldn't ask for your help if this was a money making venture.  I make a fine living as a marketing consultant, and have no concern about whether this book loses money (current status) or eventually provides some help in sending my youngest son to college. 

Rather, this book, like all the other books I've written, was created to help folks prosper.  Most of my other books are about running small businesses.  This one is about another kind of prosperity - Kingdom riches.  The Bible clearly says that if you do the things laid out in this book, you will be blessed on earth and later in heaven.  Early readers are already talking about their blessings:


If a baby were born and failed to thrive, the family would rightly consider it a great tragedy. When a Christian is born and fails to thrive, however, many people don’t notice. God Called—He Needs Your Decision! by Randy Kirk is an invitation to Christians to thrive. It is a spiritual counterattack to the widespread misconception that “being” a Christian is a passive state. Randy invites Christians to “do” Christianity.

Katherine Harms, Editor


“I started attending church again after reading God Called  JS

“I read the first few chapters of God Called but couldn’t go on.  Too convicting” TB

“After reading half of God Called, I started making big changes.” CC

Even as a Pastor sometimes we can lose focus on what it really is to be a
true disciple of Christ.

I would recommend it to any Pastor or leader of a church
Great Stuff!

Robert Hill - Administrative Pastor
Core Church Los Angeles


When asked to read a copy of God Called I readily agreed, but was duly surprised at the impact the contents had on my own thinking and life. Being in an active ministry with my husband, I know what sacrifice and hard work means, and thought I knew what giving all to Christ meant. Yet I was convicted by the words that proved to me: to be a true disciple of Christ, one must be perfectly willing to do God’s will, to accept humbleness as part of their life and to choose to live this way with no strings attached. God’s will is my will.

I sincerely encourage all Christians to read and act on Kirk’s book, God Called—He Needs Your Decision! Well, done, Mr. Kirk. You’ve given readers a powerful book.

Carole Brown author The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

God did not call a specific group of people to discipleship - the young, the mature, the outgoing.  He called all of us to become disciples, disciplined ones, ready to listen and follow where He leads. My first reaction when I hear this  message is to duck my head in condemnation, knowing I am not living up to this commandment. However, in his new book, God Called—He Needs Your Decision!, author Randy Kirk immediately moves toward the positive possibilities that can lead to major advances in our lives and purpose.

Just reading the first few pages, God spoke a quick word to me, setting me free from years of bondage to what people will think of me if I follow Jesus full out. Using Randy's simple steps of faith, this is a must-read for your next step in growing in grace.

Cheryl Colwell   author  The Secrets of Montebellis and The Proof

The Psalmist tells us that deep calls unto deep . . . Take the plunge into
the River of Life with Randy Kirk's newest book, God Called—He Needs Your Decision! and drink deep from the well that never runs dry.  Find keys to intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit hidden in plain sight.  Come away refreshed and longing for more of Him.

Michael J. Webb, Bestselling Author of The Master's Quilt



Are you hungering for a closer walk with God? Do you realize that you need something more than what you have in your spiritual life? Then God Called by Randy Kirk is the book for you to read.

From the first chapter this book caught my attention. Filled with nuggets of wisdom and the instructions and encouragement to step out in faith for a fuller walk with God, this book carefully points out what it takes to go a little further in your daily life: to become a true disciple of Christ. Easy? Not at all. But for a very real sense of satisfaction in knowing you’re doing what you’re suppose to do at the right time in your life, becoming a disciple of Christ will give you a peace and fulfillment from a choice and decision that you must make. Excuses abound plentifully, no matter what age you are, to prevent one from praying the prayer of discipleship, and yet it all depends on your desire and willingness: are you willing to become humble and forsake all to follow Christ?

Kirk’s scriptures drive home his points and his knowledge in the topic is outstanding. His examples and quotes and expounding pinpoints the problems individuals have, the cost many will have, and the solutions to a life of happiness.

I heartily recommend this book for all serious Christians!

Katherine Harms

What can you do to help?!?

1.  Buy a copy.  Spend around $2 for the Kindle edition. This will help Amazon rankings and thereby increase the book's visibility.  Of course, I hope you'll read it and get an amazing blessing, too!  (the book will also be available in print by mid May and audio by early June.  They will cost a bit more).

2.  Tell every Christian you know.  This book isn't for those who don't believe.  They wouldn't get it.  There are other great books for them.  This is actually a book for mature believers.  Tell them about the book by email, in person, on Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you spread the word. 

3.  Recommend that your church bookstore offer God Called.  If members of your church read and act on this book, their blessing will extend to the church.  Sold out disciples can create amazing results in any church.

4.  Here's a really big one - Review the book on Amazon.  That would be a massive help. 

5.  If you do those four things and you want to help even more, send me your email, and I am positive we can find a way for you to expand your impact.  Send it to RandyKirk77@gmail.com






Sunday, March 02, 2014

Book Review: The Proof by Cheryl Colwell, Historical Adventure

The Proof by Cheryl Colwell

A Fun Adventure backed by Excellent Writing

I belong to a Yahoo Group made up of Christian authors who act cooperatively to help one another become successful in the book business.  One of the really great parts about being in such a group is that I get to read unknown or barely known authors.  Of course, this could be a great blessing or a real drag.  Not all folks who think they can write, should.

After a few months and around ten reads from the group, the overall quality has been better than I would have ever imagined.  You can find several of the reviews here on the blog.

Cheryl Colwell's new book was no exception to this string of outstanding books.  Her novel, The Proof, did just about everything you could ever want a novel to do:  Captivating characters who you came to care about and want to know more about; scene development that was so clear you could almost reach out and touch the walls; adventure (even including swords), that kept the pages turning as fast as possible; plot turns and twists that were surprising, yet believable; historic and geographic settings that were like travelogs and time machines in their clarity; and gentle teachings about both truth and character.  Did I leave anything out that you hope to find in adventure fiction?

Oh!  The writing!  I guess I alluded to that earlier, but in truth that is often the missing ingredient in otherwise delightful Christian writing.  Actually excellent writing is sometimes commonly missing in major best sellers like Killing Jesus.  Cheryl is a seriously good writer.  Bill O'reilly take note if you ever consider changing writing partners.

The book is primarily set in Italy, but the adventures take place over 20 centuries as a religious relic is fought over by good guys and thugs.  The relic is believed to possess supernatural power, not just monetary value, setting up the ongoing tension.

If you like mystery, suspense, adventure, and intrigue in historic settings, you can't possibly go wrong with The Proof.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Are Christians Judgmental? What Is Judgmentalism?

 

Christian Judgmentalism - Can We Know Someone Else's Heart?


Matt 7  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Have you ever complained that the church is full of people who are very judgmental?  Or have you heard others make this claim?  It would appear that the issue is at least 2000 years old, given Jesus's stern rebuke above.  Has anyone ever called you judgmental?

I have pondered my own potential sin in this area and the potential hypocrisy of my actions and those of my fellow believers.  I realized that I was far from clear on the very meaning of judgmentalism, much less the question of when it may or may not be appropriate to judge others.  I began a deep study of the subject, and as so often happens, a few recent circumstances gave me an "aha" moment.  

I write the following with a bit of trepidation.  My thinking may be very flawed, and my scriptural scholarship might be far from what it should be.  I look forward to getting your input, arguments, recommended readings, and any other additional information that might help me to broaden and deepen my understanding, and the understanding of those who read this blog.


On the other hand I have found that there is no definition of judgmentalism in most dictionaries, and even judgmental is not defined in the way most of us use the term.  Moreover, in reading various articles and comments online, folks have a wide range of opinions regarding what the word means, and when and if it is appropriate to be judgmental. 

Clearly it is sin to judge another.  The question then is what does it mean to judge.  If I see someone abusing a child, is it Okay to judge that action as being wrong?  Depending on the nature of the abuse, should I take some kind of action?  Of course.  There is no place in the Bible that suggests we should look away from sin.  There is no place that says we should not call sin what it is.  In fact, we could be sinning if we fail to take action.

But, when we judge the heart of the person doing the sin, we have crossed the line.  We cannot know the motive, the circumstances, or the background that led to the inappropriate action.  

Here is my starting point.  To avoid the likelihood of being judgmental, I want to make the assumption about everyone that crosses my path is doing the best they can.  If I start with that assumption, then it becomes difficult to judge their heart or motives.  I may overcome my starting assumption by finding out the details of some action which seems to be harmful to the individual or those around them.  My thinking about their wrong heart might come from their own statements about their actions or from some self evident action that gives clarity. 

Lets use smoking as an example.  The culture has certainly decided that smoking is bad.  Moreover many believe that one person's smoking habit may harm others around them through 2nd hand smoke.  Clearly there are health issues for the smoker which may mean the smoker is robbing their closest family and friends by subtracting years from their life. 

For these and other reasons, those who don't smoke, and even some who do, look down on smokers.  They consider the action to be a negative action, but in many cases the attitude of the one doing the judging will see themselves as superior, and the one doing the smoking as foolish, a willful contributor to negative health consequences for others, and a unconcerned polluter of shared air.  It doesn't matter that they have never met the person, they can see into their heart and determine their motives. 

My thought is that to abhor the action is not judgmental.  I might agree that smoking is a bad idea for any one of the reasons stated, or other reasons of my own.  When I see someone smoking I might even think, how sad for them.  Neither of those feelings is judgmental.  I don't have enough information about them to form any judgment about their character or motives regarding smoking. 

Change of scene.  I am now watching a young mother.  She is holding her toddler and smoking, or a dad is smoking in his car with his kids in the car and windows rolled up.  Surely now I can judge the person to be a jerk or fool.  Now I should be able to look down on them.  Under my theory that they are doing the best that they can, I would say we can still see the action as wrong, dangerous, or even negligent, but I have no idea about the state of their heart in the matter. 

Now we will add some more to the story.  I know the man.  He acknowledges that second hand smoke may be dangerous for his kids in the car.  He makes excuses that he is only in the car with them once per week.  Do I now know enough to find him guilty of sin?

Two things.  1.  There but for the grace of God go I.  2.  I can't even know my own heart, how can I know his. 

When God tells us in the Bible in multiple places that we are not to judge others, He appears to have these two ideas in mind.  You are very likely doing one or more things in your life that are equally worthy of being judged, some of which you may know about, and some about which you are not aware.  You may be creating much more harm to yourself or others through your actions, so it is hypocritical for you to be mentally judgmental of the mom or dad.

This idea is easy to understand, and should be enough for us to stop being judgmental.  But the second issue is a bit harder.  Why do you do the sinful things you do?  Why do you fail to do things you know you should do?  In some cases, that failure to act is also sin.  Can you honestly say that you never sin?  Of course not. 

Maybe your sin is gossip.  You know that you sometimes talk about others for no other reason than to be popular, or sometimes you maliciously intend to hurt the persons reputation.  You have tried to stop, but you still fall into the trap.  Have you looked seriously at your motives?  Why do you do it?  Why can't you stop?  I'm betting that you aren't really sure why. 

Maybe your issue is anger, drinking too much, overeating, or sloth.  The potential list is long.  But here is the funny one:  You may believe that someone you know is judgmental and is judging you.  They have given you a rebuke because of some action, or maybe just a loving heads up about some sin in your life.  But you have added motive.  You have judged them to be judgmental, rather than having a pure heart of love, with the hope of helping you change your direction. 

Maybe it was in their tone or in the way they told you about the issue.  Maybe it was really just the way you heard it.  Even if they did a bad job of telling you, you still can't know their motive.  And this becomes the crux of the issue. 

So, now we come full circle.  Are Christians judgmental.  Absolutely.  Christians are not perfect.  Are committed, church attending, Christians more judgmental than those who are not believers or not strong in their faith?  It may appear so in that they have clear cut beliefs that are not subject to change.  On the other hand, secular folks are judgmental about all kinds of things, even the fact that Christians may choose to forgo things like liquor, swearing, drugs, gambling, etc. They judge us to be goody two shoes or worse.

But it does come off as hypocritical if Christians are judging others.  So, we should be careful to avoid doing so, just as we are careful to avoid other sin.  The ironic thing is that if the entire body of Christ were 100% perfect at not judging the hearts and/or motives of others, it would not change the mind of many who are lost or wavering.  Many will continue to judge us to be judgmental, because they will believe that they can see our motives, and that our motives are not pure in their estimation. 

However, this is true regarding all sin.  To the extent that we can have grace for our fellow beings, regardless of their actions, repudiating the action, but judging the person to be doing the best that they can until there is clear and uncontrovertible proof that their heart is impure, we will win some to Christ when they see that part of Jesus in us.

One last thought.  The US system of criminal law is built on this principle.  Motive is critical to reaching a verdict and must be determined beyond any reasonable doubt. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Have You Had A Clear Call from God?


from http://lifeblessons.blogspot.com

 

Did You Hear Still Small Voice?  Nudge? Angel?  Vision? 


I am writing a book on the subject of "Hearing God's Voice."  Various Christian writers, preachers, and other luminaries have indicated a wide range of opinion about the possibilities of how that might happen and also a very diverse set of personal experiences of how they had personally heard from God. 

Recently, Bill O'Reilly received some notoriety by telling "60 Minutes" that he had been inspired to write "Killing Jesus" and others of his works as a result of being awakened by the Holy Spirit with the idea for the next work.

Some speak of carrying on a conversation with Jesus.  Others say that any communication with the Lord that is even remotely like a voice isn't Biblically sound communication. 

I would appreciate your own personal experience of how this works.  If you have been sold out in a way that most Christian's don't ever experience, you are of special interest to this request.  Was your original decision to answer His call on your life something you could share?  Do you "hear" from God regularly?  Does this communication come in different ways?  Without turning this into a need for something "experiential," would some of these callings be more "supernatural" as opposed to nudges or leadings?

If you have the time and/or inclination to respond, I would like to be able to use your response in the text of my book, cover content, or to publicize the book.  I am reaching out to many other Christians  and would love to have your views represented.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Help Me Put a Title on My New Discipleship Book

 

Current Working Title:  Do You Want to Hear From God?

Update: Title is final:   God Called - He Wants Your Decision!


Sometime around April 28 or so, 2014, I am going to have a soft launch of my new book.  The book is being formatted.  Other than a few minor elements to touch up, I have two major needs that  must be addressed before that launch.  I don't have a title or a cover.  UPDATE:  I have the Title and Update the cover is done for the Kindle version.

Here is what people are saying about the book:

Serious Disciples of Jesus should read God Called - He Needs Your Decision!  because, according to one reviewer:

If a baby were born and failed to thrive, the family would rightly consider it a great tragedy. When a Christian is born and fails to thrive, however, many people don’t notice. God Called—He Needs Your Decision! by Randy Kirk is an invitation to Christians to thrive. It is a spiritual counterattack to the widespread misconception that “being” a Christian is a passive state. Randy invites Christians to “do” Christianity.

Katherine Harms, Editor

Are you ready to ratchet up your devotion to God and Jesus to the next level?
God Called - He Needs Your Decision! is perfect for you

Do you sometimes feel stuck in your walk and desire to be of greater service?
God Called was written for Christians just like you

Are you the first to sign up for any seminar that teaches how to find out God’s will for your life?
The pathway to that answer for you is one click away.

God Called is not for the lukewarm - UNLESS you are ready to repent of being lukewarm

God Called is not for the prodigal - UNLESS you are tired of eating with the pigs

God Called is not for pew dusters - UNLESS you are prepared to step outside your comfort zone

Here’s what others are saying:

Even as a Pastor sometimes we can lose focus on what it really is to be a
true disciple of Christ.

I would recommend it to any Pastor or leader of a church
Great Stuff!

Robert Hill
Core Church Los Angeles

Just reading the first few pages, God spoke a quick word to me, setting me free from years of bondage to what people will think of me if I follow Jesus full out. Using Randy's simple steps of faith, this is a must-read for your next step in growing in grace.

Cheryl Colwell   author  The Secrets of Montebellis and The Proof

The Psalmist tells us that deep calls unto deep . . . Take the plunge into
the River of Life with Randy Kirk's newest book, God Called—He Needs Your Decision! and drink deep from the well that never runs dry.  Find keys to intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit hidden in plain sight.  Come away refreshed and longing for more of Him.

Michael J. Webb, Bestselling Author of The Master's Quilt

God Called was written specifically for mature Christians who feel they have not really heard the Lord speak to them. These Christians truly want to hear the voice of God calling to them with an offer to serve in a capacity that is outside of their expectations. 

Review these questions which might be holding you back from hearing God’s plan for your life:

Jesus says disciples need to carry their cross and follow Him.  Can you do that?
Jesus said that disciples must hate mother and father (compared to Him)  Is that you?
Jesus said that disciples must obey what he has commanded.  Do you?
Jesus said that disciples must give up everything.  Are you prepared to do so?
Dallas Willard says “very few Christians want to hear what God has to say.  Do you?

Here’s a sample of the impactful words from God Called that have encouraged readers to take their Christianity to the next level:

Our Christian walk is always about how much we trust and believe, and whether we trust God enough to put aside our fear. Each stage of our maturing in Christ depends on our ability to repent of our unbelief, or pride, and our idols, and move to the next stage. This is true from our first profession of faith. It is true when we start each new discipline. It is true when we become aware of the depths of our sin and mindful of our need to be continually repenting. It is true when we become willing to be completely dependent on and open with God—intimate with Him. Then we must repent of our unbelief again if we are to fully surrender to a calling.

Don’t put off your decision to move closer to God and hear His voice. Get your copy of God Called - He Needs Your Decision! today and get started on a journey that will lead to a fully surrendered life.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

7 Practical Secrets to Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution


Seven Success Secrets That Will Help You Keep Any Goal You Set


Yesterday's tips were well received so.... I thought it might be helpful to add a list of methods for achieving success in the New Years Resolution business. 

I have been setting goals for as long as I can remember.   I have also watched others have various levels of success with their goals and resolutions.  Here are the seven things that help me achieve a high degree of success.  Maybe some will help you.

1.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no - in other words, your word should be your bond, not just with others, but, by all means, with yourself.  The secret to not breaking your word is to not give it out willy nilly.  So only make resolutions that you seriously intend to keep.  This will create a pattern of success that will allow you to set new resolutions in the future.

2.  Keep your eye on the prize.  If the resolution requires doing something you’d rather not (like eating less or exercising more), there will be days, or weeks, or every day, when you struggle with doing what you’ve planned to do.  Visualize the result your hoping for … in detail.  Even imagine the praise you might receive or the trophy you might win. 

3.  Reward yourself often for achieving small victories.  Dark chocolate is a great reward.  It has been proven to be good for you.  Only allow yourself the indulgence on those days or weeks when you have done what you planned to do.

4.  Share with others in the effort.  If you have others to socialize with while running or going to the gym, or just other folks to keep you accountable, you chances of staying on course rise dramatically.  Choose your accountability or discipline partners carefully.  The wrong one can drag you down.  For me - I will lose 15 pounds in 75 days by cutting carbs and working out 20 minutes a day.

5.  Keep some kind of record that provides you with a check box or way to line through the various levels of accomplishment.  It helps to stay motivated when there is a score that is being kept.  You might even compete with your partner, but keep it fun.

6.  Tell the world about your resolution.  The more folks who know you’ve made a pledge to accomplish some goal, the harder it will be to back away when the going gets tough.  Keep a few friends apprised of your progress; specifically, those you know will encourage you.

7.  Assuming there is a time associated with the goal, tell yourself this on the hardest days:  “I can do anything for two months (or fill in the blank with the time left).”  This isn’t a lie.  Humans are quite capable of strenuous or noxious tasks if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Go For It! 

By the way, if you have an idea to add to the list or if one or more of these don't work for you, please add your thoughts in the comments.

There is also another post that preceded this on that listed 7 tips to Happiness.  Some of those would be the best kind of goals to create at any time.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

7 Secrets to Choosing Happiness in 2014



Have you had enough negative input for one decade?  Tired of hearing about squabbles in Washington, tensions in the Mideast, and the economics of fear?  Here are seven guaranteed ways that you can choose happiness in 2014.

1.  Take a 40 day FAST from the news.  Don’t read newspapers, listen to news radio, or watch the news on TV.  Tell those around you that you don’t even want to discuss it.  Within 3 days, your spirits will be lifted.  Trust me on this one.

2.  Stop procrastinating about stupid little stuff.  Make a quick list of the top 10 things that bug you in your life that will take less than an hour or so to fix.  Then do it them.  I once allowed my garage to look like something on a reality TV show for 9 months.  It only took 3 hours to make it perfect.  I was stoked.

3.  Deal with the most toxic person in your life.  Some one person is probably responsible for most of the grief you deal with.  Set a boundary with them.  If they can’t handle the boundary, limit or eliminate contact.  Just thinking about this one made you feel better.

4.  Set some small makable goals for the year.  Vacation, savings, date nights, learn or improve a skill or talent, special projects with the kids, charitable giving, community service, make a difference.

5.  Forgive someone who you are really ticked at.  The problem could be a recent issue or a really old one.  You don’t even need to tell them you forgave them.  Just do it.  75% of emotional illness is due to failure to forgive.  If you do this one, and none of the others, it will be the biggest gain for 2014.

6.  Begin each day with a daily devotional or inspirational reading.  Then exercise.  Even 10 or 20 minutes.  I’ve never met anyone who does this who doesn’t feel huge benefits.

7.  Intend to be happy.  Make a choice to be happy.  Cherish each moment.  Resist every temptation to be negative, or upset, or grasping, or intolerant.  Take every opportunity to be loving, giving, and blessing others with your kindness.

Do you have some you'd like to add?  Or, are there any above that you dispute or need more details about?  Use the comment section.

Also, please note that there is a follow up post on how to keep your resolutions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Riviting Parable of Dramatic Loss Leading to Victory


A Fictional Tale Loaded with Truth


It wasn't that long ago that I went from a life rarely interrupted by any type of negative circumstance to one where I can remember worrying over the single dollar it was going to cost me in gas to drive to the gas station.  It was a time when my 20 year marriage was on the rocks with divorce papers drawn and ready for signature.  A time when my adult daughter stated:  "You're like a country western song; even your dog died."

Jackie Macgirvin
So the story that Jackie Macgirvin tells hits very close to home.  It tells the story of a woman of greater means than I possessed even at the top of my financial time, who is brought lower by far than the lowest day I endured.  The devastation I experienced brought havoc to my life in every way, including my spiritual walk.  Why had Jesus allowed this to happen?  Where was He?

The author doesn't let her heroine off the hook in any of this.  She certainly asks the same questions, shakes the same fist, and feels sorry for herself.  She comes ever so close to giving up on the promises God has made to her, to me, and to every saved individual.

The story is fiction, but has the power of seeming all too real.  Jackie Macgirvin brings her characters alive and makes you feel their emotions, deprivation, hopelessness, and then hope and wonder at God's wonderful works and grace. 

I would give this book any number of stars allowed.  Beautifully written, wonderfully inspiring, incredibly insightful, and a joy to read. 


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Man Bites Dog? Woman's Prison Story and Christian Non-Fiction Come Together



Book Review: "Treasures of Darkness, a Prison Journey"

Who'd a Thunk it?  A No-holds-barred Personal Journal of One Woman's Journey

It's all there.  The violence, the drugs, the power hierarchies, the payoffs, the intimidation, the lesbians, and the crooked guards.  Enter a suburban housewife who admittedly "did the deed," and was sent to real prison for a complex financial fraud, that offered her no potential gain, but inadvertently caused others loss.  How does she negotiate the world of professional criminals, mentally and emotionally challenged, and often desperate women in prison?

Trish Jenkins wrote letters home to her husband a young girls all during her ordeal.  What she couldn't send them for fear of retribution by staff or fellow inmates, she recorded in a journal for later.  After serving every day of her sentence, she turned the detailed history of her life behind bars into a compelling honest book that will chill you and sometimes thrill you.
Trish Jenkins, author, "Treasures of Darkness, a Prison Journey"

You see, Trish Jenkins is also a Bible believing Christian, sold out for Jesus.  She determined to make every facility where she did time into a place of ministry.  Her constant thought was about how she could take this awful experience, and like Paul, make it into something good and eternal for Jesus.

I'll be the first to admit that at times her faithful acts seemed to good to be true.  Who knows, she might have embellished here and there.  However, there are many, many witnesses to what she did.  I suspect that if she's not telling it straight, some of those would be challenging her.  So, I'm taking her at her word.

The other thought that kept coming back to me was "what would I have done, given her circumstances."  I'm 150 pounds soaking wet.  I would be a big target in a men's facility.  Could I hold it together, keep my focus on Christ, and not merely crumble?  Would it be on my mind to tell those around me about Jesus at every possible chance?

Trish didn't pull it all together every day or even every hour on any given day.  She shares her heartbreaks, depression, and more.  She gives us a momentary glimpse into the re-entry into the real world afterwords, which in some ways seems to have been worse than the time in prison.  You start to see why some criminals prefer the inside, with clear rules and three squares.

Usually, book reviews cover the quality of the writing long before this.  However, the real power of this book is in the first person narrative, honestly and completely revealed.  Having said that, Trish Jenkins is a fine writer who tells the story clearly, and with passion.

While there were many lessons and takeaways from this work, my favorite line was:
"Many of us dream of having a great ministry; but we want it on our terms.  We don't really count the cost, because we cannot really see what the cost will be.  Yet only by willingly paying the cost can we appreciate the joy and satisfaction of fulfilling our call."

I also appreciated her oft repeated prayer regarding a situation or ministry:  "Lord, help me to be effective."

"Treasures of Darkness, a Prison Journey," is available on Amazon.com.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Spiritual Sensitivity, Connectedness, and Burdon Bearing - Book Review

 

"The Mystery of  Spiritual Sensitivity:  Your Practical Guide to Responding to Burdens You Feel from God's Heart" by Carol A. Brown

Carol Brown didn't write this book for me, or at least I'm pretty certain of that.  I am a rescuer to some extent, but my inclinations are based more on a desire to see improvements in folks who have great potential.  I think it would be rare for me to come along someone to support them in their distress or even victory just because I felt God's call for me to do so.

Carol Brown wrote "The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity" for those who have a gift of spiritual connectedness to others, a hyper intuition, something akin to extra sensory perception.  She makes it clear that this is not new age, not charismatic.  In fact she has specific instructions to protect those who have this gift from using it inappropriately in ways that can create harm.  

I own a degree in Psych from UCLA and have studied and undergone testing for ESP in 40 years ago.  I have very close friends and family members who are charismatics, though I am mainstream Baptist in that regard.  On the other hand, I believe the Bible is clear about the spiritual world, and I conclude that Carol has supported her thinking theologically quite well.  

That long introduction brings me to the following:  This book does what it was intended to do for those with varying degrees of spiritual sensitivity who need help and guidance to use it appropriately and keep burden bearing from becoming destructive to the individual or their family.  But Carol may not be aware that the book speaks strongly to those who are not gifted about how they might at least become "normal" in their ability to get in sync spiritually with those in their life.

Here is my synopsis of her message to people like me who do not have a gift of spiritual empathy:

Pray to be more in tune with the actual underlying needs of those you care for or about.  When you become aware of a need, intercede and ask God for wisdom, healing, etc.,  then let it go.  It is now for God to do what God chooses to do in His time.  Then be available to hear from the HS for more directions if any.  You may be needed to be continuing to pray or to take some other action.  But you should not take action unless clearly called to do so.

My belief is that this is a book that 70% of Christians could get huge insights from reading and digesting.  Word of warning:  The first 40 pages are heavy sledding.  Hang in there.  You may feel you aren't really getting it.  It will become clear.  Don't be discouraged.  

Some books that challenge us to action seem smart and I might resolve to take the ideas to heart, only to find that days or weeks later, the concepts are forgotten.  This book is such a shift in my way of thinking, and so obviously correct, that I am working diligently to build up my skill in spiritual sensitivity, much like I might build up my skill in praying or giving. 

I Never Could "Leave It at the Alter!" Until I Heard This!

 



'Give Your Problems to God' Wasn't Working for Me.  Now it Does!

Life gives us problems.  Sometimes big problems.  Then there are the kind of problems that stop us in our tracks.  We can't work, think, socialize, or even pray.  Especially pray.  After all, God could have intervened by now to cure my cancer, heal my marriage, provide needed finances, lead me to a mate, save my dad, or end my cravings.  My sister didn't have to die, my best friend didn't have to move, and my daughter didn't have to end up on meth.

Today is another day where you are staring at your computer, but you aren't producing any work.  You are going through the motions on the job.  You have no prayer life, and haven't read the Bible in weeks.  It is all you can do to get up for church, and sometimes you can't do that.  Your eating and sleeping are all over the place.  You stare at the TV for hours.  Numbing your hurts.

The pastor has an alter call.  "I know there are some here today who are hurting.  You don't understand why you need to go through this trial.  You need comfort, and God has promised to provide you with that comfort.  But you need to act first.  You need to bring your concerns to the alter and turn them over to God.  He wants to take care of whatever is on your heart.  Come up now and bring all your problems to Jesus."

So you do.  You feel better for an hour or a day.  But then it's back.  Next time someone tells you to just turn it over to Jesus, you add their suggestion to the long list of "worthless platitudes" that your friends and family have been offering.  It didn't work.  It won't work.

That is where you would have found me 5 years ago.  I'll spare you the gory details, but broke, separated, in default on the mortgage, facing bankruptcy.  Starting over at age 60 with a new business, I was working 16 hours a day, but getting an hour worth of work actually completed.  I had no interest in anything but my own pile of problems.  Enter my sister, Judy.

Putting My Problems in a Box


"Why don't you just put it all in a box," she offers.  Aaaghhh!  I want to say.  Instead I tell her that I've tried leaving it at the alter literally, and giving it to God, and it isn't working for me. 

She responds:  "Oh!  That's because you are doing it wrong."

"Ok.  Whatever," I tell her.  "I'm pretty sure I did it the right way."

Well, did you give yourself permission to take your problems out of the box later, so you could cry over them, rehash them, think about them, pray about them, yell at God about them, and try to move forward on them for fifteen minutes before putting them back in the box?"

"Huh?"  I cleverly grunted.

"Sure.  You get to take them out, but only for a little while.  Then you put them back in the box."

I actually felt lighter for the first time in weeks.  "Won't that ruin the whole idea of giving the issue over to God?  If I can take it back, then I haven't really trusted Him to do it." 

Judy had an answer:  "That's the beauty of this.  You aren't taking it out of the box to solve it.  That's God's part.  You are taking it out of the box to lift it back up to Him in whatever way you can at the moment.  King David commonly lifted his issues up with a great deal of anger and frustration.  Other times he praised God for his provision, comfort, or strength."

Now she had my attention.  I'm a problem solver.  It is my most difficult area of submission.  I may believe that God can do all that He says He can and will do, but my actions belie my belief.  I trust me more than Him far too often.  But here was a way I could relinquish the burden to Him in a way that made sense.

For me, the results were nothing short of miraculous.  The very next day and every day after that I was fully functioning and clear thinking.  Even as other issues entered that could have taken me off track, I was able to abide in His strength far better than ever before.

I pray that this story will be as helpful to you as it was to me.  And if it is, please tell others, or at least send them this link.








Thursday, August 29, 2013

Christian Book Review: Kevin Mark Smith's "Flashback"

"Flashback" by Kevin Mark Smith
"Flashback" by Kevin Mark Smith

Kept Me Guessing Until the Very End - Romance, Suspense, Thriller, Christian Themed

Spoiler Alert!  There is nothing I can tell you about "Flashback" that won't ruin this crazy (I can't say it or it would give too much away)thriller, romp through multiple XXXX, and even includes a romance with an XXXXX. 

I can tell you that I prefer to be very regimented about my sleep, going to bed at the same time every night.  "Flashback" got in the way of my discipline.  If I had possessed a physical book, I would call it a page turner.  Having a digital version, I suppose we need to come up with a new description.  Page clicker?

Author Kevin Mark Smith is an attorney.  So it may not be surprising that Smith brings some legal issues into his inaugural novel.  So we have criminal investigations, corporate shenanigans, smart lawyers, outstanding PI's, dead bodies, bombs, chases, romantic interludes, spiritual interventions, and so much more. 

Some books are easily compared to others.  Some authors are easily pegged.  I really can't think of any book I've read which brings more complexity to the story, yet does it in such a way as you can "almost" always follow it.  I say the almost part with kindness.  I lesser author who had the same wild imagination could have easily confused his audience beyond hope of redemption. 

Like any good Christian novel, you have a chance to think about the implications of the actions, failures, and successes of the characters.  But for those who prefer a light touch on the morality play aspect, Smith delivers here, too.  There is no doubt where Smith stands, and there is a great message, but it is not delivered with a sledge hammer.  And the message never requires deviating from the natural feel of the circumstances. 

Flashback has only been out a couple of days, and is available on Amazon.


Monday, August 26, 2013

If You Love Christian Fiction from Ted Dekker, Randy Alcorn, Paul Young

You Are Going to Get a Real Treat with "The Masters Quilt (Giants in the earth)" by Michael Webb

For some who love to get lost in a great novel, there is just not enough great writers working in Christian Fiction.  You find a new author to love, and soon you've read everything the guy has to offer.  Then there is the withdrawal, the idea that there will be a new one for Christmas.  My kids don't even ask me what I want for Christmas anymore.

The really good news is that I have found an author you probably don't know anything about.  And he has three other published works available right now.  And I even happen to know that there's another one coming shortly.  The Master's Quilt is the first in a trilogy called Giants in the Earth.  I have just completed this book and will be reading the other two very soon.  I'll report on the others here.

Michael Webb brings so much more than just nail biting action to the stage.  He has an amazing knowledge of history and the inter-relationships of the major players during 1st Century AD.  He weaves tales of deceit and manipulation that provide us one view of what might have been going on behind the scenes as Pilate, Saul of Tarsus, Herod Antipas, Caiaphas and others battled for power.

There is seemingly never ending stream of specific anthropological, cultural, and religious insights that help us to see more clearly what the struggle between Rome, the Jews, and the new Christians was really all about.  Add the spiritual realm to the equation to complete a tapestry that keeps you guessing throughout the work.

Some reviewers on Amazon have argued that the book starts off a little slow.  I would encourage every reader to give the book 50 pages.  I would compare the opening to Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities."  I started that book twice, and only the third time did I finish it.  The reason is the same.  There are many, many characters, and they have very odd names.

In the headline, I compared Michael Webb to some huge authors.  He is actually a better writer than Young or Dekker.  His story lines are equal to any of the three.  His research is as good as Alcorn.  I'll give Alcorn an edge on writing, but not by much.

You can get any of Webb's Books on Kindle for under $5.  As of today, this book is available free on Kindle.  I think it is normally $2.99.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Expectations Ruin Relationships by Mark Foster - Book Review

If a Friend or Loved One Doesn't Meet Your Expectations, What Is the Likely Result?

I give someone a gift that I spent hours shopping for and I have built up this huge imaginary scene in my head of how thrilled they are going to be.  I see them gushing over the gift and I imagine my value as a loved one going up in their heart.  I might even be contemplating some benefit to me in terms of immediate affection or future attention.  Maybe they will think harder next time they get me a gift. 

There are quite a few things wrong with the above day dream. 

1.  It might turn out to be a nightmare.  Maybe the gift goes over like a lead balloon.  Maybe the person just has a hard time gushing.  Maybe they love the gift, but it doesn't result in any change in their behavior toward you at all.

2.  Many of your motives are selfish.  You are giving to get.  Even if your primary motive was to bless the socks off the recipient, you have now built up all kinds of rewards in your mind that you surely deserve for being such a wonderful giver.

It's that time of year again at the office.  Promotions, raises, and bonuses have all been determined, and today they will be announced.  You've worked hard and you expect to see all that hard work pay off today.  If all is right in the world, you should get everything you expect.  But have you considered:

1.  Maybe there is no place to promote you to.  Maybe the economy is such that raises are just not possible this year.  Could it be that the profits were poor, or increasing expenses will deny normal bonuses. 

2.  Possibly your evaluation of your work is not the same as the decision makers.

3.  You may have misunderstood or not paid enough attention to the process and systems that determine promotions, raises, and bonuses.

4.  The boss might not play fair.

5.  Your motives are once again all about you.  Of course you probably deserve all that you expect.  However, your motive should be to give your job 100% effort regardless of the results to you.  You are there to do a great job and to be paid per your agreement. 

When expectations are dashed, those failing to live up to the expectations are likely to be the subject of your ire.  The results may be no more than pouting, but could also include anger, a break in fellowship, retribution, or even mayhem. 

Mark Foster has written a very solid book on expectations that is very easy to read and understand.  He points to many of the expectations that we have of our spouses.  Our poor spouses commonly don't even know what we are expecting them to do

, and then it is possible that they just don't do it well enough or often enough.  When our spouse fails to do what is expected, we may shut them out at some level, and commonly not even tell them what is really going on. 

It doesn't take more than a quick evaluation of these expectations to see that they are all based on our selfish desires or our desire to control our spouse.  Can you think of one expectation that you have of your spouse, best friend, adult child, boss, or pastor that isn't based on selfishness or desire to control?

Please put that example in the comments.  

Regarding the book.  It is called Expectations Ruin Relationships.  It is only $2.95 in Kindle.  And it worth one hundred times that amount.  I assure you that if you read it carefully, do the study questions, and pray the prayers, you will change your expectations. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chapter 10 – Surrender to Holiness

 

How Is Your Walk . . . Really?  Are You Really Seeking to Be Holy?


I should be a great bowler.  But I really stink at it.  My Dad’s family has amazing bowlers.  At least two of my uncles had 300 games and my Poppy was ranked nationally.  I bowled a lot.  Had my own ball and my own shoes.  I’ve never had a 200 game and during my league years averaged around 135. That is not good, for those who don’t bowl.

What is the problem with my bowling?  How does that relate to Holiness?  

This is the final chapter in a book that has been created here on this blog.  The book will be available on Amazon.com April 26 under the title God Called - He Needs Your Decision!  This will be the Kindle edition.  The print edition will follow approximately May 15, and the audio is slated for availability around June 1. 


The rest of this chapter was available free for almost a year, but has now been removed.  It is my hope that you will truly enjoy the book and that it will bless you.  Some have already reported their thoughts about the book.  Early readers report below.  

Serious Disciples of Jesus should read God Called - He Needs Your Decision!  because, according to one reviewer:

If a baby were born and failed to thrive, the family would rightly consider it a great tragedy. When a Christian is born and fails to thrive, however, many people don’t notice. God Called—He Needs Your Decision! by Randy Kirk is an invitation to Christians to thrive. It is a spiritual counterattack to the widespread misconception that “being” a Christian is a passive state. Randy invites Christians to “do” Christianity.

Katherine Harms, Editor

Are you ready to ratchet up your devotion to God and Jesus to the next level?
God Called - He Needs Your Decision! is perfect for you

Do you sometimes feel stuck in your walk and desire to be of greater service?
God Called was written for Christians just like you

Are you the first to sign up for any seminar that teaches how to find out God’s will for your life?
The pathway to that answer for you is one click away.

God Called is not for the lukewarm - UNLESS you are ready to repent of being lukewarm

God Called is not for the prodigal - UNLESS you are tired of eating with the pigs

God Called is not for pew dusters - UNLESS you are prepared to step outside your comfort zone

Here’s what others are saying:


Even as a Pastor sometimes we can lose focus on what it really is to be a
true disciple of Christ.

I would recommend it to any Pastor or leader of a church
Great Stuff!

Robert Hill
Core Church Los Angeles

Just reading the first few pages, God spoke a quick word to me, setting me free from years of bondage to what people will think of me if I follow Jesus full out. Using Randy's simple steps of faith, this is a must-read for your next step in growing in grace.

Cheryl Colwell   author  The Secrets of Montebellis and The Proof

The Psalmist tells us that deep calls unto deep . . . Take the plunge into
the River of Life with Randy Kirk's newest book, God Called—He Needs Your Decision! and drink deep from the well that never runs dry.  Find keys to intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit hidden in plain sight.  Come away refreshed and longing for more of Him.

Michael J. Webb, Bestselling Author of The Master's Quilt

God Called was written specifically for mature Christians who feel they have not really heard the Lord speak to them. These Christians truly want to hear the voice of God calling to them with an offer to serve in a capacity that is outside of their expectations. 

Review these questions which might be holding you back from hearing God’s plan for your life:

Jesus says disciples need to carry their cross and follow Him.  Can you do that?
Jesus said that disciples must hate mother and father (compared to Him)  Is that you?
Jesus said that disciples must obey what he has commanded.  Do you?
Jesus said that disciples must give up everything.  Are you prepared to do so?
Dallas Willard says “very few Christians want to hear what God has to say.  Do you?

Here’s a sample of the impactful words from God Called that have encouraged readers to take their Christianity to the next level:

Our Christian walk is always about how much we trust and believe, and whether we trust God enough to put aside our fear. Each stage of our maturing in Christ depends on our ability to repent of our unbelief, or pride, and our idols, and move to the next stage. This is true from our first profession of faith. It is true when we start each new discipline. It is true when we become aware of the depths of our sin and mindful of our need to be continually repenting. It is true when we become willing to be completely dependent on and open with God—intimate with Him. Then we must repent of our unbelief again if we are to fully surrender to a calling.

Don’t put off your decision to move closer to God and hear His voice. Get your copy of God Called - He Needs Your Decision! today and get started on a journey that will lead to a fully surrendered life.