FOLLOW THE CLOUD: Hearing God’s Voice One Next Step at a Time by John Stickl (Multnomah/Waterbrook Press; 2017)

FOLLOW THE CLOUD by pastor and first-time author John Stickl takes a relatively brief, yet fulfilling and encouraging look at the desire that God has to lead His children on a continual basis, and that this type of intimate and relational expression of life with God is available to all Christians now. Using the Old Testament example of how the Lord led the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land through a cloud by day (and fire by night) to lead the people exactly where they needed to go when they needed to go. Stickl challenges readers to “follow the cloud —- courageously taking next steps when we see God move. The author breaks his explanation of following God more closely into four sections. Section 1 — Awaken to Life — makes the case that believers today have more access to God than the Israelites did in the Old Testament, and that the Lord means for us to follow Him in a dependent and trusting daily walk. Section 2 — Receive His Grace — builds a foundation for this intimate walk by demonstrating the love and grace of God, and believers’ identity as sons and daughters rather than servants or sinners. Section 3 — Experience His Presence — goes into detail to describe what “following the cloud” entails, and all the various ways that God communicates with us. Finally, Section 4 — Release His Kingdom — lays out a vision of what a willingness to trust and obey God can mean in the individual believers’ lives, as well as in the lives of their family, friends, coworkers, church members, communities and society at large. Stickl writes in an honest, self-effacing manner as someone who has only recently learned more about the love of God and His desire to lead him and all believers in all things; so that striving and despair can cease, and Christians can live in the joy and freedom that Christ desires and delivered to us through His sacrifice and obedience to the Father. This aspect of Stickl’s writing reminds me in a good way of other authors like Craig Groeschel who write not as “super Christians” who have had very extraordinary experiences and blessings with God that would make readers feel guilty and self-conscious; but rather as a follow struggler who has had to learn some difficult lessons, but now wants to share his joyful discoveries with others. This book is extremely encouraging and uplifting, and as a believer who has had many ongoing struggles in learning to trust God and totally depend on Him, this book was like a breath of fresh air to me. I would highly recommend this book for all believers.

Blessed are the Introverts, for they shall keep the Earth operating

My title for this post may be a little pretentious, but I think it makes the point I hope to expound on in this brief article.

By now, most people have probably seen the numerous Christian and secular books published in the last few years on the general topic of introverts, as well as the sub-genre of books written for introverts to encourage them, and also to possibly help the extroverts out there realize that all of us introverts are not snobs, creeps, weirdos --- and in Christian circles, unspiritual.  I am and always will be an introvert, and have seen first-hand the challenges we introverts face in churches, as well as dealing with our own senses of guilt and frustration; that we are not "really sold out to Jesus" like our extroverted counterparts.  Much could be written about how Western society is basically set up to promote and lionize extroverts.  But what is probably most hurtful to me and other Christians like me are the spoken and unspoken messages from pulpits, books, websites and blogs that if one is not living "radically" for God (see Platt, Chan, Claiborne, McManus, et al), then you don't really love/trust God and are more interested in yourself than others.  But have you noticed that probably about 90 percent + of Christian leaders are themselves extroverts (even if they say they don't think so)?  All of us true introverts know that we would never do or think about 99.999% of the stuff we hear and read from celebrity Christians.

But numerous secular (as well as a few done by Christian groups) show over and over again that the people who really get things done in this world --- but with little to no fanfare --- is us introverts.  That is because we tend to be less distracted, more highly responsible, diligent, willing to stay out of the spotlight, to get things accomplished.  As a man (but I could very easily say the same things about women), fighting traffic, nonstop semi-pornographic images, coarse language and even coarser attitudes, working at a job that might feel pretty close to Hell, cleaning the dog poop, clearing and washing the dishes at home, and other mundane things ad infinitum are the REAL "radical" Christians.  And oh yes, who is it that works the soul-sucking jobs to help pay for the needs of missionaries, pastors, relief organizations and struggling Christian outreaches to the margins of society?  Us introverts, that's who!

I will probably have much more to say along these lines in future posts, but would love to hear from other true introverts so we can commiserate a little; but better yet, to encourage and spur each other on to hang in there and keep showing up day after day.  God knows,and He sees!

Friends, this pandemic is affecting practically everyone in the world when it comes to their jobs and finances.  But God was not away on vacation when the virus hit, and He knows the anxiety and fear that each of us carry.  Even more so than normal, our burdens are TOO BIG for us to carry. Let’s admit that to ourselves and to God.  He is waiting for us to ask for His peace and mercy!  From From the Darkness Into the Light……………………..

Experiencing stress and anxiety due to dealing with financial hardships? Many are laid off due to the global pandemic, worry plagues you every minute of the day, the anxious thoughts of “how am I going to make ends meet,” the sleepless nights have you sleep deprived. When financial problems have you in a constant state […]

via God Is Bigger Than Your Financial Hardships — From The Darkness Into The Light

Why doesn’t God stop Coronavirus and mend the world? – Premier Christianity

Any disease and any death due to disease and ill health is not based on how God made the world. But we DO live in a broken world. But think of some of the implications from COVID-19, due to people all over the world basically in the same boat.  As Christians, let’s not get caught up in conspiracies and hand-wringing!  Let’s be beacons of light, hope and joy! From Premier Christianity………………

It’s the most natural question in the world: If God is good and all powerful, then why doesn’t he just stop bad things happening? It’s something that individuals often ask at times of personal tragedy. As the Coronavirus sweeps across the world Justin Brierley offers an answer to the questions being asked by people all over the globe.

Source: Why doesn’t God stop Coronavirus and mend the world? – Premier Christianity

We all need truths to hang onto in these times!  From Dr. B. Ponders………..

When checking my email this morning I received an email from pastors.com. This URL belongs to Rev. Rick Warren’s ministries at Saddleback Community Church in California. Warren is the author of books such as The Propose Driven Life. Pastor Warren sent out an editorial of sorts, I guess it could even be seen as a […]

via 7 Truths to Hang on to During Crisis — Dr. B. Ponders

Here is an article that touches on an answer from Jesus that may stump you like it did the Pharisees.  From Christian Apologist………

Jesus stumped the Pharisees with the following question in Luke 20:41-44: Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms (110): “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ […]

via Why this Question (Psalm 110) from Jesus Stumped the Pharisees — Christian Apologist

Our current enemy may be invisible, but our God is still able to win!  Nice encouragement from Coram Deo………..

I’m sitting in our music room/library while Becky is playing worship music on the piano. The presence of the Lord and His peace is so real to us. Slowing down, focusing on God with each other, opens us to the unseen realities of eternity. In His presence we are encouraged, strengthened, and filled up once […]

via We Have More on Our Side! — Coram Deo

Some good reminders that God can still us, even in self-isolation!  From Gentle Reformation……………

Many of us are confined to our homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. We feel fettered or at least hindered. What can we do? The Apostle Paul spent two years in Rome under house arrest. Inconveniently fettered, he was nevertheless incredibly fruitful in Jesus Christ. Though our circumstances are not identical, we can glean much…

via Paul: Fettered but Fruitful — Gentle Reformation

Martin Luther and Pandemics

I found this quote from Martin Luther on the Black Death from a post by Frank Viola.  You can see the original post here:  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/blackplague/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Evangelical&utm_content=242

Here are Martin Luther’s thoughts on The Black Death plague — which perfectly applies to the recent virus crisis:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”