Wednesday, March 31, 2010
If you guys have been reading me for a while, you know I love it when I get a chance to visit with one of Cecil Murphey's books. This is the 4th visit from one of my favorite authors since October. He gives us a few thoughts from his latest project with Liz Allison called Words of Comfort for Times of Loss. If you've never heard of Liz Allison, she is the widow of NASCAR driver Davey Allison.
Before I turn over the program to Liz and Cec, I want to tell you about a contest that Kathy Carlton Willis Communications is sponsoring. To be a part, leave a comment. On April 9th, she will take one of our commenters along with one commenter from each of the blogs that feature the book. If your name is chosen, then you win a prize package that includes the following:
Words of Comfort for Times of Loss
Heaven Is Real
Gift Edition, 90 Minutes in Heaven
Dove silky smooth milk chocolate
Dove silky smooth dark chocolate
Ultra-plush spa socks
Large gel eye mask
Without further ado, I'll turn over the day to Liz and Cec.
Why We Write About Loss
On the morning of July 12, 1992, my husband, Davey, left home like any other morning—he kissed my forehead and hugged our kids.That afternoon I answered a knock at the door, sensing something wasn’t quite right. When I glimpsed the faces of Davey’s two best friends—they didn't have to speak—the looks on their faces said it all.
That day, after lunch with his race team, Davey had hopped into his helicopter and taken an unplanned trip to the nearby Talladega Superspeedway to watch a buddy practice. Attempting to land in the infield, he had lost control of his helicopter and crashed. Although paramedics airlifted Davey to a Birmingham hospital, sixteen hours later he was pronounced dead.
Immediately following Davey’s death, I had to work through my grief enough to plan his funeral and make hundreds of small-but-significant decisions, all while maintaining the time and energy to care for our two young children, ages one and three. Well-wishing friends hovered around me and frequently asked, “What can I do for you?
Most of the time, I could only respond with a blank stare. Looking back, my friends could have done many things for me, but they didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what to tell them.
I hope the insights I have gained during the aftermath of Davey’s death will help you as you struggle with your own grief.
Two weeks after my father suffered a ministroke, a massive stroke took his life. On the day of his funeral, my older brother, Ray, died of cancer. Over the next eighteen months, I lost two brothers-in-law and my mother.
On the Sunday after Dad’s and Ray’s funerals, a parishioner rushed up to me, hugged me, and said, “Pastor, I heard about the deaths. Were they saved?”
I honestly don’t remember what I answered, but I wanted to shout, “Does it matter right now? I hurt. I’m so filled with pain that I’m not sure I can handle the worship service today!”
In 2007, our house burned down. Our son-in-law, Alan, died in the fire. The next day, a neighbor pulled up in front of our burned house, got out of his car, and started to look around. “Where did he die?” he asked.
Through the years, I’ve met many like those two people. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. Perhaps they were so focused on what they cared about that they were unaware of my pain. Instead of helping me, those comments made me feel even worse. What I needed was compassion. I didn’t get that from either of them, but I can offer it to you.
That’s why we’ve written this book.
About the book:
Through great personal loss, authors Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison have gained insight to share with others who are going through uncertainty, depression, and loneliness after losing a loved one. They also offer advice for those comforting someone who is grieving.
Among comforting paintings by artist Michal Sparks, brief stories, personal experiences, and prayers offer a meaningful path toward healing for readers when they:
* feel alone and lost in their grief and want to reconnect with others and to life
* seek to make sense of their loss alongside their sense of faith, purpose, and God
* want to honor their loved one without clinging to the past in unhealthy ways
Readers are given gentle permission to grapple with doubt, seek peace, and reflect on loss in their own way without judgment and with understanding and hope. A perfect gift for a loved one dealing with loss and grief.
About the Authors:
Liz Allison was married to NASCAR driver Davey Allison until his tragic death in 1993. Widowed at 28 with two young children to raise, Liz faced the long journey of pain, loss, and grief with great faith. Committed to encouraging others, she returned to her work in TV reporting, has published eight books, and hosts a weekly radio show. Please visit www.lizallison.com
Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grief, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.
Please visit www.cecilmurphey.com
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Today, we have Ronald Bell joining us to talk about his new book Enter To Worship, Exit To Serve. Below, you'll find an interview with a little information about the book. I'd like to thank Ronald for an advance copy of the book to read before the interview.
1. What is the book about? While the book’s title puts it in the praise and worship section in book stores, the book is more about the total life of the believer. Nehemiah10:39 is the core scripture for the book’s teachings. Nehemiah had gone to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and also rebuilt the temple, restoring worship to the people. Worship was centered around sacrifice. I use the different groups pictured in Nehemiah to talk about fundamental areas of the believers life. The scripture says they would not forsake the temple of God. We have forsaken the house of God today. We are so busy with our agendas, we have left the true reason for worship. God is looking for something real from our lives, not just our words.
2. Why Enter to Worship and Exit to Serve? The life of the believer comes from our life in God. We bring to Him a sacrifice of our monies, our gifts, our fruit and lay it at His feet. The premise for most Christians today is what can God do for them instead of how can I worship God with all that is within me. The scriptures teach us that everyone has something to offer. When we worship in the fullness of our lives, God then fills us to be able to affect our world. We then exit to serve God through proclaiming His Word, serving those around us and exalting His name in all the earth. Everything we do in church is to help us fulfill God’s calling on our lives in the world.
3. Why do you talk about money? The very first thing that was brought into the temple was an offering of grain or corn. This is symbolic of money. I go to Kenya every year and they trade their corn for other items such as meat, oil, etc. God is interested in our money. He speaks of money more than He does either prayer or heaven. I think there has been a lot of negative about money and there has been a lot of error through the years. I hope that what I teach in the book is balanced. Many pastors have said this teaching has helped their churches understand the truth about tithes, first fruits and seed offerings.
4. What do you think is the most important chapter of the book? In over 35 years of full time ministry, I have never heard anyone else teach about porters. In Nehemiah 10:39 it lists porters between priest and singers. I thought that was very interesting and researched porters. It is basically a janitor. So between priests and porters are janitors. Servants that do the basics. People who do ordinary things to keep ministries going. God wants servants. That is a concept that is lost in the big time world of church ministries today. Jesus came to serve. I believe that we can make a difference in our community, our neighborhoods, and our world if we are willing to lay our lives down to serve God.
5. What do you hope to accomplish with your book? I hope that ordinary believers will recognize they have something to offer. We can bring our monies and touch the nations. We can bring our gifts and see the power of God touch people and their needs. We can offer our fruit and not wait for the pastors or elders, but be instruments to bring life to those around us who are seeking a relevant relationship with Jesus. The five fold ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher were never supposed to do everything in the church. The church is supposed to be equipped for ministry. Everyone should be able to proclaim the message and everyone should have praise for the God we serve. That should not happen just on Sunday mornings between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. We should be able to give God praise in our homes and throughout the week. I truly believe this can be the church’s finest hour.
6. Where are these resources available to purchase? You can obtain this book and many other resources on my web site at RonaldGrayMinistries.org.
7. Are there other available resources connected with this book? Yes, I taught my book at a conference and had it professionally recorded on video and audio. These sessions are great for small groups and Bible studies. There is a Study Guide to help the leader go through the sessions. The book and the video provide different insights that will help people to grow into maturity.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Susan Elaine Jenkins (no relation to me) joins us to talk about her new book Scandalon. The interview below will give you details on the book and a little background on her. Thanks to the fine people at Cladach Publishing for providing me a copy of the book.
SCANDALON: A Memoir
Running From Shame and Finding God's Scandalous Love
Susan Elaine Jenkins has lived in China for 11 years, teaching the performing arts in international schools. SCADALON is her provocative memoir which includes fascinating stories of people and life in the great country of China, which few of us have visited, but where God is working mightily. God has also worked mightily in Susan's personal life and she has an important story to share.
Interview with Susan Elaine Jenkins ~
Q: First of all, tell us a bit about yourself.
Susan: I am a teacher. I was born into a family of preachers and teachers, and I always had a keen desire to teach. I began the first year out of college (Point Loma Nazarene University) and my career has taken me into the hearts and lives of many unforgettable students. Much of my time is occupied with continuing education and professional development opportunities, which opens up new areas of thinking and learning as I go.
After teaching in California private schools for 19 years, I moved to China, where I have focused on teaching performing arts in 3 different international schools. I am a seasoned foreign expatriate these days and yet, the daily adventures of living in Asia continue to surprise me.
Q: It seems that some parts of your book were passages right out of your journals through the years. Is that right? Is it hard to share these publicly, when you probably thought of yourself as the only audience at the time?
Yes, they were taken directly from my journals - especially the conversations between Dr. Travis and me. Those 3 difficult months were mind-numbing days. Writing everything that happened at the end of every confusing day helped me make more sense of it all.
Once I was in China, the conversations with Ouyang were important to me, as well, and I also kept detailed accounts. I knew I needed to have those talks recorded somewhere where I could retrieve them - they were too special to forget. The experiences I was having with my Chinese friends were very precious; China was rapidly developing and nothing would be the same again. I recently visited Tianjin and was stunned to see the progress made - the sleek commercial buildings and tall apartments that have replaced the ancient hutongs near the streets where I once lived and worked.
Yes, I assumed my journals were for my eyes only, and it has been difficult opening up these details to the public. There have been many starts and stops for me to this process and times when I wanted to forget the whole project.
Q: Was there any deciding factor that made you think you should try compiling your notes into a book and to try to get it published? What encouragement did you get along the way?
A friend from the UK convinced me to begin a blog. The idea of sharing my stories was inconceivable, at first, but as time went by, I got to know my readers. Little by little, I opened up the pages of my journals with them, interspersed with a few of the details of daily life in Asia. To my surprise, my online friends began commenting and sending me private letters filled with their own pain. I wanted to let them know that there really is healing and light ahead, that God’s promise really is authentic: He is a God who heals.
Q: Are there any character embellishments? Some people in your book seem almost larger than life!
No, the characters are written exactly as they are. Conversations are word for word, in most cases. I wanted to present the strong and good qualities of my former husband, Kyle, for example, as well as the perplexing reality of our marriage. The words of Dr. Travis (not his real name) were etched deeply into my memory, of course, as those were life-changing words of an experienced sexual predator - impossible to forget, much as I tried. And then the amazing friends I met in China were such distinctive people! I remember thinking: How can I tell the world about Mrs. Hua and her cozy dinner parties with fish swimming laps in the bathtub? How can I explain how marvelous Apple is, with her heart that simply listens to God as she finds her way around the French Riviera? I wanted to share the story of Angel's frustration at being 30 years old and single in the Chinese culture. These are incredibly real and strong people who desire the same things we do in America. They taught me so much.
Q: Why a book about China?
"Well, this particular story began to be written in the summer of 1992. My friend, David, gave me the keys to his beach house in Pebble Beach and it began pouring out, as I walked along the ocean and typed in his massive kitchen. At the end of the summer, I returned the rented computer, put all the pages into a plain cardboard box and shoved it into a closet. It wasn't until five years later, in 1997, that I realized the story was not going to rest quietly, just gathering dust. It was almost as if it had a life of its own, and refused to be forgotten...so I took the box to China with me and kept writing...for the next ten years. I wrote between classes, on long snowy northern Chinese weekends, on Chinese trains and sitting in plastic airport chairs. It seemed to evolve into a book that is really a combination of two lives: my life in California and my life in Asia; two very different worlds.
I think it seemed very natural at some point, to write of a remarkably poignant journey that met in a healing point while living in a crumbled country, broken by its own history. My life at that point seemed very much the same - broken, falling apart, and dark.
Q: You moved to China to get away from memories that were haunting you? At what point did China start feeling like "home" to you, and less like the completely foreign distraction it first was?
A great job offer came up, and yes, I was anxious to have a completely new start. Before I left for China, someone told me, "Susan, you can never get away from this. Sooner or later, you will need to face all that's happened in your life. You will need to go through the grieving process and admit that you have lost so much." He was right. I did have to face it, but that happened slowly, almost imperceptibly, over a long period of time. Being in China helped me gain perspective of what God wanted to do in me and through me.
I guess it was near the end of my first school year that I realized China had become a second home. I was walking along the hot, muggy streets with Ouyang, and I realized I was reluctant to go back to America. He said, "Do you have to go back? Why don't you just stay?" That possibility hadn't occurred to me until that point and I muttered something about it being too hot during the summer months to remain and that most of the teachers returned to their home countries for the holidays. Years later, I found I could stay for the summers and feel very much at home.
I think the idea of feeling at home in China has to do with the fact that I began feeling "at home" with God. And that, for me, involved a great spiritual healing and coming back to a point of rest within God's heart; being glad to be in His loving presence; knowing that all my sins are utterly forgiven and cast away; and, sensing His divine heart of grace. Home has literally - for me - become His own Heart.
Q. Where might we find out more about you and Scandalon?
Please my website at http://www.susanelainejenkins.com
Friday, March 5, 2010
Tonight, I bring you another guest author in to talk about a great Bible study for the ladies out there. Frankie Sherman is here to talk about the Why We Need Girlfriends study. This article is called Leaving Hurryville.
(Comments From a Former Resident)
by Frankie D. Sherman
A big concern of Christian women is the epidemic of shallow relationships among women. In an age when broken marriages, moral decline, and unbelievable heartache are frighteningly high, our God-given support system is lacking.
What happened? Why do we know more people than ever before, yet know very little about each other? Why do we know more about the latest celebrity break-up, yet very little about the young woman in our church going through her own divorce?
Unfortunately, we live in Hurryville. Hurry and get the kids to school. Hurry and get to work. Hurry to Bible study. Hurry to the ball field. Hurry! Girl Hurry! In this “hurry up, see you later” world we don’t take the time to invest in relationships like the generations before us did. Our busy lives leave very little time to invest in meaningful relationships.
Because of this, we are suffering. We miss wonderful opportunities to reach others for Christ and to strengthen others in the body of Christ.
How about you and I change the busyness in our circle of influence by adjusting our schedules and priorities? We can start right now to focus on the relationships in our circle of influence as the nurturing women God designed us to be.
Becoming a better friend is something believers should focus on, because it can impact the world for the Christ.
So where do we begin?
* Leave Hurryville-without a forwarding address! It’s a choice and a hard one. But God is faithful and he will help you with this lifestyle change.
* Pray, and read God Word.
* Schedule time with friends; ask them how they are and what’s up in their life.
* Engage in meaningful conversation about them and how the Lord is working in their life.
* Leave the cell phone turned off during your time together.
* Share good books, good tips, good information and good food.
If your friend is a single mom, widow, health issue, or has problems at home, always be sensitive to her needs or situation. You are not “the solution” but you can show her you care through your friendship. God will provide the wisdom concerning boundaries and blessings.
I left Hurryville, many years ago. Sometimes my old nature tries to pull me back. But I learned the value of meaningful friendships and Hurryville doesn’t compare. Should you decide to leave Hurryville too let me know. We can sit on the porch and enjoy chat together.
Frankie Sherman Photo
BOOK FRANKIE FOR YOUR NEXT EVENT!
About the author:
Frankie Sherman is a national speaker, comedian, and Bible teacher for conferences, retreats, and women's events. She fell in love with Jesus at Vacation Bible School and takes every opportunity to tell others about the joy of being alive in Christ. She is a former choreographer for the Georgia Peach Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl Halftime Show. Her specialty is in theater musical/productions. Her first Bible Study, Why We Need Girlfriends is based on the relationship of Mary and Elizabeth, from Luke's gospel. Two women brought together by extraordinary circumstances by an extraordinary God. Frankie is from South Carolina—loves sweet tea, BIG hair and her grand-girls. She believes there will never be another Elvis. And knows that her Jesus will return for her soon.