I have a busy week coming up by Monday. I will going “Door to door,” visiting all the bookstores in Salem, Oregon. I am diving head first into my marketing for the book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.”
I did the research, and there are twelve bookstores in Salem. Lots of “Mom and Pop” level bookstores, and one Borders bookstore. My goals to to have a least one of my book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World,” on the shelf of each of these stores.
You have a chance to own the book before it hits the shelves in about 2o days. You can go to www.winepresspub.com right now and save 27% of what the retail price will be when it comes out.
When you get to the site, click on the bookstore at the top, and then when you are there, put in “Signs of Hope,” in the search area. That should get you right to my page. You will see that you will only be paying $14.59 instead of the retail price of $19.99.
When the book comes out you will get the book sent to you that day.
What follows is an actual excerpt from the book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.”
A Small Stumble May Lead to a Big Fall
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1 Peter 5:8–9
Lydia Moeller was at her recital and ready to play for the audience. The girl before her finished and Lydia walked onto the platform. She sat down and began to play “The Enchanted Stream” by Christopher Goldston. She started out playing a beautiful tune, but about halfway through she stumbled when she forgot her notes. She stopped, tried to start, and stopped again. You could she the emotions building, and tears were coming down her face. Then a wonderful thing happened. She regrouped and played the song without error. So, yes, she stumbled, but she didn’t fall. She kept her balance and finished the race. I said to her afterwards that I was very impressed with her. Not that she stumbled, but that she finished the race.
Do you stumble and fall because you have worries and problems that overtake you? Well, you are not alone my friend. This is an all too common occurrence in our lives.
We let enemies like divorce, abuse, overweight, low self-esteem, depression, fear of failure and bills that are not paid to cause us to stumble, and wonder, Where is God?
Satan loves this kind of doubt. He can plant many thoughts in our heads to cause us to fall even further. Some of these worries may be small by themselves, but put enough of them together and they become as large as Mt. Everest.
That broken-down car isn’t such a horrible thing, but you have already missed some work because of it, and your boss said you are not to miss any more work. The illness that attacked your daughter isn’t life-threatening, but you have no insurance to pay for the doctor’s visit. You want to put that glass of whiskey down, but you can’t.
Each of these issues may be small to some people, but for you it is like taking on Sir Lancelot and his sword with a wet noodle, or trying to swim ten miles and not knowing how to swim.
Some of the most successful people in the Bible have stumbled many times, and still are loved by God.
Abraham lied—not once but twice—to save his skin, but God gave him all the land he could see and promised that he would be the father of a nation.
Moses killed a man, and doubted God many times, but he led the nation of Israel out of Egypt.
Rahab was a prostitute, but her heart was open to God, and she protected three spies for Joshua. God in turn spared her life.
David committed adultery and had a man killed to cover up the first sin. (And both of these sins are biggies in our book.) Yet, God called him “a man after his own heart.”
Jonah tried to run away from what God commanded him to do and was swallowed by a whale. He later followed God’s command to preach to all the people in Nineveh.
Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, but became one of the prominent leaders in the early church.
Each one of us has stumbled many times. We have the choice to lie there flat on our face when we stumble, or we can get back up and continue our walk with God. The longer we lie there, though, the harder it can be to get back up and into the race again.
We wonder sometimes why God would love us. The good news is that He loves us just the way we are. But He doesn’t want us to stay that way. He didn’t want all those people in the Bible to remain they way they were. However, He accepted them the way they were, and transformed them into spiritual leaders.
How can we change? By taking our focus off our failures, fear and worries and turning them over to God.
The mind is like a stream running through our brain and the stream has been polluted. It will tear us down and eventually affect everything if we let it. When we stop the flow of “sewage” (unwholesome input, negative thinking) to the brain, it will take awhile for the creek to clear. We can’t clean up all the sewage at once, but we need to take the first steps.
Before he became the king of Israel, David was so down and desperate that he had to live in a cave to get away from his pursuer—the king himself. It was there that he realized that all he had to do was to cry out to God, asking Him to protect him and bring him back to where God really wanted him to be.
I myself was so down from my stumbling that I seriously considered suicide. I cried out to God to rescue me, and He did.
We need to not focus on our times of stumbling and need to focus on God instead. Our weeks need to include reading the Bible, praying to God for guidance, going to church to be with other Christians, being part of a Bible study, and reading Christian books (like mine, of course!) We need to take time to be with other Christians.
We can’t afford to dwell on the negative. Instead, we need to seek out the positive. If we have failed in the past (and we all have in one degree or another), we are not doomed to live in the past. God desires that we live for today—and the future.
Others may have turned their backs on us because of our stumbling and seeming inability to “get it together.” But they’re only seeing the outside. Remember that God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
Maybe you haven’t stumbled, but you think people look down on you because you don’t have as many of this world’s possessions as they have—or maybe you have more than they do. Or maybe you feel you don’t measure up in other ways—too overweight, too this, too that, or not enough this or enough that.
Remember, please, that God doesn’t care about any of those issues. He is looking at your heart. He is looking for you to follow Him and do great things for Him.
Satan uses our stumbling to tell us we might as well give up. “You won’t succeed no matter how much you try,” he whispers. You want to stop smoking, but you can’t. You want to finish that project your wife has been screaming for you to finish, but you don’t have the desire. You can fill in the blanks because you know what your issues are.
Please don’t give up. Never give up! Find friends you can turn to at times like this. Share your fears and let them be your protectors, coaches and encouragers. A true friend wants only the best for you, will listen and not criticize, and is a person you can feel safe with. A true friend may have to say some hard things to you, but his intention is that you become the best person you can be.
I have friends like that here on earth, but I also have one more—Jesus Himself. He meets all the criteria listed above for a true friend. I am never alone—He is always just a prayer away.
We don’t have to try to make more money—or lose 50 pounds, or climb the ladder at work—to feel worthy in His sight. Our willingness to simply turn all our troubles over to God and let Him love us is the “proof” of our worth. Success in this life can be measured by how much we love God and desire to serve Him.
So you’re not in line to be named as the next Pope. You’ve done some things you’re not proud of? You gave up too early on a dream? Do you feel like Custer and you’re on your last stand? Do bad things keep resurfacing like a cork in a lake?
Well, join the “Been there and done that” club. Here’s a news flash: Churches are filled with the down-and-out. They may look like the “up-and-in” crowd, but they need someone who’s “been there and done that” to come alongside them for encouragement and fellowship. You may be the one person in your entire church who can honestly say to that person, “I know how you feel.”
I have a hearing problem. I have to wear hearing aids in both ears. I have learned to use selective hearing. (Don’t tell my wife!) I take off my hearing aids when I want a quiet time. I go somewhere that noise cannot find me, where I can really concentrate on reading the Bible or praying.
However, I’ve found there are two types of thoughts I can always hear, and I get to choose which side of the “argument” I’ll listen to:
- 1. Yes you can … No you can’t.
- 2. God will help you … There is no God.
- 3. You have self-worth … You are worthless.
All of us can choose to use selective hearing too. We can turn a deaf ear to those stumbling days and the years of doubts. We can walk the straight path toward the future and listen only to God.
I don’t seem to hear Satan as much anymore—because of the ear-plug effect. I can choose to plug the ears to my thoughts and not allow negative thoughts to penetrate, but open my mind’s ears wide to uplifting, soothing thoughts.
All of us have ears; we just haven’t learned to use them properly. We can turn the volume down on people who want to degrade us and turn up the volume on those who come alongside to help us.
When we’re standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst from feeling depressed, dejected and beaten down, we can wade ashore and quench our thirst on the love of God. God responds to our sighs, our tears, our fears—even our stumbling and falling—as a prayer to Him.
Each of us is a child of God—made in His image. Don’t you think that since He went as far as to make us in His own image that He will do everything He can to love and do what is best for each one of us? Of course He will.
Stop stumbling and start walking with God.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
We all fail sometimes. It may be small thing like forgetting where the car keys are. It may be you lost the important papers you boss told you to take are off. It may be a broken marriage. It may even be your own job that you have lost. It is what you do after each of these happens that shows what we are made of. I can’t tell you how many times I have lost my keys. I have had to have Charlotte bail me out often by getting the keys for me, but I am still driving. I didn’t give driving up because I feared I would lose the keys again. I have lost important papers. I had this book all one and was getting ready to go back through and ad some Further Adventures to it like the one you are reading now. I completely finished it one time. But somehow I lost the whole file. I think I must of sent it to a friend and asked them to proof read it and forgot who I sent it to. I haven’t found it to this very day. So this is my second attempt at writing this Further Adventure. I vaguely remember the other one I wrote for this chapter, and I like this one much more. Could it be that it was God that “lost” that file for me?
The point to all of this is that you stumble and you fall. I did. You need to get back up; dust yourself off and start up again. I will get all the Future Adventures done the second time, and now I am convinced that they will be better than the first time I wrote them.
Something to Ponder
Isn’t it funny that we seek happiness from the outside, but true happiness is found on the inside?