It’s time for the July installment of “What I’m Reading”. I get so many requests to review books, and I can’t get through them all. But I wanted to give up and coming authors a chance to get in front of my audience. So once a month I’ll be letting you know about two or three books by new authors that I think may interest you. I try to choose books that focus on marriage, parenting, or Christian women’s themes. You can be featured in the future, too!
Cheryl White wants you to know that you have been appointed to pray for your husband–and you can be that prayer warrior, even if you don’t feel equipped! In G.A.P.P, God’s Appointed Position in Prayer, she helps you to stand in the gap!
And that’s what we’re called to do. In Ezekiel 22:30, God said:
I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
We can be the ones who stand in the gap for our husbands–and in fact, that’s exactly what Cheryl White says that we’re called to do. In this devotional book, that you can work through over 35 days, she lays out a very strong case–irrefutable even–about how only prayer changes things. And we are in a unique position to bring God’s favour, blessing, and even the rod of correction on our husbands’ lives. She says:
The husband God has given you, the man you see before you today in the natural, may not be walking in the calling and pur- pose that was established for him before the foundation of the earth. One of the assignments God has given you as this man’s wife is to pray over your husband and to speak those things that are not as though they were.
I love that! I know many of you reading this blog and writing to me are frustrated because your husbands aren’t what you want them to be. Cheryl’s book isn’t about praying so that your husband will become the man you want him to be. It’s about praying so that he becomes the man God made him to be. It helps get your focus onto God, and not you.
Why should we have to pray? Because, Cheryl says, we have a unique position in our husband’s life. We know him. We know what to pray for and how to pray. And we love him. And with that position comes an appointment.
As I was reading this, I felt very convicted that I have not been praying enough for my husband lately. I pray a ton for my kids, but not as much for him. It’s almost like, deep inside, I feel as if he should be able to handle things on his own. But that’s not true. My husband needs God, and one of the main tasks that I have, that no one else can do for me, is to lift him up in prayer.
The book first lays a strong case for why we should pray, and why we are in this unique calling, and then it proceeds with the devotionals. Each one is just a few pages, with an accompanying corporate prayer that Cheryl has written for all of us, and some Scriptures that go along with it. She deals with everything from restoring sanity to finding humility to bringing joy. And the focus of the devotional is to help us submit to God, so that we can then be effective as we pray for our husbands. She uses great Scripture stories throughout, from Zipporah who interceded for her husband Moses, to Ruth, Vashti, and Deborah. And she writes really beautifully.
One of the themes of the book is that all of this is a battle–it’s not easy to pray, it’s not easy to spend time in God’s Word when life gets busy. There are too many distractions. She says:
My prayer today is that husbands and wives crave and desire to be freely filled with God’s Word every day.
I really needed that today, because I’ve been so busy moving the blog to a different server, and dealing with all the little things that fell through the cracks. It’s been a busy few weeks. But if we don’t fill ourselves up, if we don’t really crave that time with God, we’ll be in trouble.
I like what she says here. It’s so true:
You know the old saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That just goes to say, “If Momma hasn’t prayed for herself in the best fashion and taken care of herself in the best fashion, then everyone else will not be prayed for in the best fashion.”
How often do I really carve out time for myself with God? How diligent am I with praying for myself to be effective in the positions that God has appointed me–as wife and mother, friend and confidante?
Cheryl invites us to pray bold prayers for the men we love, but she also is realistic that sometimes these men are not doing what is right. She helps us walk through forgiveness, disappointment, and even valleys in our marriages that are very bleak. Quoting Isaiah, where God says “for the Maker is your husband”, she says:
There may be seasons in your marriage in which God will have to be your husband. The answer to your problems is not to go and seek another man for the physical comforts that you may be longing for during your separation from your husband. No, the answer is to seek your Maker to be everything you need.
I totally agree, and that’s one of the themes of this blog. There will be periods when we do feel distant from our husbands–even times when we have to separate. Those are rare, but I know many on this blog deal with that. She helps us through with hope from Scripture to equip us to manage this dark period.
Overall, though, this is an optimistic book, a fighting book, a motivating book. She calls us to get off of our butts and actually DO something. We have the great God who wants to hear from us, and who wants us to pray. Will we? Check out G.A.P.P.!
The Great Cover-Up
Joy Trachsel believes that most of us are engaged in a huge cover up. God has given us wonderful treasure, but we have stuffed it down, either because of shame, or guilt, or fear, or just plain wrong priorities. And so she wants us to uncover the riches we do have, because that will change our lives.
She takes us on a journey of “uncovering”, helping us to find our authentic selves, the gifts and talents God gave us, our passion–even the truth of the gospel. But she also invites us to do the hard things, uncovering the sin, and the brokenness, and the shame. Because it’s only once we deal with all the things below the surface that the real “us”, the real person that God made to thrive for Him, can come through.
Joy got to this point because one day her life changed radically. She was the perfect Christian woman–the Church Lady, you might say. She had four kids, a husband, and a ministry at church. She was a substitute teacher. She made meals for the sick. She baked cookies. And then she had an interview for a job at a homeless shelter, and all the pretty little things in her life fell back. A new Joy was born.
So many of us are living lives on auto-pilot, trying to not rock the boat. What if there’s something bigger out there? What if there’s a passion to uncover? Joy says,
God showed me many things during those first weeks. He showed me what it means to be stretched for His purpose. He showed me what it looks like to be called and what it looks like to find your passion. More importantly, He showed me that being obedient is difficult and ugly and messy, but it’s not impossible.
Now Joy’s cause is a homeless shelter, but she didn’t write the book to get us all to march down to the nearest shelter and work there. That’s not the point. It’s not about what you do or where you do it, but about finding God’s passion inside you and releasing it. She asks,
I wonder what the world would look like if we all found our cause. What would it look like if we all took the scriptures seriously and lived out the Bible with relentless obedience?
That would be some world, wouldn’t it? And it’s easy to read that little quote and think, “oh, if only everybody would get passionate about Jesus!” But there’s no point bemoaning it, because it needs to start with us. We need to be the ones going through the great Uncovering.
The book would make a wonderful Bible study or group discussion for a women’s group. It has questions at the end of each chapter that you can wrestle through, and there’s lots of material to digest–and lots of challenges along the way. You’ll find God constantly prompting you, asking, “are you paying more attention to the people who are LIKE YOU in your circles of influence, or are you actively looking for those who are hurting, who need you?” Ouch. And it’s great to talk about these things with friends! But even if you use it as a devotional for yourself, you will be changed. Journal through it. Write down what God is saying to you. We all so desperately need to catch the fire of His passion again.
The simple truth is that many of lead Christian lives very similar to Joy’s before her great Uncovering. She shares her background in the book, and shesounds remarkably like most of my friends. Saved as a child. Grew up in the church. Went on a few missions trips, but life was small, and we kind of liked it that way. Yet when did God ever say “you are called to something small?” God asks us to step out, even if it doesn’t look “big” to anyone else on the outside. And He invites us into deeper fellowship–a fellowship which is never really safe. As Lewis said, Aslan is not a tame lion, you know.
And so Joy shares what an Uncovering will look like. She’s honest about her own struggles, with anxiety, and fear. And she beautifully shares the stories of the women she’s worked with, weaving them in. They’re mesmerizing. And as she shares how sin got so many of these women into trouble, she tells us straight out: you can’t do big things for God if you have sin in your life. You have to deal with that first. And even if our addictions aren’t as glamorous as those we see on TV, they still are real to God. And they hold us back. They need to be uncovered, and dealt with.
And once we’ve uncovered the sin, and the brokenness, we can find our passion. We can start to truly hear God in new ways, and move forward in a unique calling. It won’t look like Joy’s, or like mine, or like your sister’s or neighbor’s or friend’s. It’s yours. Don’t live your whole life and miss it because you were afraid of living a big life–of truly coming alive.
The book takes you through a step-by-step journey of uncovering your passions, gifts and callings by being honest with God, humble before Him, and thirsting for authenticity. She gives practical tips where they might be necessary–how do you discover your gifts? How do you figure out who in your circle needs help? But the book is primarily a spiritual one that will leave you energized and motivated, if you have the courage to take the leap. Changing things up is never easy, but I believe that for too long the church, especially in the West, has been too quiet. We want our lives to look pretty, not messy. We want to carve out our little slice of heaven. But this is not supposed to be our heaven! This is where we learn to hear God’s voice, learn to follow God, and then bring others with us. Many of us are missing out on the great joy that serving God wholeheartedly can bring.
If you are struggling with your purpose this summer, now’s a great time to read The Great Cover-Up and wrestle with God through what He is calling you for. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel really alive? God has that for you, and Joy invites you on a journey to uncover it.