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You are very smart if you found this hidden sentence!

A Bit of Honesty... from the mind of a 12 year old.

I have to say that today I was hit hard by the Holy Spirit with the realization of the calling God has placed on my family's life.... to plant a new church, in a predominately LDS state: Utah.


Yeah, I've lived here all my life. I have LDS family members and LDS friends and co-workers... but to know how to reach them with the message of the Gospel and the deep, unconditional love of Christ is overwhelming.

Growing up I always prayed to be a Pastor's Wife. I saw my pastor's wife as a kind, merciful and happy lady who knew the answers to all the bible questions I asked, who always kept her cool in the heat of frustrated situations and church, who never worried about where the money was coming to pay the bills, who just plain loved the Lord and seem to have a perfect marriage, husband and family. So sure, why wouldn't I want to be a Pastor's wife!?!? Pastor's are perfect people who know the Bible inside and out, front cover to back, live sinless and have great families....(can you hear the sarcasm in my voice!)

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not as naive now as I was when I was 12 and started praying to be a PW. So, the question has ran through your mind: "Would ya take back that prayer?"

OH NO!! Never in a million years!!!

I'm looking forward to moving forward with my husband as we plant the church God has in the place he has it destined to be. Where that is... we don't quite know exactly yet, but we're excited none the less.

I've recently found two blogs from Pastors wives that I wanted to share. I've been blessed by their honesty and I pray that you will be too (even if you're not a PW!)

Confessions of a Church Planter's Wife

And... until next time, Be Blessed!


Slowing Down... but Still Moving Forward in SO Many Ways!

I know this blog has been quiet for a while... but I've received a few emails asking me where I've gone.

I've recently gone to work full time outside of my home so that my hubby can focus on his schooling as he pursues his Pastor's License through the Assemblies of God.

We have been called by God to plant a church in my home state of Utah, which excites and scares me all in the same. Both of us our new to this idea and are super excited about moving forward to where God is taking us to light up the world for Him.

Please keep us in pray and keep your eyes open for a few reviews coming this summer. I've connected the publishing companies I've been reviewing for to let them know I need to slow down on reviews, but that I'd love to still do a couple a month.

So, once I get into a good groove and can fit a little reading into my schedule, you all will be the first to know what I read!

Tell then, happy reading and God Bless!


FIRST: The Invisible World by Anthony DeStefano

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Doubleday Religion (March 15, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Anthony DeStefano, a best-selling author and businessman, was raised in New York City where he attended Stuyvesant High School. He graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University in Staten Island with a degree in Philosophy/Theology and went on to start a successful chain of electronics retail stores in New York. At the same time, he also began his writing career, writing a regular op-ed column for the Staten Island Advance.

While his business success grew, so did his love and skill for writing. In 2003, DeStefano’s first book, A Travel Guide to Heaven, was published. First released by Doubleday, the book became a bestseller and went on to be published in 16 languages and released by Random House Audio, Transworld Publishers in the United Kingdom, as well as major publishing houses in Europe, Asia, and South America. Four years later, Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To was published by Doubleday, and, in 2010, This Little Prayer of Mine and Little Star, DeStefano’s highly acclaimed children’s books, were published by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Visit the author's website.


The mystery of a spiritual world has intrigued us for ages. Is there a reality that exists beyond the senses? And can an invisible spiritual world actually become visible? Best-selling author Anthony DeStefano answers yes with certainty. The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us explores the existence and meaning of this unseen, yet very real world.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Religion (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385522231
ISBN-13: 978-0385522236


The Haunt Detector

Everybody has one. The Reverend Frank Pavone used to call it the Haunt Detector. What is it?

Very simply, it’s the little alarm that goes off in our heads whenever we detect that something mysterious or supernatural has occurred. Science fiction and horror writers have referred

to it by other names— the sixth sense, the shining. But for some reason, I’ve always liked “haunt detector” best.

We actually have all kinds of “detecting”  mechanisms built into our nervous systems. They don’t have fancy scientific names, but they exist nonetheless. For instance, we all have “lie detectors.” When someone who’s not very slick tries to scam us, we’re usually able to tell just from their body language and their voice. We all have “love detectors.” We can just feel it in our bones when someone has deep feelings of attachment for us—or when they don’t. We all have “right and wrong” detectors—better known as consciences. When we do something not quite right, we know it because we feel an unmistakable pang of guilt. And, of course, we all have “sex detectors,” which let us know pretty quickly when we’re physically attracted to another person.

Well, we all have “haunt detectors,”  too. And they let us know whenever something especially eerie or out of the ordinary is happening around us. You know the kind of thing. You could be

sitting around relaxing one day at home, and for no special reason you start thinking about someone. Maybe you haven’t thought about this particular person in years. Then the phone

rings; you pick it up, and, amazingly, it’s that person! Many of us have experienced this phenomenon. What is it?

I’ll never forget something that happened to my mother many years ago. It was the middle of the night and she was sleeping soundly. Suddenly she woke up and bolted upright in bed. She had heard the sound of her own mother’s voice calling out to her in a thick Italian accent: “Laura, Laura, help me.” My mother was startled and her heart was racing; she had clearly heard her name spoken. But it couldn’t be her mother calling; she lived on the other side of Brooklyn, and it was so late. My mother thought that perhaps it was just a bad dream so she went back to sleep. But the next morning she received a phone call from the hospital. Her mother had gotten up to go to the bathroom during the night and had fallen. She was in the hospital with a broken hip. For hours she had been on the floor, moaning for help. How in the world did my mother hear her?

Was it just a coincidence?

Then there are stories that are totally unexplainable. I read a newspaper account a few years ago about a four-year-old girl in upstate New York who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The whole community had been praying fervently for her. All the churches in the neighborhood—Lutheran, Evangelical, Catholic—were all united in prayer that a miracle would take place. The little girl had been through so much: she’d had more than twenty MRIs, and it was decided that the only remaining course of action was brain surgery. She wasn’t even expected to make it through the operation, but it was the only chance she had. The day of the surgery her head was shaved, her blood was taken, she was hooked up to all kinds of machines, and the team of doctors scrubbed and put on their surgical gowns. One final MRI had to be done to determine the exact location of the tumor. Just before the child was wheeled into the testing room, a sweet, pretty young nurse came in and took her hand. She told the little girl not to worry because she was “all better,” that God had “cured” her and that she would be going home soon. The little girl later said that the nurse was so nice to her and so “beautiful” that she felt all warm and peaceful inside.

When the MRI was taken, the lab technicians gasped in disbelief. No matter how hard they searched, they couldn’t locate the tumor. They took more tests, but the results were the same. The tumor was gone. No surgery was performed that day—or any day—because there was nothing to operate on. The little girl was completely healed. What happened? And who was the mysterious woman who came in and told the girl she was cured? None of the other nurses could identify her and no one ever saw her again. Was she an angel, as some in the little girl’s family believed? No one knows for sure. But everyone, from the doctors to the lab technicians to the parents to the people in the community, was aware that something incredible had taken place. Everyone’s haunt detectors went off at once.

Of course, not all mysterious experiences are as strange as this. A person’s haunt detector can begin registering at any time. You can be listening to a powerful piece of music or watching a spectacular sunset; reading a particularly moving piece of literature or worshipping at church. You can be embracing the person you love most in the world or sitting in your home, cozy and warm by the fire. Or you can just be walking down the street thinking about all the things in your life that have brought you to where you are. You can be doing any of these things, and out of nowhere a tingle will suddenly run up your spine, telling you that something more is going on than meets the eye. Something that transcends understanding.

What is it? No one really knows. But it invariably triggers a feeling deep in your soul— a feeling of desire, of yearning, of hope; hope that there is something special about life; that there is some hidden meaning and purpose to all the suffering we have to go through; that there is something beyond science, beyond the senses—something totally invisible yet totally real. In Latin, the experience is called mysterium tremendum et fascinans. And our haunt detectors can sense it.

Of course, we have to be careful when trying to discern the meaning of such feelings and phenomena. Spiritual people are sometimes too quick to attribute the cause of strange occurrences to God; they’re too hasty in coming to the conclusion that just because something seems unexplainable it must have a divine or supernatural origin. That simply isn’t the case. Many amazing things that happen in this world aren’t “miraculous” at all. It’s a fact, for example, that human beings have all kinds of natural abilities that are untapped; abilities that are only now being identified and studied by science. We’ve all heard about mothers and fathers who display superhuman strength when trying to rescue their children from harm. We’ve all seen examples of people with severe learning disabilities who are able to sit down at a piano without any formal training and play the most complicated pieces of classical music. The human brain is

an incredible organ and has many powers that still aren’t fully understood. Because of this, it’s extremely difficult for us to tell what’s natural, what’s supernatural, what’s legitimately from

God, what’s from the devil, and what’s just plain old human imagination. Practically everything that happens in life is subject to misinterpretation. That’s why it’s so dangerous to become fixated on the supernatural. Too often it leads to superstition or belief in the occult or false spirituality or even—in extreme cases—insanity.

We just can’t afford to make blind assumptions. We have to seek the expert guidance of doctors, psychologists, scientists, theologians, and church leaders. But neither can we dismiss all these remarkable experiences as mere fantasy. And that’s what many people do today. Not only do they reject what’s fanciful and frivolous— they reject everything. They throw the baby out

with the bathwater. They claim that there is no reality other than the reality of the senses, the reality of the material world. In many ways this is an even greater mistake. After all, it’s one

thing to be cautious and discerning when it comes to spiritual matters; it’s quite another to deny the existence of the spiritual realm altogether.

If we do that, we risk falling into what has been called the “superstition of materialism,” the myth that this world is made up of physical objects and nothing else; that everything in life—our thoughts, our emotions, our hopes, our ambitions, our passions, our memories, our philosophies, our politics, our beliefs in God and salvation and damnation—that all of this is purely the result of biochemical reactions and the movement of molecules in our brain. What nonsense!

We can’t reduce the whole of reality to what our senses tell us for the simple reason that our senses are notorious for lying to us. Our senses tell us that the world is fl at, yet it’s not. Our

senses tell us that the world is chaotic, yet we know that on both a micro and a macro level, it’s incredibly organized. Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, yet we’re really moving at

dizzying speeds. Right now, for instance, you’re sitting down quietly reading this book; but did you know that you’re actually traveling at twenty thousand miles per hour? That’s the rate at which the earth and the entire galaxy are racing through space. Can you feel or see that motion in any way? Of course not. It’s completely invisible to your senses. In fact, the only reason that you’re not physically hurled into orbit right now is because another invisible force—gravity—is holding you in place. There are all kinds of unseen forces and laws that govern the universe. They’re all invisible—and they’re all very real.

The most important things in life can’t be seen with the eyes. Ideas can’t be seen. Love can’t be seen. Honor can’t be seen. This isn’t a new concept. Judaism and Christianity and Islam and Buddhism and Taoism have all taught for thousands of years that the highest forms of reality are invisible. God is invisible, and he created the universe. Our souls are invisible, and they give life to our bodies. Angels are invisible, and they’re the most powerful of God’s creatures.

Are these unseen realities difficult for us to grasp? Of course. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning and we stumble out of bed to shower and dress and go to work, it’s hard for us to focus on anything so intangible as the spiritual realm. After all, how can we hope to find an invisible God when we sometimes have trouble finding the milk in the refrigerator when it’s staring us right in the face? C. S. Lewis said that human beings find it almost impossible to “believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes.” One of the great psychological obstacles to having a strong faith is the very “ordinariness” of life.

In the first chapter of The Screwtape Letters, Lewis writes about the diabolical strategy that an invisible demon uses on an old, hardened atheist. The atheist, for the first time in his life, is

starting to ask himself questions about the existence of God. The demon naturally wants to prevent this. But rather than waste his time arguing with the man about theology, the demon

plants the suggestion in the atheist’s mind to go out and have some lunch. Once in the street, the atheist sees the newspaper boy and the taxis going by and a thousand other small details. With that healthy dose of “real life” he doesn’t even bother continuing his search for God. After all, in light of all those clear, crisp, ordinary realities, how could there be any such nebulous thing as metaphysical truth?

We face the same danger. Because we’re so familiar with desks and chairs and pots and pans and cell phones and video games, it can be a real challenge for us to think about spiritual matters. Our haunt detectors can become so dulled and rusty from disuse that they hardly register any kind of invisible activity except the most extraordinary. The end result is that, although we may not become full-fledged atheists, we can actually begin behaving as if we were. Without even realizing it, a giant gap can form between what we profess to believe and how we go about acting in our everyday lives.

We all know how true this is. We say we believe in the Bible and the moral law, but then we have trouble going even a few weeks without breaking most of the Ten Commandments. We

say we believe in the power of prayer and God’s grace, but few of us actually turn to God unless we’re in some sort of a jam. We act this way partly because of human nature. But it’s also because the temptations we face seem so real, while the world of the spirit seems so hazy and unreal by comparison. In this hedonistic society of ours, in which we’re confronted every day

by thousands of images designed to appeal to our sensual appetites, it’s very easy to be seduced. When a woman who loves chocolate passes a Godiva shop and sees a window full of delicious

truffles, caramels, and other assorted treats, it’s hard for her to consider the spiritual value of fasting or the Christian belief that the body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” When a man with a healthy libido strolls down the streets of lower Manhattan on a sultry summer afternoon and is confronted by a parade of sexy, scantily clad women, it’s tough for him to think about formless beings like angels. What are visible to him at that moment—the shapely forms enticing his senses—are just too much for him to resist. The spiritual world doesn’t seem to stand a chance.

And that’s where this book comes in. What I’d like to do in the following pages is attempt to render that spiritual world a bit more clearly for you. I’d like to try to make the invisible realities

that surround us just a little more visible. My hope is that, by doing this, these realities won’t seem so unfamiliar in the future. And the more familiar they are, the easier it will be to understand them and to have absolute faith in their existence. Once you’re armed with that kind of certitude, three things will naturally happen: (1) It will be easier for you to act in sync with your moral beliefs; (2) your life will be much fuller, richer, and more exciting than you ever imagined possible; and (3) no amount of suffering—physical, mental, or emotional—will ever be able to destroy the profound inner sense of peace that you’ll experience on a daily basis.

Big promises, I know. But that’s how important this subject is.

So how does one go about making the invisible visible? Well, as I said, there’s an extraordinarily rich theology from which we can draw. The traditional Judeo- Christian view of the invisible

world has been largely displaced by a kind of fortune cookie philosophy of life that’s neither truly believable nor truly remarkable. Just browse through the New Age section of your local bookstore and you’ll see what I mean. This book is not going to be like that. It’s not going to be about vampires or gremlins or ghosts or leprechauns or psychics or poltergeists or palm readers or UFOs or fairies or the “Force.” This book is about reality— cold, hard reality.

In fact, one of the great things about the invisible realm is that you don’t have to be a “religious fanatic” or the follower of some cult to believe in it. You can be a level- headed pragmatist.

You can be a realist. You can even be a cynic. You certainly don’t have to check your brains at the door before entering this world. And you don’t have to be afraid that deep thinking is going to nullify what you learn there. Indeed, everything we’re going to talk about in this book is based on solid theology, informed by common sense and logic, and backed up by biblical scholarship and the universal teaching of the Christian church over the past two thousand years.

No less a genius than Albert Einstein once said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience in life is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: for his eyes are closed.”

Too many people go through life today with their eyes closed. They miss out on the mysterious because they’re so fixated on what they can see and smell and touch and taste and hear. They’re so steeped in the “superstition of materialism” that they’re totally blind to the existence of another world—a world that is radically different from the one they’re familiar with, but a world nonetheless.

What kind of world is it? I’ve said that this book is not about make- believe; it’s not going to be some kind of Peter Pan–style fairy tale. Yet I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that the hidden world God has created for us is more marvelous and exciting than a thousand Neverlands. It’s a world filled with miracles, a world in which all the actions you take and decisions you make have spiritual consequences—consequences that affect the lives of millions of human beings. A world in which the men and women you meet on the street are never “ordinary”—because they all have immortal, everlasting souls and are destined to be either saints in Heaven or the damned of hell. A world in which a deadly, invisible, and diabolical war has been raging for eons—a war infinitely more terrifying than any started by Hitler, Stalin, or Osama bin Laden. A world where the highest values are completely opposite those of our secular society—where weakness equals strength, sacrifice equals salvation, and suffering equals unlimited power. Finally, it’s a world in which you’re never really alone, for even when you’re by yourself watching TV or reading

a book, taking a walk or sitting at the table having breakfast, you have company— because you’re surrounded by angels. Let’s try for a few minutes to “see” this incredible world. Not

with the eyes in your head, but with the eyes in your soul. All you really have to do is take a deep breath, shake off the stresses and cares that normally consume you, find a place where you

can concentrate in quiet stillness, and do your best to keep an open mind. For just a little while, follow the biblical injunction to “walk by faith and not by sight.”

And if—as you’re reading—you happen to feel a tingle up your spine or experience the eerie sensation that something beyond your comprehension is taking place, don’t get alarmed. It’s

just your haunt detector going off—telling you that the veil that has covered God’s hidden creation from time immemorial is being pulled back ever so slightly, allowing you a chance to peek inside.

Don’t be afraid to look. Believe me—you’ll be amazed by what you see.

With very little Scriptural basis or even quotes, I found this book very hard to finish, so I didn't finish reading it.  As a Christian, I am seeking to learn more about what the Bible says about Angels, Demons and The Spiritual Realm, not a man's opinion of the matter. In all, I believe there are six (6) Biblical references, not enough for me to trust what DeStefano has to say.

I also found it disturbing that the book opened with a quote from Shakespeare rather than one from the Bible, seeming how the Bible would be the place that all this information should be found in....?

I'm disappointed, I was looking forward to some real insight and knowledge, but will not finish reading this book due to the lack of Bible-based truth behind it.

 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by The B&B Media Group.

Tyndale Publishing 30 Day Book Giveaway!

Tyndale is giving a book away each day for the next 30 days!

Easy to enter!
Visit this link each day to get your name put in the hat for a new book each day! It's that easy!

Good Luck!


FIRST: Lucky by Glenn Packiam

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Glenn Packiam is an executive pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he oversees spiritual formation and serves as the teaching pastor for New Life Sunday Night. As one of the founding leaders and songwriters for the Desperation Band, Glenn has also been featured on several Desperation Band and New Life Worship albums and recently released his debut solo album, Rumors and Revelations, also with Integrity Music. Glenn has written a few well-loved worship songs like “Your Name,” “Everyone (Praises),” and “My Savior Lives.” Glenn is also the author of Butterfly in Brazil: How Your Life Can Make a World of Difference and Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith. Glenn, his wife, Holly, their two daughters, Sophia and Norah, and their son, Jonas, are enjoying life in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

Visit the author's website.


Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People, Glenn Packiam uncovers how the poor, hungry, mourning, and persecuted are lucky because the kingdom of heaven, its fullness, comfort, and reward, is theirs despite their condition. Packiam redefines the word lucky by studying the word’s context as used in Christ’s beatitudes in Luke’s gospel.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766381
ISBN-13: 978-1434766380



Bud had had a run of bad luck. When he was eight years old, his mother died. His father, unable or unwilling to raise him, later sent Bud to an orphanage. When he got out, he struggled to adapt to society and earn a decent living. He spent most of his adult life puttering on different jobs, from spray painting pipelines to being a cook and truck driver for circuses and carnivals. He had never owned a home or a car. Money had been hard to come by. Things had gotten so bad that he had even served a twenty-eight-day jail sentence for writing too many bad checks.

     Then one day, Bud decided to buy a lottery ticket. At the time, he was on disability and had a grand total of $2.46 in his bank account. He had nothing to lose and over sixteen million dollars to win.

It happened. William “Bud”  Post III won $16.2 million dollars in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988. Luck, it seemed, was smiling on him.

Who do you think is lucky? Who, in your estimation, has it made?

  Is it the person with lots of money and Hollywood good looks? Is it the one who spends afternoons on the golf course or at the five-star health spa? Maybe it’s the one with the perfect job and ideal marriage and dutiful children who make the von Trapps look like vagabonds. Whoever it is, you may say, it’s not me.

  When we think of a lucky person, we think of someone like Bud Post, an average guy who grew up like we did, with challenges and adversity, who somehow happened to buy the winning lottery ticket. There’s just enough about them that makes you believe they are just like you. They may have had modest talent, sure, and a solid work ethic, yes. But they had a few big breaks you didn’t have. They got lucky. They were born into the right family, at the right time, in the right city. They grew up with the right connections and were given the right opportunities. And that’s how they got where they are.

  We’re not far off. We were this close, you say. But then … The divorce. The kid who got your son to try that drug that left him addicted. The cancer that came like a thief in the night and stole your wife’s health and vandalized your finances. The downturn in the economy that turned into a recession. The investment you leveraged everything to make that was just a few months too late. The bubble that burst and left you mired in debt instead of swimming in wealth. You’re Bud Post pre-1988, with a losing lottery ticket and no stunning reversal of fortunes.

  Successful people, people who have made something of their lives, usually try to deflect any association with luck. Gary Player, the South African golfer who won nine Majors, famously shrugged off an accusation of being lucky on the golf course by saying, “Well, the more I practice, the luckier I get.” People on the outside looking in believe in luck—because they are sure that’s all that separates them from the successful and because they hope that their fortunes will one day be reversed. People on the inside prefer to credit talent and hard work.

  Malcolm Gladwell is known for offering a paradigm-shattering, contrarian view of social trends and behavioral norms we take for granted. In his book Outliers, Gladwell tackles the subject of the extraordinarily successful. The conventional view is that, if you add talent to hard work, you’ll get a fairly predictable outcome: success. And because this is true for the moderately successful, we assume it’s also true for the outrageously successful—the outliers like professional athletes or world-renowned violinists or Bill Gates.

  Gladwell, however, demonstrates that, while all outliers have a base of talent and a history of hard work, that’s only enough to get them to a certain point. What pushes them over the edge are things we may not have thought to consider, like date of birth, country of birth, access to education or technology, a family with disposable income to afford road trips and other creative-learning environments. His book is stocked with stories that make the point. Talent and hard work may get you some success, but to be an outlier, to be extraordinarily successful, you also need a little luck.

  Gladwell’s theory only reinforces what we’ve always suspected deep down: Others have it made, but not me. A deep divide runs between the glamorous, wealthy, successful people out there and the ordinary, average, unspectacular you and me. We’re always on the outside looking in. And those others, well, they may not admit it, but they’re just plain lucky.

  They bought the winning lottery ticket.

  If only we could be so lucky.

But that sort of luck isn’t what it seems.

  Bud Post chose to get his winnings in twenty-six annual payments of roughly half a million dollars. Within two weeks of collecting his first installment, he had spent over three hundred thousand of it. Three months later, he was half a million dollars in debt—thanks to, among other things, a restaurant in Florida he had leased for his sister and brother, a used-car lot complete with a fleet of cars he had bought for another brother, and a twin-engine plane he had bought for himself even though he didn’t have a pilot’s license.

  A year later, debt wasn’t his only problem. He became estranged from his siblings, and a county court ordered him to stay away from his sixth wife after he allegedly fired a rifle at her vehicle. Bud Post was Dale Carnegie in reverse: a millionaire losing friends and alienating people while accruing a mountain of debt. When his former landlady sued him for a portion of the winnings to pay off old debts, Bud was finished. The judge ruled that she was entitled to a third of his lottery winnings, and when Bud couldn’t pay it, the judge ordered that all further payments of his winnings be frozen until the dispute was resolved.

     Desperate for cash, Bud sold his Pennsylvania mansion in 1996 for a miserable sixty-five thousand dollars and auctioned off the remaining payments of his winnings. With a little over two and a half million dollars remaining, Bud hoped that people would finally leave him alone. But the person who created the most trouble was the one he could never escape: himself. He squandered it on two homes, a truck, three cars, two Harleys, a couple of big-screen TVs, a boat, a camper, and a few computers. By 1998, ten years after winning $16.2 million dollars, Bud Post was once again living on disability payments.

  “I was much happier when I was broke,” he lamented.

  William “Bud” Post III died at age sixty-six of a respiratory failure, broke and alone.

An Unexpected Word

     We think of luck as simply a positive reversal of fortune or chance occurrence that worked out in our favor. Like winning the lottery. Jesus sees it as far more. He knows it takes more than changing your conditions and surroundings to make you lucky. It takes more than money or comfort or success. It takes the arrival of the kingdom of God. And that is no chance occurrence.

  When Jesus raised His eyes to address the crowd that had gathered that day, He must have seen some interesting people. These were not the important big-city types. Those would come later when Paul joined the team and traveled to various cities. No, these first followers were country folks. Simple, well-meaning, kindhearted peasants. Luke, the gospel writer, doesn’t mention a name we might know or even a grouping—like Pharisee or Sadducee or scribe or lawyer—we might recognize other than “the disciples.” This is simply a crowd. A crowd of ordinary, unspectacular people. Sure, the twelve He had chosen were there, but they may not have looked like the most promising bunch either.

  So when Jesus began to speak, it’s important to remember who He was looking at. He wasn’t sermonizing, delivering a prepared oratory masterpiece to a mass generic audience. It wasn’t a canned speech He had taken on the circuit. Jesus, full of compassion, sat on the plain and spoke. To them. To the unlucky, to the outcast and insignificant, to the overlooked and undervalued.

  To them.

  And He began with this word: “Blessed.”

  Except it wasn’t quite that word.

  Both Luke and Matthew chose the Greek word makarios to capture our Lord’s opening word in the Beatitudes.2 Makarios simply means “fortunate, happy.” In secular Greek literature, it is used to describe the blissful state of the gods. It is not an inherently religious word.3 The Greek word more like our words “blessed” or “blessing” is eulogia. Eulogia is often used to invite or invoke God’s blessing and also to bless God. That word was, of course, available to Jesus—and Luke and Matthew. But He—they—chose makarios instead.

  In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament—the version of the Scriptures many in Jesus’ day would have used—makarios is the word used most often to translate the Hebrew word asar. But asar is not the word for a “God-blessed” person or thing or action. In fact it is rarely used of God blessing anything or anyone.4 Asar is simply “happy, favored, prosperous” and has the connotation of one whose paths are straight, which is a way of saying someone for whom things always unfold neatly and nicely.

  The psalmist in Psalm 1 uses asar to say, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” It’s also the word the queen of Sheba used when she exclaimed, “How happy your men must be!” as a way of praising Solomon (1 Kings 10:8). Even though asar has the implication, by the context of its use, that God is the true source or reason for the person’s blessedness, it is not inherently a religious word. It’s a marketplace word, used to simply say that a person is fortunate, that he “has it good.”

  If we were to use a word today for makarios, we would choose the word lucky. Not lucky as in the result of randomness. Not lucky as in the reward for properly acknowledging a superstition or a charm. It is neither the product of erratic chance nor the result of currying favor with some capricious god. It is simply lucky as we use it conversationally: You lucky dog, you get to take a vacation next week! Or, Lucky you! You just got a promotion in the middle of a recession! Makarios, as one New Testament commentator suggested, is akin to the Aussie slang, “Good on ya, mate,” which is rather like the American, “Good for you!” Which are both like saying, “Lucky you!”

  The irony of this word choice is heightened when we imagine Jesus looking at these ordinary, unspectacular people and exclaiming, “Lucky you!”  He might as well have said, “Lucky are the unlucky!”5

Lucky are you who are poor,

for yours is the kingdom of God.

     Lucky are you who hunger now,

for you will be satisfied.

Lucky are you who weep now,

for you will laugh.

Lucky are you when men hate you,

when they exclude you and insult you

and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.6

  Why would Jesus say that? Why would He call these unlikely and unlucky people, lucky?

An Unlikely People

     The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that they were the lucky ones. They were Abraham’s descendants. They were the insiders. They were God’s special covenant people.

  Abraham’s family had been chosen to be God’s people—by grace! And because it was Abraham’s descendants who were enslaved in Egypt, God heard the cries of His people and sent Moses to rescue them—again, by grace! Then, after they had been chosen as God’s people, after they had been saved from Egypt, Moses gave them the law.

  The law was not how they became the covenant people of God; the law was how they were to live as the covenant people of God. For the Jews of the first century, the Mosaic law itself was not seen as a means of becoming God’s people; rather it was a sort of badge of honor displaying that they were indeed God’s people. You might say that the law was a sign of their luckiness. And yet the law was also a clear reminder of how far they had fallen short. They were well aware of their transgressions against the law. Even worse, their history was stained by their covenant unfaithfulness. Still God’s steady faithfulness to Israel remained. And because of that, hope that Israel would be “lucky” again—that they would be delivered from their enemies, be freed from exile, and have their calling fulfilled—was alive in their hearts.

  All that history and drama of privilege and failure and faithfulness and hope and expectation are the backdrop for Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5—7 and the condensed but parallel Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6. The Sermon consists of quite possibly the most written-about passages of Scripture in church history.

  One of the most common views is to see the Sermon as a new law. There are indeed striking parallels between the story of Moses and the story of Jesus. Moses came out of Egypt, went through the waters of the Red Sea and the wilderness on Sinai, and ascended the mountain and came down with the law; Jesus came out of Egypt (as a child), went through the waters of baptism and the wilderness of temptation, and ascended the hill7 to deliver this sermon. Matthew’s phrase “He opened His mouth and began to teach them” (5:2 NASB) is not filler. It’s a Hebrew idiom to denote one who speaks with divine authority, one who utters the very oracles of God. The view of the Sermon as a new kind of law can help us see something that was likely part of Jesus’ point: He means to say, to those who thought they were so good at keeping Moses’ law, that unless they kept it even in their hearts they would not enter the kingdom. This is certainly clear in Matthew 5:20 when He says, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” In the later sections of the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says, “You have heard … but I say unto you …,” it becomes clear that Jesus meant for them to internalize the law of Moses. The truth is, the law was always meant to be internalized, written on their hearts, and obeyed out of love for God and neighbor. Moses had said as much in his day, and later the prophets revisited the theme. Jesus, revealing the Father’s intent, was giving the final word. It’s not enough not to murder; you cannot hate. It’s not enough not to commit adultery; you cannot lust. And so on. For the first listeners, the Sermon would have led them to realize the futility of their efforts and to respond with some version of the question “Who can live like this?” And that would have been exactly the thing Jesus was after—to show that no one could truly fulfill the law alone.

  This is where some of our modern teachers have made the mistake of throwing the whole thing out. “It’s all there just to frustrate us, to lead us to a Savior who will forgive and redeem us,” they say. But that is only half true. Jesus does mean for us to live in the way He describes in His Sermon: He wants us to be righteous from the inside out. In fact, if we draw a parallel between when and why the Mosaic law was given and this so-called “new law” of Christ, the point becomes clearer. Just as the Mosaic law was given to a people who had already been chosen by grace and saved by grace, so for those who are in Christ, this new, inside-out way of living is for those who have already become God’s people by grace. It would be impossible to treat it as simply good moral advice and discouraging to attempt to obey it as a means of “getting in.” Jesus meant for His Sermon to be viewed as the way to live as the people of God, not the way to become the people of God. The great teachers throughout church history, from Chrysostom and Augustine in the fourth and fifth centuries to Luther and the Reformers in the sixteenth century, understood that the entire Sermon must be read from the perspective of one who has already been saved by grace through faith. Martin Luther said, “Christ is saying nothing in this sermon about how we become Christians, but only about the works and fruit that no one can do unless he already is a Christian and in a state of grace.”8

  Because we are in Christ, we are now the covenant people of God regardless of our ethnicity and national identity. We are “in”—by grace! We are rescued—by grace! Feeling lucky? But wait. There’s more. We have received the Holy Spirit, which means that living this way—this way of inward righteousness—is not merely up to our own strength. We don’t simply say, “Thanks, God. I’ll take it from here.” It is God’s design that, once we are saved through Him, we receive the power, through His Spirit, to actually become the kind of person He is describing.

  The Sermon, far from being a list of conditions for entry in the kingdom, is an elaborate description of how this new people of God, empowered by grace through the Holy Spirit, are to now live. Not only have we—outsiders and onlookers—been brought into the kingdom because of Jesus; now, because we are in the kingdom, because we are living under God’s rule, this is the kind of life that God the Spirit produces in us.

  Feeling lucky, yet?

Unexpected Outcomes

     This is all well and good for the bulk of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain, but what about the first few verses of each, the Beatitudes? Some have suggested that the Beatitudes are a “ladder of virtue,” an ascending list of qualities to be attained, a sort of growth chart for the Christian. But that would make persecution the final stage in our maturation, an idea that would have made perfect sense in one era and none in another. And it would create a sort of hierarchy, distinguishing between the “serious” followers of Christ who obey the full list and the “casual Christians” who choose not to.

  Others have said it is a pronouncement of the way things are, an unveiling of the mystery of life. But this would be odd, for we know that not all who mourn are comforted. And the daily news is proof that the meek never inherit much of anything.

  Many teachers have taken a more moderate path, shying away from calling them a ladder of virtue or a pronouncement of the way things are and seeing them, instead, as prescriptions on how to live. Should we pursue poverty and sorrow and persecution? To read the Beatitudes as blessings that are being given because of something these people have done requires a sort of spiritualizing of the text. We would have to take being “poor in spirit” as a way of saying “morally bankrupt” and make “mourning” synonymous with “repentance.” We would emphasize that to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” is to desire and long for the kind of inward “rightness of being”  that only God can give us in Christ. This sort of reading of the Beatitudes has been emphasized through the centuries, from Augustine in the fourth century to the esteemed Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones in the twentieth century, and with good reason. It is hard to miss the progression from admitting our state of spiritual poverty to mourning in repentance to beginning to crave for an inward righteousness, and so on. Reading the Beatitudes as blessings on certain spiritual virtues would certainly be consistent with what the Scriptures teach us about growing in Christ.

  But the bulk of writing and teaching on the Beatitudes has zeroed in on Matthew’s list rather than Luke’s. Luke’s list is half the size of Matthew’s (four instead of eight) and leaves no room for reading it as a list of spiritual virtues. Luke simply has Jesus announcing blessing on those who are “poor,” not those who are “poor in spirit”; those who “hunger now,” not those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness”; those who “weep now,” and who are hated, excluded, and insulted. Luke’s rendering is terse and dry. They resist spiritualization and require another way of hearing them—not a way that is in conflict with the much-written-about way, and not a way that was altogether absent in the historical expositions, just one that is not as heavily stressed. Often overshadowed by Matthew’s spiritual “Blesseds,” Luke’s shorter, sparser Beatitudes suggest another lens for Jesus’ words:

  What if Jesus was announcing blessing on these people not because of their state but in spite of it?

  Could it be that Jesus is not saying, “Blessed are you because you are poor,” but rather, “Blessed are you in spite of being poor, for the kingdom has come to even such as you”? Reading it this way begins to make more sense. In this light, those who are mourning are now blessed because they will—in God’s kingdom that Jesus is bringing—be comforted. They are not considered lucky because of their mourning; they are lucky because they are receiving—and will receive in fullness—the unexpected good fortune of God’s comfort in spite of their mourning now. The focus of the blessing—especially in Luke’s gospel—is on the latter portion of each Beatitude, not on the opening phrase. Luck is not in their initial conditions—of poverty and hunger and mourning and persecution—but rather in their unexpected outcomes: The kingdom of heaven in its fullness, comfort, and reward is theirs.

  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who paid a great price for living out his convictions and opposing an immoral military regime in World War II, wrote a landmark book called The Cost of Discipleship. Experiencing the high cost of following Jesus and His teachings in his own life, Bonhoeffer has us read these words of blessing in the shadow of the cross. Referring to Luke 6, he wrote:

Therefore Jesus calls His disciples blessed. He spoke to men who had already responded to the power of his call, and it is that call that made them poor, afflicted and hungry. He calls them blessed, not because of their privation, or the renunciation they have made, for these are not blessed themselves. Only the call and the promise … can justify the beatitudes.9

  Only the call and the promise can justify the beatitudes. Not their condition but Christ’s call; not their poverty but God’s promise. Perhaps Bonhoeffer was echoing his German theological forefather Martin Luther, who also would not narrow his reading of the Beatitudes as merely a list of virtues. In Luther’s lectures on the

     Sermon on the Mount, he pointed out that the people—even the crowd in Matthew’s gospel and not only the disciples in Luke’s—are not being praised for being poor or for mourning. Those are not virtues in and of themselves. They are being called blessed because the kingdom of God has come even to such as these.

  The Beatitudes are chiefly an announcement, a proclamation that now, because of Jesus, everything will be different. Indeed it is already becoming different. If we can use our modern conversational expressions, we might sum up Jesus’ message like this: “Lucky you, for the kingdom of God has come to the unlikely and the unlucky.”

  And yet.

  There is something about being the unlikely and unlucky, the marginalized and the overlooked, that sets us up perfectly to receive what God is offering. By paying attention to what that is, we can gain the right posture of heart even if our earthly circumstances are grand and prosperous. It does, to an extent, like the rest of the Sermon (whether in Matthew or Luke), paint a picture of the type of person we become when the kingdom comes to us, the type of life God’s reign will produce in us. That is how we make sense of the blessing in Matthew’s Beatitudes on the pure in heart or the peacemakers.

  To keep this book within my scope, I will not attempt to add to the already rich and historic writing on Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Instead I will constrain our conversations to the four Beatitudes found in Luke’s gospel. This will help our focus to be on how the unlikely have become lucky because of what Jesus has done and is doing in us. As we talk, in the chapters that follow, about each of the four Beatitudes in Luke 6, we will unpack two dimensions: how these particular people are lucky in spite of their conditions, and how their precise conditions prepare them to surrender to God’s reign. Woven through our conversation will also be a recovery of the call that comes with the blessing: Since we’ve become the lucky ones, we must become carriers of this blessing to others who are unlikely and unlucky in our day.

  For now it is enough to see that these people, the unlikely and the unlucky, are suddenly lifted to the level of admiration—how happy for you!—because the kingdom of God has come to them. This is Christ’s announcement: The kingdom has come to unlikely, unexpected people. And for that, they are lucky indeed. Lucky with a capital L.

The Message

     When Eugene Peterson, known now as the translator of the well-known and well-loved The Message Bible, pastored in the Baltimore area, there was a woman who came in a bit late, sat at the back, and sneaked out before the service was over. She had never been to church before. She was in her forties, and she dressed like a hippie whose time had past, but the joy on her face was new. Her husband was an alcoholic, her son a drug addict, and her friends relentless in persuading her to come to church. Week after week, she repeated this pattern of being fashionably late in arriving and serendipitously early in leaving.

  Then Peterson taught a series on the life of David. One week in the midst of it, she decided to stay. The benediction was spoken, and there she was, still in her seat. When Peterson stood at the doors to greet people on their way out, she came to him with a look of astonishment. “Pastor, thank you. I’ve never heard that story before. I just feel so lucky,” she said. Week after week, this became her new tradition: to greet the pastor on her way out and say, surprised by the hope, the forgiveness, the redemption she had learned were hers, “I feel so lucky.”

  It was that experience that made Peterson want to use the word lucky as the opening word of each Beatitude in his new translation. But he was not particularly well-known then, and the publishers were already taking an enormous risk allowing for such a modern colloquial translation. The editors got nervous and suggested he stick to the conventional word blessed even though the Greek makarios, as I’ve already noted and as Peterson insists, is not a “religious” word. It is a street-language word, not one reserved for hymns and prayers and blessings from God.

  Either new editors came along or Peterson earned a little more latitude. When The Message translation of the Old Testament Wisdom Books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs) rolled out five years later, the word lucky showed up eight times. Then the rest of the Old Testament was finished, and it showed up eleven more times.

  No passage to me is more beautiful than this:

I dare to believe that the luckless will get lucky someday in you. (Ps. 10:14 MSG)

Lucky You

     If Jesus were sitting across the table from you and said to you that you are blessed, that He counts you as lucky, what would you think?

     That’s crazy. No, I’m not, you would insist. I’m ordinary, unspectacular. And besides, I’m too messed up; I’ve made too many mistakes. I’m the person on the fringes, the margins, the outskirts. I’m not admired or applauded, respected or rewarded. I’m just … me. And whatever that is, it’s not lucky.

  Or you would be tempted to think—as so many TV preachers do—that what this means is that everything you touch will turn to gold. You are blessed, and from here on out, everything is going to work out right. You’ll never get sick, never be broke, never be troubled again. You’ll live a charmed life. Things are going to get better and better until you fly away to glory. That’s what it means to be lucky.

  Both responses would be wrong.

  Jesus took an inherently nonreligious word, a word from normal everyday conversations, and filled it with divine implications. It turns out the ones we ought to call lucky are the ones God is blessing with the arrival of His kingdom. In doing this, Jesus redefined who the lucky ones are. They are not the ones culture lauds as successful, not the ones we secretly aspire to be. He turned our appraisal of the good life on its head. There is a great reversal coming; indeed it has already begun. And the ones who are receiving and participating in the kingdom of God are the ones who are truly lucky, deeply blessed.

  Just like the people Jesus addressed, you are called lucky not because of your poverty or your hunger or your mourning or the persecution you’re enduring. You are lucky because in spite of it, you have been invited into the kingdom. It may not mean that your circumstances will immediately change. Many who heard Jesus’ words didn’t go off and all of a sudden “discover their purpose” and become influential world changers. Many, if not most, of them kept farming. And fishing. And raising their kids and going about their lives.

  And yet everything had changed. They had seen a glimpse of God at work. Their hope was now rooted in the belief that Messiah had come. All that was wrong was beginning to be undone.

  So it is for you. God has come to you in the midst of your mess and mistakes. He is announcing His arrival into your ordinary unspectacular life and inviting you to follow, to surrender, to live in a different way. God is rescuing and redeeming the world, and you—unlikely you!—have somehow gotten in on it. The trajectory of your life has been altered. You now have a part in the future that God is bringing. Like Abraham, you have been blessed to carry blessing, to live as a luck-bearer to the unlikely and the unlucky. You are receiving and participating in the kingdom of God.

And for that you are lucky. So lucky!


1. Who do you consider to be lucky? Who is living a charmed life? Why do you think that?

2. How does this chapter reshape your picture of the person who is to be admired?

3. How is this exposition of Luke’s Beatitudes different from the way you’ve read it in the past?

4. In what ways are you Lucky with a capital L?

I chose to review this book mainly because the writer is a Pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I love that Packiam has made it such a point to remind the Christian that we are invited into the Kingdom of God and that God took all the junk we had to offer and makes it something beautiful! But it doesn't end there... hungering for God, getting filled up, feeding others.... it's a journey that we should feel lucky to be chosen to be on!

Packiam has an encouraging book and I plan to reread, Lucky,  in the near future, with a notebook hand so I can get all that God has in it for me!

Worth the read... pick up a copy today!

 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by B&B Media.

REVIEW: The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella Giorello


Everything's going to work out. Time away always makes things better . . .

That's what FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon believes as she boards a cruise to Alaska. A land of mountains and gems and minerals, the Last Frontier is a dream destination for this forensic geologist who's hoping to leave behind a hectic work schedule and an engagement drained of romance.

But when a passenger goes missing and winds up dead, Raleigh's vacation suddenly gets lost at sea. The ship's security chief tries to rule the death a suicide, but Raleigh's forensics background points to a much darker conclusion: Somewhere onboard, a ruthless murderer walks free.

Engulfed by one of her toughest cases yet, Raleigh requests assistance from the FBI and receives her nemesis-handsome Special Agent Jack Stephanson. As the cruise ship sails through the Inside Passage, Raleigh has five days to solve a high-profile murder, provide consultation for a movie filming onboard, and figure out her increasingly complicated feelings for Jack-who might not be as arrogant as she originally thought.

And that's only her work life. Family offers even more challenges. Joined on the cruise by her mother and aunt, Raleigh watches helplessly as disturbing rifts splinter her family.

Like the scenery that surrounds the cruise ship, Raleigh discovers a mystery so daunting that even the mountains might bow down before it.

Sibella Giorello writes an award-winning mystery series that follows the adventures of Raleigh Harmon, forensic geologist and FBI Special Agent. A former journalist, Sibella sowed nearly every wild oat before settling down with her husband Joe, a blues musician from Queens N.Y. They homeschool their children in the mountains of Washington state. For more information about Sibella and her books, please visit her website at www.sibellagiorello.com.

I have not read a book by Sibella Giorello that I have not loved and The Mountains Bow Down did not disappoint.  I was for sure that I new how it was all going to turn out but Giorello kept throwing me for a loop, nit just in the investigation, but also in the romance/friendship/relationship between Raleigh and her FBI partner, Jack.

Book 4 ended as an open door for book 5 in the series to begin... I know there is more to Raleigh's story and I can't wait!

I love Giorello's character depth.  In each book in book in A Raleigh Harmon Series, Giorello adds more and more depth into Raleigh's character and I feel as though I know her personally.

This series is not to be missed by anyone who has loved (and will miss) Dee Henderson's depth of stories and I feel that if Giorello continues down the path she is going, that she can pull in as a close second behind Dee Henderson as my favorite author.

This book is joining the others on my 'to-keep' book shelf... this one won't be seeing my local used-book store shelf... sorry!


 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by LitFuseGroup.

FIRST: Handle with Prayer by Charles Stanley

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

David C. Cook; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Charles F. Stanley, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries, demonstrates a keen awareness of people’s needs by providing practical Biblical truths for everyday life. His In Touch teaching program is broadcast worldwide in more than 50 languages. Dr. Stanley is also a New York Times best-selling author who has written more than 35 books, including: In Step with God, Landmines in the Path of the Believer, Living the Extraordinary Life, A Man’s Touch, Handle With Prayer, How to Listen to God, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?, The Gift of Forgiveness, How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team, The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, The Source of My Strength, How to Handle Adversity, The Blessing of Brokenness, Success God’s Way, The Handbook for Christian Living, Into His Presence, and When Tragedy Strikes.

Visit the author's website.


Originally released in 2000, this book has already sold over 250,000 copies and now it features new artwork, an enhanced study guide, and updated content to connect with today’s readers. Using stories from his own life, Dr. Stanley engages readers with his insight and truthfulness. According to Dr. Stanley, “Jesus encourages us to pray. He tells us to ask, seek, and knock. We ask for things, we seek understanding, and we knock on doors of opportunity that lie before us. The Lord is saying that in every area of life we can find what we are looking for by talking to the heavenly Father.”

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404460
ISBN-13: 978-0781404464


Unveiling the Hidden

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. —Jeremiah 33:1–3

As I was praying one afternoon in 1967, I began feeling as if God had something very specific to say to me. The more I prayed, the more the burden increased. I decided to take an early vacation and spend the time seeking God’s guidance. I went to the mountains of North Carolina for two weeks, intent on finding out what God was saying to me.

I spent the majority of the time fasting and praying. I waited, expecting God to follow up the burden with an answer. To my surprise, He pointed out areas in my life that needed correcting. The entire two weeks was a period of personal cleansing and preparation for what was to come.

I returned home excited, but still unsure. It was as if there were a veil that kept me from knowing the unknown. I felt that the answer was close, but it was still out of my grasp. Then one

afternoon soon afterward, I was on my face before the Lord, and the veil lifted. God wanted me to start a school. I hesitated to commit myself to such a task, but God made it clear to me that His instructions were to be obeyed, not just considered. He unveiled the hidden to me when I called on Him to do so, and He showed me the things I did not know. God was faithful—even to the point of preparing my heart for what He had to say.

God desires to make known the unknown to His children. He desires to unveil the hidden. Yet many times we are satisfied not knowing. Either we aren’t willing to take the time to wait, or

we aren’t sure God even wants us to know. But this command to Jeremiah speaks specifically to both of these problems. We are to call, we are to expect an answer, and we are to know the unknown. Let’s look at the background of this Scripture in Jeremiah (33:1–3).

The Babylonians are coming toward Jerusalem from the feast. They have already defeated the Assyrians, so the people off Jerusalem know they don’t stand much of a chance against their superior military strength. The leaders of Jerusalem believed they should align themselves with the Egyptians, which was the logical thing to do. But Jeremiah tells them, “God says you are going into captivity. What you really ought to do is go out there and surrender.” Well, this wasn’t at all what the leaders had in mind. They threw Jeremiah in prison and refused to listen to him.

Their reaction should not surprise us. What do you think the people in my congregation would do if I stood up next Sunday and said, “God says the Canadians are going to overthrow this nation. We might as well surrender now and save ourselves some trouble”? They would run me out of town! But this was exactly the situation Jeremiah found himself in. From his experience, he gives us a passage (33:1–3) that helps us understand how to talk with God.

Encouraged to Pray

We can obtain three prayer principles from Jeremiah 33:3 by listening to what God told Jeremiah. The first is that God encourages us to pray: “Call unto me.” Since Jeremiah was in prison, he had a long time to catch up on his prayer life. We may never be put behind bars, but God will put us in circumstances and situations in order to teach us how to talk with Him.

Most of the time we pray, “Get me out of here!” We want to avoid suffering and difficulty. When we do run into a trial or difficulty, we ask God to change our circumstances so we can serve Him better and love Him more.

But we cannot fool God or bribe Him with our promises. Jeremiah didn’t even ask God to get him out of prison. Rather, he waited to see what God would say to him. And what was God’s

reply? “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jer. 33:3). What God did for Jeremiah had a far greater impact than simply getting him out of prison.

But most of us aren’t that patient. We’re more intent on getting out of our circumstances than we are on finding out what great things God wants to show us. But the Father never allows

difficulty just for the sake of difficulty—there is always a higher purpose involved. The problem is we cannot always identify God’s higher purpose in the midst of our trials. That’s when we must exercise our faith by waiting on His word to us.

A good friend of mine who was a real estate broker experienced a seven-year period of financial failure. The loss of his security devastated him. It became the constant focus of his thoughts and prayers. “Why doesn’t God do something?”  he would ask me. For a while, we were both puzzled.

But after some intense soul searching, he realized that he had substituted financial security for God in his life. The Father wanted to be recognized as the Source of all things in my friend’s life. As he began renewing his mind spiritually and yielding his rights to the Lord, my friend gained a new freedom in his attitude toward finances. He started a new career and found greater financial blessing than ever before.

God had a great and mighty lesson to teach my friend—a lesson more important than keeping him comfortable. And God kept him uncomfortable until he took his eyes off his circumstances and sought God’s mind in the matter.

Waiting is not easy. We often turn away from seeking God’s counsel and seek guidance from friends and loved ones. We read books, attend seminars, and talk with others, trying to find out what God has to say to us. Usually, after we’ve exhausted all other possibilities, we turn back to the Lord and wait on Him. By doing this, it’s as if we are saying to God, “Now that I’ve tried everything else and failed, I’ve decided I need You after all.”

But God wants us to come to Him first. He wants us to stand in His counsel and wait for His word. He longs for us to come to Him as a son would to his father. But instead, we go to Him last, as if we don’t trust Him or consider His word of much value. Yet He is the only trustworthy Source of counsel we have. He is our most available and accessible Friend. He will never give us a busy signal—even if He frequently gets busy signals when He tries talking to us.

God entreats us to pray because He knows we are often caught in prisons of our own making; not prisons with bars and locks, but intellectual prisons, emotional prisons, and relational prisons. We must remember that the shortest distance between our problems and their solutions is the distance between our knees and the floor.

Answer Promised

Second, God told Jeremiah, “I will answer thee.” Sometimes we make commitments that we cannot keep. Though we may do this unintentionally, there are times when we disappoint those who are counting on us. But God never disappoints—when He says He will do something, it will be done.

God promises He will not only hear our prayers, but He will answer them. This brings up two interesting questions: Does God always answer our prayers? Or does He respond to certain kinds of prayer? Think about the requests you have made of God recently. Are they being answered? Do you really believe they will be? You see, the question is not Does God answer prayer? The real question is How does God answer prayer? Sometimes He answers yes. This is usually the only answer we hear. If God says, “Yes,” then we believe He answered. If He says, “No,” we think He ignored our request.

God’s Answers

When God answers our prayers, He either answers with yes, no, or wait. When He answers yes, we are prone to shout, “Praise the Lord!” We tell everyone what a great thing God has done for us.

But when God says no, we have a hard time finding reasons to praise Him. We look for the sin in our lives that kept Him from granting our requests, because surely if we had been living right He would have given us what we asked. But not one shred of scriptural evidence shows that God will say yes to all of our prayers just because we’re living right. God is sovereign. He has the right to say no according to His infinite wisdom, regardless of our goodness.

We try to manipulate God by our humanistic “if then” philosophy. If we live good, clean lives, then God must (we believe) grant our hearts’ desires. But such attempts to manipulate God defeat the whole purpose of Christianity, which is to glorify Him through our submissive obedience to His desires. Besides, if our goodness was the only factor God considered, where would His grace fit in? Many times His grace is what motivates Him to say no.

God only says no and wait when it is best for us (Rom. 8:28). He does it many times for our protection. Sometimes God wants to answer our prayers, but the timing is not right. For example, in the past, many couples wanting to marry came to me for counseling. Sometimes I would advise them to wait. Some would heed my advice, while others sought counsel from those who told them what they wanted to hear. You and I have the same choice over and over again. Will we wait on God for His perfect timing, or will we rush ahead?

We don’t like waiting around. Especially when it looks like a unique opportunity might slip away. We don’t like to hear God say, “No,” especially when everything in us says, “Yes, yes, yes!” We often try to find a Scripture verse and claim it while we continue our prayer, hoping somehow to change God’s mind. What we’re really saying is, “God, I didn’t like that answer. How about reconsidering my point of view?”

But deep in our hearts we really want God’s perfect will for our lives. And we must remember that God’s answer is always His ultimate best for us. Claiming Scripture will not change God’s mind because His Word cannot contradict His will. If He says no, then the answer is no. If He says wait, then we should wait. God is more interested in our character, our future, and our sanctification than He is in our momentary satisfaction. His answers are always an act of grace, motivated by His love.

Our Response

Our response to God’s answers reveals one of two things about us. It will reveal either a rebellious spirit or a submissive spirit. By accepting God’s answer, despite the fact that we may not understand, we express a submissive spirit. But by refusing His first answer and trying to get our way by manipulation, we express a rebellious spirit.

If we refuse God’s answers when they don’t fit in with our plans, then we are trying to use God for our purposes. But if we graciously accept His answers—no matter what they are—He will use us for His glory.

The Hidden Revealed

The third principle we can obtain from this verse comes from “I will … show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” All of us face decisions that leave us baffled. We are constantly bombarded with relational decisions, business decisions, household decisions, and financial decisions—and these all need immediate attention. In this verse, God promises to reveal the answer to all of life’s decisions. Yet many of God’s people spend their entire lives making decisions based on their knowledge, their understanding, and their experience—not realizing that some decisions must be based on divine wisdom and illumination from God.

Almost any preacher can prepare a sermon. He can write an outline, gather a few stories, and away he goes. But a preacher cannot get God’s message for a people until he waits in the Lord’s counsel, until he seeks God’s face, and until God gives him a word from heaven (Jer. 23:21–22).

This same principle applies to every Christian. We can pay the price required to find God’s mind on an issue, or we can make a decision based on what we think is right. Either way, a decision will eventually be made. But while one decision may have the approval of man, the other will have the eternal approval of God.

Sometimes we flip a coin (spiritually speaking) and say, “Lord, this is what I’m going to do. If it is of You, then bless it. If I’m wrong, then better luck next time.”  Instead of waiting, we jump ahead and hope we have done the right thing. The point is this: As Christians, we never have to guess—we can know for sure what to do. God wants us to know His will about things, even more than we want to know it. But He cannot—and will not—bless anything we do that is not of Him.

So what does He mean when He says, “I will … show thee great and mighty things”? Every time we pray to God, seeking His will, there are two things He wants to show us: He wants to show us Himself (Phil. 3:7–8), and He wants to show us what He is able to do (John 15:16). Is there anything greater than seeking God and knowing His power?

We Are to Seek His Face

Because God wants to reveal Himself to us, and because our goal as Christians is to know Him, we should begin our time in prayer saying, “Lord, thank You that You are omnipotent. Thank You that You are omniscient and know everything I am about to tell You. Thank You that You are omnipresent, and You are not separated from me. As I come into Your presence, I humble myself before Your throne to thank You for Your holiness, Your forgiveness, and Your mercy. I acknowledge You as the great Creator, Sustainer, and Lover of mankind. Father, I am coming to You, recognizing Your greatness and Your holiness. I bow before You as Your child, knowing that You are more than sufficient to meet my needs.”

This is the spirit in which we should come into God’s presence. But instead, we come first with our needs and usually don’t have enough time for anything else. We never stop long enough to recognize that God wants to show us Himself when we pray.

He Shows Us His Power

God also wants to show us what He is able and willing to do for us. He does this through His Word. He reminds us of what He has done in the past. He gives us example after example in Scripture of how He met people’s needs and how He protected them. And the Father is willing to do the same thing for us, if we will only ask.

The word mighty in this passage means hidden things, things that are fenced in. This word is used when referring to fortified cities. God is showing us that as we pray, He will unveil insights for us that have previously been a mystery.

This also implies that some answers will be found only in prayer, not from other sources—not from books, friends, or counselors. Some things must come straight from God, who is the

Source of all wisdom. How many families would still be together today if they had sought God’s answers to their problems at home? How many sons and daughters would still be at home if their parents had taken their situation to the Lord? Too often we refuse to wait on God’s answers. We want quick solutions to our problems.

But God wants to do much more than just meet our needs and answer our questions. He wants our love. He wants our spirits— He wants our lives. Yes, He encourages us to bring our trials and our heartaches to Him in prayer, but only after we recognize who He is and what He can do. Only then do we believe He will answer our prayers. Only then are we seeking His face and not merely His hand.

As a pastor, many times I go to God for answers that can be found only in Him. Sometimes He shows me something for today, and sometimes He shows me something that will happen in the next week or month. But I’ve never been to God about anything that He did not willingly answer. He does not always answer my prayers according to my time schedule, but He always answers on time.

Back in 1969 when I was preaching a weeklong revival meeting in Virginia, I once again felt that God had something specific to say to me. Each night after the service I retired to my room early to pray. One evening, I pulled out a pad and drew a circle with five lines leading from it. At the end of each line, I wrote several things I thought God might desire to reveal to me. On the last line I drew a question mark, thinking maybe it was something I had not thought of.

The following night I came back to my room with the same burden. As I prayed and looked over the possibilities, God made it clear that He was going to move me. I asked Him when, and the month of September flashed into my mind. This happened in May of 1969, but I thought He meant September of 1970. A few months later, however, a pulpit committee from the First Baptist Church of Atlanta came to see me. On September 30, 1969, my family and I moved to Atlanta. God revealed this to me ahead of time in order to prepare my heart. He unveiled what was hidden when I called on Him to do so.

Regardless of what circumstances you are up against, there is no knowledge you will ever need that is not accessible before the throne of our living, loving, holy, righteous God. He has promised to show you the great, the hidden, and the unknown things that you will never be able to understand any other way. There are some things you will never be able to know (Deut. 29:29), but all the knowledge you will ever need is available to you if you ask God.

He desires to illuminate your mind and heart until you are conscious of Christ’s mind within you. He wants you to say no to the world on the basis of your faith in Him. It is then that you feel an extra sense of power when you share with others. You no longer depend entirely on circumstances for God to teach you lessons. Instead, you learn straight from Him through His Word. You have a new excitement in your relationship with God because you have learned to listen as He speaks to you.

Submission Required

You must be submissive to God to the point of absolute obedience— regardless of what He asks of you. Why? Because if our heavenly Father continues to answer our prayers, and we have certain conditions on which we obey, then He is nothing more than a giant Santa Claus. If He were to continue to bless us regardless of our rebellion, we would be using Him for our ends, not His. Submission is essential.

If you have been seeking God’s will for a long time and you seem to be getting nowhere, examine your heart. See if there is any area of your life that is not totally surrendered to Him. By settling this issue, you will put yourself in a position that will allow the Father to bless you. The quicker you move from your will to His will, the quicker God will show you what you need to know. Since God gives us His Word for obedience, not just consideration, He must be assured that you have submitted yourself completely before He will let you in on His secrets.

Are you facing a decision in your life that is too big for you to handle? Are you going through some difficulty that has left you confused and disheartened? God said, “Call unto me, and I will

answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” As you seek God’s face, understanding who He is and what He is willing and able to do, He will clear away all the mist that surrounds your circumstances. He will show you what to do. Are you willing to say yes to whatever He requires? If so, you have taken the first step in learning to talk with God.

Session 1

Unveiling the Hidden

Chapter 1

Session Goals

1. To assess our individual prayer lives to see if we really expect God to answer our prayers.

2. To take a long look at our ideas of what God is like, how He feels about people, and what He is willing to do for them.

3. To determine to say yes to whatever God requires of us.


1. As you read Handle with Prayer, jot down the main kernels of truth in each chapter. Then study chapter 1.

2. Plan your session time carefully to include the Bible teaching about prayer, which should lead into the practicing of prayer in the session.

3. Assemble any teaching tools: whiteboard or chalkboard, markers or chalk.


1. Help people get acquainted by asking each member to turn to the person next to him or her and to sum up his or her prayer philosophy in ten words or less. End with the question: “Do

you agree?” Partners respond with his or her own thinking on prayer. Don’t ask group members to aim for theological definitions, just responses from their personal experiences. Expect

negative as well as positive philosophies, since these sessions are expected to clear up misconceptions about prayer as well as give positive insights—all from the Word.

After this short exercise, point out that no matter what our present philosophies of prayer are, we all want to learn to pray effectively. But we won’t learn how unless we obey God’s instructions (as opposed to our own reactions, ideas, experiential knowledge) and respond to Him according to His will.

2. Ask the group to turn to Jeremiah 33:1–3. Explain: “The Babylonians were coming toward Jerusalem from the east. They had already defeated the Assyrians, so the people of Jerusalem

knew they didn’t stand much of a chance against such a superior military power. The leaders of Jerusalem believed they should align with the Egyptians. But Jeremiah told them, ‘God says you are going into captivity. What you really ought to do is believe God, go out, and surrender to the Babylonians.’”

The outraged leaders, thinking Jeremiah was a traitor, threw him in prison and refused to listen to his warning. Jeremiah probably wasn’t too surprised at the leaders’ reaction. But what would God say to him now? He had obeyed the Lord, and he

was in prison because of it—what next?

Why do you think God reaffirmed His identity to Jeremiah (v. 2)? What three prayer principles did He give Jeremiah (v. 3)?Discuss.

3. Explain that Jeremiah was in a real prison. We may be in figurative ones constructed out of circumstances or predicaments, but the bars are just as strong and the walls just as high.

When we are in our prisons, how do we usually pray? Discuss.

According to Scripture, Jeremiah didn’t ask God for anything. Rather, he waited to see what God had to say to him.

If we’re in our prisons because God needs to get our attention to teach us lessons, what is the quickest way to get out? Discuss.

Deliverance comes as we examine our hearts to find what God wants to teach us. When we learn our lessons, He will free us. Nothing is too hard for Him.

What should we do if we cannot identify God’s purpose in a particular trial? Why is waiting on God so difficult? Discuss.

4. Does God always answer our prayers? Discuss the three ways God answers: yes, no, or wait. Do you agree: “God will always answer yes, if we are living right”? God is sovereign. He answers depending on what He knows is best for us.

How do we sometimes try to manipulate Him into saying yes? Sometimes we think: If I do this, then God will do that. Or we plead a verse of Scripture that seems on target for our case and hope God will change His mind.

Why does God sometimes say no? Remind the group that the whole purpose of Christianity is to glorify God through our submissive obedience to His desires. He says no when it’s for

our best interest (Rom. 8:28). God is more interested in our character, future, and sanctification than in our momentary gratification.

When God says wait, what choice does He give us? What do our responses to God’s answers reveal about us?

5. What two things does God always want to show us when we seek to know His will? Refer to Philippians 3:7–8 and John 15:16. How does God show us what He is able and willing to

do? Answers might come through His Word, through our own experiences, and through the experiences of others.

What is the one condition God’s unveiling rests on? Why is submission necessary?

6. Explain: “If we hear these truths and don’t practice them, we become like the person who wants to learn to drive a car without ever sitting in the driver’s seat. The person reads the

training manual, learns all the rules of the road, but never actually sits behind the wheel.”

We want to move prayer into the reality of our present circumstances. During our times together, we will be using different prayer methods: silent prayers, group prayers, volunteer

prayers, written prayers, etc. Today because of the nature of the subject, we will use silent individual prayers.

7. If God has seemed silent to you about something you have prayed for a long time, examine your heart. Are you harboring unconfessed sin? If you will submit now, you will move quickly into the attitude in which God will unfold for you some of the things you need to know.

Are you facing a decision that is too big for you to handle? Have you gone through some difficulty that has left you confused and disheartened? Read Jeremiah 33:3 again. Seek God’s face, understand who He is, and believe He will clear away all the mist that surrounds your circumstances.

Are you willing to say yes to whatever He requires of you?

8. Spend time in silent prayer as individuals open up their hearts to God. Close with an appropriate prayer of submissive victory.


The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by B&B Media.
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