“Jesus in Me” by Anne Graham Lotz Book Review

Jesus in Me, Anne Graham Lotz’ newest book, is a very personal and intimate exploration of the identity, the very person of the Holy Spirit. While some may consider this third person of the Trinity to be mysterious or even unknowable, Lotz shows us that He CAN be known, He wants to be known, and He must be known if we are to grow in our relationship with God.

In Part One of the book, Lotz goes through the characteristics or traits of the Holy Spirit; Our Helper, Our Comforter; Our Advocate, etc. It’s both enlightening and humbling to explore the character of this Person who indwells us when we confess Christ as Savior.

In subsequent chapters, Lotz explore the presence, the power, and the purpose of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can transform us when we allow Him full access to every dark corner, every sin, every thought, and every action in our lives. “Ask yourself whether it’s worth the cost to withhold some area of life from the Holy Spirit. Because His power in your life is activated in direct proportion to the degree you surrender and fully rely on Him.”  (Pg. 99)

We’ve all heard the verse, do not quench the Spirit. Even more, we are not to “grieve” the Spirit. Lotz says, we can only grieve someone who loves us, and Spirit love us more than we can even comprehend in this life. “When I sin, the Holy Spirit disciplines me conviction, shame, and guild until I feel I’m smothered spiritually. Almost unable to think clearly or take a deep breath, I’m aware that my sin has grieved and hurt Him. Someone once said He is the most uncomfortable comforter they know! That has certainly been my experience.”  (Pg. 97)

The Holy Spirit is not an afterthought, or a backup savior, or an esoteric feeling that confirms our salvation. He is the One whom Jesus promised would come after He Himself went to be with the Father. I think that because we haven’t really studied Him, we have missed opportunities for growth, power, strength, change, and holiness. He’s not just a “presence” or “feeling.”  “In order to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ so that we bring Him glory by increasingly reflecting His image and character, the Holy Spirit energizes, or quickens, us into spiritual life.” (Pg. 117) And even more, “Once we are born again and we are assured of His life within us, the Spirit continues to quicken us, or stimulate us, to grow into maturity in our faith.” (pg. 118) The Holy Spirit is not an add-on or consolation prize the apostles and disciples received after Jesus left, He is in fact our Consolation, our Comforter, and evidence our absolute certainty that God is who He says He is and will do what He said He will do, in us and through us.

The Holy Spirit is a healer and teacher, encourager and supporter.  “…the Holy Spirit can use the broken pieces of our lives to bring blessing and life to others – and ultimately glory to God.”  (Pg. 124) Nothing in our lives is wasted or meaningless when we allow the Holy Spirit access and influence and instruction. “Jesus promised that ‘the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.’ So ask Him to guide your focus until it’s laser-like in steadfast resolution to bring God glory in all you say and do. Then relax. Regardless of whatever life may bring your way, embrace the Spirit’s purpose.” (Pg. 130)

But Lotz writes that the Holy Spirit doesn’t just impose His will or use us or lay on us His plan. We have an obligation, a duty, and the absolute joy of cooperating in His plans for us and for our world. We want to participate in His expression of Himself. She says, “Maintaining the fire [of the Holy Spirit] requires intentionally establishing some common spiritual disciplines. They are simple choices but not always easy. They include daily prayer. Daily Bible reading. Sharing the gospel. Continuous obedience as you live out what God says in His Word. Continuous trust as you relinquish your expectations and let Him have His way. Deepening surrender to His authority – especially in times of pain and suffering.”  (Pg. 132)

Lotz’ book is personal, confessional, and humble as she reveals her own struggles and downfalls and victories in her Christian walk. She is never arrogant or superior – she is one of us – a pilgrim on the Christian path, and gives all glory to God for His goodness and provision.

As we explore our relationship to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, it’s important to study Scripture, pray, and as God to reveal Himself as the holy Trinity, the Godhead, the Creator, and Author and Finisher of our faith. I encourage you to buy or borrow this book, take lots of notes, and thank God for the Holy Spirit Who lives in us for His glory and our good.

 

Disclaimer: I received a pre-publication copy of Jesus in Me for the purpose of reviewing it.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Intercession

I read several Christian blogs and follow writers on social media. Christians are choosing one word to focus on for the year, or in one writer’s case, a new word every month. There are many words I could have chosen, because they all apply. Faith. Prayer. Hope. Perseverance. There are many attributes I could aspire to attain.

Then I realized that those words are about me. God knows what I need before I do. My prayers for me, and for my family, are pretty much the same as they’ve ever been. Life hasn’t been easy for us, but we have each persevered and moved forward.

I was thinking about the many people I know, or know of, who have been broken in the past year – broken bodies, broken hearts, broken spirits, broken minds. And I was thinking how often the prayers of my Christian brothers and sisters have lifted me and my family up to God when I was too upset or freaked out, or I just needed more prayer power. It was a great comfort to me and I want others to have that same comfort.

The word that came to mind was Intercession. As it is, when I see posts on social media about struggles, sometimes grave struggles, people are dealing with, I stop and pray right then. Even if they are total strangers in one of the groups I follow – I pray for them. I decided to try to make that my focus this year – a disciplined approach to interceding in prayer for other people.

I won’t be perfect or consistent, because that’s my jam. But I will pray for these people as God brings them to mind.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Waiting on God

I have been in prayer for a long time for the salvation of family and friends. My family has also struggled with some acute and chronic health issues for years. God invites us to be fervent in prayer, promising that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  James 5:16b

So I have been fervent. Perhaps, though, I have been defining “fervent” as “begging God and worrying endlessly that He won’t answer the prayer tomorrow and what if Jesus comes and my loved ones haven’t repented and accepted Christ so they will spend eternity in God’s presence!!!”  Or “Please God heal me, my husband, my kids, my family because we are getting so discouraged and we need healing!!!!”  I don’t know the Greek translation for fervent, but I’d bet all my apologetics books that I’ve got that definition completely wrong, and it’s to my shame that I have gotten it wrong. Merrian-Webster.com defines fervent as 1. very hot, and 2. exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling. So I understand the emotional component of fervent prayer. Unfortunately, I added another component – fear.

I don’t find anywhere in the Bible that earnest prayer + worry = answered prayer. In fact, my worry and my fear is sin because it expresses unbelief –  that God somehow can’t move on my behalf without my stress pushing Him! I have been listening to and reading very encouraging messages by Anne Graham Lotz and Stormie Omartian. It’s only recently though that God has shown me, through their messages, how afraid I am that He won’t answer my prayers for my loved ones in time – in time for the Rapture, in time for eternity! Or that he won’t heal my knees and I’ll end up with double knee replacements, or cruising around on a scooter in the grocery store because I can’t walk! Have I mentioned that I also catastrophize on a regular basis?

It’s a hard thing to leave the answers to God, especially when one might be a control freak. I know that He loves me because He made me. He loves me in spite of my lack of faith, my fear, my freakouts, and my occasional wandering into The Land of Worst Case Scenarios. Jesus died for me because He is the only way to God. He paid the price for my sin because there was no way I could. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1John 3:1

So now, I still pray fervent, very hot prayers, for the people I love. But I know that the answers, whatever they are, will come in God’s time, not in mine. And I am so thankful God gave me this wisdom. Because now I can rest in knowing that He has it all in His hands. He loves my family so much more than I could ever love them. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9   And that includes my family.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apologetics in the Gospel of John

THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

Introduction

Apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that helps give reasons for the truthfulness of the Christian faith/worldview. The word “Apologia” means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15). The apostles approach to spreading the message of the Gospel is characterized by such terms as “apologeomai/apologia” which means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15); “dialegomai” which means “to reason, speak boldly” (Acts 17:2; 17; 18:4; 19:8), “peíthō” which means to persuade, argue persuasively” (Acts 18:4; 19:8), and “bebaioō ” which means “to confirm, establish,” (Phil 1:7; Heb. 2:3). (1)

The Gospel of John records: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24).

 In this post, I will highlight some of the different ways John utilizes apologetics in…

View original post 2,079 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tony Gwynn #19 1960-2014

May 2006 026 Image

San Diego and the San Diego Padres lost an icon today. And my son lost a hero.

When my kids were little, they dabbled in lots of interests. Soccer. Karate. Music. Lots of interests. But then my son got a little older. His big sisters went to a small private school my husband and I helped found. The Gwynns had their kids enrolled there. One day when we were working at the school, Tony was working too. My son, barely three years old, saw Tony. At that moment, for no apparent reason, Michael became laser focused on baseball, and the biggest Tony Gwynn fan!

Michael played Pee Wee baseball, and then Little League. He had some terrific coaches, Godly men who loved baseball and loved coaching these little guys. Unfortunately he had a few rotten coaches, but that’s life. When he was considering trying out for the high school team, the coaches basically told him don’t bother. They were interested in collecting titles, not mentoring boys. But through it all, Michael followed Tony’s career, and collected lots of baseball cards and memorabilia. He knew more about Tony than anyone I’ve ever heard of.

High school was tough for Michael, as it is for lots of kids. During his senior year, lots of things were going wrong for him. One night on the news, I heard that Jeff Cawley, then-sportscaster at Channel 10, was having a promotion – send in your Sports Fantasy and maybe they will make it happen. I encouraged Michael to send in an email. He wrote that he wanted to take batting practice with Tony Gwynn. While he knew the odds were slim, he was hopeful.

One day, I got the call. My son was chosen for one of the segments!! I hung up the phone and screamed my head off! It was as if I had won a million dollars! I called Michael’s cell phone and asked him what he was doing. He said he was going out for lunch with a friend. I asked him if he was driving. He said no, so I went ahead and told him he had won! The Sapp house was electric! We were all so excited for him, because we knew how much this meant to Michael.

Jeff Cawley and a camera man came to the house. After Jeff interviewed Michael and saw his collection, we were driven down to SDSU where Tony was coaching the Aztecs. Michael went to shake hands with him and his hand was shaking. Tony, ever humble, said in the kindest voice, “Don’t be nervous.” I loved him right then. He put Michael somewhat at ease. They went to sit in the dugout, while my husband, my younger daughter, and I leaned on the fence and listened as Michael got to ask Tony some questions. The camera man looked pretty bored. Michael, who’d had his whole life to imaging this moment, asked Tony, “Which hit was your favorite.” Tony said that he was never asked that. Clearly he liked the question. Immediately the camera man got up, picked up his camera, and asked Michael to ask the question again, so he could get it on camera. Michael was a little startled, and Tony just laughed that famous laugh and said that that’s how it went. So Michael asked the question again, and Tony said that the hit he got in the 1998 series in New York was his favorite. I knew the TV Tony Gywnn, the one we all saw at games and on sports shows, but we got a glimpse of the man who chose to be a lifelong Padre – for that one hit, the country saw that he could have played anywhere – he was that good. It wasn’t pride, but certainty, that I saw in his face.

Then they went to the diamond where Tony pitched balls to Michael. Michael, uncharacteristically, missed the first few pitches. I was standing close and watching, and told Michael, “Stop looking at Tony and watch the ball!” He did, and he hit every single ball after that. What a great day it was for my son.

So, Tony was a good man. Kids can have all kinds of heroes and idols. They can want to emulate drug addicts, rock stars, thugs, and gangsters.  But I have thanked God any number of times that the man my son followed for the last two decades was a kind man, a good man, a man who loved his wife and kids, a man who loved his job and worked very hard to be great at it, and who gave back to the community.

There’s no crying in baseball. Except today.

May 2006 024 (2) May 2006 013

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Am the Prodigal and His Brother

The Gospel of Luke: The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11And [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And hewas longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

 17“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my sonwas dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 25“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

I am the prodigal, wasteful son who demanded his inheritance immediately and squandered it all until he was starving and homeless and ashamed. With empty hands, he went back to his father, who received him with great joy and feasting.

I am also the self-righteous son who stayed, who followed the rules, who did the right thing, and whose outward behavior was obedient and respectful; he also received his inheritance but he didn’t leave. In his heart, he was bitter and jealous and unforgiving. His overarching pride nearly destroyed him. Pride in his own goodness and righteousness.

And our Heavenly Father is the boys’ father. He tells the son who stayed, everything I have is yours. And he welcomes the son who left with celebration. Our God blesses the prideful one who stayed. And He blesses the humbled one who returns. He pours out His love on both. On all. On me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thou Shalt Not Compare

My husband and I went on a short cruise last week. L.A. to Catalina to Ensenada then home. There is always a wide variety of people on cruises. Young and hip, old and slow, middle aged and boisterously drunk – all kinds.

I’m not usually one to compare myself to other women. However, lifelong self-esteem issues, which I’ve mostly dealt with, tend to resurface in group situations. I will always be shorter than some, taller than some, slimmer than many (it’s a cruise – people like the buffets), and chubbier than some. But on this trip, there were two women who, through absolutely no fault of their own, made me feel like a hairy troll that had just crawled out from a homeless encampment under a bridge.

The first time I felt this, we were walking into a dining room. Another couple was walking ahead of us. This woman was about 5’10”, super slim, except for her bust, which was surgically enhanced. Her waist and hips were slim and proportional, her neck was long and slender, and her posture was exceptional. I felt like a squatty Hobbit, hairy feet and all.

The next woman sat with her husband at a table next to us at breakfast. I was tired after an uncomfortable night on a very broken down mattress. This young woman was of Asian descent, her long hair was a pinkish red, her summer dress was colorful and fit her slim body perfectly. She had some lovely tattoos on her arms, accented by her sleeveless dress. Next to this technicolor dreamboat, I felt like a matronly character from a 1940s black and white movie. I wasn’t wearing sensible shoes, a girdle, and a hairnet, but I may as well have been.

Now I know it’s wrong, self-defeating, and pointless to compare myself with anyone, especially women decades younger than I. And if I really believe that everything God says about me is true, and I do, these comparisons mean absolutely nothing in the eternal big picture. Comparison breeds envy and jealousy, and those are wrong feelings – they are lies that tell me I’ll never be good enough or pretty enough or slim enough. They are lies that feed sinful feelings of inadequacy, and say to God that what He has made me isn’t good enough.

God loves me with an everlasting love. He tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And most incredible of all, He send his Son to carry my sins to the cross, and die there to pay the penalty for those sins.

In the world’s economy, I won’t measure up to these ridiculous standards I sometimes set for myself. In God’s economy, He loves me no matter what I look like. Whether gravity is winning (and gravity ALWAYS wins), or if the only statement my clothes ever make is “Hey, at least we’re clean!”, God loves me very much. And that is all I ever need.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment