Monday, December 31, 2012

Blessing The New Year!

May the Lord shine upon you as you go into this new year. May He give you grace and favor. May all you do prosper as you walk with Him!

About 9:00 p.m. our neighbor walked out on his deck which is above our house and set off firecrackers to welcome in the new year. I suspect he and his wife are now snug in their bed. They will not stay up late, but move into the new year refreshed. I'm planning something similar--without the fireworks!

I know it is a bit late, but still, I wanted to pass along a treat for any of you who are staying up late! This receipt is from a missionary friend of mine.
New Year Egg-Nog
Separate 5 eggs, beat the yokes and
Combine with 1/2 cup evaporated milk and approx. 5 cups regular milk (more or less to taste)
Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla and sweetner to taste
Add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (more if needed)
Mix well
Whip the egg white and fold into the above mixture
Whip heavy cream, sweeten with confectioners sugar and put a dollop on top of each serving.
Those who wish to add spirits will need to experiment to determine the proper amount!
My husband and I like to add 7-Up rather than alcohol. 
I heartily recommend taste testing as you go along. Cook's privilege.! 
I'm spending tomorrow with the Lord, looking at goals for this next year. He has already begun to download some things that I will be turning into a series of blogs. Last year I didn't want to make a new year resolution; I won't be this year either! Instead I decided on a new focus and that was to explore whether I could in some small measure learn to think God thoughts. As I meditated on the idea, He suddenly spoke, "Read the Red Print!" I laughed right out loud and proceeded to find a bible with Jesus words in red print. If I want to know how God thinks all I need to do is read the red print. Jesus said,
      "Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father
       is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own
       authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing
       his work." And, "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing
       by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing,
       because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
If we want to know what God thinks and what He values we can read what Jesus said and what He did--that will give us a good idea of the mind and heart of God. So I spent this year memorizing The Sermon on the Mount--that was the source of the meditations I titled, "God Thoughts." I do believe God is serious about Christians renewing the mind. That will be the thrust of this new series of blogs that the Lord is not done downloading. I'm chuckling at the timing as this new material feels like a "next installment" or the next level of delving into God thoughts.  He tends to give me a little bit and I write that down and then I have to take sections and mull it over and then associate it with what I already is a long, slow process. BUT when I know what He is saying, this is the place I will share it first!
So goodnight all and may the Lord sing to your spirit through the night.
Blessings, Carol Brown...making it plain

Monday, December 24, 2012

After Christmas Book Promotion

Christmas is a time of giving. After all of the presents are opened, it’s time to get even more stuff – batteries, songs for that new iPod, and eBooks for your new Kindle. For avid readers, the last thing on that list is probably what’s on your mind – even if you didn’t get a new Kindle. But books can be so expensive – even eBook prices seem to be rising in today’s economy. Did you know that there are still several ways to get free books for your Kindle? Yes, I said free.

And you will find The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity also free as an ebook!

Maybe you got a new Kindle for Christmas, maybe you just like free books, either way, you don’t want to miss what’s going on over at Body and Soul Publishing right now. They’re hosting the “Shop ‘Til You Drop FREE Christian Books and More” after Christmas book sale extravaganza. With over 40 books to choose from, readers are getting savings of over $140 – but that’s not all! They are also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card.

With bestselling authors such as Heather Bixler, Janet Perez Eckles, and Shelley Hitz giving their books away for free, this isn’t a sale that any Christian reader will want to miss. Besides getting over 40 FREE books during the sale, one of the books is a how-to guide for getting even MORE free books online. If you love reading as much as I do, you won’t want to miss this sale, so hop on over to Body and Soul Publishing and check it out here:

I am enjoying the children during this season. At my husbands office party people were telling stories of cute things kids say. One man retold the one about a child who misunderstood where the word juncture fell, resulting in his hearing the song title, Gladly the Cross I'd Bare as Gladly, The Crosseyed Bear. One lady in the group didn't get it at first, but when the mental picture hit her she became the entertainment! I trust you are also enjoying the parties!

Blessings, Carol Brown

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Free Christian Books for Christmas

Shop ‘Til You Drop FREE Christian Book Promotion & More!

I’ve not forgotten that we have been on a series of God thoughts. We are taking a little hiatus with the Christmas preparations and shopping. We will get back to it…but let me share about the Shop ‘Til You Drop Books and More sale going on over at Body and Soul Publishing. My book, The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity, is one of the books included in the sale., but all the savings being offered on other Christian eBooks! December 26th through the 28th, 2012 readers can score over 40 FREE Christian books – AND one lucky reader will walk away with a $25 Amazon gift card.
Besides my book, bestselling authors such as Staci Stallings, Heather Bixler, Krystal Kuehn, and Janet Perez Eckles are just a few of the names that readers will see on the books that are included in this sale. The books range from Christian romance novels, to Bible study, to book marketing, and even children’s books. Readers can rack up savings of over$140 on books during this sale, so I recommend checking it out here:
And while you’re there, don’t forget to enter to win the $25 gift card.
Here's hoping you enjoy the shopping and the baking and the decorating! And when it is all done I hope you take some quiet with one of those good books and bask in the Lord's presence. Enjoy the Babe and the grown up Savior and the coming Messiah!

Blessings, Carol Brown

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trusting God When Bad Things Happen

When God created humanity, He did not create us to experience loss. Originally, He created us to be eternal beings...there was no loss in the plan. So it is no wonder we are at a loss for words; our brains freeze and we cannot process the evil of last weekend--we do not have the capacity to do so. But God's capacity is unlimited and He can pick us up and carry us through the incomprehensible. 

I did not feel compelled to add any more words to what was being said about the tragedy last week but when contacted by my friend and co-member of John 316 Marketing Network, I felt that this guest post is very appropriate. We all need to be able to process such happenings and Shelley gives a sound perspective.

Guest post by Shelley Hitz
My heart continues to be heavy for all those grieving today across our country. I don't believe it was a coincidence that I published a book this past week called, "Trusting God When Bad Things Happen." And even before the tragedy in Connecticut, I felt led to offer it free on Smashwords this month.

Trusting God In The Midst of the "Storms" of Life

When bad things happen, what is your reaction? Do you trust God even when you don't understand?

There was a dark season in my life when it literally felt like an earthquake had occurred. Everything in my life seemed to be falling family, my finances, our church. And I asked God the simple question, "Why?" This book is the result of my own search for answers. In the end, God gave me illustrations that I will share with you and brought healing to my heart and my distorted view of Him. I was able to trust Him again, even though my circumstances had not changed.

I pray that God uses this short eBook to deeply impact you as well. I have included questions for reflection for you to go through individually or as a group.

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world!" - John 16:33

One Reader's Response:

"This book has Biblical answers to the 'Why?' we are hearing so much today after the shooting tragedy in Connecticut. Thank you, Shelley, for the timeliness and wisdom." ~Barbara

Download This Book for Free

For anyone interested, you can download the book "Trusting God When Bad Things Happen" FREE this month.

100% Off Coupon Code: HB95F
Expires: January 1, 2013

This book is also available for $0.99 on Kindle

I encourage you all to ask your "whys"... the Lord would rather you ask Him your questions than see you crumple in a ball of grief. Look for His answers to the "why"-- they often come from unexpected sources. He may not necessarily answer in the way or the timing that you would like, but He will answer.  I am praying for His peace that passes all understanding to flood your hearts and minds. It was a harsh time when God's first answer to the craziness of this world came. He truly does understand what we are going through.

Blessings, Carol Brown

p.s. Remember that the Christmas prices on my books are good through to the end of the month.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

God Thoughts on Lawlessness

Lawlessness hardly seems a Christmas meditation, yet that is the very reason Jesus came--to destroy the works of darkness. And lawlessness is certainly one of them.

In my memorization of The Sermon on the Mount I have come to Matthew 7:21-23.  (English Standard Version) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" And then will I declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."

Now, how can that be? How could people prophesy, cast out demons and do mighty works in Jesus name without Jesus ever knowing them? So I went to the source and asked! The thought that finally took form in my mind was to look at the Law. The first commandment is to have no other Gods before Him. When asked  what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." That is the Law.

Lawlessness then, would be NOT loving God with your whole being and seeking after relationship with Him with everything there is in us. AND it would be to not love our neighbor as ourselves. It is possible to do works that are godly in nature without having a loving relationship with Him. That is what I call "cultural Christianity;" it is a form of Christianity that is learned from one's family and society but does not necessarily include having a saving, loving relationship with Jesus. It is saying all the right words and making all the right moves but still being disconnected from Him. How sad. We can concentrate on the second command and miss the first--to love God with everything within us!

What might such a scenario look like? Perhaps one could run a soup kitchen for street people--a ministry that would tug on the Lord's heart. He came to lift up the down-trodden, bind up the broken, proclaim release to the captives. It might be running a mission or an orphanage. It could even be a prayer ministry where you use the name of Jesus to accomplish much good in lives and yet neglect the most important of all--the relationship with the One you claim to follow!

If we neglect our relationship to God to the point that we are not loving Him above all else He considers us workers of lawlessness. If the praise of man is our primary motivator, or money, or fame rather than our love of Jesus and His kingdom, in His eyes we work lawlessness!

This is a shocking verse and opens a murkey grey area, what about people who are simply inmature? Or the carnal Christian? Is there a qualitative difference in the relationship? I think, yes, it is a qualitative difference in the works themselves and in the relationship with God. And for this reason the mature need to mix with the inmature and help them grow up and mature into the likeness of Christ. We need to be caring for our brothers and sisters, even carrying them at times when they cannot stand because of the difficulty of their situations. We need to model for them maturity does, what it looks like and how to attain it. When we bear one another's burdens we do fulfill the law of Christ according to Galatians 6:2. I'm glad He is the One making the call. I'll leave the judging to Him rather than questioning God's motives.

I think God wants the good works to flow out of our love of Him, be a result of our relationship with Him rather than doing good works to buy us a ticket into heaven. Buying a ticket does not involve a relationship with the agent! And He wants our hearts and our focus to be toward Him. He wants to be the reason for joy in our lives, the source of love and belonging. He is the inexhaustable source of these deep needs and only He is able to faithfully supply. People can have good intentions, but ultimately they are a limited resource. God knew that and so He said that we are to love Him with everything we have! The good works can be the overflow of what He gives us.

As Christmas approaches it is our custom to volunteer at missions or soup kitchens, to give to food banks, give coats, mittens and toys for poor children, etc. These activities are loving our neighbors as ourselves--if we were in that position, we would want someone to help us!

I think it would be good to examine our acts of charity. Do we do what we do because of the overflow of God's love? Because we love Him and want to see His kingdom advanced? Or is this activity a custom, a part of our culture, something we do this time of year because we have always done so?

This season I will be asking the Lord, "Is this a cultural tradition or is this somethingYou want me to do?"

I'd be interested in some discussion, hearing your thoughts on lawlessness.

May the Peace of heaven be with you during this season and beyond.

Blessings, Carol...making it plain

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Recently Sue Russell, an author friend from the UK and fellow John 4:16 member, asked me to join her in a blog event called "The Next Big Thing" where we share with our readers about our works in progress. Sue has a wonderful trilogy out--Leviaton on a Fishhook and Land of Nimrod are two of them. Her next work is A Shed in a Cucumber Field! Now that piques my interest!

I actually have two works in various stages! The first is a book of the lessons and experiences the Lord took me through and the lessons He taught me through the medium of living with multiple sclerosis, with applications to The Church today. I had several different titles over the course of pulling the pieces of this book together but have settled on the one that the Lord seems to want for it.
The second one? It is also non-ficton. I have been invited to join Dr. Jim Wilder, a psychologist, and Rev. Chris Corsey in writing a book on how joy or the lack of it affects our lives. This will be part of a series of books presenting what we consider to be a premier leadership training course called Thrive. People in each of the "seven mountains" of society will be writing a book demonstrating how joy and the lack of joy affects the lives, occupations and ministries of the people who "occupy" that mountain. The book I will help write will be written uniquely for pastors and church leadership and demonstrate the ripple effect of the benefits of joy (happy to be with you) for these key leaders. 
The Thrive training trains leaders in the 19 brain skills necessary for relationship--and those in ministry are all about relationship. I will be sharing more about this work as time goes on. We will be writing seriously this more on that later. Now, to the work that is sitting on a publisher's desk!
What is the working title of your book?

Through the Wilderness…the pathway to holiness

Where did the idea for the book come from?
This book was all God's idea! It was 15 years in the making; it began as a result of some prophetic type people uring me to write down tha various experience I would have living with MS. All four individuals felt that my having this disease would somehow bring a message for the Church! I thought, rather cynically, "Yeah, right. I have no message and the Church does not want to hear me say 'MS sucks!'" But faithfully I recorded the experiences and lessons and filed them away. As the 15th hear came to a lose I heard from the Lord to "Put it together." And so I have.

What genre does your book fall under?

It's  rather unique--it's not really a memoir nor a devotional but it is, sort of. It is inspirational and has a prophetic element—how could it not have! One reader characterized it as a spiritual guide and adventure book. So I am not sure what genre it will fall under.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Each chapter is a different experience and has its own message so it really would not be suitable for a movie…at least I don’t think so, but I probably don't think like a filmmaker either!.

What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book?

It is a call to look at the difficult places in life from the perspective that life is preparing us, sculpting us into the likeness of Jesus and each time we make a godly choice in a hard place, God credits that to us as holiness!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have considered making this an ebook, but I think I will try a traditional publisher first.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Individual pieces were written in spurts over 15 years so the first compiling didn’t take more than a week.

What other books would you compare your story to within the genre?

Since it doesn’t really fit in any genre do I get to make a new one? Readers tell me that it is unique.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?


Holy Spirit.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

It's different! It's overtly and unapologetically Christian and invites the reader to go deeper into relationship with God; each chapter has questions to help a reader focus on various aspects of that relationship. You can go as deep with it as you want. Or, not... and it is still an interesting read. It does invite the reader to explore…

It was difficult to go 15 years without understanding what God is up to, but I am so glad that I persevered and that God shared His purpose.

I hope to hear back from the publisher within the next month about a contract. If the subject piques your interest I would appreciate your prayers that the Lord's favor would rest on the manuscript and that it would soon be on its way to print!

Holiday blessings to all!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Specials

Here is another posting of the Christmas specials I am offering this year. You will need to click to enlarge the picture to read the pricing--or go to my website and view it there! These prices are good for the entire month of December. And remember, all my books are now available as ebooks on Amazon.

I also want to support a fellow author, Chris Hibbard, who has written a trilogy of YA fantasy novels. You can see her page here. Or it can be purchased here. Here's a little blurb about this one that she will be launching Dec. 19:
Adventures in Terreldor is a series of YA novels (allegorical fantasy adventure) that follow the adventures of two brothers who find themselves in a strange world filled with impossibility and adventure. Faced with tragedy and trial, Mark is forced to draw upon strengths and develop skills he never expected himself capable of. The brothers are taken in by mentors who claim to hold the secrets of true wisdom and maturity. In their endeavors, they learn the most difficult lessons in life are often found on the path home.

Begin the adventure in Journey to Terreldor, then follow these brothers as they are cast into peril in Terreldor at War. Discover the culmination of their odyssey in The Long Path Home.

There is nothing quite like relaxing by the fire with hot chocolate and a good book...unless it is a crackling fire, hot chocolate, a good book and a kitty! 

May the Lord's joy fill your home, your loved ones and your conversations as we come ever closer to the celebration of the birth of our Lord.

Blessings, Carol

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Christmas Specials

As you begin your holiday shopping...consider this...

Click to enlarge the image!

If you do not see something on the website, please email and ask.
May God's love surround you and His blessings catch up with you. May your holidays be rich with satisfying relationships--fun, food, fellowship...and a good book or two!

Blessings, Carol Brown

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankfulness for the hard things?

We are entering a season of thanksgiving. There are some who have very little to give thanks for...yet Scripture says to give thanks FOR everything. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Seriously? Yes, seriously--even when there are no feelings to match the words. We don't have the perspective that God does, but as we ask to see from His point of view we will find our attitude changes. For those times we can see His fingerprints in the events our lives we can give thanks. That will sensitize our spirit to see even more evidence of God at work in our lives.

When MS took away my life as I knew it--career, voice, name it, it was lost to me. At first I was numb, then angry at God. He could have prevented it; so why didn't He? I soon learned that anger used up what little strength I did have so I moved on to grieving over the losses. I can't remember the exact track I took, but I moved through all the stages of grief--the bargaining, the attempts at acceptance, etc.

And then, after years of holding onto "God is good regardless of how it looks," it happened. I saw not only the MS, but all the other hard places in life from His point of view and all I could say was "Thank you!" He knows the good stuff that He built into you. He also knows what it will take for you and me to dig deep enough to find those good things that will result in a sense of fulfillment.

So here are just a few of the things I am grateful for: (in no special order)
  • That I am no longer in the classroom - I loved it when the "aha" happened and I saw understanding in the eyes of a student. I don't see that very often these days. But...the blessing is that I don't have to get up early or correct papers! Nor deal with difficult parents and their difficult children or speak English by 8:00 a.m. I do not have to cope with the indocrinazation of philosophies I do not agree with or teach concepts that I am opposed to. Nor deal with the politics that go on in educational circles.

  • That I am housebound - We no longer need to have two cars! The blessing is that I have a husband who is happy to be with me regardless. With the internet and telephone I am able to keep in touch with friends all over the world! And my social needs are quite easily and simply met.

  • I am grateful for MS - God showed me that what I thought was being sidelined was in actuality a promotion--my classroom has been greatly expanded. I have time to write the things that God shares with me. I love to receive emails from people who have read my books and found them life changing. The more I let go of the old "me," the more I can embrace the new that the Lord keeps bringing. Hard things strip away all the stuff of life that we surround ourselves with that keep us from seeing that He still delights in you and me. that blew my mind. The stripping away creates space for us to feel the worth and belonging that He gives.
Give thanks, even for the hard things in life. It changes the focus away from the problem onto the solution. It calms the restless thoughts and raging emotions so that we can see the He has pulled us out of destruction and anointed (set us apart) for accomplishing good things--good for us personally and good for others. Author Sheldon Vanauken called such an event a "severe mercy!" I would have to agree.

What hard place has the Lord walked you through? What about that experience can you give thanks? For those of you still in the hard spot, I pray that He will clear away the barriers so that you can feel his comforting presence and see what it is that you are thankful for!

Blessings, Carol Brown

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Teaching Room

One morning in 2010 I had a tremendous “head spin”—the Lord took me somewhere. It appeared to be an “ante” room adjoining His throne room. This is a little teaching room where scribes come to take down the words of the Lord. We are to meet here daily and He will teach me. With the short term memory of a gnat I turned around and forgot, the Lord graciously helps me to "find" it this evening!

The things I cannot understand I will put on the “mystery” shelf. Someday, Lord, You will restore the human spirit and brain to the capacity that Adam had. He could walk and talk with you face to face. My bandwidth has been severely limited because of the fall. Salvation can repair that to some degree, developing relationship with You to an additional degree, actively putting into practice what You teach me will repair me yet more. I will be fully restored only when face to face once again. Here is what was on God’s heart that day and these are the notes I took down.

Healing: There are things about healing which the human mind cannot fathom. First understand that the bottom line is, I, God, am good and every good thing proceeds from My hand.

Time is different in the spirit—actually there is neither time nor distance in the spirit. Now this blows my mind right here...I don't have a place for that! I know how Nicodemus felt. Three sentences out of His mouth and I'm already lost! Sheesh! Time and distance are earthly constructs. I stand outside your time and I wait for the fullness of time. Healing out of time will have ramifications you cannot foresee.

Consequences—sin has consequences. Having to live with the consequences of sin--if forgiveness is received and a clean and contrite heart are maintained--the consequences can lead to maturity and depth of relationship. Consequences are sometimes developmentally necessary. If there were no consequences, a youngster who hurt himself in a foolish act would not have any incentive not to go out and do it again! They serve as a reminder, as a boundary. Remove the consequences and you lose the impetus to mature and deepen your relationship. I would much rather you develop our relationship with Me than be free of consequence, shallow and immature! I choose to put up with your moaning and groaning because I know it is all noise and does not affect the set of your will to lean into Me.
I am so glad that the Lord looks on the heart and doesn't listen to all my kvethching! Consequences are good for me? Okay. Like Arthur Burke says, "I never would have written the script this way, but since You have, I am choosing to believe You see something I don't see, and from Your point of view this is good and right and loving. Therefore, I celebrate Your wisdom from my place of limited perspective."
I am compelled to take some Selah moments and think about these things. If you would like to share your Selah moment with the rest of us, I for one would be grateful.
Blessings, Carol


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Joy Starters

I’m so excited about this new project I can hardly stand it! Learning fascinating new stuff is one of the greatest joys of writing!

Recently I was asked to join a multifaceted writing project. Shepherd’s House,, a counseling and training ministry, is behind the creation of a leadership training project called THRIVE. The training literally trains the brain how to remain relational regardless of what is going on.You train your brain in all the skills you need to return to a state of joy from scary or upsetting feelings. Joy is defined as “happy to be with you.” There is also some teaching because as an American you want to know the what, why and how of things!

Training is different than learning. Learning is cramming information and concepts into your head. Training is developing reflexes—doing something over and over again until it becomes automatic, a default response.

It turns out that your brain functions best in an environment of joy! You might think, “So…?” So, the problem is that joy is often in short supply. Far too many don’t have the brain skills needed to get them to joy much less back to joy from scary stuff. “And why is that” you ask? It is because brain skills are passed on from your parents or care givers. If they don’t/didn’t have those skills, or were not inclined to interact with you as a little one, it is highly unlikely that you will get them on your own.

Where you experience trauma your brain shuts down—it is overwhelmed and cannot process what is happening. It will store the traumatic data somewhere and come back to process it later when it is safe and you have the resources to process with. But during this shut down there were skills that you should have acquired, leaving a developmental hole. Following this traumatic time you will avoid coming even close to the emotions that were happening at the time of the trauma. The brain screams, “Pull up! Pull up! Avoid!”

You say you want relationship but somehow relationships never seem to work out…or you self-sabotage. People wonder at your behavior, why you run the other way, or why you fall off the wagon yet again.

Is it possible? Could it be that the solution to these chronic relational problems is to train or retrain the brain and give it the skills it needs to do relationship?

Scripture says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. But loving God or loving another person means that there is a relationship. If satan can create enough chaos and/or trauma in your life, you will miss out on acquiring these essential life skills. If your brain does not have the skills needed for relationships satan can separate you from the love of other people and from the love of God. You will feel like you cannot hear God; that you are unworthy. It is not the truth of course, but that is how you feel nonetheless.

Training in the the brain skills of relationship could revolutionize the Church! Can you imagine a church full of joy filled people? Can you imagine committee meetings where individuals have the skills and the maturity to disagree and still remain relational? Can you imagine youth feeling safe enough with adults to seek their wisdom as the youth is learning how to come back to joy from his or her scary places?

The THRIVE relational brain skills also work on the factory floor and in management…it rebuilds people. It results in leaders and authority figures that can lead, supervise or manage from the authority that is who they are rather than the title they put on and wear. And the neat thing is that when you acquire these skills you can not only use them at home but pass them along to extended family, friends, co-workers…you too can be a joy starter!

For more about THRIVE training go here:

By Carol Brown
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive
Sassy Pants and Sassy Pants Makes Amends

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Upside Down Kingdom?

I've been thinking that God's kingdom is rather upside down and backwards. For one thing, up is down in His kingdom. The rich are poor and the poor are rich. The foolish confound the wise. And the one who wants to be great must be servant of all. We are advised to love our enemies and rejoice when they persecute, revile and slander us. We are to work to accumulate rewards in heaven and are not to worry about food or clothing…getting ahead. Now how does that fit with the social norm of being upwardly mobile?

Maybe it is we who are upside down? And maybe backwards?

Ya, the bit about backwards! There was a time when I was asking God why I seemed completely unmotivated—to do anything! I had no energy, and energy I learned comes from joy. I was unable to feel enough joy to motivate myself to do what I needed and wanted to do. How can I be a believer, have Jesus resident in my life, He who is the origin of joy, and not be able to experience enough of it to be able to function, at least to a minimal level? This is serious in light of Nehemiah 8:10, which says that the joy of the Lord is my strength. Not much strength...and the dip stick on my joy tank was reading mighty low! His response to my question was quick. I had no sooner asked than the following verse came to mind.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

Well, if that Scripture is true, I am in some way not accessing or availing myself of resources that I already have. His grace is sufficient, yet I certainly seem unable to boast about or glory in my infirmity! How can I be grateful to God for my infirmities? What needs to be different?

             "The focus." What? Say again, God!

God speaks without words and explains: "Your equation is backwards! My equation reads: Weakness + abiding in My joy = strength. Your equation reads: Strength + abiding in My power = joy.

“You think I should flood your body with strength first, then your life would demonstrate the power of God and you could go about serving others, and that would produce joy. However, that would actually enable your flawed humanity!”

“The belief that you must earn love and belonging is not the truth, but that is your foundation! If I gave you strength and power first, you would have the energy to continue to perform and do good works. You would think and feel that you were demonstrating the power of God, but you would do so from a foundational belief that love and belonging must be earned. Yes, good would happen, but you would also reproduce that foundation in others and perpetuate the erroneous belief that love and belonging go to those who serve Me." Pause for a “Selah” moment.

"I want to give you a new foundation, one built on truth. You were first conceived in My mind—I loved you then and you belonged to me then—only later were you conceived in your mother's womb! I have given you love and belonging from the moment I conceived you in my mind! Nothing you can do will ever make Me love you more—or less!”

This whole business of thinking God thoughts and living God values can turn your life upside down and really mess with your mind! It feels to me like God could make some big changes real fast. He has pulled up all the tent pegs, thrown all the feathers and fur out of the nest and sticks are poking me. I’ve read that eagles make the nest uncomfortable like that just before they make the young fly on their own. Change is in the wind. I have a suspicion some flying lessons are about to be scheduled; it’s a little unsettling! Exciting, but unsettling nonetheless.

How has God messed you up lately? Share with us by dropping a note in the comment box.

Blessings, Carol
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity, Highly Sensitive
and The Sassy Pants Series

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shed a Little Light?

 "If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

I have puzzled for some time over Matthew 6:22,23. It says, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if
your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, you whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

In particular I have puzzled and pondered that last sentence..."if then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" I finally asked the Lord for some light on the subject. Why wait so long? Sheesh!

Slowly an understanding bubbled up within me. "If your eye is healthy"... if you focus on the things of God, letting them nurture you and you let your heart break over the things that break His heart, if you love the things He loves, if you run hard after Him to know His ways then wisdom, goodness, kindness, justice and mercy will inform your understanding and drive your motivations and all you think, say and do. "...your whole body will be full of light."

"If your eye is bad"...if you focus on the deeds and things of darkness, if you focus your eyes on gratuitous violence, smutty or pornographic literature, stuff of the occult, death and other such things, then deeds of darkness will inform your speech, your behavior, values, your understanding and drive your motivations. "...your whole body will be full of darkness."

If darkness is what informs your understanding and drives your motivations then how great is the darkness because it is both internal and external. It is profound darkness. You will not understand the impact of your words and deeds. You will not see where you are headed. So, when the enemy ambushes you, beats you up and leaves you for dead you will not know what hit you. Sadly, you will probably rail at God "Where were you when I needed You?"

Knowing how complex and multi-layerd the Lord is I am sure that this is only a beginning understanding of this verse. I would love to hear what various ones see, hear and understand about the verse. I can sense the depth; there is more beneath the surface, but I don't know what all is down there. Hidden treasures for sure. What gems have you found?

Still pondering, Carol

website: for all my books

Friday, September 14, 2012

God Thoughts on Anxiety

"Do not be anxious about your life..."
Jesus admonishes his disciples 5 times in Matthew chapter 6 about being anxious! Seriously? Has Jesus looked at my life? Has he seen my husband's schedule or looked at our checkbook? And now the car dies! Anxiety. Worry. It’s the national pre-occupation, right? Everyone does it; and it's not just an American thing. Obviously it was a problem in Jesus day as well or He would not have made such a point about it! He wants us to pay attention. Anxiety is not to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Tension headaches drive you to Advil or Tylenol. It ties your gut in knots, turns your shoulders into bricks and stomach acid tries to eat a hole in your intestines. Worry keeps you up at night or causes you to grind your teeth. It wears out your adrenal glands! When the adrenals go, there is a domino effect. Motivation plummets. You battle depression and exhaustion. Anxiety does awful things to your body.

Anxiety and worry do awful things to relationships as well. We snap at our spouse, our friends, our children. We lash out and say things we don’t mean and then have a hard time saying, “I’m sorry.” When we drive ourselves until the last nerve is frayed...our child asks a simple question, and appropriately so; but we hear it as a demand. It is the straw that breaks us and we behave badly. In that moment we are modeling for our child what God is like…but we don’t model the truth about God. The sad part is that we reflect back to our child a picture of himself that is also not true. He sees in our face that He is a bother and a burden rather than a delight.

So how do we stop the cycle? First we must understand the problem. The problem is that we do not trust God. Ideally, we are to learn to trust God by first trusting our parents, then our family, and then we branch out into the community. If parents do job well they will be able to soften the blows when other family members, friends and classmates turn on us, betray us and otherwise let us down miserably. But what if parents leave gaps; sometimes they are trustworthy, but other times not so much? That relationship mirrors our relationship with God. First, we learn to not trust ourselves or God and then we develop a tentative approach to relationships with extended family and most certainly, we are tentative in regard to trusting outside the family.

Like it or not, the picture we have of trust within the family (especially trust of parents) is projected onto self and God. God wears Dad’s face; He wears Mom’s face. Parents talk to us—that’s how we learn to talk. They walk us so that we can walk. We trust them; that’s how we learn to trust. If they teach us that we should not trust, that trusting is a bad idea…what then? We worry. We test the chair before we sit down. We do that because we have this wonderful ability to generalize. Rather than, “I cannot trust my parent in [this] situation.” We generalize to, “I cannot trust my parents.” It is further shortened to “I cannot trust.” And then a funny morphing happens—it becomes a command that we give ourselves: “Do not trust!” So we hold our cards close to our vest and are tentative and careful as a life stance. Behind that stance is a lack of trust that God has our back; a lack of trust that He will provide. We have plenty of evidence from abandonment and neglect, to lack of provision, from abuse of various kinds to savage betrayal.

Jesus tells us plainly how to solve the problem:  “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” Simple, but not easy. I was complaining to God about the cares of this life one day when God told me to stop. He said that was His responsibility that He accepted when I accepted Him as Savior. It was His part of that covenant. My part of that covenant was to seek Him and develop the maturity and character of Jesus as my own. That stopped that whine session! Even though I know better, I have whined since then—old habits die hard. We are anxious about the necessities of life: food, clothing, housing, cars, bank accounts, etc. but Jesus tells us to look around and see the evidence of His provision. Birds are fed without “earning” it. Wildflowers are dressed more elegantly than Solomon! He gently encourages us that we can solve this problem! Here are some other blog that speaks to the issue: and So what can we do?

·       Don’t deny reality, but take our focus off the problem and put it on God—get to really know Him

·       Use your Bible as a life manual—read the red print to know how God thinks about how to do life

·       Don’t give up

·       Ask God for someone trustworthy—someone who will present a different picture of Him; someone who can help you sort through the debris

There is plenty to fuss about in life--but we know Who is in ultimate control. When the waves threaten to overwhelm we can call out to the One who calmed the sea. Are you or have you been an Olympic class worrier? Would you share some tips on how you beat the habit?

Blessings, Carol Brown, author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive, and The Sassy Pants Series for children of all ages!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Whew! What a struggle just to break in to the blog so I could update everyone!

We attended a conference for seers last weekend--I think it was last weekend. I still have foggy moments! : ) Anyway it was one of those wonderful events when you cram the van with a bunch of people and drive all night, then attend sessions all day. Crash and repeat, crash and repeat and then drive all day and half the night to get home! I was comatose for days but I planned for that...just didn't plan for it to hang on this long! We learned new things, practiced what we are still learning.   We were reminded of things we knew already but tend to forget, enjoyed lots of prayer, were affirmed and generally blessed!

It was wonderful to be in a room filled with highly sensitive people. I didn't feel out of place or wierd, not once. One of our group was physically healed. It was great fun to see her able to sit after having to stand or lie down for over a year. Her muscles had frozen in place, which is very painful. And for me, one of the biggest "take aways" was the community building that happened while travelling. We were able to spend 12+ hours together going and again coming home--you know people better when you do things together. With MS keeping me home so much this is a blessing to me. I now feel free to call any one of the group to visit or even to ask for help with transportation.

Another blessing! I finished the manuscript that recounts the parable of MS--working title is Through the Wilderness...the pathway to holiness. Now it enters the stage of collecting reviews and endorsements and securing a publisher. Anyone know a publisher who does memoire/inspirational devotional/spiritual adventure guides? But finishing the manuscript is not the blessing : )

The blessing is that I have been invited to join in a writing project for a group that I really admire. Since things are still in the "get acquainted" stage I will not yet mention names...but I'm so excited! I was poking around and asking the Lord for which of His list of books would He want me to begin. I had hardly thought the prayer and there was the email invitation!

So there you have it. That's what's been happening and why I haven't been as regular in posting. I'm slowly getting my feet under me and my thoughts collected. Next post will be back on the God Thoughts. Hope God has been blessing you these last couple weeks.

Blessings, Carol

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thinking Like God Does? Is That Possible?

Gripe, gripe, gripe…complain! Fault finding, blaming and blame shifting…accusation and innuendo. Mud-slinging and name calling…social turmoil, political turmoil, economic turmoil—even the weather is in turmoil! What is going on?

 My stomach knots up just writing that. Some of us carry anxiety in our stomach (and risk ulcers), others carry it in the shoulders (and deal with back pain) others bodies turn it into migraines. Power struggles, competition and crime—whatever happened to loyalty and faithfulness, of doing a good job because that is the thing to do? It seems you can’t get away from something to worry about or be fearful of. If it’s not a rocket raining down on your head it is a hurricane barreling toward you. Is it any wonder people are becoming sick and heading for their addiction of choice? We are addicted to everything from food and caffeine to alcohol to risk taking and hard drugs—anything to bring us comfort.

The Root of The Problem? We have a worldview instead of a kingdom view! The result is that we are short sighted. It is me and mine; we don’t see the big picture. The small view of things means we are pretty much ego-centric and don’t want to share our toys. “But he took my … and I want it back!” We keep our eyes at “eye level;” we have to look higher than that, get our eyes off of self, off of our brother/neighbor, etc. and fasten our eyes on our heavenly Father.

Jesus knew we do not think like God does and consequently we do not value the same things that God values. Thankfully, we can change that, if we want to. In Eph. 5:10 Paul urges us to “find out what pleases God.” So thinking like God is something we can find out—learn to do? I question God, “I can learn (find out) to think like You do? How do I do that?” What went off in my head rocked me. “READ THE RED PRINT!” Huh?

We can find out what pleases God by reading the red print in our Bibles! Let that soak in for a while. As I did, I began to understand. Jesus always said what He heard the Father say. He did what the Father did. If we want to know what God thinks is important, just read and memorize the red print. That will put God’s thoughts and values inside; we can make them our own!

The Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start. In Matthew 6 Jesus encourages His disciples to not be or do like the hypocrites (scribes and Pharisees) whose lifestyle was a very noisy, public show of piety. The scribes and Pharisees were both religious and political leaders…and Jesus called them hypocrites. They made a lot of noise (like politicians today) so people would notice them giving to the needy, praying in public places and fasting. They wanted to be noticed…and that notice was the only reward that they received. In Matthew 23:27 Jesus said they were “white-washed sepultures filled with dead men’s bones!” Their faith and their lifestyle were dead, hollow and lifeless—without power. Perhaps we could see some parallels with the same social sector today. There were a few good men involved back then and the same is true today.

Contrast that with what Jesus required of His disciples—to not draw attention to their giving, their prayer or fasting—or to how they practiced their righteousness or their politics? Acts of righteousness was to be a private thing between them and their heavenly Father. They were to have a private lifestyle of intimacy. I believe that it was understood that all the public offering of sacrifices and charitable giving was to continue, but without fanfare and in addition there was to be a private, intimate relationship with Father God.

I have heard many people say that we must “respond to negativity (regardless of the source or arena) in the opposite spirit.” I believe Matthew 6 is the Biblical basis for that sentiment—every time Jesus said, “But I say to you…” He gave us another picture of the thoughts and values of heaven.

In their trek across the Sinai Desert the Children of Israel got into trouble more than once for a lack of honor and respect as they complained against their leaders and against God. They are not the only ones for whom complaining is a lifestyle. This week our pastor encouraged us to not complain. I’ve heard it said that complaining is “the American Way!” Changing our worldview to a kingdom view will not occur overnight. We will not be able to say one fancy prayer and be able to think like God.

However, if we pick up the discipline of memorizing Jesus words, after a while it will have an effect. Our conscience will be quicker to kick in. Negativity will begin to sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. We will complain less and compliment more. We will find ourselves more grateful. There will be less worry and more praise; less stomach acid and fewer migraines!

At the beginning of the year I joined Ann VosKamp, author of 1,000 Gifts in her challenge to Memorize The Mount—this year we will memorize Matthew 5,6 and 7! Will you join us? We can encourage one another.

Blessings, Carol
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive