Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Worship: I Give Myself Away

Heard this a few weeks back in church, but didn't know the name or artist until I heard it again on gospel radio the other day.

Here I am
Here I stand
Lord, my life is in your hands
Lord, I’m longing to see
Your desires revealed in me
I give myself away
I give myself away...

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Worship: He's Been Faithful

Ever get a song in your head and can't get it out? Vicki Yohe singing He's Been Faithful has been that song for me for the past few days, ever since Hubby had it blasting through the house Saturday morning. It's been a favorite for years but I hadn't heard it in a while.

Right now it feels as though God is speaking to me through this song, branding this message into my heart and mind that I might offer it back to Him in thanksgiving. I can't begin to express the many ways in which God has been faithful to me and to my family.

You've been faithful, Your love and your mercy I see...

Great is thy faithfulness...morning by morning...

Do you see His faithfulness in your life?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Worship: Offering

What have you done for God lately?

Sound absurb?  It's not.

What have you given God?  Have you given Him your worship, your praise?

Have you given Him your service, your time, your talent?

Have you given Him your hands, your feet, your heart for His use?

These are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I listened to this song, Offering by Paul Baloche, on the radio the other day.

No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing,
Jesus, may You receive the honor that You're due
O Lord I bring an offering to You


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Worship: Faithful Is Our God

God is faithful.

That feels like 'nuff said, but for those who aren't sure, know that God keeps His promises.
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.   2 Corinthians 1:20 (KJV)

Simply put, you can count on Him.

Sometimes it may feel as though there's no one you can trust, no one you can turn to, no one you can count on.

Let me say it again.  You can count on Christ.

His promises are forever.  You have to know this in your heart of hearts in order to live a fulfilled life in Jesus.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.   Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV)
Maybe you need to hear it.  Repetitively.  Faithful is Our God by Hezekiah Walker and LFC take care of that for me, very nicely.  Listen, enjoy and be reminded:  You can count on Christ!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Featured Book: The Comic Book Bible by Rob Suggs

The Comic Book Bible is a cute and enticing way to present the Scriptures to young children, particularly boys.  If they enjoy reading about Spiderman, the Fantastic Four and other superheros, why not the most super of all heroes, Jesus Christ?

The Scriptures are presented in standard Bible sequence, with each story limited to four pages of comic frames.  This makes it quick and easy to read and digest the story for readers ages 6 - 10.  The nice thing is that even younger readers, like my five-year-old who's just learning sight words, can enjoy the Bible stories and glean the messages from the cartoon depictions.  This is certainly a less intimidating way to introduce them to the Bible than any other translation I've seen.

Because the graphics are a bit cheesy, not many adult fans of comic books will pick this one up, but then the book isn't targeted toward them (and they'll likely get more insight from one of the many Bible translations available today).  This is not a Bible that young readers could take to church to follow along, but it is one that they can use for personal study and yes, entertainment.

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Featured Book: Soul Food and Living Water by Yolanda and William Powell


WILLIAM J. POWELL is a senior policy analyst for the District of Columbia and also pastors, Dominion International Ministries, a new start-up and dynamic church fellowship in Southern Maryland.

YOLANDA POWELL is president of Oracles & Utterance, Incorporated, a Kingdom-advancing ministry to establish the global Body of Jesus Christ in deeper life intimacy, prophetic intercession, and spiritual warfare. She also serves as apostolic director of EXOUSIA, a Mid-Atlantic prayer training summit to equip church leaders and prayer teams in intense levels of intercession.

THE POWELLS reside in Dunkirk, Maryland with their three young adult sons.


As God-conscious families, we all struggle to maintain a vibrant faith that will lead to strength and happiness in the midst of declining social values and daily challenges. Marital commitment, child rearing, financial stewardship and family harmony are problems that can become intensely magnified, draining our joy and ability to sufficiently thrive.

Overflowing with Biblical teaching, practical examples and real encouragement, Soul Food and Living Water provides the spiritual nourishment you and your family needs. Written in culturally sensitive language, reflecting the rich heritage and strong faith of African Americans, Soul Food and Living Water refreshes and equips families for today’s challenges.

Soul Food and Living Water is a personal invitation to come and dine at the Lord’s table, to be comforted in His presence and to feast upon His Words. So eat heartily and drink deeply.


PODCAST 1 - Yolanda Powell talks About the Book

Download MP3 file OR click here to listen...

PODCAST 2 - William Powell talks About the Book

Download MP3 file OR click here to listen...

PODCAST 3 – "It’s Family Time"

Download MP3 file OR click here to listen...

PODCAST 4 – Excerpt from Chapter 1

Download MP3 file OR click here to listen...


Soul Food and Living Water gets right to the heart of the matter:  people are dying for lack of spiritual nourishment.  Oh, it's not that there are more than enough opportunities to get nourished, what with thousands of churches, millions of books, an increasing number of television and Internet options to hear/watch the Word of God being preached.  But as the authors point out, that's just "churchin'", which is very different than actually investing time in one's spiritual development and the establishment of a steady and sturdy spiritual foundation in the home.

The Powells address everything from the need to slow down and make time for God to intimacy within marriage and helping hip-hop lovin' teens to get to know for who He really is in a world that is bombarding them with mixed messages.  Although the book is targeted toward African-Americans, all can take away important lessons and thoughts to ponder from this written admonishment to do better in our professed relationship with Christ by implementing the practical tips that are packed within its covers.   Soul Food and Living Water is not a quick read, but it's a necessary one.

Purchase the Book Online at:


For More Information

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Worship: That's What He's Done For Me

I heard a song off Israel Houghton's new album called "You Won't Let Go of Me". Gotta find that one, but not yet on Youtube, it seems. So this week, I went with an "oldie but goodie".

This song began ringing in my head during our move this past weekend. Moving always uncovers items you haven't seen in a while and resurrects memories of times past. For us, a tape of the original recording of James Hall & Worship & Praise is one of those things. (Disclosure: Hubby was the executive producer, and what a wonderful recording it was. The only negative is that we didn't shoot any video back in 1993 as we shook the floor at Institutional COGIC in Brooklyn. If you've ever been to Institutional, you know what I mean.)

This song, That's What He's Done For Me, is so simple yet so on point. Every time I hear it, I start thinking of the many ways that God has blessed me and kept me throughout my life. Rather than be maudlin about all the mishap and mayhem I could have been in, I'd rather get with James and the gang--a choir so good they could sing the paint off the walls--and dance and sing my celebration and appreciation.

How about you? Has the Lord done something that gets you out of your seat every time you think about it?

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Worship: Still

God has been giving me lessons in being still. Learning not only to be patient, but to truly be still. To do nothing despite what my analytical, I-need-a-plan brain says. To move out of His way. To take a step back and watch Him work.

It's amazing stuff. God is a wonder.

Do you find it difficult to be still when "the oceans rise and thunders roar" in your life?

I dare you to try it.

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday Worship: He Wants It All

Wow! Haven't posted here in a nearly a month. So much going on. How to handle it all? How do you handle it all?

The good news is we don't have to because He wants it all. God wants us to give Him every part of our being--our hopes and dreams, our pains and disappointments, our struggles, our joys, our praise, our worship.

He wants it all!

Give Him your all. He'll give you back so much more.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Worship: Everywhere That I Go by Israel Houghton

I love hearing Israel Houghton perform live.  This song, Everywhere That I Go, has been ringing in my head for the past week, even as we played a boatload of other CDs driving to and from Atlanta last weekend.

God wants us to remember that wherever we are, He's there too.  We don't have to wonder or look very far.  God is always within reach, always willing to listen, always ready to guide and inspire.

You promised me You'd never leave,
You promised me I'm never forsaken,
And I believe
Goodness and mercy shall follow me,
Surrounding me,
Where I go,
 Everywhere that I go.

Now, before you click on the video, I hope you won't mind the Jackson 5 riff at the beginning. I think Israel simply appreciates good music. I certainly do.

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bishop Walter Hawkins Has Gone Away

The passing of Bishop Walter Hawkins might not get the same attention as that of another seminal singer from the last four decades, Michael Jackson, did only a year ago, but in the church world, this loss is just as great.

If you spent any significant time in the Black church during the 1970's and '80s, you are very well aware of Bishop Walter L. Hawkins and the Love Center Choir.  Who doesn't remember when Love Alive, the first of five Love Center albums, hit the scene?  We were treated to such great and now iconic songs, like "Changed", "I Won't Be Satisfied", "Dear Jesus, I Love You", and "Goin' Up Yonder".  Note when this album hit, they weren't CDs nor was it called Love Alive 1.  Who knew there would be others?  After hearing the songs though, we were all clamoring for more.

Of course, big brother Edwin Hawkins had already made a name for himself and the Edwin Hawkins Singers with "Oh Happy Day" but would this new choir, this new sound, last?

Then came Jesus Christ Is The Way, followed by Love Alive II, and we were knew the first album hadn't been lightening in a bottle.  Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir, which featured his then-wife Tramaine Hawkins and his sister Lynette Hawkins, was for real.

Bishop Hawkins and the choir teased us, though.  Unlike other choirs that shot of the gate, dropped a bunch of music and faded from the scene, they made us wait.  Their releases were much farther apart than other choirs, but somehow we all understood.  Their level of greatness couldn't be rushed.

It wasn't just the music, though. Bishop Walter Hawkins and his brother, Edwin Hawkins, had flair. They had style. I'm not sure anyone other than their very closest circle of friends and family, and maybe not even them, saw these gentlemen looking anything but pressed and dressed to impress. Always.

They didn't come out often. We didn't see them on every music show and special or at every gospel music conference. So when they appeared, we knew we were in fro a special treat. Even if they didn't perform, just having them there brought an air of magic to the event.

A solo album came and a family album.  As much as we loved them--and we did--were they a signal that the Love Center choir was no more?  Uncertain but pleased to hear more of the dulcet tones of Walter Hawkins and his singing family, we basked in songs like "What Is This?", "Goin' To A Place", "Try Christ".

The mid to late 1980's brought us Love Alive III and Love Alive IV.  By now we knew the unique chord structures and vocal tones of Bishop Hawkins and his music as soon as we heard it.  As the decade waned, we hoped there was more, even as we realized that the passing of time meant the now bishop had responsibilities for so much more than sharing his musical gifts with us.

More solo projects and guest recordings while we waited and waited.  

Finally, Love Alive V, a two-CD 25th anniversary set, dropped in 1998, and it was like giving a gallon of water to a thirsty man in the desert.  Sure, a number of songs were remakes, but we didn't care.  Walter Hawkins could sing those songs as many times and as many ways as he wanted.

The music of Bishop Walter Hawkins defined a generation of gospel music and marked the milestones of life for many Christians.  My husband and I sat up last night just naming songs--"Never Alone", "When The Battle is Over", "Be Grateful", "I'm Going Through", "Give Use Time", "Wait On the Lord", "The Just Shall Live", "My Gratitute", "Thank You", "The Potter's House", "Seasons"...simply way too many to name and all of them memorable.

In person, the man of such a big and moving voice seemed a bit demure, reserved, making the voice all that much more amazing. He was both kind and gracious.

After a bout with pancreatic cancer, he has gone on to a place where he can rest in peace. We will miss Bishop Walter L. Hawkins.

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Winning Your 30-Day Challenge

Folks have been cheering me on, encouraging me to hang in there and win my 30-day Exercise Challenge.  I'm not doing anything as intense as winning at Wimbledom but 30 straight days of exercise has been a huge challenge.

I'm three days and four workouts away! I didn't blog about the challenge as much as I would have liked, as other writing priorities took my time and attention. But as my challenge winds down, I'm giving lots of thought as to why this was different than other challenges I've given myself, and how you too might be able to challenge yourself and win.

First, pick a goal that's reasonable and doable. I could not possibly scale Mt. Everest for 30 straight days. I could, however, commit to 15 minutes of exercise a day for 30 days.

Second, define your goal in a way that you can't miss. 15 minutes a day? I mean, I spend more time than that reading in my bathroom. Uh, probably more than you wanted to know, but it's the only quiet place and... Well, you get my point. How could I not do 15 minutes a day?

Third, start your challenge quietly. I know pundits say that telling others creates a commitment. True, but sometimes you need to commit to yourself first. No one knew I was challenging myself until my challenge was well underway. Then, others noticed. "Hey, I see you doing this and you must be serious about it." If you don't get going--although you absolutely will--you're disappointing yourself which is heavy enough. Do you need grief from others too? Minimize the opportunities of the naysayers. Don't look to others in this challenge; look to yourself. Savor what you are willing to do for you.

Then, do more. That's right. This is not about challenging yourself to do the minimum that you can do, but to exceed your own expectations. I planned for 15 minutes a day, knowing I would never, ever exercise for that short amount of time. I averaged more like 40 minutes a day, sometimes, when my workout started in or around midnight, maybe only doing 20 minutes and some days, when I was particularly motivated, going for a full hour.

Fifth, once you get going, and you're nearing the end of those heady first few days, maybe three or four, when it feels exciting, tell someone. Tell everyone. Because darker days are coming, and you'll need some external support to push you forward. Your best motivation still comes from within, but a little nudge of encouragement from others doesn't hurt.

Sixth, do it. Whatever you said you were going to do, do it. No excuses. I had days when I was dog-tired and tying my sneakers at a quarter to midnight. I had to do it. I promised me, and that's important. There were days when I was dragging and didn't think I could last five minutes on the treadmill. I found that I could always do more than I thought once I got going. Inertia is heavy and resistant, but movable.

Seventh, celebrate your successes in ways that don't sabotage your victory. If you pledge to eat healthy for 30 days, then do that. Don't celebrate after day 10 with a candy bar, though, even a small one. Better yet, don't celebrate that way when the 30 days are up either. I'll talk more about the post-challenge at a later date, but once you've busted your butt for 30 days, why throw it all away for momentary indulgence? (Yes, this means I'll be continuing my exercise.)

Eighth, have fun along the way. This is so obvious but still needs to be said. Be creative with your challenge. Mine was exercise so I met my goal when I ran around a playground--yes, ran!--with my two youngest and when I shot hoops with the family. Because I really was excited about what I was doing, I still worked out on those days, and it felt great!

Ninth, invite others to join you. Because some things are better with friends. Know yourself. I needed to do this first one alone, to push myself in ways I'd not done before. Now, I can take others along for the journey.

Tenth, be prepared. Have a plan. To get through your challenge, you will need to do some planning. Look ahead to see where you might have obstacles in the road to success, and develop a plan. Mine were my bi-weekly hair appointments. Every two weeks without fail, and I, like most other Black women in America, do everything in my power not to look like I even know how to spell s-w-e-a-t for at least 48 hours afterward. So I gave myself that time. I exercised at night, except for on hair days. On those Fridays, I exercised in the morning and then not again until Saturday evening. Not quite 48 hours but good enough. And Saturday following a hair appointment was a light workout so I didn't sweat too much--gotta be cute on Sunday morning--but it still counted.

Then plan for the euphoria you will feel as you reach the end of your challenge, and plan for your next challenge and your transition to it. As I said, I'm going to continue my exercise. 5 days a week minimum. No exceptions. But I'm going to use my 30-day challenge to focus on another part of what I need to do to improve my health. Not sure which one just yet. Perhaps my eating. Getting more sleep. Taking vitamins (sounds simple, I know, but I never quite manage to do it consistently). Remember, your challenge is yours. It may be like swallowing for someone else, involuntary and requiring no thought, but for you, it's an area in your life where you need and have a desire for significant improvement.

Right now, my focus is my health, but there are other areas of my life where I expect to apply the 30-day challenge.  Writing.  Reading my Bible.  Forgoing TV.  It can be applied to anything at all.  It's about stepping stones to an optimal you.

The nice thing about your 30-day Challenge is it's all about you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Featured Book: God Alone Is Enough by Claudia Mair Burney

I know author Claudia Mair Burney by way of her Amanda Bell mystery series, a mix of Christian suspense and romance.  Through her artful storytelling and sometimes lyrical prose, Burney has both pleasured and provoked my soul.  Now Ms. Burney has put her pen to paper for a nonfiction book that explores the art and power of prayer, courtesy of St. Teresa of Avila.

In this unique blog tour, each day a blogger has talked about a single chapter in the book.  (You can find the tour schedule here.) The final chapter is chapter 13, The Mysteries of the Bridal Chamber.

To bring you up to speed, Burney invites readers to take a prayer journey, guided by the provocative and powerful words of St. Teresa of Avila, a Roman Catholic saint. Like Burney, I too grew up in a church environment where "the esteemed dead in Christ are gone for heaven's sake". The "saints" were alive and well, or dead and never to be communicated with again.

Thus, I came to this blog tour with curiousity and not a small amount of apprehension. But I'm glad I did.

Regarding contemplative prayer as a means to growing closer to God, St. Teresa compares the soul to a castle with many rooms, not unlike the mansion God has prepared for each of us, the entry door being prayer.

Before we get to the bridal chamber, we must first go through rooms one through three, dark places where we must become more self-aware and get past the worldly things--possessions, accolades, business affairs, etc.--that cloud our minds and lessen our ability to hear God. Room four is a transitional place, brighter where our "holy longing" is more acute but still fraught with temptations and the possibility of falling prey to spiritual disappointments.

In this last chapter, however, Burney tells us, now that we've made it past the first four rooms in our soul's castle, we've arrived at a place that's not for the faint of heart. It's time for the spiritual "meat", and she likens this meat to "steak tartare...raw and dangerous".

Here, in rooms five through seven, is where we see ourselves as the spiritual brides of Christ, longing for Him, waiting for Him following our betrothal, and giving ourselves wholly to Him upon His return to us, the intensity of our passion for Him growing to the point of each passage into the next room growing aching and unbearable.

As Burney says, this is "heady stuff". I can't tell how many times I've heard recited or read the Scriptures likening Christ to the bridegroom.  I've mostly considered these to deal with the unbeliever coming, as the bride, and joining with Christ in salvation. Not so much have I've given thought to them with regard to continuing to seek Him after one is already in relationship with Him. But as Burney so pointedly notes, "we rarely trust what we already know how to do, which is why we miss many precious encounters with God".

Have you taken God for granted? I sure have. Not intentionally, of course. I certainly seek Him when I have need of Him or desire His grace for someone else, and I pray throughout the day, but I can't say that I walk around with a heart-wrenching longing for Christ every day. Sad and difficult to admit, but true. I've spiritual work to do.

"In the seventh dwelling things are different from before. God removes the scales from the eyes of he soul so she can understand in some way the grace she's received...What we knew by faith is now understood by sight, so to speak...The truth is, she's (the soul's) more active than before, especially where God's work is concerned, and where she's not busy serving him, she enjoys his ceaseless companionship. Unless she turns away from God, he'll keep her aware of his presence and she'll possess an assurance that God will never take the favor he's given her away now that he's bestowed it."

So go the words of St. Teresa of Avila. A ceaseless companionship such that the favor of God will never be taken away? Wow. Almost unimaginable.

But if we embark on this prayer adventure with Burney and St. Teresa, we may find the way to achieve such a state and our souls most certainly will be blessed.God Alone Is Enough is a wonderful companion guide for the journey.


"Joyous, sprightly, earthy, zestful and real, St. Teresa of Avila comes bursting forth in this vibrant new book. Claudia Mair Burney is the perfect guide to lead readers into the freeing, but often misunderstood, spiritual insights of one of history's most remarkable women." -- James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints

You have the opportunity to spend a few hours listening to the wise advice of a prayer warrior--one of the most interesting women to ever follow Jesus with abandon. So pull up a chair as Claudia Mair Burney introduces you to Teresa of Avila. You'll be able to say you've met a real saint.

"A perfect read for all who thirst for spiritual waters." -- Lisa Samson, author of The Passion of Mary Margaret.


Claudia Mair Burney is the author of seven novels, including the Amanda Bell Brown mysteries, and Zora and Nicky, and Christy Award finalist in 2009. Readers familiar with her style will enjoy this rollicking journey through their own interior castles. She lives in Kentucky, where she also authors the popular blog, "Ragamuffin Diva."

Learn more about the book at Paraclete Press.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Worship: How Great Is Our God

I think I featured this song before, but doesn't matter. Never grow tired of acknowledging the goodness and greatness of God.

Peace & Blessings,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Featured Book: Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff

If you find humor in Christianity, this book is for you.  Jon Acuff has one of the best Christian satirical blogs there is, and keeps me laughing daily with posts on subjects like how to know whether you're qualified to usher, knowing whether an American Idol contestant is Christian, and pastors' kids gone wild.  Along the way, he also takes a serious look at faith, helping readers to lighten up and in doing so, draw closer to Christ.

It's not uncommon for me to email the link to one of his posts to a bunch of friends.  Now, the book has been released, and I can encourage everyone I know to pick up a copy.  You'll find laughter...and God.


Sometimes, we fall in love on mission trips even though we know we'll break up when we get back. Sometimes, you have to shot block a friend's prayer because she's asking God to bless an obviously bad dating relationship. Sometimes, you think, "I wish I had a t-shirt that said 'I direct deposit my tithe' so people wouldn't judge me."

Sometimes, the stuff that comes with faith is funny.

This is that stuff.

Jonathan Acuff's Stuff Christians Like is your field guide to all things Christian. In it you'll learn the culinary magic of the crock-pot. Think you've got a Metro worship leader-Use Acuff's checklist. Want to avoid a prayer handholding faux pas? Acuff has you covered.

Like a satirical grenade, Acuff brings us the humor and honesty that galvanized more than a million online readers from more than 200 countries in a new portable version. Welcome to the funny side of faith.


For the last ten years, Jonathan Acuff has written advertising for clients ranging from the Home Depot to Chick-fil-A.  In addition to his many day jobs, he also writes a blog called Stuff Christians Like.  He and his wife live with their two daughters outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

For more information, please visit

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday Worship: It's All God

No matter where I find myself, up or down, I'm thankful that I know "it's all God".

Especially in those "down" moments.  I may have to still myself, pinch myself, remind myself, but I do remember that life isn't something that is happening to me.  Rather, it's a gift from God, something for me make the most of, with all that I am and all that I have.

I'm not much of a quartet fan, but I always loved the Winans.  This group, the Soul Seekers, kind of reminds me of them.  (Probably has a lot to do with their guest, Bishop Marvin Winans).

It's Day 8 for me on the 30-day Exercise Challenge.  Are you with me?

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Tacky Invitation to my 30-Day Exercise Challenge

This post is akin to me hosting a party and calling you from said party to say I meant to invite you.  Really.  But I forgot.  Yes, the party is already underway, but I really want you to come.  So do you mind dropping what you're doing and coming by?

Tacky, tacky, tacky.

My apologies.

It is Day 7 of my 30-Day Exercise Challenge.  On June 1st, well really, it was June 2nd, but my sense of time was all messed up by the Memorial Day holiday, I began a 30-day challenge.  The challenge:  I will exercise in a concerted fashion for a minimum of 15 minutes every day for 30 days straight.

That's it.  Pretty straightforward, right?  By concerted fashion, I mean something other than housework or running errands or even playing with my kids, unless we're in some type of athletic pursuit like basketball, tennis, swimming or such.  Mostly I use the treadmill, exercise bike, and free weights.

Please feel free to join me.  (I know, I know, but I've already apologized for the tardiness and tackiness of my invitation.)

How did this come about?

You've probably noticed I haven't blogged much about my weight loss efforts in the last, uh, year. That's because I lost 23 lbs last year but gained about a quarter of those back by year's end.  My gaining continued into 2010, even while I went to a free 12-week Weight Watchers At Work program where I went up and down and up and down, finishing at about a +3 lbs, I think, but ultimately up nearly 50% of last year's loss.  Shortly after that, I noticed my hands and ankles were retaining water, and my knees were starting to ache.  Oh, boy.  Not good.

I jumped back on the weight loss bandwagon.  (Yes, I know yo-yo'ing is not healthy, but isn't it yo-yo'ing only when you have a period in which you completely forget about losing weight and don't even try?  I never forget.  Not even in the middle of an all-out snack binge.  It's an ever present thought, 365 days of the year.)

Anyway, I have since lost all of the weight I had regained.  I am firmly back at last year's low and this time, I'm continuing on my journey.  For me, that means exercise and nutrition working in tandem.  I've learned that when I'm exercising, I tend to eat better.  The same is not true for when I'm eating right.  I do not necessarily exercise better, or more, or at all.

So to keep things interesting and moving forward, I decided to challenge myself.

30 straight days of exercise.

So far, it hasn't been too difficult.  My average time is 35 minutes per day, and the only major obstacle I had was the night of my son's prekindergarten graduation, when I found myself exercising at 11:30 at night, something I never would have done without this challenge.

I foresee some challenges on the horizon, like beauty parlor days.  I typically get my hair done on Fridays and don't even think about exercising again until the following Monday.  I need to get the most out of my newly coiffed head, and certainly want to look cute for church on Sunday.  I'm thinking I'll have to exercise the morning of my appointments which means getting it in before work, and then Saturday evening.  Since I vary the intensity of my workouts, trust me, Saturday and Sunday after a hair appointment will be lighter workouts.

So that's what's going on with me and my weight loss woes.  Feel free to join me in this challenge.  Unlike other bloggers, I don't have a cool prize to offer you other than the satisfaction of getting it done, and the glow you'll feel when you weigh yourself on July 2nd.  (The challenge began June 2nd and runs thru July 1st.)  After all, all this exercise has to result in reduced tonnage, doesn't it?

I'll be really impressed if you start your own 30-day challenge, a full 30 days.  If exercise isn't the bane of your existence, try something else, like forgoing dessert for 30 days or boycotting dairy or drinking more than 8 oz of water.  How about it?

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, June 7, 2010

Featured Book: What Your Son Isn't Telling You by Michael Ross & Susie Shellenberger

The title of this book, What Your Son Isn't Telling You: Unlocking the Secret World of Teen Boys, got my attention.  After all, we're raising three sons, one of whom is firmly embedded in the teen years, on his way to becoming a man and making it harder for me to know what he's thinking and feeling day to day.  I used to be able to look at him and tell him what was on his mind.  He would looked stunned, and I would reply, "I know you better than you know you."  It was true...then.  Now, not so much, although I still astonish him at times.

So of course, I'd be interested in a book that purports to help me understand my sons better.

I'm not sure whether this book does what it claims to do, as I've always made it my business to have open lines of communication with my children, and thereby, few surprises.  I didn't find a lot of "a-ha" moments or new information here.  It did, however, trigger memories of my own childhood, raising a few issues and feelings for me to be on the lookout for that I may have forgotten.  For that alone, it was worth the read.

Interestingly enough, I asked my teen to take a look at the book.  He didn't read it--not his cup of tea, of course--but he did thumb through it, stopping to read selected passages that caught his eye.  When he was done, he handed it back to me, and said, "Who are they talking about?  That's not me."  Either there's more that he's not telling me, or this book really doesn't speak to his experience.  I believe it's the latter.  If there is any place where cultural differences come to light and children struggle with them as they establish their sense of self and identity, it's during the teen years.  This book, although well-meaning and sufficient for many, doesn't address those differences at all.  That's why my child felt they were talking about kids other than himself, kids he might go to school with but who he doesn't really connect with on a deeper level.

Still, I would recommend this book particularly to those parents who feel distanced from their children and need help establishing better communication with them.  Putting cultural differences aside, there are many more similarities among teens than not, and What Your Son Isn't Telling You is a good place to start thinking about what your teens might be thinking.


Full of practical help, What Your Son Isn't Telling You gives parents behind-the-scenes footage they can miss in the day-to-day life of their son. Parents will begin to see and understand not only the world in which their teenage sons exist, but also their struggle to become their own person versus the desire to measure up as man by conforming to a false code of always being a tough guy, never showing weakness, and never expressing true feelings.

Each chapter of this must-read book is packed with real-life stories and emails from teen boys that will give parents a new understanding of what their sons aren't telling them

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Featured Book: Uncovered: Revealing the Secrets of a Sexy Marriage by Susie Davis

How many Christian marriage books recommend having regular "quickies"? Today's book, Uncovered: Finding the Secrets to a Sexy Marriage, does.

In August, my husband and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage.  Although there have been way more days of rainbow and sunshine than dark clouds, we've had our moments and we're still together.  Believe me, I don't take this for granted. Just yesterday, it was announced that former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, are separating after 40 years. 40 years?

One thing that helps married couples is being open to new information and new ways of looking at familiar topics.  This is what made me sign up to tour this book.

I'm reading slowly because there is so much good stuff to digest, but to give you a better sense, here's another quote that I just love: "He didn't marry you because you were a great mom, sister, daughter, get the drift. He married you because you were plain and simple a fabulous, sensual woman. Yes, take a breath, dear, of course he loves 'your personality and your heart' but let's get real. He looked at you and he saw lips, breasts, curvy hips, bodacious booty--you know, all that."

Gotta love a marriage book with plain language that gets right down to the nitty gritty.  Here's what the publisher has to say:


In Uncovered, author and radio talk-show host Susie Davis offers wives a vantage point into their marriage that they’ve never had before: through the eyes of their husbands.

“I want women to understand what their husbands are really thinking and begin to understand what he really needs from her,” Davis says. “When you read these authentic testimonies, where husbands share what’s really on their hearts about their marriages, you start to see your husband in a different light and revolutionize your marriage.”

That’s the premise she offers in her latest book, Uncovered: Revealing the Secrets of a Sexy Marriage, where she pinpoints how wives can cultivate closer relationships with their spouses and understand their husbands’ needs.

But Davis knew that what would make these concepts resonate with readers was to hear what real men had to say on the subjects, ranging from quality sex and intimacy to how often they’d like to hear encouragements from their wives. So she formed a focus group of husbands—from construction workers to CEOs and even pastors, who all who have been married for at least ten years in Christ-centered marriages—and gathered their honest responses on these subjects and more.

Bolstered with biblical wisdom, practical sense and a bit of feminine charm, Davis helps wives understand what their husbands really want out of their marriage and what matters most to them, ranging from sex to finances to having fun together.

Readers will learn to:
  • Rediscover the “red hot mama” within herself and a sexy self-confidence about her body
  • Understand the powerful influence she has over her man—to do good or harm
  • Create a craving for sexual intimacy, even when life gets busy
  • Guard against materialism and the burden it can put on a marriage
  • Invite laughter and fun into your marriage, like when you were first dating
  • Communicate with their husbands in new ways
  • Discover the mission statement for their marriage
Susie Davis is the author of several books, including Parenting Your Teen and Loving It, and is a popular retreat and conference speaker. She is founder and director of Susie Davis Ministries and has a passion for helping others develop God-centered relationships. With her husband, Will, she co-founded Austin Christian Fellowship in Austin, Texas, where he serves as senior pastor and she frequently teaches. They have three children.

Susie is also a morning radio show host in Austin, on The River's Family Friendly Mornings on 105.9FM. One other book she authored, that I'd like to point out if for no reason other than I love the title, is Loving Your Man without Losing Your Mind. Find out more about Susie at her website,

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Peace & Blessings,


Friday, May 28, 2010

Featured Book: Storylines by Andry Croft and Mike Pilavachi

Looking for a way to help your youth better understand the Bible?  I requested this book for my son.  I think, if I can get him to crack the cover, he'll be pleasantly surprised.

In their new book, Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible (David C Cook, March 2010), Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft provide readers with the keys to unlocking their understanding of the complex, confusing and sometimes intimidating stories of faith found in the Bible.

Intended for beginners, rather than biblical scholars, Storylines explores the six main themes of the Bible—Jesus, Covenant, (Divine) Presence, Kingdom, Salvation, and Worship—and takes an exciting journey into the “big pictures” of Scripture. On the way, readers will also uncover amazing truths about the Person to whom all Scriptures ultimately point.

“We believe the six majors motifs we investigate in Storylines are the strong cords that will bind together readers’ understanding of Scripture, helping them grasp the central ideas before delving into the details,” say authors Pilavachi and Croft, leaders of the U.K.’s biggest Christian youth event, Soul Survivor. “We hope the book we’ve written will make a massive impact on readers’ lives; we know that it has deeply affected ours!”

Storylines is topped and tailed by an overview of Scripture’s content—a concise summary of the Bible in 20 pages!—and a brief history of how the Bible came to be in its present form. In between, each chapter focuses on one “thread” and closes with a “paperchase” that summarizes how that particular theme develops through Scripture. Throughout the book, readers will encounter Old Testament characters and events who anticipate the fullness that came in Christ and is being worked out in the world through the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church.

With a youth-friendly style, Storylines is a handy and much needed resource for pastors and youth leaders concerned about low biblical literacy levels in their churches and groups. Older Christians will also find it lively and refreshing as they, too, trace the threads that run through the Bible. The future sequel to Storylines, Lifelines, will be a journey through big ideas in Scripture—biblical values and life management issues such as generosity, sexual morality, and anxiety—to equip readers for living.


Mike Pilavachi is the founder and public face of the U.K.’s biggest Christian youth event, Soul Survivor (25,000 annual attendance), and senior pastor of the Soul Survivor church in Watford, North London. He is the author of Live the Life, For the Audience of One, Wasteland?: Encountering God in the Desert, and Worship, Evangelism, Justice.

Andy Croft is a young twenty-something who has just been awarded a First Class Theology degree from Cambridge University. He is due to be the next leader of Soul Survivor.


A guide to understanding the Bible, Storylines, seemed to be just the thing to help open up the wonders of the faith to my teen son.  Much more than those old yellow-and-black Cliff Notes of my day or today's popular "Dummies" books, Storylines provides an easy-to-follow overview and discussion of the key pillars of the Christian faith. Written by two youth pastors, it is appropriate for any student of any age who is interested in looking at the Scriptures in a new and thorough way.

This is not a book that one plows through, but rather a guide that can be read before, during, or following a walk through the Bible.   They use modern, real-world examples from their personal lives and imaginations to bring their points home and to make the Scripture come alive.  Not counting the Introduction, Acknowledgements, and Appendix, the book numbers fewer than 170 pages.  What more could a mother ask for in a companion guide for a teenager?


The Jesus Storyline

Years ago, when I was in my teens and Mike was having his first midlife crisis, a series of very popular picture books came out. Perhaps you remember them: They were called Where’s Waldo? The basic idea was you would look at a big picture that would tell a story; there’d be loads of characters in it and tons of stuff going on. Waldo (a little bloke in a red-and-white shirt) was hiding somewhere in the picture. Sometimes he’d be up a tree, sometimes under water, sometimes he’d be in a massive crowd, often he’d be peering out from behind a corner, and almost always he’d be hidden from plain view. The challenge was to find him hidden in the story the picture told.

Two thousand years ago Jesus said to a bunch of Pharisees, “Where’s Waldo?” But he said it like this, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.

These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40). Jesus wasn’t talking about the New Testament, because his biography hadn’t been written yet, so he must have been talking about the Old Testament. But how could he have been? Everyone knows the Old Testament was about Israel and Moses, David, Abraham, Joshua, and others. Did Jesus get this one wrong? Had he eaten a rotten fig for breakfast? Or …have we all been missing something? Could it be possible that, like Waldo in the picture books, Jesus appears hidden all over the Old Testament?

You probably already know that Jesus is all over the Bible; in the Old Testament he’s concealed, in the New Testament he’s revealed. Finding Jesus in the Old Testament is not just a game, like finding Waldo. It’s more like a treasure hunt, and it brings the story of God to life in a whole new way. Throughout the Old Testament we see strong hints, images, and prophecies about Jesus. In the New Testament those hints, images, and prophecies are unveiled; the curtain is ripped apart, from top to bottom, to reveal the star of the whole show. Let’s go on a journey together to find Jesus in the crowd of Old Testament heroes.


The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen. 6:5–8)

The human race was so messed up there was no way to straighten it out. God decided to bring a flood and wipe out every creature. There was just one problem. Noah.

Noah and God were friends, and Noah was a righteous man. To destroy every living creature would have meant the unjust of killing his friend. God longed to save Noah, and so he commanded him to build a massive ark. We’ve been to the Middle East, and in case you hadn’t realized, it’s a desert! Despite how stupid he looked, Noah obeyed God to the point of humiliation. But it meant that, when the rains hit, Noah was saved. What’s more, his whole family came with him. Why was Noah’s family saved? Were they righteous? No. Noah was the only righteous one around, but because they were attached to him, his family got to come along!

The first hero of the Old Testament is our first signpost to Jesus. The flood didn’t solve the problem of humanity’s wickedness. God’s righteous judgment is still that humanity deserves to die in its wickedness and be cut off from him forever. However, God has found one totally righteous man, even more righteous than Noah. This righteous man obeyed God to the point of utter humiliation, dying on a cross. What’s more, all the unrighteous people who attach themselves to him are saved. After the flood a rainbow was the sign of God’s promises; today it is the cross. All who shelter in Jesus, the ark of salvation, are not wiped out but given eternal life. Sometimes when we read about the cross, it can seem mysterious—something that’s difficult to get our heads around. Discovering things like this throughout the Old Testament on one level helps us to understand it better—the patterns of salvation often reoccur. But on another level it speaks of the wonder and increases the mystery. Thousands of years before the birth of Jesus, God was carefully laying out the foundations for his master plan …

Abraham and Isaac

Several chapters later in Genesis, we come across a strange scene. In Genesis 22 we find an old man holding a knife over the chest of a young boy he’s about to sacrifice. Years ago God had promised the old man that he would have a son, and after an age of waiting, Isaac was born. The baby became a boy, and Abraham loved him dearly. It was at that point God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Gen. 22:2).

How could God command someone to sacrifice his own son? And yet—“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …” (John 3:16). The words of John, describing God’s giving of his beloved Son, deliberately echo those of Genesis 22:2. God asked no more of Abraham than God himself was willing to give. God gave up his only Son, whom he loved, completely out of choice and love for us.

The old man obeyed God: “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey” (Gen. 22:3). Father, son, and donkey headed to the region of Moriah. When Mike and I visited Israel, we were amazed to discover that the region of Moriah is where, hundreds of years after Abraham, Jerusalem was built! And so when we read about Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey, we’re reading about another father, another son, and another donkey riding into exactly the same area Abraham had been told to head to. In little, subtle ways—ways that we wouldn’t notice unless we looked for them—God is laying down hints in the Old Testament of the plans he has for his Son in the New Testament.

When Abraham and Isaac arrived, we read that the father placed the wood for the sacrifice on the back of his son: “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife” (Gen. 22:6). Isaac then carried the wood for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah. Isn’t this amazing? Centuries later,the Father placed the cross, the wood for the sacrifice, on the back of his Son. Jesus then carried the wood for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah.

Upon reaching the top of the hill, Isaac said to Abraham, “The fire and wood are here … but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen. 22: 7). “Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (Gen. 22:8). Abraham then tied his son to the wood and was about to kill him when the Lord cried for him to stop. God told Abraham to sacrifice a ram he saw caught in a hedge. Rejoicing, Abraham took it and sacrificed it in the place of his son. “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’”(Gen. 22:14). Two thousand years later on a mountain in the region of Moriah, the Lord did provide. He provided not a ram but a lamb for the offering … the Lamb of God. He is “my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). This provision of Jesus for us was something God had planned and intended from the beginning, before any of us were born. The storyline of Jesus running through the life of Abraham and Isaac shows us that even before most of the people in the Old Testament had been born, God knew what was going to happen, and he knew what it was going to cost him. He knew what you were going to cost—and then he went ahead anyway.


So we move on to Joseph. Jesus is everywhere in his story. God’s plan from the beginning, revealed to Joseph in his dreams (Gen. 37), was that he would achieve a high status and bring blessing and salvation to many others through that ruling status. Jesus was born to rule. He was born to be King, and because of his kingship many would find salvation.

Joseph’s brothers became jealous and did what many of us want to do with our siblings: They sold him into slavery. Joseph was sold to merchants for twenty pieces of silver. Years later Jesus was sold to the Jewish leaders for thirty pieces of silver. Just think—if only it had been the same price, it would have been a perfect parallel … what a shame … But wait! The Bible tells us that Joseph was sold for the going price of a slave in 1900 BC and Jesus for the going price of a slave in AD 30. The price had gone up, but God had accounted for inflation!

Joseph was eventually sold to Potiphar, a high official in Egypt, and soon became his right-hand man. Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce Joseph. She was very subtle—“Come to bed with me!” she begged. “No way, José!” Joseph replied, and when Mrs. Potiphar came in one door, he ran out the other. Jesus was tempted in the desert by the Devil. The Devil offered him all the kingdoms of the world if only Jesus would bow down and worship him. In response to the Devil’s seduction, Jesus said, “Get lost!” (or words to that effect). By not sleeping with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph resisted abusing the power his master had given him; by not “getting into bed” with the Devil, Jesus refused to abuse the power God had given him.

Mrs. Potiphar accused Joseph of a crime he did not commit. He was unjustly sentenced and thrown into the deepest dungeon. Jesus, years later, was accused of crimes he did not commit and was unjustly sentenced. While Joseph was serving his sentence, two criminals came to join him. Years later, while Jesus was serving his sentence on the cross, two criminals joined him. You can read in Genesis 40 about how Joseph, through the interpretation of a dream, spoke words of life to one of those criminals. Joseph promised he would be saved, and the criminal was later released. You can also read in Luke 23 about how, as he was dying between two criminals, Jesus spoke words of life to one. Jesus promised he would be saved, and we can be sure that criminal is now with Jesus in paradise.

Joseph was eventually released from prison. From the lowest pits of jail, he became Pharaoh’s prime minister, the highest position in Egypt. He named his second son Ephraim (meaning “fruitful”) and said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Gen. 41:52). Egypt was an alien land that was not his home. When God became man, he was born into an alien land that was not his home, and yet it was in this land of suffering that God made Jesus fruitful. He was raised up from the lowest point—death—and is now seated at the right hand of God.

Famine struck the whole area, and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food. They were reunited with Joseph, the brother they’d sold into a life of slavery. Instead of having them killed, Joseph forgave them, assuring them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). He went on to save the lives of all his brothers, of those who had sinned against him. He brought them from a place of famine and death to one of abundant life.

The Jewish religious leaders, Pilate, and the Roman soldiers—as our representatives—accomplished what they intended in harming Jesus to the point of death on the cross. Jesus, as he was dying, cried out, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). We, the human race, meant the death of Jesus for harm, but God meant it for good. He intended it to accomplish what is now being fulfilled, a passage from certain death to abundant life, the saving of many lives.

Isn’t this incredible? Joseph was born to be a ruler, he was sold into slavery, he was severely tempted, he went through great suffering, he predicted the salvation of one he suffered with, he was raised up again by God, he forgave those who’d sinned against him, and he declared it had happened that many might be saved.

Jesus’ storyline is central to the story of the Bible, and it runs like a bullet through the story of Joseph. This is more than just an amazing biblical parallel—it carries with it a message for us today. Ever felt insecure about God’s love? Ever been a little unsure as to whether or not he’ll bring about what he’s promised? Ever messed it up and thought, “It’s been one too many; God’s probably going to quit on me this time”? We can draw deep confidence from the fact that God planned his death on the cross. The way that Joseph’s life prophesies Jesus’ shows in an incredible way that God always thought we were going to be worth it—his decision to come to earth wasn’t a last-minute afterthought. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus is from “the beginning,” and Joseph’s story backs that up—he is from the beginning, and he was always going to bring about the ending. This picture is yet another guarantee to our hearts of the love God has—and has always had—for us.


Hundreds of years later the descendants of Joseph and his brothers had undergone a population explosion. They were now the people of Israel and were being used and abused as slaves by the Egyptians.

God heard the cry of those he loved, now slaves to Pharaoh, and through Moses he set out to do something about it. We read that, at the start of Exodus (chapter 3), the Lord revealed himself to Moses and commanded him to go and save the Israelites. Before he went anywhere, Moses wanted to know who this burning bush of a God was: “Who shall I say has sent me?” he asked. God replied, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14). God’s name was “I AM.”

Also, Moses was understandably a bit nervous about taking on Egypt single-handedly, and he asked God, “Who am I, that I should go?” This time God ignored his question. He didn’t say “You’re Moses, kung fu champion!” He just replied, “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12). The only thing Moses needed to know on this account was that God had his back.

So God’s rescue operation for a people who were suffering as slaves involved one man. The reason this one man was going to save anyone was because God was with him. Who was this God that was with him? I AM.

Hundreds of years later God again heard the cry of those he loved who were slaves to sin, and through Jesus he set out to do something about it. Moses had asked the God of the burning bush who he was. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Who do you think you are?” (John 8:53). Amazingly Jesus said in response, “‘Before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him …” (8:58–59). Some of the Jews responded with outrage; they wanted to kill Jesus. Why? Because he was claiming to be God. When they asked him who he was, he told them he was I AM. The God I AM went with Moses to save a people; the God I AM came in person to save a world. One of Jesus’ titles is Emmanuel. It means “God with us.”

Moses confronted the evil powers of Egypt, defeated them—and Pharaoh released Israel. They started the hike out of Egypt, but before long Pharaoh changed his mind; he sent everything he had after them. If we pick up the trail in Exodus 14, we find Israel trapped. In front of them lay the Red Sea, and behind them the Egyptian army was closing in. They had no options. Then God told Moses to raise his staff out over the waves of the Red Sea. Moses obeyed, and the waters parted. Through Moses’ actions a way to freedom and life opened up—Israel now had one option! They passed through the waters and passed from death to life.

In front of all of us lies death; in and around all of us is the evil of this age. Do we have any options? Miraculously God provided an option for all who are trapped. Jesus defeated the evil power of this age (Satan); he conquered sin and death. Through Jesus’ actions a way to freedom and life has opened up. We now have one option! In following Jesus we can be saved. Like the Israelites following Moses, on our journey we, too, pass through water in our crossing from death to life: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). Ours is the water of baptism.

Moses’ and Israel’s hike through the wilderness went on for years and years. Mike and I recently went hiking down the Grand Canyon. It lasted for hours rather than years. Still, when we walked through the Grand Canyon, it was baking hot and hard work. After an hour or so, Mike started to moan … “I’m thirsty, I want some water!” He’s Greek, so he tends to exaggerate, and he started to whine, “This is the end, I’m going to die!” Throughout the hike down, Mike complained, moaned, and whined at me. First he wanted water. Then he wanted food. After he’d eaten five PowerBars, he wanted a different sort of food … and so it went …

Moses was in a similar situation in the desert with Israel. They moaned, they whined, they groaned, and they rebelled. If we pick up the story in Exodus 32, we read that the people of Israel had just built themselves another god! Despite all God’s amazing miracles they still mutinied and wanted to worship gods of their own hands. When Moses discovered this, he exclaimed in horror, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin” (Ex. 32:30).

Earlier, God, knowing what the people of Israel were up to, said to Moses, “Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation” (Ex. 32:10).

What an offer! God told Moses to get out of the way; he was going to destroy Israel and start again with Moses’ own children. Moses had a chance to get rid of the nation that had been a pain in his backside ever since leaving Egypt, and to start his own dynasty! There were moments when, had God appeared to me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and offered to kill Mike, I would have replied, “Brilliant idea, Lord! In fact I’ll help you!”

Moses didn’t respond like that. He didn’t ask for a machine gun. Instead, after seeing Israel’s sin, he said this: “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex. 32:31–32).

Astonishing! Instead of offering to help God wipe out Israel, Moses asked to be wiped out in their place! God refused Moses’ offer. He had another plan. Moses’ offer was well meant, but he didn’t realize he didn’t have the right qualifications. God didn’t blot Moses out for the sake of Israel’s sin. He already had someone else in mind. About 1,400 years later it was the life of Jesus, not the life of Moses, that was blotted out to make up for sin.

Sometimes the Bible can seem a little disjointed—we can read one story and wonder if it’s got anything at all to do with the one we were reading the week before. Jesus is the center and the heart of the Bible; again here we see how the life and actions of Moses point forward to who Jesus is and what he was coming to do.

[Note: Mike would like it to be known that he was not allowed to contribute to this section, and in fact disassociates himself from the accuracy of the illustration used above … I, however, insist it’s true, and I’ve got the emotional scars to prove it.]


David was born in the small town of Bethlehem. Samuel the prophet declared he was chosen by God to be king of Israel. When Samuel poured the oil onto David, God anointed him for this task. Soon afterward David fought the great battle with Goliath. We find the site of the battle in 1 Samuel 17. The people of Israel were lined up against their archenemies, the Philistines. The huge Philistine champion would daily shout to all the Israelite soldiers, “C’mon then, if you think you’re tough enough!” None of Israel’s soldiers thought they were tough enough, and no one would go and fight Goliath. This went on for weeks until David the shepherd boy arrived and volunteered. He went out alone to face the enemy as the representative of his people, Israel. David won a great victory without using the weapons of the world—he refused to wear a sword or armor. Instead he used a sling, the weapon of a shepherd boy, and it was in this apparent weakness that he defeated Goliath. David declared, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s …” (1 Sam. 17:47).

Jesus was born in the same small town of Bethlehem. At Jesus’ baptism John the Baptist declared that Jesus had been chosen by God to be the Savior of the world, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on him (Luke 3:22)—Jesus was spiritually anointed for his task. Having been prepared in this way, Jesus faced the Enemy of the human race, Satan. He entered the battlefield of the desert where he encountered and withstood Satan for forty days. Three years later he went alone to the cross as the representative of the whole world. He won the victory over Satan without using the weapons of the world. Instead Jesus, the Good Shepherd, won the victory in the weakness of the cross; it was not to be by sword or spear that the Lord would save but by laying down his life for the sheep.

David was anointed to be king of Israel. Jesus, the Christ (which means “the anointed one”), was called “The King of the Jews” at his crucifixion. Jesus was also called “the Son of David,” and people expected the Messiah to be like David. Many expected a David-type military leader who would arrive to kick the Romans’ heads in. Jesus was like David, but not in the ways that were expected.

Of all David’s psalms, Psalm 23 is the most well known, but the psalm that comes immediately before it is an incredible prophecy about the death of Jesus. It is one of the so-called “messianic psalms” (because it points ahead to the Messiah), and it begins with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus knew his Scriptures, and so when he cried these words on the cross, he knew he was quoting from Psalm 22. Before we go on to look at this psalm further, we suggest you put this book down, open your Bible, and read Psalm 22 for yourself. Where do you see Jesus in this psalm?

Now let’s look together:

The psalm that begins with the words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” continues with many other striking references to Jesus on the cross.

David says, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him’” (22:6–8). The cries of scorn heaped on Jesus by those present at the crucifixion are almost identical:

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matt. 27:41–43)

The psalm continues, “From my mother’s womb you have been my God” (Ps. 22:10). If anyone could say those words with more integrity than David, it was the son of Mary. The psalmist goes on, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (22:15). The phrase “my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” is simply another way of saying “I’m thirsty.” Jesus said on the cross, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).

The next verse is translated, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet” (Ps. 22:16). David wrote these words hundreds of years before the Roman punishment of crucifixion had even been invented.…

He continues, “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (22:18). Luke tells us that at the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion “… they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34).

Psalm 22:22 says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” The stunning thing about this verse is that the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament tells us that Jesus said it too: “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises’” (Heb. 2:11–12).

Perhaps most amazing of all, the psalm that started with the words that began Jesus’ crucifixion—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—ends with these five words: “for he has done it” (Ps. 22:31). Only Jesus was able to put these five words into the first person: “It is finished” (John 19:30). For he has done it—it is finished.

How amazing that David, without knowing it, should have written these words for the “Son of David,” his Lord, to speak on the cross a thousand years later!


We have listed just a few of the references to Jesus in the Old Testament. There are many others. We encourage you to go on a treasure hunt of your own! None of this is to say that the stories in the Old Testament don’t have a power, force, and meaning of their own—they do very much! In this chapter, however, we are only interested in tracing the storyline of Jesus through the Old Testament. It’s like going to an IMAX cinema and being given special 3–D goggles when you go in. Try watching the screen without the goggles, and the pictures are there—though slightly blurred. Once you’ve put on the 3–D goggles, there’s suddenly a whole new, sharp, remarkable dimension that comes into view. We’ve just watched some events of the lives of only a few of the characters of the Old Testament—Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, and David—wearing our 3–D goggles; even with only this brief snapshot, some of what was concealed has been revealed. What we need to remember is that this isn’t just a clever joining of dots to make neat parallels—this is rich and glorious truth. It’s the plan of salvation for our lives laid out through the lives of the Old Testament heroes. It’s part of the mystery and wonder of God that he was able to weave the story of Jesus into the lives of his most faithful followers in the Old Testament in such an incredible way. In the same way, he is weaving the story of Jesus into our lives and our individual stories.

The Messianic Prophecies

There are also over three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As we said at the beginning of this chapter, Jesus identified himself in the Old Testament when he said to the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40).

At the end of the chapter, we’ve listed tons of the messianic prophecies, and we hope you’ll take the time to open your Bible and discover more of them. But for now, we’d like to look at one of the most significant passages, found in Isaiah 53. Before this chapter Isaiah has been talking about the plight of Israel, how they have turned from their God, worshipped idols, and broken his laws by acting unjustly toward one another. The book of Isaiah begins before the exile in Babylon and then continues during the exile. Isaiah begins to speak hope to a hopeless people. He declares that God has not given up on his people and describes the coming of an anointed one, a Messiah who will bring salvation to Israel. In chapter 53 this Messiah is described in detail. We again urge you, put down this book, open the Bible to Isaiah 53, and read it. Too much explanation of this chapter is unnecessary; it speaks clearly for itself.

In Isaiah 53:2 we notice that when God came to earth, he didn’t look like Brad Pitt. We are also told the coming king would be “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (53:3). This is key, as many of the Jews were expecting a victorious and powerful leader. Verse 6 lays out the sin for which the servant of God would die, the sin of human beings choosing their own way instead of God’s. This verse reminds us that the heart of sin is going astray, choosing to live independently from him; the choice made by Adam and Eve. Verse 7 speaks of the fact that when Jesus, the Lamb of God, was brought before his accusers, he did not defend himself. Jesus himself even quotes verse 12 at the Last Supper in Luke 22:37: “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” Isaiah 53 was fulfilled hundreds of years later when Jesus, dying on the cross, “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (53:12).

We began this chapter by saying that Jesus is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New. The fact is that Jesus hasn’t been concealed very well—we’ve looked at only a few examples, yet pictures and prophecies of Jesus are all over the place!

What does all this tell us? First, Jesus Christ is the central character of the whole Bible. He does not just appear in the last scene. The person of Jesus is, if you like, the glue that holds the whole Bible together. Secondly, this tells us that Jesus was not Plan B. His birth, life, death, and resurrection were written into the script from the very beginning. Our sin and rebellion did not take God by surprise, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not need to have an emergency cabinet meeting in heaven to work out the rescue plan. Before creation began, God knew that he would have to become part of, and suffer with, his creation. (Take a look at Revelation 13:8.)

A wise couple counts the cost before deciding to have a baby. There is the possibility of several months of vomiting followed by hours of agony for one partner. Then years of sleepless nights for both, followed by the expenditure of ridiculous amounts of money on toys, school uniforms, etc. Then more sleepless nights as they wonder where the teenage offspring are at 2:00 a.m. and even more expenditure if they try and send them to college.

A couple who has counted the cost of all this, but who has decided to love deeply and with commitment, decides to pay the price. God counted the cost and decided to pay the price. From the beginning he said we were worth it. From the beginning he said you were worth it. The whole of the Bible, the Word of God, is a revelation of Jesus, the Word made flesh.

A few years ago a friend of ours proposed to his girlfriend. He went all out. The day before the proposal he went into the countryside and laid an elaborate trail of messages. It began with a note hidden in the branch of a tree. The note was a love letter but also directions and clues as to where the next note was. She soon found, under a rock, another love letter with a clue as to where the next was hidden. Then there was another, inside a bottle concealed by a hedge. This went on for hours until she came to the final love letter. With this love letter, buried in the earth, was a box. When she opened the box, she saw the engagement ring, and he was already kneeling. The fact that he had gone to such a huge effort and carefully laid this elaborate trail was all to show her just how much he desired and loved her. Most women will never forget their wedding day; this woman will never forget the day he proposed. It was spectacular. He planned it down to the last detail; he left the clues everywhere, and it meant the world to her.

In the same way, we, as the bride of Christ (and we know this can seem corny), should be rejoicing and know ourselves to be much loved because our God has laid the paper trail throughout the Old Testament. He has hidden the clues of his love and amazing salvation.

It is our prayer that as you’ve read this chapter you have gone on a journey of discovery, not simply of Jesus, but of how deep God’s love is for us—of how he loved you before you were even conceived.

Jesus Storyline Paperchase:

– John 5:39–40 (Jesus asks, “Where’s Waldo?”)

Pictures in the lives of the Old Testament characters

– Genesis 6–9 (Noah)

– Genesis 22 (Abraham and Isaac)

– Genesis 37–50 (Joseph)

– Exodus 3, 14, 32 (Moses)

– 1 Samuel 17; Psalm 22 (David)

Messianic prophecies

As we said before, there are over three hundred prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament. To help you get started discovering the Jesus storyline throughout Scripture, we’ve listed a few of them for you, and we pray that God will reveal wonderful things to you as you study!

1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2–5a

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.

2. He will be King

Isaiah 9:6–7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Daniel 7:13–14

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

3. He will be a descendant of David/family lineage

2 Samuel 7:12–16

When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Psalm 132:11

The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne …”

Jeremiah 23:5–6

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our


Jeremiah 33:15

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.

Isaiah 11:1

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Numbers 24:17

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.

4. He will be born of a virgin

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

5. He will be a priest

Zechariah 6:11–13

Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.”

Psalm 110:4

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

6. He will be Lord

Psalm 110:1

The LORD says to my LORD: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

7. He will be God

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jeremiah 23:6

This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

8. He will bring salvation

Isaiah 49:6

He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

9. He will atone for sins

Isaiah 53:4–6

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:7–8

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

Isaiah 53:10–12

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

10. He will heal the sick/preach the good news

Isaiah 61:1 (and whole chapter)

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners …

Isaiah 35:5–6

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

11. He will teach in parables

Psalm 78:2

I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old …

12. He will be a light to the Gentiles

Isaiah 42:6

I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles …

Isaiah 49:6

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.

13. He will enter Jerusalem riding a donkey

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

14. He will be rejected/mocked/suffer and die

Isaiah 53:1–3 (and verses 4–12)

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Psalm 118:22

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.

Psalm 22:7–8

All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

15. His enemies will pierce his hands and feet, divide his clothes among themselves, and cast dice for his garments; and he will be served by future generations

Psalm 22:16–18

Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

Psalm 22:30

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

16. He will be betrayed by a friend

Psalm 41:9

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

17. He will be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver

Zechariah 11:12

I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

18. The thirty pieces of silver will be thrown to the potter.

Zechariah 11:13

And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.

19. He will be beaten, mocked, and spat upon

Isaiah 50:6

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

20. His bones will not be broken

Psalm 34:19–20

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

21. His side will be pierced

Zechariah 12:10

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

22. He will be raised from the dead

Isaiah 53:8–12

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 16:10

… because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.

23. He will ascend to heaven

Psalm 68:18

When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious—that you, O LORD God, might dwell there.

Discussion Questions:

• Are you surprised at the extent to which the Old Testament points to Jesus? If so, why? If not, then why aren’t you?

• What does this tell us about the way that the Old Testament links to the New Testament?

• What practical relevance does this knowledge—that Jesus’ life was foretold in so many miraculous ways—have?

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Storylines by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Storylines by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi

David C Cook/March 2010

ISBN 978-1-434764-75-1/224 pages/softcover/$12.99

Peace & Blessings,