Marriage, family, friendships, work relationships.
Marriage, family, friendships, work relationships.
Guest post by Ruth Haley Barton. Barton shares how her Transforming Center® ministry assists pastors and Christian leaders in spiritual transformation. She also discusses how her new video curriculum, Sacred Rhythms, provides Christian leaders with an intentional approach for bringing spiritual transformation into your church, organization or small group.
One thing I know for sure these days is that many Christians and other spiritual seekers are longing for more in their spiritual lives. They want more than information about God; they want transformation in God’s presence. They want more than externally imposed “oughts” and “shoulds”; they want a way of life that is congruent with their heart’s deepest spiritual desires. They want more than momentary inspiration; they want to experience the spiritual disciplines that open us to God’s transforming presence.
A community simply cannot become a place of spiritual transformation unless their leaders are being transformed…
The other thing I know for sure is that many people have given up on having these longings met in their churches so they are seeking this kind of experience elsewhere. This is most unfortunate! It is why the Transforming Center® has been working in such an intentional way for the last ten years to help churches and Christian organizations become communities of authentic spiritual transformation.
Begin with Leadership Transformation
The Transforming Center’s first area of focus has been to help pastors and Christian leaders experience deeper levels of transformation. A community simply cannot become a place of spiritual transformation unless their leaders are being transformed and leading from the reality of transformation in their own lives. Scores of pastors and Christian leaders are experiencing real transformation through our 2-year program Transforming Community, and they are bringing different aspects of their experiences to their ministry settings in ways that are deeply impactful.
UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who signed up for the blog tour! If your blog was selected, you'll receive the book in the mail soon.
Watch Zondervan Blog for more review opportunities coming soon.
Hey Dads, are you looking for a guide to relating to your tween daughter? Then you're in luck, because we're giving away 25 copies of What Happened to my Little Girl to bloggers for review.
Written by tween expert Nancy Rue and her husband Jim, this book will help fathers relate to their daughters as they make the transition from girl to young woman.
How to Participate in the What Happened to My Little Girl? Blog Tour
More About What Happened to My Little Girl: Dad's Ultimate Guide to His Tween Daughter
This companion book to the FaithGirlz novels, devotionals, and Bibles, focuses on four tween issues – appearance, body and mood changes, girl politics, and authenticity. Let tween expert Nancy Rue, and her husband, Jim, guide you in helping your daughter live as a girl-child rather than a mini-teenager.
Empower your daughter in spiritually sound behaviors as the rate of aggression rises among tween females. Show your daughter how to not only avoid but take a stand on the twisted parts of her culture such as peer abuse, shallow consumerism, and an unrealistic sense of entitlement. Give her alternatives to the toxic media, and encourage her to become part of something bigger than herself through charitable, God-centered activities. Learn to model the growth of a deep, personal connection with God, which makes all of the above not only possible, but probable. In the midst of a world saturated with poisonous role models, it is possible to raise your daughter to be a respectful, confident, God-centered, young woman. Learn More
Some things are hard to talk about, especially if you're a man. The value of Wes Yoder's new book, Bond of Brothers, is that it equips men to confront and discuss the elephants in the room. All the meaty stuff is covered here: competition, respect, failure and how it feels, love and marriage and kids, the baggage that can pile up in father/son relationships, and more. Bond of Brothers helps men deal constructively with all of this by helping them open up to one another.
Yoder wrote Bond of Brothers for men, but recently in Yoder's interview on the TODAY Show, Ann Curry observed the book also helps women better understand where their men are coming from. To learn more, you can watch Yoder's TODAY Show interview and read chapter 1 from Bond of Brothers.
Photo: Wes Yoder and Ann Curry on the set of the TODAY Show. Watch Interview
- Adam Forrest, Zondervan
More About Wes Yoder
Guest post by Sharon A. Hersh, author of Begin Again, Believe Again.
What is the first thing you thought about this morning? Prayed about last night? Worried about throughout the day? I imagine if we could have a face-to-face conversation about what you think about, dream for, persistently pray about, risk for over and over again, discuss with your friends, are willing to look like a fool for, and continually hope for more in, we would see your heart for relationships.
In my new book Begin Again, Believe Again we will look at our hearts for relationships. God created us to long for purposeful, passionate, mutual relationships. I will tell you a bit about my own heart – broken and battered at times – because I know that we all have stories of heartache when relationships falter. We all have conflicts we don’t know how to resolve. We all have children who go a different direction at times than we originally dreamed of for them. We all have friends who promise to be there for us and then forget to invite us to their birthday parties. We all get lonely. And we are all tempted to give up.
Beginning again requires the humility to acknowledge that we don’t know what we really want, but God (the Beginning and Ending of every story) remains steadfast in His commitment to use our longing for relationships to bring us to what we most deeply want – Him.
Beginning again means we surrender to the story – a story that often takes two steps forward and three steps back – knowing that in this begin again, believe again story we find Jesus. We encounter the One who is grace, mercy, compassion, truth, hope, and love. We rest in the One who is the plot – the meaning of our stories.
Is job stress getting you down? Whether you’re unemployed, or you have a job that seems to give you more grief than good, we feel for you.
Thank God we can still experience joy and peace. Maybe it’s not easy (doesn’t worry seem like the easiest thing in the world?) but we can take steps to pursue peace in Christ. For one thing, we can share our burdens with people we trust. And we can fill our minds with biblical truth – God cares about our struggles, even when our feelings may tell us otherwise.
We wanted to share the resources below because they have great value for living faithfully and joyfully through tough times. In each resource you’ll find practical wisdom, encouragement, and tools for spiritual growth. Whether you plan on individual study or group discussion, we can recommend each resource. Peace be with you!
Free Audio Clip – “How to Find (and Keep) a Job” from Resurrection Life Church
Here’s Zondervan’s own Al Kerkstra, Executive VP of Support Operations and Human Resources, sharing practical wisdom at on four topics:
40% Off These Resources
Use Source Code 370024 to get 40% off any of the DVDs or books mentioned here (Offer expires 4/21.):
God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions DVD by Rick Warren
Do stressful circumstances keep you awake at night? We recommend Rick Warren’s 6-session video study and discussion guide. They’ll help you dig in to what the Bible teaches on how to handle day-to-day stress, rebound from mistakes, and find confidence in the midst of crisis.
When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box DVD by John Ortberg
“Life, no matter how we play it, will not go on forever” says Ortberg. We may know this in our heads, but everyday financial pressures can make money and success feel like the only ways to “keep score.” Here are some excellent resources for living for the things that really count: the softcover book, 6-session video study and discussion guide from John Ortberg.
The One-Life Solution by Henry Cloud
Do stressful things and difficult people take more than a fair share of your time and energy? The One-Life Solution book and workbook by Henry Cloud, co-author of the Boundaries series, will help you regain control over your time and energy by building good boundaries in and outside the office.
In Monday's edition of The Washington Post, the journey of one church moving away from homogeneity in pursuit of the multi-ethnic vision was featured in an article entitled Churches Struggle to Meld Cultures in an Era of Diversity. With quotes from Zondervan author Mark DeYmaz, as well as sociologists Korie Edwards and Michael Emerson, the article is yet another confirming current and future trends in this direction.
These seven resources are recommended by people at Zondervan. Each resource may take a different angle on love and relationships, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve helped us grow in love. We hope they help you too.
by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
“My wife and I are going through this together. The ways the authors talk about the need for boundaries in relationships, it all just makes sense. When we’re done with this book, were going to do Boundaries in Marriage.” – Roger
Also of Interest: Boundaries in Marriage DVD
| NOOMA 002: Flame
“I saw Flame in college chapel with a thousand other students, and when it was over you could’ve heard a pin drop. As a college student, Flame taught me to view love in a whole new way. As a wife today, it reminds me how to keep love alive.”
Also of Interest: NOOMA Group: Collection 001
Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
by John and Stasi Eldredge
“Captivating helped me see how God woos every one of us, and how we can only find our fullness in Him. It reminded me that my worth isn’t found in things of this world, but in God’s love for me.” – Kelly
Also of Interest: Love and War DVD
| Sacred Marriage
by Gary Thomas
“An interesting perspective on marriage, taking the focus from ‘How can my marriage make me happy?’ to ‘How does God use marriage to make us more holy?’ It’s one of those books you can read in parts and still find useful.” – David
Also of Interest: Sacred Marriage DVD
| Sex God
by Rob Bell
“Bell’s book is full of ideas, and a lot of them made me lay the book down to reflect. I have to keep buying it, because I end up giving each new copy to a friend!” – Steve
Also of Interest: NOOMA 002: Flame
| How to Get a Date Worth Keeping
by Henry Cloud
“The post-college dating scene was scary—I thought I’d left the best dating pool I’d ever see, and I didn’t know what to do next. Then Cloud’s book gave me tools for growth, like how to deal better with rejection, and how to just enjoy the crazy erience of getting to know someone.” – Adam
Also of Interest: Boundaries in Dating
| Love and War DVD
by John and Stasi Eldredge
“I’m excited for this to release [in March]. Since marriage is hard, a lot of people think they’ll never have the marriage they dream of. It can be done though, and this study helps you see how.” – Mike
Also of Interest: Love and War Pariticipant’s Guide
Have a personal favorite of your own? We’d like to hear about it – leave a comment!
Recently Drs. Paul and Virginia had the idea of blessing local pastors and their spouses with a pastors conference to focus on their marriages. They brought Gary Thomas to come speak from Sacred Marriage. They write on their blog:
Friday’s pastors event was followed by a packed out all-day seminar on
Saturday. In spite of heavy rain, over 500 people filled the fabulous
sanctuary at Calvary Christian Church in Lynnfield, and the day was off
It couldn’t have been a better day.
Thomas delivered four inspired talks that were anything but “run of the
mill.” Throughout the day, he developed the tag line of his Sacred
Marriage book, which reads “What if God designed marriage to make you
holy more than happy?” He challenged us to exchange the cultural
message that “marriage is about me and my happiness” for the
counter-cultural Biblical message that “marriage is about God and His
design.” A gifted story teller as well as a prophetic teacher, Gary
effectively communicated a compelling case for allowing God to use
marriage as a vehicle for personal sanctification.
Read the entire blog post here.
Drs. Paul and Virginia Friesen have a passion to encourage individuals, couples, and families to live out God’s awesome design for relationships. The Friesens speak nationally and internationally on topics related to sexual purity, engagement, marriage, and parenting. Their audiences and venues are diverse, ranging from one-hour seminars for moms, parents, or couples, to day-long seminars or weekend retreats, to full week-long conferences for families. For more information on their ministry, visit here.
For years, I've been teaching and writing about the disastrous effect a hectic pace has on our spiritual life. I've been telling people to slow down, simplify, breathe.
And yet, my fall schedule is typically very full. In a normal economy, autumn is church retreat season, and in most years, my September and October calendar includes a lot of travel and speaking. I'm sometimes out of town nearly half the weekends September through November.
A couple of years ago, I found myself crying whenever I had to describe my fall travel schedule to anyone. I tried very hard to pay attention to that. Last year, I traveled and spoke quite a bit, and was writing a book. I remember cell-phone conversations with my editor while sitting in an airport waiting for a flight, and working on my laptop on airplanes.
I felt God nudging me to cut back on speaking for a season. To stop only preaching this message, in order to live it. Actually, it was more than a nudge. I'd already cut back from the pace that drove me to tears, but I sensed God wanted me to be home even more.
My children are teenagers. Anyone who thinks kids need you less at this stage hasn't been through it. They are much more independent, yet they need to know you are around, that you are available. Never have I had to invest so much quantity time to get quality time.
So I thought, I'll cut back my speaking. Ha, ha. God (and our economy) have ensured that I cut back, and as a result, I have one speaking gig, a local, one-day retreat, this fall. I believe that God has withheld opportunities to speak so that I can rest, and so that I can be with my kids and my husband.
To make up for the lost income, I've taken a part-time office job, a couple mornings a week while the kids are in school. I'm continuing to work my normal job as a freelance writer. (So, yes, I am working two part-time jobs.) I volunteer at church, I spend time with friends. I know that doesn't sound exactly like a leisurely pace, to some of you. But the stress of traveling, of speaking to large groups of strangers, the intensity of preparation for leading a weekend retreat-having a break from them feels like I'm on vacation. Except that I'm here, at home. I'm on the sidelines at my son's football games. I'm available, to my kids. I can spend a day with my family, or with friends.
I'm a working mom, but I want to be available to my family. I also want to be available to God. I feel much closer to him-maybe because I listened and obeyed, maybe because our relationship has become so much more intimate and private now that I'm not standing up and talking about it all the time. I'm trusting that this season will bear fruit in my life, and in my family.
Where is God asking you to slow down or simplify?
Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of several books including Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity and her most recent release Simple Compassion.
She is a sought-after retreat leader and speaker. She and her husband,
Scot, live with their son and daughter in Illinois. Learn more about
Keri's ministry at www.keriwyattkent.com.
Ella smiled as our horses rose and sank to the music. The merry-go-round sped up and she hugged the pole tighter, laughing. I started laughing too, but for different reasons. I had asked for the perfect Father’s Day gift.
“What do you want for Father’s Day?” my wife, Shelley, had asked three days before.
The question caught me off guard. I hadn’t even known Father’s Day was imminent. Nothing on the traditional daddy gift list got my blood moving. I only wear ties two or three times a year. All my socks were in good condition. I don’t golf anymore and, thus, have no need for balls. My caffeine fix comes in a 16 oz can of sugar-free Red Bull instead of ceramic cups emblazoned with adorable bon mots. I considered asking for an iPhone before remembering that requests for nonessential tech gifts only played on Christmas.
“I don’t know what I want,” I said at last.
“Really? There’s not anything?”
I looked out the window and saw my children pouring buckets of water onto the chalk-drawings they’d just created on the patio. They argued about whose turn it was to use the bucket as pastel gook covered their bare feet. The scene would devolve into angry cacophony within second unless Shelley or I intervened.
I smiled. “I know exactly what I want,” I said.
I asked for a few hours alone with each of our four children. We have three-year-old quadruplets (all natural, if you’re wondering), and I didn’t know what it was like to spend extended quality time alone with each of them. The best I’d managed so far was a trip to the store or a few minutes reading a book. With four toddlers under the same roof, it’s never long before somebody else needs your attention.
That Saturday morning, Ella was dressed and ready to go before I finished breakfast. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one excited about this. I put her in the car along with the requisite wipes, snacks, liquids, and stuffed animals. On the drive to L.A.’s Griffith Park, we discussed our favorite color, food, song, and animal.
“There’s the zoo!” Ella exclaimed as we passed a familiar stomping ground. “But we’re not going there today,” she said with authority. “We’re going to the merry-go-round.”
When we reached our destination, I unbuckled Ella and we walked toward the merry-go-round hand-in-hand. That’s when the feeling hit me. I noticed it immediately because it was so unfamiliar.
I’m relaxed, I thought. I’m not scanning the area for possible dangers. I’m not making sure I can count four children every thirty seconds. This is so … easy.
I started chuckling. Ella gave me a puzzled smile.
Is this what I think it is? Am I a good father, after all?
Ever since my kids had been born, I felt overwhelmed and incompetent, especially next to my wife who seemed born to raise four children at the same time. I have Attention Deficit Disorder, pretty much the opposite of what you want in a father of multiples. I’d managed to compensate for it with other strengths in almost every area of my life—except for parenting. My self-esteem plummeted fast after I became a father. Today was different. I thanked God for this wonderful feeling.
Then I thanked him for not letting me feel this way all the time.
Before my kids came along, I felt masterful and in control. Others looked to me for help while I rarely asked for theirs. This illusion of invincibility evaporated when my children were born. Life thrust a thousand new duties upon me for which I had little talent and no experience. My Lone Ranger days were over. I had to apologize a lot because I made so many mistakes. I had no choice but to face my flaws and look to others for guidance and support.
Traditionally, fathers teach their children about independence, resourcefulness, and strength. Mom provides nurturance while Dad prepares you for the difficulty of life, right? He’s the guy who picks you up, brushes you off, and sends you back into battle armed with fresh wisdom. Had our children been singletons, I would have been insufferable in this regard. Their father would have taught that any problem could be solved through assertiveness and fortitude. Since I have an ego the size of Canada, my children would have learned little about humility and interdependence. But because God blessed us with all of our children at once, they get to learn something else from their dad: that it’s okay to be weak sometimes.
Nothing has laid my frailty so bare as the demands of raising quadruplets. Thus, I have never had rely on God so much. What a relief that my children see that dependence on God and strong relationships sustain and enrich life. They’ll get my bluster about assertiveness and self-esteem later. I’m glad they’re learning about the blessing of weakness first.
But I still get my Father’s Day present every year. I get to be Super Dad for a weekend. Then Monday morning erupts and I become mortal again. The precious brevity Father’s Day reminds me that fatherhood is a gift, not an accomplishment. I am not strong enough to meet all my children’s needs, but maybe I’m showing them that our heavenly Father can.
Stephen W. Simpson is the author of Assaulted by Joy: The Redemption of a Cynic. He lives with his wife, Shelley, and their four children in Southern California. Find out more at www.assaultedbyjoy.com.