Coming Soon: The Yes Effect

After three years of hard work (and hardly writing here on the site), The Yes Effect is almost here! It’s been a privilege to work with missions strategist Luis Bush and the team at Moody Publishers to carry to you these humble yet awe-inspiring stories of God’s interaction with individuals and communities around the globe. As I’ve written these narratives, they have spurred me along in my own response to hard things in my personal circles or in the world as a whole.

My co-author, Luis, is the originator of the 10/40 Window movement, which represents a region of the world with dense populations, severe poverty, and limited access to the gospel. With a focus on these regions, Luis has spent his life traveling the globe to work alongside individuals and organizations whose acts of love and justice are bringing hope and transformation. The Yes Effect is about how ordinary people in their various contexts and places say yes to God and start an ongoing global chain reaction, causing pockets of God’s kingdom to spring up all over the world.

We share the stories of…

  • garbage dump residents and other believers from Cairo who help bring peace and reconciliation to the chaos of the Arab Spring
  • a group of adoptive parents in Ukraine who turn the heart of the whole country toward the cause of the orphan
  • a middle class tax attorney from the Philippines who makes himself at home in the Manila slums and empowers the poor to find a sustainable way of life
  • a Chinese house church pastor who courageously brings his church above ground to reach the weary and depressed in the hub of society
  • believers in the Middle East who are showing mercy and choosing to see the refugee crisis as the refugee opportunity

…and so much more.

The book releases September 5, but you can pre-order The Yes Effect: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You today.

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New Directions {#RelentlessStudy Begins!}

When we experience loss, we tend to become more open to new directions and dreams. But in our mourning, we also become vulnerable to new dangers. As we begin the book of Judges, we find the nation of Israel in a time of transition as they’ve just lost their beloved leader, Joshua. Sadly, the next generation forgets all that God has done for their parents and grandparents, and the people become complacent. They fall into hanging out with the locals who worship false gods and commit terrible atrocities as part of their belief system. As they cozy up to the enemy, God’s people find themselves participating in these twisted acts themselves. And soon, they fall prey to the oppression and aggression of the enemy. Sin is always a bait and switch.

In times of transition, we need to pay special attention to the thoughts buzzing around in our heads. Jesus said in Matthew 5 that anger with our brother is as bad as murder and lustful thoughts as bad as adultery. Where our thoughts go, our feet are soon to follow.

While I haven’t lost any mentors or leaders recently, I have dealt with the loss of an ideal. Changes in important relationships in my life started my mind spinning in circles. Taunting questions dizzied me for months. I tried to change my situation by putting pressure on people, letting them know what I wanted. I tried to sift through my thoughts to reason myself out of my pain. I tried smiling and pretending I was happy. All of that was like popping a Tylenol. I’d feel better for a few minutes, or sometimes a few hours. Then the thoughts would come back to poke at me again.

All along, I shared my difficulty with a select few friends who I trusted would preach the Gospel into my situation, and who would pray strong prayers against the enemy’s work in my life. But in the end, the only one who could save me from my downward spiral was the Lord Himself. A few weeks ago, after finishing up final edits on the Relentless Study, I went up to a peaceful cottage a few hours from here and spent three days of quiet with an old pen pal of mine. At the end of our time, I met with a prayer counselor who helped me sit still in the presence of the Lord and experience His joy in a way I never had before. I hope to tell you more about that incredible encounter sometime. The Lord didn’t give me a list of a list of logical answers to the puzzles of my life, but somehow His affection, affirmation, and the pure glory of His presence were all it took to shut the mouths of my questions.

My only hope for moving forward was in practicing the presence of God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man who endured the horrific suffering of the Holocaust said, “It is certain that we may always live close to God and in the light of God’s presence, and that such living is an entirely new life for us; that nothing is then impossible for us, because all things are possible with God; that no earthly power can touch us without God’s will, and that danger and distress can only drive us closer to God. It is certain that we can claim nothing for ourselves, and may yet pray for everything; it is certain that our joy is hidden in suffering, and our life in death; it is certain that in all this we are in a community that sustains us. In Jesus God has said Yes and Amen to all, and that Yes and Amen is the firm ground on which we stand.” I’m setting my heart on the One who is certain put my uncertainties to rest.

Joshua told his people to “cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day.” When we do the work of clinging to the Lord, we allow Him to do the work of carrying us through our loss and the dangers that come with it. If only Israel had listened, they could have opted out of centuries of misery.

{What transition are you facing now? How does Joshua 23:6-8 speak to your situation?}

This week in #RelentlessStudy, we’ll be looking at transitions, family legacies, God’s covenant relationship with His people, unity in community, how to view our enemies, and justice/mercy. Get your copy of Relentless here and join hundreds of women across the country and around the world who are walking through the book of Judges together this season.

 

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An Epic Story…with a video introduction to #RelentlessStudy


I can’t express just how excited I am to have so many friends and soon to be friends joining me in going through Relentless and rooting out anything that competes with our devotion to the Lord. As we study Judges together, will get to know Deborah who mothered Israel and nurtured a spirit of courage in those around her, Gideon who stepped out from hiding to become a man of valor, and Samson whose example shows us that God can accomplish his purposes even through the most flawed of people. We’ll also spend time with the lesser known judges whose accounts all help us glory in the God who saves.

Like many of the best stories in life, this one is long and detailed. Judges is epic. Since this book is story-based, I’ve written each lesson to match the plot line of the text. While other books of the Bible might be shorter and easier to gulp down like a grab-and-go breakfast, this one is like a hot, hearty meal. Continue reading

I Tackled the Text, then the Text Tackled Me

Relentless Weapons{After months of intense work on this project, I’m thrilled to open the Relentless shop today! Get a copy for yourself, and better yet, join a HelloMornings group where my study will be featured August 24-October 2. I’ve been excited to hear about HelloMornings Relentless groups forming at my home church, at my parents’ church, and through my local book club! I’m also encouraged to hear of independent in-person groups, like the one my sister-in-law is forming in the San Francisco area this fall. Whatever you do with the study, I’d love to be a support for you as you dig through this important text, so be sure to keep in touch.}

One of the things I value most in life and friendship is authenticity. I’d take someone’s hot temper over a cold shoulder any day, because it gives me a real picture of a situation or relationship and allows me to address any issues head-on. Maybe that’s why I did the crazy thing of taking on the book of Judges. This book tells us the good, the bad, and the ugly about the people of God. There are no whitewashed tombs here. Israel’s decay is laid out in the open for all to see.

As a highly-sensitive person who can’t watch violent movies without shielding my eyes the majority of the time, this book has been heavy lifting. I’ve stayed up late into the night for weeks on end tackling a text that, at times, has tackled me. Continue reading

Relentless

On August 17, HelloMornings.org will release my 6-week study covering the 400-year saga of Israel’s downward spiral in the Book of Judges. Our story starts with a moment of crisis as Israel loses its beloved leader, Joshua. Without a strong personal commitment to God, the next generation forgets God’s mighty deeds and His covenant love. They choose instead to do what is right in their own eyes. Continue reading