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Book Review #3: Off Script

 Well, hello there! It has been well over a year since I have written anything on my blog. There have been plenty of events in the Ross household that may warrant future blog posts – like the birth of our precious Sarah Noel seven months ago or the unexpected job offer from a friend at church that my husband accepted two months ago. With six growing children ranging in age from baby to sophomore in high school and increasing involvement at church and school, I have spent lots of time thinking about this blog, but not much time actually writing! Here’s hoping this will not be the last post for another 15 months!

To be honest, this book review has been in the works for almost eighteen months. Along with the normal activities of life, there is a lot of soul-searching, thinking, and praying that goes on when your plans and dreams for ministry come to a crashing halt! This is just one of the reasons that I believe reading good, Bible based material is so very important. Though it can be temporarily encouraging to read from motivational speakers who tell you that God has a great (i.e., successful, prosperous) life planned for you or that you can guarantee said successful and prosperous life simply by having a positive outlook, those philosophies are not at all Scriptural. In fact, they are the very opposite of sound Biblical teaching. The Bible is overflowing with stories of men and women who were not, by the world’s standards, successful or prosperous; whose lives were filled with great pain, misfortune, and suffering; and whose only hope was that God could see what they were experiencing and would work it together for their good. (In fact, one of the items on my “bucket list” is writing a book about some of those people and the example they left for us as they waited – sometimes for years – for God to bring closure to their stories of pain, loss, suffering, testing, trial, etc.) Sound reading material is vital to Christian growth and even more necessary for those who wish to lead other Christians!

It’s been so long since I first read “Off Script” that I decided to go back and read it again before writing my review. Honestly, I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Though his circumstances differed greatly from ours, I appreciated Pastor Schmidt’s openness and honesty about his struggles physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was blessed to read about his victories and was thrilled to see on his Facebook page recently that he has been given the “all clear” and has been discharged from the care of his oncologist! Knowing that God has brought him through his season of trial and has done miraculous things for him in the process (in both his personal life and ministry) has been a source of encouragement to me!

In a style that addresses serious topics and issues with both honesty and humor, Pastor Schmidt outlines the following ten principles to implement when facing times in life that expectations do not match reality:

  • Love God, Trust God, Live for God
  • Be of Good Cheer
  • Be the Clay
  • Cherish the Treasures of Darkness
  • Walk in the Spirit
  • Wait for Him, Hope in Him
  • Try Your Ways
  • Be Strong and Work
  • Love Your Own
  • Strive Together for the Faith

Your season of trial may occur in health, relationships, ministry, finances, or any number of other areas in life. The above principles, if implemented, will strengthen your faith as you face the unknown with confidence in an all-knowing God and broaden your influence as others learn from your faith-based, Spirit-led responses to the difficulties life brings.  Whether you are currently entering, enduring, or ending a stormy time in life, it is vital that you fill your heart and mind with Scripturally sound literature that will encourage you to daily place your trust in the God who knows and sees all! “Off Script” is one example of the kind of reading material every Christian should include in his library. It can be purchased for $14.95 from www.strivingtogether.com. Pastor Schmidt has more books and other helpful resources available at www.caryschmidt.com.

 

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Three Ways to Pray for Those Who Are Hurting


praying-614374_640 (1)Recently, I was asked to write a guest post about prayer for the blog of a friend’s church in South Louisiana. After the events that we have faced over the last 12-18 months, I was not sure that prayer was the best thing for me to write about. After all, we had prayed about several things that had not turned out the way we had hoped. How could I write about prayer when it seemed that the only answers we had been receiving were “no” and “wait”? Don’t most articles on prayer focus on how we can get anything and everything we pray for if we just believe that God can and will do it? How could I encourage people about prayer when we were still waiting for answers ourselves? As I reflected over our most recent journey, I began to think about all of the people who have told us that we are in their prayers. As Christians, we know that God knows best and that, in the end, His way in perfect; but sometimes that knowledge is clouded by the daily struggles and unanswered questions we face. Our aching hearts cry out to Him, “Why, Lord?” When we are hurting, there is no greater encouragement than the whisper of a friend who says, “I am praying for you.” In the darkest moments of life, those few words can help a struggling brother or sister find the strength to face another day. We have heard those words many times throughout this last year, usually just when we needed them. It was as if the Lord was saying, “I know you don’t understand. I know you are having to wait, but, while you are waiting, I will send comfort through the thoughts, words, and deeds of faithful friends.” Thank you, Lord, for giving us Christian brothers and sisters who will pray for us in our time of need! What follows is the article I wrote after much thought about prayer and those who are hurting!

Continue reading “Three Ways to Pray for Those Who Are Hurting”