I Want Them to Say…

March 31, 2008

By:  Staci Stallings            

The other night I got to talk extensively with one of my favorite Holy Spirit friends-my sister.  Since we both have families to keep up with now, that doesn’t happen as often as it used to, so we really took advantage of this time. Late into the night we talked about what God is doing in our lives and about how He has recently been bringing up places in each of us that need to be healed.           

As we talked, she said, “You know, ever since I was first married, I had one goal. I wanted to be the best mom to my kids.  I wanted them to say when they were grown up, ‘We had the best Mom. She was so great.'”  On the whole not a bad dream.  I think many of us moms think exactly the same thing.           

However, she didn’t stop there.  She said, “Now I see how that dream is about me. It’s about what I want to hear because I want to have earned that.  Then they other day, I realized that I don’t care if they ever say that about me.  What I want them to say more than anything is: ‘We have the best God ever! He is so great!’ Now I think if they say that when they get older, I will have done my job.”           

Wow.  I was blown away.  Not just for her, but for me.           

You see, the business of writing often starts as a desire just to write. You just love to write, and so you do.  Then you get a little better and a little better, and pretty soon, you begin to sense that “just writing” is not enough.  Now, you want to be published.  So, you begin to learn the rules of publishing, and you work, and you hone, and you learn.  And pretty soon, a new goal creeps into your soul.  “I want to touch a lot of people with my words about God. I want not just to be published, but to be thought of by many as a great writer.”           

After our conversation, I see that for what it is… having your focus on the WRONG GOAL.  It’s like my eighth grade girls’ basketball team. It was our second game of the year. The first half went by, we went to the locker room, came back out, and were ready to start the second half.  Now if you don’t know, when you start the second half, the teams switch ends of the court.           

They tipped off, our girl got it and proceed to dribble to the other team’s goal where she made the shot!  Her technique was great, her shot flawless, but the problem was, she was shooting at the wrong goal!           

I wonder how many of us want to be the best… the best fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends, writers, accountants, salespeople, workers… And yet, we are shooting at the wrong goal.           

In the last 24-hours my life goal has changed. I no longer want everyone to think I’m the best writer.  If somehow, they see through my writing that He is the best God ever, and their lives begin to reflect that, then I have accomplished the new goal for my life.

How about you?  Are you shooting at the wrong goal-wanting to be the best salesperson, counselor, or teacher?  Maybe God is asking that you start being those things in a way that points people to the best God ever.  You do that, whatever else you do, you will be successful..

Want more inspiration?  Visit http://www.spiritlightbooks.com  Stories full of God’s love and hope… Signifying everything!


Hope for Baby Boomers

March 27, 2008

By:  Dennis Bates 

Although I would prefer the term mature, I have to confess that I am the old guy here. That being said, I should be the one who displays a certain decorous panache gleaned from the wisdom and knowledge brought by years of experience. Unbridled enthusiasm should be the province of those far younger than I. Whether that’s true or not in either case remains to be seen.

All I can say for certain at this point is that I am a Baby Boomer whose time has come. Those of us who were born in that era after WWII were contrary by nature and irreverent by training both at home and in the schools, and we thought that meant we would change the world. Yet as we stand upon the threshold of retirement we realize two things: we are not babies anymore and the boom we thought we might create–didn’t, even though our sheer numbers alone could have changed things for the better. Why is it then that those of us who come from that era face a world that thinks we are at best an anachronism, and at worst a totally irrelevant disappointment?

To some degree the assessments are overly harsh and unfair. It is doubtful that any other single generation has witnessed and to some degree been responsible for the breadth and the depth of technological change that we have seen. Our generation saw advances that put a man on the moon, developed computers, microchips, and all things electronic. Those are only a few examples.

However, many of us still feel unfulfilled and almost cheated out of the richness of life that should have been ours. We slipped from meaningful to lucrative, having enough to always want more, and eternal to temporal with far too much ease, and now we wonder how and why. The answers are fairly simple. We lost focus and our sense of what was important and real. We became convinced that making a living was more important than just living. We filled our lives with acquiring stuff, none of which really made us happy.

In my case I left the field of journalism and writing and went to law school. I made a decent living even as an attorney for the government, but my heart was always in writing; it was the passion placed inside me from the beginning, and as every day went by, I grew more and more afraid that I had quenched the passion that burned in my life and had nothing but charred embers left to see me into my “Golden Years.”

But the contrary nature that was my birthright as Baby Boomer would not allow me to turn my back on that purpose just yet. In spite of the fact that we lost focus, there was something to come back to that I had never embraced fully enough, and that something was God. We got a lot of things wrong, but so many of us in my generation were raised in the church. Sunday services, youth groups and other church functions were just part of what we did growing up. Unfortunately they were a part that was cast off first in many cases as we challenged everything, but as Proverbs put it eloquently in Chapter 22, verse 6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

I got that training, and although I will not confess to being old, being older is certainly within reach. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I read one of my favorite passages from the Bible, Isaiah 40:29-31. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I prayed over that verse after I retired from my government job and the fire inside me started burning again. I knew that I had to write again, so I did. I found that I was led to write love stories how a man would see them and I wanted to keep them steeped in a Christian world view. I still write about women, but I also write about men. My stories deal with the topics that the Christians I know deal with and they are not all sweet. I have nothing against sweet romances and the authors who write them. I respect them, read them and learn from them. But I have been called to write differently.

I always wondered why I met this slightly zany, but spirit-filled woman with an endless supply of energy who started this venture now called Spirit Light. I will write more in the future about that process, but let me summarize. My first book will be officially released March 30, 2008, largely because of the efforts of that woman. Again too many details, too little space for that here, but I know now why we met.

Peter quotes from the prophet Joel in Acts 2:17-21 and describes the last days. I don’t know if these are the last days of not, but these verses still explain a lot to me about why I’m here with my friend Staci. God promises in those verses to pour out his Spirit on all people both men and women so that young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. Both men and women will prophesy about the wonders in the heaven above and the signs on the earth below, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

We have both felt the outpouring of the Spirit, and I dream that Staci’s vision will lead to more people calling on the name of the Lord. It’s the focus we lost in my generation, but as Isaiah said in the verses above, those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength and soar on wings like eagles.

On a shelf above one of my computers I have a picture in green crayon fashioned by Staci’s young son of my backyard (he has never seen it). I also have an irregular wooden cross one of her daughters made using her own power saw. Next to them are two eagles. the smaller of the two sits on a Bible I received from my parents on Christmas 1966 and the larger eagle with wings spread wide and majestically sits on a copy of the Message Bible that has special significance to Staci and I.

When I look up there I see the awesome power that the Holy Spirit brings from a young woman who has a vision and an older man who has a dream, and I know that I am indeed a Baby Boomer whose time has come. I’m not the only one. There is hope for all of us who simply and completely wait on the Lord.

Being Eli

March 26, 2008

By: Staci Stallings   

In the book of Samuel we hear the story of the call of Samuel.  The boy is asleep in the temple with the Holy of Holies while Eli, Samuel’s mentor is asleep elsewhere.  When I was young, I always pictured myself as Samuel and wondered would I hear God if He called me.  Recently I heard this story again, only this time I heard it quite differently.

You see, I believe I have heard my call except it was more of a guiding hand directing my steps that brought me where God wants me to be.  There wasn’t a moment that God said, “Staci, this is what I want you to do.” But I feel very sure that this is what God wants me to do at least for this time.

When I heard this story again, I realized there is another person in the story-Eli, the old mentor.  He is asleep, which can mean literally.  It can also mean spiritually.  Often we “fall asleep” in our walk with the Lord.  Other things in life push in, and time to sit and just be gets crowded out.  Then here comes this kid, this child whom Eli is supposed to be watching out for, and he says, “Yes, sir. Here I am. You called.”

Eli is immediately puzzled.  “I didn’t call you.  Go back to sleep.”  

We say this to each other and to our kids. “You don’t have to go to church. If you have a game to play or something else to do, it’s no big deal. Go back to sleep.”  As we walk through this life with others around us, very often we not only miss our own calls, we also misinterpret another’s call.

For example, the wife in a married couple feels a calling to donate items to the poor.  The husband questions the wife’s actions because the items could at least be sold at a garage sale and bring in money for the family. Or the husband decides to make a concerted effort to go to church, but the wife drags her feet to the point that the husband gives up and stays home.     

There are a thousand ways the world around us says, “No. Don’t worry. Just go back to sleep.”

Samuel does as instructed. He goes back to sleep; however, God is persistent. He calls the youth again.  “Samuel… Samuel…”  

Again, Samuel gets up and goes to Eli. “You called?”

Now Eli is frustrated. “I did not call you. Go back to sleep!”     

Very often our attempts to get closer to God are met with serious resistance by the world. People get uncomfortable talking about faith, so we push ours over in the corner and determine to keep it to ourselves. After all, we don’t want others to think we’ve lost our minds.  Make no mistake, the darkness does not like the light, for where there is light the darkness necessarily vanishes. It is no different with the dark powers in the spiritual realm.  When that call comes from God, they will do everything they can to convince you it’s nothing. “Go back to sleep.”

The third time Samuel is sleeping, and God calls, “Samuel. Samuel.”     

I’m sure Samuel thought he was losing his mind. I’m sure he even questioned his sanity to go wake Eli up again. But he saw no other option. After all, Eli was his master. “Yes, you called?”

Finally, finally Eli gets it. “Oh, wait. I get it. I think it’s God that’s calling you…”

To me, being Samuel is tough enough.  There’s that whole putting yourself out there to look like an idiot to your friend and mentor.  There’s also the small matter of being honest about where you are in life and what’s really happening.     

But how many times are we Eli, and we completely mess our role up? How many times does someone come to us with a problem and instead of pointing them to the One who can help, we give them worldly answers that cause more problems than they solve?  How many times do we fail to listen to God talking to us, helping us guide them to Him?  How many times are we so asleep to our own walk with God that we miss the chance to give Him to someone else?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been Eli more times than I want to count. I just hope the next time Samuel comes to me with something God is calling him to, I will recognize what’s happening the first time and point Him to the One Who lays out the plan not only for the stars and the universe but for our lives as well.

Looking for awesome inspiration?  Visit:  http://www.spiritlightbooks.com  It’s inspiration for you!

And the Journey Begins…

March 26, 2008

Hello to all you weary Internet travelers.  I pray you have come here to find uplifting inspiration of the highest caliber because that’s what you will get!

Spirit Light Books exists to connect you to awesome authors who are listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  We want most to share our journey with you and to hear about your journey as well.  Don’t be shy about commenting, and we won’t be shy about telling you how honored we are to be here with you.

 And now, without further ado, let the journey begin…