My friend, Susan, and her husband, Gary, regularly bicycle with a group of friends. They call themselves the OOFPAs, which may sound like a Greek drinking salute but actually stands for Ornery Old Folks Peddling Along.
A biking club of faithful friends sounds like a hoot, but these folks do more than peddle around together. They also study the Bible together. And they pray together.
Susan frequently shares with them my progress or struggles with writing projects, and they pray for me. What an amazing friend she is! That’s going above and beyond the usual friendship call of duty. But Susan’s done even more than that for me.
When she and Gary invited the OOFPAs to their home for a New Year’s Eve party, she gave each couple a gift: a copy of my newest devotional, Discovering Delight. Susan truly is an amazing friend. She understands how much authors need support and encouragement.
She understands that because she is an author and an extraordinary storyteller. Her story about The Atonement of Emily Adamswill tug your heartstrings and lead you to assess your own relationships as well as the way you live your faith.
Need an additional reason to buy her book? All author proceeds go to Pour International to help build a home for abandoned babies in Swaziland. That demonstrates the genuine character of Susan’s love for God and others.
On this wonderful Wednesday, I’m thanking God for faithful friends like Susan.
Discouragement can seem as overwhelming as a fire-breathing dragon. It singes your body, saps your energy, and steals your very breath. Like Smaug in The Hobbit, its speech invades your mind and twists your thinking. How can you defend yourself against such an insuperable enemy?
Several recent events have discouraged me in my work. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I’ve felt discouragement so strongly. My feelings led me to an online search for Bible texts that might help lift my spirit. I needed divine assistance to switch my focus from feeling sorry for myself to keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
I found many lovely verses, including several I’ve written about, like the frequent biblical commands to “fear not” or “be strong and of good courage” and 2 Corinthians 12’s promise of “sufficient grace,” all of which I reflected on in A Month of Sundays: 31 Meditations on Resting in God. I came across beautiful verses about God’s “tender mercies” and his “great peace” as well as the “deep delight” we can have in him; verses I explored in Discovering Delight: 31 Meditations on Loving God’s Law. My search brought up several Psalm references, including these gems I discussed in Little One Lost: Living with Early Infant Loss – “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Ps. 3:3). “Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Ps. 33:22). And this verse, which also appears in Discovering Delight: “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word” (Ps. 119:114). I was even reminded of how God encouraged Elijah when he ran away and wallowed in his pity party, an incident discussed in Matthew Muddles Through.
My morning search also yielded a very helpful lesson on Overcoming Discouragement by Steven J. Cole, pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship in Arizona. Rev. Cole bases this excellent lesson on Ezra 5:1-17 and suggests this strategy for dealing with discouragement:
To overcome discouragement, we need a fresh encounter with God’s Word, we need to get back to work for Him and to persevere, trusting Him to accomplish His will through us.
When we’re discouraged, we’re tempted–like Elijah–to hibernate and wallow in pity. But we must dig into the Word, force ourselves to get back to work, and trust God to fulfill his purpose for us (Psalm 138:8). People and circumstances will discourage us, but God’s word encourages us.
As I face the Dragon of Discouragement, the sword in my hand may appear small and dull. But this weapon isn’t mine at all; it’s God’s. And it’s the substantial and razor-sharp Word of the Lord.
What a fun Friday! A radio interview and book signing doubled the fun during my local launch of two new books. Between 10:15 and 10:45 yesterday (December 19), Patricia interviewed me on the local Christian radio station, KCWN 99.9. After that, I signed books during the station’s Christmas open house until 1:00. I want to thank General Manager, Bev De Vries, and DJ Patricia for their gracious hospitality. The station’s facility is decorated beautifully, and entering it feels like stepping into a welcoming home.
Patricia made the interview completely painless. In fact, it was a lot of fun. Growing up as the middle child in a pastor’s family, she felt a lot of affinity for my book-boy Matthew. Talking about him and the problems he faces in Matthew Muddles Throughwas a hoot. She shared her enthusiasm for the story with listeners.
Book signings are always enjoyable. It’s great to meet new friends and experience the support of existing ones. The best kind of book signings are when a steady stream of people comes in and I have time to speak to each person individually. And this was one of those signings with wonderful opportunities to talk to individuals, including some people I hadn’t seen for years.
I’m thankful for the doors God opens and I grateful he equips me to walk through them.
This Friday, Lord willing, I’ll be interviewed by Patricia on KCWN 99.9 FM and will be signing books during the station’s Christmas Open House from 11:00 to 1:00. The station is located at 304 Oskaloosa St. in Pella. Local people, come over between 11:00 and 1:00 for some cookies and conversation!
Searching for a gift for a middle grade reader, aged 8 to 12? Why not foster their reading skills with a novel that conveys truth in an engaging story? Matthew Muddles Throughis about an ordinary but imaginative kid, the middle child in a minister’s family, who faces trouble on every side. Matthew’s humor and imagination help him cope with his problems, and in the process he learns more about loving others and trusting God. Copies of this juvenile fiction novel, the first is a series of three, will be available on Friday for $10.
Save shipping! Buy any of these books on Friday and the author will be happy to sign them for you.
Those of you who don’t live nearby may be interested to know that I’m scheduled to be interviewed on the Janet Meffert Show on Monday, December 20, at 2:30 Central time. You can listen online at the show’s website.
In this Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for many things. I’m thankful I don’t have to go away on this snowy day, and I’m thankful to finally announce that my newest devotional is available.
Discovering Delight: 31 Meditations on Loving God’s Law is available from Reformation Heritage Books or Amazon. Don’t believe the Amazon listing if it says it’s temporarily out of stock or that only one is left. You should be able to get all the copies you want.
And you’ll want several. Where else can you get such an affordable and meaningful Christmas gift for all the adults on your list? This book explores each of the twenty-two sections of Psalm 119 as well as other Old Testament and New Testament texts that speak about delighting in God and his word.
Cornelis Venema, president and professor of doctrinal studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, writes, “This collection of meditations on loving God’s law by Glenda Mathes is a jewel. Mathes’s primary aim is to encourage her readers to discover delight in God’s law and commandments, especially as this is expressed in Psalm 119. She fulfills this aim admirably in a series of brief meditations, each of which brims with helpful insights into the riches of the good gift of God’s holy law. While Mathes observes that loving law clashes in modern ears like clanging cymbals, her meditations invite the reader to joy in God and His good commandments.”
Aimee Byrd, author of Housewife Theologianand cohost of the Mortification of Spin podcast, writes, “Discovering Delight focuses on a timely subject, the relationship a Christian has with God’s law, in an accessible way. If you like the idea of daily devotionals but wish they went a little deeper, this is the book for you. Glenda Mathes offers a commendable style of commentary-meets-personal-devotional. She provides the context, meaning, and personal application of Scripture that will lead the reader to greater pleasure and true joy in God’s law.”
I’m thankful for those terrific endorsements, and I’m thankful to share with others the joy of finding delight in God and his word. Discovering Delight truly was a delight to write. May it ignite your delight in the Lord to his glory!