Saturday, May 30, 2009

Evolution -- The Grand Experiment

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Evolution: The Grand Experiment

New Leaf Publishing Group (October 8, 2007)

NOTE: Today and on Monday I'm posting about two of the most beautifully crafted books I've seen in a long time. These are perfect for homeschoolers or for people who want to be sure that their children hear the FULL story of creation, not just the story that is told in public schools. I don't know if you are paying attention to the curriculum being taught in our science classes, but I found out this year that there is three times as much classroom time spend on evolution in a high school biology class as there is on the overview of the whole kingdom of plants and animals! This is a fabulous reference collection to have if you have students in your home.


Dr. Carl Werner received his undergraduate degree in biology with distinction at the University of Missouri, graduating summa cum laude. He received his doctorate in medicine at the age of 23. He was the recipient of the Norman D. Jones Science Award and is both the author of Evolution: The Grand Experiment book and executive producer of Evolution: The Grand Experiment video series.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $29.99
Hardcover: 262 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group (October 8, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0892216816
ISBN-13: 978-0892216819


The Origin of Life:

Two Opposing Views

What Are We to Believe?

How did life begin? One view is that an all-powerful God created the universe and all forms of life. Another view proposes that the universe began billions of years ago as a result of the big bang. Later, life in the form of a bacterium-like organism arose spontaneously from a mixture of chemicals. Subsequently, this single-cell organism slowly began to evolve into all modern life forms. A third view is that life evolved, but God formed the first living organism and then helped the process along.

The Origin of Life

How life came about has been the subject of debate for almost as long as mankind has existed. Did life originate as a result of the intervention by a supernatural deity? Or did life come about as a result of natural laws acting over time? Scientists continue to search for definitive answers to these questions.

The publication of Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1859 was a significant catalyst in propelling man’s search for a natural understanding of past and present life. Unraveling the mystery of how life began and how life may have changed over time has been the focus of many scientists. Since Darwin’s theory first made public, scientists have collected over 200 million fossils, described the structure of DNA, and identified how genes are passed on to the next generation. These major scientific developments provide us with relevant and thought-provoking information. They lead us to pause and examine our ideas in view of today’s ever-increasing and heated debate over the history of life on earth.

The purpose of this book is to address these important scientific discoveries and present the reader with rare and remarkable facts concerning the origin of life — from spontaneous generation, through Darwin’s ideas on evolution, to the present-day understanding of mutations and natural selection

Americans Are Split on Their Beliefs.

According to a Gallup poll taken in 2006, many Americans believe that God created man in the last 10,000 years. This is surprising given the fact that scientists have been teaching evolution for more than a century.

Do most Americans not believe the theory of evolution because it is implausible? Do they not believe evolution because of their religious views? Or, do they not believe in the theory because they are unfamiliar with its concepts?

What do you think?

(chart showing many Americans surveyed don’t believe Darwin’s theory)

Do You Believe in Evolution?


“No, I don’t believe in evolution at all. I think if you just look at the facts, it’s pretty clear, it just can’t be.”

“Did we come from monkeys? I don’t know. There is evidence for it, but there is also some stuff missing, so making that leap with a missing link there, I have some problems with that.”

“From what I’ve seen and heard, we have not evolved from apes for the simple fact that apes are still around. I mean, if we evolved from them, why are they still here?”


“Yes, I do believe in the theory of evolution because I think that we had to come from some place and you know from ape to man to what we are today. I definitely believe in evolution.”

“I think it’s a very sad thing that we’re getting religious views mixed up with governmental involvement with education. I think it’s a sad comment on how people are trying to fix what they see as social problems in today’s world by falling back on religious dogma.”

Evolution: Scientists Can’t Agree

Ever since Darwin’s time there have been scientists who strongly disagree with the theory of evolution. But since the middle of the twentieth century, there have been a growing number of scientists who reject the theory of evolution based on the discovery of processes and structures of which Darwin was unaware. These scientists cite multiple “lines of evidence” that evolution did not occur, including gaps in the fossil record, problems with the big bang theory, the amazing complexity of even the simplest organisms, and the inability of scientist to explain the origin of life using natural laws.

Scientists who support evolution state that the evidence for the theory is clear and overwhelming. They offer observations of natural selection in action, the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, the evolution of man from apes, as some of the most convincing proofs for evolution.

Con: “Life could not have created itself. Theories on the origin of life, that is the evolutionary origin of life, are modern-day fantasies; they are fairy tales.” – Dr. Duane Gish, Biochemist, Institute for Creation Research.

Pro: “You really have to be blind or three days dead not to see the transitions among these. You have to not want to see it.” – Dr. Kevin Padian, Paleontologist, University of California, Berkeley.

Evolution and Education

Recent Gallup polls reveal that the majority of Americans want both evolution and creationism taught in public schools. This is somewhat surprising given the fact that the majority of scientists believe in evolution and dismiss supernatural creation theories as myths.

There are different reasons parents want both theories taught to their children. Some refer to a sense of fairness. They want their children to learn both sides of the issue and then decide for themselves.

The problem of how to teach students such a controversial topic is challenging for educators. Some fear that teaching two opposing theories would confuse the students while some believe this approach would encourage students to think critically and openly about the world around them. Others believe that creation is a religious idea and should not be taught in government schools.

(Poll asking, “Do you think creationism should be taught in public school science classes?” 54%, yes; 22% no; 24% unsure)

What Should Be Taught?

“I believe it is good for students to get a balance of both sides so that they can make up their minds for themselves without being forced into one way or another. I know that if I went to school and they taught all evolution, that I would feel somehow a little gypped.”

“I do feel that everyone is capable of making their own decisions, and I think that students, even at a young age, should be respected enough to be given various kinds of information, various amounts of information, and let to make their own decisions.?

“I really don’t have a problem with evolution being taught in the schools just so long as all the information is given and it is shown that it is not quite fact. And it needs to be very scientific in its presentation as far as listing its faults and its strengths. I think that science that only lists strengths, and not weaknesses, in not science at all.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hero - Becoming the Man She Desires

Fred Stoeker and Jasen Stoeker with Mike Yorkey

Hero is the perfect resource for any male striving to be the relational man God’s calling him to be as well as one anyone who wants to be an encourage to the men in their lives. Fred Stoeker, co-author of the Every Man’s Battle series, elaborates on the struggles men face in the world today, and what exactly they can do about. While explaining what God says about these issues, Fred, along with co-author Jason Stoeker and contributions from Mike Yorkey, get real with readers. Hero offers hard-hitting truth about what makes an ultimate hero to women—men who stand by their convictions and make their world a better place.


You already know it’s not easy being a single man in this culture today. But it is easy to be overwhelmed, to feel helpless and hopeless about living by God’s high standards for singles. It’s easy to cave in to the pressures of this sex-soaked world and accept defeat—blaming the media, the culture, even girlfriends who don’t know how tough it can be.

But many men have read books like Every Young Man’s Battle and Tactics and have committed themselves to stand strong and pure in the power of God, and to go on the offensive against the onslaught of negative stereotypes. Some have suffered. Some have fallen. But many have experienced victory—and you can be among them.

What makes those committed men so desirable to women? Be Her Hero is their motto. From best-selling author Fred Stoeker, along with his son Jasen, come the straightforward insight and real-life examples you’re looking for to help you take personal purity to its logical conclusion. Here’s straight truth with irrefutable evidence of what makes an ultimate hero to women who long for men of faith—men who stand by their convictions and make their world a safer and better place.

Are you ready to accept the challenge?

Click here if you would like to read the first chapter.


Fred Stoeker is a best-selling author of several books, including Every Young Man’s Battle and Tactics, the president of Living True Ministries, and a popular conference speaker who challenges men to become sexually pure, to reconnect in true intimate relationship with their wives, and to train their sons to become godly men. A graduate of Stanford University , Fred lives in Des Moines , Iowa with his wife, Brenda, and their children.

Mike Yorkey, a writer living in Encinitas , California , has collaborated with Fred Stoeker in all his books for the Every Man’s series.

Jasen Stoeker is a popular conference speaker who challenges young men to be heroic in their relationships with women and to be a Christian, rather than just seem like one. Jasen is a graduate of Iowa State University with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science and now lives in Minneapolis, MN , with his wife Rose.

You can purchase the book at the Random House Website.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Miserly Moms



I've been a stay-at-home mom for four years now, and I've been implementing a lot of frugal ideas to make ends meet in a one income household. There are lots of new ideas in this book. I liked the idea of making saving money my job and looking at expenses by categories. By focusing on the different expenses one at a time, I can clearly see the progress we make.

Jonni McCoy has developed a list of practical ideas for saving money that really don't cause you to feel deprived at all! By making simple exchanges in the way we live, I believe we are actually living better than we were before and we are saving money for the future at the same time. This book will give you ideas that you can implement today.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who would prefer to keep their money instead of giving it away to retail stores, utilities, and credit card companies.


Jonni McCoy, a versatile author, shopping expert, media spokesperson, and public speaker, has been helping to increase the shopping power of women since 1991. Her many media appearances include The 700 Club, Dr. Laura, and FamilyLife Today. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, and other magazines as well as on a variety of Web sites. Jonni, her husband Beau, and their two children now live in Colorado Springs. Check out her website for more ideas.


The economy is tough, food prices are soaring, and there is constant pressure to have more even though we have less to work with. Enter Jonni McCoy, whose money-saving strategies allowed her family to go from two incomes to one while living in the San Francisco Bay area, one of the most expensive locations in America. Jonni's tried-and-true Eleven Miserly Guidelines are completely practical and easy to do, and they could save you thousands of dollars a year! This updated and expanded fourth edition of Miserly Moms reveals how to

$ save money on groceries

$ make simple meals from scratch
$ celebrate holidays without breaking your budget

$ spot sneaky marketing tricks

Jonni's tips, tactics, and recipes are so easy that you'll wonder why you hadn't thought of them before. If you're ready to learn how to live well in a tough economy, start reading... You can buy the book on Amazon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Learning To Live Financially Free

Learning To Live Financially Free
Marybeth Whalen and Curt Whalen

Since my husband and I have been doing financial counseling for several years, we are always looking for books that present solid concepts in fresh new ways. I have followed Marybeth Whalen for many years since I saw her speak at a Hearts at Home conference and I was excited to read this book.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to make ends meet. Marybeth and Curt have come from a place of almost infathomable debt and insurmountable marital difficulties to create a strong marriage and debt-free life. They are very open about their mistakes and trials as they raised six children through these rough times.

This book is different because it doesn't jsut give pat answers, it talks about honest resistance to the basics of overcoming debt -- budgets, savings, and denying 'wants' -- and finally realizing what it takes to make a lasting change in your finances and your marriage.


Marybeth Whalen is a speaker and contributing writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. The author of For the Write Reason, Marybeth has also written for Parent Life, Money Matters newsletter, The Old Schoolhouse, Hearts at Home magazine, and Homeschooling Today. She contributes regularly to the daily online devotions of Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Curt Whalen is a trained financial counselor through Crown Financial Concepts. He has years of experience helping couples establish budgets, solve financial problems, and learn to communicate more effectively. He has written articles for TEACH Magazine and Money Matters Newsletter and has contributed to books by authors Lysa TerKeurst and Melanie Chitwood.


The fear and reality of tough economic times, foreclosures, bailouts, bankruptcies and falling stocks strike fear in the hearts of many Americans today. With investors, newscasters and bankers giving advice, who can you trust? Marybeth and Curt Whalen share their financial successes and failures in their new book, Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard-Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Marriage & Your Money. If a family parenting six children can get out of debt and live financially free, anyone can. The Whalens readily admit they made their share of mistakes the first ten years of marriage. Becoming more disciplined and intentional in spending and saving helped them learn valuable lessons for better financial stewardship--lessons you'll want to learn too.

Learning to Live Financially Free not only focuses on building a stronger financial understanding in the home, but also encourages couples to communicate, thus building better, stronger marriages. The Whalens clearly comprehend the need for careful money management and commitment in marriage. Money-strapped families will find peace of mind as they begin the process of becoming financially responsible and debt-free.


Are You A Financially Focused Couple?

Instructions: Give yourself 1 point for every "yes" answer, 0 points for every "no."
1.Do you have regular budget meetings?
2.Do you communicate about daily expenses?
3.Do you discuss large purchases before they're made?
4.Does each spouse have an equal vote about money decisions?
5.Have you planned for your future through life insurance and a will?
6.Do you agree about tithing and giving?
7.Can you both list out your debts, including the amounts and monthly payment for each account?
8.Do you have a plan that was written together for paying off debt and saving money?
9.Do you encourage each other to save money?
10.Have you discussed the spending habits and attitudes about money that you carried into the marriage?

Tally up your score and use the guide to the right to see what category you fall into.
0-2 points: Don't get discouraged. There's nowhere to go from here except up!
3-5 points: You are taking steps towards being a financially focused couple.. Keep working together and you will get there.
6-8 points: You are almost 100% financially focused. Keep up the good work and get intentional about those trouble spots.
9-10 points: You are a financially focused couple and could show us all a thing or two! Consider sharing your wisdom with other couples who are struggling in today's uncertain times.

Top Ten Tips For Saving Money In Tough Times

1. Make a budget (and stick to it). A budget overwhelms many people but it is really nothing more than devising a plan for every dollar you bring in. Having a budget helps you spend smarter and think more. It also helps to improve your buying power. The best way to make a budget is to start by sitting down with your spouse and deciding how much you spend on regular categories like groceries, gas, medical, etc. each month. Talk through these things and get them down on paper. Then spend accordingly. An article that goes into step by step detail about making a budget can be found at:

2. Stop using credit cards. Studies show that people who use credit cards buy more and think less about their purchases. By learning to spend cash and limiting your purchases, you make your money work for you rather than against you. Credit card companies are getting craftier as the economy struggles. 25% of all credit card users in this country will have their rates raised this year, or their monthly payment raised. When you are in debt, you are at the mercy of the company you owe. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by credit card debt.

3. Cook at home. It sounds so basic and yet how many of us resort to eating out because we just can’t deal with dinner? By taking a few moments once a week to devise a menu plan, shopping for the needed ingredients for that menu plan, and cooking the meals in your home, you can save lots of money and have more time to gather as a family and enjoy a slow evening at home. Eating at home not only saves money, it saves valuable family time.

4. Buy clothes at thrift or consignment stores. This is especially true with children’s clothes. When you are in a department store, always shop the clearance racks and avoid the other racks so you aren’t tempted. It’s also an income generator if you consign your own clothing. You can then take the money you earn on consignment and buy clothes for a new season without being out of pocket any money!

5. If you must eat out, only go to places you have coupons for. Keep a small photo album and arrange restaurant coupons so they are easy to find as you are heading out the door. It’s also a great idea to look for “kids eat free” nights and frequent those. Other ways to save on eating out include ordering water (big savings on this), share meals, order a kids’ portion if the restaurant allows it, and go out for lunch instead of dinner. For people who work, it’s always a good idea to pack your lunch regularly instead of running out to eat. A jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread will go a long way.

6. Learn to play the coupon game. Many people devote themselves to clipping and organizing coupons—and reap great savings from doing so. There are many frugal websites and blogs that detail exactly how to save a lot of money with coupons. A great one to start with is And here is a great tutorial video you can watch:

7. If you have children, limit the number of activities they do to one per child, per year. If you are struggling to pay for even one activity, consider asking for the activity as a gift from grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc. Instead of another toy that will end up broken or lost, your child can receive a gift that truly keeps on giving as well as one that invests in their future.

8. Think about the things you regularly spend money on like gas or utilities and research ways to save money on those things. For instance, tells you where to buy the cheapest gas according to your area code. Bundling services with your cable provider can save money each month. Calling your energy company to find out when their off-peak hours are and doing your laundry or dishes during those times can save on your monthly bill as well.

9. Don’t shop as a recreational activity. If you can’t see it, you won’t feel a need to have it. Use time you used to spend shopping to go for a walk, visit a park, exercise, read a book, or spend time researching money-saving sites on the internet! If you have a friend you used to enjoy shopping with, sit down and list out other alternatives for your time together.

10. Look for ways to generate additional income. Whether it be an additional part-time job or a way to make money from home using a skill or talent you possess, get creative, get motivated, and get excited about the potential you have to generate income that you didn’t have before. Every little bit helps, so put on your thinking cap and don’t be shy about stepping out and trying something!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Great Book and a Contest!

Making Work at Home Work
Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof
Mary Byers

Making Work at Home Work shows moms how to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set without sacrificing their families. It covers important topics such as developing a successful business philosophy, balancing time between work and family, setting realistic goals, and handling the challenges of being both.

In addition to including her own experiences, author Mary Byers profiles real moms with home-based businesses who offer their hard-won advice.


Making Work at Home Work shows moms how to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set without sacrificing their families. It covers important topics such as developing a successful business philosophy, balancing time between work and family, setting realistic goals, and handling the challenges of being both "Mommy" and "CEO" while running a profitable home-based business.

In addition to including her own experiences, author Mary Byers profiles real moms with home-based businesses who offer their hard-won advice.


Mary M. Byers successfully juggles both a freelance corporate writing and speaking business and her responsibilities as a wife and mother of two school-aged children. She is the author of The Mother Load: How to Meet Your Own Needs While Caring for Your Family and How to Say No . . . And Live to Tell about It. Visit her website to learn more:


Win a copy of Making Work at Home Work (or another one of Mary’s books--your choice) AND a $25 Amazon gift certificate (for some WAHM essentials – Day Planner, bubble bath, funky file-folders, toddler DVDs)!

There are three ways to win:

Leave a comment on Mary's blog

Sign up for Mary’s quarterly newsletter where she offer tips and advice about all facets of a women's life: WAHM, mothering, women's issues. More info here!

Join the Work at Home Blog Ring. More info here.


Friday, May 8, 2009

According To Their Deeds

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

According To Their Deeds

Bethany House (March 1, 2009)


Paul Robertson

My Thoughts:

I really like the concept of this book -- a seller of antique books buys back a rare collection after the murder of the collections owner, only to find a list of 'sins' performed by high ranking political and public figures inside. What should he do with this knowledge? Is honesty and judgement or grace more important?

I struggled a bit with the writing style and conversation of the characters, probably because this is a world of which I know very little. I learned a lot about philosophical and political writers, though. A thought provoking book.


Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.


A Deadly Game of Justice Versus Mercy Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.

But that all changes when a former client--a man deeply connected in the Justice Department--is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he'd once sold, he quickly discovers he's bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.

Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers--even lives. Charles soon learns he isn't the only who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife--and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?

If you would like to read the first chapter of According To Their Deeds, go HERE

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)


Larry Osborne is senior pastor of the multi-campus, 7,000-member North Coast Church in Vista, California, recognized as one of the ten most influential churches in America. A pioneer in the sermon-based small group movement, Larry also founded the North Coast Training Network and is a highly sought-after consultant for business and ministry leaders worldwide. A frequent contributor to Leadership Journal, Larry’s books on genuine spirituality and leadership are designed to reach a wide audience. He lives in Vista with his wife and family.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421508
ISBN-13: 978-1601421500





I’ll never forget the day my wife and I stopped by the local hospital for what we knew would be our last visit with her friend Susan.

For three years, Susan had put up a valiant fight against a disease that was now in its last stages. Her labored breathing, gaunt figure, and deep-set eyes made it painfully obvious that she would not be around much longer.

As we sat by her bed, wondering what to say and how to pray, I was stumped. (I’m a pastor and I’m supposed to know what to say in these situations.) But before I could say anything profound—or even trite—our awkward silence was broken by the entrance of Susan’s husband, John, into the room.

We exchanged hugs and a quick greeting. Then John began to talk. He spoke of the plans he and Susan had for the future. Not in a regretful reflection of what could have been, but with a powerful conviction of what was yet to be.

It was weird.

Susan lay there barely cognizant, struggling for each breath, seemingly hours from death. Yet her husband stood inches away talking about future vacations, a kitchen remodel, and their retirement years as if the four of us were hanging out at a backyard barbeque.

While John and Susan had often spoken of their confidence in God’s ability to heal, this was different. He wasn’t talking about an assurance that she could be healed. He was describing his absolute certainty that she would be healed. He didn’t have an ounce of doubt. It was already a done deal.

Then he told us what had happened. That morning, while in prayer for Susan’s healing, he’d been overcome with a powerful sense of God’s presence and a deep conviction that God had answered his prayer. As he continued to pray, biblical passages proclaiming God’s protection and care flooded his mind. He felt as if God had physically reached down and touched him, whispering in his ear, “I’ve heard you. She’ll be okay.”

Brimming with confidence, he figured he’d arrived at the epitome of faith because he had absolute assurance of what he hoped for and complete certainty of what he had not yet seen.1He was as giddy as a prospector who’d just tapped into the mother lode.

I didn’t know what to say. Could it be that God was up to something big? Were we about to witness a miracle? Was John’s faith going to pull her back from the jaws of death?

I wasn’t so sure.

He was absolutely certain.

That night she breathed her last breath.

John was devastated. For years after Susan’s death, he limped along spiritually, disillusioned with God, prayer, and the impotence of faith.

But his spiritual meltdown had nothing to do with God letting him down. It had nothing to do with the promises of the Bible being hollow. It was the predictable result of having placed his trust in the fool’s gold of faith’s best known and most widely believed spiritual urban legend: the myth that if we have enough faith, we can do or fix anything.

Unfortunately, John’s concept of faith (what it was and how it worked) didn’t come from the Word of God; it came from the word on the street. He had banked on a set of assumptions and beliefs that simply weren’t true. And they had let him down.

The Word on the Street

The word on the street is that faith is a potent mixture of intellectual and emotional self-control that when properly harnessed can literally change outcomes through positive thinking and clear visualization.

It’s what successful people tout as the key to their achievements, survivors of great tragedies cite as the source of their endurance, televangelists credit with healing power, and motivational speakers make a sweet living espousing.

It’s why, when our team is five runs down with two outs in the ninth inning, we’re not supposed to think negatively. Instead, we’re supposed to hang tough, visualize a big inning. Because as long as we really believe we can win, there is a good chance we will.

This kind of hopeful thinking is more about

faith in faith than faith in God. Yet it’s what

many of us have been taught to believe God

wants from us when we’re confronted with

insurmountable odds.

Same with a medical crisis. Did the tests come back showing the cancer has metastasized? Don’t panic. It can be beat. Just think positively.

Or perhaps your son is a five-foot, two-inch freshman with dreams of playing in the NBA. Whatever you do, don’t discourage him. Who knows? It could happen. After all, nothing is impossible as long as he pursues his dreams with hard work and unwavering faith.

Unfortunately, this kind of hopeful thinking has nothing in common with what the Bible calls faith. It’s more about faith in faith than faith in God. Yet it’s what many of us have been taught to believe God wants from us when we’re confronted with insurmountable odds.

We’ve been told that for those who can muster it up, an all doubts-removed, count-it-as-done faith has the power to fix anything. It’s God’s great cure-all, a magic potion.

In fact, in some Christian circles, this kind of faith is said to have the power to actually manipulate the hand of God. I recently heard a TV preacher claim that God has to answer prayers of unwavering faith no matter what we ask for. As long as we have no doubt, he has no choice. It’s a law of the universe. Apparently it even trumps God’s sovereignty.

Though I’d hate to be the one to tell him so.

How the English Language Mucks Things Up

While faith is a concept deeply rooted in the Christian Scriptures, most of our modern ideas about it aren’t. Much of the blame can be placed on the way the original manuscripts of the New Testament have been translated into English.

It’s not that the translators are unskilled or deceptive. It’s simply that translating anything from one language to another is a difficult task, burdened by all the ancillary meanings and uses found in one language but not another.

A quick comparison of how we use the words faith, belief, and trust in modern-day English with how they were originally used in the Greek language of the New Testament can be eye opening. Let’s take a look to see what I mean.


For most of us, the word faith conjures up an image of confidence. It’s the opposite of fear and doubt. It’s often defined by our feelings as much as by anything else. That’s why most teaching on faith tends to focus on eradicating all fear, doubt, and negative thoughts. It’s also why “You gotta have faith” has come to mean “Think positively.”


On the other hand, the word belief usually conjures up an image of intellectual assent. We say we believe in something as long as we think that it’s probably true. And since our beliefs are thought to exist primarily between our ears, we’re not particularly puzzled when people claim to believe in something—say UFOs, Bigfoot, Darwinian evolution, creationism, even Jesus—but live as if they don’t. For most of us, beliefs are intellectual. Acting upon them is optional.

You can see this definition of belief in the way many of us approach evangelism. We tell the Jesus story to people and then ask them if they believe it. Those who say yes are immediately assured that they’re headed for heaven. After all, they’re “believers.” It doesn’t seem to matter that the Bible adds quite a few qualifiers beyond mere mental assent.2


In contrast to our use of faith and belief, when we use the word trust it almost always carries an assumption that there will be some sort of corresponding action. If we trust a person, it’s supposed to show up in our response. For instance, if the parent of a teenage girl says, “I trust you,” but won’t let her out of the house, we’d think that parent was speaking nonsense. There’s no question the daughter would.

Clearly, each of these three words carries a distinctly different meaning in the English language. But to the surprise of most Christians, almost every time we find one of these three words in our English New Testaments, each is a translation of the exact same Greek root word.3

That means that the Bible knows nothing of the sharp distinctions we make between faith, belief, and trust. Biblically, they not only overlap, but they are practically synonymous. To the writers of Scripture, our modern distinctions between faith, belief, and trust would seem quite strange and forced.

So, What Kind of Faith Does God Want?

The kind of faith the Bible advocates and God wants from us has far more to do with our actions than our feelings. In fact, biblical faith is so closely tied to actions of obedience that the Bible ridicules the very idea of someone claiming to have faith without acting upon it.4

God doesn’t care if we’ve mastered the art of positive thinking. He’s not impressed by the mental gymnastics of visualization. He doesn’t even insist that we eradicate all doubts and fears. In fact, more than once, he’s answered the prayers of people whose “faith” was so weak that when God said yes, they didn’t believe it.5

When the first response to an answered prayer is shock and amazement, the people who offered that prayer certainly don’t fit the standard definition of having faith. Yet God answered anyway because their prayers fit his definition of faith. Their simple act of praying was an act of faith—they trusted God enough to do what he commanded, even though they were certain it wouldn’t work.

To better understand what biblical faith is and how it works, let’s take a look at the most famous faith passage in the Bible: Hebrews 11. Often called God’s Hall of Fame, it offers a lengthy list of examples, each one showing what God-pleasing faith looks like and what it produced.

The writer of Hebrews starts with Adam’s son Abel, then moves on to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, laying out a series of vignettes that describe their steps of faith and the great victories that followed.

Then, almost as if he is running out of steam (or his audience is running out of attention), the writer adds twelve more examples. But this time he offers only a name or a cryptic reference to the great victories their faith accomplished.

It’s an inspiring list. At first glance it seems to support the popular notion that faith rightly applied can conquer anything. It tells of kingdoms won, lions muzzled, flames quenched, weaknesses turned to strength, enemies routed, the dead raised. All in all, a pretty impressive résumé.

But the writer doesn’t stop there. He goes on.

But I warn you. What he said might mess with your head. It certainly messed with mine. After reciting a litany of victories, he suddenly switches gears and changes direction. Now he speaks of people whose faith led them down a different path—folks who were tortured, jeered, flogged, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, and put to death by the sword. He ends with a reminder that still others were rewarded with financial destitution, persecution, and mistreatment.

Then he writes these words: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.”6 In other words, these weren’t the faith rejects, the losers, the ones who couldn’t get it right. These were men and women whose faith was applauded by God. Yet their faith didn’t fix anything.

In some cases it made matters worse.


I guarantee you that no one taught my kids this side of faith in Sunday school. Imagine if they did. “Okay, children, today we’re going to learn how trusting and obeying God might get you torn in two, thrown into jail, hated by your friends, and force you to drive an old beater the rest of your life.”

That would thin the herd.

It would certainly rile a few parents.

But it’s essentially what the Bible says that faith (at least the kind of faith that God commends) might do. It may lead us to victory. It may lead us to prison. Which it will be is his call—not ours.

Why Bother?

That raises an important question. If faith is primarily about trusting God enough to do what he says, and yet it won’t fix everything and sometimes will make matters worse, why bother?

One reason stands out above all others. It’s what God wants from us. He says so himself: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”7

Now, it seems to me that if God is really God, and not just some sort of mystical force, cosmic consultant, or favorite uncle in the sky, then knowing what he wants and doing it is a pretty important thing to pay attention to. Few of us would mess with our boss’s stated preferences. What kind of fool messes with God’s?

A thousand years from now, all the things we

try so hard to fix with our positive thinking,

visualization, and drive-out-all-doubt prayers

won’t matter. The only thing that will matter

is our awesome future and our face-to-face

relationship with God.

Another reason to live by faith (even if it can’t fix all the problems we face) is that it does promise to fix our biggest problem and our biggest dilemma. What do we say and do when we stand before a holy and perfect God who knows every one of our secrets and all of our sins?

Honest now—what’s to keep us from becoming toast?

Frankly, nothing.

But that’s where the real fix-it power of biblical faith kicks in. Jesus promised that all who believe in him (remember that includes trusting him enough to actually follow and do what he says) will receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.8 A thousand years from now, all the things we try so hard to fix with our positive thinking, visualization, and drive-out-all-doubt prayers won’t matter. They’ll be but a distant memory, if they can be remembered at all. The only thing that will matter is our awesome future and our face-to-face relationship with God.

God’s GPS System

There’s one more benefit to a proper understanding of biblical faith. Biblical faith gives us something that all the positive thinking and visualization in the world can’t provide. It gives us a life map, something we can depend on to always take us exactly where God wants us to go.

Admittedly, it’s not always an easy map to follow. It takes time, experience, and an occasional leap into the dark to master. It can be frustrating—and scary at times. But in the end, for those who are led by it, it’s a trusty guide, guaranteed to always take us where we need to be.

In many ways the adventure of learning to live by biblical faith is a lot like my love/hate relationship with the mapping software on my GPS unit. Let me explain.

I’m a geographical moron. My wife has no idea how I get home after traveling to speak somewhere. She’s always surprised to see me walk through the front door.

My problem is twofold. First, I’m often in two places at once, mentally. I call it multitasking. My family and friends call it something else. But the end result is that I can be completely oblivious to my surroundings. And when that happens, I literally don’t know where I am. I may think I do, but I don’t, mainly because I haven’t been paying attention.

My second problem is an absolute lack of an internal sense of direction. Without the Pacific Ocean and the mountains as bench-marks, I have no idea which direction is north, south, east, or west. That means that along with not knowing where I am, I often don’t know where I’m heading.

Put those two together and you have a recipe for search-and-rescue. But fortunately (or so you would think), I live in a day when GPS is within reach of the common man.

Yet, despite the promise that an affordable GPS unit has to offer, there is one frustrating problem. The pesky voice in my Garmin often tells me to turn the wrong way.

My first response is always a quick flash of annoyance at the company that makes the mapping software. I wonder why they can’t get it right. I know there are lots of streets they have to include, but come on. That’s what I paid for. And I’m not talking about thinking I should turn left when it says to turn right. I’m talking about those times when I know I should turn left.

To make matters worse, as I make the turn that I know I should make, the little lady in the box starts nagging me. In a mildly disgusted tone, she repeats over and over, “Recalculating. Recalculating.”

Faith is not a skill we master. It’s not an

impenetrable shield that protects us from

life’s hardships and trials. It’s not a magic

potion that removes every mess. It’s a map

we follow.

It’s enough to make me reach over to hit the Off button. But before I do, I’m usually struck with a haunting realization. I’ve been certain I was right before—but somehow ended up wrong. And despite the fact that my GPS sometimes seems unaware of a street or two and occasionally takes me on a circuitous route, it’s always found a way to get me where I want to go.

But doggone it, this time I know I’m right. I’m absolutely certain. I don’t care how many times she spouts off, “Recalculating.” She’s wrong.

So, what do I do?

This is, in essence, a crisis of faith. I have a choice to make. Will I place my trust in my own sense of direction, knowing that this time my not-so-trusty GPS has gotten it all wrong? Or will I place my faith in the little box and turn right, despite my certainty that it’s directing me far from where I want to go?

You probably know the answer. Based on my past experiences, I’ve learned to shrug my shoulders and do what the unit says. So I reluctantly make a turn that makes no sense tome. As I do, my pulse quickens and my stomach churns. My mind fills with images of speaking engagements lost and flights missed.

I turn anyway.

And that’s the reason that I always surprise my wife when I walk in the front door. Somehow east magically turns into west and the “wrong” route gets me there anyway.

Go figure.

Once I arrive at my destination, it really doesn’t matter what doubts or concerns I had along the way. As long as I follow the directions or quickly get back on track after a little “recalculating,” I always end up where I need to be.

That’s exactly how biblical faith works. When rightly understood and applied, it doesn’t matter how many doubts we have. It doesn’t even matter if we’re convinced that all is lost. Ultimately all that matters is whether we have enough faith (maybe just a mustard seed’s worth) to follow God’s instructions. Those who do, get where they’re supposed to go. Those who don’t, end up lost somewhere far from home.

Faith is not a skill we master. It’s not an impenetrable shield that protects us from life’s hardships and trials. It’s not a magic potion that removes every mess. It’s a map we follow.

It’s designed to guide us on a path called righteousness. Along the way, it doesn’t promise to fix every flat tire. It won’t reroute us around every traffic jam. It won’t even stop the road rage of the crazy guy we cut off at the merge.

But it will take us exactly where God wants us to go. And isn’t that where we want to be?



They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put

to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins

and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the

world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts

and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none

of them received what had been promised. God had

planned something better for us so that only together

with us would they be made perfect.

HEBREWS 11:37–40