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Guide Unquenchable: Grow a Wildfire Faith that Will Endure Anything

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When the Fire Goes Out

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Item specifics Condition: Good : A book that has been read but is in good condition. Very minimal damage to the cover including scuff marks, but no holes or tears. The dust jacket for hard covers may not be included. Binding has minimal wear. The majority of pages are undamaged with minimal creasing or tearing, minimal pencil underlining of text, no highlighting of text, no writing in margins. After one more circle, it crashed into the plate-glass window of the IBM building and finally came to a stop.

Out of all the drivers involved, only two women sustained minor injuries, and no one was seriously hurt. We were grateful there was no loss of life. But the property damage was extensive. We assumed our auto insurance would cover us, until the day after this horrible accident when we discovered we had no insurance.


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When we left the Christian organization my husband and I worked for previously, they "gifted" us with six months of additional auto insurance. But because of a clerical mistake, we were, in fact, totally uninsured. Gene and I barely had enough money to put food on the table each week and were still trying to pay off our student loans, so we knew we were in deep trouble. To make matters worse, the day after we made the second large payment to our attorney with borrowed money , the local newspaper ran an article on him. It read, in part: "This man has been disbarred from practicing law in the state of Michigan because of indecent exposure in his office.

How could God let this happen? We were financially ruined, emotionally exhausted, and spiritually devastated. Didn't God love us? Rather than feeling loved by an omnipotent God, for the first time in my life I felt abandoned by him. My sense of spiritual passion wavered as I mentally listed the ways Gene and I felt we had been let down—first by the mechanical malfunction, then by the office worker who made such a major clerical error with our insurance, and finally upon discovering that the statute of limitations in Michigan allowed cases involving this accident to be brought to court for up to seven years.

I wrestled with soul-searching questions:. Gene and I had considered the possibility of teaching missionary children at an academy in Brazil, but I wasn't allowed to leave the United States until pending lawsuits were resolved. Did he like to do miracles only when there was a crowd watching? I tried to read my Bible and pray, but it was painful to turn to the God who was supposed to take care of me but hadn't.

Where was he? I had given him my heart as a young child and passionately pursued him throughout my university years and as a newly married woman. But now I didn't even feel like talking to him. I was mystified and hurt that God would allow such bad things to happen to us. The result? A spiritual numbness settled into my soul. The fire of my faith, it seemed at the time, had been doused by a flood of doubts and despair. That was over thirty years ago.

If I could whisper into the ear of the young woman I was, I would say, "Don't despair. Your faith won't fail. Just the opposite. It will grow even stronger through this trial. What I wouldn't tell myself, but what is also true, is this: "I know you think this is a major tragedy, but believe me, this is nothing compared to the tragedies you will know in your life!

One day's worries are enough for us to bear. I'd love to tell you that once my faith survived that trial it never again wavered. But that wouldn't be true. In fact, the flame of my faith has, at times, dimmed to the point that all I had were a few flickering embers in a bed of cold, gray ashes. I know I am not alone in that experience. Perhaps you've reached the same point yourself. My friend Jackie knows it well.

From the first time I met her, Jackie has been a source of spiritual encouragement to me. We met when our paths crossed at a conference where we were both speaking, and I was moved by her fiery passion for God and her desire to do his work in creative ways. Whenever I'm with Jackie, she sparks my desire to do more with my spiritual gifts to accomplish God's goals in this world. An African-American woman committed to racial reconciliation, Jackie makes me more aware of the importance of encouraging Jesus lovers from many denominations and cultures to join forces as we pursue his calling.

She allows God to use her to bring people groups together for his kingdom purposes. Jackie's example has motivated me—not just once but multiple times over a period of years. I always look forward to her encouraging notes on Facebook and to the times she shows up in an audience where I am speaking. From the platform, I connect with Jackie's eyes and she nods in acknowledgment. Her unspoken words are translated to my heart as, "You go, girl!

God is going to do remarkable things at this conference.

Unquenchable: Grow a Wildfire Faith that Will Endure Anything by Carol Kent, sampler

I'm here praying for you, and I can hardly wait to see how he will move! I think of Jackie as a Christian with unshakable faith—a woman with deep spiritual roots that give her stability and strength for whatever happens in her life and ministry. She once told me that her faith began to grow as a child when she watched her mom pray for food when there was nothing left in the cupboard to feed Jackie and her five siblings. Before the prayer was even finished, someone knocked on the door and dropped off several bags of groceries. Jackie said, "We asked for bread, and the floodgates opened.

It was easy for me to view God as a provider. He ran for his life! He was so afraid that when he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there and went another days journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed to die: I have had enough, Lord, he said. Talk about feeling like the fire of your faith burned outthis was it! This man was beyond discouraged; he was so depressed he longed for death.

What Causes Our Faith to Wane? How about you? Do you sometimes wrestle with disappointment with God, deep discouragement, or diminished trust in Gods faithfulness? Each one of us has our own trigger points for what wears us down to the point of feeling like the fire of our faith is going out. For some, it might be great personal loss or a series of losses; for others, it might be the burnout of working hard in business or ministry without visible results or much-needed breaks.

Many people experience a spiritual indifference that develops over time when the busyness of everyday demands dulls their spiritual fervor. It can come from self-imposed isolation or from too much pressure to succeed. Doubts and unanswered questions about why God allows certain eventswhen tragedy befalls good people while evil seems to prospersometimes leave us discouraged or feeling betrayed, wondering if our faith makes any difference at all.

One look at the notes Ive received over the past few months confirms how universal this struggle is. Cathy: Sometimes indifference sneaks in to extinguish my spiritual fervor, and I find it very difficult to restart spiritual disciplines once I stop. Heather: Massive changes have been taking place in my church where I was employed full-time in womens ministries. I am worn-out, angry, and hurt. Im even ticked off at God for allowing this to happen. There is a distance between God and me that I havent experienced before.

Julie: My sister and I are twins. She just gave birth to her second baby, and during this same time period Ive had three miscarriages. Ive prayed and begged God for a child, but he isnt answering my prayer and it feels so unfair. I love my sister, but every WWhen the Fire Goes Out time I see her holding her infant, I feel a cold shiver of faith-shaking fear that I will never have a baby of my own. It makes me question Gods love. A single missionary: Ive ministered in a remote South American location for over forty years, where Ive experienced extreme hardships as well as heartstopping spiritual victories.

Now Im approaching retirement, and the mission Im with is going under financially. After promising to provide a modest retirement for me, theyve just told me there are no funds available once I leave my field of service. I feel alone and abandoned. As if the God I served all of these years has forgotten me. I still know hes my Savior, but I am confused by his lack of provision for my future.

I feel disappointed in him. These are all women who pointed others to hope, faith, and truth, but the spiritual fervor they once experienced is faltering amid the challenges they are experiencing. My heart aches for the ruins of the relationship they once had with God. For me, the fire grew cold when I became disappointed in God because he did not stop my son from taking the life of another man.

If you dont know that story, Ill fill you in briefly in the next chapter. But even without knowing the facts, I imagine you can understand that because I believed God is all-powerful and all-knowing, I knew he was aware of the horrific events unfolding. Yet he still allowed my son to choose death and destruction. The result was the worst ash heap of our livesinconsolable grief for the family members of the deceased, severe pain for multiple members of our family, a lifetime of prison for our son, and the excruciating reality for Gene and me that our treasured son had committed murder.

Unquenchable: Growing a Wildfire Faith! | Building Women of Integrity!

Surely a loving God would have used his almighty power to change this life-altering, dream-smashing, faith-rocking, death-producing event. Whatever the cause, it seems as if, sooner or later, many of us find ourselves in the ash heap of a spiritual fire that has gone out. Is There a Remedy? Why do some people weather such firestorms with their faith intact, able to heal and grow, while others become bitter, turn from God, and find themselves unwilling or unable to ever believe in God again? Why do some cling to or return to faith but merely limp along, while others soar in new boldness and strength?

These are questions we all ask. Perhaps the reason we feel so much fear when our faith falters is that we are afraid we will be left with nothing but a cold ash heap. Having been on the ash heap and back to a vibrant, bold faith, I have found myself longing to find a way to encourage others not to lose hope, but instead to endure, to thrive, and to once again burn with a wildfire faith that takes our breath away. Ive walked through enough life to know better than to offer simple checklists and shallow action steps to transform a waning faith back into a roaring wildfire faith.

There are no easy answers to such penetrating questions. But there are truths we can cling to, practices we can turn to, stories we can draw strength from, and Gods mercy that we can fall on. There is hope and help. This book is my invitation to you to join me on a journey of WWhen the Fire Goes Out discovering these truths, choosing these practices, and falling into the strong arms of the God who is the author and finisher of our faith.

In the following pages we will explore true storiesstories from Scripture, my own life, and the lives of others Ive knownof those who have endured hardship and whose confidence in God has been worn down, perhaps even reduced to ashes, but whose faith has been rekindled and has come out stronger than ever before. Elijahs experience at his lowest point offers a hopeful example. While fleeing for his life, the food and drink he needed were provided by an angela supernatural experience. I can attest that at my lowest point I did not experience that kind of divine intervention.

What I did experience, however, was more akin to what unfolded next for Elijah.

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Following a fortyday journey, he finally heard from the Lord, though not in the expected, supernatural ways. God did not appear to him spectacularly through the wind or in the earthquake or in the fire. God came to him in a whisper and provided him with encouragement, comfort, and a plan of action. Gods gentle whisper blew on the dying embers of the faith of a man who was burned out emotionally and spiritually, and he was eventually able to move forward. It took time and patience, but the flame of his faith did once again burn brightly.

That gives me hope that the same can be true for each of us! The Journey My friend Lynn can relate to that experience. I met Lynn through a group of fellow authors and speakers. It didnt take long for me to recognize her spiritual insight, which quickly captured my heart. We kept in touch over the years and often Recently Lynn wrote to me about a huge struggle she was going through in her faith journey.

Heres the story in her own words:. I sat silently across the table from my beloved octogenarian friendwho is as mature in spiritual stature as in yearsI had difficulty absorbing what Jillian was saying as she struggled to express her distance from God. I had never heard her talk this way before in the twenty-someodd years I had known her. She was, in my eyes, a spiritual giant and a glowing example of faith to whom I looked for godly counsel. Surely, after all these years of faithfulness, she could not be growing cold toward God. I had always thought her faith was unquenchable.

Her shocking words described the deafening silence and deepening darkness of her spiritual life that I, too, was experiencing, but which I found too painful to articulate. Like Jillian, I could no longer hear from God. I longed for Jillian to throw a lifeline of wisdom I could clutch to pull myself from this apathetic void. Instead, it seemed that we were both swirling hopelessly into a godless maelstrom.

Listening to her only exacerbated my own angst. I had known times of desperation, times of feeling out of touch with God, even times of feeling his discipline, but this was different.

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I couldnt feel his presence at all. I was stone-cold. Shaken by the discovery that Jillian and I were suffering the same distance from God, I decided to listen attentively over the next few weeks to other women I encountered. I found these same tendrils of distance and despair winding through our conversations, revealing how many of us felt our intimacy with God was being sucked from us.

WWhen the Fire Goes Out The unsettling truth is that these women were once strong, mature Christians who had been intimate with Godfilled with his joy, fueled by his purpose, serving him with abandon. Now they were distant, emotionless, and deadened to the voice of God. And I was one of them. How had I succumbed to this passionless state? Lynns no-holds-barred description of the downward spiritual progression of women who once had a vibrant faith in God rang true to me. She went on to describe her own experience with a long series of deep personal losses, especially the death of her father.

Then she offered an insight:. But sadly, I had also allowed this frigidity to shield me from Gods love and compassion. During the several years since my losses, I had only been reading the Bible haphazardly, and Id stopped journaling my prayers with any consistency. This was tantamount to short-circuiting my communication with God. I was no longer petitioning him, praising him, or confessing to him.

My spiritual fervor dissipated as a result. I now realized that every time I didnt pen a prayer of gratitude, confession, or praise, another layer of callus had been forming around my lifeless heart. Finally, apathy had taken over. As I read Lynns experience, I recognized similarities to Jackies. Both of these women described the cold absence of God when heartache overwhelmed them. Both also mentioned their departure from the rhythm of walking with and talking Read how Lynn eventually addressed this distance:. Now God was unexpectedly using my talk with Jillian to pierce my frozen armor.

For the first time in months, I picked up an old journal and began rereading the past passionate outpourings of my soul to the Lord. As I read he used the warmth of my own words to woo me back to him, and I began to long for the intimate relationship he and I had once enjoyed. I began to write, begging God for a way back to him. He used my own pen like the strike of a match to ignite the flame. I couldnt stop writing. I started with the words, Oh God, I dont even know how to pray anymore. I dont feel you. God, please get me back to you! Graciously, God used this gift of written prayer to draw me back into his presence in a palpable way.

Somehow the act of writing itself elicited feelings I didnt even know existed, feelings that had lain buried and dormant. Over the next weeks, God used his Word in my daily Bible reading and my own words through journaling to breathe his Spirit on the flickering embers of my heart. God reminded me that I needed spiritual revival through daily confession and repentance. I was discovering that sin, perhaps more than any single thing, had ossified my heart and left me stone-cold toward God. Tozer wisely admonished, Do a thorough job of repenting.

Hasty repentance means a shallow spiritual experience. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition. I was already experiencing this to be true as I confessed my sin of apathy to God.


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  5. WWhen the Fire Goes Out Lynns journey reminded me of David, the psalmist, someone who also wrote out his prayers to Godhis confessions, questions, failings, and honest thoughts. David learned that forgiveness brings true happiness and that its only when we ask God to forgive our sins that he gives us real joy and relief from the burden of our separation from him. Davids repentant heart is revealed in these lines: Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.

    I said to myself, I will confess my rebellion to the Lord. And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone Psalm NLT. Lynn realized she needed additional spiritual practices to feed the newly flickering flame of her faith. She continued:. In a state of indifference, we often cut ourselves off from fellow Christians and in so doing we extricate ourselves from the very sources necessary to ignite and sustain the fire of revival.

    As King Solomon wrote, Two are better than one, because But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up Ecclesiastes NIV. In community, we learn we are not alone, because not only do others demonstrate genuine care; they have also experienced like circumstances, and from this we take hope. So, with some trepidation but with a fervor lit by God, I invited the very women who felt far away from God to join me for a journaling class to pursue the Lord unreservedly, seeking personal revival.

    I had no idea if anyone would show up. But, surprisingly, a number of the women said they, too, longed for deep soul-searching that would probe and pierce their hearts and let God do his deep, redemptive work. At this point in my friends story, God began convicting my own heart. Throughout the past thirteen years of my sons arrest, trial, conviction, sentencing, and life behind bars, there have been many times when I felt my heart toward God cooling.

    Lynns words instantly prompted me to acknowledge that my natural tendency was to withdraw from being vulnerable with friends about the shakiness of my faith as I endured the lifetime prison sentence of my son. It felt too unspiritual to admit my doubts and fearsespecially since Im a Christian leader who makes her living speaking about a God of hope, redemption, and love. Lynn went on to tell me about bringing together women who were willing to come clean with God about the frigidity of their faith.

    What she described gave me pause, along with the conviction of my sin of pridenot wanting to share my disbelief, disappointment, and heartache with others. Did I believe people would think less of me for being honest? Did I believe they expected me to be a stronger Christian than I was? Did I think ministry opportunities would dry up if I admitted my humanness while continuing to live in a dark, hopeless situation? Was I too afraid to admit that sometimes I hated going to visit my son in such a detestable place?

    Lynns soul-searching experience with her group impacted me deeply:. What transpired is nothing short of miraculous. We wrote vividly descriptive prayers of confession and prayers of lament, using the freewheeling self-expression of the psalmists. Psalm 62 underscores this idea of pouring out We realized all the more, after such cathartic release, that God alone is our refuge. We pushed ourselves to answer probing questions posed by the psalmists such as, Why are you cast down, O my soul?

    Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? We recognized that in the past, our lack of gut-wrenching honesty with God had prevented our revival.