My new devotional: 40 Days of Increase

My 40 Days of Increase devotional is live on Amazon! Use this link to get copy for yourself. It’s only available in digital format now, but the print version is coming. And just an FYI, you don’t need a Kindle device to read Kindle books. Your phone or laptop will work just fine.

If you don’t know the story behind 40 Days of Increase, here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

I didn’t grow up in a family that observed Lent. I think my first participation in an Ash Wednesday service was just a few years ago when I attended one with my brother at Kensington Community Church—and I haven’t attended one since. So, admittedly, I have minimal exposure to Lent, how it’s observed, and the impact it has on people’s spiritual formation. My brother found it to be a powerful experience, but that’s my lone case study.

What I do have is a growing exposure to people talking about Lent, usually via social media. And for the most part, it’s about “what I’m giving up.” I understand that there’s more to it than that, but would you agree with me that restraint, denial and fasting have become predominant themes among most observances of Lent?

It was this dynamic that provoked me to carry out a bit of a counter-Lent study back in 2015, which I called 40 Days of Increase. Rather than spending the season focused on what I was giving up for Lent and what I was doing for God, I focused on what I have gained in him and what he has already done for me.

The distinction might sound stronger than it actually is. I know that for many, denial, sacrifice and penitence is how they focus on what he’s done. So, I’m not setting out to be critical of that approach. It’s just that for me, self-imposed restraint and introspection has rarely given me deeper revelation of Jesus and often carries me into self-focus. And I’m terribly unimpressive and uninspiring.

But Jesus and his ever-increasing Kingdom are incredibly impressive and absolutely inspiring. Isaiah prophesied, “Of the increase of His government and peace, There will be no end…” (Isaiah 9:7a). This means something to each of us personally and impacts our day-to-day lives, but it’s a topic I’ve rarely heard discussed.

40 Days of Increase seeks to make this somewhat vague promise of perpetual Kingdom increase applicable, provoking and transformative. I hope you’ll find it so.

For all you writers out there... take your calling seriously! Nicholas Lobo, Vicky Lorencen, Randy Streu, Julie...

Posted by Joel Maust on Monday, August 3, 2015

Are you taking your gifting and calling seriously?

I posted a quote to Facebook yesterday and I wanted to expound upon it some more. The Facebook post is embedded above, but here’s the quote:

“I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ― Rudyard Kipling

Where, when or how I came across that quote, I do not remember. But it has stuck with me ever sense. And so I shared it as an inspiring quote on Facebook and tagged some other writers I know.

After I posted it, something activated within me even more. Just the processes of getting it out there and encouraging other writers to take their callings seriously stirred me all the more to take my calling seriously. How much longer would I back-burner what I know is a mandate on my life?

"Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present."

Lee Segall
Swan Mountains in the Winter

Swan Mountains in the Winter

Each Friday, I’m going to be featuring a photo from the collections I’ve pulled together over the years. There may be a story attached to it, there may not be.

Some will come near our current home in Montana; some will come from other states out west like Colorado, Utah and California; others will come from back east in Michigan and West Virginia. And occasionally there will some from my trip to England and Scotland back in 2002.

As the week’s featured photo, print orders will be discounted 25% for that week!

Enjoy this photo of the Swan Mountains, taken a few miles north of Bigfork, Montana, in January 2013—our first winter in the Flathead Valley.

Buy a print of this photo.

TBT: Serving the Best Wine

Is it significant that I’m starting back into blogging 10 years after I first began? Unlikely. But I guess it is novel if nothing else. (Did I use that word right?)

Anyway, in honor of Throwback Thursdays, every other week I’m going to resurface an old post from around 10 years ago. It will give you a look into my humble beginnings as a blogger, drama-filled young adult years, and initial encounters with the charismatic stream I’ve fully embraced. And lots of other stuff.

It’s self serving in some ways, I suppose, because I have over 600 posts I want to review anyway. So I might was well do something with them while I’m at it.

This week I’m serving up a short reflection I had on a book I was reading: Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership. What struck me was this:

Jesus loved recklessly and with abandon. He didn’t save himself for some ambiguous time or person in the future… He gave the wine freely to anyone who wanted it. He poured out the best of himself to all he encountered.

Read the full post here:  “Oh bother” or “I could get the hang of this”

The Illusion of Expertise

There’s an old saying: “Fake it, until you make it.” And I truly believe there’s a whole lot of faking going on—at least a measure of it. Certainly there are experts… but probably not as many as it seems. And there are certainly people further down the path than you or I on any given topic… but probably not as far as it seems.

What I’m beginning to believe is that what mostly separates the so-called “experts” (and by “so-called”, I mean those that might not be quite the experts they appear to be) from the mainstream is confidence, and the assertiveness that comes with it.

Why Hope Can Be Your Perspective in Every Situation

Why Hope Can Be Your Perspective in Every Situation

Back in April, I was asked for the first time to give a message at MountainSong Church – the church Heather and I moved to Montana to be a part of. I had briefly shared a few times at MountainSong, but never had I given a full message. A communion reflection, a post-worship transition time, a closing reflection and prayer, a testimony or two… those were about it. Needless to say, I was honored and excited about the opportunity.

I knew God wanted me to discuss three of the major works of Christ – His death, resurrection and ascension – and what it looks like to realize the power of each of those works in our lives. What I didn’t know was the incredible well of living water He was going to break open in the hearts of Heather and I as a result and the profound impact it was going to have on our future!

What started as an Easter- and Pentecost-season message on Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, ended as a call-to-arms of sorts to carry unwavering HOPE into and throughout each and every situation we encounter. As Christ’s ambassadors and as ones presently seated with Him in heavenly places, we can boldly live out and exert the hope of our salvation in all of our experiences. This is our inheritance as His sons and daughters!

So, let me share with you a few of the main points and then leave you with a parting reflection.

Jacob or Israel

It seems fairly evident from scripture that there isn’t a particular rhyme or reason concerning which name Jacob/Israel goes by after his official name-change. God says to Jacob in Gen. 35:10: “’Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel.” Yet, as soon as God and Israel part ways, verse 14 starts out with “So Jacob…” and verse 15 repeats “And Jacob…” It seems God wasn’t following His own protocol.

Regardless, I was struck when reviewing Gen. 45 recently, where we find Jacob’s sons returning to him with news that Joseph is still alive and quite well, residing as governor over all the land of Egypt. Verses 25-26 state, “So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. And they told him, ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them.”

What I felt God highlighting to me in this case was that Jacob, the old man version of this new creation, had a hard time receiving the message of hope.