|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
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About the Author
She loves to speak about The God Dare, share Bridging the Generation Gap workshops in church and conference settings, and letting Jesus pick your future. She is a natural encourager and believes in your ability to change the world, even if you don’t!
She recently moved to Franklin, TN to be closer to Francesca’s growing family. She’s been married to her husband Mike for thirty-four years and loves being near her daughter, son-in-law and four amazing grandchildren.
Read an Excerpt
MY FIRST GOD DARE
The first time I heard the God Dare, it didn't have a name. I only knew this: I was heading one way, and God dared me and my husband to go in the complete opposite direction.
My husband, Mike, and I had gotten married just a couple of years earlier and at the time, we lived in a 720-square-foot condo in trendy Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Both of us were pursuing promising careers in the Broadway musical theater world — Mike as a conductor and musical director on Broadway and Radio City Music Hall and me as an aspiring Broadway actress and singer.
We'd met a couple of years earlier, in 1981, on the national tour of The King and I when I costarred opposite Yul Brynner. I'll share more of our story later, but I was blessed to perform as the leading lady on tour and Mike acted as associate conductor ... and we really and truly fell in love across the footlights.
Two years earlier we'd become devout Christians, and a year later I gave birth to our daughter, Francesca. As we grew in our relationship with the Lord, an uneasy feeling about our chosen professions began to well up in us both, as the music and theater worlds are not typically known as God honoring industries. I found it increasingly necessary to turn down auditions for morally questionable projects, and my theatrical agents were none too happy about it. I realize now God allowed deep testing in our lives by bringing sizable opportunities for fame and fortune to see where our hearts truly resided. Would we choose the narrow path? Would we follow our Good Shepherd? Would we lay down the life we loved?
I remember receiving an offer from a producer in South Africa to come and perform in The King and I for several months. And I'd just found out I was pregnant. He wanted to pay me a lot of money, but apartheid was at its height and I knew there was no way I was going to South Africa. He kept calling and sweetening the deal, but even with all his flattery, I stood firm, knowing there was no way, morally, I could go. Not to mention being pregnant ... and wearing hoop skirts!
A rising and uncomfortable sense about our life choices continued to creep in. One rainy night as Mike and I watched a preacher on Christian TV, we felt as if he suddenly pointed right at us through the screen, saying something about "you actors and musicians who think you can live a hypocritical life ... God is telling you to lay down your careers and come out from among them!" Whoa, Nelly, now that got our attention!
I don't typically make life-altering decisions based on what I see on television, but the TV preacher merely confirmed what Mike and I already sensed. The Broadway theater world, the lights, the fame, the backstage glow and glamour of New York City, no longer felt like home. Ultimately, we listened to that still, small voice nudging at our hearts and decided to make a major ninety-degree lifestyle shift.
I do believe many are called to the arts and the theater. However, as baby Christians, God knew our hearts and likely also knew temptation and compromise would rear their ugly heads. Our first God Dare required us to completely walk away from the music and theater worlds and lay down our hopes and dreams for fame and fortune.
Let me assure you, giving up your lifetime dream is no picnic. My husband and I worked years to bring our dreams to life, and now God, who we barely knew, asked us to trust Him and leave our dreams in the dust. It felt incredibly strange since our entire identities were wrapped up in our careers. My husband has a doctorate in conducting for Pete's sake! How do you just walk away from that? We'd been utterly convinced our lives were destined for the Broadway theater. But God had a better plan, even though we couldn't quite see it at the time.
Walking away from everything familiar (like Abraham) is one of the most difficult God Dares but, ultimately, one of the most rewarding. If you sense God calling you to a different path than the one you are currently on, let me give you hope that it's for a bigger purpose than you can possibly know right now. I'm intimately acquainted with how difficult it is, but just know, the years will give the perspective you lack now. I promise.
For some of you reading this, He may be calling you into the theater world or the arts. I pray He will give you discernment and wisdom as to whether He wants you to shine His light in the darkness. The arts have grown incredibly bleak over the last few decades, and they desperately need strong believers to shine the light of truth!
God loves to challenge us with what I call "ninety-degree turns" in this life — the opportunity to go in a completely different direction — even when it makes no sense to the rest of the world. Of course, our theater friends thought we were crazy by walking away from established and growing careers. Had we stayed in our careers, I'm confident we would have continued to do well and experienced an even greater measure of success. But even as young and immature Christians, we knew there was only one viable choice for us — we would pick up our cross and follow.
We prayed about it, sought good counsel, and ended up buying a pretty little house in a small town outside Princeton, New Jersey, not far from where we'd grown up (and still only forty-five minutes from Broadway!). We took God's crazy dare and laid down the glitz and glamour of New York City for a home business and homeschooling, taking God's ninety-degree turn and utterly altering the paths of our lives.
I'm quite certain God knew (even if we didn't) as we laid down our dreams in obedience to follow Him that He planned to pick those dreams back up in the next generation through our daughter, Francesca. In fact, as the years went on we were blessed to witness just how much our ceiling would become her floor.
God's economy is never wasteful, and He never wastes the training and experiences He gives you. When our daughter, Francesca (Franny), began expressing her gifts and talents in music, we were able, because of our backgrounds, to help her navigate the music world, instill in her the value of hard work and diligence, and remind her she could change the world with the gifts God had given her. Obeying God's leading by laying down our careers became our first God Dare.
When the "Not Yet" Becomes the "Will Be"
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Let's take a quick look at Abraham. We'll take a deeper dive into his life in a few chapters, but for now let's just take a quick glance. At the advanced age of seventy-five, Abraham receives instructions from God Himself to walk away from everything he knows — his familiar country, his thriving business, his family, his father's house — and follow God to a land He would show him.
Abraham's free will allowed him to either say no to God or take the plunge and choose to follow. Of course, we know the outcome. And because of his faith, God granted Abraham incredible promises including making him a great nation, making his name great, and that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed — all because he made the bold choice to trust and believe God, stepping out with Him into an uncharted and impossible-to-know future. Abraham was willing and prepared to do anything for God. What about you?
The silken thread connecting so many biblical heroes is this: God dropped in their laps the divine opportunity to choose to be chosen. Each of them could have turned God down, and I'm certain He would have offered the chance to change the world to someone who would say yes.
We like to think we know God's plan for our lives, don't we? I imagine Peter the apostle, dripping wet after a long day at sea on his creaky boat, or maybe mending old, worn nets in the harbor as he hears a voice calling him to "Follow Me." Perhaps Peter thought he had his life all figured out as he fished each day in the Sea of Galilee. I doubt in his wildest dreams he ever imagined he would walk away from a thriving business to follow a man he knew precious little about. Yet Peter must have sensed something extraordinary in the One who called him to follow that day, because ultimately he did walk away from everything familiar, leaving nets and boat behind, and in choosing to follow Christ, Peter ended up being chosen to change the world.
Self-righteous Paul certainly wasn't looking for Jesus. In fact, Paul had no problem allowing Christ's disciples to be murdered, chasing them down and persecuting those who followed The Way. One afternoon he traveled the dusty road to Damascus with a single focus: bring the followers of Christ bound to Jerusalem. Suddenly a heavenly light surrounded him, and he found himself knocked down on his blessed assurance, completely blind. Jesus Christ Himself offered Paul the divine opportunity to lay down everything he thought he knew and preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul, in choosing to follow Christ, wrote the majority of the New Testament, became a revered martyr for his faith, and utterly changed the world.
Will You Let Jesus Pick?
I had a fascinating dream recently. I was with some young generation X ladies my daughter's age, and we were talking and catching up. In the dream, one young lady told me about her recent marriage and how it was distinctly different from what the glitzy bridal magazines had led her to believe. Another gal, well into her thirties and still unmarried but desperate for a husband and children, shared her deep loneliness. As we talked, I knew in my dream I wanted to pray for them and share my heart and the perspective that comes with age. So I began to pray for the girl who wanted what most young women want — marriage and kids — and as I prayed in the dream, I sensed God say these remarkable words to me: "She wants a husband and sons, but what she doesn't know is I want to give her a nation."
I was stunned, absolutely stunned by His remark. I'm not sure what God meant by that statement, but as I woke up, this realization hit me like a ton of bricks: He wants so much more for us than we can ever begin to dream up. We think we know what we want — it's what we're supposed to want, right? Doesn't our culture teach marriage and parenthood are our highest goals? They're absolutely worthy goals, but are they God's will for every person on the planet? God's love can be frightening in the freedom it provides.
Hmmm. Maybe we set our sights too low. Do we want what the world romanticizes because we don't set our sights on Him? Because we don't want Him enough? Don't we know the only thing in this world ever able to truly satisfy our deepest heart longing is Him?
We prove we don't know by whining, complaining, regretting, seeking everything to satisfy us but Him. I wanted so badly to ask her in my dream, What if God asked you to lay down your desires and risk your future on Him? Would you trust Him enough? What if He didn't have a husband and family for you but instead something entirely different yet completely wonderful you didn't plan on? Would you take Him at His word? What if God dares you to walk a narrow path, one that flies in the face of everything our culture says you should want; do you love Him enough to walk the unique path He chooses for you? Do you love Him enough to let Jesus pick?
I'm believing that if you're reading this book, you're hungry for His will, for purpose, for destiny. What do we all desire? Significance. Living a life that matters. Leaving behind a legacy leading others to the truth.
Look at your dreams. They're good and righteous, I'm sure. But maybe, just maybe, He has a different path in mind for you, precious one. Maybe your God Dare doesn't look like you think it should. Don't forget, He created you before the foundation of the world, and He knows exactly where He wants to take you. It might look different than you think. In fact, He might want to give you a nation.
Scriptures to Think About
"Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes." (Matthew 24:46 ESV)
Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1–3)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11NIV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
"Many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)
God Dare Secrets
If He calls you to it, He knows you can accomplish it ... not in your strength but in His. You will have to step out and reach out for the help you need, but He'll provide every element at the proper time.
God wants more for you than you could ever dream up.
Most people won't take the God Dare because it can be uncomfortable, and in the Western world, we value comfort above all. As a result, most will ignore that still, small voice.
There is an enemy called "average." Each one of us has exactly what it takes to be average. Being average, remaining under the radar, and not making waves is exactly where the enemy wants to keep us.
God's economy is never wasteful, and He doesn't waste the training He gives you.
Sometimes your ceiling can become another's floor.
God's love is frightening in the freedom it provides.
We choose whether or not to be chosen.
Our lack of faith quenches the supernatural.
Few are willing to sacrifice the good to attain the best.
What would your life look like if you took God at His word and believed you had world-changing potential?
Do you believe you have the capacity to change the world?
Do you believe there's a God Dare designed just for you? What do you think it is?
Are you willing to venture outside your comfort zone and bungee jump into your future?
Are you willing to sacrifice the good to attain the best? What will that require?
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Will you choose to be chosen? If not, why not?
If God offers you a ninety-degree turn, will you take it?
What's stopping you from taking your God Dare?
Will you let Jesus pick?CHAPTER 2
MY SECOND GOD DARE
I heard it clear as a bell several years ago. My husband, Mike, and I were invited to speak at a meeting in Orlando, Florida, for the large homeschooling organization we'd been part of for many years. They began planning a giant blowout for their twentieth anniversary, and because we'd homeschooled Francesca with them, they asked us to share with the attendees the steps we'd taken to raise her into a woman of God who had found her purpose and was living out her destiny. By this point in her life, she'd signed her record deal and she'd had number-one hits on the radio. They asked us to speak about what intentional steps we'd taken as her parents to put her on the path to purpose.
At first I panicked and thought, what the heck did we do? Maybe we were just super lucky? But as Mike and I talked it over, we realized we'd been very intentional in the actions we'd implemented to raise our daughter to pursue her destiny with passion and purpose. So as we talked it through, we came up with fifteen concrete steps we'd followed in our parenting. I dutifully wrote out our steps, and later that week Mike and I spoke at the meeting.
The morning after the meeting, I stretched out on the carpet to worship, pray, and thank God for allowing us to share our talk and the fifteen steps we'd taken, and for all of God's blessings in our family. I was awash in gratitude for the opportunity to connect with other families and share our story as I went over in my mind the fifteen topics we'd discussed the night before.
And that's when I heard it, the God Dare. Or what I like to call God's big, fat, triple-dog dare. Here's what I heard God speak deep in my spirit: "Those are book chapters."
Wait, what? Book chapters? Are you serious, God? You want me to write a book?
No way, God, I can't. And here's why:
1. I'm not a trained writer.
2. I don't have a college degree.
3. I'm not a parenting expert.
4. I don't have time to write a book. (I knew that wasn't true, but I thought it anyway.)
5. Who will read it?
6. How will I ever get it published?
7. People will think it's a stupid idea.
8. People will think I'm promoting myself.
And on and on and on ...
The sentence exploded in my brain like a firecracker, and though I went into hyper-mode desperately searching for an excuse not to listen to His crazy words, I couldn't find one. I had no excuse. It's funny, all the things I'd taught my daughter about how to cross self-imposed boundaries, step out of your comfort zone, and how to do it even when you're afraid — they all flooded in to haunt me in that moment.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The God Dare"
Copyright © 2019 Kate Battistelli.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 My First God Dare 23
Chapter 2 My Second God Dare 33
Chapter 3 The Patriarch 39
Chapter 4 The Adulteress 51
Chapter 5 The Queen 59
Chapter 6 The Widow 71
Chapter 7 The Prince of Egypt 85
Chapter 8 The Slave 95
Chapter 9 The Prostitute 111
Chapter 10 The Leper 119
Chapter 11 The Forerunner 127
Chapter 12 The Maidservant 135
Chapter 13 The Wealthy Shepherd 141
Chapter 14 The Barren Wife 153
Chapter 15 The Disobedient Prophet 165
Chapter 16 The Devil's Dare 173
Chapter 17 God Dare Enemies 195
Chapter 18 The Greatest God Dare of All 219
Resources for Infertility, Adoption, Miscarriage, and Abortion 235