Category Archives: Character Building

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The Shelter of the Most High (Book Review)

by Francis Frangipane

The Shelter of the Most High, by Francis FrangipaneI love Francis Frangipane’s writing.  His gentle but uncompromising commitment to humility and the servant lifestyle just grips me. He carries the authority to be able to say the things he does, because he has been through the fire and allowed the heat to refine him.

The Shelter of the Most High is a book about intimacy with God and dwelling under His protective covering through prioritizing relationship with Him. It gives deep insight into what it means to cease striving in our own strength and truly enter into the rest of God (Hebrews 4). Basically, it’s a book about what the Christian life was always meant to be.

Here are a few quotes:

  • God has always been more concerned with the condition of our hearts than the activity of our hands. What we become to Him is far more consequential than all we will ever do for Him.
  • He will not fight for our attention; He must be sought. He will not startle us; He must be perceived …. We must learn to see Him Who is unseen.
  • Before the Lord is through with us, the way of Christ will be more than something we know; it will be something we instinctively choose in the midst of temptation or battle. This is where we graduate into the power of God.
  • Rescue is the constant pattern of God’s activity.
  • [God] intends to make your life a key that unlocks God’s shelter for others.
  • Our primary purpose in life must be to abide in Christ. Otherwise, we can become so   consumed with the deteriorating condition of the world that we fail to see the deteriorating condition of our own soul.

Other concepts revealed:

  • If we know God, we are in companionship with Him. If we are companioned with Him, He sees to it that we dwell in His rest. God’s rest means we are not fretting or striving to work. God works in us, with us, and surrounding us.
  • When we grasp Who God is, we enter into a place of spiritual immunity. We receive into ourselves the victory Jesus won for us — oneness with God in Christ.
  • Seeking and finding God is our end-all purpose and goal.
  • In the abiding place we are fascinated with Jesus, fastened on Him, guided by His voice, surrounded by His love, sheltered from distresses and distractions.
  • To Him, the voice of our weak prayers is sweet. We are lovely to Him.
  • The secret place of the Most High is not only a place of shelter, but also of restoration.
  • We come to a place where we can carry out our spiritual warfare from our position in the shelter of the Most High.

I highly recommend The Shelter of the Most High as essential reading for any Christian who desires to live an overcoming life in Christ from a place of absolute security and safety. If you long to go deeper in relationship with the Lord, absorbing the keys presented in this book will help you to get there.

Dining on Prison Swill

ball and chainRecently, I had a short dream in which I saw prison keepers in a dungeon-like setting, who were eating “the prison diet.” This meant that they were eating the same poor-quality food as the prisoners whom they were guarding.

After pondering the dream and praying into it, I understood that the prison keepers represented any of us who, in our minds, hold other people under lock and key.  We do this by having attitudes of unforgiveness, offense, jealousy, envy, and criticalness. We may feel justified in doing so, because in many cases those whom we mentally hold in prison really did something that was wrong.

But by holding such grudges, prison keepers end up in the same bondage as the prisoners. They become like them, not enjoying the goodness which God meant for them to enjoy — hence, the picture of them eating the prison diet.

If we want to live in the freedom which God intends for us, we have to let those whom we have “locked up” in our minds go free. In giving freedom, we receive it.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Jesus told us, in Matthew 5:44, to bless those who curse us and pray for them who despitefully use us. What we dish out to others is what we end up eating ourselves.

Announcing A New Homeschool Parenting Blog

mother and babyMy husband Paul and I homeschooled our children from the time they were born until they grew up — a total of 30 years. Although the girls are now grown, homeschooling is still dear to our hearts.

Recently, I felt that the Lord was giving me a renewed desire to write  for the homeschool community, specifically on character building and parenting topics.

of course I canI assure you that the Out of the Fire blog will continue on as it has in the past. But if you are interested in Christian parenting and character building issues, I invite you to check out my new Character Building for Families blog. (Even if you are not homeschooling your children, you might find some things to interest you!)

Thank you so much for reading my blogs! I’ve made so many friends across the world through Out of the Fire, and hope to make many more through the Character Building for Families blog.

Blessings in the Lord Jesus,
Lee Ann

Just in Time for Christmas

U.S. customers only:

Free Media Mail shipping on all products, any size order
0% off on orders of 5 or more of the following items:

River Life: Entering the Character of Jesus          The Intercessor Manual

The Intercessor's Companion          Before Whom We Stand

Quantity discounts 10% – 40% on other select products!


(Priority Mail shipping options also available.)

Are Character Building Studies Necessary?

Nearly twenty years ago, I published my first book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1. I had originally written the materials for our family, simply because, at the time, no one else was writing such things, and we had a need that was not being met. By the time we made my book available for the world, two other homeschool families had also come up with similar ideas. We were pioneers, I guess. Now, there are hundreds of character education books to choose from — for both children and adults, from both secular and Christian viewpoints.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions people voice about  character education:

Why is  teaching character  with a book important? Won’t it just sink in naturally? You know, we teach by example more than by our words, don’t we? Well yes, and no. Being a great example is important. Speaking the right words, while not following through by living the way we speak, is not generally very productive.

But teaching by example alone can be rather hit-or-miss. We’re not going to have opportunity to thoroughly model everything our kids (or adult  believers we are discipling) need to know about integrity, based on isolated incidents that arise naturally.

Personally, I think it is important not only to show people how, but also to give them a “why” which is founded in the Word of God. Seeing a concept clearly laid out in the Bible, and taking the time to study that concept together, anchors its truth in our hearts. And, if we build a foundation one block at a time, “line upon line, precept upon precept,” the results are going to be more solid.

Isn’t character education just bringing about behavior modification? I’ve heard this criticism a few times, and my answer is, “Not if it is done right.” The goal should always be heart-change. Our aim should be for our children (or adult Christians we serve) to desire good character because they want to be like Jesus, not just so that they can avoid unpleasant consequences, impress other people, or be successful. Outward change without inward transformation is hypocritical, and it can rarely be upheld for any length of time. Somewhere along the way, the real person will leak out!

That is why, in our own character education materials, we focus on applying the presented concepts to the heart. We tell people using our Character Building for Families manuals that the parents are going to have their character built right along with their children — and we’ve had quite a few parents write to us, testifying to the truth of that statement!

River Life Adult and Teen Character Study

Tragically, the Church has often fallen into the mistake of telling our young people that if they will just “be good,” God will love them and take them to heaven.  That is behavior modification and a false gospel message.  True character education brings to the student an understanding of Who God is and how we should become like Him, coupled with the knowledge that we can only accomplish this through asking God to do it in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our goal should be to raise up disciples who have a passion for the Lord Jesus, not to merely make them valuable community citizens. The  outward good behavior will naturally come, as we address and repair the issues of the heart.

Will character training solve our home problems (or our church’s problems)? I’m sorry I can’t promise you that. It would be nice if it did, wouldn’t it? My children did not become perfect by repeatedly studying  our character materials. Neither did I. But we made some progress together. The Character Building for Families lady still messes up sometimes.

Every one of us is in a lifelong process of growing into the image of Christ. We learn to be kind, and somewhere down the road, God will take us into deeper levels of learning to be kind. Step #1 is to equip ourselves with the recognition of where the old, selfish nature is still at work in us and the knowledge of how to overcome it, but the walking-out process is challenging and ongoing. Character studies are a tool, but we must wield the tool we’ve been given.

Are you still interested in stepping into the journey? Please visit us at our Character Building for Families website. In addition to our books, we’ve got many free Christian and homeschooling helps there to serve you.

Answering Matters Wisely

He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.
Proverbs 18:13

This has been one of my life verses for several decades, and lately it has been coming to mind quite a bit. Avoiding premature judgments is a goal, rather than something I’ve arrived at, but I’m growing into it.

We live in a time when, as the Bible foretold, everything that can be shaken will be shaken (Haggai 2:6, 7; Hebrews 12:26, 27). Perplexing events and behaviors are unfolding daily before our eyes, from a personal level on up to international affairs.  Many things which go on around us can be quite inexplicable if we do not understand them from a spiritual perspective. Consequently, prophetic perception and spiritual discernment are becoming increasingly necessary if we are to live and respond as Christ-followers.

If we want to grow in spiritual discernment, an important component is learning not to form judgments too hastily. A lot of believers spout ungracious, ill-informed opinions regularly, reacting to what they think is being done or spoken, not hearing matters out fully.  This is fleshly, and it causes both disunity in the Body of Christ and a shameful witness in front of those who don’t yet know Jesus.

How can we grow in gracious discretion that impacts our world for Christ’s glory?

1.  First of all, we must actively seek the Lord for His vantage point on everything. James 1:5 promises that God will liberally supply wisdom wherever we are lacking, if we will only ask. As we practice seeking His perspective, it becomes easier, over time, to hear His heartbeat on various matters.

2.  We must teach ourselves to listen carefully to people and to withhold immediate judgments and opinions. Hear them out. Learn to weigh what is being said.  We can mentally ask ourselves questions, such as:

  • Am I accurately understanding what is being said, or am I reacting to key words which are hot buttons for me?  (Take the time to ask questions, rather than jumping to conclusions. People don’t always communicate clearly what they mean, so we may need to ask for further clarification.)
  • Do I have all the information? (Assessments based on partial information tend to be erroneous.)
  • Am I seeing the whole picture?  (We tend to latch on to only one angle, thinking we are seeing it all. Listening to others’ viewpoints helps us to form a clearer, more well-rounded picture.)
  • When I disagree with others’ words or actions, what might they know that I don’t? What experiences are influencing them, of which I am unaware?
  • What is their core reason for what they are doing or speaking? What heart attitude is motivating them? (But we should be careful not to hastily assume we know their heart — especially if we are attributing negative attitudes toward them.)

3.  Listen with a spirit of charitable love, according to 1 Corinthians 13. Even when someone has an impure motive, there are often deeper issues at the root, such as fear, insecurity, or lack of feeling valued. If we can see into the root problems with compassion, we may be able to assist with solutions, rather than just writing them off as “wrong” or “bad.”

4.  Take time to ponder a matter before the Lord. Be patient to receive His counsel before speaking into situations.  As prophetic people, we are always to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). Prayer often expands or changes our viewpoint.

5.  When forming an opinion, we should keep in mind that what seems obvious to our natural understanding may not be in alignment with God’s plan. God never violates His Word, but He doesn’t always adhere to standard protocol, either. His ways are often hidden, and can only be discovered through  revelation from the Holy Spirit.

6.  We must learn what is our domain of influence and what is not. It is not necessary to have an opinion on everything. Psalm 131:1 gives some good advice: “My heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters or in things too high for me.”  Some things we have no authority to change — nor should we have. Some things are none of our business.   

7.  Especially when it comes to having an opinion on someone else’s judgment call, sometimes it is best to say, “I don’t know.  Perhaps we should just let God deal with it and see what bears out over time.”

If we train ourselves to allow a time lapse between what pops into our heads and what comes out of our mouths, the words that we speak will have the potential to produce blessing. We will be able to impart God’s wisdom to people, which is far better than merely sharing an opinion.