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Play With Fire: Interview with Author Bianca Juarez Olthoff

This summer has been an amazing one for new book releases. I got my hands on a pre-released copy of Play With Fire and was both encouraged and inspired by author Bianca Juarez Oltoff’s story of transformation by fire. We all experience trials and endure circumstances we wish we could escape. Bianca went through her own fires and discovered refinement, passion and a loving God in the midst of the flames. If you missed my full review of the book, you can check it out here.

Last week I spoke with Bianca about her debut book Play With Fire. We also talked about the A21 Campaign, Propel Women and of course Adele. "Hello..........."

Check it out below and be sure and order your copy of Play With Fire today while it's hot off the press!

Bianca, you travel the world teaching and speaking for the A21 Campaign and for Propel Women. What do you love the most about your work and what are you looking forward to in the months and year ahead?

I’m really excited because this is the year we have had the most amount of rescues in A21 history. I am excited to know we aren’t slowing down, we are taking ground. And that comes with a cost. There are a lot of sacrifices our team has made but we are very excited about the men, women and children we get to rescue out of slavery!  We have a lot of great things on the horizon with Propel Women. We have launched curriculum that can be used in a church, home or office space. We have a couple groups from google who are meeting. We have a group from Chick-fil-A who meet online. They post a video online and all get together on google hang out to discuss the topics on hand. What we’re really excited about is there are so many great Bible resources for women, but what about the practical side of things? There’s always a layer of Biblical foundation of course, but we really want to go after the heart of what are some of the felt needs women are facing today? And so our first curriculum on personal leadership, is dealing with issues regarding balance, prayer life, conflict, personal dreams, goals, etc. Those are topics people are really excited to open up and discuss. We just released our 3rd edition of the curriculum last week. We also have several events coming up on the horizon this upcoming year. It’s definitely a full schedule.

What prompted you to write Play With Fire and what is your hope for all who read it?

I wrote Play With Fire out of my desire to see those who feel their faith is nothing but an ember, to see that ember erupt into a huge flame. And for those who feel as if they are living a half-baked Christian life believing and thinking there is more to life that God has for them but just not knowing what that is. My hope is that this book gets into the hands of people who feel like they want the Holy Spirit to radically change their life and that is what this is birthed out of. Fire is symbolic of danger but fire can also be symbolic of transformation and that’s worth going after. I want people to know that trials and tribulations that seem like they are going to destroy them are actually the places where they discover the presence of God.

In Play With Fire you share about a couple individuals from your childhood and young adulthood who had profound influence on you and helped shape your perspective of God. What are some of the markers of a Godly mentor or influencer?

I think there is a level of humility and accepting and acknowledging what you don’t know that I’m attracted to. The people who have made the most profound influence on my life have been people who just simply found a place to discover who Jesus is, just the tip of who Jesus is, who God is. I’m attracted to humility and hunger. Those are the two values I look for in people I want to follow and learn from.

How can we encourage loved ones who feel as if they are walking through their fire today?

I love when we come alongside and just be in the pain with people. Sometimes we don’t need a Biblical prescription, sometimes we just need community. Like when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn’t turn to Peter, James and John and say, please quote the Torah to me. He said please pray with me. Stay awake with me. I think sometimes we underestimate the value of the ministry of just being present and standing with people during trials and tribulations. And then the other thing is, once they know their friends are willing to stand with them, look for those windows to hold onto the promises of God. There are times you remain silent and just bear the pain and there are other times we speak boldly and declare the promises of God. We remind them of who God has called them to be. We remind them of the plans God has for them and we remind them that our God is faithful. So presence and promises are powerful in standing with someone who is going through the fire.

In Play With Fire you talk about worship in the wilderness. You describe a turning point when your prayers changed from crying about your circumstances to crying out to God, the One who could meet you in your circumstances. How important was this shift for discovering fierce faith, unquenchable passion and a life-giving God?

Throughout scripture there is power in crying out. We see it in the life of David and we see Paul cry out to God as Abba father. We see this phrase of crying out in Isaiah and throughout Jeremiah. I think it’s healthy to cry out to God but we have to be careful our crying doesn’t become complaining. And when we are going through these proverbial deserts or seasons, it’s very easy to cry out but if there isn’t response, crying can easily turn into complaining. When we are angry with God and angry at the situation we become bitter buddies, just frustrated with life and we start doubting the goodness of God like the Israelites did. They let their forgetfulness affect their faithfulness. They forgot their faithful God took them out of slavery. They forgot their faithful God promised them there is a promised land for them. And when we go through those seasons, we have got to talk ourselves straight. Talk ourselves into believing, wait a minute, I know who I am, I know whose I am, I know what I am called to, and nothing is going to thwart this. I have to hold onto the promises of God because even though this is not a good situation, I know that all things work for good. And I may not see it today, I may not see it tomorrow, I may not see it this side of heaven but I know that God is going to redeem this situation.

What are you currently reading and what music do you have on repeat right now?

I will give you two because I’m all about balance. I’m currently reading Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It’s so good. And Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. And for music, I won’t let go of Adele. I am obsessed with her. The second is a song called Glory to Glory from Bethel with William Matthews. I am obsessed. It’s on repeat on my youtube play channel again and again and again, it’s so good.




Bianca is right, Glory to Glory is a song worthy of repeat. And Play With Fire releases August 30th! So if you haven't already, order a copy for you and one for a friend who needs to be encouraged today! 

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I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.