Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Let Hope In by Pete Wilson

I am participating as part of this book launch team and received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I really liked this book. It was written with a friendly feel and was an easy read despite the content. That is a gift and why I appreciate this book. The author's purpose was to point readers in the direction of keeping their hope in Christ because it will get you through any situation. Christ is what gets you through any situation.

The author tacked several key topics that keep people hung up which limits their ability to move in the freedom of Christ that is theirs if they are in Him. Our choices are so important in response to what kind of freedom we walk in. We must address these hang ups at the heart of the matter which is the deeper places of our thoughts. The author helps the reader do this honestly and authentically.

Topics addressed are:
Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer
Choosing to be Okay with not Being Okay
Choosing to Trust Rather than Please
Choosing to Free People Rather than Hurt Them

Overall this is a good book. I do recommend it if you are struggling in moving forward in the freedom that is yours in Christ.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon you can go here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Wounded by God's People by Anne Graham Lotz

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I really enjoyed this title. Anne writes with an authentic, gentle, inspiring way which oozes gracefulness. I was so thankful to get glimpses into her life and others who have been through periods of hurt. Not just hurt from anyone but those who do claim to be believers in Christ. This kind of hurt carries a level of pain that is deeper than any other kind of hurt. It is because we are connected in the family of Christ and should be in unity with the same goal that this kind of hurt catches us off guard.

The truth is we are all sinners and we are not God so we will at times behave in ways that are not godly. Think of the time period of slavery, this was a period when Christians would justify this horrid practice using even the Scriptures to back them up. This was not however God's plan or how others should ever be treated. It is like this today as well. As long as we are living in a sin stained world, we will inevitably hurt one another at times. However, we must consider, what is it we are to do with that hurt? This book addresses this topic fully. It is encouraging and inspires forgiveness. Like I stated before it just overflows with God's grace and most importantly focuses on what really matters in Christ Jesus.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


When I think about that word hope. I can think of many things. Hope can be used in a variety of ways.

I hope it does not rain tomorrow.

I hope I can get all my work done.

I hope I will have food on my table.

I hope this is not all there is.....

The word hope can be used in many ways. However the most important way it should be used is that my true hope in this world is found in Christ alone. He is my hope of glory. He is what everything in my life hinges on.

Think about this, if Christ did not do all the things that the Bible says He did or what I believe He has done then the point of this life would be sorrowful. We live in a world full of pain, suffering, and sorrow. Sure there are times of joy but then there is sorrow. We are in a broken and fallen world. If this is all there is where is my hope? If this really is it, I feel depressed.

I have a real and thriving hope for more. We were made for more and only in our hope in Christ is that hope realized. This is not all there is. Right now Jesus is building a home for us in Heaven. We will one day live in a place where there is no more suffering, no more heartache, no more sin. Poverty will not exist. Children will not be sold or go hungry anymore. We will be home in the security of where we were always meant to be. I put my hope in these truths through Christ.

Where do those in poverty around the world put their hope? How is there someone to tell them of this great joyful truth? Through Compassion International children and families in poverty are helped. The love of Christ is shared.

I want you to meet my sponsored child Sylvia. She is 20 years old. She lives in Uganda where AIDS is rampant. She has lived longer than many who are without help. Disease thrives. Poverty thrives. These people are at risk for so many things. However, a program like Compassion comes in and really helps. I see it in the smile on Sylvia's face. I read it in her letters. I love all that our minor amount of money can do for her and her family. I love in dark places hope can thrive.

This is a great time for you to consider sponsoring a child. Would you take the time to look now? It could be the very hope that this particular child needs. Click here to start browsing the many you could help.

Book Review: Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I loved this book! It was filled with many glimpses of the authors life alongside spiritual lessons she is learning. It was the perfect book because it was written in such a way as if I was listening to a friend over coffee. However, though Mrs. Weber was not present I felt as if she was. It was warmly written but in a way that stirred my heart and Spirit toward Christ. I think it is an encouraging read for anyone.

This book does take you through a few trials and life experiences in this authors life but the way she sees God in them and can even consider them gifts is encouraging. I would love to see more books like this. It had a feel of an autobiography but was not stuffy like some of those can be. This book flowed freely and was just a joy to read. Get it you won't be disappointed.

To purchase a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Philippians for Tweens - Week Six

You are doing a great job keeping up with this study! I hope the fruit of consistent Bible study is showing up in your life right now!

MondayRead verse one below.
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.

Paul is referring to not being tired of telling them how to live a life worthy of the gospel. He also does not tire of telling them about the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Jesus came and lived a sinless life then died on the cross for our sin, on the third day He then rose to life. When He did this He defeated the enemies work and set us free. We can put our hope in this good news everyday. We must believe this good news of what Jesus has done for us everyday! When Jesus said, it is finished He meant it. All that needed to be done to make us right with God has been done. Can you trust that?

When you sin, can you confess it and admit you are desperate for a Savior. Can you remember He is at work in you? Can you thank Him for the grace He pours out on you daily? He has completed everything that needed to be done. We just have to trust it and He opens our heart to do so. Isn't that amazing! We should never tire of hearing it! As we ponder the cross and what He has done for us it should take our breath away. He loves us enough to trade His perfect standing with our marred one. Now that is love!

Another point is that we need to remember this to keep our faith safe. It will help us not to turn away when we see daily what He has done for us. When we consider and ponder it it helps us to not lose heart.

Think About ItHave you ever considered the length that Christ went to save you? Why or why not?
Take time to thank Him now! It is so amazing that even the angels long to look into it. We will never stop learning what it means to live in that good news day by day. As we grasp it more and more God sets our hearts more free in HIM. Now that is good news!

Read verses 2-3

"Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort"

Paul is warning them here to be on guard. Watch out for people who will tell you that Jesus is not enough. They are people who will tell you to be right with God you need to have Jesus and be good or have Jesus and pray alot or many other things. They are stomping on the grace of God. We are saved by His grace alone. We trust in what Jesus did on our behalf and nothing else. 

In Paul's day the Jewish people were to be circumcised of their flesh. This was a sign of a true believer. However, many people came to believe in Christ who were not circumcised and there were teachers who were saying they needed to be circumcised to be authentic Christians. 

Paul's argument is that believers are of a circumcised heart. We get a new and pliable heart when we belong to God and that is enough. Believing in what He did on our behalf is enough. Essentially we need Jesus plus nothing else. 

Think About ItDo you have to go to church to be saved? Though church is a good thing that helps all believers and something that God desires for us the answer is no. We are not saved by anything we do.

If you are good enough will you get into Heaven? No. The Bible says no one is righteous. Only Through Christ can we be acceptable to God.

Do you try to add anything to your salvation? All we need is Jesus, we need to trust in His finished work on our behalf. Now there is nothing wrong with going to church or doing good works. In fact they are good and needed things but they will not aid in your salvation. It is through grace in Christ alone.

WednesdayRead verses 4-6
"though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault." 

This section is Paul telling us what his pedigree is. If there was anyone to take pride in all they achieved in his time it was Paul. He was among the strictest sect of religion. He was greatly obedient to the law of the Lord. He even hurt Christians because he believed they were wrong in their beliefs while he was right as a Jew. He was circumcised. He was of a noble tribe. He was a true Israelite.

In his day this resume would be very impressive, however Paul is saying we are not to put confidence in our fleshly works when it comes to God. All of our confidence must be in what Christ has done for us. Period. 

Think About It.Maybe you are tempted to think you are alright because your parents are in church ministry. Or maybe you serve in many ways. Or maybe you follow all the rules. It is tempting to think we are something special without Jesus. However it is Jesus and Jesus alone who makes us right before the Father. 

What kind of works of the flesh are you holding onto that make you feel good enough for God outside of Jesus? Are you tempted in this way any? Or do you really believe that Jesus is enough? 

 ThursdayReady verses 7-9

"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith."

Though having a good job or doing amazing works are not bad, they become bad when they are a god to us or a way of trying to earn God's love or favor. They are also wrong if they are things we want to hold up so others will glory in us.

The word for garbage in the Greek is really a word much stronger than garbage, it actually means poop. Now isn't that gross! But Paul is literally calling all those good works that in comparison to trusting Christ.

Paul once considered these things very valuable. However, Christ has opened His eyes to what really matters. Knowing Christ is all that matters. We can never be righteous enough before a holy God. Only Christ can make us this.

Think About It
There is nothing you can do to make God love you more or less. Do you believe this? Why or why not?
God sent His only Son to rescue us from our sinful state. He did this because of His great love for us. Faith and trust in what He has done is what matters. Do you trust in what Christ did for you? 

 FridayRead verse 10-11

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"

Now these verses are powerful! Paul wants to know Christ and the power that raised Him from the dead even if that needs to come through suffering! Do you want to know Him that badly? It is a lot to consider! 

Often these days the American church seems to be asleep! We entertain ourselves silly. Do we see any power of Christ working? Often ways we see His power at work is through suffering. It is when we are not enough that we see He is. This is often realized through suffering. The Bible tells us when we are weak, He is strong. That is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in each one of us who trust in what Jesus did for them.

Think About It
When you enter a time of suffering, do you view it as an opportunity to see Christ and the power of His resurrection?

We need to wake up and see He is all we need. All other things are worth nothing compared to Him.
Great job this week! Praying you know Him more and more and can understand His great love for you!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Note to My Younger Self - Compassion Blog Month

Note to my younger self, things I wish you took more seriously. The things I wish you knew to do. Do you remember when mother said, "Finish your plate, there are tons of starving children in Africa.?" You would just kind of laugh or think, what does that even have to do with me here and now? Really it did not make sense what our plate of food had to do with those starving kids across the world. However, it did expose them to us. It made us aware they existed. The world was not full of white middle classed people in the suburbs like our life and surroundings reflected.

As you grew you realized that poverty was more devastating than what you thought. There were kids in school whom poverty had touched. The way you coped then though was to just turn your head. You did not realize that you did have the power to do something. You could have been a friend. Listened. Helped.

Looking back I would have wanted you to know that though you were just one girl, you could have made a real difference. Maybe not for the entire world of starving children but for one at a time.
This is blog month for Compassion International. You can make a difference in the lives of others for a small amount monthly. You can sponsor a child and really help in this way. I love the mission of Compassion and hope you will too. Would you consider going here to sponsor a child ?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Philippians for Tweens - Week Five

Monday Read the following passage.
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. ~Phillipians 2:12-13, NLT

Do you still follow your household rules when your mom and dad are away? Why or why not?
Paul is telling these believers to follow his instructions even as he is away in prison. But he wants them to be even more diligent in this task now.

A hypocrite is a person who pretends to be something they really are not. An example is a person who is really "good" at church but mean at home. It is play acting a part you really are not.

Paul wants them to live out the Christian life at all times. However it is more important now because there is persecution. He now is telling them how to walk out their Christian faith. Really he is reminding them. They already know this. He is encouraging them in this.

To walk like a Christian you should desire to obey God out of reverence for Him. He loves us dearly and we did nothing to earn that love. He chose us. We must chose to live in obedience at the same time God works in us the desire for us to obey. Remember the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us once we acknowledge Jesus as the Lord of our life? It is through the Holy Spirit that God works these things in us.
Think About It.In life, often we need to earn things. Our allowance, a reward, etc. However God's love does not come like this. He freely loves us even when we do not deserve it. It is because of this love He desires that we act like Christians. Never to earn His love because we already have it, nothing can separate us from it, but because He loves us. Do you think this way?

Why do you follow Christ?

Tuesday Read the following.
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. ~Phillipians 2:14-15

Why are we to live without complaining and arguing? (v.15)
Do you shine? We live in a dark world, we need to shine a bright light not hide it.
What is our world full of? (v. 15)

Think About ItHow often do you argue and complain? If you are honest, we all do this whether inwardly or outwardly but God tells us through Paul's letter that we are to do this because, "

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ (philippians 1:27)."

In order to not complain or argue we must truly believe in our hearts that God is good. He is in control of all things. He loves us completely. So we must chose to die to our self or selfish desire in order to do this. We must consider others. You must consider all of this. This is how this letter goes together.

Do you want to shine a bright light for Jesus? Why or why not?

The brighter you shine in this dark world the more the world will take notice. When the world notices we are showing brightly Jesus. Hopefully it draws others toward Jesus when we live shining our light. 

Wednesday Read the following passage.
16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

What does Paul tell them to hold firmly to?

Why will he be proud? 

What will he rejoice?

Think About ItThere will be times when God's word, the truth will be challenged. We must stand strong in what we believe. We must hold tight to the Bible and its truths. Do you believe what the Bible says as truth?

Paul has poured out his life for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He may die from his imprisonment. He wants to be certain his life has meaning or purpose. He knows it does in Christ but he wants the people he disciplined to really be living this out. 

What if your faith required your life? Would you rejoice like Paul? Isn't that a hard question?

Is God worth everything to you? Why or why not?

Paul will rejoice in the work he did even if it requires his life. Christ is worth it to him. We live in America. I will not have to sacrifice my life for sharing Jesus here but there are places in the world where it is illegal to speak of Christ in a way that is trying to bring people to Christ. One day our country could be like that too. 

Thursday Read the following passage.
19 If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. 20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. 22 But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News. 23 I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. 24 And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon.

What does Timothy care about? (v.20)
What do the others care about? (v.21)

Timothy has been an amazing friend to Paul. In fact they had a father/child like relationship. We know from other places in the Bible that Timothy was raised up knowing the Scriptures by strong Jewish women. His grandmother and mother. His father was a Greek, not a Jew. 

Timothy is a strong believer in Christ now and a very faithful friend. Timothy is concerned for others over himself. Paul says he has no one like him. 

Do you have a loyal friend like this? Someone who not only cares about you but others well being in Christ first and foremost? I pray we will be that kind of person. 

Of course they did not have telephones back then or the internet so when people sent messages to one another it had to be done by a messenger. 

Think About It.What kind of friends do you surround yourself with? Is it people who are faithful and have God in mind first? These are the kind of friends you need. Friends who will point you to Christ.

Friday Read the following passage.
25 Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need. 26 I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill. 27 And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another.
28 So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you. 29 Welcome him with Christian love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. 30 For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.

This next friend, Epaphroditus, is a good friend and fellow worker. He was sent by the Philippian church to Paul. He now needed to return to them however he was delayed because of an illness. They have heard this somehow and would love to see him to know he is ok now. He almost died. But God had mercy. He ministered to Paul while he could during this time.

Think About It
Often times we do not risk our lives for the sake of Christ. We live in a free society now that allows us to freely worship. We need to thank God for this. Then take time to pray for our brothers and sisters who live in other regions of the world where serving Christ could be life threatening. 

Look up a country where the gospel is not embraced. Learn some about it and pray for them. Go to the Voice of the Martyrs website or the Joshua Project for this.

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