Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: The NIV Homeschool Mom's Bible by Janet Tatman

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

I love Bibles! I feel like I probably have way too many of them especially when so many around the world do not have them. I love Bibles. They are probably one of my favorite things. I love how publishers take them and add extra things in them and make them more packed with good things that go alongside Bible study. So naturally I was so excited to review this one. Also, I am a homeschooling mom.

I found this one to be okay. I was not thrilled but it was not bad either. I can see a place for it. I think my expectations were the devotionals included in it would line up with the Scriptures that were directly surrounding it. That did not happen. This particular product is a Bible with 365 days worth of devotions packed in. They were fine for homeschool moms. Just not particularly matched with the surrounding Scriptures where they were located.

The good thing about it is it would be nice to have daily encouragement as a homeschool mom. Opening up daily to that encouragement is a good thing. It does seem however that these devotionals could have been printed as a booklet separately.

You can get a copy of this title at Amazon here.

Children's Book Review: Timothy, A Little Fish With a Big Purpose by Brad Riley

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

I thought this book was very cute. It was a simple read and easy story. It has nicely illustrated pictures. It is an endearing story. Timothy the fish does have a big purpose in living his life obediently with his mother and grandmother. I will not give away the big purpose because then you would not need to read the book. However it is a sweet, interesting children's book.

I do think most kids would find this book interesting and I do think it is a good conversation starter about spiritual things with them. I could see children requesting this book again and again.

You can get a copy from Amazon here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Philippians for Tweens - Week Four

Sorry I skipped several weeks on you! Life has been crazy! My girls are asking for more though so that is exciting to me! I do hope you are experiencing the same thing. Praying God grips our hearts so tight we cannot help but pour forth His amazing joy and love. This month may be a bit hard getting them out consistently but I will try hard. Thanks for your grace in this!
Read the following and pay close attention to the word "any" and "same" and "one".

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:1-4).

We will break this down today and tomorrow. Essentially Paul is speaking about unity and selflessness. He is making a plea with them. And the way he uses any is powerful language regarding how important this is to him.

Regarding the "any" words above.

Any-encouragement means if you have any calling in Christ...
Any-comfort means any comfort in Christ's love...
Any-participation means if you have any association with the Spirit...
Any-Affection and sympathy means if you have a heart in which mercy resides and a heart of compassion...

Basically he is making a strong and powerful persuasion. I know I do this at times when I am passionate about something. He is saying if you have gotten anything from Christ please do what he is asking next.

In verse 2. he is telling them what he desires. What is it?
It is to be in unity! Unity means to work together for a common good. Doing this without complaining or arguing.

Think About It
Have you ever made a strong plea or argument for something you really desired like Paul? When and why?

What would it be like if you had one mind with someone else? What do you think?

Why do you think unity is so important to Paul? Why would it be important in your home?

Extra Credit for you! Look up the word unity in a Bible concordance and find a verse or two about unity to memorize. Unity is actually so important that it is one of the last things Jesus prayed for right before He was arrested and taken to the cross. Ask your parent how to use a concordance if you do not know how.

TuesdayNow the question is how do we have one mind? How do we walk in unity with one another? Verses 3-4 tell us how. It is dying to our selves definitely. Look again at verses 3-4.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others"

In verse 3 What two things can you pull out?

Selfish Ambition can be defined as electioneering (a desire to put oneself forward). If you think about an election and the commercials that air on tv they usually are doing this very thing. Putting oneself first and many times discounting the others running. This is what we are NOT to do.

Conceit is just being prideful in your self. It is seeking glory for yourself in vain. God is the only one who should get glory.

The remedy for this kind of behavior of selfishness is to count others more significant than yourself. Think of them first. Think of their needs. Don't think of yourself in a worse way but just think of yourself less. God highly esteems you if you are in Christ so He will take care of you and your desires. Do not obsess about having your way.

Then lastly we are told to not only think of your own interests but also the interests of others. This is how to practice unity and being selfless.

Think About It
Do you ever say bad things about others to make yourself look better? This is electioneering or selfish ambition. We should not do these things. Confess this to the Lord and walk selflessly.

How often do you think of yourself? It is hard not to think of yourself because we live in this body. Humility is simply thinking of yourself less by putting others first. Practice this this week and report to your mom or dad what you are learning.

How could you think of someone elses needs today instead of just your own? Perhaps it is letting your sibling pick the game they want to play or letting them pick a show they want to watch. Try this today. Ask God to give you the heart for it. It may be painful because it is dying to your own selfishness.

The next three days we will discuss the verses listed below. 
4 "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:4-11).

In verse four whose interests should you look out for?
Two things should be listed here. What are they?

The answer is looking out for your needs and the needs of others. It is natural for us to look out for our own needs. We would not let ourselves starve or go without clothes. It is natural to think this way. We are very selfish because thoughts tend to focus on us. It takes practice and discipline to look out for the needs of others. God has given you a great way to practice this if you have siblings.

Then in verse five it starts to explain how you can actually do this. It is possible to consider others needs most of the time but it has to become a pattern of thinking for you.

When you look at the example of Jesus you can copy His example.You can pray He help you put others first. You can ask Him to help you think of yourself less.

Then verse six is incredible to me. Though Jesus was actually God, when He left Heaven to come to Earth entering in a womb being knit together in the secret place just like us (Psalm 139). He was clothed in skin. Become bound in human form forever for the sake of us. Though He was in human form He was still all God. Yet He chose to limit Himself to be like us. He humbled Himself so much He did not even consider Himself to be equal with the Father though He was. That is incredible humility and that is putting us first.

Think About It
How can you practice ways to put others needs first this week?

Practically how can you think of yourself less and others more?

Starting with verse eight from the passage above how obedient can we say Jesus was?

Think about this, even to the point of an excruciating death on the cross was the extent of His obedience. That is incredible. Do you think this was easy? Do you think it was easy for Jesus?

Hebrews 12:2b states, "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Do you know the joy that was set before Jesus was us? He had no real need to do this except to make a once and for all sacrifice for sin. No longer did anyone need to live by the sacrificial system. Jesus was the final and once for all sacrifice that made us right with God. We must believe He did this for us. That is all. 

Though it was hard He did it because of the great love He had for us. It was shameful. He was beaten, bloody, exhausted, in great pain. It was a horrible way to die. However the difference with Jesus and the others who died by crucifixion was that Jesus was innocent. Jesus never sinned. He lived the life we could not live then died for us making us right with God. That is amazing love!

Think About It
Jesus did not have to grant us salvation the way He did. He chose this way before the beginning of time as we know it. He chose an incredibly hard way giving up all He had in Heaven to be like us, then die the way He did. He knows what it is like to experience any temptation or pain that we might experience in this life. He is a high priest who can truly understand what we go through as humans. He is amazing! Take some time to just ponder this. Praise Him for this. 

Today we will end with the final section of this passage. Read verses 9-11. 

God accomplished an amazing thing by what Jesus did. Because He greatly humbled Himself in this way God will now exalt Him to the highest place. It is done. Our King sits secure on His throne. He does not fret when things are going crazy here. He knows how all things will end. Then if we are His we spend all of eternity with Him.

However for those who are not His, they will suffer forever separation from Him. Yet they will see and bow and confess that He is the true King. Every one will do this. Those in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth. All will be exposed and shown for what it is. They will finally see. This is all to God the Father's glory. Can you imagine this moment?

Think About ItThere will always be things raging against God in this world now. It is just part of a fallen sin filled world. Yet there will be one day that all will have to give an account. One day everyone will see rightly. What do you think about this?

Believers like Paul are persecuted all the time all around the world. Take a moment to encourage someone by this truth you learned above and pray for a missionary who is imprisoned falsely for the sake of Christ.

God could have had you born anywhere and in any country or in any situation. I am in awe that God put me in a place where speaking about Him and hearing His message is legal. I am so thankful for this. Praise God for where He placed you too and ponder how you can help others around the world in different circumstances.

Monday, August 19, 2013

God Did Not Make Us All To Fit The Same Mold - Aspergers in Church

Joy fills my heart as I sing gratitude for my King beside my daughter. My mind is overjoyed at the goodness of God and all He has done. I am thankful that my family feels the same. I glance over and smile at my daughter and then I see my husband all together praising our Savior.

Yet someone is missing. I look down. I see her. Expressionless. Sitting quietly occupying herself with the ipad. It would seem to the outsider that this child is just not interested in the things of God. Or perhaps that her parents are not responsible because they don't make her stand up and sing along with everyone else.

My heart sinks. It starts again, that dialogue I have often with God over this. Why does it make me sad that she doesn't fit the mold of everyone else? I don't know. I love sitting in the back row so no one can see this struggle. Otherwise I start feeling like I might be judged. I know many parents who would never think of letting their kid just sit there like that playing on a device and I respect that. Daughter number one is not allowed to do this, but, daughter number two is different. She is not neurotypical. Many factors on any given day in a group setting cause her to turn more inward. I cannot predict them.

What I do know is my sweet child absolutely loves the Lord. She unashamedly praises Him alone in the house or in the car. She loves learning about her Savior and His word and wants to live it out. She has a huge heart and desires to please her parents and God. However there is something about the group dynamic that is difficult for her to do the same.

I as a mom to a special needs child must remember that it doesn't matter what anyone else may think. I have to talk myself also out of condemning thoughts over this. I must do what is best for my child. I am glad she gets to sit in service, which is a huge deal for her. Even though she keeps occupied with the ipad, she surprises me by repeating things that were meaningful to her through the sermon. I know she hears and listens but I need to be okay with her way. The way God made her. The way He made her different than the majority. Her difference is special and unique and I want to embrace it.

I think this may be one of the reasons many special needs families find church difficult. Sensory overload is something that will cause an unexpected and immediate break down or tantrum. Neurotypical people cannot always predict how or when sensory overload will happen. Neurotypical people cannot understand this overload and response either. I am just thankful my girl has learned how to cope in church using the ipad. I think it helps her avoid this overload that she is very sensitive to.

If you see a child in church playing on a device, don't judge. There is probably more going on than you think. Don't think that child is not hearing the message or not interested in the things of God either. Again, you cannot know what is going on in anothers mind. Don't give the parents a hard time when they allow their child to play on a device like this through service. Again, you have no idea what is going on in their family. Love them. Get to know them. Find out what would best help their special needs child.

Perplexing Thoughts About God and the World Outside My Bubble

He said, "I think we are born into a religion that our families embrace. All with a different God maybe but all of them are the same and lead to the same place."

I was perplexed. My friend who I thought was a Christian was sharing these thoughts. How did he start to think this way?

I know it must be the influence of the world. When we are only in the culture around us and not in the word of God on a regular basis (which is counter cultural) we are in a dangerous spot. The word is what renews our minds. It brings us back to truth. It keeps us centered. Culture will pull us the other way.

I replied, "No. That is not true. With Christ, He did everything that needed to be done for me to be acceptable before God. I did nothing. With all the other religions you have to earn your way. You must do things to be acceptable but with Christ it has already been done."

He took it in and thought about this. Then replied, "Yes but we will believe what we were brought up in."

I thought about this and yes it is true. Unless God draws us in or someone speaks truth to us we will remain in what we were born into. Just like another friend of mine grew up in an alcoholic household but had no idea that is what it was until he was outside of it. Otherwise it seemed normal and right. You assume everyone else thinks and behaves this way.

These things have been plaguing my mind. I wonder do more people in the world think this way today? That all paths lead to God in the end? Am I just so sheltered in the Bible belt bubble of the south that I cannot see it all around me? If this is the case oh how I want to go and share the freedom that comes with Christ. We don't have to work for anything! Out of His great love and pursuit of us, all that we need has already been done! Period. That is freeing! I deserve nothing from Him but in His goodness He chose me, cleansed me, traded places with me so I could be with Him for eternity! What love! No one needs to miss that. It is the most good and freeing news anyone could ever want or hear. Trusting in Christs finished work on the cross because of His great love for us. Not all ways lead to God. Only one way. Only Jesus.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: Compassionate Jesus by Christopher Bogosh

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

The subtitle to this book is; rethinking the Christian's approach to modern medicine. This book is a really good read for all Christians. All of us are going to die one day as our bodies decline and there is much to consider regarding this. What if you get a certain illness? What if your life is coming to an end? None of us are guaranteed a certain number of days here and now so we need to consider how Scripture meets health care. We need to know how to make informed decisions that will glorify God through this part of life.

I found this book very interesting because it explains where the medical care mindset we now embrace in culture originated. Also, through experience the author is able to discuss certain things he has witnessed. We live in a society that tries to extend life at all costs. We need to really think through the things we are doing. It is true God controls all things even the number of our days but our decisions really matter and need to be informed biblically to honor Christ and my body. You would be surprised how often they conflict. .

Personally this book was meaningful to me. I have been a chronic illness sufferer and have had to face many decisions through this. I have had to come to face the questions of just trusting the medical doctor's advice as truth or researching the best possible option that would best honor God. This book speaks volumes to these issues. It is packed with great information and biblical examples. Definitely worth the read.

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