Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Book Review: Making All Things New by Powlison

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This is a must read for all Christians. This is the go to book for our time. We live in a sexualized culture and many people have been a victim or perpetrators of sexual sin. We all need to hear the truth of God's love, judgement and grace in this mess.

This book is unique in it is written for the  sin struggler and the hurt all at the same time. Both issues are addressed side by side. It is a beautiful thing to see both issues equally addressed. This makes this book a must read for everyone.

As a biblical counselor, I would like to pass this book out to as many people as I can. It is worth the time. I think if you read it you will feel the same way. It takes a look at biblical passages to help navigate this topic and years of wisdom gleaned from the author.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy from Amazon.com here.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: Alive in Him by Furman

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This is a great companion book to read alongside your study of Ephesians. Gloria is witty and clear in her writing. She helps biblical truths become practical for our everyday life. This book will enhance your bible study time.

The book of Ephesians is helpful to enrich your study of doctrine and practical walk. The book is interesting and easy to read. It is helpful for any student of the word. It is worth your time and will be a tool that God can use to help draw you nearer to Christ.

I was encouraged personally and grew in depth of my understanding of Ephesians after reading this. One thing I especially like after reading Gloria's books is her increased understanding of different cultures and points of view. This increases understanding of the word which she passes on to the reader. She lives in the culture of which the bible was birthed. There is something about that that enhances her writings but also makes it practical enough for the western reader. That is a great gift.

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

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: Nothing to Prove by Allen

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I loved this book! I think it is definitely worth your time. It is helpful and applicable in a world where "selfie" is a regular daily term. We live in an age where we are so consumed by what people think of us. We wonder if we are good enough? We wonder if God loves us if we just rest in Him alone? We have lost or way. We think we  need to earn our way in God's kingdom. We equate this world with the world to come. Yet, sadly we have it all wrong. God's kingdom is an upside down kingdom. This book will help you find that freedom.

I just felt peace over and over after reading this. And peace is good because Peace is also a person; Jesus. As I read, I was continually pointed to Jesus. This book was focused on Him; not us. It did give practical tips on how to walk out our walk in a God honoring way that is filled with hope in Him alone, not striving.

This book is divided up so that you can read it alone or in a group. At the end of each chapter there are practical steps you can take or study further.

I was encouraged by this book and would love to see more written like this out there. We don't have to be a product of the selfie culture. We don't have to strive. We just have to train ourselves to be. In that being comes the good works He has given us to do for our good and His glory.

I received this book free of charge for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book on Amazon.com here.

Monday, September 4, 2017

How God Revealed My Love of Money

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"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  

So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” 
~Hebrews 13:5-6

When God drew me to Himself, I had a dream. In that dream He rescued me from death and said very clearly, "I will not leave you or forsake you." I had no idea that was scripture at the time. I was only twelve years old and did not know the benefit of being in God's word. 

However, later on in life, I discovered that those very words were Scripture! I also learned that context is important when interpreting scripture. The words around, "never will I leave you or forsake you", would give me the context of the deeper meaning. I was astonished to see that these words are framed around contentment and the love of money. (Though these verses do occur first in the book of Joshua encouraging him not to fear entering the land of promise.)

This season is tough. My husband is losing his job as a contracting company comes in to restructure. It is a time of revealed trust or lack there of in our Savior as provider. The pressure from this situation helped me see that I was loving money. Not because I am wasteful or like expensive things. I lack trust when I don't know if money will come in. This is a lack of trust in my Savior as Provider. I was trusting money as my savior.

Once that was revealed it was necessary to confess it. Then walk forward in faith that he will provide as He always has. It is only through trials or pressures that our hearts will reveal what we truly worship. If I was not walking through this season, I would think I was trusting God for our needs, but really, I was trusting in a steady paycheck.

I am thankful for this revelation. I am thankful God cares enough to reveal our hearts so we can confess this idolatry and move in fuller allegiance to Him. He gives more grace. In the process of dying to worry and dependence on a paycheck, we become more Christ like because we walk without fear knowing that God will provide. It is His promise. We must walk in it. This doesn't make it easy but a regular realization that I need to trust Him instead of any other thing. 

As we journey this path of the unknown for the next few months, I know God will provide. And at the end of this test, He will strengthen our faith. He is a good Father. He is always there. He truly will never leave or forsake us.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Struggling with the Unknown

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Did you know that nothing is under your control?

Nothing. Let that sink in a minute. Because this perspective will save you from much pain.

Often in life we have the illusion of control. We think, if we plan hard enough, if we do this or that, we will be in control. Yet, it is all an illusion. We are fooled by it until something crushes our grip. Then we grasp for any small bit of control left but we come up lacking.

The good news is that God is in control. He is also a good Father who loves His children. He holds the world in His hand and the lives of His children. He is the one who establishes our steps. We can let go of grasping and fall into His loving care and leading guidance. Life is much easier when we learn to do this.

The alternative is making an idol for ourselves to worship called control. That is going against God. It is sin. Plans are fine until they become demands, then they are idols. The quickest way to determine if you are dealing with an idol of control is having your plans ruined. This exposes your heart in this area. Do you respond in trust or despair?

We have the opportunity to trust God with all of our plans. We can plan, order is wise, but learn to plan loosely. Leave room for change. Then we are trusting when God alters our plans which we can more easily walk in faith.

I am currently living in a state of unknown and it has been painful because I have held onto my plans too tightly. I am thankful that God is a loving Father who loves me enough to show me this error and discipline me toward trust and faith in His perfect plan. We know His love by His discipline in our lives (Hebrews 12).

Walking with God is an adventure and as we grow in grace, God will be certain to help us grow in Christ-likeness because His Spirit lives in us working change. Let us let Him do His work because it is glorious.

How do you struggle to trust? Are you a hard core planner? How do you respond to change? Did you ever see control as idolatry? How is God using change to make you more like Christ?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Book Review: How Does Sanctification Work? by Powlison

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I respect David Powlison and his work in bringing Christ back to counseling. I like reading anything by him and this was no exception. He, again, speaks to us with wisdom that comes from a life of walking with God and His people.

This book is instructive for the reader because it helps you think through progressive sanctification. It helps us see that as humans, we are complex, so the sanctification process is not simple. God uses many things to work and draw people to Himself. He continues this work through our life as we are conformed more and more into His image.

Christians could benefit from reading this for a good understanding of how people change. It is helpful for learning how to do life together. It is a good read.

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

You can get a copy of it from Amazon.com here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review: Reformation Women by VanDoodewaard

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Biographies are always encouraging reads. This one in particular was encouraging to me because it focused on the long left out women of the time of the reformation. It is unique to have a book that recorded the importance of women in the events of the reformation so this is a much needed resource.

I love to give my girls a resource that will show them that women have equally important roles in their Christian walks. God places and purpose our lives and times to bring Him supreme glory. It doesn't matter who you are, if you are His, He is at work in you and using your life to bring glory to His name. This book brought this thought home for me.

The book is written in an interesting way that keeps the reader interested. Some biographies are dry and hard to digest but this book was not like that. It will keep you desiring to read all about each life included. It will spur your faith and encourage it. It is worth the time.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book Review: He Calls You Beautiful by Brestin

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Dee Brestin is a mentor and friend. She has been used in huge ways to grow me in my faith. I always praise God for her work. This is no exception. The book continues to bless and use God's word wisely. She tackles a hard to understand book, The Song of Songs, and makes is accessible to the everyday reader. Yet, keeping God as center view. You can tell she was passionate about this work. It comes through her writing.

I think this book would benefit the reader the most if it was done with someone else so you can discuss what you are learning. It truly is a Bible study and at the end of each chapter there are questions to take you deeper into the word and application. This can be done alone (which was how I read it) but a group of women would be best.

If you ever wanted to look into the Song of Songs in a balanced, God-centered way, get this book. It will bless you immensely.

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

You can get a copy of the book from Amazon.com here.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Review: 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Reinke

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This is a must read for our times! This little book is informative and helpful. It is informative because it exposes information about how technology really changes us--not just our phones. It also gives a brief history of technological changes and the effects they had on society. It is helpful by being convicting and offers solutions to help one be certain they are wise in the use of today's technology.

We are made to be worshipers. We all worship something. The age of the smartphone displays the priorities we value in our times. I am thankful for this resource for the way it is balanced in view and approach. It was life-changing for me because it aided me in the thought process of what our phones are doing to us and others by perception and the time we use on them. It can be productive or wasteful. Technologies always come as a two sided coin, one for good and the other for bad. I wonder how many people really just take the time to think about their smartphone uses and how it really is changing our minds, relationships, and worship?
 
Do read this. It is timely. It is needed. It is good.

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

You can receive a copy of this book on Amazon.com here.(aff. link)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pray About Everything by Tautges

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 This was a good info-packed, yet concise and easy-to-read book on prayer. It gave a good practicality to prayer which is important. It was presented in a gospel-centered way. For all of those reasons, I really enjoyed this book. More books are needed like this on prayer. You will benefit from reading it.

The book also included practical resources on prayer in the appendix. It helps put the theory to action. This is also a great added bonus. I have found many people need this direction when it comes to intentional prayer. This book will be a great help for that.

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

You can get a copy of this book at Amazon here. (aff. link)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Review: This Changes Everything by Crowe

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I wanted to review this book because it was geared toward teens. I am a mother of two teens and I know that there is a lack of strong biblically sound resources out there. They are really hard to find so when Crossway published this book; I had to read it.

I loved it! It touched on all things that teens need to know and be encouraged in. It is written in a friendly manner by someone who is close to their age. It is biblically sound in doctrine and life. It is a great resource to give to a teen you love or read along with them. There are great discussion points.

The book also encourages the youth to not waste their youth. They are to live for the sake of the gospel now. They don't have to wait. They can serve wherever God moves them now. As this is addressed there is sound advice regarding authority and life choices.

It addresses clearly issues of identity, the over arching story of the bible, community, sin, discipline, growth, time, and relationships.

I highly recommend this book for any teen in your life.

I received a copy of this book at no charge for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book at Amazon.com here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Crossing Cultures in Scripture by Newell

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This is an incredible book that is a helpful aid for deeper Scriptural knowledge and study. One key to reading Scripture is to understand the original hearers context. Only after this can we rightly begin to apply it to our own lives. This book does an incredible job at relating the Scriptures to the original cultures for whom they were first written. I have grown greatly in my study of the word through reading this book and using it as a tool to aid in my deeper study.

The book begins in Eden, at the beginning, and spans the redemptive historical timeline of the Bible ending in Revelation. It is beneficial to read and helpful to any student of the word. It is important to understand the culture to rightly understand the word. This book also helps you understand how the Scriptures can be applied to similar cultures today. The stories are engaging and helpful.

I think this book would be helpful for any Christian. It will help you understand the word better. I received a copy of this book free of charge from publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon here (Aff link)
 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Why Killing Sin Should Be Violent

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I have been reading straight through the Bible and find myself located in Leviticus. I am praying, each time that I read, that I do not give up or become discouraged as I read things that I do not understand in this Old Testament law book.

These people had rules and regulations from a different time. Yet, even this Scripture points us to Christ. Sometimes it takes work to find the connections but they are worth it. I pray and ask God to connect things for me to help me understand how to apply this to my own life today and to see God clearer for who He truly is. One passage that really made this connection was Leviticus 4:27-31.

Basically, it speaks about someone sinning unintentionally. This would be something that I did not intend to do yet it was still a sin. The passage says once the person is aware, he is to place his hand on a goat as a sin offering and kill it. Can you even imagine that? It would be bloody, smelly, and messy and your sin caused this innocent animals death. All for something you were not even aware that you did; at least for awhile until it was made known or you realized it yourself.

Sin is serious business. Yet, when I sin today, I do not have to kill a goat. How does this even apply to me? Why do I even care?

First, I can be thankful that Jesus died once for all (Romans 6:10). It was His sacrifice that took away all my sin. That once for all sacrifice is a BIG DEAL. It appeased the full wrath of God; forever!

However, in the here and now, we must also have a hand at killing the sin that tries to reign within us. We must get a handle on it and slaughter it, just like the goat. We can do this by trusting Jesus finished work on the cross taking our deserved wrath but also taking the door He gives us to chose not to sin when tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Colossians 3:5-10 states, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

We can either trust Christ to bear the wrath or we must bear it. Once in Christ, we are a new creation. We can now confess our sin and He is faithful to forgive us, restore us, and make us right again. As we are being renewed by our Creator, we will desire sin less and less but even the unintentional sin must be put to death. I am thankful that the New Testament, gave us a better way. Sin must be dealt with and taken seriously but Christ, in His love, took the full wrath of it that we deserve. This is truly a gift of the best kind.

Have you trusted Christ to take the full wrath of your sin for you?
How are some ways that you kill sin in your life? 
Have you thought much about the sacrificial system, Jesus, and modern day confession of sin?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: Modern Psychopathologies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal

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This is very much a comprehensive guide because it is packed with lots of information! I found it to be an interesting read because it takes an Integrationist approach to Christian counseling. What that means is they mix Christian faith with secular counseling methods. This guide was written to help a Christian counselor properly view or apply Christian approaches to a variety of counseling issues and diagnosis's.

I am not an integrational counselor so I do not agree with this approach in every way but found this book to be very helpful. It is well done for someone in that camp of Christian counseling. And it really does cover tons of information. I think if this is your field of study you will not be disappointed in this book.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from amazon.com here. (Aff. link)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: No More Faking Fine by Fleece

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Lament. It is an important concept that the Christian needs to understand. Esther Fleece explains it well in this title. She uses her wealth of personal stories to practically explain what the art of lament looks like. 

She has lived a hard story but her dependence and love for the Lord is encouraging and evident to the reader. I was encouraged by watching the process of growth in grace work in her life. It is eye-opening when you can see theology walked out practically.

This takes a good look at a theology of suffering and the proper response of lamenting. I believe this would be helpful for others to understand. Lament is a lost art that many neglect to this day. There needs to be more stories that show others how to live this. Living out lament truly sets the sufferer free in Christ.

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

You can get a copy of this book on Amazon here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Review: Enjoy by Newbell

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This is a book that should be read to help believers know how to delight in God's good gifts. It addresses specific areas of gifts like relationships, food, and work and takes the reader through practical ways to enjoy them and why it is good to enjoy them.

Some believers are better than others at accepting God's good gifts and enjoying them. This book would be good for everyone even if it is only a reminder. We all need to be reminded to enjoy the good gifts that God gives us as His children.

At the end of each chapter we have something called the enjoy project. It is a list of practical steps that the reader can practice in each area addressed to help them learn to enjoy the gifts that God gives. There are also discussion questions in the back of the book making it easy for a group bible study.

This book is easy to follow and read. It is a good read.

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

You can get a copy of this book here. (aff. link)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Book Review: Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures by Georges and Baker

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Have you ever had an interaction with someone who is different than you that made you feel completely awkward? I think this comes from not really understanding the person in context of their cultural background.

This book is a great resource for understanding other cultures. In the west, we see things differently from the majority of the word. The reason for this is the cultural upbringing we are raised in. We are very individualistic as westerners. Because of this, we don't rightly understand the importance of group approval in many other cultures. We are tempted to think we understand this because we do want group approval in certain situations but our entire lives are not truly wrapped up in a collective group for survival. We don't live and breathe in groups as westerners. Our very well being is not up to a certain group.

The westerner is able to leave a group and find another to join. They are more to themselves and view themselves as an individual whose actions don't affect everyone else they come in contact with. There is a distinctive difference between those of us raised in the West and those in the East.

The answer to understanding and helping others; is in understanding those cultural contexts. The author reminds us that Scripture was actually written in this collective cultural mindset. Viewing scripture in this way is natural. The authors give examples of this throughout.

The interesting thing about this book is showing how the gospel has power in both cultural contexts but how you approach each cultural context with it will be very different. We have the same gospel but a different approach. You have to read this book to understand more about what I am saying here but it is well worth your time.

If you do any kind of work or have friendships with others from different cultural backgrounds, I suggest you read this book. It was eye opening to me and a resource I will go back to again and again.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

When We Are Tempted to Worry

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Waiting......

I am waiting to see if I passed my counseling certification exams.

I am waiting to see if I have life changing health-related test results.

I am waiting to see what God has in store for our future.

I am waiting on my article edits to see if I need to make corrections once again.

I am waiting on the school year to end so I can enter into the home school journey with my son.

So many things I am waiting on and this is not an all inclusive list. There are other things, lurking in my mind. I am sure you can relate too. For we are all waiting on something.

I can easily be tempted to agonize over these waits. It is tempting to worry or fret over these things. Some of the issues seem more worrisome than others, of course. Life altering test results can be a heavier burden than an article edit. But waiting seems to look the same for each one.

If worry could speed up the time process of the wait then I would say go for it! However, God says something different. Worry is essentially forgetting that God has promised the best for us.

Sometimes that is hard to accept when the test results come back less than expected or you are rejected by a peer. These things are painful, however, God promises that we will be more like Christ as we look to Him and His promises in the midst of them.

This is a great Scripture to meditate on when you are tempted to worry.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you" (Isaiah 26:3, ESV).

When I feel myself losing my peace, I am not trusting in God. My worry is taking on the problem in my own strength instead of God's.

This happened after 40 days with the children of Israel. God was clearly present because He was on the mountain with Moses. Yet, Moses stayed up there too long for the people to stomach so they gave in to fear. Fear, worry and anxiety are all connected. When we give into these things we are not trusting God's best for us. We are saying that God is not good and I can figure out a better way. If we give into this worry, we will do stupid things.

The children of Israel did this. They thought God was taking too long with Moses. They forgot how God saved them from Egypt. despite the great miracles He performed for them over and over again. Not only the rescue but also sustaining them in the desert. But as they daily depended on their manna, they still forgot God's goodness.

After they deemed that God took too long with Moses, they decided to make something they could worship. Something they could control and make with their own hands. It was a golden calf. And Aaron, their leader went along with it, in fact he oversaw it. 

 It is devastating that we would ever forget God. Just thinking of the fact that Jesus came, lived the life we could not live perfectly and then died for our sin on the cross is enough for us to not ever worry. God was so good to send His son to take the punishment for sin that was owed to us. Jesus stood in our place. That is enough for us to know His goodness. 

Yet God does so much more in His goodness toward us through all of the promises He gives us in His word.   God poured His love out on us so that we never need to fear. Yet, we forget. We try to make our own idols to worship. Idols that we can control. Things like a impenetrable schedule, or anger that continually bugs or harasses the people with the answers we need, or impatience so we step in front of God in stepping on others for that new position. There are many subtle ways we do this that we do not consider idolatry but it is idolatry. 

Do you think of worry as a subtle form of idolatry? Have you ever considered it to be sin? What are some ways you cope with worry?
 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Living with Teenagers!

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First, I must say, I love my family. I would die for any of them. They are the greatest gift that God has given me. They are the best gift I could ever get in this life.

However, great gifts don't always come without great difficulty. Our family dynamics are vast, interesting and intentional. Yes. I said, intentional.

God gives us everything, including our family members, in our lives that will be used to shape and mold us into Christ-likeness. He does this because He is a good Father. He has a foreknowing of what we need to stop being brats. He knows what it will take in our lives to cause us to lay down our lives freely, like Jesus. Then with the laying down of life comes real resurrection power and the life we were meant to live.

Jesus gave us the example and did not leave us alone to navigate the here and now. In fact, if we are found in Him, He lives in us! How amazing is that?!

Now with that said, I have to come clean about my attitude about teens. I love teens. I loved working with that age group before I have my own teens. It was my absolute favorite age group to work with. I mean, these are younger image bearers who are figuring out how they want to live their lives. It is awkward and messy and weird at times. It is frustrating at times but powerfully beautiful seeing them overcome the many obstacles of life in their generation. It is definitely an interesting and exciting time of life.

Yet, as much as I love working with teens, it is an entirely different thing when you live with teens. The full "24/7 in each others space" pressure that pushes the sinfulness out of our hearts kind of real is what we get in this phase of life. It is raw and rough at times. Think toddler hood, round 2. Except now these precious growing humans have an ability to freely express their minds.

Though, life is messy now, I love it. We have a great ability to reason with our teens that we didn't get when working with toddlers. Now, they are able to really understand the why to our rules. Also, we get to move more into a coaching role as we let them have more freedom and make more decisions on their own under our safe space.

However, while these precious ones are blooming into adulthood, most of us have aging parents to also think about. That adds more pressure to this stage of middle age. It really exposes you for who you are. You can chose to embrace it, repent, and rely on gospel grace or be grumbling and miserable. God is really shaping and molding us as these challenges come our way.

I don't like the typical teenager they cast for roles on television shows. I think they get it wrong. Teens don't hate their parents. They truly don't. They do crave attention and direction. They will seek this out wherever they are accepted and can find it. We can offer this in the home to them. If we don't then they will become distant. They need you now more than ever.

Think of it this way, they are seeing things in this world for the first time in a new lens. Part of growing up is figuring out who you are, what you want to do with your life, and who you are without your parents. This is incredibly stressful. It is a time of searching and introspection. We have the opportunity to influence that. We have the responsibility to help them grow into the people that God would have them be. Not who we want them to be but who God made them to be.

What is your biggest challenge with your teens? Or what have you observed and stereotyped? How can you help this next rising generation? What are your fears? What are you joys in this stage?

Monday, February 13, 2017

When you Grumble, You Are Forgetting God

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Life is hard. I get it. It is very tempting to grumble and complain. I must also make a confession, I really need to grow in this area. I need His grace. If you struggle like me, I hope this will help encourage you like it did me.

Romans 1 speaks about the wrath of God. Not a really fun thing to think about but apart from Christ's intervention, we all deserve this wrath. Yet, because Christ stood in our place and we find ourselves in Him, we are no longer in danger of this wrath.

Despite this truth, we live and place ourselves in the same kind of picture that those addressed in Romans experience. The downward spiral of the wrath of God.

They Knew God but Didn't Love God
First, in Romans, God makes Himself known to the people but they refuse it. They don't love God. So in a response of not loving their loving Creator, they live for themselves. Christian, we must guard ourselves if we believe we are in Christ. In Romans 1:21, it states two things, they knew God but did not honor Him as God and they did not give Him thanks but became futile in their thinking.....

Later in Romans, Paul is making an appeal to the people of God to live as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God because it is our act of spiritual worship (12:1). We do this by not conforming to the culture and renewing our minds (12:2).

God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die on our behalf to make us right with God. When we forget this, we start to walk in dangerous territory of disobedience to God. We hurt the others around us and don't bring God glory (Philippians 2:14-16).

Essentially we are saying, God is not good. God is not giving me what I want. God does not love me. It is the classic attack from the enemy in the garden. Doubting God's love and goodness. Then we grumble.




Grumbling is an outward expression of what is going on in the deeper recesses of our hearts.
 
I have been reading through Exodus and I was baffled at how the children of Israel could grumble against God's goodness just 3 days after they escaped Egypt. They saw all the miracles against Pharaoh, crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, followed God who appeared as a cloud and pillar of fire yet, three days after they were finally free, they started complaining. Read it in Exodus 15:22-27.

God was still gracious to them. He continues this pattern over and over. He does things to test them. And testing is worthy of a new post. It is a good thing. It exposes the dark places of our hearts.

When I Grumble I Forget God
I should not be surprised at the children of Israel's grumbling, especially when I do it too. I have seen the greatest miracle, Jesus death and resurrection. I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. I know that He is making all things new and coming back for us at the proper time. I know I am rested securely in God's love. There is no reason for me to grumble. But I do it.

God is still gracious and long-suffering when we complain. When we see this in our hearts we are free to repent and walk in the right direction again. There are a lot of strategies that God gives us through His word to help with this, worthy of another post. I am praying that God gives us the grace to stop our complaining and to remember God.

What do you often feel tempted to complain about? How do you deal with that? Have you even considered that grumbling is a sin?

Leave a comment, maybe we can help each other out by prayer and reminding each other to remember the goodness of God.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review: The Pastor and Counseling by Pierre and Reju

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Confession: I am not a pastor. I was simply curious about this book because I am passionate about the need for pastors to understand the basics of biblical counseling.

This book hit all the basics that it could in its short format. It is very easy to read and very practical in its application. I spent two years earning my biblical counseling certificate from CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation) and I think this book hits all the highlights of my education well.

It is not going to cover everything obviously but it is a great resource book when a pastor is unsure about counseling his people.

I highly recommend this book for all pastors. It guides you through the initial meeting and beyond. There are extra helpful resources in the appendix, including an information gathering intake form.

This is a good book. Even if you are in the field of helping people but not a pastor, this would be helpful for you to understand the basics of biblical Christian counseling.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here. (aff. link)

Book Review: Finding Your Voice by Grant

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I really like Natalie Grant's music so I was excited to take a look at this title. Sadly, it did not live up to my expectations. It felt like words/advice that were okay to be said but then those words were made to merge with Scripture. It seemed too forced and did not take Scripture at the level of seeing it as an entire picture of redemptive history. It instead was person centered instead of God's bigger picture centered. That is what made it hard for me to read.

This happens through out the book. I first noticed it in the first chapter when the book states, "In short, He believes in you, and He wants nothing more than for you to believe in Him and His beautiful creation--you" (pg. 31). This is a very cultural sounding statement that aligns with just believe in yourself. It is missing the richness of Christ. The only reason that God would believe in us would be because of His Son.

I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt here but Scripture was even used in this way. Regarding the story of Peter walking on water toward Jesus this application came about, "He gave each of us a voice and a message and was so convinced that we could fulfill the plans He has for us, He sacrificed His own Son so we could have a chance to see them through. Read that again. God believes in who you are--your accomplishments, values, and dreams--with such intensity that He sent His only Son so YOU might live abundantly and with holy purpose" (pg. 45). This is very ME centered. Christ did not die for my voice to be heard.

He died so, We would live for Him.
"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Corinthians 5:15).

So that we could be restored to a right relationship with God.
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18). 

So that God's wrath would be appeased.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!" (Romans 5:8-9).

Now again, I think the author meant well. God did say He came so we could have an abundant life. But it must be centered on HIM and bringing HIM glory not ourselves. He gives us a voice to glorify HIM. He gives us dreams to glory HIM. This is where I think this book falls short. It does have good things to think about here and there throughout. My caution is that after reading it we are too self focused over being Christ focused. It can be a thin line. That is my caution on this title.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy from amazon.com here. (Aff. link)

Book Review: Love, Henri by Nouwen

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Sometimes it feels a little like trespassing when reading another person's intimate letters. It makes me think about my own letters or emails and how I would feel if people were reading them in a book. That is a scary thought for me. However, if they could help someone learn to be more encouraging or a better friend, then it would be worth it. What an honor that we have a collection like this from a faithful saint.

This book is a small glance into the life of Henri Nouwen. These letters are helpful to us because they give us a glimpse of Christian fellowship and friendship.  They are authentic and real. They encourage others to follow the Lord.

Prior to each letter, there are explanations so you can understand why it was written. This helps the reader understand the context of the letters.

This was a book that was well ordered. The hardback is sturdy and made with thick paper. It was made with good quality.

I received a copy of this book at no charge for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here. (Aff. link.)


Monday, February 6, 2017

Book Review: Different by Clarkson

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I had the privilege of reviewing this book through the publisher, Tyndale. I was thankful to read it because we live with special needs in our home. I am always curious to read the stories of others who have walked this road before me.

The book is structured in the format of a son and mother telling their personal stories. I found this insightful because the actual struggler (Nathan) was sharing his own internal experiences with us. After that, his mother (Sally) would share some things too.

They were both authentic and honest in their writing. They both spoke of how they experienced God in their personal stories. I found great encouragement in that.

This, by no means, is an instructional book about working with your child's special needs but it is a book of encouraging stories from which we can learn. It is written as if we are sitting across from them while we are drinking coffee and asking questions. This style also made this extremely easy to read for the busy mom.

Though the special needs that were dealt with in this book were different from the ones I deal with daily, there was enough similarities to make this book helpful and hopeful for me. I do recommend it for encouragement.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here. (aff. link)

I did receive my copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

When God Takes You the Long Way.....

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I hate grief, big emotions, and pain. I hate tears. I wish God would just shock me in order to help me grow quickly instead of having to go through the often painful growth process. Yet, in His wisdom, God made me one who feels deeply. Because of this I go through all these things that I hate most daily.
And this is good.

Yes, good, because if I don't go through the process, I lose the opportunity of experiencing Jesus at a deeper level.

Paul was convinced of this so much that he tells us that he wants to know Christ by sharing in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).  

Why?

The text tells us that it is in order to become like Him in His death. He goes on to say that "by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3).

How can we appreciate and fully understand what Christ has done for us unless we share in it? When we get the opportunity to suffer, we get the opportunity to share in Christ's suffering. And in that, we get to experience the power of the resurrection that lives in us by His Spirit.

By this power we can move forward in suffering. He gives us grace that is sufficient in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). We can do all things that we need to do in Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). Not only will we experience that now, but we will also experience that final resurrection from the dead when death is fully defeated in the end.

Suffering helps us grow in these things. The school of suffering is confusing to us because we cannot see the full picture now, but we can entrust ourselves into the hands of God who knows all things and works for our good. We are being conformed into His image through these trials (Romans 8:29).

I was recently reading through Exodus and again it hit me. God did many amazing life-altering miracles to free His people from Egypt. They saw first hand His power and might. Yet, when God freed them, He made them travel the long route to their destination intentionally.  

Why?

We are told that God did this because, "Lest my people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt" (Exodus 13:17). God knew His people. He knew their weakness of heart. He knew that even though they saw these amazing miracles that freed them from Pharaoh, they would still be afraid. So they had to travel through the wilderness. This wilderness would end up being a long training exercise in God's faithfulness.


Why Is God Taking Me On The Tough Route?


God knows our frame. He knows exactly what is needed in our lives to conform us most into His image. These are the things that will grow us, shape us, and enable us to know Him more and more. They are the things that will bring Him most glory as we learn to trust His guiding hand through them. This is where we learn that He is enough. So the lesson is, enjoy the long route. Don't rush it. God has a plan with it, even if you cannot see it yet, and His plans are always good. Period.
 
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