Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Real: Becoming A 24/7 Follower of Jesus by Jamie Snyder

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

I loved this book. It was a great book that challenged believers to live up to what God has called us to but not in a guilt driven way. It was grace filled and encouraging. It is biblical and a great reminder of what really living the Spirit driven life is suppose to look like.

Anytime I read something written by a passionate believer who is really following hard after God I am inspired. I think it is a good read for anyone wanting help in fanning the flame of their heart for God. The author is trying to help believers see and get back that "sold out life of the early church followers" with topics like,
Unbridled generosity
Daring courage
Rebellious joy
Risky faith
Relentless hope
Scandalous grace
Mad love

It is worth your time to read.

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

Book Review: His Treasure by Sheri Rose Shepherd

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

This book is like the rest of the books from the His Princess series. I really do like the format and I do like how the author writes as if God is speaking to you. I know this kind of writing from Shepherd and some other authors get some flack at times but I really enjoy them. God does woo us and would talk to us in these ways. If we took more time to slow down and practice listening prayer then we would see that clearly but instead we live in a loud and fast paced society where listening prayer is lost.

Now is listening prayer always correct? No, we are human and we err at times mixing our thoughts with God's thoughts. This book is helpful in helping others with seeing God's love for us. It is something that many need to know and receive, God's love. The author is not claiming this is inspired like Scripture just thoughts that are likely that God thinks about us. I found it biblical and believe it is a good resource for many women who struggle to see God's great love for them. We are His treasure. This book helps us see it.

To receive a copy from Amazon go here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Death by Living by N.D. Wilson

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

Death by Living, really puts life into perspective. It was a fascinating read. The author writes with a beautiful poetry, sometimes too much but often just right. It is thought provoking to the mind because the descriptiveness of common life is visible to the reader.

I found myself with the author in various places because his writing made me able to see, feel, smell wherever he took me with his written word. This is uncommon with the non-fiction genre however was greatly appreciated. It made a book about life being just a vapor more enjoyable to read.

I think this book has a place in everyone's home. Simply because we need to consider and ponder the concepts of what this flash of life we have been given is really about. Also because it is sheer written poetry.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: Memoirs of the Way Home by Bilkes

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

Memoirs of the Way Home: Ezra and Nehemiah as a Call to Conversation was a great read. It took you in great detail through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah then gave the reader great application. At the end of each chapter there is also a good list of thought provoking questions. It is an easy and enjoyable read.

The ideal way to read this book would be with a group. I think in a group environment and study of these books the reader would gain the most however, reading as an individual you get much out of this as well. I was challenged and inspired and over all really enjoyed this book.

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

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: The Spiritual Life of the Hobbit by James Stuart Bell

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

I absolutely loved this book! I believe anyone interested in The Hobbit or any of the other books by Tolkien should take the time to read this. This book was well formatted and had wonderful background information ready for the reader from other books Tolkien had written. It was also an easy read. I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

I learned a lot more about J.R. Tolkien as well from reading this and what he personally thought made up a good story. It stretched me as a writer and reader. I love how someone as gifted in imagination as Tolkien was explored because it only helps us grow through it.

Another thing the book did was help me to understand how he paralleled our world through his stories but did not like to write in analogy. That helped me see the spiritual side of his story more clearly. I appreciated this. I also appreciate how the author referenced the various Scripture verses that could go along with different scenes and passages of The Hobbit.

This is probably why the title says the spiritual world of the hobbit, however, I was not thrilled about the title. It was a bit skeptical about this book because of the title but I am so glad I decided to read this one. It was a great read and I highly recommend it, especially to Tolkien fans.

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

Book Review: A Hope Deferred by J.Stephen Yuille

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

I read the words in my Bible that said, in Christ I am an adopted daughter and heir. I even believed those words, however, I did not understand the depth of those words until I walked through the process of adopting a child of my own. It is the most beautiful yet painful picture. This book paints the story of the author's own personal journey through infertility and adoption while applying these concepts to God as our Heavenly Father whom we belong to by adoption. It was beautifully done.

The book also took us through Romans 8. It is a book that I will probably read again and that is saying a lot because rarely do I reread a book unless I really loved it. Here are a few reasons why from the book:

On us calling God Abba, "I think of the accounts of people who have visited some of the orphanages in Russia and China. Upon entering, they immediately notice the silence. There are dozens and dozens of children but none of them are crying. Why? They learned not to cry. Why? They learned that no one responds to their cries. What happens when someone adopts one of these children? Slowly, they learn to cry--give an expression of utter dependence. That's us. The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life. The first sign of this life is that we cry Abba."

I do not know why exactly but this passage struck me right at the core of my being. Maybe it is because my own baby boy was observed always in darkness, never moving a muscle, never making a sound. Anytime he was seen, his condition was the same. I often thought, what would make this now boisterous, loud, and fun loving child not make even a sound? I see now, he has security, safety, and attention. He now has parents who take care of him. He is free to be dependent. It is in the freedom of being dependent that we can truly experience the great love that comes through adoption.

Then there was this regarding trials, "But we had learned that we must embrace the fact that God often entrusts his people with the unexplained. That's a crucial lesson to grasp, because it necessarily means that --in the midst of difficulties--our faith isn't rooted in understanding why, but understanding who."

If we could learn this as a body of believers it would help us from going off course in thought so often during trial. It would help us learn to lift our arms to our Father in Heaven and entrust ourselves to Him in return. It would allow us to stop trying to figure these things out and just trust. This would allow us to be supportive of others in their trials.

What I included above is just a small sampling of this books brilliance. I do believe this book would be helpful for any Christian. The doctrine of adoption is important to understand as a child of God and this book does it justice. You can get a copy of this book from Amazon here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Don't Like Being A Parent

There I said it. It is so very hard to live in a world among people who just look like they have it all together. I mean, they are all joyous and happy all the time. Their kids sacrifice for others without complaint or squabbling. They say yes, maam or yes, sir when given a task. This is what drives me insane. Yes, insane is the right word as I sit here typing trying to figure out if I need to go to the hospital over my mental state.

As a mother, I love my children. I pour my life out for them daily, almost moment by moment. However, when I think that love will be reciprocal, I am dead wrong. They fight. They argue and complain about simple requests I give them. They treat the stranger in the store so much nicer than a sibling.

All I can think of is that I did this. Somehow there is something so deficient in my parenting that I have failed. I have tried so many different things with them from charts and kind words to rewards and special treats. I have even experimented with yelling or not yelling--no difference. None of it works. None. I am not sure why I am even surprised by this either. Sin is the cause of all behavior issues and it is rooted deeply in the heart. Shedding it takes time, it is a process. Therefore, I am feeling powerless and I just want to give up.

Have you felt that way before? Have you? Am I the only ill-equipped and deficient mom out there sitting and wondering why so many others look like they have it all together while I am here eating my tears? Seriously, I am eating them because I sacrificed a nice piece of pizza earlier simply because I knew the children wanted it. In turn, that is what a good mom does? Sacrifice, right?

I just cannot help but to think that, really, I have missed the point. Keeping an outside of a cup clean does not mean the deep recesses of the interior is. I need to press forward and keep at the target of the heart. When I do this we will never appear to have it all together. We were never meant to. It is grace that I depend on and trust my Father knew what He was doing in giving me these children. He knows what it took to pay for sin.

I am writing here as a mom who has her hands up. I surrender. I give up. There is absolutely nothing I can do with this. Only my Father in heaven can move in their hearts. I press into Him. I beg Him to show me something happening in those dark places and I have the faith to know He will do it for it is He who has done a good work in them that will see it on to completion. He will see it through. He must! It is His work.

However, it is trusting by faith He will do this. I want the change now and I understand this is a process so what do I do in the meantime when I am seriously struggling with what to do with them? As a mom surrendered I must also walk what this looks like out before their eyes. I must admit my own heart struggles and my desperate need for a Savior. Through watching their father and I they will learn how this process goes. We can model what true humility and brokenness over sin looks like. Then model the joy of a Savior who was so in love with us He chose to die anyway.

I think the real reason why I do not like being a parent is because I don't like discipline. I want to be more of a friend maybe but I cannot be, not at this time. It also robs me of my comfort. It challenges my need to control. It certainly depletes my approval rating. However, in the end, I must trust that they will see it was all for their better good. As the law was put in place for the children of Israel to see their great need for a Savior. It is too hard to try to obey. We all need a Savior.

Our Savior is One who pours forth grace, enough for each moment. I must trust by faith how I will get through the next day. That day has the grace needed of its own. He will be trustworthy to pour it out on me then. He is a good Father. He never leaves or forsakes us. He isn't even shaking His head at me now as I struggle with being a mother. He is not judgmental like that because all sin was judged on the cross. He is well pleased with me in Christ. I take the grace He has given now freely and trust He will provide the grace I need the next moment. I trust He will use every bit of my mess to beautify something in our lives. He is good like that. Maybe even one day He will show me how to delight in being a parent, even in the pain and sacrifice. For He is working in my heart too. Uprooting sinfulness, exposing the dark places in my heart. He is truly teaching me how to love the unlovely.

Mom, do you struggle with liking the parenting thing too? There is hope for us. God is the perfect Father to us. He delights in us. He will help us to learn that perfect balance as well. We can trust that. Let us pray for one another. We will get through this well in HIM. In HIM alone for it is the only way.

Friday, October 11, 2013

When A Failed Test Deserves A High Five

My daughter who has been known to thrive on perfectionism brought home a failed test the other day. She responded so well to it that I high-fived her! Now that probably sounds preposterous to high-five your kid for failing a test. I mean, it was a bombed test, not one question was answered right. However, she responded well and accepted responsibility for it. That made me so happy. 

I was happy because I saw growth in what really mattered. Her heart did not see her worth in her performance. She did not let performance define her. This, my friends, is progress. The only way we will learn how to work toward excellence is by taking chances and while we take those chances we will at times fail. However, when you fail there is only one way to go and that is up. This was a great moment for us.

I am accused at times for over spiritualizing things and well if that is the case so be it. As we live and move and breathe in Christ, His Holy Spirit indwells us so everything should be looked at through spiritual eyes. He came down for us so when He opens our spiritual eyes let us not be blind but use them.

There will always be tests. Tests that contain material that can easily be learned. This is really not a big deal, however, our hearts will always battle idols like perfectionism and what others think of us based on our performance. These idols are sneaky and the more we deal with them the better off we are. You see, when we deal with them as lies then replace our thoughts with truth we will indeed thrive.

Truth says;
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do," (Ephesians 2:8-10).

There is nothing we can do to separate us from God's amazing love for us. We never have to work for it.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35,37-39).

Now please do not take this as me saying you shall be slack in your work. The truth also speaks clearly on this issue;

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," (1 Corinthians 10:31).

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesusgiving thanks to God the Father through him," (Colossians 3:17).

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ," (Colossians 3:23-24).

As followers of Christ we should work hard and up to our best, however, not for the reason of pleasing others or even pleasing God, for we already have fully pleased Him in Christ. He is delighted in us even when we are lazy. We are fully accepted performing or not because of Christ's finished work on our behalf on the cross. Now that should spurn your heart. For He is so good to us. We are free in Him. That is the most important lesson I want my daughter to learn--freedom in Christ alone.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Confession, I Am Fearful

There I said it. I have been struggling with a fear for a very long time. Too long actually that I cannot even tell you the amount of time. It is rooted in pride. It is a fear of man and their opinions of me. It is a reason I have stopped writing so personally on my blog. I have recently been challenged though to push through this fear so it is what I will be doing. I will be writing more often. I will be writing encouragement for life in Christ. I know this will help me but I hope it helps you too as you live and go about your day.

In this season of my life I am often finding myself around many intellectuals. It is intimidating. It is good for me because I am truly challenged but I have lost part of myself in that challenging process. I have never been to seminary but I have a deep rooted love for the Word of God that pours through my veins and my thoughts all the time. I have an all consuming desire for a balance of love and truth. Daily I strive for that as I wrestle with the Word.

Yet that fact that I am not an intellectual as far as man would see it with a degree in Bible, I have felt like I fall short. Yet God has called me to be who He has made me to be. I am a student compulsively. I study deep things for fun. I will never have the degree to back that up though and perhaps that is a great thing. God is protecting me from an even deeper deception in my own heart. An idol in the making per say.

Now I have confessed it, this lie is out in the light. I will not let it hold me back anymore. Christ has made me for the fullness of all that He has promised. He will finish the work He has started. After all, don't most people need to hear about life lived out in authenticity described in real life terms anyway? This is my hope and if it is the case I am writing for you.

I live a crazy life that is full of its challenges, like you do as well. I work to find humor and thankfulness even in the messy. If your life is messy and you are in the same place I hope this blog will encourage you. I hope we can walk this path together. Most importantly I hope we can bring supreme glory to God in the process.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: Bake Through the Bible by Susie Bentley-Taylor and Bekah Moore

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

When I first saw the title, "Bake Through the Bible," I was a bit skeptical. My first thought was, "here was yet another book that was given a biblical title which probably related only a little to the actual Bible." However, this title has proved me wrong. After thoroughly exploring this book, I can tell it was well thought through and does keep Christ at the center. What makes it most interesting is that it gives you and your child an interesting activity in baking something together while you discuss God and His word.

We did enjoy doing one of these recipes together as a family and I do believe we will find it beneficial to do more of them. This book fits the category of talking about God together in whatever you are doing as you walk about, lie down, or go about your day. This time of baking together is the perfect environment to discuss God and His goodness to us.

The recipe we made did encourage some good discussion. Plus we got to eat a tasty treat to remind us of God's good gifts. The recipes are easy enough that most anyone can do them. They are very easy to modify as well to meet your personal families needs.

We had a good time with this because it encouraged us to work together, look at God's truths together, and eat a tasty treat we created together. Emphasis on the word together. I loved that about this. It does encourage family togetherness in the Lord. I do recommend this title as a creative way to come together doing an unique activity as a family.

You can get a copy of it from Amazon here.
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