Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review: Healed at Last by Blackwell


I loved this title! I would recommend it to anyone who is going through a trial of some sort, which should be everyone at some point in their lives. You will be better off for reading this and it will be a great tool to grow you closer to Christ. Strong Bible believers need strong theology. We need to be a people who will pull up our sleeves and dig deep into the word of God to find His truths. When one is in the midst of trial they need to know the truth of God's word so they can deflect the lies the world will tell them about suffering and healing.

This title was Biblically balanced and packed with truth according to the full counsel of God. I liked how it took a look at specific Scriptures that are easily used in incorrect ways often and then balanced them with the entire truth of God. I also liked how this book kept pointing the reader to the importance of any ministry being Christ-focused instead of man-focused.

The truth is that we serve a God who is not tamable, command-able, or predictable except for His unstoppable love for us in Christ. Other than that, healing is not guaranteed to anyone in this lifetime though it does happen. When it happens it is not man-focused or to draw attention to man. It should always point to God. I loved how this title explained all of this through examples of Jesus life and through the old and new testament healings.

I received a copy of this title at no charge from Cross focused reviews for the purpose of an honest review.

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears: God Shows the Way by Berenstain


This little set of books are so very sweet. I loved them and their message of living with the Lord in mind in all things. The book is easy to read for young readers and the best part is my five year old loves them. He consistently requests we read these. I like that best about the book.

Also, it is a relief to see a family (The Berenstain Bears in these books) living for the Lord in their daily interactions in these stories. It is kind of like our life and it is a breath of fresh air to see this in a book. It normalizes trust and dependence on the Lord in everyday life. I loved these and I highly recommend them.

The three separate stories in this book deal with the issues of faith, fear, and money. They are equipped with Scripture for teaching as well.

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

This book is released on August 8th. You can get a copy from Amazon here.

So What is Wrong With 50 Shades of Grey Anyway?


Amid Christian books, children's books, and good quality best sellers I spotted a big stack of the book, 50 Shades of Grey at the register side. It was quite sad to me to see this sample of "literature" among the greats. I pondered what our world is coming too? What do we as women think we are becoming when we resort and behold this kind of book? It messes with your thoughts and is not reality. It is not even what we really want if we are honest. Why are we enthralled by such a book? Especially if it is a direct violation of Romans 12:1-2?

Words are powerful and used in this way in this book is destructive to our very souls. 

I was in line making my purchases at the used bookstore in town and while I was waiting, I heard two women gush about 50 Shades of Grey as they passed the book. We book lovers can connect over stories, plots, and the beauty of words used brilliantly, yet, I just looked at these ladies with a blank stare, I actually felt myself blush because they were completely unashamed at this talk. I mean their excitement about a movie coming out was ecstatic. I just felt like I was in the twilight zone. They openly discussed this around men and children. What message is this sending?

Now I confess, I have not read these books. I have no desire to put those thoughts in my mind because when porn sets itself in your mind there is a difficulty of removing it. For women, the emotional porn is harder to remove from their hearts, yet now this is going on the big screen, porn is there for all to behold at the price of a movie ticket. Why do such a big crowd of people desire this?

Honestly, married couples cannot have great sex that is pure and undefiled when these things enter their minds. This is a pure defiling of keeping the marriage bed pure that God calls us to (Hebrews 13:4). Sex, in its pure and undefiled form is not selfish. These movies or porn is always surrounded by selfishness. 

Good sex is only experienced in that redeemed place that Jesus bought for us where man and woman in marriage can be naked and unashamed as it was intended at the dawn of creation (Genesis 2:25). 

If you have fallen into the temptation of getting into these books know that Jesus can wash you from it. There may be consequences for your mind but Jesus is bigger. Can I encourage you to not watch the movie? Once those images enter your mind they are there forever and you bring those things into your marriage bed losing its purity and beauty. The battle to guard our eyes and hearts is hard enough with the blasting of impure billboards and magazines that fight for our attention, don't add this stuff to your mind. Though Christ forgives all our sin there are still consequences for our sin that linger and I fear this "movie" will be one of those things that hurt our society.

I will give you just one example of this. I loved the show, Beverly Hills 90210 growing up. I loved the character Donna who was the "good girl." She was saving herself for marriage like "good girls" do. However, in one weak moment she compromised and honestly from the power of media and my unstable teenage mind, I was devastated. I thought, if there was no hope for Donna, what hope was there for me and I lost that courage to guard myself as diligently. I was in the world and of the world then. I fear this movie will do the same for people. Not only women but men who receive the mixed messages about what women want when it comes to sex. And yes, these words are hard to write because sex is so personal but the church has to address this and warn about the dangers that the power of media has over people.

So if you want to protect your marriage or if you are single, your future marriage, don't see this. Keep it out of your head. Don't let the world so openly influence you. Don't fall for this obvious scheme from the pit of hell. There will be consequences. Our purity is being robbed and it doesn't stop with us, our children are being exposed to these things earlier and earlier. It only makes me long for home where none of this filth will exist any longer and why would we want to dabble in things that will not be with us for all of eternity? Lord, come quickly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Women of the Word by Wilkin


I adored this book! I believe every Christian should read it because it is an absolutely wonderful resource for the lay person who desires to get the most out of Bible study time. We are experiencing a severe Bible famine these days because people would rather have information spoon fed to them instead of searching for the truth themselves. This is easier of course but robs us of deep thriving joy that comes from knowing God for yourself through His word.

This book helps everyone with Bible study. It not only offers a great perspective but a very good and easy approach that anyone can follow. If you are new to the Bible this book is good for you but if you are a veteran student of the word this book is encouraging as well. We all need to be strengthened to press on in our studies of the Bible and this book did this for me.

The book was an easy read, kind of like talking with the author over coffee. Anyone can study the Bible this way so it is not intimidating at all. Also, it is so important to realize that when we study the Bible it is not about us but about Jesus. The author reinforces these important truths through out the book.

On a personal note, I did get to hear this author share some of her heart about writing and I really loved her. Reading this was a sweet blessing to my soul. I cannot recommend it more highly. It is about one of the most important topics Christians should grasp; studying and reading the Bible rightly. Get this and you will not be disappointed, it will grow you up more into Him.

I received a copy of this ebook at no charge from Crossway books for the purpose of an honest review.

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions by Fitzpatrick and Thompson


This book was a gem of a resource that I think will be most helpful for all Christian families. In fact, I wish I had this book earlier in my walk when I was working with children who were not my own. I used to work with children from hard backgrounds and they would have many of these questions. I had a hard time answering them as I was trying to sort through the hard things as they were but this book makes it easier to understand how to answer.

It makes it easier to answer questions because it first helps you understand by examining the Scriptures first yourself. After you understand then you can explain, to the best of your ability, to your children. Of course it is impossible to understand all hard things and the book is not shy about admitting this but this book helps a great deal.

This book is easy to read and is divided by topics that are probably most pressing today. After the topics are explored based on Scripture the end of the chapter includes possible words you can say to children. These scripts are divided up into three stages. Ages 3-5, 6-10, and 11+.

My favorite thing about this book is that it kept bringing things back to the overall picture of the Bible. Trials and troubles are here today because we live in a fallen world. We all are in desperate need of a Savior. It was the hope given that kept me reading. It is the truth our children need to hear.

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 title from Amazon here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: United, Captured by God's Vision For Diversity by Trillia Newbell


I loved this little book because I love diversity and this author. I had wanted this book since I knew it was released but as a book reviewer, I have had a book back log and was not able to get it then. I was delighted to get a copy free of charge from the publisher at the Gospel Coalition Women's Conference last month. I did not have to write this review but am writing because I want you to know about this little gem of a book.

I personally would love to see churches all around us more diverse. I have been actively pursuing diverse friendships because I know this is how God wants us to live. This little book gave a basic theology of diversity and God's heart. It also gave us insight into the author's personal story regarding diversity. God's heart is for all nations of people. This book will help you see that and grow in this.

The author is precious. I was blessed to hear her speak at the conference and hearing her heart was beautiful. It made me want to read this book even more. I think you should read it whether you are for diversity or against it. It will help shape your thoughts Scripturally on this topic. It also will give you further resources to focus on if you desire to read more on this topic.

This book is an easy read. The author writes in that warm and conversational way that I love. It is worth a look. You can get a copy from Amazon here.

Book Review: Ex-Muslim by Naeem Fazal


This book is the author's story about his life from being born a Muslim to later becoming a Christian pastor. It is a very interesting story. The author writes in a friendly conversational style so this is easy to read and digest. I found this book to be interesting because I personally like reading people's stories, specifically how God gripped them.

I also found it interesting all the difficulties the author faced in leaving one faith for another. His struggles in America with his nationality and the like were also eye opening. His story of conversion is very and unique but we all have a unique story of how God reached down to us. I loved how the author spoke of that often and how God does pursue us. We never need to give up because God is a pursuing God. This was encouraging to me.

Another thing that I loved about this story is how the author pointed out that we can be friends with people of other faiths and backgrounds. I see this in my personal life as I have started pursuing friendships with those who are different from me. These friendships are precious and we are all very different. Of course as a Christian I would love for them to all be Christian too but that is God's work, wooing and drawing hearts. I can share my life and His good news while living a life of love.

I think this is an interesting story and a good read. If you want a copy from Amazon you can get it here.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On Losing Those Things Dear


My heart aches like a tight ball that wants to burst forth yet I wall it up, it is impenetrable because I have cemented walls around it right now. I am in survival mode. Everyone around me is experiencing loss. I am too but I am trying not to feel it.

They say the deeper the love, the greater the loss. I am not ready for it. I numb my heart with thick impenetrable walls. I am trying to be strong for now. The floodgates that hold back the waterfalls about to burst from my eye lids are waiting, I deny them.

Death, it is occurring presently before me. Loss is death; death of something. At the present, I am losing something most dear to me. One of the greatest gifts that God has ever given to me; my dearest friend. She has been with me through great suffering and loss and the greatest and highest joys. We have walked many roads and grown together down them. I am so very thankful for this time and realize I cannot hold on to anyone or anything too tightly. Another path is meant for her now as well as for me and I rejoice in that but with that comes great sadness. It really doesn't come with adequate words. Only tears, tears that God will collect in that bottle of tears (Psalm 56:8) where He records my sorrows. For my sorrows are important to Him.

I can press on in this loss because I know God has the most amazing plans for our separate paths. I remember this life is a breath and then we will have all of eternity together. I remember our paths now require a greater sacrifice but I linger now in the present that still exists before the impending day of loss; that great day of shaking. I loathe this day but it is bittersweet. For I know His plans are greater than any we can even think up or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

I don't know how I will move forward yet after the great day of loss, but I know God will help me. Life will go on as it always does. I will mourn. I will eventually accept this new reality and find a way to adapt. I know to move forward I have to let those walls of stone crumble down, and it will hurt most terribly, but I know the One who exchanges our heart of stone for a heart of flesh will hold me and comfort me in my great time of loss. I know I can trust Him with my heart, so I will, but for now I will let tears flow as I write, then I will be strong again until the day of loss.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Living the Roller Coaster Life - Struggling Trust


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The interview went okay, not great, yet they asked for availability for when you could do a second. What does that indicate? Is it prideful to believe that they want you? After all why would one request your availability and not send forth an invite? How long do you wait?

Or the doctor says, "We will send this off for a biopsy but it looks benign." Yet a month goes by because the paperwork gets lost saying it is not benign but malignant. As you wait, do you call or assume all is well with no words coming your way?

Or your child who ran hard after God has turned away. He decides the lure of the world is more pleasant than God. Yet you cry, "but God I trained Him in the way he should go, how can he now depart from it?" Is that a guaranteed promise? Will he come back to the Way? How Long oh Lord?

Yet there is One who does know. It is the Lord. He knows the uncertainty. He knows the truth of what will happen. In fact, He has chosen the times and places we will live (Acts 17:26) so we can rest perfectly and comfortably secure in His perfect pre-ordained plan for our life.

We know these truths, yet there is something unsettling living in the unknown! We can trust our Heavenly Father completely with our future yet there is a tension between our perceived best future and His best future. You see, I would never chose pain for my good; never. Yet pain has a way of making us more and more like Him. I am not wise like the One who can see all things and know how they will all fit together for His ultimate glory and our ultimate good. Only He can work all of that out. What I can do is pray and wait.

Then what do we do with the bad news? We can trust the One who is in control of all things and works the good in all things. In the cancer, we can trust. In the job, we can trust His best plan. In the wayward child, we can trust God is working it out for the best good. We must learn to rest in the fact that He is good and He is in control. When I remember this and all that He has done in the past, I can trust the outcome to His perfect will.

Demanding answers from the All-Knowing is pointless. It is kind of like explaining things only my adult mind can comprehend to my five year old. Even if I try to explain it, he cannot fully comprehend. Yet my five year old knows that I love him and though he may cry about some of those adult decisions, he lifts his hands to me to hold and comfort him. He trusts though he cannot fully comprehend. I reason that is how it is with us. We cannot comprehend many things in this world but our perfect Father knows what is best. We can cry but reach up for His greater comfort for us through it. His love never fails us. May He help us never forget. May we keep our minds fixed on this truth rather than the temporary circumstances around us.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When Word Constipation Sets In, Find Freedom Through Release


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You were probably not expecting a post on the constipation of the brain but when we fail to pass our words out through our fingers that is how it feels; bloated, blocked up brain lock. Writing or rather, writer's block, is sometimes like constipation to the brain as it is to our bowels. Both harmful, both need to be fixed.

Writing is a chore yet a way writers need to breathe. At times you want to ignore its needs but if you do it will betray you, fill your mind to the brink, making you half mad until you let it out by sitting and pouring it out. Words, they have a way that either build up or destroy. When you mix them both and hold them in for too long you get a miserable soup; a flavorless mush.

Pour forth your words writers. Do not be afraid. Not all of them are meant to publish but all of them are meant for your therapy. They help you with clarity of thought and wellness of mind. Freely pour them on the page. Play with them. Arrange them. Make them count. Use them for the ultimate good. Don't betray them.

Glory, for God's glory is the way words should be used. For us to become less and Him more. For He is the Word (John 1:1). He is good. He is not silent. His book holds the treasure of all the highest and blessed words we could ever bestow our eyes upon and we must feast. In the filling up we can productively pour back out.

Words, they have power, they heal and wound. They shape us into who we were meant to be. They are things we will be held accountable for (Matthew 12:36). They are things that God knows each one before we even speak (Psalm 139:4). They are life or death. We must take them seriously. We must use them wisely. We must be responsible with them.

Oh how blessed are those who understand this. Jesus words were so amazing and strategic. He knew what to say so it would strike the heart of His audience right where they needed it. He was the master word smith (of course because He is the Word).

So when you get backed up and just freeze, pour forth the words. Some you will flush they are not worthy for the eyes of others but some will be golden and move generations. Consider this and learn. Pour forth your words with wisdom. Let Jesus shine through them instead of crippling fear holding them back. Learn from the Master Word Smith.

Lord, help us with our words. Help us use them wisely and for building others up. Forgive us when we tear others down. Help us to continually look to you and learn from you how to speak and write. Help us speak truth in love because you loved us first.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: China's Reforming Churches by Baugus


I have to start off with a confession, I did not make it the entire way through this book. I am very interested in books on mission. I love mission stories, strategies and the like very much. Reading this book, to me, was like chewing on stale bread crumbs. It was not very easy to read for the lay person. Perhaps it was not for a lay person like me.

My pattern was to pick it up and read but then I was forced to put it down. However, for the scholar or historian it may prove to be delightful. I imagine it for that type of audience and I may have just jumped into something I was not rightly ready for.

The book is broken up into essays by different writers which should have made it easier to read at points. It is filled with the history of mission to China then ends with mission today. It focused on the Presbyterian churches and mission to China.

With all that said, I do think it is a book that could be helpful but you just have to be the right kind of reader for this specific title.

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

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