Monday, July 30, 2012

The Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman

Tracey Bateman is one of those writers who travels beyond the boundaries. In her newest book, this too passes all boundaries that is known to us. We see that grief has no boundaries. It can take us prisoner. It can touch us all and bind us in chains.  Here walk the path of grief with the main character of this book as she travels back to her husband's home town.

I love the setting of this book in the Ozarks of Missouri. A place I know very well. I admire the character, Corrie Saunders. She has lost her husband and in a odd way she is desperately trying to find him. She is at a loss and just wants her life back with the man of her dreams. I've not known the depths of this pain. But if I were, I would think it tempting to go to any cost just to have a moment longer.

Bateman weaves a story around grief, healing and surrender. Most of all we see sacrifice. Corrie's husband is killed in battle and she isn't handling this sacrifice well.

I too love the character of Eli. There is just something about that name that makes you feel safe. He is strong in faith and knows of the evil that presents itself. For me, this book reminds us that no matter what we are going through there is an invisible warfare going on all around us. We see Eli struggle too. Just because he is a Christian and walks in faith doesn't mean he has no pains.

In the family there are those who believe in spirits and ghosts. They believe in power they claim to have to reach beyond the grave. Eli is strong to stand against this as are others that Corrie surrounds herself with. But Corrie is curious. Could she really find her husband? Any contact with him would be great, right?

Yikes, there is darkness in this tale that takes it root in the Ozarks. There is a real evil and the best line in this book comes from Eli when he is speaking to Corrie. "Just be careful. It's seductive. It's also easy to justify it and make it much less dangerous in your mind and heart than it is." My second favorite line? It also comes from the lips and wisdom of Eli. "God's grace is all over situations like the one you are in, but given the choice, He would much rather you turn to Him for comfort than anything else." Powerful words!! He too shares with Corrie, "Prayer might not change the immediate situation, but it changes the way I feel about it."

I enjoyed this book. No, I don't believe in ghosts. No, I don't believe in mediums. Old magic, witchcraft. Whatever you want to call it. It's pure evil and that is the place where Satan exists. Evil exists all around us. A battle of good and evil. But I do believe we can get caught up in this evil if we are not prepared and covered in God's Word. There would have been a time where I wouldn't have read this book. I just would have stopped at the first talk of mediums. But this book is more. It shares the story of one woman. A woman who is hurting and in search of more.

This book was a gift from WaterBrook Press for it's review.

Tracey Bateman lives in the Missouri Ozarks with her husband and family. With more than thirty novels in print, including Thirsty and Leave It to Claire, Tracey spends all of her time telling tales, creating characters, and dreaming of other worlds.

Ephesians 6:13-18, "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out."

Proverbs 4:23, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."

ONE BIG THING by Phil Cooke

I chose this book simply for the title. ONE BIG THING (Discovering What You Were Born To Do). I opened the pages thinking the ONE BIG THING would be Jesus Christ. After all, without Him we are nothing and through Him all things are possible. I have learned that when I totally focused on Him my vision is made clear and I find myself right where I am to be.

There was a lot of great information in this book, but without Christ, none of it would be possible. For me, there wasn't enough focus on Christ. For me to figure out where I am to be and what I am to doing, I need to be searching Him. After all, He is my Creator.

If your looking for a book based on how to make in business or how to get your name out there, this book is for you. This book focuses on making it big in that ONE BIG THING your created to do and how to do it right. Phil Cooke does a great job at that. I mean, you cannot close this book and not be ready to tackle tomorrow. It gives encouragement and gives you a sense of, I can do it!! It shows us that we will all have a legacy. So, what are we doing about that legacy? How are making our mark on this world?

For me, there was a too much self and not enough surrender. I'm not big into marketing myself. I want to be an apprentice for Christ. I want Him to be at the forefront of my life. So, when something good happens, I want all that spotlight directed upon Him.

So, in the end I suppose I did learn a great deal from this book. It made me think and refocus my efforts of what my daily life should be. The best advice in this book was find one thing and do it well. Too many times we have our hands in everything and in doing that we cannot give 100%. Basically we must learn how to say no.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All Day Long

"Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are my God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long."
Psalm 25:4-5

I was reading over this verse yesterday and what caught my attention this time around in reading was my hope is in You all day long. 

I pray for the Lord to teach me and show me His ways. I pray for His guidance. I pray for His truth to be alive and well in my heart. I seek Him and praise His name. I can see the heart of David here in these words.

But what really grabbed my heart and I mean grabbed was ALL day long. I began thinking, do I really do this all day long? Is my hope in God ALL day long?

When I wake and my bones are aching and my head is pounding, is my hope in Him?

When it's noon and I receive a phone call that brings me to my knees is my hope really in Him?

When I'm all alone and it feels like no one really seems to care, is my hope in Him?

When my husband gets that call that he is laid off again, is my hope in Him?

When I'm in the rush of the day and I feel overwhelmed and crushed all at the same time, is my hope to be found in Him?

At the turn of evening when the kitchen is overflowing with dishes, the chores are not complete and I have so much to do before my head hits the pillow, can I be found in His hope?

The kids are sick, Aunt Hilda had a bad fall, the car is in the shop, the bills are in a huge pile, laundry is over stacked and flowing out of the laundry room, hubs and I just had a nasty argument, I don't hear from the kids, I miss my grandchildren, all is messed up and nothing is getting better. Any of that sound familiar to you? Is our hope in our God and Savior?

This verse doesn't say, my hope is in You when things are going great. My hope is in you when all the bills are paid. It doesn't say, my hope is in You in the beauty of the morning or the starlit night. It isn't saying my hope is in You when all is right in my life.

It's saying the very opposite. ALL day long. David found the peace and serenity he needed when he placed his hope in the Lord ALL day long. He found the strength he needed because his hope was in the Lord ALL day long. The circumstances do NOT matter. It doesn't matter if there is a smile on our face or tears ready to spill. It doesn't matter if all our family is present and well, or if you lose contact with a child and grandma is in the hospital.

When we place our trust in the Lord it is for ALL day. All times. All events. All circumstances. All emotions. All everything.

We aren't to place our trust and hope in the Lord just when we see Him working. Most of the time He is working and moving in the quiet moments of our life. But how is hope spread to others? It must be seen throughout our daily lives. Those moments where grace is evident. The times where mercy is needed. The times when the kids are screaming and the UPS man is at the door.

It's easy for me to say I have hope in the Lord, but do I really? If so, there should be evidence in my life. On those days where my heart is heavy, I should be willing to give all my worries and troubles over to the Lord and place my hope in Him. To do so I think I should be in prayer always. Having my heart open for conversation with my Savior. Not one of those one sided conversations, but one in which I do most of the listening. He already knows why my heart is heavy. He is waiting to relieve me of my burdens and ease my load.

Friends, we don't have to live frazzled lives. We cannot worry about the things in life we have no control over. We must learn to open our hands to the Lord and be willing to surrender ALL to Him. It's in that surrender that a beauty becomes us. We feel a peace like never before. We can place our hope in God, for there is no greater love than the love of Christ.

Let go and let God today. Hope is placing all trust in the Lord. It's giving Him guardianship over our lives. It's knowing that whatever may come, God is in control.  It's hard not knowing what tomorrow will bring. How do we prepare for what may come? Spend time in prayer seeking the hope we so desperately need for survival. It is that hope that gives light to the world, and there is no better way to share the love of Christ than to be the reflection of hope to a people in need.

"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."
Romans 8:24-27

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1

"This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe."
1 Timothy 4:9-10

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NIV Archaeological Study Bible by Zondervan

I wish I could show you the inside of my new Bible for review. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I am a visual learner and a history lover, so for me, I am head over heals for this new Bible from Zondervan. It is colorfully illustrated. The NIV format is easy to understand. It is gorgeous inside and out. I really like the hardback form.

The pages have this ancient look to them and with the illustrations and history information it adds to my understanding. To know what these times held in customs and traditions is very helpful in understanding God's Word. It seems to make things  even more clear to me. It makes what I'm reading precise. If you are a visual learner this Bible would be perfect for you.

Now, this is a large Bible. I'm not sure I would carry it to church, but it will remain by my bedside for my daily study. The maps are beautifully colored and large. It gives us a glimpse into each book written and goes beyond that with all the history. The people, lands and rulers of the times. It's like a geography lesson. With all the texts and artifact information it's as though you are right there in the Word.

I am learning so much from reading the historical notes. The Words of Jesus Christ are in bold red print. This is something that is missing from other study Bibles I have used. Take a peek over at Zondervan for more information. This is truly a gem. I hold this Bible in my hands and forget the chores waiting on me. This is one I will use for years to come.

This Bible was a gift from Zondervan  for it's review.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Through A Holy Hush Comes Peace

"So then, my beloved brethern, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
James 1:19-20

"In the multiude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise."
Proverbs 10:19

"He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive."
Proverbs 17:27-28

"A quick tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated."
Proverbs 14:17

Have you ever been steaming and ready to blow like a tea kettle? More like an erupting volcano. You know what I'm saying, right? A situation occurs. Someone says something totally out of line. Your hurt. You feel attacked. Assaulted. Sometimes it isn't even an action so much. Not even words. It can be a look that is intended to set you blazing.

Sadly, I have been there. I try with all my might to hold it in, but that anger begins to ooze and then I erupt and blow my top. I think we can all relate to some degree. We get angry. We get down right mad. The question is, what do we do about it?

First, I am learning to step back and breathe. Just don't assume that look holds all we think it means. When that attack comes we don't have to fling words back and find ourselves in horror later. The thing is, we don't have to bite back. Prayer is mighty powerful and can bring peace through a quiet and prayerful heart. We too must remember, hurting people, hurt people. That isn't an excuse, just a fact. Prayer is needed in our daily lives. For our heart and for the hearts of those we will confront on every level.

We can either stand a make a fool out of ourselves or we can bring honor to the Lord in our reaction. Here's the thing. Someone is always watching. What about that one person who happens to see us blow our top? Sure, we might be able to explain the other person's actions, but what about ours? Is there really ever an excuse to raise our voices in anger? I have learned it doesn't really gain much in the battle. Usually it only makes that other person yell louder and then you have yourself a fighting match going no where fast. Although it's going no where, it's taking down a lot of people. It's like a tornado leaving destruction in it's path.

Why do we get mad in the first place? We have either not gotten our way or we don't like how something is going. We feel offended. Well, when it comes down to it, anger is really a ME problem. Our anger is like a cancer that can grow and effect other areas in our life. Boy, I have made a complete fool of myself at times. Some of those times have been trying to prove I'm right. Gosh, does it really matter who is right? I have learned. Wait...I am learning to be humble and turn to Christ at the moment that anger begins to boil.

Even when I hold my anger in, it's not helping anyone. Especially not me. When I hold it in, that other person usually has no idea I'm angry. So, that anger is ends up eating a whole in my stomach for lunch and ripes my heart apart for dinner. Let me put it this way. Anger is part of Satan's plan. The more angry we are in life, the less Christ is being seen. The anger we carry in our heart today builds resentment for tomorrow. There isn't anything good at all that comes from anger.

When we know anger is an issue we will face, why not pray about it? Why not share with Christ it is something we struggle with and ask Him to give us strength to over come? We can be ready for the battles we face each and every day by surrendering all to Christ, including that anger. I may not be able to control another person's anger, but I can control my own. In me controlling and getting a handle on my anger, it can bring peace to a situation. After all it takes two people to have an argument.

Take time to pray and pray until you feel the Lord's peace wash over you. Don't enter that discussion again until you are ready and armed with the grace and mercy of Christ. Be ready to forgive and be willing to let it go. I suppose I must ask myself, what am I trying to gain and at the end of the day is it really going to matter for the kingdom of Christ? Am I battling for Christ? Cause He doesn't need me to fight His battles. Or am I battling for my own win? If that is the case I must humble myself and think, is it really worth it?

Sure there are times we must stand and there are times we must remain quiet. No matter the cause. Isn't peace the way to go? Aren't we going to do more good by allowing Christ to speak through us? When our actions reflect His love, it brings anger to a stand still and soon peace prevails.

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

I received this gorgeous hardback study Bible from Thomas Nelson last week. I have been making my way through the pages. This Bible also comes in leather bound form if that is what you like better. For me, I like the hardback. The pages are beautiful. It is written in paragraph form which makes it an easy format to read. I often find myself googling information needed for a study, but with this Bible there is no need. There are explanations, definitions and a meaty concordance. This Study Bible is filled with great tools to help you in your reading. Whether you want to read it devotional style or chapter to chapter this Study Bible is a great choice. Maybe you are searching for information on a specific subject you will be sure to find it and more. 

In the hardback you are able to take the cover off and it is bound in solid black. Whether you are looking for subject or reference tools this Study Bible is loaded to make your reading easier and of more comfort. You will find solid explanations for difficult verses you may not understand fully.

You can find Prophecies Of The Messiah which gives you the scripture in which the prophecy is found, the subject and the verses which it is fulfilled. There is a wide variety of charts and the maps are in full vibrant color which I love. I find that with a Study Bible loaded with such great tools for learning I want to dive in even more. When it's an easy format to read it helps you to feel comfortable as you soak yourself in His Word and move through the pages. A Bible is personal and one that should be helpful in your journey. This is surely a great choice.

If your searching for a Study Bible this is a great choice and would make for a perfect gift. Check it out at Thomas Nelson.

This Bible was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Give Some Morning Praise

This morning I woke with the beginnings of a migraine. Something I dread to see coming my way. Especially when I have great things planned for the day.

I get up with a hurried attitude. Trying to get the coffee made, I realize Daisy is waiting on me to take her outside. As I am getting to the door I see a few things that need attention. Shoes put away. Dishes need to go out of the dishwasher and back into the cabinets. You get the picture. All the time Daisy is looking at me like, "Are you kidding me?"

I venture outdoors with Daisy and the fresh breeze hits my face. Something I wasn't expecting. I was assuming it was already HOT. I think to myself, thank You, Lord. My eyes move to catch a glance of bunnies in the garden. They are just taking their time, nibbling on the greenery. Then I see something move off to the side. It's a little Chipmonk Squirrel. She is just darting from one place to the next as if she is happy as a bee with the morning sun shining down upon her. I stop to watch with wide eyes and what do I hear, but turtle doves singing, good morning.

I just stopped and breathed in the beauty around me. It was as if God's critters where saying, "Hey, slow down and you can enjoy it too". That is exactly what I did with Daisy at my side. I completely stopped and basked in God's glory.

I didn't need to wake in a rush. Those chores will still be there waiting on me. Sometimes that is exactly what needs to be done. Everything needs to wait until we have had our time with the Lord. He makes everything brighter. He washes a peace over us. He places a song in our heart and a skip in our step.

As you begin your day, don't lose track of the beauty before your eyes. Don't allow the hurried issues of life get you down. Back up. Breathe. Enjoy the moment. Start the day by giving the Lord praise.

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice!"
Philippians 4:4

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for rushing with my eyes closed. Forgive me when I find myself so busy and so hurried that I forget to stop and take in all of Your glory. I praise You for this glorious morning and for reminding me to slow down and enjoy. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Can We Really Blame It On The Times?

"All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17

I believe we are in the last days. I believe Christ will be returning soon. I look for Him daily. Are you ready, my friend?

We seem to look at these last days and blame everything on the times. Can we really? Do we not have some responsibility in what is going on today? Sure, we like to complain. We like to add in our two sense, but what do we really do about it? I think we spend more time talking about it than we do in prayer. That is our first mistake. When things do not line up with God's Word shouldn't we be in prayer over these very issues asking for His guidance and wisdom? I think we all expect someone else to do the work while we sit back and complain.

I found myself in 2 Timothy yesterday and I simply got lost in God's Word. In chapter three it takes an in depth look at the times and our attitudes about it. Take a look.

"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these."
2 Timothy 3:1-5

Wow! That is some powerful stuff isn't it? Sound like the world around us? How about the walls we live in? Lets be honest. Did you find traits of yourself in the midst of these character traits? As I looked over these verses I was horrified as I had to admit I see myself here. Oh sure, we don't want to. It's much easier to ignore our faults and point out the faults of others, but lets get real. We have issues of the heart we need to face. Sure, we can look at the world and see the evils, but it doesn't mean we must be part of it. We are to set ourselves apart. Too often I find myself right in the midst of this. How about you?

But see we have the beautiful grace of God. He doesn't leave us hanging by just pointing out what it will be like in the end times. I mean, do we really just have to accept this and live in it? I don't think so. God gives us more. We have a choice in our daily attitude. We have the option for change. Now, we may not be able to change others, but we can change our self. That is one attitude we do have control over. This world may be falling, but friends, we can reach one person at a time, just by reaching out and showing the love of Christ. He must be evident in our lives. So, the question is. Is there evidence He lives in you? Ouch! I'm not sure when people see my life they always see Him first. We should have the attitude that it doesn't matter if one knows our name or not, but what matters is that they know Christ through us. We have the Holy Spirit to convict us. I believe He is calling me to change.

He gives us what we need for change. He equips us with exactly what we need to overcome and be the children of God He is calling us to be. We are to hold ourselves at a higher standard. We are to have self control and know when to stand and when to walk away.

Prayer is mighty powerful. We simply don't spend enough time in prayer. Sure, we send our needs and wants and we expect God to move in way. But what about God's Word for us? Our we really willing to wait and listen? When we hear His call for our lives are we willing to be those vessels needed? Too many times I am ready to say I will move, but then the call comes and I find myself saying no. Can you imagine? Saying no to the King of kings, Lord of lords? For Him to call us, is for Him to love us. We should be excited for that call. We should be in wait of the call and ready to move for the God who gave all for us.

"Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:10-16

By diving into God's Word we have nothing to fear. We have example after example of His people overcoming evil. He always gives us a way out and what is meant for evil He is able to turn to good.

I don't think heaven is far off for those who love the Lord. I think the time is near. We need to get busy in God's work. Before we begin sharing with others we first need to make sure our heart is right with the Lord. We need to leave the evils of this world behind and grab onto His goodness. We need to think pure thoughts and focus on the things that really matter. If it doesn't have eternal value, it doesn't really matter much. What does matter? The soul of man. To do so, the Word of God must be part of our lives. It must factor in every decision we make. It must be the Light that leads us. Christ is everything.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:4-9

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Three T's

When we live a transparent life we allow others to see the real us. That can be hard, yes, but when we take off that mask there is a freedom and true beauty that lies beneath. Once that mask is off, a trueness is revealed. No more hiding. No more pretending.

We are a work in progress. Why not reveal our struggles as well as our trophy moments? When we congratulate someone it is because we have witnessed them working hard to overcome an obstacle. We have been cheering them on and when they cross the finish line we see in them a beauty of continued faith. They were able to look beyond the hardship and see a value in their accomplishments. We accomplish when we overcome.

It would give great hope to others as they are in trials if we would share what happens in those hours that no one is looking. Look at the glory God would gain if we simply lived a transparent life.

Transparent Permitting the uninterrupted passage of light. Easy to see through, understand, or recognize; obvious.

When we are transparent we are not holding back the true beauty of God. He can be seen in trial. In those hard times we want to hide from others, He is there wanting to be seen.

If we are transparent in our lives there is something miraculous that happens. We become translucent.  Those around us are able to see the light of glory as it happens in real time. Isn't that what our life is all about? Allowing Christ to shine through and be seen clearly?

Translucent Allowing light to pass through partially or diffusely.

Now, when I read this definition partially got me thinking. So, I searched the meaning of diffuse. It was then that it all made sense to me.

Diffuse To pour out and cause to spread freely.

To that I must give an Amen!

Yes, to live in such a way that Christ not only shines through but is spread about freely for all to see. That is how the gospel is carried to the hearts of men and women. It is through seeing Him freely in the lives of those who believe. It is in the heart of man who struggles and still holds to God's promises.

We are to be a body of believers set apart with a mission. A mission to spread the love of Christ. How better to do that then for the world to see us as we really are, struggles, accomplishments and all. We are perfected through Christ. He brings beauty from ash. He creates good from what is meant for evil. Each and every aspect of our lives are usable for God's glory.

When we are living transparent and translucent lives through Christ Jesus we are transformed from the old to the new. We are always changing. Only God remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. As we fix our eyes upon Him, He moves in us and through us, changing us. Creating us to be more like Him and to be the believers He has created us to be.

Transformed To change markedly the appearance or form of.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image."
1 Corinthians 3:18

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come."
2 Corinthians 5:17-18

"Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
Philippians 1:12-20

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to live my life as a direct light to You. May my words and actions be a reflection of my love for You. Give me the strength to remove my mask and not hide in my despair, but stand in the glory of tribulations that enter my life to bring me closer to You. May my life be witness of all You have done and all You will do. When others see me, may they my life as a light house that leads all to You.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Million Reasons

We can think of a million reasons why we don't want to attend church. Reasons that begin with just being tired and wanting to sleep in for a change. Maybe we have been offended. We have been hurt. But really, all we need is one reason to go. Jesus Christ.

We can think of a million reasons why we want to give up. We are tired of trying. It just isn't working. We don't know what to do. But really, we only need one reason not to. Hope.

We can think of a million reasons why we Jesus shouldn't forgive us. We come with a past. We have done things that are unspeakable. We sin daily. We are undeserving. But, we shouldn't focus on the why not, but on the why. Mercy.

We can think of a million reasons to be frightened of tomorrow. Goodness, even scared of today. But that would be giving Satan room in our lives. No, we should think of the one reason we have to not be terrified of what is to come. Faith.

We can think of a million reasons to stir anger in our heart. The anger that quickly turns to bitterness and makes a heart turn cold. But why allow anger to steal away our joy? Instead of allowing anger to saturate our thoughts lets allow something better. Something greater. Grace.

"But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

Dear Heavenly Father, may we focus only on You today. Might we set our sights on You, allowing You room in our life. May we surrender all doubt, fear, anger and uncertainty to You. Trusting not only our life to You, but all that surrounds us. May we seek You for all we need and lift our hearts to see Your glory in everything. Lord, take our thoughts and actions and make them Yours. We give You our past, Lord. We trust You with today. We place our hope in You for tomorrow. We praise You for Your grace, mercy and love. Lord, remind us of the One reason we need for right now.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Word Spirit Power" by R.T Kendall, Charles Carrin and Jack Taylor

Okay, all of my Baptist friends, hold on to your hats. I am about to tell you I loved this book. Yes I did! I wasn't so sure when I picked it up and began reading these "Calvinistic" teachings that go against most things I have been taught, but you know, there was great wisdom penned within these pages.

So, let me begin by correcting my first statment. These are not Calvinistic teachings. They are Biblical based and although I can't understand everything, it encouraged me to dig deeper into God's Word and isn't that what it's all about any way?

This book was grafted by three men who love the Lord and want to see His kingdom grow. They are doing this by bringing to light the Holy Spirit. The One we often leave out and the One often misunderstood. They share that the Word + Spirit = Power. That I can totally without any doubt agree on this.

R.T Kendall blew me away and helped me see things I was missing. Charles Carrin helped me see I was placing limits on the Holy Spirit and Jack Taylor opened my eyes to living in the Spirit and not being ashamed.

I am telling you, this is great stuff. I am learning to go beyond demoninations and go straight to God's Word and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide my paths. Having a relationship with Him leads us to a greater understanding of God's Word. By giving Him room in our lives we allow ourselves to be used as His vessel. I am learning to stop limiting God and welcome all He has for me.

This book was a gift by Chosen Publishers for it's review.

Dr. R. T. Kendall, a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Oxford University (DPhil), is a protégé of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He was the senior minister of the historic Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. The author of numerous bestselling books, he conducts conferences all over the world and writes a bimonthly column for Ministry Today. He and his wife, Louise, live near Nashville, Tennessee.

Charles Carrin has been in ministry more than 50 years, most of which time his beliefs and practices denied the supernatural works and gifts of the Holy Spirit. A crisis time in his own life, however, caused him to revise his theology. Today his ministry is characterized by displays of the power of God in salvation as well as deliverance and healing. He and his wife, Laurie, live in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Jack Taylor has a ministry that spans more than 54 years, during which he has witnessed various moves of God in revival. His life has been punctuated by encounters with the Holy Spirit that have changed his life and ministry. He is a frequent speaker in areas where revival has broken out, and he has a passion to see the church become Kingdomcentered and empowered by the Spirit. He and his wife, Friede, live near Melbourne, Florida.

"What Matters Most" by Leonard Sweet

If you are looking for one of those life changing, life altering books, Leonard Sweet has given us a great recipe for a new life. A life more abundant. One that we have been missing and putting on hold for so long now.

In "What Matters Most" we learn that relationships top everything. Without relationships we cannot share the gospel. Without relationships we cannot love. In giving of ourselves we open the door for God to do His work in our lives and the lives of others. In relationships we learn the most important things, love, forgiveness and grace.

I truly loved this book. It is at the top of my favorites list and one that I will repeatedly go back to for wisdom.

We seem to let people fall through the cracks in our standing for the rules. How did we get where we are in this world today? By doing exactly that. Allowing people to fall through the cracks. We know the gospel. We know we are to share it, but we fail to do so and we must get out of our box, remove ourselves from our circle of comfort and put ourselves out there.

We were not created to be alone. We need people and yes, they need us. God designed us this way. There are such great nuggets of wisdom to carry away from this book. I encourage you to pick up a copy today.

This book was a gift by Multnomah WaterBrook Press for it's review.

Leonard Sweet, Ph.D., is founder and president of SpiritVenture Ministries and serves as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey. He also serves as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, and is the chief writer for, a popular resource for pastors and Christian speakers. A popular speaker, Sweet has written more than twenty books, including the trilogy AquaChurch, SoulTsunami, and SoulSalsa.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lets Not Compare

The mall might be the place ladies love to shop, but it can also be the place where we take a beating. Have you ever been walking along with your bags in hand and pass a window that catches your reflection? You look in horror at what you see. Did I really leave the house like this? Wait, I didn't look like this when I walked out the door.

We can see beauty in others, but it's hard for us to see beauty in ourselves. We can walk the mall floors and gander at the women before us and ponder the questions that live deep in the crevices of our brain.

We do this physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I am not imagining men having this trouble when they get together. But get a group of ladies together and before the night is over and we are tucked in bed, we are going to be thinking about what Kathy wore to the party and how in the world Susan keeps her house in order with four children and we can't even do that with one.

Lets be honest. We struggle, don't we? We compare ourselves from the color of our hair to the color of polish covering our toes in our flip flopped feet. We visit a friend only to walk out of her house realizing we need to do a bit more cleaning. Especially before anyone pops in out of the blue. We hear a neighbor speak about all the things going on in her life and we are left wondering why we never have time to leave the house. Walmart is our excitement for the week, not a Hawaiian vacation.

Shared photos of grand children, graduation announcements, wedding invites, summer outings. The list is endless. From our car in the garage to the dog in the yard. If we wanted to we could compare all day long. It would never end. So the question is, why do we waste our time? Does it really accomplish anything? It does for Satan. Ladies, most of the time, the only person who places us in that pit is ourselves. We beat ourselves senseless with doubt.

We can walk in church and see a family sitting all together and we are wondering why our children are no longer in church. We see Sally enter and there she is in an elegant dress with not a hair out of place. Here I am looking like I just walked out of a episode from, Say No To The Dress.

It's not Hollywood we have a problem with. We know that's not real. It's those we see daily. It's those very people we have in our lives. We see their smiling faces as they walk out of church and here we are arguing with our husband before we are pulling out of the parking lot.

As mothers we compare ourselves and in today's world we compare just how quickly we lose that baby weight.

We can completely torture ourselves into the pity party of the century.

We see other women as a threat. Ouch! Spiritually we see others right where they need to be with their relationship with Christ. We see women in ministry, reaching out and we compare our walk with Christ to their walk with Him. We must realize we are all in different journeys of life. I see women going through what I went through ten years ago. If we weren't so busy comparing ourselves to one another, we could simply enjoy being women and laugh at those things that drive us crazy.

Aging is a given. We are all going to do it. Those young women in their twenties need examples. They need strong women willing to be honest in their struggles. They need encouragement for that cellulite that will hit their legs when they turn thirty. For those days when the kids are driving you batty. You know, those times when our castle seems more like a tree house. As women we are constantly changing. Why not embrace who we are and realize those wrinkles that come with age show something far greater. They show courage and strength. They give a beauty of a life that holds a story in each one. That is something to be proud of.

How does Marsha have it all together? I mean, her home is so clean it glimmers. It's like you pull in the drive way and you hear the theme of Star Wars playing. She has dinner ready at four and your still in your pj's. Her kids have their rooms perfectly clean and you can't even get the dog out in time before an accident appears beneath your foot.

I think things are going pretty good until I look over and see Nancy enter and then I realize just what a mess my life is. Really? Is that all it takes?

Instead of comparing ourselves to other women. Women we admire. Why not encourage each other?

You know what? It's okay to have your pj's on when your husband comes home. That's right. Love goes beyond the little black dress. It's okay if dinner is an hour late because you were trapped in the laundry room.

What can we do as women? We can stop being so hard on ourselves. We can see the beauty in the mirror. When it comes down to it we are insecure. It seems we live from emotion to emotion. Our feelings stand in the way of whether we are smiling or ready to burst with tears.

We can find security in Christ Jesus. It is Jesus who completes us. It is finding ourselves so close to Him that our heart is content. It is through Him that we find the security we are longing for. I am finding the more and more I surrender to Him the more secure I am in my daily life. That doesn't mean I don't struggle. I do. But when I see myself as a work in progress, it brings a new hope. A steady stream of opportunity to be the woman God created me to be. I gotta tell you, it use to bother me. You know, that getting older thing. But now at forty-five I am content. I love where I am and I am excited to see what the Lord has for me next.

I am not a work of Hollywood. You won't find an airbrush in my make up bag. No needles poking in the skin between my eyes or filling my lips. I want to know what my face is doing. I love being forty-five. I am enjoying what I learn daily. My biggest lessons have come from my mistakes. So, that means they are no longer mistakes, but stepping stones in my journey of life lessons.

I don't want to leave behind a trail of pity. I want to leave behind road well traveled. The more time we spend comparing ourselves to others, the more time we lose in seeing the beauty God has placed before us. Comparing is really complaining. It's seeing what another has and wanting it.

What we need to remember is the fact that no one has it all together. Where one  excels  another struggles. So instead of us putting on an act of perfection, lets join together and share what we have learned. Lets support each other. Lets compliment that lovely woman who walks in church in that gorgeous pink dress instead of boil because she looks pretty.

When we see that woman in Walmart with five children and the huge list she has pulled out of her purse filled with trash why not give her a hand? Ask her if you could grab a few items for her. Sure, you might feel uncomfortable, but she might think your a gift from heaven. I was once that mom walking through the store with five children. Most people would just stand back and gawk like I had a disease that was catching.

Just as we can compare ourselves physically, spiritually and emotionally, we too can support each other in these areas. Just think of the revival that would break out among women if we stopped comparing and began praying. That woman who you think has it all together, just might be falling apart when no one is looking. Lets be real as women and stop pretending we have it all together. The more we share the truth of our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly, the more women will come to realize, "Hey, I'm not the only one. I'm really not crazy". The more honest we are the more we will make others feel comfortable around us and in their own skin.

It's not okay to make another woman feel inferior. We do it all the time when are are constantly trying to portray that we have the  perfect Christian life. Who needs a mall filled with women to make you feel less of a woman when you can do it in your own church.

Ladies, lets begin by not measuring ourselves to others as who we should be, but by measuring ourselves to the Word of God. Only through Jesus Christ can we be complete. In recognizing we struggle, we can acknowledge the areas in life we can begin work on. The Lord has a way of bringing out the best in us when we give our best to Him.

May we leave behind a legacy for our children and grandchilden that speak about beauty that begins in the heart. A beauty that flows from our lips and our hands. Ladies, before we can truly love another, we must learn to love ourselves.

"The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

"We are all different. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: 'You can't live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people's opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. ... The key to feeling [confident] is to always listen to your inner self-[the real you]'"
Jeffrey R. Holland

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
1 Peter 3:3-4

A Desire Greater Than Food?

I came across this verse in my reading this morning.

"I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
Job 23:12

Here we have Job and a Word that hit me hard. Do I really desire God's Word more so than food? Meaning am I so in love with the Lord and His Word that I desire it more than lets say, going shopping for that new dress or filling myself with that meaty pizza for dinner? Am I desiring God's Word more than my day to day needs and wants?

I had to begin asking myself these questions and more. When I wake, is it His Word that is upon my lips before, I utter the words, "Ugh...I have so many chores ahead of me today"? Do I go about my day concentrated on my wants or am I concentrated on God's Word? Am I thinking about all the struggles and needs more than I am standing on God's promises in His Word?

When I think about it I have to be honest with myself and realize I talk more about situations than I do spending time in prayer over them. Ouch!

When I make the choice to make God first, everything else falls into place. Oh, it might not fall as I would have it land, but none the less, God is either in control or He isn't and I am choosing to believe He is.

A few days ago I had texted a friend sharing that I missed her and I would love to get together before summer was over. I had expectations to hear back from my friend, but that returning text never came. I tell you, my heart ached for days. I so desired to hear from her. I wanted to get together and share lunch and just have some time with just us.

Ever think God feels the same way about us? He is forever trying to reach us. He is seeking to spend quality time with us. He wants a relationship with us. Where are we? We are off being busy with what we want to be busy with. Plain and simple. We make time for those we love. I don't want to waste anymore time. How about you?

When we think about it, relationships are the most important thing in life. Most of all, our relationship with Christ. It's through relationships that we are encouraged and inspired. We weren't designed to be alone. God didn't just leave this world and leave us nothing. He is not only returning for His children, but He left us His Word. He gave us the Holy Spirit. With His Word upon our hearts and lips and His power living in us, there is nothing that can stop us, friends! There is nothing we cannot over come. No struggle too big. No circumstance too small that cannot be washed in prayer.

Now, with my friend. She could have missed that text. Something could have happened and she just never got back to me. So, what I am to do? Reach out again. I am to share the love for her that still remains in my heart. Satan has a way of making everything look heartbreaking, doesn't he? We must learn to look beyond what our eyes can see and what our ears can hear. Hopefully one day those who only choose to see will hear and those who choose to hear will see. God sees beyond our limited vision.

It's through His Word that we walk closer to Him. It's through His mighty Word that we gain strength. It's in His Word that we find grace and mercy needed for our journey. His Word is a lamp unto our feet.

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
Psalm 119:105

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"The Gifted" by Ann H. Gabhart

I am just loving this series. I would have never thought I would love reading a book about the Shakers, but it turns out, I surely do. Ann has this gift of drawing you in and placing you right there among the characters. The story takes us on a journey very real to many. Through the characters Ann has created, we learn great life lessons.

Harmony Hill is becoming one of my favorite places to visit and I am sure it will be for you too. Here in this novel we see how our devotion to God is first and foremost in our walk with Christ. I recently read that rules are not everything. The most important thing in life is relationships. I think that can be applied to this novel. It's our relationship with the Lord and Him alone that sets the stage for our life and all that it holds. That is something missing from the Shakers. They don't have that relationship and they set rule after rule to follow.

Jessamine Brady is a character we can all relate to. She feels pulled from all sides and she is trying to find peace among the chaos of those daily struggles we face as the world is at our doorstep calling. But in Jessamine's case, it's a world that she doesn't know and is very curious. She feels a tug at her heart. I see her as almost a beautiful butterfly wanting to be set free, but she is being held in a glass jar unable to fly. This is one of those novels you will pick up and not only lose yourself in the story, but find yourself wanting a deeper faith before you close the last page.

This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.

Ann H. Gabhart started writing when she was ten and has been writing ever since. Her first published writings were personal experience pieces, youth stories, and poems in church periodicals such as HomeLife. Her first novel, a historical romance about the settling of Kentucky, was published by Warner Books in 1978. Since then, she's published numerous books for both adults and young adults. The Scent of Lilacs, her first inspirational novel, was chosen as one of the Top Ten Books in Christian Fiction in 2006 by Booklist magazine. Her first Shaker book, The Outsider, was a finalist for Christian Fiction Book of the Year in 2009 and was a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine. Ann lives on a farm in Kentucky not far from where she was born. She and her husband, Darrell, a bass singer in the Patriot Quartet, have three children and nine grandchildren. Her website is

Monday, July 2, 2012

Five Miles South Of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

I am a huge fan of Angela Hunt and love her writing style. I have many favorites. This wasn't one of them for me. I love the premise of this story. Three sisters. All in different places in life. All facing challenges unlike the other. Angela Hunt pens a story deep in faith and life lessons. For me, this one held valuable lessons on forgiveness, love, and letting go.

The characters each bring something different to this story. I just couldn't connect. There are books that grab our attention and others that just simply don't. The title intrigued me. The cover gives great meaning. Angela Hunt is still at the top of my favorites list even if this choice isn't. But that is the beautiful thing about reading. You may pick this book up and find an unexpected blessing.

Visit Angela Hunt for more information on her books.

This book was a gift from Glass Road Publications for it's review.

Trusting God (A Girlfriends In God Faith Adventure) by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith and Mary Southerland

I was excited when I opened the pages of this Bible study. As you skim through the pages you quickly see that it is a 12 week study. I am all about digging into God's Word and this devotional is a great tool to do just that.

It's a great study to do as a Sunday school class, with your girlfriends, or with a great cup of coffee and an open heart. It's one of those studies that makes you feel right at home. It's like you have known this group of ladies for a lifetime although you have never met before. From the very first pages they pour their hearts into it and most of all, God's Word.

Twelve weeks of study. Each carrying six lessons. You begin with, "Today's Truth", where scripture is shared, then the lesson begins with a great devotional, written by one of the three ladies. It's called, "Friend to Friend". Don't you love that? Each devotional ends with, "Lets Pray". Isn't that the best way to begin and end each study?

I found these devotionals to be down to earth, heart to heart and very real and personal. Just like girlfriends spending time and sharing coffee. Really, there are a lot of devotionals out there. Great devotionals. This one is set apart because of how personal it is and the study to go along with it. At the end of each week's study you find, "Now It's Your Turn", where you get to apply what you have learned to your life. These are truly gems of inspiration for our daily walk with Christ.

The cover of this book is what first caught my eye. I love the illistration of the girl jumping off the swing into the water. This is one of those studies that will guide you closer in your walk with Christ, through letting go and letting God, simply by trusting Him.

This book was a gift from WaterBrook Multnomah Press for it's review.


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