Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Whispers of Hope (10 weeks of Devotional Prayer) by Beth Moore

Let me start with sharing that this devotional is so inviting. The cover is absolutely beautiful. It has the feel of a book you just never tire of holding in your hands. A ten week prayer guide. Seventy devotionals that bring us to prayer. 

Everyone knows that I just love devotionals. I too love Beth Moore. So, I was tickled giddy when I knew I was about to receive another of her books. I just finished reading, "Jesus the One and Only", which is spectacularly beautiful in every way possible. When this new devotional, "Whispers of Hope", came I was drawn in by the cover. Once I opened the pages it was obvious this devotional was unlike any that I have previously read. 

Each devotional begins with a scripture and a scripture reading for deeper study. Beth shares her devotional and in closing are six powerful tools for growing in prayer. Praise, Repentance, Acknowledgement, Intercession, Supplication for Self, and Equipping.  It is in this section that we are brought to ponder all we have just read. With pen in hand and an open heart I begin to write out my prayer of praise and go through each segment. 

Beth uses scripture that I usually don't see in devotionals. Let me give you a few examples. 

"You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5)

"Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.'" (Genesis 11:4)

"Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity." (Nehemiah 4:4)

"He is persevered because he saw him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:27) 

Beth's methods are so easy to grasp. Each and every devotional applied to my life in one way or another. She teaches us to understand the Word. She brings a devotional that she has taken from the Word of God and prompts us to ponder. I must tell you that I sat in amazement as I read her words. I always learn something new. My eyes are opened in a new way and I am able to understand the Word of God like never before. 

Something I love is the way Beth gives us the meaning of words that many times we just pass over. Once we truly understand the meaning we have a deeper understanding of the Word. She is encouraging us to a life of prayer by simply inspiring us to dig deep into the Word of God. 

I love Beth's teaching. I enjoy how she has us picture a scene. She brings her own wonderment of the Word to the pages and we are there together seeking Christ on a whole new level. Through this devotional it has brought me to have conversation with the Lord and that is prayer! 

Yes, this is one of the most amazing devotionals. Partly because it's unlike any other. It is a ten week study. Seventy devotionals. It is a devotional that you can spend time with each morning and literally ponder all day, which brings us to prayer. 

This devotional by Beth Moore was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

Beth Moore is a writer and teacher of best-selling books and Bible studies whose public speaking engagements carry her all over the United States. A dedicated wife and mother of two adult daughters, Moore lives in Houston, Texas, where she is president and founder of Live Proof Ministries. 

No Mummy Clothes Here

What do you picture when you think of a believer in Christ? I picture myself as a girl running with joy. Life beating with a joy unexplained. A girl covered in grace and walking in forgiveness. I see myself clothed in God's mercy. Slow to judge and quick to forgive. Love overflowing. Opportunities seen and jumping in full of faith. I see a girl who is giving and inviting. One who speaks softly with words that have been passed onto my lips from heaven. A cheerleader for God. A girl on fire for the Lord. One who wants to share Him in everything. I picture a tender heart. Compassion flowing endlessly. Effervescently living for the Lord in each and every moment. 

Yes, this is the girl I long to be. But this is the girl I fall short of being. I try. There are days I soar, but, oh mercy, too many of my days are spent just clothed as a mummy. Walking dead. Looking straight ahead with no vision of glory or greatness. Just going through the motions.  

See, I want to live with an unclouded spirit. I want to see everything in front of me as an opportunity to live out my faith. I want to touch this earth with a heart of grace. Fingerprints of love on everything I touch. I want to escape the mummy clothes that bind me to self. I want to be transparent and expose myself to a world in need. A world that doesn't need anymore of self, but a girl willing to give self up so the Lord can build, mold and create, not only in my life, but in the lives that surround me. 

I don't want to live a life of what if. I don't want to see opportunities unused and untouched. I desire to be a light. I want to move in such a way that I dance for the Lord. Oh, how my heart is there, but my flesh is weak. I allow anger and bitterness to overshadow the grace and mercy my heart holds. The earth quakes and too many times I stand in fear of falling in the gaping holes of failure. The unknown terrifies me. I want to trust. I want to leap in faith. I want to jump across those gaping holes with the beauty and grace of a gazelle, wild in nature, but tamed in heart. I want to live unafraid of what is to come. Ready to grasp a hold of what is right now and seek the reasons why and trust with an unfailing adventure to know more of the God who gave all for me. 

I wait for others to lead. I wait for others to walk with me. Aren't you finished with waiting? I know I am. I want to follow the leading of my Lord. I want to kiss this earth with His mighty love. No more waiting. No more questioning failure. I am ready. Are you? Let's take off the mummy clothes. Let's stop going through the motions. I want to live intentional. Determined. Never giving up when things get difficult. But facing all that has held me back. Today is the day I lay down those mummy clothes. No more just walking through life. I am making a choice today to live without fear and regret. I am losing these clothes of bondage and I am taking my life back by giving it to my Jesus. 

I want to be like Jesus and sit with sinners. I want to see people not with a clouded, disillusioned, judgmental heart, but one that sees the child God has created for greatness. I want to live unafraid of what others think. Simply put, I just want to be the me God created me to be. I know that's more than what I've been living. Join me today and remove every hindrance that is holding you back. Deliverance comes when we fully trust in the Lord who came to save. 

"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

"He persevered because he saw him who is invisible." Hebrews 11:27

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

Monday, October 28, 2013

Surrendered Wounds

I picked up a hurt again. Mercy, it was heavy. I could hardly lift it. It's a hurt that has been plaguing me for over a year now. I didn't want to pick it up again, but there it was standing for battle once again. 

You know those hurts. You let them go only to pick them back up again and again. No matter how many times I lay it down, there it is again like a bully who won't walk away. 

So, I stand and fight it. I call it names. I blame it. I stand and remember each and every offense as if it were just today that it happened. 

As I reached for it once again something different happened. I no longer wanted to fight. I seen it for what it is. A hurt. I heard the words, seventy times seven. It wasn't a loud shout. It was more of a tender whisper. 

"Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" "I tell you, not as many as seven," Jesus said to him, "but seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22

Our wounds like to lie dormant until another cuts and then yesterday's blood pools into anger and resentment. How many times do we forgive our brother and sister? Seventy times seven. As I read this verse again on this crisp morning I am now seeing it in a whole new way. Are we really going to stand and say to our brother, "I forgive you once again. Yes, this makes eighty six."? We are pretty good at counting and keeping track of offenses. In fact, we love to bring them up when we are in a battle don't we? I can't remember what I had for dinner yesterday, but I can remember the hurt that caused a deep wound a year ago.

If we kept a ledger of forgiveness would that really be forgiving? Not at all.  I think Jesus is reminding us that no matter how many times, forgiveness is our standard for graceful living. I shouldn't be counting offenses. Forgiveness isn't a number. You know what I count? The number of times I continue to pick it back up again. That's what hurts. Sometimes it even hurts more than the first offense. I have forgiven, but as more hurts come, they build, and then a reminder hits me smack in the face and that wall I have built comes tumbling down upon me. Just the weight takes my breath. 

Yes, for me this verse reminds me that no matter how many times I pick up that hurt I am to continue to lay it down and the feet of Jesus. Forgiveness is a continual journey. I must  remind myself that sin, that offense, was paid in full by my Savior. I forgive regardless if the offender has asked for forgiveness. I forgive to bring peace to my heart. It's that peace that sets me apart. It's there that I find freedom. I remind myself to wear forgiveness faithfully. 

When that offense comes slithering up I don't have to spew words of anger. Instead I count the blessings I have received. I praise God for the forgiveness He has given me. Yes, I remind myself that whether that hurt takes over my life is my choice. I can choose to pick it up and walk in anger or I can choose to keep laying it down and allowing God room to bring healing. I am learning that as those wounds often find space to attack once again and cause a spark of sharp pain, I need to be quick to pray, not allowing it room to fester and build.

God mends my surrendered wounds and reshapes me into a heart of grace. 

Yes, seventy times seven, forgiveness happens when I stop counting offenses and begin counting blessings. 

"The Wedding Wish" by Loree Lough

If we were to meet in the Christian aisle of a book store and you were searching for a great read I would pick a Loree Lough book off the shelf and say, "If you choose a book penned by Loree you will never go wrong and always close the last page blessed". I love it when a book captures your soul. You know what I mean. As you open the book your meeting someone new. By the last chapter you feel as though you have made a life long friend. Loree's novels do more than simply tell a story. They invite you to be a part of the story that unfolds before your eyes. The characters are real. You feel their emotion, whether they are on cloud nine or in the pit of despair. A Loree Lough book is a journey and it's one that I enjoyed immensely. I LOVED everything about this story. It was a short, but powerful read. 

The Wedding Wish is a book that brings us to meet Leah Jordan. As you check out the back cover of the book you see that Leah has stage four cancer. She is about to enter heaven a little sooner than she ever expected. But what she fails to do is give up. She accepts this journey and travels it with grace. 

We all have wishes, but to Leah, she knows her time doesn't allow for her to just dream big. She chooses to live big. Being a woman of faith she knows God is in total control. Nothing touches her life that has not first gone through the hand of God. 

What if you knew your time here on earth was shortened? Leah isn't allowing the cancer to make life less than the perfect gift that it is. She is living a life determined. This is a sweet and tender story that is filled with grace and mercy. We meet childhood friends, Jade Nelson and Riley Steele. They play an important roll in Leah's wish. Leah is doing more than wishing upon a star. She is praying for God's will. She is preparing for tomorrow. A tomorrow that will impact her precious daughter, Fiona. 

This beautiful story has it all. When Leah needs her friends they come at first call. They share a friendship that is laced with a love that has no boundaries. As the story unfolds we too are hoping for Leah's wishes to come true. We don't always get the ending we wish for. We don't always get the life we dreamed of. Sometimes circumstances are unchangeable.  Leah knows how her story ends, but she is thinking beyond her last day. Through Leah we see that what we do with our life is our choice. She has made the choice to prepare. To create a living legacy that shouts of hope and faith. Leah has learned to take each moment, cherish what is most important and to live life out as a treasured gift. 

Her wish will be their reality. One that is surrounded in faith, hope, and love. 

This book was a gift from Loree Lough for sharing my review with you. The Wedding Wish is published by Whitaker House and is available now. 

Loree Lough prolific writer, Loree Lough has more than seventy books, sixty short stories, and 2,500 articles in print. Her stories have earned dozens of industry and Reader's Choice awards. A frequent guest speaker for writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, corporations, college and high school writing programs, and more, Loree has encouraged thousands with her comedic approach to "learned-the-hard-way" lessons about the craft and industry. For decades, Loree has been an avid wolf enthusiast, and she dedicates a portion of her income each year to efforts that benefit the magnificent animals. She splits her time between a home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and she shares her life with a spoiled pointer named Cash and her patient, dedicated husband, Larry, who has supported her writing and teaching endeavors throughout the years.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul Devotional Stories for Wives by Susan M. Heim and Karen C. Talcott

Can we really ever have enough Chicken Soup for the Soul books? I don't think so. There are so many to choose from and they are always coming out with new books. There is literally a book for everyone! The latest gem for me to review is, "Chicken Soup for the Soul Devotional Stories for Wives". 

Chapter one opens with these words, "Honoring Our Commitment", and adds this verse, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." Genesis 2:24 Yes, this devotional is for wives. I don't know about you, but I can always use encouragement and wisdom that helps to strengthen my marriage. These stories are rich with grace and overflowing with inspiration. There are 101 Daily Devotions to Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire You.

You will find stories that focus around ten subjects. Honoring Our Commitment, The Power of Prayer, Learning to Communicate, Embracing Our Differences, Recapturing the Magic, Facing Our Challenges Together, Surrender It All, Second Chances, A Change In Perspective, and Together in Strength. No matter your age, no matter how long you have been married, there is a story that will touch your heart. 

These stories are written by women. Yes, women just like you and me. Women who have walked before us and want to share. I love when women come together and share their personal stories to enrich the life of another. 

Each devotional is about two pages long and ends with a prayer. You could read one devotional a day, or just read and enjoy for an afternoon. These are stories that you will want to share with others. I enjoyed this book immensely. 

I encourage you to travel over to the Chicken Soup for the Soul webpage and spend some time. You will find this book there and many more to choose from. 

This book was a gift from Chicken Soup for the Soul for sharing my review with you. 

"Heart Failure" by RichardL. Mabry, M.D.

First I must share that I have loved every book I have been blessed to read by Richard Mabry. He is an outstanding writer. So, when I received, "Heart Failure", for review I was super excited. 

As the story begins we are introduced to Dr. Carrie Markham and her fiance Adam Davidson. They had just enjoyed a great evening together and now they are getting shot at! Bullets are flying and now questions are being asked. Just who is on the other side of the gun? The questions are only beginning. The book escalates and we begin to know more about the characters. 

This was an unputdownable for me. I can't tell you that I loved this book, but what I did enjoy was the main character. Carrie was someone I could relate to. Richard Mabry did a great job at making her character come alive in these pages. She is confused as she is thrown some information that floors her. She isn't sure if she should follow what her head is telling her to do or to listen to her heart. She has grieved loss in her life. Healing has not been easy. She believes she has once again found love, but trust is now a factor for her. She isn't sure of what to do, so she calls on a friend. This friend doesn't give her worldly advice, but reminds her to pray. "I know, sometimes praying is hard, especially if you haven't done it for a while. But there's no magic formula. Just talk to God. He's been listening all the time. All you have to do is make it a two-way conversation." 

We get a close up of Carrie's life as a doctor. The decisions she must make and the consequences that follow. We see her struggles and her victories. I love when stories bring us the good, the bad, and the ugly. We see the mess and we see just what God can do when we turn everything over to Him. 

Now, lets move to Carrie's fiance. I didn't really like the character of Adam. I found that he was selfish and inconsiderate of the woman he claimed to love. Adam has secrets. Secrets that have kept him safe, but secrets that are now placing fear in the heart of the woman he loves. Everything surrounding Adam's life is an untruth of who he really is. This could be a life lesson for us. How often to we hide secrets and pretend to be someone we are not? Our actions touch the lives of those we love. Adam is trying to fix everything. Almost as though he must be in control, but he quickly learns that everything short of his own actions is out of his control. He must learn to totally rely upon the Lord. 

These two characters are in different places in their walk with the Lord. I found Adam calling on the Lord as to what he should do next, but in the same time he wasn't being honest with himself, Carrie, or those around him. Yes, he had to hide his true identity for his safety, but in doing so, he brought Carrie to question herself and to fear the dangers that were now surrounding her. 

You may pick up this book and love it. It wasn't one that I really enjoyed. Especially the character of Adam and all that surrounded him. As the story was coming to a close and questions were being answered I was able to turn the last page knowing that whatever turns our world upside down there is One who is always in control and in that I can find peace and assurance. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Richard L. Mabry, M.D. is a retired physician. This is his sixth published novel of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader's Choice Award and have won the Selah Award. He is a past vice president of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Soap and A Prayer

Over the weekend my husband and I were out and about for the day. We traveled upon a man who was selling handmade soaps. This is something we love and once at his station we began looking at all the different soaps he had made. We purchased a few. As we were walking away my husband says to me, "Hon, did you see his necklace?" Of course I didn't. I wasn't paying much attention to his attire. I was amazed at the soaps that sat before me. I share that I didn't see it. 

Now, my husband is the man who notices everything. He is super observant and is trying to teach me to be aware of my surroundings. Yes, I am that girl that goes about in a lolly gag sort of way. Oh, I pay attention, but it's more bracelets, shoes, and purses that catch my eye. Which is makes his request for me to be more aware of the people around me spot on. 

So, we travel back around to his shop and it's then I see his necklace. It was the star of Satan. My husband is sure this man is a Satanist. I remove his card from our bag and check out his site. Sure enough. He is just that and more. 

I am so glad my husband didn't just take my hand and gently guide me away from this man. You know why? Because after seeing his necklace and taking a look at his site I was convicted to pray for him. Each and every time I pick up my new soaps I pray for this man. I intercede on his behalf. That wasn't just a meeting by chance. Not at all. That was a divine meeting from our Savior. Jesus knows this man. He knows his heart. He knows his actions. Praise Jesus, that doesn't stop our Savior from loving him. 

I am trying to walk in grace. The old Robin would have put the soap down and walked away from this man. I now know that there are no chance meetings. God has perfect timing. He opens our eyes to the evils around us. He may even have us stay clear of them and not invite them into our lives. But friends, there is no power in the beliefs that this man has. Jesus calls us to pray for our fellow man. 

Since Saturday I have prayed deeply for this man's soul. There is nothing more powerful than our mighty God. Just what if there were more people who noticed this man's necklace? Just what if there were many. Can you imagine all of heaven moving as many pray for this man? If not many, the prayers of one our just as mighty! Just another reminder for me not to limit my God. To allow Him to move through me. To be a willing vessel for the Lord. Friends, there are people dying every single day. These are people we can reach through the power of prayer. 

Friends, I am sharing this because this was very powerful to me. It reminded me to be more aware. It convicted me to pray for those who do not know the Lord. I don't know this man's story. He could have known the Lord as a child and turned away. He may have not grown up in a Christian home. His life may have been one tragedy after another. It could be he is just a man making troubling decisions. Although I do not know his story, the Lord knows him by name. 

"This is the most important, Jesus answered: Listen Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these." Mark 12:29-31

"If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for."  Charles H. Spurgeon

A Joyful Break ( Dreams of Plain Daughters Series, Book One) by Diane Craver

If you enjoy Amish Fiction you will love spending an afternoon reading Diane Craver's newest gem, A Joyful Break. This is the first in her new series, Dreams of Plain Daughters. If your searching for a sweet Amish story to take you away for an afternoon this is for you. 

First of all I love the cover. You see the main character walking along the beach in her English clothing and an Amish young man in a carriage. Two separate lives intertwine for Rachel. The death of her mother has rocked her to the core. She has begun to question her life. She doesn't want to end up like her mother. Rachel believes that it could have been the Amish way of life that brought her mother to an early death. 

Rachel is engaged to to Samuel Weaver. A sweet and kind young man. He is certain of the life he wants. He has it planned out before him. It is a life that includes Rachel, but she is questioning everything in her life. 

She accepts an invite to spend some time at the beach with her aunt. Her aunt who left the Amish life. This is where the story really begins to build. This is the sweet and uncharted journey of Rachel and Samuel. This was such a tender and easy read for me. 

A life lesson I can take away from this book is that there are times in our lives we need a break. We need to stop and wait to hear from the Lord. Patience and peace come from learning to wait upon the Lord. We need to give ourselves time to pray and to uncover who we are created to be, not allowing anyone to push us into being someone we are not. 

Diane Craver is a talented writer. I admire her greatly. Her works seem to flow at an easy pass for the reader. Although tender and sweet, this book shows us the turmoil that Rachel is facing. Decisions are not always easy. We make mistakes, but through Rachel we see the wisdom in waiting and taking time to uncover the journey the Lord has for us.  

I will be passing this one on to my mother who will treasure this story. 

This book was a gift from Diane Craver for sharing my review with you. 

Compass (The Study Bible For Maintaining Your Life) Published by Thomas Nelson

Are you searching for a new study Bible? This one may intrigue you. The Compass Study Bible is in The Voice translation. It is published by Thomas Nelson and will release on Amazon Feb. 4, 2014

This is an interesting Bible. It is written in screenplay form. For instance in Genesis 3 where we see the conversation between Eve and the Serpent this Bible gives you the Serpent's words and then Eve's words. In Matthew 20 we have the parable of the vineyard workers. We have the words of Jesus. The words of the landowner. The words of the first workers. Words spoken by the wife of Zebedee, Zebedee's brothers, and the two blind men.  Being written in this form I see it as being an easy read for new readers of the Bible. 

In the preface of this Bible it explains the uniqueness of this translation. This Bible includes a great road map to God's promises. Jesus is your..Savior, Lord, Love, Peace, Forgiveness, Righteousness, Deliverer, Fellowship, Example, etc.. This road map includes many scriptures on each subject. 

In the back maps are included. These are in black and white and are a little small. The back also includes an outstanding topical guide to the scriptures. This isn't just subjects, but it is broken down even further for a greater understanding and easy finding. 

There is a topical guide to notes. I really enjoy this aspect of the Bible. Throughout the study Bible there are various notes shared that helps give a greater understanding of the Word. 

This Bible also includes a topical guide to the scripture. This is another great tool for studying the Bible. With great tools like this it makes study easier which in turn makes it more interesting. 

Each Book of the Bible opens with an explanation of the Book. These are usually one page long and gives great insight into the Word. 

I want to give you a few examples of just how The Voice is laid out and different from NKJV. 

The Voice:
Hebrews 12:1-2 "So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses  let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run wit endurance the long race set before us. We may feel alone, but we aren't. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn."

Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

The Voice:
John 3:16 "For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life." 

 John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." 

This Bible is from the Ecclesia Bible Society. Chris Seay is president of the Ecclesia Bible Society. I encourage you to check this out before purchasing this Bible. 

Now with all that said, this is a Bible I like, but not one I would read or study without the aid of my NKJV or HCSB version. For me this is a great study aid and can help us understand the Word better. As a study Bible this one is lacking a bit for me. I like my study Bibles to hold more information about each scripture, but you may enjoy this Bible exceptionally. It may hold just enough for you and give you the tools to dig deeper into the Word. 

You will be able to travel to your local Walmart store to find this Bible now. If you are looking to order on Amazon you will have to wait a bit, but you can still pre-order. Looking over reviews most people enjoy The Voice translation. It's worth checking out! 

This was a gift from Thomas Nelson and Sheldon Interactive for sharing my review with you. 

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

This is the 20th Anniversary edition of Redeeming Love. I read this novel over fifteen years ago. To date it is my all time favorite novel. I chose it for review and I can tell you it was even more powerful the second time around. This novel is life changing. Francine Rivers is my hero. She brings us a story that if life changing. One that is not only enjoyable, but one that touches the heart and brings change. If I had to describe this novel in one word it would be, grace

Francine Rivers brings the Book of Hosea to us through the lives of Micheal and Angel during the time of 1850. Their story is one of love redeemed. Grace is penned on each page. The story flows the love of the Father. Of all the books I've been blessed to read this is by far the one that has impacted my life the most. If you have read it years ago as I did, I encourage you to pick it up again. If your a first time reader of Francine Rivers you are going to enjoy this like no other work of fiction. This is one you will pass down for generations to come.

I encourage you to watch the video and check out the links. Check out Francine's link I have shared in her bio. I don't want to share too much of the story. I don't want to give away anything of this beautiful and poignant read. There is a great reader's guide in the back. Wow, what a great choice this would be for a book club. We also get to hear from Francine Rivers. She answers the question as to why she wrote this classic novel. Really friends, if you haven't read a book in a long time this is the book that will bring you back to enjoying reading again. 

This book was a gift from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sharing my review.

Francine Rivers From 1976 to 1985, Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market, and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. This retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction.Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles, and it has held a spot on the Christian bestsellers list for nearly a decade. 

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes--all bestsellers--and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have also been awarded or nominated for numerous awards, including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. In 1997, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages, and she enjoys bestseller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband, Rick, live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their four grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life. Visit Francine online at

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Fish Fry Miracle

What happens when you only have two fish and five loaves of bread? You bring them to Jesus. Jesus makes it bigger! In Matthew 14:13-21 we see the story of the feeding of the 5,000. This blows my mind. I always cook too much food. We always have left overs, but you know what happens? Much of it goes to waste. But we are talking about food for 5,000 people.  This was not a problem for Jesus. Our Jesus always has enough and nothing goes to waste when He's the One serving. 

But lets start at the beginning.  Jesus had just heard the news that John the Baptist had been beheaded. He was seeking to be alone. This news was heartbreaking for Him. Jesus knows the importance of being alone with the Father. He withdrew and boarded the boat for a remote place, but when He gets there crowds have already formed. The people were waiting for Jesus. I love the fact that the people were waiting. Shouldn't we always be waiting for the Lord? He steps ashore and sees the huge crowd. Although He desired to be alone, He has compassion on the people and heals the sick. 

Evening comes and the disciples go to Jesus. It seems they are a little more than aggravated. They look to Jesus and say, "This is a place of wilderness, and it is already late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves." Matthew 14:15 Yes, this is my favorite part! Okay, now isn't it sounded a little more like the disciples are more concerned with themselves? Maybe I can relate because I know this whine all too well. At times this is my voice complaining to the Lord. See, what I love is the fact that the people were gathered in the wilderness. Ever feel like your in the wilderness all alone? Friends, Jesus is in the wilderness with us. He can be found there. He walked the wilderness road long before our steps formed there. The wilderness is not barren of our Savior. I know there have been times that I have walked through the wilderness just to be reminded that Jesus is all I need. He is there waiting and will bring us through no matter what time of day it is. The disciples knew it was getting late. This didn't matter to Jesus. Everything happens in His perfect timing and this was one of those times where the disciples were about to receive a lesson. It is never too late for us to call upon our Savior. He is willing to come at any time. 

Our problem is that we limit God. We have placed Him in a box. Friends, we have to shatter that box with faith. We have to begin expecting the unexpected. We have to thing big!! As in two fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus was about to serve up a feast that wouldn't soon be forgotten. But isn't that just like us? He does something big and we soon forget. We don't just forget we forget to keep expecting. We serve a God that is at work 24/7. He never stops. There is always room at His table. You have an invite. Why not accept the invitation and see what's being served? 

Next Jesus replies to the disciples. "They don't need to go away, Jesus told them. You give them something to eat." Matthew 14:16-17 Don't you just love this? Can you imagine the look on the faces of the disciples? I can. I've had that look myself. Yes, when the Lord calls upon me and asks me to do something I often look at Him like, "Are ya sure, Lord? Am I the right girl? Just how am I suppose to do that?" See, all Jesus needs are willing vessels. He has already equipped us with everything we need. Everything is possible with the Lord, right? Why is it we forget this so often? The disciples were not doing anything we ourselves don't do today. 

Next comes the great whine from the disciples, "But we only have five loaves and two fish here", they said to Him." Matthew 14:17 Don't you know the Lord just loves to hear all those buts from us? But I don't have enough time. But how am I suppose to do that? But what if I don't do it right? But....Again, all He needs is a willing vessel and He will do the rest. He provides. Our Savior provides an endless bounty for us. All we must do is believe. We see it every day in our lives. He shows us miracle after miracle. Yes, only gifts that the Lord could give. We fail to see all that they are because we are too focused on ourselves rather than the giver. 

My granddaughter loves being outdoors. When she wants to see more of something she says, "Hold up, Nanny. Let me put my goggles on." Then she looks through them and the possibilities are endless. We need that same vision. On this night the disciples could have used their God goggles to see more clearly. 

Jesus didn't stop the disciples here and say, "Yeah, boys, your right. Lets head on home. There's not anything more we can do here." No, in fact, He says, "Bring them here to Me." Matthew 14:18 Don't you know that is exactly what He was waiting for? His moment to shine. His moment to tell the boys who had lost sight, to think bigger!! See beyond the moment and know that with God everything is possible. 

So, Jesus takes the fish and the loaves and blesses them. The people all sit down and dig in. Now, I try with all my might to picture this. 5,000 people all eating together. Gives us a glimpse into heaven. Remember, God's table is big enough for everyone. This wasn't just 5,000 people though. This wasn't counting the women and children. God wasn't leaving anyone out! The thing is, we don't know if all of these people were believers. What it does show us is that Jesus doesn't leave anyone out. He is willing to go all the way for everyone. He did that on the cross. He didn't just die for a few. He died for ALL. 

"Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets full of leftover pieces! Now those who ate were about 5,000 men, besides women and children." Matthew 14:20-21 Jesus always has enough for everyone and even has left overs for us to share. What a great lesson for us fishers of men. Ever feel your calling is too big? Jesus never calls us to something He first hasn't equipped us for. 

What can we learn? Bring Jesus what we have. Trust Him with what we have. Jesus multiples blessings. Can you imagine the smiles among the people as they ate until they were full? Jesus does't leave us half empty. He fills us until we are over flowing. Yep, leftovers to share with others. 

Next time your ready to doubt what can come of what little you have, remember we serve a big God who does big things. Jesus gives in abundance. Beth Moore shares, "Christ can perform astounding wonders when we bring Him all we have." 

Lets not miss something spectacular here. Remember those left over baskets? That's right, there were 12 baskets of left overs. I almost missed this in my first reading. 12 baskets. Enough left overs for each of the 12 disciples. I find that amazing. Yes, these disciples that urged Jesus to just turn the people away. These disciples who were tired and seemingly a bit cranky. These disciples who were asking God what He exactly wanted them to do with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Jesus fed those all around them until they were full. Now the disciples had fish and bread to eat instead of crow. Grace. That's what it is. God's sweet grace that extends to all. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Season of Healing

Reaching for her favorite sweater she curls up in her favorite chair. A chill is in the autumn air. But one that makes her feel alive like never before. She feels the warmth of her sweater as she wraps it tighter and grabs for her mug of coffee. From the window she sees the brilliance of the golden fields. The copper in the foliage is like a spark of energy. Oh, how she loved this time of year. Golden fields peeked with yellows and reds. A cornucopia landscape always captured her heart. A breeze that holds a chill that makes you breathe in a little deeper. Pumpkin spice and mulled cider candles filled her home. Windows open just enough to make the curtains dance. Handmade quilts decorating the sofa. An inviting home. A warm embrace of love as you entered the door. As she looks out the window she can see the leaves dance from the trees as if they are being tickled right off the branches. As they fall it's as though they do so tenderly with grace. 

Why hasn't her life shown such grace? It's been a long time since Karen picked up her Bible. It's been even longer since she has been to church. She can't remember the last time she spent time with the Lord in prayer. How did her life change so drastically? She was always the woman who said, "No matter what, Lord. I will always be faithful." She served passionately in church. She gave with a cheerful heart. Yes, she was the woman of grace and gently loved others with her gift of mercy. She taught Sunday school and helped in children's church. Whenever there was an opportunity to serve she was there. But this is when all was right in her life. She mistakenly thought that the more she gave the more the Lord would bless. 

She felt His grace upon her life. That is until everything began to turn south. Her husband had had an affair and wanted to leave her for a younger woman he had met at work. Her father had died from a battle of cancer and soon after her mother followed with a heart attack. In six months both her parents were gone and the man she had always leaned on was gone. She now had an empty nest with all four of her children now with families of their own. Her job as a secretary for twenty years now went to a part time job with no benefits. Last week she received a call back from her doctor. Something was seen in her latest mammogram. Could things possibly get worse? How did the season of joy in her life turn so drastically cold? 

She had felt the pangs of loneliness and despair. She spent most of her adult life believing in a  God who would always be there for her and fill her life with blessings. But as of late she didn't know where He was. As she looked out the window she heard a voice. "Karen, I have always been with you." Was this the Lord's voice? It had been so long she wasn't sure she could identify it as clear as she once did. She heard it again, only this time she knew. "Karen, I'm here with you. I've always been here with you. Through every season of your life I have never left you once." Yes, she knew, it was the Lord. In this very moment, on this autumn day she would have once called glorious, the Lord had prepared her to meet with Him. It was time. It was time to let it all go so she could live again. 

Where were her friends? Her church family? It seemed that they had all but left her alone. She gave so much and here after everything had happened. After she has lost it all, no one can be found at her side. Yes, Karen has held such hurt that it is now a bitterness she can't shake. Why did her parents have to go? Why couldn't her husband love her? Was she not good enough? Had she messed up so much that no one wanted her? She could answer that. Yes. She didn't even think her Lord and Savior wanted her any longer. After all, she had given up on Him. She pushed Him aside time and time again. Her pain was deep. She tried to hide it. To bury it. But as she did she also built up walls. The windows to her soul were closed. Until this morning. 

She woke with a memory of the sweet times she had spent with the Lord. She had looked back to her childhood when she would jump in the leaves and laugh with such joy. She wanted to jump again. She wanted to not just look out the window to life, but she wanted to experience the beauty of the season. With all that has happened to her could she ever live again? 

As she sat in her favorite chair, wrapped in her warm sweater, the vision outside captured her. She heard Him again. "Karen, open My Word." She looked and seen her Bible still on the table after these years of being covered in dust. "This is your season of healing." Karen reached for the Bible and swept her hand over the dust and found her printed name on the cover. She opened it and it was like meeting with an old friend. She opened to Hebrews and there she knew, He had not left her. 

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8

She sat with her fingers touching these precious words that spoke to her heart. She flips the pages and sees the highlighted verses and notes she has penned to her Lord. It is here in Deuteronomy that she reads her words written three years ago. "Lord, may I always feel you near me." 

"So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you." Deuteronomy 30:6

How had she forgotten these words? "Karen, you walked away from Me. Return to Me. May today be the day your healing begins. Let it all go." Tears began to fall. Her Savior had not left her, but why had she felt so alone? She hears the Lord speak tenderly, "Karen, my daughter, I was calling, but you pushed Me away. The more you pushed the more I was present. I was here to help you through this season of pain." 

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." Romans 8:28

Oh, how she had missed her time with her Lord. She had come to losing almost everything to realize the most important gift in her life was there all along. When she found out about the affair the Lord had caught her in the fall. As she sat by her parents and shared their last times together, He was there with her. As her friends moved on one by one, He was present. As her children moved on with their own lives, He was there to fill her home, just as He had always been. The circumstances of change had caught Karen off guard. She had seen these seasons of circumstance as abandonment from all. She seen the actions of others as a reflection of her Lord and that too meant that He had left her. She had it all wrong. He had been there all along. She was now looking back at the times where cards were received at the moment she was about to break. Flowers from co-workers to show her that they cared. Yes, these small moments were to show her she wasn't alone, but Satan had deceived her into thinking no one was near. 

As the seasons of life had changed Karen, her Lord had remained the same. 

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." James 1:17

As she held her Bible and looked out at the changing scene before her she realized she just wanted to go back. She wanted her old life back when all was perfect. She wanted to go back to that woman who believed without a doubt. But in this moment of healing she was feeling the Savior's touch. He was leading her in His Word. He was guiding her to a season of healing. 

"For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Healing was beginning. A new season had arrived. God had prepared this day for Karen. He had been preparing her all along. Karen had focused on the circumstances and had forgotten that we are not to focus on what is seen, but on what is not seen. God had known what was coming in Karen's life. He too knows what is next for her. 

Her second mammogram will come in as a gift of health. She will give praise to Him. Not for the good news, but for seeing her through. Just as Karen lost focus, I too can lose my vision of the Lord being present in my life. There is nothing that God cannot use for His glory. He can turn my biggest hurts, my worst messes, my disastrous choices, into blessings. It's not always going to feel good. Every moment of our lives isn't going to be pleasant and perfect as we would see it, but may we not forget the Lord knows our today and our tomorrow. When we trust Him and remain steadfast and true we see that our Lord remains the same. 

Seasons of change are not easy. But it is through these seasons of change that the Lord brings us to look more like Him. He molds us through our mistakes. He creates grace and mercy in our lives so we are more eager to share with others. 

Jesus uses every opportunity to brings us closer to Him. Divine appointments touch our lives daily. On this day Karen decided to give the Lord room. She fell to her knees and forgiveness came. She cried out to Him all the anger and resentment she had bottled up for years. She gave Him the disappointments and regret. She opened her heart to Him and opened her hands to Him. She gave Him all on this glorious morning of renewal. 

No longer would she just look out the window. She would rise from her prayer with a new heart. Change was coming. She laid her fears down and chose to pick up courage. Today she would once again jump in the leaves of her youth, but now with a new vision and a new hope in the Lord who never left her side, but guided her to a new day in Him. Yes, change was coming and for the first time in her life Karen was accepting and ready for whatever came next. Yes, her Lord was with her and this is what she came to know and understand deeper than ever before. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Where Would You Be? At His Feet Or In The Kitchen?

Company is coming. There could be many at the table. No one knows the number. All they know is that Jesus is coming. They will arrive any minute. There is so much to do. 

Is it really so hard for us to imagine this day? 

"While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord's feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, "Lord, don't You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand." The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

For me I see a humble home. Designed to be comfortable and inviting. A home that is open to all and filled with love. I can just envision a home where something good is always brewing. There's always a cool cup of water waiting for those who arrive unexpected. I see flowers on the table. A welcome mat at the door front. Curtains gently flowing from a sweet breeze. 

In these verses we get a peek into the lives of Martha and Mary. Sisters. They pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Jesus is traveling and He makes a stop at His friend's home. He knows He is always welcome. I can see the smiles on the faces of all who are there. Hugs of joy as they gather for the evening. 

Martha has made her home welcoming to all. She is that girl who is forever trying to make everyone feel comfortable. Hospitality is her gift. Think Martha is the older of the sisters? I see Martha as put together and ready for anything. I see her as a woman of order. A servant of the Lord. One who is willing to go the extra mile. 

Just before we get to these verses we see that Jesus is speaking and shares the parable of the good Samaritan. An expert in the law stands and asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life. "He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27 

Isn't this what we see Martha doing? She is loving with the gifts that she has been given. Notice in the verses where Jesus is speaking to Martha He never tells her she is wrong or that she has made the wrong choice. He says that Mary has made the right choice. Can't you just here the Savior speaking to His friend as He doesn't just say her name one time. He speaks the name of Martha twice. This is so calming and comforting to me. He is simply sharing with Martha that Mary is right where she needs to be at the moment. 

Mary too was loving the Lord with all her heart, soul, strength, and mind. She was at the feet of her Savior. She was hearing the words that she needed to hear at the moment. We don't know if Mary helped Martha out in the kitchen early. She may have been burdened deeply. Could there have been things the sisters didn't share with one another? Later it would be Mary who anoints Jesus with a fragrant oil. Was Jesus preparing her for this very moment? We see her devotion to Jesus. She is exactly where she needs to be at the moment. Mary was committed to act upon her faith. She wasn't being lazy. She was being obedient. 

Maybe later Mary helps Martha clean up. Maybe she does it all on her on and tells Martha to take an evening walk and enjoy some time alone. We just don't know from scripture. What we do know is later in the story their brother Lazarus would die and they would call upon the Lord. In this moment they come together. I can see them comforting one another and praying together. Again they have a home filled with guests. Can't you picture them consoling others and giving words of comfort? 

Don't you know Jesus knows exactly where we need to be? Martha was so worried about Mary not helping her that she didn't realize what many of us fail to see too. Just maybe Mary didn't need to be in the kitchen at the time. She needed these moments with Jesus as He was preparing her for the next. 

In John 11:5 it says, "Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus." We can gather they had a wonderful friendship. Jesus knew these friends. He knew their gifts, their needs, and their desires. 

When Martha walks out of the kitchen and perhaps sees Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus just maybe she was steaming. She was hot and tired and aggravated that she had no help from her sister. So, what does she do? She complains to the Savior. Don't we do the same? I think Martha gets a bad wrap here. How often are we working on a project, teaching a class, giving until we have nothing left to give and complain that Alice, Kathy and Jackie are not helping in any area? I have heard others complain that it's always the same people helping out and those that aren't helping should be serving and giving just as those who are working themselves to the bone. 

Lets think about that. Do you really think Martha is one to just sit around and let others do for her? I don't see her that way. I see her as the Martha Stewart of her day. I see her loving those she is serving. I see her as giving with a joyful heart. Those who are serving want to serve. Just maybe those who are not up and serving in the way we think they should be are just where the Lord is calling them to be. At His feet. Could it be that He is preparing them for service? Could it be that the Savior is calling them to sit a while because the day is coming where He is going to call them further into the ministry? Why do we question what others are doing? 

Yes, I can relate to Martha. Can't you? She was concerned with what Mary was or wasn't doing and she should have just been concerned with herself. Maybe later on as Mary pours fragrant oil upon Jesus she realizes that there was more to Mary at the feet of Jesus than she could see at the time. Martha was worried and troubled about things that she shouldn't have been. This too is us, my friends. 

Let us just serve with a heart of joy. Let us lift up others as they journey. May we not consume ourselves with what others are doing that we miss out on the blessing that is right before us. Don't you know that the Lord was blessed by the service of Martha? His friend had opened her home and had given with love. Her hospitality was an example for others to follow. Mary too was an example for us. As we serve graciously may not forget that we too need time spent at His feet. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...