December 9, 2017

Christmas Books in December


I'm reading several Christmas books this month and really enjoying them. They are all quick reads, under 200 pages in length. It's always fun to read Christmas books during December, they bring that nostalgic feel back into our lives, as well as reminding us of why we celebrate Christmas.




                                                            Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller



This book is putting me in the true Christmas spirit. It's funny how we think we know enough about God and about the Christmas story, when in fact there is so much more to know about Him. And I love that He continually shows us more of Himself through His Word each time we open and read it.

Each Christmas is a reminder of the gospel message. A Savior has been born!

Timothy Keller says here:

"The Bible..speaks of this: 'I have hidden your word in my heart' (Psalm 119:11). Taking the message into my heart means not just to interpret it but to let it affect me deeply. It means, in a sense, preaching to myself, reminding myself of the preciousness, the value, the wonder, and the power of the particular truth I am treasuring. 

It is to ask myself questions: 'How would my life be different if I really believed this from the bottom of my heart? How would it change my thinking, feelings, actions? How would it change my relationships? How would it change my prayer life, my feelings and attitude toward God?"

When we hide His Word in our hearts He reveals more of His love, His grace, His compassion, His faithfulness, His peace, His joy. This book shares some of these truths about God and points us back to His Word. I love it when books do that.

About the Book: "This book takes readers on an illuminating journey into the surprising background of the nativity. By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way."



                                                           The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read



This book is so cozy and Christmasy! It's set in an little town in England, in the early 1970's. The story includes two little girls who are 5 and 7, born in 1966 and 1968, who live with their mother and grandmother, Mrs. Berry.

I love how this author brings out all the beauty and excitement of Christmas. This tugged on my heartstrings and brought back memories of Christmas's past as a child. I was born in 1968 and my little sister in 1970 and I remember how exciting Christmas was for us. You never really forget this feeling, it so special.

About the Book: "Mrs. Berry is frightened by a mouse and goes downstairs to sit-out the stormy Christmas Eve. While cozily by the loungeroom fire, she is disturbed yet again. This time the intruder proves to be a young run-away boy."



                                                                           The Expected One



This is a 25-day advent devotional written with young families in mind. Each devotional has a passage of scripture from the Old Testament pointing to Christ, as well as a very short devotional. The following page is several questions and thoughts to ponder as a family.

I'm really enjoying the reflections each devotional brings and believe it can be read by anyone for encouragement.

In the introduction it says:

"The Old Testament passages laid out here are meant to guide you through the wide range of promises God gave us regarding His Son... all of them point to Jesus, collectively unfolding the promises of His long-awaited coming, His marvelous birth, His blameless life, His agonizing death, his glorious resurrection, and His reign as the eternal king of all."

About the Book: "Through this devotional, Scott James brings to light the many promises of Christ from birth to ascension that demonstrate His love for us during this Christmas season. These daily devotions, which are designed for both family and individual use, are timeless and moving reminders of the true gift of Christmas."



                                                              The Shoe Box by Francine Rivers

 

I've loved so many books written by Francine Rivers. I'm just getting into this one and enjoying it so far.

Sprinkled throughout the story are recipes and short reflections on her own families Christmas's, which I'm finding, brings a richness to this reading experience, as well as making me want to do some Christmas baking!

About the Book: "In this beautiful gift book, Francine Rivers tells a poignant Christmas story about a foster child, Timmy, and his very special shoe box. Includes special notes from the author about the story and her family’s Christmas traditions and recipes."



November 27, 2017

5 books on my future reading list


Reflection on the Psalms

I haven't read a C.S. Lewis book in ages and thought it was time to pick another one up.

Lewis is one of my favorite authors and this particular book seems like an interesting look into the Psalms.

 Amazon says here:

"In this careful reading from one of our most trusted fellow travelers, C.S. Lewis helps us begin to reveal their meaning in our daily lives and in the world. 

Reflecting again and anew on these beloved passages, we can find both joy and difficulty, but also, always, real enlightenment and moments of transcendent grace."



 
Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ

I picked this book up on kindle because it was only $2.99 and just began reading it.

In chapter one it says:

"...the Greek word for slave has been covered up by being mistranslated in almost every English version - going back to both the King James Version and the Geneva Bible that predated it. 

Though the word slave (doulos in Greek) appears 124 times in the original text, it is correctly translated only once in the King James...

...Instead of translating doulos as 'slave' these translations consistently substitute the word servant in its place. Ironically, the Greek language has at least half a dozen words that can mean servant. The word doulos is not one of them. 

Whenever it is used, both in New Testament and in secular Greek literature, it always and only means slave."

This has definitely piqued my interest! I'm looking forward to getting more into it.



All Creatures Great and Small

I've heard so many great things about this book series, which consists of memoirs by a country vet from Yorkshire in the 1930's. It was turned into a TV series a while back, but I haven't watched it, so I'm going into these books blindly.

I've recently started it and really enjoying it so far.

Goodreads says here:

"In All Creatures Great and Small, we meet the young Herriot as he takes up his calling and discovers that the realities of veterinary practice in rural Yorkshire are very different from the sterile setting of veterinary school. 

Some visits are heart-wrenchingly difficult...some are lighthearted and fun...and yet others are inspirational and enlightening. 

From seeing to his patients in the depths of winter on the remotest homesteads to dealing with uncooperative owners and critically ill animals, Herriot discovers the wondrous variety and never-ending challenges of veterinary practice as his humor, compassion, and love of the animal world shine forth."



Long Before Luther

The subtitle for this book is... 'Tracing the heart of the gospel from Christ to the Reformation.'

That got my attention!

I find reformation history, not only interesting, but inspiring, and I've often wondered what went on during the time period before. This book explores this and I'm excited to start reading it.

Goodreads explains it here:

"Where was the gospel before the Reformation?
 

Contemporary evangelicals often struggle to answer that question. As a result, many Roman Catholics are quick to allege that the Reformation understanding of the gospel simply did not exist before the 1500s. They assert that key Reformation doctrines, like sola fide, were nonexistent in the first fifteen centuries of church history. Rather, they were invented by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.

That is a serious charge, and one that evangelicals must be ready to answer. If an evangelical understanding of the gospel is only 500 years old, we are in major trouble. However, if it can be demonstrated that Reformers were not inventing something new, but instead were recovering something old, then key tenets of the Protestant faith are greatly affirmed. Hence, the need for this book."




Mrs. Oswald Chambers

'My Utmost for His Highest' is one of my favorite books ever. It's a devotional written by Oswald Chambers, and compiled by his wife Biddy.

This new book is her story.
 
"Bestselling novelist Michelle Ule brings Biddy's story to life as she traces her upbringing in Victorian England to her experiences in a WWI YMCA camp in Egypt. 

Readers will marvel at this young woman's strength as she returns to post-war Britain a destitute widow with a toddler in tow. 

Refusing personal payment, Biddy proceeds to publish not just My Utmost for His Highest, but also 29 other books with her husband's name on the covers. All the while she raises a child alone, provides hospitality to a never-ending stream of visitors and missionaries, and nearly loses everything in the London Blitz during WWII.

The inspiring story of a devoted woman ahead of her times will quickly become a favorite of those who love true stories of overcoming incredible odds, making a life out of nothing, and serving God's kingdom."



November 20, 2017

A Few Thoughts on the Book of Galatians


It's amazing how you can read Scripture over and over and each time, find something new to you, and beautiful within. That's how I felt after reading the book of Galatians again. The grace of God just shone through more than it ever has. I thought I'd share a bit here today.

My NKJV introduction says here of the book:

"The Galatians, having launched their Christian experience by faith, seem content to leave their voyage of faith and chart a new course based on works - a course Paul finds disturbing.

His letter to the Galatians is a vigorous attack against the gospel of works and a defense of the gospel of faith."'

I felt both of these deeply: a vigorous attack on works and a defense of grace through faith.

“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:19-21

That last sentence says it all.

If Jesus didn't die to fulfill the law and make us right with Him through His death and resurrection, than He died in vain. But if He did fulfill the law through His death and resurrection, than when we humbly come to Him in repentance we are set free from the law and become His righteousness.

His grace is sufficient.

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' " Gal. 3:13

That's what He did on that cross. He became the curse for us so we could be free of the law and given the gift of grace.

But we must believe.

"But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." Gal. 3:22

Paul gives a harsh warning to the Galatians here:

"You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." Gal. 5:4

In this verse Paul is letting the Galatians know their own attempt of justification through their own works is estranging (severed) them from Christ and has made them fall from grace.

This tells us of the utmost importance of putting our faith and hope solely in Christ and not in our own works for our justification.


This is a great book to sit down one evening and read through all at once. It's only six chapters and I think it may be easier to grasp if you do so.

I believe the key to understanding Scripture is to be in communion with the Lord. Talk to Him, ask Him anything, ask Him to help you understand. If it's your hearts desire He will be faithful to answer in His time. And when He does you will see how amazing His grace really is.

LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear." Psalm 10:17



November 13, 2017

Reading People


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It deals with the different personalities of human beings and how knowing more about ourselves and others can help us with our lives and relationships. (Though one chapter left me uneasy and I will address that at the end of this post).

The book contains 10 chapters dealing with popular personality analysis of the day, such as:

Introverts/Extroverts
Highly Sensitive People
The Five Love Languages
Keirsey's Temperaments
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The MBTI Cognitive Functions
The Clifton StrengthsFinder 
The Enneagram

I found Anne Bogel was clear and concise in her execution of explaining each of these. It was easy to understand, even though I hadn't heard of most of them.

In the introduction she makes it clear that our personality traits are not our character traits. I appreciated this differential.

She says here:

"While personality is a key part of who you are, it's just one of many things that make you you. Many important traits don't fall under the personality umbrella. Kindness, generosity, honesty, patience - those are all examples of character traits that interact with but are distinct from personality. It's easy to conflate character with personality; it's a common mistake...

...Compared to our personality traits, character traits are more malleable. Our personalities can only be managed (or tamed, some might say). Our character can be shaped, although this isn't easy and happens slowly, with effort."


Throughout the book she often reminds us that there is no right or wrong personality. We are all created the way God intended and the importance of learning about our personality is to be more understanding, not only of ourselves but of others who are different then us.

She says here:

"The promise is that when you understand yourself better - your strengths and weaknesses, emotional needs, and driving motivations - it is much easier to understand others as well, especially when they aren't like you."

For me, I would add that learning more about my personality is not only for my benefit, but for God's glory. I can use this knowledge to praise Him for the beauty of diversity He has created.
 

I enjoyed chapter two on introverts/extroverts and though I've read a bit about this in the past, I did learn something new, that there are not only different kinds of introverts and extroverts, but all of us have introverted and extroverted tendencies.

She says here:

"We all spend time introverting and extroverting; it's part of being human."

And here:

"While we all need to spend time introverting and extroverting (yes, these are appropriate verbs), our innate preference is reflected in our brain chemistries. If you're an introvert and you've ever had a baffling conversation with your extroverted roommate and thought, My brain just doesn't work like that, you're absolutely right. Your brain doesn't work like that.

Introverts and extroverts are literally wired differently."

We really are so uniquely made!


The chapter I got the most out of was on highly sensitive people. This only affects a small percentage of the population. 'HSP' does not mean overly emotional, but that some are physically wired in a highly sensitive way.

Anne says here:

"...a highly sensitive person (HSP) - that is, you have a highly sensitive nervous system. High sensitivity is a hardwired physiological trait that affects 15-20 percent of the population, across species, not just humans. These people aren't touchy or overly emotional; high sensitivity describes people whose nervous systems are more receptive to stimuli than those of the general population. 

This means they are more attuned to subtleties in their surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed by highly stimulating environments. their internal 'radar' for detecting external stimuli is quite good, but it takes energy to keep that radar operational, which can be exhausting." 

Anne gives an example of a highly sensitive child complaining about the feel of the inseam of their socks. That brought back memories and that's when I knew, I am a highly sensitive person. And after reading this chapter I finally see I'm normal! : )


The only thing in the book that didn't sit right with me was in chapter nine, 'Confront your Junk: The Enneagram.' I felt it was out of place with the rest of the book, because it really didn't deal with personality, but rather behavioral issues (sin).

As a Christian, to me, this method seemed to be suggesting ways to cover sinful behavior on your own.

She says here of the Enneagram:

"The goal of the Enneagram is to get the 'yuck' out of the way so we can be more ourselves, getting us closer to our true identities and purposes. The Enneagram helps us confront who we really are, what's going on beneath the surface, and what's motivating our behaviors instead of just polishing a shiny, happy facade."

I felt this particular test could give some people false hope in themselves. Digging to find goodness within themselves. As Christians, we know the truth, we can not set ourselves free from our 'yuck' with any test or practiced method, only God can truly set us free.

We can lay our cares down before Him, because He cares for us. It's that simple.

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

Also, near the end of the chapter I felt she misused Ephesians 5:13 which says:

"Everything exposed by the light becomes visible - everything that is illuminated becomes a light."

She says of it here:

"Thus, while there can be no simple explanations for people as individuals, it is still possible to say something true about them...

...It's uncomfortable to dive deep into the darkest parts of ourselves, but it's how we bring those parts into the light."

This makes me think she believes this verse is about us dealing with our 'yuck' (bad behavior) as she describes it, when in fact it is about our sinfulness and how the light exposes it to bring us to Christ, who is the light of the world.

Matthew Henry says of this verse:

"The meaning of this passage may be this: "All those unfruitful works of darkness which you are called upon to reprove are laid open, and made to appear in their proper colours to the sinners themselves, by the light of doctrine or of God’s word in your mouths, as faithful reprovers, or by that instructive light which is diffused by the holiness of your lives and by your exemplary walk.’’

Observe, The light of God’s word, and the exemplification of it in a Christian conversation, are proper means to convince sinners of their sin and wickedness. It follows, For whatsoever doth make manifest is light; that is, it is the light that discovers what was concealed before in darkness; and accordingly it becomes those who are children of light, who are light in the Lord, to discover to others their sins, and to endeavour to convince them of the evil and danger of them, thus shining as lights in the world." 



Overall this book was enjoyable and shed some light onto who I am (my personality). It's good to know I'm not alone, I'm normal, at least for my personality! : )

I do recommend this book, but I believe it should be read with discernment and wisdom.




Buy it HERE on Amazon



November 4, 2017

'Over The Hills And Far Away' ...The Life of Beatrix Potter


"They came to the river, they came to the bridge - they crossed it hand in hand - then over the hills and far away she danced with Pigling Bland!"  The Tale of Pigling Bland 1913

Throughout this book I discovered more about the life and work of Beatrix Potter, and even though it was dense in some parts, I found it an enjoyable read.

I didn't realize how intelligent she was and how her love of science and nature comes through her art and writings.

It says here on this subject:

"As a child, she painted everything from caterpillars to a hippopotamus, omnivorous in her appetite. Over time she specialized: after entomology, paleontology and mycology. 

Her obsession with fungi, starting in a small way in 1887, resulted in her finding and painting a number of little-known species and, ultimately, a theory - since challenged - about reproduction through spore germination in members of the Agaricineae family. 

Along the way she completed more than 300 studies of British fungi, several among the finest of her paintings. After her death a selection were chosen to illustrate Walter Finlay's Wayside & Woodland Fungi."


Beatrix Potter had some difficulty when first trying to get her books published, but she was determined to do so. She finally decided to self-publish.

The book says here of self-publishing:

"The undertaking proved costly and tells us much of her confidence in the enterprise and her single-mindedness."

Her confidence and determination paid off. A famous author read her little self-published book, 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit', and therefore Beatrix was able to report his 'good opinion of the story & words'...the rest is history. That famous author, was Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes series.


I've always enjoyed Beatrix Potter's, 'little books' as she called them, and read them to my children when they were small, but most of all I love her paintings. There is a gentleness and beauty about them. You can almost feel her love of nature when you admire them, and even though Beatrix was a Unitarian and a Darwinist, I can still look at her art and stand in awe of what God has created.

In 1Timothy we are called to trust in the Lord who...

"...richly provides us with everything to enjoy." 1 Timothy 6:17

I have thoroughly enjoyed Beatrix Potter's art and stories for many years and will hopefully be sharing her 'little books' with grandchildren some day. : )

I recommend this book on the life of Beatrix Potter to those who love and appreciate her work.



Buy it HERE on Amazon

October 25, 2017

God's Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children


The love of God is not a fluffy, feel good kind of love, but rather a love that is unfailing, eternal and deeper than we can comprehend.

This book delves into this kind of love. The kind that only comes from God.

R.C. Sproul says here of God's eternal love:

"...the love of God must be understood as an eternal love. Just as He is from everlasting to everlasting, so His love is from everlasting to everlasting. His is not a fickle love that waxes hot and cold over time. His love has a constancy about it that transcends all human forms of love. Just as human beings often fall in love, they also fall out of love. This is not the case with God."

 

Each chapter in this book, deals with a different aspect of God's love. Here are the chapter headings:

1. God Is Love
2. Eternal Love
3.The Loyal Love of God
4. The Loving-Kindness of God
5. The Electing Love of God
6. Love and Hate in God
7. The Threefold Love of God
8. Agape Love
9. The Greatest of These...
Conclusion: Of The Father's Love Begotten

As you can see from the chapter titles there are some very interesting topics on the love of God. I felt this book was very informative and gave me some new things to think about.

One of those things was in chapter 4, where he speaks of how the bride of Christ can never be separated from Him:

"What our enemies can never do, specifically, is separate us from the love of Christ. A 'separation' is a kind of division. We see it often as a trial step in troubled marriages on the way to divorce. Separation precedes the divorce and is often the harbinger of it. But in the marriage of Christ and His bride, there is neither divorce nor separation.

The 'love of Christ' of which Paul spoke is not our love for Him but His love for us. Paul pointed to the risen and ascended Lord, who sits at the right hand of God and functions as our intercessor, our great High Priest. It is from His love and His care that we can not be separated." 

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

And here in chapter 5 something to think about on grace:

"Grace, by definition, is something that God is not required to grant. He owes a fallen world no mercy. If we cried out for justice at His hands, we could all receive that just condemnation we deserve. Justice is what we deserve. Grace is always and ever undeserved. If we deserved it, it would not be grace."

Grace is such a huge thing, something so unfathomable, I am so thankful for it and the love God shows us through it. 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

And in chapter 9 on loving, when we are hated:

"To bear slander, insults, and harsh criticism, requires an extraordinary measure of love. We are quick to lash out and retaliate in kind against those who abuse us. Our suffering threshold is low. We must look to Christ Himself as the perfect model of long-suffering in the face of such abuse."

When the high priest tried to trick Jesus into admitting guilt... "Jesus kept silent" Matt. 26:63

What kind of love stood silent as He was abused, beaten and about to be murdered? Christ is not only our example, but the One we turn to for help when we can not love the way He does. Oh, how we need Him!



There is a lot of talk about the 'doctrine of election and predestination' in this book which was new to me. The doctrine of election can be a touchy subject for some, but because the words 'election' and 'predestination' are biblical, they can't be ignored. I found it all very interesting and fascinating, as I was not raised with a Calvinist background.

I appreciated the authors intro to chapter 5 on the subject:

"We recognize that the idea of predestination, or divine election, is wrapped in controversy and is perilous to discuss. It brings us near to some of the deepest mysteries of God and touches on issues that provoke not only consternation (anxiety) but also often rage.

The idea of predestination was not conceived by Augustine, Martin Luther or John Calvin. Though the doctrine of election figured prominently in the thought of these three giants of church history, it did not originate with them. The idea of predestination is rooted in the Bible. This is why all churches historically have found it necessary to formulate some doctrine of predestination in an effort to be biblical in their theology. The issue is not whether the Bible teaches the doctrine of predestination. The issue is which doctrine of predestination it teaches."

If you are curious about these teachings, you may find this aspect of the book interesting.



Overall, I found this book enlightening, as well as extremely overwhelming.

God's love is so much deeper and richer than we really know.

I'll never think of the words 'God's love' in the same way.



Buy it HERE on Amazon




August 21, 2017

5 books on my future reading list


Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me

I really enjoyed reading Karen Swallow Prior's book on the 18th century life of Hannah More, a poet, reformer and abolitionist. 

Karen is a professor of English at the Liberty University. And when I heard she had written a book on literature, I knew it would be something I'd like to read it.

She says here of her book:

"...for much of my life, I loved books more than God, never discovering for a long, long time that a God who spoke the world into existence with words is, in fact, the source of meaning of all words. My journey toward that discovery is the story of this book. 

I thought my love of books was taking me away from God, but as it turns out, books were the backwoods path back to God, bramble-filled and broken, yes, but full of truth and wonder."

And author of Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas, says of this book:

"Ever wished you'd had a teacher who made you want to read the classics? Your wish has come true in this beautifully-told book. 

Karen Swallow Prior movingly and honestly tells a compelling story of self-discovery and coming to faith through some of the greatest books ever written."

Sounds intriguing!



David Copperfield 

I've started reading this one and I'm really enjoying it so far. Dickens writing can be drawn out but it's so beautifully descriptive, I find myself completely immersed.

It's going to take me awhile to get through this close-to 1000 page book but I'm getting a little help from an audio-book from the library. I can cook, bake, clean and drive around doing errands while listening!

Dickens says of this novel:

"Like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favorite child, and his name is David Copperfield."

Amazon says of it here:

"Millions of readers have taken young David into their hearts as well, weeping over his misfortunes and exulting in his triumphs. Dickens' seventh novel, David Copperfield, appeared in 1850, by which time he was a British national institution. 

Based on the author's own tumultuous journey from boy to man, this epic traces David's progress from his mother's sheltering arms to the miseries of boarding-school and sweatshop, and the rewards of friendship, romance, and self-discovery in his vocation as a writer."




Caroline: Little House, Revisited

I loved the 'Little House on the Prairie' TV show when I was a child. I've also read a few of the Little House books.

So I'm looking forward to reading this story based on Caroline's point of view of the Ingalls life together.

Goodreads says of it here:

"In this novel authorized by the Little House estate, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, "Ma" in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books...

...For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past."




Crown of Blood

I've always been fascinated by British history. My mother is from England and though I've never been there I feel a kinship to it.

Lady Jane Grey is one of my favorite royals. Though she was only queen for 9 days and only 17 years old when she was killed, her strength and determination to not recant her Protestant beliefs in Christ alone, is inspiring.

Goodreads say of it here:

"Crown of Blood is an important and significant retelling of an often-misunderstood tale: set at the time of Jane’s downfall and following her journey through to her trial and execution, each chapter moves between the past and the “present,” using a rich abundance of primary source material (some of which has never been published) in order to paint a vivid picture of Jane’s short and turbulent life. 

This dramatic narrative traces the dangerous plots and web of deadly intrigue in which Jane became involuntarily tangled—and which ultimately led to a shocking and catastrophic conclusion."




 None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us

I loved Jen Wilkin's last book, 'Women of the Word' and have been interested in reading this new one ever since it came out last year. 

Doesn't it have the prettiest cover? : )

Amazon describes the book here:

"This exploration of ten attributes that belong to God alone reminds us of why our limits are a good thing in light of God’s limitlessness―celebrating the freedom that comes from letting God be God."

I love this....'celebrating the freedom that comes from letting God be God'. This takes the stress off from trying to be the perfect Christian, and teaches us to put our trust were it belongs...in Him. 

 I'm really looking forward to this book!


August 9, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Things


Today I thought I'd do a light, fun post, sharing a few of my favorite things that I've been enjoying lately.


Favorite Music

I love Casting Crowns. They have been my favorite band for years. Their songs touch my heart and have such deep biblical meaning. My favorite song right now is one I've shared before on my blog.

It's called Hallelujah.

Here is the link to it...



Favorite Movies

I don't usually like movies about war, but these two were the exception. Both are clean movies, but do contain some war violence but very few curse words, which was appreciated. I hadn't heard of either of these true war stories before, and thoroughly enjoyed learning about them.

The first was 'Hacksaw Ridge'. This one was about a young man, a seven-day-adventist, who wanted to be a medic during WW2, but refused to bear arms on religious grounds. The story-line was beautiful and amazing. I felt so many emotions. I highly recommend it.

                                              "When the order came to retreat. One man stayed."
 


The second movie was 'Dunkirk' which takes place in France during WW2. This movie was beautiful to watch. The cinematography, music and even the lack of dialog made it extremely moving. I was emotionally exhausted when I walked out of the theater. Highly recommend as well.

                                      "When 400,000 men couldn't get home, home came to them."



Favorite Vlog

I recently discovered Youtube and have found some great book vlogs, but my favorite vlog right now is a young couple from California. They do all sorts of videos from home decor to recipes to faith related content. They are a beautiful and fun couple who love the Lord. It's so encouraging to see the next generation serving Him and sharing online. They attend Greg Laurie's church, Harvest Christian Fellowship.

Here is a video of them talking about vlogging together...



Here is the link to their vlog channel...  Brylan and Lisa


Favorite Verses
 
I know we shouldn't really have a favorite verse, but these two have always had a special place in my heart...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;




In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6


"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12


Favorite Flower

I love flower gardening and my favorites are peonies. They smell so good and look beautiful in my garden, as well as in a vase on my table. I just wish they lasted longer than a few weeks! : )

Here are some from my garden...



Favorite TV

Fixer Upper is one of my favorite shows to watch. I love Chip and Joanna Gaines and their family. I love the respect and love they show each other and the fun they have. They also do some beautiful renos!




Favorite Books  

If I had to pick an all time favorite book, other than the Bible, it would probably be 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen. No one comes close to her wit and style. But this year I read 'Anne of Green Gables' by Lucy M. Montgomery and loved it so much! It's a close second. : )



My favorite non-fiction books would probably be 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis and 'Knowing God' by J.I. Packer. Both were so insightful and gave me much to think about and ponder on how great and awesome our God is.





I'd love to hear what some of your favorites are. Feel free to leave them in the comments!


July 17, 2017

To Kill a Mockingbird


When you think of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, you may think of racism in the southern United States during the 1930's, but I found this book to be so much more.

I first read this book in high school many years ago and I've always had fond memories of it. So I finally decided to pick it up again this year, and I'm so glad I did. I just love this book so much!

This book is about family, and about treating others fairly and equally. It's about teaching your children these things and how important the home and family are for children.

It's about a single father (Atticus) in his later years (50 years old) raising two small children after his wife passes away.  Atticus is a lawyer and wonderful father, I loved so much about him. The way he talked to his children as fellow human beings, the way he treated others fairly and with grace, and the way he lived a simple, but meaningful life.

This book deals with the serious issue of racism, but like I said earlier,  it's so much more than that. Attitudes start in the home and a parents expressed thoughts often become deeply rooted in their children.

I thought I'd share one conversation Atticus has with his young daughter Scout, about racism and name calling.

"'Atticus', I said one evening, 'what exactly is a n_____-lover?'

Atticus's face was grave. 'Has somebody been calling you that?'

'No sir, Mrs. Dubose calls you that. She warms up every afternoon calling you that. Francis called me that last Christmas, that's where I first heard it.'

'Is that the reason you jumped on him?' asked Atticus.

'Yes sir...'
 
'Then why are you asking me what it means?'

I tried to explain to Atticus that it wasn't so much what Francis said that had infuriated me as the way he had said it. 'It was like he'd said snot-nose or somethin.'

'Scout,' said Atticus, ' n_____-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything - like snot-nose. It's hard to explain - ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favouring Negros over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.'

'You aren't really a n_____-lover, then , are you?'

'I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody...I'm hard put, sometimes - baby, it's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you. So don't let Mrs. Dubose get you down. She had enough troubles of her own.'"

This conversation has so much meaning, for so many reasons.

1. Atticus is talking to his daughter as he would talk to any human being. With respect and helpfulness.
2. He doesn't direct his anger towards those who said this, but generalizes the type of person who uses this language.
3.He is clear on what is right and wrong.
4. He explains ignorance.
5. He has no problem being called this because he thinks of all people as equal and are meant to be loved.
6. He thinks of others and their troubles, so advises not to let these words get his daughter down.

This conversation lets his daughter know clearly, that this language is wrong and ignorant, but also teaches her to love all people and remember everyone is going through something.

There were many wonderful conversations between Atticus and his children. It's one of the things I love most about this book.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when the children's housekeeper Calpurnia, because Atticus is away on business, takes the children to her African American church. At the end of the service the minister asks the congregation to donate to the family of Tom Robinson because he has been falsely accused and is sitting in jail awaiting trial.

"Reverend Sykes closed his sermon. He stood beside a table in front of the pulpit and requested the morning offering, a proceeding that was strange to Jem and me. One by one, the congregation came forward and dropped nickels and dimes into a black enamelled coffee can. Jem and I followed suit, and received a soft, 'Thank you, thank you,' as our dimes clinked.

To our amazement, Reverend Sykes emptied the can on to the table and raked the coins into his hand. He straightened up and said, 'This is not enough, we must have ten dollars.'

The congregation stirred. 'You all know what it's for - Helen can't leave those children to work while Tom's in jail. If everyone gives one more dime, we'll have it -' Reverend Sykes waved his hand and called to someone in the back of the church. 'Alec, shut the doors. Nobody leaves here till we have ten dollars.'

Calpurnia scratched in her handbag and brought forth a battered leather coin purse. 'Naw, Cal,' Jem whispered, when she handed him a shiny quarter, 'we can put ours in. Gimme your dime, Scout.'

The church was becoming stuffy, and it occurred to me that Reverend Sykes intended to sweat the amount due out of his flock. Fans crackled, feet shuffled, tobacco-chewers were in agony.

Reverend Sykes startled me by saying sternly, 'Carlow Richardson, I haven't seen you up this aisle yet.'

A thin man in khaki pants came up the aisle and deposited a coin. The congregation murmured approval.

Reverend Sykes then said, 'I want all of you with no children to make a sacrifice and give one more dime apiece. Then we'll have it.'

Slowly, painfully, the ten dollars were collected. The door was opened, and the gust of warm air revived us. Zeebo lined On Jordan's Stormy Banks, and church was over."

A pastor who encourages his congregation to help a family in need and won't take no for an answer! I so enjoyed reading this and the straightforwardness of this pastor! : )


If you haven't read 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' I highly recommend you do. It had a huge impact on me as a teen and now I've been reminded why. It's a moving and beautiful story everyone should read.


*Warning: There are a few mild curse words and the use of the 'N' word throughout.


Buy it HERE on Amazon


July 10, 2017

Taking God at His Word


I think this is an extremely important book for the times we live in. Times where even those who profess Christ are rejecting the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.

Kevin DeYoung says of his book here:

"This is a book unpacking what the Bible says about the Bible. My aim is to be simple, uncluttered, straightforward, and manifestly biblical."

I believe this was accomplished with this book. It was easy to read and understand, as well as encouraging. It's fairly short, but included a lot of great insights.

One of the main points of the book, I found to be, was the importance of realizing God speaks to us through the Scriptures.

The God of the universe speaks to us through the Scriptures.

How privileged are we to hear His voice whenever we pick up His Word.

I've heard and read of many Christians, in this world, who would do anything for a Bible, to hear God speak, and yet many have one and rarely pick it up.

I loved what the author says here:

"There is no calamity like the silence of God. We cannot know the truth or know ourselves or know God's ways or savingly know God himself unless God speaks to us. Every true Christian should feel deep in his bones an utter dependence on God's self-revelation in the Scriptures. 'Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.' (Deut. 8:3;Matt. 4:4)."


Chapter seven stood out to me the most. Titled 'Christ's Unbreakable Bible' it delves into what Jesus believed about the Scriptures.

The author says here:

"...we must conclude that whatever the perfect Son of God believed about the sacred writings, we should believe the same. There should be nothing controversial at all in affirming that Christ's doctrine of Scripture should be our doctrine of Scripture."

I am someone who agrees with what this author teaches about Scripture. So for me reading this book was a bit of a refresher. But I found this particular chapter really encouraged me, as I'd never thought of believing the Bible because Jesus believed it. It gave me a lot to think about.

Quotes like this were eye-opening...

"Our Messiah sees Himself as an expositor of Scripture, but never a corrector of Scripture. He fulfills it, but never falsifies it. He turns away wrong interpretations of Scripture, but insists there is nothing wrong with Scripture, down to the crossing of t's and dotting of i's. "

And here:

"Jesus believed Scripture was the Word of God, and as such, it would be gross impiety to think that any word spoken by God, or committed to writing by God, might be an errant word, a wrong word, or a broken word."

And here:

"In the Gospels we see Jesus reference Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaac and Jacob, manna in the wilderness, the serpent in the wilderness, Moses as the lawgiver, David and Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Elijah and Elisha, the widow of Zarephath, Naaman, Zechariah, and even Jonah, never questioning a single event, a single miracle, or a single historical claim. Jesus clearly believed in the historicity of biblical history."

And  here:

"Jesus has no problem referencing human authors of Scripture like Moses, Isaiah, David, and Daniel. But they stand in the background. They are the sub-authors working beneath the principle author of Scripture, namely, God Himself.

So Jesus can quote from Psalm 110, saying, 'David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared' (Mark 12:36), just as Paul in Romans 9:17 and Galatians 3:8 can use 'Scripture' as the subject where God is the Old Testament speaker. Holy Spirit, God, Scripture - they are not three different speakers with three different ranks. They refer to the same divine author with the same divine authority. 

Which is why Jesus can talk down the Devil by saying 'it is written,' and why he can claim, without any hint of controversy or hyperbole, that the Creator of the universe wrote Genesis. For Jesus, Scripture is powerful, decisive, and authoritative because it is nothing less than the voice of God."

And finally here:

The Lord Jesus, God's son and our Savior, believed His Bible was the word of God down to the sentences, to the phrases, to the words, to the smallest letter, to the tiniest specks - and that nothing in all those specks and in all those books in His Holy Bible could ever be broken."

Kevin Deyoung elaborates on all these points and shares Scripture to support them.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and if these points have interested you, I highly recommend reading it.



Buy it HERE on Amazon



July 1, 2017

6 Books I Still Think About - Part Two


A few years back I did a post on '6 books I still think about' and I thought it would be fun to do another one. There are so many books I've read in the past that have had an impact on me.

So here are 6 more books I still think about...


Night - This book is a memoir of a young Jewish boy who was taken from his small village to a concentration camp during WW2. I often think about this book and the extent of evil, human beings are capable of.

When I read books like this I'm reminded to pray...

"Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies." Psalm 141:4


We are all capable of evil. If we let it grow in our hearts. Many people have done horrific things throughout history, WW2 being no exception.

There were things in this book that I've never been able to shake off. Things I don't even want to talk about. One incident was so horrifying I just weep as I read it.

How could someone do the things some did?

It's the evil intent of the heart, when given into.

God help us. We need to look to You and call Your Name for help.

"Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me!" Psalm 40:13




A Place of Healing - "The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace." Joni Eareckson Tada

This was such a beautiful book. Joni is open and honest with her struggles and questions about her paralysis and chronic pain, but also encouraging in her strong faith, her devotion to the truth of Scripture and her dependence on God.


Some may say she hasn't been healed because she doesn't have enough faith.

I believe that is just plain ignorant.

God has not healed her physically, as of now, because He is shaping her and growing her and making her stronger in Him. He is teaching her to depend on Him completely and she is blessed to know Him in a deeper way then most of us.

She is such an encourager in Christ and I will always think on this book and the profound and Godly counsel she shared.

Here's one of many wonderful quotes from Joni, where she turns the focus from herself to the Lord:

"I can't be glum or sour or peevish, even if I am a little tired of paralysis, and even if I am weary of chronic pain. God's got me alive - I'm still here! - and that means there's a purpose for my life, a race to run, and a plan for my life. God has ordained this day for me to bring Him glory as best I can and to serve Him with joy."


Peace Like a River - How do I describe this book? It is a literal story of a father and his children, but also an allegory of the love of God for His. At first I thought this book was a bit strange, but when I finished, I realized what the author was doing and the message was beautiful and impactful.


I don't want to give to much away, but when I finished this book, I took a deep breath and I thanked Christ for what He did for me. I will think about this book for a long time to come.


When Christ Returns - This book moved me and I think about it often. When I picked it up I thought it was about the 'end times'. But what I found, was a book about the importance of being holy in knowing Christ, over just knowing about Him. Knowing the One who is returning, over knowing about His return.

We are called to be holy, without a desire to be holy, no amount of knowledge of Bible prophecy, end times theology or discernment will bring us closer to Him.

Spurgeon says here:

"It is far better to meditate on the Atonement than to be guessing at the meaning of 'a little horn' (Daniel 8:9). It is far better to know the Lord Jesus in His power to save than to devise an ingenious theory about 'the number of the beast' (Revelation 13:18). "


Is your heart ready for Christ's return? Is He your everything, your confidence?

Spurgeon says here:

"I cannot tell you to 'stand fast in the Lord' unless you are in Him. Hence, my first inquiry is, Are you in Christ? Is He your only confidence? In His life, His death, and His resurrection do you find the grounds of your hope? Is He Himself all your salvation and all your desire? If so, 'stand fast in the Lord."

That's what this book is about.

Is your heart ready for the return of Christ?

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13


Anne of Green Gables - This book was joyful. I loved it so much! L.M. Montgomery's writing was so beautiful and descriptive. I felt like I was on Prince Edward Island watching the cherry blooms fall from the trees or listening to the river flow.

I also loved Anne's character. I really loved the scene where she prays for the first time. So sweet!

I listened to this book on audio and it was an experience! One I'd enjoy listening to again.


If you've forgotten the beauty of nature and the gift it is from our Creator, and you need a reminder, read this book!

Then go outside, lay on the grass, look at the stars, run your fingers through a stream or smell a fragrant flower.

It reminded me that God is good and that the evidence is all around us.

And if you need a reminder of the beauty of relationships and how kindness changes so much in a persons life. Read this book!

Then go out and be kind to all you meet.


If: What do I know of Calvary Love - This is a very profound little book. I've talked about it often on my blog, as well as shared many parts of it.


It's a little book of poetic verses.

Each verse starts with 'if...' and ends with '...then I know nothing of Calvary love'.

Though each verse shines light on the sinfulness of the human heart, it also reveals the power of God's love.

He is Calvary love.

Here are a few examples:


If...I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another;
if I can in any way slight another in conversation,
or even in thought,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If...I have not compassion on my
fellow-servant,
even as my Lord had pity on me,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If...I want to be known as the doer of
something that has proved the
right thing,
or as the one who suggested that it
should be done,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If...I covet any place on earth but the
dust at the foot of the cross,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.


We don't come to God when we are ready to love Him, but He comes to us first in our pain, our messiness and our sin and shame.

And we love Him because of it.

"We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

I love this quote near the end of the book...

"There is no need to plead that the love of God shall fill our hearts as though He were unwilling to fill us: He is willing as light is willing to flood a room that is opened to its brightness; willing as water is willing to flow into an emptied channel. Love is pressing around us on all sides like air. Cease to resist, and instantly love takes possession."

God is love and He calls us to repentance so we can know Him.

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16



*Note: If you'd like to check out my other post on '6 books I still think about' ...click HERE



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