January 26, 2015

5 books on my future reading list

The Accidental Empress

I love history and historical fiction.

Especially when the author has a gift for writing. I haven't read this author before but have heard only great things. And this storyline sounds really intriguing.

Amazon says of the book here:

"The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world."

*NOTE Sept. 2015: I've now read this book and can not recommend it. It was advertised, by the publisher, as 'Christian fiction' but is far from it. I was blindsided near the end of the book where the author writes a scene glorifying an adulterous affair. Though this is an historical novel and she stays true to the history, the scene was immoral and unnecessary to tell the story. I'm very disappointed in the publishing company for deceiving Christian fiction readers.

The Giver

I don't usually read this genre of book but I recently saw the movie and found it so thought-provoking.

I was taken aback by what I saw as a very strong pro-life message. I wonder if the author intended this? And did others notice it?

It reminded me of the words of Jesus as He hung on the cross:

"Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34

Amazon describes it here:

"In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. 

Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price."


Ever since I watched 'Roots' as a nine year old girl, I've detested racism.

And I've always believed inter-racial marriage was a beautiful thing orchestrated by God, just like every other marriage.

But that's never been a popular opinion.

When I read what this book was about I was so beyond excited. Someone with the same thoughts as me!

In the preface John Piper says:

"The bloodline of Jesus Christ is deeper than the bloodlines of race. The death and resurrection of the Son of God for sinners is the only sufficient power to bring the bloodlines of race into the single bloodline of the cross."

Powerful words. Needless to say, I can't wait to read this book.

The Butterfly and the Violin

This is one of those novels that goes back and forth in time, from the present to the past. I really love these kinds of books.

And the cover is so beautiful. : )

Amazon says here of the story:

"A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz--and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who maybe the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: 

Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart."

When Others Shuddered

This contains eight short stories of real women who refused to give up in their service to the Lord. I've only heard of one of them and so I'm really looking forward to learning about the others.

The author in her introduction says:

"We have too few female heroes of the faith.

It is easy to name men who have worked for God in historic and substantial ways, but very often, when asked to name a notable woman of faith, our minds draw a collective blank.


Certainly it is not for lack of women who have served God."

In her book she introduces us to eight of these women:

Fanny Crosby
'Emma' Emeline E. Dryer
'Nettie' Nancy (Fowler) Mccormick
Sarah Dunn Clarke
Amanda Smith
Virginia Asher
Evangeline Booth
Mary McLeod Bethune

January 22, 2015

For Those Who Can't Speak

Tenth Avenue North is one of my favorite bands and I love love love their new album. : )

Today they are encouraging us to stand up for those who have no voice.

Jeff from the band says:

"Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn't promised.  So tell the world about the things you long to see change in the world.  There's injustice that preys upon the meek.  There is oppression that is fueled by those who pretend it doesn't exist.  Use your voice to those around you- 2 followers on Twitter is just as important as 2,000.

Use your camera for someone other than yourself- A blank caption to something real in your timeline is more captivating than any selfie or breakfast food you could post. Use what you have if even so small.  Use your time for those who have little left.  Use your hands for those who are chained.  Use your voice for those who can't speak."

Here are some ways you can use your voice to speak out and help:

1. Pray: 
Pray for the victims and organizations fighting human trafficking.https://www.ijm.org/get-involved/pray

2. Give: ­ 

Slave Prevention with Compassion by
sponsoring a child today http://compassion.com/tenthavenuenorth
Slave rescuing with IJM 

3. Commit: 
Sign ­this petition started by International Justice Mission -

4. Share: 
Use your social networks to share the music video and petition with friends and family. You can make a difference with your voice.

5. Tell: 

Who is 1 friend or family member you can
tell about the problem of human trafficking


Tenth Avenue North: Website

Tenth Avenue North: Twitter 

Tenth Avenue North: Facebook 

January 19, 2015

Finally Alive

These kinds of books are why I started blogging. Books that are full of life changing truth.

This book deals with the new birth or what Jesus called being born again.

In this book we learn:

-what the new birth is
-why we need it
-how it comes to be
-and where it leads

John Piper is thorough in explaining each question and answers all from Scripture. It was basically a Bible study rich in Biblical truth.

Every. Single. Chapter. Stood out to me.

But there was one chapter that caught my attention a little more than the others because it dealt with things that I struggled with growing up.

In chapter ten, it deals with the idea of losing your salvation, also called falling away, something that was taught in the church I grew up in. It always terrified me. The thought of losing my salvation caused me to be leery to give my whole heart to a God who may at anytime decide to 'unsave' me.

It caused me to never fully trust in Him.

But I've since found the Scriptures teach otherwise and this brings me such joy!!

John Piper helps navigate these Scriptures.

When we are truly born again God will not leave us when we fall, instead he will convict us by His Holy Spirit and bring us to the truth once again.

In this chapter John Piper uses Scripture, namely 1 John, to share that God is trustworthy in giving eternal salvation to those who truly believe, but that there are also those who seem to believe but are not really born again and how to test this.

John Piper says here:

"One of the mistaken effects of all those 'tests of life' would be to overwhelm us with the sense that John might possibly be saying: 'If you're born again, you're perfect. If you're born again, you don't sin at all. There is no defeat in the Christian life. There is only victory.' That would be a serious misreading of the letter.

Another mistaken effect that these tests might have on our minds is to make us think we can lose our salvation. They might make us think that we can be born again for a while and then begin to fail in these tests and die and lose the spiritual life that we were given in the new birth. That would be another serious mistake.

John is very aware that his words could be taken in these two wrong ways. So he is as explicit as any writer in the New Testament that this is not the case: 

Christians are not sinless, and born-again people cannot lose the new birth and be lost.

He says in 1 John 1:8-10:  'If we say we have no sin (present tense), we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess  our sins (present tense), he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.' 

So John is at pains to say that, 'walking in the light'(1:7) does not mean walking flawlessly. It means that, when you stumble, the light of Christ causes you to see your stumbling as sin and hate it and confess it and receive forgiveness and move forward with Christ.

And John is just as jealous to make sure we don't infer from these 'tests of life' that we can be born again and then later lose our life and be lost. 1 John 2:19 is one of the clearest statements in the Bible that there is another way to understand what happens when a person abandons the church. It says:

'They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.'

Notice three things John says to protect us from misunderstanding. 

1) Those who seemed to be born again and forsook the faith never were born again - they never were of us. 'They went out from us, but they were not of us.' In other words, the explanation is not that they lost their new birth. They never had it. 

2) Those who are truly born again (who are 'of us') will persevere to the end in faith. Verse 19: 'If they had been of us, they would have continued with us.' 

Endurance is not the cause of the new birth. The new birth is the cause of endurance, and endurance is the evidence of new birth.

3) God often makes plain who the false Christians are in the church by their eventual rejection of the truth and the people of God. Verse 19: 'They went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.' It became plain. So today it often becomes plain who are 'of us.'

You recall that one of the tests of life in 1 John 4:6 was that those who truly know God listen to the apostolic teaching. They love it, and they cling to it. 'Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.' These people listened for awhile. The seed of the word sprang up, perhaps even with joy and it looked as though they were truly born again.

But then hard times came and the cares and riches and pleasures of life swept them away, and they showed that they had never been born again."

Luke 8:4-8 and 8:11-15:

"And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable:

'A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.
Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.

But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.' When He had said these things He cried,  

'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'...
...Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  

'Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 

But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience."

I found this book to be one of the most encouraging books I've read. I think it was all that Scripture that came to life!

I hate to only point out just one chapter from this book, as everything in it was noteworthy and flows together beautifully to give us a greater understanding of the new birth.

It will strengthen your faith in the God who has given you the greatest gift...new birth.

It's made me love Him more. : )

*NOTE - Reading the book of 1 John before reading John Pipers words will help in understanding.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

January 13, 2015

Choosing Him All Over Again

I loved reading Juana's story.

And when I was asked to be a part of her blog tour for her new book, I was very excited!

It's a beautiful story of redemption and the changes God makes in the lives of His children.

Juana was only married a few years when she decided she wanted to leave her husband...she felt he wasn't fulfilling her needs.

This is her story, a story of how God not only brought her to Himself, but how He restored her marriage and revealed to her that only He can be everything to her.

I loved the way Juana glorified the Lord on every page, and shared Scripture throughout. She also shares many wonderful and wise quotes by godly men and women to encourage the reader.

Juana's words from chapter five nicely summed up the theme within this book for me...

"...our part is to trust, and God's part is to work. There is much work to be done! Wrong attitudes need to be changed, evil habits need to be overcome, sins need to be conquered, minds need to be transformed - and as we trust Him, God accomplishes these results."

When we simply trust in Christ the Holy Spirit does the work in us.

I love that.

Trust Him in your marriage. You will see a change, even if ever so slowly.

I highly recommend Juana's story.

More about the Book:

A handsome husband, a dream job, and plenty of money- so why wasn't Juana Mikels happy? In a desperate attempt to find the peace and happiness she craved Mikels left it all behind. In Choosing Him All Over Again: A Story of Romance & Redemption, Mikels offers an intimate account of her search for Mr. Right, a journey that ended up leading her into the arms of Jesus, and ultimately back home to her husband. 

Mikels not only includes a candid recount of her own marriage struggles in Choosing Him All Over Again, but she interviewed more than 40 people, all of whom had been separated or divorced at one time. "It is my prayer that you will be encouraged and able to love your husband and to choose him again," writes Mikels. "It is my delight to share my history with you because my story is a story of God's grace." 

Choosing Him All Over Again includes strikingly honest accounts of Mikels' personal experience of separation from her husband and their ultimate reconciliation. Mikels offers wives 11 checkpoints for refreshing any marriage including saying 'I love you' daily, not bringing up past failures and praying for your husband every day. The book provides free resources like prayers Mikels prays for her husband, a note to Christian women married to unbelievers or married to Christian men who are not acting as believers should and access to a FREE downloadable companion Bible study guide.

About the Author:
JUANA MIKELS’S DESIRE IS TO see women’s lives changed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Juana speaks to women’s groups and churches with her story and seminar on order, home life, and time management for busy Christian mothers. 

Formerly a National Account Manager with Xerox Corporation, she left the work force to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled her children. Juana’s experience in both business and homeschooling gives her an excellent background to understand and help other busy moms. Juana, her husband, Terry, and their four children live in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can also find her on social media under the profile JuanaMikels. 

Her blog is at www.choosinghim.com

Buy it HERE on Amazon