December 30, 2015

10 Great Reads of 2015

I aimed for 45 books this year and was able to surpassed it to 65 books. I'm surprised that I read this many, though I admit some were quite short reads. : )

Again this year I read a lot of non-fiction, as that's what seems to resonate with me lately. My favorites of this past year, include eight non-fiction and two fiction books.

I also read from my Bible, the book of Acts, the book of Jeremiah and I made it half way through Revelation. I've read both Acts and Revelation several times before, but this was the first time I'd read through the whole book of Jeremiah. I found it amazing. What an amazing God we have! This book taught me that God never gives up on His people. His love is never-ending and He pursues those He loves, despite our rebellion.

“Praise the LORD of hosts,
For the LORD is good,
For His mercy endures forever” Jeremiah 33:11

I'm also including a link to my 'most read post' this year called, '6 books I still think about.' I was pleasantly surprised by the response. : )

Here's the link: 6 books I still think about

Now onto my top 10 reads of 2015...

Christmas Bells - This was a lovely fiction read. Part modern day story, part 19th century story with the setting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family. Read my thoughts HERE

The Cross He Bore - This was probably my favorite of all and will be read again and again. It was good to be reminded of what happened that day and I loved how the author implores the reader to meditate on God's Word, which shares the sufferings of our Savior. Read my thoughts HERE

Surprised by Oxford - I really enjoyed reading this beautifully written memoir by Carolyn Weber. Read my thoughts HERE

Women of the Word - This book had some great ideas and tools to help you read your Bible more efficiently and bring more out of your Bible reading. Read my thoughts HERE

'Another Jesus' Calling - This was a book that answered a lot of questions. It's an exposé, if you will, on Sarah Young's book 'Jesus Calling.' I found it eye-opening and encouraged me "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" Jude 1:3. Read my thoughts HERE

The Case for Grace - This book was filled with beautiful stories of God's grace. Read my thoughts HERE

Finally Alive - Do you want to know what it means to be born again? To be finally alive? John Piper explains it so well in this book. Read my thoughts HERE

Strange Fire - This was somewhat of a controversial book, but I found it very informative. Especially when it comes to the Holy Spirit, which I share about in my post HERE

Wolves Among Us - This is the second fiction read I'm including. It dealt with a disturbing subject, the witch hunts of the 16th century. Read my thoughts HERE

Plain Faith - This was another amazing memoir written by an Amish couple who share their journey out of the Amish church and lifestyle. Read my thoughts HERE

*This year I have decided to include an honorable mention. R.C. Sproul's book, 'The Holiness of God.' I haven't got around to writing about it yet, but found it to be thought-provoking and humbling. I'm looking forward to sharing about it in the new year.

                                         Happy New Year Everyone and Happy Reading in 2016!

December 7, 2015

Simeon and the Cure

I thought I'd share a few lines from a book by A.W. Tozer, that reminded me of what Christmas is really about:

"Mankind is still inventing new ways of self-treatment and medication for failures and weaknesses and wrong-doing, even in our own day, not recognizing that the cure has already come.

Simeon, the old man of God who had waited in hope around the temple, knew that the cure had come! When he saw the baby Jesus, he took Him up in his arms, looked down at Him and said,  

"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace...for mine eyes have seen Your salvation." (Luke 2:29-30)


We live in a world that is always coming up with a new remedy, a new plan, or a new way of doing things. A world that tells us to look within ourselves for peace, grace and salvation. When in reality this world really has nothing of worth to offer us, and we have nothing of true worth without Christ. Nothing that will matter in the end.

Oh, but what joy Simeon must have felt as he held Jesus in his arms! Jesus!  Knowing this was the Son of God who would take away the sins of the world! The One that would make things right. The One who is the cure.

"And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,

 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

'Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;

 For my eyes have seen Your salvation

Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,

A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.'

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, 

'Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against

(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
                                                Luke 2:25-35

Jesus is the cure.

And all His gifts to us are free. FREE. His gift of peace, His gift of salvation, His gift of grace. There is not one thing we can do to deserve His gifts. No amount of work, no amount of thinking, no amount of willing. He only asks us to repent and humbly accept them in Him. To lay down self, and rest in Him, the cure.

Definition of a gift:
-something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone

-something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned

Gift of Peace:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

Gift of Salvation:

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Gift of Grace:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" Ephesians 2:8

I thank God for His gifts, through His son Jesus Christ, who's birth we celebrate at Christmas. Praise Him!

* Note - I will be taking a blogging break until after Christmas, but will be back at the end of the month with my '10 Great Reads of 2015.'

                                                                Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 1, 2015

Christmas Bells

This was such a lovely novel.

The book starts out in the present day during a children's choir rehearsal. Every other chapter shares the stories of those involved, the choir director, the pianist, the priest, a nun, children from the choir as well as their parents and the wife of a wealthy politician who has recently passed away.

At first I didn't see where the story was going, but as I read on the author intertwined theirs stories beautifully.

Every other chapter is the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family. It shares many details of the time, which takes place during the Civil War. I loved reading these chapters. They are also set during Christmas and really put me in the Christmas mood. Not necessarily a holiday mood, but a mood of thankfulness for my Savior and the peace He gives us so freely.

Here is a sample:

December 1860

"On Christmas morning as the Longfellow family walked home from church, bells pealed gloriously overhead until all of Cambridge resounded in exultant euphony. Harness bells chimed in, light and cheerful, as horse-drawn sleighs glided swiftly down Brattle Street, their laughing passengers bundled warmly in blankets against the nip in the air. The sky was a flawless azure redolent of Iberian seas with nary a cloud, the sun shone with golden morning light, and a soft, downy blanket of snow covered the earth. 

Everywhere friends and neighbors called out greetings, and even strangers wished one another a Merry Christmas and courteously made room to pass on the sidewalks. With the promise of a Yule log burning on the hearth at home, a sumptuous feast to come, a good bottle of wine at the table, and friends gathered round to share it. Henry could almost believe that the tidings of the holy day could turn even the angriest hearts to reconciliation."

Longfellow had some extremely hard times in his life and one Christmas day he reflected on the war raging all around, where is the peace on earth? Some of us may be wondering that today, but what Longfellow knew, and answered his own question with, was a greater peace that is not of this world. A peace that surpasses our understanding, a peace that comes from the God who sent His Son that first Christmas morning.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians  4:7

Here's a video of the story of Longfellow and the poem he wrote, which we still sing today at Christmas.

                         Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
        "For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Buy it HERE on Amazon