December 29, 2018

10 Great Reads of 2018


My goal for 2018 was once again to read 50 books, and I just made it!

I tried to participate in the Tim Challies Reading Challenge but only got 7 of the 13 books I chose, read. Hopefully I can get to the others in 2019!

Here were my picks for the 2018 Tim Challies Challenge with a check mark in front of the ones I finished:

1. A book by a female author -  'None Like Him' by Jen Wilkin

  2. A biography - 'Jane Austen: A Life' by Claire Tomalin

3. A book by your favorite author - 'Miracles' by C.S. Lewis

4. A book more than 100 years old - 'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

5. A classic novel - 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson

  6. A book about history - 'Mysteries of the Middle Ages' by Thomas Cahill 

  7. A book you have read before - 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen

 8. A book about Christian living - 'This is Our Time' by Trevin Wax

9. A novel longer than 300 pages - 'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey

 10. A memoir or autobiography - 'The Emancipation of Robert Sadler' by Marie Chapian and Robert Sadler

 11. A book about theology - 'The God Who is There' by Francis A. Schaeffer

12.  A book of 100 pages or less - 'Mary' by Leonardo De Chirico

13. A book of your choice - 'Elizabeth and her German Garden' by Elizabeth von Arnim


I also enjoyed reading more classic novels and would like to continue doing that this coming year.

I finally finished the Anne of Green Gables series with the last 5 books. Some were better than others, but I'd have to say my favorites were the first and last books, 'Anne of Green Gables' and 'Rilla of Ingleside.'

Here are the rest of the classics I read:

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Black Beauty by Anna Sewall
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson 
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Now onto my favorite reads of 2018...


None Like Him by Jen Wilkin -  I really loved this book! It talks about the attributes of God and how knowing how He is different from us, gives us a greater hope in Him. 

You can read my thoughts on this book ... HERE




I Can Only Imagine by Bart Millard - I've always loved the song 'I Can Only Imagine' and I really enjoyed reading Bart's story of how he came to write it. The movie is also very good!

You can read my thoughts on the book ... HERE





Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges - This book talks about the sins we often sweep under the carpet and excuse because 'everyone does them.' Sins such as unthankfulness, discontentment and gossip.

You can read my thoughts on this book... HERE





Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell - This is definitely a new favorite! A story with a bit of a Cinderella feel to it, as well as great writing, which made it an enjoyable read.





Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton -  This was a long one, but very interesting. It's a biography of Martin Luther, the German monk who changed history by speaking out about the abuses of the church of the time. Martin Luther was not perfect, he had his flaws, but God always uses flawed people to show us who He is. A gracious God. A caring God. And a truthful God. 





Defining Deception by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood - This book deals with some of the deceptions within the church today. Costi is the nephew of the well-known erroneous teacher Benny Hinn, and though he loves his uncle, he lays out the falsehoods he teaches. This book also deals with the false teachings within the prosperity gospel, Bethel Redding and the New Apostolic Reformation, also known as the NAR. 

You can read my thoughts on this book... HERE

Also if you are interested this is Costi's testimony... HERE





All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot - I'm really enjoying this 5 book memoir series of a Yorkshire country vet during the early 20th century. This one, which is book 3, is particularly funny and I am loving all the endearing characters. 

Note: There is some mild language in these books, but other than that, so far they are clean reads.





Jane Austen at Home by Lucy WorsleyThis was a wonderful book on Jane's life. I love Jane Austen's novels and really enjoy reading about her. So this was a real treat.

You can read my thoughts ... HERE





Miracles by C.S. Lewis -  This was another great read from C.S. Lewis. His thoughts were so deep and he always gives me something to ponder. I actually listened to this one on audio and had a hard time remembering everything I wanted to. I do have a copy of the book and intend to read it again so I can underline some of his profound thoughts.




Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers - This was such a beautifully written book. It consisted of 52 devotionals to reflect on each week of the year.

You can read my thoughts ... HERE






Happy reading in 2019 and have a blessed New Year!





December 3, 2018

Christmas Reads


I really enjoy reading Christmas books in December. Here are a few books I've read and I am reading for this 2018 Christmas season.


Mr. Dickens and His Carol - I recently finished this one and really loved the writing style, it was very beautiful and gave that wonderful Victorian feel. I'm not sure how much of this story is real to Charles Dickens life, and how he came to write 'A Christmas Carol', but it was captivating non-the-less.

There was a hint of his infidelity to his wife and children throughout the book, which didn't sit well with me, though there wasn't anything inappropriate written. Overall it was an enjoyable read.




Christmas: A Biography - Unfortunately I didn't get to far in this one. Only a few chapters. It really didn't have anything to do with the Christmas of the Christian faith, but rather how non-believers have celebrated it through the years. It focused on a lot of feasting, particularly over indulgence, secular traditions and rituals of the royals of times gone by.

After three or four chapters of this it got mundane and meaningless. Though it had the odd interesting fact, overall I wouldn't recommend it, especially to those looking for a biography of what Christians celebrate each Christmas.



Christmas at Carnton - I am enjoying this novella! It's set during the civil war era, which is one of my favorite time periods to read about. I've enjoyed other books by Tamera Alexander and looking forward to finishing this one.



Come Thou Long Expected Jesus - I'm thoroughly enjoying this one so far! It's an 'anthology of Advent readings collected from the writings and sermons of 22 classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers.' (taken from the description).

Some of the writers include George Whitfield, Randy Alcorn, John Piper, J.C. Ryle, Charles Spurgeon, Joni Eareckson Tada, Francis Schaeffer and Saint Augustine. It's edited by Nancy Guthrie.

Here is a quote from the first chapter by George Whitefield (1714-1770) which sums up the true meaning of celebrating Christmas:

"...let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church with joy in our hearts; let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this Savior's love never be forgotten! 

But may we sing forth all his love and glory as long as life shall last here, and through an endless eternity in the world above! May we chant forth the wonders of redeeming love and the riches of free grace, amidst angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, without intermission, forever and ever! 

And as, my brethren, the time for keeping this festival is approaching, let us consider our duty in the true observation thereof, of the right way for the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls, to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; an event which ought to be had in eternal remembrance."






November 26, 2018

Respectable Sins


"Now after John (the baptist) was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  Mark 1:14-15

Sin is something we don't like to think about.

And often Christians refuse to even talk about it, worried they may offend. But it's something we all do and something we all can find forgiveness for.

Sin is basically rebellion against God and His character. For example when we hate, we are going against God who is - love, when we are impatient or prideful or selfish or unfaithful we are in conflict with God, who is patient, humble, selfless and faithful. In other words everything that is good is of God and anything that rebels against His goodness is sin.

And all sin grieves God.

This book deals with those sins we all commit but often sweep under the carpet and try to justify by saying, 'everyone does them.'

But the truth is they still need to be dealt with, within our own hearts.

Jerry Bridges says here:

"This book, as the title announces, is about sin - not the obvious sins of our culture but the subtle sins of believers, the target audience of this book. So let me say up front that I am not without the sins addressed in this book. In fact, you will find that I sometimes use my own sad experiences as examples of some of these sins.

The motivation for this book stems from a growing conviction that those of us whom I call conservative evangelicals may have become so preoccupied with some of the major sins of society around us that we have lost sight of the need to deal with our own more 'refined' or subtle sins."

The good news is the gospel. God sent a way for our sins to be forgiven and forgotten. To be wiped away as far as the east is from the west through His son Jesus Christ.

He continues here:

"While seeking to address these 'respectable' sins, however, I also want this to be a book of hope. We are never to wallow hopelessly in our sins. Rather, we are to believe the gospel through which God has dealt with both the guilt of our sin and its dominion over us...

...Many Christians think of the gospel as only for unbelievers. Once we trust in Christ, so the thinking goes, we no longer need the gospel. But as I seek to bring out in this book, the gospel is a vital gift from God not only for our salvation but also to enable us to deal with the ongoing activity of sin in our lives. So we still need the gospel every day."

Here are the chapter headings:

 1. Ordinary Saints
 2. The Disappearance of Sin
 3. The Malignancy of Sin
 4. The Remedy for Sin
 5. The Power of the Holy Spirit
 6. Directions for Dealing with Sins
 7. Ungodliness
 8. Anxiety and Frustration 
 9. Discontentment 
10. Unthankfulness
11. Pride
12. Selfishness
13. Lack of Self-Control
14. Impatience and Irritability
15. Anger
16. The Weeds of Anger
17. Judgmentalism
18. Envy, Jealousy, and Related Sins
19. Sins of the Tongue
20. Worldliness
21. Where Do We Go from Here?

There were chapters in this book which were hard to read. I think everyone will find at least a few they don't like! But it's because they deal with the sins we struggle with the most.

Reading through this book made me appreciate the grace of God and how wonderful and amazing it really is. He truly is good!

This is the first book I've read by Jerry Bridges and I'm looking forward to reading more by him. His writing style was easy to get through and his humility was apparent throughout the book. I really appreciated that. Instead of pointing the finger, he included himself with us, as a sinner who needed the grace of God daily.

He understood the power of God and how He can change a heart through repentance, and he gave the glory to Him.

I'll leave you with this quote from Charles Spurgeon on repentance and grace. It's a reminder that we need God's grace on a daily basis...

“Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be got over as fast as possible! No; it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. God's little children repent, and so do the young men *(and women) and the fathers *(and mothers). Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith.” 



NOTE: *italics added by me.



November 1, 2018

What I'm Currently Reading


Here on my blog, I've enjoyed sharing about books I've read, as well as ones on my future reading list. Today is the beginning of a new set of posts consisting of the books I'm currently reading. I've always enjoy hearing about what others are in the middle of, so hopefully you'll find this enjoyable too.

I'm a multiple-book reader. Meaning I love to read more than one book at a time, and usually have four or five going at once. It helps me keep my interest as I switch from something heavy like theology or a biography to something lighter, such as fiction.
 
Here are the books I'm currently reading right now:





Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

I'm nearing the end of this book and enjoying it immensely. The character development in these old classics are so wonderful. You really get attached to each of the personalities. This novel has a bit of a Cinderella feel to it, with a young teenage girl named Molly. She is living with her widowed father, who then marries again to a not so pleasant woman, with a daughter close to Molly's age.

Elizabeth Gaskell died before she was able to finish this book but I've been told it really only needed a few more pages and can easily be put together in the readers imagination. I'm looking forward to watching the miniseries from the library as soon as I finish this one!





Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley

I'm not to far into this one but finding it really interesting and written in an 'easy to understand' way. I have been reading it on my kindle, but like reading most non-fiction on my kindle, I've found it hard to fully enjoy the reading experience. Mainly because I love to underline, write notes and flip back and forth through the pages. So I was super excited when I found a used copy in excellent condition at a thrift store for $6!

I've just finished chapter 6 of 48 which was about the Gnostics. It's interesting to see how false teachings, such as the Gnostics taught, actually strengthened the church by making them dig deeper into God's Word.

I'm going to take my time reading through this one and try to absorb as much as I can.





Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

I'm going into the last few chapters of this one and have enjoyed it. This is book six of eight in the Anne of  Green Gables series. Anne is now married with six children and this book is filled with their escapades. It's not my favorite in the series but like all the Anne books there is beauty to be found. As a gardener myself, I especially loved this autumnal quote:

"Anne was busy in her garden every warm day, drinking in colour like wine, where the late sunshine fell on crimson maples, revelling in the exquisite sadness of fleeting beauty. One gold-grey smoky afternoon she and Jem planted all the tulip bulbs, that would have a resurrection of rose and scarlet and purple and gold in June. 

'Isn't it nice to be preparing for spring when you know you've got to face winter, Jem?' 

'And it's nice to be making the garden beautiful,' said Jem. 'Susan says it is God who makes everything beautiful but we can help Him out a bit, can't we, Mums?'

'Always...always, Jem. He shares that privilege with us.'"





Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges 

I'm nearly done this book and it's given me a lot to think about. I love the way Jerry Bridges communicates. He writes in a very loving and encouraging way, which isn't always easy when you are writing about sin! I definitely would like to read more books by him. I'm hoping to share more from this book soon. For now I'll share this one quote:

"Many Christians think of the gospel as only for the unbelievers. Once we trust in Christ, so the thinking goes, we no longer need the gospel. But as I seek to bring out in this book, the gospel is a vital gift from God not only for our salvation but also to enable us to deal with the ongoing activity of sin in our lives. so we still need the gospel every day."




Mrs. Oswald Chambers by Michelle Ule

I've been reading this one for awhile now and finding it hard to get through. I think it's just me, not getting along with the writing style. I really do want to get through it though as I'm interested in Oswald and Biddy's lives. I'm on chapter 6 of 18.

Have you read any of these books? What are you currently reading? Feel free to share!



September 5, 2018

Faithfulness & Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle


I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very interesting to learn about J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), and what he taught.

His book 'Holiness,' which is included in this biography, is one of my favorites.

J.I. Packer, the author of this bio, expressed a fondness and respect for J.C. Ryle and I could tell he looked up to him as a leader in the church.

J.C. Ryle was an Anglican pastor in Victorian England, who had a passion for Christ and His Word. A man who stood his ground when it came to orthodoxy, as well as loved his people and family well. One thing that fascinated me, was Ryle's love of the Puritans and their teachings. I haven't read a lot of Puritan literature but this book piqued my interest and I'm looking forward to adding some to my TBR!

J. I. Packer says here:

"Ryle looked to the seventeenth-century Puritans as classic evangelicals, and made no secret of being 'a thorough lover of Puritan theology.' "

J.C. Ryle says here:

"For myself, I can only say, that the very reason why many in this day dislike the Puritans is the very reason why I love them... They deserve honor, in my opinion, on account of their bold and outspoken Protestantism. They deserve honor on account of their clear, sharply-cut, distinct Evangelicalism. I want to see their writings more widely read, and their conduct more fairly judged and duly appreciated by English Churchmen...As long as I live, I hope I shall never be ashamed to stand up for them."

In the last chapter of this book Packer expresses and explains his love of the puritan writers as well.


After finishing this book I have a greater appreciation for J.C. Ryle and what he taught. He held Scripture up to the highest of standards and honored God with his devotion to His truth. The gospel of Jesus Christ was the center of his preaching and of his own life.

J.C. Ryle says here of what should be taught from the pulpit:

"All the simplicity in the world can do no good, unless you preach the simple gospel of Jesus Christ so fully and clearly that everyone can understand it. If Christ crucified has not his rightful place in your sermons, and sin is not exposed as it should be, and your people are not plainly told what they ought to believe, and be, and do, your preaching is of no use."

Strong words, but desperately needed in our churches today.


I also loved that J.C. Ryle was a reader. : ) He loved to think about what he read and how it could be applied.

He says here of reading great Christian books:

"...books in which Scripture is reverently regarded as the only rule of faith and practice - books in which Christ and the Holy Ghost have their rightful office - books in which justification, and sanctification, and regeneration, and faith, and grace, and holiness are clearly, distinctly, and accurately delineated, and exhibited...are books which do real good."

I agree. Christian books that center on Christ, do real good.


If you are looking for a masterpiece on Christian living, I highly recommend 'Holiness' by J.C. Ryle, and if you would like to get to know this man better, I recommend this book on his life as well.

I will leave you with one of my favorite J.C. Ryle quotes from his book 'Holiness.' It shows his heart, and that his heart is with Christ:

"Christ loves His people to lean on Him, to rest in Him, to call on Him, to abide in Him.

Let us all learn and strive to do so more and more. 

Let us live on Christ. Let us live in Christ. Let us live with Christ. Let us live to Christ. 

So doing, we shall prove that we fully realize that 'Christ is all.' So doing we shall feel great peace, and attain more of that 'holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.' (Heb. 12:14)"



Buy it HERE on Amazon


August 20, 2018

I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir


This was such a wonderful book!

There is so much of God and His goodness in it, so much honor and glory given to Him. He is the center, and His love and kindness are shown through each persons life.

Going into this read I had no idea the story behind the song, 'I Can Only Imagine.' It's always been one of my favorites, as it is so many others, but I wasn't expecting it's beauty to deepen.

This story was so beautiful, a story of redemption, forgiveness and how God changes those of us who humble themselves before Him.

The back cover says here:
 
"MercyMe’s crossover hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” has touched millions of people around the world. But few know about the pain, redemption, and healing that inspired the song. Now Bart Millard, award-winning recording artist and lead singer of MercyMe, shares how his dad’s transformation from abusive father to man of God sparked a divine moment in music history."


In this book you will see how God is working through each circumstance, each experience, each person, and it is so moving. Make sure you have plenty of tissues at hand!

When God changes a heart it is often slow going, a digging deep and a painful burning down so that a new life can begin. Bart shares this progress not only in his dad, but also in himself. He is open and honest and I appreciated that, because it always makes room for others to be open and honest as well.

The ending of Bart's dad's life was painful, as he suffered and died from cancer. But Bart reminds us that even though some may say his dad got what he deserved, God had a different plan. A plan of grace. This reminded me of what I've been studying in Isaiah.

I've been studying Isaiah 53:5...

"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed."


...and learning that this verse is about salvation, rather than physical healing. He went through this punishment for our peace to give us salvation.

1 Peter 2:24-25 confirms this:

"...who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. "

Peter reminds believers that we have died to sin and live for righteousness through Christ boring our sins in His own body. The stripes Christ bore have healed us from sin to righteousness.

Bart's dad went through a lot of physical pain in his last days, but God was healing him in a better way. Through Christ, Bart's dad found true healing, the healing that comes from the stripes on the back of Jesus.

A forever healing that eternally saves. A healing that is open to all of us.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28


I can't tell you how much I recommend this book. It was just so good. I also loved that Bart included an appendix at the back on our identity in Christ, which shares 75 verses to remind us of who we are in Him.

This has been made into a movie and I'm hoping they stuck to the books focus on the Lord. I'm looking forward to watching it. : )

Now go read this book!



Buy it HERE on Amazon


August 5, 2018

5 books on my future reading list

I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir

Named after 'Mercy Me's' famous Christian song, this memoir, by the lead singer Bart Millard, is the story of him and his family.

As so many others, I've loved this song throughout the years. It's one of those songs that will never go out of style. A song that encourages you to think and ponder on the Lord and eternity to come.

Pastor Greg Laurie says here of this book:

"In I Can Only Imagine, we are reminded that God is able to transform an abusive and monstrous father into a tenderhearted friend and role model. He is able to change a reluctant choir student into a world-renowned vocalist. And he can turn a song written in ten minutes into an anthem about the wonder of eternity.

God is able to do 'immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,' and Bart's story is a testament to that truth." 



Church History in Plain Language 

I recently started this one and I'm loving it!

There really isn't anything 'new under the sun' and God has used great men and women throughout history to help us keep His Word and stay true to it's teaching.

One thing I'm noticing as I read, is that a lot of false teachers today ask the same questions and follow after the same heresies of long ago.

It's important to look to history to see what has been rejected by true believers in the past, so we can move forward in teaching what is right.

Christianbooks.com says here of the book:

"Church history made fascinating! In this updated edition of his classic, Shelley offers a lively account of the ages of the church---from apostolic times to the present---plus new chapters on the explosive growth of Christianity in the southern hemisphere, the influence of technology on the spread of the gospel, the decline of mainline denominations, and more."



Becoming Mrs. Lewis

I love C.S. Lewis. He is one of my favorite authors. I so enjoy his books. Though they can be a bit of a drudge to get through at times, they are so worth it. : )

This novel is about how he met and came to love his wife Joy. I'm really looking forward to it.

Goodreads says here:

"In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all."




The Gospel According to God

This book is based on Isaiah 53, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible and one I love so much.

“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Amazon says here:

"Often hailed as one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, the prophecy of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 foretells the crucifixion of Jesus, the central event in God’s ultimate plan to redeem the world.

This book explains the prophetic words of Isaiah 53 verse by verse, highlighting important connections to the history of Israel and to the New Testament—ultimately showing us how this ancient prophecy illuminates essential truths that undergird our lives today."



True Feelings God's Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions

We all have feelings and emotions, and as Christian women we need to learn how to honor God with them.

It's an on-going struggle for most, including myself, but with God's direction and guidance, we can learn.

Amazon says here:

"Emotions can be confusing. At times, we live at the mercy of our emotions, feeling helpless to understand them and powerless to control them. But the Bible brings clarity to this confusion, showing women that emotions are ultimately a gift from God. 

In this book, a mother-daughter team offers women a fresh perspective on their feelings straight from God's Word, helping them handle emotions in a way that honors God and others. Pointing women to godly habits and unpacking the role of feelings in everyday life, this book offers hope for flourishing with the emotions that God gave them." 

July 29, 2018

Prayer: A Holy Occupation


This little book of quotes from Oswald Chambers on prayer was beautiful. It focused on the truth of what prayer really is... "Prayer is getting into perfect communion with God: I tell Him what I know He knows in order that I may get to know it as He does."

Prayer is a gift for us to get to know God's perfect will.

This book is divided into 18 chapters. I thought I'd share a quote or quotes from each here, along side some Scripture.

Hope it encourages you to pray!

 
 BOLDNESS

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

"In prayer have we learned the wonderful power of that phrase 'boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus?' It means that we can talk to God as Jesus Christ did, but only through the right of His Atonement. We must never allow the idea that because we have been obedient, because our need is great, because we long for it, therefore God will hear us. There is only one way into the holiest, and that is by the blood of Jesus."

"It is because our Lord Jesus Christ went through the depths of agony to the last ebb in the Garden of Gethsemane, because He went through Calvary, that we can boldly enter the holy place."


CHILDLIKENESS

"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3-4

"By what right do we become 'a royal priesthood?' By the right of the Atonement. Are we prepared to leave ourselves resolutely alone and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, morbid type of Christianity, not the robust, simple life of the child of God." 

"The nearer Abraham came to God in his intercession the more he recognized his entire unworthiness: 'Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord.' Genuine unworthiness is never shy before God any more than a child is shy before his mother. a child of God is conscious only of his entire dependence upon God." 


COMMUNION

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen." 2 Corinthians 13:14

"Our prayers should be in accordance with the nature of God, therefore the answers are not in accordance with our nature but with His. We are apt to forget this and to say without thinking that God does not answer prayer; but He always answers prayer, and when we are in close communion with Him we know that we have not been misled."


CONCENTRATION

"My child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD,
and you will gain knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:1-5


"The majority of us are unable to fix our thoughts in prayer. We lie all abroad before God and do not rouse ourselves up to lay hold of Him, consequently we have wandering thoughts continually. God will not bring every thought and imagination into captivity; we have to do it, and that is the test of spiritual concentration."


DESIRE

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
 

My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26


"The point of asking is that you may get to know God better. 'Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.' Keep praying in order to get a perfect understanding of God Himself." 


DISCIPLINE

"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

"If we are struggling in prayer it is because the wiles of the Enemy are getting the upper hand and we must look for the cause of it in the lack of discipline in ourselves."

"We talk about the difficulty of living a holy life; yet we have the absolute simple ease provided by Almighty God for living a holy life because He paid so much to make it possible. Beware of placing the emphasis on what prayer costs us; it cost God everything to make it possible for us to pray."


FAITH

"And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22

"Do I expect God to answer prayer? The first thing that will stagger faith in God is the false sentiment arising out of a sympathetic apprehension of the difficulties. Peter therefore was kept in prison, but prayer was made earnestly of the church unto God for him: the church prayed, and God did the impossible thing, and Peter was delivered. We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties."

"If our Father knows what we need before we ask, why ask? The point of prayer is not in order to get answers from God; prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God. If we pray because we want answers, we will get huffed with God. The answers, come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our spiritual huff shows a refusal to identify ourselves with our Lord in prayer."


HONESTY

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;

And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24


"If we have not caught the meaning of the tremendous moral aspect of the Atonement it is because we have never prayed this prayer, 'Search me, O God.' Are we sincere enough to ask God to search us, and sincere enough to abide by what His searching reveals?" 


INTIMACY

"...though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:8-9


"Think of the unfathomable bliss of the revelation that we shall perceive our Father solving our problems, and shall understand Him; it is the reward of the joyous time of prayer. In all the temptations that contend in our hearts, and amid the things that meet us in the providence of God which seem to involve a contradiction of His fatherhood, the secret place convinces us that He is our Father and that He is righteousness and love, and we remain not only unshaken but we receive our reward with an intimacy that is unspeakable and full of glory."


OBEDIENCE

"Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him." Psalm 128:1

"The reason for intercession is not that God answers prayer, but that God tells us to pray."

"'As you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us.' Prayer is not getting things from God. That is a most initial stage; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God: I tell Him what I know He knows in order that I may get to know it as He does."

 "Don't put prayer and obedience in the place of the Cross of Christ - 'Because I have obeyed, Christ will do this or that.' He won't. The only way we are saved and sanctified is by the free grace of God." 


PATIENCE

"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ." 2 Thessalonians 3:5 

"Pray because you have a Father, not because it quietens you, and give Him time to answer."

"'Men always ought to pray, and not lose heart.' Jesus also taught the disciples the prayer of patience. If you are right with God and God delays the answer to you prayer, don't misjudge Him. Don't think of Him as an unkind friend, or an unnatural father, or an unjust judge, but keep at it. Your prayer will certainly be answered, for 'everyone who asks receives.' Pray and do not cave in. Your heavenly Father will explain it all one day. He cannot just yet because He is developing your character."


POWER

"And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

"Prayer imparts the power to walk and not faint, and the lasting remembrance of our lives is of the Lord, not of us."

"Oh Lord, to You do I come that I might find grace to praise and worship You aright. Lord, shine the light of Your face on us; send power and majestic grace. O Lord, how good it is for me to know You; how essentially necessary it is for me to draw nigh to You. How can I falter when You are my Life!"


PURPOSE

"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers." 1 Peter 4:7

"Intercessory prayer is part of the sovereign purpose of God. If there were no saints praying for us, our lives would be infinitely worse than they are; consequently the responsibility of those who never intercede and who are withholding blessing from our lives is truly appalling. The subject of intercessory prayer is weakened by the neglect of the idea with which we ought to start. We take for granted that prayer is preparation for work, whereas prayer is the work; and we scarcely believe what the Bible reveals - that God's chosen way of working is through intercessory prayer. We lean unto our own understanding or we bank on service and do away with prayer. Consequently, by succeeding in the external we fail in the eternal, because in the eternal we succeed only by prevailing prayer."


SILENCE

"But the LORD is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20


"Watch God's ways in your life, you will find He is developing you as He does the trees and the flowers, a deep silent working of the God of creation."

"After the silence of God, if we are spiritual and can interpret His silence, we always get the trust in God that knows prayers are answered every time, not some times. The manifestation of the answer in place and time is a mere matter of God's sovereignty."


SIMPLICITY

"For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you." 2 Corinthians 1:12

"We have to live depending on Jesus Christ's wisdom, not on our own. He is the Master, and the problem is His, not ours. We have to use the key He gives us, the key of prayer. Our Lord puts the key into our hands, and we have to learn to pray under His direction. That is the simplicity which He says His Father will bless."


WONDER

"...And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6


"Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man's disposition. When you pray, things remain the same, but you begin to be different."


WORK

"Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29

"So many of us put prayer and work and consecration in place of the working of God; we make ourselves the workers. God is the Worker, we work out what He works in. Spirituality is what God is after, not religiosity."

"The 'GREATER works' are done by prayer because prayer is the exercise of the essential character of the life of God in us."


WORSHIP

"Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker." Psalm 95:6


"Prayer is the instrument of the life of worship, it is not worship itself."

"The tendency nowadays is to worship prayer, stress is put on nights of prayer and the difficulty and cost of prayer. It is not prayer that is strenuous, but the overcoming of our own laziness. If we make the basis of prayer our effort and agony and nights of prayer, we mistake the basis of prayer. The basis of prayer is not what it costs us, but what it costs God to enable us to pray."


I often find Oswald Chambers words to have a way of convicting the heart, while at the same time, expressing the love of God. And I love this. : )

I highly recommend this one to those who desire to think rightly about prayer and grow in their relationship with God through prayer.



Buy it HERE on Amazon



June 5, 2018

None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us


"Our primary problem as Christian women is not that we lack self-worth, not that we lack a sense of significance. It's that we lack awe." Jen Wilkin

I loved this quote, it's a reminder that our worth is in Christ, not in what we think of ourselves. And that it is far more important to find awe in the Lord and His greatness.

I found this book God honoring, bringing Him foremost to our minds and hearts. He really is, who He says He is.

Each chapter talks about an attribute of God that is different from us. Here are the chapter headings:

 1.  Infinite: The God of No Limits

 2.  Incomprehensible: The God of Infinite Mystery

 3.  Self-Existent: The God of Infinite Creativity

 4.  Self-Sufficient: The God of Infinite Provision

 5.  Eternal: The God of Infinite Days

 6.  Immutable: The God of Infinite Sameness

 7.  Omnipresent: The God of Infinite Place

 8.  Omniscient: The God of Infinite Knowledge

 9.  Omnipotent: The God of Infinite Power

10. Sovereign: The God of Infinite Rule

If you've ever wondered what some of these attributes are, this book is for you! Jen explains each carefully and makes it easy for us to understand. She starts each chapter off with a life experience that shows us our need for the infinite God.

I thought I'd share a bit from one of the chapters.


Chapter six talks about God being Immutable: The God of infinite sameness.

"For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?" Psalm 18:31

Jen says here of God's unchanging nature:

"Consider how great the comfort in being personally connected to a God who changes not. From the Old Testament to the New, He is the same. None of His attributes can increase or decrease because each is unchangingly infinite. His knowledge cannot increase or decrease. His faithfulness cannot increase or decrease. Our actions, good or bad, can neither add to nor diminish His glory. He cannot become more holy or less steadfast. He simply is these things to the utmost - forever. The God who was is the God who is. The God who is is the God who is to come. The God who is to come is the God who was."

And here:

"Because He does not change, we can rely on the unchanging truth of Scripture. What He pronounces as sin will always be sin. What He pronounces as good will always be good. All that He has promised to do must come to pass. The gospel itself is bound up in the idea of God's immutability. We fervently need God to stay the same - our great hope of salvation lies in His remaining exactly as who He says He is, doing exactly what He has said He will do. As long as His infinite sameness endures, He will not change His mind about setting His love on us. 

We cannot commit a future sin that will change his verdict, because His verdict was passed with every sin past, present, and future fixed in view. Whom God pronounces righteous will always be righteous. Nothing we could do can remove from us the seal of His promised redemption. Nothing can separate us from the unfailing, unchanging love of this great God, the Rock of our salvation upon which the house of our faith is built."

"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

Jen says here of how God is different than us in this particular aspect:

"When we apply the terms always or never to other people, we speak an untruth. Human beings don't always or never anything. We just aren't that consistent. We frequently, we fairly regularly, we often or habitually, but we do not always or never." 

She ends the chapter with this comforting plea:

"There is no rock but the Rock of our salvation. No human heart is so hard that He cannot soften it, not even yours. Turn loose of the idolatry of your always and nevers. Those words are true only of God. Ask Him to sustain you through the ever-changing moments of this life. Ask Him to change what you have believed to be beyond the power of His grace to alter. Our God of infinite sameness is a rock. When all around us is shifting sand, may we cry to Him, 'Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for You have been my refuge.' Psalm 61:2"

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2


The LORD lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted. Psalm 18:46

 
 

This book encourages us to put our trust in the infinite God. God is so much more beautiful and wonderful and awesome than our finite minds can conceive. We are blessed with what His has shared of Himself, through His Word.

God is good, and these words have never had more meaning..

"The goodness of God endures continually." Psalm 52:1

I highly recommend this book! I'm also looking forward to reading her next one called, 'In His Image.'


Buy it HERE on Amazon


May 1, 2018

5 books on my future reading list


This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel

This sounds like a great book to encourage us in the times we live in.

Amazon says here:

"Uncertain. Confused. Overwhelmed.

Many Christians feel bombarded by the messages they hear and the trends they see in our rapidly changing world.

How can we resist being conformed to the pattern of this world? What will faithfulness to Christ look like in these tumultuous times? How can we be true to the gospel in a world where myths and false visions of the world so often prevail?

In This is Our Time, Trevin Wax provides snapshots of twenty-first-century American Life in order to help Christians understand the times. By analyzing our common beliefs and practices (smartphone habits, entertainment intake, and our views of shopping, sex, marriage, politics, and life’s purpose), Trevin helps us see through the myths of society to the hope of the gospel.

As faithful witnesses to Christ, Trevin writes, we must identify the longing behind society’s most cherished myths (what is good, true, beautiful), expose the lie at the heart of these myths (what is false and damaging), and show how the gospel tells a better story – one that exposes the lie but satisfies the deeper longing."



America's First Daughter

I find American history fascinating and enjoy reading about it. This historical fiction novel sounds like an interesting telling of the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, Patsy Jefferson.

On the back cover it says:

"From the earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. 

As Thomas Jefferson's oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother's death, traveling with him when he becomes America's minister to France." 

It also covers the years that follow to the White House.



In His Image: Ten Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character

I recently finished Jen Wilkin's book 'None Like Him' and loved it, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one!

Crossway says here of the book:

"Sometimes we ask What is God’s will for my life? when we should really be asking Who should I be? The Bible has an answer: Be like the very image of God. 

By exploring ten characteristics of who God is—holy, loving, just, good, merciful, gracious, faithful, patient, truthful, and wise—this book helps us understand who God intends for us to be. 

Through Christ, the perfect reflection of the image of God, we will discover how God’s own attributes impact how we live, leading to freedom and purpose as we follow his will and are conformed to his image."



An Assembly Such as This

This is my lite read for the month! It's a retelling of Pride and Prejudice told through three novels, this being the first. They are through the perspective of Mr. Darcy.

Goodreads describes it here:

"Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?

In An Assembly Such as This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of her Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley and reveals Darcy's hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice. As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley's persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows—as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.

Setting the story vividly against the colorful historical and political background of the Regency, Aidan writes in a style comfortably at home with Austen but with a wit and humor very much her own. Aidan adds her own cast of fascinating characters to those in Austen's original, weaving a rich tapestry from Darcy's past and present. Austen fans and newcomers alike will love this new chapter of the most famous romance of all time."



 
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've started listening to this one on audio from my library and enjoying it so far. It 's not your typical biography, as it includes quite a bit of American prairie history.

This gives a sense of the life on the prairie, as well as invokes an appreciation for what farmers did and do for us everyday, through harsh weather, pests and hard work.

Amazon says here:

"Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls―the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser―the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series―masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography. 

Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder's tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.

The Little House books, for all the hardships they describe, are paeans to the pioneer spirit, portraying it as triumphant against all odds. But Wilder’s real life was harder and grittier than that, a story of relentless struggle, rootlessness, and poverty. It was only in her sixties, after losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, that she turned to children’s books, recasting her hardscrabble childhood as a celebratory vision of homesteading―and achieving fame and fortune in the process, in one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches episodes in American letters.

Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman whose classic stories grip us to this day."



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