Thursday, April 25, 2013

It is Well with My Soul: A Book Review...




"It is Well with My Soul" is a devotion that the reader will be able to use over and over again. It is not like many devotions, which are finished in a year then stored on a shelf to collect dust. We all have seasons of struggle, disappointment and pain.  Even though we have these seasons, we are living in a culture where it is unfashionable to admit to such a thing. This devotion will become a comfort. Especially, when we walk through one of the aforementioned times in our lives where everything is not sunshine and smiles.

It is reassuring to people to come to the full realization that we are not alone or the only ones to walk in despair, but “It is Well…” doesn’t leave you there. The devotions reveal how God is with us when we hurt.  The format is designed for the reader to be able to read a devotion per day but not necessarily in order. The framework allows for the reader to focus on one devotion for multiple days without feeling guilty of not staying on a predetermined schedule. This is exceptionally nice when God is speaking to them through a particular devotion. Readers will find comfort and agreement of “It is Well with My Soul” even when my circumstances may be rain and frowns instead of sunshine and smiles. 

***A free copy of book given in exchange for review***

Wishing on Willows: A Book Review....




The story of Robin Price and Ian McKay in "Wishing on Willows" will keep the readers interest until the end. Will Robin lose her beloved cafe? Will the culprit be the handsome Ian McKay, who just happens to produce feelings within Robin that she hasn't felt since Micah died? How will it all play out in Peaks? Come and journey with Robin, Ian, Bethany, Amanda and the rest of the curious, unique and eccentric character in Peaks.

The author Katie Ganshert describes the people of Peaks and their feelings with just right the flair. I like the way the story in certain chapters is from Robin Price first person but the rest is not. The story is easy to follow even while dealing with difficult situations.

Soul Connection: Shelly Faust Guest Post

I am taking a break this week from my OBS Blog Hop. Shelly Faust, my OBS leader wrote my guest post for this week. Shelly sees my heart and reveals a part of it in this post.

To be totally honest, this thrilled and scared me at the same time. Thrilled me because we have never met in person and scared me cause God has revealed a part of me to her,
 even though we haven't met in person. 

I truly hope and pray her words will speak to you. 
After reading her post go and give her some love on her blog: 


SOUL CONNECTING 
A GUEST POST FROM SHELLY FAUST



We live in a time where communication travels through wires and bounces off towers. Not limited by miles or oceans we can instantly connect with almost anyone anywhere and anytime. But it is easy to lose touch with personal interaction when online connections are so convenient and accommodating.

God has truly blessed me with online connections and even the opportunity and ability to participate in online ministry. But I must be careful to not neglect building and nurturing face to face relationships.

We were created for companionship. Our souls long for connection. And our hearts expand in community.

But personal connection does not come without risk. Perhaps that explains the appeal of online interaction. We can pick and choose what we share or how much of our heart we give away.

Face to face fellowship and day to day relationships require honest vulnerability. We lay bare our soul and hold our breath, trusting the recipient of our confidence to be gentle and kind.

When we get hurt it is natural to retreat and tempting to view new relationships through the eyes of our pain while hiding behind broken promises, betrayals, and unforgiveness. Our hearts shrink back and if we are not careful we can become prisoners within the borders of the fences we build.

In seclusion, we feel safe but we are denied the beauty of intimacy found in the closeness of a friend who can look into our eyes and know the issues of our heart.

It’s in the risky, vulnerable places we are faced with the greatest potential for hurt, but it is also here we feel God most as He expands our hearts and awakens our souls. This place of soul-connecting is where we feel the deepest and love the biggest.

Maybe together we can be brave? Might we offer each other support here while risking out there?

In her book, “Strong Women Soft Hearts,” Paula Rinehart says “God bids us come into the vulnerable place His Son occupied where the power of His life was born out of fearless trust in His Father.”

God’s best is not found within the confines of our fences but in wide-open fields of vulnerability and fearless trust in our Father.

Let us choose transparency and openness so God’s power can be displayed in our lives. Let us dare to risk for the possibility to love and be loved.

And let’s go there together.

Today’s Post is shared by:  Shelly Faust.  She is a wife, mother of three, Writer/Blogger, life-time learner, recovering people pleaser and mental perfectionist, follower of Jesus (disciple), lover of dark chocolate. You can check out her blog –> Is that you Lord? – connect with her on Facebook here or follow her on Twitter @shellyfaust

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Cry Out to the Lord"....Week Two of Stressed-Less OBS Study

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress."
  ~ Psalm 107:19 (NIV)

Upon pondering this scripture, it became apparent the verse states "their distress" not God's. God is not stressed by the happenings in our world and lives. He is God and He is in control. Our distress which is defined as "to cause strain, anxiety, or suffering" happens when we try to control. I tell myself frequently, "He is God and I am not!" 

Yes, God's heart is broken when explosions take lives. God cries more for us and this fallen world than we ever will. He told me once when I heartbroken over the choices of a young woman who means a great deal to me, "Child, for every tear you have cried for her, I have cried more." 
He showed me a bucket and my tears barely filled it. 
Whereas, His tears overflowed the bucket and became a river. 

In the coming days, as my parent's house gets closer to being finished, my aunt is recovering from surgery, and we prepare to say good-bye to my parent's 14 year old German Shepherd
 our stress levels will be given prime opportunity to rise. 
Therefore, today it was good for me to remember:

GOD IS GOD... AND I AM NOT!




Sunday, April 14, 2013

Joni and Ken: A Book Review


An truthful and revealing story written in third person showing the struggles and love between a husband and wife. Who just happen to be in ministry. A world wide ministry. And one is a quadriplegic. 

"Joni and Ken" shows that marriage is not all roses, candy and sweet nothings but it is standing beside one another through the ups and downs. They freely admit to not being perfect as we journey with them through courtship to the present. 

The only negative is near the end of the book. The scene is laid out that now after decades of marriage, Joni and Ken would sit on their back porch and reminisce. After the scene is set, the book jumps into what seems to be the reminiscing. It is not the fact of looking back that bothers me it is more how the reminiscing is handled. It jarred this reader into of flowing smoothly. Yet, this is strictly from a reading preference standpoint. 

This minor negative is definitely not a reason to mark "Joni and Ken" of your reading list. 
If you are in ministry, read this book. It shows how people in ministry struggle even when God is using them greatly for His Kingdom. 

I love how Joni describes that "She (Joni) had always, always felt loved, But now she felt treasured. Cherished. Even Beautiful."

**The book's publisher provided a preview copy of the book in return for an unbiased review of the book**

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stressed Less OBS Week One: Blessed


 "Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live."                                                                               1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 The Message
God is a God who is blessing us all the time. The problem is we fall into a trap of forgetting to look for the blessings. The challenge in our OBS (Online Bible Study) this week is to list five things God has blessed you with throughout the past week. Some people think blessing, do you not know what is happening in my life? I may not but God does. 
Joni Eareckson Tada once said, "There is nothing I am going through that God has not allowed. If He allowed it then there is a purpose for it." With this thought in mind, I went to God and asked Him what are the blessings in my life this week and I encourage you to do the same. The following are my five blessings for this week.
I am thankful to God for:
~ Lack of sleep because we have been given the wonderful opportunity to help family through loving on an adorable 3 year old

~ The opportunity to live near my parents and help them through the rebuilding of their home


~Having a Sweetie who provides for me and encourages the endeavors God has called me to in my life

~A daughter who loves God and will be graduating soon to live her calling of being a teacher
~The opportunity to participate in an Online Bible Study and the Word of God with my Mom

Ok now it is your turn what are 5 things you can be thankful for this week?
"Everything God created is good. Nothing should be rejected if it is received with prayers of thanks." 1st Timothy 4:4 GWT

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

W.I.M.I....

This post on biblical encouragement has been in the works for awhile. 
However, every time the blog writing would begin, the subject would end up being delayed. It became frustrating because this is a topic on my heart ever since reading about it in Pastor Tullian's book, Unfashionable


Yes, for those of you wondering I have been reading this book for months. Pastor Tullian is like Watchman Nee for me...little bits to digest at a time. 

While having a minute with the little one watching her newest Veggie Tales, I decided to begin this week's blog. Oh wait a minute, you are probably wondering: "What little one?"
 She is my niece's three year old granddaughter. We have her for the week, while my Aunt is having surgery. Ok...now that confusion is cleared up back to the post at hand. 

My idea for the biblical encouragement post went along the lines of "this is the definition of biblical encouragement and these are the characteristics of God seen in each of these women I know..."

My loving Daddy, oh how He loves me said, "No." Not once either but each time I blogged.

He instead showed me two things:

The first one is a BIG OUCH for me:
Abba Daddy said, 
"Darling daughter you can't write what you don't understand." 
See, He was showing me, I don't understand biblical encouragement. How can one write about something they don't understand? 

Secondly, there was more to learn. This lesson would be learned at Second Touch Fellowship, when Pastor Ron Melton asked the following question:

"Who is the most important person in the room...
And you can't answer God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit."

Upon him asking the question, I leaned over to Sweetie and whispered, "Not me." Others in the room, were answering, "Me, yourself, etc..."

Pastor Ron's answer? 

"Not you. It is the other people God puts in your life." 

While driving back to the apartment, my mind kept hearing Pastor Ron's question. He said during the sermon, he was trying to think of an acronym to help people remember the question. 

However, W.I.T.M.I.P.I.T.R just didn't have the ring of WWJD. Laughter filled the room.

Being the way God created me, I kept wondering what acronym there could be to help us remember the question. The following is what God gave me:


Now, what in the world does this all have to do with biblical encouragement? 

EVERYTHING!

Pastor Tullian explains biblical encouragement, "the verbal affirmation of someone's strength, giftedness, or accomplishment, along with the realization that God the Creator is the ultimate source behind whatever is being affirmed. The secret to true biblical encouragement is learning to see God's reflection in others." 

Your and my challenge: Share biblical encouragement with people in our lives. Not flattery. Tullian defines flattery, "If I tell this person something nice, he'll do for me what I want him to." 

Boy, did that one hurt. How many times have I given flattery instead of encouragement. 
Did I mention a fellow blogger with the right motives? Or did I  hope they would be so flattered
 they will mention me in their posts....see it is right there "they will be flattered and what will it benefit me, instead of giving biblical encouragement."

My goal is to have God help me build up and give biblical encouragement without expecting anything in return. He has quite a job in front of Him. So glad, I serve a BIG GOD!!!

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: 
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,"---Romans 12:3a


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher: A Book Review


Have  you ever read a book, where at one time you liked it and at the next you disliked it?
I just finished reading "Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher" and still am not sure how I feel about it.

At times, I was agreeing with the author, Chad Norris
 and at others scratching my head and thinking..."What in the world?!?!?!"

Here are a couple examples:

Norris states, "For most of my life, my Christianity has been defined by what I am not doing. I thought I was good with God because I did not have any gross sins in my life." This is a statement, in my humble opinion is true of a large portion of today's church and people who say they are 'Christians'

According to Norris, Luke 9:2 is proof "that following Jesus means to preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick." I am not 100% sure if Luke 9:2 proves this is what following Jesus means for all believers. This is not to say healing the sick is not a gift from God, 
which is alive and well today in 2013. 

As I continued reading, I liked the fact Norris admits to people being uncomfortable with the gift of healing and how he understood this struggle because he had been there.

My own struggle continued as I read the book. 
Then Norris made a statement near the end of the book, 
which made me say, "OK he does get it..." 
What statement could that be? 
Here it is...

"This whole Kingdom story is about LOVE...

It is not about the healings or miracles in themselves.
 Healings come and go. 
Miracles are here and gone. 
However:

LOVE REMAINS"

If you are up for a challenge and want to have your mind exercised for awhile then pick up a copy of 
"Signs, Wonders, and a Baptist Preacher"

There was an error in this gadget