Fresh Start Bible Review

As a Small Group, Bible Study leader I was (and am) very excited about this new resource, the Fresh Start Bible.

There are many kinds of study Bibles. Some are historical and archeological. Some are topical. Some are word referenced, giving the reader specific guidance as to meaning usage. Some are paraphrased into modern language usage for better understanding. All are intended to point the Believer to a better understanding of His Word and how it applies to daily life. The Fresh Start Bible is no exception. Using the New Living Translation it has hundreds of articles written by various people that enhance and provide understanding. Several short ‘side-bars’ provoke deeper thought about known concepts and stories. It includes many articles about questions that both the new and seasoned believers might have. Personal comments, historical facts, and suggestions for personal, everyday use abound.

I decided to use this Bible as my main resource in preparing and teaching a series of lessons on how the Tabernacle of the Old Testament applies to contemporary worship. It was helpful and informative, leading not only me but also my fellow learners to new insights and thoughts about the subject.

In a future upgrade to this work, I would suggest more ‘side-bars’, commentary and articles for the Old Testament portion.

I highly recommend this resource for both Bible study leaders as well as learners.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy free from Gateway Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear — Book Review

Sometimes laughter, sometimes tears, sometimes a fervent prayer for forgiveness. Sometimes affirmation, sometimes kind remonstrances, sometimes silence.  Relationships are forged within these behaviors and so much more.

Affirmation comes from considering, really thinking about, what your spouse needs and even wants to hear.  Have you taken the time to think about those areas of everyday life that we so often take for granted? Perhaps it’s time to do so.

Such things as saying yes, being careful of the other’s feelings, pulling back when you really want to argue (and win), and letting them know you really like and care about them, make all the difference in any relationship.  Although this book focuses on wives affirming and supporting their husbands there is much that applies to all good and growing relationships.

I found 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear thought-provoking and inspiring.  Lisa Jacobson‘s life experiences and words of wisdom are timely and much needed in this season of negativity and put-downs.

Much is written in this volume about affirmation and support. Which of course is what the title implies. I would love to see, from the same author(s) what they, as individuals, want to be affirmed, supported, and thanked for. Would there be a difference?

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may contain affiliate links.  When you use them I may receive a small commission that helps support the costs of maintaining this blog.

Forever, Lately – – Book Review

How hard it is to find good fiction that isn’t full of steamy romance and unnecessary violence but this delightful book certainly fits the bill. It’s the perfect solution to a stormy, snowy, can’t get out of the house afternoon.  Once you get into it you’re not going to want to put it down.

It’s a love story that transcends the boundaries of time as it moves between the 1800’s and the 21st century. In a storyline that doesn’t always go where you expect it to you’ll find horse drawn carriages and cars of the modern era playing a very important role that helps tie the two eras together.
Such delightful characters fill the pages.  The protagonist is portrayed as a modern writer with no personal style whatever, but when transported back in time becomes a beautiful young woman who fits in well, except for the fact she looks like another woman. There’s even a villain or two.
Of course, in time travel, there always has to be a catalyst.  In this story, it’s a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl. At one point it gets torn in half and… I guess you’ll have to read the story to find out what happens then.
I hope you’ll thoroughly enjoy, Forever, Lately by Lenore Rose Burkhard.  I have!

Letters To My Students – – Book Review

Teaching and preaching are much the same and at the same time different.  Preaching must always point to Jesus.  Always! Preachers are always teachers but teachers are not always preachers.

I decided to review Letters To My Students because I wanted to see how close the two are.  Interestingly, and I already knew this, they are very close.  The main difference is the audience.  Preachers to the church body, teachers to the church body, classrooms, small groups, and individuals.

To be an effective teacher there are three commonalities:

  • Knowing your audience includes building trust and relationships.
  • Knowing yourself is about the constant awareness of your spiritual, mental, and physical health.  All of who you are shows in your teaching.
  • Knowing what’s going on in the world your students are living in helps apply your lesson to their lives.

This book is packed with the wisdom of seasoned pastor/teacher Jason K. Allen.  It is valuable to the one in the pulpit and the one in the Sunday School classroom, Bible study leader, mentor, and yes, even the public/private school teacher can gain much from reading it.

Powerful quotes:

A text cannot mean something now that it never meant. (pg. 67)

Aim to inform the mind, impact the heart, and challenge the will. (pg. 85)

Great preaching (teaching) is usually passionate preaching. For every ounce of passion in the preacher’s (teacher’s) voice, there should be a pound of compassion in the soul. (pg. 136-147)

Blessings to you and your’s!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman & Holman Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Always We Begin Again – – Book Review

I’ve been enjoying reading through a devotional that really isn’t a devotional.  Does that make sense? Not really, but yes, it does.  Always We Begin Again by Leeana Tankersley is a series of short essays on the many ways we start over every day of our lives. They’re not only relatable short stories but they include a guided writing prompt that can help each reader deal with their own beginnings.

Here’s what I’ve learned, am learning or have found to be true:

  • The profound yet simple concept that we are constantly starting over is part of daily life.
  • God speaks to us in many ways during our stressful, busy days. Focusing on the issue of the moment, with God as our partner, until we discover the way through, will help calm our minds and lead to a solution.
  • We are held securely in God’s arms. No matter the circumstances He keeps holding on.
  • There are multiple opportunities in our days and lives to begin again, to start over. Just as the sun rises new each day it also sets and gives us the opportunity to rest and reflect.
  • We are all addicts of some sort. Here’s the thing, we can’t pretend to have conquered the problem. Whether we eat, drink, spend, talk, criticize, complain… too much or too little, it can be controlled through God’s grace and our willingness to take each day as it is.

One of the things I really liked about this book is each short essay/story is simply numbered but not dated.  That way if I don’t read it each day I don’t have the pressure of being behind or having to catch up.

This collection is relatable and encouraging. It is reassuring and supportive. There is hope woven throughout its pages. Thank you, Leeana Tankersley, for writing and sharing.

Best quote from the book: “Growth and healing start by giving ourselves the permission to pursue them. If we aren’t willing to show up and participate, then chances are, our souls will be lost on some level. And chances are, it will affect the people who want to share life with us.” (pg. 210)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams – – Book Review

Eve… Sarai… Hagar… Rebekah… Rachel… Leah… Dinah…

Stories we know quite well yet is there more to these women?

What happens when we insist on doing God’s job for Him? What happens when one assumes they know best and determines to go a step further? It seems each woman named above had to find out her own way and often that is/was the hard way.

There are some tremendously powerful words in these stories. Often, I could see myself and my own responses. Although I knew these stories well, I found myself re-reading and pondering them more deeply.

We’ve all struggled with the some, or all of the same issues these women have. Things like knowing what we’re supposed to do and not doing it… Doubt… Fear… Survival… Abandonment… Disobedience… Choices… Desperation… Yet deep down God is always there and always will be.  The lives of these women are changed and made better even When Life Doesn’t Match (their) Your Dreams (by Jill Eileen Smith).  Yours will be, too!

Read it! It’s worth it!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Books and Blythe Daniel. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Mended — Book Review

Several weeks ago I received an invitation from Blythe Daniel to review and launch a book she and her mother had written. To be honest I was a bit hesitant because my own mother and I did not have a good relationship. (To be honest, we didn’t have a relationship.) My hesitancy came because I’ve really wanted to understand and forgive her and  I’ve not been able to do so. Plus, she passed away several years ago and it’s hard to rebuild a relationship with someone who isn’t here. But…

Through reading Mended I’ve come to understand a bit more of the person. This book contained some of the most healing words I’ve ever read. Most importantly, we are only responsible for the words we’ve said and the things we’ve done. We cannot and should not let ourselves think we can fix everything. Nor should we make ourselves totally responsible for the healing that must take place. We can only handle what is ours.

Forgiveness is a huge part of mending any relationship. We can always choose to forgive even if they don’t deserve it. Jesus did!

Verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse was part of daily life for me. I was a hostage in a very controlling situation and truly felt I was the person at fault. It wasn’t until I left home for college and had very limited contact that I was able to put the situation into some sort of focus.  Through these words of Helen McIntosh I was able to reach a level of forgiveness that hadn’t been possible before: When we are the victim and need to forgive someone who has hurt and offended us… They may never even apologize or make amends. They may be deceased or in jail or another place you can’t reach them or oblivious to their offense. But we remain their prisoner until we let the offense go. pp.94 Letting the past go and committing to not dredging it up again has given me a kind of peace that has freed me from the pit of my mother’s words and actions and my own self-condemnation.

For me, this book was worth every word. Did I regress into the bad memories? Sometimes? Did I have moments of clarity when I started to understand? Yes! Can I move on and begin to understand the person behind words and actions? Yes! Can I forgive? I have to! There’s really no other choice.

Thank you, Blythe and Helen, for these incredible words! I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to rebuild (or build up) any relationship. It’s truly powerful and worth the time.

Consider these Words that are gems of light scattered throughout the book:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Words kill, words give; they’re either poison or fruit–you choose. Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Books and Blythe Daniel. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

Breaking the Power of Negative Words

When I was in the eighth grade, planning my High School studies track, I overheard my guidance counselor tell the High School Principal, “Why are we letting Marie follow the College Prep course? She’ll never amount to anything.”  I remember the person, the place, the time, what my heartfelt…  Although I didn’t set out to disprove him that is exactly what I did. Those words have stuck in my mind for a very long time.  It has taken nearly 50 years to overcome the effect of those words.  Sometimes the impact is still there but there have been many wonderful people, events, and circumstances that have helped overturn their power.

Now, I’m not famous but there are some really great, high achieving people who have heard much the same thing.  Walt Disney was told he wasn’t creative or original. Einstein was told he’d never amount to much.  A music teacher said of Beethoven, “As a composer, he is hopeless.”

Were those words hurtful, harmful, hateful? Yes! Did they have an impact? Most certainly! So why do we hear and say those things? Here’s the thing, you and I speak and hear negative words on a regular, daily basis. So, then, how do we overcome the results?

Mary C. Busha, in her book Breaking the Power of Negative Words, gives much insight on the subject. From finding the perspective that helps us understand to getting to a place of freedom through forgiveness, her powerful writing gives us a more complete understanding of why negative words are spoken and how to overcome the results.

People say negative things.  We say negative things to ourselves. Those are facts but there are ways to overcome the impact and effects.  Busha suggests the following steps to freeing ourselves from the influence these comments have on our lives: Expect to be offended. Stand your ground. Have realistic expectations. Set healthy boundaries. Seek accountability. Forgive daily. (pp. 95-101)

One of the many things I like about Breaking the Power of Negative Words was each chapter ended with personal, probing questions. I was able to reach back into a lifetime of personal issues and reach some understanding of the situations.

I highly recommend this book and want to close with this quote:

I want to remind you that just as God in Christ has forgiven you, once forgiven, you are forgiven. He does not dredge up your past and hold it against you. He does not remind you of the sins you’ve committed. Therefore, do not allow yourself to dredge up the sins of others. (pp. 82)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Revell Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Character Carved In Stone — Book Review

From the compassion of Ulysses S. Grant to the heroism of Peter Wang ROTC (Granted posthumous admission to the West Point class of 2015. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.) I was held spellbound and captive as I read of the attributes and accomplishments of some of our country’s greatest heroes.

Between the covers of Character Carved in Stone by Pat Williams, you will find stories of West Point graduates whose lives personified the virtues of that institution.  The author then continues with ways to incorporate those some concepts into your own life.

 

These are my favorite quotes from each of the 12 Virtues:

“Leaders with authentic compassion are strong, courageous, honest, and direct.” p35

“Faith replaces fear with courage.” p51

“Live each day dedicated to the future.” p66

Determination means making up your mind that you will achieve your goal…expecting roadblocks and obstacles, but prepared to find a way over, around, or straight through them.” p77

Dignity is a priceless virtue–a virtue that is in danger of extinction in our society.” p92

“Success is the result of discipline, of repeatedly doing the things that lead to excellence.” p104

“A person of integrity is whole and complete–not divided or compartmentalized. A person of integrity will be the same person in public and in private. The inner reality will match the outward reputation.” p123

“Always stand up for your people. Always have their backs. If they are attacked or criticized, defend them… That is what loyalty demands of you.” p137

“Pray for the power to persevere. Never give in. Never give up. Never quit.” p153

“We don’t blame other people. We don’t blame circumstances. We don’t blame God. We accept full responsibility.” p167

“Throughout our nation’s history, generations of Americans have enjoyed freedom and prosperity because American soldiers have selflessly served their country.” p180

“When we trust one another, we can accomplish great things. Without trust, we are defeated before we begin.” p199

Who should read and use Character Carved in Stone? Everyone! Parents, preachers, politicians (especially), grandparents, teachers, teenagers, students, farmers, waiters… Everyone!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may contain affiliate links.  When you use them I receive a small commission that helps support the costs of maintaining this blog.

Running From Mercy – Book Review

Jonah didn’t get it.  Like us, Jonah thought he was in charge, he could control his life, he knew what was good or not so good for him.  What he didn’t realize was this was not about him. pp. 28

How many times have you read this story?  What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you see the name Jonah?  I’d bet it’s the fish.  But you know what? Jonah is not about the whale.  It’s not about what’s going on inside the fish.  It’s about what’s going on inside of Jonah.  Surprised at that?  I was.  We want it to be about the whale because we don’t want to face our own fickleness which is so much like Jonah’s.

Am I saying we’re fickle Believer’s?  Yes, I am.  When life is going as planned (by us) and we’ve achieved a measure of success (Jonah was a known prophet.) we can start believing we can control our own lives and destiny.  We can’t!  That’s part of what this story is about.  Jonah had to learn (the hard way) that once he committed to being God’s servant it was no longer about him.  It’s all about God’s mercy! ALL!  Even for someone as fickle as Jonah.  Someone who thought he had it all together.  Someone who knew God intimately, heard His voice, helped others understand Him.

What Jonah didn’t recognize in himself was his sinful nature.  He thought everyone else was sinful. (i.e., the Ninevites) He certainly didn’t want to be in contact with that kind of sin.  So he ran away.  He didn’t get that you can’t run away from God.  But he certainly tried.

We all know that God is the God of many chances.  When He sets His sights on one of us He never gives up.  That’s how I see the story of Jonah.  God would not give up!  From the pit (in the hold of the boat) to the prison (in the belly of the whale) to the palace (maybe the home of Shalmaneser lll) God pursued him.

I’ve studied the book of Jonah several times, with different authors, and let me say this is the first time I saw myself in this Old Testament parable.  I’ve never grown tired of this story and I hope I never will.  God will continue His pursuit of you and me.  My fervent prayer is we will hear Him and respond so we don’t end up in a giant fish.

Powerful words in Running from Mercy by Anthony J. Carter:

…He is not going to stop until He gets you.  Goodness and mercy shall pursue you all the days of your life (Ps. 23:6).  pp. 48

God keeps his appointments and has every intention of making sure we do too. pp. 57

If you have people in your life who love you enough to talk to you about your sin, don’t cut them off.  Don’t shut them down.  Don’t blame them.  They are the grace of God to you.  pp. 87

In every church gathered in this world today, people are either changing the gospel, or the gospel is changing them… We must not seek to change God’s Word but seek to be changed by it.  pp.106

I highly recommend this book.  It’s a life changer!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman Holman/Lifeway Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”