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.”

Who Sang The First Song – Book Review

Have you ever given thought to ‘Who Sang The First Song?’  Did you know there’s a constant sound in the universe?  That sound originates from the sun, neutron stars, black holes, and more.

From the beginning of time, there have been sounds all around.  God has not only put the beauty of sound everywhere but He has given each of His creation their own song.  Each song is individualized and determined for each one of us to use in furthering His Kingdom on Earth.

Now I recognize this is a bit ‘heavy’ for children. However, Ellie Holcomb, in her book Who Sang The First Song?, covers the concept in words and questions that children can understand.

After all, didn’t God tell us to make a joyful noise?  And what is more joyful than a song straight from the heart.

So, if you need a really great children’s gift, or want to enrich your home library, I highly recommend this delightful book.

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.”

The Beginner Bible — Book review

Do we read to much into the Bible?  Perhaps so.  It’s possible that we need to be reminded of the basic truths of God’s Word.  As I read through The Beginner’s Bible I was once again reminded of the simplicity of it all.

Through the eyes of a child these basic truths are evident:

  • God created us!
  • God chose us!
  • God loves us!
  • God wants us to love Him!

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Throughout this Bible, for children, the pictures tell more of the story allowing for deeper understanding.  For instance, in the story of Hannah, Eli, the priest sees her praying and wonder’s what she is so intense about.  The picture shows Eli with the Ephod that is decorated with the 12 stones.  What an opportunity to discuss what this is and means.

I particularly loved the beautiful rendition of Psalm 23.  The archaic words of the KJV may be how many of us memorized it, but it never hurts to look at His Word through other ‘transliterations’.  Check it out here:

Psalm 23 – This is one of King David’s songs about God:

The Lord is my shepherd.  He gives me everything I need. He lets me lie down in fields of green grass.  He leads me beside quiet waters. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths for the honor of His name.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid.  You, God, are with me.  Your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies.  You pour oil on my head.  My cup runs over.  I am sure Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.  And I will live in the house of the LORD forever. (pp. 190-193)

I know your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephew, friends will love this delightful rendition of God’s Word.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harper Collins 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.”

Becoming Gertrude — Book Review

I have a beautiful, wonderful, friend.  She’s someone for whom I had looked for many years.  I have another beautiful, wonderful, friend who has been my friend for more than 40 years.  Both of these women speak caring, acceptance, service, hospitality, and encouragement into my life.  Both of them do friendship in their own way and I can trust them, love them, cry with them, be silent with them, and they know they can do the same with me.

Becoming Gertrude is the crowning touch of a life of relationships and good friendships that have shaped the faith of Janice Peterson.  The pages of this delightful, small book are full of stories that help the reader see how important friendship is in the life of a Christian woman.  Using the character traits mentioned above (caring, acceptance, service, hospitality, and encouragement) Mrs. Peterson shares how her life has been enriched by other women.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

  • Good friends challenge us in the areas where we are weak and encourage us forward.  pp.xxvii
  • Caring for someone isn’t about you–it’s about the other person. pp. 23
  • We must learn to navigate disagreements and life differences with grace, understanding that friendship is more important than being right all the time.  pp. 32
  • Some of us are called in certain ways to serve, but we are all called to be servants, whatever our gifts are.  No one’s gift is more significant than anyone else’s! pp. 47
  • Friendship grows best in intentionality, and hospitality is the warmest kind of intentionality there is.
  • Our friends can be those who fill us up, who build encouragement into our lives so that we can then do the same in theirs and others’.

Bible verses from the Message by Eugene Peterson that support strong friendships:

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.   Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Romans 12:2

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.  Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.  Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up.  Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.  Romans 12:14-16

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House 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.”

Brick Builders Illustrated Bible For Children – Review

I have just spent a delightful two hours reading through God’s story.  As the Word always has and always will, this version of the Bible speaks the simple, yet profound, truth in the language of children.

Storytelling is the favored method of Bible writers to point the way to the truth, particularly in the New Testament in the many parables used by Jesus.  In this collection of Old and New Testament stories, by Emily Dammer, the same thing is accomplished in the language of children.

I’m sure young children will love this ‘Bible’.  The illustrations, by Antony Evans, use brick-like figures to illustrate each story.  Each page colorful and eye-catching.

The building blocks at the end of each chapter give life applications in children’s language.  For instance, in the story of Moses God keeps His promises and He will keep you safe are the takeaways.

All in all, I enjoyed reading Brick Builders and can imagine parents and children reading the stories to one another over and over.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Volcanic Momentum – Book Review

How are you spending your time?  Do you have a plan, a goal? Where is your focus?  What is most important to you?  Can you honestly say you are totally aware of the moments you have on this earth?

Volcanic Momentum answers these questions, and more, with valuable words of wisdom from author Jordan Ring.  I found this book to be one of the most usable and sometimes profound books I have read this year.  I’m going to order it in paperback just so I can have this valuable resource at my fingertips.  I know I’ll be reading it again and yes, maybe again.

One of the things I do each year is to select One Word to focus on.  I was delighted to find that recommendation straight away.  One word, one focus, one idea, one goal…  If we don’t know what we’re looking for (i.e., our focus), we have little chance of growth and change.

Being a person who loves lists and being aware of where I am in whatever process I’m involved in, I was delighted with the ones that are in this book.  Some are prompts to get the thought process moving, others are questions to put concepts and goals into focus.   (However, this is not a book of lists.)

Being still, sitting quietly, getting away, whatever you call it is necessary to the creative process.  Our busy world will rush in and take over if we’re not careful.  Sometimes we waste time by being so busy we’ve lost our direction in life.  Finding, actually making, time to know and plan out our direction is hugely important to success and well-being.

One of the most important sections in this book is about being mentored.  Mr. Ring suggests that we meet every week with a mentor.  Interestingly, he makes the point that a mentor doesn’t have to be a live person.  It can be in the pages of a book (Daily Bible reading is mentoring from God.), videos on YouTue or CDs of a favorite speaker, TED talks…  Anything or anyone that encourages you is necessary to your personal growth and needs to be deliberately pursued.

As I commented before, this book is worth the time to read more than once and use as a continuing resource.  Well done, Jordan!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author.  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.”

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Gifts – Book Review

SPIRITUAL GIFTS, WHAT THEY ARE & WHY THEY MATTER

This book was not at all what I expected.  That is not a bad thing because it caused me to think about a concept that is outside my box.  However, I must say, right up front,  this book is not for everyone.  By that I mean if you don’t already have a strong grasp of the Word, and believe it to be totally inerrant, this book is not for you.

Thomas R. Schreiner, the author of Spiritual Gifts, makes a strong case for nuanced (gradual) cessationism (ceasing or stopping) of said gifts.  What does that mean?  He makes the case that there are some gifts that are no longer necessary to the church and therefore, are no longer given to the members.

Prophecy, speaking in tongues, healing, and miracles are those Mr. Schreiner proposes have passed away.  He believes prophecy was needed and necessary while the apostles were alive because the prophets were the foundation of the church.  The words they spoke were directly from God. There are no prophets today because Word has been given and all that’s left is the interpretation of it which is the job of those gifted with preaching/teaching.

He makes a very strong case that speaking in tongues, as practiced by those who believe that various and spontaneous utterances constitute this gift, is not what was meant by the Word and is no longer a gift that is needed by the Church.   He determines that this gift was actually the supernaturally given ability to speak in the languages of those who would be listening.  With the ability to instantly translate any language using cell phones and the internet I would suggest that he’s right on target.

As for miracles and healing, he suggests that people no longer perform in this capacity.  Through prayer and confidence in God’s ability to do all, they are accomplished.

In my opinion, these are the types of discussions that Paul warns us against in Titus 3:9.  No matter where you stand on this issue let me say with total confidence that God is who He says He is and God can do what He says He can do.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B & H 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.”

The Great Scare – Book Review

It would seem that even in the future governments are all about themselves and nothing about the people they represent.  And so this book begins with a concept that is so alarming and acceptable that one finds it easy to think it could happen.  With the twisted morals of politicians and the reporting antics of the media, civilization is destroyed.  Those left are forced to live underground, connected by a maze of tunnels throughout the country.

James and Lee, librarians from the underground city of Peopleville, are thought to know all there is to know about everything that is going on in their community because of their job/position.  When treasured objects start coming up missing they are the first that are called upon to solve the mystery.

So what do we know?  A woman’s prized possession, a family’s cat, an old man’s voice box, the pastor’s 1611 King James Bible (more than 300 years old), a family, Christmas decorations (yes, 300 years in the future), all missing.

And then, of course, there was the time machine…

All in all… well, I read the book.  I found it to have elements of deja vu… perhaps like I’d read it before with different characters…Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Pied Piper of Hamlen, Alice in Wonderland…

However, there was some truth to the story.  We must stop allowing ourselves to be led by everyone and everything around us.  Just saying!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookCrash. 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.”

Thief of Corinth

Is there anything more delightful than a good book on a rainy day?  Or even a good book in any weather at any time.  I would say no.  I’ve had the pleasure of reading for review another of Tessa Afshar’s books and once again she hasn’t disappointed with the content.

Thief of Corinth is the story of Ariadne, her family, friends, and enemies comes to life in the ancient city of Corinth.  Early in life, she is moved to Athens when her mother divorces her father.  She is abused and unloved in that situation and determines to go back to Corinth as a young teen.  Traveling with her brother, she arrives in Corinth at the home of her father and the adventure begins.  Life decisions, good and bad, of all the characters, fill the pages.  Unrequited love, a woman competing in the Isthmian games, the lifestyle of the incredibly wealthy unfold before your eyes.  In the end, this is a story that is totally relatable.

This book is filled with quotes from the Ancient Philosophers.  Rather than being just more words they add a credibility to the story. Plato – “When men speak ill of thee, live so as nobody may believe them.”  My favorite quote from the book is not of the Philosophers but of the author – “The problem with wisdom is that it is devoid of comfort.”  (pg. 170)

Thank you, Tessa Afshar, for such a delightful way to spend a rainy day.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 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.”

Just Open The Door – Book Review

Have you ever read something that resonates with every part of your being?  Something that you can so relate to that you’re surprised you didn’t think of it?

Just Open The Door by Jen Schmidt is that kind of book.  True hospitality is about serving others, whether we want to or not, and she definitely has all her ‘eggs’ in the right basket for it.

With our noses buried in cell phones and computers, we are missing some of the greatest experiences of life.  That of face to face conversations that help us know those around us, their needs, wants and desires.  The nuances that come with face-to-face conversations simply don’t show in techno-babble.

As Believers hospitality allows us to be purposeful in our walk with others.  We can encourage others, disciple others, and even bring others into the fold, simply by sharing a cup of coffee and sincerely listening and loving on them. Don’t worry about that spot on the carpet or children making to much noise or messy hair.  It is what it is!  All that really matters is God, His Word, and relationships.

Expecting nothing in return is a characteristic of the hospitable personality.  A bag of groceries, a box of diapers, $20 in an unopened envelope show the heart of Jesus to another person.

Adoption might be the ultimate act of hospitality.  Just as God adopts me into the Forever Family I am to ‘adopt’ others into my earthly family.

This book is jam-packed full of ideas for living out hospitality as God intended us to.  I highly recommend reading it over and over.

Here are my top 5 quotes from this book:

  • Your unique gift, your untold story, your broken and mended heart, your fierce love, your brave authenticity–all these intricate threads woven together create a tapestry He wants to use to unveil His love to someone who needs to experience it.  You are the one who can meet the need of another today if you just open the door. (pg. 77)
  • “For me, taking up my cross daily included terrible suffering.  For you, your suffering may be in the form of doing small duties that are distasteful to you.  It may be having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have.  That may be your cross today.”  (pg. 52)
  • We can’t let our circumstances keep us separated from the community we need. (pg. 131)
  • Taking tea together reminds us to mimic Jesus’ pace.  He was never too busy.  He was never in a hurry.  Frantic was not a part of His vocabulary.  He lingered. (pg. 154)
  • One of the purest forms of compassion is found in hurting when someone else hurts. (pg. 190).

Never underestimate the power of a cup of coffee and a listening ear.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman Holman Publishers, Inc. 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.”