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.”

I Infections

What stands between us and totally serving our LORD?  For me, it is often what I want to happen.  Sometimes, I want the credit for volunteering to do a service.  Sometimes, I want others to see what a great job I‘ve done.  Obviously, one can see that an “I infection” is creating a barrier between us (me and JESUS).  Since I’m being totally honest here let me say, I’m also totally aware that I am not giving Him total control of all parts in this life.

So then what happens?  How do I make the necessary changes?  Through lots of prayer, asking forgiveness (sometimes begging forgiveness), knowing and claiming His Word.  Matt. 6:33 can be the focus for a prayer like this.  Are we truly seeking His Kingdom and His Righteousness?  Then we can serve Him and know how He wants us to serve Him.

Understand that not just “I infections” get between us and really serving Him.  It could also be family, friends, spouse, career, home, “stuff”, other addictions…

He wants a strong relationship with us (through prayer and knowing His Word) so when He has a service opportunity for us we are ready and willing to do what HE needs!

Pray hard and pray often!!!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Little Things and Small Stuff

Yes, the little things and the small stuff do matter!  Years ago, it was recommended to me that I meet with my mentor on a regular basis and work through a then-popular book. I did and let me tell you it was very difficult for me to do.  I have never believed the ‘little things’ simply don’t matter.

Suppose you’re given a job to do that requires many small steps but you choose to jump right to the finish.  Tell ya what… it doesn’t work that way.  Quite often it’s because something gets left out that was very necessary to the ongoing process.

For example, I have committed to a healthy eating program.  I eat only those things that are healthy for my body.  Since I have a sensitivity to wheat I am very careful about not eating it.  Refined sugar is an outright no-no.  By eating foods as close to nature as possible I am able to think more clearly, have more energy, and yes, lose weight.  Eliminating wheat and sugar, eating only foods close to nature, exercising, positive thinking, and sharing my journey with ‘helpers’ are all part of the ‘small steps’ in the journey.

As you know, I review books on a regular basis on this blog.  I do not cut corners in this process.  Reading just the title, author, first paragraph, and last paragraph would not allow for a fair review.  I definitely take the long route, read the book, take notes and then share my thoughts.  Many times it’s the little things in the narrative that create a lasting impression.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32) is a really good example of how much the ‘small stuff’ matters. Planting a very small seed and allowing it to grow creates a tree that provides shelter and food (more small seeds).  Jesus used these words to help people understand that in the small stuff (the seed) is provision (food and shelter) for all those who take refuge in it.  Yes, the little things matter!!!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

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.”

One Word

Each year I choose one word as my focus.  I’m kind of leaning toward ‘believe’ but I’m also carefully and prayerfully considering other options.  I also include a Bible verse for the year with my choice.  Here are a few I’m considering, perhaps they’ll help with your choice, too.

  • BELIEVE    Blessed is she who has believed that the LORD would fulfill His promises to her.  Luke 1:45 (NIV)
  • LISTEN    Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake.  Isaiah 55:3(TLB)
  • CELEBRATE     Celebrate God all day every day.  I mean revel in Him.  Philippians 4:4
  • TRUTH    Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  John 8:3 (NIV)
  • STRENGTH   The LORD is my strength and my shield: my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

I hope these are helpful.  If you choose one or have one you’d like to share.  Leave it in the comments below.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

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.”

Sunday Psalms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LORD, I cannot bear Your anger with me.  Your displeasure is more than I can handle.

Have mercy on me. I am hurting into the marrow of my bones.  When will You heal my soul?

LORD, where are You?  I need to know Your merciful presence.  How can I say thanks?

I can’t sleep.  I cry all night.  My eyes are sore.  I am so discouraged!

Sinners and enemies get out of my house.  God is listening to me.  He has heard my prayer.

This is Psalm 6 in my own words.  Psalm 123, 4  and are also posted.  Check them out by clicking on the number.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

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.”

Found Coins

I recently came across this unique story of finding lost coins.  Imagine the change in this world if we all stopped to acknowledge our God when we see or pick up any coin.

A woman of modest means and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. The boss was very wealthy, with an estate home and several cars costing more than the average house.

The woman delighted to experience first hand the life of the extremely wealthy. The boss indulged his guests both at home on his estate as well as out as exclusive dining establishments.

On one occasion as they were about to enter an exclusive restaurant, the boss was walking slightly ahead of them. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

An awkward silence followed. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, a few cigarette butts and assorted litter. Quietly, the rich man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have of a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the penny bothered her. Finally, she casually mentioned that her son once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been rare.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.

Look at it. He said. Read what it says. She read the words the United States of America.

No, not that; read further.

One cent? No, keep reading.

In God we Trust? Yes! And?

And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it!

God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by?

When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

The author of this spiritual story is unknown and greatly appreciated. If you know who wrote this or can provide a source that I can cite then please contact me and let me know!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie