Monday, March 31, 2008

If I Only Knew...What Would Jesus Do? by Joan Hake Robie

When I found If I Only Knew...What Would Jesus Do? in the library, I was curious and wondered what the author could share in such a short book, so I checked it out. She addresses common issues that we all deal with from time to time and then asks the question WWJD? Then she shares a Scripture that is relevant to the situation followed by a short commentary on dealing with the problem. I like the book, but it seems a bit simplistic. It reminded me of my days watching the Brady Bunch when they solved problems in thirty minutes with brownies and milk. Of course that didn't stop me from tuning in for the next episode.

Some of the smaller issues the author discussed have excellent suggestions for dealing with them immediately. However, I think many of the more complex problems require more than Ms. Robie gives us, but she may be just providing the starting point to dealing with the issues. You can't go wrong using Scripture and prayer. If you find yourself dealing with a complicated life situation that is beyond your knowledge, consult your pastor or a Christian counselor, but most importantly pray and seek God's guidance and will for your life.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." ~ James 1:5

"Be joyful always;
pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson

I found this book at my local library a couple months ago (I renewed it multiple times) and finally started reading it about a week ago. It's a story of choices, consequences, loss, and healing. Tracie Peterson puts a new spin on Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In this novel the prodigal is a younger daughter who chose to leave her loving family to find what she was looking for in the world far from home. Twelve years after leaving home she decides to return home to many changes and wants to seek reconciliation. Forgiveness came easy from two family members, but the relationship she desired the most was the most difficult to achieve. The two sisters share pieces of their past throughout the book as they work toward reconciliation. A major lesson of the book is that we all make choices both noble and otherwise and have to live with the consequences.

Where My Heart Belongs can inspire change, love and forgiveness if we are open to that choice. The ending seemed to come together too neatly in a way I can't imagine life happening, but its still worth a read.

This book encouraged me to consider my choices and how they have effected my life and the lives of others. The choice to forgive and seek reconciliation is one we all need to pursue because others see Jesus or NOT through our actions.

When God Ran

"And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." ~ Mark 11:25-26

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Care to Share?

What are you reading currently? Feel free to list the books and titles and any other info you care to share. I'd love to know what you are reading, so I can add more to my to be read list.

What are your favorite books of all time?

I'm reading several books now, you can check the sidebar to find out what I'm reading currently and what I've read recently at any given moment. The two I'm spending the most time with now are: Signs of Life by David Jeremiah and What's So Spiritual about Your Gifts? by Henry and Mel Blackaby. I'm also on the super slow plan of reading Gary Thomas's books, Sacred Marriage and Sacred Influence - both great books.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holiness in Hidden Places by Joni Eareckson Tada

Holiness in Hidden places is a devotional thought book that incorporates Joni's life experiences, Scripture, songs, and her artwork. I appreciate Joni’s book because she presents herself as a human who makes mistakes and struggles with sin. She (and we) has to daily commit herself to the Lord because flesh fights us all. She is one I could easily put upon a pedestal because of all she has endured physically for most of her life, but she makes it clear that she isn’t perfect just forgiven and that she more than anything wants her life to count for God.

I too want my life to make a difference in God’s kingdom not because of anything amazing that I have done, but because God was able to work through me and my weaknesses to bring glory to HIMSELF. I fall short more than I care to confess, but God isn’t giving up on me and I’m holding tight to HIM.

You can write Joni at JAF Ministries, PO Box 3333, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 or go to her website for more information.

Simple Suggestions for a Sensational Life! by Paula White

Last month, I read an inspiring book full of suggestions to make life better. The book is easy to read in small chunks or in one setting. I read bits and pieces over several days. One quote that I especially appreciated was:

"I am not a product of my past.
I am not a product of my environment.
I am not who other people say that I am.
I am who God says I am.

I am who God is calling me to be."

It is something we all need to learn so we can go on to become what God dreams for us to be and bring HIM glory. If we allow ourselves to get stuck in the pain of the past or a current troubling situation we are telling God that HE doesn't have the power to bring about healing.

So how do we let go and give it to God? Most of us are pretty controlling if we are honest with ourselves. We must...

"Get into the Word
Study the Word.
Memorize the Word.
Speak the Word.
Meditate on the Word.

Act on the Word."

"No matter what comes your way, you can make it become a pathway to destiny. Whatever you do, never give up. The process of faith is the ability to endure. Your faith is dependence upon your ability to trust, and your level of trust is determined by your relationship with Christ. Fill your life with faith by getting to know God."

For a faith lift, check your library or local bookstore for this little book full of ideas on how to become who God wants you to be

Monday, March 17, 2008

Making Ordinary Days Extraordinary! By Gloria Gaither & Shirley Dobson

This is a fun book full of interesting ideas of things to do with your family. There are activities that can be used with all ages and multiple generations. If you want to make some creative memories with your children or grandchildren this book can help you. Scripture verses and colorful pictures are throughout the book. Detailed directions for games and crafts are included.

Making Ordinary Days Extraordinary is loaded with memory making ideas for your family. You’ll find entertaining crafts and activities such as Field-Day Dreams, Hop Along the Penny Trail, Noteworthy Notions, Marshmallow Meltdown, Time to Light the T-N-T!, A-Hunting We Will Go, Family Fun Film Festival, A Day in the Life Of, and so many more. Grab the book, bring the love, save the date and have some fun.

When the children are grown, they take their memories with them - make sure they are special and representative of your love for them. Jobs come and go, but families are forever.

Adam by Ted Dekker

Adam is an intense story. Consider it a Christian version of Criminal Minds with more character development. Its an FBI drama following the lives of two children who suffered horrible ritual abuse from their kidnapper until they ran away from what they knew as home at ages 15 and 16. The elder sibling begins a life of crime, methodically killing women each lunar cycle. Don't worry there aren't many gruesome details.

Before the first chapter of the book is an installment for a crime journal the first of nine - the last installment is at the very end of the book. With each monthly installment, you learn more details of the lives of this brother and sister and begin to piece their story together. If you read the magazine articles before the novel it contains spoilers and will take away your chance at solving the mystery on your own.

The agnostic, special agent who is investing the case is a psychologist who specializes in profiling the criminal mind. In the story he dies and lives to tell about it. If you are interested in crime stories this book will give you something to chew on... Adam takes you beyond the crime and to a deeper level we can all learn from.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Uncharted by Angela Hunt

This novel by Angela Hunt is something else. Six college students in search of money are brought together by John Weston, a man with a book (Happily Ever After) to sell. The students built long-lasting relationships because of their united purpose in selling this book. Join the college chums twenty years post graduation and find out how the book effected their lives - some read it and others didn't. Their unique responses to the book made a difference in the big picture. I hestitate to give too much away by sharing my thoughts, so I will share the back cover of the book:

"...A blend of the movies Castaway and The Big Chill, with a touch of the television series Lost, creatively thrown together with the biblical story fo the beggar Lazarus and C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce." ~ Publisher's Weekly

"It was supposed to be an adventure. A little time off to honor the memory of a friend and complete a service project in the tropics. Do good deeds while getting a tan."

"But when a storm rocks their plans, five long-time friends from college find themselves hurled onto a desolate island, and relief fades to fear. Here nature rules with a vengeance. The lone shelter from raw conditions is a sinister cave. Are they victims of a bizarre psychological experiement? Or could this godforsaken place have the power to maroon them forever?"

The author takes the first half of the book to develop the characters before the real story takes place, but the information is necessary to help the reader gain an understanding of each character and their personality quirks. I think, if we are honest, we will find that we identify on some level either in our past or the present time. You may not agree with all of the theology in this book, but it's definitely worth the read. If you have questions, look for the answers in a Bible or talk with a Bible-believing Pastor.

Uncharted Disgussion Guide Questions

If you are reading this and are unsure of your relationship with the Creator of the Universe who sent HIS Son, Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for your sins, take time right now to begin a relationship with HIM. You can start by reading The Four Spiritual Laws and by finding a living Bible-based church.

We have all been wounded on some level and only God can heal those wounds, but only if we give HIM permission to begin the oftentimes, painful work. This life is a brief ripple in time and then eternity begins. Let God's love rule your mind and actions here on earth as you prepare for eternity with HIM!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Book Giveaway - Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn

One of my favorite authors, Randy Alcorn is giving away a signed copy of his book Heaven for Kids. I haven't read this one myself yet, but I have read some from his book Heaven and all of his book 50 Days of Heaven and enjoyed them immensely. This book will give kids a better understanding of eternity and heaven and help them as they deal with losses they have experienced or ones that are yet to come. If you are interested in a chance to win the audio version or the print version of Heaven for Kids, please go to Randy's blog and leave a comment. His blog and his website, Eternal Perspectives Ministries are both full of valuable information. His blog has a more personal touch and his website has information, study guides, and teaching articles.

From Randy's Blog:

And for the month of March, Heaven for Kids is on sale at the Eternal Perspective Ministries website for $8.39, a 40% discount. Safely Home, last month’s giveaway, is also on sale during March for $7.00 (a 50% discount off the retail price). Check out the first chapter of the book, and see the cute kid pictures.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Don't Ask for the Dead Man's Golf Clubs: What to Do and Say (and What Not to) When a Friend Loses a Loved One by Lynn Kelly

The second book regarding death that I read had a slightly humorous title, but it was loaded with useful information obtained through the author's personal experiences with death and the experiences of those who graciously shared from their own painful losses. Many people confess to caring deeply, but not knowing how to express their feelings to one who is suffering from the loss of a loved one. This book gives insight into what was useful and what was hurtful to those who shared. Regardless of what we have experienced in life or how many people we have lost to death, we can't ever say we understand how another feels when they are faced with death because each experience is unique and we all deal with loss in our own way.

Many times when people are dealing with the loss of a loved one well-meaning friends volunteer to help out by doing things for the child/ren who lost a parent. "If you offer to help children, mean it. After my husband died, every guy that came over told my older son he would take him fishing. It never happened, and my son never forgot." Let's all keep our promises!

When sending a card to the bereaved you may want to include some of the following:

·Ask if there is a preferred charity and send a contribution in the name of the person who died.

·Ask if there is a special fund for the children or the family, and if so, send a contribution.

·Enclose extra stamps with your letter or sympathy card. Save your friend a trip to the post office when writing thank-you notes.

·Enclose long-distance calling cards or long-distance gift certificates with your letter or card. The family can use them to notify and keep in touch with relatives and friends who are far away.

For additional ideas, check your local library for a copy of this insightful book.

Celebrating Special Times with Special People by Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson

A while back I read a brightly colored, energetic book jammed full of ways to celebrate people and to help make them feel special. There were many refreshing ideas as well as some tried and true suggestions that have been used through the years. If you are into scrapbooking, you might find something interesting to add to your collection. All activities have a supporting Scripture verse and can be used for icebreakers at a party, uplifting a discouraged friend, and showering love on a family member for a special occasion or just to let them know how incredible they are in your estimation. If you would like to discover some memory makers, check your local library for a copy of this delightful book.

Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Last month I began the process to volunteer for Hospice and in our training it was highly recommended that we read books dealing with death to help us to become more comfortable with the process and to understand better some of what terminal patients and their families deal with during their last months. The first book I selected was by Henri Nouwen.

In the introduction I came across this thought provoking quote:

"Are we preparing ourselves for our death, or are we ignoring death by keeping busy? Are we helping each other to die, or do we simply assume we are going to always be here for each other? Will our death give new life, new hope, and new faith to our friends, or will it be no more than another cause for sadness? The main question is not, How much will we still be able to do during the few years we have left to live? But rather, How can we prepare ourselves for our death in such a way that our dying will be a new way for us to send our and God’s spirit to those whom we have loved and who have loved us?"

Most of the time, it seems, we think of death as the end of life, loss, and suffering, but Mr. Nouwen gives a fresh persective by helping us realize that only after death does our life's true fruitfulness show itself. We must come to terms with our own mortality before we help others come to terms with their mortality. "To care for the dying is to help the dying make that hard move from action to passion, from success to fruitfulness, from wondering how much they can still accomplish to making their very lives a gift for others. Caring for the dying means helping the dying discover that, in their ever increasing weakness, God’s strength becomes visible."

If you know someone who is dealing with a terminal illness or if you want to prepare yourself as you consider your own mortality, this book would be a good place to start. Some of what Mr. Nouwen said was outside of my belief system, but for the most part the book is quite beneficial.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Next Level: A Parable of Finding Your Place in Life by David Gregory

I recently read The Next Level by David Gregory who also wrote Dinner With a Perfect Stranger and A Day With a Perfect Stranger. Mr. Gregory expands upon what was learned in both of those books and encourages the reader to discover the next level. Follow this short story of Logan, young college graduate as he determines the meaning of life.

Logan engages in a life-changing pursuit of The Next Level - a fascinating parable that will help you answer some of life’s most perplexing and vital questions. Joining Logan in evaluating each level’s approach, you’ll be inspired to consider the big picture of your own life from an entirely different perspective - one that holds the key to life’s ultimate purpose. No matter where you are now, get ready to embark on your own passionate pursuit of The Next Level.

The Next Level takes an extraordinarily creative approach to life’s most important questions - questions you wrestle with internally every day. Through a fascinating story that you’ll identify with, you’ll discover vital insights on such issues as:

What is your ultimate purpose?

How can you know when you are achieving that purpose?

When you have achieved your goals and still aren’t satisfied, then what?

What is the focus of your existence? Will this focus produce what you seek?

How does our culture sidetrack you from true meaning in life?

Do the options our culture - even our religious culture-present in life lead to real fulfillment?

Can pursuing your goals lead you further away from your ultimate purpose?

What would your life look like if you were living out your true purpose?

- (taken from the book's website)

To print a copy of the study guide questions go to the website.