December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him..." Romans 15:13

                                           

December 15, 2010

Healings and Happiness

Many churches and pastors today teach of healings and happiness as gospel. Some even go as far as to say something is wrong with you and your faith if you aren't perfectly happy and healthy. These teaching as so far from the real gospel of Jesus.

When so many follow after falsehoods about the gospel, Oswald Chambers in his year long devotional book "Utmost for His Highest," has helped me grow in my faith, with his simple and humble faith in the true gospel of Christ. He raises a great question in his Dec.2 entry:

"How can we say, "It could never be God's will for me to be sick?" If it was God's will to bruise His own Son (Isaiah 53:10), why shouldn't He bruise you? What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well or sick."

Yes, Jesus, because of His compassion, healed the sick when He was here on earth, but like Billy Graham says:

"He fed the poor. He healed the sick, raised the dead, but that was not his purpose. His purpose was to go to the cross."

He came to suffer and die for us, so is it possible that God could sometimes choose not to heal, but use our sickness for His glory? I think so.


and Jesus said..."In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer! I have overcome the world."

December 9, 2010

Faith

I saw a nooma video called “dust” by Rob Bell a few years ago and something about it disturbed me. Something I couldn’t quit discern and something I just couldn’t shake off. (The things he talks about in this video are also in his book "Velvet Elvis.")


In the video (and in his book) he talks about when Peter began to drown after walking on the water towards Jesus. Rob Bell goes on to teach that Peter began to drown not because he lost faith in Jesus but because he lost faith in himself. I started to question what Rob Bell was saying. I wanted to know the truth. I couldn’t get this verse out of my head. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Was Rob Bell telling me to lean on my own understanding by having faith in myself? And if he was, doesn’t that go against God’s Word? I later read this quote from Charles Spurgeon about faith and grace. 

“The source of all divine blessings is found in the Grace of God. Never make an idol of your faith, and don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that faith is the independent source of your salvation. New life is found by looking to Jesus, not in looking to your own faith. By faith all things become possible to us, but the power is not in the faith; it is in the God upon whom faith relies.”

This made more sense to me as a Christian and coincides with what the Bible says. We are not saved by our faith but though our faith by the grace of God.   

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph 2:8

I believe that Peter did not sink because he doubted or lacked faith in himself, like Rob Bell believes, but simply because he took his eyes off Jesus.

December 8, 2010

Quote of the Week

"I celebrate the day, that You were born to die, so I could one day pray, for You to save my life." Relient K

November 30, 2010

A Grief Observed

If you've lost a loved one and feel alone in your grief, this book may be helpful to you.

C.S. Lewis is brutally honest and extremely raw with his emotions towards God about the suffering and death of his beloved wife.

The book helped me a lot.

Lewis helped me understand its ok to have questions and even anger towards God in these situations as long as you have respect for Him.

When everything is said and done God will always be God and we can't make Him who we want Him to be.

We may never understand the ways of God, but we can always trust Him.

November 12, 2010

Quote of the Week

"To call someone a Christian simply because he does some Christian-y things is giving false comfort to the unsaved. But to declare anyone who sins "unsaved" is to deny the reality and truth of God's grace." Francis Chan

November 6, 2010

Grace

I never understood grace growing up, I don't think I was really ever taught it in church or maybe I wasn't listening. I'm reading a book called "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman. She says:

"Our church taught that you could lose your salvation...and so you never quite knew where you stood with God. I don't remember ever hearing the concept of grace. A relationship with God was all about working hard and being as good as you could possibly be."

She goes on to talk about how she asked Jesus into her life at least once a year at summer Bible camp, just to make sure she was saved!


I can relate so much to this. I was always afraid of losing my salvation and constantly trying to do something good to make up for it. It wasn't until a few years ago God finally set me straight (so to speak) Someone sent me a video of a missionary speaking on grace and I'd never heard anything like it before.

As I was sitting on the floor in my living room, preparing my Sunday school lesson listening, the weight of my sin came over me and in the same instance God poured  His grace over me. I cried like a baby, and in that moment I knew I was saved by grace alone through faith alone (Eph. 2:8) and I would never lose my salvation because He promised me He would never leave me or forsake me. (Heb. 13:5) I finally felt free, free to trust him fully.


GRACE: the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God; the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.





Worship

Still reading "66 Love Letters" by Dr. Larry Crabb. I'm finally into the New Testament though. :) In the intro to the New Testament books this sentence caught my attention: "real worship produces real change from self- obsessed religion to God-centered relating." I found out the word "worshiped" in the Greek is "pros-koo-neh'-o" and the definition given is ...to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; by kneeling or prostration.


Growing up in church I often saw many people dancing, singing and raising their hands during "worship" but thinking, even as a child, that many were doing this for self recognition. I never wanted to be like that so I never really worshiped in church, at least not demonstratively.

Real worship, I'm learning is surrender to God at all times. It's important in our surrender to God to kneel or prostrate before Him, both physically and from our hearts. He is the Kings of Kings. This is a very personal and humbling thing, but should be done for the Lord alone. God did not create us to just worship in church. He created us to worship, period.

Getting ready in the morning, driving kids around, at work, at play, when I feel tired, sick or upset...these are all great times to worship.  I also love Dr. Crabbs wording, "God-centered relating" During all these times in my life its good to know the Lord wants to relate to me and pursue a relationship with me.




October 25, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Prayer does not equip us for greater works--prayer is the greater work." Oswald Chambers

Truth or Not

I just started a book called "Doctrine, what Christians should believe" by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. In a chapter called "God speaks" this quote about Thomas Jefferson caught my attention:

"When we say plenary, we mean there are no parts of the Bible we don't believe, don't like, or won't teach or preach or obey. We cannot be like Thomas Jefferson, who brazenly sat down in the White House with a razor in one hand and a Bible in the other and cut out the portions he rejected, asserting his own authority over the authority of the Lord. 

And we cannot be like those who are more subtle than Jefferson and simply ignore parts of the Bible as primitive, dismiss them as outdated, or explain them away with human reasoning. Paul shows us the proper attitude towards scripture: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

I'm saddened  by how many theologians today are in agreement with Thomas Jefferson. For me I would not bother with the Bible if it didn't tell the whole truth or waste my time on a Bible with possible falsehoods. The Bible is either the Word of God or it is not. Why would a Christian settle for anything less?


This reminded me of a quote by St. Augustine where he said, "If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."

October 22, 2010

The Pursuit of God

After reading this book I understand why it's called a classic. It's not because the author A. W. Tozer was the best writer, but because his love and passion for God are absolutely contagious as you read his words. Every sentence in this book is intriguing and insightful. I wanted to know God more after reading it.

I loved chapter 2 titled, "The Blessedness of possessing nothing" I couldn't pick just one quote from this chapter so here is a link to the chapter as a whole:

http://www.theboc.com/freestuff/awtozer/books/the_pursuit_of_god/bless_possess_nothing.html

The verse he gives at the beginning of this chapter is:


 "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:3 

I've always struggled with trying to understand what Jesus meant by this. I think its one of the most misinterpreted verses, especially by those who preach a social gospel. But the Lord, with this chapter and its example of Abraham, is really helping me grasp a better understanding.




October 21, 2010

Quote of the Week

"You will never value pardon unless you feel repentance, and you will never taste the deepest draughts of repentance until you know that you are pardoned."                                                        Charles Spurgeon         

October 11, 2010

Quote of the Week

"You need not be afraid of too much grace. Great grace never makes a man proud. A little grace is very apt to make a man be puffed up." Andrew Bonar

October 4, 2010

Slightly Bad Girls

I just started reading a book called "Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible," by Liz Curtis Higgs. I love the way she describes these women such as Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel:

"My definition of a Slightly Bad Girl is simply this: a woman unwilling to fully submit to God. We love him, serve him, and worship him, yet we find it difficult to trust him completely, to accept his plan for our lives, to rest in his sovereignty. And so we quietly (or not so quietly) try to take back the reins again and again. Let me handle things, Lord, I know what's best. 

We pray, then move forward without waiting for an answer. We do all the right, Good Girl things and hope no one notices our desperate need to control every aspect of our lives. We read 'She does not trust the Lord, she does not draw near to her God' (Zephaniah 3:2) and shudder at the thought, never seeing ourselves in those words."

This is so me...but I know there is hope. :) God isn't going to leave me like this. He is teaching me and humbling me each day. I'm learning that:

"It is the work that God does through me that counts, not what I do for Him." Oswald Chambers




Quote of the Week

"We are immortal until our work is done." George Whitefield

September 27, 2010

The Scarlet Letter

I loved this book. It gave me so many things to seriously think about.

The character of the minister moved me the most. I actually cried as I read the few pages that described his pain. How he struggled with his sin and how he felt that, physically harming himself, would purify him. This was a common practice among priests and ministers at that time. Even Martin Luther physically harmed himself thinking this would purify him, before God showed him that His grace is sufficient.


A.W. Tozer in his book, The Pursuit of God, talks about this here:

  "Faith is the least self-reguarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves--blessed riddance. 

The man who struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do."




September 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

"No matter what changes God has performed in you, never rely on them. Build only on the Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit he gives." Oswald Chambers

September 21, 2010

Janette Oke, Motherhood and Organization


When I was a teenager I devoured pretty much every book Janette Oke wrote. I loved the simplicity of the prairie life, the way the characters related to one another and of course the cleaning and organizing!

She wrote of everyday mundane things as meaningful tasks. I always loved it when one of her characters moved into a new home and how she described the simple things of organizing and cleaning.

Now that I'm older and have almost finished raising my kids I see how much she influenced me through her books. Her stories helped me take a greater joy in cleaning and organizing my home and spending quality time with my husband and kids. She truly honored women who spent their lives taking care of others.

September 19, 2010

Quote of the week

I love quotes from people who I respect and enjoy reading. So I thought I'd share some of them on my blog.  So here is the first one:

"The greatest discovery has been...that I could be saved by the grace of God."   Richard Wurmbrand

September 11, 2010

John Bunyan


A few years ago I read John Bunyan's autobiography "Grace abounding to the chief of sinners" It was one of the hardest books to get through, it took me forever but it was so worth it.

The book is more of a spiritual autobiography and is very intimate. His struggles are felt deeply as you read and I think that's why I had a hard time getting through it. It's hard to read someone elses struggles especially when they hit home.


When you truly seek God, life is not "your best life now" its a constant struggle against the enemy, who not only wants to keep you separated from God, but constantly accuses you and tries to convince you that what you've done is not forgivable. But the truth is when you put your trust in God He will never leave you or forsake you.

After years of struggle John Bunyan went on to be a great pastor and later thrown into prison for preaching the gospel. It's there that he wrote Pilgrim's Progress one of the most beloved christian books of all time.








August 25, 2010

An Extraordinary Woman

I love how John MacArthur in his book "Twelve Extraordinary Women" describes Abraham's wife Sarah:

"Let's be honest: there are times in the biblical account when Sarah comes off as a bit of a shrew.She was the wife of the great patriarch Abraham, so we tend to think of her with a degree of dignity and honor. But reading the biblical account of her life, it is impossible not to notice that she sometimes behaved badly. She could throw fits and tantrums. 

She knew how to be manipulative. And she was even known to get mean. At one time or another, she exemplified almost every trait associated with the typical caricature of a churlish woman. She could be impatient, temperamental, conniving, cantankerous, cruel, flighty, pouty, jealous, erratic, unreasonable, a whiner, a complainer, or a nag. By no means was she always the perfect model of godly grace and meekness."

This paragraph made me laugh out loud! I wasn't taught this Sarah in Sunday School. ;) But its kind of nice to know she wasn't perfect. So what made this woman, who God made a mother of nations (Gen.17:16) so extraordinary?

"...because she judged Him faithful who had promised." Heb.11:11

She put her trust in God and even though she wasn't perfect, God showed his faithfulness through her life.




Do hard things


Awhile ago I read a book called "Do hard things" written by 2 teenage brothers, named Brett and Alex Harris. Even though the book is by teens, for teens this 40+ mom was inspired. :)

I right away started praying for what I could do and right away I thought of Haiti. I went to my daughter whose birthday was coming up and reluctantly asked her if she would be willing to ask for donations for Haiti in lieu of gifts from her friends. She answered me by saying she'd been thinking the same thing!

Between her birthday, a garage sale, collecting bottles and loose change, we have almost reached half way to our goal...I love it when books inspire.




August 23, 2010

A Christmas Carol


The other day my husband said to me "Can you believe Christmas in only 4 months away?" I really don't want to think about Christmas in August, but then I thought why not? What's wrong with thinking about Christmas?

Some of the best memories from my childhood and adulthood are from Christmas. Like watching A Christmas Carol every Christmas Eve with my family since I can remember. (even if it's just in the background while visiting)

Last year I finally decided to pick the book up and read it. I wasn't disappointed.  (not that Charles Dickens could ever disappoint) It was almost word for word with the 1951 classic movie starring the awesome...Alastair Sim.

Will I start counting the days down to Christmas? Umm probably not, but enjoying the memories is another story. :)


Buy it HERE on Amazon


August 21, 2010

Beauty

I recently finished a book called "Jonathan Edwards on Beauty" by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney. Jonathan Edwards was a theologian during the 18th century and this book reflects on some of his writings on beauty.

The Beauty of God, Creation, Christ, the Church and the Trinitarian Afterlife. In the chapter about the beauty of the Church the authors say:

"...All too often in Christian circles, we mimic the world in esteeming the "best and brightest" and passing over those with less apparent value. This is a shameful mistake, one that robs believers of their sense of worth and agency. Every believer is a "drop" of beauty in the great display of God's character and thus can use his or her spiritual gifts and natural abilities in the service of the church of Christ (1 Peter 2:9) 

Furthermore, every person, regardless of race or background, age or occupation, is equally beautiful and lovely to the Lord. The history of Christianity shows that all to often Christians have discriminated against fellow believers just as the world discriminates among itself. Whenever possible, Christians should work to visibly demonstrate the unity of the church by overcoming racial, social, and economic boundaries..."

Growing up in church I often felt not talented enough, not gifted enough, not well spoken enough. Nothing about me really stood out and so to read this and remember that I am beautiful to God was very encouraging. God does love us, and we can come to Him just as we are. It's good to remember we are beautiful because He is our Father.




Buy it HERE on Amazon






Jane Austen


I LOVE Jane Austen's books. No one writes with the beautiful flow of words like she does. Most men will never understand the lure of her writings the way women do.

It's this deep need in women to be loved, chosen and taken care of (even if they don't want to admit it) What woman, in her right mind, would not want a man like Darcy or Wentworth or Knightley?

Of course all these characters are all way to perfect and therefore unrealistic. But are they? Is there a True Love out there who is not only perfect, but loves you and has chosen you and wants to take care of you?

I think there is and that's the lure of these books, at least for me.




July 8, 2010

A Very Clever Little Book


Just finished "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck. A very clever little book about the greed in all of us. I loved the part when the towns people are all talking about the worth of the pearl and how if they had found it they would give all the money they made from it to the poor or the church, etc.

I had to giggle at this, because in reality who has ever done that?...and to be honest I don't know anyone who would. We all would at least have thoughts of spending the money on ourselves first, it's in our nature. This short tale made me think about how our sinful nature can take over and destroy us...and how we really do need a Savior.


Buy it HERE at Amazon


July 6, 2010

Lady Jane Grey






Awhile back I read a book called "Innocent Traitor" by Alison Weir, about a 16 year girl who became the queen of England for 9 days. She was basically a pawn in a game for power. But her strength and courage is what really hit home for me.

Imagine being 16 and in prison for something you really had no willing part in and facing death if you didn't confess a belief you didn't believe in. She could of just given in and lied and then lived, but would she have really been living then?




June 26, 2010

66 Love Letters


I've been reading a book called "66 love letters" by Dr. Larry Crabb. Each chapter is about the love letter of each book of the Bible.

It's slow going because I end up going back to my Bible to read the book the chapter is on, which is a good thing. Any author that leds me back to my Bible is in my option an author worth reading. :)

I'm on to the Psalms and looking forward to what he says about Ecclesiastics, since I just finished a bible study on it.




June 18, 2010

Angela's Ashes


I'm almost finished reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. Once I got past all the cursing and swearing in this book, I have to say I'm really enjoying it. It's witty and funny and sad and heartwarming. It's given me a better understanding of the poor...the really poor, the one piece of bread a day poor.

Well I just finished the book and have to say the last few chapters were disappointing with a little to much information about his young sex life and his resorting to steal to get enough money to get to America.

I wonder if he ever came back to Ireland to pay back all those he stole from? :(




April 30, 2010

From my devotional

I'm reading Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest." Yesterday I read the April 17th entry (yes I''m a little behind) :)

"Have you ever had a crisis in your life in which you deliberately, earnestly, and recklessly abandoned everything? It is a crisis of the will. You may come to that point many times externally, but it will amount to nothing. The true deep crisis of abandonment, or total surrender, is reached internally, not externally. The giving up of only external things may actually be an indication of your being in total bondage.

Have you deliberately committed your will to Jesus Christ? It is a transaction of the will, not of emotion; any positive emotion that results is simply a superficial blessing arising out of the transaction. If you focus your attention on the emotion, you will never make the transaction. Do not ask God what the transaction is to be, but make the determination to surrender your will regarding whatever you see, whether it is in the shallow or the deep, profound places internally.

If you have heard Jesus Christ's voice on the waves of the sea, you can let your convictions and your consistency take care of themselves by concentrating on maintaining your intimate relationship to Him."


It always takes me 3 or 4 reads to grasp what he is saying, but this is so true in my life. I try so hard to do what is right externally, things like going to church, giving money to the poor, trying to be kind to people that I end up in bondage trying to be good enough through these things. Handing my will over to God sounds so hard, I was raised in an emotionally driven church, seeking that next emotion encounter with God.

But the truth is sometimes I feel nothing, no emotion when I pray and I'm learning that that's OK. Trusting Him is what is important, not what emotion I'm feeling at the time. It's knowing that He is there even when I feel nothing.




April 29, 2010

Welcome


Welcome to my blog...a blog of thoughts on books I've read. I thought it would be fun to share my random thoughts on things I've read. I love to read and listen to what others are talking about, debating about or learning about. :)

Thank-you for stopping by!
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