November 28, 2011

The Well

I just finished reading "The Well: why are so many still thirsty?" by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns. Each chapter in this book reflects on different holes we try to draw from rather than drawing from Jesus, who is the Well. Holes of control, approval, resourcefulness, entitlement, talent, religion and something better. I've pretty much tried to draw from all of these. Especially the hole of approval, so this really hit home. The lesson here is that these holes are empty, they can't fill us, only living water can, only Jesus.

The book is also filled with encouraging and heartwarming stories. Some from the Bible and some from those today. I loved the honesty and straightforwardness of this book.

It's based on the story of the woman at the well and how Jesus told her that He was the living water she needed to fill her life. One extraordinary thing about this story is that Jesus is the one who comes to her and reveals himself. I love what Mark Hall says here:

"You have never slipped God's mind. Even if you haven't thought about him since the last time you walked through a church door, he has been walking with you, watching you, talking to you. And God has been trying his best to catch your eye because he pursues you. God doesn't pursue your country. He doesn't pursue your state or your town or even your church. He pursues you, just as he did the woman at the well."


In the chapter on the hole of approval, Mark talks of visiting a retreat center for girls with eating disorders with a good friend of his named Tony Nolan. After they had sung "Voice of Truth" Tony got up to speak. He says here:

"When Tony rose to teach, he took his cue from the last song. He concentrated on God's voice of truth and within seconds provided a simple but profound line I can't get out of my head. 'What's true about you,' Tony said with a gentle smile to the girls, 'is what God says about you."

This really spoke to me as well. The hole of approval is probably the hole I struggle with the most. I am a very quiet person. I don't speak well. I enjoy being at home. I like my alone time. I don't need to be around people all the time, but I constantly worry about what people think of me because of it. When I read this it meant so much to me. "What's true about me, is what God says about me." Not what others think or say about me. Mark shares some things God says about his children:

God says that we are:

-reconciled to God as new creations (2Corinthians 5:17-18)
-forgiven and restored children of God (John 1:12)
-citizens of God's kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14)
-in Christ forever and already seated with Him in heaven (Ephesians 2:4-7)
-saints- yes, you are a saint (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)
-God's masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
-God's ambassadors who represent him (2 Corinthians 5:20)
-the actual righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
-his chosen, adopted precious ones (Ephesians 1:3-6)
-partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:2-4)

In the chapter on the hole of talent, Mark shares a little about his life and struggles. One scene brought back memories for me. A big man, in overalls, came up to him before a service and told him he wanted to sing before the sermon because the Lord had given him a song. Mark remembers thinking:

"You've got to be kidding. First of all, we already have our order of service...I don't know if you can sing. You don't just walk up and decide to sing. We singers are trained to do this kind of thing."

When Mark realized the guy was quite a bit bigger then him, he gave in and let him sing.

The man sang "His Eye is on the Sparrow"


"I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free,
For his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me."

 Mark says he doesn't remember if one note was sung in tune, but the whole place was in tears as the Holy Spirit spoke through that big man in the overalls.

Mark said God spoke to him then and said:

"Mark, it's not going to be your voice that reaches people. It's going to be your heart."

This story reminded me of a woman at our church when I was growing up. She had a strong Asian accent and her singing voice left something to be desired. But when she did sing, her love for God shone through her. I still remember one Christmas she sang "Oh Holy Night" and when she got to..."fall on your knees; oh hear the angels voices"...She fell to her knees and worshiped God through her song. I still get teary eyed when I think about her small humble act that night.

Mark goes on to say later that identity is not in our talents, but:

"Your talent is a tool. your career, hobbies, and achievements are what you do. 
Your identity is as a child of God. It's who you are."

This was such a great book. I love Mark Hall's desire to glorify God and share what God has put on his heart. Hope you get a chance to read this one. It will challenge and bless you.

Here's the beautiful song from Casting Crowns called The Well:











November 27, 2011

Christmas Time

It's Christmas time again and I've decorated my blog for the season! Hope you'll come by to visit. I so appreciate all my followers and all your encouraging and kind comments. I hope you all have a wonderful December as we celebrate Christ's birth.



November 25, 2011

Twitter and Facebook


I have ventured into Twitter! If you would like to follow me there you can find me at Thoughts on Books I'd love to follow you back!

I've also recently made a facebook page for my blog. Feel free to visit also. You can find it here: Thoughts on Books Facebook

And last but not least, I wanted to wish all my American followers a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your holiday weekend!


"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
                                                        Psalms 107:1

November 21, 2011

Petra


Wow...this novel was amazing. I haven't read a novel that gave me chills, since I read Francine Rivers Mark of the Lion series. The power of God's love shone through this book and the author really captured the spiritual warfare within the church.

Again, T.L. Higley has written a beautiful historical novel.  From the Siq, the narrow entrance into the city, to the carved walls of the buildings, she brings you into this city of stone. After reading Pompeii, ( Pompeii ) I wasn't sure if this book would stand up to it, well it does! I think I was moved by it even more.


In the novel Cassia is an abused wife in Damascus who finally escapes with her son and travels to Petra to find her husbands family, hoping to find refuge. Julian is a Roman Christian who witnesses something so disturbing he flees to Petra to forget. Once there, they both met up with the followers of the Way and are blessed and encouraged. But when Cassia finds her husbands family, things change. They are not who she thought they would be and her son is put in danger.


The spiritual struggle in this novel was powerful and made me think about how important our prayers are to the One True God. As Oswald Chambers said here:

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

The power of God's love is also expressed fully within this book. His love for us is often loosely spoken of, but when you actually experience it, it's amazing. 

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5
  
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" Colossians 1:13

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8



"nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39






I highly recommend this book, but be ready to be stirred to prayer and to literally feel the love of God.

On the authors website she has some fact and fiction about this book that I found interesting and which brought the book to life even more...Fact and Fiction in Petra

I'm so looking forward to reading more soul stirring novels from T. L. Higley!

November 17, 2011

Quote of the Week

"I believe God wants to do something new and blessed for every believer who has the inner desire to know Him better."           A.W. Tozer

November 14, 2011

A Passion for God...The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer is one of my favorite authors. His book "The Pursuit of God" was the most beautiful book I've ever read. There is no denying his intimate relationship with the Savior. This book, "A Passion for God" however took me aback because it revealed things about Tozer that weren't perfect, that made him human. Sometimes its hard to realize pastors are human and have struggles and imperfections. It made me realize how I had put Tozer and other great men of God on a pedestal, where only God should be.

This book reveals Tozers struggle in his personal relationships with his wife and children, some who said they never really knew their dad. His wife Ada and he had 7 children, who all went on to serve the Lord, but felt a loneliness in not connecting with their dad. Ada after Tozers death remarried Leonard Odam and said, "I have never been happier in my life. Aiden (Tozer) loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me."

Tozer's love for Jesus was genuine and strong. It shines through his writings and makes you want to know and love Jesus more too. So reading about how sad and lonely his wife was throughout their marriage, was hard to read. Again I had to remember Tozer was a man of God, not God Himself. This is a man who spend hours a day in prayer, who spoke the Truth and wanted more than anything for others to know and experience the love of Christ on a deeper level.


Billy Graham, who was a student at Wheaton college in the early 1940's, says of Tozer..."I remember sitting under his ministry so many times in the Tabernacle in Chicago. I always came away blessed in soul. I believe him to be a man of God." Many students would come to hear Tozer preach who felt..."Tozer truly knew Jesus Christ rather than just knew the Bible recorded about Him."  After reading his book "The Pursuit of God" I feel the same way.

Students flocked to Tozer's meetings like the earlier generation had flocked to D.L Moody's. Like Moody..."people were told that knowing about Jesus Christ, understanding correct doctrine, and being a good student of the Bible are only part of our calling. The Lord wants His people to 'know Him' not just 'know about Him.' He taught that.. "eternal life is to know the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."
 
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" John 17:3

Dr. Samuel M. Zwemer, who wrote the introduction to the first edition of "The Pursuit of God"says of the book: "a masterly study of the inner life by a heart thirsting after God, eager to grasp at least the outskirts of His ways, the abyss of His love for sinners, and the height of His unapproachable majesty...It is theology not of the head but of the heart." Tozer saw the book as a way to reach persons who have "a growing hunger after God himself."

In his book "The Pursuit of God" Tozer says of being born again (John 3:5-7) and the deeper life in Christ: 

"Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him. In our sins we lack only the power. The moment the spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the kingdom of God. It is however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the the glorious pursuit, the heart's happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end."

 "Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 
Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You  must be born again.'" John 3:5-7


Another thing I admire Tozer for, is as this book says..."Tozer took Jesus Christ seriously when He said, 'whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."(John 15:5)

Tozers ministry then and now, led people to Jesus Christ. His ministry was fruitful because the Holy Spirit worked through him. It wasn't because he was a perfect man, but because he had a perfect Savior.







November 10, 2011

Still Alice

This novel is about Alzheimers.

"Still Alice" was written by a doctor, Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University. It is a book about the gradual affects of early onset Alzheimers on one woman's life.

Alice is a well educated and intelligent woman of 50, who is happily married with three grown children. Throughout the book she slowly succumbs to the devastating affects of this disease. It follows her life from when she first starts to recognize signs of the disease, and continues through the years until she doesn't even know who her family is anymore.

At one point in the novel she is out for a jog on a path she has jogged a hundred times before, and comes to a crossroads and suddenly can't remember where she is. This scene really stuck in my memory. How terrifying would that be?

This book made me think of how this disease may affect a non-christian verses a christian.

I remember going to visit my step grandma in the care home she was living in after my grandpa had passed away. She had signs of Alzheimers and didn't really know who we were.  She talked to us like it was the 1930's and she keep saying...'I have to get to the cable car right way!' She also kept whispering to me...'who is that good looking man?!'...as she  looked over at my husband. :) It was a little uncomfortable at first but when we started talking about the Lord she lit up...she knew exactly who He was. I knew then that God had not left her alone.

This novel has a little bit of bad language throughout, but other than that I would highly recommend it if you are interested in what an Alzheimers patient goes through. It's a tough read but will give you a greater understanding of this disease and its affects.




November 9, 2011

Thanks!

I just wanted to thank Faye over at...labor not in vain for also awarding me with the "Tell me about yourself award" Thank-you Faye!

Here at...Tell Me About Yourself Award you can find 7 things about me and some links to some great blogs I awarded. :)

November 2, 2011

Classic Novels

A few years back I became interested in reading the classics. My definition of a classic novel would be a book over a hundred years old that is as much beloved now as it was when it was first published. Here are some I have read, some favorites and others I want to read soon.

                             
What I'm reading now:



Classic Novels I have read:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
North Anger Abbey by Jane Austen (1816)
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814)
Emma by Jane Austen (1815)
Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1873)
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1852)
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (1847)
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1678)
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (1848)
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)


These five were my favorites:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I hadn't heard of Jane Austen till a few years ago when the movie Pride and Prejudice staring, Keira Knightly, came out. I rented it and watched it several times before I had to take it back. I then ran out and bought the book and read it within two days. Of course the book was even better than the movie. :) I loved the story line...how first impressions can often be wrong and how unwise it is to judge someone before we really know them. I don't usually reread books but this was the exception. I reread it that same week!


  
 Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

This is one of those books I would usually not even look at, but I decide I wanted to read a story from each of the Bronte sisters. I was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful story here of what life was like for a governess in the 19th century. This novel is definitely one of my favorites now.



Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

This was a book I knew nothing about and had never seen a movie version of. I just dove in because it was Jane Austen! I loved this book because of the hint of mystery and humor Austen uses and I just loved the characters in this novel.


 
Uncle Tom's Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe

This was a very stirring novel based on the history of slavery in the U.S. I love the fact that the author met Abraham Lincoln and he said to her:

 "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!" 


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This is definitely one of my all time favorites.  I loved Jane's character in this book....plain, sweet, quiet and kind. The kind of person that gets looked over in this world , but has a special place in God's heart. If I could be half the woman Jane Eyre was I'd be doing well. :)




Classic Novels on my TBR shelf:

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1871)
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1860)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
Little Women  by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
Villette by Charlotte Bronte (1853)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1847)

Feel free to share your favorites and let me know about other great classic novels I haven't listed. I love discovering  new 'old' books! :)


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