April 29, 2012

Today is my 2nd Blogoversary with 2 Giveaways!


I can't believe it was two years ago today I started this blog! If you read my blog you know most of my posts are positive, that's because when I read something I love, I want to share it and I've found blogging such a great way to do this.

I love all kinds of books. I've found there is a bit of a battle between those who love fiction and those who love non-fiction. Well I love to read both! I believe there is beauty in the written word, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. To me each book leaves a little piece of the author's heart and soul and I appreciate that.

I mostly read paperbacks because I just love the feel of them in my hands as I read. :) I do have an e-reader, which I received for Christmas, and have been enjoying it more with each book I read on it. I love that I can switch from one book to another quickly, as I'm one of those readers who reads more than one book at a time. I also love that I can change the font! I don't have the greatest eye sight, I have one lazy eye which I can barely see out of, so to be able to change the font size is wonderful. I've also newly started listening to audiobooks. The first book was terrible, the narrator a little creepy, but now my daughter and I are listening to C.S. Lewis's Narnia book 'The Magician's Nephew' and the narrator, actor  Kenneth Branagh is fantastic. He has a great talent in bringing the book to life.

I didn't always love to read. As a child I had a lot of difficulty in comprehension and reading. I was the kid who went to the resource room, that all the other kids made fun of. It wasn't fun for this shy girl, but it must have helped because I now love to read and I think it made me appreciate the ability to read and understand even more.

I mostly read Christian books because that's just what I'm draw to. I just love hearing others experiences and love for God expressed in their writing, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. While some of my favorite reads have come from non-christian books, (ex. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah), I do try to be discerning of what I read. I believe it is easier than we think to be persuaded by false teachings and writings, so I always pray before I read something controversial or non-christian.

I also have another blog which is coming up to it's 1st blogoversary. If you are interested in gardening and all things nature you may enjoy it too:

                              Diary of a Simple Gardener


I post all sorts of things...about my garden, poems, quotes, things I love in nature and so on. Feel free to come by and visit or follow! I'd love to see you there. :)


Giveaway:


Well, in appreciation of all my wonderful followers I thought I'd have a giveaway! One fiction and one non-fiction book. I will be purchasing these myself and mailing them out so please be patience if you win.

To enter you need to be a follower, then please leave your e-mail and whether you would like the fiction or non-fiction book. There will be 2 winners, one for the fiction novel and one for the non-fiction book. This is open internationally and you can enter for both books if you like, just leave separate comments. So here are the books I've chosen to give away:

Non-Fiction Pick...                      Fiction Pick...





I loved 'Grace for the Good Girl' and hope whoever wins it will be blessed by it. :) Here is Amazons description:

"In Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman invites women to let go of the try-hard life and realize that in Christ we are free to receive from him rather than constantly try to achieve for him. With an open hand and a whimsical style, Emily uncovers the truth about the hiding, encouraging women to move from hiding behind girl-made masks and do-good performances to a life hidden with Christ in God."

I haven't read Tracy L. Higley's latest book 'Garden of Madness' yet, but I loved her other books and can't wait to read this one! She's a wonderful story teller. Here's a review from Publisher's Weekly: 

"The biblical story of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar's seven years as a madman, found in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, deepens and broadens thanks to veteran author Higley's historical research and vivid imagination . . . Readers will find much to enjoy here: fine writing, suspense, mystery, faith, love, and a new look at an old story."

*I'll be announcing the winners on Monday May 7th. Giveaway open till then.


I'm looking forward to reading more great books and blogging about them and would once again, like to thank all of you who take the time to come by and visit and read my blog and to those who also leave kind and encouraging comments. You all make my day! :)

April 27, 2012

A Special Day

This coming Sunday is a special day for my blog. It will be my 2nd blogoversary! So be sure to stop by on Sunday, where I'll share a little about my love of reading and have some giveaways too. Hope to see you then.  :)


I thought I'd also let you all know there are some great e-books for free at Christianbook.com

Link here:  Free E-Books at Christianbook.com

They have the "ESV Bible" which I downloaded and its been fun having the Bible right at my fingertips!

Also "Promise Me This" by Cathy Gohlke is available. I just started reading this Titanic themed novel and enjoying it so far.

And John Piper's book "Jesus, the only way to God: must you heard the Gospel to be saved?" is available. I read this awhile ago and I learnt a lot from it. This is a subject many Christians debate about and John Piper does a great job explaining from a Biblical point of view. Very thought-provoking.

There's quite a bit of other books as well, so if you have an e-reader check them out.

April 25, 2012

God's Promises - His Faithfulness

What does it mean when we hear, God is faithful? It means He never goes against His word, it means He is always trustworthy and it means when we are weak, He is strong.

This is such a precious promise. One that encourages me more each day.


"What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged." Romans 3:3-4


"If we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself." 2Ti. 2:13

"As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!" Psalm 40:11

"But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one." 2Th. 3:3



"For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness." Psalm 33:4

















April 23, 2012

Quote of the Week

"We are not accepted because we obey; rather, we obey because we are accepted."  
                                                          Tim Keller




April 18, 2012

5 books on my future reading list

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret 

I've been wanting to read this for awhile now. Oswald Chamber's ( a great inspiration to me) came to know the Lord during a meeting Hudson Taylor was speaking at, which peaked my interest in this biography, written by Taylor's son and his wife. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China and proclaimed, 

 "There are not two Christs, an easygoing one for easygoing Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers," Taylor said. "There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him, and thus to bear much fruit?"


 All Things New

Isn't this a gorgeous cover? Lynn Austin is a great author and her civil war books are wonderful. This book is the story of three women...a daughter, Josephine, her mother, Eugenia and Lizzie, a freed slave. 

After the civil war has left it's destructive wake, mother and daughter set out to repair and renew whats left. After losing so much Eugenia is full of anger and hatred, while Josephine has lost her faith in God and learns to depend on Lizzie to teach her what she needs to know. 

This novel comes out in October.


God and Charles Dickens

I just discovered this book and I'm excited to read it. I wasn't sure if Dickens was a christian, but this book explores his faith and how he shared it within his novels, letters, and other writings.

I love Dickens work. He put so much depth into his characters and brought so much life to 19th century England. I feel like I'm there when I reading his books. This bio comes out June 2012.

The contents of this book are as follows:

Introduction
1. That Great Christian Writer
2. Charles Dickens's Jesus
3. Charles Dickens: Theologian
4. Charles Dickens: Resurrectionist
5. Real Christianity
6. Dickens and the Church
7. Reading (and Hearing) Dickens

 
Proof

This novel is the first in a four book series on the Great Awakenings in America. I've had these books on my shelf for years and want to try and get to them soon.

This one takes place during 1857-1858. The back cover says:

"Inspired by actual revival events, this first book in a series of four explores the personal and spiritual upheaval that occurs when the Holy spirit stirs the waters of our souls."

This was co-written by Jack Cavanaugh and Bill Bright. Bill's wife says of her late husband who passed away before the publication of these books:


"He had two great passions in life: helping to fulfill the Great Commission and encouraging spiritual awakening and revival...It was Bill's fervent desire that this series of novels create a hunger for revival in the hearts of Americans; that people would call out to God; and that God would hear their prayers and once again bless our great nation with a tremendous outpouring of His grace and power."


Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books

Here's the description of this book from Amazon.ca. As a lover of reading, it sounds like one I will enjoy and learn from:


"In Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Reinke lays out a theology of reading built around the gospel, developed from Scripture, and corroborated by church history. He offers guidance for exercising discernment in what we read, and practical advice on how to read regularly and well. Reinke also explains how to foster a culture of reading in our churches and homes. The book stresses that we may find truth, help, insight, or beauty in many different forms of literature, from theology to fiction to fantasy to business. Reinke reminds us that God is the author of all knowledge, and we read every book under his illumination." 

Randy Alcorn, author of the best seller 'Heaven' says of this book: "For book lovers, this is a treasure and delight."

 And J.I. Packer, Professor of Theology at Regent College and author of "Knowing God" says here: "If you need help to read books as both a discipline and delight-as in truth all of us do-then this is the book for you. Don't miss it!"

April 14, 2012

The Titanic's Last Hero

100 years ago tonight, at 11:40pm, the Titanic hit an iceberg and the great ship begin its decent into the sea. In less then three hours it was gone, along with 1522 lives. One of those lives was John Harper, a preacher from Scotland. This book is about him, published shortly after the disaster in 1912, it is filled with tributes and testimonies from those who loved him.

John Harper wasn't originally going to America on the Titanic, but the Lusitania, but God had other plans. And so it was the Titanic that he boarded.

I couldn't help but think; 'Would I have read this book about a pastor I'd never heard of if he hadn't perished on this particular ship?' And yet I have been greatly encouraged and moved by this man who loved God above all else. And encouraged to spend more time in prayer.

I felt one of the main themes of this book was prayer. So I thought I'd share a few quotes from his friends and colleagues on John Harper's views on prayer and his prayer life:

"It was quite a common thing for him to spend whole nights alone in prayer. He literally came from the presence of God to his people." Pastor Hugh Gunn

"How he prayed for the lambs of the flock!" Pastor A. Moncur Niblock

"No one could listen to him as he prayed and not be moved by the melting earnestness and intensity of the man." Mr. Hugh Morris, Evangelist

He spent hours in persistent wrestling with God in prayer for the salvation of perishing souls. Oh for a mighty increase of such intercessors!" Mr. Robert Logan, Evangelist

John Harper
"...when most of us were sleeping he was in the secret place of the Most High, closeted with God and His Word all night in the little room off the vestry in Paisley Road Church."  Pastor Malcolm Ferguson

"...he would often stay overnight in the church and pray for the occupants of every seat, and then on Sabbath he would look for and expect souls to be saved." Pastor Malcolm Ferguson

 "...and the last word we remember him saying was that the need of today was a deeper prayer life." John Climie

Here are a few quotes on the man and what he preached:

"He believed what he preached, and preached what he believed. Christ and eternal things were all so real to him. He lived and preached as if Christ died yesterday, rose today, and was coming tomorrow." Pastor Malcolm Ferguson

"He was most intolerant with regard to some of the modern methods of doing Christian work. To him it was little short of blasphemy to offer dying men entertainments and amusements instead of the glorious Gospel which bringeth salvation to all men. His own work was a living example of what the Gospel alone can accomplish." Pastor Hugh Gunn

"Whatever doctrine was not found in the Holy Scriptures, it mattered not how fancifully put, nor by whomsoever it was proclaimed, found no place with him. 'Thus saith the the Lord' was his stand-by He stood on the rock of revelation. Men's theories to him were sand. God's Word was rock." John Climie

"He was strong in his love for the Savior who died for him. He lived, walked, prayed and preached under the sense of an overwhelming vision of Calvary. Hence Christ and Him crucified was ever his theme. To him the name of Jesus was sweet, sacred, and precious." Mr. Robert Logan, Evangelist 


 
On that last fateful night while on deck, he noticed the calm sea and the red filled sky to the west, and he was heard saying: "It will be beautiful in the morning" 

His friend John Climie writes: "Yes, so it would, but the beauty that would break on him was not that which he was alluding to when he spoke these words. The beauty of the Savior he would see."

These were not John Harper's last words. As a man struggled in the water near him, after the ship had gone down, John yelled out  "are you saved?" The man answered "no" Harper replied, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!" The man drifted off and later was brought back by the current. John asked again, "are you saved?' and the man answered again, "no" John repeated, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!" John then slipped under the water and was gone. The other man was later rescued and testified that he was John Harper's 'last convert.' because he had finally decided to believe on the Lord Jesus.


At one point in the book his brother George writes:

"I suppose, in our land, more or less, and I dare say the generation after the present one will be familiar with this dreadful catastrophe at sea, in calm weather, when the acme of man's genius in mercantile shipbuilding on her maiden voyage perished. I cannot attempt to explain the Providence that removes such a man of God in the midst of his usefulness."

John Harper was 39.

Little did George know how true his statement would be and how fascinated people would be about the Titanic, even after 100 years.

And I wonder how many came to the Lord in the past 100 years after reading this powerful book. A book of a man, who had a passion for God, they may never have heard of otherwise.

Buy it HERE on Amazon





April 10, 2012

London

I found this novel to be overflowing with history and very entertaining. Though it's beginning had a bit of an evolutionary tone, it soon became a favorite of mine.

It starts out in 54 BC, along the banks of the Thames, before the city of London came into existence. The place was called 'Londinos.'

Told through several generations of families, the novel gives a thorough  history of the city and a sense of England. Each chapter is almost a novel in itself, as it skips through the years of London's history right up to the present.

Edward Rutherfurd did his homework and because of that, I have a great appreciation for his writing. I found this novel brought all the intriguing pieces of English history together in one text. I hardly noticed it was over 1000 pages! I especially enjoyed the chapter on London Bridge. I never realized its importance and how it was so much more than just a way into London. It stood in use for over 600 years. Edward Rutherfurd says here:

"By now, (1357) London Bridge was far more than just a crossing. In the century and a half since it was rebuilt in stone, the long platform on its nineteen arches had grown a massive superstructure. Down the centre ran a carriageway wide enough for two laden carts to pass; on each side were lines of tall, gabled houses jutting out over the river, and some of these buildings were joined across the thoroughfare by footbridges. Only one bridge, so that even the tallest masted vessels could pass upstream. There were two big gateways. At one, all 'foreigners' entering the city paid tolls. In the middle, enlarged into a two-story building, was the old chapel of St. Thomas Becket."


The Tudor years, as well as the effects of the Reformation were fascinating to read about and I found the author quite respectful and non-partisan in his writings of this time period.

From the times of the Roman occupation, to the days of kings of old, the horrors of the tower of London, the excessiveness of Hampton Court, the Reformation, the great Fire of London, the building of St. Paul's and the Crystal Palace, to World War I & II, you are taken into the world of London, England and swept back through time.

I've read several of Rutherfurd's novels and this one is by far my favorite. I would recommend it to all those who love England and her history.

Buy it HERE on Amazon




April 5, 2012

Quote of the Week

"He died for me on Calvary's Cross. He bore my sin in His own blessed person - His own blessed body - on the tree. I realized that the chastisement of my peace had been laid on Him and that with His strips I was healed."
                                     Charles Spurgeon

"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."        Isaiah 53:5

April 2, 2012

Mere Christianity

C. S. Lewis was an extraordinary man. A former atheist, his encounter with the living God and his love for Him, shine through his writings. Of his many books that I've read so far, Mere Christianity is my favorite. It made me really think. Two things in particular, the first that God created us with a mind and he intended us to use it, not to believe everything we hear and are taught, but to continually test everything by Him. He is our standard.

The other, since we can not live up to his perfect standard, is the question Jesus asks of us all... "Who do you say that I am?" Is he the Savior we can put our complete trust in or was he just crazy. This well-known paragraph from the end of chapter three made me think about how important it is to answer this question, even as Christians, because being a Christian is really about knowing and trusting Jesus and who he says he is.

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." C. S. Lewis

"Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6

"And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!"
Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Matthew 26:63-64

"Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" Jesus said to him, "It is as you say." Matthew 27:11

Lewis was a teacher who met Jesus. He came to realized Jesus was not just a teacher of God and his ways, but that Jesus was actually God himself. I love Lewis's writings because he didn't mince words, he said it like it is. He wasn't a preacher, but spoke with the courage of one. Jesus wasn't a symbol to him or an idea, Jesus wasn't a consciousness, and he wasn't just a teacher to Lewis...he was his Savior, the Son of God.

I also love what Oswald Chambers says about this in his July 21st entry of My Utmost for His Highest:

"Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain. What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possibly come close to teaching it? I would be happier if I never knew it...But when I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach--He came to make me what He teaches I should be."
 

                                            Matthew 16:13-17

"When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' 
So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 
He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' 
Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' 
Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." 





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