December 29, 2012

10 Great Reads of 2012

This year my goal was to read 75 books. I didn't quite make it but I was able to read more books then last years 61 with 65 books.  : )


If you are a reader of my blog you know I had difficulties with reading and comprehension as a child and I'm still amazed at how far God has brought me in this aspect of my life.  Even though I was never diagnosed as dyslexic, I struggled with reading and spelling and was often made fun of for not pronouncing words properly. (I still to this day check and double check and triple check my spelling!)

I recently read this post from Mark Hall on the Casting Crowns Facebook page and it really encouraged me, so I thought I'd share it here:

"Dealing with dyslexia and ADD keeps me dependent on God. Keeps my knees on the ground and my head on straight.
"God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong and the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. "
"We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us."
Instead of left brained, I'm right brained. Instead of organized and calculating, I'm a dreamer who can multitask.
Dyslexia is not a learning disability. It's a learning difference.
God knows what he's doing.
Romans 12

Love you guys,
Mark
"


No matter what difficulty you face in this life God can use it for good. Like Mark says, 'God knows what He's doing.' : )

Here are my favorites I read this past year in no particular order.


5 GREAT NON-FICTION READS:


Knowing God - For My Thoughts Click HERE


I started this book in 2011 but didn't finish it until 2012 so I've included it here. This was a hard one to get through but so worth it. It's definitely one of my favorites now. :)


Grace for the Good Girl - For My Thoughts Click HERE


This book was a little slow at the beginning but went on to be a very profound book for me.


Handle with Prayer - For My Thoughts Click HERE


Great insights into prayer and how God always hears us and answers, just not always the way we expect.


The Titanic's Last Hero - For My Thoughts Click HERE

Amazing memoir of pastor John Harper who boarded the titanic. Filled with testimonies and tributes and originally published in Scotland in 1912.




Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading- For My Thoughts Click HERE


Some great Biblical insights into what and how Christians should read.








  


5 GREAT FICTION READS:


In His Steps - For My Thoughts Click HERE

A very inspirational classic with a challenge for all believers.












The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott - For My Thoughts Click  HERE


Beautifully written novel based on Louisa May Alcott, author of 'Little Women.' 








Heiress - For My Thoughts Click HERE


A beautiful story of redemption for women searching to be loved.



The Reunion - For My Thoughts Click HERE


I have to admit I've never cried this much reading a book. Such a heart-warming story.










Great Expectations

I haven't written anything on this book as of now, but wanted to include it in my great 2012 reads list because I really loved it! I've been reading a book on Dickens called 'God and Charles Dickens' by Gary L. Colledge and finding it so interesting how Dickens wrote his beliefs into his books. He was a great supporter of the poor and incorporated at least one character in each of his books which represented Christ and His kindness and unconditional love towards us. This book is no exception and in Great Expectations, Biddy is that character. :)


December 21, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 8: Joy


 "Almost every traditional Christmas carol includes such words as joy, joyful, rejoice, glad, gladness, and merry, because the birth of Jesus Christ was a joyful occasion for the whole world. God had fulfilled His promises and the Savior at last had come."

I loved this section on 'Joy' and it's true meaning. Did you know joy and rejoice occur 132 times in the New Testament alone? The authors explain the difference between real joy and happiness:

"Is there a difference between joy and happiness? Most dictionaries say that there is, for joy is defined as 'a deep-rooted rapturous emotion...so great as to be almost painful in its intensity.' Happiness, however, depends primarily on happenings. We're happy when everything is going well for us. Joy, however, fills our hearts even when circumstances are difficult. People who are outer-directed are happy when circumstances are favorable; people who are inner-directed - meaning having faith in Christ - are joyful even when circumstances are unfavorable. They can say with Paul, 'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.' (Phil. 4:11)

For Christians believers, joy comes from the Holy Spirit within them and not from the happy situation around them, for 'the fruit of the Spirit is love,joy, peace.' (Gal. 5:22) It is 'joy given by the Holy Spirit' (1 Thess. 1:6), the very joy of Christ Himself who prayed that we might have the 'full measure' of His joy within us (John 17:13). This joy isn't something that we manufacture or imagine; it's the miraculous fruit of God's life within us. 'For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom. 14:17).

Christmas is often thought of as a time of happiness and joy, but for many that ends when the decorations come down. It shouldn't for the believer, for His joy is with us always. We can 'Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!' Philippians 4:4

The rest of this section goes on to talk about the joys of Christ's birth. The joy Mary felt to carry the Son of God, the joy Elizabeth and Zechariah felt to been given a son in their old age, the joy John the Baptist felt while still in his mother's womb when he came into contact with the Savior in His mother's womb, the joy of the angels, the joy of the shepherds and the joy of the magi. Needless to say true joy is from the Lord.

"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE  for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word
Click  HERE  for Part 5 of C is for Christmas: King
Click  HERE  for Part 6 of C is for Christmas: Peace
Click  HERE  for Part 7 of C is for Christmas: Hope

This concludes my posts for C is for Christmas by  David W. and Warren W. Wiersbe. Hope you enjoyed them.

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 19, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 7: Hope

"May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13


What is hope? The authors explain here:

"Hope is not optimism based on positive circumstances. Hope is the ability to believe in the good when things are bad. 'Hope means hoping when things are hopeless or it is no virtue at all. It is only when things are hopeless that hope begins to be a strength' (G.K. Chesterton). Hope is an undefeated forward look.

Christian hope is facing the present reality with confidence in future good because of God's action in Jesus Christ. Hope is living now, knowing that God is preparing something better. Hope expects God to take what's painful and mysterious and turn it ultimately into eternal good (see Rom. 8:24-25). Hope also prevents us from getting comfortable when all is well."

The authors go on to tell us where we can find hope...in Christ, in the gospel, in God's promises, in the Holy Spirit and in Christ's return. I thought I'd share what the authors say about how the Holy Spirit sustains our hope:

"The Holy Spirit does not let us focus on what is wrong or painful. He consistently points us to Jesus, who is our source of hope. The spirit works to reproduce the character of Jesus in us, genuinely transforming us. The hope provided by the Spirit is not a trickle, but a constant stream, so that we 'overflow with hope.' That doesn't mean we ignore life's realities or turn a blind eye to serious issues. It means having an undefeated forward look because the Holy Spirit is present and at work in us."

 'An undefeated forward look'...I love that. Hope always looks forward, not back. :)

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE  for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word
Click  HERE  for Part 5 of C is for Christmas: King
Click  HERE  for Part 6 of C is for Christmas: Peace

December 17, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 6: Peace

The angels proclaimed 'peace on earth!.' So where is this peace? If Jesus came to bring peace to earth why is the world full of violence and pain?

In the book the authors talk about a poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote called 'Christmas Bells' and quote:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play;
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Longfellow had lost his son to the Civil War and wrote this poem to express his feelings. When hate is so strong in the world, where is peace? The authors go on to say:

"Why is there no peace on earth? Because people have rejected Christ and are at war with God.

 'What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?' (James 4:1)

People and nations are at war with one another because they are at war within themselves, and they are at war within themselves because they are at war with God. The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart (see Mark 7:17-23), and the heart is 'deceitful above all things and beyond cure' (Jer. 17:9).

The peace on earth the angels were talking about is found in Jesus and is in the heart of those who trust Him. The author's say here:

"...God's people may enjoy peace on earth because peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), and if we are prayerful and thankful, the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds (Phil. 4:6-7).

'You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.' (Isa. 26:3)."


This quote from the book, shares the prophecies that Christ will bring peace on earth for good one day:

"And he will be called...Prince of Peace' (Isa. 9:6). One day there shall be peace on earth when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, returns and reigns in His kingdom. 'Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end' (v.7). One day the Spirit shall be poured out from heaven and the desert will become a fertile field and there will be justice and righteousness on the earth (see Isa. 32:15-16). 'The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest' (vv.17-18). 'They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore' (Mic. 4:3)

Longfellow ends his poem with these lines, lines that show his faith in God, and his hope in Him:

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Is your hope in Him? Do you have His peace?

Here is a video of Casting Crowns singing Longfellow's beautiful poem:


 Or Click here: Casting Crowns: I heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Click  HERE   for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE   for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE   for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE   for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word
Click  HERE  for Part 5 of C is for Christmas: King


December 14, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 5: King

There are millions of Christians in this world, each from different backgrounds and denominations. Christians can sometimes argue over doctrine and beliefs but one thing we all agree on is that Jesus Christ is the King of kings. All Christians long for the day of his return. I loved this section of the book on Jesus as King:


"What kind of king is King Jesus? 

King Jesus defeats His enemies and He defeats them so they stay defeated. Jesus has conquered sin, death, Satan, and hell. King Jesus establishes peace, not only ending war but providing adequate resources for His people. Jesus is a king who loves His people. He graciously meets their needs, heals their wounds, and hears and answers their requests. The subjects of King Jesus always have access to Him. King Jesus secures justice for His people. Legally justice means resolving differences fairly; law and grace are always perfectly balanced in King Jesus' court. Justice in the Old Testament includes a relational dimension. Under King Jesus, His subjects don't merely coexist, they thrive together. King Jesus is wise. He doesn't always reveal what He is doing and He works at many levels of life simultaneously to achieve His purpose over time. He knows the end from the beginning, so His plans always work to perfection.  

The reign of King Jesus is eternal. Because His position is permanent, His subjects don't have to worry about changes in policy or law. King Jesus lives forever, so there is no worry about His growing old or dying. Under King Jesus, there will be glorious, multifaceted continuity. Jesus is the only King who is worthy of worship forever. He suffered for our sake on the cross and rose again to give life eternal. King Jesus is His people's treasure, their source of endless joy and eternal delight.

How should we act in the presence of a king? Reverently - with open ears and closed mouth. Submissively - the proper posture in the presence of the King is to kneel. And boldly - Jesus is the King who loves us, who knows us completely. He wants us to enjoy a respectful intimacy with Him...

King Jesus is without equal and He tolerates no rival. Only Jesus truly had the 'divine right' of kings because only He is fully God and fully human, the rightful heir of David's throne. He is 'KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS' (Rev. 19:16). All hail King Jesus!"

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word

December 12, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 4: The Word


At the beginning of John's gospel he says; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In this section of the book the authors do a great job of explaining this verse and then breaking it up into sections. The section that spoke to me the most was 'The Word That Encourages.'

Here the authors talk about the Word (Jesus), who became flesh, being fully God and fully human:

"Jesus is also the Word that encourages. 'The Word became flesh' (John 1:14) affirms that Jesus is both fully God and fully human, two natures coexisting in one divine, unique Person. Greek philosophy and Muslim theology both deny that God can or would become human. In those systems, matter is evil, so God would devalue Himself by becoming flesh.

But the Gospel of John tells us that the preexistent Son of God permanently took to Himself a human body and nature (vv. 14-15) and He remains the unique God-Man today. John affirms that the incarnation is a way to see the glory of the 'only begotten of the Father' (KJV): the Son of God coming in humbleness, stooping to serve and sacrifice and triumph. When we see the incarnate Son of God, we also see grace and truth.

So it is good to be human - because Jesus is. He has experienced life as we do, and He understands what it means to live in this fallen world. Jesus knows about temptation, rejection, hostility, loneliness, sorrow, and pain. He also knows about love, family, joy, prayer and friendship. That makes Him our great encourager. He, of course, did not sin. He helps us resist temptation and avoid sin. When we fail, He doesn't criticize us or desert us. He understands and encourages us to move forward. He transforms us by His grace and truth. With Jesus, life is worth living."

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas  

December 10, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 3: Xmas

I've never been a fan of using 'Xmas' in place of Christmas, but is using 'Xmas' taking Christ out of Christmas? According to the authors the answer is no. Xmas is not disrespectful or taking Christ out of Christmas, but rather, honors God. The authors explain here:

"Since the mid-twentieth century, Christians have complained that the use of  'Xmas' was a deliberate attempt to 'take Christ out of Christmas.' While there is no doubt that today's secular culture wants to remove 'Christmas' and 'Merry Christmas' from the English vocabulary, the original use of 'Xmas' had no political or spiritual overtones.

That the first syllable of Christmas comes from the word 'Christ' is indisputable. In Greek the name Christ is xpiotoc (christos). The first letter looks like the English letter X. Every vocation has its shorthand, and those in the church used the letter chi (X) to represent Christ in words that began with 'Christ-.' So 'Xmas is an honorable abbreviation for Christmas. It was not intended to take Christ out of Christmas."


Click   HERE   for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click   HERE   for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem

December 8, 2012

What 'It's about giving' means to me

I'm blogging for Compassion International again today and the theme is giving and what it means to me.

For me I believe everything we have is a gift from God...everything (That includes our pay checks) :) And He expects us to share what He's given us. (not just 10%) :) I know this is a hard concept for some, but for the believer it should be our way of life. God gives and He takes away, all for His glory and for His children's ultimate good.

The story in Luke 18 is a hard story to swallow. A very wealthy man comes to Jesus and asks how he can inherit eternal life. He's a man who has done good in his life and keeps the commandments, but Jesus says there is one more thing he needs to do. He needs to give all he has away to the poor and come follow Him. This is very distressing to him and the man leaves heavy-hearted.

I believe it is necessary to have an attitude that everything is God's...everything. We have to let go of the attitude that what is ours is ours, we earned it. We need to share everything.

I've been sponsoring children since I was 18 years old and I couldn't imagine not helping the poor in this way. It's become part of me.

I've tried to teach this to my children. And I am a proud mom because my 2 oldest children sponsor children and I know my youngest will when she gets old enough to send in support.

I also believe giving should come from the heart, not from duty. Giving should come from compassion, not because others are doing it. It should be done in love.

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." 1 Cor. 13:3

God blesses those who give from the heart.


"Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." Deu. 15:10

To please God we must give 'poor in spirit.'

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

What does this mean 'poor in spirit?'

I found this chapter from A.W. Tozer's book 'Pursuit of God,' explains it well. I love the way Tozer explains how God taught Abraham how to be 'poor in spirit' and therefore teaching us. Click  HERE  to read.

Would you consider giving a gift this Christmas to someone in need?

Click HERE to give a gift this Christmas



Thank-you!






December 6, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 2: Bethlehem

If you celebrate Christmas, you've heard of Bethlehem. That little town where Jesus was born. I especially loved this section on Bethlehem.

From the great love story of Ruth and Boaz, to King David's birth home, to the meaning of Bethlehem, to the prophecies from Micah, to where Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin and finally to being the birthplace of Jesus. So much incredible history from this one little town!


"The Bible mentions two towns named Bethlehem, one seven miles northwest of Nazareth in Zebulun (Joshua 19:15; Judges12:8-10), and the other five miles southwest of Jerusalem in Judah, the Bethlehem where Jesus was born. That Bethlehem is mentioned nearly 30 times in the Old Testament and has a rich history that relates directly to Jesus Christ and helps us better understand Him and what He came to do for us."

This section goes on to talk about this incredible history and the meaning of Bethlehem:

"Bethlehem means 'house of bread,' and Ephrathah means 'fruitful,' because the land around Bethlehem was very productive. It was common knowledge among the Jews that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (John 7:42). Seven centuries before Jesus was born, the prophet Micah wrote, 'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.' (Mic. 5:2).

That Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:33-40), should be born in the 'house of bread' is no accident. The Father sent manna from heaven to sustain the people of Israel in the wilderness but He sent Jesus to give life to the whole world. It cost Jesus His life on the cross to give the bread of life to a world of lost sinners. Eat the bread of this world and you will always hunger, but receive Jesus and feed on Him and you will never hunger. His earthly life as the incarnate Son of God began at ' the house of bread,' and our eternal life begins when we trust Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life."

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of...C is for Christmas

December 2, 2012

C is for Christmas: The History, Personalities, and Meaning of Christ's Birth

Such a great Christmas book!

Filled with history, Biblical people and the deeper meaning of Christ's birth and why we celebrate it. Laid out like a dictionary, chapter one being titled  'A' with sections such as Advent and Angels, chapter two titled 'B' with sections on Bethlehem and Baby and so on through the alphabet.

I was surprised at how much I didn't know about the Christmas story and I loved how the authors simply explained biblical situations.

I also loved learning the deeper meaning behind the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.

I underlined a lot in this one! So instead of sharing all the great things I learnt from this book in one post, I thought I'd share them in several posts throughout December.

Hope you'll join me and maybe read something new about Christmas you didn't know or understand before.  : )

 Buy it HERE at Amazon




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