January 30, 2013

George Muller on Forgiveness of Sin

I've been skimming through a book called 'The George Muller Treasury' which is filled with selections from George Muller's (1805-1898) sermons and writings. I'd never heard of him before I started looking through this book but he reminds me of so many other great preachers who spent a lifetime in prayer and believed that God would do great things.

Have you ever asked God to forgive you but didn't feel forgiven? I thought I'd share this selection where George Muller addresses this. It's a great reminder of the truth.

"...Knowing I'm forgiven when I don't feel it

Question: How may I know that my sins are forgiven? Have I to wait till I feel that they are forgiven before I take comfort concerning this matter? Or must I wait till I have in some powerful way a portion of the Word of God applied to my mind to assure me of it?

Answer: This point is again only to be settled by the Word of God. We have not to wait till we feel that our sins are forgiven. I myself have now been a believer for more than 19 years (that is, in the year 1845). How long it is since I have had no doubt whatever about the forgiveness of my sins I cannot tell with certainty; but this I am quite sure of, that ever since I have been in England, which is now about 16 years, I have never once had a single moment's doubt that my sins are all forgiven; yet I do not remember that I even once have felt they were forgiven. To know they are forgiven, and to feel they are forgiven are two different things.

The way to settle whether our sins are forgiven is to refer to the Word of God alone. In Acts 10:43 it is written concerning the Lord Jesus, 'All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.'

The questions therefore to be put to ourselves are simply these: 'Do I walk in utter carelessness? Do I trust in my own exertions for salvation? Do I expect forgiveness for my sins on account of living a better life in the future?' Or, 'Do I depend only upon this, that Jesus died upon the cross to save sinners - and that Jesus fulfilled the law of God to make sinners righteous?' If the latter is the case, my sins are forgiven whether I feel it or not."

January 28, 2013

Be Still My Soul

A beautifully written story set in the luscious Appalachian hills. Just look at that cover! Wouldn't it be lovely to spend an afternoon picnicking there? :)

I loved the well developed characters in this book.

Lonnie and Gideon are forced into a marriage neither wants. Here they have to learn, together, that love is not just a feeling but a commitment to serve one another not only through good times, but hard times as well.

An innocent kiss is taken out of proportion and Lonnie's father insists on a marriage. Lonnie, young at 17, but mature for her age, Gideon self-centered and looking out for number one.

I felt their journey to love was written realistically and beautifully. Neither being portrayed as perfect but learning as they go, to love and forgive.

Once they set out to start their life together they come across a wonderful older couple who take them in. I loved these two characters as well. Jebediah, stern but loving and his wife, Elsie who is caring and compassionate. I love when God brings these kinds of people into our lives right when we need them.

There are a few nasty characters as well, who land Gideon in some trouble, which makes him think long and hard about the consequences.

In the readers guide, the author Joanne Bischop, says her series is based on 1Peter 5:10:

"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, established, strengthen, and settle you." 

What great promises!

From the little bit of interaction I've had with Joanne through our blogs, I have to say she has a very sweet and gentle spirit. Reading her book, I really felt her writing reflected this.

Beautiful first novel Joanne!

I am really looking forward to reading the next installment in this series, 'Though my Heart is Torn' and seeing these characters grow. We spend our whole lives learning and growing as we seek the Lord and that's how I felt about these characters, even sweet Lonnie.

Book two comes out in April. : )








Buy it HERE at Amazon


January 25, 2013

if

I have not the patience of my
       Savior with souls who grow
       slowly;
if I know little of travail (A sharp
       and painful thing) till Christ be
       fully formed in them,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                    Amy Carmichael

January 22, 2013

5 books on my future reading list

Call the Midwife

I just love this show and was happy to find out it was based on a book, the memoirs of midwife Jennifer Worth. Needless to say I went out and bought it with my Christmas gift card! 

Jennifer Worth was a midwife in the east end of London in the 1950's and if the show tells us anything, its that she was enriched by the experience.

Amazon's description:
  
"At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London-from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city's seedier side-illuminate a fascinating time in history."


Stealing the Preacher

I have a handful of Christian fiction authors I absolutely love and count the days till their next book comes out. Karen Witemeyer is one of them. I love Karen's books, they are so much fun to read.

Here's part of the excerpt from Goodreads:

"On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday...

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long... "

This book comes out June 2013


The Weight of Glory

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors. I've loved everything I've ever read of his. I'm even enjoying his Narnia series, two more to read!

Here are the chapter headings:

The Weight of Glory
Learning in War-Time
Why I am Not a Pacifist
Transposition
Is Theology Poetry?
The Inner Ring
Membership
On Forgiveness
A Slip of the Tongue

Amazon describes the book this way:

"Selected from sermons delivered by C. S. Lewis during World War II, these nine addresses offer guidance and inspiration in a time of great doubt. These are ardent and lucid sermons that provide a compassionate vision of Christianity."


Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

I recently read a review of this book and it caught my interest. I love this era of American history, a dark time that saw the light and abolished slavery.

This friendship, between Mary Lincoln and her dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, sounds so intriguing, though it ended sadly. The quilt made by Elizabeth Keckley, is a work of art. Check out the video at the end of this post.*

Amazon describes the novel here:

"In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style."



 Through the Gates of Splendor

My daughters and I watched the movie 'The End of the Spear' over the holidays and it got me to thinking about this book. I've been wanting to read it for awhile now.

Here's Amazons description:

"Through Gates of Splendor is the true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed."

Elisabeth stayed, and eventually led her husbands killer to the Lord. She says here of what happened after her husband was killed:

"Our daughter Valerie was 10 months old when Jim was killed. I continued working with the Quichua Indians when, through a remarkable providence, I met two Auca women who lived with me for one year. They were the key to my going in to live with the tribe that had killed the five missionaries. I remained there for two years." 


*Video about the quilt Elizabeth Keckley made from the scrapes of Mary Todd Lincoln's dresses:


January 18, 2013

if

I can enjoy a joke at the expense of
       another;
if I can in any way slight another in
       conversation,
   or even in thought,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                     Amy Carmichael

January 16, 2013

Sinner's Creed: A Memoir

For some reason I was really drawn to this book.

I've always loved the song 'Arms Wide Open' which is a beautiful song Scott wrote when he was expecting his first son. Other than that I've only known Creed as another rock band with a troubled lead singer.

Life is sometimes complicated by situations and circumstances. Things happen we have no control over and we are sometimes taught things about God, that simply aren't true.

Scott was taught from a young age, by his strict step father, that God was an angry and wrathful God who punished without love or grace. This had a dramatic affect on him and his life.

Scott spends a lot of time in the book, talking about his relationship with his stepfather and expressing his feelings on how the emotional and physical abuse affected him. He shares many conversations with his stepfather, which help the reader understand the abuse and false doctrine that was taught to him.

Excellence and perfection were what were expected of Scott. Anything less and he was beaten. Though he did well in school, sports and music, it was never good enough.

His stepfather was a firm believer in punishment to cleanse sin, and believed it was his job to do the punishing. But the irony of it all is that as a 'Christian' he didn't understand Jesus already payed the price, Jesus already took the wrath of God upon Himself on Calvary. Though his stepfather spoke of the cross he never grasped it. Instead he felt he had to punish his children for every little thing, sometimes even before they did it!

"But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9

On the other hand Scott had a wonderful grandfather, who loved God and His creation. As a young boy Scott remembers this conversation with his grandfather:

"How could anyone say there's no God?' Grandpa asked the next morning. 'Look at the mountains, the sky, the stars. The earth is shouting all around us, 'There is a God!

Grandpa was always looking up.

'What do you see in the clouds, Anthony?' he said. *

'They look like a white stallion.'

'See how God paints pictures in His clouds. He does that to remind us He's there. God is always there, Anthony.'

It was through Grandpa's description of God that, for the first time, I felt connected to something out of this world. I had a heavenly Father. I was His son."

"The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
 
Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
 
There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard."  Psalm 19:1-3

This love for God, instilled at a young age, is what has sustained Scott. A Love that forgives seventy times seven, a Love that hears you when you cry out, a Love that sees your heart. I deeply felt Scott's love and admiration towards God throughout this book.

At one point in the beginning of the book he compares himself to King David. I was a little leery of this when I first read it, but as I finished the book I truly believe Scott has, like David did, a heart for God. He talks about it here:

"No drama captivated me more than David's. He was the shepherd, the poet, the psalmist. Like David, I had music and poetry surging through me. I had recently joined the school choir, and in my free time I began writing poems. David had a heart for God; so did I. He was a small man who defeated a giant. Small in stature as a boy, I could relate. As my life progressed, the parallels would continue, although there was no way I could have known it then.

Like David, I would spend time in a cave of sorts, depressed and alone. And while I'll never know what it's like to be crowned king, I can identify with the challenges of superstardom he faced - power, wealth, and women.

I spoke about David in my Sunday school class with what the teacher called unusual insight. I talked about how worldly lust had lured King David into sin. I analyzed the consequences of adultery - how David became both a manipulator and a murderer. Theoretically, I seemed to understand the story, but I was just mouthing words. Those concepts, which would be all to real later in my own life, had little meaning for me as a preteen."

Scott has made a lot of mistakes in his life. Sinful mistakes. But he knows a forgiving God. A God who will never leave him or forsake him. And Scott honors Him in this book.

One of those mistakes was excessive drinking and he became an alcoholic. Something he will struggle with for the rest of his life. He says here of his physical, emotional and spiritual recovery:

"My recovery was, is, and always will be ongoing. I can't speak for others, but for me it will never be a sudden and permanent transformation. It's something I'm always going to have to work on and stay committed to. It's a reprieve that comes daily, based on spiritual maintenance."

About 2 years ago Scott entered a 3-step program called Willingway. He describes the 3rd step here:

"The program's third step is also gospel-based - to make a decision to 'turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.' That's exactly what Christ's life represented. His entire mission was to do His Father's will. He modeled in dramatic ways what it looks like to surrender to God."

He goes on to tell what he's learned from the program:

"For me, Willingway was all about learning the difference between willpower and willingness. Over and over throughout my life, my willpower had collapsed. Willingness, though, was about being willing to admit I couldn't do it alone. Willingness was an admission that I couldn't will myself to emotional and spiritual health. I had to lean on God to do that.

For me, the first three steps can be summarized in seven words:

1. Scott can't.
2. God can.
3. Scott lets God.

As I went through these steps, I was reapproaching the God I had learned to love as a child. That reapproach required a hard look at my ego. Without humbly surrendering to God, there could be no spiritual progress. And because I was a perfectionist, raised in an extreme environment that demanded perfection but expected failure, I had to accept another basic principle - that my recovery was a matter of progress, not perfection. No other approach could have worked. At the first sign of imperfection, I would have given up and said, 'Since I'm not perfect, I might as well get back out there and go crazy.' The attitude of might as well had undermined me countless times. Might as well was a kind of antimantra. It set me up rather than calmed me down."

Many of us were not immune to the pressures of perfection growing up in the church. When we give in to the lie that we can be perfect Christians by works, we miss out on the grace of God. When we give in to the lie of perfection, we take control and there is no room for God. But when we humble ourselves before Him, He makes us strong and is perfected in us. We need to look at our lives as a journey of growing and learning and becoming more like Christ.

"It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect." Psalm 18:32

Scott also includes stories of how the band Creed began, life on the road, his decline into alcohol and drugs, rock doctors, his bouts of depression and attempted suicide, then meeting his beautiful wife and having his children. I believe God has blessed Scott, not because he has lived a 'perfect life' but because God loves him.

Here's a photo of his family, what blessings!


I really felt the love of God through Scott's story and when I turned the last page of this memoir, I bowed my head and prayed for Scott and his family. I believe God has good plans for them. : )

I highly recommend this book.

*Note: Scott was born Anthony Scott Flippen, but when he was adopted by his stepfather his name was changed to Scott Stapp.

Here's Scott talking about his book:


Buy it HERE at Amazon



January 14, 2013

Where God Finds You


40 Biblical stories are brought to life through this unique devotional, 'Where God finds You' by Anita Higman.

If you love reading fiction, Scripture or reflections on a story, you will really enjoy this book.

Each devotional is broken up into four sections. First a fictional telling of the story, secondly the full Scripture the story is found in, thirdly a reflection for today and finally some thought-provoking questions to think about.

I was really moved by these stories, which Anita's writing brought a fresh perspective to.

Stories like Eve's fall from grace, Jonathan and David's devote friendship, God's promise to Hagar to make her grieving son a great nation, Daniel's encounter with a king who saw writing on the wall, Mary Magdalene meeting the risen Savior on the road and Stephen's experience of seeing heaven and Jesus at the right hand of God, just before he was stoned to death.

I especially enjoyed Anita's personal reflections in this devotional. I could relate to so many of them and others gave me something new to think about.

Anita ends her book with a personal note. Sharing some of the struggles and storms she was facing while writing this book. She then says:

"I pray this devotional book gives you new hope in riding out those storms. As you walk alongside the ancient Bible characters, as you see their travails, their profound humanness, and their inextinguishable love for God, my desire is that by observing their trials, you would gain fresh insight into your own, and that these stories would infuse you with calm, stir you with change, and bring you the peace that only Christ can give."

I believe God produces beautiful things out of the struggles and heartaches of those who love Him. This book is one of those things.

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3

Buy it HERE at Amazon


January 11, 2013

if

I belittle those whom I am called to
        serve,
    talk of their weak points
    in contrast perhaps with what I
       think of as my strong points;
if I adopt a superior attitude,
    forgetting "who made thee to
       differ? and what hast thou that
       thou hast not received?"
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                      Amy Carmichael

January 9, 2013

If: What do I know of Calvary Love? and my One Word

I think this is the shortest book I've ever read, yet the most powerful.

Amy Carmichael writes about many if's. If's that show us what love is and how we often lack it.

In the last few weeks, I've read this book over several times and it's given me a new idea for my blog.

Instead of sporadic quote's of the week, I thought I'd share an if each week from the book. So every Friday you can join me where I'll share a new if to ponder.

Here's the first:

If...I have not compassion on my
                 fellow-servant,
           even as my Lord had pity on me,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

I have chosen the word Love as my 'One Word' this year. (See note below)

I think I have only scratched the surface of God's love for us and I want to learn more of it, receive more of it and be able to give more of it.

Amy writes:

"The more we ponder our Lord's words about love, and the burning words the Spirit gave to His followers to write, the more acutely do we feel our deadly lack. The Searchlight of the Spirit exposes us to ourselves, and such a discovery leaves us appalled. How can even He who is the God of all patience have patience with us? Like Job we abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes."

She goes on to tell us we need not beg God for His love, He gives it willingly:

"There is no need to plead that the love of God shall fill our heart as though He were unwilling to fill us: He is willing as light is willing to flood a room that is opened to its brightness; willing as water is willing to flow into an emptied channel. Love is pressing around us on all sides like air. cease to resist, and instantly love takes possession."

Amy also reminds us:

"The way of love is never an easy way. If our hearts be set on walking in that way we must be prepared to suffer. It was the way the Master went; should not the servant tread it still?"

She closes the book with this beautiful prayer of the Lord:

"'Trust Me, My child,' He says. 'Trust Me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandon to My will than ever thou didst before. Trust Me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute. And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering the flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt love so much as that. Draw all the closer to Me; come, flee unto Me to hide thee, even from thyself. Tell Me about the trouble. Trust Me to turn My hand upon thee and thoroughly to remove the boulder that has choked thy riverbed, and take away all the sand that has silted up the channel. I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. I will perfect that which concerneth thee. Fear thou not, O child of My love; fear not.

...to gather all in one page;

Beloved, let us love.

Lord, what is love?

Love is that which inspired My life, and led Me to My cross, and held Me on My cross. Love is that which will make it thy joy to lay down thy life for thy brethren.

Lord, evermore give me this love.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after love, for they shall be filled.

Amen, Lord Jesus.

Note: I would like to thank Melaine over at Only a Breath for making the beautiful 'One Word' button for my blog. Thank-you Melanie! Feel free to stop by her blog and request your own button. : )

January 7, 2013

The Sunshine Award

It's the beginning of a new year and I'm looking forward to reading more great books and writing about them. 

Hope you all had a blessed Christmas and New Years holiday.


Back in December, Faye over at...  labor not in vain  nominated my blog for the sunshine award. Thank-you Faye! So I thought I'd start the year off with answering her questions and sharing a bit of myself with you. 


Here are the rules:

1. Answer the 8 questions the person who awarded you asked

2. Nominate 8 new people and notify them on their blog

3. Ask 8 new questions (or reuse the ones you were asked) for your nominees to answer

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS FAYE ASKED:

What is your favorite genre to read?

I love history, autobiographies, biographies, memoirs and theology, but I have to say I enjoy historical fiction the most. I love being taken to another time and place where I can learn a little history, maybe a little theology and even a little piece of the author's life and personality. : )



What fictional place would you most like to live?

Not district 12  ; ) ...seriously though this is a hard one. Most of the books I read are set in real places. So I'll pick a real place from a book. I loved how Denise Hunter describes Nantucket in her Nantucket series. I think that would be a pretty place to live.


What is another pastime that you enjoy, besides reading?

I love gardening. I love digging my hands into the dirt and then watching something grow into something beautiful. I always feel closer to God in the garden. 



What time period would you most like to live during?

I recently saw a movie called 'Midnight in Paris' which was about a man who wished he lived in the golden age of 1920's Paris. One night, at midnight, he gets transported there and mets a woman who he finds out wishes she lives in 1890's Paris! 
One of the themes I got from this movie was that no matter what time period we live in we will always long for another, thinking its better then the one we live in, when in reality we are exactly were we are meant to be. God has a plan. 


What books are you most looking forward to in 2013?

In fiction I'm really looking forward to Julie Klassen's, 'The Tutor's Daughter' and Siri Mitchell's 'Unrivaled.' I'm also looking forward to reading some classics this year. I'd like to get to 'Ruth' by Elizabeth Gaskell and 'Far from the Madding Crowd' by Thomas Hardy. In non-fiction I'd like to get to a book my mom lent me called  'Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch' by Sally Bedell Smith and also A.W. Tozer's 'The Knowledge of the Holy.' I have so many books on the TBR pile, only the new year will tell what I get too.


If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

I've answered this question before with England, so I'll pick somewhere else this time. I would love to visit France. There is so many places I'd love to visit there, Monet's Garden, The Palace of Versailles, Paris, and all the beautiful landscapes.


What TV shows do you wish were still on the air?

Ok, don't laugh, but I'd have to say I really miss Live! with Regis and Kathie-Lee. I started watching the show when I was pregnant with my first baby. I was extremely ill and knowing Kathie-Lee (who was pregnant with her first child as well) and Regis would be talking 'baby talk' got me up in the mornings. They made me laugh. And I enjoyed their banter.


What is more addictive, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or Pinterest?

I'd have to say Goodreads. I love being able to organize what I've read, what I want to read and what I'm reading. I also love seeing what others are reading and what they think of the books they have read.


Here are the links to my pages, feel free to add me... : )
   
Goodreads  
Pinterest 
Facebook  
Twitter 



A FEW BLOGS THAT HELP BRIGHTEN MY DAY (MY NOMINEES):

Emily demonstrates grace at her blog. I love her honesty and how she shares her heart. And I love the name of her blog... imperfect prose

Michelle's blog is warm and heartfelt. I love her book reviews and how she shares from the heart... Sweet Treats and Inspiration

Tara has such a beautiful heart-felt blog which she honors the Lord through... The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary

Denise has such a gentle spirit. She has been suffering lately, but always shares praise to God. I find her blog so encouraging... Shorty Bears Place

Mary-Lu has the most thought-provoking topics on her blog! Love it... Cross and Cutlass

Marissa has a wonderful book blog and I really enjoy participating in the Thursday book blog link-up... Reading List

Jen's blog is so poetic and I enjoy reading her beautiful posts... Rich Faith Rising

Carolyn has the most gorgeous home and garden and shares lots of photos on her lovely blog... Aiken House & Garden

(If you are one of my nominees feel free to participate and use the same 8 questions that I answered.)

Happy Reading!

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