Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Lucado Inspirational Reader

Max Lucado has been preaching and writing for over twenty-five years.  He uses his knowledge of Scripture, personal experiences, and stories to illustrate many biblical concepts.  This inspirational reader takes excerpts and quotes from 25 of his books and arranges them by topic for easy reference.  Some of the topics include the Bible, Comfort, Faith, Heaven, Purpose, Relationship with God, and Worship.  There are also a source index and more specific topical index at the back of the book to help the reader locate specific sections.

I have always liked the style that Max Lucado uses to write.  It is easy to understand and leaves me with many thoughts to ponder.  Since I have not come near to reading all his books, it's nice to have a resource like this that compiles many of his main messages into one source.  This isn't the type of book that I would sit down and read cover to cover.  Since the sections are short, it would be great for little bits of reading at a time, possibly to keep in the bathroom :)  It would also be helpful for someone who is studying a particular topic either for personal growth or for preparing a lesson/sermon. 

Here is one of my favorite quotes: "He knew the price of those sins was death.  He knew the source of those sins was you, and since he couldn't bear the thought of eternity without you, He chose the nails." - Max Lucado

The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 28, 2011


This weekend has been largely preparation for Christmas.  Lights on the house.  Lights on the tree.  Gifts purchased (yes, all of them!).  The house filled with Christmas songs as Jeremy prepares to lead worship during the month ahead (you can listen to one of my favorites below).  Now to relax and enjoy the time with my family, anticipating the celebration of Jesus's birthday :)


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fierce Beauty by Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder is a woman who has overcome tragedy in her own life and loves outdoor adventure.  She searches for the lessons that God is trying to teach her through her various experiences.  This book is a collection of real life stories, many of which lead to beautiful analogies of our spiritual lives.  The main message is Who are you going to focus on and serve...yourself or your King?

The first chapter sets the stage with a trek up a mountain and the subject of overcoming adversity.  Then the book is broken down into 3 main sections, each which include a few discussion questions.  The first section is meant to help the reader evaluate what/who she is living for.  It talks about the definition of true beauty, illustrates how sin (even little ones) can so easily hurt and entangle us and how we need to fiercely defend against it, and points the way toward hope.  Kim says "We were not designed to be princesses of entitlement but warriors of encouragement, fighting to bring love and hope to the world."  The next section is meant to help the reader discover God's faithfulness, peace, and love.  The final section explores how "you can answer God's call and begin living the life you were uniquely created for."  It illustrates the power of a smile, the need to forgive, and how we can use our wounds and our words to encourage others.

I enjoyed reading this book.  Sometimes the descriptions of her outdoor adventures got a bit too detailed for my tastes, but I loved how she was able to take these experiences to God and say "What do you have to show me through this?"  The way she was able to relate tangible things to our spiritual lives was insightful.  I was also touched by the wonderful stories of hope and perseverance presented.  Overall, I think this is a book most women would enjoy and benefit from reading...especially those who enjoy the outdoors.

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." - 1 Peter 3:3-4

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  Click here to read the first chapter!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Open and Eat

Little Isaac

Trying to get kids to eat what you fix for them can be challenging.  As a parent you enjoy giving your kids foods they like, but you always need to make sure they are getting a healthy diet so they can grow. 

Why are some kids picky eaters?  Sometimes it's all about appearance.  They trust what they can see...and if it is unfamiliar or looks like a vegetable, forget it.  Other times they have eaten that food before and know that they don't like it.  They fail to recognize or care about the long-term benefits the nutrients have to offer.  Or it can all boil down to an issue of trust.  For example, if someone told you "Close your eyes and open your mouth"...would you do it?  Most likely only if you trusted that the person wasn't going to poison you or give you something really disgusting.  Opening your mouth is a vulnerable position!

So when I read these words God spoke to Ezekiel, it got me thinking.  In Ezekiel 2:8 God says "Open your mouth, and eat what I give you".  He was being asked to be receptive and responsive to the words God was about to give him.

We can be picky eaters too.  Why aren't we always receptive and responsive to God's word?  Sometimes it's all about what we can see.  If we don't understand "why" or see how everything will play out, we are hesitant to obey.  It's easier to stay in our comfort zones.  Other times we know that what God is asking of us is not pleasant, such as needing to apologize and ask for forgiveness, and we choose short-term comfort over the long-term reward.  Or it can all boil down to an issue of trust.  Do we trust that God knows what is best for our lives?

To open yourself up and say "I'll eat whatever you give me" is a vulnerable position.  Not everything we are given to "eat" will be pleasant, but we can trust that He knows what's best for us and our growth.  And just as I give my boys a balance of foods they like and foods they need, I'm thankful that He gives me a balanced diet as well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

There You Are!

Taken from Max Lucado's book Fearless, pg. 26-27:

"Every year tens of thousands of women attend the Women of Faith conferences.  One reason they do is to hear words of comfort.  After hearing one speaker after another describe God's compassion for each of his children, an attendee sent this email.

In the movie Hook, Peter Pan had grown up, become old and overweight, and looked nothing like the Peter the lost boys knew.  In the midst of the boys shouting that this was NOT Peter, one of the smallest boys took him by the hand and pulled him down to his level.  He then placed his hands on Peter's face and proceded to move the skin around, reshaping his face.  The boy looked into Peter's eyes and said, "There you are, Peter!"  I brought a lot with me to Women of Faith, things that only God could see.  But throughout the weekend I could feel God's hands on my face, pushing away all of the "stuff" I had brought.  And then I could hear him say, "There you are.  There you are!"

Shhh.  Listen.  Do you hear?  God is saying the same words to you.  Finding the beauty the years bury, the sparkle that time tries to take.  Seeing you and loving the you He sees.  There you are.  There you are."

Hagar called God by the name "El Roi", which means "the god who sees me".  Today I am thankful to be seen and loved by El Roi, who can see past the stuff to the woman He created me to be.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ascent From Darkness by Michael Leehan

This is a true story of one man's journey into the depths of satanism, followed by his ascent into the light of Christ.  It will open your eyes to the reality of the spiritual realm.  Satan is real, but God is greater.  And what was intended for evil God can redeem for His glory!

I had a hard time putting this book down!  Michael Leehan shares his story with the hope that it can reach others who are hopeless and depressed, letting them know that no one is out of God's reach...even a soldier of Satan.

I believe there is a spiritual battle going on, but reading a book like this makes it so much more real.  I wasn't surprised by the cutting and the blood sacrifices that satanists practice...but I was shocked by something else.  Michael describes many of his "missions" to be finding lukewarm Christians and leading them astray.  This meant that he spent time at church, in bible study groups and at singles events.   He memorized scripture, fasted, and prayed (to Satan).  He seduced Christian women and tried to cause confusion and division within church groups.  Satan sends his soldiers onto our turf, and we don't even know it.  This confirmed to me the importance for Christians to grow and stay connected because the danger is real.

Michael had an assignment to kill Pastor Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv.  Since I have seen this pastor speak before on video, I was intrigued.  It was stated that others were given this assignment previously and had failed....thankfully Michael did too.  (On a side note...I'm thinking if Satan wants Pastor Craig dead that maybe he is a pastor worth listening to!)  Since his conversion, Michael now sits in the front row of this pastor's church.  He also passionately shares his story and the gospel with many...he has become God's warrior.

Hearing about the reality of spiritual darkness can be scary, but the book continually points to the fact that God's power is greater.  The appendix of the book is filled with testimonies from people who knew Michael during this time in his life and can attest to his transformation. I love happy endings :)

The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bring On The Books!

There have been times recently when I've been bored.  I know, how can a mother of 3 get bored, right?  Well, I get my chores done during the day and by the time homework and dinner is done, I've usually had enough of "work".  So when my husband is busy and the kids are occupied/in bed, or I find myself alone, I feel unmotivated to do anything.  Thankfully we don't have cable, otherwise I fear I would fall into that trap of mindlessly killing time.  It was during one of these times that I realized...I haven't been reading!  I should have picked up on this much sooner.  When I don't keep my mind occupied I fall into a slump.  So I picked up a book from the shelf, and in an instant I was no longer bored :)

The next day I was given a little gift from God.  I received a Christian book magazine in the mail and decided to see what looked good so I could make some requests from the library.  (I like getting books that way because they are free of course, but I don't like not having control over how many come in at a time and then rushing to get through them before the return date.) Anyway, I was looking at book reviews online and kept seeing references of people getting free books from BookSneeze.  I checked it out and found that it is a company that gives free books to bloggers in exchange for an honest review!  Too good to be true, I thought.  But as I read the info and saw the selection of books that were available I began to get excited.  I was just accepted and my first book is in the mail!  I will be posting my reviews on this blog, and I hope they will be helpful to you in determining what to spend your time reading and what to pass by.