Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dreams and Visions by Tom Doyle

When I first picked up this book, I had a fear of it being dry and over my head...but I am pleased to report that this was far from the truth.  This is one of the most fascinating books I've read all year!  The majority of the book consists of stories from Muslims in various Middle Eastern countries who have had dreams and visions of Jesus which have led them to seek out answers and find life in Christ.  The author also intermixes relevant information so that readers who have little knowledge of Islamic practices (like myself) gain a fuller understanding of the Muslim faith and what life is like in those countries.

Tom Doyle is a missionary who is watching this phenomenon unfold first-hand.  He writes "I believe Islamic terrorism is Satan's attempt to keep the gospel message away from Muslims.  The enemy thinks that if he can make the rest of us afraid of  Muslims or make us hate them, then he can short-circuit Jesus' church from reaching Muslims.  But that isn't working.  Jesus has stepped in and is opening Muslim hearts Himself...Dreams and visions break down barriers that keep Muslims from embracing Christ.  Then it's up to us to get the gospel to them with a solid explanation and an offer to receive Jesus." After the terrorist bombing, Americans tend to fear that all Arabs are terrorists.  Even though a significant number are (about 10%), the author urges us not to overlook and ignore the other 90% who are not.  They need to know the love of Jesus and we can play a part in that happening.

This book has increased my awareness of Muslim beliefs and practices, made me more compassionate, and boosted my faith by hearing the stories of how Jesus is appearing to these people today.  I highly recommend it!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The First Thanksgiving

We all know the story of the First Thanksgiving, right?  The Pilgrims and the Indians of course! I was just in Isaac's classroom and this is what they learned.  While it's true that this was an important meal of Thanksgiving, I recently learned of the origin of the first official Thanksgiving holiday...and it's not anything I was taught in school.  Maybe you will find it as enlightening as I have.

In Rick Santorum's book, American Patriots, he writes of a patriot named Elias Boudinot.  "Boudinot served as one of the first four New Jersey members of the House of Representatives.  His reliance on God and his gratefulness for God's provision of the young country prompted Boudinot to propose a resolution in his first year as congressman that established "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer".  Boudinot proclaimed that he "could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them."  President George Washington responded by issuing America's first federal thanksgiving proclamation."

Wikipedia shines further light on the subject..."As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God."

To read the entire Proclamation written by George Washington, click here.  There is no doubt after reading this that our founding fathers knew to whom our thanks was due.  May we remember this as well as we celebrate with our friends and family this week.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jesus: Pure & Simple by Wayne Cordeiro

I decided to check out this book because one of the author's previous books, The Divine Mentor, made a real impact on my family.  I found that this book was well-written and thought provoking, but it didn't offer anything least nothing new to me.

The main idea is focused around this Scripture from 2 Corinthians 11:3 "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ."  The author says that "it's easy to confuse...our spiritual vitality with our spiritual activity".  It's not about our Bible knowledge or the number of "religious" things we's all about how much our lives reflect His....pure and simple.  We need a clear picture of Jesus and to learn how to correct back to Him.  Other topics include serving without the need for recognition, recognizing the presence of Christ, focusing on the lost, personal renewal, contentment, and living in the present.

The writing style is easy enough for a new Christian to understand, yet still challenging for someone seasoned in the faith.  The end of each chapter contains a few questions for individual reflection or group discussion.  This book could help generate some great discussions, especially for newer groups who want to start with the basics.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How He Speaks

This morning I thought I'd give you a glimpse at how God sometimes speaks to me.  My morning Bible readings have recently been going through the book of Ecclesiastes.  While there are a few phrases here and there that catch my attention, it's not my favorite book.  But this morning I read in Ecc 7:10 Do not say "Why were the old days better than these?"  Instantly I was reminded of a song from my past that included this phrase.  I pulled out my ipod to listen to the lyrics and they spoke to the very area of my heart that needed it.

You don't know what's coming....but you know the one who holds tomorrow...Just take my hand and walk where I lead.

(This song also brings back special memories as it's one of the first songs I heard Jeremy sing after meeting him.  And I frequently requested him to sing it again...and again.)

May this song be a blessing to you this morning as well :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

American Patriots by Rick Santorum

I should start this review with the disclaimer that I am not a history buff.  I made it through history classes in school by skimming and using short-term memorization!  While this isn't typical of books I read, something about the content caught my interest. 

American Patriots is about the values set forth in the Declaration of Independence, and stories of the brave men and women who fought to make our freedom possible.  The stories are shared to inspire the current generation to rise up and take a stand.  The author writes "The greatest threat to liberty today is not from the ruling elites; it lies within each one of us when we give in to the temptation to live our lives with conformity, apathy, and complacency."

The book is divided into 3 sections: Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness.  Each section begins with a few pages of thoughts from the author, followed by 5 stories.  My favorite parts were the commentaries by Rick Santorum.  To hear a politician say that our rights come from God, that we are all equal in the eyes of the Creator, and that "our founders' call to happiness was really a call to pursue virtue" gives me hope.  So many people overlook the fact that our country was founded on Christian values.  If Rick Santorum runs for president in the future, he has my vote!

While the historical stories shared were somewhat interesting, I felt like I missed a lot by not having a solid foundation to build upon.  People who know their history will most likely enjoy these stories more.  I think this would be a great resource for students/teachers who are studying the American Revolution.  It was a great way to honor and remember patriots who may not be mentioned in a typical school history book.  Overall, good book for those who enjoy learning about history.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What You Wear Matters

Below is an article written by Sheri Rose Shepherd that I thought was very good and goes along with a sermon I heard recently at church:

Fighting to Find the Benefits and Blessings of Purity

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

When I was a new Christian, it never occurred to me to change the way I dressed or flirted; after all, I was single, so why shouldn't I dress the way I wanted and get whatever attention I could? I had worked hard to lose over fifty pounds and get in shape. I was finally thin for the first time.

Then one day, about a year into my walk with God, my young singles pastor came up to me after our church service and politely asked me if I could come to church dressed more modestly. He told me I was distracting him and some of the young men in our group from focusing on God. I know it took every ounce of courage he had to confront me and help me understand how men struggle, and even though I was a bit embarrassed and slightly offended, I'm glad he took a chance and told me the truth.

We have no idea the major internal battle that goes on inside our men when it comes to women. The truth is, sex and women hold the key to unlock a beast inside of them. Deep down inside, our men are screaming for some relief from all the overstimulation and sensual battles that war against their souls every day. Even those men who desire purity are forced to fight for it because of all the women who flirt and flash their flesh to get attention. Even our beloved King David, a warrior who was strong enough to stand before a giant, could not withstand temptation when he saw Bathsheba naked in the bathtub. The interesting thing about this story is that Bathsheba was unaware she was even tempting David. Bathsheba was in her own home, taking a bath in her own yard, but when David's eyes saw her flesh, he lost his strength and forgot who he was: a God-appointed king. Once he lost his moral compass, he lost his senses. He caved to his craving for her and then set up her husband to be killed on the battlefield so his own sin wouldn't be exposed.

David's moment of weakness had tragic consequences as the baby conceived by Bathsheba died. But even more tragic was that a piece of David's soul died that day, and the passion he once had to be a heroic man never did fully return. Our hearts' desire is for men to know how to connect to our hearts, but we make it difficult for them when we blind them with our bodies. We know how to grab their attention, but in the process are we trading what we want most, which is a real love relationship with them? Feeling sexy is fun, but what is the cost when we force men to fight temptation? Somehow it seems the price that we pay to get attention is not worth it. And it's really out of control when a man cannot even attend church because the women are distracting him from worshiping.

Look at the influence the first lady in the human race had. Her craving led Adam to follow her into disobeying God. Eve saw something that was pleasing to the eye, and she wanted it more than she wanted to obey God. She ended up taking her husband down with her, and the Fall occurred.

Today the "fall of families" is an epidemic. We are losing our moral men of faith by the masses while pornography and human trafficking are out of control. Our men are forced to look at our flesh, whether they want to or not. They don't even have to seek it on the Internet; all they have to do is walk out their doors. Is it any wonder they are struggling to remain pure? Something has to change, and it has to start with us. How will our sons and daughters find the strength to remain pure and experience a pure love if no one leads the way?

For more teaching from the Your Heart's Desire book and Bible study, visit