Friday, March 24, 2017

Seven-Mile Miracle by Steven Furtick

When a person knows he is about to die, he chooses his last words carefully.  This book contemplates the last 7 phrases that Jesus spoke before his death on the cross.  These 7 words can serve as "mile markers" on our spiritual journey: forgiveness, salvation, relationship, abandonment, distress, triumph, and reunion.

Each chapter, or "mile", in the book has two sections.  The first explains what Jesus said and what was happening at the cross, and ends with questions for the reader to ponder.  The next section uses teaching and stories to help readers think about and apply the topic to their lives today.

In the weeks leading up to Easter, this is a nice tool to use to focus on what Jesus did for us on the cross and reflect on our relationship with him.  (There is even a 40 day bible reading guide to use during the Lenten season for those who want to delve deeper.)  Beyond that, I can't say that I came away with any new "eye-opening" information.  It was more of a reminder of things I had already heard.

My favorite part came in the last chapter.  I had heard Steven Furtick preach a sermon on the topic and it had stuck with me, so I was glad to see it in print!  Steven offers some insight into the interaction between the travelers to Emmaus and Jesus after his resurrection.  It involves the pattern that we see when Jesus shares a meal with his followers: Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given and how we can see that same pattern played out in the way God works in our lives.  Really good stuff to ponder.

Steven writes in a style that is easy to read and relate to.  I would recommend this book more to a seeker or a Christian young in his/her faith.  However, it is appropriate for anyone who wants to remember and focus on Jesus's final words before He gave His life on the cross.

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

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cherish by Gary Thomas

The definition of cherish is to "protect and care for (someone) lovingly, to hold something dear".  When applied to marriage, this goes beyond merely committing to your spouse - it means making him/her feel special.

I've been married for almost 17 years and recognize the importance of renewing my mind when it comes to how I view my husband and our marriage.  I can't say there was any huge revelation that I took away from this book, but it did help me to focus on the truth and align my perspective with God's word.  I pray this will help me to cherish my husband more.

For couples who like to read together, each chapter ends with a summary of the main points and a series of discussion questions.  Gary Thomas points out that while he shares advice that works for most couples, each person is an individual.  Therefore, to get the most out of this book, you should discuss it with your spouse to see how he/she would feel most cherished.

While there are several things I underlined, I always like to share my biggest take-away in my reviews.  This one appeared in a chapter about being patient with your spouses's sins.  Gary writes, "A holy person isn't known by what he or she does or doesn't watch, by avoiding a few forbidden words, or by attending a frequent number of religious meetings, but by how he or she treats fellow sinners.  Our experiential holiness is defined in large part by our ability to gracefully bear the lack of holiness in others.  You know you are a spiritually strong person when you can live joyfully and gracefully around spiritually weak people."  I had to stop and digest that...We ALL sin and therefore all have spouses that sin.  It's how we respond that shows our true maturity.  He goes on to write, "There's another way to look at this: if God's attitude toward you in your sin mirrored exactly your attitude toward your spouse in his or her sin, where would you be with God?...Stop comparing your spiritual maturity with your spouse's; instead, start comparing your spiritual maturity with Ephesians 4:1-3.  If you do that, you will change the climate of your marriage."

This is only one of the many ways we can learn to cherish our spouses.  I challenge you to read this book and learn about the others.

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

                                                                               Ephesians 4:1-3