Friday, June 21, 2013
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no more Hindus left in India.” This great leader was fascinated at the thought of knowing Christ. But when he met Christians, he felt let down. The world is filled with people who feel the same. They are intrigued by the claims of Christ, but they shrink back because of disappointment with His offspring.
“Don’t look at people,” we might protest. “Look at Jesus.” But while that may be true, the sobering truth remains: Whether we like it or not, we’re the only Jesus some will ever see. Dwight L. Moody put it this way: “Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian.”
“You are a letter from Christ…,” Paul reminded the Christians at Corinth, “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stones but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3 NIV 1984)
The same is true of us today. We are God’s love letter to the world. We were set apart for a purpose—to communicate his glory to a lost and dying world.
Excerpted from Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
Daily Reflection: How have you been communicating God’s love lately?
Reprinted from the Inspired Devotional by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
“Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”—2 Chronicles 7:15-16
God promised, “My name will be there.”
The name above all names; the name that makes seas to boil and the skies to fall; the name that causes every knee to bow and every tongue to confess—that name and all it represents would be there for the people of God. God himself swore that all his character and all his essence would surely be there for his children.
But what does this mean for us?
It means we can count on the One who parted the ocean and calmed the seas to be there for us when the opposition bears down at full speed or the storms of life toss us around like plastic cups caught in the surf. The very essence of the One who lifted up the mountains and raised up the dead will be there to lift us up to new heights and to raise us up with his Son on the last day. The sum of all God’s character and power and authority and holiness—100 percent of everything about him—will be there for
you and me.
Excerpted from Be There by John Trent
Daily Reflection: What does God’s name and the assurance of His presence mean to you?
Reprinted from Inspired from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
Who Are You?
If somebody asked me, “Who are you?” I could say lots of things. I could say, “I am Jud. I am married to Lori. We have two kids and a slobbery bulldog named Roxy. And I am horrible at Guitar Hero for Xbox.”
These are aspects of who I am, but my identity is not found in them. According to the Bible, my identity is found in God. He chooses me. I’m His possession. And that is who you are too.
It doesn’t matter what your employer says, what your parents say, what your ex says, or what your friends say. God says that as His follower you are chosen. You are loved just as you are, and your identity is complete in that. You can’t earn it, and you can’t undo it; there is nothing you can do to achieve it. What could be more awesome?
Excerpted from Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite
Daily Reflection: What keeps you from realizing or accepting your identity as a child of God?
“Meaning follows surrender,” that is what Rebekah Lyons discovered when she faced a kink in her preplanned life path. That kink was debilitating panic attacks and anxiety. Here is how Rebekah describes one such attack, “The anxiety reached a crescendo on Thanksgiving Day. How I wish I had anticipated this scenario….we were taking the kids to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade…we had big expectations, and even the craziest throngs of people would not stop us…These veteran Macy’s paraders were not going to let me and my three tykes push through to Daddy. Cell service was gone. The crowds even suppressed text messages. I had no way to communicate as I helplessly stood two hundred feet away. Finally my call to Gabe went through, and my frantic voice screamed above the noise, ‘I can’t do it! If you want the kids to see this, you will have to come get them!’ Tears fell as my kids bore witness to my weakness once more. I didn’t have what it took to push through. Not the strength. Not the ability. Not the will. Who was I becoming? The Rebekah I once knew was fearless and aggressive….Gabe wormed his way to us and grabbed Pierce and Kennedy’s hands. I tugged Cade to the back of the crowd – he’d be no match for this moment. I hailed a taxi to head home to baste my turkey and lick my wounds. I’d watch the parade from the comfort of my living room like every other sensible American.” Anyone who has suffered from panic attacks and anxiety understands completely what she was describing. You might even be shaking your head while reading this excerpt. However, Rebekah did not stop there in her book. That is the beginning of her journey that she calls Freefall to Fly A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning.
Lyons’s book is poignant and revealing. Readers can understand where she started and where she eventually ended up as she began to understand the meaning behind surrendering to God. The freefall does no lead to a devastating ending but rather an ability to fly and soar above the storm clouds. In another excerpt, she writes, “For seven months, I’d been consumed by panic attacks and letdowns, loneliness and change. But I saw it now. God was telling a story. A specific kind of story. A daunting, frightful story. He was revealing meaning to me. In the midst of my own blizzard, light was shining through. I needed only to open my eyes to His tinkering and intervention. I was searching desperately to find meaning in my life, unaware that God had been leading me the entire time. I was in an uncontrollable freefall, but God wanted me to learn to fly. Perhaps this painful season of transition was closing for me.”
I received this book free for review from Handlebar Marketing and would highly recommend this book for your bookshelf!
Rebekah Lyons website
I recently received a book from Handlebar Marketing to review that I must admit is a MUST READ book. Bold as Love What can happen when we see people the way God does by Bob Roberts, Jr. is one of those books that causes you to ponder God’s Word and your faith. God’s Word tells us to love our neighbors and it does not specify only certain neighbors or the distance between neighbors or even only Christian neighbors – it just plainly says neighbors. This includes Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and even atheists. That can be a difficult task sometimes, but to live and love radically as Jesus did requires each of us to step out of our box – not to a soapbox, but to just stand up and go boldy where we have not trod before.
Roberts dissects what bold faith and connectivity looks like when we “love our neighbor” locally and globally without boundaries of likeness. His book is radical and his point of view is challenging of your faith. The synopsis on the back of the book includes this statement, “Take the risk! Your faith wasn’t made to live in isolation. It’s something you do face-to-face, heart-to-heart, hand-to-hand. Whether you are in a suburb of Houston or a village in India, put away the fear and suspicion and, instead, answer the call to radically love others the way God loves.” Roberts does not merely write about what is means to live radically and boldly with love and faith. He stepped out first in his community by connecting with religious leaders of other faiths and brought that relationship to his church. One man reaching out to another spreading to others. Are you willing to take the risk?
Death. That one word brings to mind heartache, lost moments, grief, and questions of why. Death by a bear attack. Those few words bring even more pain and horror as well as a deeper questioning of why. When that death is your parents the pain is buried so deep that it leaves you crying and heaving in the dust while tears stream down your face and your heart feels as if it will disintegrate. How do you cope with that kind of pain and keep living? That is what Shannon Huffman Polson both faces and answers in her memoir North of Hope. Polson combines her path to healing along with the story of her journey to retrace the steps that her father and stepmother took while traversing a river in Alaska. She brings to life the flora and fauna of the wilderness of Alaska which were the sights before her own eyes and the journal entries by her parents. As she travels to the very spot that her parents were killed, she draws closer to healing and acceptance of the event.
Polson’s memoir is one of those books that you will find yourself torn between wanting to voraciously read the pages and desiring to read slowly while mourning with her. It is a wonderfully written story of her grief and healing, her faith, and her acceptance of life and death. I received this book free for review from Handlebar Marketing and find the book to be excellent.
Anyone who has ever read about Nick Vujicic or seen his YouTube videos usually walks away amazed and maybe a little guilty. Amazed at the fact that Vujicic has accomplished so much standing in his faith and guilty because he does all of this without limbs as compared to our own capabilities with limbs. Vujicic’s latest book, Unstoppable, is just as powerful and moving as Life Without Limbs. In this book, Vujicic addresses the adversities that can plague individuals making their life journeys difficult and destructive. He uses his own life story as well as other’s stories to show how circumstances don’t have to derail you.
One of the most profound statements that he made can be found in the first few pages of the book. He says, “To simply say ‘I believe’ in something is not enough. If you want to have an impact in this world, you must put your beliefs and your faith into action.” For many of us, when difficult circumstances enter our lives we believe that God can move mountains but we don’t put that belief and faith into action by praying. Others may sit and bemoan the horrid circumstances without actually reaching out to the One who can change those circumstances. Vujicic has taken what could have stopped him and turned it into an unstoppable life of faith and action. Another life-altering phrase from his book is actually a subtitle in the first chapter – “Custom Made For A Purpose.” Wow! If we all just would believe that each one of us is custom made for a purpose, we could change the world! We may be able to cite the Scripture talking about each of us being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), but do we truly believe that we have been made specifically for a purpose? Vujicic does and he lives his life with purpose!
I received this book free for review from WaterBrook Multnomah.
Jeff Anderson’s book Plastic Donuts is a straightforward and simple format for investigating “giving that delights the heart of the Father.” Anderson begins by showing the correlation between the simple and heartfelt gift from his eighteen-month-old daughter when she gives a plastic donut from her kitchen set to him. She waits expectantly for his response and when he “eats” the donut with great animation, she is filled with such joy that it shone across her face and countenance. She continued to bring “gifts” to her father as he continued to show his pleasure and approval. That is the feeling that our Father experiences when we give simply and with heartfelt joy.
Now if that was the whole of his story, it would have been a very, very short book! Granted his book is short, concise, and to the point, but he also visits the most frequent questions that one asks about tithing. Some of those questions are:
- What’s the “right” amount to give?
- Does the tithe still apply to modern-era people?
- Is the first 10 percent required, and everything else is a freewill offering?
- What should be our motivations in giving?
- Does it even matter what we give as long as we have good hearts?
The rest of the 115-page book is divided into chapter entitled:
- What is acceptable (chapter 2)
- Does the amount matter (chapter 3)
- Rule #1: there are no rules (chapter 4)
- A two-percent perspective (chapter 5)
- Because you can (chapter 6)
- All the difference (chapter 7)
- That chair (chapter 8)
As the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:18, “I am humbly supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, and acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God,” let our donations (offerings) be fragrant, acceptable, and pleasing to our Daddy in heaven. He waits expectantly for our donuts!
For additional resources visit their website: www.acceptablegift.org