A Letter From God – Inspired Devotional

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.

Boldly Go!

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?


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Faith that Overcomes

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.

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Novel Crossing - The Intersection of Fiction and Faith

Liz and Ruth

No Liz is not someone from the Bible, but Ruth is.  Liz is Liz Curtis Higgs, author of The Girl’s Still Got It, as well as many other books such as Bad Girls of the BibleMore Bad Girls of the Bible, and Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible.  The difference between this book and her “Bad Girls” series is that Ruth is not a bad girl.  In fact Liz has a rap about Ruth called “Righteous Ruth.”  Watch this:

Higgs style of writing draws you in with humor, truth, and “aha” thoughts. For anyone who has read or participated in a Bible study about Ruth (Kelly Minter, for example) knows the story of Ruth. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi who was a Moabite and refused to return to her homeland after the death of her husband. Instead she moved to Naomi’s homeland and eventually married Boaz, a relative of Naomi. Ruth becomes one of the few women listed in the lineage of Jesus.

The difference in this book and other studies is that Higgs shows you how we are all a little like Ruth. We are all worthy to serve God. We all have still got it! Jump into this book which features a Bible study at the end and re-assess your worth and value! I received this book free for review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Study Guide/Discussion Questions:

Author’s Web Site

Prose and Song about Ruth

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group is proud to announce the release of Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book Girls Still Got It. Higgs is the author of Bad Girls of the Bible where she use wit and humor to talk about women that she calls bad for the moment, bad for a lifetime, etc. In her new book, she has written about a good girl of the Bible – Ruth. I have not read the book but WaterBrook graciously offered a video from Higgs and the first chapter. Please enjoy!

Visionary Life Planning

A good business person begins with a plan. The business starts with a vision; then a purpose and goals are outlined. The same is true for someone who desires a life that filled with passion, purpose and definition. Craig Groeschel, author of Chazown Define Your Vision, Pursue Your Passion, Live Your Life on Purpose, has written a how-to of life planning. He has also explained the “why” and “what” behind the Hebrew word – Chazown. God created each of us with a purpose. However many of us live in a manner similar to bumper cars. We drive fast seemingly with a purpose in view and then someone else’s vision brings his/her path directly into ours resulting in a crash.

Groeschel begins the life plan by exploring your core values, spiritual gifts, and past experiences. He then moves on to naming your chazown and developing action steps in five spokes – your relationship with God, your relationship with people, your finances, your health and fitness, and your work. Chazown is an easy book to read with questions and activities to help you develop your chazown. In addition, there is a website that enhances your experience and journey.

I received this book free for review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Chazown Web Site

Promises Fulfilled

On the cover of Pete Wilson’s latest book, Empty Promises, features a fortune cookie. For most people, the fortune cookie uncovers a small slip of paper that “promises” great things in our future. The same is true for horoscopes and dreams – we reach for a brighter future filled with promises of wealth, status, success, true love, and our every desire. However, those are only empty promises compared to the one true Promise, God. Wilson’s book is twelve short chapters with titles like: “The Seduction of Achievement,” “Addicted to Approval,” and “Chasing a Dream.”

Empty Promises was an enjoyable, informative book that encouraged me to look deeper into what gives me joy and purpose in this journey called life. I also found myself guiltily looking into a mirror through several of the chapters. However, the greatest thing is that even though I found myself seduced, addicted, and in a chase, I also found the truth about what promise was real and long-lasting. In Luke 10:41-42 Jesus said, “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'” The only promise needed and able to fulfill is the One who is truly able to promise joy, peace, and satisfaction.

I received this book free for review from Booksneeze. I would encourage anyone who is struggling with life to get a copy and settle in for some soul-searching time with the greatest Promise you will ever find or need!

I review for BookSneeze®

Life + God = Hope

When you combine a small town in the South with “the way things have always been done” and then insert faith-filled people and God into the center, what you get is a Kim Cash Tate’s new book Hope Springs. The story is centered around the Dillon and Sanders families who attend Calvary and New Jerusalem churches. The Sanders’ clan comes home for a reunion and Christmas in Hope Springs, North Carolina at the matriarchal home of Grandma Geraldine “Geri” Sanders. Her children, except one, and her grandchildren, except one, gather round her as well as the Dillon family and other friends of the family. They have arrived just in time to bury the pastor of Calvary Church, Jim Dillon.

This story is the story of finding your faith in trying times, of finding your “sweet spot” in spite of yourself, of burying the dead and painful memories, and of the resurrection of hope. The story is about Stephanie Sanders London who finds herself in Hope Springs. The story is about Janelle (Sanders) Evans who finds love and happiness following the death of her husband by reconnecting with her past. The story is about Libby Sanders who finds she can bury the past and find the grace of God’s love with her lost love who now pastors New Jerusalem Church. The story is about Becca Dillon, wife of Todd, who finds that in order to be blessed and exalted, she must first learn to be emptied and humble. The story is about the uncovering of secrets and the reconnection of family when Todd Dillon finds out his father had had a child by Gwynn Sanders. The story is about the building hope in the small Bible study group meeting at the local diner facilitated by the unsure but faith-filled waitress that unleashes hope in the two churches, one for the white families and one for the black families, that bridges the past and blesses an entire community.

Hope Springs is one of those books that is like opening a flower – petal by petal- that leaves you breathless, crying, exhuberant, and praising God. It is a book that will keep you in your seat hungrily reading the words until you find yourself between the pages. Then you will be on your knees bowing before your God and Father with tears running down your cheeks and your arms raised in worship.

I received this book for free to review for netgalley.com.

Rainy Days and Mondays

Just about anyone who listens to contemporary Christian music has heard Laura Story’s song “What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops.”  If you have not hear this song before, please listen to it here:

spotify:track:6lV8cAancMB859zfBUqpPZ

Story’s book by the same title breaks down the verses of her song into thirty chapters that can be used as a devotional. For instance, in chapter 18 entitled “When We Cry Out in Anger,” Story writes, “Sometimes, it’s very easy to become angry: angry with ourselves, angry with other people, and even angry with God. Sometimes, we face life-threatening situations that shake us to the very core of our souls. but more often than not, our frustrations are of the more mundane variety. More often than not, we are angereed not by earth-shaking events, but by the inevitable distractions and disappointments of everyday living: jammed traffic, difficult people, financial headaches, and a near-endless stream of minor inconveniences masquerading as major hardships. Our challenge is this: to display anger when it is appropriate and to rein in our tempers when it is not. How can we learn to maintain better control over our tempers? We do so by learning to focus our thoughts, not on the inevitable disappointments of life, but instead upon the innumerable blessings that God has given us (Philippians 4:8). When we allow our faith in God to become the cornerstone and the touchstone of our lives, we cultivate trust in the righteousness of His plans. When we do so, we begin to see God’s hand as it works in every aspect of our lives – in good times and in hard times – as He uses every circumstance to fulfill His plan for us. So the next time you become frustrated by the inevitable challenges of life, do yourself a favor: turn away from anger and turn, instead, to God. Turn to Him, as best you can, with open hands, a clear mind, and a trusting heart. When you do, you’ll discover that defeating anger is difficult but not impossible – because with God, all things are possible.”

In each chapter, Story also includes quotes from notable Christians that are related to the subject of the chapter. She also includes Scripture and a section to journal your own thoughts. She ends the book with additional Scripture on a variety of topics. This small book of 220+ pages is an excellent addition to any library or better yet – your coffee table! Share it with friends and strangers alike.

If you are interested in keeping up with Laura Story:

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I received this ebook free for review from Net Galley at netgalley.com.

To Fear or Not To Fear

This is the first time that I am writing a review of a book that I hope to read. Fearless by Eric Blehm is the story of Adam Brown a Navy SEAL, husband, and father who lived with astounding faith and died fearless. Please take the time to check out this book!

Adam Brown was a proud Arkansas father of two who embarked on the mission deep into the Afghanastan mountains on the search for enemy combatants. He never returned home to his wife, children, and parents or the dirt of Arkansas. This story is about Adam, his faith, determined strength and his upbringing to “do what is right.”

Download and read the first chapter

You can order this book here.