Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Review–Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper





This book has taken a little longer to read because it was given to me in a PDF and therefore has been my first e-read. I have to admit I don’t know how I feel about Kindle’s or other forms of electronic books; I enjoy physically turning pages, highlighting and underlining and pulling the book back off the shelf. Anyhow, enough on that!


John Piper is first a Christian hedonist, secondarily the preaching pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in MN, a reformed church. He has written numerous books including, Desiring God and This Momentary Marriage, which are available for free download on his website: http://www.desiringgod.org/. His passion is all things of God, but especially missions and unreached people groups. The premise of this book is that according to 1 Corinthians 6:19+20, we exist to glorify God. Piper begins with a biographical sketch of his formative years at Wheaton college, during which he describes what he felt was a call to be a minister.
He recalls learning the following from Daniel Fuller: God’s passion for each one of us is, His glory AND 
our good or delight, at the same time. So here are the questions he asked himself, “What was life about? What was it for? Why do I exist? Why am I here? To be happy? Or to glorify God? Unspoken for years, there was in me the feeling that these two were at odds. Either you glorify God or you pursue happiness.” And later he concluded that, “God created me—and you—to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion—namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.” Therefore, “the wasted life is the life without a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.” P 31


So, if that is true and I believe that it is, it means that anyone who does not KNOW God will be wasting their lives. This to me is a spur under the saddle for evangelism. Do you agree?


“We waste our lives when we do not pray and think and dream and plan and work toward magnifying God in all spheres of life.” P 32


Esther, Joab, Paul, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all put their lives at risk for the LORD. In fact Paul said in Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Why do we do what we ought for Christ? Because as he puts it, “it is simple trust in Christ—that in him God will do everything necessary so that we can enjoy making much of him forever.” P97


And in light of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” how do we make decisions to spend our money or engage in certain activities. Piper recommends asking these 5 questions:
How will this help me treasure Christ more?
How will it help me show that I do treasure Christ?
How will it help me know Christ or display Christ?
How can I portray God as glorious in this action? How can I enjoy making much of him in this behavior?


He then tackles the issue of forgiveness. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven and therefore ought to freely forgive. He adds this spin, if we love being forgiven for reasons other than God himself then we will waste our lives.


One of the things that has struck my husband and I this year is intentionally adorning the Gospel, so how can we make much of God and adorn the Gospel (Titus 2:9+10)? Piper devoted a whole chapter on this subject as it pertains to Mon-Fri 8-5 work (especially secular work environments) and named six practical ways this can be accomplished.
1. Through the fellowship that we enjoy with him throughout the day in all our work.
2. By the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry.
3. When it confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel.
4. By earning enough money to keep us from depending on others, while focusing on the helpfulness of our work rather than financial rewards.
5. By earning money with the desire to use our money to make others glad in God.
6. By treating the web of relationships it creates as a gift of God to be loved by sharing the Gospel and by practical deeds of help.
He believes that in our work, we ought to make a conscious decision to rely on God’s power, pursue excellence and deliberately work to reflect God’s glory. One of my favorite quotes from this chapter, “your work is to take what God has made and shape it and use it to make him look great.”


Overall, an incredible read (5 stars), one I will definitely revisit. The more I learned about John Piper as a person, led me to a deep respect for his passion to proclaim Christ boldly. Please check out his website for incredible FREE resources. http://www.desiringgod.org/


Sarah


“Remember, you have one life. That’s all. You were made for God. Don’t waste it.” John Piper

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas gift alternative

Please check this page out as you may be considering an alternative to Christmas gift giving this year. It is such a privilege for us to have a (or several) copies of God's word in our homes and what a blessing to be able to get a copy of God's word into a believer's hand somewhere across the globe.
WycliffeCatalog

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review-Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

I borrowed this for a long road trip during which I usually read a book aloud while my husband drives. It was also good timing because we listened to a portion of Heaven by Randy Alcorn just prior to this read.

Overall, Heaven if for Real was a quick read (only took 2 hours) with a heavenly storyline. Colton was just four years old when he was hospitalized for an unknown illness, it turned out that he would require an emergency appendectomy. This book is a recounting of the events that occurred during his surgery and the resultant revelation by Colton to his parents over the next 10 years or so. There has been some discussion about the truth of the little boy's actual journey to heaven or lending it to an active imagination. I can't say either way, but it does make you think about eternity, which is always good. I guess I would say read it carefully with a theological filter, but sure it was a good read.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book Review-A Love That Multiplies by Michelle & Jim BobDuggar

My husband and I have been following the Duggar's show, 19 Kids and Counting on TLC for the past 3 years and to be honest I wanted to know more. The book, A Love That Multiplies was their second book and was published earlier this year. We knew that they had a preemie, Josie, in 2009 and I guess this is when I got hooked since I was pregnant at the time and it made me ponder the reality of the situation. During this trial, they (Michelle & Jim Bob) were very honest and transparent about their faith, but really they speak boldly for the Lord in every show/interview.

To be honest, I was first a skeptic because of a previous reality show (Jon and Kate + 8) that turned me off, but after reading this book I am a believer. I am a believer because they stand firmly on the Word of God in their business decisions, parenting and everything else. Michelle wrote most of the book and I sure appreciated her openness pertaining to her early parenting struggles. Now, at one point they had 11 kids under the age of 11 (two sets of twins) and were juggling parenting and homeschool responsibilities. I don't have any idea what this would be like, but...she turned to God for answers. I sure appreciate the truth of Hebrews 4:16 when I don't know what to do. She spoke about the anger she felt when parenting and shares how God taught her a mighty lesson. The more I watch her on camera and listen to her during interviews I am excited that it IS possible to manage ALL God's blessings patiently and in a spirit of gentleness.

Great read (5 stars), would totally recommend to any parents. It would make a great Christmas gift!

Sarah

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review-Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Welcome to the new format for my book reviews, thanks for following!

Last month I read the popular book-Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

wow, Wow, and WOW.
The author is intense and "on-fire" for God.
Chan is the former pastor of Cornerstone Church in SoCal.
He says that his intended audience is "those who want more Jesus," and he encourages readers to surrender ALL of our lives completely to God.

He begins the book with a shock and awe approach to God; he shares some amazing facts about the universe that can be found on the book's own website: http://www.crazylovebook.com/
He sees a disconnect between American Christianity and New Testament Christianity. He feels that most  Americans want a safe, balanced life that does not involve suffering. Using 2 Cor 13:5 as his premise, he proceeds to give 18 examples of "Lukewarm People." If you read this book, I recommend sitting down with this list and asking God where you may have become lukewarm in your relationship with Him.

God wants AND deserves our best, but often we offer Him our leftovers- remember Cain in Genesis 4? Chan asks, "are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants? Do you believe that wholehearted commitment to Him is MORE important than any other thing or person in your life? Do you KNOW that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made (Matthew 22:37-39)?"

God is HOLY and He deserves our best...our first. How is that going for you?

Think back to a time when you were in love with someone: didn't you go to great lengths to spend time with them? Perhaps you would drive for hours to be together, stay up late talking, think about them all the time, AND anticipate the next time you may be together. Are you really that "in love" with God? That is what crazy love is.

So... are you ready to live what you believe? Because 1) that means obedience in what He has called you to-"if you love me [Jesus], you will obey what I command" (John 14:15) and 2) because "we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ" (2 Cor 5:10).

I pray you were both blessed and challenged by reading this review.
You are loved,
sarah

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Review-Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Here is my latest book review. As a follow-up to Downpour, I thought Holiness: The Heart God Purifies by Nancy Leigh DeMoss was a perfect fit.
If you have never read any of her stuff, I would highly recommend her books and her website has many printable handouts and prayer challenges!
She is very Biblical and has a passion for revival- her things are often very convicting.
She also has two radio programs one called Revive Our Hearts and another Seeking Him.
Holiness  is the 3rd book in a trilogy that started with Brokenness followed by Surrender.
She shares that her passion for the message of holiness comes from the heart of God based on 1 Peter 1:15+16/Leviticus 11:44.
"True holiness," she writes, "is the pathway to fullness of life and joy. To be holy is to be wholly satisfied with Christ."
She addressed the necessity of "putting off" old fleshly habits or corruption and "putting on" grace as the key to overcoming sin.
Most chapters read like a book, but the chapter titled: The heart of holiness-was mostly application; it dealt with being an authentic Christian and gave 15 topics for self-examination. This portion was meant to be done in one's journal, like a workbook. And this is where I spent most of my time in self-examination in light of God's word. At the end of the book, she includes a discussion guide for further study or a group study.
Overall, a good read if you are looking to do some heart "surgery!"
I thought this was good to conclude with-a prayer from Nancy:
Oh, God,
show me more of Your holiness.
Show me more of my sinfulness.
Help me to hate sin and love righteousness as You do.
Grant me a deeper conviction of sin
and a more thorough spirit of repentance.
And make me holy as You are holy.
God bless as you pursue Him. You are loved!
stay tuned for next month's read: Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Sarah

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review-Downpour by James MacDonald

Ok, gals, I must admit this book review is several weeks over due.
There are two reasons:

1) In addition to reading Downpour, I also read Tim Tebow's (Christian and football player for the Denver Broncos) autobiography, Through My Eyes, last month. It was an encouraging story of a young man (who was, by the way, homeschooled) with a very detailed commentary on his college football career and 1st season with the Broncos. He caught my attention several years ago after seeing Scripture references on his eye black and seeing him and his mom in the pro-life Super Bowl commercial. Seems like a great guy. I would highly recommend this book for the men in your life, if they enjoy football. Okay, that was a freebie and this month is a two-fer (two for one)! Now... for the good stuff!Open-mouth smile

2) I started reading this month's book with someone else in mind and once I got into it realized that God intended the message for ME!

Downpour-God's best when you need Him most by James MacDonald is a book on personal revival. I have owned this book for sometime and knew bits and pieces of the message, but picked it more for information purposes rather than personal reasons. Funny how God works, He'll use anything to get our attention! I'll just be honest with you and admit that I had allowed some "cooling off" in my relationship with the LORD recently, but didn't realize how far I had gotten off the path until I read this! I had recently been convicted of ungodliness, but... it had become complacency.

I don't really know where to begin, but he defines revival as: a renewed interest after a period of indifference or decline. His key verses are found in Hosea 6:1-3 which I will admit I have not read in a while.

Hosea 6
A Call to Repentance 
1 Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds.
2 He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence.
3 Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.

His commentary on verse 1 included:
1) Turning to the LORD is recognizing
2) Turning to the LORD is repenting
3) Turning to the LORD is actually re-turning
And he recommends that there is a regular interval of turning and returning to the Lord where "the cords of commitment that binds our hearts to His are tightened up again." He describes returning as a "thousand refinements" that take place as we move toward a deeper understanding of who God is.
He also reminds us that God is passionate in His pursuit of us and His will is sanctification (1 Thess 4:3).

So... I'm asking do YOU need a personal revival? Do you long for the "times of refreshing" that Paul mentions in Acts 3:19?

In a dream that James had, God's spirit was bringing revival and repentance not only to him personally, but to his church (Harvest Bible Chapel) and to the USA. Immediately following the dream, he wrote these five things down:

God on the Throne: a picture of holiness Isaiah 6:1-4
Sin in the Mirror: a picture of brokenness Romans 1:18-21
Self in the Dirt: a picture of repentance 2 Cor 7:8-11
Christ on the Cross: a picture of grace Galatians 6:14
Spirit in Control: a picture of power Galatians 2:20/Ephesians 5:18/Romans 8:9-11

Which he feels they are a biblical pathway to personal revival. But don't take my word for it, I encourage you to read it yourself!
This is the second book that I have read by James MacDonald and I have to say I prefer his preaching, but that is just me!
And I know this was not coincidence, but he just taught this on Walk in the Word last month!

That's all for now folks. I hope you enjoyed it and were encouraged by it! Love you all.
In Christ and for His glory,
sarah

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review-Sharing Your Faith with a Hindu by Mdasamy Thirumalai

 
I ordered the book, Sharing your faith with a Hindu by Madasamy Thirumalai from Voice of the Martyrs several years ago. But I finally decided it was time to read this book because I have had a burden to get to know our neighbors and well most of them are Indian, some are Hindu. I studied Hinduism in college, but honestly don't remember much.
 
First, an interesting aside about their names. The author, like my neighbors, has multiple Indian names, which I find interesting but can hardly pronounce. Since I have no idea how to spell their names, I keep a list on my fridge with the syllables/pronunciation written out. So let's start here.  The names of men is usually three-fold starting with their grandfather, their father and then their name. But most of them have adopt an english nickname like my neighbor Sindhu, who goes by Cindy.
Okay, here are some similarites among Hindus.
1) Hindus are primarily from India
2) Hindus worship idols, images, pictures, relics and other objects
3) Hindus believe in rebirth and karma
4) Hindus are pantheistic, polytheistic, and animist practicers of religion
5) Hindus are usually governed by the caste system
6) Hindus are known for their tolerance and acceptance of a wide variety of theological beliefs from within their religion
7) continuity, not change, dominates the concerns of Hindus
AND
8) there is a vast gulf between the elitist and folk religious forms and practices of Hinduism
 
What does that all mean? I'll try to explain using quotes.
 
First of all, Hinduism is hard to explain not only for outsiders, but also for Hindus since there is so much variety in how they practice. But mostly they are tolerant of all faiths, believe that their is some truth in every idea, and pick their god to follow. For example, they have three main gods, as opposed to the Trinity. The gods are: Brahma, the creator god, Vishnu, the preserver god, and Shiva, the destroyer god. And depending on how or where you grew up and what god your family worshipped then you will pick one over the others. Because they have three gods, they are often confused with the Trinity as being 3-in-1 as opposed to three separate gods. And since a Hindu has the ability to become a god in a future life, it is important to stress the fact that Jesus IS God.
 
There is a lot of Hindu sacred literature, but there is no one book that they turn to for answers, like the Bible. And if there are differences in opinion, tradition wins over written documents!
 
Another strange thought is that they are encouraged to adopt a worldview based on their social position (caste) as opposed to "love your neighbor as yourself." Dharma (caste duty) is more important than doctrine and it is stressed that Hindus develop a worldview based on this. It is also never correct to ask a Hindu what caste they belong.
 
Sadly, the way I understand the concept of karma is a twisted way to keep the caste system in place. The word karma means words, or actions.  "It is a principle of moral reaction based on both good and evil deeds." The caste system is a way to categorize/pre-judge people and is NOT what we are to be a part of according to 1 Cor 12. It glorifies self-help/reliance and has been used to oppress and exploit people. It is a picture of hope to Hindus because they all get another chance to improve their "lot" in the next life. This disagrees with Hebrews 9:27 because they do not need to seek forgiveness for their present life.
 
Two things that are big in the life of a Hindu are idol worship and superstition. Often Hindus perform rituals and present offerings to images or statues. Some are appeasement, but most are a form of worship. And now why they place such a priority of supersition: "One of the reasons for belief in and practice of superstition among Hundus is the firm belief that fate cannot be overcome. Fatalism encourages superstition, and people develop superstitious acts to reduce the severity of the consequence of fater or event to escape from it." The best thing we can do is listen and pray for wisdom. 
 
Here is a concern that I have when I hear Christians participating in yoga classes. The definition is as such: intense concentration of the mind on one subject, till at last the great end of freedom from all thought, perfect calm, and absorption in the Deity are obtained. Yes, it has physical benefits, but the reality is that it is solely based on Hindu theology (belief about god) and I feel is counter to Christianity.
 
Here are some conversation starters:
1) Ask where they come from
2) ask what language they speak
3) ask about their family
4) ask about their siblings
5) ask about education
6) ask who their friends are
7) ask what holy days their family celebrates
8) what do they do during holy days
9) what is their daily religious routine
10) what is the significance of their name
11) do they dress differently when performing rituals
12) does their family (back in India) have their own temple
13) how frequently do they visit their temple
14) does their family perform rituals to the dead
15) do they believe in the efficacy of the various rituals performed
 
Remember we don't need to argue or try to change their practices until AFTER conversion. the whole goal is to be winsome in our attitude. (1 Cor 10)
Just hear them out and get to know them with genuinely friendly conversations!
Hope this is enlightening! Please let me know if you have had much contact with Hindus, so I can learn from you!
sarah

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review-What the Bible Says About Parenting by John MacArthur

Here is the latest book review for May- What the Bible Says About Parenting by John MacArthur...and here is why i decided not to read and review Five Love Languages of Children: I started reading it and there was not a single reference to a Bible verse for the first 23 pages. I really enjoyed the original Five Love Languages book, but felt my time could be better spent focusing on a topic that is Biblically based.

The premise for this book is to clearly present principles of biblical parenting. John MacArthur asked if we (Christian parents) are taking our parenting duties serious enough and are we providing shade/protection for our children or leaving them exposed to the "heat" of anti-Christian values in an anti-Christian world.

"God has made parenting a full-time responsibility" therefore we ought to take it seriously by not allowing outside influences to shape their character or speak more loudly into their lives than us. Thus plays in the question or debate about education, public, private, homeschool. (thoughts anyone?)
 
One of the things that I have learned most from parenting and more recently the discipline aspect is my relationship with the Lord needs to be fresh and real and growing in order to impart godliness to my children. I have also realized that God is so patient with me therefore I can be patient toward my kiddos. And lastly, when talking with Josiah about always obeying, i ask myself do I always obey ALL God's commands-food for thought:)
 
Back to the book, here is a lengthy quote, but it is good:
Our duty as parents is to teach our children to fear God and love others. If we fail to do this, "the devil will teach them to hate God. If we fail to teach them to guard their minds, they devil will teach them to have a corrupt mind. If you fail to teach them to obey their parents, the devil will teach them to rebel and break their parent's hearts. If you fail to teach them to select carefully their companions, the devil will choose companions for them. if you fail to teach them to control their lusts, the devil will teach them how to fulfill their lusts. if you fail to teach them to enjoy their own spouses, the devil will teach them to destroy their marriages. If you fail to teach them to watch their words, the devil will fill their mouths with filth. if you fail to teach them to pursue their work, the devil will make their laziness a tool of hell. if you fail to teach them to manage their money, the devil will teach them to squander it on riotous living. And if you fail to teach them to love their neighbors, the devil will teach them to love only themselves. We have a great responsibility to this generation and the next."
 
According to the 5th commandment, children have the promise of a long life IF they honor their father and mother. Obedience IS the paramount goal of parenting because when the learn to obey their parents, essentially they are obeying God and will understand God's desire for obedience throughout the rest of their lives. But it is not only obedience that God wants, it is a heart attitude!"Honor is the attitude behind the act."
 
And lastly, four principles from Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
1) teach your children about God
2) teach them to love God
3) teach tem to obey God from the heart
4) teach them to follow your example
"View every occasion in life as an opportunity to teach them about God. Take every opportunity to point them to heaven. Make everything that happens a path that leads them back to Scripture."
 
That's all i got. Hope you took something away from this.
Love you all,
sarah

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review-Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr and Mrs Howard Taylor

This is quite a lengthy review as God has used it to stir my heart, I pray that you will be encouraged by Hudson Taylor's life.
Biographies/autobiographies are my favorite genre of books to read, and... I am always inspired by missionaries and Christian leaders, so I picked Husdon Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr and Mrs Howard Taylor for my reading last month.

Hudson was born in 1832 and is perhaps best known for starting China Inland Mission, now called, Overseas Missionary Fellowship.
His work began alone and in less than 50 years, there were over 750 members of the mission organization.
His work was supported by Christian contemporaries, including D.L. Moody and George Mueller.


Perhaps his most famous quote:
"Let us see that we keep God before our eyes; that we walk in His ways and seek to please and glorify Him in everything, great and small. Depend upon it, God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supplies."

and this more convicting one:
"there is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world. An easy, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. There are not two Christs-an easy going one for easy going Christians and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him, and thus bear much fruit?"

and a prayer that he encouraged his children to pray upon waking:
"Good morning, dear Jesus.
I am so glad you have been by me all night, and have taken care of me.
Teach me how much you love me.
Take care of my heart: make it think good thoughts.
Take care of my lips: only let them speak kind, good words.
Help me always to know what is right and to do it."

At the beginning of his ministry, there was an incredible amount of prayer being brought to the throne during his teen years (age 15-17), when he questioned his parent's faith and wrestled with Christianity. Both his mother and his sister had a burden to pray for his salvation during a particular time period in his life and they both knew that the prayers had been answered, which may be an encouragement to some! His mother vowed not to cease her prayer time until she knew in her heart that her prayer had been answered- wow talk about a women of faith!

Shortly after his conversion at age 17, Hudson sat before the Lord in prayer and expressed a desire for a clear direction or calling on his life. From then on he had his mind and heart set on going to China. He attended only 2 years of formal schooling, but his father, a pharmacist, trained him in medical assisting, he took and job and began evangelizing the poorest of the poor in Hull, England. Since he was going to be headed to China, he decided he better learn how to live with less, ie. less sleep and less money. He lived on rice and oatmeal and often used all of his paycheck for needs he saw around him; more than once he gave away his last coin only to see God's hand at work in the form of answered prayer and monetary provision. He studied the Chinese language by comparing an English copy of the Gospel of Luke to a Chinese copy. He also gave up his first love because she was not willing to serve alongside him in China.
He decided that it would be wisest not to pursue becoming a medical doctor since that would delay his journey and at age 20 he boarded a boat to China. He barely survived the 4-1/2month journey, but God was faithful and the winds changed preventing an shipwreck-twice!

He had a burden to see the inmost parts of China evangelized and this was accomplished. His ministry was unique because he never asked for donations or took offerings when speaking on behalf of the ministry, he felt if it was God's work then he had better depend solely on God for his personal provision and needs of the ministry.
He decided to dress like the Chinese people in order to gain their trust and therefore have a listening ear. One of his visions was for nationals to do the work and run the ministry once established. His life was not physically, spiritually or emotionally easy as he lost his 1st wife and a child while serving in China.

But yet the spiritual secret that he found was in abiding in Christ. In the midst of a bout of discouragement and fatigue, he realized that he did not have to strive to have faith, but merely looking to God and resting in Him was enough. If His life, His death, His work and He himself as revealed in the Word will be the subject of our constant thoughts, then we ARE living the victorious Christian life. That is what it is about. A quote from a book titled, Christ is All, helped confirm that he was indeed on the path of holiness: "The Lord Jesus received is holiness begun, the Lord Jesus cherished is holiness advancing, the Lord Jesus counted upon as never absent would be holiness complete..." And the result was the quote: "we should never be conscious of not abiding in Christ."

Bottom line/lessons learned from reading this book:
1) encouraged to be intentional in my prayer life
2) challenged to be godly, ie. continually abide
3) trust God with more of my "things"
3) bear His cross
4) do with less

I hope you took something away from this, as I did!
You are loved,
sarah

Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review-On Being a Servant of God by Warren Wiersbe

This month I chose a book from Pastor James MacDonald's reading list called On Being a Servant of God by Warren Wiersbe. He is a retired pastor (formerly Moody Church), speaker and professor. This book is specifically directed to those in Ministry with a capital 'M', but the author hopes that all in God's ministry with a small 'm' will benefit from it as well. In it he focuses on the basic principles of Christian service-those which he wishes were shared with him when he became a Christian. It is written in 30 short excerpts/chapters that build upon one another, starting with his definition of ministry: "Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God." He encourages readers that it is only true Christian ministry that can change lives and solve problems, I would agree, but would make sure it is Biblical first and foremost.

Although, several of his excerpts addressed issues that did not specifically pertain to me, like how to graciously leave a position (staff) and when to step down from a ministry, I took several things away from this book.

Ministry involves people, imagine that!; and people disappoint and can be difficult to work with. He reminds readers to pray and ask God to increase our love (Matt 22:39) and know that the Holy Spirit enables us for any ministry challenge that God brings. "Our tendency is to pray for deliverance instead of growth"-isn't that so true! He writes that the best thing we can do is not to solve people's problems for them, but instead to relate the individual to God's grace in order to enable the individual to solve or overcome the problem.

Again, I was convicted by God's truths revealed in his writings. The two things that stood out to me are these: first, I often try to do things in my own strength and get frustrated when people don't respond or don't want to change or "get well" (John 5:6). Something that he wrote encouraged me, "Do your work by faith, and leave the results with the Lord. Always strive to do your best." And second, a simple one, when I am having an off day or just don't feel good, I need to have my mind made up that I will do and accomplish what God desires by the Holy Spirit AND to resist the temptation to tell others that I don't feel good (2 Corinthians 4:16 and Philippians 2:14).

He concludes with this:"All God's people are ministers, a few are Minister with a capital 'M.' we are either good ministers or bad ministers; but ministers we are, and as ministers we will be judged by the Lord on the last day. On that day it won't matter how much we knew, but what we did with what we knew (James 1:22). Were we loving channels through whom the divine resources could come? Did we meet the needs of others to the glory of God? (Scripture reference added)

Please let me know if you enjoyed this and how you were encouraged.Smile
For His glory,
Sarah

Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review-What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer

For my second book, I read What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer. It was recommended by the author of A Woman after God's own heart, Elizabeth George.

It was published in the 70s and as long as you can get past the outdated references, it is a great encouragement for us (as women) to invest/foster the  family atmosphere in our home. She paints a picture of a multi-generational family reunion and uses Scripture, but draws mostly from her personal experience.

Here are the take-aways:
The home is meant to be a safe, warm, and inviting environment.

Being a wife and mother IS a career. It is "a most exciting possibility of turning the tide, of saving the species, of affecting history, of doing something that will be felt and heard in ever-widening circles." Just think both Billy Graham and Hitler were both people who changed history, we can influence the future (to a certain degree) for good or evil.

Be intentional in being a family, plan reunions, attend special occasions in person, ie. weddings, anniversaries, significant birthday celebrations, etc. If the family unit is intact and healthy, we wil have strong communities, states, and nations- it is worth fighting for. It is where people learn that they are "significant, important and worthwhile." It should be a place where children learn that they are made in the image of God and are told repeatedly about God's truths in hopes that they are saved. We need to teach them: 1)who God is, 2) what He has done, 3) what He has said, 4) what He means to you.

In regards to formal education, she says to pray that our homes will be places that keep things in persepctive and that the education received outside of the home would not "rock" our children or their understaing of God's truths.

It is important for us to realize that God can speak to our kids too and not to hinder a direction that God may be leading them even though it may not fit into our "plan" for their lives!

Be hospitable and have boundaries, ie. guard family nights, dinners, etc.

We MUST provide an "atmosphere conducive to creativity"
It is so important to our kids to RESPOND to their requests for help or to show us something, even if it is the 15th LEGO creation or whatever and to be positive.

That pretty much sums it up, if you would like to borrow it just ask. The last one was from the library.Confused smile
Sorry for the bullet points, that is how I think best these days!
Enjoy!Winking smile
sarah

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book Review-Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson

I chose Bringing up Girls-practical advice and encouragement for those shaping the next generation of women by Dr. James Dobson. If you have read Bringing up Boys by the same author, this one reads a bit more like a patched together commentary with each chapter almost standing alone. In it, he addresses numerous topics, ranging from teaching our daughters manners, the Disney Princess craze, Father Daughter Purity Balls, Girl Scouts of America, bullying, hormonal changes, STDs and sexual predators. Yes, he does provide some eye-opening data regarding early promiscuity and the dangers that are all around us. It is only scary if we let Satan have a foothold on our fear!

Some of the things I took away from it:

1) the HUGE role of dad's in their lives-did you know researchers have identified a hormone that is emitted by the father and sensed or smelled by the daughter. This hormone is only emitted when dad is involved, not just present in her life. This hormone, called a pheromone, can actually delay sexual maturity and the onset of menstruation! WOW, considering some girls are getting their periods at age 9.

2) Girl Scouts of the USA has changed in recent years and is no longer recommended by Dr Dobson due to their moral relativism. It was alarming when he cited things like: their definition of right and wrong-"whatever is consistent with your character," their openness to the New Age movement and the well known fact that references to "God" are optional. He mentioned that the curriculum has an anti-boy/father tone, they are not taught pride of country since the US is "antiquated and incompatible with globalism" and the scariest part- one program involves girls in the United Nations Population Fund (an effort to limit human procreation by means of abortion.

3)A list of 10 practical steps a parent should take (in regards to cyberspace, entertainment and media)-this really applies to anyone, kids or no kids!

4) he actually likes the thing Disney has done with the Princess stories, mostly because they get married (novel idea, huh!) and aren't the sex icons that Barbies have become. BTW what did they do with Skipper? I haven't seen her lately, but I also haven't shopped for a doll in the last 10 years! Dr Dobson feels that every girl should be allowed/encouraged to dream about romance and being rescued or wanted by a prince or beast, etc. It was food for thought- let's just put it that way. Jon and I have not come to any conclusions on this one, mostly since there is an evil character, usually a scary one in the movies. You decide...

So, not sure if you were thinking about picking this one up at the library, but ... like I said lots of research went into this book and the topics that were chosen were very deliberate. He writes as a committed Christian, but remember he is a psychologist- please read it critically and Biblically, taking his opinion for what it is, merely his opinion.

Hope you enjoyed this commentary! If you would like to continue to receive these monthly reviews, please come back!
Thanks for reading/skimming,
sarah