I have given the Gratitude coloring journal as a gift, and I'm equally as smitten with this Tranquility one- maybe even more so! This is a sturdy book (6"x8") with thick covers and a unique binding that allows it to lay open nice and flat. This is excellent for coloring right into the crease of the pages! The paper is of good quality, but I would advise only using colored pencils as I assume marker or watercolor pencils may bleed through. 110 pages are in this book and as I read through it, I get a feeling similar to that of a warm hug. It's a calming, reassuring, loving, steady and faithful message that is loaded with Scripture quotations and beautiful prayers that don't make me feel like they contain a to-do list. The prayers don't feel too fancy, wordy, or holier-than-thou and I feel they keep to the theme of tranquility and centering our life around the Lord, remembering and meditating on His goodness.
Which of my women friends are courageous?
Leonard Sweet has a casual, witty writing style that includes some thought provoking one-liners. I appreciated his look at Jesus through a different lens. This book doesn't focus on Jesus as a great Teacher, although He was. It doesn't emphasize how Jesus as a great Healer, although He was. This book isn't about how Jesus counseled or how He comforted. These are all wonderful characteristics and habits of Jesus, but Leonard Sweet chose to zero in on how culturally and socially disruptive (or at least unyielding to accepted standards) Jesus was- listing one after another the "bad" habits of a sinless man.
I found this book to be a quick read and was admittedly disappointed when the introduction shared that Sweet wrote the book in 6 weeks. Now, don't get me wrong, he is a talented writer, but I do believe had he taken longer on this project there would have been more meat to chew on while reading it. It is a good read and I think the general theme of it will stick with me longer than any particular takeaway. The concept that Jesus did not behave the way we'd likely expect our church leaders, friends, or even missionaries to is fascinating and calls for some reflection on how I view my own "Christian" life. I will stash it away on my bookshelf for my sons to read when they are in middle or high school.
The most creative acts in history are God-generated acts. It shouldn't surprise us that creative people are often chronic procrastinators. Creatives generate more ideas than they can pursue, which is one reason they are not the risk takers they are often made out to be. They tend to be cautious about the ideas on which they expend their energy. (pg. 18)
Jesus' prayer time was not alone time but Father time. He was always escaping into boats, up mountains, to the water, into the desert- anywhere to grab a moment with God. These were not retreats. These were advances. (pg. 47)
The tenor of culture has moved from the idea that everyone has a right to their own opinion to the idea that everyone's opinion is equally right. Jesus would not have made many friends with his claims and assertive manner- and he didn't. When Jesus begins citing Scripture, you know he's going to nail someone for something. (pg. 58)
The Greatest Story Ever Told was made to resonate God int he echoes of our souls. Faith is not "to live as if the Story is true." Faith is to stake your whole life on the knowledge that the Story is true. (pg. 78)
In the interest of full-disclosure, I received a copy of this book courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are genuine.
There were a few passages that had me nodding my head in agreement, longing for days when the church's light will shine brighter in this dark world. One of the simple quotes I enjoyed was early in the book, when the author was setting the foundation for later concepts. He stated, "When Jesus said, 'Come follow me,' he wasn't heading to Sunday school. He was on his way to heal the sick, befriend a tax collector, stand up for an adulteress, and proclaim Good News to the poor."
I felt like I had a good grasp on how discipleship "ought" to be done in the Biblical sense from reading the Bible and reading or talking about ministries which have proven to be very fruitful and have the contagious joy of the gospel, which seems to often be lacking from large group format programs. I was not sure whether reading this book would simply confirm the ideas I'd formed or expand on them, but it has certainly expanded them and been well worth my time to read. I have a half dozen pages marked with post-it notes and the book has sparked a couple good conversations with my spouse. The entire section devoted to why having a multi-enthic church congregation is so important was very well written and thought provoking.
Several different controversial topics are addressed with tact. I have heard of people disliking the phrase "accept Jesus into your heart" because it sounds so individualistic and self-centered. The emphasis is on what WE do rather than what Christ has done as the finished work on the cross. This book also asks us gently to examine the phrase "having a personal relationship with Jesus," not because it is inherently wrong, but because it can become a misconception that our relationship with Jesus is to be private. "Our relationship with Jesus is personal, but it's never just personal. It's also communal [we need to be in fellowship with others] and missional [we need to be involved with those outside our belief system to share the gospel]." (Comments in brackets are not quotes from the author, but my commentary for clarification.)
The author of this book quotes several other sources, aside from the Barna Group, and I think I'd enjoy reading some of these books he mentions. For example, he refers to a book called "Church Refugees" by sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope. They interviewed 100 people who left the church (referred to as "dechurched" for some reason) and were very surprised by the results they found. Here's a quote from their book, "The dechurched are leaving to do more, not less. The church isn't asking too much of people; it's asking the wrong things of them . . . . Jesus commanded his followers to care for the poor, the sick, and the hungry,, [yet] the dechurched have experienced the church as an organization that cares primarily for itself and its own members."
The much discussed topic of why we have children leaving the church when they hit adulthood is also addressed briefly, suggesting that we may not be laying a large and deep enough foundation for our children by teaching them primarily about how they are to be saved and neglecting to teach them the calling Jesus had for those who are saved: to count the cost and follow Him. "Jesus didn't come preaching a gospel of individual salvation, nor did he come to take us to church. He came preaching 'the kingdom of God'-- the reign of God over all things. .... Jesus's kingdom is a whole new reality, a different way of living, a counter-cultural existence that can't be contained inside the four walls of a church building."
I would recommend this book to any Christian, middle school aged and above. I think it would provide a very thought-provoking study and conversation for leaders and laymen to go through this book together while examining the church's programs, resources, and available talents which are not being tapped into. I cannot picture that happening without conflict in many cases, but if Christ were the center and the fruit of the spirit was abounding, I think it could lead to a revival of serving in that community.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I received a copy of this book courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are my own.
Despite the hectic world we live in, as confessing Christians, our lives should look different in some ways. I have been very intentional about praying, particularly for others since I felt God calling me to intercessory prayer a few years ago. I let my Bible reading slide and wasn't reading God's Word daily for the last few months, but I realized that is a pitfall I don't want to find myself stuck in. My faith was greatly kindled at a Voice of the Martyr (VOM) Advance Conference. I picked up my Bible again and I asked God to forgive me for not setting time aside to commune with Him and read His Word. I asked my husband to pray for me to have wisdom. God does answer prayers! Here's one thing He's revealing to me:
Don't focus on what you cannot do, watch for opportunities of what you can do.
Also, the emphasis in this book is not "Jesus is love" or "Jesus is loving" or "Jesus forgives." These things are all true, are all good, and all play a part in the Good News of the Gospel, for sure. Sometimes I wonder that we don't give our children, especially at the youngest ages, a full enough picture of the Lord's depth of character. The emphasis in this book is that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. What an excellent reminder that we are all called to the Great Commission. Christianity is not supposed to be an exclusively consumer lifestyle. "I got saved," "I have a lot more peace," "I've been forgiven" (again, these things are excellent, but the fullness of the Gospel is SO much more!). Christianity is a radical rebirth that should change the trajectory of our lives and cause us to consider the Lord's Kingdom before considering the cares of this world. High goals He gives us, not because we are capable, but because He is sufficient.
In the interest of full-disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Tyndale Blog Network for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are honest!
I shy away from some books that sound like real thrillers because I can be very sensitive to scary content. I am SO glad I didn't pass up the opportunity to read this book. The suspense, action and emotion made it a page-turner and the author's clear authenticity with her thoughts, doubts, and prayers, set this book apart from other action adventure novels.
This memoir is about Virginia Prodan's experiences growing up feeling out of place and underfoot in Communist Romania. While the government was less than welcoming of Christianity, Virginia had problems even closer to home, as her family was less than welcoming to her compared to her siblings. Much of her life, Virginia felt as though she were searching for the truth about different situations.
I would recommend this book to teenagers and adults who enjoy history, as well as to anyone who would like a spark to kindle their faith. Excellent reads such as this one are a great antidote to apathy.
***In the interest of full-disclosure: I received a copy of this book courtesy of Tyndale Blogging Network for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are my own.
The African Study Bible is a resource in the making like no other. That may sound like a catch phrase, but it isn't intended to be showy. It's the truth, plain and simple. There are no study Bibles written with the African people as the intended audience.
How would I feel if I went to a Christian Book Store and looked at the rows and rows of Bibles available to me- a person who lives in the United States- only to discover all of the footnotes and study articles were written as though intended for Eskimos? Or Islanders? Eskimo or Island cultures have got to be different from my daily life, and, honestly, I'd probably assume I was out of luck. Only the Eskimos & Islanders get study Bibles, not us mainland Americans. Why bother reading notes about a lifestyle so far removed from what I see and live in every day?
Reality check. The study Bibles available to African Pastors and lay people are not written to take into account their unique, rich culture, heritage, and the struggles that they face.
Please don't misunderstand me, there are Bibles available to the African continent, there just aren't any study Bibles directed toward their culture. The study Bibles available in Africa are written from a Western culture (Europe & the USA) point of view. I am a fan of the KJV for many reasons, but I am also a fan of my old NIV Life Application Bible because the resources are so rich. I believe the ASB is planning to deliver rich resources to the hands of the African people in this NLT Bible and that is why I support the cause. Here are some highlights from the ASB Press Release:
“With the ASB, we’re bringing the power of Scripture to Africa in a new and culturally relevant way,” says Dr. Matthew Elliott, president of Oasis, publisher of the ASB. “Under the leadership of an 11-member editorial board of scholars from across Africa, we’ve brought together 350 writers and editors from over 40 African countries, representing 50 denominations. This is an unprecedented project that will impact the global church.”
“Our goal is to have the first run of the ASB available in Africa by the end of 2016,” says Elliott. “We already know of more than 100 million people in denominations and movements in Africa whose leaders want to use the ASB for discipleship so there is a lot of anticipation throughout the continent.”
To support the effort, Oasis is partnering with Tyndale House Publishers to create the study Bible. Other participants include Campus Crusade for Christ, International, Willow Creek and Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students), Scripture Union, Africa Leadership, TransWorld Radio, Moody Broadcasting, Center for Early African Christianity, PJA (Publications pour la Jeunesse Africane), MMD Global, The Livingstone Corporation, InSight Books, Urban Ministries Inc., and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, with additional participants being added on a regular basis.
With the editorial nearly complete, Oasis, with the support of its partners, is inviting fellow Christians to join with them in helping get the ASB into the hands of Africans. With a goal of raising one million dollars to print the first 100,000 copies, Oasis is seeking private donors as well as launching a Kickstarter campaign, which begins April 18 and runs through June 16, 2016. Contributors to the Kickstarter campaign have the opportunity to receive incentives ranging from artwork prints to limited Italian leather editions of the ASB as well as all-expense paid trips to the launch of the ASB in the United States and in Africa.
Here's what I like: No matter how much money you have, or don't have, you can help impact the production of the ASB and bless the African community of believers by keeping this ministry in your prayers. Pray for the discernment & wisdom for those in leadership. Pray for resources to come together and pray for the hearts of the people of Africa to be softening to the Gospel. We are very excited about the growth of the body of Christ in Africa, but in every nation, there are those who resist the Good News of Jesus Christ for one reason or another. Pray that those individuals will be moved to see the Truth, grace, love, peace, and freedom found in following Jesus. I appreciate that, from the limited amount of what I've seen of the ASB so far, it does not appear to be a resource which promotes (falsley) that our lives will become "fixed" or "easier" when we follow Jesus. It is a difficult road we are asked to travel, but we never travel it alone, and we do not have to do it on our own strength, wisdom or resourcefulness. That is the relief of an easy yoke on a hard journey. Pray that the Word of God, encouragement, and applications in the ASB would bring Jesus much glory.
Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood: A Down-to-Earth, Practical Devotional for the Hearts & Lives of Moms
Melissa B. Kruger wrote "Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood: An Eleven-Week Devotional Bible Study" differently. I find myself going back to this book, even when a bit of the writing has pricked my conscience and made me aware of an area of my life that needs sanctification. Even when I am off schedule because I completely forgot to pick up my devotional for a few days (or weeks). This devotional feels like a gentle conversation with a wise friend who has traveled a road similar to mine. I find it strangely comforting. Strange, because as I stated before, I don't really like devotional books.
Food Allergy/Special Diet
Free Knitting Pattern
Holiday / Special Occasions
Movies To Check Out
Poems About Faith
Recipes (NO Gluten/dairy/egg)
Refined Sugar Free
Love this girl's writing... feels like she's a long distance friend. Well, her sister is my long-distance friend, so that probably helps. Either way, what an inspiration and encouragement- you just need to check out some of the places life has taken Leah and be strengthened and inspired by the love that oozes (yes, oooozes) from her heart for Jesus, His people and His creation!
If you like nummy recipes, or have special dietary needs (or both!) check it out. ALL of her recipes are Vegan, and many can be made gluten-free. I stumbled upon it when searching for dairy/egg free treats to make for my kiddo and have gotten hooked on several recipes. Okay, "hooked on" doesn't portray it well enough. How about "addicted to"? That's more fitting. Will definitely be going back for more!