Posted in Book Reviews, Jesus, Life as it happens.

Prayers for a Simpler Life by Faith Sommers {A Review}

20170316_150123Prayers for a Simpler Life by Faith Sommers is a PlainSpoken Devotional published by Herald Press. It is a 13 week study how to live a simpler life. This is not a book about decluttering your house.

It is a book about decluttering your life. Each devotional brings to mind a spiritual discipline we should be making a priority in our lives. Each one is based on a chapter in the Word and includes a prayer and thought-provoking, digging deeper question.

Each day takes just minutes to read but you could spend all day meditating on the truths shared. It would even be a great stepping stone to studying for yourself the deeper truths of Scripture.

It would work well as a personal study or with a group.  It does use the King James Version for the Scripture but you are free to use any version you like.

Faith Sommers is a conservative Mennonite mother and wife. She is a columnist for Ladies Journal (a publication for Amish and Mennonite women). Faith is also the mother of 6.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

I

Advertisements
Posted in Life as it happens.

The Temptations

Last week I spent an enjoyable morning reading about Jesus temptation as is found in Matthew 4. The Spirit brought new truths to mind as He opened my eyes to see this familiar passage in a new light.

If you know the passage (I just can’t call it a story. It’s not a story, it’s truth), you know that after Jesus was baptized God the Father descended on Him like a dove. God spoke His Words of Truth over the Word and the Truth. Jesus was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He first fasted for 40 days and nights, then the tempter came to Him and tempted Him.

I don’t know how it works in your life, but in my life it works just like this. I will have time of God’s revealing His pleasure of me and I’m hearing His voice speak loud and clear to my soul. Immediately afterward I’ll have a sense that I’m going without something, that I’m fasting only not intentionally. Then the tempter comes in and seeks to remove and destroy all evidence of God’s pleasure.

I’ll start to doubt I heard God’s voice at all. Or that He’ll keep His word to me. Or that I heard right. I’ll be tempted, sorely tempted to doubt.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 (nasb)

When I’m being tempted if I respond with anything other than the Truth of God’s Word, I battle on my own and I will not win. If I slap truths on the temptation and rely on my own strength to muscle through the temptation. I will lose the battle every time. It’s guaranteed.

Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and there he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple. Matthew 4:5

Again the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Matthew 4:8

Even when I battle with the Word, the temptation might not go away but the devil will change tactics and attack from another angle.

When this happens I must still respond with the Truth and in the Truth and I must rely on the Truth to bring my deliverance. If I respond to temptation with truth in myself I will continue to suffer from the deadly disease of pride as if I did it all.

I must not only know the truth, I must believe the truth is true for me. I must be able to apply to every situation in my life, every temptation that comes must be met with truth. But not any truth, it must be met with THE Truth!

I must be aware that temptations to sin can come from anywhere and can change. I must be ready for the rapid-fire changes and tactics or I will be caught off guard and will confuse the voice of temptation with the voice of my Savior.

If I wait the first time I heard something and then act when I hear it again I could be responding to temptation and not Jesus. Notice how the devil tempted Jesus to worship him all three times, but each time he changed the wording, the temptation didn’t change though.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:3

Temptation (and the enemy–self or satan) attacks first who I am to bring doubt and confusion as to my identity.  When he has me questioning who I am, he has me on the ropes because I will answer to and fall for anything he says next.

The temptation then expects me to prove my identity by my doing something it requires. Satan expected Jesus to prove His identity by obeying satan.

Jesus knows who I am and will never ask me to prove it. He, even in His testing me, does not use “if” statements. He will never say, “If you’re truly My child then do……” Just as I don’t expect my children to prove they are mine, He doesn’t expect us to prove it to Him either. He knows we are His. We are the ones who doubt.

He does, however, use “because” statements. “Because you are My child this behavior needs to (either) stop (or) grow.”

Temptation seeks to sound like God so I will fall for it every time. Temptation always seeks my worship. It seeks to draw my worship away from God. The more I–through the power of God–resist the more blatant the temptation becomes. Satan started tempting Jesus to make bread, then he moved to more blatant temptations of worship.

The only way to battle temptation is to stand firm in Jesus and in who He declares us to be. Apart from that we have no hope, and haven’t a leg to stand on when faced with temptation. Thankfully Jesus brings us His identity and He battles for us. When we forget who we are and when we are cocky and battle on our own in our own strength we will lose every time.

Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

Psalm 23 Virginia Style

I am the Lord’s little lamb,
He meets all my needs.

He walks with me to rest in green pastures,
He meets my most basic needs.
He encourages and strengthens my mind,
Because of His greatness.
He leads me in the right way.

When my path leads me to walk in scary places,
I don’t have to be afraid.
Because He is with me still.
His direction and correction
Bring me comfort not pain.

He puts a feast before me
While the scary people stand by.
He blesses me over and over,
I can’t contain all of them.

I can rest assured that His goodness and love
will be with me as long as forever lasts.
And I will get to dwell with Him forever.

©VLG2016

Posted in Coffee, Jesus, Life as it happens.

Whatcha doing, doing doing?

Have you ever noticed humans are always doing something? Always.  Do you ever wonder why we’re called human beings instead of human doings?

Ever notice Christians lead the pack in doing? It’s true. We’re always doing. Doing things for the church, doing things for God. Doing things for our neighbor. Doing things because we feel guilty if we don’t do something every second of every day.

If the church posts a need for workers, we’re signing up. We’re overbooked, over-stressed,  completely cranky to everyone all the time. We suffer with health issues because we won’t just take a break and rest our weary souls and bodies.  We have no more time for anything and yet, oh look there is another need for nursery workers, we’re already teaching Sunday school, singing on the praise team and serving as a greeter, baking snacks for Sunday morning fellowship time, but we’re sure we can squeeze in one more thing because “they need me. God needs me!”  And off we rush to do one more thing for Jesus all the while thinking, “Man! God’s sure blessed to have me to do all this work for Him.”

We still find ourselves wondering if we’re doing enough. Are we doing enough to please Him? To prove to other Christians and the world that we are His disciple?  Are we trying to prove our love for Him, or are we trying to just love Him at all? Are we trying to force the changes we need in our lives by our service to Him?

Do we really think if we just do one more thing, take one more Bible study, lead one more small group, volunteer for that extra Sunday in the nursery, deliver meals to those who visited is going to make God happy?

How many times do we mistake our doing things for God for being with Him?

It is so easy to forget in our rush to get the next thing done that we don’t stop to ask Him what He wants us to do. We’re simply to busy with things for God we can’t stop to chat with Him.

I’m not so sure we’re really doing them for God at all. No, I think we’re doing them for self, so we will feel better about our sin. The sin we harbor in our heart and hope if we do enough for Him He won’t notice or if He does He won’t care. Because “look at all the wonderful things you’ve done for Me! Man, am I blessed to have you!!”

I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve learned. Lean in close so I don’t have to shout. That is called idolatry. We’re making our schedule an idol, we use it to replace time spent listening to our Savior’s voice. We’re making an idol of our own self, we are choosing to serve our flesh over serving the one who died in the flesh for us.

In fact, He didn’t just die in the flesh for us. No, in the whole process He securely killed our flesh! And made us, by His very Spirit, alive to Him.

He did not make us alive so we could rush around, wearing ourselves out in service to Him. As if our doing things for God could ever take the place of Him! He redeemed us to live a life of abundance.

A life lived in abundance of Joy!
A life lived in abundance of Peace!
A life lived in abundance of Love!
A life lived in abundance of Gentleness!
A life lived in abundance of LIFE!

Because He is our life! He is MY life. The gospel of John tells me that apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

I can do nothing. There is nothing I can do apart from Him living in me! Nothing. I can’t even make my heart beat one more time, or take my next breath apart from Him.

Last night I was pondering all the things I’ve been choosing to do of late to grow in Him. To grow up in Him. And I was a little teary because it is such a slow process. I am too blind to see the changes He is making in me, all I can see are the old behaviors I want so much to be rid of.

So I asked Him in a teary prayer if all the things I’ve been doing have worked to bring about the changes I need so desperately.

Want to know what He said?

“Virginia, your “doing” doesn’t change you. I change you.”

He changes me and He changes you one obedient step at a time. When we rest in Him and in Him abide, we will begin to listen to His heartbeat for us and we will follow His voice because we are His sheep.

So all the things you’ve been doing to gain acceptance with God, stop. Just stop. Seek His face. Seek to hear His voice whisper in your dear ear, “This is the way, my child, walk in it!” (Isaiah 30:21).  And find in Him the rest your body and weary soul needs so desperately.

Posted in Book Reviews

Jesus and The Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roelveld

unnamed-2
About the book:

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life (Abingdon Press, September 2016)

What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?

Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalkexplores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:

-Faith
-Goodness
-Knowledge
-Self-control
-Perseverance
-Godliness
-Affection for others
-Love

In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dcnopJ

About the author:
 
 

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is the author of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and Red Pen Redemption. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.

My Turn:

I was so hopeful with this book. So very, very hopeful.
Like you, and the rest of the world, I have giants. Giants that need to be slain. Giants I’m powerless against. 
And that’s the whole point. I’m powerless. But Jesus is powerful! And He is the giant-slayer. 
If this book had just said that very thing it would have been a GREAT book! I would be singing it’s praises. But it fell flat with me.  
I felt as if the author was telling me to just be better at loving Jesus, produce in myself more faith. If I just DID more, the giants would be killed by MY OWN sword. But that’s isn’t the way it works! 
What works is abiding in Jesus, allowing His life to take over my deadness and my giants, submitting to His leadership, standing firm IN Him, and then I can watch those giants fall. Not because I’m strong because I’m not, but because He is strong! Apart from Him I can do nothing!

The author said a few times that we are small. But we aren’t!  We are NOT small, we ARE God’s children, infused with His Spirit. And that makes us BIG and Dangerous

We only feel small when we focus on self and those we consider giants.
I thought the author used a lot of suppositions that might or might not be true.
I did like the amount of Scripture the author used in the book. I love love love it when I can read for myself the very verses the author is quoting.
I love this line (and I really wish the sentiment was in the whole book!!)

“Longing for transformation we focus on the flesh instead of the Spirit, attempting to accomplish the work ourselves rather than submit to Christ.”

I give the book 3 out of 5 turning pages. 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.
Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

Hunting Hope by Nika Maples {A Review}

5193EHfXjKL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_Winter is inevitable. Both in nature and in our own lives. We will all at some point in time or another face a winter of the soul.

We will encounter those times when life is hard and painful and God seems more like a figment of our imagination than anything real and tangible. Our world will be darkness, we won’t be able to see anything good.

But good is there. Crouching just under the surface, all we have to do is search for it, to pray for our eyes to be open to His working good in us and through us. We won’t see it right away, but in time, in His timing we will. And we will rejoice.

In Hunting Hope, Nika Maples gives us a road map to Hunting Hope. She lovingly, kindly and at time humorously teaches us how to be a hunter of Hope. She reminds us we are not alone, that we won’t always see death around us. She tells us that when we look around at the bare trees, the grey skies, the silent world, we can still have hope if we choose to hunt for it.

In this short book (just a hair over 200 pages), Nika shares personal stories, God stories and uncovers the hope we all have in Christ. She floods each page, not with her words, but with the words of God. I love the amount of Scripture she uses! It is so refreshing!!

And it teaches us where our true Hope comes from!

This book is so well-written, you’ll want to sit down and read it all at once. But don’t! Take your time, read it slowly, look up the Scriptures. Pray about what you’re reading. And hunt for your own hope.

I fully recommend that everyone read this book now. Not later when you’re experiencing your own winter of soul, but now, so when your winter comes, you are prepared and armed for battle.

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is revolutionary!!

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Israel’s Mission by Ray Vander Laan {A Review}

israel_zpsorkr3cjqRenown author and Bible teacher, Ray Vander Laan is the founder of That The World may Know Ministries. He is also the creator and Bible teacher of the video lecture series, That The World May Know. Ray has a passion to see believers taught the Word and driven further into Bible study.

His latest DVD and Discovery Guide is titled, Israel’s Mission and he takes us on a journey through the time and land of the Patriarchs. He gleans from them the mission God gave to Israel, mainly that they would bring the “lost sheep” back into the fold. Also, he shows how God intended them (and believers) to be a kingdom of priests. We have the same mission.

The study has 5 sessions, each DVD segment is around 30 minutes in length and is designed to be used with the Discovery Guide. In the guide, you have a little more in-depth study, a place for discussion of the DVD lesson for that period, some discussion questions. There are also more teaching in Fact File, Did you Know, For Greater Understanding, and Think About it, pictures and maps. Designed to be done at home, there are also verses to memorize.

If your small group wants to dig deeper into God’s Word, you will want to look this series over.

I received a free copy of this DVD and Discovery Guide from the publishers and Litfuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.