The First Words of Jesus by Stu Epperson, Jr

Tags

, , , ,

We’ve all heard how that there’s power in words. Probably experienced it for ourselves.  A word spoken cannot be revoked. Good or bad, it’s out there never to be unspoken. True, a word can be retracted for whatever reason, but it can never be unheard. In his book, First Words of Jesus, Author Stu Epperson, Jr. opens our understanding of the power of Jesus’ first recorded words, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)

Christmastime is all about the birth of our Savior. We rejoice that a babe came wrapped and placed in a manger. We celebrate His birth. We give gifts in honor of His coming. “Isn’t this the essence of Christmas? Isn’t this the reason Jesus came down?”, Mr. Epperson inquires of his readers. Jesus’ first recorded words tell us the story…He came to be about The Father’s business. From cradle to cross, Jesus’s purpose was to fulfill a mission.

Jesus came to die so that we could live.

Why do we seek Him? Why do you seek Him? Contemplate these questions as you read through this very intriguing and interesting book.

@Worthypub @stuepperson #firstwordsofjesus

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette by Max Davis (A Book Review)

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I was intrigued by the title of this book. I couldn’t wait to read it. I’ve read a few of Max Davis’s books and have found him to be honest and bold with a twist of humor. His optimism is bright, his faith authentic.

The first chapter opens with a chance meeting in the coffee aisle with a young lady who literally changed his life. A powerful encounter that caused Max to walk out of that grocery store forever different. Christ was in her. She exuded the aroma of Jesus. Being next to her and feeling the love of Jesus radiating from her caused Max to look into his soul’s mirror and see pride, unbelief, self-righteousness, ungratefulness, and insecurities. All of that has to go for Jesus to live through us and to love people the way God does.

This book is about how real Jesus really is. How allowing Jesus to live through us impacts our circumstances and the people around us.

Max caught my attention and I have devoured the pages from the start. Parts of his personal story are here for us to read. He is transparent and real about his struggles, his failures and experiences. I can identify with the tests of his faith. We have to die to self before we can understand the reality of Christ living on the inside of us. In the natural world, God is working through things that make no sense whatsoever. But somehow, someway, He works through all things in our lives together for His good purposes if we allow Him to. In Max’s words, “I’m talking about hurts, accidents, sins, and our own stupidity—all of it.”

Some people go to church to meet God, but like Author Davis reminds us, Jesus is very much alive today and He shows up in ordinary people in our everyday circumstances.

You might meet Him in the coffee aisle at your grocery store, or you might run into Him at a hospital, school or workplace. Max tells us some miraculous stories about people that radiate God’s love in this book and after reading it, you will be encouraged, uplifted, and maybe even transformed. I believe it will change your life as you look into the mirror of your own soul.

@Worthypub @MaxDavisBooks #WhenJesusWas

For The Joy

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Hinges. It hinges on… Very rarely do we detect a hinge. We know it’s there and moves the door but the door is all we pay attention to. However, we cannot move into anything like change without them.

When we open a door with the purpose of leaving or entering, our mindless act of reaching out and grabbing the door knob is merely based on the entrance or exit itself. If we do happen to notice the door or the knob that we turn, I would venture to say that our thoughts would rarely if ever, turn to the hinge.

Perhaps an election is a hinge meant to usher in a new era. A search or research can be a hinge, unveiling a discovery that we weren’t expecting. There it is. An open door to a new world of thinking.

A long flight to a distant country is a hinge taking us from our departure and into our future arrival. We expect the wait. We seldom like the delay and wish for a beam-me-up-Scotty conveyance to be invented so we can transport immediately to our destination and eliminate the hinge altogether.

The awaiting place or time is what keeps us halfway patient. Although none of us particularly like the wait unless we have many things to do that eliminates the act of waiting and morphs it into space and time to complete such tasks, our intended destination remains at the back of our minds as a purpose for the waiting. We draw from this logic to comfort us in our hinged state.

Albeit, something unbeknownst to us can make us very uncomfortable. Why am I waiting? What am I waiting for? What is this delay? I’m just not sure. I just don’t know. I don’t know why. How can I find out? And the hinge becomes the problem itself although it is a necessary transitional stage to move us to the following step.

We want to know what we need to know so we can know it before we need to know it. We don’t like our hunches. We dislike the oblivion. We constantly indulge in speculation. Our imaginations run wild on the vast horizon ahead, as we strive to comprehend something that we cannot see. After tiring of conjuring up the future to satisfy our present quandary, we turn to the past. What did I do? What have I left undone? Why didn’t I make a different decision? The regrets that inhabit our minds all gather and join the questions of the future and before long, we are an unraveled present mess.

It’s just a hinge. The door needs it to swing open. We have to have it in order to transform. Instead of patience being created, impatience sabotages the learning. Our days may blend together in an inseparable mix until we can’t identify the parts but they are still ushering us; pulling us into a future beyond.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Is judging an Act of Selfishness?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Is judging an act of selfishness? I review books for a Christian publisher. I would say that 98% of the books I end up loving to read and have reread them at least once. Even though I don’t always agree with 100% of what is said, I don’t discredit the whole book. I guess that’s where the saying “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water” came from! However, I am constantly amazed at the comments from people on a book if they don’t like one thing in it and bash the author or make rude comments about it, sometimes to the point that it degenerates into a chaotic frenzy. If you don’t care for something, just try to be positive, state the negative, and be done. We are so quick to judge something or someone by one instance. Respect for others is a matter of character and a call to humility.

We’re not the only ones to suffer this malady. The disciples judged the woman who poured out costly perfume on Jesus. Martha judged Mary. The Pharisees were always judging others based on their perception of holiness and missed what holiness was all about. We have to be careful that we hold our personal convictions as sacred and, well, personal. If we force them on others it becomes not a conviction but an overinflated view of our opinions.

Just as the handpicked disciples of Jesus were made up of all kinds of different personalities and characteristics, we are all different and He loves us all! We are not perfect, He sees our flaws and our errors but constantly endeavors to transform our character flaws into useful tools and strengths.

So yes, when we judge others it is a selfish act of using our narrow-minded yardstick to measure others. It is based upon our own personal head space where all kinds of thought processes take place.

Martha found herself rebuked. Not for performing her personal service to God, but for judging Mary in her personal adoration. Jesus defended the extravagant act of a woman over the disciple’s objections, calling it an offering acceptable even above giving to the poor.

God designed us all. Just like He designed and created the many birds, the fish of the sea and beautiful landscapes. From the snow topped mountain, to the bottom of the ocean floor there are a vast number of differences, not only in beauty but in the contrast that reflects His handiwork–so are we created.

It sure makes my selfish judging look mighty ugly. I’m reminded of my propensity to selfishness, to judging, of pride, and all other human limitations that I experience not to cause me to feel hopeless but to empty myself of me so I can be full of Him.

The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers, a Book review

Made out of hard pages, this book is perfect for preschoolers to handle and will last for years to come as they learn to read. Rhyming prayers make them easy to remember and say as children learn to talk to God in their own words. From rise and shine prayers to prayers expressing frustration or fear; from praise and worship to bedtime, little ones will grow up knowing that there’s so many opportunities to offer prayer to God.

Two of my favorites:

I’m learning something new, dear God

It’s harder than I thought!

Please help me to work hard today

And practice what’s been taught

 And

God, thank you for forgiving me

No matter what I do

Please help me make good choices, Lord

I want to follow You

 @Worthypub  #BerenstainBears #BookOfPrayers

While My Child Is Away

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

While My Child Is Away…My Prayers for When We Are Apart, A Book Review

This book is excellent. I could say it’s an excellent “read” but actually, it’s all prayers. Prayers for your children. I’ve read “prayer books” before and usually I end up thinking that the author must have kids a lot more behaved than my kids, because my prayers have been pretty desperate for my children. As a single mom for most of my kid’s growing up years, I felt the need to be both dad and mom to my kids which meant priest of the home, go-to person, homework helper, advisor, emotional supporter, financial supporter, etc., etc! A lot of prayers went up in our behalf. Some prayers didn’t actually have words, they were just groans that I prayed God would interpret!

When my kids were hanging around the wrong crowd. When my kids were at school, out of sight and I was at work, in meetings and sometimes even traveling. When my kids were liking boyfriends, girlfriends, talking on the phone, wanting privacy and all of those lines that you don’t know where to draw or when to cross. I feel like I have experienced it all. So when I read THIS book, I half-way expected it to be a little shallow, a little like holy children prayers, or mother’s well-articulated prayers in behalf of her almost-angel kids.

Don’t get me wrong, it is well written, but it is also real. The desperate prayers of a mother who has to let her children walk away from her sight and physical protection. The earnest and very deeply felt prayers of a mom that feels inadequate when it comes to covering her kid’s emotional, spiritual and soul-level needs. This is not just some pretty “oh, that’s so sweet” type prayers and “now I lay me down to sleep” but a plea to God to make up for what we seriously lack. A request asking God to help us to know how to trust Him to protect them when they are away from us. A heart’s cry when they are no longer living under our guidelines, or involved in situations when we can no longer follow them or hover over them, or watch from a safe distance, ready to pounce to their aid.

Letting go and letting God be God is perhaps one of the most difficult things a mother has to do when it comes to her children. Watching them grow and mature, walking in a different world than they have ever experienced, experiencing situations and circumstances that they haven’t been in before now tends to turn our worlds upside down and inside out. We know God is the only One who can do what we can’t from those points on, and we think we trust Him, but it’s so difficult to put it into practice when there’s all kinds of “what if?” questions! God understands. God not only understands our children better than we do, He understands US better than we know ourselves.

Through these prayers that Edie Melson prayers over her children, of all ages and different circumstances, you will echo her words and you will hear God’s voice speak through the pages. She will put your heart’s deep feelings into words that resound in God’s ears.

@Worthypub  #Stop2Pray  #Pray4MyChild

Before & After

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nearing the anniversary of our house fire 2 short years ago causes me to reflect yet once again on what’s important in life. Although I lost everything I owned in this world, minus the few clothes we had packed in a suitcase (we were away on a trip), my husband, Mike and I saw so many people extend their hands and arms and surrounded us with love and devotion. The biggest things for me were my mother-in-law’s hand-made quilts, my grandma Jordan’s quilt pieces that I had yet to put together, my grandmother Scott’s homemade, home-stitched crazy quilt, countless hankies from my mom, grandmothers and mother-in-law and my kid’s school pictures and artwork, including the many Christmas ornaments that my kids had made throughout the years, our wedding and honeymoon pictures and memorabilia, and my many beloved books. (OK, well I could go on.) My husband grieved over losing his dad’s and his granddaddy’s guns, his granddad’s tools, old coins collected for many years and of course the same sentimental things that I cherished as well. My family has since given me some old things that they had treasured (returned to me) and my mom rallied my extended family and I received Christmas ornaments from many states that first Christmas to put on my “sad” tree. I’m grateful.

I have “decorated” my home with odds and ends that I have collected the past 2 years from friends and loved ones and I’m grateful. My friends have lovingly put together a recipe book, angel figurines and given me other such small things but mean so much to me more for their thoughtfulness and love than anything. I’m grateful.

Recently I have begun to feel the excitement and creativity that comes with healing. Although through other diverse circumstances, we have moved and moved again, I can happily say that I’m beginning to feel the stirring of settling in a nest of my own once again. My walls were empty for a long time. I couldn’t get myself to feel anything except “usefulness” for the items that now belonged to me. Gone were the things that I could lovingly smooth with my hand and say where it came from, who had given it to me or where I had acquired it. Only memories remain now. Some days I think of an item and as it appears in my mind’s eye, my memories are wistful and sad that it is gone forever. Some days I think I have a certain item but upon further futile search, I realize that it must have been before the house fire. Thus, a landmark has formed. Before fire and after fire.

Yes, some things can be replaced. The things that cannot be replaced though valuable–beyond price– are still in the memory banks and hopefully will never be withdrawn. I’m grateful.

Today, although I may be feeling quite wistful, I am not in grief. I realize that if I put stock in all of those things, I may become “tethered” to my grief and it will keep me tied and I won’t be able to move on. Like a death, a divorce, you never get over that kind of grief. The love you harbored, the sorrow you felt, the ties that were broken in two will remain with you forever. But you can move past it because you aren’t tethered to it. It doesn’t keep you bound. There is pain. There is grief. There is sorrow. But I realize as I heal, that just like the pain of loved ones that have gone to be with Jesus, one day…we will look up and see Him and the pain will be gone. One day, faster than we can imagine, we will see those loved ones and our joy will be overflowing. The THINGS of this world will pass away. The sorrow will be gone. The sadness will disappear. But our souls will be living on in an endless moment called eternity. I can’t wait for that day and long for it to come. Like the Apostle Paul says, eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2) Lift up your head, your redemption draws near!!

Image

Solitude. Who’s the Loser?

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

IMG_0102Solitude

Words wound. Thoughts, impressions, suspicions can hurt all in themselves but when someone places the impression into words- the misgiving becomes real. The thought becomes tangible. It may be better than what was originally believed or it could be drastically worse. It can even be severely different than what was suspicioned and it can cut to the core of one’s soul.

Pride is wounded. Love is rejected. A place; a position that I imagined I held is now being turned away. I was deceived. Maybe I deceived myself. Maybe the affection I perceived wasn’t even there. Perhaps it was wishful thinking. Something I invented to make myself feel accepted and loved. Stark reality now put into words that hurt my ears as they sink into my understanding.

I had created a safe place but a stranger intruded. What was once warm and inviting, shared with those I love is now dark and cold. I shiver. With my arms that were open wide being turned away; shunned…instead I close them around myself, giving myself an embrace.  Who’s the loser?

Gleaning Between the Lines

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Gleaning Between the Lines–A book review for “Audacious” by Beth Moore

I realized a few years ago that if it is based on the Word of God, that I could glean something from every sermon, even if the delivery was weak or I didn’t agree with each of the person’s points and/or opinions. Once I determined to do this, it has greatly helped me to set my mind on what is true, what lines up with the scriptures and what to decipher as personal opinion.

Having said that, I have gleaned a lot from Beth Moore’s books and have thoroughly enjoyed watching some of her videos. Her words have spoken to my soul and given me new resolve. In her new book, “Audacious”, I have been impressed by several things. The overall premise was basically spot-on in my opinion. However, I was also sorely disappointed. What I feel I gleaned from it were nuggets of reminders of things I have already learned and that boils down to: love God with wild abandon and that will influence you, help you, strengthen you and get you through the best times and the worst times of your life. He is there and your love remains and His love for you will stand ready when everything else has passed. Passed all earthly relationships, favor, jobs, money. Passed all heartache, resentment, disappointment, confusion, trials and storms.

Hopefully this will be a true ‘revelatory’ word for the readers of this book that have not yet experienced this great purpose and vision in life. Some Christians—more than I can probably imagine, have this perception that God wants all of us just to be happy and have great lives. If that isn’t happening the way that they envision, they feel that it must be something that they have done or left undone; to work harder or to be “better”. While God desires for His children to be happy, He is much more interested in our being holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” NIV) Whatever hail storms it takes to beat off all the veneer we have fooled ourselves with and reveal the true, rich wood underneath—He’s going to allow for our ultimate good. Sadly, like the rich young ruler who could not give up his riches for the sake of following Jesus, (He does not force us into anything) we walk away angry, disappointed, and unhappy. Grieving our lost “treasures” so much that we can’t see that our true treasure is standing behind all that we are wistfully looking at or pursuing, waiting for us to get it out of the way so we can see that he is reaching for us. All we can see is that our arms are empty.

Life’s battles have almost gotten the best of me. I have faced spiritual persecution, experienced cruel people “in the name of God” lie, cheat, abuse and be rude and mean to others who have laid down their lives for the gospel. There were times when I almost gave up hope, almost lost my mind as well as my faith but at the end of the bloody battles, Jesus wrapped me in His arms. This earthly life is worthless if we don’t have hope of a life beyond. That’s what Jesus is preparing us for and preparing for us. This earthly life crucified Him but didn’t defeat Him. He won the victory to give us eternal life. It won’t defeat us either unless we choose this life over eternal life.

This is the audacious vision that Beth Moore speaks about. He is with us in the nitty gritty. He is with us in the mess. He is with us in the mistake. He is still with us after the wrong choice. He never leaves nor forsakes us! When everything is stripped away—He is there.

The thing that left me disappointed with this book is that it seems unedited. Beth uses so many adjectives and metaphors to drive her point home that you almost forget what the original point was! Many, many words (and I love words and tend to be wordy) are used to draw a mental picture, but the mental picture I get is of a cluttered closet. I feel that if someone had greatly edited this book, it would have been a much easier and quicker read. Granted, it would have been much thinner but I feel, more dynamic.

Be audacious to Jesus and you will see that He is always giving audacious love to you. He IS audacious love.

Purchased, Redeemed, Restored: Relationship

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

A dusty old rocking chair sat in a thrift store. Paint and veneer peeling, wood scratched and weathered. It had had some serious use in its day. Now, abandoned and alone; for sale to a low bidder. Most pass by the lonely rocker unnoticed. The ones who do notice and give the chair a nudge hear the creak and groan, feel the wobble and uneven tilt and keep on going. It might have been beautiful once but that’s long past. Too much abuse and overuse to be worth anything now.

Until a man walks in one day, runs his hand lovingly over the slats, feeling each crevice of the etched wood. Carved no doubt with love and care, created for a purpose. The man smiles as he sees each nick and scratch, not bare and ugly but in its glory. He worries not about the loose wobble but tenderly sets the rock in motion, detecting the excellent craftsmanship.

The rocker is bought with the asking price. Worthless to the shop owner until the coin was placed in his hand, happy to have made the sale of this long forgotten piece. The purchase complete, the man takes the rocker home. No matter what the price of the rocker was—little or much—the value was not realized while the lonely chair sat dusty in the shop. It took someone willing to cover the expense.

The rocker was placed in the man’s own living-room, cleaned and polished. It was clean. No longer dusty or grimy but with the dirt fully removed, sitting on a nice warm rug instead of a cold cement floor, the rocker was now redeemed. Cleansed from the musky layers of dust, the wood showing so much potential. True, there were deep scratches, big splinters missing in places, but clean nonetheless and redeemed from its discarded, useless life of before.

The man was happy to contemplate the chair sitting in the corner. He could see the potential in his mind’s eye. He could picture the redeemed piece in its former glory as he traced his fingers over the carved back. He loved the chair and was happy to pay the cost and give the chair a new home. As he looked at the nicks and scars, he envisioned the tiny feet that kicked against the arms. He grinned as he saw in his imagination the hands that patted and rocked several generations. However, it wasn’t enough to understand the original purpose. It wasn’t enough to comprehend the events that battered and scarred the wooden slats. There was still work left to be done.

One day, the gentleman knew the time was right to start the process of restoration. If the chair had a mind, it would wonder why it was being removed from the cozy corner. “Why is he taking me off the wonderful, soft rug by the fireplace and out in the cold garage?” “Why am I being thrown from the house, out of sight?” “Maybe he realizes that I can’t be used…I’m broken, bent and wobbly, not fit any more.” Then, the man begins the work. First with sand paper, then removing splintered pieces altogether, rubbing, sanding, causing new abrasions. “Why? Why? Why is he doing this to me?”

Then…the tools. Taking pieces apart. “Now, I’m completely useless! Torn apart, laying here, you can’t even tell I’m a chair!” “I was purchased and redeemed, and now this doesn’t make sense why he has abandoned me! When he does come, it’s to remove more, sand more, open more wounds, pouring stuff in! I was looking pretty good there for a while by the fireplace, in the living room! Why was I banished and torn apart in this manner?”

But the man knows. He knows what the chair was created for. He knows the abuse and use it had gone through. He also knew the true worth even while sitting dusty with a worn price tag, ready for the first taker. He knew the place where the rocker would go, once clean and free of dust and grime. But he also knew the work wasn’t done until the chair was fully restored. He knew what it would take and set the pace of the task. Sometimes waiting for the glue to dry, sometimes re-sanding and filling in cracks, sometimes setting the clamps and leaving it for days. He wasn’t willing to settle at the purchase. He wasn’t ready to leave things as they were even after the redemption, but he desired full restoration for the relationship to be complete. Better than ever before. More sturdy. More beautiful. Functional and fully operational. Shining, loved, restored.

Occasional cleaning would still be done. Nicks and scratches still buffed out from time to time. Relationship. Continual care between creator and the creation.