Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart by J.D. Greear

About the author:
J. D. Greear is lead pastor of The Summit Church, a multi-site congregation in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. He holds an M.Div. in International Church Planting and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Greear also lived and worked among Muslims in Southeast Asia for two years and wrote Breaking the Islam Code. He and his wife have four children.

My Review:
First of all, the title of the book is quite provocative and shocking. Why? I think it's because most of us are taught to say a sinner's prayer if we want to become a Christian. And that's probably the reason why the author chose this title :). J.D. Greear wants readers to know that merely saying a sinner's prayer will not save them and most likely give people a false sense of assurance. On the other hand, some Christians are not sure if they have been saved so they keep asking Jesus into their heart over and over again. The subtitle of the book is: "How to Know for Sure You Are Saved". That's really what this book is all about.

This book aims to help both those who have been saved but still doubt their salvation and those who may think they're saved but in reality, they're not. The author himself struggled for many years to embrace an assurance of salvation and eventually discovered that this doubt about assurance is not uncommon among Christians. He also addresses the issue of the Gospel presentation using a sinner's prayer formula which can sometimes be misleading. What does "asking Jesus into your heart" or "giving your life to Jesus" really mean?

The book answers many thought-provoking questions such as "Does God Even Want Us to Have Assurance?", "What Is Belief?", "What Is Repentance?", and "If 'Once Saved, Always Saved,' Why Does the Bible Seem to Warn Us So Often about Losing Our Salvation?". J.D. Greear clearly presents evidences that show authentic saving faith and advice regarding what to do when you continue to doubt. At the end of the book, you will also find Appendix 1: What about Baptism? and Appendix 2: The Indispensable Link between Assurance and the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone.

I think the author handles all these sensitive yet important issues effectively with a Christ-centered approach, solid Biblical truths, compassion, honesty, and even a sense of humor. This is a small book but powerfully packed with gems! What an excellent resource for all new believer's classes! I personally love this book and highly recommend it to any Christ's follower (even if you're sure about your salvation, you can still use it as a tool to help unsure believers and non-believers). Would you like to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are going to Heaven? Check this encouraging & eye-opening book out! You can tell how much I enjoyed reading this book by how many great quotes I list below (trust me...I had to use restraint) :).

"Salvation is not a prayer you pray in a one-time ceremony and then move on from; salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life." (p.5)

"The Enemy--one of whose names in Scripture is 'the Deceiver'--loves to keep truly saved believers unsure of their salvation because he knows that if he does they'll never experience the freedom, joy, and confidence that God wants them to have. But he also loves to keep those on their way to hell deluded into thinking they are on their way to heaven, their consciences immunized from Jesus' pleas to repent." (p.6)

Salvation comes not because you prayed a prayer correctly, but because you have leaned the hopes of your soul on the finished work of Christ.” (p.11)

"At the end of the day, knowing the moment of your conversion is not essential. What is essential is to know that you are currently in a posture of repentance and faith. Regardless of when you first assumed the posture, the fact that you are in it now assures you of your salvation." (p.90)

 
GIVEAWAY:
You can win a copy of this awesome book!
Deadline: 3/9 at midnight (Pacific time)
To Enter: Leave a comment here with your email address. Have you ever had any doubt about your salvation? What do you think "asking Jesus into your heart" means?

For Extra Entries (please leave a separate comment for each one that you do):
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~I received a free copy of this book via The A Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Fave Five #78

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-
1. A meaningful phone call.
A friend of mine was curious why I am always relaxed & joyful and never get stressed out (obviously, she has never lived with me :)). Anyway, I'm very thankful that God gave me an opportunity to point her to Jesus, my Source of peace and joy. Please pray for her that the Holy Spirit will make the seeds I planted in her heart grow and that she will surrender her life to Jesus and experience His peace and joy that are beyond any understanding/any circumstances.

2.
On Sunday evening, I had a sweet time of worship singing hymns after hymns at a church near our home! A rare treat :)!

3.
I found this sweet story online about missing World War II love letters. It gives me hope that perhaps Eric's 10 page love letter written to me in 1989 sent from USA to Thailand but never received will someday show up :)! It's our lost love letter mystery.

4. What Is Love? videoAnother sweet story! This one will make you cry (you've been warned :)).


5. (Besides the Bible, my daily bread) I'm currently reading 3 books (Beautiful Battlefields, Beyond the Rapids, and The Utter Relief of Holiness). So many good books...so little time! When I read, I tend to think a lot and then I write my thoughts down in my journal. I enjoy both reading and writing a lot.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Book Review: Lord, I Give You This Day by Kay Arthur


I collect devotionals :). I'm glad to have added this wonderful book to my collection. Would you like to have 366 meaningful daily appointments with God? Are you willing to give each of your days to God? The book starts off with one of my all-time favorite hymns, "I Surrender All" by Judson W. Van DeVenter. The author, Kay Arthur, encourages readers to surrender all (including each day) to God and in turn find our strength, healing, hope, guidance, peace, joy, and encouragement in Him and His Word.

Each day's reading is only one page long and ends with a prayer. It includes one main Bible verse(s) in bold letters and then a few other relevant Scriptures. There are no themes or categories. There's no table of contents, either. Therefore, you never know what to expect from day to day's readings. At the end of the book, there are five blank personal pages for readers to write their notes or prayers.

You're invited to lay it all down at the feet of Jesus and spend time dwelling in His presence, resting in His grace, mercy, love, & faithfulness, and meditating on His Word. Any book which prompts readers to dig deeper in the Bible and rely on God's wisdom is a great book in my opinion :). Come taste and see that the Lord is good! When you give God your days, you will experience the beauty of surrendered and grace-filled living, no matter what challenges come your way. I really enjoy absorbing God's truths into my heart and mind day after day through using this devotional.

"For believers, surrendering to God is not a one-time occurrence; it's a matter of continually bowing our hearts before the Lord, laying our desire for control at His feet, and rising again to do whatever He asks us to do, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Surrender means inviting the Potter to reshape us and transform us, moment by moment, into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. It means taking God at His word, trusting that He can and will use even our most painful circumstances for our good and His glory." ~Kay Arthur

"Sin has its roots in independent action. When we choose to walk independently of God and His Word, we fall into sin." (from February 15's reading)


~I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own.
 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday's Fave Five #77

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-
1. Our Valentine's party for the international students was so much fun. I learned a new group game called, "Spy". We had a blast playing it again and again and again :)!

2. Last Saturday, my daughter (a videographer) and I enjoyed watching the SAICFF (San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival) Awards Ceremony online for free. Lots of great Christian documentaries and films!

3. Sweet, unexpected Valentine's Day gift from God to Alyssa (and family): We found out yesterday that Alyssa has been awarded a full 4-year AFROTC (
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps) scholarship! So thankful, excited, and proud of my daughter :)!

4. The Kindle version of Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton is free on Amazon.

5.
Are you looking for a new family-friendly, faith-based movie to watch? You can enter to win a copy of Abel's Field DVD at http://fivesavedbygrace.blogspot.com/2013/01/dvd-review-and-giveaway-abels-field.html. Ends 2/24 (I extended the deadline since the only person who entered already won this DVD from another blog)! The giveaway is open to all (including international residents). Seriously, you have a great chance to win this :)!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do Not Judge...Really?

Have you ever tried to help others become aware of some false teachers or some authors who are teaching/promoting concepts that are unBiblical or to point out that something they're doing/participating is sin/evil according to God's Word and in stead of thanks, people accuse you of being judgmental?  They usually proceed with Scripture references such as Matthew 7:1-2, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you."  They would frown upon you for judging others or they would say you should not be throwing tomatoes at those people and assume that you’re a bad, unkind, unloving Christian.  Or they say…how dare you judge them, only God can judge…you’re so unChristlike. By the way, they are the ones doing the judging while making all these accusations without even realizing it.

"Judging" is misunderstood by many Christians.  If you keep reading Matthew 7 further (verses 3-5).  You will realize that God was talking about hypocritical judgment.  "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."  The point here is that we need to continually examine ourselves and see if there are any sins in our attitudes/hearts/lives we must get rid of, and that we must not mind being judged by the same measure (God’s Word).  I believe God wants us to have discernment… judging between good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral, sound doctrine and false teaching, etc.  We are encouraged to be more like the Bereans (Acts 17:11). We need to compare everything to the Scripture, not just taking any man’s words for it…no matter who/how famous he or she is and not just flowing along with the culture, the world, the majority. "Judging" is not bad by itself.  We do judge people/their character when we choose friends  "Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’" (I Corinthians 15:33)  "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." (Proverbs 13:20)  Good judgment will help keep us safe and keep us from stumbling.  "My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." Proverbs 3:21-24 
"Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment." Proverbs 10:13
"The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out." Proverbs 18:15

It all comes down to our attitudes of the heart.  When we expose someone’s wrongdoings, what’s our motive?  To warn others so that they won’t be deceived…so that they won’t fall into believing/following the wrong things…because we love them and care about them?  We need to do this out of love and humility.  If our motive is to bring that person down, to prove that we’re better, or to make fun of that person, then it is very wrong.  We should never slander or ridicule anyone.  We should remain respectful at all time.  We may judge their actions but not their heart because only God knows their heart.  For example: Johnny stole a candy bar.  What Johnny did was wrong.  You may call him a thief.  But we should not say that he is covetous or that he is such a horrible, mean person…because we don’t know his heart.  He may have been starving for days or he may have wanted to be able to feed his younger sibling or he has never been taught that stealing is wrong.  Similarly, we do not know if false teachers are deliberately deceiving people or if they themselves have been deceived and really think they are teaching the right things.  We should continue to love them and pray for them.  However, it does not mean that we cannot or should not let others know about their false teachings.  If you knew a restaurant or a chef that serves poisonous food, wouldn’t you want to warn others before they consume it? And if you know someone living in sin, it would not be loving to just turn the other way, remain silent, and let that person continue to live in sin/lies.

When you read my blog, I do not want any of you to just believe my words. I welcome corrections, advice, and suggestions. I hope you all do your own investigation on questionable preachers/authors, search the Scriptures, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you. Judge for yourself! Remember, God already judges what's acceptable or not in His eyes. "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, and put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5:20) Speak the truth in love, grace, respect, and gentleness but by all means, speak God's truth! Don't ever sacrifice the truth on the altar of "grace", politically correctness, or fear of being labeled "judgmental". The ultimate Judge is God and doing what's right in His eyes is more important than what people think about us.

This post is linked up with Faith-filled Friday @Beholding Glory, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates with God at The Wellspring, and "Hear It, Use It" @Graceful.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: Live Second: 365 Ways to Put Jesus First by Doug Bender


Live Second is a devotional book born out of the I Am Second movement which is all about placing Jesus first in our lives. The book contains 365 daily readings divided into 12 sessions of 52 weeks covering various topics such as Discover God, Grow, Lead, Jesus Says, and Go Global. It challenges readers to live second each day as they put Jesus first and guides them through Scriptures, prayers, prompt questions, and links/QR codes to "I Am Second" videos. Live Second is a unique devotional since it includes film-watching and social media interaction (you can tweet your thoughts or prayers by using specifically given hashtags on Twitter). I found the "I Am Second" videos very interesting and inspiring. I really enjoyed listening to so many different ways which God has used to draw people to Him...to get their attention. These people come from all walks of life (actors, athletes, musicians, pastors, politicians, and more); each testimony is powerful on its own because God's power of transformation is evident in their lives. On the other hand, the book itself is somewhat disappointing to me. Each day's reading is quite short (it does point readers to read more in the Bible which is good) and too simple (for me...I guess I was expecting something deeper...more meat). Besides, according to the Bible, I am not supposed to be second; I am called to be last. Jesus wants us to honor others above ourselves (for example: Romans 12:10b, Philippians 2:3, Mark 9:35). Live last, not second :)! Anyway, I think this book is still a great tool for new believers and/or non-believers.

"God does not use our measurements. He does not value beauty above humility. He does not measure wit and charisma above faith and integrity. God sees the core of our hearts and measures the substance of our being and the truth of our character." (p. 17)

"No matter our sin, no matter our history, our mistakes or our struggles, Jesus offers forgiveness. No life is too tattered, no soul too battered, no heart is too dirtied to be saved by the forgiveness of Jesus." (p. 39)

"The mark of a follower of Jesus, of one who lives Second, is not perfection (though that will come in the end); it is the fight, the struggle to turn the tides of our desires toward the Maker of our souls." (p.43)


~ I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are my own.

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