Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: One God, One Plan, One Life by Max Lucado

My Review:
I collect devotionals and Max Lucado is one of my favorite Christian authors. Therefore, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this devotional for teens and tweens (we still have 2 teen boys at home). There are 365 daily devotionals in the book. Each month begins with Scriptures. Each devotional is only one page long. It starts with a Bible verse and ends with the "One More Thought" section written by James Lund. The devotional text was adapted from some of Max Lucado's previous books. At the end of the book, you will find two Bible-reading plans: 30 Days with Jesus and 90 Days Through the Bible.

Life can be quite difficult and challenging, especially for teens. This devotional encourages teens to trust God and His plan for their lives, guides them with God's Word and principles, and helps them develop a deeper relationship with God. It covers many topics that teens have to deal with such as purity, identity, bullying, alcohol & drug use, self-control, faith, and more. I really like the book's design, layout, colors, and sturdiness. I think it looks hip and appealing. The devotionals are interesting and insightful and they don't sound preachy. I've always enjoyed Max Lucado's witty humor :). I only wish the book included an index of topics which would make it much easier to look up relevant devotionals for specific issues that may arise.

"You can make the greatest speech ever about the love of Jesus, but if your actions don't show love, your words will be ignored. Think about your behavior over the past week--have people seen Christ in you? If not, what can you do this week to show his love to the world?" (from the One More Thought section on page 58)

"What makes us special is not only our body but the signature of God on our lives. We are his works of art. We are created in his image to do good deeds. We are significant, not because of what we do, but because of whose we are." (p. 276)

~I received a free copy of this book via booklookbloggers.com in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday's Fave Five #93

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

My Fave Five this week:

1. We've enjoyed our family time with our oldest child, Alyssa, who is on her spring break from college. My husband is so sweet and thoughtful; he took this whole week off work!


2. So stoked to have found Keith Green's CDs (The Ministry Years Volume 1 and Volume 2) at a garage sale for $1! We now own 3 sets; we'd like to have one set for each of our children. It's a family heirloom :).

3. My brother made us Blackberry Walnut Coffeecake. Very yummy! He enjoys cooking and baking.

4. We had a fun & successful day of shopping yesterday (Best Buy, Road Runner, and Old Navy). Then we had lunch at Panera Bread, one of our favorite restaurants.


5. Here are a few excellent quotes I found this week:-
"Let us not think that waiting on the Lord will mean getting less done. The truth is that by doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way we will accomplish more, not less. You need not fear that if you wait for God's Spirit you will not get as much done as if you charge ahead in the flesh. After all, who can do the most, you or the God of Heaven and earth?" ~Francis A. Schaeffer

"Outside of the will of God, there is nothing I want.
And in the will of God, there is nothing I fear.
" ~A.W. Tozer

"When God is your reason to live, you will never have a reason to quit." ~Unknown


 
P.S. You can read my review of The God-First Life by Stovall Weems and enter to win a copy of the book at http://bornagainandblessed.blogspot.com/2014/03/book-review-and-giveaway-god-first-life.html?spref=fb . Ends 3/31.  Very low entries. The book is about a practical principle based on Matthew 6:33, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Keep it simple; just put God first!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: The God-First Life by Stovall Weems

My Review:
How is your life? How is your spiritual life? A fulfilling and rewarding life doesn't have to be complicated. Pastor Stovall Weems provides readers a practical principle based on Matthew 6:33, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Keep it simple; just put God first! The author proposes that the life that God intends you and me to live is the God-first life. It's a matter of arranging our priorities in the right order. When the priorities are not in order, our lives are out of order. But what does it mean to live the God-first life? Read the book and find out :).

The book is divided into four main sections: New Priority, New Family, New Life, and New Freedom. The author shows what a new life in Christ looks like and how it leads to blessings and freedom. He talks about the difference between position and function in God's family and how Christ's followers are transformed through community. He also covers topics of worship, devotions, serving (I really like A Servant's Self-Test on page 119), tithing, and fear. The God-First Life is an easy read with simple truths that can make a huge impact when you put them into practice. When we put God first in our lives, we'll discover that all other pieces of the life puzzle will fall into place. Check this book out and let us be intentional about living the God-first life God's way!

"Whatever has first place in your life directs how you live it." (p. 21)
"We were created for overflow. Whatever you fill up on, that's what's going to flow out of you." (p. 76)
"When Jesus took off his robe, he was laying aside the symbol of his earthly rank. He was sending a message: Status does not define my disciple; servanthood does...He was doing what he had always done, teaching them how to love one another. Serving like Christ means serving from a place of strength, not of insecurity, compulsion, or the need for approval." (p. 121)

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this book. Open only to residents in the US and Canada.
Deadline: 03/31 at midnight (Pacific time)
To Enter: Leave a comment here with your email address. Please share one of your favorite quotes or Bible verses.
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~I received a free copy of this book via Icon Media Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Purify Selves and Perfect Holiness

- Since we have these promises (verses 16b-18), let us purify/cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit and let us work on perfecting our holiness out of reverence for God.
- "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences form acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (Hebrews 9:14) "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin....If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:7, 9) "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word." (Ephesians 5:25-26) Purifying ourselves involves not only turning away from sin but also turning toward God.
- "Perfecting holiness"--indicates that the sanctification process is continuous. "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God Who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Philippians 2:12b-13) "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 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.'" (1 Peter 1:14-16)
- Stand on God's promises; live with no compromise! Beware of things that contaminate our body and things that contaminate our spirit! Be intentional about how we spend our time and money! Be careful of what we allow to enter in our heart, mind, body, and spirit. What are we eating? What are we watching? What are we reading? What are we listening to?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yield Not to Temptation

- This is the same verse we did on Feb. 11th. You can read what I shared then here.
- How tragic it was that in hope of gaining wisdom, Eve did the most stupid thing ever! It is extremely unwise indeed to disobey God/to go against what He says.
- Even mature Christians are not immune to temptations. Often Satan uses temptations to trick and trap Christians who are in leadership positions. We all must be on guard always. It's not possible to isolate ourselves from all of life's temptations. But we are not to yield to them. We must follow Jesus's example when Satan tried to tempt Him in the wilderness. He showed us how to overcome Satan's schemes. In each temptation, He used the Scripture to counter Satan's offer. It's very important that we know the Scripture so well by heart. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11) The Scripture we've learned and memorized will be readily available whenever we need it.
- According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, we know that God is faithful and He will provide a way out when we are tempted. We need to take the way out immediately. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) Be alert and ask God for the strength to resist temptations and for wisdom & discernment to know "the way out".
- Since this week's focus is on health, let's talk about temptations that affect our health. Chocolate, cookies, French fries, pies, ice cream, the list goes on... I believe the key is self-control. We can enjoy all these goodies occasionally in not so excessive amount :). Different people are tempted by different things (foods, drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, greed/money, power, fame, etc.) If possible, avoid/get rid of anything that is not good for your health (physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental). Protect your loved ones from them, too.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our Citizenship Is In Heaven

- "They"--the enemies of the cross (they're against everything for which the cross stands). Their destiny is destruction. Their god (the supreme object of their concern) is their stomach (referring not only to gluttony but also to all sensual indulgences). Their glory is in their shame because what they think is freedom is actually bondage to shameful lusts. Their mind dwells on earthly matters. In Life Application Study Bible, the commentary says, "Paul criticized not only the Judaizers, but also the self-indulgent Christians, people who claim to be Christians but don't live up to Christ's model of servanthood and self-sacrifice. These people satisfy their own desires before even thinking about the needs of others. Freedom in Christ does not mean freedom to be selfish. It means taking every opportunity to serve and to become the best person you can be."
- But our citizenship is in Heaven. This world is not our home. One day we will experience all the special privileges of our heavenly citizenship because we belong to Jesus.
- We eagerly expect Jesus's return. At His appearance, He will transform our lowly bodies (the body which now clothes our mortal existence, subject to pain, physical limitations, or disabilities) into glorious bodies just like His resurrected body. This transformation requires supernatural power, that same power necessary to bring everything under His control.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You Are Not Your Own

- Paul clearly prohibits Christ's followers from promiscuous sexual indulgences/sexual immorality. Here he gives one of the reasons: their bodies are the Holy Spirit's temples.
- We are not our own. We were "bought at a price"--referring to slaves purchased at auction. The price of our freedom was paid in full by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin, "but now you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." (Romans 6:22)
- The Holy Spirit occupies that which God has obtained by purchase. Our bodies belong to God. Therefore, we should honor God with our bodies...we should display the One Who dwells within us. We should eliminate things that defile our bodies (keep the temples clean). We should take the best care of the Holy Spirit's temples (our own and others). We must obey God; He knows what's best for the temples of the Holy Spirit.
- When people say they have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies, it may sound like freedom but in reality, they are being enslaved to their own sinful desires. )

Monday, March 10, 2014

God's Masterpieces

- God created each one of us with our own unique beauty and potential. Praise God that we are His masterpieces...works of art created in His image! God's workmanship is marvelous; you and I know it very well...there's no doubt about it.
- We are not an accident. God never makes mistakes. We're the highlight of His creation. He made each one of us specifically on purpose for His purpose.
- Know/see your worth as God sees. You and I are significant, not because of what we do, but because of Whose we are. We are formed & fashioned, loved & treasured, died for & saved by the Creator of the universe!
- Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the wonderful way You created me. Please open my eyes to see the beauty and potential that You see in me and in others. Please show me Your plan and purpose You have set for my life. May my life be an endless praise song to You for the world to hear and an open thank-You card for the world to see!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wise Woman Builds

- The choice is ours. Do you and I want to be our family builder (aka the wise woman) or family destroyer (aka the foolish woman)?
- What do we want our family and our relationships within the family to be like? We have been given the power and responsibility to build, strengthen, and protect our family. Our actions, attitudes, and words can either build others up or tear them down. Choose wisely. "A quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof." (Proverbs 19:13b) That's one example of a foolish woman/wife destroying her house (a constant leaky roof is very unpleasant and troublesome, indeed...Who wants to live in a house like that?). Or we can choose to do what Ephesians 4:29 says, instead: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
- To ponder: Are we building a peaceful, joyful, loving, grace-filled, Christ-centered, mission-minded home? Are we training up warrior-servants (our children)/equipping our "arrows" for launching out to impact the world for God's glory and God's kingdom? Are we encouraging and supporting our husbands? Are we submissive and respectful to our husbands? Are we practicing hospitality and reaching out to the needy?
- "Watch out for parasites. A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your family members and sucks the life out of your family. They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time, and money." (from The Love Dare) You can also think of these as "termites" that destroy your home/family. Beware of them and get rid of them!
- Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please give me wisdom, strength, and grace that I need to build my family to be a family that glorifies & honors You and puts You first above all else. Please show me when and where "termites" try to undermine and destroy my family and how to get rid of them. Please empower us with Your Holy Spirit each day to build, strengthen, and protect our family. Please help us see opportunities to use words that encourage and edify and help us be able to hold back words that tear down. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Share and Practice Hospitality

- We are to provide for/share with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need."Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." (1 Timothy 6:18) "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:16)
- Practice hospitality. We should always be ready to welcome to our homes those whom God sends our way. This may be to listen and chat over a cup of coffee or tea, or to share a meal or to provide someone a place to stay for a night or a week or a month. I'm so thankful that the Lord has given my family and me opportunities to open up our home for Bible Study for international students, ministry meetings, playtime/hangout (for my kids and their friends when they're young), homeschool moms' meetings, annual curriculum swap, holiday gatherings, parties, foreign exchange students, etc. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Good Deeds

- Good deeds and serving don't save us. We're saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone! We're saved to serve...we're saved to do good deeds. A tree is known by its fruit. Christ's followers are known by their good (Christlike) fruit.
- This verse lists some of the good deeds done by an honorable, exemplary widow: bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord's people (serving other believers with humility/following Jesus's example), helping those in trouble, and devoting herself to ALL kinds of good deeds. Don't you love the word "all" :)? No wiggle room there! It reminds me of this poem by John Wesley:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can
.”

- We all have areas of ministry that we can do. This could mean raising our children, opening our homes to others, giving our time, talents, and treasures to serve others, helping those in need, encouraging others, and/or sharing the love of Christ with strangers. What are you well known for? No, I'm not saying we should be doing good deeds for applause, recognition, appreciation, or even good feelings of accomplishment (patting ourselves on the back). That would be wrong motives. We do good deeds because we love God and love others...because we want to honor and glorify God...because God wants us to do so...because we want people to see that all the good they see in you and me come from our Heavenly Father and praise Him. "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify (praise) your Father in Heaven." Matthew 5:16

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Idle Not

- We, as wives and moms, are to manage our homes/take good care of our families. There are works to be done; we should never be lazy and irresponsible. Instead, we should be caring, industrious, and fruitful like the "Proverbs 31 woman."
- Be faithful in everything, including the mundane things and the little things that no one sees or appreciates. Honor God in all things no matter what. It's easy to desire to do great things for God but how about the small, unglamorous things He wants us to do? "What is a little thing, is (just) a little thing. But to be faithful in a little thing is a great thing." (~St. Augustine) A kind remark, an encouraging word, a smile, a hug, a simple assurance, the gift of listening, the gift of patience, a gentle tone of voice, serving with a cheerful attitude, being a referee between bickering children for the millionth time :),...the list goes on. Let us remember that all these little things do demonstrate God's love and they matter! "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!" (Matt 25:21)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Faithful Stewards of God's Grace

- One way to show and share God's love to others is hospitality without grumbling/murmuring/grudging. It's a giving of self and substance gladly/cheerfully. It's opening up your heart and home to welcome and uplift others.
- Hospitality is not the same as social entertaining. It focuses on the guests and their needs, not on the host and her home's condition or her foods or her ability to entertain. My home is not really mine; it belongs to God (everything does) and I want it to be used by Him for His purpose, glory, and kingdom. My home doesn't have to be spotless or beautifully furnished for me to offer hospitality. As long as those who enter in feel loved and welcome and experience peace and joy, that's all it matters :).
- We are called to be faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms by using whatever gift we have received to serve others. Everyone has been given some gifts. Find yours and use them to serve God & others. We should invest our time, talents, and treasures where they will make an eternal difference. We are saved to serve! The believers' gifts are not to be laid up for selves but laid out in service. And there's always a gift of grace. Do you minister to others with the grace God has given you? "Free you have received; freely give." ~Jesus (Matthew 10:8b)
- Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Try this test and see if you agree: http://www.sdrock.com/giftstest/ :).
- "In the deed that no man knoweth
Where no praiseful trumpet bloweth,
Where he may not reap who soweth,
There, Lord, let my heart serve Thee."
~Unknown

Book Review: Prone to Love by Jason Clark

Are you confident in God's love? Do you feel secure in your relationship with God? Are you still striving to earn grace? The author is a man who knows with certainty that he is loved by God and whose life has been transformed by God's love. He wants to encourage readers to embrace and experience this powerful, profound, perfect love of God. Jason Clark sums up his theology into 2 sentences: "God is love. God is always good." This book dares you to discover God's love in a deeper way and aims to help you live in a radical revelation of your Father's love. The author addresses the issues of need vs. love and control vs. love.

Are you struggling with your identity? The author invites you to look at yourself and the world through God's eyes. Do you see yourself as God sees you? You should...you must. It will make a difference on how you act/how you live. The author believes that in Christ, we're no longer prone to wander, but prone to love, instead. Throughout the whole book, he shines a spotlight on the measureless, magnificent magnitude of God's unconditional love for us. Check out this refreshing read and learn to rest assured & secured in your Heavenly Daddy's love! Let's live in God's love, live a life of love, and leave a legacy of love!

"Knowing His love is the key to living fully free, a life of faith, a life where every dream is available and every impossibility is made possible." (p. 47)
"Life is about knowing His good love and then knowing more; it's about becoming sure." (p. 111)
"His goodness and His love will follow us all the days of our lives and will never be measured or determined by our circumstances." (p. 121)
"Mercy and grace are two sides of the same coin working perfectly together to reveal the fullness of His love--the whole story. Mercy covers sin, grace releases identity. Mercy sets us free, grace empowers us to become how He sees us. Mercy redeems, grace transforms." (p. 182)


~ I received a free copy of this book via The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.


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