Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review for Blogging for Books: Ninety Days of God's Goodness by Randy Alcorn

This book is precisely what I needed.  I have to say that since I signed up to review free Christian books, I have been so blessed.  These books have been an answer to prayer. 

Ninety Days of God's Goodness by Randy Alcorn is an awesome devotional.  Last week, I found myself in tears after reading it and immediately went into prayer.  Randy Alcorn writes with such truth, depth and intensity.  I really like how he incorporates true stories within this devotional as well.

This devotional talks about why there is suffering and how despite all of the pain and suffering that we experience here on earth, God is good.  Each day presented a new nugget of truth that left me ruminating. 

He starts out each day with a portion of Scripture, then his devotional and he ends it with a short prayer.  It's just absolutely wonderful to start your day.  I really enjoyed reading it each morning.  I will read through it again, there is just so much information to glean from and it's very encouraging. 

If you are looking for a devotional that will speak into your heart and life, I highly recommend this one.  You definitely won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What is Love?

The Bible says, God is love. In 1 John 4:8 it says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love”.

The Bible also says in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Now, as much as I would like to believe that we as Christians love one another, the fact remains that we really don’t.

In the course of my life, I have met very few Christians that truly exemplify the love of Christ in their lives and toward others.

What made me start thinking about this… is a book I am currently reading called “Now I Walk on Death Row” by Dale S. Recinella. It’s a book I received for free from Baker/Revell Publishers to review it.

I have to say that what started out as my doing this out of an act of service toward God, is now blessing me tremendously. I would have never known that my choice to use my gift of writing to blog and review Christian books was going to turn out to speak into my life to such a degree that it is.

I never heard of Dale Recinella in my life. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the book, but it sounded interesting. He was a Wall Street Finance lawyer, I work in a law firm, so I figured I would relate to him in some way.

The minute I opened up this book to read it, I was immediately drawn in. He is a prolific writer. I love the way he writes. I haven’t cried and laughed so hard reading a book in a long time. But what really got to me was his journey from being a finance lawyer to a true servant of God.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I would encourage everyone to get the book. You won’t be disappointed. This book is having me really think about my walk with God in a deeper way.

I can say that Dale Recinella’s life exemplifies the love of Christ. I’ve only met a handful of people like him in the course of my life.. I can freely admit that I’m not one of them.

Of course, I dream about being this selfless, self sacrificing, loving child of God, but I know I’m not. And books like this, totally have me face where I’m at. Mr. Recinella asks a profound question while reading the bible, “Did Jesus mean what He said?”

We as Christians, read the Bible every day, but do we ever ask ourselves this question? I know I haven’t. Yes, I try the best I can to follow Christ’s teachings, but I fall short. Yes, I try to be faithful to attend bible study and church on Sunday. Yes, I tithe and I pray for people. Yes, I try to be a good wife and a good mother. But yet and still, I know for a fact that I’m not exemplifying the love of Christ in my life or towards others.

I have a very predictable and complacent existence as many other Christian’s. We have our little communities, our little cliques and rarely do we step out to reach out to others. Rarely would we put our lives at risk for others . Rarely would we step out to be inconvenienced. Rarely do we step out to get our hands dirty. And if we do, we just feel so full of ourselves with our “good works” as if we’re doing some great feat. As if we are scoring brownie points with God or something.

I’m really not trying to rain on anyone’s parade here or be pessimistic… I’m just telling it like I see it and notice that I’m including myself in this. I’m not exempt you see.

So my question is, what kind of a Christian am I? Do I really love others the way Christ loves? Do I love my enemies? Well, the answer is, I’m a nominal complacent Christian, that just does enough to get by. My concern is for my family and myself. I don’t really love others and especially not my enemies! That is the truth.

Now that I’ve admitted this… now what? I have no idea. All I know is that between reading the Bible and reading this book, I realized that I’m not in a great place. I’m not such a great Christian. Perhaps I would have liked to consider myself a great Christian, but I’m not. I realized that my heart is hard and when push comes to shove, I don’t really love others the way Christ would want me to. Yes, I like people… I like people that are nice and behave respectfully towards me. I like people that don’t give me any trouble. Yeah, I like people alright, but now love people?… Well… that’s another story.

I am suppose to be a follower of Christ, but my life does not signify that. Seriously, I’m not just saying this. I really mean it. So the question is, how in the world does one become a true and authentic follower of Christ?

I’m not talking about doing good works now, because I know a ton of people that do good works. They serve in their churches, do missions work, but simultaneously they aren’t the nicest of people. I could very well be one of them for all you know HA HA HA. But seriously, I mean, what is it going to take for any of us to really believe and take Jesus at His Word?

I wish I had the answer for you. I wish there was some magic formula and Poof… you become this exemplary Christian in no time. I can only speak for myself, but that hasn’t been the case. I have had people pray over me, fast with me, lay hands on me, you name it, I did it… and guess what, it didn’t change me one iota. My heart condition is still the same, and when your heart is polluted so is your vision. You can’t see anything clearly when you got a bunch of smoke in your face.

Sometimes I wonder, how long oh Lord? I kind of feel bad for God… I mean, here He goes and decides to create me… He goes through the trouble of forming me in my mother’s womb. He says, He knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11). And then He has to sit back for the majority of my life, shaking His head wondering why He even created me in the first place? I can’t do anything right. He tells me to sing… I tell Him, I don’t think I can… I obey Him and then totally make an embarrassment of Him and myself while I’m at it. He told me He wanted me to go to Colombia and I heard Egypt… the frequency was off I guess… (some of you know what I’m talking about here and are laughing).

I’m telling you, I don’t know how in the world God puts up with me. I really don’t. I admit it… I’m an utter failure to Him… but He still loves me. I sense His love, I tell Him I’m sorry that I’m a big old flop… and I ask Him to help me. He has a lot of compassion, I thank God for Jesus, because if it was anyone else, they would have gotten rid of me already. Some already have tried… but I’m still here, because God wants me around for some reason. So I just take it a day at a time. Every day, I ask the Lord to help me. Some days I do better than others…

But when I read books like the one I’m reading now… it really makes me look at my walk with utter disappointment. I really admire people that go all out for God and succeed. My hat goes off to them. They truly live a life giving it all to Him.

Whenever I die… I hope to see Jesus face to face… my deepest desire is that He would tell me, Well Done… I choke up every time I think about that. I’m not exaggerating… my eyes well up with tears… my desperation for God is something fierce… but yet, I fail Him… what a contradiction huh? When will I ever get it right? I haven’t a clue… but the desire is there.

I end this blog with a song that deeply touched my heart this week and I want to share it with all of you.

May it encourage you today… http://youtu.be/dUMRqJCV9Q4

Monday, May 9, 2011

Booksneeze Review: Reggie

I just had the pleasure of finishing a book I received for free to review from Booksneeze.  The title of the book is called Reggie by Reggie Dabbs with John Driver.

I have to admit, that I never heard of this guy before in my life.  I didn't know anything about him at all and had no reference.  I actually like the title, "You can't change your past, but you can change your future." and he does just that by using real life and personal illustrations throughout his book. 

Without giving too much way, Reggie Dabbs was considered another statistic, however, throughout his book, he walks you through how he overcame his past and changed his future. And he believes, you can too, which is the premise of his book.

When I first received the book, I wasn't sure what to expect.  But I couldn’t put this book down; it was amazing.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his life.  I cried in some parts and laughed in others. 

His book is so refreshing and full of wisdom.  I was left thinking a lot about what he wrote. Especially when he interweaves biblical stories and creatively connects it to his own story.

Reggie overcame great odds from his childhood to adulthood. He didn’t have it easy, which is why he is such an inspiration to me. Despite the various challenges he faced, he never gave up by the grace of God.  He also maintained a healthy sense of humor as well.

This book gave me a different perspective on adversity and viewing one’s own life. I honestly got a lot out of reading this book and would highly recommend it to anyone; young or old. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Battle Is Not Yours

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5

God put the above scriptures on my heart, because I am currently going through something in which it applies. 

Have you ever been falsely accused and judged by someone?  I'm sure if anyone has lived long enough on this earth, they have been plagued by this by either family or friends.  People have the innate tendency to judge others without being privy to all the details.   They get a snapshot of something, and then build their entire case around it.  They come up with their own conclusions and fill in the blanks with their own stories.  They come up with their own theories which are not at all based on reality or truth whatsoever.  They don't have the facts, but yet whatever they make up suits them fine, even if it's wrong.

Unfortunately, judging seems to be the modern day plague of the church.  Jesus speaks of grace, love and forgiveness, but we as believers tend to be the worst to each other when it comes to judging.

I can say I've been a victim of people's false judgements, criticisms, accusations, claims, etc.  It is very hurtful and damaging to say the least.  My tendency is to want to set the record straight and exonerate myself.  However, God continues to remind me to hold my peace.  In His Word He shows me that in His time, He will reveal the truth and my accusers will be put to shame. (Psalm 71:24).

The tendency for us, as believers, is to want to do something about what is being said or done and fix it.  You are aware that things are being thought and said about you and you want to do something about it.  You are privy to all the gossip, slander and false judgments... and so you just want to walk over to that person or persons and let them have it.  Sound familiar?

Believe me, I can totally relate.  Which is why, most times, I don't hold my peace.  I'm the confrontational type.  I really don't have any tolerance for hypocrites, gossipers or slanderers.  If I have something to say, I've learned to go directly to the person.  But I know it is very tempting and easy to get sucked into gossip.  However, gossiping is wrong. (Proverbs 20:19)  If you have an issue with someone, you really should deal directly with that person. 

But, most people are not confrontational, they are passive aggressive.  They put up a front, meanwhile they are thinking and saying things behind your back.  But when they see you, they pretend everything is fine, when it's actually not.  It can be quite confusing.

I don't know what it is, but God gave me discernment early on and I tend to see right through all of that.  I don't know why people waste their time trying to pretend when it's blatantly obvious.  Perhaps they think they are doing a great job masking it or something.  It's actually quite the opposite, but this is frail humanity for you.

I can't be fake, it's just not in my DNA.  Some people do a really good job at hiding or masking their feelings.  But I'm not one of those people.  The bottomline is this, when you have an issue with someone, just go speak to them.  Because if you don't... sooner or later, the truth will come to light and it will be exposed for the ugly infection that it is.  Most people seem more comfortable with putting bandaids and pretending the problem away, than actually dealing with it.  Another word for that is... Denial. 

I challenge you today, to move out of your comfort zone and operate in truth.  There is only freedom from bondage when you untangle yourself from all the lies and deception and move toward truth.  The truth shall set you free, not lies.  You are better off knowing the truth than making up your own stories, coming up with your own theories or by gossiping.

At the end of the day, we all get offended. Who doesn't get offended?  If you are a human being living on planet earth, you are bound to get offended at some point.  But the true test comes with what you do with the offense?  Will you bury it?  Will you deny it?  Will you run from it?  - OR - Will you look at it?  Will you confront it?  Will you deal with it?  Will you reconcile it?  These are questions we all have to answer for ourselves.

God ultimately reads the motives of our hearts and He knows our thoughts too.  We can't hide anything from Him.  He knows everything about us, to the minute detail.  You can perhaps justify why you are offended, why you do what you do, why you are gossiping, why you are judging and why you are slandering?  But it ultimately comes down to this... it's wrong.

So why not do some spring cleaning of our hearts and begin with a clean slate by examining ourselves?  Do you have an offense against a brother or a sister in Christ that you refuse to let go of ?  Why not talk to them about it?  Instead of holding a grudge or speaking badly about them to others.  Believe me, it's easy to hold a grudge... but it gets you nowhere.

As I was mentioning above, I find it challenging to hold my peace when I'm wronged and allow God to avenge me.  I'm the type that takes matters into my own hands and address things head on.  I'm a doer.  I have no qualms about confronting anyone.  Especially if I believe something is blatantly wrong.  However, there are times when God just wants me to wait on Him.  He doesn't want me taking matters into my own hands.  He wants to work out the details in my life.  I have to admit... He does do a much better job setting people straight than I ever will that's for sure.

So if people are talking falsely about you or gossiping behind your back... take heart... God is with you and He will avenge you.  He allows all things to happen for a reason and for our growth.  Through these adverse situations, which are no fun, we actually learn how to lean on God more and trust Him to fight our battles for us. (1 Samuel 17:45-47)  The battle is not yours.  If we wait on Him, He will give us the victory.

To all you Mother's out there... Happy Mother's Day.  I am looking forward to spending some peaceful and quality time with my husband and two little boys.  We aren't doing anything fancy, just spending it together which is more than enough for me.  The gift is that my family is healthy and happy; I need nothing more than that.

The Battle is Not Yours by Yolanda Adams http://youtu.be/GXbV1axOxZ8