Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Review: Get to Know Apostle Paul

Nancy I. Sanders invites us to 'read about the life of Paul, from the time he first became a believer to the completion of his mission and learn why he is a Bible hero' in Get to Know Apostle Paul, a full-color biography for kids.  

This book is a little gem.  Oftentimes, books deal with the lives of biblical figures in such a way that make them seem like mere stories instead of real life historical figures.  This book is an exception.  It is filled with information, including maps, illustrations, and photos.  The resources provided for the child are wonderful.  They include a timeline, glossary, and source notes, which are full of Bible references.  Overall, this book is a great resource for a young Bible scholar. 

My daughter particularly liked the climatic last two chapters that discuss Paul's appeal to Caesar and his life while in Rome.  She found the Bible Hero, Eyewitness Account, Did You Know? and Word Bank sections throughout the book especially helpful.

While I would recommend this book to any 6-8 year-old desiring to learn more about Paul, I think the language may be a bit too simplistic for 9-10 year-olds.  Overall, a very good resource.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, June 30, 2014

Be Long-suffering

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2

We are all different and that's a good thing.  It really is.  

And yet, how often have I wondered why my husband did this that way or why my daughter took this method instead of that one?  Unfortunately, too many.

The above verse commands us to be totally and utterly humble and gentle.  Yet sometimes we are not.  We lift our ways and our thoughts above those of others and are proud and rude.  We do the exact opposite of bearing with one another in love.  We offer unsolicited advice and defend it as constructive criticism.  

Throughout the weeks of the Be Series, I have been challenged to love more and harder especially those within my own household.  It may sound selfish but it's not.  Let me explain.

When the verse tells us to be completely humble and gentle, it is easy to do with the family member we are witnessing to or the sister in Christ we are ministering to.  But what about to my husband?  Or to my children?

My husband knows me, all of me.  So it can be easy to slip up and make that rude remark because he understands I am having a 'rough' day.  Or it is easy to be impatient with my child who keeps on talking and talking when I just want to go to sleep.  But sisters, it should not be this way.  

We should want to be totally and utterly humble and gentle, patiently bearing with our husbands and children in love.  Let us call on the Lord for help in this area.  Will they make mistakes?  Yes and so will you.  But this is where long-suffering comes in.  When difficulties arise you want to be the example of a child to God to your husband and children.  You do not want to add to the difficulty but be an instrument of God to glorify Himself through.  

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Let us not run our households aimlessly.  Let us be intentional, purposeful, and determined.  Let us not be so concerned about ministering and witnessing to others that our homes are neglected.  Our most effective witnessing and ministering should be taking place in the home.  So let us be completely humble and gentle, patiently bearing with one another in love.  Let us be long-suffering.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Review: Captured on the High Seas

In the Imagination Station's Book #14:  Captured on the High Seas written by Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders, we 'join Patrick and Beth in a seafaring adventure set in 1781.  

Once again, the authors have brought us into the adventures of Patrick and Beth.  What I most appreciate about these books are their historical context because my child is not only reading but reading a book that brings history to life for her.  It is about 126 pages long with enough illustrations throughout to keep her engaged and not distract her.  The vocabulary is not difficult but the child will be introduced to new words pertaining to the historical event (ration, scurvy) which is good.  

My daughter especially enjoyed hearing both sides of the story.  Each chapter held different surprises for both Patrick and Beth.  The scenes were exciting and fun for her to read and not at all predictable.  Not only were historical events portrayed but also lessons in character such as loyalty.  She found book 13's ending more suspenseful than this book but is looking forward to continuing the series.  

These books have been a wonderful addition to our library and I look forward to the upcoming titles.   

 I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Be A Partaker

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
2 Timothy 1:8

Paul is writing to his true son in the faith, Timothy, and exhorting him not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of Paul himself.  On the contrary, Paul encourages Timothy to be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.  And we are exhorted and encouraged to do the same.

This is not an easy command.  How hard it is to stand firm when things around you seem to crumble.  And that's what should be happening in our lives-the old should be going away and the new should be coming (2 Corinthians 5:17).  It can be hard to see everything you know, have come to rely on, and are comfortable with slip away.  But it doesn't have to be difficult if our eyes are fixed on Him who promises us so much more than we can ever imagine.  

Will there be naysayers?  Definitely!  But our eyes should not be fixed on them nor our ears attuned to them.  Let us stand firmly and boldly not being ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of those who are standing alongside us.  

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Philippians 1:29,30

We have believed on Jesus and we must also suffer for him.  Without a doubt there will be the sting of rejection from those that do not believe but the Bible calls us blessed when we are insulted and persecuted as well as falsely spoken against because great is our reward in heaven (Matthew 5:11,12).  Let's not shy away from persecution but embrace it as part of our walk with Jesus.   Let us be those who are partakers of the afflictions of the gospel.  

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10,11

Monday, June 16, 2014

Be an Overcomer

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21 (KJV)

overcome-succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty)
overcome-defeat (an opponent); prevail

We are commanded in Scripture not to be defeated by evil.  How can we be defeated by evil?  Easily, when we demand repayment from someone who has sinned against us.  When we choose to be bitter instead of forgiving.  

Above this verse is another one stating the same command:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 
 Romans 12:17

The word repay denotes there is a debt.  When someone sins against us, they have incurred a debt.  When we forgive (as Christ has forgiven us), we cancel that debt.  When we choose not to forgive, we declare that debt remains.  We have been overcome of evil.  Evil has defeated us.

Instead of choosing to forgive, we prefer to hold on to bitterness, rage, and our feelings of entitlement. We are proud and stubborn.  We forget the great mercy the Lord has had in our lives and want to make someone else pay for their sins when not even Jesus demanded that of us.  

So what should we do?

Overcome evil with good.  We should successfully deal with the problem or difficulty by defeating and prevailing over our opponent, the devil and our flesh.  Let's forgive.  Let's love.  Let's humble ourselves.  Let's seek reconciliation.  

We are called to live in peace with everyone if it is possible, as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18).  Let us do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  Let us leave the problem or difficulty in God's capable hands and do what he commands us.  Let us be overcomers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Be Diligent

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
For riches are not for ever:  and doth the crown endure to every generation?
Proverbs 27:23, 24

Have you ever looked for something only to later realize that you no longer possessed that item?  Or have you ever bought something only to come home and find that its duplicate?

Why does this happen?  


Certain items are insignificant and thus we really don't pay them much mind.  But this can equally apply to people in our lives.

Thus, we must be diligent to know the state of our flocks.  My daughter commented that when she turns on her tablet the first thing she checks is for any updates on her apps.  When was the last time we took time to know any updates in the lives our husbands and children?  We can't assume that things are the way they have always been and will continue to be the same without maintenance on our part.  We have to keep our knowledge of them updated.

We are also to look well or give careful attention to our herds.  This is not a casual glance but a careful study of what is going on in our homes.  Have their been sudden shifts in behavior?  Have resolutions been made only to be easily broken?  Has spiritual growth grown stagnant?  There must be a reason and we are to be diligent into finding it out to remedy the situation with God's help.

Let us not grow careless.  Days become weeks, weeks become years, and years become a lifetime.  Let's not wait to get to the end of ours and recognize senseless waste.  Let's know now the state of our flocks and let's look well today to our herds. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Book Review: Growing Up God's Way

Authors Dr. Chris Richards and Dr. Liz Jones collaborate in Growing Up god's Way for Boys and Growing Up god's Way for Girls to help the child "understand the changes of puberty, how and why they come about, some practical ways to look after yourself and how to honour God by making good choices.

In these two books, the authors want to accomplish a lot.  Do they succeed?  I think yes.

The books themselves are eye-catching in the traditional blue for boys and pink for girls.  There are a lot of illustrations and more importantly Bible verses throughout to make the books enjoyable and informative.  The two books are basically the same information except for about two chapters and some information in the last chapter.  It is short enough to be read before speaking with your children about the material so you can prepare what sections you agree/disagree and/or want to expound upon.

The book wisely not only explains physical changes but emotional ones as well.  It shows the bigger picture behind these changes as God's design for His purposes in our lives.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the admonitions throughout emphasizing following God's design and not the world's. Two topics I would like to have seen developed differently were the marriage vows and going out portions.  

Overall, the books present the information clearly, thoroughly, and most importantly Biblically.  I would advise parents reading the book beforehand and speaking to their children afterwards instead of just giving the child to read this book individually due to the content.  I think they are a wonderful resource to jump start dialogue.

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Be Slow

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Ecclesiastes 7:9

Did you know that the Bible tells us that it is man's glory to pass over a transgression (Proverbs 19:11)? Or that a prudent man overlooks an insult (Proverbs 12:16)?  Furthermore that when we cover a transgression, we are seeking love (Proverbs 17:9)?

Too often, we take things the wrong way, jumping to the wrong conclusions, and therefore passing judgement over people and situations.  


We are are hasty in our spirit to be angry.
What does that mean?

We are being quick-tempered.  We want to give in to our fleshly desires and are actually looking for the opportunity to do so.  But the screaming and slamming are only the manifestations of the already brooding heart.  

So we have to target it at the root--the heart.

There is something there that has not been resolved.  Although it camouflages itself at times behind fake smiles and good times, it is still there festering.  Maybe it is an unresolved conflict with someone where there has not been forgiveness or a situation that we can not wrap our understanding around?  The anger is there swelling in our hearts until we explode or implode.

Let's not.

Let's stop making excuses for harboring this volatile emotion and deal with the issue.  Let's not just curb   behavior (although that may be a good starting point) but let's get at the root of the cause.  

Let's be slow.  
Let's be slow to react and quick to reflect.
Let's forgive.
Let's love.  Let's extend grace and receive grace as well.  

Let's make our hearts infertile ground for anger.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Be Limited

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 (KJV)

In keeping with the title of the post, I will attempt to be limited with my words on the subject.

The above verse tells us not to be two things--(1) rash and (2) hasty.

rash-displaying or proceeding from a lack of careful consideration of the possible consequences of an action

hasty-done or acting with excessive speed or urgency; hurried

Have you ever said anything you would like to take back?  Yes?  Me too.  That is the danger in speaking rashly or hastily--you can never take back the words you have uttered.  Once they leave your mouth and reach the recipient's hearing, they are out never again to be retrieved.  

Because of this, the Bible cautions us to be mindful that:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue:  and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. 
Proverbs 18:21 (KJV)

We do not want to be rash or hasty to speak death over anyone or anything.  On the contrary, we should be slow to speak (James 1:19).  Let us not yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin  (Romans 6:13) but rather let us present our bodies as a living sacrifice since we know that both sweet and bitter water can not flow from the same fountain (James 3:10,11).  

We are told why we are not to be rash or hasty--God is in heaven and we are on earth.  


So let us be limited in what we say.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Be Devoted

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  
Romans 12:10

devoted-very loving or loyal
synonyms:  faithful, true, staunch, steadfast, constant, committed

There is something unique, almost extinct, in today's culture--commitment.  More and more we see people calling it quits in their marriages, the ministry, their church in search of the elusive dream (fantasy) life that does not exist and can never satisfy.  They are only committed to one thing--change.  Out with the old and in the new at alarming rates.

The Bible teaches us differently.  We are to be loyal, faithful, true, steadfast, constant, and committed to one another in brotherly love.  Simply put--nothing should ever hinder us from loving one another.  Now here is when things get a little "sticky" because people can have differing views on what love looks like.  We would all do well to take our notions of love and throw them in the garbage and stick to what the Word teaches us about love.  

The preceding verse tells us:

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Romans 10:9

Our relationships must be founded on love (God is Love) and established in truth.  I can not say that I love my brother and yet withhold truth from him.  

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18

This is not popular.  It is not easy.  But it is the essential in any Christian relationship.  We must be willing to share the truth with our spouses, our children, our family in Christ when it is hard to do so, unpopular to do so, and unpleasant to do so.  Anything less than the truth is a lie, and thus sin.  

We are called to hate what is evil.  Lying is evil.  So truth is the only option for the Christian.  We must cling to what is good.  God is good.  In Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  We are called to walk in light and thus have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).  

Our walk in the Lord does not consist of winning Ms. Popular.  A relationship founded on flattery is a false one.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  
Proverbs 27:6

Will we mess up?  Say things not seasoned with salt?  Do things without wisdom?  Sure.  But if we are devoted to one another in brotherly love, I can trust that wound was wrought about in love.  Would you rather someone hurt you while trying to save you from oncoming traffic or someone who just watches you get hit because they wanted to make sure they weren't the ones who hurt you?  

Let's be devoted to one another.  Let love cover a multitude of  sins amongst us.  The devil is an opportunist and will seize the moment to cause division among the brethren if we let him.  Let's not.  

Rather, let's honor one another more than ourselves.  Let us not make assumptions about one another and judge one another according our standards.  Let us consider others better than ourselves.  Let us elevate our brother in our hearts from our limited mindsets and see them through the blood of Christ.  

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  
1 Corinthians 13:6,7

Monday, May 12, 2014

Be Inclusive

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Romans 12:16 (NASB)

As children of God, we know that we are to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) and peace seekers (Romans 12:8).  The question remains how do we do this?

The first step in living in peace with our family in Christ is to have an accurate view of ourselves.  In Romans 12:16, we are told not to be haughty in mind, not to be proud.

proud-feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.

We are not to take pride in what we have accomplished, what we own, nor in who we know.  That is worldliness (1 John 2:16).  Instead we are to boast in the cross (Galatians 6:14).  We can boast in all  Jesus Christ has done and Who He is!  

If we are practicing pride, we will not be able to associate with the lowly.  We will only want to associate with those who can do something for us.  We will use people to our convenience and never develop true relationships with one another.  Our continual pretense will prohibit any true fellowship.  

The NIV tells us to be willing to associate with people of low position or be willing to do menial work.  I love that!  Let's first step out of our comfort zone and reach out to sisters in Christ across age groups, stations in life, or anything else that may separate us into different categories.  Away with the boundaries!  We should be able to glean wisdom from the widowed grandmother to the unmarried college student.  We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).  Let's not look at what separates us but WHO unites us:)

Secondly, let's be willing to do menial work.  I have often told my children that everyone wants to serve the Lord with a microphone in their hands and only a few with a broom in their hands.  Preaching the Word is beautiful, but it is not the only way we can serve the Lord.  Picking up the paper from your church's floor, sending an encouraging text to a new believer, or cleaning the bathroom during church clean up is also service.  Let's not work to the eye but unto the Lord (Colossians 3:22-23).

Let's look for those God provided opportunities to include  those we would not be likely to fellowship with and foster deeper relationships.  Let us do everything, even those menial jobs as unto the Lord.  Let's be more inclusive in fellowship and in work.  Let us remember that we brought nothing into the world and we will take nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:7).  So let's not be prideful but boast only in the cross!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review: Essential Atlas of the Bible

In Essential Atlas of the Bible, author Carl G. Ramsmussen's work 'is designed to help you better understand the history and places of the Bible and it's world.  With this easy-to-understand atlas, you'll find Bible study more engaging and comprehensible, and you'll learn the essential facts about the fascinating lands of the Bible.'

The book is beautiful.  It is filled with pictures, charts, and maps.  It is also filled with information.  The book is divided into two sections-geographical and historical.  The geographical section is very short (about 30 pages) and not my favorite due to the topic, not the writing style.  Although, I find the information well presented, the topic itself does not appeal to me.

The second section is a different story.  The historical section is packed with information that engages the reader.  One is captivated by the story and able to visualize the context far better because of the photos, maps, and charts.  There is a wealth of information covered from the pre-patriarchal period through the seven churches of Revelation.  (The last section is specifically for Jerusalem.)  Although a lot of data is given, it does not feel rushed or as if there are some huge gaps missing.  There are various Bible verses throughout and even a Scripture index which is useful when you want to look up a specific Scripture pertaining to a location.  

My only concern with this title is on page 53 in which the author mentions some "updated" material which seemed to attempt to question the credibility of the copyists and editors thus infusing confusion as to the validity of the Biblical text.

Although the actual apportionment took place during the days of Joshua and Eleazar the son of Aaron (14:1;19:51), later copyists and editors of the book of Joshua seem to have "updated" the lists of cities mentioned as belonging to the various tribes.

Overall, this book is a good resource for indepth study.  The back of the book states that it can be used in small group discussion, Sunday school classes, or in personal devotions, however, I  look forward to using it in my homeschool setting.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

Be Selective

Be not deceived:  evil communications corrupt good manners.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (KJV)

We have dealt with the importance of being realistic, knowing that what we sow, we will reap.  Today, I want us to focus on something specifically--communication.

communication-the imparting or exchanging of information or news

The Bible warns us that evil communications corrupt good manners or good character (NIV).  So based on our above definition, we must realize that we are receiving as well as giving.  Let's not make the mistake of limiting communication to verbal.  Remember it is the imparting or exchanging of information.  Communication is occurring constantly whether we realize it or not.  Therefore, we have to be extremely selective.

Let's begin by looking at the receiving end--what communication am I receiving?  I firmly believe that what we spend our time on is what is important to us.  Therefore, if I spend big time slots pursuing my own desires while ignoring the ministry of wifehood and motherhood, that hobby, TV show, ministering to others, etc., is more important than my family.  

Being selective in our communication begins with having the right priorities.  We should seek to communicate with God continuously.  Beginning our day with calling out to Him and reading His Word are vital spiritual disciplines.  Devotional books and/or any other books should in no way replace the Bible just as listening to sermons should not replace your prayer time.  We have a direct connection to God, let's use it!

What do you watch?  What do you read?  What do you listen to?

Many can take the approach that they are allowed to watch/listen/read things they wouldn't allow their children to watch/listen/read.  We justify ourselves by stating that they are not old enough to see such things or understand certain themes.  These are excuses to justify our carnality.  It is also hypocrisy.  Our heavenly Father doesn't want us to listen/watch/read those things either.

I will set before my eyes 
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I
they will not cling to me.
Psalm 101:3

God does not want us to contaminate ourselves with the filth of this world because He knows that it will corrupt us and our families.  We can not feed our minds and hearts with the trash of sin portrayed in the media and think that we can remain pure.  

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the food feeds on trash.
Proverbs 15:14 (NLT)

Let's not be deceived.  Let us be selective in what we are spending our time reading/watching/listening.  

Now let's have a look at what we are giving.  What do our husbands hear come out of our mouths?  How do we discipline our children?  How do we handle unexpected situations?  Do our family members see us live out the Gospel we preach?

We must be selective about the words we see and the actions we take.  We must have boundaries that are not to be crossed both in marriage and with our children.  Saying or doing hurtful, spiteful things can easily be avoided when boundaries are set.  (For example,  don't threaten your spouse with divorce or discipline your children in anger.)

Remember that communication is not always verbal.  Sometimes the silence we take says more than any spoken word.  It can be that deafening silence that invokes fear, disapproval, and rejection.  Do we want that to be our communication?  Instead, let us turn to our Father and ask Him for help to communicate as clearly and thoroughly as possible to avoid any misunderstandings.  

Let us seek to have an ongoing communication with Jesus to avoid corruption of our character and that of our families.  Let us be extremely selective about what we set before our eyes and tune our ears to.  Ears to hear and eyes to see--both are gifts from the LORD (Proverbs 20:12 NLT)  Let us not be deceived into thinking that what we feed on will not affect what we serve to others.  

Be Patient

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
James 5:7-8

Slow down.


These are words we would think about when driving not living.  Our lives sound more like, "Let's go...hurry up."

We are not prone to waiting.  We actually dislike it.  But the Word of God often tells us to do just that--wait.  Why?

One reason is growth.

The farmer knows that when he throws his valuable seed into the ground, it will not sprout immediately.  He knows there is a time of cultivation and growth that must take place before harvest.

We must be careful to do the same.

Last week, we discussed being realistic about what we were sowing.  This week we are discussing waiting.  Now that you have taken care of sowing for the eternal and not the temporal, it's time to wait.

There is a time for
and a season for every
activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a
time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2

The farmer is aware that seasons are vital.  We would do well to take note of our seasons.  Are you married?  Have children?  Well, then that is your season.  As a wife and mother you are in an edifying season.  You are to help your husband and train your children.

What happens if you neglect these seasons?  Well, for instance, if you fail to be a wise woman who builds her home, you will be the foolish one that tears it down with her own hands.  Eventually, your lack of acknowledging your season as a wife will result in a broken home.

What if training your children is not on your radar?

A foolish son brings grief to
his father
and bitterness to the one
who bore him.
Proverbs 17:25

There is so much negativity in women fulfilling their Biblical roles.  The world would have us think that being a wife is subservient and mothering is a part-time job secondary to our own pursuits.  But the Bible tells us otherwise.

He who finds a wife finds
what is good
and receives favor from the
Proverbs 18:22

We are called to bring our husbands good not harm, all the days of his life (Proverbs 31:12).  If you are married, that is your season--bringing your husband good.    After your relationship with Jesus, this is the most important relationship we as wives should be tending.

If you are a mother, then this is the season to train and discipline your children.  Since your children are growing, so are you.  What they require from you as a mother will continuously change (diaper changes, homework, advice) but what they receive from you should be a constant, consistent woman of God who fears the Lord.

During the waiting there will be growth.  Growth in our husbands.  Growth in our children.  Growth in us.  Sometimes it will not be evident  At other times, it may be miniscule.  But nevertheless, growth is occurring.  We do not walk by sight, but by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Let us not grow impatient with our husband's, children's, or even our own growth.  Let us trust in the Lord who is the only One Who can give the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6,7).  As we wait, let us not become discouraged.  He Who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).  Let us allow patience to finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: Gospel Assurance & Warnings

In Gospel Assurance & Warnings, Paul Washer 'shines the light of gospel hope as he cautions against the dangers of making an empty profession of faith and carefully explains from Scripture the basis for establishing and maintaining a sound assurance of faith.'

Having read Paul Washer's second book in his Recovering the Gospel series, I looked with anticipation at being able to read the third part.  I was not disappointed.  The making of a well written book is one that takes you to the Scriptures and not man's opinion.  Washer does just that.  Each page is saturated with Scripture references.  

The book is divided into two sections.  The first part is titled Biblical Assurance and the second part is titled Gospel Warnings, or Warnings to Empty Confessors.  In this book, Washer takes us through 1 John to demonstrate how the believer can be assured of his salvation and how the unbeliever should be convicted of his lost state.  The distinctions Washer makes are relevant.  Preaching a watered-down gospel produces false converts.  The consequences are catastrophic--leading multitudes to hell.

Washer is not condemning nor condescending.  He sticks to the Word of God as the ultimate authority. The severity of the subject matter and the love Washer has for the souls is evident.  After each chapter, there are personal reflections, warnings, and encouragement.  

His exposition of Scripture will give you plenty to contemplate.  One of my favorite parts is his clarification of eternal life on page 148:

The first, most common error is to regard eternal life as merely a quantity of time rather than a quality of life and ignore the nature of it.  

This book serves not only as a warning to the false convert, but as an admonishment to the believer.  Let us not grow weary.  

I highly recommend this book for every believer so that through reading it, he may be reassured concerning his salvation and encouraged to remain in Jesus.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Be Vigilant

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

How many times have we fallen prey to the enemy's plans and then thought why?  I knew he was coming and what he was up to, so why did I fall into his trap?  Sometimes, we simply have failed to exercise self-control and have lacked alertness.

We live in a time of excess.  Rarely do we have one of anything.  How can you when the 2 for 1 deals abound?  This excess culture has also given birth to an entitlement mentality.  I work hard all week so I deserve this or that, right?  WRONG!

but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:14,15

It is easy to cast off restraint and indulge in things we know not to because we believe the mood/circumstance dictates it, but we are called to be self-controlled.

self-control-the ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, esp. in difficult situations.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
1 Peter 3:4-5

Some time ago, I had done a study by Elizabeth George regarding putting on a quiet and gentle spirit.  It went something like:

A gentle spirit does not create disturbances and a quiet spirit does not react to the disturbances caused by others. 

I really loved that.  I don't create disturbances and I don't react to anyone else's disturbances.  I can exercise self-control.  My emotions don't have to guide and control me.  I control them.  Or better put, the Holy Spirit in me controls them.  I am not controlled by anyone else.  I am free to exercise self-control.  It is beautiful.  

The second command is to be alert.  

alert-quick to notice any unusual and potentially dangerous or difficult circumstances; vigilant.

Because our enemy is not standing in physical face to face combat against us, it can be easy to forget he's around.  But he is and he is prowling around like a lion seeking someone to devour.  He doesn't forget his target, his enemy--YOU and ME!  We would be wise not to forget our enemy whose sole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 5:12).  We would do well to remember he is unseen, does not take vacations, is ruthless. and relentless.  

Therefore, let us be vigilant.  Too often, the enemy gains footholds because we have grown careless, distracted, or entertained.  We see the danger approaching and fail to sound the trumpet and will be held accountable (Ezekiel 33:6).  Maybe you see something in your husband or your children and even in yourself but fail to pray about it and submit to the Spirit's guidance.  You think, "It's not that bad.  I don't want to make a big deal about it.  I am sure God will deal with it."  Woman of God, you are called to watch over the affairs of your household and not eat the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).  Remember it is the little foxes that ruin the vineyards that are in bloom (Song of Songs 2:15).

If you know there is a particular vulnerability in your life, seek help.  The enemy usually works in cycles.  He is not creative at all and will keep each of us in captivity if we don't allow Jesus to set us free.  Perhaps, you have struggled with a particular sin or your mind has not been renewed in a particular area.  The enemy knows this area of weakness and you know the triggers as well.  The enemy will whisper a lie that if left undetected will slowly begin to wreak havoc on your thoughts.  Now you no longer see the Holy Spirit's work in your life but the big failure the enemy makes you out to be.   Bring that thought captive.  Speak to your husband about it or a mature sister in Christ.  Stop the enemy in his tracks before he gets going on his plan of destruction for you.  Be alert!

God is so good.  When we are living self-controlled lives we have born fruit of the Spirit.  We belong to Christ Jesus and have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).  Therefore, we can be alert.  We can be vigilant.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

Monday, April 14, 2014

Be Realistic

Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:7 (KJV)  

In a culture where all we see is what a person posts on their Instagram/Facebook feed, we can be deceived.  What we post in our feeds can deceive others too.  Why?  Because those are moments captured and not our actual lives. 

Our lives are complex, filled with emotions, and unpredictable.  It is what makes it beautiful.  We don't know the details, but He does.  

What He lets us know in His Word is-DO NOT BE DECEIVED!

Do not look at what someone else is doing and think they have the most wonderful life and yours, well isn't.

Do not portray your life as a movie always filled with adventure, intrigue, suspense, etc, well because it's not.  There's the mundane too and that's normal.  That's actually reality.  

So now that we have a grasp on not being deceived and not deceiving, let us look at the why.  

God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

God wants us to be realistic about our lives.  What are we sowing?  

Are we sowing complaining and nagging seeds into our husbands that are driving them right to the roof (Proverbs 21:9)?  Are we belittling our children and thus, discouraging their little hearts (Colossians 3:21)?  Are we gossiping about our family in Christ and thus separating close friends (Proverbs 16;28)?  Our we wasting time sowing seeds into how we look outwardly knowing that beauty is fading (Proverbs 31:30) and not concerned whether we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27)?

If we have been planting these seeds or anything similar, we need to repent.

"'But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you:  I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life.  you will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.  
Leviticus 26:16

Let us take heed to God's instructions.  His Word is complete.  It provides ABSOLUTELY every direction, guidance, and instruction for our lives.  God's Word gives us counsel on everything we will ever go through.  

Let us not be deceived into thinking that we can ignore God's Word and we are going to live victoriously on earth much less make it to heaven.  Remember His true disciples remain in His Word (John 8:31).  

Each us needs to make an assessment of what we have been sowing.  Are you dissatisfied with your spiritual growth?  How much seeds have you been sowing in that field through prayer, fasting, and the studying of God's Word?  Are you experiencing familial conflicts?  Do you plant with love and hope or strife and discouragement?  Are you in financial dilemma? Have you been spending your seeds at the sales, hoarding it in savings, or giving generously?  

Only the Lord can open our eyes that we can see ourselves through His Word.  Let us not only pray to be delivered from the devil's deceptions but those that come from our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review: 101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation

101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation illustrated by Dan Andreasen is a great compilation of stories throughout the Old and New Testament.  The stories are targeted for 6-10 year-olds.   The amount of stories proportioned to the Old and New Testament seems to be equal.  The stories are condensed to one page with an illustration on the opposite side.  Instead of including eight stories about Creation, I would have preferred for some other non-traditional stories from the Old Testament to have been included.  The illustrations are simply beautiful.  However, I could have done without the curvy Eve or the bare-chested Samson.  The New Testament stories are a good balance of Jesus' life and teachings.  There are only a few stories dealing with the Church and Jesus' return.  

Overall, this book is a very good resource for children.  The illustrations are sweet and gentle (with the exception of the two aforementioned).  The amount of reading would be better suited for the younger of this age category and can be used with even younger ones in a Sunday school setting. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Knowing God by Name

In Knowing God by Name; Names of God that Bring Hope and Healing, David Wilkerson seeks to "help you know your heavenly Father on a heart-to-heart level, revealing His protection, care, discipline and loving guidance in your life."

David Wilkerson presents a study of eleven names, or attributes, of God in order that the reader may learn more about God's role in our lives.  He does a phenomenal job in presenting the material in a clear manner.  While authoritative in his use of the Scriptures, Wilkerson humbly approaches the subject with  delicacy.  Not wanting his words to serve as the foundation of his writing, Wilkerson constantly uses the Bible to provide example after example of our loving God.  He does not limit the revelation of the characteristics of God to the Old Testament, but accurately demonstrates how all these characteristics are manifested in the Name of God--Jesus.  Wilkerson goes back and forth between the Old and New Testaments painting a clear picture for the reader.  He also interweaves personal testimonies to further illustrate his points.  My favorite chapters were Jehovah Tsebaioth, His Name if Forgiveness, and His Name is Intercessor.  

This book is a must read.  It will provide truth and encouragement for the believer wanting to know Jesus in a deeper level.

I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review.  This a Chosen book.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Be Prayerful

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

Throughout our day, many things strive to produce anxiety in us but God counsels us in His Word not be to anxious for anything, absolutely NOTHING.  God knows that anxiety is fear and if we fear we are not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

First, let us begin by identifying any anxiety symptoms in our lives?

Do you second guess your decisions?
Are you constantly replaying events that already happened?
Do you make up potential scenarios of what might happen if you do/say so or so?

Some of the time, fear occurs solely in the mind, but it can have physical symptoms.

Do you feel your stomach in knots at the thought of x, y, and z?
Does your heart beat a bit faster at the thought of confrontation?
Do you sense the heat turned up when you encounter John Doe?

Whether it is mental or physical or both, God wants us to fear nothing but in everything make it known to Him in prayer.  

Let us look at His instructions:

1.  Pray-talk to God
Talk to Him about the situation whatever it is and get to the root of the fear.  Maybe it is a fear of rejection or failure?  Expect to hear from Him as He ministers you, revealing the roots and filling you with His love and peace.

2. Supplication-ask God
The Bible tells us if we lack wisdom ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to us (James 1:5).  The Bible also guides us to ask others for counsel (Proverbs 15:22).  Ak God to give you wisdom and lead you to those counselors.

3.  Thanksgiving-thank God
Remember that fear wants us to look at it and not at God.  So let us keep our focus on God giving Him our wholehearted worship and praise for Who He is and what He has already done.  

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  We must remember to draw near to Him constantly in prayer pouring our hearts out to Him, knowing that His perfect love drives out fear.  When we sense anxiety trying to creep its way into our thoughts, let us be quick to turn to Jesus in prayer.  Look at the result of praying instead of worrying.  

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 (emphasis mine)

When we pray, His peace is guarding our hearts and minds!

Can we change ourselves?
No, but He can!

Can we change others?
No, but He can!

Can we control situations?
No, but He does!

So let us not wallow in worry but rather be persistent in prayer.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Be Careful

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Ephesians 4:26 (KJV)

Anger is a controversial topic that need not produce anger in discussing it, although we may not take the same stance on it:)  I will attempt to illustrate my points as clearly as possible.  

Let's look at a basic definition of anger.

anger-a strong feeling of displeasure aroused by a wrong

Now while I strongly agree that God allows us to feel anger towards injustice (John 2:12-25), I do not succumb to the idea that we anger is a normal part of everyone's life.  Let me explain.  

The anger towards injustice is when our compassion is aroused at the mistreatment of another person.  For example, if we see a husband berating his wife or vice versa or a child hitting a parent.  Since these are things that are a definite NO in God's Word, we may feel anger toward the situation.  Since we serve a holy God, our desire to see justice served may be aroused.

However, this is completely different than when we get angry because we have been wronged.  In the above example, God's Word, His Love, His Justice are the focus.  When we are wronged and become angry, the focus shifts to "me."  

Why did he/she do that to me?
I can't believe their audacity?
I would never do that!

The list goes on and on but God is not the center.  And this is when we have to be careful because our emotions can lead us to sin.  They can cloud us to viewing things one way (our way) and not the Lord's way.  

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 
Colossians 3:8

Anger gives the enemy such a foothold (Ephesians 4:27) that we must rid ourselves of it.  Look at the above succession of what anger produces:

I am angry-I don't like what happened
I have rage-I have a violent desire
I have malice-I have a desire to inflict injury
I slander-I make false statements
I have filthy language-I use vile and vulgar words

I am completely convinced that we are to get rid of anger through an active resistance to it because  man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:20).  

Anger is an option, but not the only one.  We can choose humility.  

Let us be peacemakers and peace seekers always making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).  Let us not fester in anger but resolve the matter-today.  Do not go to sleep with those thoughts/emotions. 

When they hurled their insults at him he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made not threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:23

In light of what we've learned today, we have decisions to make. Let us be careful with allowing anger becoming a part of our lives because it will control us.  We are to be led by the Spirit and not by our emotions.  As we become less focused on "me" we will be able to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  He sees and knows it all.  It is better to make room for God to handle situations (Romans 12:19) and not take matters into our own hands.  Let us learn from Jesus and make no provision for our flesh (Romans 13:14).  Let us strive for peace today and always, not giving the devil any footholds.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Be Wise

Be very careful, the, how you live--not as unwise but as wise making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

If you wrote a list detailing how you spend the majority of your day, what activities/responsibilities would it include?  Now if you wrote a list of your priorities, what /who would that list list include?  Lastly, if you took both lists, do they coincide?  Do you spend your time on your priorities?  If not, the Bible offers us encouragement.

The first truth we see in the above verses is a warning to be careful.  Time is a valuable God-given resource (This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24) that can never be recovered/replaced.  If we wasted time, it is gone--forever.  Unfortunately, we can take time for granted assuming it will always be there (James 4:14-15).  but it won't   One day each of us will step into eternity and the sum of our days here on earth will end.  Look up at you first list.  Are those activities of eternal value or are they the squandering of time?  Be careful how you live.  

The Bible tells us not live as the unwise.  How do they live?  The unwise squander time.  Having no concept of time, they waste their time and yours, if you let them.  They invest their time on temporal things.  Theirs is a constant chasing of the wind.  Their eyes roam to the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24).  They lack vision and purpose.  They have unrealistic expectations.  Because their minds are so earth minded (Colossians 3:2), they assume things will continue as it has since the beginning (2 Peter 3:3-4).

We are to be wise knowing that the day of the Lord will appear (2 Peter 3:10), therefore let us make the most of every opportunity.  How can we accomplish this?  Grab your second list, the one with your priorities.  Are they congruent to what God states should be your priorities (Matthew 6:33)?  If loving the Lord your God is your top and only priority, everything will flow from there because we need Him for everything.  He must be our everything or He will be our nothing.  Being a wife, mother, homeschooler, pastor, teacher, etc. are all important, but they can never and must never be above Jesus (Mark 12: 29-31).

His will is for us to know Him (John 17:3).  Therefore let us spend our time getting to know Him. Irregular and infrequent prayer and study of His Word won't do.  Eliminate everything on your first list that robs God's time for you to seek Him.  Turn off the gadgets and tune in to HIM-your Savior, Healer, Deliverer, your Life!

Once you have gone to Him first for rest, refreshment, and refinement, then all your other priorities will be done with His love, wisdom, and strength.  We won't have to depend on our strength which is really nonexistent.  We will use our time wisely enjoying fellowship with His Holy Spirit while speaking with our husbands, teaching our children, and serving the Lord.  We will be storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).  

No longer will we be exhausted at the end of the day with nothing to show for it other than a day wasted in fleshly pursuits.  We will be wise women building our homes and not foolish ones tearing them down (Proverbs 14:1).  We will watch over the affairs our household and not eat the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).   Let us make the most of every opportunity to know Jesus and share Jesus knowing that the days are evil.

As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.  Night is coming, when no one can work.  
John 9:4)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Be Discerning

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Ephesians 5:6,7

The Bible tells us that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32).  Therefore, just as knowing the truth is paramount to freedom, deception is the key to slavery.

Can you recall someone telling you something about yourself that you now know to be a lie?  How did those words effect you?  Well, if you believed their lies, you became deceived and most likely began to view yourself through that lying lens.  Its affects in your life were probably hurtful and debilitating.  But by the grace of God, Jesus has set us free!

So now we no longer believe the lies right?  Well, unfortunately, sometimes we like to revisit the places we feel most comfortable.  Like those old slippers which are worn out but you refuse to throw out.  And why should you?  They have assimilated to your feet.  Buying new ones means breaking them in-a process that may be a little uncomfortable and time consuming.  Just like the slippers that are past due, so are the lies.  It's time to take both to the trash.

Many times we don't think we are falling under deception, but that's exactly the problem with deception.  It can be so subtle, it's hard to detect.  Maybe the lies are no longer blatant but they are there nevertheless.  The Bible warns us not be deceived by vain words.   Where could we possibly hear these vain words?  

We are constantly being bombarded with the world's vain words.  It has its own standard of how we should dress, what we should own, and what we deserve.  The world will seek to puff you up telling you how it is not vanity to buy that dress...I mean you are representing the King right?  But the Word challenges us to be concerned with clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).  The world will tell you to buy more and the latest.  I mean you have to keep yourself relevant to the times right?  But the Word says the world and its desires pass away,  but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).  The world tells us we deserve a break, a girl's night out to be refreshed whereas the Word says that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).  These are just to name a few.  

Buying a new outfit or having some quiet time are not "bad" in of themselves.  But if your motives are aligned to the world's standards, they are.

So how do I know if I am under a deception?  If we read a little further down in Ephesians 5:8-11, we get valuable insight.

For you were once darkness, but now your are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Are you living in light?  
Is there anything do, say, partake in, or even meditate on that is not consistent with bearing fruit of all goodness, righteousness, truth? 
Do you walk transparently before your Family in Christ?
How do you react when something you did/said comes into question?
Are you more interested in finding out what pleases the Lord in a situation rather than making decisions based on your desires?

If I find myself being deceived by the world's empty words, how do I get out from under this deception?

1.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness
Cut these influences from your life immediately.  Remember if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off (Mark 9:45).  Likewise cut off anything that is serving as a stumbling block in your walk with the Lord.

2.  Expose them
Confess the deception to a leader in your church.  Don't keep any secrets with the devil.  Not only with this leader help to hold you accountable but they will also help you pray for the situation.

The Bible tells us to test everything and hold on to the good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  What God says is good.  What He does is good.  He is good (Psalm 34:8).  So let's use the discernment He has given us to call what is evil, evil and not call good what is evil (Isaiah 5:20).  Then we will come out from any deception and remain under His truth.