Friday, April 29, 2011

Bible Study: Coming Out of Bondage - Exodus - Chapter 28


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Exodus. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.

Stacey


Take a few minutes to savor Exodus Chapter 28. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


28:4 – robe – a priestly garment. Turban – the royal diadem. Aaron is a shadow of the king-priest in the order of Melchizedek. See Genesis 14:18-20, Hebrews 7:1-3.


What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bible Study: Coming Out Of Bondage - Exodus - Chapter 27


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Exodus. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.

Stacey


Take a few minutes to savor Exodus Chapter 27. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…



27:1-8 – the altar of burnt offering – see John 1:29. See 38:1-7.

27:1 – acacia wood – resisted decay and bore heavy, sharp thorns. These qualities represented Christ. Scholars believe this choice of wood represented Christ’s humanity. See 38:1.

27:2 – horns – used to tie the sacrifice down. Do you recall another sacrifice that was trapped by its horns? See Genesis 22:13. See 38:2.

Jesus is the horn of our salvation (Psalm 18:2). He secured Himself to a cross to be our substitute sacrifice (Genesis 22:13). He anointed us with His Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13). He leads us to victory (Joshua 6:13, 20).

27:21 – keep the lamps burning from evening to morning – symbolic of the pillar of fire?


What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Refreshment in Refuge by Gina Burgess

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Refreshment in Refuge

WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011)

***Special thanks to Gina Burgess for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Gina studied journalism in college, took a detour to raise two beautiful daughters, then graduated Magna Cum Laude from Midwestern State University after twenty-five years. Gina’s first love is using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. She is committed to bringing God glory with her writing.

She’s been an editor for several publications, including Lifestyles Editor at her home town newspaper the Picayune Item; a weekly column for Studylight.org; and bi-weekly columns at www.EverydayChristian.com.
She's a book reviewer for several publishers, and has taught Sunday School and Discipleship since 1970.

Visit the author's blog.
Visit the author's book review blog.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A little dog revived with rain, a desperate woman comforted by warm arms, an intimate look at Mary Magdalene’s thoughts the morning Christ arose, and a woman’s unselfish desire are a few of the stories in this volume about living the Christian life. They illustrate some extraordinary paradigm breaks and parallels in living as Christ would have His Bride live. Sometimes everyday living creates a fog over our spiritual enlightenment, dulling our understanding and even our relationship with God. Other times, we get entangled in the worries and cares of the world. Christ’s light will guide us to clear thinking, and He will burn off that fog, just like sunshine. Refreshment in Refuge is a collection of stories and studies of how to make Christ the ruler of our heart, allowing the Son to dissipate the fog of trials and troubles that invade our lives on a daily basis.


Product Details:

List Price: $17.95
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781449712129
ISBN-13: 978-1449712129
ASIN: 1449712126

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Refreshing


The man gave the bolt a final twist and stepped back from under the hood of the car. He wiped his grimy hands on a rag and then stuffed it in his back pocket. He gave a satisfied sigh as he headed to the office and the coffee pot. The coffee was strong and fresh, just like he liked it. Tossing a grin to Gertrude, his part time office help, he said, “Gertie, call Kent Boudreaux and let him know his car is ready and he can pick it up any time today.”

With only a little regret, he set his cup down and headed to back the repaired car from the bay and bring in another to work on. Thank goodness God was good to provide so much work when the economy was so bad. Just as the back wheels cleared the bay doors, one of them ran over something. He didn’t have a clue what it could have been, since it had only been a couple of hours since he’d driven the car in the bay. Then his heart constricted and he groaned in sudden agony.

Alfie’s job was to meet and greet all customers that came into the shop. His throne was the cushioned chair that was next to the desk. Sure it was grimy, but it was comfortable for a small, snowy white, very fluffy dog. Normally, Alfie rarely ventured into the bay area. He preferred the cool office and comfy cushion to the cool, but mucky shop floor. Alfie was the beloved owner of the man and his family. His other job was to give love and happiness to those he loved best.

The man climbed from the car, dreading what he must surely find.

His fear was confirmed when he saw Alfie lying still and flat under the car. Tears welled up, and his heart wrenched again. Suddenly, the bright day darkened to night. The dog must have scooted out the door when he got coffee. Even though he wasn’t allowed in the shop, the dog had obviously disobeyed the standing command.

He cradled the little dog in his arms, unsure of what to do. The lifeless form just lay there; head lolled back and tiny pink tongue slack instead of happily panting. The shop owner sat down in a grease-smudged chair with the dog across his lap. What should he do? How would he tell his sweet wife and those precious girls what had happened to their sweet, adoring Alfie? Finally, he decided to put the dog in the dog food bag, and place him in the dumpster because he couldn’t possibly bring Alfie home to bury; and in this concrete garden called New Orleans, there wasn’t anywhere to bury a pet. He just couldn’t possibly bring the little thing home to bury. His daughters would be inconsolable.

The rest of the day, he worried and fretted how to tell the family they had lost one of their own that day. There was no good way to do it, so he blurted out as soon as he made it home, “I ran over Alfie at the shop today.”

The family mourned, and rain began to patter against their home’s windows. God, it seemed, was sharing the family’s grief.

The next morning, the man found no joy in his morning routine. Alfie didn’t jump all over him, ready to do morning walk, no cheerful clink of food in his bowl. Going to work was a heavy chore. Sighing heavily, all the way to work, he opened the shop for daily work, sans his beloved, tiny, fluffy companion.

The coffee had just finished brewing when the owner of the neighboring body shop burst into the office. “Are you going to tell me why your dog is in the dumpster?”

“Well, Jeb, I know he’s in the dumpster. I didn’t have any place else to put him. I ran over him yesterday.

“No, you don’t understand. Your dog is barking and jumping and trying to get out of that dumpster!”

“What? Are you kidding me?” With joyful heart, the man ran to the dumpster and grabbed up that fluffy bundle of excitement. That little pink tongue was exploring every inch of his face. That little dog had only been knocked out, and the most refreshing rain, that gift from God, had refreshed and revived him. Alfie wasn’t dead after all, he just needed reviving.

a



Today, how many Christians look dead? How many are asleep at the wheel or get knocked silly by being someplace they are not supposed to be? Disobedience breaks fellowship with the LORD, and we can’t afford that when we are to be ready for that great and glorious day the Father looks at His only begotten Son and says, “Go get Your Bride, Son.” Glory!

Paul tells the Ephesians And to you did he give life, when you were dead through your wrongdoing and sins, 2 in which you were living in the past, after the ways of this present world, doing the pleasure of the lord of the power of the air, the spirit who is now working in those who go against the purpose of God; 3 among whom we all at one time were living in the pleasures of our flesh, giving way to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and the punishment of God was waiting for us even as for the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 Bible in Basic English (1965)

Paul was talking about how they acted as unbelievers, but I have seen a lot of Believers act just like that recently. The Bride of Christ is sick these days, sick with the evil ways of the world and sick with disbelief. We can be like the Rich Young Ruler and say: These commands I have kept, I have not sinned. But, how many of us have watched a movie lately in which God’s name was blasphemed? How many of us worry and fret, harbor anger, bitterness, jealousy, seek vengeance, are critical of others, controlling, gossip, pray by rote, fudge the truth, go places we shouldn’t go, do things in secret that we’d die if it were printed on the front page of the newspaper? How many pirate music? How many think if it doesn’t hurt other people, it is okay? How many haven’t returned something that was borrowed? How many of us allow work, family, hobbies, playtime come first instead of the LORD?

How many of us have given up on a brother or sister in Christ because he looks dead? How often have we thrown a sibling in the dumpster without thought to the prayers of a righteous man and the resuscitation process laid out by Jesus in Matthew 18: 15-17? Refreshment in the refuge of Jesus is what this book is about. We cannot give up on our siblings because it isn’t God’s plan. He created us and saved us for a mighty purpose. We cannot give up on ourselves because God considered us worthy enough to send His precious Son to pay the ultimate Bride price for us.

Let me paraphrase Luke 8:17, not one thing happens in secret that won’t be found out, and not a single thing is done in the dark which will not be brought to light. But, why would we care more about what could be said of us in a front-page news story than what God thinks of us? How could it matter more than our precious relationship and that refreshing rain from above?

Revive us LORD Jesus, send your refreshing rain of blessings and awaken us from our dead sleep. Help us labor, watch and be ready. The Bride awaits her Groom. Come LORD Jesus and find Your Bride doing the mighty works prepared before the foundation of the world. Amen.


This column was inspired by one of my favorite preachers, Dr. Preston Nix. He is an Associate Professor at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Preach it, Brother, preach it.



Here is my review of this incredible non-fiction book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Gina Burgess and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Refreshment in Refuge" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Gina Burgess’ “Refreshment in Refuge” is a charming book of lessons learned by the author. These lessons are shared with the reader in short, engaging tales that make this less of a book and more of an afternoon on the couch with a cup of something warm listening to a friend.

The lessons shared are timeless ones. They are lessons that, in many cases, we must learn for ourselves rather than listening to the wise counsel of someone else. Still this volume entertains and enchants and breathes refreshment and advice. It would be a wonderful read for a book discussion group or a cherished gift for a loved one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bible Study: Coming Out Of Bondage - Exodus - Chapter 26


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Exodus. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.

Stacey


Take a few minutes to savor Exodus Chapter 26. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


26 – one entrance – see John 10:7-9.

26:14 – sea cows – the hide was used to make sandals. This outer covering wasn’t attractive. “But only those who dared to enter could behold the beauty hidden within. How like our Savior’s incarnate presence.” See Isaiah 53:2.

rams’ skins dyed red – “The ram was a sacrificial offering accepted as a substitution for Abram’s beloved son, Isaac. The ram was also the acceptable sacrifice for the consecration of the tabernacle priests. How beautifully the red rams’ skins picture our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!” See Hebrews 7:28; 9:26; Galatians 1:4.

curtain of goat’s hair – garments of hair were worn by Elijah and John the Baptist. These garments distinguished them as God’s chosen prophets. The third lining of the tabernacle ceiling symbolized a prophecy and promise of the Savior’s coming! See Malachi 4:5; John 1:23.

cherubim woven into the fine linen ceiling – although they could represent the heavenly host attending God, they may also portray the nurturing, sheltering wings of El Shaddai. See Psalm 17:8; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4.

26:33 – see Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:20.


What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Cowboy's Touch by Denise Hunter

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


A Cowboy's Touch

Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch. Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch.

Four years ago, rodeo celebrity Wade Ryan gave up his identity to protect his daughter. Now, settled on a ranch in Big Sky Country, he lives in obscurity, his heart guarded by a high, thick fence.

Abigail Jones isn’t sure how she went from big-city columnist to small-town nanny, but her new charge is growing on her, to say nothing of her ruggedly handsome boss. Love blossoms between Abigail and Wade--despite her better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548017
ISBN-13: 978-1595548016

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Abigail Jones knew the truth. She frowned at the blinking curser on her monitor and tapped her fingers on the keyboard-what next?


Beyond the screen's glow, darkness washed the cubicles. Her computer hummed, and outside the office windows a screech of tires broke the relative stillness ofthe Chicago night.


She shuffled her note cards. The story had been long in coming, but it was finished now, all except the telling. She knew where she wanted to take it next.


Her fingers stirred into motion, dancing across the keys. This was her favorite part, exposingtruth to the world. Well, okay, not the world exactly, not with Viewpoint's paltry circulation. But now, during the writing, it felt like the world.


Four paragraphs later, the office had shrunk away, and all that existed were the words on the monitor and her memory playing in full color on the screen of her mind.


Something dropped onto her desk with a sudden thud. Abigail’s hand flew to her heart, and her chair darted from her desk. She looked up at her boss’s frowning face, then shared a frown of her own. “You scared me.”


“And you’re scaring me. It’s after midnight, Abigail—what are you doing here?” Marilyn Jones’s hand settled on her hip.


The blast of adrenaline settled into Abigail’s bloodstream, though her heart was still in overdrive. “Being an ambitious staffer?”


“You mean an obsessive workaholic.”


“Something wrong with that?”


“What’s wrong is my twenty-eight-year-old daughter is working all hours on a Saturday night instead of dating an eligible bachelor like all the other single women her age.” Her mom tossed her head, but her short brown hair hardly budged. “You could’ve at least gone out with your sister and me. We had a good time.”


“I’m down to the wire.”


“You’ve been here every night for two weeks.” Her mother rolled up a chair and sank into it. “Your father always thought you’d be a schoolteacher, did I ever tell you that?”


“About a million times.” Abigail settled into the chair, rubbed the ache in her temple. Her heart was still recovering, but she wanted to return to her column. She was just getting to the good part.


“You had a doctor’s appointment yesterday,” Mom said. Abigail sighed hard.


“Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”


“Goes out the window when the doctor is your sister. Come on, Abigail, this is your health. Reagan prescribed rest—R-E-S-T—and yet here you are.”


“A couple more days and the story will be put to bed.”


“And then there’ll be another story.”


“That’s what I do, Mother.”


“You’ve had a headache for weeks, and the fact that you made an appointment with your sister is proof you’re not feeling well.”


Abigail pulled her hand from her temple. “I’m fine.”


“That’s what your father said the week before he collapsed.”


Compassion and frustration warred inside Abigail. “He was sixty-two.” And his pork habit hadn’t helped matters. Thin didn’t necessarily mean healthy. She skimmed her own long legs, encased in her favorite jeans . . . exhibit A.


“I’ve been thinking you should go visit your great-aunt.” Abigail already had a story in the works, but maybe her mom had a lead on something else. “New York sounds interesting. What’s the assignment?”


“Rest and relaxation. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Eloise—as if you’d get any rest there—I’m talking about your Aunt Lucy.”


Abigail’s spirits dropped to the basement. “Aunt Lucy lives in Montana.” Where cattle outnumbered people. She felt for the familiar ring on her right hand and began twisting.


“She seems a bit . . . confused lately.”


Abigail recalled the birthday gifts her great-aunt had sent over the years, and her lips twitched. “Aunt Lucy has always been confused.”


“Someone needs to check on her. Her latest letter was full of comments about some girls who live with her, when I know perfectly well she lives alone. I think it may be time for assisted living or a retirement community.”


Abigail’s eyes flashed to the screen. A series of nonsensical letters showed where she’d stopped in alarm at her mother’s appearance. She hit the delete button. “Let’s invite her to Chicago for a few weeks.”


“She needs to be observed in her own surroundings. Besides, that woman hasn’t set foot on a plane since Uncle Murray passed, and I sure wouldn’t trust her to travel across the country alone. You know what happened when she came out for your father’s funeral.”


“Dad always said she had a bad sense of direction.”


“Nevertheless, I don’t have time to hunt her down in Canada again. Now, come on, Abigail, it makes perfect sense for you to go. You need a break, and Aunt Lucy was your father’s favorite relative. It’s our job to look after her now, and if she’s incapable of making coherent decisions, we need to help her.”


Abigail’s conscience tweaked her. She had a soft spot for Aunt Lucy, and her mom knew it. Still, that identity theft story called her name, and she had a reliable source who might or might not be willing to talk in a couple weeks.


“Reagan should do it. I’ll need the full month for my column, and we can’t afford to scrap it. Distribution is down enough as it is. Just last month you were concerned—”


Her mother stood abruptly, the chair reeling backward into the aisle. She walked as far as the next cubicle, then turned. “Hypertension is nothing to mess with, Abigail. You’re so . . . rest- less. You need a break—a chance to find some peace in your life.” She cleared her throat, then her face took on that I’ve-made-up- my-mind look. “Whether you go to your aunt’s or not, I’m insisting you take a leave of absence.”


There was no point arguing once her mother took that tone. She could always do research online—and she wouldn’t mind visiting a part of the country she’d never seen. “Fine. I’ll finish this story, then go out to Montana for a week or so.”


“Finish the story, yes. But your leave of absence will last three months.”


“Three months!”



“It may take that long to make a decision about Aunt Lucy.”


“What about my apartment?”


“Reagan will look after it. You’re hardly there anyway. You need a break, and Moose Creek is the perfect place.”


Moose Creek. “I’ll say. Sounds like nothing more than a traffic signal with a gas pump on the corner.”


“Don’t be silly. Moose Creek has no traffic signal. Abigail, you have become wholly obsessed with—”


“So I’m a hard worker . . .” She lifted her shoulders.


Her mom’s lips compressed into a hard line. “Wholly obsessed with your job. Look, you know I admire hard work, but it feels like you’re always chasing something and never quite catching it. I want you to find some contentment, for your health if nothing else. There’s more to life than investigative reporting.”


“I’m the Truthseeker, Mom. That’s who I am.” Her fist found home over her heart.


Her mother shouldered her purse, then zipped her light sweater, her movements irritatingly slow. She tugged down the ribbed hem and smoothed the material of her pants. “Three months, Abigail. Not a day less.”

Here is my review of this fantastic read: First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Denise Hunter and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Cowboy's Touch" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me. Denise Hunter’s “A Cowboy’s Touch” is an incredibly entertaining and heart-warming novel. Ms. Hunter’s skill with character and plot development engaged my imagination and emotions to the extent that I was thoroughly invested in this read. She transported me to Big Sky Country with such vivid detail, I could almost smell the hay and horses. I felt like I took a vacation to Montana when I turned the final page of this wonderful romance. Wade is a widower and father to a pre-teen girl who is reaching the age where she needs a Mom. Many of the gals in town would willingly fill the bill, but Wade won’t give anyone the time of day because he holds himself responsible for his wife’s death. So he runs his ranch and remains as distant as he possibly can, hiding from his past. Abigail is a journalist on a mission: her great-aunt is getting older and the family wants to be sure that she is taking care of herself and not becoming senile. But their plan is two-fold: send Abigail away to check on their aunt and take a much-needed vacation for herself. Her own health issues stem from the stress of her job and life in Chicago. They lean on each other out of necessity: Wade needs a nanny for his daughter and Abigail needs a place to sleep other than her aunt’s lumpy couch. But when Abigail’s magazine is threatened, will she take advantage of the fact that she is living under a reclusive rodeo celebrity’s roof and expose his past to save her career?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Bible Study: Coming Out Of Bondage - Exodus - Chapter 25


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Exodus. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.

Stacey


Take a few minutes to savor Exodus Chapter 25. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


25:1-7 – God introduced the freewill offering. See Exodus 12:35-36 to see where they got the offering from.

25:3 – Gold, because of its rarity and purity, represents God’s deity. See Matthew 2:11, Revelation 21:21-22.

“…we offer God something more precious than gold when we joyfully lay down our sufferings on His altar and agree to be purified by the flames that threaten to consume us.”

“silver was a visual aid by which God introduced and taught the concept of redemption and atonement through ransom money.” See Exodus 30:11-16, Zechariah 11:12-13, Matthew 26:14-16, 27:3-10.


bronze appears to represent strength and judgment. See Numbers 21:5-9, Job 40:18. Revelation 1:12-15.

25:4 – blue yarn – blue reminds the Israelites of the tabernacle’s heavenly descent. See Isaiah 54:11, Ezekiel 1:26.

purple yarn – purple represents royalty, kingship and elegance. See Judges 8:26. Mark 15:17-18, Luke 16:19.

scarlet yarn – scarlet represents bloodshed, pain and sacrifice. See Isaiah 1:18.

fine linen symbolized righteousness. See Genesis 41:41-42, 1 Chronicles 15:25-27, Job 29:14, Psalm 132:9, Proverbs 31:24, Luke 23:52-53, Luke 24:12, Revelation 19:6-8, 11-16.

25:7 – precious stones seem to represent God’s children – His treasures. See Revelation 21:18-21.

25:8-9 – see Hebrews 8:5 – the OT tabernacle was a shadow and a copy of a heavenly reality.

“the pattern I will show you” – literally “which you are caused to see.” See 25:40.

this points to Jesus. He is the sanctuary, the tabernacle that would dwell among them. See John 1:14 – dwelt – skenoo – tabernacled.

25:8 – God will dwell with man until man goes to dwell with God.

25:10-20 – Arks were created to preserve things (Noah’s family and animals in Genesis 7:7, Moses in Exodus 2:3). The Hebrew word for “testimony” means witness. So, the ark of the testimony was created to preserve God’s witness. This Hebrew word for ark means coffin. The ark was gold on the outside, representing God the Father. It was wood in the center, representing Christ’s humanity. It was gold on the inside, representing the indwelling Holy Spirit. The atonement cover is pure gold with cherubim sitting at either end of the length of the mercy seat, looking down at the cover’s center with wings spread upward. This is where God would meet with Moses. (See Psalm 80:1; 99:1; Isaiah 37:16). Their posture is representative of John 20:10-13 where the angels watched over Jesus’ lifeless form awaiting the Father’s promise of His resurrection. The ark is filled with the gold jar of manna (Jesus is the bread of life), the budded staff of Aaron (Jesus is the Great High Priest), and the stone tablets containing the 1- commandments (Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. See Matthew 5:17; 22:36-40).

25:23-30 – God’s instructions for making the table. Table – shulchan – meal or spread: this was a place of communion or fellowship.

The bread symbolized Jesus, the bread of life (John 6:32-35).

12 loaves – The number twelve, being the product of three and four, typified the union of the people with God. On the table were twelve loaves of show-bread, and the breastplate of the priest contained twelve precious stones as emblems of the twelve tribes of Israel, which camped round about the Sanctuary. This further solidifies the idea of the table representing communion. Jesus the bread of life, provides that restoration of communion between us and God.


25:25 – Gold rim on table sounds like a crown. Remember, gold symbolizes deity.

See Matthew 2:11 – the wise men presented Jesus with gold. Also see Leviticus 24:5-9 – the bread of the presence is presented with incense – another gift of the wise men.

25:31-40 – God’s instructions for making a lampstand. No measurements are given for the lampstand. God’s illumination cannot be measured. see Revelation 4:1-5 – the seven lamps represent the sevenfold Spirit of God. See Isaiah 11:1-2 for identification of this sevenfold Spirit of God. Today, we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), a lampstand fueled continually by oil (Leviticus 24:2,4). The Holy Spirit is the pure oil that fuels us (John 14:16-17; 16:7).

The lampstand represents Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12).

25:33 – Almond flowers – see Numbers 17:1-11. Aaron’s staff budded, indicating God chose him to serve.

25:40 – “the pattern shown you on the mountain” – which you are caused to see. God causes John to see the same thing which he describes in Revelation 15:5.


What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Every Single Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Every Single Woman’s Battle

WaterBrook Press; Workbook edition (August 16, 2005)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Associate, Doubleday Religion/ / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Shannon Ethridge is a wife, mother, international speaker, and certified life coach. She is the author of numerous books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman’s Battle and Completely His. She has been featured on many radio and television broadcasts. Shannon is most passionate about her role as best friend to her husband of more than twenty years, Greg, and cheerleader to their two children, Erin and Matthew.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Remaining pure while single isn’t easy in a culture that encourages a woman to use her body to gain power, respect, and personal fulfillment. The longing for emotional and physical connection can gradually and subtly lead you into compromises you never intended to make. But you can resist the pressures—or reclaim your purity—by building a strong foundation of integrity.

This book, ideal for study with Every Woman’s Battle, is designed specifically for single women and will give you the tools you need to resist temptation and discover true fulfillment.


Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Workbook edition (August 16, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400071275
ISBN-13: 978-1400071272

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


1 whose battle is it?


At one time I was having extramarital affairs with five different men.…Even though I wasn’t having sexual intercourse with any of these other men, I was still having an affair with each of them—a mental and/or emotional affair. My fantasies of being Clark Gable’s leading lady, memories of my romantic relationship with Ray, and fascination with Tom’s wit, Mark’s maturity, and Scott’s verbal talents affected my marriage in a way just as damaging as a sexual affair would have.

When I hear people say that women don’t struggle with sexual issues like men do, I cannot help but wonder what planet they are from or what rock they have been hiding under. Perhaps what they really mean is, the physical act of sex isn’t an overwhelming temptation for women like it is for men.

Men and women struggle in different ways when it comes to sexual integrity. While a man’s battle begins with what he takes in through his eyes, a woman’s begins with her heart and her thoughts. A man must guard his eyes to maintain sexual integrity, but because God made women to be emotionally and mentally stimulated, we must closely guard our hearts and minds as well as our bodies if we want to experience God’s plan for sexual and emotional fulfillment. A woman’s battle is for sexual and emotional integrity.

Paul understood our very human tendency to live in denial, closing our eyes to the things in our lives that may need to change. Change is hard work, and we would rather stay as we are. But this is not how God has called us to live. He wants to help us control our minds and our desires so that we can be more like Him. He wants to help us discover His plan for relational satisfaction. But we can’t do this if we insist on keeping our eyes closed to the compromise that robs us of ultimate sexual and emotional fulfillment.


PLANTING GOOD SEEDS

(Personally Seeking God’s Truth)


1. How important is the Word of God to you? Why?

As you seek to discover God’s plan for sexual and emotional fulfillment, plant these good seeds in your heart:


The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)


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)


2. What, if anything, in these verses feels like a threat or a warning to you? Why do you think you respond to the verses the way you do?

To increase your hope of winning the battle for sexual and emotional integrity, plant this good seed from 1 Corinthians 10:13 in your heart:


No temptation has seized you except what is common to [woman]. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


3. What does this promise mean to you?


WEEDING OUT DECEPTION

(Recognizing the Truth)


In some way or another sexual and emotional integrity is a battle that every woman fights. However, many women are fighting this battle with their eyes closed because they don’t believe they are even engaged in the battle. Many believe that just because they are not involved in a physical, sexual affair, they don’t have a problem with sexual and emotional integrity. As a result, they engage in thoughts and behaviors that compromise their integrity and rob them of true sexual and emotional fulfillment.


4. Do you agree with the statement that every woman fights the battle for sexual and emotional integrity? On what do you base your opinion?



5. The author warns that it is not wise to think that sexual immorality can’t happen to any one of us. How prevalent do you think sexual immorality is among

Christian singles?



6. Circle how often you have engaged in any of the following:


Unhealthy Never Sometimes Often Always

Comparisons


Mental Fantasies Never Sometimes Often Always


Emotional Affairs Never Sometimes Often Always


Romance Novels Never Sometimes Often Always


Soap Operas Never Sometimes Often Always


Masturbation Never Sometimes Often Always


Inappropriate Never Sometimes Often Always

Internet Activity


Other Sexual Never Sometimes Often Always

Dysfunction(s)



To determine if you are engaged in the battle for sexual and emotional integrity, answer the following questions adapted from Every Woman’s Battle.


Yes/No

Is having a man in your life or finding a husband

something that dominates your thoughts? ______



If you have a man in your life, do you

compare him to other men (physically,

mentally, emotionally, or spiritually)? ______



Do you often obsess over who the “next man”

in your life could be? ______



Do you have sexual secrets that you don’t

want anyone else to know about? ______



Do you feel like a nobody if you don’t have a

love interest in your life? Does a romantic

relationship give you a sense of identity? ______



Do you seem to attract bad or dysfunctional

relationships with men? ______



Do men accuse you of being manipulative or

controlling? ______



Do you feel secretly excited or powerful when

you sense that a man finds you attractive? ______



Is remaining emotionally or physically faithful

to one person a challenge for you? ______

Do you often choose your attire in the

morning based on the men you will

encounter that day? ______



Do you find yourself flirting or using sexual

innuendos (even if you do not intend to)

when conversing with someone you find

attractive? ______



Do you have to masturbate when you get

sexually aroused? ______



Do you read romance novels because of the

fantasies they evoke within you or because

they arouse you sexually? ______



Have you ever used premarital or extramarital

relationships to “medicate” your emotional

pain? ______



Is there any area of your sexuality that you

would not want your future husband to

know about? ______



Do you use pornography—either alone or

with a partner? ______



Do you have a problem making and

maintaining close female friends? ______



Do you converse with strangers in Internet

chat rooms? ______



Have you ever been unable to concentrate

on work, school, or the affairs of your

household because of thoughts or feelings

you are having about someone else? ______


Do you think the word victim describes you? ______



7. What surprised you about your own answers? What scared you?



8. What particular question(s) hit home for you, and why?



9. Specifically, what effects have these types of activities had on your relationships with men? on your relationship with God? on your self-esteem?



By definition, our sexuality isn’t what we do. Even people who are committed to celibacy are sexual beings. Our sexuality is who we are, and we were made with a body, mind, heart, and spirit, not just a body. Therefore, sexual integrity is not just about physical chastity. It is about purity in all four aspects of our being (body, mind, heart, and spirit).When all four aspects line up perfectly, our “tabletop” (our life) reflects balance and integrity…[See illustration on next page.]

It’s no laughing matter when one of the “legs” of our sexuality buckles, because then our lives can become slippery slopes leading to discontentment, sexual compromise, self-loathing, and emotional brokenness. When this happens, the blessing that

God intended to bring richness and pleasure to our lives feels more like a curse that brings great pain and despair.


10. In your dating relationships, where have you set “the line” of sexual integrity? How far is it “okay” to go prior to marriage? Where does this belief come from?



11. If you ever crossed that imaginary line, were you able to back up and reestablish your previous standards? How did you do it or fail to do it?


HARVESTING FULFILLMENT

(Applying the Truth)


God…wants to help us control our minds and our desires so that we can be more like Him. He wants to help us discover His plan for relational satisfaction. But we can’t do this if we insist on keeping our eyes closed to the compromise that robs us of ultimate sexual and emotional fulfillment.


A Life of Balance and Integrity


SPIRITUAL

EMOTIONAL

PHYSICAL

MENTAL



12. If you were to allow God to control your mind and desires, what would be the result in regard to your love life? your relationship with God? your self-esteem?


GROWING TOGETHER

(Sharing the Truth in Small-Group Discussion)


13. What prompted you to pick up Every Single Woman’s Battle? What is the main thing you are hoping to gain over the next eight weeks as you read this book? as you participate in this discussion group?



While a man needs mental, emotional, and spiritual connection, his physical needs tend to be in the driver’s seat and his other needs ride along in the back. The reverse is true for women. If there is one particular need that drives us, it is certainly our emotional needs. That’s why it’s said that men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love.


14. Have you ever engaged in any form of sexual activity in order to get the love you were longing for? If so, did you get the desired result? How did the result affirm or challenge your behavior?



15. Obviously women have sexual needs as well as emotional needs. Have you ever felt you should not experience sexual desires? If so, how did that make you feel? Why?



16. What other beliefs about sexuality have shaped your emotions and behaviors around this topic? How do you discern which beliefs are false and which are true?



17. Do you think it is more difficult for men than for women to maintain sexual integrity? Why or why not?



18. Do you think it is more difficult for single women than for married women to maintain sexual integrity? Why or why not?



19. Does discussing the sexual temptations you face with mature, caring adults help you maintain sexual integrity? Why or why not? If not, what would help?


For a Christian woman, sexual and emotional integrity means that her thoughts, words, emotions, and actions all reflect an inner beauty and a sincere love for God, others, and herself. This doesn’t mean she is never tempted to think, say, feel, or do something inappropriate, but that she tries diligently to resist these temptations and stands firm in her convictions. She doesn’t use men in an attempt to get her emotional cravings met or entertain sexual or romantic fantasies about men she is not married to…She doesn’t dress to seek male attention, but she doesn’t limit herself to a wardrobe of ankle length muumuus, either. She may dress fashionably and look sharp or may even appear sexy (like beauty, sexy is in the eye of the beholder), but her motivation isn’t self-seeking or seductive. She presents herself as an attractive woman because she knows she represents God to others.


20. When is striving to look beautiful a sin and when is it not? How can we best evaluate our own motivations?



21. Share your conclusions about what you see as your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to being a woman of sexual and emotional integrity.



Jehovah Jireh, I trust You for my every

need. Please give me wisdom and courage

as I seek emotional and sexual

integrity. And above all, keep me connected

to You—draw me ever closer—

so that I may know where my true

fulfillment comes from. Amen.



Here is my review of this terrific work of non-fiction:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Shannon Ethridge and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Every Single Woman's Battle" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Shannon Ethridge has penned a wonderful book that I am proud to pass to my teenage daughter. The title truly says it all: “Every Single Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Heart and Mind Against Sexual and Emotional Compromise”. This may be a small volume, but it is a powerful workbook that I confidently believe with strengthen self-esteem so that we recognize who we are in Christ.

Once Christ becomes first in our lives, we don’t need to be ”built up” by the men (or even other women from whom we sought approval) in our lives. Neither do we need to put others in the position to “complete us”. That’s a lot of pressure. I think this book should be read by every single woman and will offer healing opportunities to every woman who cracks the cover.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Every Single Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:


Every Single Man’s Battle

WaterBrook Press; Workbook edition (August 16, 2005)

***Special thanks to Staci Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Associate, Doubleday Religion/ / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Stephen Arterburn is founder and chairman of new Life Clinics, host of the daily “New Life Live!” national radio program, creator of the Women of Faith Conferences, a nationally known speaker, and a best-selling author whose books have sold more than seven million copies. He lives in Laguna Beach, California.

Visit the author's website.


Fred Stoeker is an author and conference speaker who challenges people to become sexually pure and to connect in true intimate relationships with their Father in heaven and their spouses and children on earth. Fred has written several books, including the best-selling Every Man’s series and his most recent book for single men, Hero, co written with his son Jasen. Fred and his wife, Brenda, live in Iowa.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

As a man, you’re bombarded by sexual images and battle inner urges. You want to do right—in fact, you want to meet God’s standard of avoiding any hint of sexual immorality. But accomplishing that goal is a challenge.

If you are a single man struggling to remain sexually pure, you are not alone— there’s practical, hard-hitting help from the authors of the blockbuster Every Man Series. Every Single Man’s Battle guides you—or your men’s group—through an honest and clear exploration of God’s Word. You’ll undertake a personal journey into key scriptures, wrestle with questions for reflection and examination, and discover the practical tools and biblical strategies you need to live the pure life God calls you to—even while living in a sexually-soaked culture. Make a frontal assault on the temptation every single man faces. This book provides all the resources you need.


Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Workbook edition (August 16, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781400071289
ISBN-13: 978-1400071289
ASIN: 1400071283

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



1 where are we?


This week’s reading assignment:

the introduction and chapters 1–3 in Every Man’s Battle



Before men experience victory over sexual sin, they’re hurting and confused. Why can’t I win at this? they think. As the fight wears on and the losses pile higher, we begin to doubt everything about ourselves, even our salvation. At best, we think that we’re deeply flawed. At worst, evil persons. We feel very alone, since men speak little of these things.

But we’re not alone. Many men have fallen into their own sexual pits.

—from chapter 3 in Every Man’s Battle



EVERY SINGLE MAN’S BATTLE

(Steps Along the Path to Sexual Integrity)

Experts on pornography’s effects on brain chemistry recently testified at a Senate hearing about whether porn was a form of free speech that should be protected by the First Amendment or whether it was an addictive and toxic material that should be legally banned in America. Psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover stated that it was time to quit regarding porn as just another form of expression, because it isn’t. “[Porn] is a very carefully designed delivery system for evoking a tremendous flood within the brain of endogenous opioids,” Satinover said. “Modern science allows us to understand that the underlying nature of an addiction to pornography is chemically nearly identical to a heroin addiction.”

Dr. Mary Anne Layden, representing the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, explained how prurient pictures are burned into the brain’s pathways. She added, “That image is in your brain forever. If that was an addictive substance, you, at any point for the rest of your life, could in a nanosecond draw it up [and get high].”

The evidence the panelists presented to the Senate that day described the overwhelming harm that pornography brings into a man’s life. Still, we tend to minimize that damage from the raw visual sewage dumped into our minds and heart through our eyes. In exasperation some defenders say, Oh, they’re just exaggerating to scare everyone. Porn is just something men do to blow off stress, and they can stop anytime they want. They’re not affected at all like that!

How does porn affect you? We stated in chapter 2 that porn and masturbation inevitably inflict wounds on your sexuality. For instance, a man’s eyes begin to dominate his sexuality. A boorish clamoring for his own sexual intensity replaces his normal desire for interpersonal intimacy. Controlled scientific studies have proven what many have sensed in themselves for years.

Researchers like Professors Dolf Zillman of Indiana University and Jennings Bryant of the University of Houston have found that men register a major increase in the importance of sex without intimate attachment after regularly viewing porn. Sound familiar? What’s happening is that intimacy’s transmitters get fried by porn.

Because of our discussion, it probably comes as no surprise that men who use porn become more callous to female sexuality and that married men’s concern for their wives’ pleasure falls off significantly. But I (Fred) know something that will surprise you, and that’s how little porn is necessary to elicit such a dreadful, measurable change. All it takes is six one-hour weekly sessions, say the researchers.

Now look again at your life, my friend. How likely is it that porn, masturbation, and the other sensuality in your life have had no affect on your sexuality? You say none or very little? You can run to denial, but you can’t hide, especially if you marry someday.

Caroline discerned the damage in her husband, Cliff, in this telling way: “About six months into our marriage, I noticed our sex life losing momentum. The frequency had dropped markedly, and while this could have easily been explained away had it been the only sign of trouble, it wasn’t. We’d always been compatible—technique, frequency, timing—in every area.

“But now it was different. When we did make love, it felt like Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am, meaning Cliff got his satisfaction while I was left high and dry. I even have a journal entry that reads, ‘I feel like Peg Bundy when it comes to sex. I have to nag him to do me like a chore.’ It’s like he stopped caring about my pleasure at all, and in retrospect, that was my first clue that porn was breaking him down.”

It’s important to note that the assault on healthy sexuality doesn’t end at the borders of traditional pornography. The way our popular culture is set up these days—with scantily clad babes cavorting during commercials for football games, showing us their cleavage on billboards, and posing on magazine covers ranging from news magazines to sports—there’s enough eye candy out there to keep your sexual engines running at high idle most of the time. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that girls and young women dress revealingly today as well, so if the porn industry vanished tomorrow, you wouldn’t have to look far to take in a nice view. This lusting produces the same chemical hit to your brain as porn does, and it spins you just as easily into the same cycles of masturbation. Trust me, I know. I never did buy porn again after my wedding day, but I was just as bound in sin as I could be anyway.

You need to get serious and accept the truth. It’s time to quit regarding porn as just another form of expression, and it’s time to crack down on the lust of the eyes, that “carefully designed delivery system” that’s been flooding your brain with opioids for years. It’s time to flee sexual immorality—and time to get free.


EVERY SINGLE MAN’S TRUTH

(Your Personal Journey into God’s Word)

Read and meditate upon the Bible passages below that have to do with God’s holiness

and His call to purity. Let the Lord remind you that He is calling you to purity

because He has your best interest at heart. Also remember that He delights in you as

one who is made in His image and growing into His likeness day by day.

You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)


Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died— more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-35,37-39)


“Come now, let us reason together,”

says the LORD.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)


1. What do Jesus’s words tell you about His deep concern for your thought life?



2. What comfort do you take in Paul’s words to the Roman believers? How does this passage relate to your feelings of guilt when you’ve given in to lust?



3. When it comes to a believer’s sin, how would you distinguish between rebellion and immaturity? What is the Father’s attitude toward us as we grow— and as we stumble—in our attempts to walk in holiness with Him? (If you are a parent, think about your relationship to your children.)



4. “White as snow” is the prophet’s imagery for God’s holiness. To what extent do you long for holiness and purity in your life? How are Isaiah’s words hopeful to you?


EVERY SINGLE MAN’S CHOICE

(Questions for Personal Reflection and Examination)


Pursuing sexual integrity, however, is a controversial topic.… We’ve been ridiculed by the world’s sophisticates who find God’s standard ridiculous and confining. That’s fine with us, because we have a bigger concern— you.

You’re in a tough position. You live in a world awash with sensual images available twenty-four hours a day in a variety of mediums: print, television, videos, the Internet—even phones.


After teaching on the topic of male sexual purity in Sunday school, I was approached one day by a man who said, “I always thought that since I was a man I would not be able to control my roving eyes. I didn’t know it could be any other way.”


5. Why do you think pursuing sexual integrity is such a controversial topic, especially for singles? How realistic is this pursuit for you?



6. How aware are you of the sensual images all around you? What has been your way of dealing with—or not dealing with—this bombardment of sexuality on a daily basis?



7. Have you ever considered your roving eye to be uncontrollable? In the past, when have you been most likely to lose control? What has helped you to exercise control?


EVERY SINGLE MAN’S WALK

(Your Guide to Personal Application)


8. Which situations in the stories of Steve and Fred can you personally identify with most? How common do you think these kinds of situations are among the Christian men you know?



9. Think about Steve’s car wreck for a moment. How much trouble have your eyes gotten you into over the years? What especially painful incident stands out to you at the moment?



10. Fred’s eyes were particularly vulnerable to sensual newspaper ads. In what situations are your eyes the most vulnerable? What steps have you taken so far to avoid such situations?



11. Recall that in chapter 3 Fred speaks of the price he was paying for his sin in his relationship with God, with his family, and with his church. In which of these areas of life—or others, such as friendships and dating relationships—do you think a man’s sexual sin hurts him most quickly and obviously? How is it with you?



12. In quietness, review what you have written and learned in this week’s study.

If further thoughts or prayer requests come to your mind and heart, you may want to write them here.



13. a. What for you was the most meaningful concept or truth in this week’s study?


b. How would you talk this over with God? Write your response here as a prayer to Him.


c. What do you believe God wants you to do in response to this week’s study?


EVERY SINGLE MAN’S TALK

(Constructive Topics and Questions for Group Discussion)


Discussion Questions

Addictive sex is devoid of intimacy. Sex addicts are utterly self-focused. They cannot achieve genuine intimacy because their self-obsession leaves no room for giving to others.… Addictive sex is used to escape pain and problems.


The escapist nature of addictive sex is often one of the clearest indicators that it is present.


When we’re fractionally addicted, we surely experience addictive drawings, but we aren’t compelled to act to salve some pain. We’re compelled by the chemical high and the sexual gratification it brings.


Another way of looking at the scope of the problem is to picture a bell curve. According to our experiences, we figure around 10 percent of men have no sexual-temptation problem with their eyes and their minds. At the other end of the curve, we figure there’s another 10 percent of men who are sexual addicts and have a serious problem with lust. They’ve been so beaten and scarred by emotional events that they simply can’t overcome that sin in their lives. They need more counseling and a transforming washing by the Word. The rest of us comprise the middle 80 percent, living in various shades of gray when it comes to sexual sin.


“When my husband and I talked about this, he was honest,” Deena conveyed, “and I was very angry with him. I was hurt. I felt deeply betrayed because I’d been dieting and working out to keep my weight down so that I would always look nice to him. I couldn’t figure out why he still needed to look at other women.”


Women told us that they struggle between pity and anger, and their feelings may ebb and flow with the tide of their husband’s battle. Let us direct this advice to women reading this book: Though you know you should pray for him and fulfill him sexually, sometimes you won’t want to. Talk to each other openly and honestly, then do the right thing.


A. Which parts of chapters 1–3 in Every Man’s Battle were most helpful or encouraging to you? Why?



B. How would you summarize the difference between normal sexual desire and addictive sex?



C. Do you agree that sex can be a way of trying to escape inner pain? What is your own experience with this?



D. How would you explain to another man what the authors define as fractional addiction?



E. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the book’s contention that, for most men, our sexual sin is based on pleasure highs rather than true addiction?



F. Imagine that a single friend of yours has admitted to you, “Okay, so I use porn. A guy like me has to have some kind of sex life, doesn’t he?” How would you respond?



G. How can indulging in visual sexual stimulation mess up a man’s dating relationships? How can it make him less ready if God should call him to marriage at some time in the future?

Here is my review of this valuable read: First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Every Single Man's Battle" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me. “Every Single Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey encourages sexual purity for single men. This valuable workbook offers hope for single men as they commit to walking in sexual purity. The key is pointing single men to the Lord. I didn’t expect to be reading this book, but I think it would be important for more women to do so. We would recognize the struggles that our brothers in Christ face and change our own behavior so they do not stumble.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Every Man, God's Man by Stephen Arterburn and Kenny Luck

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:


Every Man, God's Man: Every Man's Guide to...Courageous Faith and Daily Integrity (The Every Man Series)

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Staci Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Associate, Doubleday Religion/ / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Stephen Arterburn is founder and chairman of new Life Clinics, host of the daily “New Life Live!” national radio program, creator of the Women of Faith Conferences, a nationally known speaker, and a best-selling author whose books have sold more than seven million copies. He lives in Laguna Beach, California.

Visit the author's website.



Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church, where more than seven thousand men are connected in small groups. He is an award-winning author and coauthor of more than fifteen books on men’s issues, including Risk, Dream, Fight, and Soar. He and his wife, Chrissy, reside in Trabuco Canyon, California, with their children

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Every Man, God’s Man is tailor-made for any man who may feel incomplete in his commitment to God. It’s for the man who wants to become even more authentic, more courageous, more intimate with God in every area of his life. It’s for every man who desires to walk in true spiritual integrity every moment of every day.

Like other books in the best-selling Every Man series, Every Man, God’s Man boldly gets into your head, gives you hope, and equips you to persevere in your individual pursuit of God.

Includes a comprehensive workbook for individual and group study.


Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307729508
ISBN-13: 978-0307729507

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


1 bogged down

in the red zone?


During the past several years, I (Kenny) have witnessed men commit to becoming God’s man through Every Man Ministries. I’ve found that it’s not about asking guys to do more; it’s about asking them to be more. It’s not about asking them to pursue a plan or respond to a cool idea or even to a dare. It’s about convincing guys, deep down, that being God’s man is worth the risk. Why is that?


Doing more puts a man in control.

Being more puts God in control.


Doing more is a safe style for men.

Being more is risky.


Doing more implies there’s an end to it.

Being more is a process—fluid and unpredictable.


Doing more lets a man pick the changes he needs to make.

Being more allows God to reveal the changes a man needs to make.


Doing more requires trying harder.

Being more relies on training humbly.


Doing more engenders spiritual pride.

Being more produces humility through surrender.


Doing more is about correcting behavior patterns.

Being more is about connecting with God’s character.


Doing more attaches to the public persona.

Being more reaches the private self—the man God wants to reach.


So here’s the bottom line of this book: The men’s movement of the last two decades has been challenging men to love more, say more, pray more, read the Bible more, discipline themselves more, love their wives more, and serve their kids more. Men have wanted all those things, but the majority of them are failing over the long haul. The men’s movement has asked men to do what their hearts and characters cannot deliver. Author Dallas Willard got it right: What’s needed is a renovation of the heart before a renovation of lifestyle.

I know there was a time when I needed an overhaul. It happened years ago when I was a credit-card company’s dream customer—young and stupid enough to believe that a piece of gold plastic “had its advantages” and would connect me with some special fraternity of the financial elite. My gold card fed my appetite for all sorts of “needs.” Clothes, birthday and anniversary trips, and lavish dinners out were all benign events for which I supplied perfect justifications. Christmas gifts, home improvements, and repairs on my snazzy foreign sports car became part of my lifestyle. And just as reality should have slapped me in the face, additional lines of credit would mysteriously arrive.

My family’s rise in discretionary spending came after we moved to Orange County, California, in the go-go 1990s. I started to earn more money, but I also started to believe my own rationalizations regarding my finances. I trusted our credit cards more than I trusted God. I certainly didn’t have the faith to believe that if we gave our 10 percent, He would make the other 90 percent work for us.


Ten years ago I was a credit-card

company’s dream customer.


So I gave less to the church and spent more on myself. I refused to deny my family any desire—including a nice home in an upscale neighborhood. After all, I had great credit. I ignored my wife, Chrissy’s, urgings to tighten our financial belts, which only accelerated our insidious spiral into financial bondage. All of the turmoil caused tremendous amounts of anxiety that remained invisible to outsiders but was visibly and verbally incinerating our home and marriage at the end of every month.


SLAVE TO CREDITORS

One night, following a lively discussion with Chrissy about our messed-up finances, I happened to open my Bible. My eyes fell to these words: “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Seven words, seven tons of impact. I was a slave—to my creditors. I had also enslaved my family because of my inability to say no to myself. Worse, my character deficiency had moved God away from the center of my life and replaced Him with financial anxiety. This, I felt, was a form of idolatry. That truth kindled my repentance and a desire to change, which I confessed to my wife.

I also sought help from friends. Not financial help, but prayer and counsel regarding our precarious financial situation. I can remember weeping in front of my close friends after I disclosed that we had rung up twenty thousand dollars in credit-card debt. I was embarrassed in every way, but I was past caring. I was determined to do what it took to get honest with myself and with the mess I had created. The only way I knew to accomplish that was to humble myself before God, my wife, and my buddies and ask for their help. I never felt so humbled. I had been a Christian for thirteen years; during five of those years I was a missionary making a fraction of what I now earned in my California job. I should have been content and debt free, but I wasn’t.

God’s solution had been there all along. It was only a matter of my trusting in His proposition. All I had to do was live within my means and give the first 10 percent back to God. Oh, I had heard my pastor say over and over that we can’t out give God, and a part of me wanted to believe that. Like the rich young ruler of the Gospel accounts, however, I hedged my bets, preferring my own way over God’s way. My arrogance was astonishing. I could not let go.

Finally unable to buy another thirty days, and with no magical miracle bonuses in sight, reality hit. I had to drive my wife’s minivan to work, since that was the only car in working order, but that left her stranded. The stress on our marriage was enormous, and when I finally mustered the courage to get honest with myself, I gave it over to God. I remember saying, “Whatever it takes, Lord.” Simply put, if that meant living with one car, so be it. If it meant giving to the church when it made no sense, I would give. If it meant submitting myself to an austere monthly budget for two years to get out of debt, that, too, was what I would do.


God’s solution had been there all along. It was

only a matter of my trusting in His proposition.


That day, the last major bastion of control fell into God’s hands, and His victory was both humbling and liberating. Although I was awash in debt, I became the richest of all men because, deep inside, I was committed to the course.

What bastions have you erected against God’s goodness and blessing in your life? Most men can name them in a nanosecond. God has already been speaking to them, convicting them that their priorities are seriously out of line. God’s message, and mine, is that those walls have to fall—for the sake of His kingdom. Or, to use a football analogy (remember Steve’s story?): God isn’t looking for a man’s man to break up the Enemy’s line. He is looking for a God’s man to drive the ball home.

I wasn’t being God’s man. Under the blitz of financial pressure, my drive toward victory in Christ’s kingdom stalled. At a time in my life when I should have been chewing up serious yards of turf in my service to Him, I bogged down in a financial quagmire and fumbled the ball. But this book isn’t about finances; it’s about bogging down spiritually when our offense should be in full attack mode to score for Him. This imagery reminds me of another piece of turf I love so well—the green stretch of grass known as the “red zone” at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.


IN THE RED ZONE BUT STUCK?

Every fall, like the swallows that return to the San Juan Capistrano Mission not far from our Southern California home, our family makes its annual return to the Rose Bowl, where the UCLA Bruins play their home football games. Unlike my writing partner, Steve Arterburn, I love football, but maybe that’s because I wasn’t crazy enough to suit up in high school. (Actually, Steve loves football—he just hated playing it.)

Anyway, Chrissy and I are huge UCLA boosters, but that’s to be expected, since we both graduated from UCLA. Chrissy was one of those cute cheerleaders who wore white sweaters and pleated skirts and shook Bruin pompoms back in the mid-eighties when both of us were enrolled on The Westwood campus.

These days we love taking our three children—Cara, Ryan, and Jenna—to several games each fall. From the opening kickoff, I always edge up in my bleacher seat when the Bruins reach the red zone, that patch of grass between the twenty-yard line and the goal line. Everyone knows UCLA has a great chance to score when they reach that zone. The offense is in full attack mode while the defense stiffens in a do-or-die effort to hold the Bruins to a field-goal attempt. As my father-in-law likes to say, “It’s mano a mano in the RZ,” and he’s right. The red zone is all about the heart and desire to drive the ball all the way in.

I’ve long felt that the red zone is an apt metaphor for our spiritual journeys. Early on, we think we’re moving the ball for God, but it’s really more like losing a few yards here and gaining a few there. As we spiritually mature, however, and reach the red zone—where we can score against Satan and for the kingdom—all too often we fail to take the ball all the way in. For one reason or another, we never completely reach full attack mode. For me, finances bogged the drive. But there are any number of reasons to explain why this happens: We lose focus, Satan gets us too busy, we fall into sin, or we lack the experience to make the right call in a hotly contested domain of our lives.

You don’t want to be in a hurry-up offense when you’re in the red zone. But all too often we live in a rush, rush, rush, shoving aside the time to read God’s Word or invest in relationships with other Christian men or volunteer for God’s work. For many men, this lack of time is a major source of disconnection. One guy in the church where I teach a men’s Bible study spoke for thousands of others when he told me, “I’m always running late! I wake up late, I leave the house late, and I arrive at work a little late—really late if the traffic is bad. I must not be prioritizing my time well.”

In football, a blitz is intended to distract and disrupt the opposing offense. In life, Satan has been calling in spiritual blitzes on each of us. “Hurry the man” is one of his most effective drive-stuffers for men in the red zone. Or he may blitz our thought lives, leaving our offense spinning its wheels in muddy sensuality. Whatever it takes, he’ll blitz us with any behavior or distraction that limits us to no gain or the equivalent of spiritual field goals instead of touchdowns.

So what can be done about it?

Like a good football team, we must read the blitz and adjust. We’ll explore some adjustments in the coming pages. Look, I’ve been sacked more than once in the red zone. I know that my relationships with Chrissy and the kids have been shortchanged by a state of perpetual hurriedness. More important, I’ve fumbled away my intimacy with God by choosing my own way rather than adjusting according to the gifts and the training He’s given me.

Every Man, God’s Man will help you make better calls when you’re feeling blitzed from all sides. You’ll learn how to complete your drive toward spiritual maturity and lead a fulfilling, God-driven life. By the time you finish reading this book, you’ll be trained to handle any defensive scheme that Satan or others will throw at you. You’ll be able to complete the drive that God has been training you for—to possess a heart that is completely His.


Far too many men do not give themselves

fully to being God’s man. It’s like going

three-and-out in a football game.


I started Every Man Ministries in 1999 to help other men in their spiritual walks and in building better marriages and strong families. That quest has taken me to every part of the country, where I’ve spoken before thousands of men at various men’s conferences. When I’m home in Southern California, I sit down each week with one hundred men to study God’s Word, which often leads to numerous counseling sessions. The chance to be a listening ear, offer advice, and pray with these men has been an awesome privilege. As a pastor friend once said: “If you reach a man, then you reach every relationship he has.”

All of this man-to-man experience has convinced me that far too many men do not give themselves fully to being God’s man. It’s like going three-and-out in a football game; they make three lackluster attempts to run or pass the ball, then they punt away their opportunity.


GE T BA C K I N ZO N E MO D E

I want you to get back into the game and advance the ball downfield, pierce the red zone and ram it home, and enjoy greater intimacy with God as you connect with His plan and purposes for your future. God’s goal is to finish the work in you—to have you stride into the end zone, legs kicking high—“that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

So let me tell you where we are going with this book. You may be aware that Every Man, God’s Man is part of the series that includes Every Man’s Battle, Every Young Man’s Battle, and Every Man’s Marriage. Those three are what I call tactical books—filled with strategies, plans, and perspectives to help men overcome temptation, grow in sexual integrity, and become truly intimate with their wives. This book is different. We’re going to come alongside you and talk about what we see along the way to becoming God’s man.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s easy to be frank with a guy when you are talking about his penis or his wife. A man is attached to both. But for most men, God does not have this same kind of proximity. Men, in general, are not spiritually deep and don’t possess the same connection to spiritual issues as they do to sexual and marital issues.

Automatic connections with spiritual truths are not as easy to come by. It usually takes someone you respect getting into your space and telling it like it is—no sugarcoating. Our goal in Every Man, God’s Man is to identify what God is specifically saying to you in ways that will allow you to get it and get back into a red-zone mode that moves you forward with enthusiasm and joy in the Lord. In coming chapters, you’ll learn about:

• the personal benefits of having an undivided heart toward God

• how to stop resolving to change and instead experience a revolution

inside

• how to move against fear and replace it with faith

• how there is no such thing as a “double agent” believer because

one agent is always compromised

• how to deal with the “mole” within that bids you to indulge the

dark side

• how winning or losing a spiritual foothold changes the tide of war

• how and why “80/20” thinking fails; that is, doing things

80 percent God’s way and 20 percent your way

• the importance of “marinating” your mind

• why having other men watch your back is nonnegotiable

for God’s man

• how confession releases God’s power and bloodies the

Enemy’s nose

• how to partner effectively and practically with the Guide—

God’s Spirit

• the source of real spiritual power and how to tap it

• why perseverance is the mark of God’s man

• the purpose of building and staying within well-marked boundaries

• the need to jettison the baggage in your life

• mastering your spiritual motivation once and for all

So there’s a bare-bones description of the yardage ahead of you. Along the way, I will be telling stories about myself (except for his Texas football stories, Steve has nothing over me) and relating funny, interesting, poignant, and sad stories of men I’ve met and counseled in my years of ministry. (I’ve used pseudonyms to protect the guilty and the innocent.)

As you read about these fellow travelers, you will find yourself nodding your head, because we can all relate to their foibles and their fortunes. We’ve been there.

So, ready to get started?

Good, because I think the head referee just whistled for the opening kickoff.



Here is my review of this incredible book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Stephen Arterburn and Kenny Luck and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Every Man, God's Man" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Stephen Arterburn and Kenny Luck have teamed up with Mike Yorkey to write a truly incredible and challenging volume for any man who desires to be a man after God’s own heart. I can’t give you a man’s perspective of “Every Man, God’s Man” because I haven’t given it to my husband to read, yet. But I can tell you, from a woman’s point of view, that this is a valuable read. There is a Bible study workbook included that covers eight weeks worth of group discussion or personal reflection.

And I think it would also be a good read for married women to get in better in touch with their men. Better awareness of their mate’s struggles can be helpful when you pray for your man. This may also benefit single ladies in committed relationships for the same reason. Although they may also benefit from reading “Every Single Man’s Battle”.