Friday, April 27, 2012

Bible Study: Welcome to the Family - A Study of the book of Ephesians - Chapter 1


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Ephesians. 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 and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Grow in your faith in Christ. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 1 of the book of Ephesians. Read it with the thought in mind that this is Paul’s instruction to new Gentile converts in Ephesus. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

Written during Paul’s 1st Roman imprisonment, 60-62 AD.

Ephesus was the home of magic. They were culturally steeped in the occult. See Acts 19:19.

Revelation 2:1-7 – cults flourish in Ephesus.
Ephesians deluded by importance of service.
Technology – 1st indoor toilets.
Temple of Artemis (one of the 7 Wonders of the World).
Timothy was their pastor.

Acts 19

1 Timothy

2 Timothy

Paul had to pay rent for his prison cell.

Faithful = ever loyal to the Lord. What is it about you that makes you recognizable as “ever loyal to the Lord”?

Ephesians written during Paul’s 1st Roman imprisonment.

Some scholars believe this wasn’t written to the Ephesians, but circulated to all of the churches.

Ephesians is a “Welcome to the family” letter.

Chapters 1-3 teach doctrine, chapters 4-6 give life advice.

How well do you know the spiritual family you’ve been adopted into? What have you learned about that family? Do you feel like a welcome part of that family?

Chapter 1 – March 31, 2005

Ephesians is a letter of encouragement.

1:3-6 – my adoption proceedings

1:3 – We are blessed,
1:4 – chosen, accepted,
1:5 – adopted,
1:7 – redeemed and forgiven. (Believing God – Beth Moore)

1:11 – we were predestined to be in God’s family.

1:13 – we were sealed with the Holy Spirit (Marked as belonging to God).

1:20 – parents are under the protective umbrella of Christ. (See 5:22-25; 6:1) (Creative Correction – Lisa Whelchel)



• The book of Ephesians contains much teaching about what life in Christ is all about. What have you learned about how He wants you to live for Him from today’s study? Whether seasoned Christian or new convert, how will you accomplish what the Holy Spirit is teaching you about how you should live?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

James: Mercy Triumphs – Intro

First, let me say that I am thoroughly excited about this study. Not only do I love the book of James, one of my favorite verses comes from there (4:7b – Resist the devil and he will flee from you.). I’ve studied the book several times before on my own and with study guides, and I’m always challenged and changed in positive ways. Let the change begin, Jesus!

Also, I’ve learned that there are new levels of commitment for this Bible study, and I am looking forward to deepening and heightening and widening my relationship with Christ through the exercises in this study. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but one of the challenges is to memorize the book of James. The reason I mention it now is that Beth shares in the video session a few weeks from now that she does her memory work in a different translation of the Scriptures to add dimension and freshness to her study. I would have liked it if she suggested that earlier, so I wanted to give you the opportunity to begin the memory work this way.

Class Project: Each table in our meeting room was given construction paper and crayons. Each piece of construction paper had a name on it (Mary, Joseph, Jesus, James, Judas, etc.). After a few minutes, each table presented our facilitator with a drawing of the person whose name appeared on the paper. She hung them on the wall of our classroom. What a fun activity!

Video Segment: Beth Moore’s teaching consistently energizes and inspires me. This introductory week concentrated on James’ identity as Jesus’ brother, his unbelief regarding Christ’s deity, and the possible (probable) moment of his spiritual birth. Personal application led me straight home – to my family. The nature and importance of family is important to the Lord. So is our restoration from pain inflicted by family – or that we have inflicted on our family members. We will serve Him more fully if we allow Him to heal us.

I am sure it is no coincidence that there is a family event scheduled for this weekend. I cannot wait to see what Christ has planned for us. Praise Him!

Great Dog Stories by M.R. Wells, Kris Young and Connie Fleishauer

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:





Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)




***Special thanks to
Susan Otis, Creative Resources for sending me a review copy.***





ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



M. R. Wells is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. She has written extensively for children’s animated television and video programs, including several Disney shows, Adventures from the Book of Virtues and Bibleman. She shares her Southern California home with her cats and dogs Muffin, Bo, Munchie, Becca and Marley.



Connie Fleishauer is a retired teacher and writer, and is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. The wife of a Bakersfield, California farmer, she is a mother of three and grandmother of one. While many cats have warmed her home, currently, she has two dogs.



Kris Young has worked as a screenwriter for more than 20 years and currently teaches screenwriting at the L.A. Film Studies Center and UCLA. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Celine, and son, Skye. He is currently “between dogs” but is hoping to welcome a new one sometime soon.







Visit the authors' website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:









From the authors of Four Paws from Heaven (over 100,000 copies sold) comes a new collection of devotional tales. In these heartwarming stories, the authors share wisdom gleaned from years of training, guiding, and loving the canines in their lives. Readers will discover powerful spiritual insights, including:





 the blessing of true companionship

 the gift of unconditional love

 the joy of adoption

 the power of obedience

 the comfort of resting in the Master’s arms



Everyone who has loved a dog will find encouragement and hope in these touching stories—reminders that these faithful, devoted companions are part of God’s great plan for their lives.






Product Details:

List Price: $12.99



Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736928820

ISBN-13: 978-0736928823








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







The Dog Who Wouldn’t Fight





Choose Love





Choices are the hinges of destiny.


Pythagoras



When my friend Sue came home from work one summer eve- ning in 2002, the last thing she dreamed of finding on her door- step was a puppy. She loved dogs and had two of her own, but she was cautious. She could tell this pup was a pit bull, and the dog
was emaciated. But as she carefully drew nearer, the four-footed stranger smiled and wagged its tail. When Sue sat beside the pup, it climbed on her lap, smothered her with kisses, and wrapped its paws lovingly around her neck.

Since Sue could not remember seeing this pup in the neighbor- hood, she decided to keep it overnight and check for lost dog fly- ers in the morning. She felt it prudent not to put the newcomer in the house with her own dogs. After feeding and watering the hun- gry foundling, Sue made a bed of blankets on her garage floor. The pup immediately curled up and went to sleep.
Later that evening a teenage boy knocked on Sue’s door. He was looking for a missing pooch. Since his description fit the puppy perfectly, Sue returned the dog and thought that would be the end
of the story.

It was just the beginning! Next evening, the female pit bull puppy was back. The poor thing looked literally “hang-dog,” as if she’d done something wrong and expected to be beaten. Once again, the young pit bull showered Sue with kisses. Sensing the dog was in trouble, Sue called local animal control for advice. After con- firming Sue’s address, they told her there had been reports of people in a nearby house raising pit bulls to fight. The next day arrests were made in the case, and Sue was allowed to keep the loving puppy she named Champagne. “Champ” made instant friends with Sue’s other dogs and has grown into a gentle giant who cuddles under the covers at night and is one of the sweetest canines Sue has ever met.

How Champ knew to flee that fighting environment is a mys- tery. Why she sought refuge on Sue’s porch is as well. But one thing is clear: this pit bull puppy chose love—just as Sue did by taking her in. Those choices blessed them with each other and changed both their lives forever.

My friends Ruett and Rhonda also chose love. They did so in the face of wrenching tragedy. One night when their sons were small, Rhonda and the boys were at a local park where seven-year- old Evan played in sports leagues. Rhonda was about to drive off with Evan and ten-month-old Alec when gunfire erupted around their car. They were caught in the middle of gang violence. Both boys were hit. Alec suffered loss of vision from metal fragments that penetrated his eye. Evan was fatally shot. Rhonda got in the back with Evan until the paramedics beckoned her to come with them.
There are no words I could ever write that would adequately describe the excruciating pain Evan’s parents suffered…and still suffer. It is searing to lose a child under any circumstances. This was a sudden, traumatic, utterly senseless loss. Nevertheless, in the midst of their pain Rhonda and Ruett made an amazing choice.





Tales to Tug Your Heart



They knew Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. They knew that unthinkable as it might be in their human strength, God was call- ing them to forgiveness and reconciliation. They chose love over hate, forgave those involved in their son’s death, and formed the nonprofit Evan Leigh Foster Foundation. Its mission is to reach out to gang members with the message of God’s love and redemption. They have shared that message personally, one on one. They hope and pray that by bringing gang members to faith in the God who can heal and transform them, gang violence will lessen and other children’s lives will be spared. Their choice to love has changed their own and others’ lives eternally and made them a living illustration of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

A first-century martyr named Stephen would have understood their choice. He also chose to love those who caused him pain. He was seized and accused of blasphemy because he proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. Stephen chose to affirm his faith and defend it biblically. His accusers responded by ston- ing him. As he was on the brink of death, he prayed for his execu- tioners. Acts 7:60 tells us that he “fell on his knees and cried out,
‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”


Champ the dog chose to flee fight training and live out her life loving both dogs and people. Rhonda and Ruett chose to reach out in love and forgive. Stephen chose to pray for those who were martyring him, even as their stones were crushing him to death. Though they all suffered, they did not let pain twist and embit- ter them. They chose love, and became a blessing to others. Their choices mattered, and so do ours. If we love and obey the Lord and let His love and forgiveness flow through us, even in our toughest times, who knows what difference we might make?


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While
we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).



Consider This:



Have you ever chosen to love in difficult circumstances? How did it affect you and others? Are you struggling with such a choice right now? If so, is there someone you might ask to support you in prayer?






First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to M.R. Wells, Kris Young and Connie Fleishauer and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Great Dog Stories" 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.

“Great Dog Stories” by M.R. Wells, Kris Young and Connie Fleishauer begins with an introduction to each author’s pets. Then the touching stories begin, blending pet experiences with parallels drawn from the Scripture and human life application. A verse of Scripture follows each chapter, as does an application challenge.

This book will bring laughter to your heart and tears to your eyes...possibly all in the same chapter. It brings tough lessons and heartwarming ones straight home to the reader’s heart. This is a beautiful book to give to Christian dog lovers. This is an uplifting and encouraging read.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don’t Panic: Quick, Easy and Delicious Meals For Your Family” by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia

Here is my review of this amazing cookbook:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Don't Panic: Quick, Easy and Delicious Meals For Your Family" 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.

“Don’t Panic: Quick, Easy and Delicious Meals For Your Family” by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia is a wonderful cookbook loaded with selections for every palate! There are recipes for those who are watching their calories, fat and carbs. There are quick fix recipes and fare designed for entertaining. There are recipes containing six ingredients or less, recipes designed to be frozen, and the authors’ favorites. Each recipe is coded by easy to understand symbols designating which of these categories the recipe falls into. This coding makes meal planning easy.

Some of the yummy recipes included in the book are: Chinese Chicken Salad, Pine Nut Couscous, Spicy Black Bean Soup, Homestyle Mac & Cheese, Tuscan Chicken and so much more. If dessert is more your style, be sure to try the Crazy Good Chocolate Cake, Fruit Pizza and add a bit of cinnamon to the Outstanding Mexican Chocolate Mousse! All easy to make and delicious recipes. This book has already become a frequently used tool in my kitchen!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child by James Banks

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:





Discovery House Publishers (April 1, 2011)




***Special thanks to Susan Otis, Creative Resources, for sending me a review copy.***





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



An Ohio native (and demoralized fan of Cleveland sports teams), Mike attended seminary in Grand Rapids, where he has been stuck every since. He isn’t complaining, for West Michigan’s many churches and miles of fresh water coastline makes for a fine place to raise a family. He and his wife, Julie, have three young children, Avery, Landon and Alayna. Because of them, he has no hobbies.



When Mike isn’t playing catch or kck the can with his kids, he can be found teaching theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He also enjoys writing books, such as this one, that help Christians to treasure and apply the gospel to their lives. Nothing is more important, for we’re all going to die. And then live again!



Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





Other parents may not understand what you’re up against with your prodigal son or daughter, but God understands. He knows what its like to have a world full of prodigals, and He waits for you to bring yours to Him through committed, passionate praying.



Parents can bless their child in no greater way than to pray for his or her salvation. Yet sometimes knowing what to pray can be difficult. Prayers for Prodigals will help you pray for your prodigal child while encouraging you and reminding you of the power of God to answer prayer. Ninety Scripture-based prayers cover emotional and practical challenges faced by parents of prodigals.

Use this book to partner with God, through prayer, to change your child’s eternal future by bringing your son or daughter into a vital relationship with Jesus. Nothing in this world or the next could possibly matter more.









Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Discovery House Publishers (April 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1572934522

ISBN-13: 978-1572934528








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER (Please click the cover below to LOOK INSIDE!):











First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to James Banks and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child" 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.

Scripture and short, poignant stories begin each week and set the theme for each reading in the parental devotional “Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child” by James Banks. Each daily reading has its own scripture reference, heading and a beautifully crafted prayer with scripture verses salted throughout. Plus, there’s room on each page for recording notes, thoughts, personal prayers and answers to prayer. There is also a valuable table of contents that can be used to jump right into specific issues that you need to pray about for your child – or any other wayward loved one.

Bible Study: The Acts of the Holy Spirit - A Study of the book of Acts - Chapter 28


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Acts. 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 and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 28 of the book of Acts. Read it with the thought in mind that this is the first display of the power of the Holy Spirit working through man – aside from Christ, that is. Imagine what the Spirit can do through you if you let Him! Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

28:16 – Do you think that Paul had minimal supervision because no one could find fault with him? His prison was a rented house…and he paid the rent!

28:17 – Paul had to preach, but God had to bring the audience to him! These men were probably intrigued by what they heard about him.

Paul maintains his innocence of breaking Jewish law. Remember when he was accused of bringing a Greek man into the restricted part of the temple? See Acts 21:28.

28:20 – Paul wanted to meet with these Jewish leaders to share the gospel, the hope of Israel.

28:22 – The leaders calling The Way a sect implies that this movement was heresy.

28:23 – Paul witnessed persuasively day and night using the scriptures to point his visitors to Christ.

28:30 – During this period of time, Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians.

Paul never got to see Rome. He arrived there in chains. Rome had to visit him in the form of individuals wanting to hear what Paul had to say.

The martyred disciples (Fox’s Book of Martyrs):

Stephen – see 7:54-60.

James – see 12:2.

Philip – “Was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name of "disciple." He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, A.D. 54.”

Matthew – “Whose occupation was that of a toll-gatherer, was born at Nazareth. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, A.D. 60.”

James the Less – “Is supposed by some to have been the brother of our Lord, by a former wife of Joseph. This is very doubtful, and accords too much with the Catholic superstition, that Mary never had any other children except our Savior. He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem; and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon. At the age of ninety-four he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller's club.”

Matthias – “Of whom less is known than of most of the other disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.”

Andrew – “Was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew's Cross.”

Mark – “Was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter, whom he served as an amanuensis, and under whose inspection he wrote his Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at the great solemnity of Serapis their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands.”

Peter – “Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus saith that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, "Lord, whither dost Thou go?" To whom He answered and said, "I am come again to be crucified." By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.”

Paul – “Paul, the apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero. Abdias, declareth that under his execution Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptised at His sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.”

Jude – “The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, A.D. 72.”

Bartholomew – “Preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.”

Thomas – “Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.”

Luke – “The evangelist, was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He travelled with Paul through various countries, and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece.”

Simon – “Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, A.D. 74.”

John – “The "beloved disciple," was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.”

Barnabas – “Was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed to have taken place about A.D. 73.”

“And yet, notwithstanding all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the Church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and of men apostolical, and watered plentously with the blood of saints.” (Fox’s Book of Martyrs)




• The book of Acts teaches us much about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing through a mortal life. What have you learned about how He wants to work through you today? What will you do to give up a bit of control to Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bible Lessons From Our Pets, Vol. 1 by David Smith

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:





PCG Legacy (August 30, 2011)




***Special thanks to Susan Otis of Creative Resources for sending me a review copy.***





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





David Smith is small business owner with interests in real estate investment. He is an avid pet lover who has observed God’s grace in life through his cat, Bling. As someone who loves God and enjoys seeing His blessings and goodness, David has learned to be sensitive to God’s voice through His creation. David lives in Yakima, Washington with his wife, Buffy, and their cat.



Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





Are you frustrated by not hearing God’s voice? Do you think that the Lord is WAY out there with nothing to tell you? Or do you question His existence all together? Well, I’m here to tell you that He is a lot closer than many of us think He is. Our Heavenly Father is trying to tell us something, if we are open, and He has been speaking to us in ways that we may have never considered. “How?,” you may ask. The Lord has always used the works of His hands to proclaim His great might. If you are wondering, you can see who the Lord is, just by looking out of your window, or by taking a drive though your state, county, province, or country. Have you ever seen pictures of the deepest crevasses of the ocean where life still takes hold? If so, you have just seen a picture of God’s depth as a person and how many layers there are to his character. If you have ever driven by the Colorado Rockies you have just witnessed the jagged strength that the Lord posses; His unfathomable power. One only needs to review the aftermath of Mount St. Helens for them to grasp God’s righteous anger. The Apostle Paul spoke of these evidences of God in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” God is not out there watching without love, but is constantly reaching out to speak to all of His children through the works of His hands.



David Smith has assembled a number of contributors to share their experiences of their pets and what they had learned of God. From faith to faithfulness, we uncover the messages laid out from the Lord.



Laugh your stress away with animal misadventures, such as this one:



I think our cat has a love affair with a portable heater. It may sound crazy, but it’s completely true. Almost any chance she gets, she’s face first in front of the heater, “catching some sun,” as Buffy and I like to call it. She even lies in front of the heater in anticipation of it being turned on. Our Bling is obsessed! One day, she got a little too close to her best friend and the whiskers on the right side of her face were singed badly. I would have thought she would have given the heater a rest after leaving the right side of her face smoldering, however, she returned to her love, regardless of the dangers. “Isn’t this just like me,” I thought, “after getting too close to sin and getting burned, I go back for more pain.” I don’t think it’s just me that has walked on the hot coals of sin only to turn around and walk on that fiery path again, but I’m sure everyone has been there and wears the t-shirt. Proverbs 26:11 describes this perfectly, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Now I don’t know about you, but going back to eating my puke is not too appetizing. Vomit has nasty chunks in it, smells, and, well, that pretty much describes it, but sin generally has the same appearance, but only to the trained eye. When I lie, it’s to protect myself in the moment from an argument, or being hurt, but what I’m not always seeing is the damage it’s doing to my heart and to my relationship with the Lord. When I go back to sin, whatever that sin is, it leaves a nasty vomit aftertaste in my heart, and this aftertaste becomes a barrier between me and the Lord. God wants to be close to his children, but if the smell of vomit is emanating our heart, then He may not want to come too close. As believers, we ought to keep our hearts cleaned up so that we are ready to be in the Lord’s presence. Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” So let’s watch what we see, say, and do because God is just waiting to have a deeper relationship with us!



So let David Smith and friends take you down a path of experiencing God through a whole new way, your pets! Job proclaimed in the Old Testament, “But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the bird of the air and they will tell you.” You will be surprised by what your dog or cat can teach you about God. Perhaps God is trying to speak to you through your parakeet? Go ahead. Curl up in your kitty beds and lock your doggy doors to prepare yourself for this new adventure.









Product Details:

List Price: $12.95

Mass Market Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: PCG Legacy (August 30, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1936417251

ISBN-13: 978-1936417254








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:









Scaredy Cat


By David Smith


It’s another fine afternoon in Yakima, Washington, complete with dimming, cloudless skies. Most of the time in the morning and in the evening I will stand by at my window and drink a strong cup or coffee as I look out at the beautiful valley that I live in. I can see snow on the hills in the distance and orchards and birds and so many wonderful things. I never tire at looking and nature and taking it all in like a big deep breath. Many times my cat Bling is with me. She is a window connoisseur as well! If there is such a thing as reincarnation I must have been a cat! My cat is an indoor and outdoor cat. We love letting her out to be her wild and ferocious self. She loves to hunt and torture poor little mice and birds and she’s very good at it! On this particular day, Bling looks up at me with her big begging eyes and meows at me as she stands at the door. She wants to go outside, as usual. So I open the door but she just stands there sniffing the air like she just smells a campfire in the distance or some really good barbeque! I say to her “go on girl, go outside now” in my sweet kitty speaking voice. But she just stands there. She seems very hesitant and yet I know she wants to go out. Why is she just standing there? What is the problem? I start to get impatient because it is a little chilly and I’m tired of standing there trying to encourage her that it’s okay to go outside. She continues to stand there and I give her one last chance to make a run for it. But she decides to stay in. I close the door. This scenario has been repeated on multiple occasions and is definitely not my first rodeo with Bling. Now it’s too late and she waited too long; instead of going outside she delays and stares. I can tell that she wants to go outside, but is paralyzed. By what? I wish I knew, but I’d like to think it’s because she’s afraid of the unknown. Maybe there is something out there she’s afraid? There could be a dog, rain, or domineering male cats. Either way she’s being a scaredy cat! So she waits too long, the door is closed and now it’s dark outside. It’s too late!


“How often does this happen to me?” I thought. God opens a door, that opportunity I’ve been waiting for, and then by the time I decide to go through it, it’s too late. Bam!!! The door has been closed; Job opportunities, investments, relationships, and career changes, all passed by. Why? Well, in the past, the fear of change, the fear of rejection, the fear of the unknown, and the fear of moving beyond my comfort zone have become road-blocks to potential successes in my life. Hmmm, I’m sensing a trend! Fear, many times, becomes a paralyzing force in my life, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us me to “be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave nor forsake you.” Stepping into courage is the antidote to living in fear. I am learning that life is more of an adventure when I take the step and go through the door! For instance I have been wanting to writing a book in which I could share some of the revelations I have had from watching my cat. I have never been an author, but I have a desire in my heart to be, and feel that God put that desire in my heart. Who am I to argue with God!? So many times I thought that I couldn’t do something like this because I never had the experience or the platform to do so, but the Bible says “with God all things are possible!” What’s the worst thing that could happen? I could lose a little money, no one likes it, and I have a lot of books lying around. That’s no reason not to try! It’s hard to believe that my cat taught me to get off my behind and do something new regardless of what obstacles lay in my path, but she did; now I think she can learn a few things from me like how to clean her own litter box or get a job and start contributing to her own food bowl! Maybe Bling really is paralyzed by fear, or maybe she’s just a silly cat, but she showed me another lesson that “God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.”





Here is my review of this terrific book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to David Smith and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Bible Lessons From Our Pets, Vol. 1" 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.

Inspired by lessons taught to the author by his own cat, Bling, “Bible Lessons From Our Pets, Vol. 1” by David Smith is a wonderful collection of stories and terrific photos! Sharing the antics and heroics of several pets, this is a perfect book to teach Biblical life lessons to people of all ages because everyone can relate to these tales if they’ve ever spent any amount of time with animals!

Scripture is woven into the stories, giving a Biblical basis for the lessons taught by dogs and cats without knowing they were so spiritual. This book will make you smile, laugh and cry. It will teach you amazing lessons and provide insightful life application. I highly recommend keeping a copy close at hand for whenever you need to refresh your perspective in an entertaining and encouraging way. I would also recommend this as a gift for the Christian animal lovers on your gift list.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

REVIEW: The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter

In Denise Hunter’s “The Convenient Groom,” Dr. Kate has just been jilted by her fiancé at the altar. Fearing the backlash to her career as a marriage counselor, and hoping to keep negative press at a minimum as her first book is about to release, Dr. Kate puts an insane plan into action. She walks down the aisle with Lucas Wright: her landlord, who is secretly in love with her. He agrees to give her one year of his life to save her career. But unbeknownst to Kate, Luc is hoping that 12 months will make her fall for him.

Living together as a married couple is difficult when you’re only half pretending. But things certainly do change when you get to know a person and your feelings begin to change. Could it be that Dr. Kate’s orderly love advice is all hogwash? Could it be that Mr. Wright really is Mr. Right-for-her?

What a charming novel! Reading about these two falling in love was such a treat. The story was so tantalizing that I invested in the characters almost immediately and felt deeply for them as they experienced their ups and downs. This novel was a heart-warming way to spend a few hours.

Fresh: Reviving Stale Faith - Week Six

First of all, before I get into the subject matter for our final group meeting, let me say that 15 minutes of silence a day was nearly impossible for me to accomplish. Maybe I was trying to do it under my own power. I did find myself “busier” this week, so maybe the enemy was attacking in that area. The two times I did actually successfully enter the silence, my mind switched on so loudly that I was constantly having to pray silently, “remove that concern from my mind, Lord.” But I’m not giving up. I will continue to attempt this process to hear from God.

The final meeting was incredible. Pastor Kerry taught that silence empowers communication and increases sensitivity. Our group’s discussion was rich and real and vibrant. Each of us came away with a desire for sincere communication with others. Watching Ryan Shook’s (Pastor Kerry’s son) video “Picture Perfect” was truly moving. At length, we discussed the concept of the short film and extracted several principles to live by including:

• Watch what’s going on around you.
• Listen to what the person you’re talking with is really saying.
• Pray that the Lord will give you the words He wants you to say to them.
• Wait on Him to answer that prayer.
• Obey what He says.

“Fresh” was an amazing Bible study. It has opened my eyes to the truth of fasting, meditation and silence. And has whetted my appetite to know and experience more. It turns out that this is not the end, but actually the beginning of fresh faith.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bible Study: The Acts of the Holy Spirit - A Study of the book of Acts - Chapter 27


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Acts. 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 and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 27 of the book of Acts. Read it with the thought in mind that this is the first display of the power of the Holy Spirit working through man – aside from Christ, that is. Imagine what the Spirit can do through you if you let Him! Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

27:1-12 – Paul’s final journey. This is his final Roman imprisonment before being beheaded under Emperor Nero.

We – Luke went, too.

You can’t base faith on feelings or perceptions.




• The book of Acts teaches us much about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing through a mortal life. What have you learned about how He wants to work through you today? What will you do to give up a bit of control to Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fresh: Reviving Stale Faith - Week Five

I am one of those people who truly appreciates silence, so I was incredibly excited to get to class and learn more about the disciplined practice of silence. In this week’s segment, Pastor Kerry teaches that Silence Reduces Stress and Expresses Faith. I absolutely agree. Some of my classmates agreed. We had rich discussion about our experiences with silence. Our discussion even led one individual to appreciate their spouse’s quest for quiet and to see that pursuit in a new way.

People are so busy these days, it’s difficult to carve out a quiet moment. We can make every excuse that pops into our minds, but the simple truth is that we just have to commit to doing it and stop everything else. The scripture verses for this lesson were particularly uplifting. They will be wonderful verses to commit to memory. And I can’t wait to work this coming week to accomplish the challenge that Pastor Kerry to enter the silence for 15 minutes each day. I anticipate wonderful things.

I Am My Beloved’s: Christian Devotionals for the Bride to Be by Amy Hayes

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:





Madison Street Publishing (January 11, 2012)




***Special thanks to Rosanne Spears of Madison Street Publishing for providing a review copy.***





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Amy Hayes makes her home in Portland, Oregon with her husband Doug where they have raised five children and are now thoroughly enjoying four grandchildren. Her commitment to Jesus Christ has inspired her to serve numerous people in her church both as pastor's wife and wedding coordinator. Her books, All Things are Ready, I Am My Beloved's, and Advent and Christmas in Family Worship, are the fruit of these labors.



Amy offers wedding tips on her blog at http://www.weddingchristian.com/blog/






SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





I Am My Beloved’s is a collection of Christian devotionals, written for the bride-to-be, designed to help her keep her perspective and sanity during the tumultuous weeks of wedding planning. In thirteen chapters filled with spiritual and practical application, Amy Hayes encourages brides to be a blessing to those around them and to glorify God throughout the period of life we call engagement. The Bible-based devotionals in this book provide a pleasant oasis for the busy bride to be refreshed in graciousness and godliness as she travels the exciting journey toward her wedding day.



The foreword and the chapters contained in this volume are excerpted from the larger work All Things Are Ready: A Bride’s Complete Christian Wedding Planner (Doorposts Publishing, 2012).









Product Details:

Kindle Copy

List Price: $4.99



File Size: 135 KB

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publisher: Madison Street Publishing (January 11, 2012)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

Language: English

ASIN: B006WQLOMY








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:









A New Name




“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”


(Song of Songs 6:3)




The glory of a wedding is two people becoming one in Christ. A new family. New identities taken as new names are bestowed—Husband and Wife. Partners who will carry forth His work better as one than as two halves. Marriage is a beautiful picture of love, cherishing, submitting, and working which reflects the relationship of Christ and His Church. It is a marvelous mystery and one of the greatest joys of our journey through life in God’s world.


Even now, before you are named Wife, you have taken on a new name, identity, and work. Your name now is Bride. The question is: how will you wear this name? Will you be the Bride who is making herself ready for the Bridegroom (Revelation 19:7-8, Esther 2:12-13)? Or will a self-seeking attitude bring confusion and disorder to your wedding planning (James 3:16)?


The Bride is usually considered the center of the wedding preparations. This means you will receive much of the attention, glory, and blessings. It also means you set the tone. Just as a woman creates the atmosphere of a home for good or ill (Proverbs 12:4, 14:1, 18:22, 19:13-14, 21:9, 19, 25:24, 27:15, 31:10), the Bride creates the tone of an engagement. How you think, act, speak, and work during the next weeks and months will determine whether your engagement is a time of joy and anticipation or stress and frustration. How will you wear the name of Bride?


Consider the weeks that lie before you as an opportunity. What can you do during your time as “Bride” to be a blessing? There are many people surrounding you during engagement that you can bless with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Consider your husband-to-be, mother, mother-in-law, father, maid-of-honor, bridesmaids, friends, your groom’s friends—the list could go on. For many of these participants, your attitude toward them will determine their experience of your wedding. Bestow blessings upon them.


One way to bless those around you is to share your joy. Most couples will naturally be pretty wrapped up in only each other during their engagement. It will bless your friends and family, however, if you take time to bring them into your plans, conversations, and activities. Give liberally of your time and attention. Enjoy their excitement over your happiness. Your friends and family will want to be a part of what is going on with you and be reassured that they still have a place in your life. Take time to notice what is happening in their lives. Be careful not to fall out of all other relationships as you focus on your relationship with your fiancé.


A bride can also be a blessing by practicing the good habits of a godly wife now. Ward off the many temptations incumbent in being a bride by actively choosing to love your groom in your words, actions, thoughts, and priorities. It is very easy as a bride to unintentionally fall into unlovely habits. Avoiding this requires actively pursuing the good habits you wish to have as a wife. Remember to put your groom’s desires before yours in the details of the wedding, seek out ways to include and enjoy his family members in your plans, take time to put aside planning and just focus on giving love and attention to him, and spend time praying and preparing for your coming role as wife. Such positive actions will help keep you from sin and prepare you to be a blessing to your husband when you exchange “Bride” for “Wife.” Habits are hard to break for good or ill. Use your engagement period to form good habits.


Also keep in mind that your groom may or may not have as much time as you to spend on the wedding. Be gracious and understanding of his time constraints and energy level. Give time to one another that doesn’t involve the wedding. If possible, consider taking one night a week as a date-night during which no wedding plans are discussed. Go out and enjoy one another’s company. Talk about his week at work and your future together. Tell him what you appreciate about him. This may seem obvious; however, as the busyness and stress of the wedding builds, you may find yourself forgetting to do these simple things. As far as is possible with you, do not let the wedding overshadow the marriage. Put your fiancé and your relationship with him first.


Aside from the relationship with your groom, two of the people you can most bless during your time as a Bride are your parents. This can be a particularly difficult transition for parents. While you are excited to start a new life, they are anticipating letting you go and the many changes that will bring. This will be even more true if you have been living at home with them up to your wedding day. Little attentions towards your parents will make your time as a Bride especially sweet to them as well as you.


Typically, Mom will be heavily involved in the wedding plans and trying to spend as much time with you as possible before you marry. Do your best to welcome the extra involvement and be grateful for her help. Be sensitive to your mom’s stress level and gracious as you work through problems with the wedding plans or differences of opinion on wedding decisions.


Keep in mind that she may have been dreaming of this day even longer than you have! Most moms will feel particularly blessed by a daughter who makes an effort to spend time together before the wedding. Go on a mother-daughter date. Ask your mom’s advice on your coming marriage. Be creative in finding ways to show your appreciation for all she has done to prepare you to be a wife. Let her know that you want her to be a part of your special day and new life.


Dad is often expected to stay in the background and just write checks. Many dads, however, would love to have their opinions requested and considered. Does he have any ideas or wishes for how his money is spent? His helpful input may extend beyond who you should marry, if only you’d ask him!


Dad also probably has a lot to work through at the thought of giving away his daughter. Continuing to show deference and affection for your father as you prepare to leave his home and leadership will strengthen your relationship and bless him. What thoughtful actions can you take towards your father when you are spending your final weeks as Daddy’s girl? He will appreciate the attention just as much as Mom.


As you walk through this wedding process, it will help you navigate possible pit-falls if you make it your mission from the beginning to put on the self-sacrificial mind of Christ in your attitudes and responses to the various situations that will arise during the wedding preparations (Philippians 2:2-16). Hold your plans loosely. Realize that some things just won’t work out. Consider others’ plans, needs, and expectations as you approach various decisions and especially disagreements that may arise. Take a moment’s pause before responding to every situation. Check your attitude. Begin your wedding planning process with a commitment to put on the mind of Christ, who laid down His life for others.


Lastly, enjoy this time! That also may seem a little obvious. Sometimes, though, when we get carried away with the busyness of life we forget to step back and take joy in the process. Enjoy the memories you are making with your mom, your girlfriends, your fiancé, and your families. It may be cliché, but stopping to smell the roses is valuable advice. Planning the wedding may be a bit of a blur, but try and pause once in a while to enjoy your moments. If nothing else, take lots of pictures so you can look back and enjoy them later! Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing better than to eat, drink, and enjoy the fruit of our labor. Be sure in the midst of all your wedding labors to take a few minutes to enjoy them.


Each of the devotionals in this book is designed to encourage you in your journey to wifehood. Each contains a little something to meditate on in the midst of your plans, to help you focus on becoming a wife and finding joy along the way. I pray you will find these encouraging. May they help you relax, enjoy your wedding planning, and be a blessing and find blessing in it all.




Here is my review of this incredible devotional book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Amy Hayes and her publisher for sending me a copy of "I Am My Beloved's: Christian Devotionals For The Bride To Be" 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.

Amy Hayes’ “I Am My Beloved’s: Christian Devotionals for the Bride to Be” is a wonderful read! And it’s not just a book for women preparing to exchange vows with that special man at the altar. When I requested this book, it was with two thoughts in mind: first, I am the Bride of Christ awaiting my Heavenly Groom, and I thought it would be interesting to read this with that perspective in mind; second, I’ve been a wife for almost 25 years, so it would be nice to recapture some of that young bride mentality.

This is a refreshing daily read that will reignite the fire of love in your heart for the Savior. It will also fan the flame of love for your spouse or soon-to-be spouse. But my favorite part of this beautiful devotional book is that it can help the teachable woman to develop Christ-like character regardless of her age or marital status. I truly enjoyed reliving memories of my own wedding planning – including the song that was playing on the radio when I picked up my wedding dress (“I love you” by Climax Blues Band). I wish I would’ve had this book when I was planning my wedding.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Bible Study: The Acts of the Holy Spirit - A Study of the book of Acts - Chapter 26


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Acts. 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 and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 26 of the book of Acts. Read it with the thought in mind that this is the first display of the power of the Holy Spirit working through man – aside from Christ, that is. Imagine what the Spirit can do through you if you let Him! Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


26:9-18 – Paul’s own conversion story.

Acts 9:1-9.

26:23 – suffer – excruciating means “out of the cross”.

26:24 – Festus is the new governor.

Some people will ridicule you when you share the gospel. SHOW THEM RESPECT.

26:25-27 – Some people will be silent when confronted to make a decision for Christ. ASK QUESTIONS.

26:27 – Paul boldly questions King Agrippa about his beliefs. What questions can we ask those to whom we are witnessing to make them acknowledge their beliefs and inform us how to proceed? How about, “When you die, will you go to heaven? Why?” Make sure you ask, “Is there something I’ve said that you don’t understand?”

26:28-29 – Some will refuse to make a decision for Christ. SHOW CONCERN FOR THEM.

26:31 – Since Paul didn’t deserve punishment or prison, perhaps he was solely there for the opportunity to witness to that group of people.





• The book of Acts teaches us much about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing through a mortal life. What have you learned about how He wants to work through you today? What will you do to give up a bit of control to Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Fresh: Reviving Stale Faith - Week Four

The Plan for Fasting can be done in a variety of ways. There is Absolute, Normal and Partial fasting. In the video segment, Pastor Terry details what each of these forms of fasting entails. Also, when we think of fasting, we usually think of food. But you can fast from other things as well. Is there a television show that you really enjoy? A magazine or newspaper? I loved a statement that Pastor Kerry made in this segment. He said, “Whatever hurts you most is the best fast.”

Pastor Kerry also gave four instances in which you may want to fast: when the odds are against you, when you need uncommon protection, when you’re beginning a new endeavor or when you need a breakthrough. The workbook was loaded with scripture references for this topic that we took the time in class to look up and share our thoughts. Seeing all of the scriptural examples of fasting made me realize that this is not a pious behavior, but a serious worship tool. And it’s leading me to pray that the Lord will reveal opportunities for me to put it into practice.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

REVIEW: Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

Regina Jennings’ freshman novel, “Sixty Acres and a Bride”, is a remarkable retelling of the story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. And I believe that familiarity with the Scriptures heightens the anticipation as the story develops. This retelling, which transports the reader to late 1800s Texas, also enhances the Scripture in the sense of making the situations encountered by these women more understandable to our modern-day minds.

Rosa and Louise Garner have buried their husbands in Mexico. Actually, an earthquake buried their men, but these women have little recourse but to return to Louise’s property and family in Texas. But when the women arrive, they learn that significant back taxes are owed and they must come up with the money in three months or forfeit the family land. Weston Garner is nursing a guilty conscience over the death of his wife five years earlier. He has no intention to remarry, but is just beginning to live again. Still, he doesn’t want the attention of Molly who throws herself at him every chance she gets. And he thinks his crusty heart can remain closed until he begins to know Rosa and her different Mexican ways begin to chip away to the soft heart inside.

The story is beautifully articulated and colored by a rich landscape and well fleshed out characters. I stayed up late into the night reading this book and had to fight against turning the pages too quickly because I really wanted to take my time and savor the charming moments of the novel. And there were many charming moments. I will be keeping my eyes opened for more projects by Regina Jennings.