Friday, September 28, 2012

A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman


A Love Surrendered
Winds of Change Series- #3
By Julie Lessman

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and emotional twists and turns, A Love Surrendered is everything Julie Lessman's many fans have been waiting for.
Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents' death. But when she falls hard for Steven O'Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is?


Julie Lessman is the popular author of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied, as well as A Hope Undaunted, which was one of 2010's Booklist Top Ten Inspirational Fiction winners, and A Heart Revealed. Lessman has garnered several writing awards, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She lives in Missouri.


Here is my review of this terrific novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Julie Lessman and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Love Surrendered" 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.
Julie Lessman’s “A Love Surrendered” is the latest novel in her Winds of Change series chronicling the lives of the O’Connors of Boston.  Annie Kennedy wants to grow up and experience the life that her sister, Maggie, enjoyed during her college days.  Now that Annie and her little sister, Grace, are orphans and living with their spinster Aunt in Boston, Annie has the opportunity to frequent Maggie’s old stomping grounds and actually befriends her sister’s “friends”.  But how far will Annie go to grow up?  Especially when her heart races whenever she thinks about Steven O’Connor, who just happens to be her sister’s former beau.

Filled with lots of twists and turns and O’Connor family drama, this wonderful novel will make the reader feel like a fly on the wall watching one of the most passionate families in literature!  “A Love Surrendered” made me laugh and brought a tear to my eye.  And the heartwarming conclusion definitely brought a smile to my lips.

Bible Study: Be Strong and Courageous - Joshua Chapter 6

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Joshua, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, summer 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong and very courageous. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 6 of the Old Testament book of Joshua. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

6:1 – Jericho’s gates were locked because of the Israelites. How did news travel so quickly back then?

6:2-5 – God told Joshua that Jericho was Israel’s. He instructed Joshua to march around the city once a day for 6 days and on the 7th day, march around the city 7 times while the priests carrying ram’s horns before the ark blow the trumpets. When the priests sound a long blast, have the people shout and the walls will fall so Israel can take the city. WOW! God really does work in mysterious ways.

Worship is a powerful weapon! Want the devil to flee from you? Worship Jesus!

6:6-7 – Joshua conveyed the instructions to Israel. I wonder what they thought of this. Were they tempted to grumble at how crazy this sounded? It wasn’t recorded that they did grumble, so I’m guessing they didn’t especially since they obeyed the instruction immediately.

6:8-11 – As soon as Joshua finished speaking, the priests headed out! The ark followed. An armed guard went before the trumpeters and a rear guard followed the ark. They circled Jericho once and went back to camp.

What obedience! I want to be this obedient. How about you? What unconventional instructions has the Lord given you? Did you obey Him?

What was the distance around Jericho?

6:12-14 – Early the next day, they repeated the process. They did this for 6 days.

They were excited, I’m sure. The day before, they set out as soon as Joshua finished speaking. They didn’t question when they were supposed to begin. They took off! The remaining days, they rose early. They wanted to see the wall fall down. They wanted to see God at work – especially after the Jordan thing. They wanted to start taking their land. Perhaps this was Ephraim, Gad and Manasseh who led the charge so they could return to their families faster?

Do you anticipate seeing God at work in your life? What can you do to gain a bit of this Israelite perspective?

6:15-16 – They got up at daybreak on the 7th day (again, excited and anticipating – this was it!) and marched. During the 7th lap, the priests blew the long blast and Joshua gave the command to shout.

6:17-19 – Joshua gave Israel warnings about not harming Rahab and not touching devoted things. They were to save the gold and silver for the Lord.

6:18 – “keep away from the devoted things.”

6:20 – Seeing this actually happen must have been amazing!

6:21 – How did Israel devote the city to the Lord? ESV says Israel devoted the city to destruction.

Israel destroyed every living thing except Rahab’s household.

6:22 – Joshua instructed the spies to go and get Rahab and her people.

6:23 – The spies are identified as young men. They got all of Rahab’s relatives and secured them outside of Israel’s camp to protect them. Also to protect Israel from being tainted by their presence? Why keep them separated?

6:24-25 – The city was burned. The gold, silver, bronze and iron were taken to the treasury of the Lord’s house.

6:25 – Rahab’s family was spared and she lives among the Israelites because of her faithful service to the Lord and Israel. What happened to being kept outside of Israel’s camp in verse 23?

Rahab married an Israelite named Salmon. One of the spies, perhaps? Her son’s name was Boaz. Does that name sound familiar? Check out the book of Ruth. Rahab and Ruth are both mentioned prominently in another family tree. Read Matthew 1:5.

6:26 – Joshua curses whoever tries to rebuild Jericho. 1 Kings 16:34 tells of Joshua’s curse coming to pass during the reign of Ahab against a man named Hiel of Bethel.

6:27 – The Lord was with Joshua.

His fame spread. Whose? The Lord’s or Joshua’s? Both. The Lord is with Joshua, so when miraculous things like the Jordan River or the collapse of Jericho’s walls happen, God and His servant are given credit. Does this happen to you? Be sure to point people back to God when they sing your praises.




• The book of Joshua teaches us many things including the fact that we must pursue a relationship with the Lord for ourselves rather than leaning on others’ relationships with Him. Joshua followed Moses as leader of Israel, after all. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• How do you observe God proving to Israel that He is with Joshua as He was with Moses in today’s text? How does it apply to your own life and relationship with 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, September 26, 2012

The Truth Project - Lesson Six – Science: What Is True? Part 2

In this lesson, I learned that our God is unfathomably smart! Just think about the clotting process. Google it if you must. Without this, we would have died off long ago because the slightest cut would have led to each of us bleeding to death! Have you ever had a cut that bled? Enough said.

Our catalyst for teaching in this lesson was Carl Sagan’s quote: “Evolution is a fact amply demonstrated by the fossil record and by contemporary molecular biology.” This erroneous statement was thoroughly debunked as contemporary molecular biology was used to disprove evolution through the examination of DNA and the cell itself which testifies to the preeminence of intelligent design.

It is sad that scientists who could be truly brilliant are so afraid to acknowledge a Creator. They don’t want to gaze at the face of God, so they choose to believe the lie in the form of theories that they themselves have disproven. Darwin even said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not be formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” WHOA!!!

Dr. Michael Behe states that Darwin’s theory has absolutely broken down. In his teaching on irreducible complexity, he says that a complex system that cannot function if it is any simpler could not have formed through evolution. He presented the analogy of a mousetrap that cannot function if any one of its parts is missing.
Now, onto the fossil record… Darwin even said that there were issues with the fossil record evidence. And in the 100+ years since, we’ve found lots more fossils, but the problem is even worse because there is even less connection between extinct and existing forms of life. Remember: Don’t be afraid to look into the microscope. The evidence supports the truth of God! Hallelujah!

If you’re like me and completely missed the name of the land/sea dwelling creature that Dr. Berlinksi mentioned, it’s an ambulocetas natans and it looked like a furry alligator. Google it.

In a nutshell, the fossil record absolutely DOES NOT support a gradual change from one species to another. But rather than acknowledge this, Stephen Jay Gould proposed another theory called punctuated equilibrium which says that the appearance of a new species will occur suddenly and without continuous variation and that this is supported by the lack of evidence in the fossil record. WHAT!?!?!? Where do these folks come up with this stuff?

I do not believe in the theory of evolution and I am neither ignorant nor stupid, insane or wicked as Richard Dawkins would suggest. It is frightening that, as G. Richard Bozarth states, “Evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthy life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and original sin, and in the rubble you find the sorry remains of the Son of God…and if Jesus was not the redeemer who dies for our sins, and this is what evolution means, Christianity is nothing.” This is a spiritual battle, people. Man has a tendency to exchange the truth of God for a lie so that he may seek his own desires. We Christians must wage war against this through prayer and sharing our faith.
How are you praying and sharing your faith today?

Monday, September 24, 2012

With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin



Here is my review of this wonderful novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Sarah Sundin and her publisher for sending me a copy of "With Every Letter" 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.

Sandra Sundin’s “With Every Letter” is one of the best romances I’ve read in quite some time. Lieutenant Philomela “Mellie” Blake is a nurse who longs to serve patients onboard airplanes as they are being transported. She also longs for a real friend, but her ideas and her looks are unconventional and she simply rubs people the wrong way.

Lieutenant Tom MacKilliver is having a difficult time leading his men. Because of his name and association with a convicted murderer, his life has not been easy. He longs to be anonymous, and when he receives the opportunity to do just that, he jumps into the project fully.

It began as an idea to create a fun program after watching the film “The Little Shop Around the Corner” where servicemen and nurses would correspond anonymously and build friendships. Mellie and Tom weren’t looking for romance and neither of them ever dreamed that they would fall in love. Neither of them believes that someone could love them for their true selves. Their thinking couldn’t be further from the truth.

This beautiful historical romance is packed with action. The World War II era is so much a part of this novel that it is almost its own character. All of Sarah Sundin’s books are amazing. But I believe this is my favorite. Not only did it entertain and encourage, it reminded me that my source of leadership training is Jesus Christ, Himself. Thanks, Sarah.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Lego Principle by Joey Bonifacio

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:

Charisma House (September 4, 2012)
***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joey Bonifacio is the senior pastor of Victory Fort. Bonifacio, a Christ-centered, Bible-based, Spirit-filled, disciple-making, mission-driven church that meets in Bonifacio Global City in Greater Metro Manila. Joey serves on the board of directors of Every Nation Ministries in the Philippines and is one of the key proponents of the Ephesians 4:12 Strategy for Church Growth. He is also the founder of VictoryBiz, a ministry to the business community. He is the author of The Promise No One Wants and The Mystery of the Empty Stomach. Joey and his wife, Marie, have three sons–Joseph, David, and Joshua.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Christ’s instructions to His disciples were very clear: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Yet, when asked for a one-word response to the question: “What is the business that the church represents,” few people can respond. Unlike Starbucks and coffee, Toyota and cars, or Rolex and watches, the church is having a hard time figuring out what its “one word” is. This book will direct people back to the mandate of Christ for His church—discipleship.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616386770
ISBN-13: 978-1616386771



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Just like lego


The story of LEGO cannot be told without the account of its amazing founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter who lived in the town of Billund in Denmark. He started his trade by making
household products from wood. In 1924 when his two sons, Godtfred and Karl, tried to light their oven at home, they ended up burning down the family home and the whole business with it. Flammable wood inven- tories and playful children don’t mix very well. Thankfully the children were saved, but Ole Kirk’s commercial future looked bleak.1
In less than a decade twin tragedies would pay the carpenter another visit. In 1932, as the Great Depression worsened in the United States, not even far-flung Billund and Ole Kirk’s business would be spared by the crisis. Christian Humberg wrote in his book 50 Years of the LEGO Brick that Ole Kirk “had to let his last employees go. His wife died soon after- ward, the carpenter was left on his own, with four sons and not nearly enough orders.”2
Jonathan Bender, author of LEGO: A Love Story, writes of the same adversities the carpenter encountered:

At forty-one years of age, he was a widower living in the largest house in Billund, Denmark—a house that he soon might not be able to afford. The Great Depression meant that demand had dried up for stools, Christmas tree bases, and ironing boards that were the trademarks of his carpentry and joinery shop.3

But like many success stories these challenges would prove to be serendipitous. It was also in 1932 when Ole Kirk made the decision to




1




The lego Principle


manufacture wooden toys. Daniel Lipkowitz, author of The LEGO Book: The Amazing LEGO Story, writes:

In 1932, with the worldwide Great Depression threatening to close his carpentry shop for good, Ole Kirk turned his skills to creating a range of toys for children. These beautifully made playthings included yo-yos, wooden blocks, pull-along animals, and vehicles of all kinds.4

His best seller was a pull-along wooden duck. “Ole Kirk guessed that even in times of financial strife, people would still be willing to buy wooden toys for their children.”5 In a matter of a few years business was good again, and Ole was able to build a new factory. More significantly this initial foray into toy manufacturing would become his family’s core business more than fifty years later.
Yet in 1942 misfortune struck again. Another fire burned down the new factory, and “all the production patterns were lost.”6 At the same time Europe was facing an escalating world war. Both home products and toys were not in demand, and Ole Kirk’s business wearily trudged through those years.
However, five years later serendipity would once again bring about a historical discovery. Humberg writes, “After the Second World War, high quality wood was in short supply, and plastic gradually began to domi- nate the world market.”7 With very little money he “finally took action; in 1947, Ole Kirk was the first Danish toy manufacturer to buy a plastic injection moulding machine—with borrowed money.”8 With Ole Kirk’s newly acquired experience with plastics, the toy company soon would design, manufacture, and perfect the LEGO brick.

A Christian Heritage

For years Ole Kirk experienced financial as well as other difficulties before his real breakthrough came. Only one thing would keep him going—his faith. Unknown to many, Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of LEGO, was a follower of Christ.
In their book The Ultimate LEGO Book authors David Pickering, Nick
Turpin, and Caryn Jenner wrote that Ole Kirk’s faith helped him through



2




Just Like LEGO



personal crises, including the death of his wife in 1932, which left him with four young sons to look after.9 He and his family were members of a Danish Christian movement called Indre Mission, and even into the 1950s, when the LEGO company was still a small business, almost everyone would meet together for a short prayer before work.10,11
Jonathan Bender, alluding to the years in 1932 when Ole Kirk’s prob- lems were at their worst, writes of how he responded to those challenges as a Christian:

That year, Ole Kirk ’s life was at a crossroads. His first wife, Kirstine, had died giving birth to their fourth son, Gerhardt. “Life is a gift, but also a challenge,” Ole Kirk, a devout Christian, is said to have remarked around that time.12

The fact that Ole Kirk Christiansen was a Christian is incidental to why this book is titled The LEGO Principle. It is, however, a good story to know. This book is titled as such because it is all about connecting— connecting to God and connecting to others. It is what Jesus and the Bible often describe as becoming a disciple or a follower of Christ.
Open any LEGO box, and you’ll find a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. There are red, blue, green, brown, yellow, orange, white, black, gray, and other color pieces. There are fat, flat, rectangular, round, square, thick, thin, long, and short pieces.
Though there is a wide assortment of LEGO pieces, they are all designed to do one thing: connect. To connect means to attach, to asso- ciate, and to bond. LEGO bricks and pieces are designed with studs on top that interlock with the bottom of each piece. While LEGO bricks are so varied, they all have one purpose: to connect at the top and at the bottom.
Just like LEGO pieces that connect at the top and at the bottom, dis- cipleship is about connecting to God and with one another. This is the LEGO Principle: Connect first to God and then to one another.
It does not matter what one’s skin color, social background, age, or denomination is—God designed us all to connect to Him and then to one another. Jesus said the foremost commandment is about connecting with God: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all




3




The lego Principle


your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest com- mandment.”13 Then He said, “The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”14
These two commandments combine to become the LEGO Principle: Connect to God. Connect to one another. This to Jesus was what it meant to be His disciple.

A “Follower”

Mathetes is the Bible’s Greek word for disciple. It primarily meant to be a pupil or a student. But unlike our present-day meaning of the words pupil and student, which we tend to think of as one who goes to school to learn a subject such as algebra or biology, the word disciple had a much deeper meaning in Jesus’s day. It meant to be a follower of someone’s teaching.
Thus the word disciple meant someone who closely followed a teacher and had a relationship with that person. It literally meant the sharing of life lessons that were fully intended to be lived out in day-to-day life. More than just learning in a class, to be a disciple meant to have a rela- tionship with the teacher. Jesus took this popular cultural practice of His time and used it as the basis to connect us to God and to one another.
Similarly the word follower today means something completely dif- ferent than it did back then. Depending on what part of the world you come from, a follower can mean anything and everything from a blind adherent to a groupie or someone who lives on other people’s tweets.

Like a Journey

Discipleship pundit Bill Hull writes, “Ship added to the end of disciple means ‘the state of ’ or ‘contained in.’ So discipleship means the state of being a disciple. In fact, the term discipleship has a nice ongoing feel—a sense of journey, the idea of becoming a disciple rather than having been made a disciple.”15
Thus the word discipleship meant to follow God while being contained in a lifelong journey of faith with Jesus and His other followers—to con- nect to God and to one another. In Matthew Jesus explains the essence of this journey.



4




Just Like LEGO



Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.16

According to Jesus, making disciples or discipleship involves two things:

• Baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit

• Teaching them to obey everything He commanded

First, let’s take a closer look at what it means to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Part of the problem in defining baptism is that, depending on one’s Christian background and denomi- nation, it can take on a variety of meanings. To avoid going into a long dissertation on what the sacrament of baptism is, allow me to go straight to the heart and spirit of the practice. The best way to do that is to see what baptism meant to Jesus.

Immersed into a divine relationship
In Matthew 3:15 we see how Jesus went out of His way to be baptized by His cousin John. His reason: “It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” When He was baptized He was immersed, submerged, and soaked. Every part of Him was dedicated and consecrated as He pub- licly identified Himself with God.
What was more significant was not the actual ritual but the result of
Jesus’s baptism. The following passage tells us what happened:

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”17







5




The lego Principle


Here we find a picture of what baptism is to Jesus: to be immersed into the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Author Rick Warren explains this relationship in his book The Purpose Driven Life:

[God’s] very nature is relational, and he identifies himself in family terms: Father, Son, and Spirit. The Trinity is God’s rela- tionship to himself.18

In Jesus’s baptism we see that being a disciple is all about immersing oneself into a divine relationship. To us it is an open invitation to become
a part of this relationship, eternity’s very first “small group”—a relation- ship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the end of the day disciple- ship is a journey into a relationship with God and His people.

Immersed into the family of God
Jesus further said that we were to be baptized or immersed into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In biblical times a person’s name described his identity and character, and still today it denotes one’s heritage and ancestry—his family. Thus to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to be immersed into the identity, character, and family of God.
Although I don’t believe it is necessary for one to be baptized in the ocean, it paints a good picture of baptism. It brings to light the reality of how infinitely big God is and how small we are, that we are unable to contain God and instead every part of us is to be immersed, soaked, and saturated by Him.
To be Jesus’s disciple is to be immersed in a relationship with the Trinity. It came at the cost of one of its members giving His life so we could become a part of the family. Discipleship is relationship. David Platt emphasizes the same thought in his book Radical:

Disciple making is not about a program or an event but about a relationship. As we share the gospel, we impart life, and this is the essence of making disciples. Sharing the life of Christ. This is why making disciples is not just about going, but it also includes baptizing.19





6




Just Like LEGO


The Second Half of the Definition

According to Jesus, the second half of discipleship is “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded.”20 Undoubtedly, teaching is a vital component of discipleship. However, more than just teaching, Jesus’s real emphasis is obedience. He said, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.” And what did Jesus mean by obeying His command? He said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”21
Isn’t it amazing how we see obedience to God’s commands as fol- lowing rules while Jesus sees them from the standpoint of a relationship? And what was one of Jesus’s foremost commands? “This is my command: Love each other.”22
To Jesus, obeying His commands meant loving one another. Discipleship is relationship. He also said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”23 To Jesus, obeying His commands was all about rela- tionship. And how will the world know that we are Jesus’s disciples? “All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”24
The world will know that we are His disciples by the quality of our relationship with Him and with one another.

Not Enough to Just Know

What makes Christianity unique among all other religions is it teaches people how to grow in their relationship with God and with others. The goal of teaching is not merely to increase our knowledge of divine prin- ciples, rules, laws, and things to do but to grow in our relationship with God and one another.
If discipleship is just learning more without deepening our relation- ship with God and one another, then we run the risk of being rebuked by Jesus, just as He did the religious people of His day when He said:

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that tes- tify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.25

In today’s language it might have sounded like this, “You keep going to your Bible studies and meetings, thinking that by doing so you’re getting



7




The lego Principle


closer to Me. Yet you resist living a life in relationship with Me.” The idea behind all the teaching and learning is that the deepening of our understanding of God will result in a stronger and deeper relationship with Him. John Wesley warned about learning and not growing in rela- tionship: “Beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.”26
Peter was one of Jesus’s closest disciples. He was also one of the first of His disciples to publicly deny his relationship with Jesus. What did Jesus ask Peter after he denied Him? “Do you love me?”27
Jesus did not ask him if he had been coming to church or how many Bible studies he had missed. He did not even confront him and say, “Why did you deny Me?” The question He asked Peter was simply, “Do you still love me?” Jesus knew love was more powerful than just being held accountable.
Clearly to Jesus discipleship is all about relationship. To Him the very foundation and basis of ministry to people is our relationship with Him. Notice what He told Peter after He asked him, “Do you love me?” He told him, “Feed my sheep.”28
Our ability to love others and give of ourselves to people comes only as a fruit of our understanding and appreciation of our relationship with God. John tells us that: “We love because he first loved us.”29
To Jesus, teaching was just the vehicle to help people learn how to love God and others. Relationship was the end goal, not teaching. Discipleship is relationship!

The Teachings of Paul

Next to Jesus the second most important teacher in the New Testament was the apostle Paul. Acts 18:11 tells us, “Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” That time of teaching was spent in Corinth. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we find that his teaching was no different from Jesus’s. He warns us, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”30
This profound seven-word admonition is another way of saying that knowledge by itself will make you arrogant and proud. The second half of the statement tells us what is better than just learning new things—love. Love and relationships are what builds up.


8




Just Like LEGO



There is no doubt that Paul’s foundational teaching in Corinth is about Christ and His cross. A central component of this focused on love and relationships. He taught that while you can learn to have the wisdom and the power of the Spirit, the real key is love. He writes, “And now I will show you the most excellent way.”31
What to Paul was the most excellent way? Love. In the succeeding chapter he explains what love is. He exhorts the Corinthian church that love is preeminent over spiritual gifts and acts of service. Let me para- phrase Paul’s words this way: “Great that you speak in tongues. Awesome when you can prophesy. Amazing that you are a deep thinker and can fathom the mysteries of life. Fantastic that you have faith that can move mountains. Wonderful that you take care of the poor. But if you don’t have love, you really don’t have anything.”
He caps it by saying: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”32 In his book The Making of a Christian Leader, the late Ted Engstrom can only agree with Paul’s teaching:

The Bible considers our relationship more important than our accomplishment. God will get His work done! He does not demand that we accomplish great things; He demands that we strive for excellence in our relationships.33

As a new Christian reading this in 1987, these three sentences trans- formed the way I read the Bible and how I lived out my faith in God. Discipleship is not a program. It is all about relationships, first with God
then with others.
Paul, like Jesus, also taught the Corinthians that ministry is rooted in relationships.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.34

In this passage Paul explains that ministry is all about reconciling people to God. Reconciliation is a theological term that primarily deals



9




The lego Principle


with relationships. Like Jesus, Paul taught that ministry is about restoring people into a relationship with God. As they grow in that relationship, they too will be reconciled to others.
Paul not only taught that his way of making disciples is rooted in rela- tionships, he also demonstrated it. He told the Corinthians, “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.”35
In this verse we see how Paul admonished, adjusted, and held disciples accountable. He did it in the context of relationship as one does his own children. Paul’s brand of teaching was not in set classes but in relation- ships. Later in the same letter Paul wrote, “Therefore I urge you to imi- tate me.”36
More than just teaching them, he said, “Imitate me.” To imitate someone means you have to be close to him. It is in up-close relationships that one can best be made into a disciple and make disciples. Francis Frangipane put it this way: “While the doctrines of Christianity can be taught, Christlikeness can only be inspired.”37

An Unforgettable Reminder

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul dealt with the sacrament of Communion. When he taught on the topic, Paul merely passed on what Jesus had instructed:

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remem- brance of me.”38

What was the instruction that Jesus and Paul left to the disciples? “Remember me.” To remember means to not forget. Jesus was saying, “Don’t forget what I did for you. It is the ultimate expression of My love for you.”
In teaching the sacrament of Communion, Jesus and Paul instituted the simplest and most memorable of mnemonic devices—the bread and



10




Just Like LEGO



the cup. Both are common things that we encounter daily when we eat. The devices were brilliant, timeless, and hard to forget.
The genius of it all is that people don’t often forget to eat; they usually do so multiple times a day. Jesus knew that even when we forget Him, we would not forget to eat. This way every time we eat we can take a moment to be reminded of our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Every meal becomes an opportunity to partake of His grace and com- mune with Him, a reminder that we are sinners saved by grace. As such we have the divine privilege of having a relationship with Him.
A few years ago I was asked to teach church leaders in China about discipleship. Risking their lives to hear fresh insights on discipleship, people from all over the nation came. It was inspiring to see these pre- cious saints so hungry to learn.
After three days of equipping leaders, the feedback was very positive. On the third day I realized it wasn’t just a lesson to them. As the meeting drew to a close, the leaders administered Communion to the more than
a hundred people who were there. Communion was not the typical cer- emony of passing around itty-bitty elements, singing, and praying—all in about ten to fifteen minutes.
It was an extended thirty to forty minutes of sharing fist-sized pieces of bread and big Styrofoam cups filled with red juice. For a good ten min- utes each person silently sat and recalled the love of Christ as He bore our sins in His broken body and spilled His blood to wash us clean. Many of them wept.
After this time of reflection, the people quietly walked to the other tables offering to pray. The prayer concerns ranged from persecution from family, friends, and the government to the more serious threat of being pregnant with a second child, as the one-child policy is still enforced in parts of China to this day.
After prayers and a time of encouragement, the people moved to another table and began to pray again. Some laughed, some wept, and some just talked and prayed. That day it became clear why they have received the message of “discipleship is relationship” so well. They live it.
It’s no wonder the church in China continues to grow at breakneck speed. As the London Times reports: “Christianity in China is booming. With 100 million believers, far more than the 74 million-member



11




The lego Principle


communist party, Jesus is a force to be reckoned with in the People’s
Republic.”39
The Times’ estimate is not very far from that of other Christian orga- nizations such as the US Center for World Missions. This current growth trend shows that China will soon surpass the United States to become the nation with the largest concentration of Christians.
What used to be church growth among the peasantry in outlying rural areas has now spread into China’s cities. Hong Kong’s Sunday Morning Post reports of a church that meets in the very capital of China, Beijing.

Attended by a well-to-do and educated crowd—among them university lecturers, doctors, lawyers, NGO workers and even Communist Party members—Shouwang has come to symbolize
a new breed of young urban Christians who are no longer con- tented to practice their faith in secret.”40

This is the power of discipleship through relationships, and it works everywhere—in religious Manila, communist China, and metropolitan Manhattan.




























12




Just Like LEGO














Christians commonly say, “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship,” and yet all too often behave otherwise. Just like LEGO bricks, our life is about connecting to the top with God and connecting with others. Discipleship is not about being converted and converting others, nor is it about cramming our heads with information about the Bible. It is about rela- tionship, one that expresses itself in loving God and loving others. The primary reason we read the Bible is to know the God of the Bible.
Here’s how Andy Stanley and Bill Willits put it in their book
Creating Community:
“A curriculum or a series of classes may be helpful, but they shouldn’t be considered the determinants for spiritual growth. They may help people become better informed about their faith, but they don’t automatically lead people to maturity. . . . At the risk of oversimplifying, it seems clear that Jesus is saying that loving God and loving your neighbor is what it all comes down to. . . . These two activities give evi- dence of a person’s spiritual growth and maturity.” 41

















13































































Bonlfaclo-LEGO PrinCiple 1ndd 14



Here is my review of this excellent book on Christian Living:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Joey Bonifacio and his publisher for sending me a copy of "The Lego Principle" 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.
“The Lego Principle” by Joey Bonifacio is all about relationships.  This valuable volume is sectioned into three headings about Discipleship, Relationship and Values.  Using the concept of Lego building blocks, each chapter connects one practical application to the next throughout the 14 chapters that will result in a deeper walk with Christ.

This book may seem simple.  There are no questions at the end of the chapter for reflection and/or discussion.  There is no Bible study in an appendix at the end of the book.  The beauty of this read is in its simplicity.  I would recommend it to be used as a devotional at the rate of a chapter each week to give the reader time to really apply and solidify each characteristic that is being showcased.  This sort of practice will have a tremendous impact on the reader’s relationship with Christ and with others, enabling him or her to fulfill God’s command to love the Lord with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rock Solid Faith Study Bible for Teens

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 is:

Zondervan; Special edition (August 21, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


This all-new, full-featured NIV Bible is great for teens looking to grow their faith, increase meaning in their lives, and find hope for their future. The Rock Solid Bible for Teens is a timely guide for teens grappling with big questions about the world, their future, and their faith. Featuring the complete New International Version text, apologetics helps, hundreds of call-outs, and concrete promises for the future, the Rock Solid Bible provides firm traction for the development of beliefs and behavior rooted in the unchanging love, guidance, and promises of God.


Product Details:
List Price: $29.99

Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 1664 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (August 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310723302
ISBN-13: 978-0310723301



AND NOW...THE A SAMPLE (CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE LARGER):






Chapter will be placed up here soon.
First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Zondervan for sending me a copy of "Rock Solid Faith Study Bible for Teens" 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.

The Rock Solid Faith Study Bible For Teens is a cool resource. The NIV text is understandable and engaging for a younger audience – it was the Bible translation I fell in love with at 16 although the wording does seem a bit different from what I'm used to reading. The features of this particular Bible edition is a focus on building a rock solid foundation of faith and relationship with God.

Rock Solid PROMISES showcases what is (and is not) promised in scripture. Rock Solid PRINCIPLES gives practical application for Biblical concepts. Rock Solid TRUTHS examines the Christian worldview and features explorations of other religions. Rock Solid PLANS reveals God’s plan for daily Christian living. Unshaken PEOPLE offers Biblical examples of perseverance. Unshaken GOD reveals God’s character and attributes.

This incredible Bible also includes reading plans, a topical index, a concordance and maps for reference and study. The only thing I’m used to seeing in study Bibles that is not included in this volume is a collection of study notes at the bottom of each page and lots of footnotes and cross-references. There are basic footnotes, though. This would be a good starter Bible to build faith on a foundation of who God is and how we can live to please Him. I believe that is a valuable place to begin. I would’ve liked to have this for my first Bible. If it had been, I think I’d know God’s promises inside-out.

Bible Study: Be Strong and Courageous - Joshua Chapter 5

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Joshua, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, summer 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong and very courageous. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 5 of the Old Testament book of Joshua. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

5:1 – When the Amorite kings heard about what happened at the Jordan, their hearts melted – WOW! What a visual – and they were afraid of Israel. How would Joshua know this? How would the Amorite kings have heard about what happened at the Jordan in the first place? Scouts and spies?

5:2-3 – Then the Lord told Joshua to circumcise the Israelites, and he did.

Was the point of verse 1 to say that Israel would have no opposition for a time and be able to perform this surgery and have time to heal without fear of being attacked? Read Genesis 34 to see a time when this was actually used as a “battle” tactic.

Gibeath Haaraloth means hill of foreskins. Ick! Some resources say this sity was also known as Gilgal.

5:4-8 – None of the men born in the desert during the Exodus were circumcised. So Joshua performed the task and Israel camped until they were healed.

How many circumcisions were performed?

Why do you think God didn’t have Joshua circumcise Israel before setting out/crossing the Jordan? Remember, God’s timing is perfect! He used His act of power in stopping the flow of the Jordan to make the “kings” fear Him and Israel, which assured that the Israelite camp would be safe from attack and have time to heal from the procedure.

5:9 – The Lord rolled away the reproach of Egypt from Israel. The name Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew for “roll”.

5:10 – This is the first celebration of the Passover since one year after Israel was released from Egypt. So, this was the 3rd Passover celebrated by Israel. It was actually observed on the correct day. How many years had it been? 40?

5:11-12 – The day after the Passover, they ate some of the produce from the land and the day after that, the manna stopped. WOW! They ate manna for a long time.

5:13 – Joshua approaches a man with a sword near Jericho. How stupid! I mean, what bravery! Joshua truly was strong and courageous.

Would you have approached an armed man near an enemy city? Why or why not? Why do you think Joshua did approach him?

5:14 – This is so cool! I’ll bet Joshua was glad he did approach this man. He identifies himself as the commander of the army of the Lord! Whoa! Who is this? An angel? God the Father? A preincarnate Christ?

I’m leaning toward Christ, myself. Was His sword the Word of God?

5:15 – This verse is reminiscent of when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. This commander is definitely God! This is holy ground. Joshua removed his shoes. I wonder if Joshua ever sat around a tent or campfire with Moses and heard the burning bush story, and that’s why he removed his shoes...

Think about this: Joshua saw Jesus’ face!



• The book of Joshua teaches us many things including the fact that we must pursue a relationship with the Lord for ourselves rather than leaning on others’ relationships with Him. Joshua followed Moses as leader of Israel, after all. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• How do you observe God proving to Israel that He is with Joshua as He was with Moses in today’s text? How does it apply to your own life and relationship with 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, September 20, 2012

Proverbs Prayers by John Mason


Experience God's wisdom as never before and find encouragement, peace, answers, and a better life through this devotional prayer book.

Many people read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs as a regular devotional practice. They consider it their favorite book in the Bible because its daily practical guidance offers tools to make the right choices and have the inner strength to stand against pressure, size up a situation and know how to respond, make fewer careless mistakes, and avoid unnecessary trouble.

In these pages, readers will find a chapter from Proverbs followed by a heartfelt prayer that includes all of the insights from that chapter. In a mere thirty-one days they can pray all of the wisdom of Proverbs for their lives.


Summerside Press 2012


About John Mason

John Mason is an author with over 1.2 million books in print, including An Enemy Called Average, You're Born an Original- Don't Die a Copy, and Let Go of Whatever Makes You Stop.

He is the founder and president of Insight International, an organization dedicated to helping people reach their dreams and fulfill their destiny. John is in great demand as a speaker throughout the United States and abroad.

Learn more about John on his website: http://www.freshword.com


Here is my review of this wonderful prayer guide:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to John Mason and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Proverbs Prayers" 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.

John Mason’s “Proverbs Prayers” is an incredible prayer pump primer. This simple book contains 31 chapters, one for each chapter of Proverbs. Each chapter contains the text of that chapter of Proverbs in the New American Standard Bible version and a corresponding prayer. I have read these prayers and spoken them aloud, and they have guided my own prayers to new places, adding a freshness and renewal to my prayer life. This book ends with a list of “Proverbs Principles”, which are key characteristics and how they relate to Christian character. This section includes Scripture verses and a brief commentary about the key words.

This book can be used beautifully every month as a devotional and prayer guide.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Truth Project - Lesson Five – Science: What Is True?

These lessons simply get better and better as this Biblical worldview course progresses! The key lesson that I gleaned from this week’s teaching is not to be afraid to look into a microscope because the evidence supports the truth of God. Hallelujah! I never really thought about it, before, but that’s the way it would have to be if God is really real. Right?

The heavens declare the glory of God! Jeremiah 33:22 mentions the countless nature of the stars in the sky. In 128 BC, Hipparchus proclaimed that the stars numbered 1026 – he counted them! In 1600 AD, Kepler claimed there were only 1005 stars. WOW! In 2003 AD, the count came to 70 sextillion stars, including over 1 billion galaxies! That’s more like it. This is apparently more than the grains of sand in every desert and beach on earth, but I have no idea who counted those grains…

God’s handiwork is plain to see. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Memorize this.

In this lesson, we examined the question: Where did the cosmos come from? There are only two possible answers: either the cosmos had a beginning or they have always existed. According to the second law of thermodynamics, energy winds down and runs out. So if the cosmos have always existed, they should be dead already. If the cosmos had a beginning, where did the matter that makes it up come from?
What we encounter in this lesson is man’s tendency to look inside the box, see the work of God and attempt to deny it. Frightening. We do this through hypothesis which is an early assumption based on limited evidence which is used as a starting point for investigation. If further study confirms the hypothesis, it becomes a theory which begins to make predictions based on these confirmed assumptions. When the data always matches the theory, it becomes a law which is a statement of scientific fact.

Biological evidence leans toward intelligent design. Evidence of intelligent design is plain to us. So why do we turn away from it? Why did Darwin say that the sight of the eye in peacock feathers made him sick? It is evidence of design. We are in the midst of a spiritual war that is being fought partially through science. How will you combat this enemy?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Michigan, 1883
In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs? Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick. Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye. Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?
Bethany House 2012

About Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of The Doctor's Lady and The Preacher's Bride. She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at JodyHedlund.com.


Here is my review of this lovely story:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Jody Hedlund and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Unending Devotion" 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.

“Unending Devotion” by Jody Hedlund is full of drama, humor and romance. This beautiful novel follows Lily Young, posing as a photographer’s assistant, traveling from logging camp to logging camp in Michigan while she searches for her sister, Daisy, who pursued a questionable profession in the hopes of making enough money so the sisters could be together. She never thought that she would meet a man who would make her heart race and her stomach flutter.

Connell McCormick is the handsome, burly “shanty boy” who came to Lily’s rescue when a pair of loggers began fighting over her the first night of her arrival in Harrison. What Lily doesn’t know is that he is the camp manager and the son of the logging camp owner, and not a “shanty boy” at all. Despite his growing attraction to Lily, Connell tries to keep his heart at a distance because of his past experience with love.

“Unending Devotion” is a lovely story that will entertain and enchant.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson



First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Dee Henderson and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Full Disclosure" 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.

Dee Henderson’s latest novel, “Full Disclosure,” is well-worth the long wait! The reunion with several of the O’Malleys had my heart beating double-time! Or was it the author’s gift for crafting a suspenseful plot? Or perhaps it was learning the identities of the True Heroes cast of characters. In any case, this book started off at a run because I caught myself reminiscing over books I’ve enjoyed and characters I’ve considered friends, embraced the twist that incorporated them into this novel and invested my armchair sleuthing skills into figuring out who the Lady Shooter is.

Paul Falcon is the top murder investigator for the FBI. His investigation of the Lady Shooter case has gone cold a long time ago. But this trail is about to heat up. Ann Silver is the top murder investigator with any agency that requests her help as the Midwest Homicide Investigator (MHI). When Ann cracks a code that leads to a break in the Lady Shooter case Paul is working on, she hands over all of her evidence over to Agent Falcon. And Paul thinks he’s finally met the woman of his dreams.

“Full Disclosure” is a high tension suspense read. Although the narrative of this Advance Reading Copy lost me for a bit in the middle of the book, I pushed through to the thrilling conclusion. Ann is a very unique character – flexible, not desiring fame or glory, deliberate in all she does. These are just a few of the ways I would like to be like her. Paul is dedicated and doting and observant – a few of the character traits I would also like to possess. The Lady Shooter case is a solid story that unfolds in surprising ways. I hope this novel is just the beginning of what Dee Henderson has in store for her audience in the near future.

Bible Study: Be Strong and Courageous - Joshua Chapter 4

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Joshua, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, summer 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong and very courageous. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 4 of the Old Testament book of Joshua. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

4:1-2 – When Israel crossed the river, the Lord told Joshua to choose 12 men (1 from each tribe) to select a stone from the middle of the Jordan where the priests stood and carry them to where they would camp.

4:5 – stone on his shoulder – this would be a really large rock if it had to be carried this way.

4:6-7 – The stones would serve as a memorial.

How do you commemorate important events in your life? What sort of events do you make an effort to remember? What is the last significant moment with God that you have memorialized?

4:8-9 – The Israelites did as Joshua commanded and Joshua set up the stones.

4:10-11 – The priests stayed in the middle of the river until all the people crossed. Then they came out.

4:12-13 – About 40,000 armed men from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in front of the rest of the people as Moses instructed in Numbers 32:29. According to the census of Numbers 26, how many men were in these tribes? Reuben – 43,730; Gad – 40,500; Manasseh – 52,700. If they only sent 40,000 men to conquer the land, how much protection does that offer their families remaining in this land?

Why continue to refer to Manasseh as a half-tribe? To distinguish this generation from the sons of Israel?

4:13 – before the Lord – before the ark?

4:14 – That day endeared Joshua to Israel and they respected him as they did Moses. Why? Because God promised in verse 7 to prove that He was with Joshua. Also, check out verses 15-18.

4:15-18 – The Lord told Joshua to command the priests to come out of the river. Joshua obeyed, as did the priests. As soon as their feet touched dry ground, the river resumed its flood stage flow! This proves again that God is with Joshua as stated in 3:7.

Close your eyes. Imagine this visual. Imagine the sound! How would you have felt if you were an eye-witness to this event?

4:19 – the tenth of Nisan. This would have been the day the Passover lamb was selected. Israel camped at Gilgal. No mention of lambs.

4:20-22 – This is where Joshua set up the 12 stones to commemorate the crossing of the Jordan.

4:23-24 – God dried up the Jordan so that people might know His power and so Israel would all be in awe of Him. What do you know about God’s power?




• The book of Joshua teaches us many things including the fact that we must pursue a relationship with the Lord for ourselves rather than leaning on others’ relationships with Him. Joshua followed Moses as leader of Israel, after all. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• How do you observe God proving to Israel that He is with Joshua as He was with Moses in today’s text? How does it apply to your own life and relationship with 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, September 12, 2012

The Truth Project - Lesson Four – Theology: Who Is God?

Here are some highlights from another amazing lecture from Del Tackett, who asked: how can we define or describe God? We really can’t because we don’t even completely understand the eternal nature of God. It is amazing that He has chosen to reveal Himself to us and that He takes up residence in us.

The Westminster Confession attempted to answer this critical question, and they didn’t do too badly in the amazingness of God part. But I disagree with where they said that God is without passions. So does my Pastor. God is passionate about us! So much so that He sent His only Son to die on the cross so that we wouldn’t be separated from Him.

One of the incredible points that was brought up during this tour is that knowledge of God has not been destroyed but merely eclipsed – or hidden. That’s just like the enemy, isn’t it? Remember when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert? He spouted lots of lies veiled in nuggets of truth, but Jesus didn’t fall for it! So to eclipse God is like saying it’s okay to believe in God, but the fact that the only way to get to God the Father is through Jesus the Son is being hidden so that the world is fooled into thinking that belief in God is enough. Scary, isn’t it?

Jesus is eternal life. He is intimate relationship. He is how we know God. We can also know God by the names He has given to Himself in His Word. One such name, El Qanna, means jealous. This kind of jealousy isn’t the one we’re supposed to stay away from. That brand of jealousy says, “I want what you have and I hate you for having it.” God’s brand of jealousy is a righteous zeal that rises up when sin threatens a covenant relationship! WOW! I get the difference.

According to R.C. Sproul, we must establish two things: the existence of God and the trustworthiness of scripture. He says that, by doing this, 90% of the work to defend Christianity would be done. It’s no wonder why these two areas are under such heavy attack.

In my opinion, the piece de resistance of this tour was Del Tackett’s explanation of a personal crisis where he struggled with the validity of Scripture over the apparent conflicts in dating the Hebrew kings. The kingdoms of Judah and Israel used two different numbering systems and began their kingship calendars in two different months. They also utilized a tactic of co-regency: when the king felt threatened, he would share the throne with his son. Don’t miss this valuable piece of validation of Scripture! It happens to be one of the areas that the world is attacking to discredit God, the Word and the Gospel.

This teaching has been so thought-provoking. It is preparing me to refute the arguments that the world throws at witnessing Christians and is making me a better witness. I can’t wait for next week’s tour on Science!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Bible Study: Be Strong and Courageous - Joshua Chapter 3

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Joshua, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, summer 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong and very courageous. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 3 of the Old Testament book of Joshua. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

3:1 – The people went from Shittim to camp by the Jordan before crossing over. Why? If you look at a map, Jericho appears to be on the same side as the river.

3:2-4 – Officers told the people to follow the ark of the covenant, staying back 1000 yards.

Women and children, too? Probably not. Remember, Reuben and Gad left their families at home.

3:5 – Joshua told the people to consecrate themselves to prepare for the wonders that God would do on the following day. I seem to remember a similar passage in the Pentateuch – the people cleansing themselves – I need a reference.

“amazing things” – wonders.

How do you prepare yourself for what the Lord is doing in your midst?

3:6 – Joshua instructed the priests to take up the ark and pass before the people. Why might Joshua have given this instruction? So everyone could see God went before them? Was this perhaps like the Commander passing before His troops, surveying them?


3:7 – God told Joshua that He would prove to Israel that He is with Joshua just as He was with Moses. Take note of how God does this as you study the text.

3:8 – God told Joshua to instruct the priests carrying the ark to step into the river when they reached it.

3:9 – Joshua calls the people to listen to their God. Is He your God?

3:10-13 – Joshua explains that Israel will know God is among them and going to drive “the ites” out of the land because the ark will go before them and cut off the flow of water.

Hearing that the ark would go before Israel reminds me of that scene at the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where Marcus Brody says, “an army that carries the ark before it is invincible.” Do you know why such an army would be invincible? Because God sat enthroned on the mercy seat (atonement cover) between the cherubim. When the ark led the army, the Lord led the army! How cool is that!?!?!

3:14 – The priests carrying the ark set out.

3:15-16 – The flooded Jordan River stopped flowing as soon as the priests’ feet touched the water. So the people crossed. This proves that God is with Joshua as stated in verses 7 and 10-13.

It would have been difficult for the priests to maintain balance with the water raging at flood stage, especially while carrying the ark on their shoulders. I wonder if these men were afraid? Or if they just knew God would show up? Especially considering Joshua’s words in verse 5.

Close your eyes and imagine this. Note any changes in sight, sound, smell, touch, taste.

3:17 – The priests stayed in the middle of the river until all the people crossed. Remember the people had to stay 1000 yards away from the priests and the ark.

How many people? The last census was taken in Numbers 26. The results of that census reveal the following with regard to the number of men: Reuben – 43,730; Simeon – 22,200; Gad – 40,500; Judah – 76,500; Issachar – 64,300; Zebulun – 60,500; Manasseh – 52,700; Ephraim – 32,500; Benjamin – 45,600; Dan – 64,400; Asher – 53,400; Naphtali – 45,400. That is a total of 601,730 men, not counting Levites.

This was a bit different from the Red Sea crossing.





• The book of Joshua teaches us many things including the fact that we must pursue a relationship with the Lord for ourselves rather than leaning on others’ relationships with Him. Joshua followed Moses as leader of Israel, after all. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• How do you observe God proving to Israel that He is with Joshua as He was with Moses in today’s text? How does it apply to your own life and relationship with 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?

Taming the Wind by Tracie Peterson

When Cassie Lowe goes to live with her sister in the years following the Civil War, she is reacquainted with a man who once saved her life, Tyler Atherton. But Cassie is no longer the lighthearted young woman he once knew. She is now a widow with a young daughter, and she is nursing the disappointments and hurts from a difficult marriage. Though she longs to open her heart again, she is bound by fear and mistrust.

Tyler has demons of his own. Still haunted by the knowledge that his father was murdered by Comanches, he puts all his focus on reclaiming his inheritance: the ranch stolen from his family as punishment for his fighting for the Confederacy. With his affection for Cassie growing, he longs to provide a home and future for her and her daughter.
Though yearning to pledge their love, both Cassie and Tyler struggle to conquer their fears. Will Indian attacks, post-war renegades, and the hardship of life on the Texas plains destroy their future? Or will they find the strength to surrender their wills to God... and embrace his perfect plan?

About Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie's Web site at www.traciepeterson.comand her blog atwww.writespassage.blogspot.com.


Here is my review of this engaging historical romance:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Tracie Peterson and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Taming the Wind" 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.

Tracie Peterson’s “Taming the Wind” is a lovely historical romance that will leave the reader craving more titles by this talented author. This is the third book in the Land of the Lone Star Series, but it reads well as a standalone novel. The characters are people I would like to have as friends: loyal, honest and giving. Cassie Lowe’s story gripped me right away. Post Civil War and a miserable marriage, the young widow and mother of a beautiful daughter finds herself living with her sister’s family.

A friend from Cassie’s past, Tyler Atherton, finds himself without a home after the war, his ranch having been confiscated by the government because Tyler fought on the wrong side. Living with friends, Tyler works and struggles to regain his independence and create a home for himself that he will one day be able to share with Cassie and Gloria.

This book is like a river float trip. It is calm and flowing with suspenseful and adventurous moments. I believe this is a testimony to the research of the author, who appears to have accurately penned what life was like in Texas after the Civil War. “Taming the Wind” is one incredibly engaging historical romance read that is flavored with a subplot of characters who want to be godly people.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Truth Project - Lesson Three – Anthropology: Who Is Man?

The Anthropology Tour didn’t begin where I expected it would. It eventually got there, though, and it turned out to be another great lesson that encouraged lots of thought. By the end of the class, our Pastor-Facilitator asked if we were experiencing information overload. And the answer is a resounding YES!

So, Dr. Tackett begins by writing the word “EVIL” on the chalkboard in his classroom. What is evil? Is it a bad feeling? Is it doing bad and feeling good about it? Is it creepy? Is it sin? Is it genocide? Here’s a second question: Where did EVIL come from? And a third question: Why is there evil in the world? If you exclude God, you’re left in a difficult position to answer these questions. This is why, when you ask these questions of the world, they come up empty.

The Biblical view of man is comprised of several states or modes. Creation brought about the first state: INNOCENT – we were created in God’s image. The Fall brought about state two: FALLEN – evil, dead, rebellious, lost, children of the devil, etc. Death during this state brings about: HELL. Repentance during this state finds us: REDEEMED – saints, children of God, a holy nation, priests. Death after redemption brings about something glorious.

Take a minute to read Galatians 5:16-17. According to these verses, there are two elements comprising REDEEMED man: the Spirit and the sinful nature. These two elements are in conflict with each other. The Cosmic Battle Within is a life challenge. Paul struggled with this and recorded his thoughts in the book of Romans (6:12; 7:15-25; 8:5-14).

The Battle over Anthropology is about who man is. That is the crux of this lesson. According to the Bible, we are flesh and Spirit. We are fallen. We have been redeemed. What is the lie? What is the counter-information is direct opposition to that truth?

According to the world, we are merely flesh based on scientific analysis. I was disturbed to learn that Haeckel’s Embryos (the drawings that have been in science textbooks for decades) were faked. The embryos were drawn to look similar in support of the theory of evolution. Another disturbing discovery was that there is no clinical evidence to support the reality of Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”. The goal of the human being, according to this “theory” is self-actualization which is a fancy way of saying “doing what you want to do.” Cain engaged in self-actualization when he murdered his brother Abel and Abel’s blood called out to God from the earth. Imagine the cries of aborted babies and holocaust victims… Christianity is in direct opposition to self-actualization. The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control!

According to the world, man is basically good. WRONG! Where do you think evil comes from? “Scientists” say that sick people are made by a sick culture and that cultural influences are the major factor in our evil behaviors. So, who makes up the culture? How does the culture become what it is? Are we back to our Crisis of Ethics where majority rules? Absolutely!

See that no one takes you captive. Be like the Bereans and test all things against the Word of God.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Christian Contours

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Douglas S. Huffman and Kregel Academic for sending me a copy of "Christian Contours" 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.

“Christian Contours: How a Biblical Worldview Shapes the Mind and Heart” edited by Douglas S. Huffman is a fascinating look at the concept of worldview in general and particularly educational in the realm of Biblical Worldview. After experiencing the 13 teaching sessions of Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project,” “Christian Contours” was the next natural step in getting more information on what I’ve been learning.

This volume helps with the student’s understanding of what a worldview is and how it is formed. It can be a dry read at times, especially when you are looking for a specific bit of information. But “Christian Contours” has a decent table of contents and topical index to help you find information on the subjects you want to learn about. This book is a welcome addition to my reference library.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Monday Prayer Helps: How to fit all of your prayers into your week

Here’s a prayer idea for all of you calendar keepers who also happen to love sticky notes. Recently I’ve combined my love of Post-Its with my DayTimer. I chose a subject of recurring prayer for my husband and wrote it on a Post-It Note, then attached it to my calendar. After I pray for my husband, I peel off the note and attach it to the same date on the following month of my calendar. I’ve selected a different prayer topic for each day of the month. I’ve also done the same for my kids.

There is so much that we need to pray for as Christians. We could literally pray without ceasing all day. You could write the names of people on Post-Its and attach them to your calendar as well. So there is a way to pray for your church leaders, government officials, children’s teachers, etc. Get creative. The possible applications for using this idea is limited only by your imagination. Here is my weekly schedule:

Monday – Bible Study Fellowship Leaders (I also pray for my classmates each day as I do homework)
Tuesday – My extended family
Wednesday – State and Federal Government representatives
Thursday – My workmates, supervisors, managers, company
Friday – Since my cancer treatment was scheduled on Fridays, I pray for my doctors, nurses, office staff, phlebotomists and the fitness professionals at my gym
Saturday – My Sunday School Teachers, their families and my classmates
Sunday – My Pastor and his family

I also pray for one continent each day.