Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh


The Storm Inside Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are


By Sheila Walsh
Published by Thomas Nelson


Book Description


No matter the storm, God knows, God cares, and He is always there.

The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women get a heavier dose than most. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches, and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace, and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us. But there is hope!

In The Storm Inside, best-selling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith. With insightful biblical teaching, intimate stories of her own storms and the chaos other women have faced and overcome, Walsh shows how:

  • Heartbreak can become strength
  • Shame can lead to love
  • Unforgiveness can find freedom
  • Restoration can undo rage
  • Courage overcomes insignificance
  • And so much more

In The Storm Inside, you will find strength in the most profound truths—that you are always a child of God no matter how you feel. In these pages, you will learn to see yourself as God sees you, not as someone forever tossed by the waves but as a woman fully known, fully loved, and growing ever deeper in faith, hope, and love.

It is time as daughters of God to take the chaos of how we feel, lay it at the feet of God, and stand strong in who we are in Him. This simple teaching will be the difference between a life of joy and one of despair. Sheila powerfully reminds us that God offers no guarantee of a life without storms, but He does provide the strength and grace to make it through them.



Here’s my review of this amazing non-fiction read:

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Sheila Walsh and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Storm Inside" 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 Storm Inside:  Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are” by Sheila Walsh is a ten-chapter journey of discovery leading to freedom in Christ.  Sheila meets the reader at the edge of the pits of heartbreak, disappointment, unforgiveness, shame, regret, fear, insecurity, insignificance, despair and rage and travels through God’s Word, escorting the reader into truth and freedom.  Restoration, strength, hope, love, joy, rest, confidence and courage are the destinations to be reached at the end of each chapter.  Loaded with thoughtful questions, activities and suggested prayers to springboard you into conversation with the Lord, this book really is an escort for the reader as you venture toward the realization of truth and a life of freedom.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Malachi – Week Four


Our Creator is a Committed Family Man (Malachi 2:10-16)

This week’s study asked the question:  How do I demonstrate my love for God by how I love my family?

 

I love the title of this week’s study!  Growing up without an earthly father drew me into a special relationship with my Heavenly Father.  It also gave me a strong desire for a committed marriage – divorce would not be an option!  So I was fascinated to learn that, to the Jews, marriage was a covenant subordinate to the covenant between God and Israel!

Our Heavenly Father grieves over the trauma caused when we are not committed to our families, our marriages, protectors of our relationships and our children and in our unfaithfulness to each other, we are actually unfaithful to Him.

 

This week’s activity involved writing love notes to family members and/or friends.  It also encouraged scheduling a couple of date nights – one with your husband, one with God.  These activities have been challenging and have encouraged me immensely.  They’ve also deepened my love for my Lord.  And they came at the perfect time since it was during this time frame that my husband and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary!  Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Malachi – Week Three


Going Big or Going Home (Malachi 1:6-14)

 

This week’s study asked the question:  How has fear made me less generous with my time, affection and money?

 

The story of Lisa’s friend who repeatedly received horrible gifts from her mother-in-law had me in tears.  If I were Lisa’s friend, I would feel distant from and devalued by my m-i-l.  As I continued reading the lesson, I was mightily convicted – similarly to how I imagine King David was when Nathan posed a question about a rich man who took a poor man’s lamb and David reacted furiously only to learn that he was the rich man!  I realized that my gifts to the Lord are frequently cheap!

 

I learned that when I honor God, I give Him weight.  This also tells me that my gift should be heavy, a burden, a sacrifice to carry.  Whether I’m intentionally holding back from God or not, my disrespect of Him stinks!

 

Abel gave his best!  Cain gave the moldy and wrinkled.  I want to be like Abel.  I want to be enthusiastic about my work.  I want to give of my firstfruits, not the leftovers.  It’s easy to get fired up and motivated initially, but the passage of time and lack of commitment and lack of focus can become our enemies when it comes to giving God our best.  To maintain that enthusiasm, we must pray and read and study His Word and engage Him in worship.  He doesn’t let go of us, we let go of Him.

 

This week’s nifty activities included writing Psalm 51:12 on two index cards and giving them to Christian friends who will prayerfully consider your life in relation to the scripture and write down where they haven’t observed joy in your life.  What a wonderful exercise!  I pray you all have someone that you can trust to do this.  A second activity was to sacrifice an item from your closet or jewelry box.  Wow!  Life-changing stuff.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Real Women Leading by Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder

I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Real Women Leading with Proverbs 31 Values" 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.

“Real Women Leading with Proverbs 31 Values” by Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder is a wonderful non-fiction read that has the potential to help the reader develop godly and desirable traits.  Each of the ten chapters showcase an equal number of Proverbs 31 values as highlighted through the lives of women in Scripture:  understanding people, forgiveness, responsibility, attitude, conflict resolution, restraint, honesty planning, generosity, influence.

This terrific resource contains lots of practical helps to apply Biblical principles.  There are challenges designed to develop godly characteristics.  “Real Women Leading with Proverbs 31 Values” is peppered with thoughtful questions to ponder and/or discuss.  This book also suggests leadership qualities to develop.  This is a terrific solo or group read.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bible Study: The Importance Of Behavior and Reputation - 3 John

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the epistle of 3 John. I feel a great sense of urgency to publish them because I’m not sure how much time we have left on this big, blue marble. Thank you for reading them. 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, mid to late summer 2010, things are still looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, issues caused by the BP oil spill in the gulf continue, there is massive flooding in Pakistan, building an Islamic mosque near ground zero is still being discussed. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the entire epistle of 3 John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

1 – my dear friend – agapetos – beloved.

The same Gaius of Acts 19:28-31; 20:4-5; and 1 Corinthians 1:13-15?

Do you have a dear Christian friend as John obviously did? Do something nice for them, today.

1:2 – How do you pray for your friends? Are you watchful of their spiritual walk? Do you mention it when you notice something amiss?

1:3-4 – John declares that his greatest joy is to hear that his children are walking in the truth. What is your greatest joy?

1:5 – Gaius is apparently faithful in what he does for his brothers in Christ even though he doesn’t know them, personally. How are you faithful toward your Christian siblings? Could you be more faithful?

1:6-8 – These brothers in Christ went out in the Name of Christ. They received no help from pagans. Gaius’ faithfulness translates as love. He is fulfilling God’s command. We should be hospitable to such people, too.

What do you think it means to send them away in a manner worthy of God?

1:9-10 – Apparently, there was someone in the church with an ego, who would have nothing to do with John. He was prepared to confront him about his malicious gossiping. This person also refused to welcome brothers in Christ and would stop those who wanted to welcome Christian brothers by putting them out of the church.

If you know such contentious individuals, spend time on your knees praying for a change in their heart and asking God what you are supposed to do about it, if anything. Search the scriptures for godly ways to deal contentious people.

1:11 – John instructed Gaius to imitate what is good, not what is evil. Who do you imitate? Since only God is good, Who should you be imitating? Is anyone imitating you?

1:12 – I wonder why John mentions another man named Demetrius who is well spoken of by everyone. What do you think?

1:13-14 – John evidently has more to say, but prefers to do it in person, so he closes his letter. What do you think is the importance of greeting the friends there by name?



• Third John commands us to live a life of love and warns us to be on the lookout for deceivers. What is God teaching you in this chapter of scripture? How will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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, March 12, 2014

Malachi – Week Two


God's Definitive Declaration of Affection (Malachi 1:2-5)

 

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Never trust a leader who doesn’t limp”?  It took me a long time to understand it.  Remember back in Genesis when Jacob wrestled with God all night and God wrenched Jacob’s hip?  Jacob limped for the rest of his days.  He limped because he grabbed hold of God and wouldn’t let go.  I want to grasp God the same way.

This week’s study asked the question:  How often do I take God at His word?

I hope your answer to that question is: every chance I get!  I hope you really absorb God’s declaration of love in the first few verses of Malachi.  I hope that declaration saturates your soul and changes you.  I loved the awareness this week that God has always been publicly passionate about His people.  There was the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud.  Would you say that He is equally expressive today?  How?

When believers align ourselves and our thoughts with God when we read His word, our hearts will soften and yield to His Spirit inside of us and allow for God’s vengeance rather than carrying out our own.  We should recognize God’s enemies so that we don’t become allied with them against the Lord.

This week, there was a really nifty exercise to write out Romans 5:1-5 on an index card with your non-dominant hand.  I suggest you do this every once in a while.  It will help with meditation.  A second activity was to create a list of 10 things you’ve just about given up hoping for.  Then you were supposed to pray through the list and ask God to help you let go of what you need to let go of and rekindle what He wants you to pursue.  Amazing!

Monday, March 10, 2014

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren

Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen's cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits-and starting to fear she doesn't have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.

Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior-on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he's getting from Eden Christiansen isn't making things any easier. But when Owen's carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

Note: This book is part of The Christiansen Family series. While it does stand alone, feel free to check out the first book in the series, Take A Chance On Me.


Here's my review of this wonderful novel:

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Susan May Warren and her publisher for sending me a copy of "It Had to be You" 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.

In “It Had to be You” by Susan May Warren, Eden Christiansen is bending over backwards to see that her younger brother, Owen, doesn’t blow his shot in the NHL following in his hero’s, Jace Jacobsen’s, footsteps.  Jace is a tough guy hockey star on his way out of the game.  He is also Owen’s teammate and Captain of the Minnesota Blue Ox.  Neither Eden nor Jace ever dreamed that the other would be their “special someone”, but as they find themselves repeatedly in each other’s company, the attraction grows and relationship builds.  This is an incredibly touching love story from an incredibly gifted author!

Susan May Warren has taken two of my favorite things, her books and hockey, and combined them to give me such enjoyment and a few things to think about.  Her narrative of the hockey is spot on!  Her characters are multi-dimensional and so real that I want them as my friends.  I thank the Lord for Christian fiction like this that challenges me in my own walk and pushes me to pray and study the Word about the changes God wants to make in me.  This novel led me to speak with Jesus about snap judgment of people, compassion and hope.  Although this is a terrific continuation of the stories of the Christiansen family, this novel reads beautifully as a stand-alone.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Bible Study: Walk In Love And Watch For Antichrists - 2 John

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the epistle of 2 John. I feel a great sense of urgency to publish them because I’m not sure how much time we have left on this big, blue marble. Thank you for reading them. 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, mid to late summer 2010, things are still looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, cleanup of the oil spill in the gulf continues, the leak is apparently capped off, there is talk of building an Islamic mosque near ground zero.

. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the entire epistle of 2 John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

1:1 – John calls himself “the elder”. Are you an elder in your church, in your small group? This is about maturity in Christ, not age. Who could you mentor?

1:2 – Based on this, what (or Who) is the truth?

1:3 – Describe how you have experienced the grace, mercy and peace of God and Jesus Christ lately. How have you experienced these attributes of God in truth and love?

1:4 – What are you doing to walk in the truth as the Father commanded? What more could you do?

1:5 – We are also commanded to love one another. How is this manifested in your life?

1:6 – Are there some commands of God that you are unable to obey? This verse says that His command is to walk in love. So, it seems that any other commands would hinge upon that. If this gives you trouble, I challenge you to have a long time of prayer and Bible study with Him. Stop and do it, now.

1:7 – We can identify deceivers and antichrists because they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.

1:8 – This verse implies that we can lose what we have worked for. We receive our salvation as a free gift. We haven’t worked for it. So what can we lose? The rewards that we’ve earned.

1:9 – How can we run ahead of Christ and not continue in His teaching? How can we continue in His teaching? Which tendency do you have?

1:10-11 – This is powerful. We are not to bring anyone into our home or welcome them if they come to us without the teaching of Christ. If we do, we share in his wicked work. I believe this refers to offering our protection and security to others.

1:12 – John preferred a face to face talk rather than sharing more by letter. Fellowship is important. If you’re not plugged into a fellowship, find one.



• Second John commands us to live a life of love and warns us to be on the lookout for deceivers. What is God teaching you in this chapter of scripture? How will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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, March 05, 2014

Malachi – Week One


This week’s study asked the question:  How can I relate to the people of Malachi’s day?

Malachi is the finale of the Old Testament Scriptures.  It is the last inspired word before a 400+ year silence from God.  My most recent finale in my life was the end of the BSF Genesis study.  Although I have a sense of completion and accomplishment, I’m also sad over the dissolution of our discussion group and the loss of momentum and accountability to these women.  So I suppose I can relate to Malachi and his contemporaries a little bit.

Lisa Harper wrote that God was very real to the prophets.  They lived as witnesses, struck by His words, not trying to figure out His nature, but really knowing Him.  Society at the time was supremely depraved.  Our world looks the same.  Doesn’t it?

Only God’s mercies keep mankind from perishing.  He allows us to argue with Him in spite of the fact that He doesn’t deserve it and that He could squash us like bugs.  I think it’s okay to question God because questioning is how we learn.  But doubt is sin.  The Bible says so.  How do you question God without doubting Him?

This week’s activity involved helium balloons and sheets of paper containing questions you want to ask God or points you want to fuss at Him about.  I chose to take my questions and concerns to Him in prayer, instead.