Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: gods at war by Kyle Idleman

I jumped at the opportunity to read Kyle Idleman's new book, gods at war.  However, my "preacherman" husband received first dibs at reading it and was helpful in writing this review.

I recently read the book “gods at war: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart” by  author Kyle Idleman.  This was a challenging and insightful book that will push even the most devout Christian to reexamine their lives and not only throw out idols but, replace them with a deeper love and commitment to God.  The author’s witty and playful writing style makes this an enjoyable read and a book that I will definitely be adding to my library.

The first half of the book addresses the development of idols in our modern context and the last half of the book addresses specific idols such as entertainment, pleasure, sex and achievement.  At the close of each chapter are probing questions that force you to struggle with whether this is an idol in your life that needs replacing.  This book is based on solid Biblical principles and as a pastor I plan to develop a sermon series later this year based on the concepts I have learned from reading this book. 

I received this book for free from the publisher through the Booksneeze program for the purpose of my unbiased review.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Shattered by Dani Pettrey

I anxiously awaited the opportunity to review Dani Pettrey's second installment to the Alaskan Courage series.  I previously read and reviewed the first book in the series, Submerged, where I was introduced to the McKenna family in Yancey, Alaska and the suspenseful romance of Cole McKenna and Bailey Craig.

The sequel, Shattered, picks up with a focus on the youngest McKenna sister, Piper.  The distant and rarely heard from McKenna brother, Reef, returns to Yancey and is arrested and jailed awaiting trial for murder.  Piper sets out to prove his innocence at all costs.  Deputy Landon Grainger is a long time friend of the McKenna's and desires to believe Reef is innocent.  However, due to the overwhelming evidence that is mounting against Reef, Landon is finding it difficult to believe him to be innocent.  This presents further complications as he is aware of his ever-growing feelings for Piper and his desperate need to protect her from the danger she chases.

My biggest dilemma when writing reviews on fiction novels is trying to convey enough of the story line without revealing too many of the surprises.  My review of Shattered is no different.  This book was a fun and enjoyable read.  I finished it quickly and would read it again.  I enjoy a good, modest, suspenseful, romantic read.  Dani Pettrey is quickly emerging as one of my favorite authors at the top of my list with Dee Henderson, Kristen Heitzmann and Irene Hannon.  I think readers of Submerged will similarly enjoy Shattered.  It provides familiar characters and a new and twisted plot.  If you haven't read Submerged, I suggest picking it up first to get better acquainted with the McKenna family.  If your reading interests are similar to mine, I think Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series will find a permanent spot on your bookshelf.  I will now anxiously await the release of book three, Stranded, set to be released in the Fall of 2013.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of my unbiased review.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Word for 2013 - Part 2

I've known the topic of this blog post since I wrote the first post, My Word for 2013.  I'm an infrequent blogger as you can probably see.  My posts are often formed in my head long before they ever make it to written form and often times they never make it here.  This is one of those posts that if I had to be honest, I'd probably "forget" about writing it and try to move forward.  Yet, I am completely aware that this is one of those lessons God desires to teach me on my road to moving my desire to be Holy above my desire to be Happy.

The 2012-2013 MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) theme this year is Plunge!  As part of the steering team this year I helped to create and assemble some theme verse pens at the beginning of the MOPS year in September 2012.  I knew the first lesson on this learning journey God wanted me to tackle the moment I looked down at the pen in my hand in Sunday School on one January morning and read the theme verse. "Love as if your life depended on it." 1 Peter 4:8

Love?  Really?  I love my husband.  I love my girls.  I love my family.  I love my friends.  Unfortunately, I knew that this was definitely an area that I could expand and grow.  It is easy for me to love those who love me, talk to me, spend time with me, share common interests with me.  It is very difficult for me to love those who are unkind to me, talk about me or my family, do not share my interests or have an overall bad attitude. Rick Warren refers to these people as the Extra Grace Required people in your life.

I LOVE my Monday night bible study girlfriends!  They are all so precious to me.  In the two and a half years we have been in Augusta, we have shared so many joys and heartbreaks together, laughter and tears.  One thing I have come to learn from this group of friends is that they are faithful to pray for your requests and God is faithful to answer.  Our current session of study began on February 4th.  My request was that God would help me to understand this piece of the holiness journey better and how to put it to work in my life.

Later that same week, my husband did something he has never done before.  We were in the kitchen as Preacherman was helping me with the dishes and he turns to me and asked me something similar to this, "If you were going to preach about loving difficult people, what does that look like practically?"  I just looked at him for a moment.  My mind has been trying to wrap itself around this lesson of love for a month now.  Preacherman was aware of the "holy" journey God had called me to this year, yet he was unaware that the first part of that journey was about love, specifically loving those people who don't really seem to love me.  I then began to spew out the mess of verses and thoughts that had been invading my mind for the last month.

God answered my prayer for understanding as my husband took in everything I spewed out and put it together with the message God had already led him to and summed it up in a 30 minute message on Sunday morning.  Maybe someone else in the congregation needed this message as much as I did, but as far as I'm concerned, my God was speaking directly to me.  Below are my sermon notes from this message.  A constant reminder for me to keep practicing love even when it is difficult.

Sermon Notes
February 10, 2013

Crib Notes: Loving the Extra Grace Required
James 2:8-9
"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself, " you are doing right. But if you show favortism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers."

  • We love EGR people by praying for them.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"  Matthew 5:43-46

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice."  Proverbs 24:17

  • We love EGR people by serving them.

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.  The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."  John 13:3-5

In these verses Jesus served the ones who would betray him and deny him and fall asleep in his greatest need.

  • We love EGR people by learning to take a punch.

"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."  Matthew 5:39-41

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Romans 12:17-21

"His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said.  But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them."  Genesis 50:18-21

  • We love EGR people by practicing until we get it.

Even when what we know to be truth and our heart are disconnected we must act on what we know to be truth, to bring the disconnect closer together.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 
1 Peter 4:8