Friday, August 26, 2016

The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges

In the South there is a saying about being taken to the woodshed.  The woodshed is where you go to get a whipping and sort out your issues. I've been spending so much time in the woodshed spiritually speaking that I could take up residence. In the truest sense, I have been sorting out some deep hurts and some desperate hopes with Jesus. As I followed this book through the Beatitudes, I was more and more desperate to be like Jesus.

Humility is my buzzword. Every time I hear it, it is like an auditory prayer. Simply the word coming in changes into a cry of my heart. Pride is an easy thing for us to muster. Especially for those of us who have been abandoned and wounded. We all want to cover our scars with anything that will conceal our hurts. It is an easy trap. Of course we want others to think well of us. We want them to think we are smart, educated, beautiful, and possessing a perfectly timed wit. Pride doesn't heal others though. It doesn't even look at them. That's why we need to learn to look at the beauty and glory of who Christ is in order to be of any good to another soul.

I cried through certain sections on meekness and peacemaking. "Lord, let me be like you," I prayed. How can we never leave the beloved lost in sin, always speaking into it? How do you speak out against sin and never speak evil of anyone like it says in Titus 3:2? How do we live out Ephesians 4:29?

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

I don't know the answer, but I'm looking.

Read this book. Let Jesus rend your heart and teach you to love others far beyond your own selfish capacity to do so. Looking at Him turns off the switch in our brains that makes everything about us. Five Stars. Loved it. It tore me up. 

Synopsis from the Publisher:
We all admire humility when we see it. But how do we practice it? How does humility―the foundational virtue of the normal Christian life―become a normal part of our everyday lives?

Jerry Bridges sees in the Beatitudes a series of blessings from Jesus, a pattern for humility in action. Starting with poverty in spirit―an acknowledgment that in and of ourselves we are incapable of living holy lives pleasing to God―and proceeding through our mourning over personal sin, our hunger and thirst for righteousness, our experience of persecutions large and small, and more, we discover that humility is itself a blessing: At every turn, God is present to us, giving grace to the humble and lifting us up to blessing.

This book was graciously provided by NavPress for review.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lessons From the East by Bob Roberts Jr.

I did not know what I was getting myself into when I selected this book for review. It's hard to tell which direction people are going these days with the adulteration of the church. Thankfully, Bob presented a simple, honest plan for spreading the gospel. It's the plan I would say is closest to my heart.

Bob shares stories from around the globe, not about major marketing plans for our churches, but how people were reaching thousands by loving their neighbors and encouraging others to do the same. It's authentic and relational. The words are a call to self-abandonment. It's counter-culture. It sounds radical. So many of the ways that he is engaging different cultures would be terrifying to us. We are comfortable and have a hard time veering from our routine. We never engage these people except with disdain or pity. What if we were their friend? What if we really listened? What if we were there when people needed us? What if we respected people and allowed God to work in our relationships with them.

This is how we are trying to live. Not in a big, churchy program conversions, but by way of relationships. Loving people is hard. If you read this and choose this, prepare your heart. It hurts. You will pour out everything you have and be a good friend and love deeply. Some people will receive it, but many will abandon you. Grief will flood your world and you will need to pull so close to Jesus to endure it. When you do endure it and continue to be kind to others, pray they see him. Discover needs and meet them. Serve others. Do it for Christ. Don't do it for some culturally acceptable charitable reason. Do it because you love him and you love people because he loves people. He so loved the world. Do it because you need him. Do it for the gospel. Engage someone somewhere. Be ready and listen for his guiding. Who is the least likely person you could reach out to right now? Go. Love.

This book was graciously provided by David Cook Publishing for review.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I read Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson

When I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it. Whoever designed this cover did an amazing job. It made me feel peaceful and drawn to it. Once in the pages, I felt no different. I felt like Becky was simply talking to me the entire time I read her book. It was as if I was sitting across the table from a dear friend. There are so many things we can identify with in her narrative. 

She had plans to marry a pastor and have a certain type of life for herself. God directed her another way and her life seemed to unfold much differently than she expected. She ended up in the middle of nowhere a bit disheveled and depressed until God started to spark a fire in her heart for blogging. From there on we follow her through heartbreak and success. It's a great salve for a mama's heart. No matter how awesome you or your kids are, motherhood makes you weary because you continually pour out a huge amount of everything you are to do it. We all need these little reminders to keep going. We are not alone.

(Graphic Content) In one part of her book she talked about a miscarriage. She knew it was happening and ended up holding her unborn fetus in her hand. She wrapped it up and took it to the hospital in her purse. It stirred some serious memories because this happened to me. It has to be one of the most sobering things I have experienced in life. Sometimes when we go through things like this, it's easy to question if it is real or not because there is no tangible evidence. It all happened inside your body. This however shocks the heart awake. It feels like the loneliest place to be, but thankfully we know that we are not alone. Thanks, Becky.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My thoughts on The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle

I downloaded this little baby on to my phone a month or so ago to read when I didn't have a book or woke up in the night. I like to have something funny going in the background of reading things that are supposed to make me smarter or wiser. It seems to take the edge off and helps me see life through the scope of normalcy. It's easy to lose our humility in our quest for knowledge. Then we just run around trying to one up one another spiritually. That is lame.

Enter Melanie Shankle who just talks like a normal human being. She tells true to life stories and is more honest than most people I know. I think most of us want to share the truth of our struggles, but we have all fallen pray to some sort of fake stepford wife syndrome in the church. We need a good laugh. We need to say it like it is and be seen for who we truly are so that we can all love one another. I realize that some people don't let us do that. Every time we say something real, they retort that it is also awesome (!). Uh huh. Then those people get upset at us and tell us we aren't sharing. Oh dear. You guys. Grace. Let's wallow in it for each other. Let's laugh.

The other book I read of Melanie's was about friendship. I loved it. This one is about marriage. I can't tell you how much truth was in there hidden in the humor. It is good. There just isn't anything like learning something while we are laughing. No shame in this game. I loved how she spoke of the differences in she and her husband and how she came to be at peace with them. It's good to learn to just enjoy people...especially our spouse. This is a great book on marriage. If you need something light and comical, dive in. 

I think I'll order her other book now.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Review of Finding God In the Hard Times by Matt & Beth Redman

I loved this book. If you follow me on The Gospel Mom (on Facebook and Instagram), you will have seen some of the things that impacted me from it's pages. I did not pay attention to what the book was about when I selected it to review. You can read about how it hit me and took me back in time when I started reading it on Instagram.

I review books for publishers. Often I will click on a book in the queue and select it to review without diving into what it's about. I saw this new book by Matt and Beth Redman and selected it. The book is called Finding God In the Hard Times. It's largely about the testimony of Matt's song Blessed Be Your Name. You probably know these lines from it. "You give and You take away. Blessed be Your name." I wasn't expecting it, but reading this book set me straight back in time to a time of miscarriage for me and my husband. We have lost six babies (one set of twins). We just kind of quietly move forward after these things, but on the Sunday after one of our losses, my husband was leading worship at church. He had not planned it in any way, but Blessed Be Your Name was on his set list. In that moment, it hit him and he was overwhelmed with emotion. It was such a helpless feeling to be standing there in the back of the sanctuary and see him hurting. Those words kept washing over me though. "Blessed be Your name. He gives and he takes away." May we as mothers, wives, daughters, and friends always see through to bless God in tragedy and triumph. He's there. He's listening. He redeems our delightful and our painful moments for His glory. 💗 Blessed Be Your Name In the land that is plentiful Where Your streams of abundance flow Blessed be Your name Blessed Be Your name When I'm found in the desert place Though I walk through the wilderness Blessed Be Your name Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name 💗 Blessed be Your name When the sun's shining down on me When the world's 'all as it should be' Blessed be Your name Blessed be Your name On the road marked with suffering Though there's pain in the offering Blessed be Your name 💗 Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
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I found the pages to be deep and thoughtful. Matt was talking about 9/11 and how he noticed that the church didn't have good songs of lament to help us take our hurt to God's throne for healing. The pages walk you through the Psalms (75% of which are songs of lament) and shows us how the Psalmists always takes his pain to God, but is never left without hope. It hit me like Ann Voskamp's 1,000 gifts, but in a deeper way. It makes the soul yearn to praise.

The book is a short 92 pages with a study guide after. You could easily read and reread it in a day or so. I highly recommend it.

Blessed be Your name.