Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review - Next Door as it is in Heaven

I love my neighborhood! I love the community that it pictures. We have about 30 homes on our circle, many of whom still have the original owners from the mid '70's. There is a sense of family, and yet, it is so easy to forget each other and get busy outside of those who live side by side day after day. I was raised by a Mother who showed an amazing amount of intentional hospitality and have a heart that desires this. As a believer, this shows up most in the context of the local church, mostly because it is safe and non-confrontational. But I was challenged in the last week or so.

One of the most important books that I have read this summer was Next Door as it is in Heaven, by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco. They piece apart the downfall of the comradery of neighborhoods as they use to be and give some great history about why and how this happened. They confront the reader head on with the Word of God and how we as believers should be the most intentional beings in a neighborhood. They bring to life the practical out workings of this and give great step by step ways to fall in love with this idea and how Christ on earth was the ultimate giver of hospitality. They remind us we need to examine the busyness of our lives and compare it with how we are (or are not) investing in the lives around us, namely the neighborhoods we live in. If you have a desire to reach those around you for the Gospel, but in way more than words, this book is for you. You will be thoroughly encouraged along the way as you strive to meet those you may have never spoken with before.

As one author put it, "The dining room table is sometimes the best evangelistic tool."

For three years our family held a Christmas open house for our neighborhood, It's sad to say, this happened 8-10 years ago. So lookout Little Road residents and be prepared to party with the Pueblas again this year.

*Note: As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What Defines Wisdom

Just look around. Listen intently to those speaking loud into our culture. I believe they want to be seen as wise. All people seek wisdom. Whether one is conservative, liberal, rich, poor, old or young, wisdom is essential for living. We also see two different kinds of wisdom. The world defines it by feelings, rights, and allows for constant change.

Yet we know that true wisdom is personified in the person of Jesus Christ. He, also, gives us so much direction on this subject in His love letter to us.

We know that wisdom is not just words. It is living actions.

James 3:13 says "If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with humility that comes from wisdom." (NLT)

So how do we become "wise and understand God's ways"? Seek God and His Word. Spend time with the One who wrote down His very words so that we can obtain this wisdom. He didn't leave His children to wonder what to do; He continues to speak to us through His beautiful Word.

James 3:17 goes on to say, "But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere." (NLT)

Wow! Look at these words: honorable, humility, pure, peace loving, gentle, yielding to others, mercy, no favoritism, and sincere. Do these sound like wisdom that the world offers. DEFINITELY NOT! This is a far cry from what we see in all the unrest, violence and politics around us.

Let's seek God's wisdom today. Let's make a difference in the way we interact with others.

And remember, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. (I Corinthians 1:27a NLT)

The world may or probably will not see us as wise, but we answer to a different authority.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Who Are We Relying On?

When it comes to the burdens of life, my goals, aspirations, fears, dreads, and joys, I find myself way too overcome. Way too often. This stems from many different things, one of which is (MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF) fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of making the wrong decisions. Fear of hurt, pain, ridicule. Fear of failure. Fear of man. Fear of rejection. I often recognize this but for some reason wallow in this than to do the right, next thing. I need wisdom!

James 1:5 reminds us where our wisdom comes from:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

And this asking involves prayer. This is one area that our over-confident, individualized and self-centered culture is good at avoiding. This seems to be our "last resort" instead of first impulse.

Isaiah reminds the people of Israel this. He gives two little lines of soul-searching, knife-piercing insight to the reason for the judgment coming on Israel.

Isaiah 22:11b
But you never ask for help from the One who did all this.
    You never considered the One who planned this long ago.


These two little lines reveal the depths of the human heart when we try to live this life apart from our Creator. We need His help and no matter what we are going through, we must consider His sovereignty and perfect plan for our lives.

So whether you are fearing the violent acts of international/national terrorism or striving to understand or live in the midst of the social injustices taking place in our country, be certain of this. HE KNOWS! HE SEES! HE WILL REMAIN FAITHFUL! But, we must seek wisdom in all these things.

So I seek Him today.

Precious Jesus, As I sit here speaking to You, I am rejoicing that you are a LIVING God. You are fully aware of my plight as well as those in China, France, and Baton Rouge. I am reminded of your faithfulness in my life as I look back on decisions we faced, then made and no without a shadow of a doubt that you gave us the wisdom we needed.

Today, God, there is a part of my heart that is in a battle over fear. Fear for my childrens' futures, but for their present day as well. You promise wisdom, so I am asking. I am asking for healing for our nation, but most of all for your body. We are so divided right now. Bring reconciliation. Help us all to look outside of our own feelings and "rights" and see you desire for us to live loving one another more important than ourselves. This is when Your bride will be at her most beautiful state. Reflecting Your Light. Showing the Glory of You in all of creation, especially in each ethnic race as fearfully and wonderfully made.

As our freedoms in this life seem to diminish more and more, sometimes on a daily level, empower us to live in that contradiction; wanting freedom but ever knowing that true freedom comes as we give ourselves as slaves and bondservants to you. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to trust you and live by an active faith.

Sometimes, Lord, I seem to be a broken record, but I know you want me to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. You promise to lavish us with wisdom when we ask you without doubting. So please do this Lord. For Your Name's Sake.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

In the Light of Our World: HAVE NO FEAR!

My hubby and I have just started reading Isaiah together in the mornings. To be honest, I was not sure I was looking forward to it. The longest prophetic book! Would I really be able to understand it? Let's just say, "I was humbled," to say the least!

In light of all the bad news in the last week, my heart can quickly turn to fear. A fear that cripples. A fear that invades the mind so much, I find it hard to dig my way out of those thoughts. Terrorism striking WAY too close to home! Animals going crazy! Murders! I can't even get on the internet or look at news sometimes. I know our hope is in Christ, but the evils of the world seem to scream louder sometimes.

As I opened the Scriptures today, Isaiah did have some powerful things to say. (Actually God did.)

Isaiah 2:18-22 (NLT)
"Idols will completely disappear.
When the Lord rises to shake the earth,
his enemies will crawl into holes in the ground.
They will hide in caves in the rocks
from the terror of the Lord
and his majesty.
On that day of judgment,
they will abandon the gold and silver idols
they made for themselves to worship.
They will leave their gods to rodents and bats,
while they crawl away into caverns
and hide among the jagged rocks in the cliffs.
They will try to escape the terror of the Lord
and the glory of his majesty
as he rises to shake the earth.
DON'T PUT YOUR TRUST IN MERE HUMANS.
THEY ARE AS FRAIL AS BREATH.
WHAT GOOD ARE THEY?"

Isaiah is prophesying future victory by our Lord! He is reminding the Israelites back then and us today, that the things we make and value and even look to for help (dare, I say, idols????) that are apart from our Maker will be destroyed as well.

Our God is coming back for his children and He wins, people! He wins! We need not fear what man can do to us on this earth! This brought me joy today and peace. Peace in a world of turbulence. Peace in a culture of fighting and forsaking.

It reminds me of a song I used to sing to my children when they were young. "My God is so big; so strong and so mighty; there's nothing my God cannot do."

FOR YOU!

All But Normal - Book Review

As I age and go through this life and all that comes my way, the one lesson I seem to take from whatever the current trial may be, is pushing through how to love unconditionally. Isn't this hard for all of us? When are enemies curse us, we just want to give what we think is deserving to that situation or person. When we are reviled, we want to revile in return.

Shawn Thornton, author of a new memoir, All But Normal, deals with this concept his entire life. But just imagine, that person who is mistreating you, being your mother. Not just your mother, but your mother, who can't help it because she has had a brain injury. Shawn's mother was injured in a car accident at the age of 14, was in a coma for 3 months and after a few years went on to marry the young man who was driving the car. Mr. Thornton grew up in a Christian home but daily dealt with verbal and sometimes physical abuse from his precious mother who loved Jesus and manifested that love when she was in her right mind.

His story is truly an inspiration. Just as his mom was to him. She taught him to love better, not
necessarily because she loved well. But she pointed him to Jesus who helped him to love well. As this story unfolded I kept waiting for everyone around her to give up. But they didn't! They kept loving well.

This story challenges the reader as well. How do I manifest love to others? Especially those who struggle to show love. We can't do it in the flesh, that's for sure. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. Not only, did Mr. Thornton learn this, but the Lord grew him to be a great teacher of the Word and Pastor to a flock in the body of Christ.

My take away is love as Jesus has loved us! This is true obedience. Bless your enemies! Look to Christ's example of not reviling in return.

Hard? Sure!

The right thing to do? YES! Forgiveness is key!

As a part of the Tyndale Blogger's Network, I received a free copy of this book.



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Longing in Me - Book Review

Many of us (in my age group) remember Sheila Walsh as a contemporary music artist who came on the scene in the '80s. Her story is much more.

This is my second book review of a book written by Sheila Walsh. The Longing in Me is the story of
how her first marriage came to be and how and why it ended. But bigger than that is the story of how Jesus got ahold of her life after so many others tried to destroy it. Sheila was raised in a very dysfunctional home, where many things occurred that many of us could never imagine. As Sheila aged, she reached out for security in many different forms and ended up in an abusive relationship. Through all of this God was drawing her heart and giving her the longing for something bigger.

As she writes this journey down in ink, she brings us through a study of the life of King David. In a beautiful way, she likens so many of the areas in our lives we struggle with to the life of this "Man After God's Own Heart".
God takes us through so many trial in life to teach us to trust in His sovereignty as we see His amazing love poured out on us. We are all pieces of the big story. Everything in our lives that happens both good and bad, is to push our gaze on the One who holds all things together, even when it seems they are falling apart.

Sheila Walsh does a great job in encouraging us in this journey.

As a part of the BookLook Bloggers Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Great Bible History Resource

I love history and geography. As I get older, I love it and appreciate it even more. And as a believer, I love Biblical history just as much.

Our family recently was given a Christian DVD to view. Apostle Paul and the Earliest Churches, is a documentary tracing the historical and geographical areas that the Apostle Paul journeyed in his 3 missionary journeys. The videography is great as you are able to see the present day areas and remains of the time in the New Testament Church where our fathers of the faith laid an important foundation to what we believe. The inspired Word of God was given during this time as well. The purpose of this DVD was not to teach through all the events of Paul's life, but rather to highlight the geographical areas of this ministry and how God directed this Apostle's movement.

Our Sunday School is studying the book of Acts and this has been a timely DVD to watch. Reading God's Word is great, but sometimes studying the history, culture, and geography can really help our understanding of what life was like when this precious Word was written.

Documentaries are not always children's favorites but it is important to introduce these to them as they give a visual of what may already be something they have learned or read.

Fish Flix is new to our family. It is great to have movie/entertaining companies who put out DVDs worth watching. They are also offering a $5.00 coupon to those who join their email list. You can join by visiting www.fishflix.com/5gift or texting 5-GIFT to 44222.






Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Saving My Assassin - Book Review

The courage it took for Virginia Prodan to faithfully stand for Christ can only come from the One she served unabashedly.

Saving My Assassin, the memoir of Mrs. Prodan, is truly an incredible story of salvation, courage, fortitude and perseverance, all for the glory of Christ.

Romania is a country that has been plagued by Communism for years, and this is the country Virginia grew up in. Through God's providence and so much hard work, she was able to become an attorney for this Communist state. She became a believer soon afterward and became a defense attorney for believers who had been arrested for their Christian beliefs and how their lives were lived because of it. She ended up being arrested herself. She went through agony, torture and almost death. But God had His mighty hand on her and wasn't done with the work she had for her to do.

A couple of things struck me hard:
1. Each time Mrs. Prodan was in the valley of the shadow of death and facing extreme fear, the Word of God rolled off her lips and in her heart. His Word is what sustained her. This reminds me of how important Scripture memory is. At some point we may not have the unlimited access to our most prized possession and we must have it hidden away where no one can take it from.

2. There were so many times that the Communist Security and prosecution would say that the country's constitution meant nothing. That they could override it. This concept in hitting home way closer than I would have ever thought possible.

I believe books like this will be a source of encouragement in the days to come in America in more ways than the author may have ever thought possible. Her story will invigorate us to stand for truth. For the one who is TRUTH!

As a part of the Tyndale blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Fruit....After 5 years!

Sometimes you plant a seed and the next day there is a green sprout emerging from the earth. Sometimes it takes 5 years. This is what happened with my pineapple plant. Five years ago, we cut the tops off of 2 pineapples that we bought and stuck them in the ground, having been told they grow into a plant. Sure enough they grew huge but failed to give any fruit. Each year we waited and waited. No fruit.

That is until this year. Someone gave me a hint of how to speed up the process or help out our little plants that seemed to have lacked enough of something to make their fruit. (If you are that person, thank you and so, sorry I forgot who. :) She told me to stick an apple core right in the middle of the plant....sure enough. Two beautiful pineapple started growing. As I stand and water these babies each morning, a thought struck me.

Isn't this so much like our spiritual lives?

So often, we get in our ruts and it seems that we are at a standstill. We are being watered. We are getting plenty of sun. We are huge plants with long, green leaves. We look healthy from all accounts. But we lack fruit. We need an infusion. We lack passion. We need to examine ourselves. We need God's Word to infiltrate our inner souls. He offers everything we need to produce this fruit. We must if we are His children.

It also reminds me of parenting. The long road of parenting. Wouldn't it be nice if we spoke to our children and poof!! Obedience appears! First time obedience at that. The hard heads are gone. The hearts are soft. But often it takes years for us to see if the fruit is there and when it appears it isn't quite the size of my beautiful pineapple. It is a little dried up grape. I am reminded that this process takes perseverance and patience.  It takes the power of prayer. It takes unconditional love. It takes Christ's ability in us to not give up. Believing that He is the Father of the Fruit! For He is the One producing in us the fruit.

After I harvest these beautiful spiked fruit, I will prune some of the dead dry fronds around the base of the plant. This will help it stay healthy and hopefully, help it to produce in a more efficient way. Again, this is a process that may seem painful to the plant but will spur on growth. My Gardener does this in my life in so many ways. Trials that don't seem to be disappearing in a manner that I would like. Rejection of those I love with all my heart. Anxiety that wakes me in the middle of the night. When these arise, I turn to my Gardener and very often desire to say, "OK. Enough already." But I am reminded that these hard times are the very ones that produce the fruit He desires to see in me. He must strip away all the dead leaves. He must prune. He must cut as close to the base as possible. But I trust He knows best.

For He created me and knows my every thought and He deems what is best.

I trust. I trust. I trust. (I don't always. So I say this in faith that will hopefully become a reality.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's OK to Say, "No."

Saying "no" is usually something I repeat all day long. Questions are asked for permission to do something not in my time table. And no becomes a word I say way too often. And then, do my dismay, I change my mind because I realize I should of said yes to start with. Oh, this is a battle I face almost daily.

So, today I said, "No" to me. I said, "No, we don't have to do math."

"No, I don't have to clean the kitchen right now."

"No, making the bed can wait so a little one and I can snuggle as I read later."



As a homeschool mom, with a Type AAA personality, this is difficult. But when I have a 10 year old who fights every second of school with loud protests, temper tantrums, slamming of doors, etc., I need to do this more often.

So today, I said, "Yes. Let's play a game." "Yes, climb up on the bed with me." We dove into a book that I had sitting on my shelf that I had read to my other lambs but had forgotten about. The Dangerous Journey is a picture
e story book of Pilgrim's Progress. So for 2 hours we laid there and read. Rather, I read and she colored. And we talked about the slough of despond, about the burden that Christian carried and how he needed to get to the place of the cross quickly. We talked about how Mr. Legality would look. We talked about why the burden was so heavy. We closed our eyes and imagined what it would be like to be drowned in think dust, as Christian did in the Interpreter's House. Then we also imagined feeling the water being splashed on us as the dust dissipated and we could breath. The Breath of Life.

This is what school looked like today.

I know every day can't be this way. That's why we are trying out traditional school next year. But for now, I will treasure the rest of the next couple of months. I will strive to make time to make a difference. Just not on paper; but maybe on her heart.