Joshua’s Mission (Plain & Simple Miracles #2) by: Vannetta Chapman

Joshua's Mission (Plain and Simple Miracles #2)Joshua’s Mission by Vannetta Chapman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The prophet Micah praises Jehovah when he cries, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy”. Joshua realized as he bowed his head to pray that the key to his situation was in those final four words. Delight to Show Mercy.

Joshua his is brother’s keeper. Alton is taking his freedom and his time to make wrong choices that affect his whole family. Joshua has built himself a prison with his attitude regarding his younger brother. His relationship is based on his disapproval of his brother. When his parents suggest a mission trip to South Texas to help a community that was hit by a hurricane, he learns some valuable lessons about mercy and forgiveness from the victims of the hurricane.

There was many things to like about this book. The narration is done by 3 characters. Joshua a young Amish man, Becca, Joshua’s neighbor and Charlie a older man that survived

the hurricane and desires to rebuild his community. The descriptive narration was well done with the terror of being in the middle of a hurricane and how a community rebuilds. The relationships that are developed is well characterized that you connect well with all. I was blessed by this read.

A Special Thank you to Harvest Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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1-3 John (Reformed Expository Commentary) by: Douglas Sean O’Donnell

1-3 John (Reformed Expository Commentary)1-3 John by Douglas Sean O’Donnell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Apostle John wrote this letter so that we might know certain things about ourselves and others within the Christian community, as well as those who have left it. To him, orthodoxy, (right belief in Jesus) and orthopraxy (obedience and love) are accurate indicators of an eternal fellowship with God.

The key to this study and foundation is apostolic authority and testimony. Because of the importance of membership, the teaching of Christ, false teaching, we can have assurance of the Gospel. What I found that was most helpful was the apostolic authority and testimony which I would say is not as relevant as we may think it is. Let me say, my eyes were opened and encouraged. It is in the creeds that we have a firm foundation of the apostolic authority and testimony.

The books of I-3 John relate to the Christian and to living as a Christian. Dealing with sin but also how we are desensitized to the effects of sin. It is not moralism but it is sin that rules our lives if we are not dealing with it correctly. Living in union with Christ is dealing with our sin. Dealing with our sin, leads us to love God and others. It is the books of John that the theme of love is addressed more than 51 times. We are told in 1 John 2:15 not to love the world is our only negative. In not loving the world, it can lead to more questions. If God created the world which is good, what does this mean? It means that we must not love the world that is against the Lord. In loving the world, we are putting our hope in the things of the world that will pass. There is no future in worldliness. That needs to be tattooed to my head. We love God first, trust in the Son for our salvation and live in according to word that is our future. That will have everlasting consequences. It is by replacing our love for the world with a love for the things of God. This is daily, minute by minute, running to the cross. I loved what he says that the glory of Christ is our antidote for all that dazzles and sparkles but fades.

Some quotes that I found encouraging.

When one walks in God’s light, that light shows us who we are – sinners! As a result, the only way forward is to cling to the cross, or to follow the metaphor here, to be washing in the blood.

Almighty God, you love us, but we have not loved you. You call, but we have not listened. We walk away from our neighbors in need, wrapped in our own concerns. We condone evil, prejudice, warfare, and greed. God of grace, help us to admit our sin, so that you come to us in mercy, we may repent, turn to you and receive forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen

In John’s writing, the world has a wide range of meaning. To summarize the data: on one hand, the world was made by God through Christ and is loved by God through Christ. On the other hand, the world lies in the grip of Satan and comprises people on earth who oppose and ignore God and seek to live independent of him. It is obvious that it is this second “world” that John has in mind.

It’s loving the values and pursuits of the world that stand opposed to God. More specifically, it is to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God. It rejects God’s rule and replaces it with our own. Does outward prosperity appeal to you more than growth in godliness? Do you esteem and crave approval of those around you? Do you go to great lengths to avoid looking foolish or being rejected for your Christian faith? Do you consider present and material results more important than eternal reward? Have you departed from God and adopted idols instead?

You cannot have God as your spouse and still have the world as your mistress. You cannot be in an intimate relationship with both God and the world. You cannot love all that God is and has to offer and still love this world and all that it has to offer.

Very informative and convicting study that challenges any believer to examine their own heart and how we must respond. Is this important? Yes, I think is. In the Old Testament, you can recall in worship, the Ark of the Covenant (no one must touch it), that worship is important. We cannot worship God the way that seems right to us but in spirit and in truth. It is hard teaching but we have the righteousness of Christ that humbles our heart to His.

A Special Thank you to P & R Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the blessed opportunity to post an honest review.

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And it Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-bye by: Kara Tippetts

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-ByeAnd It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye by Kara Tippetts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jesus help me see you. That has been Kara Tippets only hope in her fight and loss to cancer. It should be ours as well. It is in this fight that Christianity is more about life lived instead of Christianity as an event.

These short words of Kara’s during her battle with cancer many times left me in tears, admiring her heroism and her weakness. She does bare the “I don’t have it all together”. I think that is why so many can relate to her story. She does not make her story the story but she makes I want Jesus real because ultimately that is all she has and ultimately that is all we have. She is reminding us to pursue life, love and Jesus. We forget. We get distracted. We get busy. We get discouraged. But it is in those times, we strive to know Jesus. To rest in him.

My favorite and the times that broke my heart is her cry for her children. She loved being a mamma. She saw each of her children and knew them. What encouraged them and what discouraged them and she took that job in and saw joy in it. She saw joy in her community of people that we can miss because we think we have all the time in the world. In her life that is broken because of cancer, she is reminding others what really matters. So if you are tired of the events of Christianity and want life, I would encourage you to encounter the life that Kara fought for.

Some of the quotes that encouraged and inspired me are as follows….

Every moment seems so special. The truth is, it is. That is the gift of cancer. The struggle is the fear. The fear of this amazing world of people I love more than anything marching forward without me in it. There is a lot of pride and arrogance in that thinking. A friend and I were talking about the control that comes with thinking life is as it should be with us in it. But the truth is, life is exactly planned. Exactly numbered. My job in this day is live near to Jesus. To seek faithfulness in this day. I want to have a peaceful heart that embraces each gift of joy as it comes.

Someone surrendered to God; not resigned by surrendered. And there is a difference. And that difference was persuasive in the most naturally wooing of ways.

I have lived in the reflection of the Gospel as my husband has loved me in my sin, ugly and unlovely. Acceptance with Jason has nothing to do with performance but everything to do with his understanding of how loved he is by God in his own weakness and sin.

We are all desperately afraid of what’s hard, but once we face it, it’s possible we find a new joy we hadn’t known before.

Each breath is an Amen.

Getting honest with ourselves does not make us unacceptable to God. It does not distance us from God, but draws us to him as nothing else can and opens us anew to the flow of grace. While Jesus calls each of us to a more perfect life, we cannot achieve it on our own. To be alive is to be broken; to be broken is to stand in need of grace. It is only through grace that any of us could dare to hope that we could become more like Christ. Brennan Manning I am needy and that drives me to grace.

Her words communicate a the great love and grace of God thru suffering.

A Special Thank You to David C Cook and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Ministry in the New Marriage Culture by: Jeff Iorg

Ministry in the New Marriage CultureMinistry in the New Marriage Culture by Jeff Iorg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We are moving on to the next big issue-responding to the ministry needs the redefinition of marriage has thrust upon us. This resource focuses on how to minister in the new marriage culture while upholding biblical convictions about gender, marriage and sexuality. This resource asks the question Now what? in different ministry components.

Our response to the changes in the church and in the culture on the issues of marriage, sexual identity and gender identity leads Christians to balance between the demonstration of Christian love and a compromise of Christian convictions? How do we respond to the needs and keep true to what the bible says?

The compilation of authors with their own ministries give readers that are layman and church leaders meat on the bone to practice out their faith with truth and grace. This is an opportunity for the church. It does NOT lay aside the plan of God for marriage, family and community, but for the gospel to be displayed. The glorious gospel. The gospel represents a life changed. Made new. A life that belongs to

The issue of identity and acceptance and the understanding of those issues on both sides of the New Marriage Culture are very helpful. It is a struggle for all of us and is at the root of these issues.

My favorite chapter was the work of Pastor Phil Busbee in San Francisco. His church the First Baptist Church of San Francisco is in the heart of the gay community. It is in sharing the grace of God that souls have come to know the truth of the gospel. Instead of coming out in full force to picket the LGBT community, the church came to serve them instead.

Quotes that I found encouraging and informative.

Principles outline what the church must do to protect itself and to offer a redemptive, alternative sexual ethic in our world. Theological responses are theological. That is, they center on God and His revealed will. Too often the church (like society) builds its program on a pragmatic and or relational theology. That is, we live in light of those around us, whether we do so attempting to reach them or out of fear of them. We must be called back to a God-centered approach to deciding issues related to sexual behavior.

Unfortunately, grace is often perceived as permission and love as tolerance. Both concepts need clarification.

Love is always expressed through the lens of truth. Love always intends to bring people closer to Jesus.

Paul elaborates that the gospel is powerful through the work of Christ and the Spirit. This power is most clearly seen in the conversion of sinners and the establishment of the community of Jesus, the church. The church bears witness of God and His power through the faithful proclamation of the gospel as well as the community demonstration of unity, holiness, and love. These gospel realities ground our gospel confidence in all situations. And these gospel realities ground our gospel in the new marriage culture? How? (Read the book and find out)

All religions address two fundamental questions? What is wrong with the world and what can be done to fix it?
The graces of Christianity are all connected together and are mutually dependent on each other…They so go together that where there is one, there are all… Where there is faith, there are love, hope and humility, and where there is love, there is trust, and where there is holy trust in God, there is love for God…Where there is love for God, there is a gracious love for man, and where there is Christian love for man, there is love for God. The graces of Christianity depend on one another. There is also mutual dependence between them, so that one cannot be without the other…Faith promotes love… Then again, love enlarges and promotes faith. So love promotes humility. Humility promotes love…Love tends to repentance… and repentance tends to humility… a true love for God tends to love for men who bear the image of God…Jonathan Edwards

This is not a hateful response to the LGBT but what can Christians do to understand the needs of the gay community. What is not working and the opportunities for us to reexamine what the gospel really is. It really is not about the gay issue but a gospel issue. WE. ARE. BROKEN. Let it humble our hearts that we may serve in love.

A Special Thank You to B&H Books and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

I love this quote…

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Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer

Delighting in GodDelighting in God by A.W. Tozer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Our passion for God should lift us above the elements of the world into heavenly spheres, where God’s praise is supreme. Theology is not an end in itself, but rather points to the One who is greater than theology. When theology becomes an end in itself, it ceases to be a way into the knowledge of God. What people need today is truth-truth organized in a way that allows us to understand what God is about.

To know God and enjoy God where we have a hunger and thirst for him that never satisfies. What is our perception of God? Our perception at different times in our life can be different. Have you experienced something, maybe a place, and come back years later and find that it was not what you remember. We can do that with God. With 18 short chapters to sharpen how we think about God, each chapter is a perception that we may have that does not coincide with what the word reveals.

Each chapter is not a better way to do this or that but a better way all together. Just like David whose heart was after God was always searching for God. A passion for God. That I may know him. Is it enough just to know him or do we want the feel good, want this, and acclaim to that type of “religion”?

From our perception of God of his love and mercy to his wrath and justice, we can create an idol and miss the very presence of God.

Some of the quotes that I found encouraging and convicting.

The more you get to know God and understand His holiness, the more you will begin to magnify God in your life, and God will become the biggest thing in your life. If something in your life is bigger than God, I can assure you that God is not in your life. The goal I have as a Christian is to magnify God. The great discipline of the Christian life is to live in a way that magnifies God.

What we need to understand is that God cannot be entertained, especially by the flesh. Once we get this into our heads, we begin to look at our relationship with God a little differently. God is not going to entertain me, and God is not going to be entertained by me. The fact rules out a lot that passes for worship today.

We want to be comforted when we ought to be stirred up and made discontented. A noble discontent is always more desirable for a Christian than an ignoble contentment.

We have one awful loss: the loss of our perception of a majestic God who is worthy to be worshipped.

The core of this book is knowing God and by knowing God, we are known by him. It is this that gives us rest from the need to be affirmed by others that often leads us away from God. Let us be honest, the struggle is hard but it leads us to rest. I appreciate a study that is honest about it. This will stir your heart and challenge you. It stirred my heart that I ordered this book for loved ones that like me struggle to know him greater still!

A Special Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review

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Forgiven: The Amish School Shooting, a Mother’s Love, and a Story of Remarkable Grace by: Terri Roberts

Forgiven: The Amish School Shooting, a Mother’s Love, and a Story of Remarkable GraceForgiven: The Amish School Shooting, a Mother’s Love, and a Story of Remarkable Grace by Terri Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered by their example that submission and surrender, love and forgiveness are not weaknesses, but the strength our world so desperately needs. Ongoing interaction with the Amish community has profoundly touched and changed my life. Together with them, I‘ve found release from bitterness, anger and fear in mutual forgiveness and love. It hasn’t been an easy journey. But step by step, one day at a time, I’ve found the strength to move forward. To love forward.

The question of why becomes how can I see God in this tragedy in the journey of Terri Roberts, the mother of the mass murder Charlie Roberts who gunned down the students of a small Amish school in Lancaster, PA. The question of why is heartbreaking for any mother. What could I have done to prevent this evil? What did I miss?

It becomes evident on Mrs. Roberts account that Amish gift of forgiveness gave her the gift to forgive her son and the blame you would naturally put on yourself such as shame and bitterness. Instead of putting herself in isolation, Mrs. Roberts was compelled to be a part of the victims’ families. To remember and honor those who were lost. To pray, to weep and to finally rejoice in what God was doing. Forgiveness is contagious and humbling. Forgiveness is an act that denies my right for justice and instead offers mercy. Forgiveness is beautiful and lovely.

One interesting tidbit that I found personal because of my own family is the Japanese legend of the person who makes a thousand origami cranes. My daughters had done for their own wedding not for the legend by because of their heritage. However, with the Amish choice of forgiveness, I will never look at an origami crane the same.

Some of the quotes that I found encouraging.

All week I’d been dreading this day. But in the end, our son’s funeral proved to be a testimony of the greatest love that anyone could show. In a world that speaks so loudly of rights, the Amish had every right to feel anger, bitterness, and thirst for revenge. Instead, we heard that day only words of kindness and compassion as they greeted Charlie’s widow, Marie, his children, our family. The healing we received through their comforting words, the love and caring to us from the beginning, have a little precedent in this world of hate and revenge.

These relationships were born out of a sinful act, but a result of submission and obedience to God. He has made something new to be treasured. A prayer for each us should be, Take every part of me and bring healing if it glorifies you and furthers your kingdom.

It takes courage to forgive on both sides. Courage to offer forgiveness and courage to receive forgiveness is how we become humble. A contrite spirit is what God desires and how we receive His love.

Through the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

A Special Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Today is Day One: A Devotional by: Matthew West

Today Is Day One: A DevotionalToday Is Day One: A Devotional by Matthew West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Day One is one day at time in living a Day One Resolution to live in commitment to put God first, to put our hope in His goodness and steady our hearts on His promise.

Based on his hit song Day One (see his video…) Matthew West puts the words of his song in a devotion that is encouraging and meant to strengthen our hearts towards the Father. He shares his heart and the struggles to live a Day One attitude.

Instead of asking why we can start asking how can God use me! It is in asking God how instead of why, we live in Day one attitude. Changing the question always brings us out of despair to joy! West and the testimony of fan base will inspire any reader.

If you are needing encouragement, or if you are a fan, or better yet, want to rest in the love of the God that loves you, you will be blessed by this little book and the power of words.

Some of the quotes I found encouraging.

I soon discovered that inability to speak increased by ability to listen. The words from Psalm 46:10 came to life for me in a whole new way: Cease striving and know that I am God!

If we don’t love them, how can we say the love of God is in us?

Day one is my new theme song! I asked her why that particular song was resonating with her. She responded with, Cuz, I just got fired from job!

Pick up a great encouragement from one of Christian Music artist it will change your day one day at time!

A Special Thank you to Harvest House Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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