In This Moment (The Baxter Family #2) by: Karen Kingsbury

In This Moment (The Baxter Family, #2)In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once people stop believing in their rights of religion, those rights are whole lot easier to take away.

What is the freedom of the religion? How do our religious freedoms affect our way of life? The story of Principal Wendell Quinn and his students in a small town America reflect what is at stake.

Wendell is at a crossroads in his profession of principal. With all the gang violence, drugs, students without parental guidance, Wendell must come up with alternative to engage his students to a higher excellence, to higher learning, and community within the walls of his high school. He puts out there a VOLUNTARY bible study. That means students are welcome after school to learn about the bible. They are not made to study the bible or made to feel isolated because they choose not to. Religion that is forced does not transform. Wendell cares about his students. He desires his students for excellence.

The bible study has given many of his students purpose. With the numbers on his side, lower crime rate within the school, higher grades, student participation, Wendell is confident that God has ordained these students for something bigger than himself.

One of his students Cami was hostile to the bible study. A mother who claimed Christianity that left her family for another man has left a bad taste. She goes to see how poorly the study will do only to find that she becomes changed. She sees God in a different way. However, on parent night when the bible study is shared among the parents, her father comes unglued and goes to court. Sighting that religion and state do not mix. This is where misconceptions of religion comes to light. Is it against the law to bring bible? Is it against the law to lead a voluntary bible study? What must be done?

Wendell’s fight for his freedom to worship is also a fight for our identity as a Christian. His trust on the word of God and how we love others. Cami and her father also learn the power of a true faith. A faith in not what we do but what God has done in his son Jesus Christ.

Several misgivings on this that salvation is not a get out of hell card but being in God’s presence. Our salvation should not be pragmatic but seeking to know God and his love for us.

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

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Sex in a Broken World: How Christ Redeems What Sin Distorts by: Paul David Tripp

Sex in a Broken World: How Christ Redeems What Sin DistortsSex in a Broken World: How Christ Redeems What Sin Distorts by Paul David Tripp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whether we know it or not, every human being lives in search of a savior. We are all propelled by a quest for identity, inner peace, and some kind of meaning and purpose. And we all look for it somewhere. Here’s the bottom line: looking to creation to get what only the Creator can give you always results in addiction of some kind. The thing you hoped would serve you pulls you into its service. What seemed like freedom ends up being bondage. The thing is not the problem, what you’ve asked of it is.

What do you think of when you hear the word sex? Does it make you uncomfortable? Does it make you excited? Does it bring shame? God did create sex to give us a joy in the boundary of marriage and he did so with very good reason. The problem is not sex itself but with each of us. How we view sex reflects so much on the person we are. Sex can be used as a weapon, a form of manipulation, of pain and of shame. Sex can dehumanize when it was created to bring humans in existence.

The text gives you the contrast of the good of sex and the bad. However, this is not so much of do not but a better way and most importantly why. As a Christian, it is important for us to understand the doctrine of sex. To be honest, it can be the undoing of our faith and who we serve.

There must be understanding of the sovereignty of sex. Does it belong to us or to God? Is your stance, it is my body or do you guard the use of your body the way you guard what comes into your heart and mind. Again, this is not a matter of don’t but do. Don’t watch the TV show but have a game night instead. Don’t give into flirtation at the office, but give your spouse the encouragement she/he needs from you.

Tripp in his counseling has seen it all and he uses example after example how we can get caught up in the broken world. He reminds every day whom he serves and why and invites us to do the same. We are all in the same battle.

Some of the quotes that I found encouraging.

Only when God is in his rightful place as the unchallenged Master of our hearts will everything else in our lives be in its appropriate place. When something else replaces him, insanity and chaos of some kind always result.

Your bible begins with these four worlds. In the beginning God. (Gen 1:1, and with those words everything in life is given its shape, purpose, and meaning.

So sex is not a-religious thing. Sex is deeply spiritual. Your relationship to your own sexuality and the sexuality of others always reveals your heart. Your sexual life is always an expression what you truly worship. Sex is deeply religious. In sex you are either self-consciously submitting to God or setting yourself up as God. In other words, sex is never simply a horizontal thing. Sex always connects you to the God who created your body, gave you eyes to see and a heart that desires and tells you how are to steward this aspect of your personhood.

We live in sex crazed world and I think we always have. It has been hidden at times but it is always there. Sex is meant to glorify God and in glorifying God, we have true peace and rest. Highly recommend.

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

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Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials by: Dave Furman

Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your TrialsKiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials by Dave Furman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I say that we must to talk ourselves instead of allowing “ourselves” to talk to us!…Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in the hand you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why are you cast down” and say to yourself “Hope in God” – instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is , and what God is and what God has done, and What God has pledged himself to do. Lloyd Jones

The author Dave Furman knows a thing or two about suffering. Suffering physically and emotionally. In his humble encouraging text, he does not give you a 5 step plan to overcome your suffering but to embrace your suffering and there is only one step to that. Where is your focus? Whom are you looking to?

I was very encouraged by this because it is the very thing that puts you at the feet of Jesus. You learn to kiss the wave that throws you against the Rock of Ages. A quote from Spurgeon whom himself suffered greatly but kept embraced the wave.

The text starts with the author’s own suffering. Not a woe is me but an attempt to say me too. This is not a competition of who suffers the most. What it then leads to his the teaching of Jesus as he took his disciples on a boat and revealed to them that He is God. To recognize who he is and to rely on him. Another words how do we respond. As the gospel is aligned for us to respond, our suffering does the same. Is our response inward and God forward.

I think the most insightful of this text and that I never saw before is the trial of Christ. When Pilate brought forth Barabbas and Jesus and asked the crowd who to save. At that moment, there is so much there that reveals our need for the gospel. We are the crowd that says crucify Him and in our choice of Barabbas, we reject the gospel for what we think is better. We choose evil over life. Even Barabbas name is significant. It means son of the father and Jesus is the son of God the ultimate father. The crowd chose the wrong son. Wow. The significance of this is our suffering is choosing. What we choose to fill our thoughts with, what we choose to believe and whom we chose to put our faith in.

A quote that I will end with and that says it all and is the primary force in this text. “Being known by God is first to be chosen by God. There a primary truth that must enter our hearts if we to find joy in our sorrows”.

I highly recommend this text to deepen your understanding of our sufferings that we too can embrace the wave that come crashing down. The joy comes not from our circumstances but who we run too.

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

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The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation by: Andreas J. Kostenberger

The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the IncarnationThe First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation by Andreas J. Kostenberger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The world is a broken place filled with broken people, and we cannot fix ourselves with better education, economic mobility, or peaceful relationships. This brings us back to the biblical explanation and solution. The world is broken because of sin, and we need a supernatural solution to the problem.

The First Days of Jesus is the solution to the problem. The author takes the 4 gospel accounts of Matthew, Luke, Mark and John and zero’s in on the birth of Jesus. Going back to the prophetic word of the Old Testament and the hope we have for today, the birth of Jesus is closely tied to the resurrection.

The author divides the text into 4 parts.

Virgin Born Messiah
Light of the Nations
Incarnate Word
Epilogue/Appendix-The 2nd Coming

There are many questions the author presents that brings the gospel to a better understanding. Why the virgin birth? Why did the angels appear to the Shepherds? Why was Jesus born in poverty?

What was most insightful to me was how each author of the Gospel zeroed in on a particular account. Matthew starts with the genealogy of Jesus and the importance significance of that account. Luke narration is more of testimony and the witness accounts of Jesus Birth. However, each narrative demands a response. What do we do with Jesus? Do we believe who he says he is and is claim to be a witness to the truth. In his own words he has come to proclaim the truth and just like Pilate we claim what is truth? It is proclamation of Pilate that we come to realize the conflict between two kingdoms. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this world.

Each narrative gives an account of embracing the Kingdom of God and embracing the Kingdom of this world. The First Days of Jesus puts us face to face on what kingdom we are embracing. I highly recommend.

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

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Judah’s Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees (The Silent Years #2) by: Angela Elwell Hunt

Judah's Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees (The Silent Years #2)Judah’s Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees by Angela Elwell Hunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

They say this movement springs from the great Alexander, who wanted to unite the world into one race and one people. But he failed, as all men will fail if they attempt a task only HaShem can perform. How can a man unite the world when Adonai has set people apart. We are the seed of Abraham, a chosen race and a peculiar people. The world will be blessed through us, but we are commanded to remain separate.

Angela Hunt does not disappoint with this one. I am not familiar with the struggle of the Maccabees. The Silent Years are the years between the Old Testament and the New. In the time of the Maccabees, God has not spoken thru a Prophet in over 300 years. The Maccabees came from the Levite tribe who lead the people of Israel to worship God. During this time in Israel’s history, the people drew away from the proper worship of God and worshiped idols. Many Jews placed their trust in other men or themselves. The Maccabees started a revolt to bring the worship back to Jerusalem and the people back to the one true God. I have not read the book of the Maccabee’s which this one is based on. In pivotal parts, a quote from the book brings the reader to a point. The author was able quite well to bring history to life in the story of Judah and his wife Leah.

Leah came from an abusive family and all that she has known is violence. She abhors it. It has taken away her innocence and trust. Judah came to her rescue and pursued her to become his wife. Judah’s family is a family of community. With Judah’s father a strong leader in his own household and the outside community, he sees the evil in Jersalem and moves his family to a safer village. However, forces of evil, the family must take a stand and fight.

This becomes a pivotal point in the marriage of Judah and Leah as she longs for peace. She cannot reconcile the husband she married to the warrior he has become in fighting for HaShem. Leah is constant turmoil with HaShem and her own desire for peace.

Their story is our own story and the turmoil we face in desiring peace but always being in the battle to remain separate. There is a true picture of Judah as Christ and Leah as the church that will ignite a heart towards the true meaning of what salvation really is. I highly recommend this one.

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

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A Corner in Glory Land (Glory Land #1) by: Janie DeVos

A Corner in Glory Land (Glory Land #1)A Corner in Glory Land by Janie DeVos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The sad truth was that the man I held most dear in life, the one I’d always counted on, who gave me the greatest sense of security, had now taken that security away. By example, my own father had taught me a most valuable lesson: If you allowed your heart to love and trust someone fully and freely, the odds were that your heart would be shattered into a thousand tiny pieces, and there were no directions for putting it back together again.

The Stewart family set their roots Florida’s Ocklawaha River. Hap Stewart brought his young family to the wilds of Florida in the late 1800’s and proclaimed this area the Corner of Glory Land. With his two sons and twin daughters, they started their new life. The narration is seen thru his daughter Eve who in the beginning saw snakes and danger but grew to see opportunity. Their life in this part of Florida was dangerous and slow. Each of her siblings grew into their own skin and opportunities.

The plot was driven by Eve’s sister Ivy as she becomes involved with medicine with the black neighbor’s family where she learns and experiences how to make medicine and tend to the communities ills. Ivy is a free spirit and when she is caught by Eve in a compromising relationship, Eve fears the worst.

The trials with this family becomes intensified when Eve’s father is involved in a terrible accident. The changes to her family becomes unbearable that she takes a job opportunity as a journalist in Jacksonville, Florida where she meets her fiancé who is the business of developing land. The two go back to Ocklawaha River for her family to meet her fiancé. All is well until Ivy’s secret is revealed. With Ivy on the run and Eve’s is determination to save her with the help of the local trapper Max Harjo, what she finds out in her trek is who really needs saving.

I am always drawn to read when the heroine is a mass of contradictions. Eve is tough but she has a big heart. She has a plan but is also impulsive. Another words, she is not perfect but she is teachable. Being teachable, there are lessons to be learned in difficult situations and things are never what they seem. It behooves me that the untouched beauty of Florida is represented in these characters and I was totally captivated by it.

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

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Merry and Bright by: Debbie Macomber

Merry and BrightMerry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not driven by feelings, someone comes along and inspires those feelings that you don’t know what do with them. You have never been comfortable with them. Always suppressing and hiding your emotions. With the computer dating, you have the anonymity to be yourself and come to discover what love really means.

If you are a fan of
The Shop Around the Corner by Miklós László
and the remake of that play on You Got Mail in the movie with Tom Hanks, you will delight yourself in this treasure of romance with a slight spin.

Merry Knight has been signed up online dating as a birthday gift from her mother and special needs brother. She never has time with her work and the needs of her family for any socializing. Instead of using a picture of herself, she uses a picture of her dog and describers herself. Will she find someone special? Not wanting just any man, she desires one with character and using the picture of her dog, she can weed the bad ones out. With her work keeping her extremely busy and her boss Jayson Bright keeping demands of a slave driver, she looks forward to the distraction.

Jayson Bright is misunderstood. Coming from a less than loving home, he just has no need for anyone else in his life. He is driven by success and drives those that work for him. It is a phone call from his cousin that points him to another direction. The same dating service. Do you know where this is going. It is fun and delightful. I totally enjoyed this

A Special Thank You to Random House Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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