Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nelson's Cyclopedic Bible Index - review

This is one of those books that is very difficult for me to describe. I have never been an avid studier, nor have I spent hours doing research in any subject. However, the Bible is a book that has required much study during my life (some times more than others, unfortunately).

Yes, I have the Strong's Concordance, which goes into the Hebrew and Greek translations, but this is more a topical index if you will. This Index will be easy to navigate as you are looking for corroborating verses in the Bible, whether it be for corporate teaching or just a personal study time.

The problem in this day and age is that there are so many online resources that do much the same as this book. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to delve into the Bible and teach on specific subjects or topics. It would be a great resource to have on hand for any believer, and I am glad to have mine!!!

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm Ready!!!

Earlier, I was talking about how quickly Christmas had snuck up on me. I was talking about how unprepared I was for Christmas this year. It got me thinking in a different light...how prepared and ready am I for the coming of Jesus? When I thought of the title "I'm Ready", the first thought was of Spongebob Squarepants...sorry, but I have a five year old Spongebob fanatic in my house.

Many times, we Christians talk about how ready we are for our Heavenly home...the peace, no tears, the grand reunions, etc...but are we making preparations in our own lives for our meeting with the Lord??? I started searching for the Scripture reference for this subject and came across Matthew 24.

Let's take a look at Matthew 24:42-44..."Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (43) But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. (44) Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

The Amplified puts it this way..."Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming. (43) But understand this: had the householder known in what [part of the night, whether in a night or a morning] watch the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be undermined and broken into. (44) You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him."

Looking at the first verse, we are warned to be watching, giving strict attention, being cautious and active...do you realize the ACTIVE part??? We aren't called to just do for ourselves, but be active in our Christian walk. Don't rest in you assured Christian world, but be reaching out to others who need to know the peace you have.

In the second verse, we're made to think how we would respond if we knew the hour when a thief would come. How would we prepare for that? Would we be on the lookout? Would we be cautiously waiting? Or, would we just rest without heeding what was to come? Sounds ridiculous, I know...but why would we rest and just take it easy when we know the Lord may come at any moment?

We are once again reminded in verse 44 to be ready...I know this doesn't quite fall into the scope of decorating for the Christmas season, but we do need to prepare for the coming of the Lord, and our lives should be ready at any moment to appear before Him.

What do you need to do to be ready for the Lord's return? Have you asked Him to forgive you of the sins in your life? Have you confessed that Jesus is the Son of God? If you haven't, don't let another moment pass without praying a simple prayer. If you need help or just want to talk to someone about this Jesus, please reply to this post...I will keep it confidential and will help in anyway possible.

As we come closer to Christmas Day, I pray that we each take advantage of the opportunities to share the true meaning of Christmas with those we come in contact with...will you accept that challenge?

Let's team up together to reach those around us...and let God work in our lives corporately, as we make preparations for Christ's return. Remember Titus 2:13..."Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" Let's be prepared, so we can state "I'm ready"!!!

If you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf, please let me know!!!

Have a blessed Christmas season,

Friday, December 17, 2010

If God is Good - Book review

My latest book to review is If God is Good by Randy Alcorn. I was intrigued by the subject matter, which is one of the most asked questions...if there is a God, why does bad happen???

During my lifetime, I have probably heard a version of that question asked of me a million times. Through the duration of this book, Mr Alcorn delves deep into theological observation and Scripture references.

Over the years, unbelievers have said that if pain, suffering, evil and war are allowed to be, then there can't be a God. From the differing perspective of Christians, we tend to think more along the lines that suffering and evil can cause believers to trust more deeply and rely more on God. He is our Strength in troubled times. The outlook of Christians is also that going through sufferings allows the possibility to reach unbelievers with the Hope that carries them through the tough times.

This is a brilliant work, touching on the most sensitive of subjects. It isn't a quick, one-night read...but the time invested on the subject will leave you inspired and hopeful, even in your lowest days. It also includes a topical and scriptural index at the back to help with certain issues. This is a must-read for Christians, especially those who are trying to reach to others with their faith.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wild Goose Chase - Book review

The title of this book by Mark Batterson would make one think of a life out of order. *Wild Goose Chase* would bring up mental images of someone just being pulled to and fro with no particular end or means in sight. The Christian life, however, is nothing close to that. In this book, Mark describes how to live a life chasing the proverbial "goose" or Holy Spirit's will for each day.

What we don't see is the final outcome of our daily meanderings that appear as unorthodox to some, if led by the Holy Spirit will have a particular goal as the result. We are finite beings who have only a slight sense of Who and What the Holy Spirit is in our lives. We see things in the scope of our minutes, hours, and days...while time is of no real relevance to the Lord.

When we truly follow the Lord, this "goose chase" will lead to great personal growth and building of a relationship that will be more valuable than anyone can express in mere words.

I would recommend this book for anyone looking to deepen their relationship and understanding of the Holy Spirit. Mark's writing is easy to read, but will challenge you to the core!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible - Book review

My latest review comes in the form of a Study Bible. This is the second review of such a work. Max Lucado has long been a favorite of mine in the work of walking through this Christian life. His insights are very unique and profound, so I was intrigued to see how this Study Bible would turn out.

This is my first Bible in the New King James Version translation. The main difference I find between it and the KJV is simply the dropping of the "Thee"'s and "Thou"'s into more updated vocabulary. I don't want to dwell on the translation in this review, but rather the study materials that are found throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

Each book of the Bible starts with a short synopsis, as well as author, date written, major themes, key verse(s) and outline of the major contents. But, that's not the extent of the study portion...in the side margins, there are lessons throughout the entirety of the Bible. Each "lesson" shares a passage of Scripture...it tells the situation, makes an observation, talks about the inspiration for the passage, gives a life application and also references more exploration on the related subject.

Max Lucado's writing style conveys the message of living our faith out in our everyday life, while also being concerned with sharing it with others. This Study Bible has so much to offer, including a couple of in-depth looks at Heaven with study questions as well. In the back of this Bible are included very good reference helps including: (1) He Did This Just for You Verses, (2) Spiritual Growth Verses, (3) 30 Studies for New Believers, (4) The Big Picture: A 30-Day Overview to the New Testament, and (5) "Where to Turn When" Index. Each of these sections are handy in so many situations, both personal and sharing with others.

I would recommend this Study Bible for anyone looking for a new perspective in their quiet study times. While I enjoy Max Lucado's writing, his words are no substitute to how the Holy Spirit will speak through Scripture. All-in-all, this is a great reference for use in so many situations that everyone could benefit from having this edition.

Now for the legal stuff...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Radical - Book review

These days, there are so many books out there giving us this formula or that formula in fixing our lives. But, the major problem is that they are based on US fixing our own lives and problems. In the book "Radical" by David Platt, the formula is based upon principles grounded in the Bible.

Are you currently in a church environment where the members do works "because that's the way they've always done it"? Are things just ho-hum and blah-blah-blah in your spiritual life? In this book, you will find the essentials in living the life you've been called to live.

Many times, we look for a quick fix that doesn't stretch us too far from our comfortable lives we lead. Radical doesn't call for us to make decisions based on comfort, but hits us squarely between the eyes and confronts us with the truth. This confrontation will cause the reader to do one of two things: change the way you live or just go about the norm unchanged.

Not only does Radical call for personal change, but also the way we "do church". Are we truly reaching out to those around us, or simply huddled and secluded? I'm reminded of a quote a preacher used to say..."the church is so worldly and the world is so churchy, I can't tell them apart". That's exactly what David Platt is talking about. We are too busy trying to live the American dream to really portray Christ in our personal and corporate settings.

I would recommend Radical to any believer as a guide to living with a missional mindset.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Life Without Limits - Book review

Several months ago, I was referred to a video on YouTube of this man who was born with no arms and no legs. This was my introduction to Nick Vujicic, the author of the book "Life Without Limbs". I have since watched several videos and read some of the journal entries from his travels worldwide. What an amazing story of how God can use an individual in spite of their circumstances.

This book not only tells about the life lived without limits, but one of hope when things seem utterly hopeless. Nick has fought through obstacles that most would succomb to the depression and simply give up. And, not only has he not given up, but has given proof through his walk with the Lord that we truly can have "...a ridiculously good life".

One of the best rules to live without limits is found in Chapter 7 Don't Let Your Face Plant Grow Roots. In this chapter, the lesson learned is if you fail and give up...you will never get up. In his life, Nick has faced the obstacles and knows perfectly well how hard it is to get up when you've fallen. Physically, it would be nearly impossible. But, as Nick states, if you fail 99 times and give up you will never get up.

There are so many good points in this book, but I would hate to give away too much. If you are looking for inspiration, or just love to pull for the "underdog", this book is a definite must-have. I would recommend this for anyone high school and above.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Voices of the Faithful - Book review

My latest book to review is the Beth Moore daily devotional "Voices of the Faithful". This daily devotional is full of inspiring stories that were written by missionaries from all overthe world.

This is a brilliant compilation of works that is perfectly set up for your daily reading and contemplation. Not a book I would recommend reading at length, because each essay is a completed work in itself. This devotional is categorized by the month, with each month being based on a theme, which is followed closely throughout.

This is my first reading of a work by Beth Moore. Though she is not the writer of the majority of the work, her added thoughts really bring more inspiration from each story of the missionaries. Too often, we just think of the people who are reached by the missionaries, while we seem to forget the struggles associated with being a missionary in foreign lands. The stories shared will bring out the struggles that are faced and the blessings received from heeding the call placed in each of us. I believe everyone who reads these essays will be motivated to accept the challenge to do more each day to reach others.

I would recommend this book to all believers, especially those who are actively participating in the work of their local church. As I stated before, this is my first Beth Moore but will most definitely not be my last!!!

Now for the legal stuff...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Living Life in the Zone - Book review

The latest book up for review is entitled "Living Life in the Zone" by Kyle Rote and Joe Pettigrew. This is a 40-day devotional geared towards men and the stresses and difficulties they endure on a daily basis.

The general theme for this book is sports and how we can apply "sports" themes and ideas into our mindset to conquer each day ahead of us. Being an avid sports fan, I found the subject matters to hit home and convey new ideas for coping with life. There are ample resources cited throughout the book, including inspirational quotes and Bible references.

I would also be quick to point out...this is intended for a male audience. That said, there are elements of this book that can apply to both genders. Overall, "Living Life in the Zone" is an excellent devotional guide that inspires the reader to be a better person, to strive for our goals in life, and you can truly make a difference in the world you live in.

Overall, "Living Life in the Zone" is a great devotional book that I would recommend ALL men to read and grow from. It is short enough to fit your daily readings comfortably into any schedule, and the difference you will see in your life and those around you will amaze you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Come Awake

While running through video illustrations for our Collegiate Cless, I came across this video I wanted to share as well. It simply reminds us that our life in Christ isn't dependent on what we have done, but what He did for us on the cross. I hope it will give you an inspiration today.

Once again, for more information or to get a copy for your personal or church use, visit Igniter Media. Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!

Thank You God!!!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I would share one of my favorite newer videos that sums up the season. May we truly be thankful in all things because of what He has done for us! Enjoy the video...then take a moment to share what you are thankful for today.

For more information or to pick the video up for your personal or church use, stop by Igniter Media.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Was Here...

I was spending some time watching some illustration videos the other day, when I came across the video "I Was Here" at Bluefish TV. This video falls in line with the review I did of The Butterfly Effect earlier this week and I thought I would share it with you today.

When you think about your life...what are you leaving behind???

Will there be a footprint in time, saying that you made a difference???

Did you truly stand for something???

My prayer is that you will find inspiration and a hope to realize your life matters more than you might ever realize!!!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!! Please enjoy the video...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Butterfly Effect: Book review

My latest review is one I have been planning to submit for some time, but have just never found the time to simply sit and take the time to type it out. It is my latest installment from the BookSneeze Blog review program of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

I have read the past two books written by Andy Andrews and was very excited to find this book. The whole basis of the book is along the lines of the butterfly effect spoken of in years past in the scientific community. Basically, that theory stated that if a butterfly flapped its' wings on one side of the world, it could cause a ripple effect that could produce astounding things to take place on the opposite side of the world.

Andy takes that theory and breaks it down in how our lives can cause a ripple effect in time. By the things we do, regardless how small, we can change others which can cause amazing things to be possible.

Some of the places he draws from are the Civil War and the stand made by one man, in the face of certain death...this stand changed the course of history...what would life be like if the South had won? What if there were no United States? Another was the backstory of George Washington Carver...how the sacrifices of others made possible the advances in agriculture he was able to make...

The bottom line is this...the acts we do actually make a difference! If you are down or thinking your life has little meaning in the grand scope of things, read this book. It will take you approximately 15 minutes, but could completely change your outlook on how important your life is!

And now for the legal stuff...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

How Do We Share Christ???

I have a heavy heart today as the result of a prayer request I received from a friend on Faceboook. Being the type to find the whole story, I did some digging and found out even more than I cared to learn.

Here is the story...a "cult" group out of Topeka, Kansas was in Great Bend some time ago and were staging a "revival" and someone apparently broke a window out of their vehicle. Since then, the town had a tragedy in which a 14 year old girl was abducted and found later burned beyond recognition. This "religious" group has since stages protests in Great Bend, saying that God is paying them back for the way they treated "the messenger of God".

One of my problems is this...were we called to go around spouting our goodness and putting others down? Are we to tell others that "God Hates Them"? Or are we to share the love of Christ to any and all?

I know I am making this synopsis of events rather short. If you would like to delve deeper into the story of this "cult", you can find their site here . I have used tinyurl to recompose the address, because of its offensive nature.

My question to you is this...is it any wonder we have such a hard time reaching the lost when others are out there sharing hate in the name of God and saying "God Hates..."? What can you and I do to make a difference today in the life of someone who needs us??? I guarantee one thing...hitting them with artillery filled with hate is not it!!!

And, my final thought hinges upon this group, founded by Fred Phelps being listed as a "Baptist" church group. I remember back to a quote my dad has used most of my life. Someone asked him once what he would be if he wasn't a Baptist...to which he replied, "Ashamed". When we see groups like this using our name and dragging it through the mud, that shames me. Because, outsiders just see the name and think that's what being a Baptist is all about. That's why the religion is less a part of significance as the relationship with Christ.

And the final thought I have is for Christians who come in contact with these hate-mongers is found in Luke 6:27..."But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you," So, this also makes us be careful of how we deal with those who ARE doing the finger-pointing. Makes you wonder if they just might need a dose of Christ's love in their lives.

Sorry for the negativity in this post...this has really hurt my heart this morning!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

For more of the backstory on the Alicia DeBolt's disappearance, you can check out the following articles:
Article 1
Article 2

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

John Mark McMillan's "The Medicine" Album Review

It has been a while since I have done an album review. This is a particular favorite of mine. I am just getting acquainted with John Mark McMillan's music since hearing some of his music earlier this year. You might not think you know who he is, but you probably have heard some of his songs before. The most obvious one would be "How He Loves", which was recorded on the Church Music album by the David Crowder Band.

John Mark's album starts off with "Reckoning Day" which is a call asking everyone if they would come alive and get out of bed for the sound of the song unsung...it asks us to wake up and lift our eyes...and become untied from the weight of this age. These lyrics and the song's presentation begin the edgy feel that can reach beyond the circles that typical "pretty Christian" music can touch. His lyrics talk about life...he says that he writes music for people and God to listen to.

The next song I would point out would be track 6, "Death in His Grave". This is another story that has been put to music. The chorus echoes with...

"On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave"

The final song I would feel necessary to mention has to be "How He Loves". This has become one of my favorite songs of the past couple years. It is a stirring song that reminds us of exactly how much God truly loves us. One of my favorite lines from any song would have to be from this one, when it says...
"I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us"

I couldn't find the time to submit a full review of every song on this album, but they are all strong theologically and speak from John Mark's heart. I would recommend this album to anyone who enjoys contemporary Christian worship music. The edgy lyrics and music can speak in ways that many artists have yet been able to.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is Suffering Optional???

I know that it's not the most popular subject in Christian circles, but one that I feel should be discussed! I am not sure about your walk with the Lord, but from time to time, I tend to get "comfortable" and expect nothing uncomfortable to happen to my little world. But, we have been promised otherwise...remember that our adversary walks around like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour...and that doesn't sound comfortable in any translation!!!

Anyway, when struggles come about, I tend to want to throw my hands up and just give up...is it just me? But, last night while watching a podcast of Francis Chan speaking from Biola University's chapel series, I was struck when he said that we ALL face hardships and trials...IF WE ARE TRULY DOING GOD'S WILL! Therein lies the emphasis...if we aren't doing anything for God in our lives, why would Satan even need to obstruct our path? You're right, he wouldn't. But, be alert...if you are doing the work of Christ, the trials will come. And, they don't always just affect you...Satan will attack in any way he can hurt you the most.

I wanted to share several verses on the subject of our suffering today, with the first being found in 2 Timothy 3:12..."Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Like I have mentioned, the trials will come if you make a stand for Christ. One point Francis made in the podcast was particularly on point, I believe. He said that some of the biggest opposition you will find in seeking what God is telling you to do will be found in the church. Unfortunately, that can be true. Sometimes others want you to "cool off" or just calm down a bit because "that's not the way we do things around here". But, don't allow someone else to quench a fire that has been placed in your heart!!!

Another reference I would share is found in 1 Peter 2:19..."For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully." Sometimes we may even have to suffer wrongfully out of conscience sake. I know that can seem unfair, but in showing the true love of Christ to others it might be required. By the way, can you think of anyone else who suffered and died wrongfully, so that others might have life?

That would lead us to 1 Peter 2:21-23..."For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (24) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
There is no better example of how to deal with suffering and being mocked than Jesus Christ. When He was spat upon, he kept His composure...when He was mocked, He didn't mock back...through it all, He showed a grace on those who didn't deserve it. But, He knew what He was called to do...and through His death upon the cross we were given life...and by His stripes we are healed.

Another example of dealing with sufferings is found in James 5:10..."Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." If you look at the history of the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name, you will find men who were imprisoned, beaten, stones, and even killed for the cause of Christ. But notice how the verse puts it...they were an "example of suffering and of patience".

In Philippians 1:29, we find..."For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;" We have been granted to suffer in His behalf...probably never thought of it that way either, have you? I know it opened my eyes as I read it again. Not only do we get to believe in Him, but we get to suffer. This verse ties perfectly with the message in the following Scripture, found in Romans 8:18..."For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward." This makes it seem a bit better, when we realize that the things we struggle with here on earth will pale in comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us in Heaven! Don't lose hope. Remember what the last part of 1 John 4:4 says..."greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world"

The final passage I would like to share with you comes from Philippians 3:8-11..."Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,(9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

Take a look at the same passage as translated in the Amplified Bible..."Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), (9) And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. (10) [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] (11) That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]."

Don't get stuck dwelling upon the lows of this life, and the suffering you will endure this side of Heaven...that is to be expected! Rather, allow Christ to do His perfect work through your life as a result of how you deal with it. Others will see in you what they have been searching for! Keep your head up...you are not alone in your struggles!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Can We Show Some Compassion???

I have some quotes on compassion I have come across the past few days that I thought would fall in place with what has been weighing heavily upon my heart. My heart is burdened to feel for those who don't know the Lord. I want to see them as the Lord does...lost and needing a helping hand to lead them to the one true Light!!!

"Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation." -Henry Ward Beecher

This quote speaks to me in the vein that if we are showing compassion, we are likely to be able to reach sinners where they are. Too often, we are caught condemning the sin, rather than loving the sinner.

"We ought to be people of compassion. And being people of compassion means we deny ourselves, and our self-centeredness." -Mike Huckabee

If we are only concerned about ourselves, we can't have a heart for others.

"Compassion costs. It is easy enough to argue, criticize and condemn, but redemption is costly, and comfort draws from the deep. Brains can argue, but It takes heart to comfort." -Samuel Chadwick

How easy it is to kick someone when they're down. It's much harder to lend a hand and stand in the gap for someone who has fallen. If we aren't there for them, who will be?

And the final quote I will share is this..."I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it." -Thomas Aquinas

Ouch! That one hits home...it's easy to talk about this and that, but when the rubber hits the road, what are we doing about it? My dad always used the old line..."your actions speak so loud I can't hear a word you're saying" What are our actions saying? Are we truly loving others and showing the compassion that has been shown to us?

May we practice what we tell others we believe...hollow words mean nothing if they aren't backed up with our lives.

There are several verses on compassion you can look to as well...Matthew 18 tell the story of a master who has compassion, only to have that one show nothing of the sort in return to another (verses 23-35)...also Luke 7:13, where the Lord showed compassion upon the widow...the Samaritan showed compassion in Luke 10 as well...the Scripture references are nearly endless...

Our lives should live out the verse that the picture above illustrates, which is found in Philippians 3:14..."I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Everything we do should be towards that end!!!

Do you have a favorite verse or quote that deals with compassion? Share it with us...

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Loving God...But Are We Loving Others???

This evening, our Collegiate class study was focused on a couple of the Nooma series videos by Rob Bell. The one that has been stuck in my head is the one entitled Bullhorn. The thought I am hit by is that we are called to love God and also to love others, right? In Matthew 22:36-40, we find them asking Jesus..."Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

I know it seems easy to understand the loving God part, right? But what about the one whose opinion or lifestyle isn't what you agree with, or even detest? Are we supposed to treat them with contempt? Or are we to love them the same?

I am reminded of the passage in John 8, when the scribes and Pharisees brought the adulterous woman in, seeking for her to be condemned and stoned. What was Jesus reaction? Was it to put her down...shun her for her lifestyle...or to simply show love? In verse 8, He states plainly "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

Too often, I am afraid we are trying to clean people up to bring them into our "church" environment. But, I am reminded of the illustration made by Mike Warnke back in his '80's comedy..."do we have to clean up for a bath?" The answer...simply put is no. We aren't called to clean up sinners, but simply reach out with the love of Jesus.

The verses say it clear enough, don't they? "...love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind...love thy neighbour as thyself"...Let's look at others today through the loving eyes of our Lord and Savior.

Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:21..."I am made all things to all men , that I might by all means save some." May that be our goal and our outcome...to save some...

What are your thoughts on this subject??? Would love to hear your take on this subject...

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Set Apart or Blending In???

As I got home this evening from church, I continued to focus on the first point of Caleb's message tonight...being sanctified. The definition of sanctified reads like this...(1) to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use (2) to free from sin (3)(a) to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to (b) to give moral or social sanction to. We are called to be set apart, free from sin...and to be sanctioned, both morally and socially. Being sanctioned socially would mean that we are noticed to be different, right?

As I was thinking and praying on this I came across a great passage I wanted to share with you from James 1:19-27..."Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (21) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (25) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein , he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (26) If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. (27) Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

The first verse hits us right where it hurts, doesn't it? Be quick to listen, but slow to talk and quarrel...the Amplified version brings it out like this..."Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry." So we need to mind our tongue and temper, people (actually pointing more at myself than others here). We also see it continue that by getting angry and offended we are not showing forth the righteousness of God.

Verse 21 continues by saying to get rid of all the junk we are carrying around, whether it be by habit, addiction or whatever else it could possibly have a hold on you. The Amplified puts it this way..."So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls." So when we get rid of the stuff that holds us back, we allow room for the Word to penetrate and work in and through our lives.

The next verse is one we have all heard numerous times...be doers and not hearers only. If we listen that's good, but if we put no action to our belief, how can people see it? If we don't show forth the love of Christ, how will anyone even tell we possess it? And as it continues on, if a man seems "religious", but can't control his tongue...his religion is vain. This is where I would make the case against religion and FOR Christianity. It's not about men's ideas and interpretations, but rather about Christ...it's ALL ABOUT HIM!!!

And finally, what TRUE religion (Christianity) looks like...be there for those in need and keep one's self unspotted from the affairs and sins of this world. I hope this passage holds great meaning for you and maybe struck a chord in your heart today. But, as it says...don't just hear it...DO IT...and what better time than today. No telling who you will encounter today that need to know what you have been hiding in your heart...let it show!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Let's Do Lunch" book review

Let me start this review by first stating the obvious...this is not the normal book I would pick off a shelf. I chose it because I, like many in America, have gained unwanted pounds and inches. Roger Wilson does a great job in this book cutting through the myths that are out there and just shares the simple facts of how eating schedules and eating "smart" can take those pounds off.

I know it seems as though this is another eat yourself thin book, but there is nothing space-age or never-seen-before in this one. It's a no-nonsense approach that speaks plainly and explains why it works.

I would tend to be skeptical of such books, but Roger Himself lost 230 pounds and 24 inches by applying the principles listed in this book. If you are looking for a quick fix, diet pills, or point system to follow...this is not the book for you. However, if you are willing to watch what you eat and when you eat it...and are willing to submit your life to a great "life change for the better", this plan can work for you!!! Pick it up at Thomas Nelson, Amazon, Christianbook.com or your favorite online or local bookstore.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Refuge Be...

The words of this song touched me yesterday as my friend, Larry sang in our morning worship. Too often, we are looking for God to help us when we are down and out, but simply rely on self when things are "good". This song clearly states that we will seek the Lord all of our days, and will find our shelter and refuge in none other.

In Scripture, there are many references to God as our refuge, such as the following verses:

Psalm 9:9..."The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble."

Psalm 46:1..."God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Psalm 62:7..."In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God."

The Lord is there as our defense and refuge...but, He is also waiting to be there in our good times. As a parent, I understand this more than I ever could as a child, adolescent or young adult. I don't want to be there for my children only when they need my help, but rather to have a relationship that is based on love in spite of circumstances.

If our love wants that, how much more does the perfect love of God wish for such a relationship? Think about that as you read these words from "My Refuge Be"...

Into You I will hasten
Into You I will lean
Light of the world my only Shelter
King of love my refuge be
King of love my refuge be

Verse 1
All throughout my days I will seek Your peace
Let me hear Your voice singing over me
When my weary heart drives me to despair
In the shadows Lord let me find You there

Verse 2
Friend of broken hearts and all the lost
I will find my strength in Your precious cross
And with ev'ry breath that You give to me
May I glorify Your majesty

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Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Outlive Your Life book review

Another review I should have posted some time ago is of the soon to be released "Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado. This is just another added to my large collection of his books. The official release date is scheduled for September 14, 2010.

This book is a call for us as Christians to live beyond the confines of life and rather reach out and make a difference. It may be a call to be more charitable, serve in a soup kitchen, or help an elderly person you know. Whatever this book inspires you to do...one thing is for sure...we need to stop sitting back and expect others to do the work we have been called to do. If we are to all sit by and watch, then nothing will get done, right?

We all need an eye-opener or a shot in the arm from time to time, and that's exactly what this book does. If you are in a rut or just need to be awakened from a sleepwalk through your daily life, I urge you to grab a copy of this book. You can pre-order it at Thomas Nelson Publishers or at Christianbook.com.

One hundred percent of all author royalties from this book will benefit children and families through WorldVision and other ministries of faith-based compassion.

The Heart Mender book review

The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews is the latest book I have received for review through the BookSneeze blogger Review program. This is the second book I have read from Mr. Andrews and I have to say I love his writing. Everything in his books flows so seamlessly as he narrates the stories. This latest book tells a story of loss, anger, and ultimately forgiveness in the World War II era.

In 1942, after her husband was killed in the war, Helen Mason finds a nearly-dead body on the shore. Seeing the German uniform, Helen is enraged and would leave the soldier to save himself, but is struck by a phrase and re-thinks her situation.

I am not the normal romance reader, but the mending heart story that follows is one for the ages. The reconciliation and forgiveness that is made in the pages of this book will touch even the hardest of hearts. Once again, a true gem of a story.

It’s even hinted that some of the book could possibly be true. Like my parents always told me, truth is much more entertaining than fiction, right? But, regardless, I would invite you to get a copy of this book and enjoy the story I just finished.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

When is "Bad" Really Bad???

As a person who spent many years as a "smoker", I will spend the rest of my life as a recovering nicotine addict. Usually, my days don't consist of fighting the urges anymore (been without for several years now). However, being around smoke-filled rooms and just basically around many smokers this week, the urges have been quite difficult. My relation to Scripture today comes in this question to each of you...when is "bad" bad to each of us? What is your major crutch or stumbling block that you must lay down each day?

I am brought to the verse in James 4:17..."Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Doing good isn't always the easy thing, is it? But when the Spirit impresses on our heart, it is obvious what we should be doing or not doing.

This is such a difference from what we are being taught in the world, right? In these times of "do what feels good", "do what you want to do", and basically "you are your own god"...we have this mis-guided thinking that we are in charge. How far from the truth that really is. There is a big difference between having free will and doing right or wrong.

In my battle against my addictions, I have found the only way to find victory is to ask God for His power and strength everyday. The days I get up and forget to ask for help, I struggle. It is a daily thing...not unlike we are supposed to have.

My question for you today again is...what are you battling with today (or everyday)??? And, how do you or will you claim victory over it???

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made...

This week, I've had a verse brought to my mind numerous times and thought maybe I should take a few moments to share. Somebody may be going through a difficult time...and this could be just what could help.

Let's take a quick look into Psalm 139...verses 13-16..."For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."

These verses have been used in our Vacation Bible School teachings, and were also the theme for the Louie Giglio talk we went through in our latest College Bible Study. Isn't it amazing to think that the Creator of all things has been involved in our lives from the very beginning moments of our existence? I mean, from conception all the way up to the last breath you took, He has been watching and playing a vital role in your existence.

I know it's easy to think you're all alone in this walk through this world, but please don't forget the Creator has been watching over you even from the days you spent in your mother's womb. And, when we take a deep look into the makeup of our human body, it's obvious we are much more than something that occurred through evolving from a pool of slime, but have been REMARKABLY made!!! Don't take yourself or the Lord of all creation so lightly.

Let's take a look at how the Amplified version states verse 14..."I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows rght well."

Take some time to praise your Maker and Designer...the wonder of birth has made life possible for us all. Not only can we fathom at the wonder of the expanses of the universe, but be amazed by the creation that He has made you to be. If you ever get the chance, watch the video series "Alive" by Louie Giglio...it will amaze you at how fearfully and wonderfully made you truly are!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Transformation Study Bible - review

This review will be my first of any form of Bible. The Transformation Study Bible has truly been a blessing in my quiet times, as the translation is well-done and the added features with this version make scriptures literally "jump off the page".

Many of you will recognize the name of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe from his "Be" series. His thoughts and commentary are throughout this Study Bible, adding some depth to your personal times in study and meditation. Each book begins with a detailed outline, including the theme, key verse and overall breakdown. Throughout this edition, you will come across “Catalyst” note sections, in which Dr. Wiersbe challenges the reader to make true “transformation” in a personal way.

This is my first read of the New Living Translation, and I find the scripture easily readable and also good for memorization. Some translations are easy to read and understand, but the memorization is difficult at best. That would seem to hinder the ability to hide the Word in our hearts, right?

I would give this translation a 4 out of 5, but with this study version, would upgrade to 5 out of 5, a must-have for anyone who is looking for added depth in their personal, daily Bible study time. For more information on this book, or any others from Davod C. Cook publishers, check out their site here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Layout

Just wanted to ask for your personal ideas on the new layout and design of the blog. This is my second try at re-vamping the look of the blog, and I thought I would take a totally different approach at the whole visual concept. Thanks for your continued prayers and I have an idea for my next post, plus several reviews that are overdue. Have a blessed day and please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Where to from here???

As I sit thinking about the coming graduation and all the hopes, dreams and ambitions for those walking across that platform, I also think about the necessity of not facing the future without following that which has been taught since your youth. I know not all the graduates have been raised in Christian homes, but for those that have it would be tragedy to just "grow out of" the teachings learned from parents via Biblical standards.

Looking at setting a goal for the future, my mind goes to Philippians 3:13-16, which reads..."Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do , forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,(14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (16) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."

Here Paul is talking about not dwelling on those things in the past and working toward the calling that God has placed in his life. Sometimes, when we get out on our own, we decide that we know better than what we have been taught under our parents tutelage. Am I the only one who went that way and found out they really duid know what they were talking about? Do you notice in verse 15 it states that if someone is other minded, the truth shall be revealed by God? That's an amazing thing to think of. If we are honestly seeking the truth...through prayer and searching the Scripture...God will reveal it to us. But we must also stick to what we have learned (Biblically) and walk accordingly.

As many of you know, I like to look at what the Amplified version says, as often it brings more depth. Here's how it ptranslates the same passage..."I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. (15) So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. (16) Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that."

Paul says he is far from perfect, but he keeps his eyes forward...looking at what God has ahead instead of dwelling on the past. Any of you know someone who always talks about the "Good 'Ole Days" all the time? They tend to just meander through life with no rhyme or reason. They are living in the past. I am not saying to forget what has happened in your life, but if we dwell only on what has happened, how can we be prepared for action that is to come?

So, not only is this a message for those who are entering into a new phase of life, but also those of us who get sidetracked by the fun times of years past. Let's remember those times with fondness, but keep heads up and looking to reach the mark the Lord has in front of us.

Oh, and by the way...Congratulations, Class of 2010!!!

Let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Can You Be Trusted???

Too many times we seem to ask God why we can't have more than what we already have, right? Whether it be money, stuff, friends, etc. But, are we found faithful in the meager things we might have? Are we faithful in the smallest things? If we aren't faithful with what we have now, how can we expect to be blessed with more?

Thinking on this brought to mind the passage found in Luke 16:10-12..."Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. (11) So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? (12) And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own?"

We get it brought down to our level here...whoever is faithful in little will be faithful with much and whoever isn't faithful in little can't be trusted with more.

I was looking at the passage in two other translations as well...The Message translation reads like this..."Jesus went on to make these comments: If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be honest in big things; (11) If you’re a crook in small things, you’ll be a crook in big things. (12) If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store?" Here it brings it down to an idea of a work situational setting. If we aren't able to bag the groceries, or even stock shelves on our own, how are we to be handed the keys to run the place?

Too many times, we want to run things without ever doing the menial tasks to earn favor, right? Believe you me, I am speaking at and to myself as much as anyone in this case. Let's not get weary doing the work...remember the verse found in Galatians 6:9..."And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." So, commit to do the work and wait on God's timing...

Let's look at the Amplified version, which reads..."He who is faithful in a very little [thing] is faithful also in much, and he who is dishonest and unjust in a very little [thing] is dishonest and unjust also in much. (11) Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [case of] unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), who will entrust to you the true riches? (12) And if you have not proved faithful in that which belongs to another [whether God or man], who will give you that which is your own [that is, the true riches]?"

I have come to enjoy reading the other translations to help make the words "jump of the page"...The point today is simple...If you aren't faithful in the little things, don't expect great reward...but be found faithful in the little and God will bless you abundantly.

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf! Have a blessed day!!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Come Unto Me...

Over the past week, I can't number the times I have heard others talking about the weariness they are experiencing through the trial and tribulations of this life. It's a normal thing that we will continue to face until Christ's return. So, where can we find a place to hide and recuperate?

The best passage that come up in my mind is found in Matthew 11:28..."Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

The Amplified Bible reads the same passage as follows..."Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] (29) Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. (30) For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good--not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne."

I love the Amplified version's depiction of rest...it's not just about sleeping or laying around, but also of recreation and refreshment. When we get weary sometimes, we want to just take a nap, right? But, that may not be the way we need refreshed at every point along our journey. Sometimes a "blessed quiet" time alone with God is what we need. When was the last time you spent alone with God to get rejuvenated? I think He could be exactly what you need, right?

Too often, we get mired down in the muck of this world and do all we can to get ourselves out, but never turn to the Master who can reach us no matter how far down we might be. If you are weary, worn down, need some refreshment...or just need to start back anew, call on Jesus' name...He will give you the rest you so terribly need!!!

I wanted to share the picture above simply for the fact that of all the pictures we see depicting Jesus, when was the last time you saw one with Him smiling? He's a friend and wants to see the smile put back in your life...

If you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf, please let me know!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Carlos Whittaker - Ragamuffin Soul review

Not very often do I find myself actually with a big interest in the CD release dates, but yesterday was a huge exception. Since beginning this blog, I have come across a great number of bloggers and have built multiple "social networking" friendships and have learned from some of the best. Yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, Twitterers, Facebook friends, and one of the most "what you see is what you get" personalities released his debut CD.

Carlos Whittaker is Worship Leader at Buckhead Church, and I find his openness to share his life so that others might get a laugh, be inspired to be more genuine, and even his ability to not take himself too seriously are a testament to how we should truly be.

Enough about the man, let's take a look at the CD. This work is one of the most varied compilations, all heart felt and touching different areas of our lives. Opening the cover, you find the words that sum up the heart of Carlos' passion, which is "Satisfy Us Lord, That You Would Be Enough".

Then, once you get to the music, 'Los gets things going with a great starter entitled "Rain It Down". This has been in my mind all day long as I have been doing everything. It's all about our need for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our daily lives. What a great kickoff song for a great album."Can't Start This Fight" is up next and conveys the thoughts we have all had...no matter how hard WE might try, this fight (life) is impossible to do without God's hand leading.

The third track is the one that first jumped out at me. In "God Of Second Chances", there is little surprise as we are reminded that the Lord is our Redeemer and loves us with an unfailing love. Track four "We Will Worship You" is a great anthem piece. It's all about giving up of self and asking God to break us of the desires that simply fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Another deeply profound and simply put offering! "No Words" keeps the mellow tone going with simply our words can be so meaningless in describing the Lord. But, we can still offer our shouts of hope and love to Him. Awesome stuff!

"Because of You" is another song that reels you in with a great beat and singable tune. It simply states "I come here to honor You, because of You, in awe of You"...enough said. "Shine On" simply shares that none compares to the God we serve and just asks Him to continue shining on. Announcing our dependence upon God, because with Him none else can touch us. Next is "Grace Already Won" - a great song to shout to God. Reminding us that because of grace we don't have to be feeling in bondage, but live in a great freedom.

"Jesus Saves" is up next with a great tempo and an unbeatable line that goes..."I am the sum of failing and of grace You overcame". How can we feel defeated when Jesus overcame everything by His death and resurrection? "In Your Presence" is a quiet, intimate, conversational utterance to the Lord. Realizing what we must do to engage the Lord with reverence, humility and awe...just a very inspiring song...

Next comes "Your Name", which Carlos amps up a bit with a bit more guitar than the Phillips, Craig and Dean version of Paul Baloche and Glenn Packiam's great anthem. Nicely revamped song! And finally, "We Will Dance" picks it up again to finish off the album. The line that you will be reminded of throughout the song is..."There's no one like our God"...and Amen to that!

I would give this album 4 1/2 out of 5. What a great debut work from a truly genuine worship leader/blogger/social media guru. But most of all, Carlos, thanks for letting your heart be seen in this intimate offering of praise and worship! Pick this album up at iTunes, Integrity, or at his blog

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be - book review

Last night, I sat down and opened the latest book I will be reviewing. I have been a Max Lucado fan since just after graduating high school. His latest, "You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be" is a perfect blend of common-sense, Biblically sound and inspirational writing.

The sticker on the front of the book states that it’s the perfect gift for the graduate. I would take it one step further. It’s the perfect gift for the person who has lost focus. There are so many applicable thoughts contained in this short book (127 pages), that can be applied to work-related struggles, career decisions, and even re-focusing our lives to fit the mold that God has designed for us.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is in need of a boost to their morale. It doesn’t always mean we get the pat on the back of we’re doing okay, but sometimes requires us to analyze our entire decision making process. When we put God’s will in front of our own, we can truly be everything God wants us to be…notice it doesn’t say what we want…that’s where we get confused too many times. True happiness comes in finding His plan for your life and following it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Voice of Psalms - book review

My newest book to review is The Voice of the Psalms, which comes from the Ecclesia Bible Society and is published by Thomas Nelson. This was an easy read, from start to finish, and would be a great extra version for readers to indulge in when doing an in-depth study of the book of Psalms as well.

The Voice of Psalms contains the entire book in the Voice translation, and also contains several devotional applications and some comments on certain passages that may spark some thought for the reader.

Over the years, I have learned that reading different translations of the Bible can open our heart and eyes to some hidden gems that we may have missed in the KJV. Since expanding my study through different translations, now including the Voice, I feel that Scripture can be more easily applied to daily life application.

The Voice of Psalms was a good read, and I would encourage anyone doing a study of Psalms to pick up a copy. Great from cover to cover and another great complimentary book that Thomas Nelson has provided as part of the BookSneeze blogger review program.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Called to Worship - book review

You may remember that I have done some book reviewing for the Book Review Blogger program, which is now under the name of "BookSneeze" for Thomas Nelson Publishing. As a result, I received a copy of "Called to Worship" by Vernon M. Whaley.

This book was an interesting read for many reasons. First and foremost, in my "day job", I serve as a Music Minister and am constantly studying the origins of worship and how they can be applied to our modern times. In this book, Whaley covered the introduction of even the thought of worship, which was not a Sunday morning exclusive thing. Worship is a 24/7 thing that we should begin to take hold of.

In the very origin of life, we were created to worship God. In all we do, every action, every word, every thought should be God-honoring. This book just gave me a few more reminders of how worship was presented to us in the Bible. He also used quotes from varied teachers and speakers, who many times share completely opposite beliefs. I didn't have a major issue there, but thought he incorporated them well to get his idea across.

All in all, the book was a good read although somewhat lengthy. It has the feel of a textbook. Never being a great fan of reading textbooks word-for-word, I would give this book a rating of 3 1/2 our of 5 possible stars. If you want to know more about worship, "Called to Worship" would be a great resource book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No More Pretending...

Okay, we are into the New Year a couple weeks now. How are you doing with those resolutions? Did you make any this year, or just give up on even trying anymore? One of the things I am trying to keep focused on is being real. That's right...just be real. We are not expected to be perfect, but be real and let others see how we can face anything through the power of Jesus' name. With that thought in mind, I would like to share the following video of one of my favorite songs. It talks about just being humble and acknowledging that we don't have the answers and we need help. I'll include lyrics after the video, which will play the first verse and chorus only.

No More Pretending from Chris Ko on Vimeo.

No More Pretending by Scott Krippayne
I can look good when I want to
I know the right things to say
I cover up what I don't want you to see
But you see it anyway
Maybe I think I can fool you
Maybe I'm fooling myself
I want to change but I don't know how
And I need your help

No more pretending
No more pretending
Lord, I know I need to tell you the truth tonight
But everything is not alright in my life
And I need you like never before
I don't want to pretend anymore

I'm tired of hiding my weakness
I'm tired of trying to look strong
I don't want to say that everything's fine
When there's so much that's wrong
Tell me again that you love me
Though it's more than my heart understands
And I will lay down my disguises
And show You who I am

No more pretending
No more pretending
Lord, I know I need to tell you the truth tonight
But everything is not alright in my life
And I need you like never before
I don't want to pretend anymore

Can you relate? I can...and I realize I need the Lord more and more everyday. I pray that this was encouraging to you today. Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf.

Oh, by the way, thanks Scott for giving me permission to use your song. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my request! If you would like to know more about Scott and his music, head over to his site by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

All Things Really for Good???

After the events of last week, which I have questioned continuously, I have been setting my mind on the verse notated above. Are you having issues come up in your life that just don't seem to make sense? Are there people getting the promotion you think you deserve? Is someone less qualified or passionate being exalted while you are being overlooked? Does your life and the circumstances surrounding you right now just seem downright unfair?

If so, let's look at Romans 8:28, which states..."And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." But, wait a minute...how can that be possible when I am doing right, but am being "punished" in the decisions that are made around me? I know...aren't you glad you don't have the mind of God? There are times I wish I knew the reasons behind everything that doesn't go according to plan, or at least "my" plan.

But, are we really confident in knowing that God's plan is the right way? It's one of those sayings that we as Christians are programmed to say to others who are going through trying times..."God has a plan in everything"...but what about when that plan affects YOU!?! I can say most assuredly that I know God has a plan, and although I might not understand everything that comes my way, I realize that God's ways and thoughts are far superior to mine.

That obviously leads us to another verse, which is found in Isaiah 55:8..."For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." We must take the things we hand over to God and do just that...let Him handle them. And, at the same time, realize that we aren't able to comprehend or grasp the reasonings behind every decision. Much as when we were children, we thought our parents had "lost it" when they wanted us to do certain things. Now, as adults, do we find our kids thinking the same of us? Amazing how perspective can change with a little growth and maturity, huh?

The next verse I would like to share comes from Psalm 46:10..."Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." We must be careful not to jump out in haste when sometimes we just need to cool off and realize that the Creator has a plan. I am reminded that in this life, I am not the star of the story, but rather a bit player. If we can remember that, we will find it easier to relax and know that God is in control!

And finally, let's look at Hebrews 13:5..."Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Let's be happy with what God has given us...like the old saying goes..."when life hands you lemons, make lemonade"...when God allows things to come into your life, allow it to work and bring praise to His name.

I thank you for allowing me to speak to myself through this post and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Maybe you have a verse that comforts you in such a situation...share it with us.

As always, let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!