As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire

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Some preachers have a way of writing that gets deep into your soul and changes the way you read Scripture or understand Scripture.

There have been multiple pastors for me over the years, both personally and from afar, who have done that for me.  Who have made my eyes be more open to the truth and life of God’s Word.

Eugene Peterson is one of them.  And his new book, a collection of sorts of his writings/sermons, has caused me to think on certain passages in a new way.  I am still reading his new book, As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire, and will continue to do so.

As with the Message, I don’t read it as my main Bible version, and neither will I used these sermons as my main source of commentary.  But, I love how he brings new things to light in the reading of Scripture.

You will be challenged if you read this book.  You may not agree with everything he says, but as you process, take all to the Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for this book and Russell Moore for recommending it.

Trusting Grace

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One of the things I’ve noticed in my patterns for hobbies is that when life is a little hard, I don’t want to do anything hard in my “free time”.  So…

Its hard to be mentally sharp to be creative when real life is tough.

Its hard to read non-fiction when my brain and heart is to tied up with life stuff.

Its hard to watch new shows/movies when life is tough in the real world.

So, what do I do?  I read a lot of fiction and binge on my favorite Netflix shows.  And eat comfort food – because why not?  And take long hot showers.  And read books to my boys.  And always have chips and guacamole on hand.

SO, I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately.

One of the books I checked out from my church library was Trusting Grace by Maggie Brendan.  I was introduced to the book by the author herself.  And I really enjoyed it.  It took me about 2 sessions on a bike at the gym to finish it.

After reading some reviews on Amazon, I know there are some problems with it.  But, really with fiction storylines, there is nothing new under the sun.  I think every fiction has tales of love, loss, salvation.  I figured the storyline pretty quick but it had some surprises in there.

And I just really enjoyed it.  It spoke of family, desires, hard work, the old west, cooking, and reminded me of the Janette Oke books I read growing up.

And now there is a Black Friday deal to get the last of this Trilogy.  And, I’ve not read the first two books, but reading Trusting Grace definitely made me want to go get the first two!

9 Characteristics of Wise Parenting

Six years ago, we were newly married, starting our journey together as husband and wife.  We weren’t even pregnant yet.  We decided we would go through the book of James together.  My husband memorized it. I prayed it daily for him, myself, us, and our future.  We entered into our marriage with difficult relationships around us.  We needed wisdom for how to navigate these relationships and for how to head into our future together.  James was a perfect book to study through as newlyweds.

Today, our boys are five and four.  And I’m going through the book of James again with a small group of women.  I need these verses and the Lord’s voice to enter in to my parenting and give me great wisdom as to how to parent these two little boys.  With the Lord’s help, not the world’s wisdom, we can parent well.

He has promised to help us.  He has promised to give wisdom to those who ask.  He has also given us His Word.  This is how the Lord defines wisdom from above.  How can we have parenting that is wise – with His wisdom.  The following is from James 3.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is pure.  It is not bought or coerced.  It is done with pure motives.  It is without error.  This is why we need Jesus in our parenting.  We are not perfect.  We will always fail in our parenting. Our boys do not ultimately need us – they need Jesus.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is peaceable.  Where we don’t raise our voices or cut off our children because we are doing something and they are interrupting.  We seek to bring peace (not fairness) to our children’s lives when they are interacting with each other.  I seek to appease and pacify, but I find it truly difficult to bring peace in our home.  That is why our sons need Jesus – He is our Prince of Peace.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is gentle.  Amazingly I find this difficult unless I’m showing affection.  I get irritable because I’m being interrupted.  I am not gentle if they are doing something wrong.  I need a Gentle Shepherd to shepherd my heart so I can in turn shepherd my children’s hearts.

(Parenting) wisdom is open to reason.  This is getting easier for me, by the grace of God.  Open to reason in parenting is (I think) being willing to hear help from others.  These tips and help may come from my husband, my friends, my pediatrician, books I’m reading, etc.  Find those moms and dads who are (generally) ahead of you in the parenting game and seek them to pour into your life as a parent.  Watch them.  Learn from them.  And that is why we need Jesus, He is all-wise and the perfect teacher.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of mercy.  Isn’t God so rich in mercy!  I love it.  I apply this to some discipline.  And hear me out – this does not mean never disciplining your children when they have disobeyed.  This means walking in step with the Savior who showed you great mercy and plead with them to know how to interact with your children at all times.  They may have done something wrong.  And the best way to show them Jesus in that particular moment is by talking to them about Jesus – not giving them a timeout or spanking.  Jesus is lavish in mercy to us!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of good fruits.  Abundantly pouring out in good fruits.  This is an opportunity for you to encourage your kids.  One saying we use in our our is “God is helping you become more…”  We don’t want to tell our kids that they are acting better to focus on their good works.  We want to help them realize that everything good in them is from God.  And to not wait for the big things they do, but be encouraging them in the times you see any kind of good fruit – even a little bud.  And Jesus helps us bear fruit if we abide in Him!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is impartial . See the pure paragraph above.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is sincere.  It is hard to be a mom.  Even those who love being a mom every moment find some moments hard.  But, let us sincerely think about Jesus has called us to.  To shape little hearts and minds.  To point them to Christ.  To grow little boys into men who will one day shape the world around them.  Jesus sincerely came to this world to save us.

(Parenting) wisdom from above will reap a harvest.  We can definitely know that God will bless efforts to shepherd our children and reward us.  It is a promise.  And he is faithful.

One tool I’ve found in helping me pass on wisdom to my children – and hope in the Gospel – is Pass it On by Champ Thornton.  It is a Bible study on Proverbs, with a great introduction to the book, commentary some, focusing on the Gospel (how Jesus fulfills wisdom).  But it is also a journal for you to fill out and pass along your thoughts to your children.  I’ve started doing this for my sons.  It could be used once a week, 30 minutes, and it would take you less than a year for each kid.  What a treasure it would be for your children.

Pass It On was given to me by Litfuse.  All thoughts are my own.

 

Tuning Your Heart to Worship

posted in: Books, Worship | 0

Is worship easy for you?  Let me rephrase that – it worship of God easy for you?

Six years ago my life changed.  I went from being single in control of my mornings, time to myself, pick the church I want to being married (to a then worship pastor, now someone still involved in worship ministries) and a mom to two littles who don’t always let me run my mornings or my days like I would like.

And Sunday mornings – we all know what Sunday mornings are like.  They are crazy.  My mister leaves before the the rest of us to rehearse for the morning service.  Usually by the time I drop the kids off at church preschool ministries they’ve disobeyed, needed discipline, and I’m not in a “good frame of mind” to worship God.

And we’ve changed churches so much in the last 7 years.  So, community and preaching and worship styles and kids ministries and women’s ministries – they all affect my ability to worship on Sunday mornings.

And I’m still working on it. Some Sunday mornings I’m in a better worship mode than others.  Some, its just rough from the get-go!

Can any mom relate?

But, of course, worship is not a Sunday morning thing – not exclusively.  Being in the Word, singing praise songs, working, cooking dinner, playing with our kids, dating your spouse – all of these can be acts of worship.  Tuning Your Heart to Worship is a new book by Lavon Gray (New Hope Publishers) that will help you focus some time in the Psalms.  The Psalms is sort of the worship guidebook for the Bible.  The psalmists, under direct breath of God, experienced so many of the emotions and daily things that we face.  Yet they worshiped.

In this book, there are 100 passages from the Psalms.  100 days for you to spend time in the psalms, reading them, and hearing about worship songs, ministry insights, and application points.  The author encourages you to read the whole psalm not just the 1-2 verses that he highlights.  The Word of God is living and active.  The Word through the power of the Holy Spirit can and will change your heart of worship.

This is also a book full of application.  You will be encouraged to think and process as you read through the devotion each day, but you will also be encouraged to do something next.  Journal, pray, write, think, share.

I do agree with the author that this is not an academic devotional.  It is more personal and one that you might use with a more academic commentary if that is something you desire.

Thank you New Hope Publishers for the book.  All opinions are my own.

A Small Book about a Big Problem

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My husband asked me the other night if I ever thought I would say I struggle with anger.  Never. In a million years.

That is actually one of the ways I would describe my parenting – on my bad days (or my kids bad days).

And I love me some Ed Welch, a great counselor, very competent at getting to the heart of the problem.

This little book about Anger is hard to read because I find me one every page.  It takes less than a minute to read each devotional – but pray the Lord would allow it to stick for more than a minute.  I need to keep this book by my bed and read a short chapter each day.

I would encourage every single mom to pick this up.  And read it.  And allow the Spirit to soften your bent toward anger.  Like he is doing mine.  (And this isn’t a book big on application, but let the Spirit be your application writer.)

Thanks Litfuse for this book. All opinions are my own.

Lord Have Mercy

posted in: Books, mothering, parenting | 0

As mamas, we all need help – and having resources to help us in our journey with God, especially in the little years that can be so lonely, help tremendously.

Lord Have Mercy is a devotional written by Ellen Miller for moms – and it doesn’t matter what stage your kids are in.

I love how it is saturated with Scripture.  I love how they are short because you know that moms don’t have all the time in the world to do a quiet time.  I love it how it is practical and calls you to action.

But, I don’t really see that it is so much better than other Mom devotionals out there – or even devotionals in general.  I just didn’t strike me as a must read or must recommend.  It may be perfect for another mom, and it is saturated with the Word of God, but just a personal opinion.

Thanks Tyndale House for the book. All opinions are my own.

Free of Me

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There is such a danger in the life of a believer in focusing too much on themselves. My husband reminded me of this by sharing with me the other day that if a person is depressed, if he genuinely focuses on others, then that will help with the depression.

Sharon Miller, in her book Free of Me, gets more to the heart of the Christian Life and some dangers we, especially as women, face.  In today’s society, we like to think about ourselves, boast in our social media, make the Christian life completely about ourselves.

The truth is that it isn’t.  It is about a bigger God then ourselves. He is the Creator and over all things – we are not in charge.  And when we learn this, life will be more about the glory of Christ.

Sharon tells her own story of self-preoccupation and then goes on to share truth about areas in our lives that we tend to focus too much on ourselves and how focusing on the truth of the Bible and God we can free ourselves of this damaging trend.

God isn’t about you.

Family isn’t about you.

Appearances aren’t about you.

Possessions aren’t about you.

Friendships aren’t about you.

Your “calling” isn’t about you.

Church isn’t about you.

Love how Sharon shares from her experience, the Scriptures, and a well-rounded theology and ministry depth, knowing God and knowing herself, and knowing other women – that life is more fulfilling when you focus on others more than yourself.  Your dreams aren’t big enough.  Sacrifice looks different when you get outside of yourself.

This is both a needed book for us as women, our families, our ministries, and churches.  And it is a convicting one for our hearts as well.  Thank you Sharon.

Just Mercy

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When I was in high school I remember reading John Grisham books – like devouring them.  I read all of this earlier work and still really enjoy him as an author.

Just Mercy reminds me much of Grisham’s work: rivoting, makes you want to keep reading, personal, you get to know the characters.  Bryan Stevenson does an excellent work of drawing you in to his world and not just letting you sit on the sidelines.  And this is, unlike most of Grisham’s work, a true story

This book will grip you in many ways and open your eyes to life in the south, life for those who need justice (which, by the way, is all of us).  And will allow you to see Christ’s redemption for you in a new way as well.

Thank you Blogging for Books for a chance to read this book.  All opinions are my own.

Acts: The Unexplainable Church

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

Last night I was at a church in the country outside of Augusta.  Friendliest church to newcomers I’ve ever been in.  I was quickly shown a seat, many people were including me in conversations, introducing themselves to me, and telling me about the oldest church building in Georgia and that they did baptisms in the creek there and still do them there.  Talk about a loving church.  A welcoming church.

The book of Acts is all about the early church, the adventurers they had in sharing the Gospel, and how the word of the Cross was shared throughout the region.

In Erica Wiggenhorn’s second Bible study, The Unexplainable Church, one covering the last half of the book, you will find thoughtful questions, great history, and spaces to write your own story – how God is leading you to obey the commands that is found in Acts.

We all have a journey in the Gospel.  Acts is filled with conversions, and beatings, joys, friendship, sorry.  And today, in the life of Christians, we find relationships, new relationships with Christ, we find our brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted because of the name of Jesus.

When you study the book of Acts, you find yourself in God’s story.  His story is neverending.  And so thankful we get to be a part of it.

For a good study on Acts, check out this one., which is the first half of the book of Acts – and then follow it up with this one here. Here is my review of the first one. They are a great set of studies and you will know God’s story better.  Thanks SideDoor communications for this book and Moody Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Dreamland Burning: a review

posted in: Books, World Events | 1

Earlier this week, so many of us in North America got to witness a beautiful display of God’s creativeness.  I was in the path of totality in SC, and I loved standing there, holding my almost 4 year old, seeing the moon cover the sun, shining in all of its glory, pointing directly to its Creator.

We don’t need to wait another 99 years to be in the path of totality witness the beauty of God the Creator.  We can see it every day.  In the people around us.  Whatever color we are, God created us all.

Dreamland Burning is definitely not my typical book I pick up.  But, when I have a deadline to return it to the library, I literally read 75% of it in one day.  It is so good.

Dreamland Burning is a YA fiction set in both modern day Tulsa, and in 1921 Tulsa.  It shares the story of a high school girl named Rowan (modern day) and a boy named William in 1921.  Amazingly, I didn’t get confused going back and forth, which means her writing two timelines was well-done.

Latham, the author, doesn’t make the connections of the two really cheesy or too predictable.  She uses words and names that are crucial to the story, but doesn’t use them for shock value.  She tells of the happenings, especially in 1921, in such a way that you know what’s going on but doesn’t drag out the details.

This book was captivating and I might recommend it for high school seniors, but would definitely not let them read it on their own.

Here are some thoughts: I wish books like this didn’t need to happen.  I wish my boys could grow up in a world where color really didn’t matter.  I wish my little boy could always have a little friend, named Austen, who is black, lives next door, have birthdays in the same week, and no one would ever thinks that’s odd.  I wish we didn’t pick out county that we lived in because the schools are better.  I wish churches didn’t have to exist so they could be the reconciliation – because reconciliation wouldn’t need to happen.

But, we live in a sinful world.  The only world where we will ever be free of racial injustice is heaven.  And for sure, there will be people of every race in Heaven, worshipping Jesus, because Jesus died for every race, tribe, tongue, and nation.

In the meantime, since we live in a sin-filled, broken world, we need to talk about race, the gospel of reconciliation, and how we can pursue peace.