Posted in book review, books, christian living, christianity, Faith, Jesus

A Fan or a Follower?

Kyle Idleman, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky has written several books that I absolutely love. The very first book I ever purchased of his is “Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus.” In this book, Idleman discusses the difference between being a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus. Here’s the synopsis

Are you a fan or a follower? The dictionary defines a fan as “an enthusiastic admirer.” Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice. Fans may be fine with repeating a prayer, attending church on the weekend, and slapping a Jesus fish on their bumpers. But is that really the extent of the relationship Jesus wants? Jesus was never interested in having admirers. It’s not fans he is looking for. Not a Fan challenges you to consider what it really means to call yourself a Christian. With a direct frankness that you’re not likely to hear in Sunday school class, Kyle invites you to take an honest look at your relationship with Jesus. His call to follow may seem radical to us, but Jesus desires it for every believer.

I’ve read this book several times and get something new from it each time. Some quotes from the book include:

The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits but not so close that it requires anything from them.

Ouch. Idleman doesn’t mind stepping on toes, does he? But hey it’s the truth! There are plenty of so called Christians who want to experience the good things Jesus has to offer and that’s it. Following Jesus? No way. It’s too hard. Too much to ask.

Jesus doesn’t expect followers to be perfect but he does call them to be authentic.

No one is perfect. We live in a fallen world. The second Eve took that bite, perfection was something humans would never achieve. However, Jesus does expect authenticity from us.  We are called to be real, to be legitimate.

It’s much easier to talk about following Jesus when you are making general statements rather than specific commitments.

Easier said than done, right? It’s so much easier to SAY you’ll follow Jesus. Actually committing to Him? A lot harder…but it’s what Jesus expects of us. To commit.

I highly recommend this book. You’ll get your toes stepped on, definitely. But the book really makes you think.

 

Posted in book review, books

My First ARC

I just finished Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre. It was my first ARC and I loved it! The storyline kept me guessing until the very end!

Synopsis:

Heartwood Box is a dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge from New York Times bestselling author Ann Aguirre…

In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found.

When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to stay with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She’ll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won’t be exciting, but she’ll cope, right?

Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don’t talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind.

To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried…


I signed up to receive these ARCs on NetGalley It’s a really cool site that will let you have books that haven’t yet been published in exchange for a review on the book.

Have I died and gone to heaven? Free books?? Loving this!

The next book on my list is The Healing Jar by Wanda E. Brunstetter.

I just noticed that it is part of a series so I’m going to have to find the other books.

Synopsis: 

What if you have waited to find love only to be rejected when it finally comes?
 
Lenore Lapp is an Amish schoolteacher in her late twenties still living at home with her parents and grandparents. She thought love had passed her by until she meets Jesse Smucker, a widower with a baby daughter. She quickly falls in love with them both and accepts Jesse’s proposal of marriage, but Jesse breaks off their engagement when he realizes he can’t marry only for convenience.
 
Resigned to living single, Lenore throws herself into caring for her elders. While working in her grandmother’s garden, she digs up an old jar. Will Lenore find healing for her broken heart and solve long-buried family secrets by reading the note contained inside?


I’m finally getting back into reading! I seem to get into these ruts from time to time where I stop reading. I’ll then end up picking up a new book and it gets me hooked, leaving me thirsty for more!

Posted in blogging, book review, books

WWW Wednesday-June 5th

I’ve never done a  WWW Wednesday post before. So here we go!!

To take part all you need to do is answer the following questions:

~What are you currently reading?
~What did you recently finish reading?
~What do you think you’ll read next?

~What are you currently reading?

I recently signed up with NetGalley which will send you books to read in exchange for a review of the book. I saw this book, Heartwood Box and was instantly intrigued by the synopsis so I requested it.

Heartwood Box:

Heartwood Box is a dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge from New York Times bestselling author Ann Aguirre…

In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found.

When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to stay with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She’ll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won’t be exciting, but she’ll cope, right?

Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don’t talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind.

To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried…

 

I am also rereading the Hary Potter series. I’m on book 1

“Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter ‘H’.”

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!


~What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished reading The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.

Synopsis:

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open-minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

My thoughts: The Flatshare is a book I most likely won’t read again. The storyline is good but there was too much foul language. This book was a recommendation from a coworker who absolutely LOVED it. I liked the premise of the book but can’t get past the foul language.

I also finished reading Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! I highly recommend it!

Synopsis:

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best-laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke

My Thoughts: I’m not normally a big reader of historical fiction. However, this book changed my views. I absolutely LOVED this book and intend on buying it to add to my collection. I am going to start giving historical fiction a chance now!
~What do you think you’ll read next?

There are tons of books I want to read. I haven’t decided which to read yet. As you know, I work in a bookstore (Barnes and Noble) and for two weeks twice a year we get an additional 10% on top of our 35% discount. Well, the extra discount started on Monday and once I get paid on Friday I plan on buying some books!!!!

Posted in book review, books, christian living

Soul Detox, Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Deception Infection: Telling Ourselves the Truth

Some quotes:

As we see ourselves through the lens of our experiences, beliefs and perspectives, we all have our blind spots.

No matter how objective we hope to be, our viewpoint is always distorted to some–sometimes large–degree.

The longer we view ourselves through a distorted                                                           lens, the more likely we are to believe a distorted truth.

Groeschel really has a great way of grabbing the reader’s attention. I’ve already been underlining like crazy.

In a subsection entitled, “Flattery Will Get You Somewhere” Groeschel goes on to tell us that since we can only see ourselves from only one perspective it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate picture of ourselves.

He’s totally right! Sometimes, well almost all the time, it takes other people to see what we can’t see in ourselves. We are in such denial that we have a problem that eventually we begin to believe the lie.

So why can’t we see these toxins in our own lives? Groeschel points us to the Bible where David writes in Psalm 36:2-3 that “in their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good.” We fail to notice because we become so good at self deception.

close up of white syringe

Basically, we manufacture our own poison and administer regular doses to ourselves.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

WOW!! That quote really spoke to me. We get so caught up in the struggles and stressors of life and fail to pay attention to that small little white lie that we say won’t hurt anyone. Then the lie becomes bigger and bigger and soon we aren’t even under the realization that something is wrong. We believe we are fine. It’s the other people who are wrong. “I don’t have a problem, it’s you with the problem.”

We deny, suppress or minimize what is true. By default, we assert, adorn and elevate what is false. When we finally see the truth, we think the truth is a lie.

Groeschel presents another question to the reader: “how do we begin identifying our self told lies and replacing them with the truth?” According to Groeschel, we do a very thorough internal self examination. Spiritual toxins will “infuse your thinking as you wade through our culture.” We must examine our life and eliminate these toxins.

  • Examine your life for toxic behaviors–anything that distracts you from your eternal mission
  • Look within  for toxic emotions–any deep feelings that lead you away from God and not toward Him.
  • Take a long look at unhealthy consumptions–the media you consume, the web sites you visit, the people you spend the most time with.

I know that with me, social media definitely takes up a large chunk of my time. It’s something I’m trying to work on. I went on a media fast a few years ago. It’s probably time for another one.

I also struggle with my emotions sometimes. I allow Satan to use my weaknesses and have been known to fall into a deep depression. Being bipolar, sometimes I have a hard time with my emotions. Luckily, I’m on a medication that has me stable currently. If I sense a shift in emotions or if I begin to feel uneasy I try to focus my attention on the good things in life and what God has blessed me with.

Groeschel warns us that “the closer you get to uncovering a toxic killer in your life, the harder the enemy will fight to keep his grip.”

He’s right! Satan is always on the offense, looking to bring us down in any way he can.

When you clearly identify what is slowly killing you, you can take the toxic influences to Jesus for cleansing, purifying and healing.

There comes a time when we must come clean with these toxic behaviors. Because once we do, once we surrender it all to Christ, we will be set free! God’s truth sets us free!!

 

 

 

Posted in book review, books, christian living

Our Responsibility

sky sunset person silhouette
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hey guys! I hope your Saturday is going well!

I just wanted to share a couple of quotes from the introduction to the book, Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel that really got my attention.

Everything that we allow into our minds, hearts and lives-everything that we spend out time and money on-has an impact on how we grow, or don’t grow, spiritually.

It is OUR responsibility to discern what we let into our lives and what we keep out.

No one can do it for us. We must realize that what we say, or do can definitely have an impact on our lives. And no one can change us. Only the Lord can do that. We must surrender everything to the Lord and allow Him to be at the center of our lives.  With Him at the center, we will have an easier time discerning what is right and what is wrong.

Soul Detox is broken into 3 parts: Toxic Behaviors, Toxic Emotions and Toxic Influences.

I am starting Chapter One today: Deception Infection: Telling Ourselves the Truth.

Groeschel really has a way with words. I love reading his books and I’ve occasionally caught a few of his sermons online.


I hope and pray you all have a great Saturday!

 

Posted in book review, christian living, christianity, church

Soul Detox

I’m getting ready to start reading (again) Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World by Craig Groeschel. I read this book awhile back but feel the need to reread it. Perhaps God is going to show me something I may have missed last time. I don’t know about you but  He tends to do that with me. 🙂

A quick summary of the book:

As standards of conduct continue to erode in our shock-proof world, we must fight the soul pollution threatening our health, our faith, and our witness to others. Without even knowing it, people willingly inhale second-hand toxins poisoning their relationship with God and stunting their spiritual growth.

Soul Detox examines the toxins that assault us daily including: toxic influences, toxic emotions, and toxic behaviors.

By examining the toxins that assault us daily, this book offers the ultimate spiritual intervention with ways to remain clean, pure, and focused on the standard of God’s holiness.

I have quite a few books by Craig Groeschel. If you haven’t heard of him I definitely recommend that you check him out. He is the senior pastor of Life.Church.

New York Times bestselling author Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, an innovative and pace setting church meeting in multiple locations around the United States and globally online, which also created the popular and free YouVersion Bible app. He is the author of several books, including Divine Direction, Liking Jesus, Fight, The Christian Atheist, and It. Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in Edmond, Oklahoma. Visit http://www.craiggroeschel.com

Are you familiar with the Bible App, YouVersion? I use it every day and love the many devotionals you can find on this app. YouVersion was created by Life.Church.

As I venture back into this book, I will definitely keep you updated on what I’m learning at what the Lord is trying to teach me through this book. 🙂

Happy Friday everyone!

 

 

 

Posted in book review

Copyright Infringement?

Sorry, it’s been a few days since my last post. I’ve been sick with a bad sinus infection and have felt awful. I’m still feeling pretty weak and tired but hopefully the antibiotic will kick in soon.

So I was going to post my review of Chapter 2 of The Christian Atheist but ran into a potential problem.

I’ve been wrestling with whether or not I should continue these “reviews.” I was in the middle of the review of chapter 2 when I suddenly became aware that it could be considered a copyright infringement. I’ve been struggling with this thought all weekend long and just don’t know what to do. So hopefully you can help me figure this out!

I’ve enjoyed reviewing each chapter and sharing with you what it says but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s copyright infringement.

So I’m going to research the matter and will get back to you. If you have any thoughts on the matter, please share them.

So these reviews will be on hold indefinitely.

Posted in book review, books, christian living, christianity, Faith, forgiveness, godliness, grace, Jesus, love

The Christian Atheist, Chapter 1

Photo by KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash

When You Believe in God but Don’t Really Know Him

Groeschel opens up the chapter with a story from his past regarding the time he met a young woman in college. As he got to know her, he grew more attracted to her and did what he could to impress her. Six months after meeting her, he proposed and 19 years later they are still together and happy as can be.

He uses that story to talk to us about how they know each other. However,

…despite how completely we know each other–even after nearly two decades–our intimacy continues to grow. We’re constantly learning how to connect and communicate deeply.

Believing Versus Knowing

Belief isn’t the same as personal knowledge

Groeschel continues by explaining the different levels of intimacy when it comes to knowing God.

“Some of us know God by reputation

  • We know a little bit about God–we’ve gone to church a few times, heard the Bible stories. We may even have a favorite Bible verse.
  • This knowledge is only secondhand, however

“Some of us know God in our memories.” 

  • “We’ve experienced his goodness, grace and love in the past.

“Some of us know God intimately.”

  • Right here, right now. It is THIS kind of loving knowledge that “God promises when we seek Him”

As we continue to seek God, we’ll grow to know him more and more intimately. When we hear God’s voice, we’ll recognize it instantly.

Not Knowing God

Believing God isn’t all He wants from us

In the book of James, it tells us that even the “demons believe in God, and yet they tremble because they know that they’re relationally separated from Him.”

Groeschel tells us there is more to being a Christian than just believing in God. We must experience God’s love. We must know him intimately.

He explains that growing up, he and his family were what you would call “cultural Christians.” They would go to church on Christmas and Easter. They’d help people in need. They donated canned goods to food drives. They’d pray at Thanksgiving meals.

But that was the extent of it. They knew about God. They didn’t know Him. And because Groeschel didn’t know God, he lived according to his own rules. He did what he wanted, not what God wanted. He didn’t have an intimate relationship with God.

In 1 John 2:3-4, it says,

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says “I know him” but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him.”

Harsh, right? Not according to Groeschel. He prefers to think of it as “straightforward and honest.” It is “truthfully spoken by someone who truly cares and wants what’s best for us.

We are created to be living examples of God’s love to a hurting world.

Knowing God can lead to positive lifestyle, but the reverse isn’t true.

Our outward actions alone don’t prove that we enjoy an inward relationship with God.

Groeschel urges us to make an effort to get to know God.

“God is interested not only in our actions but also in our hearts–in particular our attitude toward him.”

We can look good on the outside, make is seem like we love God but if our hearts aren’t there, if our hearts aren’t in the right place then when life is over, Jesus will say to us “I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.” (Matthew 7:23)

Not Knowing God Well

In this section, Groeschel writes about when Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. They had experienced the real, living God but had “recently become trapped in legalism.”

In other words they fell back into their old ways. “They knew God but not well enough to avoid getting sucked back into a life based in the law, rather than in love. In Galatians 4:8-9, it says “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning aback to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again.”

“In the 21st century, we would be wise to ask ourselves, ‘Is this us too?'”

Do you “sort of” know God?

Knowing God IntimatelyImage result for know God

Then there are those who “know God intimately and serve Him with their whole hearts.”

The psalmist, David, describes in Psalm 63:1-4 his relationship with God. In fact, he says that his experience of knowing the personal God creates a deeper longing for even more intimate knowledge of God.

David writes in the psalm “O God, you are my God” Did you catch that? David calls God “HIS God.” David continues to write, “Earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you.

What is David saying? He’s saying that there is absolutely nothing in this world that can satisfy him. Only GOD can totally satisfy.

Groeschel poses the question, “Have you ever felt that kind of love for someone? Now imagine that with God. Imagine that kind of love

Verse 3 says, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Better than life? He’s saying ‘If I had the choice–either keep God’s love and see my mortal body die, or lose His love and live–I would choose to die.

Matthew 16:26 says, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Or how about Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

What kind of love do you have for God?

Image result for names of GodIt’s All in the Name

What do you call God?

If you know God, you are likely to be far more specific with him and the words you use will reflect your accurate understanding of him.

There are many, many, many names for God.

He’s known as Savior, Healer, Comforter, Fortress, Rock, Strength, Provider, Friend, etc. The list can go on and on.

The Best is Ahead

Groeschel writes that it’s time to “be honest with yourself and with God.

“Do you know Him? If so, how well?

“Has God transformed you? Are you different because of Him? If not, perhaps you’re a Christian Atheist.”

But guess what? God loves you so much and earnestly wants a relationship with you.

If you don’t know Him, you can! “Getting to know God is not difficult and it isn’t about a bunch of rules. Yes, God wants your obedience, but he wants your heart even more.

He says over and over again that if you seek Him, you will find Him.

How do you find God? By reading your Bible. He’s there. Pray. He’s there.

“As you get to know him better, you will change……Instead of living for yourself and for the moment, you’ll live for Christ and for eternity. Your heart will begin to break for the reasons and causes that break God’s heart.

“Get to know God. When you do, you will never be the same.