BOOK REVIEW: gods at War

Idleman, K. (2013). gods at War. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

SUMMARY: gods at War is a book about idolatry applicable to all readers. Idleman plainly addresses several false gods which separate us from fully worshipping God. The writer furnishes relevant testimonies to illustrate how honor is given to things like success, food, personal pleasure, and money. The writing is crafted to engage the reader through insightful questions in order to personally identify the “little gods” within the heart and mind. The author distinctly concentrates on the inner war and focuses on its effect-prohibiting a close, pure relationship with the Lord.

My $.02: Before reading this book, I would have probably said I did not have a concern with false gods in my life. Idleman’s writing was a pleasant wake-up call. The situations shared were touching. Idleman was gentle in his method of revealing items we idolize and how they prevent us from experiencing an intimate relationship with our Savior. I found myself evaluating my own actions and thoughts to discerning the false gods I had approved to takeover. I utilized this book with an adult small group for thirteen weeks and paired it with the 13 chapters of Hebrews. The book is an eye-opening read geared for adults. My copy is out on loan currently because I feel it is a good recommended read for those wanting to enhance their relationship with the Lord.

Don’t just take my word for it:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16182595-gods-at-war

Capitalize

Only for God’s Gain!

Have you ever owned your own business and wrestled with calculating profit? The major factor is the expense endured. When costs outweigh revenue…well we all know the rest of the story. It is not exactly a vibrant illustration of success nor a flourishing picture of a booming lemonade stand. (Sorry, Charlie Brown!)

Profit is acknowledged as a gain. In society today, most will jump at a chance to obtain an advantage in life and/or over someone else. We see this in businesses and sports daily. Having leverage over the competition is all the rage in order to be ranked #1. Just look at what the NFL is willing to pay.

We experience this type of opposition in life every second. The enemy makes every attempt to capitalize on your pain, failures, disappointments, -wait for it- as well as your successes, happiness, and prized moments. Of course, the list goes on and on. The adversary will do whatever it takes to achieve favor for selfish profit. I Peter 5:8 warns us of the schemes and advises us to be on guard.    

In Galatians 2, Paul calls Peter out on his toxic actions which were rooted in Peter’s own selfish concern of personal profit. Peter refused to dine with the Gentiles because he feared it could jeopardize his religious standing in Jerusalem once the influential Jewish believers arrived. What a perfect example of the enemy weaseling his way into a situation to cause division. However, what the adversary planned actually failed and unity was achieved.

God has a mysterious way of working. It requires us to follow Him blindly, aka faith. Our trust is a firm investment in Him without selfish fear or personal gain concerns. We must surrender and release control over our life regardless of the advantage point we think we might have. Let us not forget-God has already won. Our Lord is ruler over all! (Proverbs 22:2)

I once heard it said, “If we really did profit from our mistakes, I’d be extremely rich by now”. Unfortunately, I think whoever wrote this pun must have been spying on me through the years. My past could be viewed as a Personal Alertness, Spiritual Trial from God. Wake up child and get your act together! I have wasted time by not glorifying the Father in numerous ways and I have grieved the Holy Spirit on many occasions. Father, I am so sorry. As God continues to refine me, I pray that my obedience increases and that my actions reflect a pure heart sold out at all costs for the Lord.

Below are some of my take-a-ways where God capitalized. The opposition tried to hinder my life from being under God’s authority but the enemy lost everything when I tallied the profit.

Thank you, Father for using these things to glorify your name.

Enemy God’s touch Refining
Shocking results Unexplainable healing I truly believe in miracles.
Sudden departure Time awareness I am mindful of each moment.
Breathless life Lasting love I appreciate the heavenly spirits and realm.
Worldly passion Purpose awakened I was created for so much more.
Lying tongues Embracing truth I seek God’s word above all else.
Innocence destroyed Knowing evil I know there is spiritual warfare.
Caught off-guard Be ready I desire to be steadfast only in the Lord.

BOOK REVIEW: Grace is Greater

Idleman, K. (2017). Grace is Greater. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

SUMMARY: Grace is Greater is an engaging writing with a straightforward message about the capability of God’s grace. The writer furnishes significant stories and profound personal experiences based on Hebrews 12:15. Grace is exhibited as a two-fold approach; first, understanding what grace is and then, experiencing its true potential on a personal degree. Idleman distinctly expresses, “God’s grace is compelling when explained but irresistible when experienced”. Three applications of grace comprise the narrative’s main sections: your past mistakes, your hurts from others, and your life circumstances. The writer crafts his delivery throughout the book with the main message being, “Grace is only grace if it goes both ways. Receiving it from God but refusing to give it to others isn’t an option.” A powerful ending awaits readers showcasing the immense depth of grace when applied.  

My $.02: On many occasions, my prayer has been for God to establish in me a pure heart as in Psalm 51:10 in order to acquire a steadfast spirit. This is a struggle for me because of my own shame and guilt from situations I see in the rearview mirror as well as hurts and broken relationships I can’t seem to shake.

There are a few people from the past that I find it hard not to say, “Go get’um Lord!”. Yet, selfishly, I want grace extended to me. Call it what it is-unforgiveness. This book allowed me to take ownership for my actions and extend grace to others because of God’s unsurpassable love. Honestly, this book revealed how to supernaturally love others through the power of God’s grace given.

If you wrestle with regret and/or unforgiveness on any level, I would recommend reading this narrative. For those of you that have been able to overcome such adversities, the book offers great insight for everyone as life brings disappointments, weakness, and despair.

You will find the book in my library!

Don’t just take my word for it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30259187-grace-is-greater

BOOK REVIEW: It’s Not About Me

Lucado, M. (2004). It’s Not about Me. Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

SUMMARY:

The book was released over a decade ago yet the message is applicable to past, present, and future—we exist to glorify God. Lucado fills the book with analogies and life experiences to support his stance. The author delivers the biblical based posture in two parts: God-Pondering and God-Promoting. Readers are given many examples of historical and modern-day life that contradict the real reason for our existence. In the second half of the writing, the author crafts his approach by covering all aspects of a person’s life as a reflection opportunity to reveal God’s glory. Lucado exposes the selfish human nature in order to shed light on the need to exchange egotistical reasoning for upward thinking. Each chapter is backed by scripture and reflection through the study guide found in the back section of the book. The conclusion of the book leaves the reader with a daily choice based on a story shared containing a moral.  

My $.02:

I have read this previously when it was first published. It is part of my husband’s reference library. As I have fallen deeper in love with the Lord, I am aware that my approach to reading has been transformed. Each book is now read with an intense purpose—to refine my self-centered human way of thinking so I read it through a different set of lenses this go around.

The book is written in such a way that it feels as though Lucado is in the room speaking to me. There are numerous sections that were eye-opening and convicting. Although my honest intent was to gather supporting information for a Refining lesson, the book captured my attention and spoke to me on many levels. This timeless book is relevant to everyone who reads it. Lucado has an enticing delivery technique and packs a powerful punch at our sinful nature. He shares some of his own family experiences and lessons. I pray with God’s refining I can live out a life all about God and leave this world as a nobody. If you are curious about life and want to know what God has to say about it, read this! 

For a formal book review: https://tinyurl.com/y35rh9w8

Crank up the AMPS

In Your Memory SCJ

I am not a scientist by any shape or form but I long to have a constant current surging with the Lord. God’s Word permits me to remain connected and energized. The Bible is a living and active source if I am willing to be conducive with the authority of my heavenly Father. Through studying, meditating, praying, and infusing scripture into situations of life, I have strengthened my faith and knowledge. God’s Word has intensified my understanding of a steadfast existence and taught me not to be reliant on those wavering emotions and reactions.

There are numerous approaches to studying scripture. Like some of you, I enjoy orderliness when digesting God’s Word. However, I appreciate and embrace change at times because it often eliminates my tendency to become stagnate. Sometimes a new perception or concept stimulates deeper thinking or a different viewpoint.

Be encouraged to sample various techniques and methods while growing in and through scripture. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 reminds us that the Bible is the actual word of God and it is at work within each of us who believe in Him by faith. 2 Timothy 2:15 also encourages us to do our best in handling the word of truth. When reading and applying scripture, I think about Philippians 4:6. For me, I am convicted to surrender my perception and pray to receive God’s stance. I know His heavenly mindset will far outweigh my meager worldly thoughts.

Recently, while revamping a scripture presentation, I began thinking about the most impactful parts of studying scripture for me. I am aware that I need to be careful not to use scripture out of context and not to rely on my own viewpoint. My main concern is how the word of truth applies to me currently and how I need to live it out under God’s ruling.  

Below is a Bible study process I call AMPS. I know an amp is short for ampere which is a unit of constant electrical current. (Please don’t expect me to explain any further because this alone is pushing the limits.) So, I knew this acronym would stick in my brain because of my desire to stay connect with God. Let me know what you think and if it works for you. Blessings to all.

AMPS:

  • Attention
  • Meaning
  • Perspective of God
  • Saturation

Attention: There are passages of scripture or certain verses which capture our attention when reading God’s Word. The Spirit of truth prompts us to dig deeper to fully digest the message. Write down the scripture. As you write, take a closer look at each word and think about why God had the writer craft these words in such a manner.

Meaning: God’s Word is truth and our sword. However, as mature followers, the real meaning of His Word comes from focusing on the entire context. Read the entire book/chapter over and over. Consult various versions and commentaries. Study with like believers. Be firm in your knowledge to prevent deception or twisted thinking.

Perspective of God: Through prayer God gives us a heavenly perspective unlike our own. His ideas and thoughts are often foreign and take time to comprehend. He longs for a relationship with us and will reveal His thoughts as we talk with Him in prayer. Ask God to give you clarity of His Word. Then listen in faith to God’s angle and direction.  

Saturation: God desires us to put into practice what His Word declares. Infuse the passage into life circumstances and immerse life with His truth. Instill the meaning of God’s promises in ALL areas of life: despair, peace, turmoil, joy, etc. Permeate your thinking and let His truth refine your heart by surrendering it all to His authority.  

Embrace your spiritual growth journey under the refinement of a God who loves you immensely!

Who are you?

Child of God

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Her daughter, his wife, their mother, her aunt, his granddaughter, their employee, a participant of a church, and the list continues. The world gives us many titles as we assume roles in our lifetime. But who are you really? If everything was stripped away including all worldly labels, who would you declare you are? I wonder what Job would have renounced after all was lost and his wife told him to curse God and die.

 In Galatians chapter 1, Paul demonstrates complete confidence in stating who he was. It is evident within the first few verses that Paul distinguishes himself as a follower called by Christ. He even denotes his face-to-face conversion on the Damascus road. (Acts 7:54-8:3 and 9:1-31) Paul never wavers in his beliefs and continually exhibits a bold, whole-hearted following.

Growing up I had several identities: her daughter, their granddaughter, his stepchild, their cousin, her niece, faithful church attender, student, but never HIS daughter. The question always occurred, “Why is your last name different than everyone else in your family?” To my child mind, it echoed “misfit”. I not only struggled with self-identity but even wrestled with who God said I was. The enemy’s lie incessantly resonated and he tried to convince me that I was “unwanted”.

Psalm 139:14 reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are all part of God’s divine design. He has revealed His love for us through Christ Jesus and extended grace to all. The Lord validates each of us as His creation numerous times in scripture. However, the Father allows His children to decide if they will follow Him. If Paul were alive today, I truly believe he would urge everyone to accept the life changing power of God’s grace and testify to the eternal blessing it brings.    

Today, I know I am HIS DAUGHTER! I look forward to the day to receive my first warm embrace face-to-face with a Daddy who has never left me. It brings tears to my eyes every time I reflect on who I am in Him. The overwhelming love is moving.

So, who do you say you are? Make note of the scriptures listed below and use them to refute the enemy’s deceptions. Pull out the Sword and fight back the fabrication. You are God’s child!

Deuteronomy 28:13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

2 Timothy 1:7-9 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

1 John 5:18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

You might enjoy this devotional about how God delights in you. https://tinyurl.com/yxgahzhn


BOOK REVIEW: The Promise Principle

Hunter, P. (2017). The Promise Principle: A New Way to Encounter the Bible. Southlake, TX: Gateway Press.

Summary:

The book is based on a technique to use when reading and studying God’s Word. Hunter shares the strategy as a steadfast method to grow spiritually and rely solely on faith. The author shares numerous stories where the struggles in life seem to overwhelm individuals and control their everyday emotions. Readers are urged to study scripture through the lens of discovering God’s promises and deciding if the verse is a truth or a commandment. Then, Hunter encourages participants to apply the promise to a current circumstance and carry through with a prayer of thanksgiving or a request in faith.

My $.02:

We have been using the promise principle in our small group for about a year now. This technique reminds me of what I began doing as I learned how to effectively pray scripture into my circumstances. During the dark valley I was walking out life with scripture and guarding my heart from the circumstances by relying on God’s Word. The Promise Principle confirms what I was doing during this time:

a. not being tossed around emotionally by circumstances

b. using scripture to become steadfast

c. applying scripture to life by using the sword. (the weapon to fight)

I would recommend this book to those who desire infusion of God’s promises into their everyday life. The prayer format given is based on “me” language and not just a general overall covering. It requires each individual to make it personal. Application was the greatest take-away for me.

It did seem to be a struggle to implement the “I, me, my” language for some in our mixed adult group but like anything new, we all improved with practice. (Just keeping it real)

For more info: https://www.amazon.com/Promise-Principle-New-Encounter-Bible/dp/1945529148

BOOK REVIEW: Fervent

Shirer, P. (2015). Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer. Nashville, TN: B&H.

Summary:

The purpose of the book is to assist the reader in spiritual warfare battle. Based on the movie, War Room, Shirer presents ten areas and urges readers to compose “intentional, deliberate, strategic” prayers. The writer clearly portrays thoughts of the enemy and the schemes used for each topic. The chapters are backed by scripture evidence which identifies the attack plan of the enemy. The book emphasizes constructing prayers with great intent and precision. Scripture is highly advocated by the author. Readers will find pages of reference from God’s Word at the end of every chapter to assist them in writing the strategic prayers. Cardstock prayer cards are included for the self-written prayers.

My $.02:

Priscilla Shirer is a “shoot-straight” gal. She does not spend time “beating around the bush” nor “beating a dead-horse”. When I first read this book, I wrote ten reasons why I needed to read it. So, let me share those with you:

  1. I wanted change.
  2. I wanted freedom from everything that was holding me back from being ALL God needed me to be.
  3. I wanted a “whole heart” for the Lord.
  4. I wanted to accomplish His will while on earth.
  5. I wanted to experience the promises of God.
  6. I wanted to see my husband, children, and family living out what God had called them to do, be, and become.
  7. I wanted God’s hedge of protection.
  8. I wanted God’s favor on my life.
  9. I wanted the enemy and his plans to go back to hell and stay there.
  10. I wanted to encourage others for generations to seek the face of God first.

The strategic prayers are in my interactive growth notebook and ready for battle. They were not all easy to compose but Shirer’s guidance and encouragement allowed me to persevere.

For more info:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25245760-fervent

Stymied Perception

Refined Vision

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

Has anything ever obstructed your line of vision? All you wanted was a clear view. Maybe it was a crowd of people impeding your full focus on the lead singer at a concert or a mass of cars preventing you from spying the main traffic jam culprit. Regardless, what you longed to observe was muddled at best. Your sharp, distinct view is but a wish.       

When we moved outside of town, my husband diligently began pruning. It was quite the undertaking to remove yucca, prickly pear, and thorny shrub, but we agreed they had to go. However, the elimination of cedar was based on “standing in the way of” our vision. The view beyond our property was what attracted us to the area. So, it made sense why we wouldn’t allow anything to interfere.

I’ve often pondered my view of God. In Proverbs 3:5, God reminds me to not lean on my own understanding but to fully trust Him in all things. It wasn’t until I found myself in a pit of darkness that I finally called out the verse Matthew 20:33, “Lord, open my eyes. I need to really see YOU!” I longed for clarity, precise distinction, and pure vision of God because the enemy had obstructed my view. Confusion and lack of focus seemed to be my everyday state of mind. I could barely discern good from bad. I questioned whether I truly believed God was able to resolve this raging life storm.  

God allowed me to realize over time what was blocking my vision was basically me! My way of thinking was unlike His perspective. All I could see was a worldly scene of the here and now. As I embraced Colossians 3:2, I knew my mental thoughts needed an overhaul and I had to align my mind to the mind of Christ.

Heavenly thinking begins with complete surrender to the authority of God. God’s perspective does not match ours. If there is a part of you wondering how valid this statement is, try this…Is there someone in your life grating on your nerves? Is it all you can do to even “like” them on a good day? Pray this prayer. Father God, allow me to see (       ) the way you do. Keep praying that prayer every time you feel you can no longer handle the “sandpaper” person. If you want to really seek after God’s perspective, pray Father God, allow me to love (       ) the way you do.

God changed my view several times by sincerely praying that simple prayer. I’ll refrain from sharing because I want to hear your results once you put it into practice. Come back and leave a comment. I have a feeling your viewpoint may be supernaturally altered.

Embrace refinement within your heart and long for a clear view of who God really is. I leave you with 1 Samuel 16:7b…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks of the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. God’s heart is precisely for you 24/7.

BOOK REVIEW: Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children

Berndt, J. (2017). Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Summary:

The book is a parent resource to assist praying for adult children. Each subject area is full of real-life scenarios and bursting with supporting scriptures. At the end of every topic, the author provides cloze procedure prayers based on God’s word. The writer ensures the prayer pages begin with the parent first. As the book unfolds, the relevant stories and scriptures provide encouragement and reassurance for parents. The book is well arranged based on areas of a young adult’s life such as well-being, temptations, and relationships.

My $.02:

My heart skips a beat at the opportunity to infuse scripture into my prayer life. Berndt’s book is very user friendly and a delight to read. The prayer pages at the end of each chapter support the subject matter sufficiently and give numerous scriptures which reinforce the promises of God regarding the topic. For those who embrace an interactive growth notebook, these prayers could easily be added. It is a book that will remain in my personal library and often be recommended for those with adult children.  

For more info:

https://tinyurl.com/y4hucluj

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