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Read in 2016: Books that Make You Think

Books That Make You Think | 3dlessons4life.com

In case you forgot, I love to read. Stacks of books seem to pile up all over the house — most of them half read.  Other women buy shoes; I buy books.

I love chatting about books. Don’t you? For a couple of weeks now, I’ve wanted to share with you my most recent good reads — because a good book will change your thinking  and transform your tomorrow. I’ve read several powerful books last year, and although this post is very tardy, I still wanted to share.

Here is a quick wrap up of what I read in 2016:

Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer

  • The Rundown: Priscilla Shirer challenges her readers to create a personalized prayer strategy by selecting specific Scriptures to use for pinpoint petitions in the areas of their focus, identity, passion, family, past, fears, purity, pressures, hurts, and relationships. Just as a soldier needs a battle plan, we must create a blueprint for intercession that will empower us to prevail over the schemes of  the adversary.  By framing our supplications with praise, repentance, asking, and the yes promises of Scripture, we invite God to pour out His strength and position us for victory.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Prayer is a reminder to yourself, as well as a declaration to the enemy, that you know he’s there. That you’re on to him. When you bring your concerns and fears and irritations to the Lord in prayer, you’re aligning your weakling spirit with the full force of God’s Holy Spirit. Instead of continuing to fail by taking the battle into your own hands–and taking the battle to the wrong people–you’re joining instead with all the power of heaven to take your fight directly to the source of the problem” (p. 44). “Unforgiveness is a strategic ‘design’ craftily implemented by your enemy to ‘outwit’ you, to cripple your effectiveness in prayer and your power to stand against him victoriously” (p. 153). “Prayer is what greases the friction between us, lubricating the grit and flecks of irritability that work themselves into the system, preventing the normal wear and tear of life from causing us to grate against or rub one another” (pp. 172-173).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  What struck me the most about this book was the importance of praying specific prayers for myself. I am used to interceding with intention for my spouse, family, and loved ones, but never spent a big chunk of time really praying a covering over targeted areas that impact my effectiveness.  Shirer’s book made me think about how I needed to arm myself against the schemes of the enemy to defeat my passion and purpose.

Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer

  • The Rundown: Beth Moore helps her readers put prayer into practice by pairing Scripture reading with prayer journaling. Each of the 70 devotionals is followed by a journal entry using the “P.R.A.I.S.E” format: Praise, Repentance, Acknowledgement of God’s authority, Intercession, Supplication for Self, and Equipping (asking God to empower you for a victorious day).
  • Memorable Quotes: “Beloved, we’re living in the lions’ den. Victory is ours when we walk with God daily in habitual prayer, when we know His Word well enough to trust His sovereignty, and when we cast ourselves on Him and make an honest plea for help. He derives great satisfaction from shutting that lion’s mouth” (p. 41).  “How we define and exercise faith makes all the difference in our lives. Believers in Christ must place their faith in one of two factors: either what God does or who God is. If we place our faith in what God is doing, we should brace ourselves for a lifelong roller-coaster ride. Our faith will be high and mighty one day and free-falling the next because it is based on the apparent activity of God in our circumstances…Many answers will never come; much of His activity will never be seen. Victorious faith walks evolve from seeking Him” (p. 112).  “We have His thumbprint on us the moment we’re conceived and the imprint of His little finger the moment we leave. Every moment in between, we’re covered by His love. Every moment of our belief, we’re covered by His blood. And when the last breath is drawn, if we are His own, He wraps His arms around our lives and takes us safely home” (p. 209).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  “Be a neon sign” for God in this dark world: “We are stones rolled away, giving them [people who have given up on finding real life] a glance in the empty tomb. We provide evidence that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Do yourself and your neighbors a big favor. Don’t wait for death to really live. Tell God you want to be a neon sign of life–lingering proof of the resurrection” (p. 23).

The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath

  • The Rundown:  Mark Buchanan argues that setting aside time for Sabbath in our lives creates space for God to replenish our weary souls so that we can live full lives.  He invites us to stop striving and start listening for God’s still small voice in the stillness.  As we attend to the presence of God, we gain a fresh perspective on our lives and our place in God’s kingdom.
  • Memorable Quotes: “The opposite of a slave is not a free man.  It’s a worshiper. The one who is most free is the one who turns the work of his hands into sacrament, into offering” (p. 24). “The law of Sabbath is not legalistic. It is a command given to save us from ourselves. If anything, the Sabbath command breaks us of the prison of our own selfishness: it undoes our legalistic bent to go our own way” (p. 115). “A well kept Sabbath is a dress rehearsal for things above. In finding the rest of God now, we prepare for the fullness of God one day. In Sabbath, we anticipate forever” (p. 213).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  I need to purposefully listen for the voice of God during Sabbath moments: “…Sabbath is when we stop. We slow down We play, we rest, we dream, we wonder. We cease from that which is necessary and turn to that which gives life. And in that hush that descends, we listen” (p. 188).

Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are

  • The Rundown: Deidra Riggs believes that every single person is designed to make a difference right where they are at this very moment.  We change the world when we cooperate with God in seemingly little ways that make an eternal difference.  She invites her reader to adventure with God by  surrendering expectations to fully worship Him in every little thing.
  • Memorable Quotes: “We build trust in God by putting matters back into His hands, one small moment at a time. We build trust in God by taking one small step in His directions and finding out He will always be there to catch us” (p. 73). “When we allow the wilderness experience to strip us down to ‘simply me,’ we are just the right size for God’s big plans” (p. 95). “You do not need to fancy up your life. You don’t need a bigger platform, or a  more significant ministry, or a bigger house, or another circle of friends, or more members in your small group, or anything more than what you have when you lift your eyes from the page and take a good, long look around you. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not need us to make it anything more than it already is. What the Gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to do is to be exactly who we are, in the places where we find ourselves, and to be infused with the salty goodness that comes when we surrender our lives, and our agendas and our hopes and dreams to the power and control of the Holy Spirit” (p. 140).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  My job is not to fix things.  My job is to be faithful.  “He calls us to faithfulness in both the miraculous and the mundane (p 56).

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

  • The Rundown:  Lysa TerKeurst provides a remedy plan for people pleasers who are too busy rushing today to sense God’s calling for their tomorrow.  Rather than being carried away by unreasonable expectations, we must slow down and wisely recognize God’s assignments.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Whatever attitude we bring into a situation  will be multiplied (p. 58). “Our decisions aren’t  just isolated choices. Our decisions point our lives in the direction we’re about to head. Show me a decision and I’ll show you a direction” (p. 68).  “…even when we are in chains, God’s Word is still at work within us. In other words, when we tie our identities to God’s truth, God’s Word can and will lift us above the insecurities holding us down, taking us under, and threatening to drown us” (p. 200).
  • Biggest Takeaway:   “Strength and courage come from keeping God’s Word close” (p. 148).

The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire

  • The Rundown:  Jennifer Dukes is daring us to be happy.  Lee created a Happiness Assessment tool for her readers to discover their happiness style: everyone is either a Doer, Relater, Experiencer, Giver, or Thinker. She argues that happiness and holiness are two sides of the same coin and gives us permission to be happy.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Happiness isn’t unholy.  It’s just misunderstood. What is we began to imagine Jesus with us when we are enjoying what we enjoy? What if, starting today, you tried placing a chair (or picturing one) in whatever room you’ve in and inviting Jesus into the chair? Imagine Him sitting with you. Imagine Jesus with you,wherever you are, not as  watchdog for your behavior, but as a friend, delighting in what brings you delight. Share your Master’s happiness, and let Him share in yours” (p. 26). “Our collective happiness is elevated when we all live as our realest selves” (p. 107).  “Some of the most stunning journeys toward happiness begin in the darkest dark. And the candle that lights the way out is this tiny, flickering flame of hope” (p. 236).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  You have to fight for your happy in the midst of sorrow: “Happy people don’t turn away. They sit right in the middle of our mess with us and they cup the broken pieces in their hands as it to say, ‘Here, maybe I can help you with this. And then they lift those broken shards up to God on  our behalf because we don’t have the strength to do it on our own” (p. 229).

Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy

  • The Rundown:  Alli Worthington encourages her readers to get off the hamster wheel of busy and step out courageously toward the greater purpose God has created you to accomplish.   She argues that God “promises us a spiritual sweet spot even within the crazy that surrounds us” (p. 37). We must learn to say no to the things that drain our souls and focus on what fuels our passion.
  • Memorable Quotes: “If you stay focused on God, you will not miss your destiny” (p. 68). “In order for any plant to grow and produce fruit, it must be deeply rooted in good soil. We break busy and find our peace in a world of worry when we live our lives in the knowledge that God loves us and is in control of our lives. By recognizing and releasing our fears to god, bu letting go of our white-knuckled hold on the details of our lives, and by walking in the belief that He loves us and will provide for us, we find peace and comfort” (p. 117).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  My worth is not based on what I do but on who God is.

Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World

  • The Rundown:  Shelly Miller believes that Sabbath is a delight, not just a duty.  She invites her readers to embrace the gift of rest by turning off the noise and tuning in to God.  As we set aside time for the sacred, we will find renewal and greater passion for life.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Sabbath provides space between you and your problems, enabling you to see from God’s perspective, often with surprising results, like a word breaking through your questions about life and awakening you to something more important” (p. 47).  “Acknowledging rest is not a recipe with five easy steps, but a reorientation toward what makes me hungry in the first place. We must rest in order for Him to rise within us” (p. 183). “Sabbath is a holy writ–His love letter to us once a week. When we believe Him by obeying the commandment of Sabbath, His face shines upon us the same way it did on Moses. And everyone notices the brightness” (p. 202).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Shelly started the book by sharing how her mother in law likes to say “I don’t do guilt” (p. 21). She argues that guilt is one of the main roadblocks to making Sabbath a reality.

Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage

  • The Rundown:  John and Stasi Eldredge challenge husbands and wives to fight together for romance and redemption in marriage.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Marriage is going to ask everything of you, and that is why you must have a vision for it. (Why do you suppose God has us seal the bond with vows, for heaven’s sake?) So there you have it–we live in a great love story, set in the midst of war. We need each other–desperately. We have been entrusted with the heart of another human being. Our loving will prove to the world that love is real. We will play out before the watching eyes the Great Love Story of the ages” (p. 39).   “Encouragement has got to be one of the greatest offerings of true companionship. You, better than anyone else, now your mate’s story, and you know where the enemy likes to stick it to them. You can see when they are down, and your words of encouragement can lift them up again” (p. 119). “A woman offers beauty when she offers kindness. The world does not provide tenderness or mercy on a regular basis and we all need it. Offering your husband a safe harbor for his thoughts, concerns, or doubts, and not giving way to your fear yourself is a beautiful expression of your love. Seeing your husband’s strength and telling him what you see feeds his soul.  One of the most priceless gifts a woman can give her husband is the message that she  believes in him; he is the real deal; he is a real man” (p. 182).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  I really appreciated the wisdom from experience shared by these 2 authors. They have fought for their marriage in the trenches and on their knees. Their vulnerability with each other and with their readers encouraged me to stay in the fight and to continue to prevail in prayer for my marriage.

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential

  • The Rundown: John Maxwell unpacks 15 rules to live by that promote growth and maximize our potential. He states: “Not reaching your potential is like dying with the music still inside of you.” The author challenges his readers choose to intentionally learn the laws and then live them.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time” (p. 73). “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine” (p. 116). “Our choices will either lead us to the pain of self discipline or to the pain of regret” (p. 133). “Nobody admires average” (p. 162).
  • Biggest Takeaway: Maxwell’s book is a must-read for anyone who feels stuck in a quagmire that keeps you from fulfilling your dreams. His book was  like a swift kick in the pants, and I really needed someone to hold up a mirror to my mediocrity. I particularly resonated with Law 8, which he titled “The Law of Pain” and summarized with this wise tag line: “Good management of bad experiences leads to greater growth.” (Note: I read this book as part of an online John Maxwell Mastermind Group lead by my mentor, Craig Huston. The weekly conference calls to discuss our progress made me take a hard look at how this book applied to my life right now. I am so glad that I made this investment. If you are interested in joining an upcoming group, you can connect with Craig through his Facebook page.)

The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense

  • The Rundown: John Bevere points out that the enemy of our souls is working overtime to keep us trapped in a prison of offense. We begin to filter all of life through the lens of hurt, and this negatively impacts our fellowship with God and others.  Bevere encourages the reader to release the offense and walk in forgiveness so that relationships can be restored.
  • Memorable Quotes: “If you have given yourself to Jesus and are committed to His care, you cannot be offended because you are not your own” (p. 87). “Our liberty has been given to us for serving and laying down our lives. We are to build and not to destroy. Nor was this liberty given to us to heap things on ourselves. Because we have used it in this manner, many today are offended by the lifestyles of Christians” (p. 117). “The love of God is the key to freedom from the baited trap of offense. This must be an abounding love, a love that continually grows and is strengthened in our hearts. So many in today’s society are deceived y a superficial love, a love that talks but does not act. The love that will keep us from stumbling lays down its life selflessly–even for the good of an enemy. When we walk in this kind of love, we cannot be seduced into talking the bait of Satan” (p. 163).
  • Biggest Takeaway: This book was incredibly convicting. It caused me to take a deep look at my heart examine how my selfishness often causes me to be offended, when I should respond with humility and grace.

Meet the Bible: A Panorama of God’s Word in 366 Daily Reading and Reflections

  • The Rundown: Philip Yancey and Brenda Quinn have penned a devotional masterpiece that walks the reader through the “grand narrative” of the Holy Bible.  Each day has a reading from Scripture in long story format without the verse divisions followed by a devotional and capped up with a question for “contemplation” and application.
  • Memorable Quotes: “God sees each part of our lives as a puzzle piece in the larger picture of life that belongs to Him and is being mae ready for His purpose” (p. 129, Day 68). “Following God calls for hard work. His love and blessings may be easy to receive, but when obedience to God requires us to do something contrary to our human nature, a conflict sets in that tests our commitment. God desires His holiness to take root in us, and He can use precisely these trials of the will to make us more like Himself” (p. 273, Day 147). “Suffering changes my awareness… While being refined by God may be painful, it also points ahead to a better life that awaits me–a life with no need for songs about suffering” (p 665, Day 354).
  • Biggest Takeaway: This wonderful devotional walked with me through 2016 like a wise old friend. I have purchased it as a gift for all  my loves and count it as one of my favorite books of all time.

Well, there you go! I managed to finish this post before the end of January. I am counting that as a victory at this point. I would love to hear about what is sitting on your nightstand right now.

Q4U: Have you read any  good books that make you think lately?

Read in 2016: Books That Make You Think | 3dlessons4life.com

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I am sharing “Read in 2016: Books That Make You Think” and joining like-minded sisters at  Faith-Filled Friday, Fresh Market FridayBlessing CountersTell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Three-Word Wednesday, Purposeful Faith’s RaRaLinkup, Rich-Faith Rising, Testimony Tuesday, and Moments of Hope.

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Book Addict Confessions: Whispers of Hope Devotional (Giveaway)

Whispers of Hope Devotional | 3dlessons4life.com

In case you forgot, I love to read.  Stacks of books seem to pile up all over the house — most of them half read.  Other women buy shoes; I buy books.  

I am happy to report that I finally managed to finish reading one book from cover to cover this year, so today, I am sharing my insights on this great read.

 

Whispers of Hope by Beth MoorePhoto Credit: BH Publishing Group


In Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer,  Beth Moore helps her readers put prayer into practice by pairing Scripture reading with prayer journaling. Each of the 70 devotionals is followed by a journal entry using the “P.R.A.I.S.E” format: Praise, Repentance, Acknowledgement of God’s authority, Intercession, Supplication for Self, and Equipping (asking God to empower you for a victorious day).

Here some “Take away” truths that captured my attention:  

Be a neon sign: “We are stones rolled away, giving them [people who have given up on finding real life] a glance in the empty tomb. We provide evidence that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Do yourself and your neighbors a big favor. Don’t wait for death to really live. Tell God you want to be a neon sign of life–lingering proof of the resurrection” (p. 23).

Make prayer a habit: “Beloved, we’re living in the lions’ den. Victory is ours when we walk with God daily in habitual prayer, when we know His Word well enough to trust His sovereignty, and when we cast ourselves on Him and make an honest plea for help. He derives great satisfaction from shutting that lion’s mouth” (p. 41). 

Get off the roller-coaster: “How we define and exercise faith makes all the difference in our lives. Believers in Christ must place their faith in one of two factors: either what God does or who God is. If we place our faith in what God is doing, we should brace ourselves for a lifelong roller-coaster ride. Our faith will be high and mighty one day and free-falling the next because it is based on the apparent activity of God in our circumstances…Many answers will never come; much of His activity will never be seen. Victorious faith walks evolve from seeking Him” (p. 112). 

God’s got me covered: “We have His thumbprint on us the moment we’re conceived and the imprint of His little finger the moment we leave. Every moment in between, we’re covered by His love. Every moment of our belief, we’re covered by His blood. And when the last breath is drawn, if we are His own, He wraps His arms around our lives and takes us safely home” (p. 209).

 

I loved this devotional, and I’ve already purchased a couple of copies for friends in need of encouragement.  The truths that Beth unpacks in these pages helped fortify my thinking during a difficult season and reminded that God is always at work.  I must fight on my knees and keep my eyes firmly focused on my Savior, rather than give in to defeat.  He’s already won the victory!

I’m giving away a copy of the Whispers of Hope Devotional!

I would love to hear about what you are reading.  Feel free to share in the comment section below and then click on the Rafflecopter to be entered in a Giveaway of Beth’s awesome devotional book.

Just make sure to enter on or before April 20th to participate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I am sharing “Whispers of Hope” and joining like-minded sisters at Give Me Grace,Let us GrowSpiritual Sundays, Faith-Filled Friday, Blessing CountersLive Free ThursdayGrace Moments, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Three-Word Wednesday, Purposeful Faith’s RaRaLinkup, Rich-Faith Rising, Testimony Tuesday, and Sharing His Beauty.

 

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On My Shelf

On My Shelf

In case you forgot, I love to read.  Stacks of books seem to pile up all over the house — most of them half read.  Other women buy shoes; I buy books.

 

On My Shelf

What’s on my nightstand right now?

What am I learning about life and following Jesus?  

What are some books I regularly re-read and why?

  • Daily Light on the Daily Path by Samuel Bagster
    • I incorporate this thematic compilation of Scripture readings into my quiet time every morning (It’s also available online for free here.)
  • The One-Year Bible by Tyndale
    •  I read through the Bible once a year –using a different translation every year.  (It’s easy to do because it’s also available online for free in multiple translations here.)
  • Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
    • This book was written for kids, but my hubby and I are “kids at heart.”  We read this every year in preparation for Advent.

What books have profoundly shaped how I serve and lead others for the sake of the Gospel?

What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced me and why?

  • Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under God’s Control by Elisabeth Elliot
    • I started keeping a spiritual journal after reading the biographical works of Elisabeth Elliot, a spiritual practice that I’ve maintained for 35 plus years.  Her life taught me the importance of surrender, discipline, and resilience.
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
    • This story showed me how faith perseveres in the darkest places.  Corrie never regretted paying the price for sacrificing for others, and I am called to do the same.

 Looking for more great reads?  Join me on Pinterest for

P.S. — If you are a fellow book nerd, you might want to join me on Good Reads.

What's On Your Nightstand?

This post was inspired by a monthly series called “On My Shelf” on The Gospel Coalition blog.

 

I am sharing “On My Shelf?” and joining like-minded sisters at Give Me Grace, Weekend Whispers, Spiritual Sundays, Faith-Filled Friday, Blessing Counters, Essential FridaysLive Free Thursday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your HeartThree-Word WednesdayPurposeful Faith’s RaRaLinkup, Rich-Faith Rising, Testimony TuesdaySharing His Beauty, and Playdates with God.

 

11

Read in 2015

Read in 2015Photo Credit

 

In case you forgot, I love to read.  Stacks of books seem to pile up all over the house — most of them half read.  Other women buy shoes; I buy books.

Here is a quick wrap up of what I read in 2015:

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You

  • The Rundown: Jessica Turner inspires her readers to grab back “pockets of time” to dedicate to practical self-care and personal endeavors.
  • Memorable Quotes: “If what you do doesn’t matter to you, it’s really not going to matter to anyone else,’ Work to fill your life with things that matter” (p. 35).  “Relationships are the currency that matters, not the conditions of our homes” (p. 48).  “..sometimes we have to let go of self-imposed have-to’s and settle for good enough. Just because you’re passionate doesn’t mean you have to do it” (p. 205). “If you don’t take proper time to rest, you’ll pay the price in one way or another” (p. 237).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  I really appreciated how Turner challenged her readers to “turn moments of comparison into catalysts for celebration.”  In addition, I tracked my time as she suggested and realized that I do have significant “pockets of time” available that I need to vigilantly reclaim back for my passions, rather than squandering them away while trolling Facebook.

Chasing God

  • The Rundown: Angie Smith encourages her readers to simply enjoy spending time with a God of grace, rather than checking off legalistic spiritual “to do’s” as we chase down our skewed view of a God of rules and regulations.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Religion is what we build with our own hands when we can’t stand to feel like observers.  And when it crumbles, we blame God.  We have determined the man-made ceiling to be our own instead of the heavens themselves, and we have allowed our insatiable hunger for understanding to strangle the mystery we’re supposed to embrace” (p. 4).  “The truth is that our journey with God isn’t really about living, and He never claimed it would be.  It is, and has always been, a gradual death to everything we love outside of Him (p. 12).  “He asks us to have the kind of faith that wakes in the morning not knowing how He will provide, but believing that He will, based on what we know of His character” (p. 118).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Smith unwraps religiosity and shines a light on true intimacy with Christ.  Her book makes you examine your own life to see where Pharisaical tendencies have seeped into your thinking and way of viewing God.

Love Idol: Letting God of Your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes

  • The Rundown: Jennifer Dukes Lee confesses that for years she craved acceptance and approval.  She spurs on her readers to lay down the “love idol” and accept God’s unconditional love.  We are “pre-approved” by our Father.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Eyes cannot look in two different directions.  I want mine on Jesus–not on yesterday’s failures or successes, not on today’s agenda, and definitely not on the world’s scorecard.  Eyes. On. Jesus” (p. 112).  “When we uproot idols, we make room for God.  We discover a love that is already ours” (p. 129). What if we became less interested in wowing others and more focus on being wowed by God?” (p. 168).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  This beautifully written book affirmed my spirit and reminded that God pursues me with the reckless abandon of a lover.  I am completely loved.  I am fully accepted.  I am His.

The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life

  • The Rundown: Melanie Shankle shares how marriage is a mystery and a magical gift from God.   With humor and a big dose of fun, she pulls back the curtain and lets us see how God puts two completely different people together to create beauty and joy.
  • Memorable Quotes: In a lot of ways home improvement is like marriage. It’s not glamorous. It can take a lot of hard work and effort. There are days it feels like it might be easier to burn the whole thing to the ground and start all over again. Then you remember how much you love the house or your husband and you recommit yourself to what it takes to see the whole thing through. Even when it might involve paintbrushes and compromise and sanding and scraping all the rough edges” (Kindle location 1018).  When I look in his eyes, I don’t see perfection. I don’t see a love story that would necessarily be something people would watch on a big screen and dream about. I see someone who will fight for me and protect me and love me in spite of all the ways I am still a wreck. I see home. Wherever he is. That’s my home” (Kindle location 2433).  
  • Biggest Takeaway:  It’s good to laugh and to realize that we are works in progress.  Melanie’s marriage memoir tickled my funny bone and nudged by noggin’ to think about how it’s a gift to be Mrs. Dunbar.

Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified

  • The Rundown: Elisa Pulliam schools her readers in the role of a mentor.
  • Memorable Quotes: “It is the willing spirit that matters, not life experience, a gifted personality, or a seemingly perfect life.  Expertise and degree qualifications do not matter to hurting hearts, lost souls, or women hungry for love wrapped in truth” (p. 2).  “A redeemed woman need not be ashamed of a forgiven past” (pp. 29-30).  “Our mentoring should reflect a natural overflow of our position in the body of Christ, as we pursue the things of Christ” (p. 42).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Part three of this book provided an inspirational acrostic on Mentoring — meeting, encouraging, noticing, teaching, offering, responding, inspiring, navigating, growing.

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World

  • The Rundown: Emily Freeman stimulates a desire in her readers to slow down and recognize the beauty in their everyday ordinary.  The Kingdom of God is in our here and now, so we should “celebrate on purpose the messy, the lovely, and the unexpected moments of life” and “move toward others as Christ moves in us.”  She argues that “what gives moments meaning is not the moments themselves but the presence of Christ with us in the midst of them.”
  • Memorable Quotes: “It’s easier to celebrate in the beautiful small, but often it is in the terrible, the unexpected, and the uncomfortable small where we grow closer to Christ, share in His suffering, and ultimately find out true home” (p. 54)  “Daily, I’m given the opportunity to recognize the gift of obscurity, trusting that Christ is doing invisible kingdom work in the stairwells of everyday life” (Chapter 6, Kindle location 1363).  “Move toward others even as Christ moves within you. I am asked, invited really, to move toward others in my weakness” (Chapter 9, Kindle location 1723).  “… letting go doesn’t mean I’ll be left with nothing. It means I can more fully hold on to Christ and trust the life He is building within me” (Chapter 11, Kindle location 2113).  “…Love sits with” (Chapter 13, Kindle location 2517
  • Biggest Takeaway:  This book challenged my thinking on so many levels.  Freeman re-framed the word “smallness” for me and helped shape my understanding of my role in God’s kingdom. I was also really convicted by her perspective on how we are to handle “boredom.” I think sometimes I miss the beauty of the everyday ordinary of today because I am looking forward to something spectacular down the road. I also loved it when she said, “Don’t try to change your attitude. Bring your attitude into the presence of Christ.”

The Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

  • The Rundown: Paul Miller’s book on prayer is unique and encouraging.  He allows us to see how he has personally grown in His intimacy with Christ and with his family by persevering in prayer that is honest before God during difficult times.    God teaches us to really pray in the schoolroom of suffering.
  • Memorable Quotes: “…a praying life isn’t something you accomplish in a year.  It is a journey of a lifetime” (p. 21).  “To learn how to pray is to enter the world of a child, where all things are possible.  Little children can’t imagine that their parents won’t eventually say yes.  They know if they keep pestering their parents, they’ll eventually give in.  Childlike faith drives this persistence” (p. 39).  “We can’t pray effectively until we get in touch with our inner brat.  When we see our own self-will, it opens the door to doing things through God.  Instead of singing Frank Sinatra’s song ‘My Way,’ we enter into God’s story and watch Him do it His way.  No one works like Him” (p. 161).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  This book was a game changer for me.  I will return to it often.  One prayer practice that Miller shared that I hope to start using is choosing a “prayer verse” for each of your loved ones.  He writes it on a 3×5 card and prays that Scripture daily for each person on his list.

Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grownup World

  • The Rundown: Laura Boggess shares how she draws into greater intimacy with her Father by setting a weekly “playdate” with her Abba.   She rouses her readers to remember their days of innocence and to reengage with a child-like sense of wonder and freedom as they live out their everyday ordinary.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Every moment is sacred when we pay attention to it” (p. 53).  “The more I step out of my comfort zone, the more sensitive my ear is to the voice of the Spirit” (p. 105). “When did I forget the way of slowing down leads me into the arms of the Father?” (p. 162)  “To grow in my relationship with God, to step deep into an intimate relationship with Jesus… I must set aside regular time to meet with Him.  Time to play and pray, the two parts of Sabbath” (p. 176).
  • Biggest Takeaway: Laura makes an intentional effort to look for God in her circumstances.  She sets aside time to draw near to her God and connect with the beauty of His creation and character in a meaningful way.  I want to have that kind of passion for my Father God.

Pray Big: The Power of Pinpoint Prayers

  • The Rundown: Will Davis, Jr. galvanizes his readers to pray BHAP’s — big hairy audacious prayers — that are bold, Scriptural, and pinpoint specific.
  • Memorable Quotes: “As a follower of Christ, you need to know that you’re on solid Biblical ground when you’re seeking miraculous things from God” (p. 31).  “Never stop believing and hoping in the redemptive work of God.  Your very next prayer may be the one that turns the tide and moves your lost friend toward God” (p. 64).  “Jesus is in the business of setting captives free, of breathing life into the spiritually dead, and of turning skeptics into servants”  (p. 76).  “The most powerful gatherings in the world are those that meet in Jesus’s name.  When they meet aligning with His purposes and seeking His glory, He is there with them”  (p. 102).  “When you make the daily dive into into a world of sin, temptation, mixed messages, and spiritual chaos, you’d better be fully prepared.  The daily protection, discernment and guidance you need are accessed primarily through prayer–by specific pinpoint praying for yourself.  Without it, your guaranteed to fall hard” (p. 157).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  In one of the final chapters Davis discusses the importance of praying big for yourself.  He lays out 7 prayers including “Lord, help me hate sin” and “Father, give me the gift of brokenness.”   I can only imagine the impact of such purposefully surrendered prayers in the year ahead.

Joni and Ken: An Untold Love Story

  • The Rundown: Joni Eareckson Tada and her husband Ken share the lessons they’ve learned through serving one another in a unique marriage colored by physical suffering and the tribulation.
  • Memorable Quotes: “…nowhere else — and with no one else — will you have quite the chance to experience union with Christ than through a hard-fought-for, hard-won union with your spouse” (Kindle location 2718).  “…love is placing the welfare of another in front of your own” (Kindle location 2743).  “…loving that one to whom you said yes, well … it’s just another way, maybe the best way, of loving and serving God”  (Kindle location 2771).  
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Reading Joni’s story reminded me that I have absolutely nothing to complain about EVER.  The marriage relationship will sanctify you if you cooperate with God’s leading and surrender your will to His plan.  Even in the darkest moments of life, there is joy in Christ.

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives

  • The Rundown: Wayne Muller unpacks the spiritual practice of rest and renewal that helps us to quiet our hearts and remember the abundance God provides.
  • Memorable Quotes: “All life requires a rhythm of rest” (p. 1).  “The world seduces us with an artificial urgency that requires us to respond without listening to what is most deeply true.  In Sabbath time, we cultivate a sense of eternity where we truly rest, and feel how things can wait, and turn them gently in the hand until we feel their shape, and know the truth of them”  (pp. 84-85).  “Sabbath is an incubator for wisdom.  When we allow the rush of pressure of our days to fall away, even for a short period of time, we are more able to discern the essential truth of what lies before us” (p. 165).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  On page 196, Muller states: “Sabbath time is set apart for remembering the holiness of life.”  I am prone to forget, and so practicing the spiritual discipline of Sabbath helps me to “be still and know that He is God.”

Speak Love: Making Your Word Matter

  • The Rundown: Annie Downs believes that words give us power to make a difference in this world.  She encourages her readers to “speak love” and breathe life into others.
  • Memorable Quotes: “The world could change because of your words.  It changed because of God’s words, and it changed because of Jesus’s words.  And that’s the model by which you were formed.  You are made in God’s image” (p. 59).  “Your voice rising to God is an atmosphere-changer.  It changes the mood.  It changes what is going on in the spiritual realm” (pp. 80-81).  “Remember this truth:  you are always speaking life or death”  (p. 151).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Downs nails it when she rallies her readers to “speak love” to themselves — negative self talk is a destructive.  To love our neighbor, we must first love ourselves.  If I wouldn’t say “that” about a good friend, why do accept verbal self mutilation?   I am a beloved daughter of the King, and I need to treat myself with self respect in my thought life.

Let’s Talk:  What did you read this year?

I am sharing “Read in 2015” and joining like-minded sisters at Give Me Grace, Still Saturday,The Weekend Brew, Spiritual Sundays, Faith-Filled Friday, Blessing Counters, Live Free Thursday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your HeartThree-Word WednesdayPurposeful Faith’s RaRaLinkup, Rich-Faith Rising, Sharing His Beauty, and Playdates with God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Read in 2014

Read in 2014

In case you forgot, I love to read.  Stacks of books seem to pile up all over the house — most of them half read.  Other women buy shoes; I buy books.

Here is a quick wrap up of what I read in 2014:

God is Able

  • The Rundown: Priscilla Shirer unpacks the beautiful promise of Ephesians 3:20-21 phrase by phrase.  Each chapter delves deeply into the nuances of Paul’s words written while in prison and under inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Shirer challenges her readers to place their hope and focus firmly on the One for whom nothing is impossible.
  • Memorable Quotes: “As soon as you connect your current circumstances to your God, He raises a banner of hope in your heart and mind.  As soon as you believe He can do this–that He is able–something called abundant life actually shows up, right in the middle of the dreariness” (p. 36).  “The same God who is saving you from hell is also willing and able to save what’s left of your nerves and your workweek” (p. 107).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  I loved this book.  We are in a valley season right now at my house, and looking at the details of this powerhouse promise truly encouraged my spirit.  Priscilla reminded me that my life of faith in the valley is a display case for His glory.

Unquenchable:  Grow a Wildfire Faith that Will Endure Anything

  • The Rundown: Carol Kent encourages her readers to fan the flame of faith and draw near to the warmth of their Savior so that a wildfire passion will continue to burn strong through the most difficult storms.
  • Memorable Quotes: “…my role in God’s kingdom is to see every day as an opportunity to embrace the holy ground that I am standing on, to fully understand that no act of kindness or demonstration of love is ever wasted, where or not I see tangible results…True wildfire faith means having strength, endurance, and a solid abiding trust in God — in darkness and in light, in pain and in wellness, in sadness and in laughter.  It is recognizing that today, no matter where I am or what my circumstances may be, because I’m the image bearer of Jesus Christ, the ground I am standing on is holy ground” (pp. 87-88).   The very act of caring for God’s people, of meeting their needs in acts of service, generates sparks to feed our own wildfires and also sends sparks flying into the lives of others” (p. 112).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Carol is one of my favorite authors.  She has an inspiring personal story, and this book encouraged me that God is going to use my struggles to light a flame of faith in others as I continue to move forward and trust my Jesus.  If you are going through a fiery season, this is a great read that will encourage your spirit.

Pursue the Intentional Life

  • The Rundown: Jean Fleming challenges her readers to “number their days” and to finish well.   Purposeful discipleship requires planning for the challenges to come.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Every life creates an atmosphere” (p. 36).  “When I number my days, each day rattles with sharp significance” (p.52).  “Whatever time I have left is a gift, a bequest, a responsibility, a stewardship” (pp. 54-55).  “… Jesus wants to live in me and stick out all over” (p. 118).  “Confronting the brevity of life leads me to solemn and earnest living” (p. 183).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  At age 47, this book was a “game changer” and a timely read for me.  It reminded me that I don’t get to slow down and putter out.  I am called to live a “Beauty Full” life for Jesus.  I want to “do life big” for Him until my last breath.

You are Loved: Embracing the Everlasting Love God Has for You

  • The Rundown: Sally Clarkson and Angela Perritt put together a quick read that packs a powerful punch.  Each chapter shares a Scriptural truth coupled with personal narrative to drive home a simple truth — because sometimes you need to be reminded that God loves you.   Every chapter ends with a simple 5-day Bible study that encourages the reader to reflect on the reality of God’s agape love. This is a great tool for small group ministries and one-on-one discipleship.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Sometimes those we choose to love cannot love us back and continue in the habits of criticism, harshness, or passivity. Yet, even though we cannot control the behavior of others, we are still called to love. Whether or not someone responds to our love is not our responsibility—we are to be obedient and leave the results in God’s hands.”  “When a woman feels truly loved, she is confident in herself, she is more generous of heart to be able to reach others, and her faith grows strong because of the deep acceptance she receives and lives in.”
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Completing this Bible study with friends online encouraged my spirit and reminded me that God’s love is unconditional.  Because His love is poured into me, I am called to love others sacrificially.

24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life

  • The Rundown: Dr. Matthew Sleeth proposes that the spiritual practice of Sabbath will benefit you and your family physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.   Living a “24/6” life is the prescription to a happier, healthier you.
  • Memorable Quotes: “The covenant [of Sabbath] was like a marriage agreement between God and His people.  Breaking the Sabbath would be akin to a wife talking off her wedding band and throwing it in her husband’s face on national television”  (p. 37).  “People don’t save the Sabbath, it saves us” (p. 58).  In learning how to rest, we actually gain the knowledge of Christ.  We learn to be gentle and humble and to give up our pride” (p. 85).  “God rarely shows up at the foot of our beds and wakes us from sleep.  We must listen for God in the narrative of life.  Stopping one day a week allows my hearing to improve”  (p. 156).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Sleeth and his family begin the Sabbath on Friday evenings and practice hospitality by inviting others in to their home for a meal.  He linked community and Sabbath for me in a beautiful way that I hope to incorporate.

Let’s All Be Brave:  Living Life with Everything You Have

  • The Rundown: Annie Downs challenges her readers to “embrace the God-given courage that lives inside.”  Taking a step of faith toward the calling God has for us might just change the world.
  • Memorable Quotes:  “.. sometimes you set sail without a view of the destination, trusting the tools you’ve got. And once you are there, you stay. You move forward, not backward. You burn your ships” (p.17).  “If there are seeds of courage living in all of us, waiting to bloom, words are the sun and the water that cheer on those seeds to their fullness” (p. 92).  “…. your words are changing the atmosphere” (p. 96).  “The road to courage is lit by God’s wisdom” (p. 120).  “…be brave enough to love the people around you, even if it looks like sacrifice and feels like loss” (p. 135).  “We all need trailblazers” (p. 173).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Annie’s chatty writing voice invites you in, and then she kicks you in the gut.  This book stirred up so much in me, and I am still processing it all.   I am not called to live a safe life and make safe choices.   Read this book — if you dare.   You won’t be the same when you are done.

What Your Heart Needs for Hard Days: 52 Encouraging Truths to Hold on To

  • The Rundown: Holley Gerth has put together a 52-week devotional that covers the book of Psalms and breathes life into all the right places.  I have bought this book for several friends as a gift, and quickly decided that this is one of my all-time favorite devotionals.
  • Memorable Quotes: “If we try to make ourselves stop hurting before we’ve finished healing, then we go through life with hearts that are bare and vulnerable.  It takes time to be ready for the joy again, and we need to be patient” (p. 56).  “Sometimes we need to step back to realize, in the best possible way, that the world doesn’t rely on us as much as we think.  Everything can go on just fine without us for a bit.  Here’s the catch: we’ll never know unless we take time off now and then” (p. 208).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  Holley points out that Psalms 134 explains that those who go through hard times have a special calling to “minister in the night”  (p. 216).

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas

  • The Rundown: Ann Voskamp has written a beautiful Advent book for the family that traces the story of Christ from Genesis to Bethlehem.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Miracles happen whenever we speak works that make souls stronger.  Miracles happen wherever we look for shoots of Jesus’ love for everyone.  Miracles happen in the drawing close to the little people, the least people, the lonely people, the lost people — because this is drawing close to Jesus”  (p. 8).  “Whenever you fall, whenever you fall short, whenever you sin, your God whispers to you with a love that wraps around you like a gentle arm: ‘Wherever you are, I will always come find you’…”(p. 11).  “…believe that the love of Jesus is in the place where you don’t expect it.  Then live into the surprise of a love like that” (p. 69).  “We are all saved and rescued from the hopeless dark because God came with infant fists and opened wide His hands to hold yours” (p. 87).  “…we have Jesus with us — the greatest Gift of unfailing, unbeatable, unstoppable love that we can keep unwrapping all our days” (p. 154).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  The Bible is God’s love story.  The Dunbars loved, loved, loved this book (and we have no children!).  We will read this again next year and every year that follows.  What a beautiful book!

Praying thru the Tabernacle

  • The Rundown: Jon Courson walks his readers through the Old Testament Tabernacle and explains how each room ties into the heart’s attitude in prayer.
  • Memorable Quotes:   “The dungeon doors of depression will swing open in the midnight hour if you begin to thank God and express your gratitude to Him. You see, a grateful man will always be a great, full man.”
  • Biggest Takeaway:  This is a quick 62-page read and a great resource for anyone who wants to follow a Biblical prayer model.

Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero

  • The Rundown: Lisa Bevere examines the elements of sword play and draws spiritual analogies to support her premise that each of us is a warrior in a spiritual battle that needs to be armed and empowered by God.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Tempered daughters of God are resilient.  We have the capacity to flourish under all types of trials in every season” (p. 113).  “If the early church took the message of the Cross everywhere they went, and hearts were encouraged, the sick were healed, and the oppressed were set free, why shouldn’t the same be true of us?  Are you looking for a sign that Jesus still wants to do wonders?  The Cross is our sign, and you are His wonder!” (p. 219)
  • Biggest Takeaway:  This book “grew on me” toward the end.  The last 3 Chapters dealing with the sword of silence, the sword of reconciliation, and the sword as a cross we carry were definitely the most thought-provoking.

Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You

  • The Rundown: John Ortberg draws from God’s wisdom and the life of his mentor, Dallas Willard, to encourage his readers to tend to their souls.  Rather than striving, he encourages his readers to rest in the freedom that comes from knowing Christ intimately.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.  You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry in your life” (quoting Willard, p. 20).  What matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become” (quoting Willard, p. 49).  “The soul is healed by confession” (p. 65).  “God wants to make every moment of life glorious with His presence.  This is the core of the ‘with God’  life” (p. 121).   “The test of a sustaining spiritual practice is: Does it fill you with grace for life?” (p. 130)   “Jesus was often busy, but never hurried” (p. 134).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  I need to learn to tend my soul’s garden well before I can plant seeds.

You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times

  • The Rundown:  Max Lucado unpacks the life of Joseph to encourage readers that God is working behind the scenes to redeem our painful experiences and heal our brokenness.
  • Memorable Quotes: “Don’t see your struggle as an interruption to life but as preparation for life” (p. 55).  “The cemetery of hope is overpopulated with sour souls who have settled for a small god.  Don’t be among them.  God sees a Joseph in you.  Yes, you!  You in the pit.  You with your family full of flops and failures.  You incarcerated in your own version of an Egyptian jail.  God is speaking to you.  Your family needs a Joseph, a courier of grace in a day of anger and revenge…Will you be a Joseph?” (p.159).
  • Biggest Takeaway:  This book was right on time for me.  If you are in a valley season, you will be comforted by its message.  If you aren’t in a valley season now, you will be one day soon, so bookmark it for future reference.

Q4U:  What are you reading right now?

 

 

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