Book Tour! Day 10 – Divine Direction

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

DAY TEN:  DIVINE DIRECTION by Craig Groeschel

booktour7 I am really excited to be apart of the Launch Team for Divine Direction.  When you are on a launch team, you get an advanced copy of the book for the purpose of reading it and helping promote it leading up to the sales date.

I love a good sneak peek!

So expect to hear a bit more about this book in the coming days.

One of the things that drew me to the book was that the 7 decisions are really small choices that will yield big impact.  Groeschel walks us through making these small choices from a Biblical standpoint.  Connection our decisions to the desires of God’s heart.

Stop what is hindering you.  Start a new habit.  Determine when to stay or when to go.  Serve where God wants you serve.  Connect genuinely.  Trust in God who has known you since you were knit in your mother’s womb and the hairs on your head; God who has a plan for your life.

 

Saving the Saved

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I received Saving the Saved by Bryan Loritts for the purpose of reviewing, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

A couple of years ago, I lamented to a friend that I was a terrible evangelist.  She looked a little surprised, because in all of our encounters I didn’t exactly shy away from talking about the gospel.  She asked me to clarify my statement.  I confessed that I was fine talking about God in certain environments and situations, but heading out in to the unknown and sharing it with strangers was very hard for me.  I was broken over it, feeling like I was not fulfilling The Great Commission very well.

As we continued to talk, and I was admittedly sobbing at this point, I had come to a conclusion about myself. I realized that I had a heart for the lukewarm believer, the people who should know better but don’t.  The big things that mattered to me, were topics like bible literacy and strong prayer lives.  I was undone by what people didn’t know because they didn’t take time to read the scriptures, or when scripture was being twisted to fit agenda.

It was at that point, she giggled just a bit at me.  She told me that I had a heart for discipleship, and that was Great Commission work.  As we continued to talk she pointed out that each of us have our role in The Great Commission.  There are the missionaries and evangelists who bring the gospel to people for the first time.   There are the apologists who defend the faith well, to those who question and doubt.  Then there are disciple makers, who have a heart for studying and teaching the scriptures well.  She freed me from the disappointment in my poor evangelizing by helping me to recognize that wasn’t my gift.

It also helped me pinpoint my role in serving the body, that I loved to teach and equip leaders.  My heart was bent toward knowledge and wisdom from the scriptures, and that i desired to know it well myself in order to make sure I teach it well to others.  Integrity in my teaching was highly important to me.  Just this year, a woman asked me if I would consider being her mentor.  After prayerful consideration, I responded that I didn’t feel right mentoring her.  I still had a lot to learn, and quite often I learn from her.  Ultimately we agreed instead on a mutual relationship, like the disciples had, where we could learn form each other.

There is so much freedom in the scriptures, and I am someone who loves a to do list.  It is very easy for me to find myself looking for clear cut directions, and frustrated with the scripture are vague on a topic.  I want God to tell me in His Word exactly how I am to live every single day of my life.  If I am not careful, I can allow myself to become too legalistic.  At the same time, I must also be careful that I don’t go into the deep end of “everything is permissible” without remembering that doesn’t mean it is beneficial.

I’m already a fan of Bryan Loritts, and I was excited to read this book.  It had everything I loved about sharing the gospel with those who are saved.   The pages speak of mercy, grace, and love.  It tells me to be generous, put my pride in check, and to find peace instead of worries.  It affirms my marriage priority as my first ministry and reminds me that I need to get out of my own way.  Oh… and then it trips me up… when it talks about forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard.  Like, REALLY, hard.   And, honestly it doesn’t even matter who I am trying to forgive.  In fact, I often have an easier time forgiving others than my own self.  It can be a real struggle to forgive, because our Christ-like heart says YES and our fleshy mind says NO.  Who hasn’t uttered the words…  “How many times do I forgive {insert person, situation, self}?”

Bryan Loritts takes us right to the truth of it…

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me,

and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee,

Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 

Matthew 18:21-22

Ouch.  That many times, Lord?  Really?  Really.  For a moment, let’s take this literally.  If the Lord has set the limit at 490 forgivenesses… I’m in trouble.  I’ve stopped long before that number.  I can’t think of a single person in my life that has wronged me 490 times.

If we take it in concept, that is STILL a lot of times to forgive someone.  UGH!

I know that there are times where I am really hurt, and I don’t want to forgive.  But there are other times when I know that I am being petty, or I know that it’s more about how I perceived the wrongdoing than what was actually done.  One of the most reoccurring themes for me in 2016 has been about forgiveness.  That forgiveness isn’t easy, but necessary.  Forgiveness is a choice, that I sometimes have to make every day despite my flesh.  Forgiveness is not reconciliation but part of that process.  Forgiveness won’t always make sense, and by the worlds terms, they may not deserve my forgiveness.  Forgiveness may cost me something… and yet forgiveness is freeing.

It’s funny to me, the terrible evangelist, that I purchased a book about saving the saved… and it was a book I needed to read.  I continually need to be reminded to forgive.

Seventy times seven times.

Lord, forgive my unforgiveness.  Let grace, mercy, and forgiveness fall from my lips. Amen.

The NIV LifeConnect Study Bible

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I must admit, I own several Bibles.  In fact, I have such a strong opinion on Bible translations… it may be one of the things I am most frequently asked my opinion on in our church small groups.  While my collection has covered the gamut of translations (I see each one as valuable to my study), until recently I only had one Study Bible (it’s an HCSB).

A few weeks ago, I finally got my hands on a new Study Bible; the NIV LifeConnect Study Bible from Zondervan.  I am thoroughly impressed.  Physically, it is a large Bible.  I won’t be carrying this one with me to services on the weekend.  However, it is great for a desk reference when I am studying or working on a project.  And, a great resource for when I am studying or preparing work and choosing to disconnect from technology.  It is packed full of helpful information and even places to jot notes, if you are a note taker like I am.

Each page has a slim column for taking quick notes, and journaling pages where you can make quick notes about how the scripture spoke to your or how you responded to it.  I am a huge fan of this format.  In many ways, it is like making your own personal table of contents or index to retrace your thoughts or recall information you previously read.  These pages are located at the end of each most books of the Bible, however the longer books will have them peppered throughout.  It’s like they know me!

At the beginning of each book of the Bible, there is a brief introduction that covers foundational information for deeper study.  The who, what, where, when, why, and how questions are answered right off the cuff.  This allows the reader to enter the book with a clearer perspective of what they are reading. Cultural information of importance is shared, there is a timeline to reference, themes you should be watching out for, and even some “Did You Know” points that can assist with interpretation within context.  Thorough footnotes walk through the scriptures with you, the SOAP method to study (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) is located throughout the Bible, and if you’re not familiar with the method … DON’T WORRY.  Clear instructions are given.

The author of the Study Bible, Wayne Cordeiro, has also included quotes from his other works… when applicable to the scripture selection.  There are also colorful maps and concordance reference to further assist your study.  Included is a Bible Reading Plan, if you are interested in a concrete plan for study.

The pages are crisp and easy to read, and begging for a highlighter or colored pencils to adorn the pages.  While there are some sections of study notes from the author, I like that Cordeiro didn’t take all of the burden off the reader.  You have a responsibility here too, he simply guides us through the study process.  You’ll be a better student of the Word, for certain.

In addition to the concordance in the back, you’ll find colorful maps and even weight and measure conversions.  These tools help translate our modern understanding of geography and measurements to an ancient time, clarifying context and allotting for familiarity.

My only complaint, for a Study Bible, is that I wish the maps were incorporated into the study sections verses tucked away in the back.  When reading I’d prefer to only have to flip a few pages versus cover to cover.  Otherwise, it’s a great bible for a serious student… but a new believer too.

 
I review for BookLook Bloggers

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Grow deeper in your spiritual life with the NIV LifeConnect Study Bible. Dr. Wayne Cordeiro includes articles bringing the truths of the Scriptures to your life today, as well as Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer (SOAP) articles that offer an interactive framework to apply the Word of God to your life. Free digital resources included.

On the Bookshelf, 2016

2015 is coming to a close, and if you’ve learned anything about me thus far… I like to read.  So, in case you are still contemplating your 2016 reading list… here is a sneak peak at mine.  There is a combination of books, including ones I think deserve a re-read.

I’m sure I will be adding some things to the stack as 2016 progresses, but it is a start.  HA!

For what it is worth, none of these are advertisements or sponsored suggestions.  They are not affiliate links, so I am not making any money off the recommendations. books2016

Since I am completing my Bachelors in Divinity, and I know that I will be continuing in ministry of some sort, I really wanted to take a look into the functioning of the church as a whole.

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I also got my hands on a book I’ve been wanting to read on Women’s Ministry and material that may prove to be a good resource for beginning a discipling program.

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I’m also going to be revisiting two books I’ve already read.  Mere Christianity is a text I read earlier in my walk, and I’d like to read it from new more mature eyes.  Authentic Intimacy is coming to my town in January and I want to stay acquainted with the materials as I promote it with churches, leaders, and women I encounter.25qbooks merextian

I’ve definitely been focused on my personal relationship to God, especially now in a light of transition.  I know that God has something in mind, and sometimes I get a bit afraid.  Afraid of what He is going to ask of me, afraid I am not worthy of the calling, afraid I will fail, etc.  I’m looking forward to these 3 books (and yes, 1 doesn’t come out until Feb 2016… don’t covet they neighbor’s books. )  Technically I read one of the books already, but I actually want to take my time and go through it again.

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After reading Don Whitney’s Praying the Bible, I want to explore my prayer life more.  I also have a heart for revival, and realized that in all of the past stories I have heard about revivals… they all started with a prayer group starting somewhere.  Prayer is a powerful tool in the belt of a Christian.  I long to understand how to use it to the fullest capacity.

fervent ONECRY_full cover_122013b_highres cmykprayrevive

I am daily studying the scriptures directly, and I firmly stand on that being the primary way to study scripture.  However, I have always found blessing in other resources.  Two that I have heard great things about have made it to my list this year.  I’m not sure if I will attempt these on my own, or put together a study group (as of right now I already lead a Women of the Word study), I guess I need to pray about that.

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The other thing that is big on my agenda for 2016 is getting a better grip on my health, which I have known means reigning in my diet.  Having an autoimmune based thyroid condition means that I am constantly fighting against my own body.  It’s been a hit or miss on what works best for me, and I’ve been blessed to find an amazing doctor this year who helped me on the medication and supplement end.  Recently I was introduced to a plan by a friend, and I’ve heard good things from others with my condition.  So, I’m going to give it a try.  I bought the book & a cookbook.

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And to cap it off, I got another cookbook.  One thing most people don’t know about me is that I read cookbooks just like I would a novel.  I love them.  In fact I had so many cookbooks at one point, I had to pair down.  One of my favorite cookbooks was the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook, which is all about bread.  Great… but when the doctor tells you that you need to be gluten free… bread is a no-no.  Boooo.  Well, it turns out the authors came out with a NEW version that includes GLUTEN FREE recipes.  WOOOOOOO.   Merry Christmas to me.  If the gluten free recipes are anything like the original recipes, you’ll find me comatose in the corner … bread crumbs strewn about.

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So… what books are on your 2016 reading list?  Use the comment section to recommend something you read this year, that I MUST read.  Link to your blog with your 2015 or 2016 reading list.  Or, share which of the books I recommended jumped out at you as one you’d like to read.  Join the conversation, and let’s fill the bookshelves!  And you never know… there may be a drawing or two in the works!

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BOOK REVIEW: PROOF

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I find that most books I read fall into one of three categories.  Inspiring, like when I am reading someone’s testimony.  Motivating, the books that get you off your duff and into action.  Challenging, which are the books the make you stop & really think.  The ones where you find yourself re-reading the same chapter a few times because it is SO good, opened your eyes or challenged your preconceived notions about everything.

PROOF is without a doubt a Challenging book.  If I had to guess, I probably earmarked about every third page.  It was that good.  I’ve been reading a lot more lately, as I find myself in a season of life where my kids are more independent.  Recent reads have been lending them to identity, that we are image bearers of God and our identity in Christ comes before our ethnicity, gender, position or passion.  I think it is by no mistake that I would following those books up with PROOF, a book about God’s grace, given to those He has claimed as His own.

About the Authors:  Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

PROOF is a well written book that has substance that is presented in a very easy to read manner.  The authors make cultural reference that my age & a bit younger would relate to.  This makes this a great book for my generation and the next, because it is applicable and current.  You can identify each author by their own writing styles, but they give the reader the courtesy of identifying themselves as they hand off the baton.  They manage a solid balance between personal experiences and biblical truths, sticking to the subject and staying on course from beginning to end.

About the Book:   PROOF:  Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

With a title like that, where can it go wrong!  Without a doubt, this book will stop and make you think…. but you will walk away encouraged and, frankly, happier as you embrace grace gifted to you by God.  The authors have a very concise view on grace, that they spell out throughout the chapters.  PROOF isn’t just a title, it is an acronym for the elements of God given grace.  Scripture has a strong presence to back up their point of view & will challenge readers to examine their own views on what grace is & what it isn’t.

The book also discusses predestination, which for this reader, was a HUGE challenge.  I came into the book with a clear opinion on predestination.  While I can’t say that my opinion has definitively changed, the authors made valid points that are worth my further study.  I would recommend that you not allow your own opinions on predestination to keep you from reading this book.  Whether you agree with them or not, you will find yourself referencing and considering the scriptures as you read through their position.  A book that points you to further study the word…. YES PLEASE!  Like I said, this is a book I would categorize as a challenging.  Carve out some time to read through it carefully, refer to scripture as needed, and get ready to embrace the freedom of grace.

Highlights from the Text:

“Sometimes idols happen to be physical images of created beings, but not always.  Idols are also found in less obvious locations – in the balance of your bank account, in the praises of your peers, in the delusion that you can control your destiny.”    (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“If God waited to give the gift of salvation until one of us made the right response, we would all be damned.  That’s because, left to ourselves, none of us will ever desire what Jesus requires.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“God gives his grace according to his own sovereign design, and his design has never depended on any potential he saw in us.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“Many of us remain completely addicted to a legal method of salvation that tries to barter our best deeds for divine blessing.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

Purchase Information:

BOOK:   PROOF – Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

AUTHORS:   Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones

PUBLISHER:  Zondervan

ISBN: 978-0-310-51389-6