What Do We Do With God?

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 3.51.34 PMA BOOK REVIEW
I was immediately captivated by the quote on the back cover. “We fell in love with Jesus. Then we had to decide what to do with God.” Singer and songwriters Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens in their book Transcending Mysteries: Who God Is, and What Does He Want From Us? take us on a journey of reconciling the seemed differences many of us struggle with between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New.

They begin the book with the paradox of desiring to surrender to God but not fully comprehending Him. BUT, “As we read, studied, researched, and opened our minds to God’s unyielding interactions wit the Israelites, we . . . discovered a relationship driven by love.”

I found the vulnerability of both authors to be the most compelling feature of this book. It allowed me (and I’m sure many other readers) to feel like I wasn’t alone and that God’s love and grace was available to me even at my worse.

“I tend to make decisions out of a need to control, fostering an environment of dizzying anxiety.”

“I still wonder if God loves me.”

“Feeling the weight of regret, my emotions surfaced, producing a pesky lump in my throat and blurry eyes.”

“If my journey had been different, my songs would have been different as well.”

The provided lyrics from their songs enhance each chapter and the artist inside of me resonated with each word of complaint, praise, questioning and exaltation. This book would make a welcome addition to any Christian’s bookshelf BUT especially those of us who yearn to know Him more but often find it difficult because His ways are often above our ways and just don’t make sense. I received this book for free from publisher through BookLook Bloggers in exchange of my honest opinion.

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Don’t Hide From “The Talk”

friendsBOOK REVIEW

Our young people are living in confusing times when it comes to relationships and sexual identity. As Christians, homosexuality is possibly the most contentious cultural issue we are regularly confronted with. It is of utmost importance that parents are knowledgeable on the cultural changes going on around them and know how to wisely point their children in the right direction, especially when it comes to the matter of identity and loving our neighbors as representatives of Christ. Don’t hide from “the talk!”

The author begins “CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens” by using Scriptures to lay a foundation but quickly addresses the importance of a loving relationship and open communication between parent and teen. He then moves to the child’s other important relationships: his/her friends, teachers, professors and administrators.

I love it when an author or pastor takes the time think of the hard questions one might pose before confronting an issue. This book is packed full of the possible accusations and inquiries a Christian might face when approaching the topic of homosexuality. He categorizes these challenges around the areas of God and the Bible, social policy, intolerance and hate.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.39.30 AMSome of the most important advice comes in his talking about our love in action, listening, humility and touch in our relationships with the LGBT community. Yes, I did say touch. The author states, “Next to listening, it (touch) seems the next most important way to connect in is a very simple one: a friendly touch or casual shoulder hug.” I am so grateful for this short but extremely important challenge and setting straight on the term homophobia.

This is an crucial conversation and vital book. We must communicate with our children wisely and this book helps us ask the right questions and seek the Bible for our answers. Although the issue of homosexuality is controversial and although individual Christians we may not agree with each other ()or a book on the topic 100%, I believe that this guide for parents was written from a heart of love and offers a world of well-thought through wisdom and advice. Well done Tom! Thank you to Tom Gilson and Kregel Publications for a copy in exchange for this honest review.

Steve’s book writing adventure: “NOT A MALE FAIL: Finding Hope & Identity in a World of Macho Stereotypes” Here’s his blog post “You May Not Be Gay”

The Antidote to Restlessness

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“People look desperately for things to make them happy, often without realizing what they’re missing spiritually.”  ~ Jan David Hettinga

A BOOK REVIEW

Jan David Hettinga in his new book Still Restless: Conversations That Open the Door to Peace does an excellent job explaining that our restlessness comes from within – a longing that is in our DNA. We were all created for a kingdom bigger than ourselves and yet we try so hard to find inner peace and contentment our own way.

31yemfd3il-_sx321_bo1204203200_Spiritual peace is available to us and often comes with our being real with Christ, asking the hard questions, and finding true peace. These one-on-one conversations (thoroughly examined throughout the book) show us that we build kingdoms that crumble but Christ offers peace to our restlessness when we are willing to step through the door of repentance, faith and trust in Him.

Our straight forward gut-wrenching communication with Christ will allow us to “abandon our failed experiments with independence and self-rule” and be replaced “unexplainable peace” our “antidote for fear and restlessness.”

No book explains the kingdom of God, our profound purpose and God’s ultimate plan of redemption and peace any better that this. I highly recommend this book to all and especially those who are Still Restless.

Thank you to Jan David Hettinga and Kregel Publications for a copy in exchange for this honest review.

Beyond the Fence: Create Again!

Create Vs. Copy BOOK REVIEW

“Creativity elevates us. It’s standing on our tiptoes
and looking over the backyard fence.”
  Ken Wytsma

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I’m a fan of Ken Wytsma’s writing and so I was super excited to read his newest contribution on creativity and it doesn’t fail to fascinate. He does a great job in sharing how creativity is for all of us. We were created to be co-creators and our creativity is a response to God’s image and call to each of us. I often tell others that we were created to create – our purpose is to help bring hope, joy, peace, love and restoration to a broken world. Ken said it well when saying it’s about “being fully human”!

We are introduced to two kinds of people: those who create or copy. It’s not that learning from others is a bad thing, but when we allow ourselves to always copy instead of considering new ideas or relationships, we are selling ourselves and others short – our creative individualities and purposes fail. Creation brings with it many beautiful things: possibility, exploration, imagination, and intervention to name just a few.

“After dealing with the real world so long, we get stuck inside the parameters we encounter. We lose our ability to accept that crazy ideas and big dreams are possible. We become standardized and learn that wrong answers are bad. We stop dreaming and don’t try for fear of failure. Surprise and wonder become things of the past.”

We are reminded in the book that creating often requires change and risk. Although it might be uncomfortable at first (and we will have our critics), the experience is freeing both for the artist and the receiver. This is what Christianity, redemption and restoration is all about!

12513829_10153802946797649_1949842254889753932_oOne of my favorite reminders is that we should not allow a fear of failure stop us. Things “can be left unfinished.” “Not all creativity has to be perfected to be beautiful.” If we don’t challenge ourselves to create and just copy everything else around us – how will we truly see new and better results? This is what drove me to begin writing my own book on masculinity stereotypes. God wants us to take our story and learn how to creatively use what we learn along the way to make this world a more beautiful place!

And what would a book on creating be without some great and creative illustrations? Once again, Create Vs. Copy doesn’t fail to deliver. There’s even great suggestions for further study and helping our “creative juices” flow. A well-written book that I highly recommend, especially for those who feel stuck or needing a reminder that their story can make a difference in the lives of others. It’s time to get on your tippy-toes, look over the fences that are holding you back, and create once again!!

PURCHASE YOUR COPY HERE

 

The Imaginative & Inspiring Parenting World of YES

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A BOOK REVIEW

There are several Christian parenting books out there but very few that take us through the imaginative and inspiring parenting world of YES. Mark and Jan Foreman’s new book “Never Say No: Raising Big Picture Kids” is by far one of the best parenting books I have read in years!

Many words have been used to describe the book including: holistic, road map, inspiring, wise, authentic and game changing. I agree wholeheartedly. The central theme of the book is the premise that “God is one big YES for us, and we want to pay it forward to our own kids.”

This book will challenge you to connect with the heart of your child and delight in raising wise young people who will one day leave your home well-rounded and ready to take on the world! Because I’d love for many of you to purchase your own copy, I’m only going to share a few tidbits of advice the author’s share in their book:

  • Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 9.29.52 AMHow you were raised matters. You need to struggle with your past (the good and bad) in order to make a better future for your own children.
  • Your children want to matter. When they ask you to be a part of their world, take time for them. Never say no.
  • Include your kids in the things you do. They learn from us and how we act/ react to every day life. In the same way, don’t segregate your home into kid and adult areas, travel, experience different cultures and people – say YES to every experience that will make life richer.
  • Be a parent whose face lights up when you talk about your children. How? Never stop seeing “the poetry of God” in your children!
  • My biggest challenge was the encouragement to continue (as a parent) to make my own life interesting in order to foster interesting children!

This book is packed full of advice on how to make parenting an adventure of saying YES to the incredible things God wants us to experience, love, and embrace together as a family. In turn, we will raise well balanced children who will appreciate others, step forward in confidence, and change the world they live in.

“If we’ve raised our children to live creatively on the edge, loving God’s world, they will likely be drawn to a part of the world that need their light.”

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