Monday, May 12, 2014

Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee

""We all want someone to think we’re sensational. We desire to be recognized, to be valued, to be respected. To be loved. Yet this natural yearning too often turns into an idol of one of God’s most precious gifts: love itself. If you, like so many of us, spend your time and energy trying to earn someone’s approval—at work, home, and church—all the while fearing that, at any moment, the facade will drop and everyone will see your hidden mess . . . then love may have become an idol in your life. In this poignant and hope-filled book, Jennifer Dukes Lee shares her own lifelong journey of learning to rely on the unconditional love of God. She gently invites us to make peace with our imperfections and to stop working overtime for a love that is already ours. Love Idol will help us dismantle what’s separating us from true connection with God and rediscover the astonishing joy of a life full of freedom in Christ.""

All too often I worry about what everyone thinks of me. I am afraid to mess up and have people look at me and think; "Wow, she is not the christian she claims to be." or "She is such a hypocrite.". Even now I struggle with my desire for the world's approval, the church's approval and my family's approval. I have become so consumed with the fear of losing that approval that I have become miserable.

I often saw other christians and thought: "I wish I had it as together as they do." I now realize I am the only one holding myself back. I am starting to truly long for God's approval because in the scope of eternity, His approval is all that matters. It is not an easy task. I still struggle with wanting approval from others and often wonder what is wrong with me. After reading Jennifer Dukes Lee's book, I realized I wasn't the only one struggling. I had thought I might give this book away after I was done reading it but I started underlining so many sentences and paragraphs in the book that I decided I might need this for future reference, like next week or tomorrow.

I will gladly lend this to anyone who desires to read it and we can pray for each other in this lifelong battle. Once I decided that I wasn't going to worry about what the world had to say I physically felt a weight lift off of me. There are moments when I feel it start to press down on me again and I have to immediately pray for God's help. Thank God! He is there when I need Him. I need only live for Him and not for anyone else. It is so freeing.

I have often thought of idols as physical things, like a person, tv, money, homes, or cars. But now I realize it can be anything we set our hearts on. Anything we desire more than God. Such as love. What's wrong with love? Nothing as long as it is a Godly love, a pure unconditional love not a worldly love which is conditional and based on our performance. We will never live up to human standards. Yes, God has higher standards but He is also much more forgiving. He loved us before we were us. Before He created the world. Before He sent His Son to die for us. In spite of all the sin in our lives, He loves us! Praise God He loves us. Regardless of our performance, He will always love us. Now isn't that the approval you would rather strive for?

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Twists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situations [Kindle Edition] Stephen Altrogge

""This collection of stories is entitled Twists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situations. These short stories are not Christian stories. In fact, they don’t even deal with Christian themes. Rather, these are short stories about strange situations, the kind of strange situations only my strange brain could come up with. What sorts of strange situations?
- The Marlboro Man gets a modern, updated image makeover.
- The real story of what happened to Edmund Pevensie.
- The woman who discovered that you can’t recall a hitman.
- The kid with the unstoppable karate move…which turned out not to be unstoppable.
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s other dream.
- And many more.
The book officially releases on Friday, May 9th.""
This is the first time that I have reviewed a Kindle release book written by a friend of a friend. I have read many of his devotional blogs and find them thought provoking and I am curious to get his other Kindle releases and check them out as they are Christian in topic. So when the chance came to read his newest, albeit fictional, release; I thought:  "Why not :)".  Given that I read books and give reviews on them, I figured I could help out here. Maybe encourage a few to check his stuff out.
As his descriptions states, these are short stories about strange situations. I enjoyed a few of them. I found the stories about subjects I could relate to, like Edmund Pevensie's story and the unstoppable karate move, amusing. I think The Poker Game was my favorite. About halfway through the story I figured out who the characters were and just started chuckling and looked forward to reading the outcome. Some, most of the sports based ones, I found a little dull. But I don't get sports, so that is on me. He definitely has a unique sense of humor and puts a twist on stories that I would never think of. 
To be honest, there were a few that made no sense to me whatsoever but I am sure others would enjoy them. This book has a good mix of stories for all reading tastes. I recieved this book from Stephen Altrogge for my unbiased review. Check out his devotionals here:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Heart Wide Open

I haven't blogged in awhile, nor have I read very many books. I have let life consume me even though mine is slow and drab compared to many of my friends. I have been feeling overwhelmed by my lackluster walk with God. Feeling empty and wanting more. So I took a look at the  Blogging for Books website to see if there was a book that would catch my interest and maybe inspire me. I believe God led me there purposely. (It has been well over a year since I had visited there.) He led me to this book by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson called Heart Wide Open, Trading Mundane Faith For An Exuberant Life With Jesus.

Once I read the description of this book I knew I had to get it, if for no other reason but to jumpstart my flailing spirituality. Now I am hoping to inspire you to get it for yourself. Here is part of that description: As a Bible-believing churchgoer, author Shellie Tomlinson harbored a secret in her good-girl heart. She longed for something more than routine faith; she wanted to love God with a genuine, all-consuming passion. So she got honest with Him: “I admit it. I don’t love you like I should, but I want to love you. Help me!”  

It is exactly how I had been feeling lately. "God, I love you, but I don't love you like I should. And I want to want to. " The title of her first chapter;  "When All You Can Bring Him Is a Broken Want-To" is so fitting for me. (You can read the first chapter here: Read Chapter One) I know that this is a book I will read over and over again. I related to the author  a lot in this book. She gave examples of her own failures and also her victory in falling more in love with God. 

She also pointed out that this is NOT a one and done kind of "fix-it" book.  It is a present tense, ongoing adventure for life. "The more He answers these prayers, the more earnestly I petition Him for more. I ask God to give me more love for Jesus, more courage to go further, higher, and deeper. I want more hunger for His Word, more awareness of Him in my days, more faith through a growing obedience born out of gratitude, more of Him and less of me, and more love for those with me on the journey."

It is written in a "girlfriend to girlfriend" point of view, which was only a tad off-putting because I could think of a few men who might enjoy this book but might be a little wary of being called "Girlfriend". But if you can get past that I think everyone and any age can enjoy it. It would be a great book for new converts too. Especially since many might find a "fading" of joy after their initial conversion. But only because they don't know how to seek more of God, and how to get past the lies of the flesh telling us of our unworthiness to approach God.

In her final sub-section of the book, which is called "Chase Him Until He Catches You" she describes how she chased her husband while letting him think he was doing the chasing. She points out that we may have been acting on a whim when we picked out this book, but that it was no accident. "Whatever stimulated your interest, the yearning didn't originate with you. You're in God's cross hairs....What you're feeling is the Holy Spirit wooing you to the Father." I was no accident that I happened to go to that book blogging website and that this book happened to be available for reading. I was in God's cross hairs.

Thank you, Father :) I am ready to fall more in love with You,with Your help, of course.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. I did not have to post a positive review.