Saturday, April 4, 2020

Preparing to Study | From the Archives


Inevitably, when one thinks of studying God's Word, the first question to arise is, "What should I study?" God's Word deals with every aspect of life and has the answer to every question.
According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4 

With so many options, what should we study? The answer for each individual is different, based on their need of the moment.

Choose Something That Relates Directly to You
~Has the Lord convicted you about an area in your life on which you need to work? (ex. anger, bitterness, forgiveness, pride, humility, giving, love, self-control, etc.)

~Are you memorizing a verse and do not understand all of the words?

~Is there a specific portion of Scripture that the Lord has brought to your attention?  

~Has a specific word stood out to you recently? (ex. trust, forgiveness, self-control, etc.)

~Do you have questions about a certain subject? (ex. God's grace, security of salvation, modesty, literature, etc.)

Keep a List
As you read through those questions, the Lord may have prompted your heart about a few topics. Write them down. Now. Keep your list handy (in the front sleeve of your Bible, on your night-stand, anywhere you frequent) so that any time a topic or question comes to your mind, you can jot it down to remember for later. This list is very useful when you have completed one topic and are wondering what to study next.

Gather Your Supplies
There are several tools that are very helpful to have when you study God's Word: Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Webster's 1828 dictionary (assuming you are studying with the King James), and a notebook. If you are using your computer, I highly recommend e-Sword (www.e-sword.net), a free Bible software program on which you can download all of these resources.

Prepare Your Heart
There are different ways to approach the Bible, both good and bad:
     ~to extract from Scripture what it actually says (exegesis)
     ~to read into it what you want it to say (eisegesis)
     ~to learn what God's Word really says about an issue
     ~to fuel your argument and prove your point to someone else
     ~to go to God's Word with your mind already made up what you want to see

Psalm 119:18 says, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law." Our motive for studying God's Word should never be to prove our points but to open our hearts to what God wants to teach us. Before we study, we should always set aside time to prayerfully prepare our hearts and ask God to give us a teachable spirit so that He can do His work in us.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Waiting for What "Foundation?" | From the Archives



There are many “buts” in our life. The “buts” are generally . . . excuses. “I would do this, but . . .”

The other day, I found a very interesting “but” in God’s Word. 
From the first day of the seventh month began they (Israel) to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid. (Ezra 3:6)

Israel was coming from the pagan enemy’s land to rebuild the temple by decree of King Cyrus (see Ezra 1:1-3). Almost immediately when they returned to Jerusalem, the city of the temple, they began sacrificing to God. 

Nothing hindered their service to the one true God. Not even the fact that the temple was not prepared or ready!

As I read this captivating story of Israel’s return to God, I began to realize that there are many “foundations” I am placing as prerequisites for my service to God. Things that in my eyes make sense, but in reality are a just an excuse for my disobedience to God’s gentle prodding. 

It can be as easy as, “Lord, if you answer this prayer, then I will . . .” or, “Yes, Lord, I see that I should do this, but I must wait until tomorrow.” or as far-sighted as, “Lord, I’ll do this, but it makes sense to be married first.” 

When we feel God’s leading, we do not need the “foundation of the temple” to be set in order before we begin. We can begin as soon as He tells us.

What “foundation” are you waiting for before giving your life, your possessions, and your time to God?


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Refocus | From the Archives



A young man is hit while riding his motorcycle to college, suffering many broken and fractured bones.

A mom of seven is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer throughout her body.

A man in his mid-fifties is taken down with a stroke and struggling in the hospital, while children and grandchildren watch.

A woman in her thirties suffers from liver disease and sees her husband suddenly pulled under water and carried away by the undertow.

These are four real-life situations that I have heard of from friends in the past few months. The list can go on as we each add our sorrows and difficulties. As we review the list, our hearts can begin to grow weary and depressed.

Jeremiah struggled with the same thing. He watched his beloved city besieged and God’s chosen people taken captive because of their disobedience. In Lamentations 3:1-20, Jeremiah reflects on the miserable sorrow he felt. Then suddenly, verse 21 comes with, “This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope.” Hope? In difficult situations?

Jeremiah suddenly refocused his thoughts. He chose to take his focus off the difficult situations he was facing and replace that focus to God:
It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 
They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. 
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. 
The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. 
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.(Lamentations 3:22-26)

Because of his concentration on God, Jeremiah was able to find hope and joy in any situation.

Are you going through a difficult time right now? Perhaps you need to refocus. Instead of letting the difficulties drag you down and hinder you, count your blessings and reflect on God. Read through the Psalms and copy verses that portray God’s mercy, graciousness, compassion, faithfulness, love, and hope. Praise God for all that He has done for you. Turn your focus from this world and put it on Christ. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Chasing the White Lion | Book Review


About the Book
Young CIA officer Talia Inger has reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn't mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she's trying to put behind her. Still, she'll need him--and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie--if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she'll run right up against the ragged edge of her family's dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it's win . . . or die. And in times like that, it's always good to have someone watching your back.

Former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James Hannibal takes you deep undercover into the criminal underworld where everyone has an angle and no one escapes unscathed.

My Review
Book two was just as engaging and intriguing as book one--actually, I think I can honestly say that I enjoyed it more than book one. I’m loving these characters! They are all so diverse and yes, entertaining.

Like I said for book one (which you MUST read before this one!), this is an adventure-driven book that takes you all around the world. The situations are surreal, but so cool that I loved each and every point of the plot. I have never read "Hunger Games," but from what little I know about it, this book definitely had some "Hunger Games" hints toward the end.

The faith message was stronger and more prevalent in this book, which I appreciated. I found the salvation message presented was very... unique. It dealt with repentance and trust, but it was totally in a conversation that related to a criminal. That was very interesting.

There is a little progress in the romance field. Nothing super conclusive yet, but leading there. And I’ll admit, I kind of like where it’s hinting at!

*I received this book from the publishers and happily gave my honest review*

Monday, March 16, 2020

Out of the Embers | Book Review


About the Book
Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents' murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don't include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

My Review
This was my first time to try Amanda Cabot. It was clean. It was sweet. It was western. And it had a hint of mystery.

Thinking back over the book as a whole, I really can't say what the spiritual plot or message was. They were Christians and prayed (particularly when difficulty arose), but though the MC had to learn to accept safety and trust, it wasn't really a Christian message so much as it was her circumstances that changed. So, I'd have to say it was kind of weak in that area.

The romance would be what most people term as "sweet." It progressed at a moderate pace throughout the book. There were a few kisses, but nothing untoward that I recall.


*I received this book from the publishers and happily provided my honest review*

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Sit at Jesus' Feet | From the Archives



Martha was a “restless will, hurried to and fro.” She was busy, but by her busyness, she missed out on what Jesus said was “that good part.” That good part which Mary chose: simply sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening, learning, but otherwise, doing nothing!!!! (see Luke 10:38-42*)

Often, as single girls, we dream of “Martha lives” as we observe what we perceive as dull nothingness. Whether we desire to be an adoring bride, a mother, a pastor’s wife, a girls’ counselor, or a “busy bee,” we cannot move beyond our single, seemingly stagnant years.

In her Bible study book, Living With Passion and Purpose, Elizabeth George reflected how Jesus spent thirty years before ministering for three years, concluding, 
“He shows us that, if we desire ministries to others, we must start with preparation . . . and then wait for God to provide the opportunities.”

As single girls, we might have many hopes and dreams for ministry. 

But . . . now . . . as we live our single years in our parents’ homes without the busyness previously mentioned, we should be content to “sit at Jesus’ feet” and learn and prepare

We have no clue what plans God has for us, but we can learn what God’s Word says. We can gird our armor and spiritually equip ourselves for what lies ahead. As busy brides, mothers, wives, and counselors, we will not always have an hour or two to dive into God’s Word – but we do now.

Instead of frustrating our lives with dreams of busyness, why don’t we relax in the time God has given us and sit at His feet, absorbing His Word? 

Why don’t we learn as much as we can? 

Let us not throw away “that good part” that we have now and waste it on dreams and frivolous things.


~~
“Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Previously published on May 16, 2013

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Key to Forgiveness - Part 5 of 5 | From the Archives


Forgiveness Involves More than “I Forgive You.”
Jesus said, 
“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18:35, emphasis added)

Forgiveness involves more than us merely mumbling, “I forgive you.” We see clear evidence of this by looking at God’s character.

1) God’s Forgiveness is backed by love
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, emphasis added) 

The whole reason God sent Jesus for us to have Eternal forgiveness, was because of His love for us (1 John 4:10). We can easily accept that love, but we must do more than accept it – we must embrace it as a pattern for our lives. 

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34, emphasis added) 

God’s love was manifested in His forgiveness for us. Our love for God should be manifested in our forgiveness towards others (John 14:15).

2) God’s forgiveness always involves a sacrifice
In the Levitical law, God required that an animal be sacrificed (Leviticus 4-7). He would look down from heaven, see the sacrifice, and forgive (Leviticus 4:31). 

In an action of love that only God can understand, He gave the ultimate sacrifice – His own Son – for our eternal forgiveness (John 3:16). To forgive God’s way, it involves a sacrifice; most often, a personal sacrifice.

3) God never “grades” sin – He just forgives
Sacrifices covered multiple “types” of sin in the Levitical law. There was no offense that could not be forgiven via sacrifice (Leviticus 4:26, 4:35, 5:10, 6:7, 19:22, Number 14:19, 15:28). 

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He died for “small” sins of deceit, murmuring, covetousness, gossip, and idle thoughts as well as the “big” sins of dishonor, rebellion, murder, theft, fornication, adultery, and unfaithfulness. Christ died to forgive all sins (Acts 5:31, Acts 13:38, Acts 26:18, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14). 

If we, through God’s grace, are to embrace Christ-like forgiveness, it means that we must be willing to forgive any type of sin that others commit: lying, thefts, deceit, rebellion, murder, and adultery.

4) God forgives fully without expecting payback
When God sees true repentance, He forgives (1 Kings 8:47-50, Acts 3:19, Acts 5:31, Acts 8:22). He does not hold grudges, wait to see if the person will “prove themselves worthy of forgiveness,” or “get even.” Those are all human actions. 

As Christians, we are commanded, 
“If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4) 

Nothing is said of conditional forgiveness (“Forgive if . . .”). Actually, we are commanded to not retaliate or get even (Proverbs 24:29, Romans 12:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:9).

5) God does not “just forgive”
God’s forgiveness reaches far beyond the words, “You are forgiven.” 

When God forgives, He also heals (2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 103:3), cleanses (1 John 1:9), covers (Psalm 85:2) and forgets (Jeremiah 31:34). 

Following His example, we should be ready to restore and heal the relationships – not “turn a cold shoulder.” We should be willing to cover the sins of others – not gossip about them and unearth them for others to see.

With these five points (a deeper study on the character of God’s forgiveness would reveal many more), we see that there are some things that we cannot do with forgiveness:
~Forgive and stay angry (Ecclesiastes 7:9, Ephesians 4:26)
~Forgive and continually bring up the case (Psalm 85:2)
~Forgive and hate our brother (1 John 2:9-12, 1 John 3:15-16)
~Forgive and gossip about our brother (Leviticus 19:16, Proverbs 11:13)
~Forgive and retaliate/get even (Matthew 5:39-42, Romans 12:17, 1 Peter 3:9)
~Forgive and hold a grudge (Leviticus 19:18, Proverbs 24:29, Romans 12:19, James 5:9)

Conclusion
To forgive like Christ forgives us seems difficult if not impossible. But we can be assured that in any trouble we face, we can go to Christ, Who knows exactly how to help us.  
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

With every problem, God gives a solution. Our case is not a “singular exception” but rather something that all men struggle with. 

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

To forgive is not an easy path, but for the believer, it is the right path. We must daily choose whether or not we will follow the right path that God has set before us.

Previously published on May 2, 2013

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Key to Forgiveness - Part 4 of 5 | From the Archives


Unforgiveness Hinders our Relationship with God

What if God forgives us exactly how we forgive others? Would we honestly desire to pray, 
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors? (Matthew 6:12, emphasis added) 

We take for granted that God will forgive us. In fact, we expect God to forgive us . . . even when we fail to forgive others. But, according to Christ, such is not the case.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:26)
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” (Luke 6:37)

Jesus concludes the parable of the unjust servant with
“Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18:32-35, emphasis added)

Because God has forgiven us so great a debt, we are then required to forgive others.
 “. . . For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required. . .” Luke 12:48

Beyond being required of us, our lack of forgiveness directly affects our prayer...
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.  And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:24-26) 

... and our giving.
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Matthew 5:23-24

We should continually check our hearts before God, to see if there is any “spirit of unforgiveness” in us.

. . . to be continued next week . . .


Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Land Beneath Us | Book Review



My Review
I love a good WWII novel, and Sarah Sundin’s books categorize about everything I love in a good WWII book: the home front, an in depth view of soldier life, and historical accuracy.

Both Leah and Clay were very likable characters that I instantly wanted something good to happen to. Their backstories were different and though they could have learned the same lessons, they didn’t—and I loved that. Clay had to learn about true forgiveness and Leah’s lesson was on acceptance.

Speaking of their lessons learned, that is where the spiritual thread was woven tightly. I loved how she pulled in the prodigal son story, but from the elder brother’s viewpoint. I found it very realistic how Clay had to learn forgiveness in “layers.” When he thought he had forgiven, he had to learn a new layer of forgiveness. Well done.

One thing that could have been weird was Clay’s dream. I was curious how she would handle the dream, because so many times dreams are used very weirdly. I think she used it realistically without crossing the line into too mystical.

Their romance was super sweet—nothing with their romance made me cringe. However, there is a rape scene (or the aftermath) and several other rapes mentioned. Because of that, I would caution younger readers.

I loved this book though. A very satisfying historical read with a strong and applicable Christian message.

*I received this book from the publishers and happily provided my honest review*

About the Book
In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the U.S. Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers' betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for—fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family—the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah's life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-Day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay's recurring dream comes true?
 

The Key to Forgiveness - Part 3 of 5 | From the Archives


Truths About Forgiveness

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:12-13, emphasis added)

This thought is explained in detail in Matthew 18:23-35. Jesus tells a parable of a master whose servant owed Him ten thousand talents (vs. 24). The servant fell on his knees and begged his master’s forgiveness (vs.26). The master was moved with compassion and promptly forgave his servant (vs. 27). The servant immediately went out and found another servant who owed him a mere one hundred pence and violently demanded that he pay him (vs. 28). 

We see a similar picture of the servant with his master: the debtor fell on his knees and begged the other servant to be patient with him (vs. 29). It seems like the servant who had just been forgiven his ten thousand talents would have compassion. Instead, he threw his debtor into prison (vs. 30). When the master heard how his servant had treated his debtor, he was angry and delivered him to the tormentors (vs. 31-34). Jesus concludes this parable with, 
“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18:35)

I think that many of us would like to defend our case and, like Peter, ask, 
“Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” (Matthew 18:21) 

Surely we have been patient enough! Surely, we have borne enough wrong at their hand! However, Jesus replied, 
“I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22) 

As children of God, we are commanded to forgive others. We are the man who owed ten thousand talents and Jesus Christ our Master freely forgave us our debt. Will we, in return, turn to our “fellow-servant” with unforgiveness, bitterness, and grudges towards their “debt of one hundred pence”? Or will we remember how compassionate Christ was towards us, and freely forgive others’ sins against us? As with all of God’s commands, He gives the strength to obey His command to forgive others, but He also allows us to make the choice whether or not we will obey.

. . . to be continued next week . . .


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Resting Life | Cover Reveal

Friends, a gorgeous cover for an encouraging Christian living non-fiction book is being revealed today! Resting Life: Jesus' Rest for the Busy or Burdened Believer is an upcoming release by Erika Mathews.

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 But first, all the details.

RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2020! Mark your calendars!
...but you can skip the calendar part if you preorder the ebook on Amazon. You'll automatically get the best price, and the book will appear right on your device bright and early on release day! (And Amazon is kind enough to notify you, so you can be among the very first to read the book if you wish!)

But do you actually want to preorder already? What is this new book about? Is it worth your time?

ABOUT THE BOOK
Can your busy, stressful reality truly transform into the abundant, restful reality of the kingdom of God? The Bible says yes. Through rest in Christ, your life can be fulfilled, productive, peaceful, and free to give and receive love. But just what is Biblical rest, and how can it seamlessly fuse with your modern life? In Resting Life: Jesus’ Rest for the Busy or Burdened Believer, Bible teacher Erika Mathews addresses this question. Discover the unification of rest with practical daily life, relationships with others, spiritual warfare, ministry, witnessing, prayer, meditation, fruitfulness, and personal abiding. Through understanding and embracing God’s rest, you too will be uplifted, challenged, encouraged, and freed to live life as He intended—within Him.
Now go preorder. :)

But why preorder at all? Why not wait until the book is released? Besides the fact that you'll automatically get the lowest price, and besides the fact that you won't have to actually remember to order the book later, did you know that preorders stack up and count as sales on release day? Multiple preorders alert Amazon that this book is popular, and the more popular Amazon's system sees the book is, the more people Amazon will suggest and show it to, and the higher it will rank in what people see. This means this book - and the message of this book - will be able to reach many more people. This is immensely helpful for visibility in the thousands of books for sale. So if you'd like the ebook, preordering is the way to go.
You don't want the ebook?
There's a place to preorder a paperback too!
You want to know more about the author first?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erika Mathews (square) - Copy-min Erika Mathews is an author and editor who lives in the farm country of Minnesota with her husband and children. She’s a homeschool graduate with a Bachelor’s in Communications, a Master’s in Biblical Ministries, and a passion for sharing Jesus Christ and His truth. She wrote Resting Life out of meditations and prayers during her three years at Bible School. When she’s not working with books, she enjoys reading, outdoor activities, piano and violin, organizing, and using the Oxford comma. You can connect with Erika at restinglife.com.

Ready to preorder (Kindle) (Paperback) now?
Of course not. You came here for the cover...and so the cover you shall have.

ISN'T IT GORGEOUS?

Resting Life Front Cover 2.8.20
Design credit goes to Sarah Grace Grzy.
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And enjoy the back cover, since back covers don't often get as much love:
Resting Life Back Cover
*Applause! Cheering! Throwing of confetti! Cookies for all!*
*Deep sigh of contentment*

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Thank you so much for attending this reveal party. Watch Erika's Instagram this month for release celebrations, Bible studies based on Resting Life, and giveaways. May the blessings of the Lord be upon you today!

And now you can safely preorder. :)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Girl's Guide to the Outback | Book Review


My Review

Once again, being a romcom (and me a not-so-romantic), I wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting into. But I love comedy, so why not give it a try? And it was funny. Sometimes really awkwardly funny more than just can’t-help-but-laugh funny, but there was humor twined throughout the story.

The Australian setting was really cool, and I feel like Jessica gives a great tour-guide in her book, explaining terminology and such that we Americans aren’t used to.

The storyline overall was very interesting. In a way, it moved slowly for me—as a lot happened while the main plotline crawled forward. Or maybe I was just impatient to get to the solution faster (because I’m more of a Kim personality).

The characters were diverse and interesting. I loved their backstory and how it was woven into the present-day struggles they faced.

The spiritual thread definitely made this book stronger. At first I was wondering if it was going to be a typical world-influenced, mission-building story, but that seemed to be the misconception of one MC’s point-of-view in the beginning. There were many times when the story seemed independent of a spiritual plot, but when it came down to the end, it was a beautiful message of surrendering to God’s hand (and leaving it there) and releasing past confusion and discouragements when He’s leading an individual on a new path.

Everything that could be defined as “romantic content” was what made me the most uncomfortable. I’m just not appreciative of descriptions such as “her uterus did a backflip of approval” and “sexy” as a description and wondering if a girl has pajamas on under her robe. I guess… they may be very real guy/girl thoughts, but I personally feel like these are fleshly lusts that aren’t what should be paraded for a God-honoring, clean romance. I realize these are my personal thoughts, so if things like that don’t bother you as a reader, you’ll probably find nothing wrong with this book. There are some passionate kisses, but overall it would be considered a clean romance.

 *I received this book from Celebrate Lit and happily provided my honest review*

About the Book
How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humor.

 Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly.
 When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavor, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church.
 As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future?
Click here to get your copy.
About the Author
Australian author Jessica Kate writes inspirational romances with wit, sass, and grit. Jessica is a screenwriting groupie, cohost of the StoryNerds vlog and podcasts, and her favorite place to be—apart from Mum and Dad’s back deck—is a theme park. She has traveled North America and Australia, and samples her favorite pasta wherever she goes—but the best (so far) is still the place around the corner from her corporate day job as a training developer. She loves watching sitcoms with her housemates and being a leader in a new church plant. Visit her online at jessicakatewriting.com; Instagram: jessicakatewriting; Facebook: jessicakatewriting; Twitter: @JessicaKate05.

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Key to Forgiveness - Part 2 of 5 | From the Archives



God’s Forgiveness Available for Us
Though God’s very character is one of forgiveness, we are sinful and cannot simply reflect on God’s forgiving character. Something must be done so that we can personally experience that forgiveness.

In the Old Testament law, when a man came to make things right with God, he had to bring a payment. For any sin (theft, murder, adultery, ignorant sin, purposeful sin), an animal was to be brought to the priest. The priest would sacrifice the animal as a peace-offering between man and God and the sin would be forgiven (see Leviticus 4:20-26, Leviticus 5, Numbers 15). A sacrifice was required in order for one to gain God’s forgiveness.

This type of sacrifice for forgiveness continued for centuries. However, God had a better plan. Since “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission {freedom, pardon}” (Hebrews 9:22), “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Jesus Christ came to earth to shed His own blood – to be the sacrificial lamb so that we could have remission of sins (Matthew 26:28, Acts 2:38, Romans 3:25). 

We fully deserved to pay the full price for our sin (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23), but when Christ died in our place it made the way for God to freely forgive us. 

Today, it is only through Christ’s blood that we can receive full forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14), but we must accept Christ’s blood atonement. 

To reject the Blood would be to reject God’s forgiveness (John 3:18, John 3:36, John 6:54).

Before we can forgive others, we must accept forgiveness. We cannot understand the heart of forgiveness until we understand God’s forgiveness for us. We cannot forgive others in our own strength, because true forgiveness only comes from God and through God’s power.

We must examine our hearts to see if we have truly accepted Christ’s forgiveness for our sins. If we have not, what is keeping us from asking God for His forgiveness and accepting His free gift of salvation? We cannot merely say, “God knows I’m wrong, God’s knows I’ve sinned.” Though God is all-seeing, He is also waiting for us to humble ourselves and bow before His holiness, recognizing our transgression (Psalm 51:3-4), confessing our sins (1 John 1:9), and asking His forgiveness (Matthew 7:7-11, Luke 11:9-13, John 14:12-13, James 4:2, 1 John 5:14-15). When we ask, God forgives us freely.

. . . to be continued next week . . .

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