Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All to Jesus



Title:  All to Jesus
Author:  Robert J. Morgan                                                                                                            
Pages:  400
Year:  2012
Publisher:  B & H Books
                “All” is such a little word that can have a huge impact if we first notice it and then see in what context it is being used.  The word can be inclusive or exclusive.  When it is in reference to mankind and God, the implications can be numerous.  How many hymns do you know that contain the word “All” in the title, for example, “I Surrender All”?  Do you know any of the history connected with hymns?  There are books out there that give a glimpse as to the story behind the song.  Some of the hymns’ melodies used to be melodies one would hear in a tavern.  Others were written without any previous use for any other reason; God gave the writer the melody to words written from the heart of another human being.  When you purchase this 365 day devotional, you will be invited to download more than 40 songs to help usher you into His Presence.
                The beauty of God’s Word is that it is living, active, and sharper than a two-edged sword.  We can hear, study, and read the Word many times.  Then, perhaps during a season of our lives, The Holy Spirit causes us to be struck by a verse like never before.  Maybe it is a single word that seems to jump off the page or an entire verse.  Regardless of the how, it is refreshing to our hearts when we are drawn into His Presence through the Word of God.
                Robert Morgan will share the reason for this devotional in the introduction part of the book.  A sample follows:  He was struggling with a particular matter when he was reading 1 Peter 5:7, and that word “all” struck his heart.  The verse mentioned is the one where we are told to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  We might not see a three letter word as important when we study Scripture, but just in one verse we see that nothing could be further from the truth.
                Since Robert was drawn to the word “all”, he wondered if it was used frequently in the Bible.  Imagine his shock when he saw that the word is used over 5,000 times.  So I guess we can say that if it is important to God, it should be important to we who follow Him.  Here is a tool to take a year, for example, and bask in His many uses of the word “all”.  We will see where it is located, what words surround it, perhaps even gain a new appreciation for the “all” that Jesus gave for us.  The writer of this devotional leads us through the passages, shares his thoughts as he learned anew what God means when He says “all”, plus how that affects we who love the Lord.
                What are you planning to study in 2013 as each day you sit at the Lord’s feet to hear His heartbeat?  Are you willing to be encouraged, comforted or challenged by what God speaks to you through 2013?  In the back of this devotional, are blank pages where you can write prayers to the Lord.  If you decide to us this devotional for the year in a small group setting, a website with additional resources is mentioned in the book.
                I can testify that through the many seasons of my life thus far, having time to listen and speak to the Lord has value beyond compare.  Quiet times or devotions aren’t automatic for some and many seem to struggle to have time with Him.  Look ahead now and prayerfully consider what the Lord wants you to learn in your time with Him next year.  Don’t worry about failing to be perfect.  We can’t be perfect now or ever whether it is in our devotion time or anything else.  Let God lead you and The Holy Spirit bring you into the Presence of God one day at a time.  As I looked through this devotional, went to the website and listened to hymns, I was blessed over and over again.  I pray that you will seriously consider using All to Jesus for your devotions in 2013.  Whatever you use, just enjoy Him because He does care for you more than you know.
                My rating is 4 stars.
                Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Christ and the Desert Tabernacle



Title:  Christ and the Desert Tabernacle
Author:  J. V. Fesko                                                                                                                          
Pages:  132
Year:  2012
Publisher:  EP Books
                How many times have you read through the Old Testament?  Have you ever studied the Tabernacle in all its’ wonder?  For over a year now a girlfriend and I have been studying the Tabernacle, and we still aren’t done.  We don’t get it done every week, but we study at a depth that requires a lot of time.  I say this not to boast, but to show as an example that it is so wonderful and there is much we can learn.  We could spend a lifetime and never unearth all the treasures in God’s Word.
                In this small book, there are some truths that the author shares regarding the Tabernacle from God’s instructions to the workers gifted with the Holy Spirit.  As with any topical study, there are probably some statements made by the author you won’t agree with.  However, if you read the reference to which he is speaking on, you will also find nuggets of truth.  God hasn’t told us everything, so there is a mystery aspect to the Tabernacle and all that it includes.
                I think because God doesn’t tell us everything some authors reference other writings.  If we want to understand, to know Him, and His ways, it is best to compare Scripture to Scripture.  Some questions we have may not be answered until we are in heaven.  Remember the Tabernacle was a shadow of the real Tabernacle in heaven.  We can learn many interesting applications from this small book.  We even get a glimpse of his heart when he shares why he wrote it.  The reason he wrote the book is too many of God’s people have remained ignorant of the Old Testament for various reasons or excuses.  However, the Bible is a whole book which includes the Old and New Testaments.  I love the Tabernacle because it is a shadow that points to Christ as the reality!
                As with all books, read with discernment, but take away from it the truths that the Lord speaks to your heart.  If you haven’t ever studied the Tabernacle, read the Old Testament and see what shadows are there that point to Christ.
                My rating is 3 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beyond the Storm Review



Title:  Beyond the Storm
Author:  Carolyn Zane                                                                                                                     
Pages:  270
Year:  2012
Publisher:    Abingdon Press
                Beyond the Storm is the next installment in the Quilts of Love series.  Each novel in the series has a strong female lead character, who experiences the trials of life, romance, and perhaps a little mystery.  This particular novel is of the contemporary fiction genre and takes place in Rawston, Illinois.  There are also discussion questions about the story included at the end of the book.
                Abigail Durham is the owner of a hair salon, the Doo Drop-In.  She is sassy and spirited.  She has worked for the last three years to revamp and upgrade her hair salon to bring in more customers.  She has finally started seeing success.  She goes to church when she doesn’t have anything else to do on a Sunday morning.  Each year a special quilt is made for the festival and auctioned off with the proceeds going to charity.  What will the quilt’s theme be this year?  Abby has volunteered to run a booth at the upcoming quilt festival.  People come from all over for this festival, so a huge crowd is expected.  Unfortunately, there are problems with the construction of her booth according to a phone message left by Justin Girard.  She returns his call and gives him an earful not realizing he has donated his time and that the problems are with the city permits and ordinances of which he has no control over.  They agree to meet.  After a short discussion with Justin, Abby leaves, but doesn’t get far when disaster soon strikes.  Will Abby’s hard work be all for nothing after tragedy strikes?  How can a loving God let something like this happen?  Will she risk a relationship with Justin?  Is he worth risking her heart?
                Justin Girard has lived in Rawston, Illinois, for a little over a year.  He attends church every week and is a compassionate young man.  He runs his own small contracting business and works closely with the local hardware store owner, who is a Christian mentor to him.  Justin has relocated to Rawston from the east coast to keep an eye on his aging grandparents whose health is beginning to fail.  Who is this lady calling him up and blasting away at him?  When the “storm” strikes, how is Justin affected?  Can Abby be the one for him?
                There are many other small stories going on at the same time, but the story is not hard to follow.  The lives of many of the other citizen’s around town are also shared.  There is the local hardware handyman, the unhappy couple forced to marry as teenagers due to an unplanned pregnancy, a high school youngster going to prom, a Japanese family running their restaurant as well as Olympic hopefuls in the figure skating competition.  These details really flesh-out the story and provide many interesting diversions.  There is one especially heart-wrenching scene that brought a tear to my eye, but I won’t spoil it by telling you about it.  Throughout this tragedy, people begin to realize that God is present in the midst of tragedy and can do wonderful things in the aftermath of something so terrible.
                My rating is 3 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Beyond the Storm
Abingdon Press (October 2012)
by
Carolyn Zane


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author of 35 books, wife, mother and yes…hot (flasher) lives with her fabulous husband, Matt and their 5 children and 3 dogs in the scenic Willamette Valley in Oregon. When asked to describe her family, Carolyn likens her crowd to the Brangelia Bunch saying modestly, “Only we’re better looking.” Right now,Carolyn is back in the saddle with her new title: Beyond The Storm, coming out in October 2012! In the mean time, be sure to catch her on the critically acclaimed TOOHOTMAMAS Blog where Carolyn and Wendy tackle Marriage, motherhood and menopause: How to do all three and stay out of prison! They are hilarious! You'll wet yourself, guaranteed! Visit them at: www.toohotmamas.wordpress.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After a tornado rips through her town, store owner Abigail comes across a piece of fabric from a wedding dress among the devastation. Abigail is moved to start collecting other swatches of fabric she finds – her neighbor’s kitchen curtains, a man’s necktie, a dog’s bed – which she stashes in shopping bags. As she pursues her seemingly absurd quest, horrible realities spark the question, “What kind of a God would allow such tragedy?”

As she struggles to reconcile her right to happiness amidst the destruction, Abigail begins piecing together a patchwork quilt from the salvaged fabric in hopes it will bring some peace. But a new relationship with Justin, a contractor, may require too much of her fragile heart. Will her pain and questions of faith give way to the courage to love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beyond the Storm, go HERE.

Soul's Gate



Title:  Soul’s Gate
Author:  James Rubart                                                                                                                    
Pages:  400
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
                Look at the title again.  What do you think this novel will be about?  Have you read other novels by this author?  For me, this is the first one I have read by this particular author, and I will tell you I was hooked as soon as I opened the book.  Here is a storyteller that uses various genres to tell a couple of truths about the Lord, freedom, and warfare in a way that helps visualize the action while reading it.  Today many attempts are made in various ways to capture the interest of an audience to read a novel.  Some have use YouTube videos to plant interest, others write reviews, and still others use synopses of books to attract an audience.  Any one of these mediums can work, although some choose to look for more information before deciding.  I had not read any of James Rubart’s books, so after reading a synopsis of this book, I thought it might be worthwhile to read.
                 There are four different characters in the story that carry with them wounds from the past that effect both the present and the future.  Not only that, their pasts affect their relationships with the Lord.  Some of the wounds or lies have been around for years, so to have them pulled out by the root can’t be done alone.  To wage war to help bring freedom to these characters, they must first understand who God has made them to be and what name He given them.  The name God gives them also represents what He is preparing them to do to bring freedom.
I thought this novel made a valid point in that we all need each other in the Body in order to experience the freedom from lies that are present within each of us.  Next, it is also true that the devil is out to destroy us, not play with us, but take us out for eternity.  It is also true that Jesus died to set the captives free, but sometimes the captives don’t even realize their need for freedom or the warfare that Satan unleashes to keep them enslaved.
                James shares at the end of the novel what he experienced as he wrote this work of fiction.  He shares what he believes to be real and what parts of the novel are just from his imagination.  I think it is awesome when an author shares his life experiences with readers.  We can be reminded that authors are humans too, and no one is exempt from the warfare or the need for freedom in Christ.  When you read the book, listen closely to see what God may speak to you through this fictional journey.  While this is a fictional journey for sure, it doesn’t mean that is all that it is.  Christ read from Isaiah when He came the first time to tell everyone that He came to set the captives free.  His audience then didn’t understand it; some didn’t even believe Him and others wanted to kill Him.  People today are the same. We all need Christ, but some will repeat history and react the same way to Christ as they did long ago with rejection.
                I loved this story, the characters, and the setting.  The themes are very relevant for believers of Jesus today and for those who have yet to be set free.  Another piece of encouragement in the novel is that no matter the amount of time we walk with Christ, we can forever be going deeper with Him.  I pray you get this novel, and read it as a work of fiction that points to a greater reality for us today.
                My rating is 5+ stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457