The Parables of Paul

by J.Ellsworth Kalas

When Jesus was on earth, He spoke in parables. So many stories that would have a point. He knew that telling a story that the masses could relate to would be the best way to get his point across.

When we hear Paul speaking, we don’t usually think of him using parables, metaphors, and stories. We think of him just saying things how they are and not beating around the bush. What J. Ellsworth Kalas is showing, in this new book, is how he did, indeed, speak in parables, metaphors and stories! He used pop culture references constantly. It just takes some digging into the Bible and the culture to understand what he is saying and the depth of what he means.

I found this to be very interesting. I had never thought of Paul as a parable preacher. This author has done a lot of studying to bring you so many different examples. I definitely recommend you getting a copy!

If you would like to pre-order it, you can click on the pic above. It’s due to release on April 21st.

Thank you, netgalley, for this great book! As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

Inside ISIS: The Brutal Rise of a Terrorist Army

by Benjamin Hall

What can I even say? Benjamin is a reporter that has been in the trenches and literally seen the things that ISIS is doing. What he is thinking by going over there, I have no idea!!!! But I will say, this is one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to read.

My heart breaks. Not just because of the mass killings, thousands upon thousands of children warriors that are completely brainwashed and the same amount of women/children that are sex slaves. No. My heart breaks because their hearts are so empty that they don’t know what to do but try to fill up that void. They think that the more killing and evil that is done, the better chance they have for Heaven; for Allah to allow them a “pass”.

Jesus. Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the one that fills that void of hurt and torture your lives have been. Christians do NOT worship three Gods. We worship One. Just One. Ask Allah who he really is. Ask Him to show you if He is real. Mean it. Ask Him and really mean it. He will show Himself to you. You don’t need this horrendous path.

Throughout the book, Benjamin is, rightfully, calling for us to do more to stop ISIS and it’s rapid growth. Us, Americans, we don’t even know the half of what’s going on over there. It blew my mind. But again, there is nothing that can stop them except Jesus. They are seeking to find a way to fill that emptiness and pain by turning frantic and brutal. Pray. Pray, my friends! This is much more serious than you even realize!

I appreciate, so much, what Benjamin has done to open my eyes and the eyes of many. I certainly don’t recommend he continues to go, but I appreciate what he’s doing with this book. It is eye opening, thoroughly written. You will know the players in the game. You will know where they came from and how it is escalating. If you want knowledge of what ISIS truly is, pick up a copy of this book.

Thank you, netgalley, for this book. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more (hopefully lighthearted!!! for a while anyway) more!

Jesus, Jihad and Peace

by Michael Youssef

I will tell you right now. Yes, I do believe I shall. This book opened my eyes and helped me to see. We sit here in America wondering “what in the world would possess these people to be so brutal, to be so intense, to be so focused, so hateful, so….fill in the blanks”??

Michael Youssef manages to get the balance right. He explains in great detail the workings of Islam and how it relates to Judaism and Christianity. He shows you how there is no hope of salvation, only hope that they did enough to please Allah. There were so many things that I didn’t understand that make perfect sense now. For instance, they cannot fathom how we could allow people to say His name in vain. They are floored that we would allow that kind of disrespect to the God of the universe. The God we say we love. They see how flippant we are in our belief and it disgusts them. I get that. It disgusts me too.

I also found it interesting that they can’t stand Christians because they believe we are polytheist. The trinity of God looks like we worship three Gods and they know that is wrong to worship more than one. It’s very interesting to see how many little things upset them and how some of it is true (we don’t stand up for God when people use His name in vain! That is wrong. I am guilty of standing by silently. Shame on me!!). Other parts are not true, just not translated correctly. They don’t understand that we see Him as One. That, coupled with their fear of doing enough to please an almost impossible “god” to please, lead them to become more and more frantic and dangerous.

There are so many things that you will find in this book. It truly helped me to understand and have more compassion for the people that hate us so much. Some of the book is pointing to the end times and what the world looks like now. I was more interested in learning the culture of Islam and understanding the hearts of the people.

So, pick up a copy of Jesus, Jihad and Peace: What Bible Prophecy Says About World Events Today and take a look for yourself. This is the best book at breaking down their religion, thoughts, fears and goals that I have ever read.

Thanks, so much, Worthy Publishing (First Look), for giving me a copy of this book. As always, this is my honest review. Here’s to many more!

Dirty Faith

by David Z. Nowell

I am not one to give a long review or spend a lot of time going over the book. I usually like to give the reader a small taste and let them know what effect it had on me. However, there is so much in this book that needs to be brought out, you may just find yourself in my longest review yet! (There will also be quite a number of quotes!)

Dirty Faith

What is “dirty faith”? How do we relate to “the least of these”? God calls us to, but how? And what does that mean? The least of these. The person sitting alone on the street asking for money? The thousands of children in foster care and state homes? The homeless? The cashier at Wal-Mart? Your waiter at dinner last night?

YES!

It has become a habit of mine to listen to God as I am at a store checking out. I ask Him if this is a person I need to be praying for. If I get a “yes”, I will ask the cashier if there is anything going on in her life I could be praying for. Maybe 2% say “no”. An overwhelming amount will tell you yes and sometimes share some really big things that they are dealing with. Sometimes it’s just a simple “my family” with tears welling in their eyes.

dirty faith 3

So often, when we go on mission trips and even ask people how they are doing, we have this  “power and position, and you do not” attitude. “I have Jesus; you don’t. Unfortunately, I think it is precisely the perspective we often bring to our interaction with the poor, not just in spiritual matters, but in all things. The giver operates from a position of power and privilege. The recipient, by definition, is the inferior.”

David continues, “Relationship with others is integral to our relationship with God. Jesus’ indictment is that, if we are not capable of having a relationship with His brothers and sisters,  then we do not have a relationship with Him. Not a gray judgement here. It’s black and white. No relationship with my brothers and sisters in these circumstances, no relationship with me (Jesus). Determinate, not just indicator.” Dirty Faith

He also says, “I cannot begin to tell you how many times someone has said to me something along the lines of ‘It is such a wonderful work you are doing, but God just has not called me to that.’ Well, actually, yes, He has. Perhaps not to adopt, or even to foster, but He has called you to care for the orphan.”

I could continue to quote this book all day.

David Z. Nowell is the President of Hope Unlimited for Children. This is a refuge for children that are living on the streets, prostituting themselves out so they can survive (at VERY early ages), and doing whatever it takes to make it. This is a place where they can feel loved, learn about Jesus, and feel safe. Unfortunately, many children are more fearful of the unknown, so they are more comfortable living on the streets. David’s goal is to show Jesus to them. Not just for a week or two on a short term trip. He once asked a girl what she enjoyed about her mission trip and the young lady answered with the typical answer of showing them Jesus. His response was, “You were the face of God for them, and you left. You came back to your comfortable life, and those girls are still on the streets every night selling their bodies to strangers What did you really tell them about God?” dirty faith 5

He, in no way, is against short term missions, but the point of this book is that we love to write a check and not get our hands dirty. Jesus came here as an example of how to do EVERYTHING. We are to relate to others just as He did. He became a servant. Physically, not with money and well wishes. He got his hands dirty.

I hope you will take a look at Hope Unlimited. There are a few different things he is involved in that one is bound to speak to you. Check out this resource page and see where and how God is calling you.

dirty faith 4It is always scary to step out in faith, but look at everyone in the Bible that God called faithful. It was always the weak, the “least of these” and the ones that stumbled through life. The difference is, they got back up and asked God “what’s next?”.

Please pick up a copy of this book and then another one for a friend. It’s completely reasonable at $8.99.

Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to the Least of These

 Thank you, so much, netgalley! I appreciate the book and, as always, this is my honest review. Here’s to many more!

Last Words of Jesus

by Stu Epperson, Jr.

I have never really thought too deeply into the last few phrases that Jesus spoke before his death on the cross. In this book, Stu details the words and their meanings. He shows us why they were so significant. Jesus never did anything that was of no significance. So, what are they? What did they mean?

Each chapter focuses on one of the seven phrases. It also includes discussion questions and some scriptural reflections with each chapter. I would imagine it is probably a great book to do with a small group. Reading on my own, I felt a little detached. I am not sure why. I felt like the information was a little scattered and I didn’t quite get all of the significant implications that he was trying to point out. Within a group setting, I believe it would be different.

I do think it is an important read because we don’t often think about His final words. So often, we gloss over the crucifixion with rhetoric we have heard our whole lives and we become disconnected with the power and raw affliction he bore to free us. To bestow His love on us and give us the promise of HIM for all of eternity.

I challenge you to spend some time reflecting on the last words of Christ as He took every ounce of persecution and discipline that we would have had if it were not for Him and His great love.

The Last Words of Jesus: First Steps To A Richer Life will be available on Feb. 24th. Please pick up a copy. You can find it by clicking the link here in the name, or on the pic of the book above.

Thank you, so much, Worthy Publishing, for sending me this book. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

Life as it is.

A lot of you know that I suffer from Ehlers-Danlos. For many years, we didn’t know what it was. I was told I had Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,  and a host of other things. “Yoga” they said. “Swimming” I was told. So for 20 years I listened. 

Ehlers-Danlos is easily explained. Your ligaments are what support your skeletal system. They hold your joints in place, your head up, and keep your body straight. When a person exercises, your ligaments stretch (especially in yoga) and your joints get moved around (especially in swimming). This is a good thing. When you are done, they shrink back tighter and stronger. A person that has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome isn’t so lucky. The ligaments stay stretched, thus getting looser and looser. My muscles realize that I have no support, so they try to overcompensate by flexing and tightening to hold my head up, to keep my joints where they belong and to help me stand up straight. My joints want to continually pop out of place (swimming is one of the main causes of this).

Because my muscles are tense all of the time (try flexing your shoulder and neck muscles and see how long it takes before you are sore), it causes all kinds of chronic pain. It causes Fibromyalgia. It causes Chronic Fatigue. It causes many, many things. The dr. told me that my body was that of a 70 year old. There is no cure, only pain management.

Unfortunately, over the last year, it has rapidly accelerated into a force to be reckoned with. I find that I can barely leave the house. Research, vitamins, juicing, and high powered prescription meds have made the pain bearable (sometimes). Unfortunately, it has gotten to the point that I have no energy. I can barely go to the grocery store. I have had to leave the cart and get help out to the car many times because I hit a “dead end”. I cannot support my body to stay upright. I cannot even lift my arms at times.

Why am I sharing this? Because I know so many women that are struggling with chronic pain and feel like they are alone. They can’t get answers and start to feel like they are just crazy and need to suck it up.

The truth is, God created us and gave us this path. It must mean that He can be brought the greatest amount of glory through my suffering. Through your suffering. Start looking at your life through the lens of bringing Him glory and it will be a little less overwhelming.

My husband and sons are the most compassionate people I have ever met. It wouldn’t be that way if I wasn’t sick. They are true servants. My son, that is a junior in high school, will make dinner almost every night. He does so many of the chores around the house and it’s all without me asking. He does it because he loves me and wants to serve me. I can see how that is training him to be such an amazing man.

I used to always feel like people needed to “suck it up” when they felt sick. I had no idea. Don’t ever wish that on someone or God may show you what it feels like.

So, what now? I choose my activities very carefully. What is most important. If I do this today, I won’t be able to do that the next two or three days. My son needs this? It’s that important to him? Ok, well then, we need to do that and I don’t get to do my girls’ night out. (what is that anyway? I haven’t had one of those in a MINUTE).

Here’s the kicker: James 1:2-4

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

Did that say “don’t try to get out of anything prematurely”? DID THAT SAY, “DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY”???? No more internal screaming. That takes a WHOLE LOTTA God. That’s where the “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” come into play.

If you are not one of the many that has to deal with chronic pain, please be the one that is there for those of us that do. People feel like they don’t know what to say, or they get annoyed because we can’t always hang out, or just don’t get it and want us to “suck it up”. Please don’t be that person. Send a card in the mail that you are thinking of them and praying for them. Bring by a dinner and let them know you love them. Send them a text to let them know you care.

I am VERY lucky to have the support I do from my family. But so many people out there don’t and they are seriously going crazy. It’s scary, lonely and absolutely horrible. Be Jesus to them.

Killing Christians – Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe

by Tom Doyle (with Greg Webster)

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Everyone should read this book. Period.

As news channels broadcast everything going on in the middle east, we see millions of images and hear millions of stories: ISIS, Hamas, Muslim Radicals, Islamic Radicals, innocent civilians being killed and people all over the world persecuted for their faith. People are sick of religion and looking for something different. Religion causes war, suffering and fear.

This book takes you inside some of the lives of people that are currently living in those situations. People that are currently suffering and being persecuted, tortured and killed for their love of Jesus. As you read story after story of how God is moving in the midst of persecution, it will inspire you and your own faith.

Tom Doyle asks us the two big questions: “Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?” and “Are you willing to die for Jesus?”. The answer to these questions will show you where you are at in your life and relationship with Him. After reading this book, you will have made up your mind!

Pre-orders start on December 17th for Killing Christians. Get those orders in and gift the pre-ordered book this Christmas!!!! Here’s the link!!

You can join in prayer with the 8thirty8 program. Check it out here!!