Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review: Divided Treasure?

Randy Alcorn has given us great principles for handling our earthly treasures in the first 60 pages of The Treasure Principle. He explains these principles in convincing and easily understood concepts.
  • God owns everything. I’m His money manager.
  • My heart always goes where I put God’s money.
  • Heaven is my home, not earth, so invest in heavenly treasures.
Because of his awesome presentation of the principles of treasure, I was shocked to watch him undermine his own principles in the last 60 pages of his book. While he teaches on the one hand that we give according to the leading of the Spirit, in the second half of this book he gives man-made rules telling how much to give and to whom. Although I agree with his suggestion that we ask God questions about our giving, his section on 31 Questions to Ask God includes only repetition of his man-made rules with little room for hearing from the Holy Spirit.
The first 60 pages are great; the last 60 pages should have been left out. In the same way, I’m divided on whether to recommend this book or not. I guess it depends on how much of a book you want to get for your money. Maybe if it’s on sale for half price? I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review: Deep Hurt: Not Always Deserved or Earned

Kay Arthur has given us a refreshingly balanced approach to healing from deep hurts. When the Hurt Runs Deep: Healing and Hope for Life’s Desperate Moments with included study guide is designed to gently lead hurting people to see how completely God loves them and how total dependence on a trustworthy and loving God can provide healing from even our deepest pain. The chapter on handling the aftermath of suicide provides sensitive support to the suffering. I was relieved to see chapters on both hurt brought on by the consequences of sin as well as hurt that is not deserved or earned, although Arthur does not discuss the hurt that may result from a combination.
I had some minor issues with her section on forgiveness. She seemed to put the forgiveness burden completely on the one hurt as though they are not forgiven by God until they can forgive the offender. Ephesians 4:32 (which she quotes) clearly says we are to forgive as God has forgiven us – a past event. It is God’s example of forgiveness to us when we didn’t deserve it that gives us the power and freedom to forgive others.
Differences aside, I recommend this book for either the people suffering from deep hurt or for those ministering to the suffering. It would also be helpful for anyone with past hurts. Most readers will get fuller benefit by completing the exercises in the study guide even if they write their answers in a separate notebook or journal rather than in the book. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Separate No More

During the years of giving up, I still knew I was a Christian though my life didn’t look like it. I wasn’t going to church anywhere and avoided most of the Christians I knew. If you had asked me, I would have told you that God was distant and uninvolved in my life. I wish I’d understood this truth:
I Corinthians 6:17 says “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” I had joined myself to the Lord at sixteen but lived my life based on how I felt. It’s not that feelings are a bad thing, but most of us that survived our teen years know that feelings aren’t the most stable foundation for living. God says I am one spirit with the Lord Jesus. What difference does it make? To me, it changes everything.
Have you ever heard someone say they’re not close to God right now or that they want to get closer to God? Or maybe someone has quoted the verse from Isaiah 59:2 that says, “Your iniquities (sins) have made a separation between you and your God.” At the time this was written—under the Law of Moses—it was true that sin separated you from God. But under grace things have changed. Under grace, God says he who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
If we accept Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins (past, present and future) and realize that after He ascended to heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to live His life in those who believe in Him, we have God the Holy Spirit living in us and we are one spirit with Him.
How can you get any closer than that? There is no separation. No matter how it feels.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Incomplete Grace

I was introduced to God’s grace at age 16 when I heard for the first time that Jesus death on the cross and His resurrection 3 days later was the full payment of the penalty for MY sin. It didn’t matter how terrible the sin, His payment was sufficient. I accepted this portion of His grace with great joy!
Over the next several years, I learned from other Christians that my responsibility was now to live up to Jesus’ standard for believers. But here was the dilemma—these other Christians did not agree on what those standards actually were. One group told me I must wear long hair and dresses; another told me I must speak in tongues; another said as a woman I was not to speak unless spoken to; still another told me that speaking in tongues was evil. Most agreed that I should pray daily (although the required amount of time varied from group to group) and that I must read my Bible daily. However, the version of the Bible that I was to read was another source of confusion as each group of believers seemed to have a different view of which version was the Truth.
Each of these dear Christians that came into my life meant well, but I was a prime candidate for confusion. I had spent most of my life striving for excellence believing achievement was the way to gain acceptance. Problem—if I pleased one group with my performance, I disappointed another group, and still another group believed I was a lost cause.
My solution? I gave up. I stopped attending church and avoided contact with other Christians. My Bibles were something to dust. Yes, I had a handful of different versions by now. I couldn’t handle trying to please everyone. I rested in my assurance of salvation alone and decided that “fire insurance” would have to be enough. I was done with the treadmill. I would never measure up.
God was preparing me for the next step on my journey of grace.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Grace for a Thorn?

As one suffering from a chronic illness, for many years I read Paul’s account in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 describing his thorn in the flesh, hoping for comfort and encouragement. Yet when I read “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9a NASB), I felt let down and disappointed. Was God leaving me to my own resources to get through? Weakness? Got plenty. But where was the power? And what is this grace that is sufficient? I ended up with more questions than answers.
In the past two years, God has started me on a journey to show me His grace. Wow! What a difference. He never left me to my own resources but invited me to use all of Him. The power was all about Christ in me, ready and able to live through me—weakness and all. His grace offered in lavish abundance was His continuing gift to me. Nothing was about any resources I possessed.
Living in grace isn’t just about coping with a chronic illness, either. It changes my perspective in every area of my life—major decisions and minor irritations alike. I invite you to join me as I continue the journey and share what I’m learning. I’ll be sharing insights about my journey of grace, learning to live the “abundant life” with a chronic illness, doing some book reviews, and writing comments on Bible verses that are meaningful to me. I’d like your feedback as we journey in grace together.