Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Songs of a Suffering King

Ever have those days when things are so tough that your overwhelming urge is that you must get alone and get into God's Word?  I need His Word daily...hourly...moment by moment.  But some days, in the midst of chaos, confusion, trial or testing, my heart cries out, "go to the Word!"  I would say 99% of the time that happens I head straight to the Psalms.  The Psalms have always brought me so much comfort and seem to mirror so many of my heartaches, joys or sorrows.  They are so...real. So, it was eye-opening for me to read, in the new book Songs of A Suffering King, that

"Sadly, the Psalms no longer have a place of prominence in the worship of the broader church or even with many Reformed churches. Perhaps part of the reason of this dearth of the Psalms is the church's unfamiliarity with this wonderful, divinely inspired hymnbook."  

That statement really surprised and saddened me.  I am thankful that from a young age I was taught to cherish the Psalms and that our church regularly reads and sings the Psalms as a congregation.  I am also grateful for this book written by J.V. Fesko.  It didn't take me long to become engulfed in this easy to read devotional type book that just leads you through Psalm 1-8, while pointing out the beauty of seeing the centrality of Christ throughout.

The author's desire to show the importance of the Psalms and the beauty of the context within them shines through as he exhorts the reader to not cease to plumb the depths of truth and comfort
laid out in them for us.
It's no wonder to me, that during some of my most trying times, the Spirit graciously leads me to read the Psalms.  With Christ at the center of this inspired Word, we are called to find our strength and comfort through the One who can relate to all trials.  The One who became flesh for us and was tempted as we are (Hebrews 4:15) and who understands our joys and our sorrows.  The One who showed us the way from suffering to glory!  What better comfort is there?

Songs of a Suffering King is a great place to start if you are getting acquainted with the Psalms or a great supplement if you are a regular student of the "grand Christ hymn".  The book not only highlights the first eight books, but also includes a metrical version of each Psalm and short devotional questions for further study.  

"Christians know they need instruction not only to pray but also to sing.  By tracing the narrative of Christ in the opening eight Psalms of the Psalter, this book helps me pray while I sing and sing while I pray.  I've learned not only to hear Christ in each Psalm, but I also begin to sing under the aegis of Christ, the chief musician."  Gerald M. Bilkes

Songs of a Suffering King was provided to me by Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway!

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I got the offer to review this book.  I like Duck Dynasty, but I've never been a huge fan and it's not something I would willingly watch without coercion! But, I know lots of people that love them and I do appreciate their values and willingness to take a stand in a world where there are way too many who won't.  And it's a children's book.  Seeing that I have so many children :)  I thought it would be great to review it and see how it went over with mine.  And since I do know what the Robertsons stand for, I knew that it would be one book I wouldn't have to scour first before I let my kids read it if I couldn't get to it right away.

So, a little background to set the stage of our encounter with Willie's Redneck Time Machine.
We home school and we use the curriculum called Robinson Curriculum.  We love it and one of the things we love the most is the great literature for the reading requirements.  Most of the days the kids do their two hours of reading on their own, but we enjoy reading aloud together as well, so at least one day a week we have a book we are reading together as a family. When this book came in the mail, I decided it might be a fun diversion from our more scholarly reading.  Fun diversion? This book is a hoot!  My skepticism is long gone and we simply can't put the book down!  Written by John Luke Robertson, son of Willie Robinson, this book leads you through a series of stories and scenarios that keep you guessing what could possibly come next.  Well, here-the back cover describes it the best:

 In Willie's Redneck Time Machine, you are Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander. When you find a mysterious outhouse in the Duck Commander warehouse, you discover there’s more to it than meets the eye. Soon you’re traveling through time and space, following John Luke to a nineties prom, getting lost in biblical times, and fighting a futuristic war in the year 2319. You and the other Robertsons have crazy adventures, but you need to get back to West Monroe for Korie’s birthday party. Will you make the right choices to get home on time?
In the Be Your Own Duck Commander series, you get to choose what happens next!

My kids were immediately drawn in after the first couple pages when I then read, "Do you step inside the outhouse to check it out yourself? Turn to Page 29.  Or do you stay outside and wait to see who's playing a trick on you?  Turn to Page 63."  I barely got the words out before my kids were all screaming their choice for how they wanted the story to go!  We actually had to take a vote to decide. I loved how involved it got them.  Not only for their listening skills, but also because the story has some great historical stuff in it that led to questions from the little ones and a display of knowledge about the subject from the older ones.  Not all of it is historical as you do end up at prom and a place called Walmazon...but it is all good fun!  And, of course, our favorite twists in the story are always when Si shows up somehow with some crazy non-sensical scheme or story.

In one story, you have the option to turn to a page in Jase and the Deadliest Hunt.  The boys were real excited about that one, so I turned to the page to find it wasn't what I thought it was.  Jase and the Deadliest Hunt is actually another book in the series!  How fun that one book has you finish out the story by turning to a page in another book.  In fact, there are four books in the series:

Willie's Redneck Time Machine
Phil and the Ghost of Camp CH-YO-CA
Si in Space
and Jase and the Deadliest Hunt

I have not read any of the other books, but if they are anything like Willie's Redneck Time Machine then they are sure to prove to be great fun.  We have had a great time reading it and I've even caught my kids looking for it for after school recreational reading!

I'm excited to announce that Tyndale sent me an extra book to give away to one of my readers!  This would be a great gift for Christmas or just fun to have for a read aloud for your family!  If you would like to enter to win, follow the instructions below!
*Tyndale provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: Women of the Word

There are quite a few "titles" I have been adding to my list of ways I would love for people, but mostly God, to describe me:  Worshipper, faithful follower of Christ, Help-meet, godly mother....and definitely a woman of the Word.

I was so excited to see this book by Jen Wilkin come out.  Even more excited when asked to review it.  I have many people ask me for recommendations of good books, and specifically, good books for women.  While any great theological, biblically sound book is equally useful for men and women, I was intrigued by a book written specifically to women calling and challenging them to be Women of the Word.

The actual title of the book is Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.  Being a woman, wife, mom of 10, married to a pastor, I know two things:  First, because of all those things, I desperately NEED to be a woman of the Word!  Second, because of all those things, it is extremely difficult to study the Bible with my heart and my mind!  Distraction comes so easily.  Time management is a challenge.  Being still before God is a struggle.  Yet, in order to do all the things He has called me to, I need the power, strength and guidance of His Word.  I need the peace and comfort that comes from abiding in Him, strengthened from the root in order to produce fruit that is profitable for His glory and my abundant joy.

In order to be seeking out His will daily in our lives we need more than a sermon on Sunday morning. We need more than some emotional songs that give us temporary uplifting.  We even need more than reading a verse here and there as some sort of vitamin for our biblically malnourished souls!  We need to know WHO God is, WHAT He has done, and HOW He accomplishes His will in order to rightly be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.  What a privilege it is for those who are in Christ, to have the Holy Spirit whose work is to illuminate the scriptures for us, convict and comfort God's children!  Becoming a Woman of the Word stands firmly on that privilege and takes advantage of the abundance of blessings and promises God has ordained for us.

You won't be disappointed in this book to lead you to this point.  Jen Wilkin does a wonderful job of diagnosing our spiritual illiteracy and outlines a wonderful structure for personal discipleship.  With chapter titles of:

  • Study with Purpose
  • Study with Perspective
  • Study with Patience
  • Study with Process
  • Study with Prayer
  • and Pulling It All Together
she clearly lays out a clear direction to get you started in becoming a true disciple and studier of the Word.  You will love the Pulling It All Together chapter as she even gives a great example of how to actually do somewhat of inductive bible study and how it fleshes out the passage.  If nothing else, Women of the Word is a great diagnostic tool to measure your spiritual thirst against the things of the world that drown out God's will for your life.

Does becoming a Woman of the Word take time?  Yes, yes it does!  Can you think of anything in your life more important than seeking Him first?  I can't.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.  Jeremiah 15:16


Jen Wilkin. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 160 pp. $12.99.
(I was given a free copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Of Mice and Cookies...and milk.

My kids and I always loved the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!
They are all too big for it now, but I'm saving my copy for grand babies!  And, I'm seriously considering writing a companion book called If You Learn to Stand on the Promises(or something catchy that one of my amazing friends comes up with)!  Just like that mouse and his cookie eating chain of events, when we start learning God's Word and the promises He has given His children (see intro post here),it becomes a catalyst to an amazing chain of events in the Christian life! 

The whole concept of cause and effect is such a great learning/teaching tool.  The story of that mouse is cute and sweet...and, I'm convinced, a plot, along with the Stuart Little thing, to get us to think mice are adorable.  Not happening.  

Ever.


Anyway...sidetracked...cause and effect!  Such a great teaching tool beginning with the best cause and effect of all time! 
Because Adam could not keep the covenant of works, sin entered the world.  
Because of that sin, all born in the first Adam were to pay the wages of that sin. 
Because of God's great love toward us, He made a way to justify us.  
Because He sent His only Son(the second Adam) to make atonement for our sin and fulfill the covenant of works and the covenant of Grace, we are covered in His righteousness.  
Because we are covered in His righteousness, we are no longer enemies of God. 
Because we are no longer enemies of God, He has called us friend.  
Because we are His friend, He(Jesus) has made known to us everything He has learned from our Father. 
Because He has made everything He has learned from His Father known to us(joint-heirs with Christ), we can stand on the promises of God!  

Now, that was a very If You Give a Mouse a Cookie way of showing the cause and effect of the gospel, and those causes and effects are MUCH more detailed, but it is a good starting point for understanding the If/Then's given to us in scripture!  And like we said in the previous post, you can't stand on those promises if you don't know them.  

First If/Then:

IF you are God's child, then you will desire to read His love letter to you:
"...if anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.  And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."  John 14:23-24

Let me add, sincerely, that, if you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and desire to understand the gospel of salvation, may I direct you here for a better understanding of redemption and the gospel?  I would also be more than privileged to talk to you personally or through email.  (You can message me on the sidebar of this blog).

Second If/Then:

IF you read His Word, He will show you His truths and His promises!

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope."  Romans 15:4

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." Acts 20:32

"All scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God might be complete, equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Just to name a few!

So, I will be adding If/Then promises here on the blog frequently for us to meditate and stand on so we can grow in spirit and in truth!

Here is one to whet your appetite!

"If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you." John 15:7


To preclude any worries that I have given over to the prosperity gospel, know that I take God's Word to mean just what it says!  If His words are abiding in me, I will want only what God wants.  As I abide in Him, I am fed by His perfect Word which transforms me to desire His will and His ways.  By this the Father is glorified!  By abiding, I am learning what His promises are. The effect?   Standing on the promises of God!

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk.
If you learn to stand on the promises, you are going to desire the sincere milk of the Word!

"Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."  1 Peter 2:2

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." 2 Corinthians 1:20

(Here is a great little cause/effect chain worksheet if you are a visible learner!)
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P.S. Pastor hubby told me to include:  If Christ was not raised, then our teaching is in vain!  (Did not mean to leave that out of the gospel cause and effect!  Praising Him that we are saved with Him, justified in Him, buried with Him, raised with Him, and glorified in Him!)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Friend full of promises

We still sing the old hymns at our church.  We like them.  We like many of the newer Christian songs as well and sing them too.  But we still sing Great is Thy Faithfulness, There is Power in the Blood, Blessed Assurance, Amazing Grace...we love them all.  But not long ago we sang Standing on the Promises.

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

I love that song!  And I love the promises of God...the ones I know.  But how many do I know?  I really started to think about it while going through a small trial.  I've been studying, with the ladies of my church, how to pray scripture and stay grounded in His Word during my communion with my Father.   When you are attempting to pray God's Words back to Him, you really find out how deep, vast and wide the love of God is.  You see His mercy and immutability in a new light.  You discover just what honors and glorifies Him.  And, you understand more confidently just exactly what His promises toward you really are!

While praying through this trial, miraculously :), the chapter we were studying was about Praying in the Name of Jesus and what that really means (that needs a separate post).  The author directed us to John 15:15 which says,

I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

So, those who are His are given the privilege of prayer and knowing, among many things, the promises of God!  We have the means for understanding and knowing all that God has given and will give to us. He comforts us through the presence of the Holy Spirit and through the promises laid out for us in His Word.  We get a new camera, smart phone, or gadget and we intently read that instruction book so that we can know all the things that new gadget can do and all it can offer us to make our lives, not only easier, but more fulfilling.  How much more should we earnestly seek out God's Word, search for wisdom as silver, discover His promises, and feast on his love, mercy and riches?



I love that He is showing me His promises as I am learning to pray His Word back to Him!  I don't have to remind God what His promises to me are, but they sure are comforting in my little finite mind as I tell Him, "Lord, your Word says you will never leave me nor forsake me!  And nothing...NOTHING...not height or depth or anything else in all creation will be able to separate me from your love through Christ Jesus!"  

So, I am on a quest to discover all His promises as I find I need them more than food or air!  Next up on the blog:  The IF/THEN's of scripture!!  Stay tuned! :) 

"You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."  Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A must read, a must see...and exciting news!

I came across an article on Facebook and it is just too good not to share here.  After all, this blog is about Living Out God's Design, and, if you are married, God has designed you to be a help-meet for your husband. (Gen. 2:18)

This article, written by Kimberly Wagner, is very simple and straightforward...but so transparent and honest.  I know I have been guilty of some of these and have been thankful for godly women who have graciously admonished me and also been consistent examples of how to love your husband biblically.  I think these 10 things are great reminders for us all.  

I highly recommend taking the time to really read each one and then stop and ask the Lord to show you if you are sinning against your husband in each area.  We all want godly, healthy and exciting marriages. We all want men who lead our families faithfully in the Word and in deed.  Isn't it worth it to take some time to search our hearts before the Lord and ask Him to reveal any actions or attitudes in us that are hindering our husbands in fulfilling their biblical design?


Here is the link to the article:10 Things Your Husband Hates


I also recommend that you watch this video about Kimberly and her husband. It is a beautiful story of how God did a work in her heart that led to the restoration of their marriage.  I love their willingness to put pride aside in order that others may find encouragement and hope in Him.  Share this with others. So many marriages are in shambles because we aren't living out in obedience what God has called us to as women.  I know, it takes two...and the men obviously have a HUGE responsibility to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  But, as Kimberly said in her article, "I'm not talking to him, I'm talking to you!" : )

You can find the video here : Marriage Miracle

I pray it will be a blessing to you and that you will share it with others.

And, for fun...here is a link to my daughter's recent engagement video!!

               All glory be to God!
Have you ever seen such bliss?  Praying my daughter will live out God's design for her and that He will use their marriage as a testimony of His grace, mercy and love and a picture of Christ and the church! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions

A few weeks ago, the last two of my children made a profession of faith and followed the Lord in believer's baptism.  It was a beautifully wonderful day in so many ways.  How awe inspiring it is to know that all 10 of my children have confessed to needing a Savior, acknowledged the need to be forgiven of their sins, and testifying to the grace of God in providing, through His Son Jesus, the means of justification!  My 7 and 8 year old didn't put it quite like that, but they understand and trust as children who will prayerfully grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.



 And so, as if that wasn't enough, we had visitors at the church that day and one family had an 8 year old little boy. As he watched the testimony of my two little boys and the others being baptised that day, he approached his mother about how he could be saved!  How great to share later with my boys that their first act of obedience was also one of the first opportunities of sharing the gospel because of their outward testimony!  Well, the mom sat down after the service with her child and one of our church leaders.  They feasted together on the glory of the gospel as this sweet little boy's eyes were being opened and the Holy Spirit continued drawing his heart to the greatest story ever told.  The mom asked for some good literature to use for them to continue the conversation at home and I tucked the request in the back of my mind so I could give her a list of books I would recommend beyond what we gave her that day.  If you have older children, don't you remember when the Lord first began working on your first child and he/she came with questions? Were you like me and had been on missions trips, had evangelism training, and had done plenty of witnessing...but this little child from your womb left you speechless?  I had even worked for years with younger aged children but for some reason found talking to my own child brought new meaning to sharing the gospel.

So, Monday came and in the mail that day arrived a new book for me to review.  Yes, you know what I am going to say here :)  The Lord brought me the book Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick!  I had a few other books I was ready to recommend, but was so excited to dig into this one and see what it had to offer in light of Sunday's happenings.



I was not disappointed!  Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions is a great tool to use right along with one of my other favorite parenting books: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  Give Them Grace is one of the best discipling/parenting books on how to bring your kids to the knowledge of the gospel through your day to day parenting.  Anyway...I could get off on a tangent about that.  Look up the book and order it if you have kids! :)

This new book by Mrs. Fitzpatrick and her daughter is another great tool and fantastic resource to have on hand.  Kids do ask tough questions and the Bible is the answer key.  This book, though, does some of the ground work for you by providing the scripture that supports the answers to the questions (in correct context, by the way) and then giving great examples of how to explain them to your children. Not only that, the authors lovingly give sections within each chapter that lay out appropriate explanations for Preschool aged children, ages 5-10, and beyond.  This is a great feature in helping the parent realize what the child may or may not understand at the various ages.  The sections are complex yet simple enough that you can read through them, do a little background study, and then feel prepared and knowledgeable enough about the concept to discuss it with the child.  The book covers subjects like:

  • What is Sin?
  • Why do people die?
  • Who is Satan?  What is Hell?
  • Why do people get divorced?
  • Why does the Bible say that?  Difficult Bible stories.
  • Sexual Sin
  • Natural Disasters
  • War
  • Terrorism
  • And of course-The Good News!
I highly recommend this book for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Sunday School teachers and anyone who works with children!

Paul David Tripp said, " I love this book! I will recommend it again and again.  It is street-level theology for children that drips with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Parents, read it, live with it, share it daily with your children, and not only will they learn and grow, you will, too."

{I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review}