I Blog For Books

24 June 2015

Bringing Heaven to Earth

Do you ever start reading a book in the middle, or near the end? While this is not the preferred method (for obvious reasons), there are occasions when it just happens that way. I picked up Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment's Bringing Heaven to Earth, and it fell open to chapter 13. Chapter 13 begins on page 169, pretty close to the end of the book. What struck me so strongly that I continued to read from this odd starting place was the chapter's title, How to Lose the Fear of Failure. How weird is that? This book began speaking to me from the time it fell open to that oh-so-fitting chapter.

Subtitled Fears and Perfection Keep Us from Joining Jesus's Celebration, this chapter begins by explaining the difference between phobias and pet peeves. Before you begin ticking off a list of your pet peeves, bear with me. Chew on this sentence for a moment: "Phobias interfere with life and cause deep personal distress" (Ross & Storment, p. 169).

Why do we fear? The reason for fear is as varied as the number of people who fear. What I fear may be something different that what you fear, or it may be the same, for very different reasons. This is not intended to be a discourse on phobia, but rather an attempt to understand that aha! moment that comes when something is explained so clearly that it suddenly, amazingly, makes perfect sense. "Fear can paralyze decision making that would draw us deeper into the heart and mission of God. There is a reason the command 'Do not be afraid' shows up more than any other command in Scripture ... atychiphobia, a fear of failure" (p. 172). 

I fear failure. There have been times when I refused (and still do) to do something that I do not believe I can do well. If I can't be good at it, I don't want to play (hence the reason I never played team sports). Instead of stepping out on faith, I stepped back. Instead of stepping forward and sharing Jesus, I stepped back into my secure world. Have I denied Him by doing so? Another question that bears asking is "What have I denied me?" Please don't take that in the selfish context that it appears to read. I don't mean that I have missed personal gain, or glory, but rather the possibility of a connection, a shared growth, or the ability to reach out to someone who might need it. Does my fear keep me from living fully for Christ?

This book is well written and well worth a read. It has changed the way I look at Heaven, in a good way. I recommend this book, and will be reading it again. Most likely in the not-so-distant future. (Yes, it was that good).

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for writing an honest review. The opinions included in this blog are my own. 

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.~Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

02 June 2015

Be The Message Devotional

The package containing Kerry and Chris Shook's Be The Message was waiting for me when I returned home from work one evening near the end of April. As I opened the book and began to read, I immediately thought that I would do what the book suggested, and take each devotion a day at a time. I didn't end up completing the book that way, but I will be going back and re-reading this book more than once.

Subtitled A 30-Day Adventure in Changing the World Around You, the back cover of this small volume asks a question that resonates - "How will God live out His message through you?"

As you read Day 1, you discover the intent of this devotional guide. Day one starts by OPENing - yourself, God's word, and your mind. The words of John 5:39 are used as a reminder that memorizing scripture does not always equal knowing and living the life of which they speak.

This is an interactive devotional. Each day has space for you to contemplate the message, write down in your own words the message that you have received.

Day 3 spoke to me, really spoke to me. "If you are disappointed or troubled or just weary, God will meet you there. He sits with you in the silence. He whispers His love. Quiet your soul and hear His gentle breathing." (Shook, p. 10) How incredibly awesome is that? God meets me where I am! And stays with me!

The more that you open yourself to Him, the deeper your connection becomes. I have a long way to go - but I am so much closer than I was yesterday.

"Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." ~ Psalm 143:8 NIV

I received a free copy of this book in return for my open and honest review.