faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Hot Enough?

Right now the weather is too hot for lots of people.  People are coming down to Florida this summer for cooler temperatures!  Much of this country is over 100 this summer.

I am a person who is always cold, so I like hot weather.  I love living in Florida!  Other people like cold weather, so they love living up north.  They like winter.  I don’t.  This difference in preference may also affect whether people like to drink hot coffee or cold coffee or tea.  I always have been a hot tea drinker.  When we go to a restaurant and order tea, they will ask do you want hot tea or iced?  Then they ask sweet or unsweetened, which is a whole other kind of thing.  

Jesus addresses the hot or cold issue.

In Revelation (3:14-22), Jesus says that the people of the church in Laodicea, are not hot or cold, they are lukewarm and He is going to spit them out!  So, are you lukewarm, not hot enough?  I think I’m often not hot enough. When I feel lazy or too comfortable, I try to figure out how to get more on fire for Jesus.  Jesus wants us to have passion for God.

So here are some ways I have been working on my fire and passion.

First there is going to church every weekend.  Not once in a while, but every weekend. I want God to be a priority in my life.  When I am at church, I sing loud during worship.  I put up my hands and I sing to God.  I listen to the sermon so I can learn something, and usually take a few notes.  I donate to special projects and missionaries that the church is supporting.  I often donate right then when it is mentioned, so I don’t go home and forget about it.

At home, I spend time in prayer every day.  I give thanks to God for the many blessings in my life.  I take time to ask God questions and listen for His answers.  This keeps me coming back for more prayer time, because I am eager to see how God will answer prayers.

I spend time reading and studying the Bible.  This gets me yearning for more God in my life.  I also read Christian books.  I love to read, and I learn so much from Christian authors!  They encourage me and get me excited about what God has done in their lives.

I also write this blog.  This blog helps keep me in the Scriptures.  I follow other Christian blogs.  I also follow Christian people on Twitter and Facebook.  This all helps keep God on my mind.  It keeps me thinking, and growing, and learning.

Whenever I start to feel lukewarm about God, I turn to one of these activities to bring me back into God’s love and grace.  God is awesome!  I just need to remember that all the time.  I need to keep my mind on God.  I need to stay passionate for God.  

How do you stay passionate for God?  

 

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Book Review of “Enlarge My Territory”

This is my book review of “Enlarge My Territory” by Suzi Johnson.

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I have delayed writing this book review, because I want to be encouraging to writers.  Also, I know that it involves so much work and time to write a book, that I like to give authors reviews with a positive perspective.  Unfortunately, I am not able to do that this time.  As a professional book reviewer, I promise to read the entire book given to me to review, and to give an honest review.  I need to be truthful to my readers.  So hesitantly, I have written this honest review.

Over all, I did not like “Enlarge My Territory”.  Much of the book was like an outline listing topics and bullet points.  There were lists, but no explanations or examples connected to the list.  I would get to the end of a chapter and have no closure.  So the best thing I can say is that this author has a lot of information to tell us, but it needs to be more organized. 

Suzi Johnson has obviously studied the Bible, thought a lot about it, and has used it to live her life. There were a few nuggets of good advice that I underlined.  There were sections that I thought were bringing things together, but then there would be more bullet lists.  The many ideas the author has, seemed random and did not congeal into a conclusion or even advice to follow up on.

Since there were too many topics discussed for one book, I think it would have been better to divide this book up into two or three books, and then add to the discussion of the topics.  There were many places that needed to be expanded to give the reader more examples, more explanations, more details.

It seemed like the title “Enlarge My Territory” was used as an umbrella term to cover too many topics.  There was no logical connection between chapters.  The author went from “the journey of a lifetime” to “school reunion”, then “motorcycles and signs”, “ask for God’s direction”, “tell it like it is”, “25 fewer minutes of sleep” … “when you’re busy during peak tax season”, then a summary, and then on to Part 2.  This seemed all disjointed to me.

I suspect that the author took all the posts from her blog, or writings in her journal, and stuck them all in this book.  You can make a book out of your journals or blog posts, but this time it did not work.  More editing would help, but as I said, it needs to be at least two books with more cohesion to fit better under one title, rather than using a broad title to cover everything.

You can read some of the book and other comments on it at Amazon.com

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, through BookLook Bloggers, and I obviously gave my own opinions in this book review.

 

 

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There is Hope

 

chalkbody DoNotCross

It is not just teenagers that have to deal with peer pressure.  Even adults face peer pressure.  Peer pressure comes from a group of people who try to make you be just like them.  It makes them feel safer, more confident, and more powerful if they can get more people to be just like them.

In the days after the tragic shooting incidents in recent weeks and months, it has become clear that there is peer pressure to be tough and carry a gun.  It has become clear that there is peer pressure for police to be tough and shoot someone, or they might seem weak and be injured themself with a hidden weapon.  It has become clear that there is peer pressure to follow the crowds and push people around, and yell at them, and hit them just because they look different or they don’t agree with your politics. 

Watching the news, I have seen the outcomes of this peer pressure.  It is sad to see so much anger and hate.  It is sad to see so many young lives lost.  And it seems there are no answers to the violence.

 There are a few hopeful incidents that show there are some people who do not bend to peer pressure.

There were the police in Dallas who ran into danger to protect peaceful protesters, while a sniper picked off several policemen.  There were peaceful protesters who just want people to acknowledge that there is a race problem and it needs to be addressed.  There were children of black men killed by police, who are not angry, but they are sad and afraid, and they want to feel safe to live normal lives.  They want things to change.  There are people who see injustice and they turn on their phone camera so there is proof of what happened.  These people have all stood up to peer pressure and have chosen a better way.  This gives me hope.

At my church this weekend the ministers chose another way. 

Ministers talked to us about how God loves us all, no matter what color we are.  They talked about in Heaven there will be people of every race and every country. They talked about Christians are supposed to love one another and encourage one another, not ignore, not criticize, not blame, not hate.  They talked about the church that believes in Jesus Christ is the light to this crazy violent world. 

As Christians, we carry the light, and that light is the only hope for this world to be saved.  Only the church is equipped to shine a light out of the darkness of hate and violence. 

Only the church can offer all people the way to be saved.  It is not by guns. 

It is by faith in Jesus Christ!

At my church, you can listen to the sermon message online.  This weekend July 16-17, the message was on “Mob Mentality”.  You can listen to the message free on itunes under “Tomoka Christian Church weekends” .  I hope they include the talk after the sermon of the two ministers talking about the church having the solution for the violence.  One of the ministers is black, and the other white. They both love Jesus.  (Sorry, but there is a 1 week delay on itunes, so you will have to wait until next weekend July 23rd or later to listen.)

 

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The Sacred Echo

Here is my book review of “The Sacred Echo” by Margaret Feinberg.              margaretFeinberg pic

This book is about hearing God.  It covers a little different area of this subject than some books that are about listening to God’s voice. There are times we hear God, but we get distracted by some crisis, or by our job, or by our kids.  The author, Margaret Feinberg, points out that when we hear God, He communicates with us through echoes.  Echoes are repeated words or phrases that get our attention because they are repeated over and over.  Even when we get distracted, we will hear God in the echoes.

The repetition of God’s guidance also gives us confidence of what He is telling us.  If you get the message once, and never again, you may have not heard God.  Margaret says that God has a persistent voice.  We can certainly see this in the Bible.  Phrases or words are often repeated in the Bible, if they are important for us to notice.

But echoes can go in both directions.  Margaret talks about saying prayers to God, and repeating our requests. 

This happens for me when I say the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) over and over throughout my life.  I know that this prayer has gone deep in my bones, because I have said it so many times.  Now, saying this prayer, connects me directly to God.  I can say the “Lord’s Prayer” now, and peace comes over me; fear disappears; worries are gone.  As Margaret says, prayer can help us “fix our eyes on Jesus”.  That is what the “Lord’s Prayer” does for me.  It fixes my eyes on Jesus, and I feel His eyes on me, just like in the song “His eye is on the sparrow“.

Margaret further says, that when we hear God, it is worth noting it.  Stop and think about it.  Maybe seek more explanation by reading Scriptures related to it.  I have started writing down in a journal what I hear from God, and then I can see the repetition of echoes more easily. 

Margaret asks in prayer, “God, Open my eyes to see and ears to hear.  What do you want to say to me?”  She often finds her answer by reading Scripture, sometimes the same verses over and over again, until she understands.

Margaret writes about her struggle to determine what God was calling her to do with her life. 

She knew some people that knew their calling at a young age.  She felt slow, because she was in college and still did not know her calling.  She had doubts.  She was frustrated.  Don’t we all relate to this feeling at times with God? 

This book “The Sacred Echo” just might help you decipher what God wants to tell you.  Reading it just might help you know the calling God has given to you.  When we know that, Margaret says we should work with God, out of gratitude for all He does.  She believes you will find joy in finding what God is calling you to do.

I have enjoyed reading many of Margaret Feinberg’s books!

I have reviewed several of them here on my blog.  If you would like to know more about her books, you can enter her name “Feinberg” in the search box at the top of this blog.  The book reviews I have written about her books will be listed.  You can also go to Margaret’s website to find out more, and to purchase a book. 

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A Well-Watered Woman

Are you a well-watered woman?

Or do you feel dried up? Discouraged?

Wouldn’t you rather be well-watered and encouraged!?

Book WellWateredWomen

I am on a journey to become a well-watered woman.

The woman at the well in the Bible was dried up.  Not only was her water jar empty, but her life was empty.  Jesus offered her “living water” that never runs out.  When you have this living water inside you, in your spirit, you become a well-watered woman.  This living water, Jesus says, will be like a “spring of water welling up”.  Then you will be a well-watered woman, not filled with water from the well, but being full of “living water” that comes from God.  (The story is in John 4:5-26.)

You and I can become well-watered women by seeking the “living water” Jesus offers.  We find it by reading the Bible.  But we need to do more than just read it.  We need to pull the water from it, like drawing water up from a well.  This takes a seeking heart, wanting to know the truth Jesus teaches. 

There is a short book that can help you find the living water, “Well-watered Women” by Gretchen Saffles.  I am reading it now.  You don’t have to read it to find the living water in the Scriptures, but it will make it easier and guide you along your way.  To read more about it, or to purchase, go to Gretchen’s website 

If you decide you don’t want to use this book to become a well-watered woman, you can do this on your own, by purchasing a journal, reading your Bible each day (perhaps starting with the book of John which has the story of the woman at the well), using a Bible commentary to find the meaning of what you are reading, praying and asking for God’s help to find the living water in the Scriptures.  Then use the journal to take notes on what truths you find in the Scripture, make a note of prayers that are answered, and describe your journey as you become a well-watered woman.  You can also write down a few Bible verses to memorize (maybe the verses where Jesus talks about living water).

Either way, this is a journey worth taking! 

Although I have done many Bible studies, and I pray regularly, and read the Bible, and attend church every weekend, I am seeking to become a well-watered woman.  I still feel discouraged at times, so I want to be more courageous, more joyful, and live with a purpose.  That is why I am reading Gretchen’s book, “Well-watered Women”.  To read this book to become a well-watered woman, all you need then is a Bible.  (You can get a free Bible mailed to you at FreeBibles or read the Bible online at BibleGateway.

I have often visited Gretchen’s website and have been encouraged and intrigued by it.  I have purchased one of her journals, and found it helpful.  You might enjoy looking around her website at www.lifelivedbeautifully.com or find her on Pinterest — @LLBeautifully or Instagram – @LifeLivedBeautifully or Twitter — @LLBeautifully

If you do decide to get her book “Well-watered Women”, let me know what you think about it in the comments below or by email to FaithCountsBlog@AOL.com

Remember you read this first at FaithCounts.Wordpress.com 

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Giddy Up

This is my book review of “Giddy Up, Eunice” by Sophie Hudson

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First I need to tell you, that this book has nothing to do with a horse, despite the title “Giddy Up….”  After reading this book, I still have no idea why the author used “Giddy Up” in the title.  Maybe when you read the book you can figure that out and tell me. Eunice is Timothy’s mother.  Timothy is mentored by Apostle Paul, and is referenced in the Bible (1Timothy and 2Timothy).

Second, the book is written in a very casual southern style.  I found this a bit annoying.  I have not read anything by this author before.  She used phrases like “surely can”, and “a good talkin’-to”, and of course “y’all”.  She also made up words like “sarcasterisks” for “*”, and “judge-y” for “judgmental”.  She also likes to put sentences in ALL CAPS for emphasis.  Some people might find this all endearing, but to me, it was distracting and annoying.  I know I said annoying twice.  I’m just making a point.

Once I ignored all these issues, I did enjoy the section of the book about Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist).  I never realized that they probably encouraged each other during their visit when they were both pregnant for the first time, and both being a big part of God’s plan to bring us all a savior.  That is pretty amazing!  I also liked the section on Ruth.  The author did a good job explaining Boaz as the kinsman redeemer who marries Ruth.

I had high hopes for this book,

since Beth Moore wrote the Foreword.  The book is written in a similar style to the way Beth Moore talks, which is fun to listen to, and makes her seem like a friend or a sister, but writing a book in that style just doesn’t work for me.  I guess you can decide whether the things I mentioned that annoy me, would annoy you too or not.  If you like the casual southern speaking style, then you might really enjoy this book.

You can read a small portion of the book (which I recommend) and purchase it if you like on Amazon.com 

I did receive a free copy of this book from B&H Publishing, so I could write an honest review.

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Worship is not about us

Worship is not about us.  Worship is all about God!

We owe it to God to worship Him.

To worship God we need a relationship with Him.

We can get a closer relationship with God by reading the Bible, and through prayer.  I am talking about prayer where we seek to know Him and hear His voice, to thank Him, not to ask for things.

How do we worship God?

  • We can praise Him with our words of thanks.  We can praise Him with song. 
  • We can praise Him with our hands raised in awe or in surrender to Him.
  • We can honor Him by reading Scripture out loud.
  • We can honor Him with gifts of donations.  We can honor Him with our service to others. 
  • We can bow low or kneel in submission to honor Him.
  • We can dedicate to God, something we create, like a song or painting or poem.
  • We can jump or shout with joy from the goodness of God.  Shout “hallelujah” or “praise God”.
  • We can glorify Him through all these ways of worship.

I dedicate the comments section below for worship of God.  Please add your praise and worship comments.

Since this is the 4th of July weekend, here is a patriotic song.  We can give thanks to God for our “one nation under God”.  Please listen to Canadian Brass playing, “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Happy 4th of July!

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Don’t Wait Anymore

My book review of “I Don’t Wait Anymore”  — by Grace Thornton

Book DontWaitAnymore

I enjoyed reading this book.  Although the author is single, and for much of her adult life, she found herself wondering why she was still single, this does not overshadow the book’s message.  I am married, but I still found this book relevant.

The author’s question was “Why did my plans not work out, even though I felt God was calling me to do this?”

The scripture she uses to find an answer is from,

Jeremiah 29:13, —  “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”–

In the process of seeking God, and seeking answers to questions, she realized that she did not need a better life…

 She needed a “radically different” life!

This book explains how her life became “radically different”.  She details experiences in her life, and mostly tells us about what she wrote in her journals.  She tells us about her disappointments, wrong paths, and the direction God took her, and her thoughts about all these experiences.  At the end of the book, she also gives us her advice on how we can turn our life into something “radically different”.

I wish the author, Grace Thornton, had written more information about her current “radically different” life, so I would have a better idea what she means by that phrase, “radically different”.  She tells us about her life that wasn’t working the way she had planned, and what events pushed her to change.  She tells us her philosophy about life’s purpose and what can give meaning to our lives, but I don’t know if I can trust her advice.  I don’t know her.  I don’t know if her current life is what I would consider different or successful, or one I would want to seek.  She doesn’t give us enough details about her life currently, only about her past experiences.

Still the book was interesting, and I enjoyed reading about her life and about her philosophy about God.  It just isn’t a book that will make me change my life.  I did relate to some of her thoughts about life, before she radically changed.  I could say, “yeah that’s what I felt too.  I have been there.” 

Grace Thornton is a new author.  This is a good book, an interesting book, well written.  I would love to read a sequel from the author, one that tells us more about where God took her life, now that she is “radically different”.  That could be an even better book.  

I hope you read this, Grace, and write that sequel.

To read a portion of this book, and to purchase it, go to Amazon.com

I did receive a free copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers, in order to write an honest review.

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A Christian’s Next Step

What makes a Christian different from other people?

Many people say they believe in God.  Jewish and Muslim people believe in God the Father from the Old Testament of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.   So do Christians.

BUT …

Christians also believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, their Lord and Savior! 

Boom!

That is a huge difference!

The Bible says Christians are set apart, that they are to love one another.  In short, Christians are to be disciples of Jesus, following His example and His teachings.

Jesus was baptized, and He prays to God His Father, so we should also.  Jesus taught about the Bible, so we should study the Bible, and teach others about the Bible.  Jesus taught that His followers should take care of the poor, widows, and orphans.

That is the next step I am talking about today.

The preaching minister at my church said, “Every Christian, living in a first-world country (such as the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada…), should be sponsoring a third-world child” (living in Central or South America, anywhere in Africa, India, Haiti…). (I added the lists of countries.)

Sponsorship of a child who is poor, a child of a widow, or an orphan, is easy to do even if we don’t know any children in these situations.  There are many Christian organizations that give you the opportunity to sponsor one of these children in need.

In order to take this next step, all you need to do is pray to find a way to set aside $20 – $50 per month.  Give up one restaurant dinner per month, or give up three or more specialty coffees per month, or sell things you don’t need and pay for one year all at one time.  It really isn’t so hard to do, because people in first-world countries like the USA, are some of the richest people in the world.  We have grocery stores filled with food; we have cars for transportation; we have clean water to drink and bathe in; we have indoor plumbing for kitchens and bathrooms; we have a closet full of clothes.  Once you know where you will get the money, you are ready for the next step.

Find a Christian charity to work with, and choose a child to sponsor. 

Sponsorship provides things like health care, education, clothes, food, and teaching about Jesus.  You can’t provide these things for so little money here in the United States, but in third-world countries, you can!  You can give one child a miracle. 

You can change one child’s life!

To make it easy, I have a short list of Christian organizations where you can sponsor a child

When you sponsor a child, let me know what country they live in.

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Out of Africa

This is my book review of “Friendship” by Francis Mandewah.

Book  CoverFriendship

This is a memoir that reads like an adventure story.  It is written by a new author, Francis Mandewah, who writes about his life as a child in Africa, and how his life changed forever.  He then covers his life up to the present.

This is a fascinating story! 

I was delighted by the author’s description of how the people in his village received the news.  They had no newspaper, no radio.  They had a town crier, who would signal for attention, and as everyone stopped to listen, he announced the news for the entire village to hear!

I found myself uplifted by this story.

I wanted to cheer him on, and tell him, “Don’t give up”.  Francis has a tenacity and hope that serve him well, but he needs some help, and finds it in surprising ways.  He is helped by a nun and by a pilot from the United States.  He accepts this help joyfully, even as he accepts the circumstances of a life in Africa, poor and fatherless.  His father died while Francis was still an infant.  To his mother’s credit, she finds ways for Francis to attend school.  School is the step up he needed to have hope of a better future.

The author’s mother, needing a way to support her family without her husband, has a small farm where she grows coffee, cacao, bananas, kola nuts, cotton, pineapple, peppers, and okra.  I was amazed at the variety of what she grew!  She also had chickens for eggs.  Breakfast was often several bananas. The family lived without electricity, without running water, using a stream for water, and a community latrine.

This is such an encouraging book.

By the end of the book, I was encouraged myself, to find ways to give to others, sharing the blessings I have had in my life.  As a result, my husband and I added another child sponsorship to our giving.  This child we have sponsored lives in Africa, too.

I say, “Thank you” to Francis Mandewah for writing this story about his life.  It is encouraging to others, to hope for a better future, to accept their circumstances, but to look for and be ready for new opportunities.  The author’s courage is evident as he travels alone, where he has never been before.  Also evident in his story, is the importance of prayer in his life.  He learned to pray in elementary school.

I hope you will read this book!  It is a very interesting true story, that keeps your interest throughout.  It will encourage you and surprise you. 

I wrote to the author after I had started reading his book.  I said to Francis, “God evidently had his eye on you, as well as the sparrow.”

You can see more about this book and purchase it in Kindle format or paperback at Amazon.com

I did receive a free copy of this book from Netgalley, so that I could do an honest review for you.

 

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