Book Review: Rooted, The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher

 

Rooted

Is it possible to eliminate confusion, give affirmation and recognize God at work? Banning Liebscher says it is, and we can, in his book, Rooted. In fact, Liebscher says it’s his goal, and used the life of David to flesh out three different types of soil God used to root David’s deep trust in Him.

Banning Liebscher is the founding pastor of Jesus Culture Sacramento, and tells the story of the growth of a movement, but, more importantly, the growth of individuals who allow God’s Word to become rooted in their hearts.

I had to read the book twice, because

  • I wanted to make sure I didn’t misinterpret what was being said.
  • I wanted to soak in the truths laid out.

One such area I misunderstood, the statement was made that we are all made for greatness. The second time through, it clarified, greatness is expressed through humility, love and service to others. What a difference in thought! The first sounded like entitlement. The second? Like Jesus! And Jesus served. He didn’t act entitled, but led by serving.

Liebscher gives examples from his own experiences to illustrate how God developed his character in the hidden places; those times of digging into Scripture and prayer. And the book is a clarion call to both. As Christians, we are admonished to let God take His time to shape us, before we step out to lead others. He says, “The small things are preparation as you move toward what God has called you to do.”

Liebscher invites us to run hard after Jesus, so that we will finish strong. His book lays out tools for that race, and encouragement for the runners. I heartily recommend it to all who would “build their house, fulfill God’s vision, bear fruit, make an impact and step into who The Lord created us to be.”

Sally

Disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Leadership 101

I have an apple tree in my back yard that has never borne fruit. Year after year, we sought signs that something would come of our efforts to put it in good soil. But nothing revealed indicators of growth. How about you? Have you been feeling like there’s no fruit from your work?
Pastor Bill Hybels says leadership begins with yourself. When you are dormant, people won’t follow you. So, how will you push yourself? He suggests taking leaders to lunch and asking questions, exposing yourself to new ways of looking at things, and developing character.
If leadership begins at home, then it does matter what we do when no one’s watching. We are all managers of:
• Time
• Money
• Words
In Psalm 39, David said he would watch what he said around others. But he also affirmed in Psalm 40 he would tell of God’s goodness. He sought the Lord’s help to know when to speak and when to be silent. What would that look like for a leader? We have opportunities to speak truth into people’s lives. Will it be laced with criticism or kindness?
At The Global Leadership Summit, Leadership Coach John Maxwell challenged all to add value to people’s lives every day. He said we can learn from the way Jesus valued Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and even children. It takes intentional living to see things from someone else’s perspective.
Let’s get back to the basics in our leadership habits. Find ways to stretch yourself and your team. Expose yourself to new ways of doing things every day. Ask questions. Listen. Put your house in order. Speak kindness into the hearts of others. Hold yourself accountable to a high standard of integrity.

apple tree from back yard
This year, however, something is different with my apple tree. The branches are heavy laden and getting ready for harvest. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the fruit of your labor that seems negligent in coming? Don’t give up. Keep building on the basics of love and faithfulness. Let integrity be your hallmark. When God’s timing is ripe, you will see a harvest of His faithfulness in your life and in your work.

Sally

In what ways is the Lord nudging you to stretch your leadership skills today?

Book Review: Breaking Up with Perfect

Breaking Up with Perfect

Do you ever feel like it’s time to break up with your tendencies toward perfection? Breaking Up with Perfect shows you how. It takes you through the belief systems that told you life had to look a certain way, to the skewed values that warped your view of life, to the actions that perpetuate selfishness, to that sweet place of freedom and fulfilling relationships. What do perfectionistic attitudes have to do with relationships? Everything. They rob friendships of the depth of caring needed to overcome obstacles in personality differences!

Amy Carroll says she wrote Breaking Up with Perfect out of her own battle with the Good Girl List. That list that makes you do everything possible to live up to an image you’ve concocted, but no one else expects. She contrasts it with her friend’s list: the Never Good Enough List. What follows is a heart-to-heart talk about the fatal flaws in each list and the devastating toll they take on a heart submitted to them.
Reading this book, I feel exposed. Amy describes me in so many ways, that I feel like she followed me around with a camera! If I ever noticed the horrible consequences of perfectionism, it was never so pronounced. So, why go through the pain of opening up your heart with all of its failures, flaws and all? Because it creates room for relationships; relationships that are encouraging, joy-giving and fill in the gaps of life.
This book provides questions to ask when relationships go awry, recipes for self-absorption and pride, and antidotes to materialism. It is a must-read for anyone who has ever yearned to move from hollowness to wholeness. Amy says, “I’m never getting back together with my do-er mentality.”
Isn’t it time to rest in knowing we don’t have to earn God’s favor? He is our Provider and wants us to trust Him for every bit of our day.
Get this book, for a journey from a difficult place, to a much better place! You’ll also want to check in with Amy’s blog, where Amy has a book club for Breaking Up With Perfect starting on August 1.
I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Howard Books, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about ways perfectionism blocks community, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, August 4.
Sally
P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “What Scripture Tells Us About God’s Love,” from Breaking Up With Perfect!
Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering

Sure Mercies

40 stories. 40 witnesses for the work of God through Christ. Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering highlights figures from the pages of history as well as present-day martyrs. Why is this an important book? When you’re hurting, it is a lonely place to be. Suffering feels isolated. The testimonies of others who suffered help us to see we’re not alone. They were victorious through God’s strength and we can be, too.

I started in the back with the Study Guide, and immediately liked Megan Vance’s style of writing. Her voice is easy on the ear, yet polished and carries depth of character. She describes Sure Mercies from the viewpoint of a hurting girl who connected with the cries of a hurting boy in the book of Psalms. She says David didn’t just memorize the Scriptures as a religious exercise, “he believed what they told him about Jehovah.”

And so this work continues to unfold accounts of those who believed God at His word, and stood for Him in unthinkable circumstances. William Borden gave up his family wealth to pursue missions among the Muslims of China. He died of meningitis. Corrie ten Boom came from Dutch descent and suffered in the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Richard Wurmbrand spent years in solitary confinement in Communist prisons. Nate Saint and his friends were murdered deep in the jungle of Ecuador by Auca Indians. Yet, in all of these lives, and more, they resolved to follow Christ knowing a life spared would not be worth a witness sacrificed.

Sure Mercies is a compilation of short stories that are tall on inspiration. They tell the back story of those who are part of “God’s chain of grace” extended across time. And they bring hope! Ever wonder if you would be resolute under trial? Megan prays, “Lord, we need not fear our own inadequacy, but only behold Your Son and His finished work. Thank You that He works as we merely yield our lives to Him.”

The Meditation Prayers lead us to remember our future is not our own. The faithful testimony of those within these pages will encourage us to remain steadfast in difficult times. And, as she remarks about Gracie Parker Rosenberger, “Watching Gracie, it’s easier to believe impossibilities can create abundant possibilities.”

Bravo to Megan Vance on a thoroughly researched, well recorded progression of God’s Message over the ages. It is a timely dose of encouragement for us all!

Sally

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Almost Home

On our return from Africa, our Mission Team flew into Toronto for the last leg of driving home to Jamestown, just south of Buffalo. The 17 hours of flight had only served to make us more homesick, as we longed for sweet sleep in our own beds.

Finally, with luggage gathered, tired bodies accounted for and vans retrieved, we settled in for the three hour drive home.

As we approached the Canadian/US Border, we noticed traffic slowing. And then it came to a standstill. We could see the flags of our own country, but could not advance to it.

photo

In these tumultuous days, we’re watching the effects of sin take a toll on our planet. War, hatred, abuse, the sex trade, people hungry for power, poverty, drought and all sorts of evil in between. And it makes us long for our Heavenly Home. Jesus said we would face trouble. But He also promised His presence would comfort and guide us. This is the time to stand firm and pray. When you hear the news, pray. When you see bad things happen, pray. And when you think you can’t take any more, pray.

Answers in Genesis opened their replica of Noah’s Ark on July 7. One of the first visitors was Bill Nye, who claimed children are being brainwashed. As I scrolled the comments of his supporters, I couldn’t believe the bashing toward Ken Ham (who happens to have the same name as one of Noah’s sons) and his Ark. And I wondered if that was just an inkling of the mocking Noah endured in his day. We are not home yet.

Our Heavenly Home is just over the horizon and our King is on His Return Trip. Stand firm; we’re almost Home.

What helps you stand firm? Leave a comment in the link just under the title, and I’ll send you 6 Tips for Talking to God.

Sally

We are not home yet

Teardrop

“What is home?”

Our class had a variety of answers; places remembered from the past, or an ideal set apart for our families.  But all I could think about was a feeling.  “You know that feeling you get on Christmas Eve?  When everyone’s in bed, asleep, and everything’s done that can possibly be done?  All that’s needed at that moment is to reflect on The Day to come, and gaze at the lights on the tree.”

That’s my picture of “home.”

Anne Graham Lotz talks about our heavenly home in The Vision of His Glory.  She says the glassy streets of gold will reflect God’s glory with every step that we take.  We will not only have access to the Presence of God (as the Israelites experienced through the priest entering the Tabernacle), but we’ll live in the Presence of God.

No, we are not home yet.  But Jesus is preparing it with painstaking detail, just like a mom would get ready for her college student to come home on break.  Anne reminds us that favorite meals would be prepared, activities planned and phone calls made saying, “My daughter is coming home!”

I can’t wait for my heavenly home!

Sally

Originally published at Sally’s Words

Review & a Giveaway: The NIV Lifehacks Bible!

NIV Lifehacks

If you were offered the key to unlock mysteries, would you take it? The NIV Lifehacks Bible extends that and so much more, in the quest for understanding God’s Word.

It contains 365 articles to explain the process of becoming more like Jesus.

It covers 30 everyday disciplines.

It chronicles 8 different categories of spiritual formation (the process of conforming to the character of Christ).

 

That’s 365 articles for each day of the year.

30 disciplines for each day of the month, on average.

8 categories to examine one a day, plus one.

But do you need to read or apply every entry? The author, Joe Carter says, “No. This Bible contains over 1,000 tips and suggestions, and no one could (or necessarily should) attempt to apply them all. My goal in writing these articles is that every reader will find at least eight things to apply to their life, one in each of the eight categories of spiritual formation.” (Seeing Jesus in Scripture, Prayer, Engaging Scripture, Communion with God, Internal Disciplines, External Disciplines, Responding to God’s Calling and Assessing Spiritual Growth.)

NIV Lifehacks 197 become like Christ

Imagine what would happen to The Church, if all Christians took it upon themselves to make Bible study and discipleship a personal endeavor? This Bible is called “Lifehacks” because we live in an age when we’re looking for tips and tools to handle life more efficiently. Ever wish you could “cut to the chase” in the way you study the disciplines of the Christian life?

This format is a work of genius! The tools draw you into the Word of God with practical clues to texts and connections to concepts. Even the titles entice you to engage your brain… before you know it, you’ve been studying the Bible!

  • When We Should (Probably) Not Agree to Pray for Someone
  • What Lambs Reveal About Jesus
  • The Essential Vocation of Burden Bearing
  • The Benefits of Handwriting Scripture
  • How Honey Helps Us to Know God
  • How 15 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life
  • Kill the Dragon, Get the Bride

Are you curious yet? Get your own copy today. Or, you can enter the drawing!

I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Zondervan Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of your favorite Bible study tools, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held one week from today, July 7. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Sally

P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “20 Prompts for Spiritual Journaling,” from the NIV Lifehacks Bible!

 NIV Lifehacks 58 (3) Scripture points to Christ

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Radiant Lit Blog Tour for Jilted!

Jilted

Title:  Jilted

Author: Varina Denman

Genre: Drama

Publisher: David C. Cook

Release Date: June 1, 2016

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago. Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must—once and for all—leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

Varina Denman handles the demons of depression with raw honesty. Her characters learn that unresolved pain turns into deeper issues; they only find restoration through confrontation. I appreciate her sensitivity toward an illness that is not easy to identify. If you had a broken arm, you would wear a cast. Depression is the result of broken links in the brain, and yet has no outward Band-Aid to warn others to approach cautiously.

Denman also tackles feelings of abandonment and grief. Throughout Jilted, Lynda Turner sees herself as a gal who looks at life as a half-empty glass. Her efforts to face life head on, only leave her depleted. However, in the end, Lynda says, “I had finally realized it didn’t matter if my glass was half full or half empty. That’s not what life was about. What mattered was that God stood behind me with a full pitcher, waiting to refill my plastic tumbler… if only I’d let Him.”

Lest you think these topics are depressing, there are other twists to the plot to keep your attention! Look at my review of Jaded, Book 1 here. And the review of Justified, Book 2 here. This has been an interesting series about a small town in West Texas and how they handle the skeletons in their past. Some that surface, literally, in Jilted, Book 3! Denman’s research into the legalities of a registered sex-offender status, the basics of wind-farm procedures and the dangers involved for workers on the turbines, and the stages of crime scene investigation all pay off to provide an exciting read!

Author Bio

Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly-grown children.

Note: I received this copy of Jilted as a part of the Radiant Lit Jilted blog tour. The book is available for purchase at Amazon.com.

Sally

Book Review: Jaded

Jaded

What do small town gossip, outsiders and forgiveness have in common? They all collide in an unforgettable book called Jaded. Ruthie was a child when she and her mom were kicked out of church. But she always thought the action represented God. When secrets are unearthed that shake her theories, they also shake the church.

Varina Denman has managed to take a look at the worst side of the church, and find good. Her insights into human nature and the result of following others blindly, create opportunity to look in the mirror. We have the same propensity to believe the worst of others, and the use of fiction lays it all bare.

With this first novel, Denman won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award! She says, “Not all congregations are as bitter as [this], but as long as we’re on earth, the church will be filled with humans who have real-life flaws and opinions. I pray we have the humility and strength to forgive each other’s sins until we reach heaven, where everything will be so, so much easier.”

It is so important that the church listen. We turn others away without knowing their stories, and lose something of ourselves in the process. It is by embracing our differences, that we will really embrace wholeness. And the power of fiction to flesh out a truth is packed beautifully in the pages of Jaded.

Take a look at my review of Book 2 here. And watch for my review of Book 3 on June 30. But, you just may not be able to wait that long! Get your own copies of the Trilogy, and judge for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Sally

Note: I received this book as part of the Jilted blog tour from Radiant Lit. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher for Radiant Lit Blog Tours.

Review & a Giveaway: The NKJV American Woman’s Bible!

NKJV American Womans Bible

The timing for the release of The NKJV American Woman’s Bible, and a celebration of our heritage of faith, could not be better. As we approach the birthday of our nation, we reflect on ways the Lord has intervened for our country, and the principles on which it was built. To say this book is patriotic would be true, but it is so much more. It begins with “A Woman’s Journey To Godliness,” and continues with examples from our nation’s history of women who fleshed out what it meant to embrace faith in tumultuous times.

General Editor, Dr. Richard G. Lee has done his research! Indeed, he compiled the American Patriot’s Bible and authored another twenty-one books. His works highlight the legacy of the Judeo-Christian values that created a foundation for our government and justice system. He says, “American history is no stranger to the fact that God uses humble, unassuming ‘everyday’ people to do extraordinary things.”

I love the behind-the-scenes look at our country. Sidebars are filled with quotes and qualities of virtuous women. Biographies add detail to the lives of many unknown, but influential people. And glossy inserts are packed with the stories of those who sacrificed and served their Lord and country.

In a time when patriotism is ebbing low, this book is an important standard. It lifts up the Word of God and shows how applicable it continues to be, in every generation.

The fascinating biographies include immigrants, pioneers, presidents’ wives, missionaries, writers, peasants, celebrities, slaves, singers and songwriters. Here’s a sampling of the quotes that grabbed my attention:

“You can be too big for God to use, but you cannot be too small.” – Nelle Reagan

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.” – Corrie ten Boom

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” – Helen Keller

“Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

“Democracies have been, and governments called, free; but the spirit of independence and the consciousness of unalienable rights, were never before transfused into the minds of a whole people…The feeling of equality which they proudly cherish does not proceed from an ignorance of their station, but from the knowledge of their rights; and it is this knowledge which will render it so exceedingly difficult for any tyrant ever to triumph over the liberties of our country.” – Sarah Josepha Hale

”The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Do you love stories of heroes of the faith? Hebrews 12:1 says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. They are the ones who endured hardship and overcame difficulties with a shining faith in God. The NKJV American Woman’s Bible is an inspiring look at the sacrificial ways women gave their devotion to God’s truths and the practice of those truths in a young nation.

I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (Comments are at the top, under the title) about a favorite hero of the faith, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, June 16, 2016. Side note for those from my area, there is even a biography of Mary A. Lathbury, who helped found the Chautauqua Movement in Western New York!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”