Category Archives: Faith

A relationship with The Lord through Jesus Christ, expressed in the disciplines of Bible Study, Prayer and Service to others.

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.”


Book Review: Miriam

Miriam

Do you ever wonder what it must have been like to experience the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and escape? Or, what cataclysmic event had to happen for the Israelites to be willing to uproot from everything they knew? Miriam, a novel by Mesu Andrews, gives a glimpse behind the scenes, to equip the mind and senses in that process.

Who is Mesu Andrews? She is a student of God’s Word and the award-winning author of Love Amid the Ashes and numerous other novels, including The Pharaoh’s Daughter. She uses fiction to fill in the blanks of long-loved stories of the Bible. Her imagination and research bring details that explain gaps in the passage, causing the stories to jump to life with new vibrancy.

Through the doubts of Miriam and her family, we experience the turmoil they faced in the new revelation Moses brought of God. Andrews captures the pain of unanswered questions and the 400 year silence of El Shaddai. But, like Miriam, we also experience Yahweh anew, as we learn to trust the One who leads us into the unknown.

You’ll want to experience this book, and yes, it is an experience. Through the questions asked by the Israelites, we come to understand the enormity of God’s sacrifice for us, as His Son was represented by the sacrificial lamb, slain at Passover. It sets the stage for the greatest event in history, the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lamb of God.

Miriam is a book that inspires awe and trust in the God who rescued Israel from bondage, and rescues us from a life enslaved to sin.

Sally

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


Book Review: Kisses from Katie

 

This book is profoundly disturbing. And it shakes me to the core. Kisses from Katie is the story of a high school senior who travels to Uganda and subsequently invests her life in the people she meets there. Katie Davis says her life is not extraordinary, but she goes on to describe extraordinary ways the Lord shows up in desperate circumstances.

Katie Davis came with no formal training, no formal backing and no formal plan. She was compelled to get involved, and took the first step. She used her hands and feet to show God’s love in practical ways, and became known in an impoverished land as “Mommy.” Indeed, at age 18, she fed, schooled, applied medical help, housed and eventually adopted. Now, ten years later, Katie’s nonprofit has a Board of Directors, farming education to sustain life, food outreach, a self-sustaining vocational program and sponsors over 700 children.

Amazima-Masese-2000x1333

Katie says, “Jesus wrecked my life.”

I’ve run into that phrase before. It means she became uncomfortable with her comfortable life. And her words create discomfort with the way we’re doing things in Western society.

Katie found a paradox in Uganda: “amazing, breathtaking beauty juxtaposed against immense poverty and desolation.”

She says, “Materially speaking, the people who began to fill my life were the poorest I had ever met and yet they overflowed with the riches of the heart. They lived in houses of sticks or stones and mud; they slept on hard dirt floors. But they did not blame God for this or ask Him for more. They knew their circumstances were due to the brokenness of this world and they simply praised Jesus for keeping them alive through it all.”

Katie saw children dying from preventable diseases and knew she had to find help. She began to contact people in her hometown of Nashville, TN in search of those willing to come alongside her. She described the need, not as statistics, but as “people I know and love.”

Katie’s approach to her life and work in Uganda might be considered radical, even controversial. She gives to people who cannot repay. She helps those who should be able to help themselves. Yet, the message is an important one. We must get involved. When God’s people reach out to others, that love will transform people, one life at a time.

If you want to stay comfortable, don’t read this book. It gets under your skin. However, I challenge you to get your own copy and a pen. Highlight ideas, quotes and values. Let two worlds merge in your own heart as you seek how the Lord will lead you to be obedient, as a missionary, right where you are. And, in your imperfect, inadequate efforts to serve Him, you will find new release as you lean on Christ.

Sally


When All You Can Do Is Pray

Praying woman hands
Praying woman hands

Ever feel so helpless that you can think of nothing else to do to help a situation, except to pray? I’m task-oriented, and that means a task gives me purpose. But, what if my greatest purpose is to pray? Prayer is hard work. It is a discipline that harnesses the mind and will and channels it to seek God’s will. So, instead of prayer being the last resort, it becomes my first choice. 

Scripture is a great tool for prayer. It mobilizes and empowers prayers. For example, which prayers are more effective?
A. “Lord, bless Nate today.”
B. “Lord, enable Nate to know how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
A. “Lord, be with Kenzie today.”
B. “Lord, may Kenzie know the truth of Your Word today and be reminded that You will never leave her or forsake her.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
A. “Lord, protect Anna today.”
B. “Lord, may Anna find refuge in You today. Carry her safely in Your everlasting arms. Destroy any evil intended for her.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
In every A example, I am asking good things for my family. But the B examples help me to feel I’ve really been specific and gone to bat for them. One of the places I learned to be very specific in prayer was through Moms In Prayer, International. Moms In Prayer organizes moms to pray for their children and schools. And they have equipped countless families to build a strong foundation in God’s Word. It helped ours through some tough times, as well. Check out their website for more prayer tips.
As author, Mary DeMuth prompts, May I pray for you today?
“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19a) Amen.             In the comments section (located under the title), tell me what Scripture you will use to infuse your prayers today!
Sally


Bible Study Review: Grin with Grace

Grin with Grace

When suffering hits, the last thing I want to do is grin; rejoice; be content. But Kathy Carlton Willis contends we not only will do those things, but we will thank the Lord for the trials that grow us. Her book, Grin With Grace is a call to return to the Source of life, the One who can use all things for His good purposes.

Kathy is well versed in the suffering department. From health issues to the nitty gritty of living life, she knows the need for a dose of joy. Her goal is to help all of us who feel so far from the goal. Is it a lofty goal? I don’t think so, because the pursuit of wisdom brings us closer to the One who gives it freely to those who ask. And that’s a good place to be.

Grin With Grace is sectioned off into humorous real-life stories, Bible study, life-application steps, turning faith into ministry and challenging scenarios to consider. The sections invite journaling and that reflection invites action. Never does she leave us to sit on our discoveries, but pushes us to share them with others. Our women’s group found the conversation starters helpful and the personal approach to faith, endearing. We used the material as a springboard toward more transparency in our faith and encouragement of each other. The last chapter, especially, created an opportunity to voice our support through benediction, or blessing.

One of the ways Kathy teaches us about the dependability of Grace, is to cause us to look at the effects of our promises. Do we say what we mean, and mean what we say? She calls us to a higher accountability as we mirror the character of God. And such is the tough love found throughout the book; spoken with compassion, yet straight and to the point. She reminds us to seek the One who is enough, so that we won’t try to be sufficient in our own resources. And that is the power in Grin With Grace; truth cushioned with kindness and love.

Make time for this study on grace. It will open your worldview to the characteristics of a grace-filled life, and equip you to look for the touches of God in grace-filled moments!

Sally

Check out the Bible Study Expo, for an interview with Kathy Carlton Willis!

 

 


The Tweet-able Bible

Bible memory

Do you have a difficult time memorizing passages? I can work and work on committing a verse to memory, then go completely blank when it comes time to recall it. But I’ve found a 5 Step Method that helps me.

It’s easier to remember the context of a verse when you boil it down to the foundation. And that’s what happens when you tweet the text. Twitter allows 140 characters, your take on the passage is condensed to fit, and voila! You’ve got a Bible passage that’s planted in your heart and mind because you’ve taken it apart and applied it.

Here are some of my favorites:

True worship = total surrender. Romans 12:1-2

There is no flaw in God’s Word! Psalm 18:30

Am I once muddy, always muddy? No! I am washed, set apart & proven right in God’s sight! 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

And this, from a sermon my Hubby preached:

The 5 Step Method:

  1. Take the subject and verb, look for the affect they have on the topic.             God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. Romans 2:4
  2. Is there a cause & effect? Highlight that.                                                               When I put God first, He takes care of the rest. Matthew 6:33
  3. Can you bring out a formula?                                                                           Godliness + contentment = great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
  4. Look for lists, characteristics or benefits.                                                              Sound judgment & discernment = life, safety, stability, lack of fear & sweet rest. Proverbs 3:21-24
  5. Is there a command, instruction or promise?                                                         Speak up! Proverbs 31:8-9

When a verse speaks to your heart, it becomes a beacon to a great truth the Lord wants to spotlight. Your task in tweeting it, is not to rewrite the verse, but to whet the appetite of your readers so they will want to read it for themselves. Add a link to the verse so it is easily accessible. I like www.biblegateway.com; others use www.bible.com. Have fun with it; it will bring light to your time with God in a refreshing way!

O Father, draw me! John 6:44

Sally @SallyJFerguson

Originally published at sallyswords


Living with Dad’s Dementia

The light bulb has gone out in Dad’s eyes. Last week we carried on a conversation and played Rook. Tonight, he responds “yeah” and can’t seem to figure out the different colors in Uno.

We were at this place five years ago. The doctors said he would have plateaus where he would level out. But Dad completely returned. He not only balanced out but was dreaming about getting a job again.

A few days ago, we said goodbye to my brother-in-law. Did the funeral trigger memories of Mom’s death? Has he retreated to the recesses of his mind to keep from the pain of Larry’s death?

At first the Uno game was cute. But he got stuck there and wouldn’t even rise from the table without me taking his elbow. Now I feel my own panic rise like bile in the back of my throat.

What is it about pain that shuts down the brain? Here I am, needing You again, Lord. The very breath I breathe needs Your infusion of hope and mountain-moving faith. Help me to take one step at a time, as we navigate these muddy waters with Dad.

Mom gave me a book by Anne Graham Lotz called “Why?” It has become my go-to resource when life throws another curve ball. Anne says, “The kind of trust God wants us to have cannot be learned in comfort and ease. Mary and Martha could not learn it immediately or quickly. It required time. And patience. And suffering. And the pressure of desperation.” (p. 55)

Are you desperate for God to intervene in your life? Reach out to Him to hold your hand and to walk the dusty road with you. And whatever you do, don’t give up. He promised He would go with you, no matter what.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” –Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Sally


Bible Study Expo

Check out the Bible Study Expo on Thursday, August 20, featuring 12 authors:

– Liz Curtis Higgs with “It’s Good to be Queen”

– Pam Farrel with “7 Simples Skills for Every Woman”

– Sara Hagerty with “Every Bitter Thing”

– Kimberly Sowell with “The Thin Red Line Series”

– Danette Crawford with “Total Turnaround”

– Sheryl Pellatiro with “Fearless Faith”

– Stephanie Olson with “Jesus is Passing By”

– Mindy Ferguson with “Moses”

– Jessie Seneca with “Joseph”

– Kathy Howard with “Embraced by Holiness”

– Carey Scott with “Untangled”

– Marnie Swedberg with “Flow Through Vessel”

The Expo is 100% free and online, catch it while it happens, or come back to dig in later. I have found this exercise to be very helpful in picking out resources for our study groups, as well as for networking.

How about you? Are you looking for your next study for Fall?

Sally


Book Review: Possible by Stephan Bauman

Possible
Does poverty, injustice and world suffering bother you? Get ready to be bothered more. Stephan Bauman has written, Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World, with a look at the worst our generation has been offered. But Bauman also offers hope, by presenting a blueprint that will ignite a new approach to problem solving.

Bauman is the president and CEO of World Relief, who has lived with feet on the ground in developing countries struggling to fight AIDS, trafficking and factions. He says, “We owe it to subsequent generations to honestly ask ourselves if we are responsibly stewarding our moment in history.”

But what does it mean, to steward our moment? Bauman says we need to step up to use our skills and abilities to find solutions to the problems that plague our world today. He provides tools for groups to access what their unique contribution can be and invites all to lives of radical obedience marked by sacrificial love. He says the invitation of Jesus to be vulnerable is one way of accepting glorious grace into our lives.

Bauman says reformation begins with a complaint. When we care enough to get upset, then it can turn into prayer. Prayer galvanizes courage. Courage fosters commitment. And commitment becomes the foundation for action.

Bauman sends the clarion call to abandon narcissism, self-absorption and insecurity in order to take up a higher calling to pursue a relationship with God instead of addiction to ministry. Indeed, Bauman says our world’s problems are all relational. People will change when they experience a love that collides with their belief systems.

Possible is a compelling book. It awakens the call to more, by asking hard questions about character and motive. I believe this generation is ready for change, and this book helps us to see that change is Possible!

Sally

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
 

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