Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's "Wrong" with God?!

I'm re-reading Mark Batterson's book, Wild Goose Chase, and I'm finding I like it even better the second time around.

I came across a quote yesterday that really spoke to me. Mark Batterson is talking about how we take all the miraculous daily events for granted: the sun rising and setting, God keeping the planets in orbit, etc.

Keeping the planets in orbit is a perpetual miracle of unparalleled proportions. So why aren't we overwhelmed with awe over our annual orbit? Why don't we ceaselessly praise God for our spinning lobe? The reason is simple: we take constants for granted. And that is the problem with God, if I may say it that way. God is the ultimate constant. He is unconditionally loving. He is omnipotently powerful. And He is eternally faithful. God is so good at what God does that we tend to take Him for granted.

How true is that?!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Great Quote to Ponder

I recently read this quote and thought I'd pass it along to think about when considering the upcoming New Year:

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Who you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you're saying."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

I read two great articles this last week about the environment and problem of climate change. Once again, I couldn't have said it better myself!

The first is entitled "Going Cheney on Climate" by Thomas L. Friedman, best selling author of Hot, Flat and Crowded and New York Times columnist. Basically, Friedman argues that even if there were only a 1% chance that global warming is taking place, we should take heed. After all, we buy house and car insurance with a 1% chance that something catastrophic will happen . . . Green energy would revitalize the economy, create jobs, clean up the environment, and make us less dependent on foreign oil. Even if there's NO chance global warming is real (which it is people -- it's absolutely, positively real), who wouldn't want more jobs, a better economy, a cleaner world and little dependence on Arab nations for survival?! It's a no brainer!

Here's the link:

The second article is by psychologist, author and newspaper columnist, Phillip Chard, entitled "Some are Cool to the Idea that Earth is Warming". This article explains why some people are reluctant to believe climate change is happening despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It's a great peak into the human psyche -- and helpful to those who want to change the minds of those ostriches in the sand.

Here's the link:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Karin in Tenstrike, MN -- this week's winner of 40 Loaves, Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day by C.D. Baker. Thanks to everyone who entered; please check back often for more book reviews and giveaways.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Primal -- Book Review

If you've read this blog for awhile, you know that Mark Batterson is one of my very favorite authors of all time. His knowledge is so diverse; he's one of the most well read people I "know"; and he has the rare talent of making the most complex ideas accessible to everyone and seeming to do so without any effort! His newest book, Primal, is fabulous -- as expected.

Mark takes the Shema of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:5), the most important commandment according to Yeshua/Jesus (Mark 12:30), and discusses how one can truly love God "with all your heart, soul, mind and strength". In typical Batterson fashion, he explains loving God with your entire being by drawing not only on scriptures, but also psychology, science and real life analogies.

In a word, I love this book.

Having said that, I would be remiss with one tiny portion of Mark's book with which I disagree. At the beginning of the book, Mark is trying to explain why this is God's greatest commandments. He says that the Pharisees were guilty of making man-made commandments (they were) and that they created 613 commandments from the Old Testament. The fact of the matter is, GOD created 613 commandments in the Torah (and 1050 in the New Testament). The Pharisees (and priests and other leaders) then added to God's 613 commandments by creating "fences" around God's commandments. Let me give you an example. One of God's commandments was (and is) to honor the Sabbath by doing no work. That's one of the 613. The Pharisees then commanded the people not to carry a needle on the sabbath because if you didn't have a needle, you couldn't work at sewing. For the record, their intent in establishing these man-made laws was not evil; originally they created these "fences" around God's commandments so the people of Israel would not unintentionally break God's commandments.

Aside from that one point in Mark Batterson's book with which I take issue, the rest of the book was truly excellent. Primal will inspire you to go back to the heart of the matter, to what is truly important with respect to your relationship with God, and it will challenge you to serve Him better and more completely. I strongly recommend this book.

Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of Primal to give away, but it's well worth the money to order several copies (you'll want to give them away). Here's the link to purchase this great book:

Below is the summary from the publisher:


Be Astonished Again

We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.

As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”

Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, December 14, 2009

40 Loaves -- Book Review and Giveaway

Do you have sticky questions about your walk with God? Are you afraid to ask those questions because it might make you look like a "bad" Christian? Then I have a little devotional for you! 40 Loaves, Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day by C.D. Baker is filled with honest, real questions every believer has struggled with at one time or another. And C.D. Baker tackles each question without making you feel "condemned" for asking . . . in fact, his illustrations and real life examples are reassuring and wonderful. It's a great way to open honest discussions between yourself and God! I really enjoyed this book and am tickled to have a free copy to give away. It would be a great stocking stuffer and is available for purchase here:

GIVE AWAY: To enter the random drawing for 40 Loaves by C.D. Baker, please send your mailing address to the winner will be chosen on Friday, December 18th.

Here's the summary from the publisher:

Why don’t I have more faith?

Why am I so bored with Jesus?

Why don’t I feel connected at church?

These are the types of questions the religious establishment often makes it uncomfortable, if not impossible, to ask. And by asking them, C. David Baker, author of 40 Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day hopes to start a conversation in people’s hearts, then with others, and ultimately with God. Many circles of Christianity have led us to believe that certainty and confidence are the proof of true spirituality; questions are discouraged.

But Jesus offered his followers an ongoing conversation—a relationship built around a free, open-ended discussion. Questions were encouraged. They were often impertinent, sometimes alarming, and the religious establishment was distinctly uncomfortable with them … just as it is today.

“40 Loaves is something of a collection of the kinds of questions I felt finally free to ask of myself and of my relationship with Christ,” says Baker. “It’s my belief that these questions are shared by many others who long for the freedom to simply ask them out loud. I hope this book becomes a platform that frees others to search their hearts more deeply and be fed with the Bread of life.”

Each “loaf” here is a big question that stimulates discussion, investigation, and contemplation; it will take hours—or days—to digest. Conversational, inviting, disarming, and real, 40 Loaves nourishes self-examination and offers validation for those who feel discouraged, guilty, or even shamed when the realities of their lives don’t match up with the ideals of the Christian establishment.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Books on a Budget

How would you like to get the information to help you during these tough times and still meet a tight budget? Well, I can recommend some books that are big on advice with tiny price tags.

I recently got the opportunity to review a sample of the "budget line" from WaterBrook Press and I can tell you, they're great.

Just because the economy is suffering doesn’t mean relationships have to suffer, too. The Value Non-Fiction Line (September 15, 2009) offers insightful books on love, marriage, relationships and personal growth. At just $6.99, WaterBrook Press is offering readers on the most limited budgets, valuable resources to help them grow and succeed in their personal lives. Titles include:

More Than A Match (ISBN: 978-1-4000-7489-1) by relationship experts, Michael & Amy Smalley, marriage and family counselors who demystify the science behind compatibility tests to help singles in search of love recognize when the right relationship comes along. They also reveal the specific skills that can transform an ideal match into a lasting love.

Fool Proofing Your Life (ISNB: 978-0-307-45848-3) by Jan Silvious, Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur) radio co-host discusses how attempts at coping with difficult people often fails, because they are what the Bible refers to as “fools.” Silvious provides tools to help readers get along and conduct relationships in a way that honors God, while preserving their own sanity.

How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong (ISBN: 978-0-307-45849-0)
by Leslie Vernick, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years experience, reveals how God uses the imperfections, difference and sins of a spouse to help anyone become more like Christ.

What Women Don’t Know and Men Don’t Tell You (ISBN: 978-0-307-45850-6)by Michelle McKinney Hammond, best-selling author, speaker, singer and co-host, with Joel A. Brooks, Jr., senior pastor of Christian Life Center, clears up misperceptions, providing women with the information they need to succeed in a lasting male-female relationship ─ both while waiting and after the wait is over.

The Value Non–Fiction Line provides readers with invaluable resources at a low cost, and offers priceless insights to help build meaningful relationship.

I got the chance to review More Than A Match by Michael and Amy Smalley. Their target audience is couples who meet online through a dating website, but their wisdom is appropriate for any couple, dating or married. They discuss how "compatibility" is just the beginning. What makes a successful marriage is WHAT COMES NEXT. They discuss important topics such as how to resolve conflict while still respecting your spouse, discussing the big issues such as finances and children, and they are honest about their own marital bumps in the road to illustrate their points perfectly. From More Than A Match, I can tell you the "budget line" books are anything but cheap.


In tough times discover…99 Ways (times six) to thrive!

The Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group introduces 99…times six…practical and up-to-date ways to help families flourish despite present economic challenges, priced at just $5.99 per book (WaterBrook Press, July 21, 2009). These books are not only timely, but also inexpensive enough to fit into everyone’s tightening budget.

99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free (ISBN-13: 978-0-307-45836-0)
by Mack Thomas, bestselling author of The First Step Bible and father of five.
Offers activities and events sure to entertain and educate family members of all ages.

99 Ways to Stretch Your Home Budget (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45841-4)
by Cheri Gillard, nurse and mother of quadruplets.
Practical ideas on how families can save money around the house.

99 Ways to Increase Your Income (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45839-1)
by Frank Martin, successful entrepreneur and author of over sixteen books.
Provides tips to generate more cash, and rebuild or supplement an income,
while hanging on to existing dollars.

99 Ways to Build Job Security (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45840-7)
by Gary Nowinski, veteran in corporate management and downsizing.
Introduces key strategies to help employees keep their jobs during economic

99 Ways to Fight Worry and Stress (ISBN-13: 978-0-307-45837-7)
by Elsa Kok Colopy, Associate Editor for Focus on the Family Publications.
Presents skills to guard rest, dream a little, and dive into truth and more.

99 Bible Promises for Tough Times (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45838-4)
by Randy Petersen, seasoned author of more than fifty books and Bible studies.
Gives encouraging and wise words found in Scripture to mediate upon.

Written for families and individuals who are hoping to not only survive but thrive, during tough times. These value-packed, applicable resources offer relevant and reliable insights to endure the current economic downturn, and are sure to appeal to families in all stages of life.

I got the chance to review 99 Ways to Increase Your Income. This book provided an all inclusive approach -- ways to increase the cash you have to spend and ways to spend less and make what you have stretch farther. The information was basic, logically presented with interesting illustrations, and very helpful for those who don't (or won't) spend a lot of time reading about money matters.

These little books are fabulous stocking stuffers! Unfortunately, I don't have any copies to give away, but at these prices, it's easy to buy several.

These books were provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.