October 31, 2014

Dead People's Bones (Matthew 23:27-28)

It's Halloween, so for the last few weeks we've seen a lot more skeletons around than we normally do.  Some are cutesy, some are gruesome, but what if all could be reminders?  What if every time we spot a skeleton we recall Matthew 23:27-28:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
I love how Jesus paints a picture to speak truth!  In this passage, he was addressing hypocrites, or those who's actions rarely match their words.  In fact, earlier in Matthew 23 Jesus tells everyone to "do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do."  Their outward appearance was appealing to the eye in every way, like a beautiful sepulcher, but their hearts were sinful (as disgusting as soul-less bodies). Jesus hated it!

What secret area of our lives do we live in hypocrisy?  
Let's be honest.  Isn't it nice when our lives looks lovely?  We would rather people not know what's underneath and others would probably rather not know either.  But Jesus says "Woe!", meaning "grievous distress, affliction, or trouble" may come to you.  When our outward life doesn't match our inward heart, we're in more danger than we think! 

How do we address this problem of hypocrisy?

Repent!  We must acknowledge and confess our sin to the Lord, and we may also need to confess it to people.  James 5:16a says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."  

Give in secret!  Matthew 6:1-4 says, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they be praised by others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

What can we do this week for God's glory that no one has to know about?

April 27, 2013

Unglued Devotional by Lysa Terkeurst

After reading Made to Crave, I was very excited to have the opportunity to read the Unglued Devotional also by Lysa Terkeurst. This is a companion devotional to the bestselling book Unglued.  Together the two books encourage readers to handle emotional struggles and have more peaceful relationships. The book is divided into 60 days of devotional entries.  Each one includes a daily opening Scripture, a truth-based thought for the day, a 1-2 page devotion, and a closing prayer. 

I highly recommend this book!  I read it each morning as my quiet time devotional.  Because each established “day” of devotion is a short nugget, even this busy stay at home mom could find the time to read it.  But that is not to say it is shallow.  The book immediately directs the reader to Scripture, challenges us to move beyond our predicted, possibly ineffective paths of reacting, and gives us a thought for the day to remind us of who God truly is.  I definitely experienced uncomfortable moments while reading the book because I was forced to move out of my comfort zone into new ways of relating to people. The order of each daily entry was a natural flow of my emotional journey, so that just when I was curious about the next step there was new truth to guide me.  I suggest purchasing both the Unglued book and the companion Devotional, as the combination will just further deepen any reader’s understanding.

December 25, 2012

Responding to Immanuel

As I read Luke 2 this year, the specific wording of verses 17-19 jumped out at me:
17 When they [referring to the shepherds] had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
As a mom of an 8 month old, I can relate to Mary.  My 3rd born is a precious infant, and knowing she is most likely my last I find myself savoring every milestone and memory.  I "treasure" and "ponder" often.

But what strikes me in these verses is not only what Mary did, but that it was in contrast to what the shepherds did:  "But Mary..."  What makes these two interactions to Jesus' arrival so different?

Relationship-perhaps the most obvious difference is that Mary was his mother, and the shepherds were strangers.  What an odd pairing at a birthing scene.  How many times are total strangers the first to visit a mom and baby in the hospital?  Grandparents often, perhaps aunts and uncles, but never strangers.  Do you feel closely connected to Jesus or do you feel like a stranger?  Whatever your role, his birth was meant for you.

Notice-while she didn't know all the details, Mary knew this night was coming, and we'll never know the range of emotions she had leading up to it.  In contrast, the shepherds were "living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks by night" (Luke 2:8) when they learned the Messiah had been born.  God IS going to show up in your life!!  Sometimes you may have some warning of the big things He has in store and sometimes you may not.  I pray either way that you are ready.

Reaction-the shepherds shouted from the roof tops (so to speak) while Mary was introspective.  The scripture gives us no indication that one response is better than the other...only that they are different.  Sometimes an encounter with God is so powerful we can't be quiet!  Jeremiah 20:9 says, "...his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."  Other experiences, often born out of deep pain, produce quiet intimacy...so Mary pondered.

The true beauty of this scene is not so much how they differed, but what they had in common.  They were both obedient, trusting, and full of faith.  They demonstrated


Why does this matter to us this Christmas Day?  Each of us have our own set of circumstances that lead up to an encounter of the Christ Child.  We may have Christianity in our lineage, we may not...we may know where to find God, we may not...and lastly our meeting with Messiah may excite us or humble us.  Every encounter, however, is meant to produce honor and glory only reserved for the Almighty!

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

For You alone are worthy
For You alone are worthy
For You alone are worthy
Christ the Lord

We'll give You all the glory
We'll give You all the glory
We'll give You all the glory
Christ the Lord

November 28, 2012

Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love

Beauty for Ashes is a romance novel with a historical backdrop.  Carrie and Griff are both very different, but what they have in common is that life has treated them differently than expected.  We meet Carrie Daly after she is widowed and before her luck seems to turn around.  Carrie is a post-Civil War Cinderella, seemingly bound to spend her life doing manual labor for ungrateful family members.  Her loneliness and pain not only make her sympathetic, they make us want to root for her...hope for her that one day she will have joy.

Enter Griff, the mysterious, out of towner who's stranger status brands him a bad boy.  Griff is formerly part of high society, but has been estranged from his family for years.  After some chance encounters with Carrie that show his kindness as well as his strength, we immediately want the two of them to fall in love!  Because of their pasts, Carrie and Griff have some important lessons to learn.  Many twists and turns bring them in and out of each other's lives, making the reader wonder if they will end up together.

The hope that these two could be together forever means never wanting to put the book down!

February 1, 2012

Nick of Time by Tim Downs

Book jacket: The Bug Man is getting married on Saturday . . . if his fiancée can find him. Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak lives in a world of maggots and decomposing bodies. Nick and Alena are scheduled to be married on Saturday-but there's one small problem. Nick has disappeared. Caught up in a murder case involving an old friend, Nick finds himself on a manhunt that's drawing him farther from the church where Alena is waiting. Could Nick's single-minded focus cause him to forget his own wedding? Is he really pursuing a killer, or is he running away from something else?

Anyone with a mild interest in any of the forensic tv shows on today will enjoy this book immensely. The science is fascinating! Not only that, the characters are quirky enough that we care about them. They make us want to know more about them, and they provide a lightheartedness against the backdrop of the murder mystery. The plot is intriguing with good twists and turns, and I love that it didn’t end in the predictable way. This book made me want to read the ones that had come before it and the ones coming afterwards! I definitely recommend!

I review for BookSneeze®