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Monday, October 31, 2011

Women of Faith: IMAGINE - Preconference on Friday

Several months ago, I connected with Thomas Nelson for the amazing opportunity to attend the Women of Faith event in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.  They sent me two complimentary tickets with the understanding that after I attended the event, I would blog about my experience here for you!  Thank you Thomas Nelson for making this past weekend possible!
The theme for the weekend was "Imagine" based on Ephesians 3:20 - "Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..."  As you'll be able to see through the pictures I share, the setting/stage area was beautifully done.  The event was held in Ft. Lauderdale Florida at the Bank Atlantic Center.
The best part of attending this event is that I got to spend it with my 13 year old daughter, Cecily.
Cecily and I traveled to Ft. Lauderdale with a group of ladies that I share Bible study with every Thursday morning.
Cecily, Me, Cassie, Patti, Ann, Carrie, Debbie

"Imagine" began on Friday morning at 10 a.m. with the pre-conference, which included speakers Sheila Walsh and Dr. Henry Cloud.
Sheila Walsh was up first.  I have to say that she was my favorite "Imagine" speaker (my daughter agrees with me) of the entire weekend!  She began her talk on Friday by sharing her favorite verse in the Psalms which is chapter 143 verse 8,
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you."
Sheila shared a prayer that she voices every morning, which is "Wherever You are going today Lord, I'm coming with You!  She went on to encourage attendees to focus their thoughts on what is always true and then shared that God's promises as found in Scripture are always true.  She went on to share from Romans 8, which is a chapter she says "begins with no condemnation and ends with no separation" and then stated, "God has picked up your tab.  Your debt of sin is paid in full."  Walsh ended her talk by singing "Amazing Grace".

Sheila Walsh's talk was so well-rounded.  She shared truth unashamedly from Scripture.  She was funny.  And she absolutely sang the roof off the arena!  I felt the Holy Spirit most at work whenever she was taking part in the weekend, whether it was when she was speaking or sharing in song.
Dr. Henry Cloud took the stage next.  While he shared some helpful observations about faith and happiness (I really didn't like that he used the term "happiness" as opposed to "joy".), his points were based more on psychological studies than Scripture.  He asked attendees to look at using their imaginations in the realm of faith in three areas:
  1. Clinical - the parts that hurt
  2. Relationships
  3. Dreams/Goals - specific gifts and talents
Cloud went on to share that the American Psychological Association's study that sought to answer the question of what makes people happy, revealed that only 10% of happiness comes from anything circumstantial.  The remaining percentage of where happiness comes from is derived from spiritual practices lived out.  He shared three areas in which this phenomenon can be observed:
  1. Giving/generosity
  2. Being connected - Our needs are transformational (where we grow new wiring) and trans mutational (where change takes place).  It is in this discussion that Dr. Cloud shares his one and only reference to Scripture which was 1 Peter 4:10, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."  
  3. Purpose of set goals
Cloud was easy to follow and was good at interjecting humor, while maintaining a depth to what he was sharing.

After Dr. Cloud, there was a break for lunch. 
Cecily and I sat outside in front of the arena and ate our lunch.  I have attended Women of Faith events in the past and getting lunch then was always complete and utter chaos.  At the event this past weekend, lunch time went really smooth.  Mind you, we are talking about getting a couple of thousand ladies served!  The Women of Faith organization has definitely made improvement in this area!

Like I mentioned earlier in this post, the staging was really beautiful!  After lunch, there was more from Dr. Henry Cloud.  This second talk centered around the idea that the next season of our lives will require some necessary endings.  
Next on the schedule was a Q and A with Dr. Cloud and Sheila Walsh.  Prior to this time attendees had the opportunity to write down questions for them.  A few were presented to Cloud and Walsh during the Q and A in which they both shared sound advice both from personal experience and Scripture (Walsh).  Dr. Cloud's advice came more from his experience in his previous psychiatric practice, but was good nonetheless.  Some overarching principles that I wrote down from the Q and A were these:
  • Townsend on setting boundaries - Be hard on the issue and soft on the person.  Seek and pray for a softness of heart.
  • Sheila - Learn to "be still" before the Lord.  She shared that "be still" in the Hebrew language means to "let go".  Her encouragement was to give our worries, cares, anxieties to the Lord in complete trust.  
After the Q and A time, Sheila came back and closed out the pre-conference.  I appreciated that she shared with strong conviction that "God's word is more reliable than my feelings".  We as women need to be reminded of that truth and she shared it boldly.  Walsh read from John 14:27,
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Walsh stated in relation to that Scripture, "Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ".  She shared more Scripture from Mark 4:35-41 and Mark 5.  She concluded her talk with this:
"There is peace in one place - at the feet of Jesus".
And then she sang "You Raise Me Up".  And again the Spirit moved mightily.

*This video isn't from the conference, but is Sheila singing You Raise Me Up on LifeToday.   I'll share about Friday night and Saturday at Women of Faith - Imagine tomorrow as well as summarize my impression of the event as a whole.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sunrise on The Battery

According to Beth Webb Hart, author of Sunrise on The Battery, "With every novel I write, I start with a question to which I desperately want the answer.  I write to the heart of that question, often revealing my own tensions, doubts and fears, and I always find that God meets me in the midst of the narrative, takes my hand (as well a the characters') and shows us they way to go."

After reading David Platt's book Radical:  Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, Beth began asking herself these questions:
What would it look like if we really loved each other - if we had no inhibitions about sharing our faith and our very lives with a hurting world?  How would we really spend our time and our money?  And what impact would this have on our communities, our country and the world?

Radical uncovered blind spots in her own life and helped Beth to fully imagine just where her characters' uninhibited faith might take them.  The story in her latest novel Sunrise on The Battery was born.

Synopsis of the Book:
Mary Lynn Scoville has everything anyone could desire - a handsome husband, three beautiful daughters and a ticket into the social elite of Charleston, S.C.  But after a miraculous answer to a prayer on her behalf, Mary Lynn decides to pray that her husband will discover the faith she loves.  But when her prayers are answered, she finds her world turned upside down and is forced to deal with the idols she has created in her own life.
Jackson Scoville is a man on a mission.  Growing up deprived of the finer things in life, he wants more for his children.  His mission is to give his girls the best - a top-rate education, exposure and immersion in the fine arts and frequent opportunities to see the big world.  "Not just education baby - cultivation", he is known to say.  But when he discovers the truth of Scripture, his focus takes a quick turn - a turn his family may not like to take.

My thoughts about the book:
I wanted so much to like this book.  And I appreciate very much the premise from which Ms Hart was writing.  I'm just not sure she pulled it off so well.  To be honest much of the book was really boring.  I did appreciate that the story flips back and forth and is told from the perspectives of the mother, father, and oldest daughter.  However, the meat of the story gets lost in all the details in which Ms Hart describes the South Carolina area.  Jackson's "conversion" doesn't happen until about three-fourths way into the book, and the ending was anti-climatic.

Sunrise on the Battery, can be ordered from by going HERE.

Thank you to Audra with the B&B Media Group for sending me a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of review!


God Makes Lemonade

Don Jacobson, former president and owner of Multnomah Publishers, has created a collection of short stories designed to serve as a fresh glass of hope and inspiration for hard times.
The first in a series, God Makes Lemonade, collects true stories of hope and inspiration similar in style to that of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.  According to Don as stated on his website
"In God Makes Lemonade™ you’ll read true stories from everyday folks—people like you and me who discover unexpected sweetness in the midst of sour circumstances.
Some of these real-life stories are laugh-out-loud funny, others are sobering, and more than a few will have you reaching for a tissue.  But these true stories all have one thing in common:  hope."
Along with this series of books, Don and his wife Brenda,who are both passionate about helping single mothers and their children, have established the LemonAid Foundation.  According to the website,
"The LemonAid Foundation is commissioning a major research project that will clarify the most critical needs of single mothers and their children. This research will enable the foundation to plan its first initiatives to assist single mothers, as well as to recruit like-minded individuals and organizations to this important cause."
All the royalties from God Makes Lemonade, will benefit single mothers and their children through the LemonAid Foundation, which seeks to serve them with love and compassion. 

You can also participate with this project on Facebook at  

The book can be ordered at by going HERE.

Thank you Glass Road Public Relations for sending me a complimentary copy of this book!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thespians and Firefighters

A couple of weekends ago, Cecily (our oldest) participated in a Junior Thespian competition where she submitted three pieces in the costume design category.
Her assignment was to pick a play (she chose Blithe Spirit) and research it.  Then she was to choose three characters from the play and design costumes for each, choose material, and sketch the designs. 

The pictures do not do her designs justice!  They were very detailed and she did a really good job.  She worked very hard on them and it paid off, because she was given a Super Superior rating by a panel of three judges!  She had to give an oral presentation about the play and her designs to the judges.  Cecily's teacher let me read the comments from each of the judges and I was so proud of her!  Each judge praised her for her knowledge of the play and its characters, each stating their amazement that they could not stump her with their questions.  She will go onto the state competition in February.

Now while Cecily was at her competition that Saturday, Mike and I took the two little ones to our local Fire Department that was having an open house.

Fireman John showed Bentley and JennaBeth around the station, gave them some goodies (hat, coloring book about fire safety and a dvd) and then let them do some things outside with the fire hose and truck.  Bentley was being a little shy, but JennaBeth jumped right in the middle of things just like she knew what she was doing!
Bentley eventually got over his shyness and joined in on the fun.
They also got to "drive" the firetruck...

JennaBeth, I think, thought she was really gonna drive that truck!  Fireman John helped her down and she tried to crawl right back in the driver's seat.  He was rather taken with her tenacity about the whole experience!
Fireman John and the kids
JennaBeth, Me, Mike and Bentley
This is how I found the two little ones that following Sunday morning as were getting ready to leave for church...

Before the Throne Wednesday

Welcome this week to another opportunity to pray scripture over your children.  I have to tell you that I come today with a heavy heart regarding a loved one.  So, as I present today's scripture, I'm praying it for my own children, but also I'm praying it for this boy who so needs to know and understand the presence and work of Almighty God in his young life.

Our scripture today is found in Psalm 119:41-42,
"May Your unfailing love come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in Your word."
Guess what the words "unfailing love" are translated in the original language?


God's mercy...such a rich word and something not a one of use could live one millisecond without.  Here's some of what the word hesed (unfailing love) means according to Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and Old Testament Word Studies (I've put in bold print things I want to emphasize.):

Hesed means to be merciful, faithful.  Love, kindness, mercy.  One of the most important words in the O.T., hesed essentially denotes an act of kindness, love, or mercy.  The quality of the kindness shown is usually that reserved for close friends and family members.  An act of hesed presupposes the existence of a relationship between the parties involved, but where no formal relationship has previously been recognized, the person exercising hesed has chosen to treat the recipient as if such a relationship did exist.   Hesed is central to God's character It is closely tied to His covenant with His chosen people; in fact, the covenant may be thought of as the relationship from which hesed flows.  God's hesed however, is not bound by the covenant itself, and though men may prove unfaithful to this relationship, God's hesed is everlasting.
John Calvin's commentary on these verses:
"Because there is no hope apart from God's mercy, the cause, steadfast love, comes before the effect, salvation - and this, according to His promise.  In verse 42, he declares he has the best defense against his enemies' slanders in that his trust is in the Word of God alone.  God never disappoints those whose confidence is in His Word".

Everlasting, steadfast, unfailing love - mercy - that's what our children need in their lives.  That's we as parents and grandparents need in our lives as well.  Pray today that your children/grandchildren will have it, will find it and will abide in it.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson

Glass Road Public Relations sent me a copy of Athol Dickson's latest novel The Opposite of Art for the purpose of review.  You can visit Mr. Dickson's website by visiting  There you will find a complete bio as well as links to his blog and information about his books.  Mr. Dickson's novel Lost Mission was his third Christy award winner and his fifth to be nominated for that award. His writing has been compared to that of Flannery O'Connor.  He and his wife live in Southern California and he is the publisher of the popular news website

Synopsis of The Opposite of Art:
A great artist is cast into the icy Harlem River by a hit-and-run driver.  His heart stops and he sees something that defies description.  Presumed to be dead by all who knew him and obsessed by a desire to paint the inexpressible, he embarks on a pilgrimage to seek help from holy men around the globe.  But is it possible to see eternity without becoming lost in it?  After a quarter of a century, when the world begins to whisper that he may be alive, two people come looking for the artist:  the daughter he never knew existed and the murderer who hit him on the bridge all those years ago.

My thoughts:
The Opposite of Art is not a light read.  Dickson's writing makes you have to stop and ponder what you are reading; so much so that I found myself getting bogged down and at points not wanting to finish the book.  It is an intriguing read about a man's search for the Glory, which he desires to capture on canvas.  I was disappointed that there was not a clear picture of Christ as The Glory in Ridler's journey.  The book just simply left me wanting.

The Opposite of Art includes a reading group guide as well as a Q and A with Mr. Dickson at the end of the book.  

The Opposite of Art can be purchased from by going HERE


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Before the Throne Wednesday

Welcome!  For those of you stopping by for the first time, we are learning to pray specific scriptures over our children.  Currently, we are praying through portions of Psalm 119.  Today's passage can be found in verses 34-37:
"Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word".
I'd like to add a New Testament passage to today's scripture, which is found in Philippians 4:8 as we consider praying for our children's eyes to be turned away from worthless things so that room is made in their hearts for a spiritual understanding of God's law and His commands.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
I want to encourage you today to pray that your children will be granted the grace of spiritual understanding and that they will delight in God's character as they come to know His commands.  Pray that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, your kids will be directed in the path of God's commands and will have their hearts turned toward God's statutes rather than selfish gain.  And finally, pray that your sweet rewards will be "divinely constrained" to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  Ask God to inspire these holy desires in their hearts and lives.

"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work."
Oswald Chanbers
This post is linked to

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

UPS Delivers Tent Revival

I bet you didn't know that the UPS was in the business of delivering revivals did you?  Well, they are and they did deliver about 1,000 to our house yesterday morning!
Mike's (my husband) cd Tent Revival at the Carnival arrived yesterday and we are really excited to be able to share with you what has been a dream of ours for some time now.  The cd includes 10 songs; one Mike wrote himself, one written by the gentleman that produced the cd and JC Fogerty's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" as well as some drama and scripture reading between the songs.  Also included are 10 tracks that are straight studio versions of the songs.
  • Count Your Blessings
  • Welcome and Prayer
  • The Old Rugged Cross
  • Intro - I'm Going That Way
  • I'm Going That Way
  • Intro - Jesus Is Coming
  • Jesus Is Coming (written by producer of the cd - Robert Lloyd)
  • Sharing - The Crucifixion
  • Were You There?
  • Sharing - Genesis 32:10
  • I'm Unworthy (of the least of all of the mercies) Written by Mike
  • Sharing - Our Compassionate Savior
  • Have You Ever Seen The Rain - J.C. Fogerty (with additional material by Robert Lloyd)
  • It Is Well With My Soul
  • The Disturbance
  • Closing Remarks
  • I'll Live In Glory
  • A Repentant Sinner
  • Amazing Grace
  • Studio Versions of All Song
*A little over 70 minutes of material.
    You can visit Mike's website by going HERE, where you can listen to some short clips of a couple of the songs.

    The cd's are $10.00.  If you are interested in having one, shoot me an email ( and I'll get you information on how to get a copy of the cd sent to you!  Or you can just visit Mike's page at CD Baby and order one through that site - just go HERE.

    Believe me.  You will want to get a copy, because it is really, really good.

    And I'm not partial one. little. bit :)


    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    A Place To Belong

    Where can a woman find
    • Acceptance
    • Authenticity
    • Affirmation
    • Accountability
    • Action
    In short, where can a woman find "a place to belong"?

    In her book, A Place To Belong:  Out of our Comfort Zone and Into God's Adventure, Lisa Troyer encourages women to find their "circle of friends" and to base their relationships on those five pillars.  Troyer is the president of Circle of Friends whose vision it is to "be women who are committed to Jesus Christ, obediently seeking God’s will and fulfilling our life mission as Christ-followers. As individuals and as a corporate group, we will minister a Christ-centered hope, Biblically-based encouragement and unconditional love. Our goal is to evangelize the lost and edify the Body of Christ, by touching the lives of women, locally & globally".   

    Troyer is not only the president of Circle of Friends, but also a songwriter and program host for Moody Radio. She enjoys spending time with her husband Bob, and their children Jillian and Christian. Pursuing her passion for women's ministry, she has been involved with Circle of Friends for over a decade.

    In A Place to Belong, Troyer launches her story with a disclosure of an unsettling secret from her past and readers immediately sense that they are being drawn into a transparent and authentic conversation that may affect their own lives dramatically.  They perceive, too, a gentle but persistent invitation to a place of true freedom and belonging in the very heart of God.

    The message of the book is centered around the five pillars of acceptance, authenticity, affirmation, accountability, and action.  Each section includes song lyrics, some penned by Troyer herself, and also discussion questions related to the song.  Interspersed throughout the book are testimonies from women whose lives have been touched by the Circle of Friends ministry.  Included at the end of the book are resources the reader will find helpful, including a one year Bible reading schedule, tips and goals for leading a small group, accountability questions and recommended reading.

    Troyer encourages women to connect with one another, comfort each other and affirm each other in using the gifts God has given them.  The bottom line of the book is that a woman's life can be rich while being full of hope and purpose and that no woman needs to ever "go it alone".  I appreciate that Troyer's book is full of honesty and practical encouragement in God's Word and His purpose for relationship with Him and those around us.  Troyer is the real thing and you will sense it on every page of her book.

    A Place to Belong would be an excellent resource for women's ministry teams attempting to establish real ministry among women or for small groups of women meeting together who are seeking to learn how to minister to each other in real and practical ways.

    You can order the book from by going HERE.


    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Before the Throne Wednesday

    Welcome to an opportunity to pray scripture over your children today!

    As we continue to pray our way through Psalm 119 on behalf of our children, we are looking at verse 18:
    "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law."
    The Hebrew word for "open" in this verse is "Galah" and means to bare, strip, uncover, unveil, disclose, reveal; to be uncovered, unveiled, revealed and contains the principal idea of stark exposure.

    John Calvin's commentary on this verse was also helpful to me in grasping its full meaning:
    "We are blind until God enlightens the eyes of our understanding.  But the Spirit's illumination is not to give secret and wild speculations which have nothing to do with God's Word.  Rather, the Holy Spirit's light brings understanding to Scripture alone, disclosing wondrous things, convincing us of our need of grace and enabling us to comprehend mysteries which surpass our human capacity.  Here therefore, the term 'law' takes in more than the ten commandments, and includes the covenant of eternal salvation."
    As I learned that part of the meaning of "open my eyes" included an unveiling, I immediately thought of a New Testament passage that speaks of an unveiling - 2 Corinthians 3:7-18
    "Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.  And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!  Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.  We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.  Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.  And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
    Pray today that your children will be given the gift of spiritual understanding of divine truth by the Holy Spirit.  Pray that they will turn to the Lord where the veil over their eyes will be taken away so that they will see clearly and know Christ as their only hope for salvation.

    My 2 year old, JennaBeth (on the right) with her friend from church, Jailyn.

    *I'm linking this over at Raising Homemakers, and 


    Friday, October 7, 2011

    The Baker's Wife

    Before she was the baker's wife, she was the pastor's wife. 

    A scandalous lie cost her husband a pastoral career, now the two work side-by-side running a bakery, serving coffee and baking fresh bread.  Driving early one morning to the bakery, her car strikes something - or someone - at a fog-shrouded intersection.  She finds the motor scooter belonging to a local teacher.  Blood is everywhere, but there's no trace of a body.  Both the scooter and the blood belong to detective Jack Mansfield's wife, and he's certain that the driver is behind Julie's disappearance.  Mansfield is also the elder who directed the congregation in outing the pastor from his ministry position.  The case dead-ends and the detective spirals into madness, taking her family and some patrons hostage at the bakery.  She is left with a soul damaged ex-con and a cynical teen to solve the mystery. 

    Who is "she"?  She is Audrey and her story is told by Erin Healy in Erin's latest novel The Baker's Wife published by Thomas Nelson.  The publisher sent me a copy for the purpose of review. 

    You can visit Erin's website by going to 

    The Baker's Wife is a story of scandal, misunderstanding, heartbreak, faith and ministry - real ministry of serving others where they are in life.  Healy's characters are woven together in an amazing suspense novel that you will find hard to put down.  The book explores the realness of life; where faith works itself out in "the rubber meeting the road". 

    Do you stop serving others in "ministry" without the official title or because you have been mistreated in a most hurtful way or when others don't understand you "gift"?  I think if Audrey could stand before us, she would adamantly tell us "No"!

    I highly recommend The Baker's Wife and I'll be looking forward to Healy's next novel expected in July 2012!

    You can read the first four chapters of The Baker's Wife by going HERE

    You can order the book at by going HERE.

    Happy Reading,

    Thursday, October 6, 2011


    What will your trials and troubles reveal about you?

    How is it possible to worship God when the worst thing we can imagine happens to us?

    Beat.  Separate.  Reveal.

    I've read a lot of books, articles, and studies on pain and suffering and God's purpose in it all.  I've recently finished reading Rick Lawrence's Sifted:  God's Scandalous Response To Satan's Outrageous Demand, which was sent to me by Audra Jennings with The B&B Media Group, Inc. for the purpose of review. 

    In Sifted, Lawrence dissects Luke 22:31-32
     31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
    phrase by phrase and provides his reader with the clearest biblical response to the "whys" of pain and suffering I've ever read.  God's sovereignty and goodness is exalted on just about every page of the book.
    "Applied metaphorically to our lives, as Jesus did with Peter and His disciples in the upper room, the essential effect of sifting is a violent separation followed by a beautiful revelation - sifting shakes us apart for the purpose of destroying our complacent wholeness and revealing what is valuable and permanent and needed."
    So, if you want more than "rhetorical truisms, religious equations and jargon-y metaphors" in the midst of your trial and pain, Sifted is a solid resource I can recommend to you. 

    You can learn more about the book's message and the author by visiting

    You can order the book at by going HERE.


    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Before the Throne Wednesday

    Welcome!  We are returning today to praying through Psalm 119 on behalf of our children/grandchildren.  Here's our passage found in Psalm 119:9-16
    "How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Praise be to you O LORD; teach me your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.  I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."
    There are several important words that are used in this passage:
    • word - "living according to your word"..."I have hidden your word"..."I will not neglect your word"...Hebrew translation is "dabar" and means to say, speak, word, matter, thing.  Refers to the essential content of God's revelation.  In the phrase, "I have hidden your word", the Hebrew word "Imrah" is used and means utterance, promise and is always employed in the Psalms to signify the Word of God.
    • commands - Hebrew translation is "miswah" and means to command, order.  Law, precept, ordinance; the Law of Moses.  
    • decrees - Hebrew translation is "Hoq" and means to cut, engrave, mark out.  Decree, statute, regulation, law, custom, limit, boundary.  Denotes precepts and rules which must be strictly obeyed.
    • statute - Hebrew translation is "Edut" and means witness, testimony.  Stipulation, warning.  Always used in reference to the testimony of God.  It is most frequently connected with the tabernacle, but is also closely associated with the ark of the covenant.
    • precepts - Hebrew translation is "piqqudiym" and means to count, call into account.  Always appears in the plural form and refers to God's precepts.  According to John Calvin's commentary, "denotes matters relating to natural justice...The precepts of the law are defined as judgments and righteousness, informing us that all God commands are right and just, the only rule of living for the perfecting of holiness".
    • ways - Again referring to Calvin's commentary, "The expression 'the ways of the Lord' is almost synonymous with 'precepts of the law' for those who follow those 'ways' are in no danger of going astray".
    On those crazy and chaotic days, I often think and too often say out loud to my children, "Why can't you guys just mind me and do what I say!"  I wonder if God thinks the same thing about His children sometimes?  In our focal passage today a question is asked:  "How can a young man keep his way pure?"  That word "pure" in the original Hebrew language means "transparent, clear, innocent; to cleanse, signifies purity of conduct".  The rest of the passage above answers that question with crystal clear clarity.  And did you notice the question was how can a young man keep his way pure?

    Calvin, in his commentary on this verse, says, "Those who delay too long in such submission to God's word will attempt to reform themselves too late.  Note also that because carnal passions are powerful in our early years, God's law is needed to restrain sinful desires.  Those who learn this lesson in their youth will also profit from it in their mature years.  Much evil prevails in this world because so many yield to their desires rather than to the heavenly instruction."

    It is very easy to get sidetracked with desiring a change in external behavior when it comes to our children.  Yes, we all want obedient and well behaved kids, but the greater concern should be with what is going on in their hearts.  The real work in parenting comes with standing back, taking a deep breath and doing the work of drilling down to the heart of our children and partnering with God in shaping and molding what we find there.

    Only God's word, commands, decrees, precepts statutes, and ways will transform the hearts of our children and help them to counter the world's indifference towards God's truth.  I encourage you to pray that your children/grandchildren will fix the eyes of their heart on God's ways and that His laws will be deeply seated in their hearts and minds.  Ask God to help them and give them a desire for His ways; to rejoice in, meditate on and delight in His Word.  "The greater our delight in His statutes, the greater will be our benefit, for the path to a good life begins with God wooing us by His Word's sweetness, love for His truth being the antidote to the corruption of our minds."  (Calvin)

    Then we will have, not little rule keepers or perfect children, but rather disciples of Almighty God with transformed hearts in step with the Lover of their souls.

    My rewards:
      Cecily (13) and JennaBeth (2)
    Bentley (6) after a recent fishing trip with his daddy.  His story:  "Mama, I caught four fish and daddy caught the last one making it five fish we caught."  Mike's story:  "I think we really caught 6 or 7.  A couple of them must have gotten away from us.  Bentley, I think I really caught 4 and you caught two of them."
    Who knows!
    *I'm linking this post to Raising Homemakers.  Be sure and check them out!  I'm also linking the post to

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    The Crossing

     "As the Campbells and Casio teeter on the brink of losing everything, will they be able to discover that what begins at the crossing ends at the cross?"

    Serita Ann Jakes serves alongside her husband, Bishop T.D. Jakes at The Potter's House located in Dallas, TX.  She has been involved in Christian ministry all of her adult life.  She and T.D. have raised three sons and two daughters.  Serita is executive director of WoMan to Woman Ministries at The Potter's House.

    In addition to her family and ministry responsibilities, Serita has written a novel The Crossing, published by Waterbrook Multnomah.  Waterbrook sent me an Advanced Reading Copy of the novel for the purpose of review.

    I was anxious to read The Crossing because I love faith based suspense novels, but primarily I wanted to read Jakes' novel because I wanted to see if some of the theology of her husband with which I can not line up with bled over into her writing.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!  The Crossing is a riveting and well written novel of suspense and faith.  Jakes' development of the characters and the telling of their back stories is phenomenal.  There is not one character that will not affect the reader in some way.  From the very first paragraph until the last sentence, I was drawn into this amazing story of friendship, love, abuse, murder, betrayal, forgiveness, healing and redemption.  The Crossing, while full of twists and turns that the reader does not see coming, is written in such a way that the reader is not confused, but left wondering and searching for answers until the very last word.

    You will not be able to put this one down!

    You can read an excerpt from the first chapter HERE.

    The Crossing can be purchased from the publisher HERE.

    You can also order the book from by going HERE.

    Please take a minute to rate this review and you will be entered a chance to win your very own copy of The Crossing!