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The Last Curtain Call

Wisdom is Being Real in a World of Performance and Illusion

Luke 16:15 – And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.17922519_s

What is it that makes us want to perform to win the approval of man?  Why is it that we want to stand out and be seen as special and gifted?  What defines us and gives us identity?

Is it our hobbies, our careers, our creations, our accomplishments or our fantasies that define us?  When given opportunity, do we try to impress others with what we have done, who we know, what family we belong to, what unique circumstances we can attach ourselves to?  Are we always trying to make sure others know how special we really are? Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: Dirty God

Dirty God by Johnnie Moore is about Jesus in the trenches. As Johnnie puts it “This is a book about grace. And how grace split time in half and made a broken world a playground again for the goodness and kindness of God.”

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This book takes us into the amazing humanity and deity of God all wrapped up into the very personable and “down to earth” Jesus. The Jesus who could have come to Earth in full glory and honor, chose to make his entrance into our world as among the poor and common. He did this to show his ultimate love and compassion for all of humankind and not just the rich and famous. Unlike any other religion, this book points out that Christianity is different because instead of people clamoring for the attention of their distant gods, Christianity has a personable and available God who comes directly and personably to them. Jesus came to give us access to God as a free gift. Mr. Moore believed that if one could truly grasp the love and acceptance extended in God’s grace, their life would be radically changed and they would be able to understand how important their purpose in life could be as the extender of that grace to others.

As a fan of books about God’s grace, I have to add this one to my favorite’s collection. This is the first book I have read by Johnnie Moore, and I found his writing style pulled me in to the story as if written directly to me. In a style I could compare to Max Lucado, he has a talent for making Jesus come alive and walk off the pages of the book. I also liked learning that this author lives what he preaches and has made many travels to distant lands, seeing first hand and ministering to the suffering of this world that he writes about and wants to change. This book is a good read if you are seeking a personable relationship with Jesus and a better understanding of his amazing love for you.

Book Review: The Truth About Grace by John MacArthur

In his book, The Truth About Grace, John Mac Arthur says “grace is God presently at work in our lives.’ _225_350_Book.626.cover His book is a detailed account of how grace is God’s free gift to a fallen world that provides the only means for reconciliation with God and salvation from man’s inherent corrupt nature.  He explains how grace is fully orchestrated by God from beginning to end.  He contrasts the belief of a grace that is completely based on the saving work of Jesus on the Cross, and the false belief that human works and effort are requirements in addition to Jesus’s death for one to keep/earn/be worthy of salvation.   He does not embrace “cheap grace”, however, that would advocate a free license to sin. In sharp contrast, he insists “that ‘grace’ that does not affect one’s behavior is not the grace of God”.  He explains how that when God saves an individual, his Holy Spirit is always at work to mold and transform that person in to the likeness of Christ.  God’s Holy Spirit empowers a Christian to be Christlike and a Christian will not be able to freely immerse themselves in willful sin without conviction.  God’s grace does not fail, and it completes what it starts.

I kept this book as my Book Review book for many months, because frankly there was so much spiritual meat contained that I wanted to read it over and over again.  I read it through once, and then again slowly and methodically so that I could grasp the contents with better understanding.  Each time I have read portions of this book, I have learned something new and exciting.  This is a book full of information but it covers so many questions and explains so much about God’s grace.   I think the more you realize how unworthy of God’s grace you are, the more amazed and thankful you should become that you are a recipient.

Book Review: The Grace Effect

Would the world be a better place without Christianity?  That is the question presented in this true story.

The Grace Effect by Larry Taunton was an eye-opening read into what a world without Christian principles would be like.  The story is told of how a Christian family decides to open their hearts and homes to an orphan girl in the post communist country of the Ukraine.  In sharp contrast to the USA, every step of the process reveals a lack of scruples, morals, reverence for human dignity or life.  The conditions of the orphanage also reveal a lack of value for basic human dignity.

But against  the cold, hardened, corrupt portrayal of a godless foreign land comes the beauty and hope of Christian love.  The author, being an apologist, is able to thoughtfully reflect upon the circumstances and share his insights into how grace is so critically needed by all of mankind.  Through Sasha, the young orphaned girl, he is able to show the tremendous redemptive and life transforming power of the Grace effect.

Because of the religious freedoms still enjoyed in the USA, reading about the contrast of Ukrainian culture was disturbing.  I dared to imagine how different this culture would be if our religious freedoms and the influence of Judeo-Christian principles were removed.   I think this book will give you a new perspective into the influence of Christianity and particularly the influence of God’s grace.    I challenge you to read this story and decide for yourself if you would really want to live in a godless, graceless society.

I was provided this book for free by BookSneeze.com in exchange for providing an unbiased and honest review of the content.

 

To Catch a Glimpse of You Lord (Part 2)

Ephesians 4: 31-32  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.MY CONNECTION TO OTHERS:  God made us for relationship with Him, and for relationship with one another.  It’s easy to feel connected to God in the uplifting, positive, pleasurable connections and experiences we have with other people.  When someone expresses love to us, gives us a friendly smile, compliments or commends us…..when someone wants to be with us, thinks we are talented, and they are impressed with us….we find their company and interactions  favorable experiences…and we can be grateful.
But what about when our interactions with others are not pleasant?  What about when they are rude, arrogant, and speak unkindly to us?  What about when they do not like us, or they go so far as to speak ill of us, and maybe even try to damage our character and reputation.  How do we fight against the defensive tendency to become bitter, and resentful or retaliate with like behavior, or to just shrink away from contact with people all together?  How do we find God at work in such yucky, hurtful, difficult experiences with others?  BY REMEMBERING THE GRACE AND MERCY EXTENDED US BY GOD, AND EXTENDING THE SAME GRACE, MERCY, AND COMPASSION TO OTHERS.  God may be at work in that person’s life, and you might be a tool He can use to reflect His attributes and love….or you could be a hindrance that further alienates and confuses them.  Look outside the immediate conflict or negative encounter to try and figure out what it’s all about.   It might not really be about you at all – imagine that :) .  Perhaps there is some stress, frustration, fear, or need in that person’s life that is just expressing itself in the immediate moment.  We all have broken, wounded, sensitive areas in our lives.  We have fears, insecurities, stressors.  And, we all have selfishness, wrong thinking, human emotions, prejudices, and reactions to deal with.
Think about:  What could I do to help make this more positive, reduce some stress, to show care or concern?  Ask God to show you how to respond or how He wants to use you.  Often, in the hospital where I work, I encounter family members who feel out of control when their loved one is ill.  This stress can manifest in a lot of tension, complaints, and other issues.  Sometimes, they just need you to take an extra couple of minutes every day to stop by the room and give them feedback on what’s going on with their loved one and to make them feel part of the process, and their hospital experience becomes more positive.
Think about: What can I do to define a situation for someone.  Being kind, and responding in a Christlike manner doesn’t mean being a doormat. Sometimes, God may want you to take action to define boundaries with another person, or to help them understand need for change or compromise.   The Bible gives clear instruction for confronting one another in love.  My husband and I have tried God on this one, and He has blessed us with reconciliation with others that could have turned into ugly situations if we had just reacted in anger and retaliation.  It is important to remember, however, that reconciliation will not always be the end result, but at least you can rest in the comfort of knowing you did your part.
Think about:  Do we trust in God’s opinion of us, or do we give too much concern to man’s opinions?  We can not change others or control how they choose to interact with us.  God is the only one that can change a person’s heart.   In dealing with difficult people, we have to surrender the outcomes ultimately to Him.  Sometimes we just have to suffer faithfully the injustices of others.   We have to let God be judge and jury on this earth, and rest in the knowledge that He is ultimately in control of every situation and can use it for His glory and for His purpose.  This is where we have opportunity to share in His afflictions and persecutions – (less of me, more of Him).  Know that God does care and will honor your trust and submission to Him in the midst of trials and tribulations.
 Most importantly – PRAY FOR THAT PERSON! Have compassion for others.   When people feel unhappy, unloved, and/or insecure, they have a hard time interacting positively and appropriately with others… Without Christ, they can’t see much farther than their own noses, and that’s a sad, lonely, miserable place to be.  Desire and pray that they be set free from their shackles…free to truly care about others, to value others and to be able to be happy for others.  Do your part to respond as Christ would have you respond, and then let God do the work He does best – soften hearts to receive His love.

Prayer For Your Interactions With Others:  May you remember to surrender all outcomes to God who knows best, and can bring about the best outcomes.  May you count it a privilege and an opportunity to reflect Christ, and to be a tool He can use in another’s life when you encounter difficult people and unpleasant circumstances with others.  May you ultimately learn to rest in the truth of God’s love and acceptance of you, and not in the opinion of man.

Above Image: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

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