June 19, 2014

Barreir-Free Friendships

In Barrier-Free Friendships the authors share how many disabled people are stuck in a world of isolation. Even though disabled people are surrounded by others who help and taking care of them, very few have true friends who know the person inside.  This book challenged me to look past the physical and strive to understand how the person inside feels. We are all created and loved by God. In the second part of the book Joni gets very practical in the ways that you can connect and help someone with a disability feel loved and valuable. 

Many times disabled people learn to view themselves as victims. But Joni points out that Jesus was the biggest victim in all of history, and yet he didn’t dwell on that. Instead Jesus reached out, and we should too. In chapter after chapter Joni tells of beautiful friendships that were formed between the most unlikely of people. I loved the way Joni finally came to the realization that we all are handicapped by our sin in God’s eyes. It is only when we admit our helpless state before God that we can be forgiven of our sin and made new before God! 

Author, Publisher and Date:

Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Jensen, Zondervan Publishing, 1997

Disclaimer:Every opinion expressed here in is 100% my own.

June 11, 2014

{Guest Post} Saving Annie By Cathy Gohlke

Behind Saving Amelie–The Passion of Christ and the Third Reichimages-7
Nestled in a quaint Bavarian Village in the pristine Ammer Valley, surrounded by towering snow-capped Alps, lies Oberammergau, home of the world’s longest running Passion Play. Based on a vow the Alpine Village made to the Lord if He would spare them from bubonic plague, the town has faithfully performed the Passion of Christ for the last 380 years.images-4
One rare exception came during WWII, due to rationing, poor relations with other countries, and most of all Hitler’s conscription of adult males:  The village’s “disciples” and most of their “Israelites”–as part of the German army, were busily rampaging Poland at Hitler’s command.
Today, the Passion Play cast is two thousand strong.  Nearly every family in the village takes part in the play either on stage or behind the scenes–and has done for generations.  Some roles have even been passed from generation to generation.images-6My husband and I attended The Passion in 2010 and were captivated by the villagers’ commitment to and enthusiasm for the Passion and all it means.  Certainly, it is a tourist industry.  But, we could see that it is also much, much more and the residents take their vow seriously.  After experiencing Oberammergau’s portrayal of Christ’s sacrifice for the world, I wondered how they had responded to the cruelties of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, which represented anything but the love of Jesus Christ.MVC-024S_tn
I was astonished to learn that this lavish production had been endorsed by Hitler in 1934 when he attended a special 300th anniversary year production.  images-8 How was that possible when Hitler was so opposed to Christianity that he’d ordered the removal of crucifixes and pictures of Jesus from classrooms and churches–only to be replaced by pictures of himself?  What about the portrayal appealed to Hitler? 
About the same time, I learned that the scheme to create a master race by eliminating blood lines deemed “unworthy” and by promoting others was not confined to the Nazis. All my questions intersected, and I wondered how we can prevent stepping onto such slippery moral slopes today.  Bonhoeffer--spoke into the wheel
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a WWII dissident German pastor and author of The Cost of Discipleship, gave me new insights into those questions.  Those insights and Bonhoeffer’s writings became key components of Saving Amelie.
From history, and a deep awareness that we all walk the conflicting line of doing what’s right versus what’s easiest or “best” for ourselves, Saving Amelie was born.Saving-Amelie-Book-Cover-250x374

Saving Amelie is the story of Rachel Kramer, daughter of an eminent Long Island Eugenics scientist, who must confront her own pride and sense of superiority to rescue a deaf child–daughter of an estranged friend and of an SS officer–from “elimination” at the hands of the Nazis.  Jason Young, a driven American journalist–and most unlikely ally–connects Rachel to the German resistance and to the work of controversial theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Together, they risk their lives–and ask others to do the same–for those they barely know but come to love. Saving Amelie is available in bookstores and on line.

April 17, 2014

"A Woman’s Question" by: Lena Lathrop

Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing
Ever made by the hand above?
A woman’s heart, and a woman’s life—
And a woman’s wonderful love.

Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing
As a child might ask for a toy?
Demanding what others have died to win,
With the reckless dash of a boy.

You have written my duty out,
Manlike, you have questioned me.
Now stand at the bars of my woman’s soul
Until I shall question thee.

You require your dinner shall always be hot,
Your socks and your shirt be whole;
I require your heart be true as God’s stars
And as pure as His heaven, your soul.

You require a cook for your chicken and beef,
I require a far greater thing;
A seamstress you’re wanting for socks and shirts—
I look for a man and a king.

A king for the beautiful realm called home,
And a man that his Maker, God
Shall look upon as He did the first
And say: “It is very good.”

I am fair and young, but the rose may fade
From this soft young cheek some day;
Will you love me then ‘mid falling leaves,
As you did ‘mong the blossom of May?

Is your heart an ocean so strong and true,
I may launch my all on its tide.
A loving woman finds heaven or hell
On the day she is made a bride.

I require all things that are grand and true,
All things that a man should be;
If you give this all, I would stake my life
To be all you demand of me.

If you cannot be this, a laundress and cook
You can hire and little to pay,
But a woman’s heart and a woman’s life
Are not to be won that way.

April 11, 2014

"Managing Conflict Creatively" Summary

There was once a town that sat on the top of a large beautiful cliff. The only problem was that sometimes the children would be playing outside, and every once in a while a child would slip and fall off the cliff. The towns’ people decided to do something to solve this terrible problem. They decided to build a hospital at the foot of the cliff so that when the children fell off, they could be picked up quickly and have immediate care. Farther up the side of the mountain there lived an old wise miser.  When he heard about the town’s problem, and what they had done to solve it, he asked the people, “Would it not be a better solution to build a fence at the top of the cliff to prevent the children from falling off the edge and getting hurt in the first place?”
Managing conflict is similar to the story above. Some of the key principles that stood out from reading “Managing Conflict Creatively” by Donald C. Palmer were first of all that “Conflict well managed is conflict that is managed continuously and in its early stages.” In the story, the town had a problem, but instead of addressing it at its source or root, the people tried to fix the problem after the damage had already been done. 
Though this solution is not wrong and is better than no solution, it is far better to stop the problem before permanent injury is done. Thus the principle of continually dealing with conflict before it has time to simmer and develop into a serious issue is crucial. Every ministry is a combination of many different people and thus many different personalities. In such environments it is impossible to avoid conflict. If these conflicts are not resolved quickly and in a systematic way, they will eventually fester and develop into crippling problems. 
Another foundational principle is realizing that conflict itself, is not sinful or wrong. Conflict is not only natural, but can be healthy and is a catalyst of growth when handled correctly. The caution here is to not fall into sin when disagreements arise. “Whenever love is lost to hatred, gentleness to maliciousness, truthfulness to dishonesty, humility to selfishness; it is sin.” Like many things in the Christian walk, conflict management is predominantly about finding a balance between extremes.
One of the major causes of conflict in ministry specifically, is poor leadership. The roots of conflicts with leadership vary, but one of the most prominent is miscommunicated expectations. A practical principle to actively help prevent conflict in ministry is to simply communicate expectations clearly. For example, if a missionary talks to his mission board and understands that he is expected to spend so many hours a week networking or raising funds then he can be held accountable to do so. If however, this expectation was not clearly understood by the missionary because the mission board had not clearly communicated, it could be the beginning of a conflict that, if not resolved, could result in the missionary getting frustrated and leaving the field. Sadly, situations like the example above are not uncommon. That however, should only encourage seeking to solve conflict more, before it becomes a problem, and ultimately hinders God’s Kingdom moving forward.

The wise miser in the story saw that though the hospital at the bottom of the cliff was a good thing, it would be even better to prevent the children from falling off the cliff in the first place. Be like the old miser and commit to resolving conflicts before they fester and grow into church-splitting, ministry handicapping problems. Let conflict be the catalyst for positive change and the inspiration for new growth so that God’s Kingdom can be expanded and He can ultimately be glorified!

February 08, 2014

The Need of the Hour by Ella W. Wilcox

What does our country need? Not armies standing
With sabers gleaming ready for the fight;
Not increased navies, skillful and commanding,
To bound the waters with iron might;
Not haughty men with glutted purses trying
To purchase souls, and keep the power of place;
Not jeweled dolls with one another vying
For palms of beauty, elegance, and grace.

But we want women, strong of soul, yet lowly
With that rare meekness, born of gentleness;
Women whose lives are pure and clean and holy,
The women whom all little children bless;
Brave, earnest women, helpful to each other,
With finest scorn for all things low and mean;
Women who hold the names of wife and mother
Far nobler than the title of a queen.

Oh! These are they who mold the men of story,
These mothers, oft times shorn of grace and youth,
Who, warn and weary, ask no greater glory
Than making some young soul the home of truth;
Who sow in hearts all fallow for the sowing
The seeds of virtue and of scorn for sin,
And patient, watch the beauteous harvest growing
And weed out tares which crafty hands cast in.

Women who do not hold the gift of beauty
As some rare treasure to be bought and sold,
But guard it as a precious aid to duty-
The outer framing of the inward gold;
Women who, low above their cradles bending,
Let flattery’s voice go by, and give no heed,
While their pure prayers like incense are ascending
These are our country’s pride, our country’s need.

January 27, 2014

Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation

Through this book, Dr. Norman Geisler and William Roach have created a systematic approach for defending the inerrancy of Scripture. The reader must know first however that William Roach authors most of the book, if you do not notice this it will look like Dr. Geisler is referring to his own work. This work weaves a defense by combining a foundation of scripture with historical background to support its theses. Though Defending Inerrancy is an excellent tool to fuel thought, it is a slow and methodical read that requires the reader to know some background in the topic to make it truly effective and edifying.

Norman Geisler (PhD, Loyola University) is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and author or coauthor of over fifty books including Decide for Yourself, Baker's Encyclopedia of Apologetics, and When Skeptics Ask.

Facts about the Book:
To get a copy, Click HereISBN,  9780801014345 ; Publish Date, Dec 2011; Number of pages, 384;
Dimensions, 6 x 9

Disclaimer:I received this book for free from the Publisher for this review, every opinion expressed here in is 100% my own.

January 20, 2014

Stick-figure or Super-hero?

"What is spiritual discipline, and why is it important?" 
This was the question staring at me from the page of my small group devotional book. My first thought was that discipline is simply restricting or refraining from doing certain things (normally fun things). But as I continued to read I realized that my definition was like a stick figure next to a 3D superhero, totally deficient and lacking in comparison. During this last week I have been amazed at the way that different passages of scripture have popped out at me, all with the same overarching theme. 
In sunday school we looked at 1 Timothy 4:7-8 and Luke 12:35-37 which is talking about watching, waiting, and being ready for the coming of the Lord. If you read the whole passage it talks about a servant who falls into lethargy because the master of the house was gone for so long. The scary thing is that I have let myself do the same thing. I can't even count how many times I have allowed myself to dabble in sin because ' I can always repent of it later.' This is not the mind of Christ. 
As believers we are called to watch and be ready! Luke 12:40 warns that Jesus could come at ANY HOUR, we don't know when! It is this watchfulness and alertness mixed with the mentality of a dedicated runner (1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Hebrews 12:1-2) that turns a poky pining self denying stick-figure into an empowered joy filled super-christian. God calls us to be His soldiers. Watchful, ready, and disciplined. It is a beautiful calling. The difference is that while the stick-figure is struggling to obey a list of do's and don'ts in his own strength, the disciplined soldier has realized his weaknesses, surrendered to God, and obeys out of love, transforming into a God powered superhero. Which one are you?

January 09, 2014

Brushing Off the Dust

It has been over a year since I have written! But it is time to brush the dust off the old keys and get to typing. I've had a full year bursting with exciting and trying experiences. And now I am looking forward to being back, sharing thoughts, books and encouraging materials with you. As I was sitting here thinking about what to write I thought that maybe I should share some of what has been happening in my life... graduating high school was a big step, changing the main absorbent of my time from school to work. I also was able to become more involved with the children's ministries in my church, serving as a summer intern. But more importantly God has been working on my heart and teaching me what it means to be truly set-apart for Him. Don't get me wrong- I am not claiming at all to have figured out an easy magical way of focussing on God. But God has been and is continuing to work on my heart showing me that it is possible to be totally in love with Him and find contentment in His presence alone.
God is the one who does the work. It can not be me. When I have a hand in it, or I am trying to do it in my own strength which I do so often, it simply doesn't work! Go figure, I know ... but honestly... Though it is hard to relinquish control and turn over to God areas as personal as my relationships with young men, or how I spend my time, I've come to realize that that is what it means to be 100% HIS! To give Him control of EVERY area of my life.  It is my prayer as I write this that each of you will join me in seeking to draw closer to God during this new year, giving Him access to your whole heart and letting Him truly reign supreme.

In His Service,