Posts Tagged With: books

Putting your Faith in Action | by Nick Vujicic

unstoppableHaving faith, beliefs, and convictions is a great thing, but your life is measured by the actions you take based upon them. You can build a great life around those things you believe and have faith in. I’ve built mine around my belief that I can inspire and bring hope to people facing challenges in their lives. That belief is rooted in my faith in God. I have faith that He put me on this earth to love, inspire, and encourage others and especially to help all who are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I believe that I can never earn my way to heaven, and by faith I accept the gift of the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus. However, there’s so much more than just “getting in” through the Pearly Gates. It is also about seeing others changed by the power of His Holy Spirit, having a close relationship with Jesus Christ throughout this life, and then being further rewarded in heaven.

Being born without arms and legs was not God’s way of punishing me. I know that now. I have come to realize that this “disability” would actually heighten my ability to serve His purpose as a speaker and evangelist. You might be tempted to think that I’m making a huge leap of faith to feel that way, since most people consider my lack of limbs a huge handicap. Instead, God has used my lack of limbs to draw people to me, especially others with disabilities, so I can inspire and encourage them with my messages of faith, hope, and love.

In the Bible, James said that our actions, not our words, are the proof of our faith. He wrote in James 2:18, “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’”

I’ve heard it said that our actions are to our faith and beliefs as our bodies are to our spirits. Your body is the housing of your spirit, the evidence of its existence. In the same way, your actions are the evidence of your faith and beliefs. You have no doubt heard the term “walking the talk.” Your family, friends, teachers, bosses, coworkers, customers, and clients all expect you to act and live in alignment with the beliefs and convictions that you claim to have. If you don’t, they will call you out, won’t they?

Our peers judge us not by what we say but by what we do. If you claim to be a good wife and mother, then you sometimes will have to put your family’s interests above your own. If you believe your purpose is to share your artistic talents with the world, then you will be judged on the works you produce, not on those you merely propose. You have to walk the talk; otherwise you have no credibility with others—or with yourself—because you, too, should demand that your actions match your words. If they don’t, you will never live in harmony and fulfillment.

As a Christian, I believe the final judge of how we’ve lived is God. The Bible teaches that His judgment is based on our actions, not our words. Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” I act upon my beliefs by traveling the world and encouraging people to love one another and to love God. I am fulfilled in that purpose. I truly believe it is why I was created.

When you act upon your beliefs and put your faith into action, you, too, will experience fulfillment. And please, do not be discouraged if you aren’t always absolutely confident in your purpose and how to act upon it. I have struggled. I still struggle. And so will you. I fail and am far from perfect. But deeds are merely the fruit—the result of the depth of a true conviction of the truth. Truth is what sets us free, not purpose. I found my purpose because I was looking for truth.

It is hard to find purpose or good in difficult circumstances, but that is the journey. Why did it have to be a journey? Why couldn’t a helicopter just pick you up and carry you to the finish line? Because throughout the difficult times, you will learn more, grow more in faith, love God more, and love your neighbor more. It is the journey of faith that begins in love and ends in love.

Frederick Douglass, the American slave turned social activist, said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome. Your courage grows when you face your fears. Your strength and your faith are built as they are tested in your life experiences.

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Adapted from Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Busy Kids Summer | Keep Your Kids Reading all Summer Long

Keep your kids reading all summer long with Scholastic’s Summer Challenge.

“The Scholastic Summer Challenge is a free reading program dedicated to stopping the “Summer Slide” and encouraging kids to read more books this summer.”

Kids who log in can participate in weekly challenges, earn digital points and much more. There is even a program for the little ones in your house who aren’t old enough to read on their own yet.

There are plenty of resources for parents including recommended summer reading lists, ideas to keep your kids reading and tips on choosing the best books for your child.

The Scholastic Summer Challenge is a great way to keep your kids reading!

Categories: Book Reviews, summer reading list | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

one thousand gifts

Surf around the blog world and it won’t take you long to see that just about everyone is writing about the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. I really want to read this book but, I have 2 books on my nightstand that I am still trying to get through (it’s been a challenge). I feel I need to try to finish those books before reading this one. I hate when I have high hopes of a book and then I get half way through and have no desire to finish it. {sigh} Not to mention I have recommitted myself in to finishing the Bible workbook on Proverbs. There just isn’t enough time in the day for all I want to read!

As if that isn’t enough, I have joined “blog for books” (I will tell you more about that later). Basically, I get free books and all I have to do is write an honest review. I can do that. Besides, who doesn’t like free books? My first book is on its way to me…so first that book, then maybe this book.

Until then, I found a free excerpt download from Scribd. After reading the first chapter I am putting this book at the top of my must read list today! Have you or are you reading the book? What do you think about it?

Just from reading the first chapter I am hooked. The message? Life is a gift from God. Although you may not “see” the gifts, they are there. You may not understand the reasons for events (even tragic events) that happen in your life, they are not for you to understand.

I haven’t been this excited about reading a book in a long time. Can’t wait to delve into it.

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is it time to leave our church?

photo: veer.com

When, if ever, should you leave your church in search of a new one? That is the question our family finds ourselves asking. We love this church. We loved the old pastor. We loved his speaking style, the way he spoke of scripture while applying it to everyday life. When he left for another pastoral position we stuck around for more than 7 months while the church searched for his replacement. It was painful at times…the waiting. Then, finally, the day came and we had a new pastor. We like him as a person, as a pastor, and as a speaker in general. The girls love the Sunday school service. They both attended the Summer Bible Camp and enjoyed it thoroughly. So why leave you ask?

Is it right to question the church and it’s future plans when they don’t line up with your own beliefs? Our church is planning to build a new mega-church about 30 minutes away from the present location. Now, I am not against “planting new churches”. The Bible says to spread the Word. However, in the Denver metro area you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Christian church. So here is the dilemma. Is this church necessary and can our family get behind supporting the building of a church we do not plan on attending when completed?

Our church has launched a marketing campaign called a  “mortgage reduction program”. For a small congregation of about 1,300 we have raised $800,000 so far. This money has only gone to the lengthy entitlement process. Once the entitlement process is complete they can then look for a buyer to buy and develop half of the land (the church would own the other half). In the present economy, it could take a year or more to find a buyer! Then another two years to build a large multi-purpose room for services. Then they would need more money to build the church in its entirety. So, until then, they still need to make the mortgage on the land, a whopping $60,000 a month. Needless to say, they are hurting financially. Offerings are down. Their flock is hurting financially too. Enter the need for a marketing campaign to raise money.

It’s not just the fact that we won’t attend the new church when built; it’s also that we feel there is nothing wrong with the present location of the church. The church claims they have out-grown the present location. Huh? The Sunday service we attend (they offer 3 per weekend), is not full. There are plenty of empty seats. We question if the new church is really out to “reach new faithful” as they claim; or is it a “look at me and my big beautiful church” thing? The drawings hung in the lobby look like the church will be beautiful. But is this what God really wants? Does He need all that bling? When I think about how much money we have raised I wonder how many people we could have helped. How many lives could we, as a congregation, have changed. Could that money have been better spent?

Does the church have the right to tell you how to budget your money? One of the brochures in the marketing packet is information on how my family can budget our finances better so that we can give more to the church. Where does a church get off telling me how to spend my money? That takes gall (or another word that rhymes). So now they are in the financial advisory business too?

I asked if this is what God wants. The slick marketing brochures say, “Yes! This is God’s vision for the church.” I have doubt in my heart. Is that wrong? Am I the one lacking in faith? What if we were using the money to plant churches in Africa. There are people all around the world who have never heard of Jesus Christ and the good news. Would that make a difference to me if they were planting churches there? Yes. It would.

I am reading “Radical” by David Platt right now. It speaks to me on so many levels…the way our church is dependent on ourselves rather than dependent on God. That is where I feel our church has lost its way. It has great speeches, glossy overhead graphics, an experienced worship leader, resources to build a multi-million dollar church with a prayer tower, and top-of-the-line programs. It has everything our entertainment driven society wants and needs, but I feel I am missing one important thing…a relationship with God.
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November 7, 2010 Update: I was on my way up to the sanctuary at church for morning service when I overheard part of a conversation of two men: One guy to the other, “…You know the faithful few are doing all the work and they are tired.” Other guy says with a deep exhale, “I know.” I assume the two men are talking about the financial shortfall the church is having. Okay, so I just kept on walking…thinking about that statement. The faithful few? What is that implying? That if you are not giving to the “Capital Campaign” then you are not faithful? I could have overheard it wrong. After all, that is the risk of eavesdropping. You get it wrong sometimes. But I am pretty sure I didn’t because we got a “sales pitch” before the sermon this morning. Even told, again, how much money to give. I am sorry, I have prayed about this and I am giving my money to the poor. To feed the poor. Not to build a multi-million dollar church with a prayer tower and comfy chairs. My heart tells me I can’t.
Categories: Faith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

summer reading list

I was first introduced to the writing of Mitch Albom when a friend gave me his book Tuesdays with Morrie. The book tells the story of Albom’s old college professor who had ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Because, at the time, Ron (my step-father) had just been diagnosed with the same fatal disease. That was almost 9 years ago. Since that first book, I have become a faithful fan of Albom’s writing.

I just finished reading his newest book Have a Little Faith and I just wanted to share this except from the book:

(This is from a conversation Albom has with his Rabbi friend, who the book largely centers around.)

So, have you solved the secret of happiness?

“I believe so,” he said.

Are you ready to tell me?

“Yes. Ready?”

Ready.

“Be satisfied.”

That’s it?

“Be grateful.”

That’s it?

“For what you have. For the love you receive. And for the what God has given you.”

That’s it?

He looked me in the eye. Then he sighed deeply.

“That’s it.”

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Good advise. I love this book so much. So far it’s my favorite of Albom’s…I have many pages ear-marked so that I can go back and read again soon. It’s tender and compassionate. It touches on the struggle of faith that is in all our hearts at one time or another. And it’s a quiet reminder of how not to judge too quickly, and to love each person as a human being rather than based on what we have (or haven’t) done in our life. Ironically, that was the basis of Pastor Brian’s sermon this morning in church. Um, someone trying to tell me something? I highly recommend this book.

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my sister’s keeper

3728215622_7f75b520c3My Sister’s Keeper.
by Jodi Picoult

Yes, it is also a movie starring Cameron Diaz (love her). No, I haven’t seen the movie. Somehow, like most books I read that get turned into a movie, the book seems to get lost in translation (think Memoirs of a Geisha). So I imagine this one will too. Although I admit I probably won’t be able to resist and watch it when it is out on DVD. The book is deep in emotion. It’s about the choices we make for others, in this case our children, thinking it is the right thing to do when we could be really, really wrong. Beautifully written. The topic of the book is heavy and the ending I never saw coming…so have the tissue nearby.

PS It’s snowing here again in Denver. 8.5 inches so far on my back porch. Thank goodness it’s Sunday and me and the girls can hangout in our pjs all day! Alex woke up with a low-grade fever…just great!

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Parker is getting creative holding her sucker between her toes!

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