Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Live Second: 365 Ways To Make Jesus First

Christmas is officially over, and we are quickly racing forward to New Years Day with fresh hope, fresh promises, and new beginnings. Recently, I was part of a group of bloggers who participated in a blog tour for Live Second: 365 Ways To Make Jesus First by Doug Bender, but I was also given the opportunity to review the entire book. For those who received new reading devices or gift cards for books, let me recommend you get a copy of this book. If you are wanting to start a new devotional for the new year, this is a perfect choice.

Neatly divided into 12 Sessions with 4 (or 5) weeks per session, there is a daily reading part to cover your entire year. Day 1 of each week gives you a video from the I Am Second Official Channel . (The book has the QR code for these videos, but since I own no device that uses them, I'm really not sure how they work.) Each video, usually by a well known actor, athlete. speaker, etc., allows a person to tell where they were before and where they now are after making Jesus first in their life. The sense of community derived from watching these videos will definitely make you realize that you are not alone in your failures and struggles.

Day One has the video and scripture to read. You then have What It Says, What It Means, Live It, Tell It, and Practice It. The other 6 days have the scripture reading and Talk With God, Live It, and Tell It. Each day is only one page and you get out of it what you are willing to put into it. This would be excellent for a group of friends who meet weekly or monthly, but is also appropriate for personal study and growth. This book, your Bible, a journal, writing implements (I personally love colored pencils when I make notes in my Bible) and a desire to make Jesus your priority is all you need. (Well, if you want to watch the videos, you need more.) This is the book I intend to use during 2013 as I desire for Jesus to be first in all aspects of my life. #Iamsecond

I Am Second website
I Am Second Facebook page

From the Facebook page: "I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you. The authentic stories on iamsecond.com provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living. These are stories that give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled. You’ll discover people who’ve tried to go it alone and have failed. Find the hope, peace, and fulfillment they found. Be Second.
You are here for a reason. We all have needs and could use some help. Talk to us. Call, chat, or email. 24 hours a day. www.iamsecond.com"

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sisterchicks In Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn

Sisterchicks In Gondolas is part of a delightful series by Robin Jones Gunn. Sisterchicks novels can be read as stand alone novels since it is the theme rather than the characters that remains consistent. Each novel is about close friends who share a common faith and have a chance for a vacation or simply to spend time together. (Actually, I was very surprised to realize that I had missed reading this one.) The story for Sisterchicks In Gondolas (from the website) is the following:
Jenna and Sue have been sisters-in-law for nearly thirty years but inseparable friends for only the last five. When Jenna is invited to a week’s stay at a fifteenth century restored palace on a quiet canal in Venice, Sue is her travel companion of choice. The catch? They must cook for a group that is staying at the palace for a retreat. With about six words of Italian between them, a map, and a keen appetite for gelato, Jenna and Sue enter into the lilting gondola-paced Italian lifestyle. Together they discovering corners of Venice most tourists never see and over boiling pots of pasta they dare each other to dream again. These two Sisterchicks realize that sometimes when serving God, the most important thing to do is just show up…and watch for goodness and mercy to follow close behind. 

I am a huge fan of all of the books in this series, but this one touched me even more than some of the others. I have never been to Venice, so I enjoyed reading more about it. The descriptions and information about the city and surrounding areas was fascinating. There is also a lot of humor in this story, as well as moments that caused me to pause and consider my own life. However, the 2 Sisterchicks in this story both had traits that reminded me of myself. Jenna had been divorced for many years, and felt like she couldn't me as much use to God and that family looked down on her for it. (Me too.) She was also invited to cook for some missionaries on a retreat, but is not a good cook. (I can relate to being a bad cook!) She only knows a few words of Italian, but that doesn't stop her for trying. (You should hear my Spanglish! LOL!)

Sue is adjusting to a new normal since her husband's accident...and is wanting to break out of her old patterns of legalism and being fearful. Also, she can cook! I can identify with the ways she has become a bit fearful of life and is wanting to LIVE rather than just continuing to EXIST. The way Sue and Jenna lean on one another and lift up one when the other is down is such a perfect portrait of unselfish love for a friend. They each want to help the other be the person God intended, plus walk closer with Him. This is both a book that makes a valid point of trusting God and His Grace, but also wrapped in pure joy. I loved it!

Like Sisterchicks on Facebook 
LIKE Robin Jones Gunn on Facebook 

 "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On A Quest For Christ

On A Quest For Christ is a 30-day devotional that is intended to help you retrace your spiritual journey. From the first steps toward faith and a relationship with God to where you now are on your path of following Christ, this book shows you your past, your current, and encourages you toward your future steps. Using a variety of topics, the questions asked help you to record your own story.  Prayers and scripture are included that underline and enhance your thoughts and memories.

"Your spiritual story is significant. Who you are makes a difference. God ordained this path for your life even before the dawn of creation. It matters to you. It matters to me. In fact, it matters to the whole community of faith, both now and forever. The impact of your life is incalculable." —Lisa Aré Wulf

Each short chapter begins Scripture and a lead in to what the chapter is about. This is followed by a story from Lisa and then questions to answer about your own story. Reflections gives a couple of more questions and a Scripture to consider. This is followed by a written prayer, but leaves room for you to write a prayer of your own.

I really liked the format and the short chapters. I didn't feel like I was so bogged down with additional info that I wanted to rush through. This could work as a small group, but I like it as a personal reflection. Sometimes the worries and cares of the world can seem so burdensome and we feel as though we are in a rut. This can show you how far you still have to go, but you can also see how far you have gone...and the Lord's presence as you grow nearer to Him. I found it to be a great encouragement.

LIKE On A Quest For Christ on FB.

The author also very kindly sent me another copy to bless someone else. If you would like to be entered into a random drawing, leave a comment on the blog (or you can message me...a lot of Anonymous comments go straight to Spam). The winner will be selected on Wed., Dec 26th at 10:00 am (CDT).

 Disclosure of Material Connection-  I received a free copy of On a Quest for Christ: Tracing the Footsteps of Your Spiritual Journey by Lisa Aré Wulf to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.  I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Live Second Post #4: Known

Obviously, I am several days late in finishing my fourth and final post about Live Second: 365 Ways To Put Jesus First by Doug Bender. In keeping with the original concept of these blog posts, I will be finishing Session 2: Issues / Week 9: Identity. This week's session is based on John 3:1-21. This passage includes the most well-known verse in the world ("For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life." Basically, the gospel in one verse.), not all know that it is about Jesus meeting with an important Jewish leader at night.

The video for this portion is Tamara Jolee:

When Nicodemus had this personal encounter with Jesus, he went out of curiosity and seeking to know more about His identity. Jesus was matter of much debate, and Nicodemus just had to know what Jesus had to say about Himself...even if he was afraid to be seen speaking to Him alone during daylight hours.

 That shows the identity part; Nicodemus was asking Jesus, "Who are you?" He genuinely wanted to know if Jesus was sent by God, as He claimed...or if the ones who claimed Jesus was an instrument of the devil were right. What strikes me as vital evidence of Jesus truly being God is in how He chose to answer.

Several times when questioned, Jesus refers to the Jewish rabbis and leaders as "vipers", "snakes", or "hypocrites"! Psalm 139:1-6 is filled with imagery of how God knows all about us. So, the way Jesus responds to questions of the fearful, yet truth-seeking Nicodemus let me know right away that He already knew this man was different from the other Pharisees.

What does this mean to and for me? I can face current and future situations, not through my own power, but because I can be honest with my God---who already knows my questions and the answers. He is already aware of my fears, failures, shame, hopes, and so many other emotions that are weaved into my thoughts. Jesus is first and I am [eternally grateful to be] Second. I know Him and #IASknown.

With much appreciation (& apologies for falling behind), I want to thank Doug Bender for the download of this material. I will soon be reviewing the entire book, and have plans to use this as a regular part of my devotions and study time in 2013.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Live Second Post #3: Enough

Live Second blog post 3 has it's focus on Success. The irony of this one is not lost on me. By anyone's stands, I am not a success. Actually, the only success I can lay claim to was that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have strayed, rebelled, and tried to turn my back on Him a few times when the going got tough and prayers weren't being answered my way! So, here is my post on Success: Enough.

This week's featured video from the I Am Second collection is skateboarder, Brian Sumner:

I have grandkids who loved skateboarding, and a friend wrote and directed the faith-based film, Hardflip...so I did know who Brian Sumner is and love that he is such an example for others.

The Scripture focus on this reading is Proverbs 30: 7-9
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread. 
 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

I have always been below poverty level, but needs were met. I had no doubt God would provide for me...but it was also in the back of my mind that He put me in places where I could survive. Now I have reached a point where I am in my upper 50s, have not worked since an accident in '94 (other than taking care of grandkids), have multiple health issues, no transportation...and everything I relied on has been taken away. It is extremely like I will start the new year homeless...so this is where my faith is about to truly be tested. The few people I confided in (well...until now! lol) have assured me that God would never allow this to happen to me. Well, why not me? We are not promised success by worldly standards, but my success is in knowing that no matter what I have to face on earth...I will have the success of dwelling forever with my God. Truly, isn't that all that really matters?

This is the last day to take advantage of all of the free stuff!! I highly recommend this book as a devotional for 2013...so grab it today!!
Thanks Doug Bender for providing me with a download for review purposes.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Live Second Post #2: Love Defined

Live Second: 365 Ways To Make Jesus First by Doug Bender contains 365 daily readings and prayers meant to inspire people to consider what life might look like if Jesus were First. I am one of many bloggers who loved the I am Second book and was invited to participate in the launch of this one. This is my 2nd post from Session 2 and it is Relationships: Love Defined.

The video from this one is Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs who married, divorced, and later remarried. Their story was told in the first I Am Second book, plus many details were shared in the recent book about their daughter, Lauren--Still Lolo.

There were several topics available in this section, but the one I chose was Love Defined...based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. Many are familiar with this passage, but I like the way it was presented to me once---by personalizing it.

If Cindy speaks human or angelic languages
but do not have love, she is a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

If Cindy has the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if Cindy has all faith
so that she can move mountains but does not have love, she is nothing. 

And if Cindy donates all her goods to feed the poor,
and if Cindy gives her body in order to boast but does not have love, she gains nothing.

Cindy is patient, Cindy is kind. Cindy does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not 
keep a record of wrongs. Cindy finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. Cindy bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Cindy's love never ends.

I wish those things were true of me, but I can not lay claim to even one. I fail daily, but Jesus will never fail when we depend on Him to be all we need. If you want a relationship to work, Jesus is first. When I think of the relationship I have with him I am second...and that is a wonderful thing!!
I greatly appreciate the free ebook I received to be a part of this launch campaign, and I recommend you check out the offers provided for this week.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Live Second: Enslaved

Live Second: 365 Ways To Make Jesus First by Doug Bender contains 365 daily readings and prayers meant to inspire people to consider what life might look like if Jesus were First. I am one of many bloggers who loved the I am Second book and was invited to participate in the launch of this one. Later on I will be reviewing the entire book, but for this week, I am one of those who will be highlighting Session 2: Issues. This is the first of four blog posts I will be writing and the readings that spoke most to me. Week 6 is about Struggles. The video we watched for this one is of Brian "Head" Welch:

I cannot personally relate to the issues Brian had with drugs, but that isn't the only form of enslavement. The scripture reading for Day 5 was Romans 6:15-23 and deals with moving from slaves to sin to slaves of God. What are some of the habits that come between me and God or do I continue doing...in spite how bad it makes me feel (physically and spiritually)? The internet takes priority too often over time spent alone with God. Even if I am reading devotions from an online source, how many windows do I have open that distract me with a notification that I have an email or message. Unhealthy eating and exercise (or lack of...) habits return before I even realize it. The grip on me is strong.

But, my biggest form of enslavement is fear. Fear of failing, fear of falling, fear of letting go of things and people I trust for provision. He knows my weaknesses and my fears...and assures me frequently with, "Trust me. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will provide for you."  It is time that I put Jesus first for today and my future and do those things I know He wants me to do, and leave behind what needs to stay in the past. He is first and I am second.

I greatly appreciate the free ebook I received to be a part of this launch campaign, and I recommend you check out the offers provided for this week

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Men of A.I.M.

Men of A.I.M. is a ministry seeking to support and encourage churches and men's ministry leaders in Central Illinois, but also reaches out to men in other areas. The acronym A.I.M. is a reminder to men of the importance of balancing Action (James 2:17), Integrity (Proverbs 10:9), and Maturity (Hebrews 6:1) in our lives. Their focus scripture is 1 Corinthians 9:26 ~ Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly...

Of course, I am NOT a member, but I have been fascinated by the work that Rich Gerberding does, especially through Heart of Illinois Movie Central. Rich says on the page, "Film has the potential to impact many lives, and – frankly – the quality of Christian films has increased greatly over the years. The HOI page will be used to provide information about current or upcoming Christian movies in the Central Illinois area, or of films in the works that may be coming our way.As a growing number of Christians support films, the word will get out and Christian filmmakers will want to see if they’re films will 'Play in Peoria'."

I have noticed Rich and his organization over the past couple of years as they have been extremely supportive of several films that have caught my attention. I thought he was very effective in getting out the word (actually, I am a bit jealous of his success! lol) in movies such as Hardflip, October Baby, Christmas With A Capital C and others. I noticed that this group will be promote  The Lost Medallion (another impressive looking film!), but I am really excited that HOI also will be endorsing Beyond The Farthest Star!!!!

Rich kindly included me when he emailed others on his newsletter list, and this is part of what was said: "Is there a trailer.... no, not yet.

But there is a book, and I read it last weekend.  Yes, last weekend.  I had gotten a few pages into The Hobbit, on an impulse downloaded "Beyond the Farthest Star" - and didn't read another word of The Hobbit until I'd finished this book.

Everything I'd hoped to see from the various clips of the movie was there, and I am now even more excited about the film coming out than I was before.

The film hits a lot of topics -

  • Separation of Church & State
  • Teen angst & Self Abuse / cutting
  • Abortion / Sanctity of Life
  • Priorities of Life - Leaving a Legacy
  • The Importance of Marriage Vows

Amazingly, these topics are pulled together through the struggles of a Pastor's family in a Texas small town in a way that they do not feel forced, but rather the culmination of issues left unchecked and finally blowing up."

I have said many times that I truly believe that a good film can be a conversation opener and I would like to see more groups have a media ministry that not only presents films that can minister to the churched, but also appeal to the unchurched. Too many have their own narrow view of what a Christian or faith-based film is but, as with any other type film, there is room for all genres and audiences. If you are looking for a good model on how to organize this type of outreach, I heartily recommend you take a look at the Men of A.I.M. site. I am sure Rich has many pointers on the best way to get started.

Men of A.I.M. website  

Men of A.I.M. Facebook page

Heart Of Illinois Christian Movie Central 

"Like" Beyond The Farthest Star 

(remember to sign up to Bring It!)