Category Archives: Book Review

Am I Ungodly?

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Am I Ungodly?

 

Well, we’re in Romans at BSF this year. That’s Bible Study Fellowship for the uninitiated. Romans is a wonderful book full of the teaching of Christian doctrine and how to live a Christian life. However I’d completely missed Paul saying in Chapter 1 verse 18:

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

While I initially understood godlessness (or in some versions ungodliness) and unrighteousness as one in the same, Paul distinguishes between the two.

In his book, Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges states that ungodliness is describes an attitude toward God, while unrighteousness refers to sinful actions in thought, word, or deed.

While I usually start chastising myself when I misread Scripture – or don’t read it well enough to begin with – I’m going to let myself slide in this instance. Let’s face it, in the beginning of Romans Paul has been hammering home the “wrath of God” on everyone because we are all sinners. The passage is uncomfortable to read because you know it’s true. But we have to know – must know – what we ought to receive at judgment because of our sinful nature before we can truly appreciate the saving grace of Christ. We deserve nothing short of God’s wrath.

So, am I ungodly? Are you?

Jerry Bridges goes on to define ungodliness as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or one’s dependence on God.

Gulp.

I can see myself in that sentence. I may spend some quiet time in the morning with God but how often do I continue that conversation throughout the day? Some days are better than others. Some days I’m in communication with Him all day long; praying, worshiping, thanking, giving Him glory, talking, and trying to listen for His voice.

But not always and it’s definitely not often enough.

Jerry helps when he says:

Our goal in the pursuit of godliness should be to grow more in our conscious awareness that every moment of our lives is lived in the presence of God; that we are responsible to Him and dependent on Him. This goal would include a growing desire to please Him and glorify Him in the most ordinary activities of life.

After I finished this convicting chapter I knew I needed to seek God’s forgiveness at once. I squeezed my eyes shut, rolled over, and dug my head into my pillow in an attempt to shut out the world and be alone with Him.

Lord, help me to keep you forefront in my mind all day long. Allow your Holy Spirit to guide me, mark my steps, watch my words and actions, and do everything for your glory.

Immediately I received a vision I have not seen since 2008.

All I could “see” behind my shuttered eyes was a glorious swath of deep, rich purple. This has been an indicator that my Lord is with me. Non-condemning. Hearing my plea and cradling me. I was awash in His love.

How is it that we have the maker of the universe listen to and love us so?

His all-consuming love makes me want to not be quite so ungodly.

In His love,

Felecia

PS: the book is almost ready to go to my beta readers and then to editing. Thank you all for being so patient with me. Keep your eye out for a chance to sign up for my email list and receive a couple of chapters – Free!

PPS: Another great book on the subject of becoming more godly is: The Practice of the Presence of God a thin but weighty volume by Brother Lawrence.

Encounters with Jesus

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I’ve spoken to you about him before, you know … Mr. Benjamin Nelson.  I forget when we met, but he lives in New Jersey and maybe when I heard that, a tender spot in my heart opened up because New Jersey, you see, is in the Tri-State area and that, of course, means New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  You can try to argue that your Tri-State area is Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio or even Arizona, Nevada, and California; but you’d be wrong.  We’re special in the northeast.  Yep, I said it.  Special.

Anywho, this isn’t about the rarified air of the northeast and how even though New Yorkers, Jerseyites, and Nutmeggers are so vastly different we still manage to have a genuine affinity for each other; it’s about Ben, and a little book he has written and published called Encounters with Jesus.

There have been a number of occasions through the years when I’ve pointed you to his blog AnotherRedLetterDay, and several of those have been when Ben has taken a story in the Bible and re-told it through a first-person account.  You’ll recall that I did this a few years ago for a Passion Week series where I took the seven utterances that Jesus made from the cross and each day wrote as his mother, Mary.  It was grueling and fascinating and tearfully exhausting and completely enlightening.  I recommend an exercise like this for any blogger.  But Ben has taken this art form to whole new level and captured 40 of his stories to be bound together on the digital pages of your ebook reader or in the paper of a book, and I absolutely urge you to give it look.

Remember the woman who had a bleeding issue and touched the hem of the robe of Jesus believing – in fact, knowing – that if she could just do that she would be healed?  Ben lovingly tells this tale from her perspective and must have had some help from the his wife as well as the Holy Spirit in order to capture the anguish the woman must have felt before that moment her fingertips brushed the cloak of our Lord.

Or have you ever thought about what it would have been like to be one of the Roman soldiers that crucified Jesus?  Having to hear the achingly beautiful words He uttered while He hung there dying?

From before His birth to after His death, Ben chooses 40 wonderful stories to retell in his winsome, captivating way.  Most of the time Ben adopts the persona of a known character in the Biblical story (and Ben always includes the scripture reference for further reading) but other times he creates a new character in which to react to the events as they occurred.  He does this in one of my favorite stories when he introduces us to Eli and his wife Rebecca in the chapter entitled “Healer.”

The tale is found in Luke 4:18-41 and because it covers several different events, Ben becomes Eli, a man who’d lost his sight in a kiln accident 15 years prior.  Ben expertly retells the story as Eli allowing us to feel the wonder of listening to Jesus preach with authority in the synagogue (I got goosebumps) and bringing us, later in the day, to a place where Jesus interacts with and heals many people.  When Jesus reaches down and touches Eli, who actually only asks for sight in his one remaining eyeball.  At his humility I began to tear up and then, when Jesus gives abundantly more than what is asked for or even imagined (Ephesians 3:20), Eli receives sight in his remaining eye and is blessed with a new eyeball where none had been.   Well, I will just admit to you that I wept in awe and wonder and gratitude for the love of our Savior.

I’m certain you will have hours of enjoyment re-exploring these stories from the Bible and I’m pretty sure you’ll never read the Bible the same way again!  Please consider helping out this new author and enjoy a new take on the word of God.  I loved it and know you will too!

Here are two links to help you on your way … please know that I receive nothing from your click-through!

For Kindle and Paperback editions:   http://www.amazon.com/Encounters-Jesus-Forty-through-touched/dp/0692403507/

To order the paperback directly:  https://www.createspace.com/5307731

You can also follow Ben on Twitter @MrBND

Fight Back With Joy

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MF book2-300x272I know you’re ready for this.  Once you heard that my friend Margaret Feinberg had written a new book, you knew I would read it and tell you all about it.  Whelp … you were right!  Released this month is FIGHT BACK WITH JOY:  Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare down your Greatest Fears (2015, Worthy Publishing, TN).

In FIGHT BACK WITH JOY Margaret chronicles her fight with breast cancer and how her walk with God grew ever deeper in the fight.  But, lest you think that this book is only for those suffering a killer disease, let me assure you, it’s not.  We all suffer trials and tribulations in our lives.  At times we are strong, knowing God is with us, marching along beside us – and sometimes carrying us – through the fire.  But there are other times, times we may not like to admit, when our faith may weaken, where we look up into the heavens questioning, struggling to hear His voice.  It was by discovering joy that Margaret made it through the fire.

It wasn’t easy, by any means.  She didn’t just discover joy, she manufactured it.  She purposed out actions that would bring joy to others and in turn, received joy herself.  Isn’t that the way God always works?  We obey and He blesses.  We bring aide to another and receive a gift in return.  Give joy and get joy.  Give praise and thanksgiving to God and get joy and blessings in return.  But just how does one find joy in a situation such as this?

I don’t think I’m telling too much out of school when I tell you that one of my favorite parts was the chapter entitled Three Simple Words to Set You Free.  Margaret tells us, “The journey to joy begins with acceptance.”  I nod as I’m reading.  Isn’t it true?  As I grow older I’m able to consider Paul’s ability to be “content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11) and not laugh it off like something I’ll never achieve.  The deeper my walk with Christ, the more and more content I become.   Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit.  I could never have developed it on my own.

The book has also spawned a companion six-week Bible study which I have purchased but have not yet begun.  FIGHT BACK WITH JOY is laced with humor and desperate with pain all the while bringing God’s word to the party in support, guidance, and our prize.  As with other studies that Margaret has penned (Wonderstruck, Scouting the Divine, The Sacred Echo) this one has made me think, brought me closer to our Lord, and shifted my walk with Jesus in a delightful, expansive way.

No matter what your circumstances, you can practice defiant joy. When you do, you will embrace a life that’s richer and fuller than you’ve ever known before—a life radiant with joy.

Below you’ll find some links (none of which are affiliates so feel free to click away!).

Learn more about Margaret at http://margaretfeinberg.com

Here’s the link to the book on amazon: http://mar.cta.gs/0bi.

Here’s the link to the book at Barnes & Noble: http://mar.cta.gs/0bh.

To purchase the Bible Study Kit:   6-Session Bible Study Kit: http://mar.cta.gs/0aq.

Margaret Feinberg teaches at churches and conferences including Catalyst, Thrive, and Women of Joy. She was recently named one of 50 women most shaping church and culture by Christianity Today. Her books and Bible studies, including The Organic God, The Sacred Echo, Scouting the Divine, and Wonderstruck, have sold nearly a million copies. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Leif, and their superpup, Hershey. She believes some of the best days are spent in jammies, laughing and being silly.