Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: Dare Mighty Things - Mapping the Challenges of Leadershp for Christian Women

Spiritual gifts are not gender specific; women can serve in leadership. The challenge is to find your niche. Author Halee Gray Scott compares secular and Christian leadership, likening Christian leadership to shepherding. The problem for women is that they may not view themselves as that kind of a leader. And the church may fail to provide positions for women, which may send women with leadership skills to serve in nonprofits.

According to Scott, who is an author, scholar and global leadership consultant, young women especially may have trouble discerning God’s call on their lives. Some feel unprepared while others feel excluded from informal networks. Scott herself has struggled to find balance between home work/ministry. She includes guidelines to aid women in finding their calling. She discusses the double bind of possessing strong leadership qualities—such as assertiveness—that tend to come across in a negative way because they are not traditional “feminine” traits. Women, therefore, she advises, must learn to blend such strengths with compassion.

Scott discusses how “women’s ministry” was originally a program by women, rather than for women, and stressed the need of women to contribute rather than be entertained.

Scott presents a thorough overview of today’s terrain of women in ministry. Hopefully, her book will open eyes to a sane approach of men and women ministering together. Building the kingdom requires “all hands on deck,” and women should not have to leave the church to find venues of service that utilize their giftedness. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Review: The Hour That Changes the World: A Practical Plan for Personal Prayer

If your prayer life has become routine, this book will add dimensions that you probably never considered. Author Dick Eastman was in his thirties when he was moved by the words of Christ to Peter in Matthew 26:40: “Could you not watch with Me one hour?” So Eastman developed a one-hour devotional time that consists of 12 5-minute segments, each segment concentrating on a different aspect of prayer. Book chapters explain those segments.

Eastman offers a pie-chart of the hour with related verses. I appreciated how at the end of each chapter he summarized his points in a few steps. This is especially helpful when you want to flip back to review. I also appreciated his differentiation between steps such as “watching” and “listening.” The former relates to looking for God at work in the world, while the latter relates to letting God speak to your heart. Eastman offers great tips throughout the book, and in the chapter on listening, he suggests writing down what you hear. That works especially well for me. I also liked his idea of singing and of scripture praying, letting Bible reading guide your prayers.

This book, published by Chosen, a division of Baker Book House, includes five pages of notes and a helpful Bibliography if you would like to read more on the Christians and writings Eastman referenced. He serves as international president of Every Home for Christ and is the originator of the Change the World School of Prayer.

While I have long held an hour-long devotional time, I timed myself on his segments and found the ones I had been missing were richly rewarding. I plan to continue checking his listing from time to time to be sure I don’t lose the refreshment this book has brought to my prayer life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book Review: The Amish Clockmaker (The Men of Lancaster County - Book 3)

If you enjoy intrigue set in Amish culture, this is the book for you. Matthew Zook’s plans to expand his Feed and Tack Shop are squelched by questions about his deed to the property. To clarify, Matthew must connect with a clockmaker who previously owned the site but vanished after being accused of murder. Unlike most of the Amish novels I’ve read, this one speaks in the voice of the male protagonist.

Clayton Raber is the clockmaker. But where is he? Parts of the book alternate between Matthew’s dilemma and the clockmaker’s story, set a half century earlier. I won’t give away the ending. Suffice to say it’s a page turner. The book includes discussion questions for book clubs or just to talk over with a friend who has joined you in reading.

I chose this book because Susan Meissner was one of the authors (along with Mindy Starns Clark) and I’ve found Meissner's books offer interesting characters and plot lines. Released in 2015 by Harvest House Publishers, the story espouses Christian values and deals with tough issues that invade even the isolated Amish community.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Decisions, Decisions!

            Have you made any decisions lately? Our lives reflect our heredity, our environment—and the decisions we make. We can’t do much about heredity and perhaps little about environment, but the decisions we make pattern our lives. Yet so often we act impulsively and fail to think through the consequences of our choices.
            For instance, we are entering a busy season as Friends of the Heart. By the time May ends, we will have spoken to more than 800 women this year. That is a huge privilege and responsibility. What if back in 1998 Janine, Kim and I had decided we didn’t have time to meet to discuss Christian books? And what if we had decided to quit meeting when we had trouble coordinating schedules? It was soooo tempting to say “This isn’t working.” But we stuck with it and have been blessed beyond measure by our friendship and by our ministry.
            The women of our church recently concluded a study by Lysa Terkeurst titled “The Best Yes.” She emphasizes how good decisions are based on wisdom gained from scripture such as the book of Proverbs. When making decisions, Lysa offers guidelines to evaluate:
1.      Your time.
2.      Your ability
3.      Your money
4.      Your passion
5.      Your season of life
Decisions, decisions, decisions. And they all have consequences. Am I going to exercise today? (What will it mean to my overall health?) What will I cook for supper? (Am I serving foods that nourish my family?) How can I stay in contact with kids and grandkids? (Am I willing to text and Skype?) Should I buy the name brand or the store brand? So many decisions; so much to do; so little time.
Biblical guidelines are always best: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
What decision are you facing today? It may be as major as deciding to have surgery or as minor as picking a book to read. God is interested in both. Talk over your choices with him and may his peace bless your heart. I’m off to exercise!



Upcoming Engagements; please join us if you can:

April 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Patuxant Presbyterian Church at Patuxant Naval Air Station, Maryland, “Just Say Yes to God!”
April 18, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Bethel Bible Fellowship, Emmaus, “At Any Age, At Any Stage: Celebrating the Christian Life.”
April 19, 9:15 – St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Fleetwood, PA, “Mary, Martha and Their Psychologist.”
April 24, 6:30 p.m. – Faith Bible Fellowship, Binghamton, NY, “What Every Girl Needs: Refuge, Redemption, Restoration and a Few Good Recipes.”
April 25, Moulton Memorial Bible Baptist, Newburgh, NY, “What Every Girl Needs: Refuge, Redemption, Restoration and a Few Good Recipes.”
May 2, 12 noon – Calvary Independent, Loyalton, “That Face in the Mirror.”
May 5, 6:30 p.m. – Ono United Methodist Church, “That Face in the Mirror.”
May 7, 6 p.m. – Grace United Methodist Church, “If the Shoe Fits.”
May 9, 11 a.m. – Hebron United Methodist Church, “If the Shoe Fits.”