Saturday, March 26, 2016

Book Review: Messed Up Men of the Bible

I’m sure we’ve all wondered about certain Bible characters, their attitudes and actions. Why did Peter deny Christ? What turned Saul into a reckless ruler? How could David have failed as a father? Husband and wife Tina and Dave Samples look at these men along with nine others and consider their strengths and their weaknesses. Fulfilling the subtitle of "Seeing the Men in Your Life Through God's Eyes," the authors help us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our own fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.

Dave is a pastor while Tina is a registered music therapist who works on staff with her husband. Subheads identify which of them wrote which part of each chapter; to me that made the book a bit choppy. However, together they offer the male/female perspective on the behavior of men with boxed lists of how to react to various types of men such as: a controlling man, an angry man, a depressed man. Some of their suggestions seemed simplistic but certainly offer food for thought.

Each chapter ends with a “Moving Beyond the Mess” section with questions for self or group study, questions that would surely generate good discussion in women’s Bible studies. The book helps you to see the potential in the men in your life and guides you in supporting them to become all God intends them to be.

Book Review: The Narcissist You Know

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this book, but the title intrigued me. Author Joseph Burgo identifies various types of narcissists through chapter titles such as The Bullying Narcissist, The Narcissistic Parent, the Grandiose Narcissist, The Know-It-All Narcissist.

According to Burgo, someone who behaves as a narcissist is always trying to escape from pain of the past, usually some sort of shame of the past. Since such individuals “act out” in various ways, they develop into the different types of narcissists mentioned above. According to Burgo, narcissism boils down to an inflated sense of self importance and a lack of empathy for others.

I felt the author fell short of the book’s subtitle, “Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists.” I got the impression that the best action to take is simply to disengage from people displaying such behavior. But Burgo does suggest putting yourself in the narcissist’s shoes and trying to understand the “wounded” child of his/her past. I appreciated the “case studies” of individuals he’s counseled and also public figures—actors, politicians--whom he identifies as narcissists.

All in all, an interesting read. I would have preferred Burgo dropped four-letter words from conversations he included; while such words express authentic feelings, I still prefer not to read them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How to Revive that First Love

Dear Friends,

Since we’ve not been able to attend church as my husband recovers from knee replacement surgery, I’ve been watching Dr. David Jeremiah on Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m. This week he began a series on Revelation. As I read the related scripture, I noticed that Jesus faulted the church at Ephesus for forsaking their first love. It reminded me of an article I once wrote for Sunday school take-home papers, so I’ll share that with you this month:


I rummaged through old notebooks to find them: shorthand notes offering a bird’s eye view of my second year as a Christian. A class on the seven churches in Revelation had sent me searching for evidence to determine whether I, like the church at Ephesus, had lost my first love (Revelation 2:4-5).

My notes showed that in February of that year I attended a neighborhood Bible study and prayed aloud for the first time. A women’s retreat that September spurred my growth as God specifically answered my prayer for parenting guidance. At a November missions conference I dedicated my life to serve the Lord wherever He would lead. And a month later I invited 20 neighborhood children to my home for an after-school Bible club, an outreach that lasted many years.

That year certainly showed a spiritual growth spurt. While teaching Sunday school I had written a psalm praising God for Christ’s advent and expressed excitement for His second return. Would I convey the same excitement if I wrote such a psalm today?

On my daily faith journey with God, some 40 years later, there are three ways I keep my first love glowing and growing:

I read and apply God’s Word daily. Scripture ministers to my heart each time I read my Bible. Many days my journal shows a verse or devotional thought that challenges me. When weary, I am reminded of God’s help in time of need. When troubled, I feel God’s peace. When lonely or discouraged, I sense God as my Friend. The spiritual food of God’s Word nourishes me.

I energize my days with prayer. Not only do I set a time to dialogue with God, but I also shoot arrows of prayer throughout the day as needs arise and I need wisdom. Through prayer, we get to know God and He sees what is in our hearts. I want to chat with God comfortably whether I am walking or working. I want to share my joys and sorrows with my Special Friend. After all, if we spoke to family members only of our needs, they might find us a bit self-centered.

I watch for evidence of God at work. Whether reading my newspaper or interacting with people, I look for God at work in the world and try to get in on the action. I watch for God’s unseen hand as circumstances beyond my control unfold. After all, challenging situations offer opportunities for spiritual growth and may help mold me into Christ’s image.

I don’t want to ignore or take my heavenly Bridegroom for granted. Instead of losing my first love for Christ, I want to nourish that love so that it adds zest to my life and feeds my zeal to fulfill the mission of the church.

Click on the link below to leave a comment about how YOU maintain your zeal for God.

Have a blessed month.


Upcoming Engagements:

March 18-20 – Friends of the Heart leading Women’s Retreat at Camp Hebron, Halifax, for Chapel Church of Red Lion. All women welcome, and we’d love to see you there. We’ll be presenting “If Our Closets Could Talk,” a retreat focused on the book of John. Just contact me through our website ( for more information.