Saturday, January 26, 2019

Book Review: The Unexpected Power of Home

The Unexpected Power of Home: Why We Need It More Than Ever

           I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because it led me on a journey from my childhood home to the place I now call home. As the wife of a pastor turned publisher, Nancie Carmichael has faced challenges on her journey—periodic moves, the busyness of mothering five children, the challenge of finding time to pursue her own interests.

            But at each junction of her journey, she concentrated on creating a place of comfort and beauty, and she encourages us to do likewise. Carmichael writes about embracing where you are, not where you’d rather be. She writes about the satisfaction of housework, the need to organize your environment and the need to establish boundaries. She suggests setting priorities instead of goals.

            Chapter titles include “Leaving Home,” “Home Work,” “The Gift of Hospitality” and “Sacred Space at Home.” Carmichael frequently quotes others: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family” (Mother Teresa). “Autumn is like a second spring when every leaf is a flower” (Camus).

            Because of the subtitle, I expected the book to delve into societal issues that may infringe on the atmosphere of our homes. While Carmichael mentioned technology, she did not elaborate on this aspect. 

          In this book you’ll learn how to celebrate the seasons, how to say “yes” to where you are and how to extend forgiveness if you have unhappy memories of home. End of chapter questions help you evaluate your own home and a study guide is available to use with small groups.

This would be an excellent study to help young mothers realize the influence they can have simply by creating a positive atmosphere in their homes. You’ll be blessed by reading this book, and you’ll bless others by giving it as a gift.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Magic of Life!

Fantasy movies about magic wands make us want the good life where wishes come true at the snap of a finger. And, of course, we certainly don’t want a bad life. But God is not a magician. He sees beyond the fun and games, and His goal is to make us holy, not necessarily slap happy.

Yet perhaps we only need look a little deeper to find the magic in life, magic that may be hidden in circumstances God permits. Perhaps we’re just not seeing it. What does God see? What does God desire for us?

We want a perfect body; God wants a perfect soul. We want security in life; God wants us to find security in Him. We want a pain-free ride; God wants to treat our pain with His Presence. That all may sound hokey and unrealistic, but look at what others have found.

Vida Chenowith enjoyed a career as a classical marimba artist after a childhood injury to a finger limited the instruments she could play. Then she fractured her skull and suffered a thumb injury in a car accident and burned her hand in a fire. While hospitalized, she learned of Wycliffe Bible Translators and devoted her life to reaching people who had no Scripture in their own language, using music as a bridge of communication.

Millie Lace suffered physical complications and intense emotional pain after following a doctor’s advice to have an abortion. After 12 years of begging God’s forgiveness, she heard a woman testify of receiving healing after a similar experience, and Millie devoted her life to helping others find peace by founding Concepts of Truth, a pregnancy care center.

Christiana Tsai was denounced by her family for turning to Christ. Rather than lament her situation, she embraced her calling to be a witness to her family. She turned down good positions so that she might continue to live in her family’s apartment complex, challenging as it was. In time she led 55 relatives to Christ.

What have you longed for: A successful career? A prominent ministry? A model family? And what has God given you? Perhaps it lacks the stability and glamour you craved. But does your current situation offer opportunity you never dreamed of, opportunity to serve God through faithful service, loyal family support and unexpected opportunities.

Rather than view life with expectations of what will be, view life with expectancy at what might be. Rather than tell God what you want, ask Him what you need--and let Him lead in making magic happen.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son . . . .” (Romans 8:28-29)

Feel free to leave a comment about how God has turned misery into magic in your life.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Book Review: Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

This book details various cultural approaches to pain and suffering and offers strategies for coping with suffering from a Christian perspective. Author Timothy Keller addresses sticky questions such as the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the free will of mankind. I read it looking for ways to address suffering in my own life and for guidance in helping others deal with suffering. I found it very helpful and thought provoking on both counts.

Part One of the book focuses on the various approaches to suffering and the problem of evil as dealt with in other cultures and from a secular viewpoint in contrast to the Christian approach. Part 2 looks at suffering from God’s viewpoint and what it might accomplish in our lives. The author also considers the impact of our suffering Savior on our faith. Part 3 suggests ways to walk with God through pain and suffering.

According to Keller, there are benefits to suffering and God uses suffering to shape us as Christians. He includes scriptural examples of suffering with a focus on Job and the voice of a sufferer as found in Psalm 42.

Extensive notes give ample reference to the author’s findings. While the book is not light reading, Keller’s writing is very clear and understandable. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to better understand how to face life’s challenges without losing faith.