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Posts from the ‘Book Review’ Category

What We’re Taking In

I love summer!

I love for my kids to be out of school. A slower schedule, sleeping in and choosing what we “take in” recharges life. Sometimes, the things of this world consume us, and we consume right back. Summer seems to be a good time to unplug, retreat, reflect and consume extra time with God…

Probably the most meaningful activity we’ve done together is reading. I know, sounds boring. Sarah, who turned 12 this summer, will make it sound a little better to you:

During the summer, my family and I have read “One Great Purpose.” The book is about a missionary named Jim Elliot and his four friends, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming and Roger Youderian. Together, they carried out a mission that no one had ever accomplished before. Teaching the Auka Indians about Jesus. They raised their families in Ecuador. Their goal was to share God’s Word with wild indians who speared every foreigner in their path. When the men felt like they had shown the Aukas that they were their friends, the Aukas turned on them and killed them. From this story, the most remarkable part to me was that the five men had guns with them but they refused to fire them because they didn’t want them to die without knowing God. Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” It means we cannot keep our lives, but we gain Jesus within us. The great thing is that their families didn’t just pack up their things and leave when their husbands died. They lived with the people who killed them and changed their lives forever. They taught a whole tribe that killing is not right but that Jesus is the only way to live eternally in heaven. After teaching them that, they said there were more grandfathers than there had ever been in that tribe. The man who killed Nate Saint became like a grandfather to Nate Saint’s grandchildren. The thing is, don’t let a bump in the road hold you back from something God is telling you to do.

Y’all this is the first time I’ve read what she wrote. I think I need to run to my bedroom and cry for a while. May these children never lose sight of what God had impressed on their malleable hearts this summer, and may I.


Books and Slumber Parties

I attended a slumber party Friday night for a good friend. Yes, a slumber party. I’m still paying for it; no one my age should be up past 10:30. One way I know my age is pressing in on me is memory loss. A question posed at the party was what’s the best book you’ve read this year? I love questions like this, but my mind was BLANK!

I’ve jogged my memory the last 24 hours trying to remember what I’ve read this year. Since I keep a blog for the purpose of keeping an account, I’m going to try to list the books I’ve read in 2012 — more for myself and my poor memory than anything else. And, to answer the question, my “must read” for the year is the classic The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman. Reading this book annually would not be a bad idea. Also, I posted The Last Segregated Hour. It is the first book I will be reading in 2013.

I would love for you to leave a comment with your favorite book this year!


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From Reflection to Objective

“His life was ordered by his objective. Everything he did and said was part of the whole pattern. It had significance because it contributed to the ultimate purpose of his life in redeeming the world for God. This was the motivating vision governing his behavior. His steps were ordered by it. Mark it well. Not for one moment did Jesus lose sight of his goal.” Dr. Robert E. Coleman

Perhaps no words have impacted my life as these this year. The reason is that they are really just the culmination of the words God has been speaking into me for many months. I feel compelled to take advantage of time. Make the most of every opportunity. Have an objective. Stay the course. Have a healthy reflection at the turn of every “semester.” So, as I reflect on the last school year, I also look to the objective of the upcoming school year.

How will our family spend our time?

What will we allow into our schedule?

What will hinder evangelism? discipleship?

I am fully aware that I will lose sight of my goal this year — many times. We should still work toward that which we’re called; What Jesus commands, he also provides the strength and ability to do.

Goals are general and non-specific. Objectives are specific, always with an action verb and measurable outcomes.

What is my objective?

Is my life ordered by my objective?

Let’s just start here…

Is my “semester” ordered by my objective?

For more from Dr. Robert E. Coleman, read The Master Plan of Evangelism.

Grace for the Good Girl

I’m not even sure where to start with recommending Emily Freeman’s “Grace for the Good Girl.” There are so many quotes I want to type, convictions I want to share (from myself and others), but I don’t think I will ever do justice to the book.

Here is an excerpt, and I hope you will read the book in its entirety:

“Satan did two things in the Garden that are vital to understand as we begin the process of letting go of our girl-made hiding places. First, he convinced Eve she had to do something in order to be something: If you eat the fruit, then you will be like God. Sound familiar?

If you serve in the church, then you will be acceptable. If you are responsible, then you will be respected. If you follow all the rules, then you will be good enough. If you try hard, then you’ll be more like God…

If you wake up at 5 a.m. and pray every morning, then you will be a good Christian…

Adam and Eve were tricked into believing they had to do something to get what they most longed for. To ‘be like God’ is a shiny promise filled with great worth and holy significance.

The second thing that Satan did in the Garden is a little trickier, something that many people go their whole lives without noticing. Something that makes the difference between living like a good girl and living in freedom. Something that is so important, so vital to our walk with God that I have to make a whole new paragraph for it just to make sure you don’t miss it.

Satan told the woman, ‘You will be like God’ (Gen. 3:5). But God had already covered that. In Genesis 1:27, God made man and woman in his own image. So what does that mean?

It means they already were like God, made in his likeness, bearing his image. Satan was promising to them what God had already graciously and lovingly provided. Satan convinced them to forget God’s gift and try to work for it instead.

I liken that to someone saying something like this to my twin daughters: ‘Hey girls! Go to the store and buy matching outfits. Then put them on, dance around, and you’ll be twins.’ The truth is, they were born twins…

Birth determines identity.

Adam and Even were birthed, or created, in the image of God. Period.

But they didn’t remember. Not only that, the gift was subtly twisted, and the holy, image bearing truth of Genesis 1:27 was no longer enough. They didn’t just want to be like God, bearing his image. They wanted to be God, self-sufficient and independent.

As a result, every human after that is born separated from God, born of Adam and Eve, born into sin identity. The human condition is such that birth determines identity — so now humankind is birthed into Adam. ‘For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many’ (Rom. 5:17 NLT).

The only thing Satan could promise them was something they already had. Because Satan had nothing new to give them that wasn’t already theirs. The only power he had was the power of the lie. If he could trick them into forgetting that they were made in God’s image, then he could get them to do crazy things, which is exactly what happened.”

If you’ve read Emily’s book, please share how “Grace for the Good Girl” has impacted your life. If you haven’t, let me know, and I want to give away two copies! I’ll let my kiddos randomly choose from the comments at the end of tomorrow.

UPDATE – 6:35 p.m. April 19 – Tara Teutsch and Heather Cox will receive copies of the book. I will get in touch with you ladies about delivery. Thanks for your participation and comments, everyone!

Family Traditions

Since we are nearing the holiday season, I would like to recommend a book written by Noel Piper, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.  Noel offers parents a way to practically incorporate scripture, activities, recipes and more into each holiday season, while sharing a glimpse into the Piper home.   The book provides great ideas, but more than that, it inspires creating your own family traditions.  “May God give us eyes to see him, hearts to love him, and a passion to show him to our children.” N. Piper

One tradition in my family, for as long as I can remember, has been a steak dinner on Christmas day.  That’s a tradition no one wants to break!

Chris and I are constantly “trying traditions” (if that is possible) to see what will “take” with our kids.  Some center around holidays.  Some not.  Right now, we have breakfast on Sunday nights.  Our kids will not let it die.  They love it!  During Christmas break, we have an “Acuff Dance Party.”  We all get dressed up and dance.  (We may or may not post pictures).  On birthdays, we take turns telling the “birthday boy/girl” what we love about them.  Everyone in the family participates and shares a list of things.  Then, we pray over their year.

We are all looking for new ideas!  Please share your family traditions.  They can be Everyday traditions or Holiday traditions, but we need to be inspired.

Noticing What We See Everyday

In a matter of hours this weekend, I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  It’s an incredible memoir of child neglect and chosen homelessness (on the part of her parents) and overcoming a heartbreaking childhood.  I was struck by Jeannette’s ability to show her parents tremendous grace throughout her writing.  I’m obviously a little late in getting to this book, but it’s still worth the read.  Here is a more elaborate review from the New York Times.

Rather than reviewing the book, I want to focus on one sentence that, although early in the book, kept creeping into my mind even after I was finished.  It happened when Lori, the oldest sister got glasses for the first time.  She says,

When the glasses were ready, we all went down to the optometrist.  The lenses were so thick they made Lori’s eyes look big and bugged out, like fish eyes.  She kept swiveling her head around and up and down.  
“What’s the matter?”  I asked.  Instead of answering, Lori ran outside.  I followed her.  She was standing in the parking lot, gazing in awe at the trees, the houses, and the office buildings behind them.
“You see that tree over there?”  she said, pointing at the sycamore tree about a hundred feet away.  I nodded.  
“I can not only see that tree, I can see the individual leaves on it.”  She looked at me triumphantly. “Can you see them?”
I nodded.
She didn’t seem to believe me. “The individual leaves? I mean, not just the branches but each little leaf?”
I nodded. Lori looked at me and then burst into tears.
On the way home, she kept seeing for the first time all these things that most everyone else had stopped noticing because they’d seen them every day.

I couldn’t help but think of what I/we may have stopped noticing because we see it/them every day:

our children’s fingers

the intricacies of a spiderweb

the beauty of wrinkles

the fascination of muscles and bones

pregnant women

an abused child

the homeless

starving somalians

soldiers at war


the grace of god

the unconditional love of god

the forgiveness of god

the broken body

the spilled blood

what was accomplished

what is being accomplished

what will be accomplished

Grace is not a rite to apathy.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  The wounded hands and feet and the pierced side are rites of activity and engagement.  Rites that when ascended upon us, cause us to notice even individual leaves.  What have you stopped noticing?

Adopted For Life/Book Review

“Not everyone is called to adopt… But all of us have a stake in the adoption issue, because Jesus does.” Moore.  Everyone should read this book — I wish these words were enough to convince.  No matter where you fall on adoption, the bottom line is this: orphans are the responsibility of the Church.  So, if you are a part of the Church, this book has something for you.  It has offered a great amount of insight for me on many levels.

I want to start by saying I learned who Dr. Russell Moore is by picking up Adopted for Life. In following him on Twitter and seeing a little of his humor through tweets like “My car was robbed, with my iPod among items stolen. Whoever listens to that music is either going to get saved or get drunk.” and seeing some of his personal life like a picture of his boys when they were adopted from Russia to a blog post he recently wrote on immigration, I have come to one conclusion:  I heart Dr. Moore.

While Adopted for Life is laced with the Moore’s personal experience with adoption, it is more gospel-saturated with what adoption means for us as believers.  Dr. Moore says, “Adoption is on the one hand, gospel.  In this, adoption tells us who we are as children of the Father.  Adoption as gospel tells us about our identity, our inheritance, and our mission as sons of God.  Adoption is also defined as mission.  In this, adoption tells us our purpose in this age as the people of Christ.  Missional adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the helpless and the abandoned.”

Moore also addresses many practical aspects of the process including tough questions that will be asked, paperwork, finances, health concerns, transracial adoption and how to know if you or someone you love should consider adoption.  He offers a great amount of information while wrapping it in the Father’s great love for us in adopting us into His family.

I don’t know if you are being called to adopt.  Maybe you’re being called to assist another family in the adoption process.  But, as Christ-followers, we can all be praying about our role in the lives of the fatherless.

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands/Book Review

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands – People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp is the most beneficial book I have read for ministry. Before you hit the “back” button, remember that all God’s children are called to ministry, and that equipping the church to do what only pastors have done for so many years could unleash an army of healers and restorers.

Tripp lays the foundation of his book, explaining why we all need help, teaching how to build relationships by entering the world of others through love and identifying with suffering.  He helps identify where change is needed and how to speak to those issues. The last portion of the book is dedicated to teaching others how to “do” with what they have been given.  Some of the advice offered is literally step-by-step practical.

Most books that are for helping others focus solely on them and their problems, but I found myself bouncing between wow, I could really start doing this better in my friendships to I need to use this the next time I meet with a hurt wife to I need God to change my heart in this area to this is a great tool for meeting with couples in trauma.  What I am trying to say is that Tripp does not let us forget that we (the reader) are also in need of change.  And, he is also transparent in sharing the areas he needs help.

If you want to help others when they share their problems but feel inadequate, or if you want to be better equipped for ministry and counseling, this book is for you.

“As inadequate as we are, God is eager to use us to help others change.  The more you apply the biblical principles discussed in this book, the more readily you will fit into his mighty hand.” Ken Sande

Praying in Color

One of the greatest books I’ve bought for my kids is

Praying In Color Kids’ Edition.

Instead of having to journal or write or verbalize prayers that may be difficult at a young age, they can simply do what they already know to do — color or draw.

If you find your kids turning flips during prayer time or slapping each other or laughing or eating or walking out of the room to get a toy, or I could go on and on (not from experience of course — feel free to share your own story in the comments), you may want to invest in this book.  Summer is a great time to get started.

Here is an example of one of Sarah’s colorful prayers:


Breaking the Silence of Sexual Abuse

When I was in 5th grade, a neighborhood friend and classmate told me her stepfather was sexually abusing her.  I told my parents, they called the authorities, and she was taken from her home.  She lived in my home for a couple of months until she was put into a foster home and then adopted by an aunt.  I’ve never forgotten the images of what he did to her, maybe too much for a 5th grader to know.  My heart has always been sensitive toward victims of sexual abuse, but recently, I’ve read two books that have made me stand guard again.  That’s how we should always be – standing guard for victims, defending the defenseless.  You can read the review of the first book I read here.

The second book I read is Hush by Nicole Bromley.  This book is an incredible help for how to help victims of sexual abuse, but it provides information and education that we all need to know.    Those of us who have children and are around children need to be educated and aware.  I know we cannot be paranoid adults, but when I walk into my children’s school, it reminds me to be more sensitive to the little hearts around me.

Nicole is transparent in sharing her story not only from childhood but into adulthood and how it affects her today.  She teaches survivors how to dispel the lies they have always believed and models restoration through forgiveness and the freedom of sharing her story. 

Many times we are told to hide our stories.  They’re embarrassing to the family (according to the book, this is very typical for victims of sexual abuse victims), people won’t look at you the same, you will look weak.  In my own life, I have found that great healing comes from sharing.  It’s when I am isolated that I’m suffocating.  Isolation is a tool of satan to makes us feel like we are the only ones dealing with something.  It makes us feel helpless so we stay in the pit we’re in longer.  Great freedom comes in sharing.  Great healing comes in sharing.  Great fellowship comes in sharing.

Nicole says, “…we have to show people our emotional scars — not because we think they’re cool, but because of the glory the healing brings to God and the hope it brings others that their wounds will heal as well.”  Chris and I have been sharing our story lately for similar reasons.  Nicole sites 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 as her purpose and encourages victims to 

“Speak truth to those who believe the lies you once believed.  Comfort those who mourn, as you once mourned so deeply.  Tell others that it wasn’t their fault, just as you once needed to hear those words over and over again.  Offer your compassion, just as you have received compassion.”

You can find Hush here.  And, you can find Nicole at