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 by Jodi Detrick

Recognizing that the needs around us are daunting but desiring to offer the best of what we’ve learned from life to make a difference marks the Jesus-hearted woman, and Jodi Detrick sketches a picture that captures the good, bad and ugly along the way of becoming exactly that in her book, The Jesus-Hearted Woman.

Whether the season of life defining your existence is one of big victories and small defeats or small successes alongside of crushing failures, every daughter of the Most High sets her mind to the journey of becoming like Christ.  King Solomon’s proverbial advice is pictured by Detrick in modern day language.  “So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are.  Pay attention to the he welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 The Passion Translation)

Detrick takes the ancient wisdom of King Solomon along with real life experience to produce not only a theory but also action steps to being the Jesus-hearted woman.  Gold-plated thoughts course throughout the veins of Detrick’s The Jesus-Hearted Woman.  Every reader should approach the book with a journal, pen, highlighter, and post it notes.  At the very least, I would recommend a willingness to dog-ear several pages of the book as proven strategies for living with the heart of Jesus are outlined! 

 

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Proverbs 10:11 The teachings of the lovers of God are like living truth flowing from the fountain of life, but the words of the wicked hide an ulterior motive.

 

Proverbs 21:2  You may think you’re right all the time, but God thoroughly examines our motives.

 

Proverbs 21:2-4 You may think you’re right all the time, but God thoroughly examines our motives. It pleases God more when we demonstrate godliness and justice than when we merely offer him a sacrifice. Arrogance, superiority, pride are fruits of wickedness and the true definition of sin.”

 

Proverbs 24:12 And why should you say, But it’s none of my business? The one who knows you completely and judges your every motive is also the keeper of souls—and not just yours! He sees through your excuses and holds you responsible for failing to help those whose lives are threatened.

 

Psalm 14:1 Only the withering soul would say to himself, There is no God. Anyone who thinks like this is corrupt and callous, depraved and detestable, devoid of what is good.

The

Jesus-Hearted Woman

Thou Shalt Not Be A Jerk
By Eugene Cho

“If we’re not willing to cross the street to love our neighbor, we have no right to be enraged at national politics.  But if we’re about kingdom work in our neighborhoods and cities, we can help to bring about positive change nationally.”  Eugene Cho

 

To say that our cultural climate is politically-charged does little to describe the inner societal war displayed in outward behavior. Eugene Cho challenges those who define themselves as lovers of God to wade into the unsettling waters of political exchange in order to establish relationships and points of connection, especially with those whom we disagree.  He navigates the mindset of American political parties without bias, and it is truly refreshing to gain perspective as Cho reminds readers of the humanity of all people, the illegal immigrant to the president of the United States.

Recognizing that Jesus instructed his disciples to “constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom” and pray that “God manifest [His] kingdom realm” causing things on earth to reflect things already fulfilled in heaven mandates that regardless of our political alignment, our allegiance belongs to a heavenly kingdom.  We are to seek first that kingdom … not the kingdom of a political party.  Ouch!

 

When the candidate I support loses, I consider it a personal loss. I am sure that you have experienced post-election day panic when the results are not what you have hoped, voted and even prayed to realize.  Cho challenges involvement in politics through activism and conversation but cautions that followers of God do not lose sight of the kingdom to which we belong. 

 

Politics are heated; opinions are often bred into us from very young ages.  Many times, people are not able to articulate the finite details that underlie the tension found in political schema.  In order to establish real friendships, Cho emphasizes the importance of being informed and thereby extending kindness, respect and authentic love to all people.  To be authentic, prayer is critical because it humanizes others.  No longer do we see enemies, we see people. When we see people, we somehow allow others to see us.  Cho reminds us that there is then hope to not be characterized as judgmental and tribal, defined by what we are against rather than what we are for but characterized as people who take personal responsibility for living fully into God’s call to love our neighbors, whether they be right next door or across the world.

 

The timeliness of harvesting wisdom from Cho to avoid being a jerk and becoming a friend could not be more poignant for every believer.  Cho defines the difference between being mean-spirited and passionate with straight line precision.  If this book were a meal, it would nourish your mind, heart and body with instruction allowing you to live on earth a life that represents God’s kingdom well.  Regardless of who is president, Jesus is still King!

Running Up

"Leveling the Praying Field"
by Donna Barrett

As a self-defined, fly-on-the wall athlete—meaning my watching is much better than my playing—Donna Barrett’s book, “Leveling the Praying Field” captured my attention.  I understand being the last picked for the team, or watching my hard working, great attitude kid cheer from the sidelines as those with natural talent take the field.  I realize what it means to be the weakest link. Knowing that prayer is not an athletic talent, a competition, a gift or an action defined by its answers, I wondered what exactly Barrett meant when she suggested that we could, and should, level the arena where one engages prayer. 

Barrett begins her discourse on prayer simply. Prayer is talking to and hearing from God. Often, we talk much more than we hear. If I do not intentionally make myself listen to a speaker, then I am thinking on my response within the first few seconds of the other person’s words. I want to be articulate, relevant, and relational in my response. I want the other person to feel valued, so instead of tuning in to the body language, eye contact and words chosen to communicate the message of the speaker, I alternatively focus on my own. Where does the true value lie within that kind of communication?

Because talking to God is the only way to build a relationship with Him, “Leveling the Praying Field” asserts that no matter where we are in our approach, our schema, our strategy, we can have confidence that God will hear us.  She suggests that too often we shortchange the conversation because we do not get the answers we want to see.  Therefore, like an athlete that has not earned the coveted starting position, we turn our attention to other things—a new hobby, sport, supplement or exercise instead of focusing on mastering the basic elements of the game.  At its very core, Barrett teaches that when we create spaces in our environment and in our calendar to talk to God, our capacity to talk to, and hear from, God grows. 

Barrett gives a variety of mediums in every chapter on strategies to improve our hearing from God.  We might tap into her red pen journaling, Scriptural prayer, or placing ourselves “on location” in moments of prayer. The importance of keeping the relationship on the Giver and not the gift keeps prayer from being an ineffective, futile exercise. 

Did you know God wants to hear from you?  And in return, did you know that God wants you to hear from him?  If you are inclined to evaluate your prayer habits in light of someone with proven experience on the praying field, then Barrett’s book is an easy read full of thought-provoking veracity in our maturation of this eternally important method of communication. 

Leveling the Praying Field by Donna Barr

I Will Not Fear by Melba Pattillo Beals

Forgiveness, she explained, is necessary to prevent one from living a life of chewing lemons. A failure to forgive leads to bitterness. While you are still holding on to a grudge, chewing a sour lemon and wincing from the bitter taste, the person you pinpoint for your wrath, believing your differences have been resolved, may well have forgotten all about it. Forgiveness opens your heart—and clears space to enjoy blessings.”  Grandmother of Melba Beals

More than a memoir, Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals vulnerably shares the private, painful moments of growing up as an African American teenage girl in 1957.   Through the influence of her Grandmother and her faith in God, especially her love of Psalm 23, Beals recounts the story of a life that could have, should have, been destroyed within the hands of others.  “If you go only where you are welcome, that’s where other people want you to go, not where you choose to go. You’re limited by their vision—not living your own dreams.

“I Will Not Fear” is the story of a lifelong journey of choosing faith over fear under fire, and follows, the best selling “Warriors Don’t Cry” by Beals.   Helping readers gain a broader picture of the horror of racism as they walk along Beals during high school years when, along with eight other African-American students, she was  selected to integrate into the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  These African American students eventually became known as the Little Rock Nine. 

Although the lives of the others are not highlighted within Beal’s rumination, Beals’ personal experience triggered growth.  The growth would be one toward hatred or toward forgiveness; the choice was hers alone.  The ability to extend forgiveness and negotiate uncomfortable, unwelcoming and even life-threatening situations reflects more than a story of injustice; it is a biography of an undestroyed life because of faith in Jesus, and reliance on the wisdom of a godly grandmother. 

Personally, this is the most inspiring story that I have read in 2020.  My kids will be reading it and we will have a family discussion talking about why Beals is noteworthy.  She has many respectable accomplishments, but what readers will discover is that WHO she is plays far more into her influence than WHAT she does.  That is my desire for my kids.  That is my desire for my life!  Let us focus on who we are becoming and Beals offers great insight into the becoming, especially amid pain, loss, and confusion. 

Where Is God In A

Coronavirus

world?

by John Lennox

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where is god in a coronavirus world

where is god in a coronavirus world

"We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." 

C.S. Lewis 

Did you know that Covid-19 is not a lone ranger?  It is a member of a larger family of coronaviruses that are responsible for the common cold, influenza, pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases. 

 

Discussing that most viruses are beneficial, and only 1% of them are harmful to their hosts, Professor John C. Lennox initiates the discussion asking whyWhy do there have to be pathogens that wreak havoc?  How can I approach life with a secure mind when I feel vulnerable and out of control?  How can I exist with imposed limitations that make life look and feel so different?   What can I do if things never go back to the way they were before?  

 

Lennox admits that “fewer and fewer people have any God-dimension whatsoever in their lives” and yet he offers a compelling discourse on not only the coronavirus but extends the generalized mind haunt—If God is good, then why does evil exist?  Or as the title reflects – How can there be a coronavirus if there is a loving God? More importantly, what am I supposed to do with it?  What is my human response supposed to be? Does God really make a difference amid the chaos?

 

Lennox is smart.  Very smart.  He is an emeritus professor mathematics at the University of Oxford, as well as an adjunct lecturer for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Readers will appreciate this book because, despite his intellect, Lennox uses common language to discuss the perspective of the coronavirus by atheists, pantheists, and theists.  Whether we look at life without the existence of god, with anything and everything being a god or with the belief in one True God, our mindset dictates our response. 

 

This book is short, sixty-one pages to be exact, and Lennox offers insight that will be appreciated by every reader on each page.  Differentiating between natural evil and moral evil helps us understand the source of suffering but in no way exempts the pain of either.  Lennox discusses the nature of viruses (and evil), the nature of humanity and what the Bible says about why things are the way they are. 

 

If you need peace, you should read this book.  If you want more understanding, this book will provide it.  If you need answers to the hard questions, Lennox gives insight into the toughest questions, questions that would drive a wedge between you and the people you love, between you and the God who loves you.  This is book costs around five dollars, but the wealth of its content is priceless!  It will help you clarify where we have been, where we are now, and where we are headed. 

 

Be prepared in your mind, body and spirit by heeding the words of Lennox in “Where Is God in a Coronavirus World?”

How Do You Kill 11 Million People by Andy Andrews

 

 It was the title of the book that captured my attention.   The question that horrified my mind.  11 Million People.  Who killed 11 million people?  How did 11 million people end up dead?

Andy Andrews supports his storyline with the past and he answers that question.  In less than 30 minutes, I read this book in its entirety.  Every single of the 72 pages provokes thoughts that loom large within my mind.  Andrews develops his thoughts so coherently and sensibly that he leads me in not getting lost within my own.

  • Where do we begin to find common good regarding what we want (or do not want) for the future of America?

  • Is it possible to write something that does not use the words Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, yet conveys a message with which everyone could agree?

  • Can it be written in a concise fashion allowing anyone to read it, clearly under the message, and be empowered in less than 15 minutes?

 

You can have a heart of gold, but so does a hard-boiled egg.  It is the direction, not the intention, that determines the destination.  Oh, America, my heart cries for you. Andrews succinctly reminds me why it is appropriate to feel compelled to grieve but amid the grief, I can maintain hope that America will return to a  basis of character and on truth. Andrews warns that “many are slipping dangerously close to creating a habit of lying and rationalizing that their purpose in doing so is for ‘our own good’”.

 

Connecting our present reality to our past performance is critical to define what we do, how we govern each other, what our society allows and maybe, most importantly, why.  Andrews suggests that being a student of history is less important than being a student of the past.  History can be fabricated; the past can be proven by eyewitnesses, multiple methods of documentation and studied to prove authentic by its ability to repeat itself from those arrogant enough to ignore its lessons.

 

Andrews’ honest look at society and its inability to abide by truth, either in public or private, will cause readers to think about their role in America’s longevity as a free nation.  “If we believe that our nation is in a state of crisis, then we need to change before it is too late to choose the direction of that change.”

Only Love Today 
by Rachel Macy Stafford

Rachel Macy Stafford is a New York Times best selling author and her recent book, Only Love Today, indicates the reason why. Recognizing without criticism the self-inflicted pressure that women place upon themselves to measure up to preconceived notions of motherhood, ‘wife’hood and …all of the other hoods, Stafford reminds readers to breathe more, stress less and always choose love.

 

I appreciated Stafford’s emphasis on expanding the definition of love beyond an emotion; love is inconvenient. Love is allowing uncomfortable and inopportune moments so that those within your sphere of influence can experience authentic acceptance when they crave it, instead of moments that it is convenient for you to give it!

 

At the onset, Stafford suggests that the book is not meant to be read in one sitting or with a firm reading plan in mind. It is topically designed so readers can easily locate the tools they need to experience their best moments in life now. Stafford empowers readers because often what we need is within us, but we are too distracted to find our inner resources.

 

Using Audible from Amazon, I listened to this book on extended road trips. 420 minutes of listening was A LOT of listening and the orator had a very soothing voice that sometimes left me feeling guilt over moments I may have missed instead of anticipating moments I could still capture. Therefore, my suggestion is NOT to listen to this book! Use it as a resource and read it out of order!

 

In my opinion, this book is geared towards women; the overarching examples are between a mother and her children. Stafford does draw from her own marriage to communicate in sprinkles throughout the book. In the same vein, however, love is a universal design of communication and everyone needs to take the time to intentionally love others, so anyone wanting to emulate Christ and compel others to follow Him could benefit from the book. Love is not about the big events; love is about embracing the little moments.

 

If you are confused and need clarity, then dive into that section. If you are uncertain and need faith, there are daily reminders to support your journey. If you need a reset button that redirects you to what matters most, then grab your highlighter and glean from that section!

 

At the end of the day, love is always the right answer when we learn to love like Jesus.

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OPENING HOURS

MONDAY - FRIDAY 11:00 - 18:30 SATURDAY 11:00 - 17:00

SUNDAY 12:30 - 16:30 

“In the face of danger our instincts drive us to action. We feel we must do something. Our instincts try to solve the crisis which is more massive than we could have imagined. But there is nothing to do.”

Mel Lawrenz captures a journey that reflects loss, pain, and survival. Traumatic loss is an experience that is unexpected, jarring, and devastating. Lawrenz recognizes that people around us have gone, are going, or will go through searing loss: the death of a loved one, divorce, betrayal, plagued with disease, losing a career, being assaulted or abused, deceit, or any other experience that is overwhelming.

“Facing traumatic loss is about keeping our sanity and taking care of those who depend on us, all the while deciding how we are going to face this new unwelcome reality.” Lawrenz recognizes that the very call to persevere indicates the pain of our experience. Can you see it? perSEVERE. “If we remain frozen in our distress or disappointment, we will not find protection but ever-deepening trouble.”

The raw glimpse that Lawrenz provides into his personal journey learning to control rampant thoughts of unanswered questions, unrealized dreams and unresolved relationships provides a platform teaching readers how to survive when life devastates. Every ending is indeed a new beginning; but some beginnings leave us with no clearing starting point. In these moments, do what you know to do. Do the next thing. Lawrenz can help provide clarity to the muddied waters of an unexpected present leading to an undefined future.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is designed to support those who mourn, as well as teach empathy to those who are kind enough to walk alongside of mourners for the long haul. Knowing that we are not alone and that we will find healing is the premise of Lawrenz’s message. So much of the timeline hinges upon us. Time does not heal all pain; what we do with the time brings us healing!

Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

“In the dark, my mind used to spiral, afraid that there was no good place to land. Afraid that God was not real. Afraid that I was not safe. Afraid that I was not seen. Afraid of the days to come. Those fears, I would learn, were frauds. I was seen. I was safe. God was real.” Jennie Allen

Emotions produce thoughts. Thoughts produce behavior. Behavior impacts relationships.  Emotions come upon us suddenly, always in response to a stimulus.  The stimulus might be a person, a surprise gift, an unexpected injury, a shadow in the dark of the night, or even a bad smell.  Stimuli surround us, and because God created us as humans capable of emotions, emotions are a constant part of our lives.

 

Jennie Allen walks us through her personal battle to control her mind in “Get Out of Your Head”.  Her anxiety, fear, and overwhelming sense of not being enough captured her thoughts, drained her self-worth, and created an energy-draining pattern of behavior.  Allen walked for eighteen months waging this invisible war that was slowly destroying the woman God intended for her to be. 

 

The vulnerability that Allen shows by allowing us to examine her struggle, war, and victory will inspire readers in their own fight.  Offering Scripture, practical strategies, and loads of encouragement, “Get Out of Your Head” gives readers the opportunity to stop their spinning mind and escape toxic thinking patterns. 

If we are willing to dig in, do the hard work of self-reflection, and then create new habits of response to emotions, we will win.  That does not mean we will not hurt. That does not mean that we will not be devastated, scared, anxious, or deal with feelings of meaninglessness.  It does mean that we will capture the thought and be empowered to limit its impact upon our self-worth and behavior.  It is hard, such a hard fight, but it is one of the battles in life worth fighting! 

 

Readers will need to read this book more than once.  So many highlights, pencil notations, sticky notes, and drawings to capture every nuance to support developing and living with a strong mind would benefit people of all ages. 

June
by Lori Copeland

“Sam, I know sometimes it doesn’t always feel like it, nor do circumstances always go according to what we want, but God answers prayers. In his own time and in his own way—sometimes he says yes; sometimes he says no; sometimes he says wait. But always, always, Sam, he answers us.”

 

“Don’t tell anyone, but most of the time I haven’t a clue what I’m doing. I just go by that small, still voice that says, ‘Do something, June, until you can figure out what you’re doing.’”

 

“No matter how hopeless things look, when you least expect it, God will deliver a blessing even greater than you can imagine.” June sniffled, “I know you’re right. But sometimes the waiting—the not knowing—it’s so hard.”

 

The storyline Lori Copeland develops in “June” reflects a much different era.  No cars. No Amazon. No computers. When a person left their home for a trip, it was expected the trip was far longer than a few weeks.  Yet, Copeland intricately develops a storyline to which any person in the 21st century can relate. 

The period was the 1870’s, but the characters and problems of then are the same as the characters and problems of the now.  A young mail order bride, June, embarks out west to marry a young minister.  Unexpected tragedy along the way changes everything about the present and promises an uncertain future.

Copeland reminds readers that God is faithful even when we do not understand his plan.   God also redeems things that we thought were lost forever in the most unexpected ways when we are faithful to pray specifically and refuse to be paralyzed in our pain.  Healing comes as God restores broken hearts, broken relationships, and broken dreams. 

If you are feeling a little-or a lot-stressed out by the craziness of life, step back in time with Copeland.  Let her story serve as a balm to your heart as she reminds you of God’s faithfulness, which often shows up in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times.  Don’t give up hope!

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