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BOOK REVIEW: When God Whispers Your Name, by Max Lucado

When I first received my book in the mail, it was the worst time to read for me. I read to relax and learn, neither of which I was able to do at that moment. After a week of battling life, I forced myself to sit and read. It took all of thirty seconds for me to be pulled into this book. I read through it in one sitting, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Max Lucado, once again, has written a book from his heart to reach out to any reader. With the use of simple sentences he brings a spiritual concept into our earthly view. He trades the robes of an old testiment character for the uniform of a janitor, and imediately a reader can identify with the man’s situation. His creative genius shines when he reveals that the modern man is really Moses.

The book itself is well structured into three parts,’The Song of the Minstrel’, ‘The Touch of the Master’, and ‘The Guest of the Maaestro.’ These three sections reveal that God is still working in our lives, even when we are broken, and preparing for the day we will join Him. Max challenges the reader to make the book a personal journey by providing a book guide in the back. This book guide acts as a workbook, leading the reader through a Bible study. The guid can be used individually or in a small group setting.

Overall, I am impressed with the book. not only did it have an impact in my personal life, but it’s a book I continuously keep picking up. I recommend this book to anyone needing inspiration and encouragement.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Coming Soon…Book Reviews!

Reading has always been a huge part of my life. I love to read – I’m fascinated by it. I think that may be why I began wanting to write. I truly believe every Christian should enlist 12 books a year (at least) that are dedicated to enhancing the Christian walk. By doing this, we all have a chance to stay on the right path and gain a better knowledge and understanding of God’s work in our daily lives.

You will be able to find two different types of reviews: solicited and unsolicited. Depending on my time schedule, I promise to post one review and will try to get two in (one from each group). By doing this I hope to help you find books to add to your personal library, and encourage you in your Christian walk.

My solicited reviews can be found by clicking the link on the right of my blog. However, my unsolicited reviews will be found on a page link under the title bar of the blog. Don’t worry, it will be easy to find what you are looking for once I get started.

I just ordered my first solicited review tonight, Max Lucado’s When God Whispers Your Name. I am always excited when he publishes a new book, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. This is what made me say “Yes!” to reviewing his book:

Do you find it hard to believe that the One who made everything keeps your name on His heart and on His lips? Did you realize that your name is written on the hand of God (Is. 49:16)? Perhaps you’ve never seen your name honored. And you can’t remember when you heard it spoken with kindness. In this book, Lucado offers the inspiration to believe that God has already bought the ticket-with your name on it.

As soon as I finish the book, you’ll be the first to know what I think!

His Ways Are Higher

October 9th, 2010, a ten-year-old girl in my community was reported missing when her father came home from work. Over the course of a month, it was discovered she wasn’t kidnapped, as was first reported to the police, but murdered by her step-mother. Based on this woman’s confessions to the police, regarding her step-daughter, and the discovery process of the remains of the little girl, this woman was offered a deal by the local district attorney’s office.

Today, I have watched Facebook and Twitter explode with emotions and outrage at the plea agreement. Rather than getting the death penalty, life in prison, of a lengthy stay in prison, this woman’s guilty plea to second degree murder will only give her 14-18 years in prison.

Almost a year after our first mourning of this child’s tragic death, my community is mourning again. I have seen the rantings of people saying injustice has won, the legal system didn’t do its job, and she’s getting away with murder. The emotions are at a high stake right now. We’ve opened old wounds, and we have to prepare for another healing.

But while the community is emotionally hurt, distraught, and outraged about the plea agreement, what does God think? How does God feel about this situation? It was a question I had to deal with in my own life when the step-mother was finally charged with the murder. It took so long to happen, what could God possibly be up to? I want to share with you what I discovered, and what has brought me more peace than any angry emotion.

Read these Scriptures carefully:

Psalm 37:1-13 – Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.  The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.

Isaiah 55:8 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Romans 12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

The Lord promises to take care of the evils of this world – in His time. He will take care of it, and we need to look at it as an eternal punishment. As much as we want Him to take out terrorists, murderers, rapists, thieves, and the like, right this very moment, He’s bestowing a moment of mercy – withholding the eternal punishment – to give them an opportunity. He bestowed that same mercy to each of us before we came to believe it as well.

In times like these, as much as we want to see earthly punishment, we cannot expect it. Why is that? Because…Christians are supposed to win souls and bring more to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. These evil-doers are as much a creation of God as we are. Now, God didn’t create sin, but He created these people to have the same destiny that we do. His plan for them all along is to redeem them.

Take a look at Paul’s life. Christians revere him, some set him up on a pedestal while others think he was the greatest Christian to lead the church. However, he too was a murderer. He murdered Christians, which may very well have included men, women, and children. When it comes down to the heart of the matter, we are all the same. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And while we put standards and regard some sins lesser than others, all it takes is one sin to keep us out of Heaven.

As you finish out your day today, I encourage you to look at yourself and others through the eyes of Jesus. When you begin thinking and acting like Christ, as all believers are set apart to do, you will begin to have the mind and love of Christ. This will change your view of people in general, and hopefully direct you to a godly point of view – seeing people how Christ sees them. He died for everyone – we need to be willing to stretch out in faith, pray for lost souls, like this woman in my community, and pray that God changes their hearts for the better.

Something Bigger Than Ourselves

Luke 18:22 – Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast , and distributeunto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come , follow me.

Have you ever questioned why we are here on earth – why we weren’t created with complete heavenly bodies, such as the angels? When I was first approached with this question, I was given many different viewpoints. My personal favorite is that God was lonely (often suggested by children).

God certainly didn’t need us, but He wanted us. We aren’t here to take up space. He has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). We are not here by accident. We are not here by chance. We are here for a purpose.

Jesus’ life had a living purpose and a deadly purpose. His life was completely consumed with the salvation of mankind. His death, burial and resurrection gave man victory over death. He knew what was important in life, and gave us the plan for our lives in Matthew 28. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He gave what we now call The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. He told us to preach the Gospel (teach all nations) and baptize.

Ultimately, that is our purpose here on earth. Anything that doesn’t increase our platform to share the Gospel is simply a waste of time. Now, I’m not saying that our lives must be consumed with telling people about the Gospel every moment of every day. We need time to rest, recoup and regroup. But all the time we spend on ourselves, without keeping other’s eternal lives in perspective, is not a good use of our time. My preacher once said that if you feel burned out here on earth it’s ok; we will have plenty of time to rest in Heaven.

I have several precious friends from high school and college that are either on the mission field or moving in that direction. One friend in particular, I’ll call her Callie, is still waiting for the direction from God for her family. They have faced more trials and hardships since they’ve been married than I believe I could handle. Problems ranging from infertility, health problems with other family members, their own health problems, a very long and drawn out adoption process that we hope to have complete very soon. Through it all, she and her husband have one mission – share Jesus with others, share the Gospel with the lost, encourage other believers, and press toward the mark!

Callie and her family are such an inspiration to me. Through their testimony alone, I am persuaded that this life is not about me – it’s completely about Jesus and His calling on our lives while we are here.

I Woke Up to Reality This Morning

This morning I was sent a link to a website of secrets. Everything was posted anonymously, no names were required, no membership was required. I began reading the posts backwards, latest postings first. I was amazed at the pain and anguish that was posted on this site. Teens facing depression, suicide, abuse, ignorance, hatred, and everything else in between. These teens are CRYING out for help – and even though these secrets are only posted one-sided, it’s the perfect view into their pain and their view of the world.

Reading these posts reminded me of my time in middle school and high school. I didn’t feel or experience half of what I read, but I have seen my share of hurt and pain growing up. There was always someone telling me that I wasn’t good enough, didn’t look right, or didn’t fit in. It was a rough time for me, until I put my faith in Christ and realized that all those opinions that were weighing on me didn’t really matter in the long-range view of eternity.

I have been asked multiple times to share my experiences from those horrible school years. And even now I cringe when I talk about them – not that my life was horrible, but the painful words I heard come back and it’s easy for me to slip back into the self-pitty mode if I’m not careful. However, I wear the badge of success with pride – I survived my teenage years! How? By remembering one thing and keeping that the focus of my life – even today.

Jesus died for me…the God, Creator, and Sustainer of the entire universe thought I was worth dying for! I’m so tiny, and though I am a one-of-a-kind original in His eyes, I’m still one among so many. Yet, He pays attention – He knows my name – and calls me! It’s not like a raffle where some random stranger pulls your name out of a bowl for a prize. This is the One who created each of us to be individuals, to be unique, and to belong.

The next time your past comes to haunt you or you are faced with someone else facing a difficult time, don’t flippantly pass by the opportunity. Remember Whose you are, where you are going, and what you’ve been through already. That person weighing on your heart needs to be reminded too.

No Bargaining Chips; No Borrowing

I have been listening a lot to Dave Ramsey lately on my local Christian radio station. I love his latest rant about the national debt. He said something (several times so that it would sink in) “You cannot borrow to get out of debt.” This phrase hit home for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

As Christians, we “owe” God everything. We are in more debt to Him than to each other. And the sad part of it all is that we have no way to repay Him. There’s no one to borrow from in order to repay God for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And even if there were an actual way to repay God by borrowing, we are still indebted to someone. It’s like paying off a credit card with another one. You are still in debt – the creditor has changed.

A country song was written back in 2000 called Livin’ on Borrowed Time. Of course we can’t borrow time, but the concept of it is that we still only have a certain amount of time to live and then it’s over. What are you going to do with the time you have left? No one knows when their death will come, but we need to be focused on the Lord and what He’s calling us to do. Don’t get sidetracked, and don’t let someone pull you off course. Remain steady, focused. The time will come when we all have to stand before the Lord and make an account for the things we did or didn’t do on earth. Focus on what’s to come – eternal glory, the everlasting life with Christ, and all the rewards of Heaven that are waiting for you.

The Big Picture

Proverbs 3:5,6 – Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

My kids are counting down the last days of school. Even though they are only three and five, they are excited about going back to daycare. However, Brienna, my five-year-old continues to remind me, “We have to go to school on Monday or we will miss Fun Day.” That is the highlight of her summer so far. The funniest part of it? Once Monday comes and goes, there will be another day they have to go to daycare. But, today, you can’t convince my children that any other day more important than Monday.

I heard it best on a radio station I listen to regularly. The radio host’s son, who is seven, was thrilled when he announced, “Dad! There’s only three weeks until I get my normal life back!” Children cannot focus on events that are too far in the future. Their attention goes to the next big event on the calendar and that’s where their focus is. The parents , of course, can see it all coming – we are the ones making the plans and bringing them to fruition.

We are like that with our Heavenly Father. While we can’t see what’s coming at us tomorrow, He sees it and even knows what the end results already are! We have to trust Him to prepare us for what’s coming, and trust Him to be faithful. There are days that are easier to trust Him than other days. but in the end, if we trust Him, He will lay it all out for us in His time.

Pursuing31 Ministries is a perfect example of this. I graduated from Word of Life Bible Institute in 2001. My second year was spent in New York, and I can honestly say my favorite class was the Thursday evening class devoted to women’s ministries. I walked away from the college with my heart set on women’s ministry. After I came home, I began praying, seeking, begging, wishing and hoping that this dream would just take off. It didn’t. This dream didn’t begin until 2011 – ten years later!

I asked God “Why?” so many times, but never seemed to have an answer. He gave me this burden, so why would He not bring the rest? I realize now the reason was because I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t have the experiences I do now to be able to move forward with the dream. While the dream itself has changed over the years, the ministry is still in my heart. It’s what I want to do. However, I still have to exercise my measure of faith, my bit of patience, and my womanly grace and wait for the Lord to move.

You, too, can hold on. The Lord does not give you a burden for people or a ministry, that He’s not prepared to do anything with. Tomorrow, I will touch on the subject of “Your Heart’s Desire.”  We will cover a bit of ground on waiting and wanting our desires and how this all fits into His plan.