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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review: Faith by Michelle Larks

Faith by Michelle Larks*
Reviewed by
Tavares S. Carney
Amazon Rating: 5

Through Thick and Thin
Author, Michelle Larks, invites readers into the lives of Monet and Marcus Caldwell, a middle-aged happily married couple, whose years of fertility woes have left the couple feeling hopeless of ever being able to conceive a child. Just when everything seems to be going well for the couple otherwise, Monet and Marcus’ world is rocked by a devastating turn of events. Shortly after, Monet discovers she is with child.

The particular chain of events occurring about the same time as Monet’s conception arouse the issue of paternity, which threatens to tear the Caldwell’s marriage apart. With friends Liz and Wade, as well as Reverend Wilcox, by their side to support the couple through their tribulation, the Caldwell’s manage to work through their individual beliefs, exercising varying degrees of faith.

This was an interesting read for me. I empathized with both primary characters - Monet, as a mother who believed she would never conceive and Marcus, as a man feeling torn between his wife and feeling forced to love a child that may not be his own flesh and blood. I was very interested in learning how things would pan out between Monet and Marcus and was quite pleased with the story’s ending.

I will definitely consider future offerings from Ms. Larks.

Reviewed by Tavares S. Carney

*Review copy provided by author.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anyone need to be re-charged?!

I share this devotional received from God's Daily Word on today because it speaks volumes to me . . . as I approach my 36th birthday, I need to get re-focused for a renewal . . .
Read on . .. courtesy of Steve Troxel
When the Apostle Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his life was forever changed.  Prior to meeting Jesus, Paul was "breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples" (Acts 9:1).  After the encounter with Jesus and being filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul "began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20).

Paul had been given the task of preaching the gospel of God's grace through faith in Jesus; and he would do so for the remainder of his life.  But Paul would endured many trials along the way.  He faced those who desired to take his life and others who simply refused to listen to his message...but he continued on.

Colossians 1:29
"To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me."

Paul "labored" and "struggled" with the task he had been given.  But rather than rely on his own strength and abilities, Paul learned to labor with the energy of Christ.

The word Paul used for "energy" refers to the active working of God's power.  Paul used this same word to describe the power all believers have received from God; "That power is like the working {energy} of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the Heavenly realms" (Ephesians 1:19-20).

God has provided a power like the energy which flowed through Jesus and raised Him from the dead.  This is a remarkable gift, yet one we seldom use.  With His energy we can receive clear direction; we can be focused and accomplish all He desires.  Without His energy we may wander from task to task, become exceedingly weary, and never accomplish anything of eternal value.

There will be times of overwhelming adversity when God simply takes charge and directly fights the enemy.  But, for the majority of our journey, God directs us to continue struggling in the daily labor of accomplishing His work.  Jesus said the burden of this work will be greatly eased as we learn to attach ourselves to Him and walk by His side; "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:30).

We only fail in His work when we fail to trust; "I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).  God's path can certainly change direction and become difficult from time to time, but His provision will always be sufficient and it is ALWAYS too soon to quit - we must continue.  We can do all things and find great fulfillment as we attach ourselves to Christ and labor with all HIS energy.

Have a Christ Centered Day!

Steve Troxel
God's Daily Word Ministries

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Proverbs 31 Ministries: The Return of Respect

The Return of Respect

22 Jun 2010

Micca Monda Campbell

"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)

When I was pregnant with my third child, I shamefully displayed a lack of respect for a police officer. It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was running late for church. On the way, I had to drop off my eldest son at baseball practice. The fact that he had practice on a church night already had my tail feathers up in the air, not to mention it was drizzling rain.

To make up for lost time, I sped right into the park where the police officer pulled me over. I was appalled! How could he set up a speed trap in the park on a rainy day to catch a pregnant woman who was running late for church! The nerve! I thought.

I'd had it. Before the officer could approach my car, I jumped out in the rain and met him halfway. "Are you going to give me a ticket?" I questioned with one hand on my hip and the other pointing in his face. He didn't speak nor did his expression change so I continued. "I thought it was outrageous enough that these boys have to practice ball on a church night in the rain, but nooooo! Being set up for a speed trap in the park takes the cake!"

"Ma'am, I'm sorry." He apologized.

"Well, you should be," I whispered under my breath.

"I can't do anything about your son's practice, but I can assure you I can do something about your speeding," he said while firmly pulling his ticket pad from his coat pocket. "Furthermore," he added, "if you continue to disrespect my authority, I can do something about that too."

Disrespect his authority? Is that what I did? Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. While I'd like to blame my behavior on my hormones, I can't. I was guilty on all accounts. As I cowered back to my car, I noticed my children's faces pressed against the window of the backseat. They were no doubt learning how to disrespect authority—from their mother.

I let what I thought were my rights blind me to truth. It was my duty to submit to the authority of the police officer. Regrettably, this kind of behavior goes on everyday in the workplace, the home, and even in the church. Why is that? I believe it's because our society today has lost a general lack of respect for one another.

God commands, 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:18). We show honor to God by displaying reverential esteem of others. Respect for God alone should motivate us to offer grace by extending an encouraging word instead of thrashing another with a rude comment. Generally, those who tear down others usually have little respect for themselves. Their rude comments are a desperate attempt to make themselves look better. Sadly, the results usually turn out opposite.

Can you imagine what our world would look like today if we heeded God's command? Envision how great it would be if all spouses respected one another; if children honored their parents; and if citizens obeyed the laws of God and government. It would be a different world! We would have a feeling of security with gestures of love freely given and received. Common courtesies would be raised from the dead. We'd make an effort to know our neighbors and lend a helping hand to a stranger. The words "fear" and "anxiety" would be dropped from the human language. Peace and goodwill would be the heartbeat of our existence.

Let's not dream of a world where people live together in unity, love, and respect as God intended. We can make it happen together using one little word called respect.

Dear Lord, I confess that I don't always respect others' rights, feelings, properties, time or space. Help me to be more gracious and kind, by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.