Happiness By Randy Alcorn

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now. I was going to request it at the library and see if they would order it for me the next time they ordered books but my husband surprised me and it was in the mailbox the other day! I’ve read on epm.org about the book and the subject and have listened to Randy Alcorn talk about it on youtube but the book itself has been really encouraging!

I read this quote yesterday that I wanted to pass along to you, “The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness- with such aGod, such a Saviour, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man?” Baptist Pastor Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

Be happy in Jesus today!

New Gospel Tracts!

I’ve passed out a variety of gospel tracts of the years and most recently I’ve passed out tracts by Ray Comfort. With every tract I’ve used though there has been something in it that has made me slightly uncomfortable with passing it out. In some situations I feel that Ray Comforts tracts are great but for just passing out at the grocery store I don’t want something silly looking and I don’t want tracts that tell horrifying stories to make a point. If you’re  familiar with his tracts you’ll probably know what I mean. I’m not putting his tracts down I’m just saying it’s about context and most his tracts I don’t feel fit the context of ‘mom giving out tracts at T.J Maxx.’

I recently was made aware of matthias media and these tracts by a sister in Christ;

https://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/resources.html

It’s called “two ways to live”. I like that the tract is very God centered because if you read enough gospel tracts you can be left with the feeling that a lot of them are man centered. I like this tract because I would say the focus of the tract is ‘God is God’ and not ‘quick! say this prayer so you can get out of hell!’ I’m certainly not against tracts that use the fear of hell to bring people to repentance, the Bible does that! I’m just seeing a need to tell the whole story- the whole story of God because the good news is the good news about God.

They are wordy- so honestly I don’t know how many will actually get read. That’s an issue that’s difficult to find an answer to. On one hand we live in a society with a crazy short attention span who generally doesn’t read but stares at quick images on screens. On the other hand, the Bible is 66 books that tells the story of God and although the gospel can be shared in just minutes with words a child can understand I want to avoid reducing the gospel to something it is not. Does that make sense?

This week I got to pass the first one out. In the morning I put one in the diaper bag and headed out with the kids to a story time at a state park. On the way there I heard on the radio someone talking about the missionary Hudson Taylor and how prayer was a major part of his evangelism. The voice on the radio encouraged the listener to pray for those they are trying to reach with the gospel. I turned off the radio and prayed for the person who God knew would receive this gospel tract.

At the state park I never did come across what felt like a good opportunity to give one out. This is where the story gets kind of funny.. That afternoon I was in the backyard watching the kids play in the kiddie pool when all of a sudden I started thinking about avocados. I couldn’t stop thinking about avocados- like I felt like I was going to cry if I couldn’t eat an avocado! Now, this is not very much like me at all. I actually make fun of my husband when he starts thinking about a food like that and won’t stop thinking about it until he gets it. I also really don’t like grocery shopping so it’s easy for me to be a stickler about only going once a week. Not this day though! I had to have avocados! I pulled my loudly protesting children away from the water, dressed them and drove all the way to town on a mission to get those delicious fruits to go with our dinner.

At the stop light I saw a woman holding a sign. It was 100 degrees out and there was no shade around her. “You thought this trip was about avocados huh?” I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit in my head. I bought a cold drink at the store and came back to where the woman was standing. She was at the edge of a dirt parking lot with nothing in it. She was alone and the area was highly visible so I felt it was safe to stop and talk to her. Her clothes were soaked through with sweat and her sign stated that she was out there for help and not to be made fun of. She told me about her situation which I won’t take the time to go into here- long story short there was really nothing I could do to help her. I gave her the drink and a gospel track and encouraged her to talk to Jesus and told her that He loved her. Nothing much, that was it.

I got another opportunity yesterday to give one out. At the grocery store they were short on baggers and the poor girl at the check out was moving as fast as she could to both check out the items and bag them. I gave her a small tip along with the tract (explaining what it was) and thanked her for helping me. She looked surprised and smiled real big and said, “thank you so much!’

If you’re looking for a new tract or want to start passing out tracts for the first time- check these out!

Book Review/summary: Illegitimate How a Loving God Rescued a Son of Polygamy

 

 

This week I picked up this book Illegitimate How a Loving God Rescued a Son of Polygamy by Brian Mackert with Susan Martins Miller. It’s Brian’s own story of growing up in the Fundamental Latter Day Saints Church. He grew up in a family with one father, four mothers and 31 children. He grew up in the same sect that later became infamous when their leader Warren Jeff was arrested on charges of rape by accomplice for arranging the marriages of young teenage girls to older men in their community.

Brian’s story is both shocking and heartbreaking while at the same time being full of hope because as an adult after hitting rock bottom he encounters the Living God and surrenders his life to Jesus who loves him and died for his sins.

The book takes the reader beyond “all is well in Zion” and reveals the hidden abuse and neglect behind the smiling faces and modest clothing.

Even though painful to stomach I think it’s important for us to hear stories like this because we then can better learn to identify abuse and cults when we see it. I think it’s also important to listen to the stories of these people coming out of the FLDS and LDS church who are telling us- “look, this is a cult and people are still being hurt.”

Brians story shows vividly how satan uses fear to control people and kept them in bondage.

Something that stood out to me in his story was how the parents would continually lie to authorities and people around them and from a young age taught all the children to be liars to “protect the saints of God”. If you’re ever in a situation where you feel you have to lie, it’s a bad situation! Lying is not of God.

I recently finished reading through the life of David in the Old Testament so the destructiveness of polygamy is fresh on my mind. Reading about Brian’s burning hatred towards his father, leading him to want to kill his father gave me a new perspective on Absalom. In Rena’s video below she says that every polygamist family she knew had some sort of sexual abuse in it and that was true of King David’s family in the story of his daughter Tamar. (Also David killing a man in an attempt to cover his own sexual immorality).

One of the really heart wrenching things that the Mackert children talk about in the FLDS church is how the young men are driven from the community by the older men because the birth rate is about 50-50 so there are not enough women for each man to have at least 3 wives. (The number they believe is required to reach godhood). They tell about how mother’s at the commandment of the prophet would drive somewhere and abandon their own sons. It’s so sick and twisted and so many of these guys ended up drug addicted and not knowing how to function in the world.

Every part of the world of the FLDS is so incredible vile and evil I can’t adequately express it in a summary like this.

The first video below is a shortened version of Brian’s testimony. The other video is an interview with his sister Rena who is not a believer in Jesus. As a disclaimer for a viewer who may be sensitive, she shares details of the sexual abuse by her father.

Another note is, I think Brian really misunderstood the story of Pharaoh in the OT and he doesn’t ever mention if his view on the subject changed so I’m not sure.

 

 

“…before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be any after me.” Isaiah 43:10. This is the scripture that Brian’s wife read to him that shocked him so completely because it dismantled every doctrine of the FLDS church that he had grown up believing.

Mini Book Review- A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea By: Melissa Fleming

I couldn’t sleep the night after finishing the highly emotional and soul wrenching story of Doaa Al Zamel a Syrian refuge.

I read it in 3 days having to work hard to pull myself away to get stuff done and then thinking about it the whole time I was doing something else.

Lost at sea stories are the most terrifying to me. I can’t even think of that movie Unbroken without feeling kind of panicked about how terrifying that would be. This book chronicles Doaa’s horrific 4 days at sea on a child’s inflatable ring, holding and keeping 2 young children alive ontop of her and watching helplessly while almost 500 people including her fiancé drown.

If you’re anything like me and you haven’t spent much time paying attention to the head lines involving Syria, this book will give you a pretty good understanding of the war in Syria and why refuges are risking their lives to escape the neighboring countries.

Melissa Fleming gave this TED talk that sums up the story pretty well although she seems quite nervous and I believe she  misspeaks when telling the events of the murder at sea. Also, the book includes an epilogue that gives more information of what became of Doaa and her family than what is include in the TED talk. (Link below)

And here’s Doaa herself speaking..

 

 

This is a story of courage and bravery and confronts the reader with both the best and the worst of humanity. You will be left with more questions than you began with but will undoubtably be changed by Doaa’s hope and her unwillingness to give up.

 

Books to read when you’re grieving

Like the collections of songs I put together in the last post I wanted to put together a list of books that I have read that have encouraged and helped me in my grief journey and pass it along to you.

 

(this last one is actually a workbook/ Bible study)

I asked few of my friends who have lost children if they could recommend any books and a friend said she had read this one and recommended it.

Many of these books are written for/ by parents who have lost children but some of them are not. I would say though that even the one’s written by grieving parents are applicable to anyone who is suffering.

For The Children’s Sake By Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

I you look up this book on line you will find a lot of great and detailed reviews have already been written. Google, “Charlotte Mason” and you will be overwhelmed with a tidal wave of information. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here and do a full review of this book but I do want to take some time to share what I have learned because I liked this book so much!

Charlotte Mason was a teacher and education philosopher who lived 1842-1923. This book For The Children’s Sake Foundations of Education for Home and School was published by Susan Macaulay 1984 discussing Charlotte Mason’s education philosophy.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to answering the question, “what is education?” The Charlotte Mason view promotes reading to children what she refers to as living books. She promotes children spending large amounts of unstructured time exploring nature. She encourages parents and teachers to teach children to observe the world around them, to appreciate rich art and music. The book explains why it is beneficial to the minds of children to not be confined to “kids music” or coloring books but to be exposed to and given the best of what the world has to offer. She refers to much of what is labeled children’s curriculum as “twaddle”. Things that are merely time fillers that don’t engage or enrich the mind of anybody. Give the children the best! The best of music, the best of art and literature.

I like how she describes education as the science of relationships. How do I fit into this world? What is my relationship to the people and things around me? Math is connected to geography which is connected to history which is connected to literature and so on. One of the reasons I want to homeschool is because I believe my children will be more connected to and have relationships with people of different ages and different walks of life than if they were in a classroom.

A big part of this teaching philosophy is teaching kids how to learn. So much of education today is spoon feeding children facts and not letting them use the minds. A so called spoon fed education leads to a crippled mind that does not know how to think or problem solve. Instead, read to your children thought provoking literature and let them grapple with the ideas of right and wrong through the lives of those who came before them. Charlotte Mason taught that in the younger years children should be able to retell orally what they have been learning. In the older grades her students used writing to tell what they have learned. She believe that if a child could retell in their own words the subject studied that at that point they had thoroughly digested it and made it their own. Teaching your kids how to think not merely what to think is the idea.

Charlotte Mason ran her school on the idea of doing book work in the morning when kids minds were fresh and having the afternoon free for unstructured outside play, exploring the arts and working on projects. I live in an area of the country where if I wanted to implement this it would depend on the time of year. For instance, in  the summer I would want to take the kids out to play before the afternoon comes and it is near 100 degrees and we want to be in the air conditioning! During the winter though we do the opposite, we wait for it to warm up in the afternoon to play outside.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to the idea that, “children are persons.” They are unique individuals and their individual needs should be meet. Children deserve respect as well and should not be treated as “projects” but as people. Private schooling and homeschooling has a better ability to make the education fit the child rather than trying to make hundreds of kids in a school fit into the same mold.

I recently listened to this TED talk on education and I thought it was funny that the people who have been deemed the best and the brightest in education of our day are speaking about principles I just read in a book written over 100 years ago. When Angela Duckworth speaks about grit it reminds me of the chapter on forming habits. One teacher speaks on forming relationships with students and another speaks on engaging a child’s curiosity. http://youtu.be/dilnw_dP3xk

This book made me feel excited about educating my kids. While listening to these educators discuss all the problems with the public school system and why it is failing our children and hurting society I was made to feel more confident in my ability to give my children something better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow, a day of spring and what I’m listening to

I’ve been listening to To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper on audio. I couldn’t find it on audio at the library but it’s on Youtube. I feel like an emotional mess as I’ve been listening to it! I’ve saw the movie so long ago I couldn’t remember the details of how it ended. I have one more chapter to listen to. It is one of those books where I’m on edge waiting for it to end but I also don’t want it to end because I am so engaged.

While the movie focuses on the trial, which is the main focus of the book, the book also focuses quite a bit on education and the failure of the public school system. Reading between the lines I am picking up on a powerful pro private education message.

After I recover emotionally from reading the book I’ll have to rematch the movie and compare!

Yesterday we were blessed with a beautiful almost 70 degree day, just 5 days after we were playing in the snow in less than 20 degree weather! I couldn’t believe I was out walking with the kids, no coats on! Here’s a snow pic I said I’d share,

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Snow’s in the snow!

This morning there are a lot of people I have on my heart that I am so burdened for. It seems that every where I turn people I love are hurting and struggling. God is good and I believe He will prevail and get the glory in all these situations. I know that’s vague but it’s what’s on my mind right now.

That’s all I have time to write today, I’ve got a little guy calling for me to come get him out of his crib. Blessings in Christ Jesus!

 

 

Heaven God’s answer for your every need By Randy Alcorn (touchpoints)

I had intended to read the actually book Heaven by Randy Alcorn but I didn’t realize until I brought it home that this was his “touchpoints” edition. It’s a condensed version of the book Heaven. It’s a small book 210 pages long. (The book is pocket sized so it’s not actually as long as it sounds.)

It’s written so that if you have a question about heaven you could pull it off your shelf, look up your question, example, “Is the present Heaven a physical place?” see that that question is on page 7 and flip to it. One question doesn’t really build upon another so it’s okay to skip around in the book reading which ever questions you’re most curious about.

I read it straight through. The more I read Randy Alcorn’s writings about Heaven and the new earth the more excited I get and the more I love God for being so good to His people!

Today I read something I had never thought about before. When answering the question “Does God value craftsmanship?” The author points out that the first man to be recorded in the Bible as being filled with the Spirit of God was Bezalel, a skilled laborer and craftsman. The description of his work tells us that he was a great artist. I thought it was a neat point that The Master Artist (God) filled a man with His Spirit to do beautiful skilled artwork for the building of the tabernacle for the glory of God.

It also has me wanting to do a Bible studying on old testament believers because now I wondering, were old testament believers filled with the Holy Spirit or was the Spirit on them or with them? I’m thinning about men pre Bezalel like Joseph, Enoch and Noah. I’m curious to search throughout the old testament and look up every time the Spirit was mentioned. Anyways! That’s another study topic for another time.

Our Bible verse for the week is Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Today for my marriage challenge I’m going to successfully start the truck without locking it lol! Yesterday I fulfilled the challenge with a quick back massage and back scratches for hubby. (without asking for a massage in return- that’s what made it something nice lol)

 

 

Tell Me About Heaven By: Randy Alcorn

2 weeks(ish) ago I asks our library to get me a copy of Tell Me About Heaven by Randy Alcorn from one of their other branches. I had originally intended to read it to E because it was a children’s book but when I sat down to read it to her I realized it was way above her level and too long to keep her attention. (She’s 3).

After I got the kids in bed last night I made myself a cup of low carb hot chocolate and sat down to read it and enjoy the illustrations for myself. The book is 9 chapters long and took me a little over an hour to read it. It is very well done and doctrinally sound. There were parts that I had to stop and read two or three times because  it was just so good. I’d guess the book was written for kids somewhere around 8 years old although as an adult I enjoyed it just for myself.

The book is written to make kids excited about God’s promises of heaven and the new earth and to destroy unbiblical myths about eternity being a state of boring disembodiment where people sit on clouds and play harps.

Inside the cover it reads:

Heaven… It’s a place full of new beginnings that never end, seeing God, reunions, uninterrupted relationships, eating and drinking, activities, worship, music, and joy. But it’s also a place of mystery, especially for children.

God’s Word gives us glimpses of what’s ahead, with the clues that can be trusted- and anticipated. And this is the exciting news reflected in author Randy Alcorn’s heartwarming story and artist Ron DiCianni’s striking paintings.

As Jake’s fears and questions about eternity are turned to wonder through his conversations with his grandpa, any child’s excitement about Heaven should grow. Its powerful message will help curious young hearts understand that if they love Jesus, not only is there nothing to fear, but the best is yet to come.

In the future, I’m looking forward to sharing this book with my kids when they have questions about heaven.

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Finished Reading “If God is Good” by Randy Alcorn

I don’t want to spend the time writing a book review but I do want to throw a few comments out there about this book. “If God Is Good, Faith In the Midst of Suffering and Evil” is easily the best book I read all year and for sure one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It has built my faith a lot to read scripture after scripture about this topic and to read many stories of saints and their sufferings and the victories their sufferings brought about. Near the end of the book there was a poem that I have been thinking about since reading it and I hunted it down on the internet so I could share it here. (I already returned the book to the library)

 

It’s written by Joseph Baylee in a book titled Psalms Of My Life (1969). The poem titled “A Psalm While Packing Books” was written after the author and his wife lost three children through varies tragedies.

 

This cardboard box

Lord

see it says

Bursting limit

100 lbs. Per square inch.

The box maker knew

how much strain

the box would take

what weight

would crush it.

You are wiser

than the box maker

maker of my spirit

my mind

my body.

Does the box know

when pressure increases close to

the limit?

No

It knows nothing.

But I know

when my breaking point

Is near.

And so I pray

Maker of my soul

Determiner of the pressure

within

upon

me

Stop it

lest I be broken

Or else

change the pressure rating

of this fragile container

of your grace

so that I may bear more

Last Wednesday at the library I saw the book Heaven by Joni Earkeckson Tada. She never disappoints so I’m sure it will be an edifying read! I’ve already started it and so far it’s as good as I expected.

I asked the library to get for me from another one of the library branches Heaven by Randy Alcorn and also one of his children’s books, Tell Me About Heaven to preview and then possibly read to E.