Sunday, March 30, 2008

Book Review: On the Anvil Max Lucado


On the Anvil Max Lucado
List Price: $14.99
Binding: Softcover
Page Count: 160
Trim Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 978-1-4143-1553-9
CPC Sub Category: Devotional
Release Date: February 2008

We are all somewhere in the Blacksmith’s shop. We are either on the scrap pile, in the Master’s hands on the anvil, or in the tool chest. (Some of us have been in all three.) In this collection of writings, best-selling author Max Lucado takes us on a tour of the “shop.” We’ll examine all tools and look in all corners, from the shelves to the workbench, from the water to the fire. And for you who make the journey--who leave the heap and enter the fire, dare to be pounded on God’s anvil, and doggedly seek to discover your own purpose--take courage, for you await the privilege of being called “God’s chosen instruments.” This new edition includes discussion questions and a new foreword from the author.

Back Cover Copy

We are all somewhere in the blacksmith’s shop.

We are either on the scrap pile, in the Master’s hands on the anvil, or in the tool chest. Some of us have been in all three.

In this classic collection of inspirational readings, best-selling author Max Lucado takes us on a tour of the blacksmith’s shop—examining every tool and looking in every corner, from the shelves to the workbench, from the water to the fire . . .

For those who make the journey—who leave the heap, enter the fire, and dare to be pounded on God’s anvil—a grand privilege awaits: to be called one of God’s chosen instruments.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Feeling Emotional


"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me." John 14:1 (NLT)


Devotion:
Frustration hit me full force about a quarter 'til dawn. I woke up to find my child is sick, again. With my husband away on business, it was up to me to help the young boy who was standing beside my bed coughing. He's been sick the better part of the last 5 weeks. I thought he was finally turning the corner. I thought we were done with decongestants, germy tissues, and Clorox wipes. That is, until this morning. So the first thing I felt today was frustrated.

When my child is out of commission, it puts me out of commission as well. He is now behind on his school work, and I am now behind on about a half-dozen things. I could feel my stress level rising as I poured the cough syrup into the plastic measuring cup. I thought about the things I was supposed to accomplish today ... the meetings, the deadlines, the errands. A scowl settled into my forehead. I closed the medicine cabinet door with much more force than really necessary.

I felt sorry for my pitiful son. I also felt frustrated that my prayers had not prevented this relapse in illness. I felt angry that yet another day would be interrupted by some virus. And I felt bad because I knew I wasn't handling it well. I felt, I felt, I felt ...all I was doing was feeling, letting my emotions spread out and lay claim over every aspect of my day.

I have this notion in my head that a mature Christian wouldn't be feeling this way. Shouldn't I be so spiritual that I'm above getting upset over things like this? After taking care of my son, I sat down and scanned the gospels to see if Jesus ever felt emotionally strained. Sure enough, I found instances where Jesus is described as feeling "deeply troubled" and "distressed" (Mark 14:33, John 13:21, John 12:27, NLT).

If Jesus got emotionally agitated, then it's ridiculous for me to expect to go through life without feeling some stress. The problem isn't my emotions, it's my reaction to them. The trouble comes when I give them free reign in my heart and mind. That's when I become unstable. That's when I lose sight of God. That's when I say or do things I regret.

Jesus spoke today's verse to his disciples, knowing what their futures would hold. He knew His death was coming and it would trigger fear, sorrow and doubt in their hearts. Not wanting them to wallow in those emotions, He counseled them ahead of time to keep their focus on God and all that He'd been teaching them.

Jesus, knowing what our day holds, speaks the same words to us. He tells us to not let our emotions fly about today, creating an unstable and troubled heart. Instead, our trustworthy Lord tells us to focus our attention on Him.

I made the decision this morning to pray and place my trust in God, despite how my day was shaping up and despite how volatile my emotions felt. He calmed my anxious heart, and my son seems to be feeling better as well. It feels good to trade in my troubled emotions for a source of strength that will get me through my day. And that's one feeling I think Jesus would love for me to wallow in.

Dear Lord, I want to be ruled by Your Spirit, not by my emotions. Help me to focus on You today and not my troubles. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Experience the Power of the Resurrection Every Day


The resurrection is more than just an event that happened once in history. It's the source of the power you can experience in your own life, every day. The same power that resurrected Jesus from death to life is available to you, and if you tap into it, you'll see amazing transformation in your own life, too.


Here's how you can experience resurrection power every day:
Use the power now, not just in heaven. Your hope of the resurrection isn't just for the future when you physically die and go to heaven; it's also for now, while you're living on earth and struggling with sin. Make use of that God-given power to help you overcome sin right now, and every day you're alive. Regularly confess your sins, repent of them, and embrace the forgiveness and grace God offers you to keep growing.


Trade religion for relationship. Instead of pursuing hope through performing religious rituals, believing right doctrines, or doing good deeds, realize that those things are valuable yet can't produce hope. Place your hope in a dynamic relationship with Jesus. As you live for Him, relying on His resurrection power at work in your life, you'll experience the fulfillment of all God's good purposes for you. Instead of focusing on what you can do for God, focus on what God can do through you.


Set eternal priorities. Ask God to help you see your life from His perspective. Look beyond the world's values (which are only temporary) to what has eternal value. Base your decisions -- for all aspects of your life -- on what matters most in eternity. Make the most of your time here on earth, keeping in mind that it will soon be over and you'll be accountable to God for how you used your time here.


Die to self. Remember that death must always precede resurrection. Be willing to sacrifice whatever selfish desires and agendas you have that conflict with God's purposes for your life. Decide to crucify your selfish attitudes and behaviors, so God will raise you to new life by transforming your attitudes and behaviors into healthy ones that will help you grow to be more like Jesus. Understand that, physically, you're born and live until you die, progressing toward physical death. But spiritually, you're dead until you're made alive through a relationship with Jesus, progressing toward eternal life.

Expect the impossible. Just as the resurrection itself was impossible for anyone but God, the power behind the resurrection will take you into situations that are impossible for you to deal successfully with on your own. Expect God to challenge your faith when you ask for His resurrection power in your life, but know that if you trust Him, you'll experience greater adventures than you can imagine.
Experience resurrection peace. You don't have to live with guilt and shame because of the resurrection's power to forgive your sins. Ask God to flood your soul with the peace of knowing that you're in a right relationship with Him. Recognize that if you're deliberately sinning against God, you can't be in a right relationship with Him, so deal with your sin so it doesn't block the peace God wants you to experience. If you want to experience the peace Jesus offers, you must come to Him on His terms, being willing to live the way He leads you to live -- the way that's best for you. Every day, repent of your sins, so you can enjoy true peace.


Experience resurrection joy. The freedom from sin and hope in Jesus that the resurrection produced brings great joy into your life. If you allow your constantly changing circumstances to control your life, you can easily lose your happiness. But if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you, you'll experience joy, which will remain constant despite your circumstances. Unlike happiness, joy is more than an emotion -- it's the ability to see beyond your circumstances to the God who has ultimate control over them, and always acts according to what's best for you.


Use your resurrection authority. Make full use the authority you have as a Christian to lead other people to eternal life. The greatest power on earth is to see a person become born again. So, as valuable as it is to minister to people's physical needs, don't stop there. Share the Gospel message with other people as often as you can. By doing so, you'll be helping to release God's resurrection power into their lives. Stay closely connected to God so your life as a Christian will reflect the kind of character and obedience it should. Do your best to live faithfully to represent Jesus well. As other people see God at work in your life, they'll be attracted to Him. Every day, continue to pursue God passionately, and your passion for Him will spark the interest of others around you who can pursue Him themselves.


Experience resurrection confidence. Since God is on your side, you can be absolutely confident in His love and you don't need to be afraid of what the future holds. Whenever you encounter trouble in this fallen world, trust God to lead you through it and accomplish a good purpose in the process. Don't place your trust in anything lesser than God -- like your family, your health, your job, your talents, or your money. Give your allegiance wholeheartedly to God, and you'll experience confidence that can't be shaken by changing circumstances.

Experience resurrection hope. Your salvation means that you don't need to fear death. Expect God to fulfill all the promises He makes in the Bible, and trust those promises in your own life. Don't little life's petty annoyances weigh you down; realize that they're irrelevant compared to your eternal reward in heaven. Live with heaven in mind -- pursuing eternal values -- and rejoice in the hope you can experience every day.
Adapted from Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter that Changes Your Life, copyright 2007 by Henry T. Blackaby and Melvin D. Blackaby. Published by Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co., www.randomhouse.com/waterbrook.
Henry Blackaby, Ph. D., president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries, is the author of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling classic Experiencing God. He has spent his life in ministry, serving as a music director and as a senior pastor for churches in California and Canada. Today he provides consultative leadership on prayer for revival and spiritual awakening on a global level. He and his wife make their home in Atlanta, Ga. Mel Blackaby, Ph.D., coauthored with his father, Henry Blackaby, the Gold Medallion winner Experiencing God Together. He travels extensively as a conference speaker. He and his wife and their three children live in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, where he serves as senior pastor of Bow Valley Baptist Church.
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