Book Reviews, faith, Family, God's love, grace, love

Book Review: Between Heaven and the Real World

“Oh taste and SEE that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8)

This is the theme verse of Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman. 

In all my years of reading, whether for pleasure, for school, or for work, I’ve never read a book written with such raw vulnerability, painful hurts, deep faith, total surrender and intense trust. That is, until I read this book.

Between Heaven and the Real World begins when Steven was a young boy and brings the reader through his life up until 2013. He shares of the struggles he had as a young boy, a teenager. He writes of meeting his bride, Mary Beth, of the struggles she experienced, and the struggles they experienced together. He tells the reader of the unwavering commitment he and Mary Beth had to one another and how, through the darkest, bleakest times, that commitment held them together. 

He shares stories of all of his children – biological and adopted. Maria, adopted from China, brought an effervescent joy to the Chapman home. Her happiness, her love of life brightened up the lives of everyone around her. Steven is at his most vulnerable as he writes of life after Maria. All of the family suffered greatly, and yet, through their suffering, the roots of their faith grew deeper and today, around the world, Maria’s legacy can be found everywhere. “Oh, taste and SEE that the Lord is good!”

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the many times Steven shared how he got the inspiration for the various hit singles he’s had through the years, many of them becoming part of the “48 career number one radio singles.” After reading this book, you will hear one of those songs and remember just where Steven was, who he was with, and how God revealed to him the lyrics to the song. Knowing the background of the song gives the song a deeper meaning and makes the song even more special than when you heard it before.

This is a book that will minister to everyone who reads it. But for those who are in the midst of a crisis of faith, it is a “must” read. Your faith will grow stronger, your heart will be encouraged and your life changed. 

                                                                                 

faith, trust, Uncategorized

BOOK REVIEW: “SHAKEN” BY TIM TEBOW

In Tim Tebow’s latest book, Shaken, he writes of his time in the NFL as a quarterback. He has dreamed of being a quarterback all of his life. Yet, his dream never came to full fruition. Yes, he played for the Patriots. And the Broncos. And the Jets. And for one game, the Eagles. With honesty and vulnerability, Tim talks about his disappointments after each trade, of the incredibly critical and very ugly comments made, and of the media who dogged his every step.

Shaken is not a rehash of Tebow’s experiences in the NFL. He uses those situations to talk about his reactions-what he did, how he felt, what he thought. And more importantly, what he learned about himself and about God.

With a deep and profound insight, Tim demonstrates to the reader how to discover, and hold onto, their true identity even in the midst of life’s cruelest times. He does this not only by sharing his experiences but also by using relevant Biblical scriptures and stories. He poignantly relates stories of people who have discovered their true identity while they are literally in a fight for their life. Their stories will make you smile, move you to tears and remind you how life is more precious than you think.

I believe Shaken is one of the best books in this decade on finding your true identity. I highly recommend you read this book. It has the power to change your life.

faith, growth, test, wait

The Timing of God

Originally posted on May 29, 2009

 

Yesterday, my topic was “Wait on the Lord.” When we wait on the Lord, usually we are waiting on Him to answer requests we have put before Him. The catch here is that God will answer those prayers in His timing, not ours.

We live in such a “microwave” society that anything that takes longer than just a few minutes, we think it’s too long. Consider: we have drive-through restaurants, drive-through banks, drive-through car washes, drive-through pharmacies, and even drive-through grocery stores in some areas of the country. If we don’t want to cook, we zap a frozen dinner in the microwave and PRESTO! dinner is served. Or we pick up a fully prepared meal at the deli. Don’t get me wrong – I take advantage of all of these conveniences and will continue to do so. But my point is we are instantly gratified through these services and we have come to expect instant gratification from everything and everyone, including God. We think that as soon as we pray, the answer should be manifested. Oh, we may not go around spouting that thought out loud, but it’s there.

God’s timing has nothing to do with our instant gratification and everything to do with how we handle the wait. Do we wait in peace and expectation? (The word ‘expectation’ here means we are expecting – we believe – that God will answer.) Or do we fidget and fuss, frustrated at every little delay?

Waiting on God’s timing gives us so many opportunities for growth and I believe this is one reason He wants us to wait.

  • We have the opportunity to grow in faith. As we wait for God’s answer, we are trusting – growing in faith – that He will answer.
  • The testing of our faith as we wait, produces patience. (James 1:3)
  • Patience will “have its’ perfect work, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4)
  • We grow in our relationship with God.
  • Our spiritual growth will be a witness to others.
  • The reward of receiving God’s answer to our request will far surpass the trials of waiting.

Abba Father, I am waiting. I wait with faith, joy, and patience. I wait with hope – a heart of peace and expectation. Thank you for answers to my prayers that will be manifested in the future and for answers you have already given. Amen.

(c) 2009 Edwina E. Cowgill

audacious faith, faith

BOOK REVIEW: "SUN STAND STILL"

I am a writer. I say that in faith. Audacious faith.

I also review books. I review books for three major publishing firms and I am a judge for two major contests for American Christian Fiction Writers and two contests for chapters of Romance Writers of America.

I write all of that, not to brag, (I have absolutely nothing to brag about), but so that you will understand the quandary in which I find myself.

I cannot think of words adequate enough to describe the book I have just finished reading “Sun Stand Still” by Pastor Steven Furtick. It is  an incredible book. The book is based on the story of Joshua and the prayer he prayed in Joshua 10:12: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” This is not just simply faith – it is audacious faith – that Joshua would ask God to cause the sun to stand still! “Sun Stand Still” encourages us and shows us how to have that same audacious faith.

Here are a few passages from the book:

“If you’re not daring to believe God for the impossible, you may be sleeping through some of the best parts of your Christian life.

If the size of your vision for your life isn’t intimidating to you, there’s a good chance it’s insulting to God.

Audacious faith is the raw material that authentic Christianity is made of. It’s the stuff that triggers ordinary level-headed people like you and me to start living with unusual boldness. When you live this way, your eyes will be opened to see your day-to-day life in vivid color. Your spiritual growth will accelerate at a
super-natural pace.”

“Sun Stand Still” pulls no punches. Yet, it is written from a heart of love, a heart after God. Steven Furtick’s desire is to see every Christian in America and beyond her borders to live in audacious faith, to pray Sun Stand Still prayers.

“Sun Stand Still” will cause you to grow spiritually. If you choose to pray Sun Stand Still prayers, your faith will grow into audacious faith. You will “dare to believe God for the impossible,” for the dream, vision and goals He has for you. Your prayer life will change. Your life will change. It will be a change you do not want to miss.

blessing, faith, spinster

Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio

“The only thing worse than being a spinster is being a twice-jilted spinster. At twenty-five, Catherine Morgan is hardly an old maid. But she’s given up on marriage and instead manages the family’s general store in the little town of Revenge, Ohio. Bound by a promise made to her mother to care for her three sisters until they marry, she’ll do anything to keep them safe. But Sheriff Corbin Hunter stands in her way. He has evidence that her sister’s fiancé is really an infamous bank robber – and the man who murdered his father. Catherine finds herself torn between saving her sister’s heart and losing hers to the man who jilted her seven years ago. Will Corbin’s desire for revenge cause him to lose Catherine a second time?”



Dishes were ignored, floors weren’t vacuumed and the family fended for themselves because I could not put this book down! Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio is one of the best Christian historical fiction books I have read in a very long time. I will confess: historical novels are not at the top of my list of favorite types of books to read. However, the history of the late 1800’s, and the description of Revenge, Ohio (which actually does exist) are interwoven throughout the book so masterfully that I never realized I was being taught a history lesson. The suspense kept me up until all hours of the night and every time I thought I had determined “whodunit,” another surprise was mixed into the plot. And then there was the heroine and hero. Have you ever wanted to reach through the pages of a book and shake two people until they come to their senses? These two were more stubborn than the mules used to plow the fields. Above all, Catherine’s faith and that of her family was truly a blessing to behold.



Lisa Harris, award winning author of Christian fiction and nonfiction, has done it again. She has combined history with romance, suspense and faith in a book that will captivate readers for years to come. Thanks, Lisa, for the privilege of reviewing your book!

Be sure and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing to win a copy of Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio. Leave your email address in your comment so I have a way of contacting you.

faith, God, life

Faithfulness: The Testimony of Tiffany Colter

Many times, we do not realize how blessed we are. Life is not easy and all families go through difficulties at one time or another. Our spouse gets sick. Or we lose our job. Our parents grow older, feeble and frail and we are faced with decisions that must be made regarding the remaining years they have here on earth. A child becomes seriously ill. Everyone struggles, even Christians. But it seems to me that some peoples’ struggles are far more challenging and last much longer than other people’s struggles. That applies to my special guest blogger today, Tiffany Colter. Tiffany’s family has gone through so much in these last few years. But rather than give up, Tiffany and her husband “dug their heels in” and depended on God to see them through.

The link to Tiffany’s testimony is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXkBbvl-0bc

If you don’t accomplish anything else today, take the time to listen to Tiffany’s testimony. I promise you will be moved and you will be grateful for God’s blessings on your life and the life of your family.

Please contact Tiffany at: http://www.writingcareercoach.com/ and share with her how her testimony has increased your faith!

faith, struggles, tests

Struggles, Tests and Faith

What a struggle today’s blog has been to write! I’ve been trying to get something – anything – on paper for three days. Every time I decided on a topic and began to write, my brain would decide to take a vacation and my fingers would freeze. It has been a frustrating struggle, especially considering I have a number of topics waiting patiently in my “Blog” folder about which I can write.

Last week certainly had its share of tests and struggles. What week doesn’t? I believe that we are always being tested in some way. James 1:2-4 says in one of the latest translations of the Bible, The Message: Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. A gift?? He’s joking, right? We are supposed to consider these tests and struggles a gift. One that will increase our faith. Hmmm…

I had my annual mammogram two weeks ago. As soon as I walked out of the door, after having gone through minutes of sheer agony, I promptly put the test out of my mind. Until I received a telephone call last week saying that I needed to go back for additional tests. About every two years, I get the same call. It seems that the right side is much harder to scan and read than the left side. So when I received this call, I was not surprised. But it wasn’t the right side this year. It was the left. And the left side didn’t show what the radiologist thought was fibrous tissue. It showed nodules … cysts. The actual words the doctor’s nurse used were “suspicious nodules. You need to get these additional tests done as soon as possible so it can be confirmed that these nodules are benign or not.”

Fear immediately rose up within me and my vivid imagination had a field day. (Why can’t my imagination be vivid when I’m writing the “Great American Novel”?) Truly, I had myself diagnosed and on the operating table before the telephone call ended. At that moment, I failed the testing of my faith. As soon as I disconnected from that telephone call, I emailed my priest and one of my dearest friends, explained the situation and asked for prayers to be offered up on my behalf. It was evident that they began to pray because I could feel calmness begin to seep into my mind and heart. As I began to calm down, I could see this situation for what it really was – another ploy of the enemy. You see, every time I have the opportunity to minister – whether it is to teach, write, pray, counsel, work in any area of ministry – the enemy attacks and frequently those attacks are against my physical body. It has happened so many times you would think I would recognize the signs, but no. That would make life far too easy! Anyway, once I realized what was happening, I began to pray and to trust God, knowing that He was in control. Throughout the remainder of that day I prayed as I went about my normal routine. Sometimes the prayer would be a simple “I trust You, God.” Other times, I would give praise. And once or twice, when I felt my legs of faith begin to wobble, I would quote scripture, reminding myself that God was the Great Physician.

Are you struggling with an issue today? Is your faith being tested? Remember what James said. The test is a gift to increase your faith. It works. I ought to know. I’m tested all the time.

Oh, yes. The tests? Negative. Thanks be to God!