Sunday, January 13, 2013

Grace - A Book Review

So, I've had "Grace - More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine" by Max Lucado on my reading list for a while now.  Somehow it kept getting pushed back by other books.  I'm glad I finally got around to finishing it and putting my thoughts on paper.  This is an interesting book.  It's not a deep, theological read on grace. Rather, it shows grace as the free gift it really is.  And that's what makes it such a good book.  Lucado does a really solid job of presenting grace as God presents it...a free gift that we don't deserve but is so much better than we could possibly imagine.  Through a mix of Scriptural references and stories of "real people", Lucado weaves a story that almost anyone can relate to.

There are two other things that I appreciate in how this book sets up.  First, Lucado is quick to point out that grace alone is all that's needed.  Works come out of our appreciation for the grace we've been given as Christians but our works don't do anything to save us.  It's a reminder that we can never do enough or be "good enough" for God but Lucado reminds us grace means we don't have to do anything else. I loved how he equated his merit badges from Boy Scouts to the erroneous concept of grace we sometimes have.  As someone who can struggle with doing more, I can really relate to his struggles and realized anew that grace means I don't have to do anything.

The other thing I appreciated so much was the easy style in the writing.  I would have no qualms about giving this book to a new believer struggling with the concept of grace or even a nonbeliever who doesn't grasp how a God could give grace.  There's even a Reader's Guide at the end that provides a Bible study approach to walking through grace.  Even the long-time believer will find pearls of truth to be reminded of or walk away pondering.  Lucado uses stories of even the worst of biblical sinners (David, anyone?) to show how God's grace is free for the asking.

The final thing that stuck with me is the requirement that those who have received grace must give grace.  He likens it to Jesus taking the role of a servant and washing the disciples feet.  It's easy to celebrate the grace we've been given but much harder to give grace to those who've wronged us.  Even though this isn't a deep book and doesn't take a great deal of time to master, it's a great book that will be a valuable re-read in the future.

My Score:  4.5 bookmarks out of 5.

Note:  Thomas Nelson Publishers gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Compassion Mobile Experience

I've been a sponsor with Compassion International since October of 2008 and an advocate with them for the past 2.5 years.  I educated myself about the organization before getting involved with them and can honestly say I have had no misgivings about the relationship.  What I experienced yesterday only furthered my resolve to advocate on behalf of this organization.  Having the opportunity to serve at the Mobile Experience was an honor.  Getting to help people have their own encounters with world poverty and the difference Compassion makes was a blessing to me.  Seeing 30+ sweet children from some of the poorest parts of the world have their lives changed was icing on the cake.  I almost can't explain what it was like - words just aren't enough.  To be surrounded by other people who were like-minded in their dedication to the "least of these" was inspiring.  Seeing people make life-changing decisions reminded me of the life-changing decision God offers us through salvation.  While the money Compassion provides to these local children provides a level of salvation on the temporal level, they also work to present salvation on the eternal level, sharing Christ with each child who comes through their doors.  The whole premise of this Mobile Experience is to "change the story."  The idea is that sponsorship changes the story for the sponsored child.  But it's so much more than that.  It also changes the story of the sponsor.  There's a child in Uganda whose life is changed because of my love, support, prayers and Compassion's intervention.  That's a weighty proposition when you think about it.

I think the angels were crying out in praise yesterday for the 30+ people who took a stand against poverty, injustice and Satan himself.  Praise the Lord for those people who changed the story for 30+ children.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Final 2012 Update

So, it's been six weeks since I updated this blog!  LOTS has happened since I updated last.  Most importantly, I closed on my new house and moved in the next day.  Between packing to move, finishing the paperwork, moving and unpacking, the blog was the last thing on my mind.  But, now that the boxes are mostly unpacked, I can get back in the swing of things with the old blog.

The new place is wonderful.  I'm really, really happy with my purchase.  It's the perfect size for me - has a spare bedroom for company - but isn't so big that it's overwhelming to clean.  I love having everything on the inside brand new.  And stainless steel appliances in the kitchen don't hurt!  It's quite nice having an oven that works properly and a refrigerator that doesn't make noises like it's trying to die.  I've successfully broken all the appliances in - had a wonderful time doing my holiday baking.  Managed to get somewhere around 10 dozen cookies made quite efficiently. :-)  I hope to have pictures posted to the blog closer to the weekend.

The job was a little crazy toward the end of the year.  We are busy planning how we are going to reach some pretty extreme goals related to training.  We didn't get to set the goals but we're responsible for meeting the goals.  Gotta love when that happens. ;-)  I have all confidence that my team will work hard to try and meet the goals.  Most of the rest of the craziness was the usual stuff that comes with the end of a calendar that must be spent, reports that must be written, etc..  I did enjoy having a few days off last week for Christmas but am looking forward to getting back into my daily routine.  I'm still loving working for Children's - it's just a great place to work (the bonus I received last week didn't hurt!).

My plans for 2013 are to try and live a more healthy lifestyle.  I'm going to start by working through the book Made to Crave to focus my efforts on craving more of Christ instead of more of whatever unhealthy food is around.  I'm also hoping to cook more often on the weekends, making healthy options that I can quickly add veggies to for a complete, healthy meal each night.  I'm also planning to use the exercise center at my townhouse complex.  I figure if I add exercise and change my eating habits for the better, the weight loss will take care of itself.  I want to focus more on healthy, God-honoring decisions with my body as opposed to numbers on a scale.

I guess that's all I've got for now.  I'm not sure what I'm planning to do schedule-wise for the blog in 2013.  I haven't decided how to update - I know I will update with a good bit of regularity, I just don't know that it will be weekly.  I do have several book reviews to post - I've read quite a few and have written the reviews, I just haven't gotten them posted.  Hope to accomplish that sometime this week.  More next time...