Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Waiting on God by Charles Stanley – Very Encouraging

In Pastor Charles Stanley’s newest book, Waiting on God – Hope for Today Strength for Tomorrow, I found him to be very compassionate towards hurting people.  He’s realistic about the struggles believers face and encourages us to trust God no matter what. 

Readers learn what it looks like to wait on God.  There are times when it may seem like what we are waiting for will never happen.  Even then, we are reminded that there is meaning and hope during the times of waiting and that the Lord has a purpose and plan He is working out in our lives. 

One of the definitions Charles Stanley shared is that when we wait upon the Lord it’s demonstrated with a directed, purposeful, active and courageous attitude of prayer.  He shows examples from scripture what waiting on God looked like in the lives of King David, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, what lessons they learned and the work that God was doing in their lives and behind the scenes.  Throughout this book he also shares experiences from his own life. 

Charles Stanley goes in-depth to examine God’s character and who He is.  He helps us to look at: what our focus is on and potential idols; how we can discern God’s will; stand firm on God’s word and His promises to believers; how we can wait courageously; and experience joy and reap the rewards of waiting. 

I especially appreciated the prayers at the end of each chapter.  They are beautifully written with an attitude of humility, thanksgiving, praise, confession of sin and weakness, reminders of God’s greatness, wonder and sovereignty and submission to God’s will and His purpose and plan. 

Readers are challenged at the end of each chapter with Points for Active Waiting which included scripture memorization, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and questions to help us examine ourselves. 

In chapter 5, Claiming God’s Promises, I wish that early on Charles Stanley had warned readers about taking verses out of context and claiming promises that were not intended for us.  In the chapter, he does go into understanding God’s promises and if they are limited vs. general and conditional vs. unconditional.  However, with the abuse of the name it and claim it mentality of some churches today, I think it is imperative for Christians to understand God’s word in context and not misapply it. 

I would have also liked to have had smaller chapters.  There’s a lot of meat to chew on in each of the chapters.  Having smaller chapters would have helped break it down into bite size pieces to chew on.  

I recommend Charles Stanley’s newest book Waiting on God.  I think it will help strengthen and encourage believers who are waiting on God or going through various trials.  

I would like to thank Net Galley and publisher Howard Books for the opportunity to read Waiting on God in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Past





Can it only be a few minutes since you’ve departed
It feels like it’s been such a very long time

I can’t quite imagine
What Christmas would have been like without you

You filled a big house on a hill
With warmth, fun, love and laughter

For just a few days
I got to forget how lonely I’ve been

I was able to spend time with someone filled with grace
Who overlooks my faults and loves me anyway

This Christmas, I truly realized
A house is not a home without love

To Ron and Carol…thank you for a wonderful Christmas!

by Susan Wachtel
December 28, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

You shall call His name Jesus









For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Storm by Jim Cymbala – A Good and Important Read



It was my privilege to read Jim Cymbala’s newest book Storm – Hearing Jesus for The Times We Live In, coauthored with Jennifer Schuchmann.  I’ve never read a Jim Cymbala book before, but after reading this one I look forward to reading more of his work.

In Storm, Jim Cymbala Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle came across as humble, concerned and broken over some of the trends he’s seeing in today’s Christian church in America.  He also wielded authority as he spoke truth and warnings from scripture. 

This book was well balanced.  Too often I’ve read books in which Christians share their concerns about the church, but they seem judgmental and lack grace and mercy and aren’t speaking the truth in love.  Jim Cymbala came across as the man who after removing the log from his own eye, he gently helps the reader to remove the speck from their eye. 

Jim speaks, not only to Pastors and church leaders in this book, but also to congregants and challenges each of us to live in the light of Jesus soon return.  He knows the power of the Gospel to change hearts, minds and lives of those who truly repent and receive Christ as Lord and Savior.  He also conveys the importance of daily reading and studying God’s Word for yourself and being a prayer warrior dependent upon God. 

Jim shares warnings that there is a storm approaching and we need to beware of the tempest within the church and prayerlessness.  I especially appreciated the personal stories he shared about the radical transformation of some of the people in his church. 

I’m one who likes to underline and make notes in my books.  I did a lot of that in Storm.  I found myself convicted, challenged, corrected and encouraged. 

I highly recommend Storm by Jim Cymbala with Jennifer Schuchmann.  It’s a book you will want to read, reread and share with others.

I would like to thank the people at BookLook and Zondervan Publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

My Prayer



Lord, I confess I don’t feel the same drive and passion I once did.  But Lord I want that back.  Father, I want to love You and listen to Your word – like I can’t get enough of it.  I want to be captivated by You and Your incomprehensible love.  May my eyes be fixed on You.  Daily and forever may I be grateful for Your Son’s sacrifice for my sins and not forget how lost I was before Christ and remember my utter inability to save myself.  May I be cognizant of my absolute security in Christ.  I want to be aware of the Holy Spirit within me and His power and the transforming work He is doing in me.  I want to have a heart of gratitude and wonder when I think upon You.  I want to know the unchanging truth from the Word of God.  I want to be in awe of grace perfectly balanced with truth, holiness and righteousness.  Through Your Holy Spirit I want to love those with whom love doesn’t come naturally.  I want to be patient, faith-filled and prayerful with those whom I love.  I want my prayers to be seasoned with thanksgiving.  I want to be a faithful friend.  I want to hunger and thirst for truth and righteousness found only in You and Your word.  I want to daily be transformed by the washing of the water of Your word.  I want to make much of You, more of others and less of me.  I want to begin each day in Your word, not racing through it because of pressures and demands.  I want to be slow to anger and slow to speak, but quick to come to Your throne of grace in prayer.  I want abide in the Vine and bear much fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  I want to be wise and prudent and daily put on the full armor of God – belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the Gospel of peace, helmet of salvation, take up the shield of faith, skillfully wield the Sword of the Spirit and be praying always.  Make me and mold me through the Holy Spirit who dwells within me and wash me with Your word.  Thank You Father for giving me a heart of flesh and that I am a new creation in Christ.  It’s in His precious and mighty name I pray.  Amen!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Love Gently Falling by Melody Carlson – Missed the Boat



It’s always easier and fun to write a review on a book that you really like.  Unfortunately, this review is a little more of a challenge.

When I first became a Christian I had read some books by author Melody Carlson that I really liked.  So I was excited at the opportunity to read Melody’s newest novel Love Gently Falling (available January 6, 2015).  But that excitement was short lived. 

Let me start with what’s good about the book.  When the story’s main character Rita gets the news that her mother has suffered a stroke she quickly makes arrangements to travel home to be there with her mom, dad and brother.  I appreciated how Rita made amends with an old friend with whom she had a falling out and their friendship was restored.  I appreciated the character examining herself to see if she was a snob when she found herself liking a man who was a janitor.  I appreciated that the book did not include sexually immorality or filthy language. 

One of the main things I struggled with is that there was really nothing in this book that would lead me to conclusion that it was from a Christian author.  I came back to a question I ask when reading books published by Christian authors.  If a Christian writes a fiction book does that make it “Christian fiction”?  I would say no. 

In the book, Love Gently Falling, prayer was mentioned several times, but the author didn’t show Rita or the other characters dealing with issues of their faith.  There were some plot developments that would have made good platforms to share the gospel message and what God’s word says.  It would have been good to see characters work through the challenges they are facing through the grid of their Christian faith.  But Melody Carlson didn’t take the opportunity to weave Christian faith into her newest book Love Gently Falling.  Something else that bothered me was the way the main character Rita “came to the rescue” to help save her mother’s outdated and failing beauty salon.  It smacked of the world’s view often seen in movies with children being wiser and smarter than their parents. 

Apart from my criticism about this not being “Christian fiction”, the book is not overly deep.  It was on the anemic side, but could have gone deeper with the storyline.  I think that Melody Carlson missed the boat with Love Gently Falling and I was disappointed. 

I would like to thank the publisher FaithWords and Net Galley for the opportunity to read Love Gently Falling in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.

Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer – A Thought Provoking Interesting Read

I love a good mystery, and that’s what drew me in and want to read, Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer .  This is the first book ...