Love Changes Everything (book review)

One of the most fascinating love stories in the Bible is between Hosea and Gomer. In this story, we see a picture of God’s unconditional love so clearly. Using this story as a backdrop, Micah Berteau explains how this love is still potent for all of us today. His book is called Love Changes Everything.

Micah believes our culture has watered down and diminished what love really means. And I heartily agree with him! There’s an old children’s song that says, “Jesus loves me this I know,” but Micah entitles one of his chapters: “Jesus loves me… this I don’t know.” This book is meant to help us recapture what real love is. 

Weaving aspects of the rescuing love Hosea had for Gomer throughout the entire book, Micah teases out thoughts that many may not have considered. He then skillfully uses his own personal life journey to bring a modern-day feel to this love story. Each chapter opens a new facet of God’s love that is intended to dismantle all of the false definitions of love too many have previously taken to heart. 

Although this book is a good reminder for a wide audience, I especially think this would be a good discussion guide for a mature Christian to use with someone who is struggling to believe that God can unconditionally love and forgive them. 

I am a Revell book reviewer. 

Sidelined (book review)

SidelinedEvery once in awhile I come across a book that is hard to put down. Sidelined by Chuck Pagano, the head coach of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, is just such a book.

Before I lose anyone who says, “Football? Not interested,” let me assure you that this is not a football book. This is a great story of near-tragedy and triumph that happens to have a football coach as its main character. This is a book about family, and faith, and teamwork, and pulling together, and overcoming. It’s a love story with a happy ending. It’s a great book!

In a nutshell, Chuck Pagano is hired as the head coach of the Colts, the first time in his career he has gotten a shot at being a head coach. Just a couple of games into his very first season, he is diagnosed with leukemia and sees his coaching responsibilities immediately halted. He enters into a life-and-death struggle with cancer, and ultimately beats it. But the real triumph of the story is the way his diagnosis pulled together a whole city, and even other NFL cities, to raise awareness of this dreaded disease.

Sidelined doesn’t really have an ending, because Coach Pagano’s career is still ongoing, and so is the fight against leukemia. After reading this book, I’m not only cheering for Coach, but I’m also cheering on those in the fight of their lives against cancer as well as those searching for a cure for this disease.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

Ian & Larissa

I first became aware of this amazing love story two years ago, and this story has continued to astound me! I am so excited to hear about the book that will be coming out soon. In the meantime, you can keep up with Ian & Larissa Murphy by checking out their blog, and you can help pay for Ian’s physical therapy by buying one of his paintings.

Things We Couldn’t Say (book review)

EMANPBBACK.qxdIt’s not often that a historical memoir could read like a spy thriller, but that’s exactly how Things We Couldn’t Say by Diet Eman reads.

Diet (pronounced “deet”) was a young girl when the Nazis invaded The Netherlands where she lived, and she quickly got caught up the Dutch Underground resistance against their unwelcome invaders. Alongside her fiancee, her family members, and several of her friends, they worked at hiding Jews from the Gestapo. This involved all of the tricks you would thrill at in any modern-day telling of espionage, with read page-turning excitement.

Part of the interesting underlying plot in this story is Diet’s love for her fiancee Hein and both of their families. Diet and Hein were constantly changing their names and residence to keep the Gestapo from catching up with them, yet they still found time to write some amazing love letters back and forth to each other. Their love was a bright light in a very dark time, and makes their involvement in this dangerous business even more impressive.

Not only is this a story about human ingenuity, but also about God’s divine provision as well. Diet records time after time that God miraculously provided for safety and provision and favor in order to keep alive. At the end of the war, every single one of the Jews Diet and Hein helped hide and care for were still alive!

For those reasons alone Things We Couldn’t Say is a fascinating read, but it’s an important read too. In the postscript Diet talks about her reluctance to write this book because of the painful memories it would reawaken. She said, “When the war ended we all said, ‘This can never happen again.’ But now polls show that 22 percent of the U.S. population does not believe there was a Holocaust. The story has to be retold so that history does not repeat itself.”

I can’t recommend this book strongly enough for readers of any age!

Seeing Only The Best In Your Spouse

Researchers have found that the biological responses of your body and brain to being “in love” only last two years. So guess when most newlyweds begin experiencing problems in their marriage? Yep, you guessed it: about two years into marriage.

After the in love buzz wears off, what can you do to maintain a happy, fulfilling marriage? Quite simply you have to choose to see only the best in your spouse.

Solomon was so wise to write to us that our spouse should be the only one who captivates us … the only one who satisfies us … the only one who keeps making our hearts go pitter-pat! When we choose to see the best in our mate, we can keep that in love buzz going for the life of the marriage.

Check out this excerpt from a WebMD article (you can read the full article here) —

Most often, self-assessments are grounded in reality, the researchers write. The way we see ourselves is fairly accurate. The way we see others, they continue, is often shaped by hope. With that in mind, they took one partner’s self-assessment at face value and compared it to the other partner’s assessment, as well as that partner’s description of his/her ideal partner.

For example, John’s ideal mate is funny and warm. And that is how he chooses to see Jane, who he has just married, despite the fact that Jane describes herself as moody and distant. Will John change his tune over time and come to regret his marriage to Jane? Or will his positive — if skewed — view of his wife help maintain his happiness?

Fortunately for John, the researchers found the latter to be true. In tallying the data, they discovered that those who did not idealize their partners when they got married tended to be more dissatisfied with their marriage by the end of the study compared to those who had an unrealistically idealistic view of their partner. Those in the “idealistic” group tended to be happier and more satisfied with their marriage.

In other words: you will bring out of your spouse what you see in your spouse.

Do you want a fun-loving wife? See her as your favorite playmate.

Do you want a confident husband? See him as a strong, self-assured provider for your home.

I like how the Apostle Paul states this (especially in the Amplified Bible) —

However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].

Just as God sees the best in you and loves you for who He sees you becoming, love your spouse and see only the best in him/her.

Thursdays With Oswald #19

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Word Of God

       The Bible nowhere says we have to believe it is the Word of God before we can be Christians. The Bible is not the Word of God to me unless I come at it through what Jesus Christ says, it is of no use to me unless I know Him. The key to my understanding of the Bible is not my intelligence, but personal relationship to Jesus Christ. …You may believe the Bible is the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation and not be a Christian at all.

From Facing Reality

Do I just know the Word of God, or do I know the God of the Word? If I read and study the Bible just to gain knowledge, I will become a very religious person. But if I read the Bible to know Christ more, I will enter into a deeper relationship with Him.

…knowledge puffs up while love builds up…

I want to read my Bible as a love letter, and fall more and more in love with the God who wrote it to me.

It Just So Happened That…

I love the incredible love story in the Bible about Ruth and Boaz. I’m not sure why this hasn’t been made into a movie yet, because it would be a blockbuster!

Ruth is a picture of a God-fearing woman who turns her back on all she’s known to follow God’s leading. Boaz is a real man: strong, successful, respectful of women, honoring of tradition, hard working, God loving. You would expect in a story about two people who love God, and who fall in love with each other, and who have a son who becomes the grandfather of King David, that there would be at least one “divine moment.” You know, one of those unmistakable God-ordained moments when everything falls into place.

Here it is. In chapter two when Ruth first meets Boaz—when they have their first divine encounter—the Bible says:

As it turned out, Ruth found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz.

As it turned out?!? That’s not very romantic. Or powerful. Or even God-honoring. Other translations are equally as bland—

The Message: Eventually she ended up in the field owned by Boaz.

ESV: She happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.

KJV: And her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz.

You see, we know the end of the story. We know God was in control of their lives. We know God set it up for Ruth and Boaz to cross paths. And yet even Samuel (or whomever wrote down this story) or Ruth (or whomever told this story to the author) could hardly believe it. “I just happened to end up in the right field at the right time!”

At the end of the story of my life, I think I will look back and see so many as-it-turned-out moments. So many things that just-so-happened. But that would mean I’m living in an as-it-turned-out moment right now. If I believe God is directing my paths, then…

every moment is divinely orchestrated.

every moment is strategic.

every moment is God-directed.

If you knew that this moment was a divine moment, how would you live differently? If you knew this was an as-it-turned-out, God-directed moment, how would you respond?

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