"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start ffrom now and make a brand new beginning." George Elliot
I am a big fan of author Gary Thomas. Over the years, I have read and enjoyed his books with a few becoming my favorite must reads like: "Sacred Marriage", "Authentic Faith", "Sacred Pathways" and now, "Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul."
In "Every Body Matters," Gary addresses the powerful impact physical fitness can have on our spiritual lives. Physical fitness can give us more energy to serve and love others, grow our sensitivity to hear God's voice, and experience more joy in our lives.
I found this book free from condemnation, as the author sensitively addresses the need to change unhealthy lifestyles. He also speaks to those with physical limitations and/or past traumas that may add to the challenge of becoming physically fit.
Thomas gently encourages moving down a path of greater spiritual and physical health, while challenging us to fight the battle of temptation to give up and give in to our old poor habits.He has an inspiring way of pointing out the scriptural truth of our bodies being a temple for the Holy Spirit, pointing out that our bodies are to be instruments, not ornaments.
Gary writes, "[B]ecoming spiritually and physically fit are two ways that we can grow in our inner and outer strength, as well as in our ability and willingness to endure hardship."
We are called to "present [ourselves] to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and [our] members (i.e. our bodies!) to God as instruments of righteousness." (Romans 6:13)
Our lives matter, our ministries matter, and our bodies matter.
Find out more about "Every Body Matters" by clicking here.
By Betty McDowell, LSW, LAS, Director of Ministry Services
Book by Colleen D.C. Marquez
This delightful story tells of an apple tree who is unable to bear fruit of her own—she is saddened as she watches the other trees in the apple orchard bear fruit of their own.
The wise farmer finds a way to help Little Tree not only bear fruit, but eventually become a very beautiful tree in the orchard.
Adoptive parents, as well as those considering adoption for the first time will find the story of Little Tree very inspiring. The book is a parable about adoption and illustrates so beautifully the heart of God for adoption.
Endorsed by Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Tiny Blue Lines is a young mother's story that started the day she saw two tiny blue lines after taking a pregnancy test.
"Tiny Blue Lines is a triumph of faith and courage, and a treasury of resources for all who choose life," Peggy says in her endorsement.
The book's author, Chaunie Marie Brusie is a strong Christian pro-life advocate whose personal journey through pregnancy and young motherhood as a college student is mixed with other, similar stories of courageous women who took on the challenge and difficulties of welcoming new life.
To find out more, visit Tiny Blue Lines at TinyBlueLines.com
It's a resource intended for kids, with fun pictures and summarized versions of some of the main events throughout God's story of redemption in the Old and New Testaments. Anabelle, my daughter, always asks to turn back and see the pictures of the characters (both men and women—she hasn't quite grasped the idea of a tunic yet) in their "princess dresses."
But the more we read through God's story with Anabelle, the more I'm convinced that she's not the primary beneficiary night by night... not by a long shot.
That's because The Jesus Storybook Bible is a kids' Bible that hits the nail on the head more than some commentaries I've stumbled upon. The book's subtitle, "Every story whispers his name," tips the reader off that its author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, intends to teach little ones (and their parents!) how every episode throughout Scripture points directly, unmistakably to Jesus.
This is exactly what the resurrected Christ explains to the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 when, "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27).
And so, as we read through Anabelle's Bible night after night, I'm moved and refreshed by what Lloyd-Jones calls God's "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love" for his people.
There's a more succinct way to sum up this special love God has for his people. It's God's covenant love. Or, as the Psalms refer to over and over, his "steadfast love."
This is the love God promises to his people—who he promises to love simply because he loves them (Deuteronomy 7:8)—it's the love that reconciles sinners to himself, meeting us where we are in our sin and brokenness and making us his friends. It's the love that then painstakingly crafts us into the image of the Son he loves.
This is the love that assures us we have a Father who is invincible, and means to do good to us--regardless of the cost--in all circumstances:
What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all good things? (Romans 8:31-32).
As this text points out, the Always and Forever love of God is the kind of love that's guaranteed with blood. The moment our first parents rebelled against God and their nakedness was exposed, the shedding of blood became necessary to clothe them and make them acceptable to the holy God against whom they sinned.
This theme is developed again and again throughout the biblical plotline. Noah offers a sacrifice following the flood. Abraham is spared from offering his son on the mountain (sound like a foreshadowing?) when God provides a ram. The lamb is slaughtered in every Hebrew house in order that the Destroyer would pass over the firstborn. And finally, the sacrificial system is established with the giving of the Law, offering an on-going reminder that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9:22).
What's with all the blood? What did that all mean? And what's it got to do with love?
In a word, this is all about the Word. The Word of God taken on flesh and dwelling among men. Not only that, but taking on the form of a servant—a suffering servant who lived the life we should have lived, bore the wrath of a holy God in our place, conquered death, and disarmed Satan by his vicarious death for sinners and victorious resurrection.
In other words, "God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).
Or, as Paul rehearses this gospel to his beloved friends in Ephesus, "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved..." (Ephesians 2:4-5).
This means that the love of God for us is entirely secure. Our position in his grace never changes. It can't be undone:
Who shall bring any charge against Gods elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was rasied--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separated us fro the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerers through him who loved us... (Romans 8:33-37).
What costly love! What expensive and resolute mercy! It's the kind that never stops, never gives up, always lasts forever. It's the kind of love that multiplies and motivates our love for others and each other. It's the kind that sustains us on our worst day, humbles us on our best day, and gives us the strength to love those our Father brings along our way, no matter how bent on self-destruction and misery they may seem to us.
This is the kind of love Who has never given up--and will never give up--on me.
And it's the kind I'll never get tired of reveling in at my daughter's bedside.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
by Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams
(from Take Heart Volume 1, Issue 8)
Do you ever feel out of control? Are you too often over scheduled, over committed, or over tired?
The title of Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams’ book, Out of Control Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out, is a mouthful. But don’t let that fool you! In this book, Young and Adam give us practical insights that are straightforward along with techniques that go right to the heart. They describe how to recognize the lies that feed our out-of-control lifestyles. They give help in rediscovering the power of full engagement through periodic disengagement -- also known as rest! They map out a road to explore deep insights by learning how to choose the life God designed for each of us.
I especially appreciated that the authors of this book did not shame the readers for the way we have been living. They empower us to make changes that will revolutionize our lives so that we maximize our most valuable resources of time and energy.
Reviewed by Betty McDowell, Heartbeat International Director of Ministry Services
Click here to order a copy...
Read more from this edition of Take Heart.
by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, Lynn Vincent, and Colton Burpo
Do we not all have a deep yearning to know the realities that lie beyond death’s door and to experience Heaven where we anticipate spending Eternity? I just finished reading Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, at the recommendation of a good friend. She was correct in saying, “You will not put down this until you have finished it!”
This is the true story of little Colton Burpo, not quite four years old, as narrated by his father. Colton recounts to his parents his experiences in Heaven during his close encounter with death. Colton tells, in his own words, of angels who sang to him, of biblically accurate descriptions of the throne room, of meeting and talking with relatives in heaven who died before he was born, of meeting his sister who had been lost through a miscarriage of which he had no knowledge. Colton’s accounts are extremely compelling.
This son of a small-town Nebraska pastor describes looking down during surgery, seeing the doctor operating, and watching his dad praying in the waiting room. He tells of being in Heaven and Jesus teaching him, describes the horse Jesus rides, exclaims how really big God is, and how much He loves children. Colton shares information that accurately lines up with scripture about which he had no way of knowing at his young age. In simple, childlike terms he describes angelic warfare, tells of the Holy Spirit who "shoots down power" to help in times of need, and of the coming last-days battle.
This book will encourage those who may have lost a child; it will impart faith to those who may be unbelievers or who question the reality of God and Heaven; and it will strengthen the faith of those who yearn to know Him more. I highly recommend taking a few hours to read this book. It may change your life forever!
Book review by Susan Dammann, R.N., Heartbeat International Medical Specialist
Dr. Neil Clark Warren, the founder of eHarmony.com®, takes all of his relationship research and unfolds the secrets behind the web site’s huge success. This book outlines the compatibility that creates a powerful attraction and leads to fulfilling, long-term love.
I found this book most helpful because of the many young men and women who come through the doors of our pregnancy centers looking for love in all the wrong places. This book not only helps equip you to communicate the truth to them, but it is also a great book for them to read and learn about the ingredients that make healthy relationships last a lifetime. This book is a must read for anyone working in the pregnancy center and wanting to offer relationship education to their clients.
Reviewed by Katy Flood, Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity Specialist
A book by Michaelene Fredenburg
The book Changed, by Michaelene Fredenburg, strikes your heart in a way that’s similar to Jesus asking the woman at the well for water. It opens things up. It provides a pathway for conversing about abortion trauma with those not ready to discuss it from the Christian worldview. Like a head-on car crash, abortion changes you. Some are ready to discuss this life-changer from a biblical perspective. Many need to start with their own hurt. Changed helps you discuss this truth in therapeutic rather than theological terms.
Alcoholics Anonymous developed a similar approach. Many ministries teach abstinence from the perspectives of Changed and AA, depending on the situation and opportunities available to them. Scott Klusendorff, a pro-life apologist, and others have taught us how to make the case for life with those for whom the Scriptures are not the starting point. Changed does the very same thing.
Michaelene’s Changed is unique among abortion recovery books. Other books go straight to the living water of Scripture. Changed allows more room for you to start with H2O and the common ground of thirst for healing to open a new pathway.
In that sense, Changed could be seen as incomplete where other books on abortion recovery are self limiting. Changed is incomplete in that it does not directly reference the Bible or Christ. Most other abortion-recovery books are self limiting to Christian-only audiences because they explicitly introduce the spiritual, Christ-centered nature of healing. But for the secularist, nominal Christian, and those of other faiths, Changed will be a good place, even a safe place, to begin.
Like the free-flowing, inexhaustible, living water that Christ offered to the woman at the well, those who don’t know this common grace of God may be helped through the teachings of Changed. The grace-filled cure offered in Changed could set them on a journey towards Christ the Healer.
Changed is part and parcel of the integrated outreach of “Abortion Changes You,” a program of Life Perspectives. They combine an interactive website (AbortionChangesYou.com), the book Changed and a new leader’s guide for Changed called Grief & Abortion: Creating a Safe Place to Heal. For more information visit AbortionChangesYouResources.com.
Book review by Rev. John Ensor, Heartbeat International Executive Director of Global Initiatives
The Supernatural Ways of Royalty – by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson
Review by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
The authors of The Supernatural Ways of Royalty share their experience and revelation about leaving behind the mentality of walking as a pauper and learning to embrace their identity as a prince in God’s Kingdom.
Throughout the book, Kris Valloton and Bill Johnson teach how God has taught them both to walk as royalty and promote a culture of royalty. They want the Body of Christ to know we are called to royalty, to influence, to rule and reign, and to experience all the benefits of living in the King’s Palace.
Click here for ordering information.
Book by Kirk Walden
Review by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
It’s all too easy to get so close to the trees that you miss the forest.
In our world, we can be so focused on the “trees”—day-to-day tasks needed to accomplish our mission—we miss the “forest” that our movement represents.
Kirk Walden, in his freshly printed book, The Wall: Building a Culture of Life in American and Ending Abortion as We Know It, shows us the big picture of how far we’ve come in the pregnancy help movement over our first 40-plus years. Kirk pictures pro-life Americans—specifically those in the pregnancy help movement—as the figurative wall of Nehemiah built to half its height (Nehemiah 4:6).
Moreover, Kirk challenges us all to remember there is half the wall—more of us doing what we do—yet to build!
The Wall is a short, but invigorating read. Kirk, a seasoned advocate for pregnancy help work, deftly weaves the biblical narrative together with a vision for victory!
Click here to read more.
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