The Book Of Amazing Stories – Book Review

 

41Mejpb8EFL

Robert A. Petterson, Dr. is a spellbinding storyteller, weaving intriguing, life-changing stories into his books, speaking engagements, pilgrimages, personal interactions, and counsel to community and industry leaders. He has done so throughout his career as a pastor, acclaimed public speaker, expert fundraiser, and compelling pilgrimage host. All of these roles reflect his rare gift of making history relevant in a contemporary world – a world of the story at its very finest.

In his book “The Book of Amazing Stories” Peterson shows us how God used the lives of these ordinary people to change the course of human history.

Ninety moving and inspiring stories—each about two and a half pages in length and ending with a quote and a scripture for reflection. These easy to read chapters made it a beautiful addition to my daily quiet time in the morning.  The book could also be used as a great conversation starter in a small group setting.

If you’re looking for inspiration when life is weighing you down, or if you find yourself asking God, “Why?” This book will offer you encouragement and will help you find the light in the darkest areas of your life.

You can get the book HERE   My rating for this little gem is 5 out 5 stars!

I am blessed to have received a copy of this book for free from Tyndale Publishers for review purposes.  I received no other compensation and the review is my own honest opinion of the book.

Be good to each other, Jay

Two Precious Doilies

photo via crossroadcards.com
photo via crosscards.com

There once was a man and a woman who had been married for more than 60 years. They talked about everything. They kept no secrets from each other… except that the old woman had a shoebox in the top of her closet that she cautioned her husband never to open it or ask her about it.

For all these years he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would never recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife’s bedside. She agreed it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it he found 2 beautifully crocheted doilies and a stack of money totaling over $25,000. He asked her about the unusual contents.

“When we were married,” she said, ” my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doily.”

The little old man was so moved, he had to fight back tears. Only two precious doilies were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with joy and happiness.

“Sweetheart,” he said… “that explains the doilies, but what about all this money? Where did it all come from?”

Oh,” she said, ” that’s the money I made from selling the doilies.”

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Walk with the wise

So I settled into my chair on the balcony with a cup of coffee this morning and decided to read through some old devotionals and I came upon this one and after reading it I just knew that I had to share it with all of you.  It is written by Andy Stanley and its about Proverbs 13:20: Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. I hope you enjoy this, God Bless you all, Jay.

We live in a culture that baits us to do things we have no business doing and then chastises us when we do them. It’s crazy. I get asked this question all the time: “Andy, is it a sin to . . .?” That’s the wrong question. The better question is: “In light of the fact that there is disaster out there somewhere, where should I place a guardrail?”

On a highway, guardrails keep a car from straying into dangerous or offlimits areas. Personal guardrails keep us from straying into regret. They’re standards of behavior that become matters of conscience. They help us to decide, “In this area of my life, this is as far as I will go.”

One area of life where it’s good to establish some guardrails is your friendships. At some point in your life, you are going to find yourself close to people whose lives are moving in the opposite direction of yours. When that happens, you will need the space that guardrails provide to keep from being swept in the wrong direction.

My wife, Sandra, and I have a good friend who told us this story.

When she was thirteen years old, she was dating a guy who was sixteen. She couldn’t understand why her mom wanted her to break up with him. He was cute and he could drive. It was like she had her own chauffeur.

Our friend was on the softball team at school. One afternoon during a game, her boyfriend was behind the backstop watching her pitch. She saw her mom slide up next to him and call him out. She knew what was happening. Her mom was breaking up with him for her. Sure enough, the boyfriend sat down with a sad look on his face.

Now, why would a mama do such a thing? Because mamas understand an important principle: our friends influence the direction and quality of our lives.

Think about it. Your greatest regrets probably happened when you were with friends. Some of the most addictive behaviors imaginable begin as pastimes with friends. Gradually, without noticing, you are involved in things that you used to criticize. If you could go back in time, you would reduce the influence of those friends in order to spare yourself regrets.

I don’t know of a place where this principle is stated more clearly than in Proverbs 13:20:

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

The first half of the verse is a promise. It states that wisdom is contagious. Wise people understand that what they do today influences who they will be tomorrow.

The second half of the verse is a warning. According to Scripture, a fool is a person who knows the difference between right and wrong but doesn’t care. The verse doesn’t say that you will become a fool if you spend time with fools. It says that if you spend your life with fools, you will eventually be hit by the shrapnel from the explosions in their lives, whether you adopt their way of thinking or not.

The best way to be a friend to someone who is moving in the opposite direction is to stay on this side of your guardrail so that when he or she crashes, you’ll be healthy enough to help.

So here’s my question: Will you do what you know you need to do when it comes to your friendships; will you establish some guardrails? Friendships are great, but they can also be dangerous because “he who walks with the wise will become wise, but the companion of fools will eventually suffer harm.” Your friends will influence and possibly determine the direction and quality of your life. It’s your move.

During Trials Praise God

The Storm Is Over
Image courtesy of prozac1 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.  But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.  For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.     Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:9-12

God will always use trials for our benefit and He is always in control.  Praise Him for who He is no matter what you are going through. Scripture says we should give thanks not for everything but in everything.  Always remember to count it as joy that God has decided to use a trial in your life to make you more like His Son.

Father, although I may feel the fire of a trial I know that you are using it to refine and purify me to be more like His Son.

I am A Broken Reed

Isaiah 42_3

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 
Isaiah 42:3

This verse speaks of ‘bruised reeds and smouldering wicks’. Jesus isn’t looking for just perfect reeds. He came looking for those of us who know we need Him. Jesus doesn’t care if we are perfect reeds or bruised reeds, a light that burns brightly or a dim smoldering wick. What this passage is telling us is that even if a lot of us are like broken and bruised reeds, or are dimly burning wicks with just a hint of smoke and a little bit of light, Jesus isn’t going to extinguish us or throw us away!

Sadly, today’s world has more and more people battered and bruised and with very little light. All of us feel this way at times, I know I do.  And maybe you do today. We all have to realize that there are some problems in this life that only Jesus can deal with.

Take time today to remember that God plays the most beautiful music out of the most broken reed. Never give up on the vision God has put on your heart! We serve a limitless God so DREAM BIG and step into the empowering GRACE He has given you.
Thank you Lord God for sending your Son to this world, to minister, to live, die, and to be raised again so that He can come into our hearts and fill us with the hope, strength and encouragement that we need. Today I sing your praises Lord for I know your Son is not one that will ever turn His back on us.  Amen

Sticks and Stones Can Break Our Bones, And Words Can Surely Hurt Us

james

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3: 9-12

There once was a frog that wanted to cross a large lake but he did not have the strength to make it on his own.  So he tried to figure out a way to get across the water and finally came up with a fantastic idea.  He noticed two birds nearby and he talked the birds into picking up a pretty good size twig, a sturdy twig, and holding it in their mouths while he grabbed and held on with his mouth between them.  The idea was that the birds would fly across the lake holding the twig while he held on to the twig.  Now the birds thought that the frog was quite intelligent for coming up with such a plan to overcome what seemed an impossible situation.  The frog latched his mouth to the twig and the birds took flight.

As the birds started their ascent, there was  a man nearby who saw this most unusual sight, two birds carrying a frog across the water.  He yelled, “Hey! Who came up with that brilliant idea?”  The frog said, “I……”

Don’t be like the frog, remember, opening your mouth at the wrong time in the wrong way can do great harm.

Bring The Rain – Unanswered Prayers

DSC_0758
Mom and Daughter on Easter Morning

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Prayer is God’s appointed means to receive what is best for us and others and to realize what Paul called “what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2) Sometimes a delay is necessary to fit into God’s overall program.

Last year my father in law lost his battle with cancer.  The family spent countless days praying for his recovery, that God would spare him and restore him to perfect health. Those prayers went unanswered. They were prayers not so much for him but for our own selfish desires, we wanted more time, we were not ready to lose him.  But I learned a lot during the last weeks of his life as he and I talked about life and death.  We weren’t ready for what God’s will was, but he was.  He talked about the life God had blessed him with and he helped me understand that God’s will, God’s plan, was far greater than our own.  In the days following his death I was able to reminisce with my children, nieces and nephews, and share with them the insights that their grandfather had shared with me.  From this, a glorious thing happened with one of my nephews.  In the past few years as his son and daughter got older, he had forgotten how important family was and that being a parent means that you are your child’s favorite toy, and that children spell love T-I-M-E.  Through this lose that he felt so deeply, he became a better father.

Weeks later my mother in law was told that she had advanced cancer. We were told that she may not make it to Christmas, the family took this hard.  I’ve prayed for my mother in law more than any other person in my life. I’ve prayed that she would be healed completely. I’ve prayed that she would receive wisdom and strength in life situations. It seems like many of those prayers have gone unanswered. But are they really unanswered, or is God using my mother in laws life to stretch her daughters faith as well as the rest of the family’s faith?

Perhaps he does it so that the soul will remain humble or grow in humility; perhaps to purify it; perhaps to make it hunger and thirst all the more so as to satisfy it all the more. Or he may delay for other reasons which we cannot even guess, but which will be revealed to us some day and show us God’s mercy. This is why it happens that a soul, who has been asking God all his life to overcome some fault, remains with it until perhaps his last days, and finally sees the prayer answered, even abundantly answered.

It’s now April 2013, and my mother in law is still enjoying everyday of her life and all the tender moments that make up each of her days.  Recently she made the decision to stop treatments.  She wants her days to be filled with quality not quantity.  The treatments were wiping her out for 3 weeks only to have a few days of feeling good.  And we support her wishes.  We all have been blessed to have this extra time with her.

On Easter Sunday I was able to sit and visit alone with her before I took her out to Easter dinner with family.  We talked about the time she has been given, family, lessons she has learned, and we prayed.  She is truly happy and at peace, her only wish, to smell the breeze of a Spring day one more time.  She talked of her love for her family and all the blessed moments they gave her.  She is ready to go to her Father and be with her husband that I know she misses terribly.

There is a song by Mercy Me called, “Bring the Rain.” When I first heard that song I couldn’t even imagine how much spiritual maturity it would take for someone to sing, that was until an Easter Sunday morning talk with mom.

“Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free.
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain.”

 

Make A Difference

Orange Butterfly

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”                                                                                                                                                                                            Matthew 10:42

If you look at what we are asked to do – to go to those who are in need: the widows, the hungry, the naked, those in prison, they aren’t difficult things. If you see someone hungry – give them something to eat. Very simply, and easily done. If someone is thirsty – give them something to drink. If there is a widow who is lonely and in need – be a friend.

It was taught by the pharisees that they didn’t associate with beggars and sinners, drunkards, etc. They didn’t want to be seen with them or associate them because they thought them to be less. It would tarnish how people saw them. But Christ did – and they criticized Him for it. The quote from Matthew 10 said that if you do the small things to those whom the world looks down on you won’t get a black mark against you as was preached by the priests.

The little decisions are important. Sometimes the hardest ones are realizing that when you recognize need “in the least of these” and don’t reach out – that is bad. The little decisions can rest in having eyes to see where the Lord’s work needs to be done, and doing it. When we do those things you bet the outcome can be bigger than expected!

This story is a great example of how each of us can make a difference.

One day a man was walking along the seashore. He noticed that during the night many seashells and starfish had washed up on the shore. Thoroughly enjoying the morning sun and cool sea air, the man strolled for miles along the sand.

Far off in the distance, he saw a small figure dancing. The man was joyous that someone was celebrating life in such a grand and uninhibited manner. As he drew closer, however, it became apparent that the figure was not dancing, but repeatedly performing some act.

Approaching the small figure, the man noticed that it was a child. The girl was methodically picking up starfish from the shore and tossing them back into the surf. The man paused for a moment, puzzled, then asked, “Why are you throwing those starfish back into the ocean?”

“If I leave these starfish on the beach,” she replied, “the sun will dry them, and they will die. I am throwing them back into the ocean because I want them to live.”

The man was thoughtful for a moment, impressed with the child’s thoughtfulness. Then he motioned up and down the miles and miles of beach and said, “There must be millions of starfish along here! How can you possibly expect to make a difference?”

The young girl pondered the man’s words for a moment, then she slowly leaned over, reached down, and carefully picked up another starfish from the sand. With a gentle effort, she lobbed the starfish back out into the surf.

She turned to the man and smiled. “You may be right,” she said, “but I made a difference for that one!”

 

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

God in heaven, I offer my deepest appreciation for the many blessings you shower upon me every day. I am truly humbled by the bounty of your graces. I ask for the compassion to follow the inspiring example of the good Samaritan. Help me to embrace and bring comfort to those suffering immensely. Let me remember that each day that I help someone I am helping you. Amen.

We Are His Workmanship

Be the you god created
photo courtesy of Tony Evans

My intent was to write about scripture every Sunday, but that didn’t happen last Sunday.  I felt awful about it, it was getting late and I was gonna sit down and rush through it to keep my plan, and then I stopped…..I was trying to keep my plan, not God’s plan.  I sat back down in the recliner and reflected on the day.  My wife was up north with her mom who is going through treatment for her cancer, my daughter had to work all day, and I was blessed with spending a full day by myself with my energetic, full of life, adventure seeking, always happy and always filled with love grandson Lincoln James….and I smiled.  God’s plan was so much better.

This Sunday I went with the flow and God’s plan had time for me to read, reflect and write.  Last Sunday is gone by the lesson remains, God’s plan is the only plan and I received the blessings of letting my plans go and following God’s.  I had time today for more than one scripture so here’s the first.

Yet you,  Lord , are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

In this verse the Lord says He wants us to be as clay in His hands. If you stop top think about it, a potter will take the clay in his hands, work it, roll it, and shape it according to any design he wants. The Lord doesn’t ask us how He should bring us to the condition He desires. Each person has their own character, demeanor, and traits; the Lord deals with each person accordingly, as an individual.  We must become as clay in the hand of the Potter, making no resistance to whatever the Lord will make of us. When we unconditionally surrender ourselves to whatever the Lord will make of us, we find peace.

Remember this; a long time ago the great painter Michelangelo came across a very large block of marble.  It was beautiful.  He looked at the block of marble and said he saw an angel inside just waiting for the chance to get out.  He picked up a chisel and hammer and began the chiseling process.

In very much the same way we God is always at work on us.  We are his workmanship

I Know The Plans I Have For You

jeremiah 29 11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

This verse offers me so much comfort.  In my moments of despair I remember that God has a plan for me, one that is filled with blessings.  My spiritual growth is a very important part of God’s will for me.  Knowing this gives me hope for the future.

Lord God, you are my strength.
Hold my hand in my weakness
and teach my heart to fly.
With you, there’s nothing to fear,
nothing to worry about.
Hold me tight in your embrace,
so that I can be stronger than
the challenges in my life.
Amen