Closer Than Close – Book Review

Closer Than978-1-63146-408-9 Close – Awakening to the Freedom of Your Union with Christ By Dave Hickman really hit me at my core.  If you are anything like me, at one time or another you have found yourself struggling to be closer to God, trying to earn intimacy with God.  God knows that has been me more times than I want to admit.  Hickman shows us that we have it all wrong, I have it all wrong.  We need to stop looking for a relationship between two individuals (God and I), because what God is inviting us into is much more intimate, a union with Christ.

We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God.  What’s absent is awareness.

“Union with Christ” – Those three little words, without complete understanding of what they mean, can be quite scary for most Christians.  But it is what God wants.  John 14:18,20 says “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. …In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”  That’s not a relationship, it’s a union, “in” that’s closer than close.

I loved how Hickman wrote this book.  I felt like I was on the back porch having a talk with a friend.  Simple terms and from the heart.  I also liked that at the end of each chapter there are discussion questions which makes this book great for a small group study.

I highly recommend Closer Than Close5 out of 5 stars.

You can read an excerpt HERE

Closer than Close is available on Amazon.

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.

Have a blessed day, Jay

Next Door As It Is In Heaven – Book Review

NextDoorHeaven_3DNext Door As It Is In HeavenLiving Out God’s Kingdom In Your Neighborhood by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco, was a complete joy to read.

There was a time when neighborhoods were places of community, where you not only knew your neighbors names, but you knew their joys, and their sorrows, and more importantly you helped and loved your neighbor.  I grew up in that kind of neighborhood, and I’m a better person for it.  But the neighborhood “where everybody knows your name”, has become the neighborhood “where nobody knows your name.” Ford and Brisco shows us the way back to community and love for each other with basic principles and best practices.

Ford and Brisco remind us that Jesus has two primary commands for us, His followers, “Love God”, and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Throughout the book Ford and Brisco give several ways that we can change our actions and our mindset.  One of my favorites is Hangouts – The Importance Of Third Places.

Third Places are settings that are common ground, or “hangout.”  Coffee Shops, Cafes, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, Barbershops, General Stores, and Bookstores.  In the most basic sense, a third place is a public setting that hosts regular, voluntary, and informal gatherings of people.  There are eight characteristics that are essential in the makeup of a typical third place.

  1. Neutral ground – people are free to come and go as they please.
  2. Acts as a leveler – a third place is an inclusive place. People from all walks of life gather.
  3. Conversation is the main activity – the talk is lively.
  4. Accessible and accommodating – can go there almost anytime and someone will be there and conveniently located.
  5. There are regulars – regulars set the tone of hospitality and regulars are attracted there because of the other customers.
  6. Low profile – as a physical structure, they are usually plain and unimpressive in appearances, but this adds to the essential need to linger.
  7. Mood is playful – the mood encourages people to stay longer and come back repeatedly.
  8. A home away from home – at their core, third places are where people feel at home.

He values his call as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, which requires him to live his life as a faithful neighbor on earth.

At the end of each chapter they have a little “Reflection and Preparation” section which helps the reader fully absorb and help put into action what they have just read.

This is by far one of the best books I have ever read, and I believe, has the power to transform our world one neighborhood at a time.

hospitality-is-an-adventureHere is a “Declaration of Interdependence” that your neighborhood can use.  declarationcertificate_nocrops_x1a

I highly recommend Next Door As It Is In Heaven5 out of 5 stars.

You can read an excerpt HERE

Next Door As It Is In Heaven is available on Amazon.

 

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.

Have a blessed day, Jay

What Type Of Man Are You?

One type of Christian man trusts that what Jesus teaches is true . . . but only on an intellectual level. This man appreciates a good sermon, but then goes away and lives out the moments of his life in ways that make it indistinguishable from the lives of those who do not trust Jesus at all. This type of man doesn’t trust Jesus with his life, and so lives “like a shrub in the desert” (Jeremiah 17:6). There is another type of man, though, one who chooses to trust the truth of Jesus deeply, authentically, and practically. This type of man lives the moments of his life in ways that are markedly different than they’d be otherwise . . . because of his trust.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream . . .” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

 

God Bless, Jay

It’s what you have in your heart.

macro-wheat-field-sun-nature-2

Two brothers went away to college. One brother became a farmer. The other became a brilliant lawyer. The lawyer brother visited the farmer brother on the farm. He said, “I can’t believe you’ve not made anything of your life. You’re out here on a farm. Look at me. Look where I am. I’m on Wall Street. I’m an investor in the stock market. I have clients who are millionaires. Here you are, stuck out here on the farm. I wonder what the difference between us is.”
The brother farmer then spoke. He pointed out to his wheat field. He said, “You’ll see two types of wheat out there, brother. You’ll see the wheat that’s standing straight up. In the head of that wheat, there is nothing. It’s empty. That’s why it’s standing so high. You’ll also see some other wheat that is bent over. That’s because the head is full. It’s full of wheat.”
Some of us are standing straight up. We are walking tall. However, we are only able to do so because we are empty. Some of us walk a little bent over indicating that we are full. The test isn’t what you have in your pocket. It’s what you have in your heart.

The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

James 1:11

Prayer is Important

To Pray

There once was a young seminarian starting out on his journey toward the priesthood. He was a bit of a know-it-all, and wanted to be the best at everything he did. He heard about a very holy monk who was considered a spiritual master in regard to prayer and contemplation.

The seminarian sought him out, and asked the old monk to teach him all of his secrets for prayer. The monk sent him away. The seminarian was stubborn and returned again soon, asking again to learn his secrets to prayer. The monk told him to come back in one week.

When he arrived the next week, the monk took him out behind the monastery to a body of water. He still hadn’t said a word. As they entered into the water up just past their waist, the seminarian grew impatient with the monk, who was still silent.

All of a sudden the monk grabbed the seminarian and held his head under the water. The seminarian struggled and thrashed about, but with the strength of an ox the old monk held him under the water. As the monk let go of him, he came up gasping for breath, embarrassed, angry, and confused. The monk looked at him and said, ‘Until you pray with the same desperation that you have for air, you have not prayed.’

Prayer is as important to our soul as air is to our body! We need prayer to stay connected to the God who created us with a plan in mind.

Nothing Can Separate Us

IMG_7019

The question the gospel of grace puts to us is simply this: Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid that your weakness could separate you from the love of Christ? It can’t.

Are you afraid that your inadequacies could separate you from the love of Christ? They can’t.

Are you afraid that your inner poverty could separate you from the love of Christ? It can’t.

Difficult marriage, loneliness, anxiety over the children’s future? They can’t.

Negative self-image? It can’t.

Economic hardship, racial hatred, street crime? They can’t.

Rejection by loved ones or the suffering of loved ones? They can’t.

Persecution by authorities, going to jail? They can’t.

Nuclear war? It can’t.

Mistakes, fears, uncertainties? They can’t.

The gospel of grace calls out: Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You must be convinced of this, trust it, and never forget to remember. Everything else will pass away, but the love of Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Faith will become vision, hope will become possession, but the love of Jesus Christ that is stronger than death endures forever. In the end, it is the one thing you can hang on to.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭31‬ NIV

Church IS Important!

2|42 Community Church

It’s crazy to think that at one time in my life, I hated the church and swore I would never go back. But now, I cannot stop talking about it!!! That’s why it bothers me when I hear someone say they don’t think church is really that important.

I believe with all my heart that the church IS important. The reason I believe it’s important is because the Bible says it’s important to God. And anything that is important to Him, should be important to us, too. So if you (or someone you know) is struggling with how you feel about the church, ask yourself these four questions:

1. Matthew 16:18 says Jesus built the church. Would the Son of God actually spend time building something that was worthless?

2. Acts 20:28 says Jesus shed His blood for the church. Would the Son of God have been willing to endure the suffering He went through for a meaningless organization?

3. Ephesians 1:22 and Colossians 1:18 say Jesus is the head of the church. Would Jesus really be the head of something insignificant and trivial?

4. If church isn’t necessary for a relationship with God, why does Ephesians 3:10 say that the wisdom of God should be made known through the church?

I know that every church is not perfect. It’s filled with sinners saved by grace, and that includes me and you. Jesus died for us (the church), and He loves us all (even us crazy imperfect people).

So if you are NOT currently a part of a local church, go check one out this weekend! And whenever you find the one for you (or if you’re a part of one already), get plugged in, serve and watch how the Lord will bless your life because you’re serving his bride, the church.

Make The World More Beautiful

IMG_5979

Everyday the onlookers shake their head, laugh, and wonder why the young man feeds a stray dog, helps the elderly lady, gives what he can not afford to the homeless little girl, smiles to the sadden faces, tends the garden of the hopeless and forgotten. Everyday

What does he get in return for doing this every day?

He gets nothing.

He won’t be richer. Won’t appear on TV, still anonymous and not a bit more famous.

What he does receive is emotions.

He witnesses happiness.

Reaches a deeper understanding.

Feels the love.

Receives what money can not buy…

a world made more beautiful.

And in your life?  What is it that you desire most?

Better yet, “What does God desire most in your life?”

Father, let me be your feet today.  Wherever you chose to send me I will go.  In my actions and in my words let them see You! Today, through you, I will live my life for a more beautiful world.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

be a blessing