Sunday, July 9, 2017

COFFEE, THE WORLD, AND JESUS



When many Christians take a long, hard look at the lives of the spiritual elite in America, they want to shout, "I don't want to be like that!" Ron DeMiglio knows how they feel and he's not afraid to do the shouting--even when those shouts are sometimes directed at himself.

Coffee, the World, and Jesus is a collection of mildly contrarian musings from this international coffee businessman who happens to love Jesus. In these humorous vignettes about the relational, flawed, unwavering faith Ron clings to, readers will find glimmers of their own daily struggles to reflect Christ in a fallen world. For the religiously cautious, the disillusioned, and jaded followers of Christianity, this is a refreshing look at how God reveals Himself to be so much bigger than politics, dogmas, or western influences.

Ron's sidesplitting series of stories about how he found his spiritual groove smack-dab in the middle of his God-breathed, coffee-scented uniqueness will appeal to readers looking for a quick bite of spiritual growth with their next latte.

My thoughts...

This book is a little different from what I normally read but I will say it is a good different. The author is witty and down to earth. It's more of a personal reflection but there's lots of truths presented in a humorous way. He has a hard nosed approach to biblical things which is not a bad thing. Overall a good book.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.​ ​

THE TEA PLANTERS WIFE



Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected.

The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous, and there are clues to the past - a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds - that her husband refuses to discuss.

Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can't stay buried forever....

My thoughts...

What a beautifully written book, the author told the story well and though it's a love story it isn't sappy...it's graceful and alluring. The description of the area, the tea plantation, and the characters make it interesting and likeable, the plot fantastic. Very well done.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.​ ​

BIBLE STUDY: Included in Christ: Living A New Story from Ephesians



Break Free from the Darkness and Find Your New Identity in Christ

Included in Christ: Living a New Story from Ephesians by Heather Holleman

Chicago, IL – Have you ever battled insecurity, rejection, or a feeling of worthlessness? Maybe your ethnic background, family dysfunction, financial struggles, career failures, or your own inner battle with shame or fear have led you to feel like an outsider. Have you been telling yourself that you just are not special, chosen, included?

“As someone who spent a lifetime feeling like an outsider and experiencing rejection—both real and imagined—the notion that I’m included reaches my soul like healing balm,” says Dr. Heather Holleman, author of Included in Christ: Living a New Story from Ephesians (Moody Publishers, June 2017). “As we learn in Ephesians, we are part of the whole of God’s family.”

Holleman, a speaker, writer, and English instructor at Penn State University, who also serves on the Faculty Commons for Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), struggled for years with loneliness, fear, and feeling like an outsider. God used the book of Ephesians to minister to her and to usher in profound and lasting personal transformation.

“Paul’s primary purpose in writing Ephesians has everything to do with explaining to readers—and reminding them again and again—that they belong not only in personal and actual union to a living Christ, but that salvation involves including them to one another as believers,” says Holleman. Written as part narrative but full Bible study, Included in Christ takes readers through an in-depth, eight-week study of the book of Ephesians. Designed to be studied in community, Holleman focuses the first seven week’s themes around a vivid verb—included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, and proclaiming. Each week, women study Ephesians through the lens of the verb, engage in personal reflection questions, discuss lessons in community, and work on developing, what Holleman calls, their Savior Story.

“The Jesus I met through the book of Ephesians is a God who includes us, chooses us, seats us at the table, connects us deeply with others, refreshes us, empowers us, and proclaims truth through us,” says Holleman. “Instead of the Shadow Narratives that often dominate our lives, we need to replace them with our Savior Stories and begin to live and walk in that freedom.”

Many women are stuck in their Shadow Narrative--a story that they tell themselves over and over again that keeps them in the darkness of exclusion and loneliness, weariness, and toxic patterns of jealousy, comparison, and despair. As readers study the verbs and phrases found in Ephesians and work through the discussion questions both personally and in community, they will replace these stories with those that have shaped their lives in Christ. These new stories are what Holleman calls Savior Stories, stories that look at who you are as a new creation in Christ, living with a different, biblical reality of a new mindset.

“Can you imagine living each day like an included person?” says Holleman. “Someone chosen instead of rejected or ignored? Someone seated at the Greatest Table with the Greatest King instead of lonely and fighting for belonging? Someone strengthened instead of weary and powerless? Someone renewed instead of languishing in sin? Someone filled with the Holy Spirit instead of living in self-effort all day long? And finally, someone proclaiming her Savior Story instead of living in silence or stuck in her Shadow Narrative.

The Unexplainable Church: Reigniting the Mission of the Early Believers by Erica Wiggenhorn



Frustrated with the watered-down, “light” Bible studies that are all too common, Erica Wiggenhorn wanted to write a study that went deep. She wanted to take readers verse-by-verse through a whole book of the Bible, offering theological and historical comments in each lesson while remaining practical and relational.

The Unexplainable Church is the result, and it offers readers two great takeaways. It will teach them by example how to study the Bible deeply, and it will challenge them toward critical life-change: submitting their will to the mission of Jesus, who gives life its fullest meaning.

The message of The Unexplainable Church is that the early church didn’t grow because Peter and Paul were so amazing, but because average people were transformed by God and brought together in His work. This 10-week inductive study of Acts 13–28 will sweep readers into the great drama of the Kingdom, inspiring them to live together in the power of the Spirit and accomplish what could never be done alone.

My thoughts...

I like bible studies that are deep and informative, one that makes me search the scriptures. This is one of those studies! I was so impressed with how the author really makes you think about what is being discussed and asked. She has included Hebrew culture and history which I so enjoy. From the opening page I knew this was a study I was going to glean from.

This is the second book in the study of Acts but can be used alone. I definitely will do that one once this study has been completed. If you're looking for a group study or one to do alone this would be a very good choice. The personal stories included are inspiring.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.​ ​

LOVE IN A TIME OF HATE



Love in a Time of Hate tells the gripping tale of Magda and André Trocmé, the couple that transformed a small town in the mountains of southern France into a place of safety during the Holocaust. At great risk to their own lives, the Trocmés led efforts in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to hide more than three thousand Jewish children and adults who were fleeing the Nazis. In this astonishing story of courage, romance, and resistance, learn what prompted André and Magda to risk everything for the sake of strangers who showed up at their door. Building on the story told in Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, German journalist Hanna Schott portrays a vivid story of resisting evil and sheltering refugees with striking resonance for today.

My thoughts...

I don't know what I was expecting from the book but I can honestly say it definitely opened my eyes to what bearing your cross really means. This is the story of Magda and Andre's journey that led them to the village that said no to the Nazis. Andre had such faith that God would not fail him, that he would be taken care of if he obeyed God's commands.

The love they showed in helping others and what they went through left me with tears in my eyes. You have to admire such people as these who lived their lives the way true disciples of Christ should.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.​

ISRAEL - GOD'S HEART



Israel-God's Heart: Landscapes and Legacy of Israel (Skypics Israel, November 2016) Soar across the skies of beautiful Israel and visit contemporary and historic sites beckoning visitors to stay and explore.

The beauty of Israel from above is captured by top aerial photographer Ron Gafni. As you sweep over ancient ruins, fly high in hot air balloons, and view vignette's of Israel's modern lifestyles,scripture will also come alive. Author Kathleen Barrett offers reflective narrative with scripture pointing to God's redemption plan for the world.

Learn more and purchase a copy here.

My thoughts...

The photos in this book tell a story and I found them to be very interesting, I wish there had been a little more explanation with each. There's a caption with each one and they include wildlife, landmarks such as the Dead Sea, and more. So much history in such a small book. Well worth having if you have any interest in Israel.

About the authors..



Ron Gafni works as a professional aerial photographer after spending more than a decade in Israel's High-Tech Industry. He brings his vast experience and personal perspective through the lens of a proud Israeli citizen. His work has been featured in "National Geographic," and his company, Skypics.co.il, provides books from its "Israel From Above" collection to the Israeli government, Army and Air force, as well as to large corporations in Israel.



Kathleen Barrett, a south Florida resident and former teacher is a student of the Word. She shares her thoughtful point of view in "Israel-God's Heart" from a personal, 40 year walk of Christian faith and study. In 2002, she authored a children's devotional. Before that and since then, she has published numerous articles from mission's outreach to local political events. Her more personal and reflective work has been featured in a number of collections. Find out more at http://skypics.co.il.