Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong

Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong [Book Review] (FaithWords, 2014)

In Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong, Brad Gray walks us through the life of the strong man who lived a life of weakness and failure. But it’s more than a cautionary tale.

The book employs a surprising blend of history, geography, archaeology, linguistics, and culture—what most folks might consider dull and dry—and explains how Samson’s struggles often mirror our own.

  • Learning from the pride and lust and unforgiveness (and faith) of this weak judge allows us to get right what Samson got wrong.
  • I enjoyed learning about how the author of the book of Judges used the theme of Samson eyes as an example of what “everyone in those days” did—what was right in their own eyes.

Brad Gray combines many personal illustrations along with his explanation of Samson’s life to produce a potentially life changing resource for all of us who have failed (that’s all of us). Samson’s presence in Hebrews 11 reveals that God can still use us—even when we fail Him.

God doesn’t want our failures to remain failures. He wants our failures to become investments in learning to get things right. He want us to learn from our mistakes and to keep moving forward. —Brad Gray

Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong has pulled Samson from the Sunday School flannel graphs and revealed him as the flesh-and-blood Hebrew he was. Human, frail, desperate, alone, failing—and yet, believing.

Just like us.

You’ll enjoy the book. You can grab it here.

God Is Just Not Fair

God is Just Not Fair [Book Review] (Zondervan, 2014)

When I began the book, I didn’t realize the author is blind. As I read and understood, my eyes were opened to how much her blindness has allowed Jennifer to see clearly.

With a shift in emphasis, book’s title, God is Just Not Fair, gives away the answer to the problem it poses. God is JUST—Not Fair, that is, His actions are based on justice as God defines it and have nothing to do with what we deem as fair. “Perhaps the real question you and I should ask,” Jennifer Rothschild writes, “is not ‘Is the master fair?’ but ‘Is the master just?’ In other words, Did the master do as he said he would?”

Total paradigm shift. We tend view God as a slightly better version of us. Instead, He is completely wise, sovereign, and just. If He were fair, we’d all be condemned—because we all fall short of His holiness.

Rise mightily against the first actings of thy distemper, its first conceptions; suffer it not to get the least ground. Do not say, ‘Thus far it shall go and no farther.’ If it have allowance for one step it will take another. It is impossible to fix bounds to sin. It is like water in a channel—if it once break out, it will have its course. Its not acting is easier to be compassed than its bounding.

John Owen
The Mortification of Sin (Banner of Truth; abridged edition, 2004), 55
The Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land

The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land [Book Review] (Chicago: Moody Publishers; New Edition, 2014)

Travel guides about journeying to the Holy Land are a dime a dozen. I have read many of them. But the newly revised and updated edition of The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land represents the best general volume for the Evangelical.

I have recommended this book to many people, and I know of a number of ministries that regularly go to Israel who distribute this volume to each traveler. Written by veteran Israel travelers, Charles H. Dyer and Greg A. Hatteberg, this volume will enable you to:

  • Gain a general overview of all the major sites of Israel with a brief introduction for each site, including primary scripture passages, maps, charts, and photos.
  • Know what to do with regard to practical needs such as packing, safety, weather, and photography.
  • Get the skinny on what to see, where to go, and what not to miss.

The authors have extensively revised the first part of the book on “Preparing for the Trip,” updating all the content–from applying for a passport, to using online resources, to traveling to Israel for the mobility impaired. Parts 3-6 of the book offers a similar overview of key sites in Egypt, Greece, Jordan, and Turkey.

Unique to this guidebook—I’ve never seen it anywhere else—are sections outlining a 4-week schedule for Bible reading, prayer, and Bible study.

Whether you’re looking for a book for yourself or one to recommend to someone else traveling to the Holy Land, The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land will serve you well.

Question: Have you read this book? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

What the Autobiography of George Muller Taught Me

If you’d like a journey of inspiration, pick up the brief Autobiography of George Muller. You’ll find yourself amazed at God and encouraged to pray more.

What I Learned From George Muller's Autobiography

(Photo: George Muller)

More than once, I’ve read the journal of George Muller. I return to it when I need some encouragement to pray and trust God with the impossible.

After my last read, I decided it was time to write down some good takeaways from Muller’s life that I could apply.

I’ll share them with you.

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers [Book Review] (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Forgiveness is something we all struggle with. For many of us, the struggle began early.

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers does an excellent job of connecting with someone whose parents have blown it (which, on some level, is all of us). But more importantly, this helpful volume walks readers through the morass of pain, shows them how to process it through a scriptural filter, and releases them into the freedom of their future made possible by God’s grace in Christ.

Great Resources to Get After Your Holy Land Tour

I’ve just returned from another Holy Land tour. It was great! After a tour to the Holy Land, it’s easy to forget the many lessons you’ve learned and the sites you’ve seen. The Holy Land can soon seem a distant land again. But it doesn’t have to.

The Best Resources to Get After Your Holy Land Tour

(Photo: Pilgrims on Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

One of my recommendations for making your holy land tour stay with you for years includes getting some great resources that will last you a lifetime.

In this post, I’ve highlighted the best of what I suggest you pick up after your Holy Land tour. I include videos, pictures, devotionals, and atlases.

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

One Thousand Gifts [Book Review] (Zondervan, 2011)

At first, this book felt hard to read. Short sentences. Choppy phrases. At times, random-sounding thoughts strung together like Pascal’s Pensees. Profound but disjointed. Like reading poetry. Not an easy speed-read.

The book has more periods per square inch than most books I’ve read. As a person in a hurry, the many periods of punctuation came like speed bumps, forcing me to slow down. When I did, I found a gift.

Writers do their best thinking with a pen, and One Thousand Gifts reveals Ann Voskamp as a deep thinker. She writes her book around the theme gleaned from Greek verb, euchartiseo, a term that means “to give thanks.” She introduces the theme early and repeats it in every chapter—so much so that you can open the book anywhere and be blessed. The book could be half as long and still as profound.

Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy. —Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts reminds us that contentment begins and continues by giving thanks for the blessings right in front of you. Ann did this by writing a list of 1000 “gifts” from daily life for which she is thankful.

Writing the list is a wonderful idea because it causes you to constantly look for new additions for the list. This daily assignment shapes a renewed mind, habitually searching life for reasons to thank God instead of for excuses to complain.

From the everyday context of mothering, Ann gives us the simple principle that the life we’re looking for is right in front of us—right where we are.

There are thousands of gifts from God if we will only insert many more periods in the sentences of each day.

Question: Have you ever made a list of what you’re grateful for? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How to Search Your Bible Atlas Using Evernote

I use Evernote to help organize my piles of papers and files at work and home. From bills to blogs, from songbooks to sermons, from cards to conference notes, Evernote has helped me go virtually paperless.

How to Search Your Bible Atlas Using Evernote

(Maps courtesy of Satellite Bible Atlas)

Of course, the greatest benefit of this application is its ability to find what I stick in there. It has become my digital brain—with the added benefit that it never forgets.

Because of Evernote’s optical character recognition (OCR), I can find words I’m searching for in handwritten notes and even in photographs. Any word in any picture—I can find with a few clicks on my computer or iPhone.

This provides a nice benefit for Bible study.

I’d like to show you how to use Evernote to search your Bible Atlas.

Cradle My Heart- Finding God's Love After Abortion

Cradle My Heart: Finding God’s Love After Abortion [Book Review] (Kregel Publications, 2012)

Cradle My Heart: Finding God’s Love After Abortion reaches its hands into the secret places of your heart—feeling around in the crags and cracks so deep, hidden, and dark you didn’t even know they’re there. But the probing creates a surprising result.

Healing.

Kim Ketola’s authentic voice and gifted pen guide readers through the difficult journey of an honest appraisal at what abortion causes—and more importantly—at what it doesn’t have to cause: lasting and debilitating guilt.

Kim interweaves her personal story with countless others—both biblical and modern—people who have found the relief that comes from no other place.

Your worst failure can be God’s greatest redemption. —Kim Ketola

The message of hope that flows from each chapter of Cradle My Heart is that God offers genuine hope and true healing. It’s there for the taking.

This book shows you how you can have it.

Question: What has most helped you overcome a guilty heart? You can leave a comment by clicking here.