Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Learning to Love by Heidi and Rolland Baker

Learning to Love by Heidi and Rolland Baker is an incredible, life-changing book. As a reviewer, this is the most difficult kind of book to review because I am at a loss for words. I was moved to tears many times while reading this book, and though I know why, describing the reasons seems petty. It may be that in my own experience as a missionary witnessing to and discipling the oppressed, addicted, and abused, the experiences written about are becoming real to me, and that these stories won't have the same value to others. They are precious to me.

 The stories and writing in this book come from truly transformed lives and tell the story of those who have given everything to become like Jesus in love and power for the least of these. Something lies behind the words of this book. Something supernatural that can't quite be handled or described but remains very real to the reader. The testimonies within these pages beat with the heart of Christ, and it's the communication of His heart and love within this book that is so priceless and so powerful.

 Learning to Love is not particularly well-written or well-organized. It reads like a series of missionary updates and newsletters cobbled together with devotional content. It might not reveal truths you haven't heard of before. But it illustrates the truth of the Gospel and the truth of God's heart with grit and an irrepressible hope and reality. Biblical truth comes alive in true stories of sacrifice and the overcoming power of God. Passages of scripture are explained with the sweat, tears, and joy of life in Mozambique among the poorest of the poor. This is demonstration of the Spirit and of power, and demonstration of Christ's words in the lives of real men and women. I highly recommend this book to all. It's what love looks like on the mission field today. This is what Christianity was meant to be.

My thanks to Bethany House publishers for providing a complimentary review copy. I have given an honest review.

795528: Learning to Love: Passion, Compassion, and the Essence of the Gospel Learning to Love: Passion, Compassion, and the Essence of the Gospel
By Heidi & Rolland Baker / Chosen

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2013 Bible Reading Checkup


We are almost three months in to 2013, and I am overjoyed to realize that this year has been the busiest, happiest, and most Bible saturated time of my life. I've stayed on course with my Bible reading disciplines. I have finished reading through the New Testament once, and I'm in 2 Samuel in the Old Testament (which is a little behind schedule, but that's not a big surprise). In addition to this I am immersed in discipleship and inductive Bible study nearly everyday (see Busy in the Word).

I'm really looking forward to getting back to the epistles, but I have been radically changed by the Gospels this year, especially going through the Gospel of Mark with some practitioners of other religions. Their fresh eyes have loaned me fresh eyes for the compassion and commands of Jesus.

Perhaps the biggest aid to keeping my Bible reading disciplines this year has been realizing that the Word is energizing. It gives me strength spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Building yourself up in the Word of God affects every part of your being, and strengthens and energizes you. When you really believe this, you want and need to open the Bible every morning and you walk away from the Bible with a spring in your step. Hopefully I can unpack this thought further in a future post.

Let me know how your Bible reading plan and disciplines are doing this year and what's helping you keep up. Comment below.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Made by the Father (March 2013 Newsletter)

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! -Psalm 139:13-18

This month my best friends Andrew and Abby Layer received a miracle from the LORD in the form of Levi David Layer, a beautiful baby boy eight pounds, eight ounces and in perfect health. They looked at me and said, “It’s amazing how much you can love someone so much before they’re even born.” That’s the heart of Father God. He made us in His image. He dreamed us and imagined us and crafted us before we had breath. He had us planned for all of eternity. We were in  His heart and mind before time began. He dreams of us and plans for us and speaks into our existence with love, hope, and expectancy. He breathes His Spirit and His life into us and guides us as we grow up in the knowledge of Him.

The precious thoughts the Father has for us are more numerous than the sand on the seashore. He formed us in our mother’s womb. Before we were born, we had a calling and a destiny, and we were loved.
Though we are born in sin, we are born loved by God. He looks at us, and though marred and changed by the fall of man, He still sees His image on us. He still has the plan and the calling and the child of love that He dreamed of before time began on His mind. He still delights in who we were made to be, and in the fullness of time, He sought Heaven to find one who was worthy to redeem us, and found that the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ alone was worthy. Christ left His throne in heaven and laid His glory aside to be born as us, to live a full human existence, tempted and tried in all ways as we are. He fulfilled perfect obedience to His Father and His own calling to suffer and die on a cross so that we could be saved, healed, and delivered from the fall. He rose from the dead to give us new life and a new birth in Him, and now we stand redeemed by the blood of the lamb. We are born again, out of sin, and into a new life with God. We live as a new creation born into the redemptive plan and purpose of God, where the dream of who and what we were always meant to be is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. We walk into the calling, love, and life that God desired for us while He dreamed of us before our conception.

Now the Father calls out to a generation of lost children, drowning in sin and sorrow, evil and pain. He made these children for love and not for hate, for life and not for death, for holiness not for sin, but the world rages on unaware and unbelieving. Today men and women who were imagined, planned, and crafted as children of the King will live on in bondage, sin, and pain. Many will enter eternity unprepared. Some will take their own lives in despair. Today the loving Father reaches out with the arms of His Church to reach His lost children and restore them to who He always intended them to be. As redeemed Children of God we are the hands and feet of Christ, the voice of the Father to this world. May we be faithful and empowered to reach the Father’s lost children.

Read the rest of the March 2013 Newsletter.
Read past newsletters.