Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: For Women Only

Book Review: For Women Only; Revised and Updated Edition
by  Shaunti Feldhahn

In this revised and updated edition of For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn interviewed and polled men across the country, from different walks of life in order to help us women understand some of the disconnect and missed communication that can happen in our relationships with men. Shaunti does a great job, not just of telling women how men think and process information and events, but of reminding women that we cannot force men to process and consider life in the same manner as us. 

As a newlywed, I find it difficult to sometimes understand how my husband translates events into emotions and feelings, I also sometimes forget that love and respect are both important in different ways to my husband and me. We also have very different perceptions of the two thing, I need love in a different form than my husband does, and reading For Women Only has helped provide me with some much needed insight into the male mind. My marriage will most likely never be perfect, but with the information and the Christ based foundations included in this book, I feel like I can come a little closer to maintaining peace within my marriage, even during times of disagreement. 

Light Bulb On!
How I Woke Up to What I Didn’t Know About Men
The other half of the people on the planet already know what you’re going to read in this book.
As newlyweds, my husband and I lived in Manhattan, and like all New Yorkers, we walked everywhere. But I quickly noticed something strange. Quite often we’d be strolling hand in hand and Jeff would abruptly jerk his head up and away. We’d be watching in-line skaters in Central Park or waiting to cross the street in a crowd, and he would suddenly stare at the sky. I started to wonder, Is something going on at the tops of these buildings?
Turns out, something was going on, but it wasn’t up in the buildings.
Have you ever been totally confused by something the man in your life has said or done? Looking at your boyfriend’s rapidly departing back, have you ever wondered, Why did that make him so angry? Have you ever been perplexed by your husband’s defensiveness when you asked him to stop working so much? Yeah? Me too.
But now, after interviewing and surveying thousands of men, I can tell you that the answers to those and dozens of other common perplexities are all related to what is going on in your man’s inner life. Most are things he wishes you knew but doesn’t know how to tell you. In many cases, they’re things he has no idea you don’t know. This book will share those interviews and those answers. But be careful. You might be slapping your forehead a lot!
I can tell you that the answers to dozens of common perplexities are related to what is going on in your man’s inner life.
How It All Started
Let me tell you how I got here. It all started with the research for my second novel, The Lights of Tenth Street. One of my main characters was a devoted husband and father. Because I had to put thoughts in his head, but had no idea what a guy would be thinking in a given situation, I interviewed my husband, Jeff, and many other male friends and colleagues. (“What would you be thinking if you were the character in this scene?”) It took me a while to figure out how to handle what I found.
You see, in many cases, what I heard stunned me. Not just because what the men were thinking was so surprising but because it was so foundational. These weren’t feelings that popped up every few months but were deep fundamental needs, fears, doubts, and thought patterns that occur in men every single day. It didn’t matter whether the man I was talking to was old or young; what his racial or cultural background was; whether he was married or single, a churchgoer or an atheist, a corporate executive or a factory line worker—I kept hearing similar things.
The character in my novel was a good guy who loved his wife and kids, was a devoted churchgoer and godly man, and a successful businessman. But he struggled with his thought life, especially the visual temptations that beckoned from every corner, from the secret traps of the Internet to the overt appeal of the miniskirt walking down the street. So, in short—and this is what shocked me—I discovered that instead of being unusual, my character was like almost every man on the planet. Including the faithful husbands I was interviewing.
That revelation led to a host of others, and following those trails led me to the thousands of personal and written interviews with men—including several professional, nationally representative surveys—that form the core of this book. I interviewed close friends over dinner and strangers in the grocery store, married fathers at church and the single student sitting next to me on the airplane. I talked to CEOs, attorneys, pastors, technology geeks, business managers, the security guard at Costco, and the guys behind the counter at Starbucks. I even interviewed a  professional opera singer, a household-name movie star, and a former NFL offensive tackle with a Super Bowl ring. No one was safe.

Excerpted from For Women Only, Revised and Updated Edition by Shaunti Feldhahn Copyright © 2013 by Shaunti Feldhahn. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher - See more at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601424440#sthash.K4OKdPM9.dpuf
For more information about For Women Only, and Shaunti Feldhahn click this link

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. This book can be purchased from: http://www.alibris.com/,  amazon.combarnesandnoble.combooksamillion.com

Friday, August 16, 2013

Reblog: Images from 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal

These are absolutely stunning!!
Sculptures from the 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal competition of horticultural art.
This year’s theme is Land of Hope, which is made up of 6 components: the interdependence of man and nature, positive actions for the environment, endangered or at-risk species or ecosystems, nature in the city, the beauty and fragility of life on earth and peace as the key to planetary survival.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sharing a post from Devotionals Daily: Forgiveness For All by Matthew West

Here is another daily devotional I subscribe to. Every morning from a different author and book, and all are wonderful. I hope you enjoy!

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Romans 3:23
Forgiveness For All by Matthew West
I came across an interesting online article this morning. The headline read “38 Stars Who Were Arrested in 2012.” My curiosity compelled me to click on the link. The article showed some of our beloved Hollywood A-listers, B-listers, even C-listers in a less than flattering light. We’ve seen them in movies. We’ve listened to their music. We’ve celebrated their athletic accomplishments. This time, however, they were posing for mug shots.
One celeb was sporting a brand-new black eye from a barroom brawl. Another looked as if she hadn’t showered in a year. And with each unflattering profile picture, a detailed description of their indiscretions was published for all to see.

Our celebrities may have grown accustomed to living above the law, but in these particular instances, the law won.

There were stories of drunk driving charges, drug possession, tax evasion. And the list went on. These celebrities seemingly had everything life can offer, but they apparently wanted more. And now they were paying the price.

A very public price, I would add. As if it’s not enough that these high-profile celebrities have been busted by the police, then the whole world is given a front-row seat from which to watch their weakest moments play out like a bad reality TV show. With the manner in which media covers this news it would appear that we, the public, certainly do love to see our celebrities fall.

We build larger-than-life heroes, put enviable icons on pedestals, and imagine beautiful people with pristine personas. Then we spy on them, following their every move, just waiting for them to slip. When that happens, those magazines that plaster these celebrity images on their covers, bragging about their beauty or abilities, don’t hesitate to put them on display again, but for a much different reason.

The religious community has its celebrities as well, and I have witnessed some of the harshest judgment ever from fellow believers who have misbehaved. More than a few celebrity Christians, ministers of megachurches, big-name gospel singers, and charismatic television evangelists have made a mistake, fallen short of perfection, and paid a painfully public price. And every time this occurs, we Christians appear shocked, stunned, disappointed, and appalled by the revelation that even the celebrity Christians are, as the old hymn says, “prone to wander.”

This is my point: Sin levels the playing field. Sin humbles the superhuman. When it comes to shortcomings, the scales between white collar and blue, between celebrity and non-celebrity, balance out in a hurry.

Maybe as you read this, you are thinking, I’m far from famous. What does this have to do with me?

The truth is, celebrities are just like everybody else. Whether you are a professional athlete or a professional plumber, you can add another title to your resume: sinner. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV, emphasis added). If you’ve ever thought you have nothing in common with a celebrity, now you know you do. And as much as you might wish that what you had in common is the amount of cash they have in a bank account or the villa they own in Tuscany, it’s a far less desirable similarity you share. It’s sin.

We all sin. We all struggle. We all wander from God’s way. We all need forgiveness. And God offers a solution that is just as inclusive as the sinful nature that plagues us all.

Even King David

I think of King David as one of the first celebrities in history. This guy could do no wrong — or so it seemed. Take down a bear? Easy. How about a lion? Sure. Kill a giant named Goliath that everyone else in the land was afraid to face? No problem. Become the king of Israel? Done. Have your pick of the most beautiful women in all the land? Can you say “Bathsheba”? And I would call King David a rock star if only the Bible had left out the little detail that he played a harp. (That’s not really a rock star instrument.) But on all other counts, David had clearly surpassed his shepherd status and exchanged it for royalty. Scripture says, “The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went” (1 Chronicles 18:13).

Yet even David — the only person in the Bible described as “a man after God’s own heart” — could not escape the all in “For all have sinned.” And like the celebrities featured in the article I read this morning, his weaknesses and sins have been recorded for all to see. The Bible’s detailed description of David’s indiscretions reminds us that not even a man after God’s own heart is beyond needing God’s forgiveness. Not only are we given a window into David’s world as it shattered around him because of sin, but we also have the chance to gain great insight from his journey to forgiveness. Psalm 51 captures this fallen man’s earnest prayer as he comes to grips with his sins of adultery and murder:

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins (Psalm 51:1).

In many other psalms a forgiven David sang the praises of the God who saved him:

Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins (Psalm 103:2–3).

David’s prayer is proof that even though he was king, he knew he did not possess the power to meet his greatest need: David needed forgiveness. The same is true for me. The same is true for you. Everyone from the highest of us to the lowest, from the richest to the poorest, from the most well-known to the least known — “allhave sinned.” Nobody is able to avoid sinning; no one is able to free himself from the consequences of sin. And nobody has to be bound by those consequences either.

The Bible erases the less from the word hopeless. God’s Word makes no mistake about the seriousness of our sin — “For the wages of sin is death” — but Scripture also presents the solution: “the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). And this solution is not only for a select few. God’s grace goes out to the same all who have sinned. Read these Scriptures and notice their inclusive language (emphasis added):

*  "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
*  “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
*  "To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." (Ephesians 4:7)
All of us have sinned. All of us have been offered forgiveness by God. And one day all of us will stand before Him.

*  We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
*  At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2:10–11)
Hopefully, you will never have to know how it feels for your sins to be on display for the world to see. And you’ll never see your mug shot printed in the pages of a magazine or your private sins described in great detail for all to read. But you will stand before the Lord one day. All of us will. Every knee will bow before God and every tongue will one day confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 14:11). Perhaps the thought of standing before the Lord like that one day frightens you. Maybe you shudder at the thought of every day of your life being on display before the almighty and holy God.

Take heart! God has provided a way so that when you stand before Him, you can stand unashamed and totally free from any guilt. The step to take sounds too simple: like David, you must simply receive God’s gift of forgiveness.

Following the example of King David, pray as he prayed:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love” (Psalm 51:1). Then you can be confident that, regardless of your rap sheet, you are forgiven, and you can continue to follow David’s lead spending the rest of your days on earth singing, “Let all that I am praise the Lord!” (Psalm 103:1).

Remember, God doesn’t see people as celebrities or non-celebrities.

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

He sees the hearts of His children and recognizes our need of a gift that only He can give. And He offers that gift to all of us. Forgiveness . . . for all.

Excerpted with permission from Forgiveness: Overcoming the Impossible by Matthew West (Thomas Nelson, publication July 2013)
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Your Turn

Have you felt fear that the Lord wouldn't forgive you because your sins, your mistakes, your disgraces have been too public? Too big? Too much for Him to handle? Isn't it amazing that His forgiveness is a free gift if only we ask for it? Pause now and ask the Lord for His gracious forgiveness that He is eager to offer us all, no matter how great our sin. We would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment on our blog! ~Devotionals Daily