Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Counted Worthy ~ Book Review and Giveaway!

Counted Worthy
By: Leah E. Good

About the book: 
Heather Stone lives in fear of repeating the past, yet she continues doing the one thing that could trigger another disaster. When the police trace an illegal Bible to her house, Heather's world begins to crumble. 

Her father's life hangs in the balance. No one with the power to help knows or cares. If she tries to save him, she could lead her friends to their deaths. If she does nothing, her father's fate is certain. Can she evade a hostile police force and win public sympathy before it's too late? 

My thoughts:
Counted Worthy is one action-packed book! The minute I started reading, I was hooked and could hardly put it down. The author did an amazing job of making the first chapter an attention grabber. While working at a book sorting center, Heather spies a red Bible. She hides it in her coat and heads home, where she waits for her father to return home from work. Unbeknownst to Heather, there's a tracking bug in the Bible, and that night, men from The Agency appeared at her front door. They took her dad prisoner while Heather escaped out the window and ran to the lake where she promptly threw the red Bible in. From there on, Heather and other members of the underground church looked for ways to free her dad.  Before she knew it, Heather was on The Agency's wanted list. I won't tell you any more of what happened lest I should spoil the end for you, but you can pick up the book here and read it for yourself. Counted Worthy touches many emotions. There are a few parts that make you laugh, others seem to make you frustrated along with Heather that she isn't progressing in finding her dad, and others may even cause you to shed a tear, especially the sad, touching scene at the end between Heather and her father. It made me realize yet again how precious the Word of God is, especially to those who are forbidden from owning one.  Christians are being persecuted for their faith in the Lord and for having Bibles in their possession, yet they still continue to love and serve Him. This is a challenging and inspiring book and is one of the best novels I've read in a long time; I highly recommend it to you all! I loved how Leah drew me, as the reader, in with an attention grabber in the beginning, and then kept me interested throughout the whole book. Another thing that I thought was neat was how the main character had so many Bible verses memorized and kept quoting them to remember the promises of God during her trials. And for an added bonus, all the Bible verses used are quoted from the KJV! :) I would say this is a book that both girls and boys would enjoy reading. It would also be an awesome book for families to read together. I give this book a high rating of 5/5 stars! 
You can purchase the book here, on Leah's website, or on Amazon

Leah, thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to read and review your book. It touched and encouraged me and I so enjoyed reading it. :) You are an awesome writer and I hope God blesses you as you continue writing for Him.

Now, let's move onto the giveaway. Leah has so graciously offered to give one e-book copy away to one of you readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. :) 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Day By Day

Day By Day
By: Karolina Sandell-Berg 

Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear.  
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure, gives unto each day what He deems best;
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest. 

Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me with a special mercy for each hour,
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me, He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure, is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As your days, your strength shall be in measure," this the pledge to me He hath made. 

Help me then in ev'ry tribulation, so to trust your promises, O Lord;
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation, offered me within your holy Word. 
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, e'er to take, as from a Father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach the promised land. 
This a a Scandinavian hymn written by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, who is also known as the "Fanny Crosby of Sweden." Karolina was born in Frvderyd on October 3, 1832. Her father, Jonas Sandell, was a pastor of the village's Lutheran church. Though frail in body, Lina had a strong spirit, and was raised with artistic, literary, and religious influences in her home life. Sadly, tragedy struck when she was twenty-six; it profoundly affected the course of her life. Lina and her father were enjoying a boat trip on the east coast of Sweden near Gothenburg when the ship suddenly lurched. Tragically, before her very eyes, Karolina's father pitched overboard and drowned. After returning home alone, Karolina began processing her grief through the Scriptures and expressing her faith in poetry. She had written hymns before, but now she poured out her broken heart in an endless stream of beautiful songs. Her hymns mightily influenced the revival that swept across Scandanavia after 1850. They became even more popular because of the simple, beautiful melodies written for them, especially those written by Oscar Ahrnfelt. He played his guitar and sang her hymns throughout Scandanavia. Karolina once said that Ahrnfelt sang her songs "into the hearts of the people." The world-famous vocalist, Jenny Lind, visited factories and sang Lina's beautiful hymns. Fourteen poems were published that tragic year of 1858, one of which is sung even to this day: 
Children of the heavenly Father safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven such a refuge e'er was given.

Several years later, her best-known hymn, "Day By Day," was published. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, "...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Karolina Sandell-Berg's voice spoke more than 650 hymns from a heart filled abundantly with love for her Saviour. In Day By Day, Lina spoke from personal experience about the daily strength the Lord provides for His struggling children. 

Day by day, and with each passing moment, strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear. 

If you need strength for a particular trial, take this grand old hymn into the day with you, and claim some of the wonderful promises God has given: 
The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. ~ Exodus 15:2

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. ~ Nehemiah 8:10 (emphasis mine)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 
~ Isaiah 40:31

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Set - Apart Femininity ~ Book Review

Set Apart Femininity
By: Leslie Ludy 

About the book:  
Do you long for something more than the shallow, self-focused, pleasure-seeking femininity so prevalent today? Do you want a focus beyond chasing male approval and pop-culture appeal? Do you need a fresh vision of God’s amazing purpose for your life as a young woman? Are you ready to become one of the few in this generation who will make an eternal impact upon this world?
This book tackles key issues you’re facing today, like:
  • Unlocking God’s sacred call upon your life
  • Understanding God’s pattern for true feminine beauty
  • Captivating the heart of a Christ-like guy
  • Aligning your daily existence with God’s priorities
  • Finding real fulfillment by living a poured-out life
Discover Set-Apart Femininity. In this powerful, candid, and conversational book you will gain a compelling vision for femininity that can forever alter your existence and take you far beyond the unfulfilling trends of modern culture. This book is not the same old mediocre message you’ve always heard. It’s a radical call to a counter-culture lifestyle in which every aspect of your femininity—from the way you relate with guys to the focus and direction of your life—is shaped by an intimate relationship with the King of kings. It’s the kind of heroic femininity that the world-changing women of history understood. And it’s well within your grasp, no matter where you’ve been.
Get ready to experience the lost art of set apart femininity—and find what you’ve been searching for. Great for teens, college-aged women, and singles.


My thoughts: 
I've heard marvelous things about this book, and was excited to read it. However, I was a little disappointed when I started reading. The first chapter contained information about how young girls dress nowadays, and it gave too many unnecessary details that I don't think our minds should be dwelling on. I didn't care to read much of the first chapter. The third chapter was entitled "Sacred Priority and talked about femininity that captivates the masculine heart. Sadly, it talked about things that aren't appropriate for many young girls to read, howbeit, there were three pages at the end that contained some really good and embolden information. The theme of it is encouraging young girls and ladies to live a set-apart life. If Christ is your Redeemer, then you are called to be set-apart and different. You (and your heart) belong to Jesus - not the world. I like what the writer says in chapter 4 ("Sacred Decorum- raising femininity to heavenly heights): Is Jesus Christ merely a part of your life? Or is He your entire life?  Overall, I enjoyed most of the book and other than the two sections I mentioned above, found it both helpful and encouraging. I would recommend this book for girls of ages 18 and up. If you do read it, I also suggest having your mom read it first so she can mark or tear out anything that's not suitable to read.

I received this book from Set Apart Girl  in exchange for an honest review.

I hope all you dear readers have a lovely weekend!  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Might Fortress Is Our God

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
By: Martin Luther

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; 
His craft and pow'r are great, and armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal. 

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same,
And he must win the battle. 

And tho this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thro' us: 
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, 
One little word shall fell him. 

That word above all earthly pow'rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours thro' him who with us sideth: 
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still, 
His kingdom is forever. 

 We think of Martin Luther as a great reformer, Bible translator, and political leader. But I don't think many people realize that he wrote many hymns. He was born in an area of Germany which was known for its music. In his little Thuringian village, Martin grew up listening to his mother sing. He joined a boy's choir that sang at weddings and funerals. He became quite proficient with the flute (recorder), and his volcanic emotions often erupted in song. 
 
 When the Protestant Reformation began, Luther determined to restore worship to the German church. He worked with skilled musicians to create new music for Christians to be sung in the vernacular. He helped revive congregational singing and wrote a number of hymns. The years following 1520 were dark and filled with danger for Martin Luther. Despite serving for several years as an Augustinian priest, he had become an adversary of the Catholic church after publicizing his objections to the practice of selling indulgences. Eventually, Luther was excommunicated for this position, and his public declarations and criticism placed him at the center of controversy. Threatened with arrest and extradition to Rome for trial, Luther was "kidnapped" by men Frederick the Wise of Saxony had sent, and taken to Wartburg Castle where he remained for over a year. (Frederick the Wise was someone who cared about Luther and tried to protect him.) It was during this time in isolation that he began translation the Bible from Greek into German. He felt strongly that the people ought to be able to read the Holy Scriptures in their own language and also to speak directly to God through hymns in their native tongue. He composed a hymn book for use by German congregations. With the translation of the New Testament into German in 1522, the publication of a hymn book in 1524, and the completion of the Old Testament translation in 1534, Luther provided the foundation for the Protestant Reformation in Germany. In his honor, German Protestants became known as Lutherans.

If there was a theme song of the Reformation it would have to be Luther's powerful hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Based on the first verse of Psalm forty-six, "God is our refuge and strength," this hymn became the rallying cry of peasants and dissidents across Europe. In difficulty and danger, Luther would often resort to this song, saying to his associate, "Come Philipp, let us sing the 46th Psalm." It has been translated into almost every known language, and is today the national hymn of Germany. 

Martin Luther knew the power of congregational singing and saw it as a powerful tool for bringing men and women closer to God. He wrote: "If any man despises music, as all fanatics do, for him I have no liking; for music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices." He also wrote: "Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits..."

When he died in 1546, in his hometown of Eisleben, Germany, Luther had, through his theological writings, his Bible translations, and hymns, laid the foundations of a movement that would forever change the religious history of the world. In recognition of this, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was sung at his funeral and the first line of the hymn is inscribed on his tomb in Eisleben.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about this hymn and had a wonderful Lord's day. 

In God's abounding love,
Ashley

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom Isn't Free
 
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
(The Star Spangled Banner)

 O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!


O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!


O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

(God Bless America)

 America just celebrated the 241st birthday of freedom from the British Empire on July 4th. But the freedom that we Americans have been privileged with today came with a price. I am so thankful for the thousands upon thousands of courageous men and women who were willing to sacrifice their lives so the United Sates of America could be free. As I was thinking about the 4th of July and independence, I realized that the freedom the United States enjoys is not the only freedom that cost a great price. Freedom from the bondage of sin cost Jesus the Christ his life. What a glorious thought that Christians have been freely justified by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. When we're justified, it's the same as 'just as if I'd never sinned'. When God looks at us, He sees the blood that His holy Son Jesus shed on the cross, and it covers us. (Romans 3:24) I think being free in Christ is more wonderful than having all the freedoms in the world.
Romans 6:22 "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."

Because of one man, Adam, condemning judgement came upon everyone in the world. But because of one man, the second Adam which is Jesus, the free gift of salvation is made available to everyone through faith. (Romans 5:18) Romans 5:19 says "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." It's amazing to think that even though Jesus was sinless, he became sin for all of us; He knew that we could never pay the debt because we were born in sin. Christians should be rejoicing that they are no longer servants of sin, but of righteousness. How thankful I am today for the saving grace of our loving Savior, Jesus! I am reminded of the song "He Paid a Debt He Did Not Owe".

He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

My debt He paid upon the cross
He cleansed my soul from all its dross
I tho't that no one could all my sins erase
But now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

O such great pain my Lord endured
When He my sinful soul secured
I should have died there but Jesus took my place
So now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

He didn't give to me a loan
He gave Himself now He's my Lord
He's gone to Heaven to make for me a place
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

 If video doesn't load, click here.

If you have been justified by Christ's blood, don't make provision for the lusts of the flesh--serve God, serve others, and use your liberty to be ambassador for Christ. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Next time you think about freedom and the sacrifices men had to make for this country, don't forget that Jesus paid your debt and made you forever free.
"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." ~ John 8:36

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." ~Galatians 5:1

Rejoicing evermore,
Ashley