Friday, April 30, 2010

April/May Book Club News

This past Saturday we had our April book club meeting with 7 people in attendance. It was a great meeting with good conversation.

We did discuss what to do with the lack of participation in meetings and have decided for now to continue meeting. Many of you only need to read the book and just enjoy knowing you are reading along with others and that is okay. I am just glad that you are enjoying the books and that so many of you have rekindled your love for reading. Then others of you pointed out how wonderful the meetings are because you get to hear other people's perspectives of the book that may make you think about something that you hadn't noticed before. Each and every person brings new insight, thoughts and opinions to the table that are valuable. I appreciate your participation whether you are just reading along or do make it to some of the meetings. I encourage you to try to make it to a meeting if you have never been before and see how you like it. If there are any thoughts or insight you can share as we try to make this club the best it can be, please do so!

I did write on the blog a few times this month but I encourage you to really check out the seek and find section of your books and dig deeper into the scriptures. I pray you distinguish between fact and fiction and that you have enjoyed this month's selection.

Our May book information can be found on the blog here. Encourage a friend to read along with us and bring them to our meeting. This Month's meeting will be on May 22, 2010 at 8:30AM in Classroom 4. The last Saturday in May is Memorial day weekend, so we are having our meeting the week before. There is a session retreat going on at that time but we will have access to Classroom 4. I hope you enjoy reading this month's selection!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Unafraid, Mary's Story

The 5th and final novella in A Lineage of Grace is Unafraid. This is the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus: "All eternity had been waiting for this moment. She responded in simple obedience to God's call." Here is what tells you about the book:

In this conclusion to Rivers's series about Jesus' matrilineal ancestors (e.g., Unshaken), Mary is not the serene Madonna historically depicted in art. She is instead a willful child, an unwed pregnant teenager thrilled that the long-awaited Messiah will come from her and failing to understand why people won't believe her when she tells them of her vision of an angel of the Lord. Only after God appears to Joseph does he believe and wed Mary. From then on, even though she loves her whole family, Jesus is Mary's sole focus, almost her obsession. Before her faith can become strong enough to endure his crucifixion, Mary must learn that her son was never really hers and that she was the vessel through which God worked his grace. The Christy Award-winning Rivers provides a fresh look at the historical Mary in much the same way Ellen Gunderson Traylor (Mary Magdalene, Mark) and Thom Lemmons (Daughters of Faith series) have done with other biblical figures. A solid addition to all collections. (end quote)

The book about Mary was a great conclusion to the other 4 novellas we read about the women who God used for the lineage of Jesus. It was definitely interesting to read the story from what might have been Mary's point of view. How heart wrenching and confusing it would have been for Mary to watch her son die but amazing for her to have the realization and comfort from God that he was never just her son. He was God's son. And that the dreams that she had for him were nothing compared to what God had planned. When God doesn't answer our prayers and fulfill our dreams he may just have something even better in mind. Again look to your seek and find section of your book to dig deeper into the story of Mary.

I hope you have enjoyed reading A Lineage of Grace and will pass it on and recommend to others. I am so blessed to have had my eyes opened to the Lineage of Jesus and the imperfect women that God used to bring about his Son. I pray you go back to your bible and read over these stories again. I pray that you are able to distinguish between the fact and the fiction and that this reawakens a thirst for the scriptures. Happy Reading!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Unspoken, Bathsheba's Story

On to Book 4 in A Lineage of Grace where we learn about Bathsheba's Story: "Her beauty stirred the passion of a king. Her pain moved the heart of God." Here is a bit more of a description from

In award-winning writer Francine Rivers's five-book Lineage of Grace series about women in the family tree of Jesus Christ, perhaps the most compelling installment is Unspoken, the love story of David and Bathsheba. This Old Testament saga of adultery, power, and battles fought both on the field of combat and in the human heart touches on the cost of poor choices, the need for forgiveness, and finding ultimate fulfillment--themes that are relevant today. Rivers writes poignantly of how Bathsheba falls in love with David as a little girl, and of her bitterness when she comes of age and is given in marriage to Uriah, one of David's mighty warriors. Love cannot be commanded, however, and it's not long before the sexual tension between David and Bathsheba reaches its logical conclusion, with disastrous results. Rivers adeptly brings the biblical account to life, portraying the difficult struggles of good people, the corrupting influence of power, and God's love for those who make mistakes--even big mistakes. (end quote)

Reading through this story of Bathsheba and David was new for me as this is a part of the Bible I hadn't ever read or studied. I had a vague sense of awareness of the adultery but that was about it. It was quite a drama filled story.. even without Francine River's help. You can't say the bible is dull! So for me this being the first reading of this story, I was amazed yet again at the power of God's forgiveness and how he took the sin of David and Bathsheba and made great things in his will. Their son Solomon would become king and continue the line of David to our Savior. Over and over again God's love is shown to us and that you are never too far gone for him to make something beautiful of your life. And even if you are like David.. a man after God's heart... and stray away... we all sin and God is there when we recognize it and repent. He works with the mess we have made and can use it to further his will. Even though Bathsheba and David sinned.. they suffered for it.. but were restored to God.

I enjoyed reading what Bathsheba's point of view could have been and what she went through. It definitely shed some light in a realistic way on details that the bible leaves out but that she would have had to endure.. such as all the other wives of David, her family rejecting her, etc. Again I urge you to check out the seek and find section of the story and did even deeper into God's word. Yet again I am connecting the dots on the Lineage of Christ and all the women God used who needed his Grace. Have you accepted his Grace yet? Nothing you can do will ever earn it. Repent, accept consequences and forgiveness and live your life for Christ.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Unshaken, Ruth's Story

The third novella in A lineage of Grace is Unshaken. This is Ruth's Story, "She gave up everything, expecting nothing, and God honored her." Again another book that reads so quickly. I can't believe I am still so amazed at the way the author adds a little fiction to this classic story and seems to revive it somehow... I'm not sure how to word it... a friend of mine even laughed as she mentioned that she wished the whole bible was written this way. Not to demean the Bible but I guess if you have read it and you read this story you can see what I mean. I love the way the author does the back and forth between perspectives for the main characters. And I love the "what the women were saying.." and "what the men were saying.." parts that show the perspective of the community as the story plays out.

I had heard Ruth and Naomi's story before but never really gone in depth with it. I think I always just assumed that it was about Ruth's loyalty to Naomi and the kindness of Boaz... and didn't ever consider the way Ruth and Boaz ended up together and were included in the lineage of Jesus or that Rahab was Boaz's mother. I just didn't connect the dots. Again this is an example of where God used someone who was not one of the chosen Hebrews to be blessed and become one of his people. The wisdom Boaz, Ruth and Naomi showed at times certainly made me want what faith they would show. We all can stumble in our walks but I just felt like the wisdom in this story was very inspiring. Is there anything that God really showed to you during this story? Is there a character that you identify with more? Check out your "Seek and Find" section of the book and see what God speaks to you. Are you seeking Godly wisdom and counsel when you are in dire times or do you seek worldly wisdom? I pray that we can be like Ruth and seek God no matter what.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Unashamed, Rahab's Story

Book 2 of A Lineage of Grace is Unashamed, Rahab's story. "A woman with a past to whom god gave a future." I was able to fly through this novella just as easiest as the first. Again a story of the new testament, Joshua, that I had read through several times but never really took in the importance.. the meaning of how God used Rahab.

By then and even today's standards, she was not a woman whom many people would pick out to be used by God. But over and over again in the bible God shows us that his ways are not our ways and that he wants to save those who need the saving! God used a woman...non-hebrew...a harlot.. to bear children who would one day bear the Messiah. It is just SO amazing! God is so good. To those of you who think that you are too bad and that God wouldn't want anything to do with you.. your wrong! God still wants to save you and use you for his kingdom purposes! Not just Rahab but over and over again in the bible he is using those who are "unworthy"... if you haven't noticed NONE of us are!

In the seek and find section, the book reminds us that Rahab's story does not end here. She is mentioned for her faith later in Hebrews and again in the beginning of Matthew. "The outcome of Rahab's story is the honor given to her where she is listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ the messiah: Rahab and Salmon had a son, Boaz. Boaz (wife Ruth) was the father of Obed; Obed, the father of Jesse; Jesse, the father of King David. And from the line of King David (born from Bathsheba) of the tribe of Judah came the promised Messiah." You can see a full listing in your bible or in the back of your book. I just can't express how cool it is that these women were involved in Jesus family tree.

Think about what this story of Rahab has taught you about Faith? Rahab's story didn't end here and yours doesn't either. What changes do you think you need to make after reading her story? Do you want the story to end for you or live on in the Glory of Christ?

"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see... It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute did not die with all the others in the her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies." Hebrews 11:1, 31

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unveiled, Tamar's Story

I was late starting A Lineage of Grace because of other books I was in the middle of and trying to get through. But I have to say that doesn't seem to be a problem as I am flying through the book. This is the second book I have read from Francine Rivers and I have to say that it is just as good as the first, Redeeming Love. The first novella in A Lineage of Grace is, Unveiled. It can be purchased as a separate book or together with the 4 other novella's in this months book. This is a story about Tamar from the Old Testament, "Betrayed by the men who controlled her future, she fought for her right to believe in a loving God." Here is the description off Amazon of this book:

Her name meant "date palm," and like her namesake, Tamar hoped to survive the harsh environment she was placed in: to bend but not to break. Rubbed with scented oil and arrayed in wedding finery, 14-year-old Tamar is thrust into a world of abuse, betrayal, and disillusionment when she is given in marriage to an evil, idol-worshiping man. In the face of her suffering, she must make choices: Will she let her new husband, Er, destroy her innocence and corrupt her? Will she leave the religion of the Canaanites and embrace the God of the Hebrews despite the life of misery she is cast into? Or will she fall into despair and become as wicked as her husband and his brothers? (end quote)

You can find Tamar's story briefly mentioned in the book of Genesis but Rivers is such an amazing author that she weaves detail into a story that makes you believe you KNOW this woman. Here God used a women who was not a Hebrew to be used for the benefit of his Kingdom. Jesus came from the line of Judah, through the son that Tamar had with him. What a cool idea for Rivers to highlight these women who had such an impact in God's kingdom. It's one of those duh moments when you think... why didn't I think of that?! haha! I had heard Tamar's story so many times before but always looked over it. When I read the story the first thing I would see is the deceit done to Judah... not that what Judah did in his actions to her were okay.. but after reading the story it definitely changes my perspective. These times and customs were not like the ones we have today but Rivers weaves the story in a way that helps us identify with their emotions, doubts, prayers and feelings.

I enjoy the "Seek and Find" section of the book that includes lots of thought provoking questions and scripture for review. It would be interesting to do a short bible study and go over these questions with others in depth. Because of time constraints we will only highlight so much during our meeting and I won't begin to transfer all this knowledge on here. It's so overwhelming and so abundant in information that I don't even know where to begin. I urge you to really spend time in this section of the book. The author did not go to all of this trouble for you just to skim on over it. Think about Judah and Tamar's story... have you ever felt God left you with no other options? What did you do about it? Are you willing to wait on God to do what is right by you? Do you care more about the opinions and guidance of those around you than God's?

Like so many parts of the Bible and in each of our daily lives, God uses the sins of a repentant people to bring about great things for his kingdom. I leave you with the last line of this book, "May God's word always produce the fruit of obedience and accomplish much in you."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Recently I finished listening to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I have several classics on my reading list and when I was looking for something to listen to on CD... this classic came to mind. I have never read any of her famous novels but have seen some of the movies other than this one. So I finished listening to it and have to say I enjoyed it. That is... after my brain caught up with the British accent and the fast elegant talking. At first the reader was talking what seemed to be so fast and then with her accent and elegant dialogue of the time.. I was having difficulties. But I got used to it and enjoyed the book. Here is what Amazon has for a description:

Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is a wonderfully entertaining tale of flirtation and folly that revolves around two starkly different sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. While Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, her younger sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a husband, but neither Elinor’s reason nor Marianne’s passion can lead them to perfect happiness—as Marianne falls for an unscrupulous rascal and Elinor becomes attached to a man who’s already engaged. Startling secrets, unexpected twists, and heartless betrayals interrupt the marriage games that follow. Filled with satiric wit and subtle characterizations, Sense and Sensibility teaches that true love requires a balance of reason and emotion. (end quote)

I enjoyed the setting of the story and reading about scandals that could happen today but handled with so much more grace and care than would be done in today's world. I did enjoy her style of writing and look forward to reading some of her other novels... or listening to them.. just depending on what I have time for first. I think it's very important to read the classics beyond your education in school. If books can stand the test of time and be so wildly popular so many years later that has to say something. You may find the book dull and outdated but I felt it was a refreshing read compared to other works of this time. This will not be a book club selection but I would recommend the book. Happy Reading!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wrap up of God's Smuggler

Brother Andrew

This is quite overdue but I can't put the book away and start writing about the next without finishing up. If you read and finished the book you know what happened from where I left off with my writing. We left off with Andrew at school and learning the overwhelming reality of God as provider. As you continue reading through the book there is story after story of obstacles that Andrew would come up against and God would provide a way. A way... for bibles to be smuggled, a way.... for a community to receive hope... A way.. for a car to be provided... much needed funds to appear. And the list goes on and on not just in Andrew's story but in all of ours if you stop to think.

Stop to think about your typical day from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep at night every tiny little thing the Lord provides for you. First things first, he provided that you WOKE UP!!! What a blessing we take for granted that the Lord has gifted us another day here on his earth in our blink of an eye existence. Then continue thinking about your regular morning activities and all that God has provided.. warm water, a shower, a toilet, toothpaste, food, clothing, shoes, water, etc. I could go on with this but I think you know where I am going. Even if you don't feel like your story is as adventurous as Andrew's.... every story is an adventure. Every day God is providing for you. Stop a moment, recognize it and Thank God for it. Think about what you might be able to help provide for others with what God has provided for you... pass it on just as Brother Andrew does.

I pray that this book has left some kind of an imprint on you to commit to be even closer to God and follow his will. The work that God has done and continues to do through Brother Andrew is nothing short of one miracle after another. Brother Andrew founded Open Doors and still is working his Father's will. Andrew is spreading the gospel all over the world and if you are interested in reading more about the work he is doing you can check out the latest book: Secret Believers, What happens when Muslims Believe in Christ. I am glad that the epilogue provided in the book gives you further glimpses into what he is currently involved with. He makes good points that to witness and provide for others you must be with them.. you must be there. You may not be called to be a missionary, but make the decision to be there for those around you and love them and show them love as Christ has loved us. I hope you enjoyed the March Selection and continue to read along with us. Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

May's Book club Selection for $5.00

I checked the local $5 Christian book store at the Tanger Outlet Mall tonight and they had our May Selection. The book was only $5.00 and if you happen to have a 20% off coupon that has been in the local papers recently, you can purchase the book for only $4.34. There were 3 books left on the shelf when I left but the store clerk said that she still had 5 more copies in the back. I hope this helps some of you and that you read along with us. Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

May Book Club Selection

Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin is going to be our book club selection for May. This book is historical christian fiction with some romance in there too, which takes place during the Civil War. Here is a description of what the book is about:

"The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised in a culture that believes slavery is God-ordained and biblically acceptable. But upon awakening to the cruelty and injustice it encompasses, Caroline’s eyes are opened for the first time to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. Her journey of maturity and faith will draw her into the abolitionist movement, where she is confronted with the risks and sacrifices her beliefs entail." (end quote)

This is book 1 of 3 in Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire Series. Usually I want to stay away from series books but this first book is too good to pass up and can stand alone on it's own. Many thanks go to book club member Carol D. for recommending this book. Don't be scared by the 432 page count. It is a book that can keep you turning the pages pretty fast. I know so many of you who read way more than one book a month so I am confident you will be able to do it!! Lynn Austin won the 2003 Christy Award for this novel and I truly hope that you find she deserves it in your reading.

**Don't forget the April meeting is coming up soon on April 24th at 8:30 am - 10 am in Swift's new building, classroom 2. Feel free to bring your friends and family!***

And don't forget, any book suggestions are always appreciated. Happy Reading!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Club News

Hello Fellow Readers!

I have decided to start a follow-up message after meetings so that if you missed one you will still be in the know about what's going on with the book club.

Meeting News

At our March discussion of God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew, I am sorry to say that we only had 3 people in attendance. And in case you didn't know, 5 in February and 8 in January. Reading this, you can probably guess that our numbers are diminished. I know that so many read the book but just don't have time for the meetings or maybe the meetings really aren't something that you need. For some, I know it's enough just to have the idea of reading along with everyone. At this time ideas are being tossed around about possibly moving the meetings to every other month or quarterly? Maybe meet somewhere other than the church? Discuss changing time of the month? Nothing is certain, these are just ideas that will be discussed later in the month.

Blog News

When we started the book club the idea was born of having a blog about the book club so that members who couldn't or didn't want to attend meetings could read about the book online and make discussion there. Which became, Serendipity Book Club Blog. At first I was constantly writing about the books throughout the month and every once in awhile someone would comment. But as the year went on the participants dwindled and so did my motivation. I'm not sure how many of you read it, but just want to announce that I will no longer attempt to constantly blog about the book each month. I will still tell you about the other books I am reading and make announcements and write about what we are reading a little bit. But I am officially removing the self-imposed pressure to blog throughout the whole month.

Well that's all the news for today. I hope you are enjoying the April book, A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. As always please e-mail me with any questions or concerns.

Thanks for being a part of the Serendipity Book Club. Happy Reading!