Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Story of Chinese Bamboo

I wanted to take the time to share the simple but timeless story of the miracle of the Chinese Bamboo. If you have never heard it before, take 9 minutes to watch this story being told. I'd love to hear what you think this means to you!

For me, I often hear how many times we pray for God to answer and it seems like He doesn't or isn't listening. Perhaps we need to do something before God will answer, so we pick up our prayer request and work on the issue a bit and lift it back up to God for answers, but then nothing. Day after day, nothing changes, except our hearts, our words, our thoughts and pretty soon our actions. We think God doesn't care enough about our prayer. We may even begin to doubt our faith, our worthiness, or even if it's worth praying about.

I can think of all kinds of situations where waiting for prayer may frustrate your faith. You may be expecting a healing from a dreaded diagnosis for you or a family member or friend. You may need financial help due to the downturn in this economy, a job to provide for your family, help to manage a child that has turned away from his family and his faith, help to weather a storm but in all your prayers, nothing seems to change.

We need to remember the story of the miracle of Chinese Bamboo. It make take awhile, maybe more time then you ever imagined it would take, maybe that healing won't happen, but in the course of time, goodness will result. Perhaps someone will find his salvation through one encounter with that person, was it worth it. Perhaps not to you, but to God, all of heaven rejoices when one soul turns to God. In time, we will see the results of our prayers, but remember the answer we seek may not be God's answer. Will you still rejoice? Will you still hold on to your faith? Will you still turn to God?

Remember how long we will weather the storm, depends on our response during the storm. Let's keep our faith, keep our praises and thank Him everyday even though nothing may be happening today. Believe in the things not seen and grow your faith in amazing ways!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Winning Against Worry

Worries, everyone has them. We worry about whether or not today will be a good day or a bad day, whether that choice is the right one to make or the wrong one, we worry about our jobs, our financial situations, our families, our children, our health, the weather. As you can see, we almost worry every single day. Yet, is it possible to go without worry for a day? Just how do you weather the storm when worry begins to rear it's ugly head?

Let's define worry: To torment one's own self.

Hmmm, kinda harsh to hear huh? I bet when people call you on that bad day when worry is running rampant all over your day, they didn't expect to hear that you're tormenting yourself did they? Yet if you really think long and hard about it, that is just what worry is. We are imagining all the horrible outcomes of any particular situation we find ourselves dealing with. The doctor called and left us a message to call us right away about the results of a test. What do we do immediately? We start the worry game. What if it's bad? I mean if it was good, wouldn't they just say so? What if I am going to die? What if ....what if.....what if.... Oh I am sure you can fill in the blank with any number of things.

What worry really is, is making a down payment on a problem we may never have. It never solves anything, it just sets out to torture and torment us. It has absolutely nothing to do with faith. Want to know the real reason we worry?

We worry because we actually think WE can solve our problems. We can fix it. We can solve it.

Let's look at the story of Mark 4:35 - 40 to see how we can win against worry.

"That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

This portion of scripture deals with telling us how to deal with storms and what we need to be doing in the middle of them. We know how it all turns out. Mark 5:1, "They went across the lake..."

They didn't get stuck in the middle with no way out. Jesus took them through the storm and out the other side. He wasn't worried what was going to happen, because His confidence, and trust was with His Father. He knew He would take care of them all.

Yet how often in the middle of the storm do we feel like the disciples, calling out to Jesus and asking Him, "God! Don't you care?" Doesn't it feel like a silence has settled in our lives at that moment in time, no matter how much we pray it often feels like God is asleep, like He isn't at work in our lives???

So what do we do when we don't feel like God is listening or working on things? We worry! We ask advice from others, who often times, don't know how to solve their own problems.

We need to run to the throne and not to the phone!!! It's one thing to believe in Jesus, but it's another thing to put our faith to work. We need to believe the best in all our circumstances. God has wonderful things for us. We need to start living like we believe it and start accepting it.

God has given us peace, we just need to thank Him for it. Ask Him to show you what's getting in the way of receiving it. God wants us to lean on Him. When we try to tackle our problems ourselves, we get frustrated.

Now it's time to win. Starting today, make a declaration that you will not worry! No matter how many times the enemy throws more stuff at us to worry about. Instead of spending time worrying about things, start spending time in God's word and learning about His promises for you as His child, and His heir. Read it out loud to quiet those thoughts we are having on the inside.

Humans are the only species that worry. Pigs don't worry, trees don't worry, fish don't worry, birds don't worry. Yet we are the most intelligent species and we torment ourselves by worrying.

Matthew 6:25, "Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" Do not, can be translated as STOP!

When you begin to worry, tell yourself out loud, STOP IT! I'm not going to waste my energy on that!! Go and pray and lay it at God's feet and then go do something that will take your mind off it and makes you feel better.

Remember how long we remain in the storm is up to us, what we chose to do while in the middle of it. No matter how long it takes, God will bring us through it. We are one day, one minute, one second closer to getting to the top of our mountain then where we were one day, one minute, one second ago. He will never leave us or forsake us. Turn to Him! Remember the promises of Galatians 6:9 - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Grace Card - DVD Giveaway and Review

Everything can change in an instant … and take a lifetime to unravel. When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with God … and just about everyone else. Mac’s rage stonewalls his career in the police department and makes for a combustible situation when he’s partnered with Sam Wright, a rising star on the force—who happens to be a part-time pastor and a loving family man.

Can they somehow join forces to help one another when it’s impossible for either of them to look past their differences—especially the most obvious one? Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God’s grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD … and never underestimate the power of God’s love.

My Review:

This movie will completely move you to tears. An emotional roller coaster from the first scene where Mac McDonald (Michael Joiner) and his family are put through the hardest of life's tragedies as his young son is killed by a drug deal gone bad. While the police are pursuing the dealer, Tyler rides directly into the path of the dealer's car.

Now the family, 17 years later is still struggling in the various stages of grief. For Mac, it's getting over the hate he still feels for the boy who took the life of his son. Even though he doesn't say he's a racist, his actions confirm that he is being held captive. Now partnered with Sam Wright (Mike Higgenbottom), who's an up and coming pastor and who just received the promotion that Mac had hoped he would get, he is faced with his greatest enemy.

Sam Wright is trying to get his church started so he can quit to police force, however he too struggles with his messages when he can't even find a way to reach a hurt and wounded man he is partnered with everyday who hates him simply based on his skin color.

Blake is the remaining son who is on the verge of not graduating in his senior year due to his grades. He is still dealing with trying to live up to Tyler even though the accident happened 17 years ago. He turns to the wrong crowd since being at home with his mom and dad only leads to more arguments. His dad, Mac, believes he will never measure up to his expectations.

Louis Gossett Jr. plays a small role as the grandfather of Sam who teaches him about what the definition of grace means through a story of a slave owner on a plantation. This movie is well produced and the storyline will impact you no matter where you stand in life.

I received the DVD, The Grace Card, compliments of Propeller and Provident Films for my honest review and once again LOVE that movies like this are being made for families again. The message is relevant to anyone who questions what the meaning of grace is and how forgiveness works in any situation we face in life. A word of caution: you WILL need tissues for this one. I highly recommend this movie to any family looking for a great story with a message behind it. This is a 5 out of 5 stars DVD.

For more information about the DVD please click on the links below:

The Grace Card Website

You can find them on Facebook by clicking here.

Thanks to the generous folks at Provident Films, GraceWorks Pictures, and Propeller, they are offering a giveaway copy of this DVD to one lucky follower of this blog. Here are the guidelines to enter:

1. Be a follower of my blog, Reviews From The Heart.

2. You must be a resident of the US or have a US shipping address. Please No P.O. Boxes.

3. I need a way to contact you if you are the lucky winner, so please be sure to include your email address along with your comment.

4. Leave a comment at Reviews From The Heart and tell me why you'd love to win a copy of this DVD!

The giveaway will end on August 27th and I will notify the winner by email at that time.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:
“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Angel in the Shadows

Megan Laughlin looks like any other average high school girl except for one unique thing. She has the ability to see angels. Not only is she able to see their glowing light that surrounds them identifying them no matter how hard they try to blend in, God's given her a gift into the unseen realm.

She finds out about this unique gift when she begins seeing things that she wonders if she isn't going crazy. One of her camp counselors, Mr. Z as he is know about camp is glowing. Thinking perhaps he may be dying of some radioactive disease, he asks her one morning at the beginning of camp, just what she sees. She tells him that he glows. He laughs and then proceeds to enlighten her on his true identity of being called by God to help Megan with her gift and the coming evil that's headed her way.

Megan fears that even though she loves Seth, her boyfriend, who is also a believer, he may not understand her gift and would end their relationship. So Megan struggles with using her gift of sight during the 8 days at camp. During this time she sees evil spirits that manifest as a dark shadow like cloud, while the dark angels who can change forms into whatever they desire are the ones see is advised to stay away from.

When she returns home from camp, she soon learns that their is a new kid in town, who is very popular in school, Damon Vincente Lawless or D.V.L. for short. Nice initials huh? Now its a battle for the very lives of those she attends school with and for Damon this is a game about soul winning and he isn't about to lose.

In the first book in the Angels in the Shadow series, so we begin the battle brewing between good and evil, heaven and hell and even angels and demons. Angel in the Shadows, Book 1, by Lisa Grace will have you glued to the pages of the first book. I literally inhaled it in two hours and could not put it down. The only disappointing thing was it ended too quickly. I could have read this book all night long for how well written it was. It literally pulls the reader in from the first page.

Even Amazon has placed it in the top 10 as one of the most downloaded teen books!! She has also been interviewed by CBS on her books as well! I can easily see why. Now that I have finished the first and Lisa was kind enough to send me the second one, well you can imagine where I will be after writing this review, back into book 2, Angel in the Storm just to see where this one picks up. I know I will not be disappointed. This book easily rates a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. This series is just as good as the Twilight series but deals with reality instead of fictional vampires and werewolves.

I received this ebook compliments of Lisa Grace for my honest review and am so glad God blessed me with the opportunity to review this one. I can't wait for my oldest daughter, whose 18 to pick this one up. If you would like more information on this book which is only available in eBook and Hardcover formats, the author and even where to pick up a copy of this book, please click on the links below: Right now, you can get the ebook format on Amazon for $ .99! It's worth it, trust me!

You can also follow Lisa Grace on her Facebook page by clicking here.

You can find out more by visiting Lisa on her website by clicking here.