Tuesday, November 26, 2013

He Rejoices Over Me by Nicholas J. Skula Jr.

He Rejoices Over Me is a heart-felt book written to commemorate the life of Crystal Marie Skula and point to the source of her hope, Jesus Christ. 

The story is written by Nicholas Skula Jr. as he remembers his thirteen year old daughter who lost her battle with brain cancer.

From the start of the book, readers fall in love with Crystal Skula, a spunky little girl built by the hand of God and packed full of courage.

Whether facing an opponent in her martial arts class or the adversary  himself as she faced the threat of death, Crystal's faith could not be shaken. 

He Rejoices Over Me could be a strength zapping, heart wrenching, grab the kleenex kind of story. Though I freely admit to crying at parts, the overall story of Crystal's life, her family and her faith are not devoid of hope. 

You'll find God all over Crystal's story and it's the family's hope that others in their shoes would be encouraged to face their grief with, and not apart from, God's amazing comfort. 

Every chapter reflects something that mattered to Crystal, life lessons they uncovered as a family and things that linger in a father's memory after he's laid his baby girl to rest.

I appreciated the gentle and natural tone in Nicholas' writing. Though wracked with loss, the family made a beautiful and sincere decision to honor Crystal's memory and they have certainly done that within the pages of this book. 

Pick it up. Grab a kleenex, but cry for joy. Crystal's story doesn't end here and someday, we believers will get to meet this little firecracker of faith.   

Purchase your copy of He Rejoices Over Me directly from the author or through Amazon.

Pieces of Me: Life of A Recovering Dysfunctional by Diana Lynn

Diana Lynn is like so many of us. She made a few choices that didn't go the way she planned and filled a suitcase full of regrets. Yet in spite of her choices, God still reached out and provided a way to learn and grow. He taught her the hard way and brought her to maturity. Diana's transparency is a beautiful testimony to God's work in her life. She is a recovering dysfunctional and we can be too.

Pieces of me is a 114 page book full of personal stories and raw honesty. The author shares significant events that shaped her.

Dysfunctional sounds like a strong word, but Diana explains through her first memory how she came to feel this way. 

She writes: A tragic thing happens to a little girl when her father leaves. She's left with the unspoken message: "You're not worth it."

She shares her story with great honesty, explaining how she came to God. Stories also express her struggle through feelings of shame as a divorced, single Mom; the emotional toll of losing her own mother, battling a need for love and finding it in the wrong places, and making powerful changes that are anything but easy and so much more than rewarding. 

In reading this book only one of Diana’s many stories concerned me. One of the stories in Pieces of Me describes how she, as a new believer facing the loss of her Mom, makes a decision to consult a psychic. This is not a decision I would personally ever support. I believe the Bible is very clear about psychics. 

However, I have lost loved ones and felt the pang of wanting and needing their imput on my life. Because I've lost crucial people myself, I understand what would drive someone to seek a psychic in times of loss. I hate that a Christian woman wasn't active in her life at the time, providing needed comfort and pointing her to God for healing. 

Rather than reading this story with a disapproving air of pride, I hope believers will see it as a cautionary tale showing the importance of supporting the brokenhearted through their grief so they are not enticed by the strategies of the enemy. I would still recommend the book for this reason. 

How do we fix our flaws as a church? How we reach out to new believers in meaningful ways? How can we mentor them if we don't examine the experiences of a new believer? Diana shares something valuable,  a glimpse into a life in process. Read Pieces of Me and recognize the changes that can occur in a life surrendered to God.

You can purchase Pieces of Me on Amazon.

Listen here to a radio interview with Diana Lynn on My Journey of Faith.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mind the Gap!

I was 16 when I traveled to England on a youth missions trip. They have an audio message that plays in the London Underground warning passengers of the gap between the train door and the platform. The recording says "Mind the gap". If you don't mind the gap you could be in serious physical danger.

Today I am thinking of Ezekiel 22:30 when God could find no one who would stand in the gap for a nation desperately in need of a wake up call.

While the subway warning would urge us to mind the gap by getting out of the way, we should be pulled by a spiritual call to mind the gap which is very opposite.

This spiritual call urges us to get in the way! Block the attacks of the enemy. Stand firm and don't budge. When the enemy throws a train at you and it's so close you can see your guts on the track don't budge. The life of another is on the line. Mind the gap.

When your leadership is floundering- Mind the gap!
When your marriage is on the rocks- Mind the gap!
When your children are forsaking the faith you raised them in- Mind the gap!
When illness steals your energy- Mind the gap!
When fear crouches at the door- Mind the gap!

Will you stand in the gap? Are you committed enough to put yourself in danger for the safety of another?

Will you lay down your life (your agenda, your finances, your very existence) for a friend? It's something to think about.

Abba, Father, I will stand and intercede on behalf of the unsteady, broken, spiritually blind, weak and terrified. Help me to stand for the things I cannot see in this world, in this country, in this city, and in my home. I will (by faith) call those things as if they were. Help me to stand in this gap of danger for my loved ones, friends and those who I have never met but hold a special place in your heart. 

I ask for wisdom for our leaders. Prepare them for what you are doing. Make them strong in the right ways that they would bend their knees to you and protect those they serve. Help them to never bow to the schemes of distraction. 

I ask for protection on the family unit. That the leaders in the home would be united with one purpose and one heart. 

I pray for the children to be inspired and their faith to be awakened. Make them confident in what they have been taught, a generation that cannot be deterred. 

I pray for health, both physical and spiritual. Heal our nation inside and out. Pour your spirit out like a salve to repair the illness and teach us to be strong. 

Shoo away fear, sweep it from our porch. Let your peace rest in its place. Equip your people with soldier's hearts that we would mind the gap and stand in for the sake of those too weak or foolish to call on you. 

I pray that we would hold nothing back which could save one. Make us bold. Help us to love deeply, beyond our needs, ambitions. Make us in tune with others. Expose their needs so that we can fill the void with faith. See us. When you look for a people willing to stand. Find us. Hold back your anger. Pour out your grace.