Reading on A Budget: Build Your Library Without Breaking the Bank

roadtrip I don’t know about you, but I’m a bookworm. Lately, though, that worm has been eating through my pocket book instead of through pages. So I’ve been searching for ways to continue feeding my reading addiction without breaking the bank. Here are a few resources I thought I would share with my fellow book lovers.

 

Classic Devotionals:

I was thrilled to find my two favorite devotionals online for free. It’s also great for when you go on a trip—instead of juggling a bunch of different books, they’re available to you at the touch of your Smartphone screen.

Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional and Faith’s Checkbook

 

PDF E-books

John Piper offers a large selection of free book PDFs including:

Don’t Waste Your Life (one of my favorite books for graduates)

What Jesus Demands of the World (I went through this last year with my small group—I highly recommend it)

John G. Patton: You Will Be Eaten By Cannibals (I don’t know about you, but I am quite intrigued by the title of this biography!)

Kindle

I’m a hard-copy book kind of girl. There’s just something special about holding a book in your hand and turning the pages. However, I confess that I’m now a traitor to my beloved hard copies—I’ve been downloading a lot of Kindle E-books lately. The prices are what eventually broke down my resolve. There are some great bargains on Kindle!

Since I don’t actually have a kindle, I downloaded Amazon’s free reading app onto my laptop.

You can browse through Kindle’s free section and find some amazing Christian classics like:

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Answers to Prayers from George Muller’s Narratives

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Or for just 99cents you can get:

The Complete Works of Andrew Murray

The Autobiography of Hudson Taylor

…plus works by Tozer, Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, Richard Wurmbrand, R.C. Sproul, Jonathan Edwards…there are so many spiritual giants whose work we can read for practically no cost! I know I need to take advantage of this opportunity!

Amazon Kindle also has daily deals and monthly deals for newer books. I got a great new release, Real Men Don’t Text by Ruthie & Michael Dean for 99cents. You can’t beat that! If you don’t want to be constantly checking which books are on special, you can even sign up for their alerts.

Noise Trade or Book Blurb

Sign up via email for either of these and they’ll send you a weekly list of free indie books based on your interests.

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A New Kind of Library

Last of all, if your local library doesn’t have anything interesting, see if there are any little free libraries in your area. My friend and I stumbled upon several during a road trip last year and each one had an interesting variety of books.

 

Enjoy! Happy Reading!

Finding the Strength to Love the Needy

As I set the little three-year-old boy down, he burst into tears and reached up, begging me to pick him up again. I had already held him for a good thirty minutes and my arms hurt, but his tears compelled me to scoop him back into my arms. The dear child clung to me tightly and his sobs melted away into a peaceful silence as his head rested on my shoulder. I was a complete stranger, but he was so desperate for love he didn’t want to let go of anyone willing to hold him.

babymom

Photo Creative Commons via Flickr: Banspy

My heart broke.

 

I wasn’t angry at the caretakers; they were doing the best they could. There were simply too many children. They had their hands full trying to keep the kids fed, safe, and lice-free—spending time with them one-on-one wasn’t an option. Honestly, I didn’t know how they ran an orphanage with such a shortage of staff.

But I was still upset. Not necessarily because these orphans were deprived of individual attention (which was sad) or because the children were poor.

I was angry because these children had been forgotten.

Here before my eyes were children living without love while Christians did very little about it.

Why?

Why don’t we do anything? Part of the reason is because we don’t realize what’s going on in other areas of the world. Part of it is that we’re so busy with our own lives that we forget about kids like these. But one of the biggest reasons we don’t get involved is because we want to protect ourselves. We don’t want to know too much because we’re afraid of becoming sad or depressed. We don’t want to care too much, because we’re scared of experiencing pain. The sad truth is, we’re more interested in preventing our own pain than in relieving theirs.

Click here to continue reading this article, 8 Ways to Help the Poor and Needy on Crosswalk.

Review: Your Future ‘Other Half’ It Matters Whom You Marry by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

vandoodewaardA dear friend of mine introduced me to Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s blog (TheChristianPundit) and after I read this article I thought, I have to get a copy of her new relationship book! A few weeks later Your Future ‘Other Half’ It Matters Whom You Marry arrived at my doorstep.

I have to say it’s one of the best relationship books I’ve read—and I’ve ready a lot! It’s practical, down-to-earth, biblically solid, and (for those of you who aren’t huge readers here’s good news!) it’s short. Every girl needs to read this book!

Rebecca gives us single girls a realistic, biblical view of marriage. Marriage isn’t something to be taken lightly; it’s a serious, life-shaping commitment that will affect every part of your life. Rebecca breaks down how marriage will impact you spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and relationally.

What I love most about the book is her honesty and her genuine concern for us to make wise choices when it comes to marriage. And while most of the book is devoted to helping women discern whom to marry, the last chapter of the book flips the question around and asks: Are you ready to be a godly wife? Are you going to spur your future husband on in Christ or weigh him down?

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Will your husband’s interactions with your body, mind, and soul tend towards health, sanctifying you? Since the will of God is your sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3), you must marry someone who makes you want to be more like Jesus and who can help you become more like Jesus. Your marriage matters not only to you, not only to your family, not only to the church, but also to the world.”

—–

“Don’t sacrifice the good relationships you have for the sake of one guy who can’t value the people who love you.”

—–

“A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues. It is good and right to want to minister to another person, and no future spouse will be perfect in every area. But there are ways to minister to people that don’t involve dating them!”

—–

“Your spiritual condition will affect your husband just as much as his will affect you.”

—–

“How would you affect a husband? Because he is only one side of things; you are the other. Someone once told me that a mediocre man with a wonderful wife can become a great man, but a wonderful man with a bad wife can become less than a man.”

 

Hopefully these have sparked your interest! I encourage you to order your own copy soon—and order one for a friend!—there are nuggets of wisdom in there that every single Christian woman should read!

The Power of Encouragement

spider

Photo CC Flickr: somewhereintheworldtoday

“Help, help! There’s a spider!” I cried.

Six-year-old Josh rushed over, “Where’s the spider? I’ll get ‘em. I’ll get ‘em!”

A group of us were cleaning the church that afternoon and little Josh, after discovering that I was terrified of spiders, offered to kill any arachnids that I ran into…and let’s just say, I was happy to take him up on his offer. When I found my first eight-legged creature, I called for Josh’s help. Of course I dramatized my terror a bit to make him feel more manly.

“It’s right there,” I replied pointing timidly to the corner of the room.

Josh marched right up to the spider, but then hesitated. Sensing his fear, I encouraged him gently, “Go ahead Josh. You’re brave and strong. I know you can do it.”

“Okay. I can do it.” He took a deep breath and launched at the spider, stomping his little Velcro sneakers furiously—which looked more like a spastic tap dance than spider squashing. Then, turning around to face me, he placed his hands on his hips confidently and said, “Okay, he’s dead. Any more you need me take care of?”

“I think that’s it,” I said with a smile. “Thanks so much for helping me, Josh.”

“No problem,” he replied, and then he ran off to find his playmate.

I recounted the story to Josh’s mom a few hours later and she was astonished. “Really?” she questioned. “He actually killed the spider? At home he always runs away from them!”

Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement to conquer a fear.

Encouragement can help others overcome fears or face difficult obstacles. It can build a person’s character, show them God’s love, or just make their day brighter.

And we need encouragement. Abraham and Sarah needed their spirits raised when they were childless, so God sent them heavenly visitors (Genesis 18). When Mary needed cheering up, she found solace in God and in a relative, Elizabeth (Luke 1). Paul needed encouragement in ministry/prison, and history records the name of several people who ministered to him. Even Christ sought the support of his disciples during his darkest hours in Gethsemane.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says: “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are also doing.”

As Christians, we are to bless others with our actions and deeds! But, in our self-obsessed culture it’s difficult to set ourselves aside long enough to bless others. We’re so busy thinking about ourselves and our lives that we forget that the person living in the same house, sitting in the next cubicle, or standing behind the cash register at the supermarket could be in need of an uplifting word. Our culture promotes selfish obsession, but Christ promotes serving others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

Encouraging others doesn’t take too much effort or time, but it does take thought and initiative. You can:

  • Write a letter – nowadays an actual handwritten note is such a blessing
  • Text a verse or quote – something that blesses you may also bless another
  • Make a phone call – and leave a message
  • Listen and remember – follow up on what your friend shared with you; it will mean a lot.
  • Thank someone for their work or service – a simple word can really brighten a day

Don’t just pray for God to use someone out there to encourage someone who’s down—let Him use you! Listen to Jesus and He will guide you. It’s not a quota of, “I need to encourage X number of people today.” It’s simply being in tune with the Holy Spirit’s leading and thinking of others before yourself.

And when we are plugged into Jesus, unselfish behavior tends to flow much more naturally. I find that when I am seeking Him, asking Him how I can serve Him and how I can be a blessing to those around me, ideas pop into my head and motivating words flow out of without much effort!

Are there people around you who need a word to lift their spirits? Is there someone that needs a gentle word to help overcome a fear? Take the opportunity to be a blessing and to be thankful for those who have encouraged you.

 

 

 

 

Judging Is Easier Than Loving, Isn’t It?

chairplaneI rolled my eyes at the barely-dressed woman batting her heavily made up eyelashes at the attractive young man who was standing in line to board. Oh brother, I thought. Can’t you put some more decent clothes on?

 I was slightly embarrassed of this member of my own sex, who was misrepresenting my gender so perfectly. I wanted to shout, “Have some respect for yourself, woman!”

Yet I also felt for her. Who knew what her story was? Who knew what influenced her to carry herself the way she did?

I boarded the plane and found my 16E aisle seat. Pulling out my iPod, I waited for the rest of the passengers to board. Soon I heard, “Excuse me, that’s my seat there next to you.” I looked up to see, Ms. Flamboyant herself standing there.

You’ve got to be kidding. I stood up and let her in. Not surprisingly, some benevolent gentleman helped her lift her bag into the overhead compartment. She thanked him with a flashy smile.

Seriously? Do you have to be so obvious?

She sat down and pulled out a stack of tabloids.

Figures.

Why are you being so judgmental? My conscience demanded.

I’m not.

Are too.

Okay, maybe just a little.

You should talk with her.

I’m not going to talk to her.

Why? Why won’t you, Felicia? Do you think you’re better than her? The only difference between you and her is that God had mercy on you, saved you, and turned your life around. Who knows how you would dress or behave if you didn’t have Christ in your life? Don’t turn up your nose. He had mercy on you—a hopeless sinner—and invited you in to be in His family. Why wouldn’t He have mercy on her?

Ouch.

 Judging is easier than loving, isn’t it?

It’s so easy for us to judge others. We see other people as huge sinners and ourselves as saints. When, in reality, we are just as big of a mess as they are. But we forget our sin without any difficulty while pointing fingers at other’s sins.

We judge on appearances. We judge based on attitudes and church attendance, on education or employment, and on social status. But Jesus looked past all of this. He looked beyond the rough edges of fishermen, tax collectors, and adulterers and reached into their hearts.

How can we follow His example?

1. By Having a Right View of Ourselves – Apostle Paul (pretty much the best Christian in all of history) said, “What a wretched man I am. Who will save me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). The truth is we are not saints. We are sinners saved by grace! We a rarely think that: “but for the grace of God go I” or “If God hadn’t saved me, I probably would be acting/dressing/speaking the exact same way as that unbeliever.” Seeing others in sin should make us thankful, causing us to be gracious and compassionate towards others instead of self-righteous. We are not so far above them. We stumble and need God’s grace every day. By remembering the mercy God has shown us, we can reach out to others.

2. Don’t Sacrifice Truth – Although Jesus’ concern for the lost was obvious, he never condoned their sins. Neither should we confuse a loving, nonjudgmental attitude with an apathetic attitude. We shouldn’t be okay with sin. Sin is sin—it’s evil, wrong, and harmful. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we can just keep on doing evil things, He died a cruel death so that we can “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). So, while we shouldn’t condemn the person or act superior, neither should we ignore nor condone sin. Instead, we should follow Jesus’ example. He extended love and grace to all—even the women caught in adultery and the wicked tax collector—so that they could find new life in Christ.

3. Use Your Platform Graciously – You can use the godly character that God is growing in you as a platform to stand on while you judge others, or as a platform from which you extend grace. So often, as our Christian character develops, we use our biblical knowledge as a stepping stool. We stand up high and look down upon the “lesser” people. The Bible warns, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). God did not give us knowledge/discernment for self-righteous elevation. Our godly character should give us a greater capacity to love.

4.      Pray – “When we discern that other people are not growing spiritually and allow that discernment to turn to criticism, we block fellowship with God. God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.”[i] When you hear yourself putting someone down, stop and lift them up in prayer instead.

Rather than judging those who hung Him on the cross, Jesus interceded for them, asking, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.” Jesus interceded for the criminals hanging on the crosses next to Him. He interceded for everyone despite all the sin they were mired in.

This makes me really question: How often do I intercede rather than judge?

So when I feel judgment creep in, I try to turn it around. I try to remember that even Paul called himself the chief of sinners. He prayed for sinners, he did not elevate himself above them. He spoke to them boldly about their sins (and encouraged them to stop sinning) but he did not claim superiority over them. The key was he never forgot who he was: a sinner. And he always thanked God for His abundant mercy.

Let us always thank God for His grace and extend His magnificent love to others. Never forgetting the simple phrase, “But for the grace of God go I.”

——————————————————————

[i] Oswald Chambers. My Utmost for His Highest. Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers

Photo Credit: Kristian Bjornard via Flickr – Creative Commons

 

Are You Addicted to Noise?

simplicityAs soon as I got in the car, I hit “play” only to find that there were no CDs loaded in my CD player. After a few minutes of silence, I started to flip through the radio stations. I didn’t really like any of them, but they were better than listening to nothing.

 

When I arrived at the house where I was housesitting, no familiar voice welcomed me, no music played from upstairs bedrooms, no pots and pans clattered in the kitchen. There was no sound. Zilch.

 

I dropped my stuff on the dining room table and walked into the family room. There, curled up in an armchair, was my only companion for the next three days: Ms. Kitty. Sitting down next to her, I could hear the clock upstairs ticking and a neighbor’s dog barking in the distance. I couldn’t stand the silence, so I walked over to turn the TV on—not to watch it, but to banish the quietness.

 

I realized that day how much I like noise in the background, whether it’s voices, the radio, or television. There’s just something comforting about it. In fact, if it’s too quiet, I get lonely.

 

I like “noise” in other areas of my life too. I love being busy. My love for busyness has, in fact, turned into a (sometimes awful) habit of not being able to sit still. I’m always doing something—calling, writing, exercising, writing… And while it’s good to make the most of my days, I also need to remember that working for Christ does not draw me nearer to Christ.

 

I wonder, How often do I miss my Savior’s voice because I’m too occupied with “noise”?

 

Sometimes I’m busy with good things, like helping others, writing a new article, or cleaning the house. But often I get so busy serving God that my time with Him is cut short.

 

Tozer puts it well: “Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10), and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.”[i]

 

But silence is not something we experience very often. With iPhones attached to our fingers and headphones glued to our ears, God can barely get a word in edgewise. How often do we stop bombarding our minds with noise and listen to the Lord? Why don’t we silence our phones and give God the opportunity to speak?

 

Honestly, at times I avoid silence because I don’t want to listen. I mean, what if God asks me to do something I don’t want to do? It’s a difficult position to be in! I have to remember that while He may ask me to do something difficult, He never does it to harm me. What’s more, He promises to be right there with me as I do it. “I will never leave nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV).

 

Yes, what God asks may be overwhelming—more than you think you can handle—but as Katie Davis shares, “I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving himself by doing the impossible in our lives… He reminds me that all of this life requires more of him and less of me. God does give us more than we can handle. Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see his grace and faithfulness shining through our lives” [emphasis mine].[ii]

 

Are you, like me, afraid that God may ask something difficult of you? Is the noise of your life simply drowning out God’s voice?

In silence, God will speak. He will give us the opportunity to display His love and faithfulness to those around us through our obedience. Will you join me in the pursuit of silence?

 


[i] A. W. Tozer. The Best of A.W. Tozer Book One. Camp Hill: Wing Spread Publishers, 2000.

[ii] Katie Davis. Kisses from Katie. New York: Howard Books, 2011.