Monday, 28 February 2011

Contentment Reading Challenge 2011 - February

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It was a shallow dive for me this month.

After the 10 books I read in January, I only managed 4 books for February. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I don't have the inclination to go into that now.

Of the 7 books I read this month, the 4 books that qualify for this challenge are:

  1. The Princess by Lori Wick
  2. The Gathering Dawn by Dianna Crawford and Sally Laity (#1 Freedom's Holy Light)
  3. The Kindled Flame by Dianna Crawford and Sally Laity (#2 Freedom's Holy Light)
  4. The Tempering Blaze by Dianna Crawford and Sally Laity (#3 Freedom's Holy Light)

Someone might argue that because the 3 later books aren't actually on my bookshelf they don't count, however they are on our family bookshelf (my family also has a lot of books, not just me), and I have read them before, so they do count in my estimation.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

First Wild Card Tours - Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Nehamiah by Warren Wiersbe

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Wiersbe Bible Study Series Nehemiah

David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)


Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Nehemiah was an ordinary man given an impossible task: to rebuild the war-torn city of Jerusalem. This Bible study examines the life, legacy, and perseverance of Nehemiah.

Product Details:

List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078140455X
ISBN-13: 978-0781404556


A Caring Attitude


Before you begin …

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read Nehemiah 1—2. This lesson references chapters 1 and 2 in Be Determined. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” George Bernard Shaw put those words into the mouth of the Rev. Anthony Anderson in the second act of his play The Devil’s Disciple. The statement certainly summarizes what Jesus taught in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37), and it rebukes all those who fold their arms complacently, smile benignly, and say somewhat sarcastically, “Ask me if I care!”

1. What are some of the evidences in Nehemiah 1 that Nehemiah was a person who cared? Why are care and concern important traits for leaders? How might the lack of care and concern affect a leader’s ability to lead?

More to Consider: Nehemiah was a layman, cupbearer to the great Artaxerxes Longimanus, who ruled Persia from 464 to 423 BC. Nehemiah’s name means “The Lord has comforted.” What is the significance of Nehemiah’s name in relation to the task God has for him? Why do you think he mentions abruptly that he was the cupbearer to the king (Neh. 1:11)?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Nehemiah 1—2 that stands out to you. This could be something you’re intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

Nehemiah asked about Jerusalem and the Jews living there because he had a caring heart. When we truly care about people, we want the facts, no matter how painful they may be. “Practical politics consists in ignoring facts,” American historian Henry Adams said, but Aldous Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Closing our eyes and ears to the truth could be the first step toward tragedy for ourselves as well as for others.

3. Go through Nehemiah 1 and underline what Nehemiah learns about Jerusalem. What does this tell us about Nehemiah? About the Jews living in Jerusalem? About Jerusalem itself?

From the Commentary

The prayer in Nehemiah 1:5–10 is the first of twelve instances of prayer recorded in this book. (See 2:4; 4:4, 9; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 9:5ff.; 13:14, 22, 29, 31.) The book of Nehemiah opens and closes with prayer. It is obvious that Nehemiah was a man of faith who depended wholly on the Lord to help him accomplish the work He had called him to do. The Scottish novelist George MacDonald said, “In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.” Nehemiah succeeded because he depended on God. Speaking about the church’s ministry today, the late Alan Redpath said, “There is too much working before men and too little waiting before God.” This prayer begins with ascription of praise to God (1:5). “God of heaven” is the title Cyrus used for the Lord when he announced that the Jews could return to their land (2 Chron. 36:22–23; Ezra 1:1–2). The heathen gods were but idols on the earth, but the God of the Jews was Lord in heaven. Ezra often used this divine title (5:11–12; 6:9; 7:12, 21, 23), and it is found four times in Nehemiah (1:4–5; 2:4, 20) and three times in Daniel (2:18–19, 44). Nehemiah began his prayer as we should begin our prayers: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

4. What’s the significance of addressing a prayer to “the God of heaven”? Why does Nehemiah begin his prayer this way? (See Neh. 1:5; see also 4:14; 8:6; 9:32.) What is the focus of Nehemiah’s prayer?

From Today’s World

Every few years, the church suffers through “media scandals” prompted by public revelations of leaders’ misconduct. Though the focus is usually on a single individual—or a tightly knit group of people in positions of influence— these media scandals can have a lasting effect on the church. Long after the details of the scandal have faded into the past, people with an axe to grind continue to point to these events as evidence that the church is at worst, corrupt, and at best, a place for hypocrites and fools.

5. Why does the media give so much screen time to church-related scandals? What makes scandals newsworthy? What impact does this sort of event have on the local churches? Church leaders? Believers in general? What are some positive ways to respond to such scandals?

It has well been said that prayer is not getting man’s will done in heaven but getting God’s will done on earth. However, for God’s will to be done on earth, He needs people to be available for Him to use. God does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20 NKJV). If God is going to answer prayer, He must start by working in the one doing the praying! He works in us and through us to help us see our prayers answered. While Nehemiah was praying, his burden for Jerusalem became greater and his vision of what needed to be done became clearer. Real prayer keeps your heart and your head in balance so your burden doesn’t make you impatient to run ahead of the Lord and ruin everything. As we pray, God tells us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, and all are important to the accomplishing of the will of God. Some Christian workers are like Lord Ronald in one of Stephen Leacock’s short stories who “flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

Nehemiah planned to volunteer to go to Jerusalem to supervise the rebuilding of the walls. He didn’t pray for God to send somebody else, nor did he argue that he was ill-equipped for such a difficult task. He simply said, “Here am I—send me!”

6. What are some of the lessons we can glean from Nehemiah’s prayer? What is significant about his use of “we” in the prayer? What does this say about Nehemiah as a person? As a leader?

From the Commentary

Unknown to him, Nehemiah was about to join the glorious ranks of the “champions of faith,” and in the centuries to follow, his name would be included with heroes like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Deborah, and David. One person can make a big difference in this world, if that person knows God and really trusts in Him. Because faith makes a difference, we can make a difference in our world to the glory of God. “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace,” said Martin Luther. “It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”

7. Read Mark 9:23–24 and Matthew 17:20. How do these verses apply to Nehemiah’s faith? How can they help inspire church leaders today?

From the Commentary

The king asked him, “What is it you want?” What an opportunity for Nehemiah! All the power and wealth of the kingdom were wrapped up in that question! As he was accustomed to do, Nehemiah sent one of his quick “telegraph prayers” to the Lord (4:4; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 13:14, 22, 29, 31). But keep in mind that these “emergency prayers” were backed up by four months of fasting and praying. If Nehemiah had not been diligent to pray in private, his “telegraph prayers” might have gone unanswered. “He had only an instant for that prayer,” wrote George Morrison. “Silence would have been misinterpreted. Had he closed his eyes and lingered in devotion, the king immediately would have suspected treason” (Morning Sermons, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1931, p. 243).

8. Review Nehemiah 2:4–8. Why is it significant that Nehemiah took a moment to pray before answering? What lessons can we learn from this small action? How did God answer his prayer?

More to Consider: Jewish rabbis often answer a question with a question, and Nehemiah followed that example. Instead of telling the king what he planned to do, he aroused the king’s sympathy and interest with a question regarding how he should feel about the sad plight of his ancestral city and the graves of his forefathers. Why do you think he chose this approach?

From the Commentary

Nehemiah is a good example of how believers should relate to unsaved officials as they seek to do the work of God. Nehemiah respected the king and sought to work within the lines of authority that existed in the empire. He didn’t say, “I have a commission from the Lord to go to Jerusalem, and I’m going whether you like it or not!” When it comes to matters of conscience, we must always obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), but even then, we must show respect for authority (see Rom. 13 and 1 Peter 2:11–25). Daniel and his friends took the same approach as did Nehemiah, and God honored them as well (Dan. 1).

9. How might the king’s reaction have been different if Nehemiah had spoken in more “religious” terms about his commission? What are some examples in today’s church where leaders have related well to nonbelievers in positions of authority? What are some bad examples of this? How can believers today apply Nehemiah’s wisdom in their dealings with non- Christian bosses or other authority figures they relate to in daily life?

From the Commentary

After his long, difficult journey, Nehemiah took time to rest, for leaders must take care of themselves if they are going to be able to serve the Lord (Mark 6:31). He also took time to get “the lay of the land” without arousing the concern of the enemy. A good leader doesn’t rush into his work but patiently gathers the facts firsthand and then plans his strategy (Prov. 18:13). We must be “wise as serpents” because the Enemy is always watching and waiting to attack. Leaders are often awake when others are asleep, and

working when others are resting. Nehemiah didn’t want the enemy to know what he was doing, so he investigated the ruins by night. By keeping his counsel to himself, Nehemiah prevented Tobiah’s friends from getting information they could pass along to Sanballat.…

As he surveyed the situation, he moved from west to south to east, concentrating on the southern section of the city. It was just as his brother had reported: The walls were broken down and the gates were burned (Neh. 2:13; 1:3).

10. Review Nehemiah 2:11–16. Why did Nehemiah not want the enemy to know what he was doing? In what ways was Nehemiah practicing what it means to be a good leader? What role did his “secret survey” play in his plan to rebuild the city?

Looking Inward

Take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve explored thus far in this study of Nehemiah 1—2. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.

Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all,

be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don’t press for people to speak if they’re uncomfortable doing so.

11. What are some ways you show your care and concern for your local church? How do you show respect for tradition while also being sensitive to today’s needs? Are you more of an encourager or a complainer? If the latter, why? How can you be more constructive in your relationship with your church?

12. Nehemiah puts a great deal of emphasis on prayer from the very outset of his plan to rebuild the city. What role does prayer play in your plans? How much emphasis do you place on the importance of prayer before, during, and after a plan is put into effect in your life?

13. What aspects of Nehemiah’s leadership appeal to you most? In what ways are you like him? What are some things you’d like to work on in order to be a better servant leader?

Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you’d like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try). Do you need to work on expanding your prayer life? Is there a particular matter you need to pray about, perhaps for an extended period of time? Be specific. Go back through Nehemiah 1—2 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.

Real-Life Application Ideas: One of the key features of Nehemiah’s leadership was his deliberate prayer life. Take a few minutes to consider the various plans you have for your own life (and your family’s life). This could be anything from plans for a summer vacation to educational goals to career plans for you and every other family member. Now, think about how your prayer life intersects with these plans. What are some ways you can be more deliberate in your prayer life about these things? Make practical plans for how to become more prayerful, then commit to those plans.

Seeking Help

15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you’ve previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.

Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you’ve read

and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read Nehemiah 3—4. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters 3 and 4, “Wall-to-Wall Workers” and “Workers and Warriors,” in Be Determined.

My Thoughts:
Sadly this is another book that I haven't been able to get a copy of. It can really be frustrating living in Australia and not being able to get a hold of so many great books. (I do love my country though.) Ok, so as I have said before, any Warren Wiersbe book that you can get your hands on is worth reading.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Friday Fill-Ins 2011-7 we go!

1. New experiences and possibilities are happening in my life right now.

2. The rain was an unexpected turn on a daily walk (or would be if I took a daily walk).

3. I'm looking forward to bed.

4. I never could have imagined that life would be so hard, crazy and mixed up.

5. Try to find something to smile about each day.

6. My smile is what's extraordinary about me.

7. And as for the weekend, I have no idea what will happen.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

On My Soap Box

I have just started studing Children's Services, but today I got really frustrated at what my teacher was saying.

We were talking about bias and how we need to educate the children in our care to be accepting and respectful of people from other cultures and include things from their culture in the activities we present for them to engage in.

One thing that came up was how prevelant gender bias or stereotypes are present in the books that we read. While this is true, and it is also true that these days it is not always the Dad who goes to work and the Mum stays home, that can still be part of our culture - it was certainly part of my culture as a child.

What I get frustrated about is that we are so mindful of being politically correct and tolerant of everyone else's culture, that we are not allowed to present the culture that we grew up in. This means that children aren't learning about our history and what it was like for us.

I'm concerned that if they don't learn about history, that our culture will be lost to political correctness and the meshing of all of the other cultures introduced to our country via imigrant families.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Teaser Tuesdays - Feb 15

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Bible by God

'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.' Psalm 46:1 (NKJV)

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Teaser Tuesdays - 8 Feb 2011

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

'Baker's Fatal Dozen' by Lisa Harris

'"In the rearview mirror. It's the stranger who fought with Ezri the day of the funeral." She pulled the car against the curb, this time slowing to a stop. "He came out of the alley beside the bakery. I think it's time to add another suspect to my list."'

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Water, water EVERYWHERE ...

... and now we have a lake!

This was Lollipop Creek earlier today. It usually has very little water, just a few billabongs along it, but after all the rain we had yesterday and last night, this is what it looked like.

In the narrow areas, it was flowing very fast, but in other areas it widened out to look like a natural lake.

As my sister and I observed the area around the road we drive on, a local resident told us that there is a flood like this every 6-10 years.

It's not surprising. Our rain gauge registered 127 mm of rain in less than 24 hours. That was the same amount of rain that we had for all of last month, and as much as we had for January, February and March combined last year.

These photos were taken in the middle of the day, so the water had gone down a little. Now we just need it to go down more, so that the roads are clear and we can get to where we need to again - like church tomorrow.

It has started raining again, but only a little.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Friday Fill-Ins 2011-5 we go!

1. We are on this earth because that was God's plan.

2. In my experience you should be careful who you share your heart with because they may not care for it as they should.

3. One of the hardest things for me to learn is to be patient.

4. Facebook has got me connected with people who I haven't seen for years.

5. I remember summer days as a kid when we would run around under the sprinkler.

6. Childhood is one of the best parts of my life.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I ended up mopping up water from the rain that got into our house, waiting for the power to come back on and having a scary drive through floooded roads to pick up my sister from work, tomorrow my plans include watching movies, reading books and maybe a little cross stitch and Sunday, I want to enjoy church and have a relaxing afternoon!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

My Favourite Things - BUTTERFLIES

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... have been one of my favourite things for a long time.

I have them all around my room - I have butterfly stickers on my wardrobe door; butterflies on my curtain fabric; butterfly magnets feature on my magnetic notice board.

My favourite type of butterfly is the glorious Ulysses Butterfly found in far north Queensland. They are black and iridescent blue!

For me, butterflies are a picture of how our lives change as we accept Jesus into our heart as our friend.

Before we accept Him we are like horrible little catapillars - we don't look good (on the inside). But when we do accept Him we become "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17) - beautiful and changed (on the inside).

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Contenment Reading Challenge 2011 - January

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Well, the first month of 2011 is now history, and that means it's time for my first update on how I'm going with the Contentment Reading Challenge 2011.

Of the 19 books I read for the month, 10 of those were for this challenge.

I really am 'diving' in, but that's because I don't have the financial resources to add to my library.

The books I read were:

  1. A Penny for Your Thoughts by Mindy Starns Clark (#1 Million Dollar Mystery series)
  2. Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels by Mindy Starns Clark (#2 Million Dollar Mystery series)
  3. A Dime a Dozen by Mindy Starns Clark (#3 Million Dollar Mystery series)
  4. A Quarter for a Kiss by Mindy Starns Clark (#4 Million Dollar Mystery series)
  5. The Buck Stops Here by Mindy Starns Clark (#5 Million Dollar Mystery series)
  6. Dawn of the Morning by Grace Livingston Hill
  7. Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston Hill (#1 Miranda Trilogy)
  8. Pheobe Deane by Grace Livingston Hill (#2 Miranda Trilogy)
  9. Miranda by Grace Livingston Hill (#3 Miranda Trilogy)
  10. A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke

Teaser Tuesdays - 1 Feb 2011

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Pursuit of Justice by DiAnn Mills

'A sharp bang startled her. A blowout. Bella lifted her foot from the gas pedal and gripped the steering wheel while maneuvering the car to the right side of the roaad. The left rear wheel bumped metal to the pavement as the car slowed to a stop, and she turned off the engine.
"Someone just shot out your tire." Vic pulled his weapon from his pocket.
Another bang leveled the front left tire. "A rifle." She leaned toward the right side of the car and retrieved the Glock 26 from her ankle holster. She lowered her windows and strained to her ears, listening for more rifle fire. Only the quiet sounds of birds and insects met her.'

I'm enjoying what I've read so far in this book, however I do have to point out a mistake. Right at the bottom of page 39 a particular type of dog is mentioned. In the book they are called 'Australian cow dogs'. The correct term is 'Australian cattle dogs'.