Monday, January 3, 2011
(to see more book reviews I have done, please go HERE...)
This book, Voices of the Faithful- Book 2 (by By Beth Moore, Kim P. Davis, International Mission Board), is a year’s worth of devotional chats by evangelical believers around the world doing their best to serve the nations God has put on their heart to reach in the name of Jesus. Each is a glimpse into the lives and experiences of some of the missionaries or those called to minister to other nations.
While I knew that I would be blessed by these readings, I did not realize to what extent. I have had a heart for missions since I was a child growing up in a small church. There were always special speakers and presentations showing us what others are doing to reach hearts for Christ. While I have never truly felt the call to GO into the mission field, I have been led to live in a foreign country. I have seen some of the challenges of living in a nation that is wrapped up in bondage. I have come to acknowledge that, while I have not been called here as a “missionary”, this is still my mission field. I have come to take to heart these verses from Colossians 3:17 and 23, “And whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him… And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” I am aiming to use my normal, ordinary, sometimes monotonous and challenging life, to encourage and bless others with the talents that I have. It may seem simple, but God uses the simple things to confound the wise, and He can grow great fruit from even the smallest of seeds. That is what I am seeing in the pages of this book. These fellow workers are doing the same, although to a grander scale and with a deeper purpose.
These daily readings are a challenge to read one at a time as they are short, but stock full of moments I crave… they are like having a chat over some coffee with a friend: sharing testimonies of God’s hand working in challenging situations; lessons on faith and trust; explaining some neat ideas used to try to reach more souls, and just encouraging another to listen to God’s voice, follow where He leads, dream big dreams, and KNOW a living and loving Lord. So many of the verses chosen are ones I have already underlined in my Bible, but some I have just NEEDED to hear again for this time or have not fully become aware of yet. They have been nuggets of blessing to my heart.
As we have entered this new year, 2011, I have been asking the Lord for a clear vision of what He has for me, and surprisingly, He is using this book to stir some things that are not clear, but are sure and being made ready. I am blessed beyond words for the unity I feel with these brothers and sisters in this big, and yet small, world. I am blessed to know that the Lord binds us together in unity THROUGH PRAYER, even while we are separated by oceans, miles and miles of land and mountains, by different languages and cultures and traditions… None of that can separate us from each other, in a way, because none of that can separate us from Jesus, who is the common bond. Nothing can separate us from Him, and while we are drawn to the tangible and visual, His Spirit links us in a heavenly bond that reaches across all spaces and challenges and differences.
I had an incident occur while reading one of the daily devotions. I was deeply touched by the words spoken by one of the missionaries, R.C.H (American Peoples), and became overwhelmed to tears. I put down the book for a time, and had to go off and find something I needed for a birthday party for one of my kids. As I browsed through some boxes I came across one of my old journals and thought I would read through it and remember… Wouldn’t you know, the very words that the missionary used and that spurred him to action, were so similar to a “calling” that I received many years ago but had forgotten. It is time to remember and act, and this book has been used in various ways to encourage me to do so.
“And He has made from ONE BLOOD every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ ” Acts 17:26-28
Those of us whom have chosen to follow Christ as our living Saviour and Lord, we are a family, a body. We each have a part to play, and sometimes, many times, another part of our body needs us. Prayer is the work! As Pat said in the book, “There is victory in prayer!” While this book is encouraging and spurring, more than anything, I join with these loved ones asking for corporate prayer from each part of this spiritual body. For… Amazing things are accomplished through prayer. Many times, God asks us to CRY OUT to Him, and HE does the work. Are you and I doing our part in interceding on behalf of our own body? I am doing some, but… I need to do more.
Beth Moore wrote an introduction that alone is inspiring, and I would like to quote some of her words to you. I believe she has nailed a predicament precisely when she says, “I see an epidemic of boredom in the body of Christ. I am convinced that one issue is primarily to blame: we are protecting ourselves right out of our callings. Right out of our God-ordained destinies. We are comfort addicts… and we keep wondering why we never feel satisfied… to miss our callings out of fear is never to have lived at all.”
“When hard times come, the key word isn’t survival. It’s revival.”
While we may not all be called to “GO” to another country to share the Lord with others, where we are is our individual mission field. What are YOU doing to reach where YOU are? And, remember, even though you may not be called to go, Beth stated this, and I believe it is so true… “your prayers matter immensely. The fact is, they matter immeasurably.” Prayer is the WORK!!!
To conclude, I have a request, please pray for Italy. This is what you may not know about this country. It is known as the "missionary graveyard" because most missionaries who come here do not last more than two years. In general, only 10% of missionaries return to Italy after their first term. Many years ago a reformation swept over Europe but never touched Italy, and we are in desperate need of the Lord’s work here in this nation. Less than 1% of the population is involved with an Evangelical Christian Church. And, even if all of the Charismatic Christian groups were added to that number, it would still only be 5% of the population. Almost all Italians call themselves Catholic "Christians", but less than 10% practice their faith. While this is frustrating, what is even more frustrating is that for as small as the Evangelical Church is here in Italy, there has been great division from church to church throughout its history. Please pray with us that God would deliver the oppressed; encourage those of us living here; purify and strengthen His church with passion for the lost and for the Living Word; and bless this nation with refreshing and changing revival. Thank you.
James 5:16b says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
There is nothing negative that I have to say about the book except this, a lot of different fonts are used in the print. It gets a little distracting. I enjoyed the prayers at the end of each devotional, and I thought it was a great idea to have an Index listing “Devotion Titles By Month” and then another listing “Scriptural References”. I also liked how there is a section at the end that specifically lets the reader know HOW he can receive Christ as his Saviour, and another section letting him know how he can pray for “International Missionaries and People Groups” across the world.
That is what I have to share about this book and its affect on me and my life. While my review is long, I hope you will read it and be blessed. May you also be encouraged to read the book and be inspired, ministered to, and encouraged to minister to others. Blessings…
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I wasn't required to write a positive review. These opinions are my own.