If you live anywhere near the upper Midwest, you know we have been pummeled by winter. Yes, this winter cannot end too soon for many of us. I know my friends in the South and East coast have had it too.
Since it still seems like mid-January in my backyard, I know I was shocked that Daylight Savings Time begins this week, and even more surprised that Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent (40 days before Easter) begins this week too. Where has that time gone?!
With Easter just around the corner, you might be interested in a new book about the passion of Jesus and Holy week. Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile was released just a little over a month ago and may be just what will get you ready for this Easter season.
The Bottom Line
First, this short book is only five chapters and about 100 pages long–certainly not a difficult read at all in it’s size. It’s perfect to read a chapter a week until Easter. Each chapter is based on a Scripture reference, and I have given a brief description as follows:
1. Is There No Other Way? (Matthew 26:42) ~ Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
2. Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:45-46) ~ Christ forsaken – darkness falls
3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55) ~ Jesus’ death and the power of the resurrection
4. Why Do You Look for the Living among the Dead? (Luke 24:5) ~Women at the tomb on the first Easter Sunday
5. Do You Know These Things? (Luke 24:17) ~ On the road to Emmaus
Second, the content of these chapters are rich and meaningful. Pastor Anyabwile really does more than an ordinary look at the events leading to the death and ultimately resurrection of Christ. He brings his reader into the scene and the emotion of these events and leaves them to contemplate the significance to their faith and application to their life.
Some may not like his style of posing questions or considering possible thoughts or feelings of the subjects of the story surrounding
the passion of Christ. However, I found Pastor Anyabwile’s style to be thought provoking. It offered me a new perspective on very familiar events. He really did get me to take a closer look at what Jesus has done for us all. I believe this is a sign of an excellent Bible teacher!
Finally, he offered some excellent questions at the end of his chapters. I think you could easily use these questions for devotional journaling or for some in-depth discussion with a group. This really helped take the material to a different level.
I found this to be a rich and powerful book. It does not take you through all aspects of the Easter story, but it does take you to a deeper level in all that you read. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 stars out of five.
The Bible implores us to take a long look at Jesus, forcefully beckoning us to come and see through profound questions connected with Jesus death and resurrection. These questions drive us to consider not just the events themselves but also their meaning as we take a long look beneath the surface and find more of the never-ending treasures of Christ. In Captivated, Thabiti Anyabwile invites you to set aside your early lessons on politeness and stare (yes, do stare) into the mystery of the cross and empty tomb.
Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (January 29, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5 x 0.5 inches
Retail Price: $10.00
Available at these retailers for less
“I love the Lord because He first loved me. I love His people because He has given me a new heart. I have received God’s favor in the form of my wife, Kristie. And together we know His blessing through three children. I was once a Muslim, and by God’s grace I have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. By God’s unfathomable grace I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which I hope to serve Him until He returns or calls me home!”
Pastor Anyabwile has written or co-authored many other titles that you can find on his Amazon Author Page.
Notice: I received a complimentary e-book for an honest review of this title through Shaun Tabatt at Cross-Focused Reviews and Reformation Heritage
Yes, I did. Here’s my story …
I forgot to let my pork butt thaw before it was time to put it in the crockpot. (That sounds much worse than I intend it to sound.) I thought I could throw it in the microwave and defrost it and then realized that because there was a great sale, we bought a HUGE pork butt … as in 8+ pounds! There was no way it was going to be done in time for supper since I also forgot to start the crockpot until noon.
Long story short – I had a serious case of “taxes-up-to-my-eyeballs brain” and we ended up eating Brupper (breakfast for supper) instead of the pulled pork because it wasn’t even close to being done. I let the pork continue to cook in the crockpot until just before I went to bed, at which time I put the fork in and this happened …
Yep, all the meat fell off the bone. Shredding that 8.8 pound pork butt took all of 1 minute. I basically stirred the pot and it fell apart. And the smell … Oh, my goodness!
This morning I needed to take a picture of the finished product for you and that meant making a sandwich, which is how I ended up eating a pulled pork sandwich for breakfast. #sorrynotsorry
I put the Pork Butt in the crockpot. Mine was huge, but you can do similar ingredients and just siphon off excess liquid before you serve your sandwiches.
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons pepper
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1 large onion sliced
1 Diet Coke
If you get yourself a huge slab of meat, plan on letting it cook for 9-10 hours. (half time on high, second half on low). A completely thawed, smaller piece of meat could cook all day on low.
And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say,
“How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
This is what my foyer looked like on Saturday afternoon when more than 50 friends came through our home for our Tiny Hands Product Party and Open House. We (my daughter Kadi and I) leave for Nepal in 16 days with a team from Tiny Hands. I can hardly believe it.
Let me try to explain why I’m taking this trip. You might be aware that I wrote, When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart. I didn’t choose for pornography to be taxied into my life by my first husband. No one does, I suppose. My heart was broken because of his daily choices, including his choice not to turn from that which would eventually pull him into greater darkness. Years after my marriage ended, God asked me to write about my healing in His arms, so that other women might finding healing as well.
I’m grateful that God chose to use my ability to write to serve Him. I’m grateful that thousands of women are finding healing, but …
But if I’m being completely honest, (which apparently I am) though I celebrate the truth that our God is the Restorer, it’s pickin’ infuriating that women even need a book like mine. Seriously! The ministry around my book feels very responsive, but it’s typically my nature to be proactive rather than reactive.
Enter Tiny Hands International.
You see, I want to do something … SOMETHING proactive. I love that Tiny Hands is in the business of intercepting children before they are relegated to life on the streets and the high risk of being trafficked. I’m undone when I consider how Tiny Hands intercepts girls who are in the process of being trafficked into India.
I wanted to do something. I write, so it seemed that writing the stories that make up Tiny Hands was a natural response.
Everyone can do something. Case in point …
[I read the following story at Viralnova.]
Absolutely everyone can do something. Everyone.
Allow me to tell you what my friends did this past weekend; they raised $2000+ at our Tiny Hands product party and open house.
Most importantly, ask God what path He wants you to take – how He wants you to get involved. There are countless things you can do right where you are. I challenge you to take your beautiful feet and DO SOMETHING for Tiny Hands today.
Do you ever wish that ”then” was right now? You know, that Jesus would come quickly and what we will experience then with Him would be what we are experiencing right now. Oh, how I long for that day and the days that will follow for all eternity. If I have spiked your interest in a life in eternity, I am guessing that you are either curious about what it will be like when Christ comes or you may be wondering how you are going to make it until then! In either camp, you are in good company, and there is a new book that you may be interested in knowing more about. Dr. Stephen Witmer, pastor and author of the new release, Eternity Changes Everything: How to Live Now in Light of Eternity, breaks down what will happen in our future in eternity and what we can do as we wait for eternity.
The Bottom Line
There are few things on this earth that make me more excited than spending eternity with Jesus; so you can imagine I was excited to read this book. I enjoyed Dr. Witmer’s writing style. He writes in a personal manner that seems like he is sitting in a coffee shop with you or in your family room for some evening conversation. This book is very readable and written for a reader at any level of faith.
Dr. Witmer begins the first several chapters covering our future. As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is coming a second time and that all things will be new in His coming–no death, no pain, no tears (other than tears of joy!) Revelation 21:1-4 ESV. So this is really cool, right? But reading on in Scripture we find that not only is everything made new, but God will dwell with His people on earth. Witmer also covers eternal life as the seed to an unending life that is only available through faith. This is the gift we receive when we become a Christian; it bridges our current biological life to our resurrected, future life. In these chapters, Dr. Witmer covers what other books may do as well or even in more depth. However, this is not the main focus of the book, but it provides a foretaste of what is to come. I guess if this book was a meal, these first five chapters give you a preview of dessert before the main course.
In the second half of the book, Dr. Witmer focuses on living eternally now with Christ’s future coming in sight. This is really the meat of this book. Dr. Witmer covers several areas of consideration for this section including dealing with restlessness of waiting for eternity, being patient while waiting, living in the now as a future citizen of heaven, and needing this world less while loving this world more. He compares life in the now while focusing on the future as a balancing act, similar to walking on a tightrope. This really was an effective comparison for me. I’m not a tightrope walker, but I feel the delicate balance needed between my present life and future in eternity in my faith walk.
I found Dr. Witmer’s content excellent and informative in this section. He had some excellent points and ideas to consider as you wait and live in a world that is not your final stop. However, I found myself wanting more depth to these concepts and more application. I am by no means saying that this book was inadequate. I am just saying I wanted more of the excellent main course! Here were a few of the quotes I found meaningful:
Look for reminders that then is better than now. (Loc 778 )
Allow God to use pain and inconvenience of this life to help us focus away from this life and onto the next life. (Loc 782)
Live out what you believe–live as though the new creation will come. (Loc 791)
Jesus is the only answer to our failures and our only hope to our growth (Loc 914)
Overall, Dr. Witmer has excellent points and content for those who are waiting for eternity. He is a very readable writer who will appeal to many. However, I wanted just a little more of the main course. I give this book four of five stars.
Our view of the future affects how we feel and act in the present. Stephen Witmer excites us about where the world is heading, gives certainty about where we as individuals are heading, and thrills us about how eternity really does change everything in our daily lives. If you are worried about your future… or if your future doesn’t seem to make any difference to your now… or if you simply want to get more excited about where you will spend eternity… read this book!
Paperback: 128 pages Publisher: The Good Book Company (February 1, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 1909559911 ISBN-13: 978-1909559912 Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.5 inches Retail Price: $12.99
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Stephen Witmer grew up in Monson, Maine. He is a graduate of Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and the University of Cambridge (Ph. D. in New Testament) and taught New Testament studies at the University of Cambridge and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary before becoming pastor of Pepperell Christian Fellowship in June of 2008. His prior ministry experience includes serving as an intern under Dr. John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stephen continues to teach New Testament at Gordon-Conwell. He has written Eternity Changes Everything: How to live now in the light of your future, The Good Book Guide to Jonah, and numerous articles that have appeared in publications such as Bible Study Magazine, Reformation 21, and the Gospel Coalition website. Stephen and Emma live in Pepperell and have three children: Samuel, Annie, and Henry.
I saw a recipe for Philly Chicken Sandwiches on Pinterest and thought they sounded delicious. I crack up at so many of the Pinterest Crockpot recipes, because I swear they cook for a family of 3 and one of those is pint-sized. My kids are growing like weeds and some nights they really put away the food to fuel that growth spurt! So, while I’m giving a nod to the nice person at Pinterest who inspired the recipe, I’m giving you the dirt on how to make this recipe for a family of 5 with no one under 5 feet tall and get all of the ingredients at Walmart or Sam’s Club.
Spray your Crockpot with cooking spray for this recipe. Then throw some slices of butter in the bottom of the pot. (More chicken = more butter)
I sliced up 3 medium-sized onions and spread them in the Crockpot.
Then I sliced up 2 green peppers and threw them on top of the onions.
(Woah … sorry this is so blurry! I had a disgruntled teenager helping me take pictures and THIS is what I got!)
You know I rarely thaw my chicken before I make a Crockpot meal, but this time, I did defrost them slightly because I wanted to slice the chicken breasts before I put them in the Crockpot. Seriously, they were just thawed enough to be able to safely cut them. I used 10 small – medium chicken breasts.
After they were sliced, I poured a good 8 tablespoons of Country Bob’s All Purpose Steak Sauce (Steak, Chicken, & Fries) [At Walmart by the steak sauce and ketchup] and used my hands to make sure all the chicken got a good covering. Then I layered the chicken on top of the onions and green peppers.
That’s it! I forgot to start this until noon, so I put it on high for an hour and then turned it down to low for 5 more hours. You could put it on low for the day if you’re headed out to work.
At suppertime we mixed it all together and used a meat fork to pull out the mixture to put on Hoagies. (There was some liquid, but by using the fork, we avoided that.) We topped it with a slice of mozzarella cheese. The kids ate it just like that. Mike and I added banana peppers for a little extra flavor.
Ben ate THREE Chicken Philly sandwiches, Caleb ate two, and the rest of us had 1 1/2. There’s still enough left over for the boys to have sandwiches for lunch tomorrow … though they won’t be getting 5 more sandwiches out of it!