Shredded

Shredded | a book review

If you have read my previous book review posts you will know that I LOVED Kimberly Rae’s books Capturing Jasmina and Buying Samir (reviewed here and here) and can hardly wait for the third book Seeking Mother which is coming around Christmas time. I could hardly put down either of these books and they helped open my eyes to what child labour really is, and change the way I shop. So when Kimberly Rae left me a comment asking me to read and review her new book,  Shredded I was so honoured and excited!

I ended up with getting sick on Monday and was able to spend the entire day reading so having a great new book that I was excited about helped make my day more bearable.

Shredded starts with a church that is obviously suffering but doesn’t seem to understand why, power struggles and legalism have crept in and sins have been covered up. When a new, young pastor is hired everything changes and dark secrets are brought to surface. Many people aren’t ready for the changes or the kind of people who have been welcomed in.

Shredded is a cautionary tale of how we can be fooled by those around us who pretend to have the Christian life down pat. It is a reminder that we often judge people based on the way they dress, the choices they make and the way they present themselves without knowing what they have been through or taking the time to get to know who they really are.

It is the story of one woman saved from a life of prostitution and sex trafficking whose life is changed when one person really looked at her as an equal and welcomed her into their church. A woman who then met Jesus and changed everything about her life and the lives of everyone around her.

It is also the story of another woman who faced abuse as a child and instead of acting out retreated within herself and needed rescue as much as her trafficked friend did.

This book is a reminder that it doesn’t matter what is in our past, the choices we have made or what has been done to us against our will, Jesus can redeem even the darkest past and make something beautiful from our lives if we only will trust him.

Once again Kimberly has challenged me to look more carefully at my life, the people around me and especially the ones that I don’t normally notice. She has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and not worry what people around me might think.

This is another fantastic book by a woman who addresses hard topics like child slavery, sex trafficking and prostitution in such a delicate way and yet does not sugar coat it in the slightest. She is an expert at describing the horror of these things in a careful way so that anyone can read about it and really understand without it being crass. I haven’t seen anyone do so well at this, many try to shock the reader with harsh details while Kimberly does the same thing and helps you to feel the same amount of anger and sorrow about trafficking in a careful and gentle way.  Even though Shredded is written for adults instead of young adults as her India Street Kids series is, I would still recommend this book even to teenage girls.

Kristina

for a friend who needed Jesus

for a friend who needed Jesus

Their friend needed Jesus but it seemed impossible. The crowd was too big, no way in. Jesus was already busy with many other people and a huge line still waited to get in. The stretcher was heavy, there were only a few of them to carry the weight of him. They should probably just give up, no one was going to make way for them and the stretcher.

This is one of those stories that stands out to me no matter how many times I read or hear it. For the love of their friend, these men tore apart someone’s roof, and lowered a grown man down at least 7 feet into a crowded room.

I wonder which of them first thought, “hey guys, don’t give up! Let’s get him up onto the roof. You grab some rope and we will rip a hole in the roof!” Did they all stare incredulously at him for a moment or two before deciding it was the only option or did they all agree right away?

What about the paralyzed man? He would have just sat/lay there and watched the whole scene unfold. Was he nervous that his friends would be scolded or arrested? They were destroying someone’s house for his sake.

As I read this I tried to imagine being a part of this story, would I have been concerned enough for my friend to do something this crazy? Or would I have been too afraid? (Not that I would normally condone destroying someone’s property…) They would have made a lot of people upset (the home owners and the people who had been waiting all morning to see Jesus) and drawn a lot of attention, told they were crazy, told to stop or go away.

They weren’t afraid to look stupid because they knew that the end goal was worth the momentary discomfort.

 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.  Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.  Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” – Luke 5:17-26

Kristina

graceintheugly

grace in the ugly

I have been thinking about grace a lot this summer. When grace shows the most in our lives, and when we see it the most in the lives of others.

A few of weeks ago a couple I know had a new baby, their precious baby came too soon though and was only with them for an hour before going to be with Jesus.

As a bystander I was wrecked, I sat in my car listening to music just weeping for them, I had to sneak out of church a week later because I was sobbing again, even as I write this the tears threaten to pour over.

I drove to meet some girlfriends the day I heard the news, listening to “Your Grace Finds Me” by Matt Redman and sobbing for them and their children and their pain. I started to think about how Grace is most evident in the ugliest moments of our lives.

As a believer we can see grace in our lives everyday in so many ways and they are all beautiful, but grace never shows up so beautifully as it does in those devastating moments. The moments when a regular person would fall apart, when a regular person would get angry and yell at God. Those are the moments when grace shines so brightly it can’t be ignored.

When the person who should be destroyed with grief is still praising the Lord.

When the woman who just received the news that there is nothing else they can do for her cancer and she has only weeks left is singing praises and encouraging others.

When the man who just lost his whole family because of his faith is still telling everyone he meets about Jesus.

When the thing that should make a person bitter actually draws them closer to God; grace is never so beautiful as it is then.

It was, after all, one of these ugly moments when Grace won. In that moment when the perfect God-incarnate, beaten so badly he was unrecognizable, cried “it is finished” and conquered sin and showed us what Grace is in the biggest way possible.

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distracted

Distracted

I must admit that I have been distracted this summer. I can say it is busyness, wedding season, kids home from school, day trips, hot days; but those are all just excuses.

My mind has been a jumble of so many thoughts and distractions that real rest has been hard to find.

Saturday night I woke up from a terrible nightmare. The kind of nightmare that sticks with you and despite trying to think about anything but the violence inside my own head, I can’t get those images and fears out.

Then my distracted and exhausted mind (or more likely the not-at-all-distracted and not-at-all-exhausted Holy Spirit was gently reminding me) brought back the truth that if you fill your mind with light the darkness has to flee. And so I fumbled in the darkness for my phone and opened the She Reads Truth app to the Read through the Bible study (that I have to admit I have gotten behind on.) To Psalms 90-93 and as God so often does for us,  Psalm 91 had the exact words I needed at that moment.

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

I read it, then read it again a few more times as those thoughts and fears fought to remain.

The cool thing about truth is that it doesn’t matter how scary the lie is, how deep the fear is, truth demolishes it; and it doesn’t matter how unfaithful I have been or how distracted, he is always faithful.

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Matthew 21:22

Pray for Ramadan (day 23-30)

There are only 7 more days of Ramadan this year.

This weekend pray again with renewed furver that Jehovah will make himself known to Muslim people all over the world this week. Pray that they will have dreams and visions and feel the love our a Father has for us and how vastly different HE is from Allah.

Pray again for multitudes to turn to Christ this week as Ramadan comes to to an end so that the closing festivities will have a whole new meaning for thousands of Muslims.

And as you pray this weekend, hold onto the promise that whatever you ask for in prayer you will receive if you have Faith and ask according to the will of God. We know that he isn’t willing that any should perish, so pray boldly.

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Matthew 7:7

Pray for Ramadan (day 22)

God says that if we seek Him, we will find Him.

Ramadan is a time of seeking for many Muslims. Pray today that they will seek with all of their hearts for truth and for the true God. If they do he will not leave them empty. They will find Him.

Pray also for those who might be used to help them “find”. Pray for courage and wisdom for them.

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james5

Pray for Ramadan (day 21)

I was reading again today about the people of West Africa, Mali specifically but the story is similar in many West African countries.

Mali has a very small percentage of Christians and is primarily Muslim. (Other west African countries have a higher percentage of Christians but still many people who follow Islam.)

Pray that African pastors , specifically those in Mali, would be filled with the desire to reach their own people. Pray for the organizations that are equipping African pastors with the resources and the teaching that they need to effectively reach the unreached people in their own countries.

Pray for African pastors who are caught up in the teachings of “prosperity gospel”. Pray that the Holy Spirit would correct their thinking and open their eyes to the truth in the Word or bring people into their lives who can guide them into correct thinking.

Pray that African believers would be filled with a deep hunger to know Jesus more and to share Him with everyone around them, and especially with their Muslim neighbours.

Pray that African Muslims would see a difference in their Christian neighbours and would desire to have the same peace and joy that they have.

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1Thess5

Pray for Ramadan (day 20)

When I was in Bible School I had this roommate, she is the kind of girl you love instantly, she is adorable inside and out, bubbly, full of life and full of love for the lost and especially for Muslims.  She grew up in a country that is primarily Muslim, the daughter of missionaries and she always had a heart to go back.

She met a cool guy who shared her desires, they were married and moved over to South Asia to do the work the Lord had laid out their hearts. They have been there for close to a decade now. Time flies.

Today I want to take some time to pray for them and the people in their city, especially the people they have been building relationships with. Pray for hearts that are open and full of questions. Pray for wisdom for my friends and their coworkers. Pray for a ridiculous abundance of opportunities for them to share the good news to people who are separately thirsting to hear. Pray that they will feel a fresh overflowing of love for the people in their city and lastly that they will be tremendously encouraged as they live their lives so far from their families.

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Phil4

Pray for Ramadan (day 19)

One of the most encouraging things in this life is the knowledge that no matter how we suffer or what kind of hard things we walk through, we have a Father in Heaven who loves us more than a father loves his children. He has a plan for our lives and nothing will ever happen to us on accident. We will never walk alone, he is always with us. He pursues us.

Muslim people do not believe that Allah is knowable. He isn’t a Father who loves them and wants a relationship with them, he didn’t send his son to repair the rift we broke in that relationship. He is interested only  in blind obedience and worship.

Pray today that Muslims will begin to know Jehovah. That they will begin to see the difference between Jehovah who loves them and wants them to know him and Allah who not only doesn’t want a relationship with them but doesn’t even hear them when they pray. Pray today that as they pray all over the world they will begin to have doubts about Allah and that those doubts will lead them to discover the true God.

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matt5

Pray for Ramadan (day 16-18)

Most people know that there are different branches of Islam, there are Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. Most people also know that the majority of Muslims are Sunni (around 90% of all Muslims) and Shia Muslims are in about as much danger in ISIS controlled areas as Christians are.

Today let’s take time to pray specifically for Shia Muslims and especially those in areas controlled by ISIS. Pray that God will protect them and give them time to hear and believe the truth. Pray that they will unconsciously seek out Christians around them with childlike curiosity. Pray that they will see Jesus in their dreams  and be filled with a desperate thirst to get to know him. And pray that when they do know Him that they will be filled with love and compassion for the Sunni Muslims around them as well as for their friends and family members.

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