Book Review: Handle with Care by Lore Ferguson Wilbert

handle with careAs someone who works at a church, we often have people come in who need help of some kind. Last week a young woman came who needed groceries. I gave her a form to complete and went to get them. I offered to carry them out for her and we chatted a bit on the way to her car. After I placed the sack in her car, she reached out and touched me on the arm and thanked me. Walking back to the church, I immediately thought of this book.  

In Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry, the author, Lore Ferguson Wilbert, examines how Jesus touched others throughout His ministry. She writes: Jesus touches the feeble and the women, the bleeding and the unclean, and the heads of adulterous women. He heals on the Sabbath using His hands. He touches the diseased and the children. He allows Himself to be touched too, by unclean people, women, snot-nosed kids, tax collectors and sinners. 

The author then explores how touch can be redeemed in the church, in our marriage, and in the people we meet each day. This book caused me to think of how I need to intentionally touch my mom and grandmother, both widows, whether it be with a hug or kiss on the cheek. Wilbert’s words in regard to touch in marriage challenged me to show love to my husband by just holding his hand or rubbing his back at night. Simple gestures of love that we have lost through the years. My eyes are now open for the hurting, the abused, and the down and out, that may not know the sincere touch of someone who cares for them. 

If Jesus is our ministry example, and He is, then appropriate touch done in love and compassion will be a part of our ministry to others. Wilbert reminds us: Though the world cannot touch Jesus, it can touch us. And Christ is in us. In a profound way, when the world comes into contact with us, it comes in contact with Him. In other words, we are the way the Thomases of this world gain their sight.

Next time, I want to be the one who reaches out to give that touch or hug and not the other way around. I want them to see Christ in me.

Lore Ferguson Wilbert has encouraged me for many years at her blog Sayable. She writes thoughtfully, truthfully and always points her readers to Christ. I received an advance reader’s copy from B&H Publishers. Learn more about Handle with Care and a wonderful gift package if you pre-order at handlewithcarebook.com.

Behold the King of Glory by Russ Ramsey [Book Review]

Russ RamseyHave you ever wondered between the words, places and events of scripture? Perhaps asking yourself why did the disciples respond this way? What could it have been like for John the Baptist in prison? Behold the King of Glory by Russ Ramsey is a narrative on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Beginning with the healing of the nobleman’s son and ending with the hope of the King of Glory who is making all things new in Revelation, the author gives us a detailed account of the conversations, ministry and miracles of Christ including those after His resurrection.

Mr. Ramsey shares the historical and cultural context with a descriptive language that adds a freshness to Christ’s story. For those who have grown up in church or have read their Bible we know the outcome of each miracle. Yet I was still captivated by every account the author penned. He places scripture references throughout so that the reader may know where to find the story in the Bible. It contains 40 chapters with the thought of it being used as a devotional for the season of Lent. The author writes:

Jesus didn’t go through all that suffering just for his own victory over the grave. He did this for the rescue of those who would believe in him as well. Through the messy lives of those who could love him and fail him in the same breath, he would bring rivers of the grace of God to a thirsty world, and their stories would be eternally, inextricably joined to his, world without end.

This book is a great tool to give an unbeliever who is seeking to know more about Christ. It would also be a thoughtful gift for someone who never tires of reading the story of Christ. You can download a free study guide for the book here.

I received this book from Crossway Publishers in exchange for a honest review.

God’s Battle Plan for the Mind by David W. Saxton [Book Review]

Battle_plan__“So what verse have you been meditating on?” When is the last time you have been asked that question? It might be “What did you watch on TV last night?” or “What book are you reading?” but no one has ever asked me what scripture I’m meditating on. Which is good because the answer would be a sheepish look and a reply of “Well, I’ve always wanted to do that but never have.”

A solution is found to that seemingly unattainable desire in God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation by David W. Saxton. Well, at the mention of Puritan there went half my readers who think this staunch group of black-hatters went a little mad in their devotion to God. In the sense of mad being extreme zeal and desire for the Lord, we have much to learn from them.

Mr. Saxton begins his book with an explanation of why it is important to recover the practice of biblical meditation. He doesn’t deny that it is a difficult task. Moving from unbiblical forms of meditation such as mysticism, transcendental meditation and contemplative prayer, he then takes the reader through the Old and New Testament terms equivalent to the word “meditate.” He quotes several Puritan authors and their definition of meditation. My favorite was by Thomas Watson:

Meditation…is a holy exercise of the mind whereby we bring the truths of God to remembrance, and do seriously ponder upon them and apply them to ourselves.

The author contrasts occasional meditation with deliberate meditation. The first being spontaneous and throughout the day and the other planned at a specific time. Ideas to enhance meditation are shared such as not having any distractions. A list of subject matter the Puritans often meditated on is presented to assist the reader in what subjects they may want to spend time thinking upon.

I was challenged by Chapter 9 “The Reasons for Meditation.” Many of God’s people throughout the Bible meditated on His word but the main reason we should be doing it is simply because God commands it. We hear his call to this discipline over and over in scripture. The author challenges us:

Christians who refuse to use their time to meditate upon the Word are as foolish as an army sentry without bullets or a fireman without a water source.

We, and that includes me, must discipline our lazy flesh that wants to tweet about the snow outside instead of pondering the One who washed me white as snow. The benefits of meditation are many as well as the enemies of meditation. Mr. Saxton reminds us:

If a believer is to survive in a world of constant distraction, he must make honest and discerning choices about the use of his time. He must be willing to part with anything that clutters his mind to the point that he can no longer commune with the Lord.

The author concludes with a call to persevere in the habit of meditation and to make God’s Word a priority of life.

I highly recommend this book for those who like me “have always wanted to but never have.” Since reading this book may I have a different answer to the meditation question. Well, of course, if I ever get asked.

I received this book from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.