Category Archives: Book Reviews

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? What We May Have Missed from Mister Rogers…

Friends!  I’ve just discovered a wonderful book that’s chock full of “spiritual toast sticks.”  Grab a cup of joe and join me…

Whether you were a fan of Mister Rogers growing up or not, I predict you’ll become one after diving into this book:

The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers:  Spiritual Insights from the World’s Most Beloved Neighbor

Author Amy Hollingsworth takes us on a journey where we gain a birdseye view of her relationship with Mr. Rogers.  She worked in television with CBN and has written five books. She’s also a pastor’s wife.

After Amy’s first interview with Fred Rogers, they forged a long-time friendship. They wrote to each other for eight years, until Fred’s death from stomach cancer in 2003. Many excerpts from their letters are shared. Beautiful Scripture is expounded on plus great anecdotes are included in each chapter, including the story of Mr. Rogers’ car being stolen, and then returned, once the thiefs realized who it belonged to!

Amy tells us of Mr. Rogers’ first friendship he recalls when he was but five years old.  It was with an elderly neighbor, Mama Bell, who taught him how to make toast sticks.  He loved being able to make something for himself, popping the bread into the toaster, then buttering it and putting jelly on it prior to cutting it into four sticks.

His words of wisdom became what Amy calls “spiritual toast sticks.”  She says they are “sustenance to be shared.” She divides them into three parts in her book, each with three beautiful chapters:  Toast sticks for the heart, eyes, and hands.

We learn Mr. Rogers intended to attend seminary after college, but he landed in tv before that could happen.  He did later become a Presbyterian minister, thanks to studying during his lunch hours. (Don’t miss that story!) His degree in music composition came from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida,  which I happened to have also attended. (Only for one year before going to UK.)

Mr. Rogers’ degree from Rollins obviously came in handy considering he wrote over two hundred songs and filmed more than nine hundred episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The first three chapters under the first spiritual toast stick happen to be my favorite.  The other six chapters are excellent as well, tho’, don’t miss them, especially chapter nine on “Heading Toward Heaven.” I’ll give you a few teasers to get you going…

Chapter One is called, “The Importance of Taking Time. The Importance of Silence.”  I was reminded each episode of his show opened with “a shot of a traffic lights flashing in yellow caution mode. That message is the essence of every episode:  It’s time to slow down.” He also warned his audience against hurry, and often sang the song, “I Like to Take My Time.”

You may be as shocked over this as I am:  Yale psychologists compared Mister Roger’s Neighborhood to Sesame Street, which was much more fast-paced than Fred’s.  They concluded, “Children who watched his show were more likely to be patient in waiting for materials or for an adult’s attention, saying there was an increase in ‘tolerance of delay.’”

One of Fred’s favorite writers was Henri Nouwen. They became close friends.  He quotes him often. Fred said, “Even though most of the world knows Henri best by his words, I’ve come to recognize his deepest respect for the still, small voice among the quiet of eternity. That’s what continues to inspire me.”

Fred believed everyone should experience silence daily.  He went so far as to suggest a moment of silence when he was invited to the White House on one occasion.  He declared, “Would you please just have a half-minute of silence to think about somebody who has helped you become who you are?”

After the meeting, a guard approached Fred and told him of his grandfather’s brother being so kind to him, offering him a fishing pole.  He said he probably loves to fish today because of that gift when he was so young. He was about the same age Fred was when he learned to make toast sticks from Mama Bell.

Silence is a gift as well as a legacy when you share it with others.

Chapter Two is entitled, “A Presence Transformed by Prayer.” With an emphasis on daily rituals, not only on his show, but in his personal life, Fred stuck to the same schedules. We learn predictability also brings comfort.

His personal routine included rising at 5:00 a.m. for “prayer, reflection, and Bible reading; followed by a 7:30 swim (where he weighed in at 143 pounds daily); followed  by his usual workday routine; keeping a 9:30 p.m. bedtime. Each morning he prayed for his family and friends by name.”

He sang a song his friend, Henri, taught him called, Jubilate Deo prior to diving into the pool.  Before the taping of his show, he’d say, “Dear God, let some word that is heard be Yours.”

Scores of people agreed Mister Rogers had a calming effect on those he encountered, whether in person or via the tv.  Amy called him “Mother Teresa in a cardigan.”  (My poker face just left the building.)

Don’t miss the story about the Sturgis Pretzel House where Mr. Rogers took his viewers one day.  It’s a memorable lesson on prayer.  (Not spoiling it!)

Amy said of this toast stick on prayer:

Finally, Chapter Three is “The Wondrous Work of the Holy Spirit.” In this chapter, we readers are introduced to an interesting concept, that of holy ground.  Fred believed, “…the space between the television set and the viewer is holy ground.”

Words from an old pastor friend Fred enjoyed builds on this concept:

“What is offered in faith by one person can be translated by the Holy Spirit into what the other person needs to hear and see. The space between them is holy ground, and the Holy Spirit uses that space in ways that not only translate, but transcend.”

This quote is followed by several testimonies from celebrities who viewed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and were moved for one reason or another, usually markedly changing their lives forever.  Don’t miss Lauren Tewes (who played Julie McCoy on The Love Boat) or Beth Sullivan who during a long-term illness discovered Mister Rogers’ show and later went on to create and produce Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman!

The Epilogue centers around 1 Timothy 6:20 which says, “guard what has been entrusted to your care.” It hadn’t occurred to me the huge responsibility Amy must’ve felt in writing this book about Mr. Rogers.  She discovered the word “trust” is translated in the Greek as “deposit.” Thus Paul’s words to Timothy challenged her to greatly render what she’d learned from Mr. Rogers and share it with the world.

Great job, Amy!  I learned so much and I know anyone who reads your book will do the same and enjoy the journey. Thanks for being brave enough to write it!

Here are the other chapters to further entice you to read the whole book:

4 – The Best Gift:  Your Honest Self

5 – Who is My Neighbor?

6 – The Power of Forgiveness

7 – The Least of These

8 – Difficult Times

9 – Heading Toward Heaven

A favorite quote by Saint Francis of Assisi, which I first learned when attributed to President George Herbert Walker Bush, is also said of Mister Rogers:  “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.”

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this powerful book.

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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Grab This Devotional for You, Your Kiddos, and Grands! You’ll Learn More Than You’d Ever Guess…(with help from Louie Giglio)

Friends!  This past Christmas, I bought FOUR copies of Louie Giglio’s devotional for our grands and our library. Let me tell you why…

You may be familiar with pastor, speaker, teacher, and writer, Lou Giglio. He’s who started the Passion conference for 18-25 years olds and their leaders.  These conferences have been filling arenas for years.  Just a week ago, four different arenas sold out to thousands who got to hear messages from Louie, Christine Caine, and Matt Chandler, with worship being led by David Crowder and Kari Jobe, among others.

Louie and his wife, Shelley, pastor Passion City Church and make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.

Louie says the Passion movement “exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.” Early on, their story connected to the confession found in Isaiah 26:8 (now known as the 268 Declaration) which says,

So, let’s dive into this eye-opening devotional aimed at kids, but equally interesting for us adults.  It has 100 devotions based on four categories:  Space, Earth, Animals, and People.  Each entry opens with a Scripture, a brief devotional with pictures, always ending with a fun fact called, “Be Amazed,” and a simple prayer.

Louie tells us, “My prayer is you’ll be truly amazed and in awe as we learn that the God who created Betelgeuse, one of the biggest stars we know about, also created YOU—from the number of hairs on your head to the color of the skin on your toes. This indescribable Creator knows you better and loves you more than anyone on Earth ever  could.”

One of many favorite entries is #36, called “The Eyes Have It.”  Our Scripture is,

In this entry, we learn that at five months into a baby’s life in utero, his/her eyes will have two million optic nerve endings. (“One million stretched out from your brain to meet and match up with another million optic nerve endings stretched out from your eye.”)

Louie asks, “Can you imagine matching up two million different wires and getting them all exactly right?” He teaches us that’s what God does when making our eyes. This is just one of many reasons each and every baby is an absolute miracle.

And while at five months, babies can’t see yet, at six months, the skin covering of the eyes separate, giving us eyelids. How beyond wild is that?

Now, let’s “Be Amazed: Chameleons have some of the coolest eyes around.  A chameleon can see in a total 360-degree circle—all the way around its body. Each eye can move separately from the other, so it can look in two different directions at once!”

And, let’s pray:

There are ninety-nine more equally fascinating entries in this devotional.  It’s impossible to choose a favorite. Each can be a great topic at your dinner table! (The day after Christmas I read another fascinating entry about the starfish, entry #90, to all six of our adult children who loved it. Boys and girls, young and old will gobble this devotional up. The challenge will be to only read one at a time!)

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When You Uncover a Treasure in a Pile of Books… (Who knew Charles Dickens wrote about the Lord?)

Friends!  In the Christmas frenzy, I was delighted to discover an old book of mine which has a crazy story.  Published in 1934, it looks old and tattered, its pages yellowed.  Sadly I have no recollection of having read this, but was beyond excited to learn of its story and you can bet I’ll be sharing it with our grands.

Many of us are already familiar with the many works of Charles Dickens:  A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield just to name a few. Who knew Charles was a strong believer and wrote a book based on the gospel of Luke for his children?

Here’s the book. (It just had its two hundredth anniversary!)

The Life of Our Lord written by Charles Dickens for His Own Children

The story reveals Charles Dickens wrote The Life of Our Lord about the time he wrote David Copperfield somewhere between 1846 and 1849.  John M. Makeham had accused him of irreverence in The Mystery of Edwin Drood to which Charles replied,

He later declared in a letter to his youngest son who was traveling at the time to Australia, “I put a New Testament among your books for the very same reason, and with the same hopes, that made me write an easy account of it for you when you were a little child. Because it is the best book that ever was or will be known in the world.”

For unknown reasons, Charles did not want The Life of Our Lord published, he wanted it kept only for his children.  When he finished the manuscript, he had eight children, the youngest of which was two years old.

His wife’s sister, Georgina Hogarth, “sacredly guarded the manuscript as a precious family secret.” Upon her death, the manuscript fell to Dickens’ “youngest child, Sir Henry Fielding Dickens, along with the admonition it should not be published while any child of Dickens lived.” While reading this, I keep shouting out loud, “BUT WHY???”

Once Sir Henry died, he gave the manuscript to his wife and children, allowing them to decide if it should be published, and if so, the proceeds should go to them into equal shares. Lo and behold, the family decided to publish, and The Life of Our Lord finally was shared with the world.

Rachel Taft-Dixon created the illustrations which are bright and beautiful with a classic touch. The light always surrounding Christ is take-your-breath-away beautiful.

Charles begins the book with,

While the Book of Luke has twenty-four chapters, Charles’ book, which summarizes Luke’s, has just eleven. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it over the month of December.  I believe your family would enjoy reading this next Christmas season, if not before!

It will also warm your heart to see someone like Charles Dickens laying out the Gospel with a beautiful sense of urgency for his children to grasp it in their own lives.  Isn’t that what we all want for our own children and grandchildren?

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and secure what’s sure to be a must-read at the very least during the Christmas season.  Or, why not begin the New Year with it?

May you have a most blessed, Happy, Healthy, 2019.

‘Til next time!

 

P.S.  Checkout my new author website, thanks to my publisher, WestBow Press.  It launched about a month after my book did. (Note there’s also a link to this blog and website on the author website which includes information about where you can get my book if you don’t live in Louisville. Thanks!)

www.authorelizabethhoagland.com

You may also email me if I you’d like my book for a friend or family member and I’ll be happy to send it to you:

elizabeth.hoagland@icloud.com

 

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When You Dread the Holidays… Where’s Our Hope?

Friends!  I pray today finds you well, at rest, at peace, all things trimmed, wrapped, and prepared for Christmas.  That little statement makes me laugh and cry simultaneously.  It looks like a bomb went off in this household.  Sigh…

It recently dawned on me that many folks who’ve lost a loved one may not be looking forward to Christmas or New Year’s or any upcoming holiday for that matter. Where do we find our hope in such circumstances?

I’m delighted to tell you about a new non-profit offering help in a multitude of ways, plus an additional treasure trove of hope from our buddy, Max Lucado.

One of my long-time friends endured the loss of her husband to suicide some seven years ago.  Not one of us would’ve predicted this, and only those who’ve found loved ones that have taken their own lives could possibly relate.

My friend is one you may also know:  Karen Buchanan Meyer.  She told me this week that within days of Don’s death, she felt more than a nudge from the Holy Spirit to figure out ways to help others going thru’ such horrific experiences.

Other friends met with her and over these past few years, Karen and her friend, Lisa Schardein, have formed a non-profit called First Hour Grief Response. (www.firsthourgrief.org)

 

Between Karen’s experiences and Lisa’s (Lisa’s 19 year old son, Ben, was killed by a drunk driver in June of 2011.), and with the help of others, they felt led to start First Hour Grief Response (FHGR) whose mission is to: “Provide free guidance and compassionate support for people who have suffered the sudden loss of a loved one.”

We learn “grief left unaddressed can lead to anger, aggression, deep depression, substance abuse, divorce, and even suicide.” FHGR, Inc. makes it their goal to “help grievers take the path toward hope and healing.”

They offer help over the loss of a child, spouse, parent, friend, or loss by suicide.  Multiple resources for counseling, books, legal assistance, workshops, funeral homes and planning, clergy and churches, etc. are available on their website.  Their office in Louisville is at 4055 Shelbyville Road, Suite B, 40207. You can reach them at (502) 791-9938.

This non-profit is a beautiful visual of 2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

The website, www.firsthourgrief.org also offers a weekly blog covering all kinds of topics. Two of my favorite sections in their flyer is also on their website for when you’re talking to a friend who’s just lost their loved one:

Karen said many organizations are jumping on board, spreading the word about FHGR, Inc., including a grief support group starting at Northeast Christian Church in the NECC Student Lobby building on January 22nd next year.

Our meeting was timely with it being year-end, should you be looking for other entities to donate to prior to December 31st.  (Their approval to become a non-profit just happened in November.) Please consider helping this well thought out and prayed for organization.  My guess is you can think of several friends or loved ones who could benefit from FHGR, Inc.

And as always, may I recommend a book you don’t want to miss which will bless you with an abundance of hope?  Unshakable Hope:  Building our Lives on the Promises of God by Max Lucado.

Chapter 14 gifts us with Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Max teaches, “Our anchor, in other words, is set in the very throne room of God. We might imagine the anchor attached to the throne itself. It will never break free. The rope will never snap. The anchor is set, and the rope is strong. Why?

Because it is beyond the reach of the devil and under the care of Christ. Since no one can take your Christ, no one can take your hope.” Yes!

We also learn God wants us to “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NKJV) Max says this promised hope is “an unbreakable spiritual lifeline.”  Wow, don’t miss that phrase!

He adds, “Since His promises are unbreakable, your hope will be unshakable.”

Let’s close with Russell Kelso Carter’s rich words from a hymn he wrote after enduring a critical heart condition which initially looked as if he was on the brink of death.  During those frightening days, he recommitted his life to Christ and began leaning on the promises he found in the Bible, living with a healthy heart for another 49 years!

(Second verse and refrain)

“Standing on the promises that cannot fail,

When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,

By the living Word of God I shall prevail,

Standing on the promises of God.

 

Standing, standing,

Standing on the promises of God my Savior;

Standing, standing,

I’m standing on the promises of God.”

 

Friend, whatever you’re going thru’, our Lord is by your side. Friends and helpers like those with First Hour Grief Response are standing by.  Don’t go it alone.  Cling to the promises of God and Savor this Season of Christ’s birth.

Our family wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas with hope for a blessed New Year.

‘Til next time!

 

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Stellar Stocking Stuffer Idea for Any Stressed Mom… And Please Dash to Peggy’s Gifts in Lexington this Saturday 12/15!

Friends! Got any stressed moms on your radar this season? I’m flailing my hand…It’s mid-December, and so far our tree is up, but still sitting miserably undecorated. Sigh…

I’ve got good news for ALL of us. Yes, it happens to be a book, and it’s pocket-size, ready to stuff someone’s stocking ASAP. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and grab copies for all the stressed out moms you know of Debora M. Coty’s book, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms.

This book is your ticket to stress relief, laugh out loud knee slappers, AND timely encouragement and advice. Deb often admits her mom failures and show us what we can learn from her. (Secret: all three of my daughters-in-love are getting copies in their stockings, as well as some of my friend’s daughters who are moms or moms-to-be. Shhh, don’t tell.)

Set up in four sections with twenty-five chapters, you could read this each month as a devotional, one chapter at a time. Take home value is at a premium, you may wish to have a journal handy as there are many pearls you’ll want to read and re-read and record.

I have several favorite chapters from each section. From Section 1, don’t miss “PMS: Pretending Mom’s Sane (Motherhood Mayhem)” and “I’m Not Crazy—I’m Crazy Busy”, which include ideas for how to prioritize, plan, and pace yourself. Deb shows us why “should” is a dangerous word, being a “stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver.” Amen to that having sulked over the shoulda/coulda/woulda scene time and time again.

Section 2 favorites include “Too Blessed to be Obsessed (Letting Go of Mom Guilt) and “Chocolate Caulks Relationship Cracks (Forgiveness)

Each chapter begins with a Scripture verse. Chapter Eleven offers Ecclesiastes 6:11 in the NLT:

Chapter eleven is loaded with ways to combat our accuser, a/k/a Satan. Deb quotes Charles Spurgeon who said, “The devil never kicks a dead horse.” In other words, we who are still drawing breaths in this world are all marching around with targets on our backs. We’d be wise to “don the armor of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

We also gain…


Another bonus of each chapter is Deb closes with four excellent, thought-provoking questions called “Navigating the ‘Hood” (short for motherhood). One of my favorites is, “Need a good meme to remind you to pray for your kids? Try Lamentations 2:19 in the NKJV:


Favorite chapters from Section 3 include: “Zombie in Sweats (Finding Elusive Rest)” and “My Hair Stylist is from Oz (Confidence)”. Finally, Big Drum roll: hugely fav chapter from Section 4 is: “Morphing This Worrier into a Warrior.

One of my bigger sins is worry. I know, I know, it is NOT GOOD. But, good news! Deb gifts us reader with TEN simple ways to “rejuvenate your prayer life. Don’t miss these!

Let’s close with this quote to make you think, smile, and savor each day:

Start making your list for who you’d love to bless with this book!

And if you’re anywhere near Lexington, KY this Saturday, December 15th, please come do some Christmas shopping at Peggy’s Gifts. They have everything and then some. I’ll be signing my book from 10:00 a.m, to 2:00 p.m. and Peggy tells me they’re having a trunk show too. Double the fun!

http://peggysgifts.com/
112 Clay Avenue
Lexington, KY 40502

‘Til next time!

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When a BAT Swoops Over You at 5:00 a.m., PLUS 1 of 2 Stocking Stuffer Ideas…( Perfect combo’, right?!)

Friends! What do you do when you’re trying to fly outta town super early, you go to close up the porch, and, “Whoosh!” A BAT scares the willies out of you?

Happy to report this didn’t happen to me, but to my better half. He admitted he didn’t want to be battling a bat at 5:00 in the morning. “But…” I whined, “Think of what we’ll find upon our return!” (Envisioning a dead bat and it’s remnants all over our newly recovered porch cushions. Because of course it’s all about the new porch cushions?!) Oh ye of material mind….

One attempt, armed with a tennis racket, John reported, “No sighting.” Stay tuned to what we will find in a few days. Sigh…

Moving on to better things to fill your mind with(!!!), allow me to give you a stocking stuffer idea this week and next. Both are books (shocking) and both are pocket size to where you could stuff them in a friend’s or a family member’s stocking.

My friend Jane posed a thought provoking question this week: “What gift will you offer to Jesus this Christmas?” Stumped, we let Jane offer her answer first.

“I want to extend grace to all who cross my path this season, not to just those I’m partial to. After all, Jesus gave us all more grace than we deserve, how can we not do that?” she said.

To which I said, “Big ditto!”

Our friend Gwen answered, “Id like to offer Him worship.”

Which made me think of an awesome book by one of my all-time favorite worship leaders and songwriters, Chris Tomlin. He co-wrote the book with pastor Darren Whitehead.

The book? Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change the Way You Worship

In addition to the book, Chris just released a new cd by the same name. Every song is excellent, but “Is He Worthy?” makes me come unglued. Every. Single. Time. Several of my buddies and I were blessed to hear him sing many of the songs at Southeast in November.

Recently, Pastor Darren Whitehead, of Church of the City in Nashville, preached a sermon on “The Seven Words of Praise”, explaining the “different words the ancient Hebrew people used to express their praise to God.”

What’s so mind blowing about this, is the different meanings of the words because in our English language, we only have ONE word: “praise.” Wait til you read the seven chapters. Each will open your eyes.

Not only educational, both Chris and Darren are also engaging to where you’ll say to yourself, “Why didn’t we know this? This is a game changer.”

Let’s take one of the seven words: “Yadah,” which means “To revere or worship with extended hands…” This is one of the seven. Get this: It’s “found over 111 times in Scripture.” What?

One fun point re: the format of the book is Darren begins teaching us the Hebrew words and Chris answers with a song and the story behind its origin. You’ll know the songs and love discovering their very own stories.

Each chapter offers additional Scripture to look up for “reflection and discussion.” Chris and Darren invite us readers to become a part of the “holy roar.” Chapter Seven is on the word, “Shabach,” which literally means “to raise a holy roar.”

Do NOT miss Chapter Six, where you’ll learn how Darren, who’d been in Christian radio, came to America from Australia. As a pastor. You will fall out of your chair. Only God.

Ah, you know what’s next! Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Holy Roar. Your worship of the Lord will forever be changed and whoever you bless with this as a gift will love it!

Next week we will discuss another neat little book that packs a punch, “Too Blessed to be Stressed” by Debora M Coty. Bundles of fun a la Deb and pearls-a-plenty of wisdom.

And if you’re anywhere near Lexington on December 15th, you’re invited to a super fun Saturday. Please come shopping and join me and the gals from Peggy’s Gifts. I’ll be there signing books from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Peggy’s has something for everyone. (I got into a little trouble there a couple of weeks ago. Sorta bought some Christmas gifts as well as fab flannel PJ’s for Santa to give, well moi.) There will also be a trunk show, so double the fun!

http://peggysgifts.com/
112 Clay Avenue, Lexington, KY 40502

‘Til next time!

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How About a Virtual Trip to the Holy Land? Take an Eye-Opening Tour Guided by Kathie Lee Gifford and Rabbi Jason Sobel…

Friends!  Any of you have the Holy Land on your bucket list?  For a lovely overview plus eye-opening Biblical truths, grab a copy of Kathie Lee Gifford’s newest book, The Road, the Rock, and the Rabbi:  My Journey into the Heart of Scriptural Faith and the Land Where It All Began. You’ll want to go, like yesterday! 

Your toes may get a tad stepped on from the Introduction where Kathie Lee tells on herself.  She shares that the Lord gently reminded her to put Him first, “As you begin your day, so goes your day.”

She says, “Many of us have become so complacent, spoiled, and comfortable that we don’t realize we are miserable.”  Look at Isaiah 55:2,

Kathie Lee adds, “I believe this is how our faith grows stale, our joy diminishes, and our passion for God runs dry…we will all die spiritually if we stop feeding on His Word!”

We readers are taken to twenty-nine different places in the Holy Land.  There are beautiful pictures of these places in the middle of the book.  Kathie Lee shares what she learned at each of these places, and in most of the chapters, Rabbi Sobel further expounds on the significance of these locations and what’s important from Scripture.

You’ll discover firsthand why Kathie Lee calls the Bible a treasure map. Rabbi Sobel shows us from “the first letter to the last, the Bible points to Jesus.” You’ll also be highly amused at her trip where her husband, Frank, accompanied her.  Their beginning was so rough, everyone wanted to call it quits, including Frank who wanted to catch the next flight out! Don’t miss this!

Since there are twenty-nine chapters, each of which are short, I’d recommend you read this book as a devotional, reading one chapter per day.  Each is a lesson, in and of itself.  If you didn’t have the Holy Land on your bucket list earlier, you will now!

One of many fascinating discoveries can be found in Chapter 18, on the Mount of Olives. We begin by reading Luke 19:37-38,

Kathie Lee, Frank, and the rest of their tour group were instructed to sit on a stone wall, facing south, with their backs to a very brushy area. Ray, their tour guide, proceeded to direct their attention to the overgrown bushes.

From his wallet, he pulled out a laminated card to pass around.  On it was a teeny tiny speck.  Ray explained, “This is a mustard seed, among the smallest seeds in all of the botanical world. It’s smaller than a speck of pepper.”

Next, the group was told to look back at the overgrown bushes. He said, “That is the most feared plant in all of Israel, the mustard plant. It’s feared because once it takes root it can’t be destroyed. You can try to burn it out, stomp it out, tear it out, but eventually it takes over everything in its way.”

Holding his Bible in the air, Ray paralleled the mustard seed to the Kingdom of God. He said, “Once it gets planted, nothing can stop it!” Don’t miss the rest of this chapter as Kathie Lee shows us exactly where Jesus would have been teaching because the mustard plant, Herodium, and the Dead Sea are all visible from the point where they were sitting.

Another treat in the book is where we get to hear from Kathie Lee’s brother, Reverend David Epstein in Chapter Twenty-Two. Who knew he pastors a church in Manhattan on 57th Street, Calvary Baptist Church? He gifts us with two different teachings.

Our in-home Bible study group began studying this book via the study guide and dvd teachings (which are separate from the book) the first week of November.  Kathie Lee and Rabbi Sobel are both in the videos.

Max Lucado says Kathie Lee, “escorts the reader to the land of the Savior, taking us on a heart-deepening journey of hope.”

Franklin Graham suggests, “Fix your heart on the Rock of salvation and walk the Road that leads to redemption with the Rabbi—the teacher who gives eternal life to those who seek Him.”

The end of the book includes Kathie Lee’s experience during Frank’s unexpected death. You’ll need a Kleenex to get thru’ this beautiful chapter. Also closing out the book are nineteen inspirational  testimonials of some who took this same trip, including Cody Gifford, Kathie Lee and Frank’s son. He shares a fun anecdote too!

My same  Tuesday group just finished Lysa TerKeurst’s study, Finding I Am:  How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart, also filmed in Israel, prior to beginning Kathie Lee’s study.  Your Bible study group can virtually visit the Holy Land for several weeks if you study both of these!

Blessings for a lovely November and Thanksgiving season.

‘Til next time!

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