Wicked Women Of The Bible

I would like to thank Family Christian for sending me an advance copy of this book  in exchange for sharing my honest opinion.  “Wicked Women of the Bible” is available for pre-order now at Family Christian and will be available in stores on September 22nd.

Wicked Women of the Bible

I was instantly intrigued when I read the title of this book.  I’ve always wanted to know more about women like Jezebel and Delilah.  I was so excited when I go the book that book I opened it to a random chapter, “A Wicked Woman of the Night: The Story of Rahab”, and started reading.  I was not entirely surprised to see that Rahab had made her way into the book.  She was an innkeeper and as such it’s presumed that she ran a brothel and perhaps was a prostitute herself.  So how did a woman of the night make her way into the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11)?  Because she chose to help Jewish spies and trust that their God would spare her and her family.  I enjoyed the way in which author Ann Spangler shared Rahab’s story so much that I kept reading.  I was much more surprised to see that Deborah was the protagonist of the next chapter.  How is it that a judge, prophetess, and mighty warrior made her way into a book about wicked women?

A little bewildered, I decided to flip to the beginning of the book and read the introduction. Within the pages of the intro she shares that wanted to keep with the oral tradition of the Bible and do her “best to reimagine the stories of some of the Bible’s most fascinating women in order to bring them to life for contemporary readers”.  In my opinion, she nailed it.  She doesn’t contradict or stray from the Bible like so many biblically inspired movies do.  She fleshes out each of the women in such a way that I can identify with all of them, even the “wicked bad” women.  Through her writing style, be it in the main story or in the Takeaway section that follows, she prompts me to wonder about their insecurities and fears.  I start to question their motives and wonder how their story would have turned out if they allowed God to lead them.  As for women such as Deborah and Esther, they were included in the book because Spangler’s “aim has not been simply to highlight the stories of some of the Bible’s worst women but also to explore the stories of those who might be considered ‘wicked good’ or ‘wicked smart’.”

The timing of receiving this advanced copy could not have been more perfect.  For the past several months I’ve been feeling underqualified, not good enough to do the work I feel God is calling me to do.  Reading the stories within “Wicked Women of the Bible” has reminded me not only of God’s character, but that He can use anyone in His story.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the women of the Bible, or wondered how God could use someone like you, this book is for you.

I just read this on the “Wicked Women of the Bible” site: Pre-order Wicked Women of the Bible before September 22, 2015 and receive a free copy of Wicked Men of the Bible. This 40-page ebook includes the stories of Cain and Jonah. Simply email a copy of your receipt to admin@annspangler.com. Once we receive your email, we’ll email you back the PDF of Wicked Men of the Bible and you can begin your wicked study right away!

10/06 Update: I am attempting to offer the first giveaway on this blog using an autogenerated giveaway widget.  I’m hoping it works.

Well, from what I can tell you need to click on this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

10/12 Update: The giveaway is closed and the winner is Helene!

Ready. Set. Go.

Has God ever dared you to do something?  Not in the sense of the game Truth or Dare.  That game always seems to involve something risque or stupidly risky.  I’m asking if God has dared you to leave your comfort zone, to push past your self-imposed limits.  He dared me this evening, during the most routine activity.

Today was a dreary day.  It rained all morning and it remained cloudy long after it stopped raining.  Shortly after the boys woke from their final nap (I think they took three today, but it could have been four) the sky finally cleared up.  I couldn’t let the opportunity to be out in the sun pass us by, so I put them in cooler clothes and we were out the door.

We circled our cul de sac before making our way to the cul de sac at the other end of our street.  I do this most mornings by myself and forgot how difficult it is to go up the slight incline from one end of our street to the other while pushing the boys in their stroller. The cold I’m fighting didn’t help either.  Or the fact that I only walked one day this week due to said cold.

As we made our way to one of the main roads in the neighborhood, David and DJ were returning from their trip to a nearby disc golf course.  They pulled up next to us to say hello to the boys.  David reminded me of the time and I promised to not be much longer.  We walked our normal route and I was just about to turn to go home when I felt compelled to take on the challenge of walking up a rather steep incline. (Dare #1)

My Team MOMENT’em YouTube playlist was playing on my phone and was pretty pumped up.  I was listening to For King and Country’s “Run Wild” as I walked down the hill, and Shawn McDonald’s “We Are Brave” came on as I walked around the cul de sac at the bottom of the hill. {You are correct in surmising that cul de sacs are popular in our neighborhood}  The upbeat tempo and encouraging lyrics definitely made an impression on me as I thought about my approach for getting back up the hill.  I contemplated walking up the hill as I did with the earlier incline but that thought was quickly interrupted by “Just go for it.  Give it everything you’ve got!”  (Dare #2) And that’s exactly what I did.

Ready Set Go

I ran up the hill as fast as I could while I pushing the stroller.  Although I couldn’t take a sprinter’s stance (I was pushing a stroller, after all), I definitely ran like I was sprinting.  My heels didn’t touch the ground until we were up the hill.  I was so winded that I choked on the first post-hill gulp of water I took.  But I made it up the hill.  And I felt pretty awesome.

Running up the hill was easier than walking the much smaller incline earlier in the walk.  I’m certain that it was my approach.  Not so much physically as mentally and spiritually.  I saw the first incline as a “have to” – something I had to do to get to what I wanted to do.  I had to climb that initially hill to get to the walk the rest of our route.  I didn’t have to walk up the the steep incline in order to get back to our house.  I deliberately went out of my way to take on the challenge of pushing the stroller back up the hill.  Why?  Because I looked at it as a “get to”.

This time last year I was recovering from a Cesarean.  It took me weeks of working with a chiropractor to sleep without discomfort and several more weeks to start walking without experiencing excruciating pain. Over the past year and a half, simple movements I had once taken for granted became huge accomplishments for me.  Tonight’s dare from God was like a wink and a nod Him showing me how far I’ve come – physically, mentally, and spiritually – since I first found out I was pregnant with twins.

God meets us in the everyday, in the routine, and dares us to step out in faith. Today, it was running up a steep hill in my neighborhood.  And as I basked in the awesome feeling that came with meeting that challenge, I thought that was it.  I finished that God assignment and figured my evening would return to its routine.  But then God dared me to write this blog entry and followed up that initial dare with a second – to start writing regularly.

To write for the first time in over a month.  Writing again after taking a month off (not intentionally at first) is like walking up that first small hill.  The challenge of writing again regularly, that’s like taking that much bigger hill.  It’ll all come down to my approach.  Will I see this call to action as a have to or a get to?  Has God recently dared you to do something?  Something that had you thinking “Nah, I can’t do that.”  Maybe you knew you could do it but thought you would look silly doing it.  Whatever it is, dear sister, know that you are not alone in your uncertainty and discomfort.  I’ll be praying that you meet each God dare with a get to mindset.  Please be in prayer that I do the same.

From Good To Grace

Christine Hoover’s latest book is an invitation to have a daily reprieve from an addiction to goodness.

I received a copy of this book as a Family Christian Blogger.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced by Family Christian or anyone else.

Years ago, while reading Lysa Terkeurst’s Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl, I received such freedom from God that I thought “Whew, I’m so glad I learned all of those powerful Biblical truths!”  I truly believed that I was cured from the need to be good in the eyes of others.  But in the years since then I find myself continuously surrendering my desire to please others, just to pick it back up.  And then surrender it again.  It’s exhausting.

I know that’s why I connected with the cover of Christine Hoover’s latest book From Good to Grace: Letting Go of The Goodness Gospel.  It shows a woman (probably a mom) sitting in a laundry basket as she thumbs through a book.  I can totally identify with her – too tired to find a “proper” place to recline and read.  Like her, I have to steal away moments to read.  And I’ve loved every moment I’ve spent reading this book.

Godo to Grace 2

She had me at “Good, Bye”

Yes, that’s totally a reference to “Jerry Maguire”.  High five for those of you who got it.  And for those of you who didn’t, you can look it up later.  The book is split up into three sections, each covering three chapters (the math teacher in me was tickled by the symmetry of that).  I’ve only gotten through the first section which is titled Good, Bye (hence the heading above).  Although I’m only three chapters into the book I know that Christine wrote this book just for me.

Sure, I know it’s her story, but it’s just as much mine as it is hers.  She talks of her obsession with being good – trying to win the approval of others and God. My heart winced as I let her words sink in that the gospel isn’t just for salvation; it’s for everyday life.  Too often I wave the banner of God’s power and tout what He’s done, totally neglecting what He is still doing in my life.  I accept that salvation is by faith alone, but somehow expect sanctification to be a different story. Thinking and acting as if I need to go it alone.

The goodness gospel that Christine describes is all about caring more what others think of us than what God does. She writes about putting chains on ourselves and I can most certainly relate.  I take the chains of bondage that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection freed me from and I wear them like jewelry.  They weigh me down and I remain stuck for fear that whatever I share will be judged, or the presentation of my thoughts won’t be witty or compelling enough.  I question and doubt not only my ability to write, but my calling to be in this arena, or any other for that matter.

Christine spoke directly to my heart when she confessed “Unfortunately for me, a large part of a goodness obsession is an addiction to self.  Goodness is evaluated by activity, completed tasks, responses from others, and results.  It requires a focus on appearance and image and maintaining some semblance of religious behavior […] Goodness fed both my pride and my self-condemnation”  Oh how I wish that I could just create the perfect checklist and be better once I’ve completed all those tasks.

Alas, I know that isn’t possible.  What’s more, I know that isn’t what God wants from me.  Or you.  As Christine succinctly puts it, “He simply wants us to follow him, receive him, submit to him, and […] let what we receive from him compel us outward to serve and love others.”

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of From Good to Grace.  I smile just thinking about stealing away moments to read it.  I must confess that I almost added it to my daily checklist.  I decided not to.  I decided instead to let it remain a “get to” rather than a “have to”.  I highly recommend this book if you, like me, struggle with a goodness addiction.

#FiveMinuteFriday – When

If you’re new to the Five Minute Friday phenomenon (this is my second time participating), here’s how it works:

Every Thursday a one-word prompt will be announced on the Five Minute Fridays blog at 10pm EST (and the blogging continues through Friday).  Before the prompt is revealed many in the Five Minute Friday community like to connect on Thursday evenings on Twitter using the #fmfparty hashtag.  I have yet to attend a Thursday Twitter gathering, but look forward to chatting with the ladies in the future.

Everyone who participates in Five Minute Friday will write for five minutes on the topic of the week, post it on their own blog and link up that post on the Five Minute Fridays blog.

If you want to get in on the fun but don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to post your five minutes of writing in the comments here each week, the comments section of the FMF blog, or on the Five Minute Friday Facebook page.

This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking (my inner editor is cringing), no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s 5 minute Friday prompt is WHEN

When I think about the word when I think about moments gone by and yet to come.  I think about phrases like “I remember when…” and “When I grow up…”.  It’s nice to visit “when” but it isn’t the most productive place to reside.  Don’t get me wrong, I can get some good inspiration from the future I would like to create and I learn great lessons from the past I’ve already lived.  It’s just that I tend lose track of the here and now when I visit when.

Now is where my feet need to be grounded.

Now is where I get to enjoy time with my boys.  It’s where the laughter is.  Where the twins follow my husband, myself, and our oldest like they’re puppies.  Now is when I get to watch our oldest interact with his baby brothers as though they’re the most important people in the world.  He already likes to talk about when he grows up.  I don’t even want to think about when the twins will start doing the same.

No, I’ll stay here in the now and enjoy every minute of it, thank you.  I’ll wait on when another day.