Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Winner of 'By Faith, Not By Sight' by Scott MacIntyre is......

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The Random Number Generator has chosen the winner of Scott MacIntyre's 'By Faith, Not By Sight'! That blessed person is......


Congratulations, Janice! I will be sending you an email shortly.

To those of you who did not win, I highly recommend this wonderful book by this incredible young man! You can place your order through Amazon here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

‘Passages: How Reading the Bible In A Year Can Change Everything for You’ by Brian Hardin – Book Review

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Even as a seminary student, I find myself not spending enough time in the Bible. So when I became aware of ‘Passages: How Reading the Bible In A Year Can ChangeEverything for You’ by Brian Hardin, I thought it would be helpful in my own life.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

         How A Few Minutes a Day          Will Change Your Whole            Life.
Many of us would love to read the Bible more often, but we rarely make time for more than a few verses on the run.
But the Bible was never meant to be read in short segments here and there when you can fit it in. The Bible is meant to be experienced in sizeable chunks – in passages – and read daily. It is not a book of mystical incantations, but the story of God’s passionate love – for you. It is not a distant relic, but a best friend offering counsel and companionship – for today.
Through his remarkable story, Brian Hardin shows how reading through the Bible in a year changed his life, and how it will change yours too. Passages goes beyond exploring how the Bible was meant to be read, providing three distinct Bible reading plans to help you get started doing it right now.
Hardin, whose daily podcast has more than a million listeners a month, guarantees you a life revolution, if you will only commit to a few minutes a day to read through the Bible in a year.
As you rediscover the joy of reading the Bible, visit www.dailyaudiobible.com and join a community of fellow readers to share your thoughts on your new adventure.

Here is the biography of the author:

Brian Hardin is a speaker, photographer, record producer, and an ordained minister. In 2006, he created the Daily AudioBible, an online podcast that now delivers 1.5 million downloads a month. He has produced over 150 albums and works with artists and the arts extensively. He is married to Christian musician Jill Parr.

Here is an interview with Mr. Hardin, telling the story of the creation of the Daily Audio Bible and this book:

I found this to be a really well-written book; Mr. Hardin really has a way with words! Here are some ‘passages’ that I found particularly enlightening:

I considered the poverty of the semi-agnostic life I’d been living. Let’s be honest: Isn’t that pretty much how many of us live as Western Christians? We acknowledge God and possibly even go to church regularly. Perhaps we even donate generously. But when push comes to shove, what kind of spiritual foundation do we really have? I had little. There was a little boy with the faith of a warrior in mothballs locked away in the attic of my heart, but now as a father with little boys of my own, my faith was anemic and my existence was balanced on a frail ledge. To say I was a good spiritual leader for my wife and children would be like calling Billy the Kid a good pastor to his band of outlaws. (p. 18)

The Bible isn’t hocus pocus and reading it doesn’t give you magical powers, but it does reveal to you who you really are and illumines a path that you were created to walk. When I began to believe its words and obey its instructions, life began to align with what it said, and this has made all the difference. My heart has been transformed completely. I find myself passionate about things that previously seemed drudgery. The neon blinking lights of culture do not seduce me as they once did. I have little use for the plastic life that made me promises but rarely delivers on anything at all. (p. 26)

I’ve read through the Bible in large portions seven days a week for well over two thousand days consecutively. The man that I was is no longer there. I don’t look at the world the same in any way. I liken this to working out at the gym. If you stick with it a month, you begin to feel healthy. Sweat it out for a quarter of a year and new lines of lean muscle begin to appear. Hang with it for a year and you’ll have a new body and the energy to go along with it. Our hearts seem to work the same way. I’m inviting you to the adventure, and I am quite certain that if you expose yourself to the Scriptures every day for a while, there is no way for you to remain the same. (p. 27)

I love his description of the Bible:

The Bible is written as a story, a story that has not yet reached its conclusion. The story has wound its way through battlefields, and wedding nights, through birthing chambers and funeral parlors, from transcendent pleasure to utter hopelessness. The story has come through voices around Bedouin campfires to stone tablets, from the skins of animals to the printing press. It has passed through ages long forgotten to ages dark and forgettable. Its echoes bound from enlightenments to reformations. This is the unstoppable story of God and his profound love for humanity. (p. 35)

Brian shares with us some of the benefits of Scripture:

The Bible offers us a baseline for hope. It also gives us a reason to hope beyond ourselves because it reveals how interconnected we are, not only with everyone around us but also with the story that’s been told for thousands of years. Scripture’s plumb line that provides us a straight and narrow path through life is irreplaceable – especially when we’ve lost our own internal coordinates and connection to life. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). This we know to be utterly true. The irony is in the verse that follows: “Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.” (p. 45)

He also shares with us the importance of love in the Bible:

Basically we’re being commanded to love one another; if we don’t, nothing will work and nothing will matter. The Bible couldn’t be clearer on this. This is the posture of community, of marriage, of life. This is what our lives are supposed to look like. What would happen to the body of Christ if we believed it? (p. 94)

Prayer is also very important, as exemplified by Jesus:

Jesus regularly and habitually withdrew to pray and be restored, yet the Bible gives no indication that his ministry (his productivity) suffered as a result. If anything, he was able to accomplish more because he took the time to orient himself to his Father and to renew his body and mind. There are no instances in the Gospels in which Jesus has a nervous breakdown. There are also no depictions of Jesus staring at the twelve disciples blankly wondering what they should do next. His commitment to making space in his life to listen to God was a vital component of his life and ministry. (p. 102)

This book also includes several Bible reading plans: the Daily Audio Bible Reading Plan, the Chronological Bible in a Year, and the Historical Bible in a Year. I think my husband, Fred, and I will adopt one of these plans.

I think this is a wonderful book for anyone who needs to kindle or rekindle their interest in reading the Bible. Brian’s life has definitely been transformed – and so can everyone’s!

This book was published by Zondervan and provided by LitFuse Publicity for review purposes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

‘By Faith, Not By Sight: The Inspirational Story of a Blind Prodigy, a Life-Threatening Illness, and an Unexpected Gift’ by Scott MacIntyre with Jennifer Schuchmann – Book Review + Giveaway

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I have been a pretty faithful ‘American Idol’ viewer since Season One. One of the most inspirational contestants on that program, in my opinion, was Scott MacIntyre, the blind singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from Season Eight. When I found out he had written his autobiography, I knew I wanted to read it, to learn more about this amazing young man. Make sure you check below for details on how to win a copy of this great book!

Here is the synopsis of 'By Faith, Not By Sight:'

A piano prodigy, a nineteen-year-old college grad, a Marshall scholar, and an American Idol finalist. This guy had it made. He could sing. He could ski blind. What couldn’t he do?

Even if you saw him in concert, you might not believe that Scott MacIntyre is blind, and you’d never guess that at nineteen, he faced a diagnosis that rocked his family and nearly took his life.

So how did he do it? How did he overcome the odds?

This is Scott’s story, but he’d be the first to tell you that it’s not really about him. This is the story of how God used a dedicated family, a selfless acquaintance, hardship, and a host of characters to give him life, faith, determination, and experiences most can only imagine.

Peek behind the scenes to see how he learned to overcome his disability, how he made it in the music industry, how he found the love of his life, and how God taught him that in all things, we can truly achieve our dreams By Faith, Not By Sight.

Here is the biography of the author:

Scott MacIntyre captivated the nation as the first blind finalist on American Idol. As an acclaimed singer-songwriter, he has toured in arenas across North America, headlined concerts in Japan, Austria, England, Canada, and the US, and written and released his latest CD Heartstrings debuting at #18 on the iTunes Pop Album Chart. As an in-demand inspirational keynote speaker, Scott has shared his unique and dynamic life story with many different audiences.

Outstanding graduate. Marshall scholar. Recording artist. Inspirational speaker. American Idol. Blind from birth, Scott has had to work harder and longer to achieve his goals. But when a silent killer begins to undermine his success and threaten his very life, Scott cannot work it out alone. Once again, he must lean on his faith, his close-knit family, and the life-giving aid of friends to survive.

Follow Scott’s roller-coaster ride to see how God used the mountains and valleys in his life to give him perspective, hope, and ultimately triumph.

Here is Scott being interviewed on ‘100 Huntley Street,’ a Canadian talk show:

And here is Scott performing one of his original compositions, 'No Fear;' SO beautiful!:

I love Scott’s outlook on how all of us have a common denominator. The setting is his graduation from Arizona State University at the age of 19; he is a featured speaker:

I spoke with confidence. I knew each person in the room had doubts and fears. Though each of our concerns may be different than our neighbor’s, the fact that we have them unites us in a kind of anxious human bond. There was no shame in that, as far as I was concerned. In the past, I’d had momentary doubts and lingering fears. But I’d also found that when I let go, when I gave my concerns to God, his presence and assurance became more real to me. It was my dependence on him – and not on my own strength – that helped me progress toward my dreams. (p. 4)

Clearly, his ‘can-do’ attitude came from his parents:

Knowing that I just had a visual impairment and not some life-threatening illness, my parents chose to move forward and not look back. They gave up searching for a cause [for his blindness]. Instead, they wisely focused their time and energies on helping me succeed at all the things I could do rather than worrying about things I couldn’t. But seeds of doubt about traditional medicine and a healthy skepticism of doctors had been planted in my mother. That skepticism would later play a role in the medical decisions we made as a family. (p. 12)

I love the story of how Scott came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior:

I was five when I first understood that I had a choice about how to live my life. One day, at Vacation Bible School, a speaker told us we could choose to live for ourselves or we could choose to live our lives for Jesus. I knew I wanted to live for him. When I got home that night, I told my parents what I’d decided and together we prayed – asking God to forgive me of my sins, telling him how much I loved him, and promising to try to live like him. After that, I knew that Jesus was my Savior and that one day I would spend eternity with him in heaven. (p. 54)

Scott learned positive life lessons from many people along the way (in addition to his parents). Here he explains what he learned from one of his piano instructors:

Gregg taught me to be a more confident piano player, but I carried that confidence with me for the rest of my life. I learned many lessons from that experience – like not being afraid to step out of my comfort zone, how it was okay to make a mistake, and how through dedicated practice I could overcome even my most ingrained habits. But more importantly, I learned that I could do whatever I set my mind to. Though I only studied with Gregg for a few months before we moved to Toronto, his lessons have stayed with me for life. (p. 74)

Scott closes out the book this way:

Looking back over my life so far, I realize that many times when I was on the verge of experiencing incredible success, that’s when the trials came to knock me down. I don’t think that was a coincidence. God works through us during the good times and the bad – when we are on the mountaintop, and when we trudge through the valley. I have experienced both extremes in my life, often at the same time. But I learned that he used the worst days of my life to bless me the most. And he’s not done with me yet. I continually find myself in new places, doing things I never imagined I’d be doing. Like motivational speaking. Or writing this book. Although my gratitude is given to many, the glory is all his. (p. 271)

I was so incredibly moved by Scott on ‘American Idol’ – and even more so when I learn what he has accomplished and overcome in his life!! It was also awesome to get an update on the positive things that have happened to him in his personal and professional life since 'Idol.' I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be uplifted and encouraged by the spirit of this amazing man!

This book was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and provided by the author for giveaway and review purposes.


I have been given the opportunity to give away a copy of this book to one blessed person! There are several ways to enter:

1) Leave a comment here telling me one thing that you appreciate about Scott. Please leave your email address in this format: 
yourname at domain dot com.

2) Follow this blog; please leave a comment to that effect in the above format.

3) ‘Like’ Scott’s page on Facebook. Please leave a comment to that effect in the above format.

4) Follow Scott on Twitter. Please leave a comment to that effect in the above format.

5) Follow me on Twitter. Please leave a comment to that effect in the above format.

6) Tweet the following: 

Enter to win @AmericanIdol @ScottDMacIntyre’s book ‘By Faith Not By Sight’ http://goo.gl/p3AuT #giveaway. Please RT!

The deadline for entry is Monday, July 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm. The winner will be chosen by the Random Number Generator on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. All the best to you!

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