Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Day I Met Jesus - A Post with a Book Review

by Alycia W. Morales

A month or so ago, I opened my e-mail to find an invitation that I couldn't pass up. Mary DeMuth invited me to be a member of her launch team for her upcoming release, co-authored by Frank Viola, The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels. Since I'd always been fascinated with these women, I said yes to Mary's invitation.

I read five stories of Jesus's invitation to women who'd been outcast, abused, forgotten, betrayed, and lonely.

And I found that I could relate really well to one of them.

Frank affectionately calls her Photine. You and I would know her as the Woman at the Well or the Samaritan Woman Who Encountered Jesus.

She's the woman who had many relationships with men. Five, to be exact. And she was in her sixth. And he didn't want to marry her. She was an outcast. She was lonely. All she wanted was to find someone who would truly love her, who would find her valuable, who would cherish her.

It was only 21years ago that I was in the same situation. I'd known my fair share of men. Only I wouldn't call them men. None of them wanted to accept responsibility for their actions. Some were abusive verbally. Some were abusive physically. And when I ended up pregnant, the father decided he didn't want to be a father at that time, so I shut off my emotions and buried my deepest values and walked through the doors of Planned Parenthood to plan not to be a parent. And that's where I met Jesus as my Lord and Savior. On a sterile, cold, metal table while a nurse held my hand, stroked my hair, and cheered me on for being so brave. "Most girls are screaming by now," she told me. It was a lonely, lonely place. But in the midst of my darkest hour, Jesus was there, offering me living water and true love. This was the day I met Jesus.

When I visited home the next week, I attended church with my family. I said a prayer of salvation, asking Jesus into my heart and my life. Only I struggled with leaving earthly relationships behind. So I quit school in an attempt to avoid temptation, only to fall back into its slimy hands a few months later. I left home, moved in with my boyfriend, and discovered he wasn't any better than the others. A couple of days after he threw me up against a wall and pinned me by my neck, I wrestled with sleep. Despite coming home from the graveyard shift at the local diner and being dog tired, I could not drift off. Something had me tossing in the bed.

And then I heard Him. Clear as day. He stood in the room, I know it. His Fatherly voice gently reprimanded, "If you don't go home now, you'll never see your eternal home."

Which is why I wrestle when I hear people say, "Once saved, always saved."
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
If God told me that if I didn't obey His word, leave my sinful ways behind, and follow Him I wouldn't see my eternal home, why should I expect that if you remain in your sinful ways but claim to know and love Him, He wouldn't say the same to you? Just because we say a prayer doesn't mean that we are transformed in that exact moment. I said the prayer that year before. I meant it when I said it. But my desire for a relationship with God wasn't there. Not until He called me out of my pit. Not until He spoke those words to me. I had to really want that relationship. I had to act on it. I had to put feet to my faith. I had to decide I'd much rather hear, "Well done, My good and faithful servant" than "I knew you not."

I decided in that moment that I would do whatever it took to get home. I wanted an eternity with Jesus. Not an eternity in hell.

What I've discovered in the past 21 years is that life with Jesus on earth is like heaven. Sure, I still have my ups and downs. I still face trials and tribulations, loss and heartache. But I also know that I am secure in His love. I have joy in the midst of everything that happens, good or bad. I have more than I could ever hope or think or ask for. Even when I have nothing. Because I still have Jesus.

Trust me when I say that life without Him is hell. Darkness lurks around every corner. Death waits like a cat ready to pounce on its pray. The enemy of our souls comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I know. I've been in his grip before. But I refused to stay there ... and that has made all the difference.

Here's what I think of Mary and Frank's book:

I have always loved the stories of the women in the Bible. Particularly the Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42). She and I share similar stories. Multiple men. And then Jesus came in to our lives. And we’ve never been the same since. It’s a story of redemption and a second chance at purity and true love. It’s the story of an outcast who accepted an invitation to become a bride, a daughter, a princess in the kingdom of God. Who wouldn’t say yes to that?

“After six failed relationships, Photine encountered her true husband. A man who would love her like no other man ever had. A man who would never use or abuse her, but who would cherish her with the purest love in the universe. And she, a woman of ill repute, became the first evangelist to the Samaritans.” – Frank Viola

What I love about this book is that Mary DeMuth brings 5 women from the New Testament to life. We get a glimpse into their daily lives and the things they’ve encountered and endured at the hands of men. And we get to be with them in the moments they meet their Savior, the Man who will love them as they deserve to be loved. The One who won’t see them for what they’ve done but will see them for who they are. The Lover of their souls who will transform them and their lives with six simple words: Your faith has made you well.

To top that off, Frank Viola offers insight into the time and culture in which these women lived. We see the why behind the what. His information further brings these women, their communities, and Jesus’s encounters with them to life. If you’ve ever wondered what life truly was like in their day, this book will fill you in.

I highly recommend this book for any woman who has related to the women who encounter Jesus in the New Testament, to women surviving in abusive relationships, to the outcast, to the lonely. I also recommend it to anyone who has a desire to better understand God’s love for us and how far He would go to meet us. You won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. This does not affect my review. I would give it 5 stars even if I bought it for myself, which I will do again.

To purchase a copy today, please visit your favorite online retailer:
Parable: Mary has a special offer for you if you buy it from Parable. Read about it here.
Barnes and Noble

Inspire Us
To win a copy, please leave a comment below and tell us a little about the day you met Jesus. If you haven't met Him yet, ask the question that burns deep in your heart. If you have no questions, tell us what you're looking for. I will choose a winner on Friday.

Find out about the day @AlyciaMorales met Jesus. {Click to Tweet}
Are you an outcast, lonely, or abused? {Click to Tweet
Win a copy of The Day I Met Jesus by @MaryDeMuth & @FrankViola http://tinyurl.com/m9jfmla #DayIMetJesus via @AlyciaMorales {Click to Tweet}

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