I was not familiar with this author when I first heard about this book, but once I heard what it was about, I knew I had to read it. I enjoyed this book as it reminded me of things that I have learned through my own trials and suffering, especially when it talked about bearing fruit during our most difficult circumstances. While most people do not think this way, I am learning what it means to be thankful, not despite the trials, but because of them. I was so grateful for the chance to be a part of the book’s launch team and look forward to reading more by this author in the future ~ Bethel
We all go through difficult circumstances and suffering. This fact was magnified and brought to the forefront by the 2020 pandemic. No matter the size or difficulty of the circumstance, suffering, pain, fear, worry, and uncertainty are all part of life, whether we like it or not. When it hits us unexpectedly, we often don’t know what to do and begin to feel overwhelmed. Some let the fear and worry consume their time and thoughts. Over let their pain harden them through anger and hatred. Others will isolate from others. None of these responses are healthy and tend to push us further away from a solution. For Christians, while we know that we have hope in Jesus, we often struggle to trust Him completely, especially when life is a mess. It makes us ask the question: how do we make it through our struggles when life is hard?
In his book You’re Gonna Make It, Daniel Fusco walks through what it looks like to unlock resilience and hold onto hope in the middle of suffering, worry, stress, and difficult circumstances. Using Scriptures like the book of Job, Isaiah 40:31, and some of the Psalms, Fusco reminds his readers that the Lord can become the source of our hope and strength during our greatest times of uncertainty and suffering if we look “upward, inward, and outward.” In fact, hope is found in the person who embodies hope and that person is Jesus Christ. If we choose to trust him through our troubles, we will find our resilience and bear fruit through them. This book has the same hope and grit that the author encourages his audience to find. Compelling and powerful, this is a book that any Christian would find encouragement from reading, especially in a post-pandemic world.
* I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review
To read more about how I learned to unlock resilience through difficult circumstances, click here.
To read my review about another great book on this subject, Through the Eyes of a Lion, click here.
Books in Review: Chase the Lion
Once I finished reading the book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, I knew I had to read Chase the Lion. Since Mark Batterson wrote this book as a follow up and the first one spoke to me, I knew this one would too and I was right. I enjoy Mark’s writing style and relatability, as well as his passion to help his audience to live their best life. I also enjoyed hearing about the concept of “running toward the roar” from the perspective of pursuing dreams rather than just enduring pain (like in Levi Lusko’s book Through the Eyes of a Lion). This book is even more empowering and inspiring than the first and if you want to courage to pursue your dreams, this is a book I highly recommend ~ Bethel
Everyone has dreams we want to pursue, but many of us get scared and stop pursuing them before we even start. We are often so afraid of failing, we allow our fears to prevent us from pursuing our God-given dreams. We often make excuses to not pursuing them, but are evitable aware that our fears are parlaying us. It makes us ask the question: how do we overcome our fears to pursue our God-given dreams?
In his book Chase the Lion, Mark Batterson teaches us how to stop running away from dreams and opportunities that scare us and instead choose to run towards them. Once again using the story from Scripture about Benaiah defeating the lion in a pit on a snowy day with only a spear, Mark helps us to see that it’s only when we stop fearing failing that we can seize opportunities in their tracks, especially the types of dreams that would be impossible without God’s intervention. This engaging book will inspire anyone to take action that the dreams that have scared them for far too long. This is a book I highly recommend. Get your copy today!
To read my review of this book "prequel" In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, click here
To read my review of Batterson's best-selling book The Circle Marker, click here
To read more about my story of "running toward the roar", click here
Three years ago, I went to a meeting that terrified me but completely changed my life. This is the story of how I learn to "run toward the roar" in the wake of my dad losing his ministry and nearly losing mine too. I was challenged to forgive, I found a new calling, and I gained loyal friends to support me. I hope this video inspires you to run toward the roar.
To read my review the book Through the Eyes of a Lion, click here
[Review of Chase the Lion coming soon]
To read more about my story, click here
If this encourages or inspires you, please share with someone who could use this encouragement and use the hashtag #runningtowardtheroar
Running Toward the Roar
I was standing alone in the youth room of my church. Or at least it was my church. That room was where I had taught many lessons and played many games with the church’s junior and senior high students for over a year. That room had been one of my favorite places. But now, it was a reminder of what I was about to face. In only about 15 minutes, I was going into a meeting with the church’s elders. Under other circumstances, this would not have been a big deal. I had known most of those men for several years and considered them to be friends of my family. But now it was different, because four days earlier, these men dismissed my dad as senior minister of the church after 17 ½ years.* The reason for the meeting was to see if I would be allowed to finish the school year with the youth group that my ministry partner and I had dedicated over a year of volunteer time to build up. I had so many emotions running through my heart and my mind, I didn’t know what to make of it.
This scene happened only a few months ago. I do believe that it has become one of the defining moments of my life. I believe I will still think that 20 or 30 years from now. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, because the pain of the loss and separation were so fresh. But by God’s grace I walked into that meeting and was granted my request. The only stipulation they gave is that they wanted to make sure I would get plugged into another church, since they figured it would be too difficult to attend with them on Sunday mornings. When I told them I had a plan to look at churches in the area, they all stated how much they appreciated my willingness to come to the meeting and finish the work I had started, despite the difficulties of my circumstances.
Some of my friends or members of that congregation have questioned why I chose to stay a little longer or how I could bring myself to even go to that meeting. Some of you who are reading this post may be wondering the same thing. But as I have looked back on the last few months, I have come to realize that I began to find healing faster because I chose to face a painful situation head on instead of hiding from it. It’s something that author Levi Lusko coined as “running toward the roar” in his book Through the Eyes of a Lion [click link to read my review]. Facing that meeting changed everything for me, and I want to share about three things that have happened in my life because God gave me the power to “run toward the roar.”
I Learned How to Forgive Despite My Feelings
The night after my dad told me he had been let go, I couldn’t fall asleep. So I turned on a movie that addresses the issues of loss and forgiveness. Amish Grace is a film based on the true story about the Amish school shooting of 2006, in which a local milk truck driver in Pennsylvania entered a one-room school house with an arsenal of guns. He let all the boys and the teacher go, but took ten girls hostage. He eventually shot all ten girls before taking his own life. In the end, 5 of the 10 girls died within 24 hrs of the shooting, and the others survived with serious injuries. Obviously, it was a devastation to the Amish community, but they responded in ways that the world did not expect. In the film (which was slightly fictionalized), you see some Amish elders, including Gideon, a father who had lost his daughter, go the wife of the shooter to consul her and tell her that they had chosen to forgive Charlie, later that same day. The rest of the Amish community seems to support this decision to forgive, except for Gideon’s wife. Ida cannot let go of her anger, believing that choosing to forgive was betraying her daughter. She takes out her anger on the shooter’s wife when she runs into her. Ida is so bitter, she even makes plans to leave her Amish community and taking her surviving daughter away from her husband.
But the most powerful part of the film for me is at the end. Right before she plans to leave, Gideon asks Ida to go to a group meeting with a grief counselor, which would include other Amish parents that had lost children and the wife of the shooter, Amy. The audience learns that Amy is in the same place as Ida, not knowing how to forgive her husband for what he did to the Amish girls, and what he did to her and their children. At this point, an Amish mother who had lost two daughters shared a thought that I don’t know if I will ever forget. It was exactly what I needed to hear after everything that happened:
Every morning when I wake, I expect to hear Anna and Lydia singing together as they do their chores. But the silence reminds me that they’re gone, and I become so full of anger, I can barely breathe. But then I offer that anger up to God and I forgive. Sometimes, I have to do it again in an hour, and again an hour after that. But if I didn’t do that, I don’t know how I would ever breathe again.
As I was lying in my bed at 5 am still unable to sleep, I knew that kind of forgiveness, the kind that would compel most of that Amish community to attend the shooter’s funeral, or the kind that compelled Ida’s daughter to tell the man about to shoot her that she would pray for him, was the kind I had to challenge myself to have, no matter how painful it would be. So when I finally sat down with the elders, this is what I told them:
Just like they say love is not a feeling but a decision, I believe that forgiveness is a decision we sometimes have to make despite our feelings. I have been very hurt by what has happened and I am still healing, but I want you all to know that I have made the decision to forgive you.
It was difficult to say, but I said it, even with tears in my eyes. I said it because I was compelled to demonstrate the same grace that I would hope someone would show me, the same grace that we all want but never deserve on our own merit. The same grace we can only receive as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We all need grace, but we struggle to give grace. We get so caught up in the guilty party’s offense that we cannot see past ourselves. But the sacrifice of Jesus was an offer of grace for every person who accepts it and then shapes their life in response to it. We don’t get to pick and choose who receives God’s grace, and neither should we. Part of dying to ourselves, as we are called to do by Christ, is choosing to give grace to anyone in our lives that is difficult to love or forgive. I hope that sharing this story will help you learn to do the same thing.
I Found a New Calling In the Midst of My Healing
Most of my friends know that since I started high school, I’ve wanted to become a music minister or worship director. In fact, I could have told you my plan the day I started high school. From then until I graduated from college in 2014, I never deviated from that plan. But when I was completing my music ministry internship the spring before I graduated, it became apparent that some gaps in my proficiency and personal training would prevent for pursuing music ministry after I graduated. I was so confused. I had pursued God’s calling as faithfully I knew how and I was still unable to devote my career to ministry. As a result, I really struggled with what I should do with my future when I moved back home. Although I was involved in music ministry, I wasn’t getting paid, and went back and forth from being in leadership to just being a participant. I struggled to find a job. Any job. It was a very difficult and uncertain time.
But I didn’t realize what God was doing behind the scenes to prepare me for something greater. Just as circumstances required me to take a step back from leading in music ministry again, an opportunity opened up for myself and a deacon to take over leadership of the youth ministry. In some ways, it surprised me. Although I had been a youth sponsor in college, I hadn’t really been involved in organizing a youth group. But I believed it was a need we could fulfill. We did what we could to teach but also have fun with our teens. It wasn’t easy, but after about a year, we really began to see great things happened in our group. We began to see growth in our numbers and in their understanding of their faith. We were both excited about what God had in store for our group in 2018.
But at the end of January, everything changed overnight. When my dad was let go, I was immediately afraid of what would become of the youth group if I would not allowed to return in light of what had already been planned for the spring. Only a few days later, I was given permission to finish out the school year. But the few days in between when I didn’t know were some of most emotionally trying days I’ve ever faced. After that was said and done, I came to realize how much I cared about our students and how much I had been devoted to the ministry. It made me think that maybe I could find a future in doing this kind of work as a job. Only about 3 weeks later, we took our Jr. High students to a youth conference in Cincinnati. Over that weekend, I had some honest conversations with people I trusted about the direction I was going with my life in regards to ministry. By the end of that weekend, I came to a major decision:
I want to become a youth minister
Some of you that have known me for a while might be shocked to hear me say this. Honestly, I’m still kind of shocked to be saying it. But as I look back over all of my ministry experiences, I now recognize that God was preparing my heart to work with students when I wasn’t looking. I attended a Jr. high conference at as sponsor my senior year of high school. I helped with a large Jr. high girls lock-in with a local Christian venue my freshman year of college. I spent about a year and half in college (minus the summers) working with my brother-in-law’s youth group, including teaching Jr. high Sunday school. When I was on my internship, I taught in a high school small group since my cousin was the youth minister. Before I officially became a youth leader, I had already lead two girls Bible studies and had attended a few youth conferences as a sponsor. It ends up adding up to a total of about 4 years I have spent volunteering in youth ministry. It all happened when I wasn’t looking, because God was subtly guiding me to a different future than I saw for myself. It’s something I would have never considered a year ago, or even 6 months ago. But God used my ability to trust Him during a painful trial of my life to help me find my new calling. I believe He can for you too.
Lion's Eyes Reviews is a blog dedicated to reviews of Christian books, most of which are non-fiction, but may also occasionally review movies and musicals. It will also feature the work Bethel does to help launch and promote the works of Christian authors.
The name is derived from one of Bethel's favorite books, Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko. Through these reviews, Bethel hope to give Christians the tools they need to look at the world "through the eyes of a lion" so they can find the courage to "run toward the roar".
To find the detailed archives of these reviews, you can check them out here:
Books In Review
Movies in Review
Broadway In Review
To understand the rating used in these reviews, click here
Bethel Grove is a Christian young woman who loves to read and write, eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards, and disciple teen girls as a youth leader. What started as a hobby of writing book reviews and doing deep biblical studies eventually led her down the path of self-publishing and helping other Christian authors launch their books. She hopes to someday be a vocational youth minister and well-known author.
Lion Eyes Reviews
Author Bethel Grove
Simple Youth Ministry
Teen Girl Youth Ministry