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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall

This is the second in the "The Amish of Summer Grove" series. If you have not read the first book, there is a synopsis of it in the beginning of this book and a list of the main characters in the back. Without those helps, it would be difficult to follow the plot in this book.

Skylar and Ariana were born on the same day and delivered by an Amish midwife in a Birthing Center. The Center caught on fire immediately after the babies were born and unfortunately they were switched and the mothers were unaware it. One baby was raised in an Amish family and the other by a single mother. 18 years later and the truth comes out about the switch. In order to keep the midwife from being sued, Ariana brought up in the Amish family is required to live with her mother and birth father in the "Englisch" society. Skylar is required to live with her Amish family or go to a rehab unit to deal with her addiction to prescription drugs.      

This book deals with how Skylar and Ariana deal with this upheaval in their lives. How they try to adjust and what they learn about the different life styles
makes for an enjoyable read. The ending is left up in the air to leave no doubt that there will be a third book in the series.

I usually do not read Amish fiction, but I did enjoy the plot in this book and found it interesting. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Torch Kept Lit by William F. Buckley, Jr.

This book is a collection of eulogies written by William F. Buckley, Jr., who is known as the godfather of modern American conservatism. His friends and acquaintances ranged from David Niven to Barry Goldwater to name a few. The eulogies are also written about those who were well known individuals and not so well known individuals of the 20th century.

The eulogies are divided into the categories of Presidents; Family; Arts and Letters; Generals, Spies and Statesmen; Friends; and finally Nemeses. Each offers a unique insight into the life of the individual and in most cases the person's relationship with Buckley.

The book is well written and informative for anyone interested in learning about a number of individuals as seen through the lens of the author.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.      

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Momentum by Colin S. Smith

Most of us are familiar with The Beatitudes, but do we really understand the meaning of each one and its application to our lives. In "Momentum," Pastor Colin Smith examines each Beatitude and gives practical guidelines to how each Beatitude can help you in your spiritual journey. Each of the first seven Beatitudes describes the life each Christian should pursue. The eighth Beatitude is different in that it describes the outcome of living the life described by the first seven.

What I really appreciated about this book is the Gaining Momentum in each chapter which gives practical ways to live out each Beatitude. This book greatly added to my understanding of The Beatitudes and would make for a great individual or group study.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.  

Love, Henri by Henri J.M. Nouwen

"Love, Henri" is a collection of letter written by Henri Nouwen starting in 1973 and continuing up to the time of his death in 1996. Nouwen is the well known authors of many books including "The Return of the Prodigal Son" and "The Wounded Healer."

Nouwen shares spiritual wisdom and insight to the recipients of his letters. Through these letters you receive a glimpse into the longings of his heart and his authenticity in leading the Christian life. He shares his sorrows and joys during the time as a teacher, a visiting Trappist monk, a missionary in Latin America and finally as a pastor to a community with people with disabilities.

In reading the letters, you see that Henri Nouwen certainly had the gift of encouragement. His example in encouraging others in the faith is a good one to emulate. This is both a thought provoking and challenging book. One that will resonant with those who appreciate the works of Henri Nouwen.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review

Friday, November 18, 2016

Culture by A.W.Tozer

A.W. Tozer was a self-taught theologian who was also a pastor, teacher and writer. He died in 1963 and was called a modern day prophet for his deep conviction, Spirit-filled words, and challenging writings. This book is a compilation of his works that pertain to living as a Christian in a hostile culture. Much of what he says is timeless in its application.

He encourages the Christian to be in the world but not of the world; to not compromise Biblical truth and to expect trials and hardships for one's commitment to Christ. His words are both challenging and convicting. It is a worthwhile and thought provoking read.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review   

The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell

This is a engaging book focused on a brief period of time in 1962 as attempts were made to made tunnels under the Berlin Wall to help people escape from East Berlin into West Berlin. Some of these attempts were successful and some were not. What I don't believe is widely known is that both CBS and NBC financed some of the tunneling that went on during that time.

This is a well researched and interesting read about what was happening in Berlin during that time as well as in the United States as the fear of communism grew. NBC was successful in filming some of the tunneling and the film was eventually released after much opposition from the Kennedy administration.

A fascinating look at a period of history of which I was not aware. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

31 Verses To Write On Your Heart

I always look forward to a book by Liz Curtis Higgs and I was not disappointed with this book. She shares 31 favorite Scripture verses in this book which could be used as a daily devotional for one month or as a group study. A study guide is included in the back of the book.   

Each verse is examined in depth which adds to the meaning behind each verse. Suggestions for using different translations of the Bible and tips on memorizing Scripture are also included. I would recommend this for any woman who wants to commit Scripture verses to memory or start a group to encourage others to join in doing the same.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

On The Block by Doug Logan

For anyone involved in urban ministry or for anyone just desiring to reach out in their neighborhood,  this book is for you. It will both challenge you and encourage you. To begin with Doug Logan uses the examples of Adam, Nehemiah, Jesus and Paul to illustrate the steps needed in missional engagement. First we must go to engage the people on our block just as God reaches out to us as sinful people. Then like Nehemiah, we need to step into people's pain and grief and grieve with them before their hearts can be transformed. We also have to build teamwork in what is done and look to God for hope to rebuild a city. Following the example of Jesus we need to be sensitive to the culture of our neighborhood and understand that missional engagement is not just for pastors and missionaries, but for all followers of Christ. And then like Paul, we need to identify the idols of the culture, show the true nature of God, expose how the culture is absent of truth, show how the idols cannot represent God, and preach the resurrection of Jesus.

Doug Logan uses these principles as he shares his story of planting a church in Camden, New Jersey. Although the stories he shares take place in the urban setting, the principles he shares is applicable to anyone who wants to reach out in their own neighborhood. 

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.   

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Guarded By Christ by Heather Holleman

This book is filled with creative and fresh insights in presenting the not only the truth of Scripture but how it applies to everyday life. Jesus used everyday images and all the senses to create mental images to relay information about Himself.  Heather Holleman encourages the reader to not only treasure God's Word, but to understand how vital and life giving it is to every part of our lives. Some of the reasons we need to internalize God's Word are to awaken and build faith, to give us hope, to mature us, to teach us God's promises, to sanctify and cleanse us and to lead us to Jesus Christ to name a few.

The beautiful cover of this book is Tintern Abbey, an image of worship, peace and refuge. It also helps the reader to begin to focus on developing mental cues of the catapult, the moat, the window, the arm and the win shot of Jesus. The author describes each of these images and is vulnerable in sharing her life struggles and journey along the way.  I especially appreciate the way Scripture is interspersed throughout the book. The author does a wonderful job of creating beautiful images and demonstrating how to apply those images along with Scripture in everyday living.

There is a list of questions at the end of each chapter entitled,, "Stirring the Soul" which lends the book well for individual, one on one, or group study. This is a beautifully written book.. I highly recommend this book for any believer in Christ who desires to feel the love and peace of Christ in new ways.   

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.    

Friday, October 21, 2016

In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett

For anyone who is old enough to remember the Carol Burnett show, this is a great book highlighting the show's 11 year run from 1967 to 1978. This book gives you a behind the scenes look at the workings of the show and glimpses of the staff and crew that helped make the show a success. The guests who appeared on the show during those years are mentioned as well from stars such as Jim Nabors, Lucille Ball, Betty White, Bing Crosby, and Jimmy Stewart to name a few.

Insights into the regular members of the cast includes Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway. Also included are descriptions of some of the sketches done over the years with some of Carol's more notable characters such as the Charwoman, Stella Toddler,  and Eunice to name a few. Who could forget the "West With the Wind" sketch as Carol appears as Starlett O'Hara dressed in the famous "curtain rod dress."

This is a description of a golden era of television when shows were done in front of live audiences and variety shows were popular. It is an entertaining look back at a show that brought joy to many people and continues to do so today through YouTube and DVDs.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Keeping Love Alive As Memories Fade by Gary Chapman, Deborah Barr, & Edward Shaw

This is a practical and informative book for anyone who is involved in caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. There is a lot of information about the disease itself in diagnosing the condition and the stages of the disease. While the medical information is helpful, what is even more helpful is the sharing of personal stories of those who are caring for spouses and loved ones with dementia along with the application of the five love languages. There is a personal profile to determine what love language fits the care partner and the person with dementia along with practical examples of how to apply the five love languages which are words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, gifts and quality time. 

There is also helpful information for those who are closest to the care partner to help them know how to affirm the care partner as they care for their loved one. The stories shared are inspiring. Although no one would chose to travel the journey with someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementia this book offers encouragement and hope for those who are on this journey. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is in the midst of this difficult season.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

This is a beautiful book that compares the beauty and workings of nature with the pursuit of peace and humility. In the beginning, the author states "You're not God. I'm not God. None of us are God." We may say we know this but do we really understand that all that we need to do is seek God and let Him take care of the rest.

Each chapter compares thoughts on plants, growing and nature in general and compares them to an aspect of humility, There were so many wonderful thoughts in this book. One I particularly resonated with was, "Humility reminds us of our limits; Humility teaches us that we are physical beings existing in a broken world." Thoughts about vineyards, local honey, healing herbs, vine ripened tomatoes, and thorns and thistles are some of the analogies used when addressing humility.

This is a book I will refer to again and again when seeking rest for my soul and just to enjoy the descriptions of nature and its beauty. I highly recommend this book for everyone seeking to grow in grace, knowledge, and in the humility of Christ. 

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.
 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Shaken by Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow seemed to have everything going for him completing a successful college football career at the University of Florida and then winning the Heisman Trophy. His dream of playing in the NFL became a reality after he was drafted by the Denver Broncos. All did not go as he would have liked as he was traded after a playoff run with the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets. He only played one season with the Jets and had a brief preseason with the New England Patriots before being released.

While playing in the NFL he received a lot of media attention and criticism. He begins the book by sharing some of the lessons he learned during that time and what it means to stay grounded amidst fear, doubt and criticism.

He also shares how one can move forward, focusing on how a person can impact others as he or she moves forward in a purposeful direction grounded in faith in Christ. His stories as well as others shared in the book encourages the reader to move forward taking on whatever storms may come. Tim Tebow's honesty about his own struggles in his faith journey is inspiring as well.

There are many quotes throughout the book. Some of my favorites are "God will never waste your pain when it is offered to Him" and "We are blessed to be a blessing."   

I would recommend this book for anyone who is facing challenging circumstances. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Letters To A Birmingham Jail edited by Bryan Loritts

This is an important book for all Christians to read and to help them understand how to pursue Christ exalting diversity. Beginning with Dr, Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," 10 Christian leaders address the problems that still plague the church in the area of racial reconciliation. The contributors of various ages and ethnicities address that only Christ can bring about true unity, but that the gospel also demands justice. No longer can the church remain passive in the area of racial inequality and prejudice.

The contributors included are John Perkins, John Piper, Crawford W. Loritts, Jr., John Bryson, Bryan Loritts, Sandy Wilson, Albert Tate, Charlie Dates, Matt Chandler, and Soon-Chan Rah. These authors present their own unique response to Dr. King's letter and it makes for fascinating reading and much food for thought.

I would highly recommend it to all who truly want to learn more about how the church can become a truly multi-cultural church. For me, I will begin by reaching out to those who are not like me in the body of Christ. We can each make a difference to bring about reconciliation between races and cultures.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson

"Chase the Lion" is a call to arms to pursue God-given passions and to set God-sized goals. Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, D.C., encourages the reader with examples from Scripture and real life stories to illustrate his idea of being a Lion Chaser.

Some of the principles he includes are: go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention; face your fears; burn sinful bridges; blaze new trails; live for the applause of the nail-scarred hands; and don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God.

This is an encouraging and challenging book for any Christian who desires to pursue their God-given dream or come along someone who has one and share in the adventure. The impact you make will not only make a difference now but have ripple effects in years to come.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
       

Monday, September 12, 2016

Messiology by George Verwer

George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization, one of the world's largest  missions organizations has coined the term "missiology." The term has to do with how God can use our failures and messes and use them for His purposes. This is basically a collection of thoughts as the author reflects back on over 60 years in ministry.

Throughout the book, the author also shares many books which have impacted his life. He challenges the reader to focus on the big picture in Christianity and to work together despite some of our differences in worship styles, leadership roles, etc. He challenges those who are caught up in any form of legalism that hinders the work of the Gospel and points out that God can still use those with whom we may disagree.

There are many helpful insights in this book and it is a short book. The downside is that the thoughts he shares are somewhat disjointed and the book overall does not flow well. Overall though is a worthwhile read.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Warfare Praying by Mark I. Bubeck

There are many books out on prayer, but I found this book especially practical and helpful. The author shares personal examples to illustrate the truths he presents. The battles we face are not against people and circumstances as they are battles in the spiritual realm. Pastor Bubeck addresses the issue of spiritual warfare and how to use the Word of God and prayer to do battle. The book is divided into sections entitled: The Supremacy of Christ; The Work of the Holy Spirit; The Whole Armor of God; and The Weapon of Prayer. I especially appreciated the section on the armor of God and the in depth description of each part of the armor and its practical application.

Also after each chapter there is a prayer to apply what has just been presented. At the end there are several pattern prayers given for revival. I think this is a book I will refer to often during my prayer time.  

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leading KidMin by Pat Cimo and Matt Markins

Leading Children's ministry in the local church is a challenge. As our culture is changing and demands on families increase, leaders in Children's ministries are challenged to reach out to families and their children. Working within the local church and making sure the ministry is aligned with where the church is headed is also a challenge. Pat Cimo and Matt Markins challenge leaders to look at the big picture and give leaders tools to lead and implement change.

There are a lot of helpful illustrations and leadership principles outlined in the book. While it is mainly geared toward those who are full time or part time employees in Children's ministries in a local church, volunteer leaders in smaller churches can also benefit by reading the book. The principles presented can apply to all those involved in working with children in the local church.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life by Colin S. Smith

This book presents new insights into the 10 Commandments. The subtitle of the book is "Finding Freedom in God's Commands." Usually when thinking of the 10 Commandments, people think in terms of do's and don'ts. Pastor Colin Smith takes a different approach in taking each commandment and fleshing it out, making it meaningful and practical in every day life.

He contends that we know what God's love is like by understanding the 10 Commandments. True love involves faithfulness, truthfulness, trustworthiness and contentment. He writes that these are the dimensions of God's character and that is why they are the dimension of love.

For example, the reason we do not commit adultery is because God is faithful; the reason we do not bear false witness is because God speaks the truth; and so forth. God is love and He calls us to live a life that reflects His character. Living this kind of life does not come naturally and we all struggle against our own sin nature. The 10 Commandments is where God meets us in these struggles and teaches us how to build healthy relationships with Him and with others.

There is a study guide in the back of the book which helps to discuss each commandment further and apply it directly to your life. It would be appropriate for both individual and group study.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Discipling As Jesus Discipled by Dann Spader

The focus of this study is to study the life of Christ and in doing so understanding how Jesus made disciples. Based on John 17, the guide can be used as a small group or individual study to go for 10 - 12 weeks or could be adapted to go longer. There are 4 to 5 days of personal study leading up to the weekly group meeting.

The goal is for individuals to take what they learn and apply to their own lives first by living out His character and His priorities. Then the task is to make disciples who can make disciples. Following the great commission in Matthew 28, as Christians we are to go out and befriend unbelievers and share with them the gospel. When they become believers in Christ, you "baptize" them in identifying with the work and mission of Christ. And then you equip them to live as Jesus lived and help them to make disciples themselves.

Making disciples was the focus of Christ and should be ours as well as followers of Jesus. Not only do we need to continue to grow in our faith, we need to share that faith, make disciples and equip them to do the same.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer

The setting is 1909 and the building of the Panama Canal. Cowboy, James Holt is sent to Panama at the request of Teddy Roosevelt to assist in asking questions about some mysterious accidents that have taken place in the areas involved in the construction of the canal. He meets Saffire, a young Mulatto girl, who asks him to help her find her mother who has disappeared.    

Nothing is as simple as it appears. After James has a run in with the national police, he gets further involved into not only the canal business and looking for Saffire's mother, but into revolutionary politics of Panama. As he navigates his way through all of that, he meets a woman who may change his life if he is forced to choose between justice and love.

I enjoyed learning more about the building of the Panama Canal and the events which led to the United States leading the way in building it.  This is a great book for anyone who loves a historical mystery.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Seeking Refuge by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, & Dr. Issam Smeir

This book answered many of the questions I had about the refugee crisis. The focus is on how local churches and individual Christ followers in the West and in particular the United States might best respond to the refuge crisis. Topics addressed include how to think biblically about migration; wrestling with the genuine concerns over refugee resettlement; understanding refugee resettlement; practical ways to respond to the refugees and understanding the challenges involved in resettlement; why policy matters; and responding to the larger issues that compel individuals to flee their country.

The book also shares stories of refugee families and allays many of concerns people have about allowing these families entry. I found the information about how the refugees are screened before being allowed to resettle very helpful. This is a valuable resource for any church that wants to be involved in ministering to refugees. It would be an excellent book for any Christian who wants to better understand the refugee crisis and how to respond. It changed the way I view the refugee crisis and I will use the resources at the back of the book to look for opportunities to respond with compassion and not fear.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review    

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Christian Book of Mystical Verse by A.W. Tozer

This book is a collection of verses, poems, prayers and hymns designed to aid the Christian in his devotional life. The word mystic used in the title of this book refers to that personal spiritual experience which is common to believers in Biblical times and also believers in the era following. A.W. Tozer refers to the evangelical mystic as one "who has been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead." All the material in this book is based on sound theology and Scripture.

Authors include Isaac Watts, Charles and John Wesley, and Christina Rossetti and many others. This book is divided under topics such as spiritual warfare, the prayer of the quiet, and Christ's return to name a few. This is a helpful aid to time of personal devotion and worship.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Taste and See by John Piper

This collection of 125 daily reading by author and pastor John Piper is not your ordinary devotional book. Each mediation focuses a specific topic using Scripture and asking hard questions about life. These questions are addressed using practical truths found in the Bible. Topics such as God's sovereignty, body image, retirement, hypocrisy, mental health, body image, gender, race, and many more are covered in these mediations.

The focus throughout this book is on saving the incomprehensible trustworthiness of God's promises and His supremacy. It is biblical doctrine applied in a practical way to every day life. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
 

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

This humorous little book tells the tale of a man who receives a bill for his life. Based on his experiences and his life in general a national bureaucratic agency issues his an invoice which is astronomical. As he tries to negotiate with a helpful agency representative, Maud, he reviews his life and reflects on its simple pleasures and the importance of little things.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Christ Among Other gods by Erwin Lutzer

In this age of tolerance, Pastor Erwin Lutzer examines the claims of Christ in comparison to other religions. The uniqueness of Christ is explained well with historical and Scriptural evidence. The birth, life, death, resurrection, and second coming  of Christ are examined along with the claims of other religions. The focus really in on the Christian faith and this book is for the Christian to be able to understand the uniqueness of Christ, defend the claims of Christianity, and to refute commonly held myths.

This book is a helpful reference for those who want to more fully understand the Christian faith and to comprehend the claims of Christ. This is well written and comprehensive. I would highly recommend this book.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.   

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Old Age A Beginner's Guide by Michael Kinsley

These reflections on approaching the end of life are mainly geared toward the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964). The author, who has had Parkinson's disease for over twenty years, offers his thoughts on dealing with Parkinson's as well as thinking about death approaching. He offers the reader much food for thought in thinking about one's own death and how that really is a part of life that no one can escape. The author's spiritual life and views on life after death are not mentioned.

He offers a unique perspective on not only dealing with aging, but on social security and the budget crisis facing our country among other issues. This at times is humorous and at times sobering, but always is entertaining and thought provoking.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"Rise and Shine" by Sandra Bricker

This light hearted retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" makes for a fun and entertaining read. Shannon awakens after being in a coma for 10 years following a diving accident on her honeymoon. As she adjusts to the time she lost, she also has to deal with the fact that her husband, Edmund, has died of cancer. The story has a prince charming who is her doctor named Daniel who also happened to become a friend of Edmund's while Shannon was in her coma. The story is rounded out with Shannon's three aunts, Edmund's wicked sister named Millicent and some friends along the way. .
There are many humorous situations throughout the book and it would make for a great summer read.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Vinegar Girl" by Anne Tyler

I had been looking forward to reading this retelling of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" by Anne Tyler and I was not disappointed.  Kate is the daughter of a research scientist who is on the verge of a breakthrough after a disappointing 20+ year career. He is dependent on his research assistant, Pytor, to help him accomplish that. The problem that presents itself is that Pytor's visa is expiring and unless he marries a U.S. citizen, he will have to leave the country.

The author does a wonderful job is describing Kate as a young woman who has pretty much withdrawn from society and given up on having a purpose in her life. She is outspoken in her opposition to her father's plan to marry her off to Pytor in the beginning. As she begins to weigh her options, the prospect does seem as bad as she thought.

I enjoyed this humorous and light hearted story. There are a number of quirky characters which adds to the plot of the story as well.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz

This is a fascinating look at people's lives in a neighborhood in Shanghai. Rob Schmitz, a journalist who lives in the Shanghai neighborhood, tells the stories of people whose lives intersect
his own. The author relates each individual's story and past history to help the reader better understand the Chinese people and their culture.

 Even though this book is non-fiction, it reads like a novel and is an engaging read. I enjoyed the honest accounts of the people he talks about and gained a much better understanding of China and its people.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about China. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Scatter by Andrew Scott

Too often when we think of missionaries, we think of individuals who raise support and work full time in missions or ministries. What if we change our thinking about that and realize that every Christian is called into fulltime ministry wherever they work. The church need Christian professionals in the business world, sports, art and medicine to name a few areas. The world needs Christians to live out their faith in their chosen professions and make an impact for Christ in their business places and overseas making differences in countries where the need is great to improve their economy and communities. 

Andrew Scott explains how to determine your spiritual gifts, heart or passion, abilities, personality and experiences in finding your purpose and calling. He uses the biblical examples of Abraham, Joseph and Daniel who were "scattered" and fulfilled God's purpose for them in making a difference in places foreign to them. He also shares some present day examples of people who have "scattered" and are making a difference where they are located. This concept is applicable to all who desire to serve God in their workplace whether it be here or overseas. 

There are questions at the end of each chapter making it useful to use in a small group setting for discussion.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors by Josh Chetwynd

Sports metaphors are widely used in our every day language. Josh Chetwynd does a great job of tracking down the origins of such widely used phrases such as "hitting it out of the ballpark," "down for the count," and "on the bubble" to name a few. These idiomatic words and phrases are used to signify something other than their obvious meaning. With the popularity of sports, it is easy to see how these phrases are so commonly used to convey something other than how they were originally intended.

Well written and researched, the book looks at phrases from both team sports and individual sports. A great reference book and facts from this book would be great conversation starters. Makes for entertaining reading.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Distant God by Chris Nye

Every relationship goes through some ups and down and it is no different with our relationship with God. There are times when we can sense God's presence with us and other times when He feels far away. Chris Nye does a great job of discussing this issue in a practical way. He talks about adjusting our expectations of God as well as examining our own hearts to see where we are at. He has divided the book into three helpful sections: Measuring the Distance: Closing the Distance and Going the Distance.

One quote by Rich Mullins spoke to me, "Closeness to God isn't about feelings; closeness to God is about obedience."  This book is both thought provoking and challenging and I highly recommend it.
I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper

Shalom is the "very good" in the gospel. The author discusses shalom in the context of being at peace with ourselves and with one another. She discusses the first three chapters of Genesis in the context of our relationship to God, to each other and to creation itself. These relationships created by God are connected all together. Topics explored in the book include Shalom with God, Shalom with self, Shalom between genders, Shalom and creation, Shalom and broken families, Shalom and race, Shalom between nations, Shalom and witnessing peace and Shalom in life and death.

Lisa Sharon Harper challenges the reader to live out the Gospel in such a way to bring Shalom to our lives and the lives of those around us and in the world filled with brokenness and chaos. For the only way to live is to follow the way God set forth through the person of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. That is the very good gospel.   

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

After Acts by Bryan Lifin

Ever wondered what happened to the apostles after the book of Acts in the New Testament? We always want to find out what happened and how things turned out. This book is a historical look at the lives of the New Testament church leaders and tries to fill in those gaps.

The lives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Mary, Thomas, James and the other apostles are examined based on documentation and historical traditions. What is especially helpful is that at the end of each chapter there is a report card. The report card grades the evidence presented according to its accuracy.

This book is an excellent introduction to the history of the early church. I highly recommend this book for all who have an interest in church history.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.   

Monday, May 2, 2016

Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers

In this information book, Mark Sayers examines the history of the culture and the church and traces the path the church has gone down. The  account of the changes in the church after World War II helps to illustrate how the church got to where it is today, The return of Gnosticism (the gospel of self) and the idea that individualism is more important than a commitment to a community is not only present in our culture today but in the church as well.

The idea that spirituality is good but that organized religion is bad points to our culture as not only post-God, but post-church. This is shown as the industries of entertainment, technology and consumerism grow while other less glamorous and vital institutions which require commitment and responsibility fade and fall. Among those institutions is the church. These institutions are vital to not only pass on information but values as well.

The challenge for the church today is to live out the Gospel and invest in people's lives so the church may run deep. As in the early church may we invest in a few to change many.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Together at the Table by Hilary Manton Lodge

Managing a restaurant, dealing with a mother's death, the end of one romance and beginning of another and a mystery from the past are all included in this book which is the third in the "Two Blue Doors" series. Juliette is managing a brand new restaurant with the help of her brother. Her mother has just passed away from ovarian cancer. She has ended a long distance romance with Neil. Neil is an immunologist in Memphis while Juliette's work and family are in Portland, Oregon. The distance between them seemed to be to much to overcome. Between her hectic restaurant schedule and a new relationship with fellow co-worker, Adrian, Juliette's life becomes more complicated. As Juliette deals with the grief in her life, she continues to look into questions about her grandmother and her life during World War II which is the mystery from the past.

Cooking and food is very much a part of the book and there are recipes interspersed throughout the book. Culinary enthusiasts will enjoy that part of the book. If you did not read the first two books, the part about the questions of Juliette's grandmother's life in France during World War II might be hard to understand. The rest of the plot of the book is engaging enough, but it may be difficult to g
et into the book if you have not read the first two books in the series.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Face to Face by Jayme Hull with Laura Captari

Faith is a journey and at times it can be a difficult one. One that is best not taken alone. We need to have the strength and courage to ask tough questions. We also need to have the wisdom to discern where God may be leading us. Also we know as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is important to also have a safe person, a mentor, to come along beside us to help us on our journey. Not to give advice necessarily, but to help us sort out the messiness of our questions, doubts, and confusion. The mentor can also help to sort out what our true identity is in Christ and how it looks to live that out.

This book is an excellent place to start on what to look for in a mentor and how the mentoring relationship works. It is geared for a younger woman looking for a mentor. It is also a call for older women to be there for younger women, The author shares many personal stories along the way with truths she has learned both as a mentee and a mentor. There are many helpful questions at the end of each chapter to get started on the mentoring journey. This would  be an excellent resource for any women's ministry group.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Night Driving by Addie Zierman

Wanting to escape the cold of Minnesota in February and the silence she experiences from God, Addie Zierman loads up her minivan along with her two sons (ages 2 and 4) and heads to Florida. Her account of her traveling, her expectations of the trip, and her response to the events along the way make for an engaging story.

Addie experienced a faith filled youth in which she felt God's presence and was on fire for Him. Over the years after that, she lost that feeling and is looking to regain the faith she once had. Instead of the emotional faith of her youth, she begins to find her way back to God in the quiet and the darkness with all of life's ups and downs along the way. I appreciated her vulnerability and honesty as she related her journey. It is a reminder that sometimes God speaks to us in a still small voice and other times he may be silent in the darkness
.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Habits for Our Holiness by Philp Nation

Taking a new look at spiritual disciplines, Philip Nation takes the focus off of our needs and desires and focuses on God. As the author puts it, "The disciplines can increase our intimacy with God so that we can work to extend His reign in the lives of those around us." It is not about doing more, but rather fulfilling God's desire that we reflect His love.

Instead of using the word discipline, the focus is on developing some spiritual practices which include worship, Bible study, prayer, fasting, fellowship, rest, simple living, servanthood, submission, spiritual leadership, and disciple-making. I found the information very practical as well as challenging. This book could also be read and discussed within a group setting
.

I would recommend this for anyone interested in growing spiritually in their relationship to God. I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Gift for All People by Max Lucado

The gift for all people is the gift of God's Grace through Jesus Christ. In this inspirational collection of thoughts on this gift, Max Lucado weaves Scripture passages with stories to illustrate this truth.These short passages are arranged under the headings of The Gift of a Savior; Ransom for Sinners; Bounteous Grace and The Choice.  

This book could be used as a devotional to read each passage one at a time. It would make a great gift to someone going through a difficult time who needs some encouragement and hope.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans

Racial reconciliation, the Kingdom of God and unity within the church are the themes running through this important book by Dr. Tony Evans. Often the contributions of Blacks have been omitted from American history and the history of the church. These contributions are highlighted by Dr. Evans. He also shares his own story of being in both the black urban culture and white mainstream evangelicalism and the struggles as he tries to reconcile the two. .

Balancing the issue of social justice that is the emphasis in the Black Church along with the personal response to Christ and living morally that is the emphasis in the White Evangelical Church is discussed throughout the book. Dr. Evans reminds us that what is important is the witness to the world of a Church that is supernaturally united and living out the Gospel. When we have Biblical social justice we can truly be a light in a world of darkness.

I highly recommend this book for all Christians to read and take note of the actions listed at the end of the book. We can no longer ignore racial injustice that is still
evident in our churches today.

I received this book from Moody Publishing for this review.          

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fear and Faith by Trillia J. Newbell

Fear is something most of us struggle with. From an anxious feeling in our stomachs to our hands clenched tightly, fear can have a powerful effect on us not only physically but also spiritually. Fear can be a bully that taunts us with thoughts of illness, tragedy, worries about the future and not measuring up to others to name a few.

Trillia Newbell shares her own story and reflections on Scripture to help us to battle those fears that plague us. She shares examples of women who have walked the road of fear or who  are still on the journey who have found their security and strength in their relationship with the Lord.  He is the One who can replace our fear with faith.

Both thought provoking and encouraging, this book can help us begin to deal with the fears that continue to nag us and gives hope to help us replace fear with faith.

I received this book from Moody Publishing for this review.
 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor

Heart wrenching and compelling are the words to describe Shaka Senghor's journey from being a drug dealer in the midst of the 1980's crack epidemic in Detroit to 19 years in prison to becoming an activist and mentor to young people facing similar circumstances like his. His experience in prison leads him to re-examine his life and he begins the journey to healing and hope from a life of anger and despair.

His work in the community and by sharing his story has giving him opportunities to speak at events and also led him to fellowships at the MIT Media Lab and the Kellogg Foundation. He encourages others to view crime, prison, and prisoners from a different perspective.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Martyr's Grace by Marvin J. Newell

This book is a compilation of 21 brief biographies of Moody Bible Institute Alumni who were killed for their faith while on the mission field in various parts of the world. These inspiring stories are about ordinary men and women who chose to go to different cultures to minister to the people there not realizing that they were going to be giving the ultimate sacrifice.

It is a good reminder to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives in service to Christ and their fellow man. It also challenges Christians to examine their own lives to see if they would be willing to do the same.

I received this book from Moody Publishing for this review.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

(Un)Qualified by Steven Furtick

In general we judge people qualified on the basis of competence and character. In understanding how God qualifies us we have to understand that God looks at our heart, not on what we do. Being transparent with God allows us to be free and have the self confidence we need to live life fully.

We don't change so God can love us more. Because God loves us, we have the power to change. He alone is our qualifier. We cannot qualify ourselves when the solution to being unqualified is to know Jesus. It is to live our lives with all our challenges knowing that our confidence is in Jesus.

We can be open and honest with ourselves and stop comparing ourselves to others when we allow God to work in our lives through His love and grace.

This book makes for thought provoking reading. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Make It Zero by Mary Frances Bowley with Jennifer Bradley Franklin

Children are the most vulnerable among us and need the protection of the adults in their lives. Too often, though children suffer from neglect, abuse, poverty, and hunger. In this powerful book, Mary Frances Bowley shares stories that will challenge and inspire you.

The book highlights the areas of poverty, hunger, isolation, abuse and trafficking. Each topic covered includes stories of individuals who as children experienced the pain of suffering in those areas. The stories are heartbreaking but encouraging as individuals stepped up to help those children at risk. Included at the end of each section are practical ways the reader can help children at risk in their own communities.

This book provides much food for thought when it comes to children whose needs may not be apparent but are real none the less.  "Start by doing what is necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." by Francis of Assisi challenges me to do what I can to make a difference in the life of a child. All it takes is for each one to do one small thing and together we can make a difference.

I highly recommend this book. I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy

Brooklyn on FireSet in Brooklyn in the late 19th century, Mary Handley once again begins a new case. Mary is looking to set up her own practice as a detective when she is approached by a woman to look into the death of her uncle which occurred 20 years previously. As in the first Mary Handley mystery, there are many historic persons featured in the story including Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and the Vanderbilt family. Amid political corruption, class warfare, and a bit of romance thrown in, the case becomes much more involved than a simple investigation.

The mystery makes for enjoyable reading as well as some of the historical facts of life at that time in Brooklyn. Initially there were a lot of characters introduced without a lot of explanation, but eventually they all come together in the plot. The characters were interesting and did have some depth. There is a glimpse of the disparity between the different social status of people and how difficult it is to cross those barriers.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.      

Monday, February 22, 2016

Surprised by the Healer by Linda Dillow & Dr. Juli Slattery

Hope for your deepest pains abounds in God's Word according to the authors, Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery. In this book you will find you will the stories of nine courageous women who share their deepest pain and brokenness along with the hope and healing they found in JEHOVAH RAPHA, the God Who Heals. There are stories of sexual abuse, addictions and marriage betrayals to name a few.

We all are broken people, in need of redemption and the hope that God can redeem us where we are at. The stories illustrate that God can heal anyone in the midst of pain and hopelessness. The stories make for thought provoking and inspiring reading.  Also included is  a 10 week Bible study to do on your own or with a small group of women.

I highly recommend this book for women. I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.    

He Will Be The Preacher by Erwin Lutzer

This inspiring and candid autobiography is a joy to read. The story of Erwin Lutzer's life from being a farm boy from Canada to the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago is one of God's providence in his life. His honest retelling of his life, both the triumphs and the struggles makes for an engaging read. The reader will learn about those who made an impact on his life as well as a glimpse of his relationships with his family members.

I highly recommend this book. I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.