Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Book Review ~ Talking With Your Kids About God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have by Natasha Crain

Talking With Your Kids About God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have by Natasha Crain is a collection of basic apologetics lesson for Christian parents to walk through and discuss with their children. This is not a book to just hand your kids and walk off, leaving them to fend for themselves. Instead this is a very well laid out action plan for talking to your kids about the tough questions - when you may of may not have the answers yourself.

Natasha's emphasis is on beginning young and reinforcing your kids' knowledge banks before these issues are allowed to become issues. Talk to them and teach them the basic "why's" behind their beliefs - before the secular world starts to question them and make them doubt their own beliefs or abilities to provide a defense.

Each of the 30 questions starts with a brief but detailed explanation for you, the parent, to read so that you can understand both sides of the issue and provide your child with a more personal and in-depth discussion.

Having armed the parent, Natasha then goes on to provide a simple conversation guide for each topic. Here, she walks you through several questions or main points to raise with your child, while providing ideal answers and Biblical evidences in order to help you steer the ship in the right direction. She also provides a real-life application example for you and your child to review when these evidences would be the proper defense, and how they should go about utilizing their knowledge in a constructive and assertive manner.

So what are these 30 questions? Divided into 5 parts, each part focuses on 6 foundational questions for your child to know. Starting with a defense of the existence of God, Natasha walks you through such issues as "Where did the universe come from?" and "How much evidence do we need to be confident God exists?". Part two covers science and God, with questions such as "Can science explain why people believe in God?". In part three, "The nature of God", Natasha reveals "What does it mean that God is just?" and five other thought-provoking questions. The fourth part is all about believing in God, and covers issues such as "Do all religions worship the same God?". And lastly, part five discusses the difference God makes, including "What is the meaning of life?".

I would recommend this book not only for Christian parents wanting to prepare their kids for engagement with the secular world, but also for those adult Christians who would like to investigate the basic of apologetics and don't know where to begin, or would like to be able to learn the simple answers as to the evidences behind what they've been taught to believe. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary print copy of this book from the publisher, Baker Books, for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ About The Author ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
(copied from back cover)
Natasha Crain is a popular blogger, author, and speaker who is passionate about equipping Christian parents to raise their kids with an understanding of how to make a case for and defend their faith in an increasingly secular world. She is the creator of the Christian Mom Thoughts blog and the author of Keeping Your Kids on God's Side. Crain lives in Southern California with her husband and three children.
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Book Review ~ Habits Of The Heart: 365 Daily Exercises For Living Like Jesus by Katherine J. Butler

Habits Of The Heart: 365 Daily Exercises For Living Like Jesus by Katherine J. Butler is a pocket-sized yet powerful book designed to help you learn and form habits of lasting change to bring you closer to God and into a better relationship with yourself and those around you.

Focusing on one primary lesson each week (such as slowing down, living simply, trusting in God, and letting go), Katy devotes one page to each day of the journey toward "living like Jesus". Each day has a scripture verse (or two) and a short, simple, and effective exercise - an activity or a prayer or questions to reflect on. Moving us gradually through these 52 lessons, Katy helps us to each embark on an adventure in what it truly means to be closer to God on a daily basis.

The entries are marked by date (January 1st, March 2nd, etc) for those of you that manage to find the time, energy, and remembrance needed to stick to a strict daily regiment for an entire year. However, for those of us who tend to get behind on daily readings and then feel bad about skipping or trying to play catch up (raising my paw here), they are also marked by weeks and days (week 10, days 2 & 3). So, if you do get behind and end up skipping a few days, then don't fret and - more importantly - don't try to skip ahead to the correct date. Just go by the weeks and days, take it one message and lesson at a time, and figure eventually you'll still get through the book. Katy has done a marvelous job at arranging the lessons in a progressive fashion, and you don't want to miss out on any of the steps to reach the final destination.

My favorite feature of this book is that the pages in Habits Of The Heart are thick enough to give you the confidence that you'll be able to read and re-read this book many times over, without worrying about tearing or damaging it from the excessive use it's sure to receive. It also has a handy ribbon bookmark sewn into it to ensure that you'll never have to go searching for the next page in your journey. I would suggest this book as a daily read for anyone looking to form lasting habits to strengthen their relationship with God, others, and even themselves. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary print copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ About The Author ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
(copied from inside book)
(photo provided courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers)
Katherine Butler was first introduced to spiritual formation as an undergraduate at Biola University.
The she attended a special program for a small number of students and faculty, where they lived together at a retreat house for several weeks, studying the topic of spiritual formation and practicing spiritual disciplines within community.
It was during that time that Katy felt her heart awakened to know God deeply and to feel loved and known by him in return. This experience led her to pursue a master's degree in spiritual formation and soul care from Talbot Seminary in Southern California, where she also became a certified spiritual director.
Katy is passionate about walking with others as they learn more about who God has created them to be. She believes God works with each of his children in ways that are special and unique to them.
Her desire is to help others open themselves to a greater awareness of God's deep and faithful love for them and his presence in their everyday lives.
Katy lives in Illinois with her husband and two beautiful little girls.
Click here to view all of Katherine's books published by Tyndale House Publishers

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Book Review ~ Free Of Me: Why Life Is Better When It's Not About You by Sharon Hodde Miller

Free Of Me: Why Life Is Better When It's Not About You by Sharon Hodde Miller is a reality check that most Christian women could use to read at some point in their journey to be closer to God. Sharon starts by explaining the overall consequences of making yourself your focal point in life - whether through your achievements or your insecurities. She emphasizes that God demands for us to be other-focused and Christ-focused, while using personal stories to demonstrate how we so often become self-focused even while we're attempting to care for others instead. We worry about how they'll see us, what they'll think of us, and if they'll show appreciation for what we've done. Time and time again, we keep tilting the playing field more and more in order to make it about ourselves rather than others - including God.

Sharon then walks us through seven "mirrors"- God, family, appearance, possessions, friendships, calling, church - which are things that we tend view in a distorted manner in order to make them about us when they really shouldn't be. Have you ever apologized for not putting on makeup before going out, or not cleaning the living room before guests arrive? How about distancing yourself from the jokes your husband says, so people won't think of you in "that" way? Or maybe you make sure to always have the perfect ensemble and the newest technology? How about checking your blog or facebook page to see how many views and likes that last message praising God received? These are all things that some of us struggle with more than others, but we all struggle with something that wants to steal our focus from God and place it back onto ourselves. Sharon's honest, direct, and loving approach reminds us that we're not alone and that God doesn't think any less of us for these setbacks.

After revealing and reflecting on your personal mirrors, Sharon helps you learn to redirect your focus back to praising God, loving others, serving your purpose, and humbling yourself - without neglecting yourself. This book is a wonderful asset and breath of fresh air for any Christian woman who finds herself needing to refocus on God. 4/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary print copy of this book from the publisher, Baker Books, for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

NOTE: Be sure to visit the "book" tab on Sharon's website (SheWorships.com) and sign up to download a free group discussion guide for Free Of Me. This discussion guide has additional questions and thought points, making it a wonderful asset even if you're going through the book on you own.

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Sharon Hodde Miller is a PhD, a pastor's wife, and a mother to two small boys. She blogs at SheWorships.com, has been a regular contributor to Propel, She Reads Truth, and Her.meneutics, and has written for Relevant, Christianity Today, and (in)courage, among others. She speaks regularly on topics ranging from leadership to body image to Scripture. She lives with her family in the Raleigh/Durham area. 
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