Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C. Wilson ~ book review

The Imperfect Disciple: Grace For People Who Can't Get Their Act Together by Jared C. Wilson is not your standard book on discipleship. It is not a book for those people who attend church weekly (or several times a week), and feel as though they somehow almost always manage to act like "good" Christians, consistently saying and doing the right things. No, it's not for those people. Instead, this is a book on discipleship for everyone else. Those of us who - for one reason or another - would be "doing well" to make it to church once a month, if that. Those of us who "know" we should do better but somehow always manage to fall short. The Christians who find their "How To Be A Good Christian" checklist constantly having more empty boxes than it does checkmarks. This book is for people like me.

While parts of this book spoke to me more than other parts, I feel that most people would find something useful within its pages. Jared explains why it's good to be a loser at the bottom of the Christian ladder, how you can learn to listen to and confide in God more, and how to focus on God's glory and grace instead of your own behaviors and actions. He reminds us that even at our worst - when we feel as though we're lower than low - God is there to listen to us, hold our hand, and help us rise up to meet Him.

Overall, I'm giving this book 4/5 stars. It's a good theme, with a solid foundation and a witty writing style. But I often found myself re-reading in an effort to determine how the section I was on fit in to the lesson of the chapter or the book as a whole.

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

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and managing editor of For the Church. He is the author of numerous books, including Unparalleled, The Story of Everything, The Prodigal Church, and Gospel Wakefulness. His blog, The Gospel-Driven Church, is hosted by the Gospel Coalition, and he speaks at numerous churches and conferences throughout the year.
Purchase Links:
   Amazon
   Christian Book

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bible Promises For Parents Of Children With Special Needs by Amy E Mason ~ book review

Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs by Amy E. Mason has a lot in common with other Scripture books. You look up a topic and find Bible verses to help you deal with whatever it is that you're dealing with. However, Amy has taken a very traditional concept and given it a couple extra twists.

First, it's geared for parents with special needs kids, meaning that the issues are ones that we commonly face (even if we seldom talk about them). Second, while similar books would have a heading for "goals", Amy branches this topic into three separate issues: 1) When you need perspective on your ultimate goals, 2) When you wonder if your child will meet the goals you're working toward, and 3) When you wonder what kind of goals to set... Each of these issues has a couple of Bible verses to bring you wisdom and comfort, and there's also a summary paragraph at the end of the topic that kind of wraps up all of the issues and helps guide you in the right direction.

Other issues that reveal Amy's careful planning in creating this book are things like "When you wonder if your child will have a relationship with God" (Knowing God), "When your family members keep their distance" (Rejection), and "When you wonder if your child's special needs are somehow your fault" (Diagnosis).

While this book is very handy to look up a specific issue during a moment of weakness or self-doubt, I also found it refreshing to flip through and randomly read questions, revealing issues I hadn't even realized were things that weighed heavy on my heart. I also really appreciate that this book is small enough to fit into a purse and take with me so that I can refer to it throughout my day. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a free 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 back cover):
Amy E. Mason is a wife and a mother to two boys, one with special needs. She is the author of 365 Pocket Prayers for Women, The NLT Bible Promise Book, and Bible Promises to Live By. Her books have sold more than one million copies. Amy is passionate about helping families who have children with special needs to find hope and encouragement in God's Word. Visit Amy at amymason.com.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Invitation by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky ~ book review

Invitation (Harbingers: Cycle One) is a compilation of four novellas by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky. In this first book of the Harbingers series, we meet our unlikely cast of characters: Brenda (a tattoo artist who has visions of the future), The Professor (a priest-turned-atheist who relies on logic instead of God), Andi (the professor's assistant who sees patterns in everything), and Cowboy/Tank (a football player with religious belief in the healing power of prayer).

Invitation takes on a writing style that sets it apart from most compilations I've come across; each author writes a short story from a specific character's viewpoint - but the tales are all linked together and go in a set order to give the reader a better image of the entire story (the big picture, if you will).

Bill Myers writes as Brenda and tells of the group first coming together, along with the tale of an Institution of psychic study being controlled by evil forces and dark energies.

Frank Peretti takes on the persona of The Professor, recounting the group's involvement with a house that haunts those who give in to their inner demons.

Angela Hunt takes us into the mathematical genius of Andi, while seeking answers to strange natural phenomena and unexplained animal deaths.

Alton Gansky portrays Tank, who stumbles across a little girl in need of help only to find that he needs her more than she needs him.

All four authors do a wonderful job at pulling us into their character's world, while keeping us connected to the story at large. Each character's personality remains the same, regardless as to who is telling the story at the moment. And the bigger picture is always at play.

This book is very well thought out, with excellent collaboration. I look forward to reading the Cycle Two of the Harbingers series at some point in the future. I would recommend this to any teen-adult readers who enjoys sci-fi/paranormal fiction with a twist of God's blessings thrown in. 5/5 stars.

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

Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     Christian Book

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Messy Beautiful Friendship by Christine Hoover ~ book review

Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding And Nurturing Deep And Lasting Relationships by Christine Hoover is written for Christian women who find themselves wondering when friendship became so difficult.

In elementary school, friends were easy to come by. Kids in our class or that we ran into on the playground, the neighbors or children of our parent's friends. Our friends were other kids that we spent time with, had very little in common with, and found things to do together anyway.

As we got older, our choice in friends became more personal and less situational. Enter adulthood, and things like political views and marital status suddenly play a factor in deciding who our friends are. And yet, we feel like we're missing out on so much.

Christine walks us through personal stories (many from her own life) to demonstrate what our new idea of friendship should look like, things that are hazardous to friendships, how to discover friendships or deepen the ones you already have (and often times don't value enough), how to be a friend, and how to be open to receiving the gift of friendship in your life.

Throughout the book, Christine frequently reminds us that our greatest friend (and highest priority) is our relationship with Jesus. All of our earthly friends are to be considered a gift from God, not a replacement for Him. He is the first one we should take our troubles to or share our joys with. After that, we thank Him for our friends here on earth that will also share in our sorrows and our celebrations. Christine emphasizes that while some friendships last much longer than others, the only one that we can count on eternally is the one with our Heavenly Father. He is our greatest friend and our greatest treasure.

There are discussion questions, key concepts, and Scripture verses referencing friendships included in the back of the book, to make this an engaging personal study and journey to discover what friendship means to you, and what you can do to better cherish the friendships that God has already blessed you with. 5/5 stars.

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

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Christine Hoover is a pastor's wife, mom, speaker, and the author of From Good to Grace and The Church Planting Wife. She has written for The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, and Christianity Today. Blogging at www.GraceCoversMe.com, she enjoys helping women apply the gift of God's grace to their daily lives. She lives in Virginia.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBook

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Momentum by Colin S. Smith ~ book review

In Momentum: Pursuing God's Blessings Through The Beatitudes, Colin S. Smith lays out the road map for us to trek our way through the beatitudes found in Matthew 5. He starts by using the analogy of rings hanging from the ceiling, with the idea that you have to use a swinging momentum to get from one ring to the next. The rings represent God's blessings for our life, as found in the beatitudes. The rings illustrate the way in which we must work our way through the beatitudes and their blessings.

Colin then explains the beatitudes in he context of roots, shoot, and fruit.

The first three beatitudes are the roots of a blessed and godly life. They tell us to be poor in spirit, mourn, and be meek. But what do these really mean? Colin breaks each one down, explains what it really means, and gives us working examples of how we can foster these specific traits in our own lives. But you have to approach them in order, allowing the momentum from being poor in spirit to let you mourn, so you can become meek. You have to trust God's order as being important and let His guide lead you.

The fourth beatitude is the shoot; a hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is pretty much a stepping stone to get from the roots to the fruit, something to keep pushing you forward in your quest.

Next Colin explains the fruits of this blessed life, mercy / forgiveness, purity, and peace. He explains what they are, the context in which we should aspire to achieve them, and practices to help us engage each of these fruits in our life in due time.

Lastly, Colin reveals the purpose behind the final beatitude - persecution. Why did God include something most of us would not be eager to pursue? What does it really mean in today's world? Is it worth the cost?

Colin has done a thorough job at laying out a road map for those of us aspiring to follow God's teachings and receive His blessings. This book uses plain language and explains things in simple ways that should be easy for almost anyone to follow, understand, learn from, and put into practice. 4/5 stars.

*I received a free print copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Colin S. Smith (BA, Theology; MPhil, London Bible College) serves as senior pastor of the Orchard Evangelical Free Church. He is the author of several books, including 10 Keys for Unlocking the Christian Life, 10 Keys for Unlocking the Bible, and The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life. He can be heard daily on the Unlocking the Bible radio broadcast at unlockingthebible.org.
Purchase Links:
     Moody Publishers
     Amazon
     ChristianBook