Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Essential Guide To Prayer by Dutch Sheets ~ book review

The Essential Guide To Prayer: How To Pray With Power And Effectiveness by Dutch Sheets is mostly a book of testimonies about various purposes and types of intercessory prayers. I found the subtitle to be slightly misleading. While there is a suggested prayer and study questions at the end of each chapter, this book is focused more on examples than instructions, as the "how to" heading would imply.

While Dutch does provide both personal and second-hand testimonies to support each of his points about effective prayer, you have to be the type of person that can learn from examples and replicate the experience of others within your own life in order to really make a lot of personal progress here.

As a book used to enlighten and encourage you on the prospect of intercessory prayer, I'd give this book 4 stars. However, it is lacking in personal suggestions aside from the testimonies, and Dutch spends a large portion of the book sharing second-hand stories that he's heard or read elsewhere. For me, this made it seem more like a college thesis than a book meant for personal growth in your relationship with God. 3/5 stars.

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

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Dutch Sheets is an internationally recognized author, teacher, and speaker. Based in Colorado, he travels extensively, empowering believers for passionate prayer and societal transformation. He has pastored, taught, and served on the board of directors of numerous organizations. Learn more at www.dutchsheets.org.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dark Deception (Defenders Of Justice 02) by Nancy Mehl ~ book review

Dark Deception is the second book in the Defenders Of Justice series by Nancy Mehl. Without having read the first book in this series, I found myself very grateful for the prologue and first chapter, which left me feeling as though I'd been filled in on everything I needed to know in order to follow the plot and storyline of the book, and the series in general. I'm sure that reading the first book (Fatal Frost) before reading Dark Deception would be ideal, but I appreciate being able to jump straight into the second book of a series without feeling lost and clueless as to what's going on.

In Dark Deception, we find Kate O'Brien in witness protection after having survived an attack by a serial killer, who claimed her sister's life. All has been going well for her new small town life, until new evidence leads the courts to believe that the man convicted of the murders may be innocent, and he has to face trial again. This time, her eye-witness testimony is the only shot at keeping him behind bars.

While Kate has moved on in her new life, she has no intention of digging up her past and facing buried nightmares. She reluctantly agrees to testify if Tony DeLuca, the deputy Marshal who protected her during the first trial, takes lead on escorting and protecting her.

What starts as a simple mission for Tony soon becomes complicated when he arrives in the small town only to discover that no one is who they seem to be. Then, as the shadows start to emerge from Kate's past, Tony finds that his job of protecting her includes sheltering her from the darkness brewing inside herself, and that is going to be a lot harder than he'd bargained for.

Nancy's descriptive writing allows for a vividly realistic portrayal and a captivating story that pulls the reader in further with every turn of the page. 5/5 stars.

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

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Nancy Mehl is the author of more than twenty books, including the Road To Kingdom and Finding Sanctuary series, and a 2015 finalist for RT Book Reviews' Reviewers' Choice Award. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson. Visit www.nancymehl.com to learn more.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBook

Friday, July 14, 2017

Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier ~ book review

Remarkable Faith: When Jesus Marveled At The Faith Of Unremarkable People by Shauna Letellier is Shauna's own rendering of not-so-classic Bible stories that remind us of the times that Jesus used the most unremarkable of people, the lowest of the low, to exemplify those who not only needed Him the most, but also honored Him the most with the greatest show of faith.

In Remarkable Faith, Shauna shares with us eight chapters, each focused on a varying type of faith (weak, helpless, unworthy, suffering, distant, panicked, defiant, and flagrant). Each contains a Biblical passage followed by her moving and elaborated tale of the story in question. After her vivid reenactment has taken place, she carefully and thoroughly explains what was so remarkable about this person's faith, why Jesus took notice, the reasons we should aspire to be more like them, and brief suggestions and a prayer to start us on that path.

Not many of us would aspire to be more like the blind beggars (up until Jesus gave them their sight), or the ten healed lepers (before they were healed), or the woman who bled for twelve years (while enduring that bleeding)... Yes, we would long for the sight, and the healing, and the dignity that these people regained once Jesus took notice and restored their broken bodies and souls. But so many of us would not sacrifice what we have right now in order to "need" that kind of redemption. Yet, we already do. Every day.

Those of us who know we're unworthy, but have faith anyway. Those of us who feel weak or lost, but have faith. Those of us who are defiant against the doubters in our lives, and struggle but hold onto the faith that we have. This book is written for you... And for those people who have wandered enough that they feel their faith slipping, but still long for it to return - if only they could see the right path or hear the compassion in Jesus' voice. This book is written for you... Or for anyone else who has faced hardships and still managed to hold onto the slightest amount of faith, hoping that it will be enough... It is. Jesus notices you. Hiding in the crowd. Hoping to just barely touch His robe and slip away. 5/5 stars.

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

About the author (copied from back cover):
Shauna Letellier has written for the Huffington Post, Day Spring's (in)courage blog, and MOPS International's MomSense magazine (now Hello, Dearest). She attended Focus on the Family's Leadership Institute and earned degrees in Family and Biblical Studies from Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBook

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Breaker Anointing by Barbara J. Yoder ~ book review

The Breaker Anointing: How God Breaks Open The Way To Victory by Barbara J. Yoder is a mostly theological and anecdotal book, in which Barbara explains the power of God the Breaker, and ways in which His power has manifested - both in Biblical times and in her own experiences.

The back cover includes the sentence, "In these pages are the biblical wisdom and practical application to help you learn how to partner with God for your own breakthrough", which is the main reason why I selected this book. Practical application. I presumed that this would include a lot more of a personal study and application section than it actually does. Yes, it has questions in the back of the book entitled "For Group Study". Although, I had a hard time relating to them as I was reading the book because they are not separated by chapter or another relevant context; you have to just keep reading the questions until you hit something that does not resemble what you've already read.

Also, as far as personal application goes, there really isn't much. If you're the type that can read other people's experiences and relate their story to your own sufficiently, then you could probably get a lot more out of this book than I did. However, for those of us that need questions to reflect on and have a hard time figuring our how a case of the chiggers relates to us receiving messages from God, this book comes up lacking.

On a more personal level, I had a hard time with the author's persistent mentioning of prophetic experiences and relations. This is one of those areas where I have heard so many different interpretations and specific meanings, that I had difficulty determining exactly what she meant by her usage.

Overall, I would recommend this book to Christians who believe in speaking in tongues and prophetic experiences, and are looking for stories to encourage them in their faith to keep pushing forward until God the Breaker makes Himself known in their lives. 3/5 stars.

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

About the author (copied from back cover):
Barbara J. Yoder is founder and overseer of Shekinah Regional Apostolic Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the bestselling author of five books. She travels extensively as a national and international speaker and is considered one of the most influential women leaders in the Church today.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Praying With Eyes Wide Open by Sherry Harney ~ book review

In Praying With Eyes Wide Open: A Life-Changing Way to Talk with God, Sherry Harney defies Christian legalism and dares us to take our prayer experience to a new level by praying with our eyes open - both literally and figuratively. In the introduction, she tells us that when we pray with our eyes wide open physically, "we become more aware of creation, people, beauty, and the needs around us." She also reminds us that "As we pray this way, our opportunities for prayer multiply." Figuratively, Sherry states that praying with eyes wide open "encompasses praying with greater awareness of God's presence, power, and work in the world."

This book is a combination of a road map for a deeper, more meaningful prayer life, personal anecdotes that demonstrate the strength of praying with greater passion and clarity, and exercises to help you on your personal prayer journey.

Divided into four sections (eyes wide open, ears wide open, hearts wide open, lives wide open), Praying With Eyes Wide Open reveals the power in continual prayer, how to have deeper conversations with God, the truth about our relationship with God, how we are to address Him, what types of prayers God expects from us, and how big or little our prayers have to be in order to be heard.

I found Sherry's gentle approach to be welcoming even for those of us who have been scolded or felt inadequate in our attempts at having a consistent prayer life. I would recommend this book to anyone who yearns for a deeper connection with God or for those who struggle with the legalistic norm for traditional prayer. 4/5 stars.

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

About The Authors (copied from back cover):
Sherry Harney is the leadership development director at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California, and the cofounder of Organic Outreach International. Sherry speaks regularly about prayer, spiritual formation, leadership, and organic outreach for local, national, and international groups and events.
Kevin G. Harney is lead pastor of Shoreline Community Church and the author of several books, including Reckless Faith, Empowered by His Presence, and the Organic Outreach series, as well as more than eighty small group guides, curriculum, and numerous articles written in partnership with Sherry.