Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: Keeping the Fire

...when we have lost our motivation and our hearts run dry, we go back to what it is that we value most. When love starts to grow cold, we seek God's face. When we are in need, we trust in His supply. When we are at the end of ourselves, we go lower still and to the least of these. When faced with hardship and persecution, we choose not to lose our reward by retreating. And we resolve that our boundless joy will supply us with all the energy and direction we need. 

Author Rolland Baker, founder of Iris Global shares the heart of revival: Jesus. Within this context. he discusses his organization's five core values: 

1. Find God
2. Depend on miracles
3. Go the least
4. Suffer for Him, if necessary
5. Rejoice in the Lord

This book challenged me in both positive and negative ways. The negative challenge was that I do not agree with all of his theology. And at some points it seems as if he is saying, "Jesus is the only Way... but if you want to get there you have to take these steps to success." However, I think most of the problem is that he is unclear in some of his explanations. The positive challenge was that I was forced to consider what I believe God is capable of doing. Is He still the God of miracles? Baker suggests that one reason that God does not do many miracles in the United States is that perhaps our focus would be on the miracle rather than on Him. All in all, this is an excellent read if you want to be challenged. 

To learn more about author Rolland Baker and his ministry, click HERE

I received this book from Chosen Books for this review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Testimony in a Nutshell

I know my parents prayed for me even before I was born. When I was 8, my grandmother explained the Gospel to me in a way that "clicked," and I was convicted of my "badness" and asked Jesus to come and help me; to be my Lord and Savior. My dad (who was my pastor) baptized me, and I began this crazy journey of faith. As a teenager missionary kid in Guatemala, I had a crisis of faith and wanted to walk away. But instead God drew me close, and He became more than my Savior. He became my best Friend. Two weeks after graduation from college I began a new adventure called "marriage," and 8 years and 5 children later I can still say that my husband is one of the greatest gifts God has given me. I still stumble in so many ways. But I am not paralyzed by my failures as I once was. Because of the work Jesus did on the cross on my behalf, I know that when God looks at me, He loves me. I am pure. Sure, It's a major hassle to die to myself every day. In fact, I dislike it so much that I spend more time enjoying my sinful state more than seeking to live through the Spirit. But Christ is my All. I am amazed that He chooses to use me; that His strength is made perfect in weakness. Well guess what? My middle name is "Weakness." There is Hope yet for me.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Review: Shadow of the Storm

"There will always be storms, Shira. There will be loss in your life, sometimes devastating loss. But if you let the wind and the rain overcome you, then you will never fulfill the purpose for which you were born, the reason Yahweh gave you breath and brought you to this time, to this place. There will be times when there is nothing you can do but survive, to place one foot after the other into the driving rain... You can tuck your head under your wing for a while, Shira, and wait out this storm. But you will fly again." 

Shira has witnessed God's power as He led the Israelites out of Egypt. Now Shira and her people are parked by Mount Sinai, waiting for the return of Abraham. As the people rebel and chaos descends, Shira finds herself unexpectedly involved in helping a midwife with a birth. Shira begins working regularly with the midwife, meets a man she cares for, and helps with a difficult birth. When everything suddenly goes wrong, she must begin to work through her traumatic past and learn to trust God with her future. 

Shadow of the Storm is a well written, interesting story. It is fun to see the characters against the backdrop of the Bible story. I can tell that the historical background was well researched. But even more so, I was so excited to hear about author Connilyn Cossette! The information in her author biography resonates with me. She is a homeschool mama. I'm a homeschool mama. She is a published author. I want to publish a book some day. She has written a Biblical fiction series. My degree and postgraduate studies are in Bible. Her character, Shira, works alongside a midwife. I have had midwives for 5 pregnancies, 3 home births, and I am a doula and a childbirth educator. So I was pleased and inspired by Ms. Cossette. If she can write, perhaps I can do so as well some day... But not until I have time enough to put more than a few sentences together for a review. 

To learn more about author Connilyn Cossette, click HERE

I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: The One Year Book of Healing

The One Year Book of Healing: Daily Appointments with God for Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Wholeness is a devotional that reads more like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. The stories are all about people who received different types of healing. The formula for each day is a Bible verse, a story, "Today's RX" (some advice), and a prayer. In the introduction, the author points out that healing comes in different ways. 

Sometimes, God heals us partially by removing our disease or fixing our wounds. Sometimes, he heals us completely by taking us to our forever home in heaven. Often, he uses modern medicine... to accomplish his healing. How God's healing work will be accomplished cannot be predicted--only that it will happen.

Although I agree that healing comes in different ways, I do not agree that healing will happen. For instance, sometimes people are sick or bitter for their entire lives. Sometimes people die and go to hell. 

I also do not agree with all of the comments in the RX sections. Here is a sampling:

God has the power, and the will, to snatch us from the very jaws of death.- October 18

Whether God heals us here and now or then and there, his answer to our prayer for healing is always "yes!" -July 17

When you're holding the Lord's hand, even if you stumble, you won't fall. -February 6

Depression often happens when we focus on the past. Focus on the future, and God's promises will help to brighten your day. -January 5

Expand your mind so you can know how much God loves you. -May 23

God doesn't always have the will to snatch us from the very jaws of death. People die. God doesn't always heal. Sometimes we DO fall. Depression can't always be fixed by simply focusing on the future. And extra-Biblical advice such as "expand your mind" is entering into dangerous territory. 

Most of the issues I have with this book are because of the how-to devotional format as the reader might be tempted to pick up this book in lieu of the Bible, which is all that we need to learn about God's healing. I wish the format of the book had been a simple book of testimony instead. However, I very much enjoyed reading the stories, as they serve as reminders that our God is Jehovah Rapha, the God who Heals.

To learn more about the author, click HERE. 

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review: Tangled Webs

Another scream propelled him into action. Moving on auto-pilot, he grabbed his compact Beretta, Ka-Bar knife, and a flashlight from the cabin, left behind the cell phone that didn't work around here anyway, and raced through the woods, every ounce of his dormant training kicking back in. 

A priest hears a dying man's confession. A sheriff is desperate to provide for his ailing wife. A man works to secure his future by operating a shady business. A man and a woman are both escaping a traumatic past. All of these stories intersect on one property by a lake in rural Missouri. 

I enjoyed this fast-paced story that is an interesting mix of suspense and romance. The characters are well developed, flawed, interesting individuals. Wonderful book to take on vacation, or for snuggling up with on a rainy day. 

To learn more about the author, click HERE. 

I received this book from Revell Books for this review.

Book Review: A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve

"Love is for today; programs are for the future. We are for today; when tomorrow will come, we shall see what we can do. Somebody is thirsty for water today, hungry for food today. Tomorrow we will not have them if we don't feed them today. So be concerned with what you can do today."

Before starting my review, I ought to point out that I am not Catholic, and therefore I acknowledge that I hold many different theological views than expressed in this book. 

The first thing I noticed about this book was that it is a beautiful book. The kind of book that you would put on a coffee table, provided you don't have small children (as I do). In fact, my three year old found my copy and "decorated" it, so it is no longer coffee table material. 

A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve contains fourteen chapters on acts of mercy and how these can be applied. A few examples are: Feed the Hungry, Instruct the Ignorant, and Pray for the Living and the Dead. Each chapter follows the same formula:

1) Introduction to the topic addressed in the chapter
2) Quotes from Mother Teresa on the topic
3) Testimonies from people who knew Mother Teresa and saw how she applied the topic in her life
4) Reflections: Bible verses and questions to encourage you to contemplate the topic in your own life
5) Prayer: A prayer asking God or Mary to help you to apply the topic

I appreciate how clearly organized the book is, for ease of reading. A reader may choose to tackle a chapter a day or a week, as a sort of devotional. I also enjoyed learning about Mother Teresa. I believe she was a sweet lady who sought to follow God. I only wish the book had provided a more balanced depiction, showing more of her fears, failures, and struggles alongside her virtues. 

To learn more about the author, click HERE

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