Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Abundant Life Book

"The Abundant Day Book" surprised me. I'm not normally a devotional sort of person, but this small, beautifully laid out and designed (and good smelling - I know, I'm weird) made me think with each of its daily devotions. The book included a year's worth of daily devotions. Each devotion includes a Scripture, the beginning of a prayer and a short note "from God"written by Nancy Guthrie and based on the Scripture of the day.

According to her bio, Guthrie teaches at her church. I'm not sure in what capacity that is, so I'm a bit uncomfortable with her as the author. I also do not like that she chooses to use the New Living Testament version of the Bible, which is more of an interpretation than a translation. Still, the translation does not appear to affect the effectiveness or accuracy of the devotions presented, and the devotions are very thought provoking. Despite my reservations, I enjoyed this devotional and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Heaven is for Real... for Kids

Summary: You've probably heard of the full nonfiction book that has been a bestseller. This is the illustrated children's book version of that. "Heaven is for Real for Kids" tells the story of a young boy named Colton who was sick in the hospital when he almost died and got to go to Heaven. The book includes Scriptures on every page that correspond with the story. At the end, a Q&A is provided on what Colton is like today, if there's more to his story, if other people have similar stories, how we will know each other in heaven, and if you can fly in Heaven.

Review: Sometimes the simplified version of a story is all it takes to make you think. This children's book version of the bestseller does that, and it is bound to benefit the youngest to the oldest reader. The Bible constantly reminds Christians of the promise of the resurrection and of Heaven for those who follow Christ. For those doubters out there, or those who just need a reminder (we all doubt at some time), this simple child's true story will give comfort and peace. It might even elicit an "awww" out of those who like cute  children and cute stories. The book also serves as a great introduction to Heaven for kids. It will serve as a discussion starter, and I'm sure the beautiful illustrations will make the reader happy, as well.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

* Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

Review: The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere

Summary: Gretchen is dealing with life without her husband, who is Germany after being injured as a soldier in Afghanistan. Her neighbor, a quiet, reclusive woman named Melissa, has troubles of her own. She mother recently died, and she feels freed because of it. With a negative childhood behind her, Melissa embarks on a journey to find two lost siblings, who she only finds out about after she finds an incomplete note from her mother in her mother's apartment. Gretchen offers to help, and she slowly becomes good friends with Melissa, giving Melissa someone to believe in her. With surprises around the corner, the two will learn that there are no coincidences — only God's hand at work.

Review: I love Donna VanLiere. I read her autobiography a few years ago and was deeply touched and inspired. "The Christmas Note" was my first Donna VanLiere novel, although she's written several other bestselling novels, including "The Christmas Shoes." Her story in "The Christmas Note" did not disappoint me. An endearing novel with relatable characters, "Christmas Note" will attach itself to your heart — that is if you can get past the first chapter, and the second, and the third... and so on.

Unfortunately for me, VanLiere chose to write in present tense, going back and forth between the two main characters narrating their stories. This reads as such: "I walked to the fridge. I got out some milk. I drank some milk." And so on. I HATE PRESENT TENSE NOVELS. I got used to the present tense narration as I read along, but each time I set the book down and then picked it up to read it again, I had to get used to the present tense again. Had it not been a review book, I would have stopped reading after the first chapter.

But maybe you don't mind present tense. It detracted from the story for me, but not everyone will be annoyed by it. If you're not annoyed by present tense novels, you'll enjoy "The Christmas Note" immensely.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

I’ve been tempted to read books by Josh Harris ever since I went to high school with a guy by the same name. I had high expectations, and in many ways Harris’ book “Dug Down Deep” both lived up to and failed to live up to those expectation.

In “Dug Down Deep,” Harris admonishes readers to make theology a higher priority in their lives. “What we know about God shapes the way we think and live,” Harris writes. “What you believe about God’s nature — what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him — affects every part of your life. Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong.” 

With several references to Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” (bringing back many memories for those of us who had to read it over and over again in college), Harris’ book becomes a mini “Systematic Theology” written for Christians not normally interested in extensive research. Consequently, Harris uses more stories and less Scripture.

For many, Harris’ words will be sweet reminders of truths they already know. Others will be bored with the theology presented because they also already know the basic. And hopefully, many Christian young in their faith will learn many new truths. No matter how readers view the theology presented, Harris’ words should spur them on to a greater desire to know theology, to know the reason for their faith. Harris’ compelling argument for the need to have a solid knowledge of doctrine and theology makes his book work on so many levels. 

While not a textbook by Grudem, “Dug Down Deep” navigates the foundations of the Christian faith, among them being sin, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Church.

Harris’ discussion of the Holy Spirit may raise the hairs on the backs of some readers. Harris makes it clear that, while he does not adhere to some of the manipulative and false teaches of some Charismatic churches, he does believe in and practice the speaking of tongues. His belief may discredit him to some or at least disappoint certain fans. To his credit, though, Harris emphasizes the common denominator of both sides of the argument: opening your life to the Holy Spirit so that He can change you, use you, and bless you. Harris even references another writer who does not believe in the modern existence of tongues.

My feelings also clashed with the book when I got to Harris’ chapter on the church. I would have been encouraged by more on why its important to attend church and become a part of a community, but, instead, Harris focuses on the Great Commission and the missions side of church, which made me feel inadequate about the gifts that God has given me that glorify Him but don’t necessarily involve missions. There were a few other things I wasn’t sure what to think about, but I won’t mention them here.

Bottom line for me, personally: I got a lot out of the first few chapters encouraging the seeking out of solid theology, but the rest of the book was old news — been there, done that. But I’m sure there are plenty of others out there that need this book. As for me, Harris just made me want to skip his book to go read Grudem.

* Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Life Lessons from The Help: Pain Happens in a Broken World

I recently saw the movie "The Help" and came away blessed by laughter, friendship, and confidence. Here is inspirational writer Poppy Smith's take on the film and on how the pain of the world should lead us to christ.

Life Lessons from The Help 
Pain Happens in a Broken World
By Poppy Smith
Have you read or seen the movie, THE HELPIf you have, you know it is a story about racism and the treatment of black maids who worked for white people in the South. People’s reactions range from outrage at the humiliation blacks have often received, to charges that it was biased and untrue.
I came out of the movie grieving. I not only felt wretched at the pain racism causes, but also at the hurt and suffering that comes when people mistreat others. Pain Happens in a Broken World. Being cruel to others, whether by actions or words, happens in every culture for many reasons: because individuals think they are superior for some reason due to their skin color, gender, position in society, wealth, or education. Whatever the reasons, they all flow from a sinful heart.
Have you been hurt?
  • Have you known what it is like to be looked down on, dismissed as unimportant, or made to feel unwanted? Have you experienced cruelty of some kind? How did it make you feel?
  • Have you wrestled with anger, wanting to get revenge, or feeling crushed and of no worth? In The Help, one of the poorly treated maids gets her revenge in a startling way. But revenge is God’s prerogative, and not ours to take (Romans 12:19).
  • Your pain might have come from someone you work with, live next to, or go to school with. Its source could be a relative or close family. Even fellow believers hurt others when operating in the flesh and not the Spirit. But no matter where your pain originated, it is something God wants to heal.
  • God Cares About You. Why should He care? Why does He call you to forgive those who have harmed you? Because He loves you and wants the appalling power of bitterness, hatred, and inner rage to stop poisoning your heart and your life.
  • God’s Path to Healing. How can you and I, followers of the Lord Jesus, indwelt by His Mighty and All-powerful Spirit, find freedom from pain? Only by forgiving the one, or many, who caused our pain.
    Three necessary principles for dealing with pain:
    • Reject blame and bitterness. It doesn’t move you forward. It chains you to the past.
    • Pray for willingness to forgive. It is a process that often requires time to work through.
    • Forgive the offender. Be willing to release that person from your desire for revenge, or even for an apology. Realize they most likely have moved on and forgotten the incident. Remembering is only hurting you. Let it go.
    Remember something else: the Lord is our Healer. He wants you to experience joy, no matter how much pain you have experienced. He wants you to THRIVE in every aspect of your life. And He has provided a way for this to happen! Will you walk in it?

    Author Bio
    Poppy Smith
    With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) uses colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages women (and men, at times) to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship Lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives.
    The above article comes from Poppy’s recent Thrive e-newsletter.
    Receive Poppy’s Ten Tips for Saying “No” by signing up for her newsletter at:

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Review: J.R.R. Tolkein by Mark Horne

    Summary: Mark Horne takes readers from the beginnings to the end of the famous author J.R.R. Tolkein's life, giving particular emphasis to Tolkein's inspirations for Lord of the Rings and Tokein's interaction with other key authors including C.S. Lewis. Horne also emphasizes Tolkein's commitment to his Catholic faith.

    Review: This is part of the "Christian Encounters" biography series, so, naturally, there are more references to faith than there might be in other biographies of Tolkein. But the religious elements are not prevalent, so non Christians could easily enjoy this book, especially Tolkein fans. And the book offers a lot of tid bits about where Lord of the Rings characters and locations came from, which followers of the books and movies are bound to enjoy. An easy read (aside from a few parts that are hard to follow, as is typical of a biography), and an enjoyable read, this biography is a good read even for the person who doesn't typically enjoy biographies.

    On a Personal Note: I was sad to learn that Tolkein was a strong Catholic. The fact may be obvious to most, but I had no idea, and learning this fact made me lose some of my admiration for the author. In my opinion, Catholicism and Christianity are not the same, and if Tolkein believed in certain things like Purgatory, praying to Mary, and confession to the priest, I'm afraid... well... you can defer the rest.

    * Disclaimer: I received this book from BookSneeze in return for my honest review of it.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Review: Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

    Review: I don't even know how to summarize the point of this book — that's how bad it is in my mind. Unless you learn from stories, and stories, and lots more stories... in fact, nothing but stories, then maybe you'll get something out of Clairmont's cluttered, unorganized life stories. And maybe you enjoy the two (rather pointless) chapters on how great poetry and reading books are. But I don't see what any of these things have to do with stained glass hearts (aside from the end of chapter reflections and suggestions and maybe one chapter or two).

    I expected a book on redemption and finding beauty in the broken pieces, but the majority of the book didn't really deal with that. I was left so bored that when I got to the chapter on books (where Clairmont gave the reader permission to stop reading a book that didn't catch the reader's attention in the first 50 pages), I stopped reading and started skimming... which quickly led to reading the first and last sentence of paragraphs... which led to skipping to the end of chapters... which led to being glad I was finally done with this book.

    Maybe if you're a Patsy Clairmont fan or a Women of Faith attendee you'll enjoy this book. But I consider it shallow spiritual growth if this is all you can learn from. My advice: Read a book that gets deeper into Scripture, or read Scripture, and skip this book entirely.

    Summary (from Book Sneeze): Much like stained glass, life's broken pieces become the prism through which God's grace shines most brightly and beautifully.

    "Life is no doubt full of difficulties, but it is also filled with promise and possibility," says best-selling author and WOF speaker Patsy Clairmont. In Stained Glass Hearts Clairmont guides readers to view the  difficult experiences of life through the lens of God's grace. Using art as a theme, and likening people to stained glass windows, she shares that it's when we're surrounded by darkness that His healing light shines most brightly within us. Encouraging women to step back and see life from this new perspective, Patsy offers help and hope for the dark places of life.

    Along with character studies of women in Scripture, and modern-day, relatable stories, each chapter includes:

    Chalice—memorable quotes
    Mosaic—recommended music
    Spires—scriptures and readings
    Litany—sample prayers

    Review: Ascent from Darkness by Michael Leehan

    Summary: "Ascent from Darkness" by Michael Leehan is a very dark, very deep, yet very enlightening account of Leehan's "ascent" from his practice of Satanism to his embrace of God and Christ's sacrifice. The majority of the book follows the darker parts of his lives, but testifies to the power of prayer as various Christians enter Leehan's life and pray for him and encourage him. Leehan's experience included death, suicide, demons, sacrifice, cutting, rituals, and much more. But a fight within him eventually led him to the Lord and freed him from the weight of darkness.

    Review: This book was an extremely intense read, like reading a mystery suspense thriller. I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next. While I have always been critical of "spiritual experiences," this book convinced me of something I've always known: demons and spirits are out there, and they're battling for our souls, influencing people like Leehan was to manipulate believers for the worse. Leehan's writing isn't too explicit, but it's enough to emphasize just how real the spiritual battle is and just how prepared we need to be. It has certainly motivated me to surrender more to God and His Word in obedience and love. Leehan's testimony may be difficult for some to read. Aside from Satanism, Leehan slept around and treated people poorly. He even ended up in jail for several months, and almost committed suicide. There's a lot to relate to in his story, and it may bring up unpleasant memories or temptations. But it also ends with a wonderful admonition to follow Christ through all the ups and downs. It's a powerful read.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    * Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Review: Thank You God for Blessing Me by Max Lucado

    Summary (from Thomas Nelson): Meet Little Hermie—the cutest baby caterpillar in the garden! Little Hermie’s thankful heart shows toddlers how to be thankful for God’s blessings. Little Hermie is thankful for everything God has given him. He goes through his day thanking God for his many blessings in this adorable board book with flocking on the cover! With over 5.5 million brands units sold, the new Little Hermie books open the wonderful world of the Hermie & Friends garden to an entirely new audience.

    Review: This is a VERY short children's book, but it's very sweet. It includes colorful, enjoyable pictures. Hermie thanks God for lots of things like nature, a place to sleep, health, friends and family, but you'll be thankful for the beautiful illustrations and the lessons this book will teach your young one. It encourages children to pray for guidance in doing the right thing and to thank God for the blessings in their lives. It's definitely meant for pre-school and younger, but it's adorable. I just wish it were longer.

    * Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Review: Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado

    Summary: "Just in Case you Ever Wonder" by Mac Lucado is short children's book written from a loving parent's perspective. The parent reassures the child that he or she is loved by God and by his or her parents, tells the child the parent will always be there for them, and reminds the child of the glories of heaven that await.

    Review: As sweet as this book is, I miss Lucado's children's books that had more intriguing illustrations and deeper morals behind them. This book is a great book for a parent to read to a child. It teaches that God created each person, just as he created the entire universe. It teaches a proper parenting model of love,  teaching, and bringing a child up in the Lord. It's sweet. I just pity the child who won't be able to relate because they aren't in a positive family.

    * Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Review: Abby God's Little Angel by Sheila Walsh

    Summary: Written for young girls, probably pre-school, kindergarten age, "Abby, God's Little Angel" follows the guardian angel, Abby, on her new assignment to take care of a girl named Sophie. Sophie loves to climb trees and play on the playground, and Abby has her work cut out for her, but they both will learn just how much God loves them and wants to protect them.

    Review:  I love Sheila Walsh. I've been a fan of her books, her music, and her speaking. Now we have lovely children's books from the humble, insightful writer. "Abby, God's Little Angel" is filled with charming humor, colored illustrations, and lessons for parents to share with their children. The short story teaches that God cares for every person. Gabby tells a horse that God loves Sophie very, very much. The book also shows that God chooses the smallest for the biggest, most important tasks. Every person has a part in God's will. And it teaches children to thank God in prayer. It's such a lovely tale, it will even leave adults with a heart-felt lesson and a big sigh and long "awe."

    *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from for my honest review of it.

    Review: The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook by Jeff Kinley

    Summary: Sin is like a virus that festers within us, ready to take over and turn us into full zombies. So goes the premise of Jeff Kinley's book, "The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook." Alternating between a fictional story and nonfiction commentary, Kinley explores what it means to have a zombie monster within us, hungry for sin (or brains, as the case may be) and battling the Holy Spirit within us.

    Kinley writes that, when we become Christians, we are freed from sin. Sin is evicted from our house, but waits for its chance to move back in. It's a constant battle that can only be won if we renew the way we think and give everything up to God.

    The fictional part of Kinley's book follows Ben, who lives in a zombie infested version of our world. Each person has the virus within them, but when infected by a full zombie, the infection spreads and eventually leads a person to become a full zombie hungry for flesh. Ben goes through several encounters with various zombies, leading up to the end times of this fictional world.

    Review: Although it can be a bit graphic, "The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook" is an addicting read because the fictional story is very suspenseful and emotional, and the nonfictional chapters are great food for thought. Kinley goes in depth, explaining why we have a battle within ourselves, why we sin, and how we can "kill" our inner "zombies." On the journey, he covers all the usual grounds. Don't be a pharisee. You can't change on your own. But Kinley also comes out with new, enlightening thoughts, like the fact that you can't replace a bad habit with a good habit. You have to look to God. It is a choice, and it's a hard choice. You may fall several times. But what baby doesn't fall while learning to walk?

    My only complaint is that the book felt incomplete. The fictional story came to an end too quickly, and left me wanting to know more — left me asking, "That's it? What happens next? You can't leave it there!" To feel like the nonfiction parts lack nothing, you must read all the nonfiction chapters and make the connections between them. Personally, I would have liked Kinley to expand more on the sinner who know's he's sinful and stuck in something like an addiction, who doesn't try to cover it up with good works, and who feels like he lacks the will power to say no to sin. While Kinley is correct when he writes that it is a choice, he's also correct when he says it isn't an easy choice. Many people will be left wondering, "If I can never seem to make the right choice, am I still a Christian?" This is something that I've been exploring myself a lot lately, and that I hope to write a book on eventually, as it seems that there are no books out there that fully answer this question.

    All in all, Kinley delivers big time. His zombie analogy really brings his points home.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    * Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Review: Billy Graham in Quotes

    Summary: Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney have put together a book of quotes from the famous reverend Billy Graham. The quotes are about 3-8 sentences long and are organized by topic. And there are a lot of topics (this a long list, you might want to skip ahead to the review): Abortion, Addiction, Age, America, Angels, Anger, Anxiety, the Bible, the Blood, Character, Children, Choice, Christianity, Church, Comfort, Commitment, Compromise, Conforming, Conscience, Conversion, Convictions, Creation, the Cross, Death, Deception, Decision, Satan, Disappointment, Discipleship, Discipline, Encouragement, End Times, Eternity, Evangelism, Evil, Faith, Family, Followers, Forgiveness, Glorifying God, God, God's Will, the Gospel, Grace, Greed, Grief, Happiness, the Heart, Heaven, Hell, Holiness, the Holy Spirit, Home, Hope, Human Nature, Imagination, Entertainment, Fun, Influence, Integrity, Jesus, Joy, Judgment, Knowledge, Life, Living the Christian Life, Loneliness, Love, Lust, Marriage, Money, Morals, Parents, Patience, Peace, People, Persecution, Pleasure, Prayer, Preaching, Pride, Race, Religion, Repentence, Resurrection, Right and Wrong, Salvation, Service, Sin, Society, Soul, Speech, Strength, Success, Suffering, Surrender, Temptation, Testimony, Thankfulness, Time, Truth, War, Witnessing, the Word of God, Work, the World, World Evangelism, Worry, Worship, and Young People.

    Review: The thing I like about Billy Graham is that he is both popular and convicting. Like "feel good" pastors such as Joel Osteen, he inspires (and has a HUGE following), but unlike Joel Osteen, he preaches the hard truths. He's not all about making you feel good, but he is about making you live good. I do miss the full sermons, and feel like I could get more out of full books and sermons, but a book of quotes preserves Graham's legacy. And this book of quotes contains quotes well chosen that both inspire and convict. It's a long book, so it's best read a little bit at a time or used as a reference book. But its length is what allows it to address so many important issues. There's something for everyone to relate to.

    * Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review.

    Review: Captured by Grace by David Jeremiah

    Summary: In "Captured By Grace," Dr. David Jeremiah goes beyond the typical idea of "grace" and uses Scripture and the stories of Paul and John Newton (author of the hymn Amazing Grace) to explore in depth how to define grace and how to live by grace. A good third of the book could be considered a minnie biography of Newton and Paul. God pursued Newton and Paul, and he pursues you. He offers you the gift of grace through the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. It's not something you can earn. Yet, God also expects you to live differently once saved. He expects you to live through the eyes of grace. That means performing the works God has planned for you and living with an attitude of gratitude.

    Review: This is the second book by Jeremiah that I have read, and I've gotten a lot out of both of them. Jeremiah never fails to combine practical advice with deep explorations of Scripture. I would have liked to have read more about how grace affects sin and the sinner. Jeremiah spends one chapter talking about maturing in the faith through trial and through transformation. He writes that Christians should not return to their former sinful lifestyles. That is a truth that many will struggle with. Jeremiah could have expanded on this. I would like to know his take on whether you can continue in sin (think repetition of the same sin - i.e. addiction) and still be a Christian. Nevertheless, Jeremiah still delivers in all other areas, making grace more than a concept, but, rather, a reality for Christians to live by.

    *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Review: Lee (The Generals) by John Perry

    Summary: Biographer John Perry writes about the virtue of General Robert E. Lee, who fought during the Civil War for the Confederates. While Lee gets a bad rap as a traitor to the Union, Perry lays out Lee's life in a way that makes Lee look like the most godly man (aside from Christ) who ever lived. Starting with Lee's childhood and building up to Lee's peaceful death, Perry explores what made the general so legendary.

    Review: I'm not a huge fan of biographies, and this biography is your typical biography. While it has a nice flow to it, it reads like your typical autobiography. It's well written, but the battles and names within the book are sometimes hard to follow. I enjoyed the book because I am related to Lee, and I am intrigued by the principles Lee lived by. If you, too, are intrigued by Lee's life, or if you just plain like reading biographies, then Perry's book is worth the read.

    *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Review: Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

    Summary: In "Outlive Your Life," Max Lucado attempts to show the reader how he or she can make a difference in this world — through prayer, through love, through small actions, through breaking down walls and seeing people rather than judging people. He ends with the passage about seeing Jesus in other - helping Jesus when we feed the hungry and take care of the sick.

    Review: Unfortunately, I did not get much out of this book. As much as I love Max Lucado, this book came across as another "missionary" book  — that is, be a missionary by recognizing and meeting the needs of those around you. Witness through action. Show Christ's love to others. That's all right and true, but its also been written about before and really didn't leave me with anything I didn't already know, nor did it really give me any solid way to make a difference.

    I'm also left wondering about the other side of making a difference. What about preaching? What about standing up for what you believe in? What about fighting for the moral truths we find in the Bible? I feel like there is so much more that Lucado could have covered in this book.

    On the bright side, it's a very fast, very easy read.

    Rating: 2/5 Stars

    * Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Review: Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah

    Genre: Christian NonFiction
    Rating: 5/5 Stars

    Summary: Jeremiah asserts that, although the world may seem chaotic, Christians should stay calm, show compassion and love, stay constructive (that is, build each other up as the body of Christ), stay challenged and diligent in the faith, stay connected in a Christian community (there's no excuse for skipping church), stay centered on Christ, stay confident in the Bible and in faith (and don't be afraid to preach it), stay consistent (abide in Christ), stay committed and stay convinced (have patience, for Christ promised to return in God's perfect timing).

    Review: "Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World" is not really a book about living in the end times. While Dr. David Jeremiah discusses the "chaos" of modern times, as well as Christ's return plenty, his book comes across more as a book on living out the Christian faith — a how-to book, you might say. But Jeremiah goes much deeper than your typical how-to book, providing thought-provoking truths and using Scripture to remind readers of what it means to be a Christian.

    Jeremiah's writing is much more convicting that his book title makes it out to be. And although a lot of what he writes is obvious, it never bores. This is a must read for any Christian.

    * Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Review: The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur

    Warning: "The Jesus You Can't Ignore" is not an easy book to read. If you're one of those Christians who preaches a spreading of the Gospel through "love," friendship and tolerance, you won't like what John MacArthur has to say. In fact, you may quickly develop a hardened heart and attitude similar to that of the Pharisees that Jesus and MacArthur preach against. Regardless, I still recommend you read this book. You may not like it, but it may be something you need to hear.

    MacArthur's writes to confront that part of the church that has become too tolerant in fear of conflict. While his book starts out slow, covering obvious points, it quickly becomes more intriguing. I'm sure I'm not the only one with questions about the proper way to witness to non-Christians and the proper way to stand up for what the Bible clearly says is wrong, such as homosexuality.

    MacArthur draws on examples from the Gospel when Jesus confronted the Pharisees and their false teachings. Discernment is the Christian's duty, MacArthur writes, and thus we have a duty to discern when it's the right moment for righteous judgment. Jesus did not preach to please. To the contrary, he spoke the truth, even though he knew it would push many of his followers away and incite conflict with the false teachers of the day. Jesus was about truth.

    It's certainly a controversial subject, but it's worth a read if you're willing to accept it rather than reject it as "judgmental." Unfortunately, MacArthur does not spend much space relating Jesus' confrontations to modern times, and that will allow skeptical readers to toss aside what MacArthur has to say. Personally, I was left wanting more. How can I apply this to how I treat my non-Christian friends? How can I apply it to how I stand up for the truths found in the Bible? I guess I'm going to have to do my own truth searching now. Hopefully, you will too.

    * Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Review: Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

    Genre: Self-help
    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Summary: Marcus Buckingham teaches readers to look for their strong moments and passions. Women are not happy today, and that seems to correspond with the fact that there are more choices available, especially in the work place. So how do women become happy? They find those things they enjoy the most and choose to recreate them as often as they can. Feelings of being overwhelmed spring from having to little of what strengthens you, Buckingham writes. Of course, you're not going to get your dream job overnight, but it's up to you to keep pushing forward and finding ways to use the strengths that you enjoy. "Career success is a lifelong practice - a potent combination of paying attention, working hard, and gradually pushing your life toward the moments and activities that strengthen you."

    Review: While I am single and in the beginning stages of life (freshly graduated and looking for work), I got a lot out of this book. I'm disappointed that it's so focused on married women and women in their later years (40s and 50s), but I suppose that goes with the territory of talking about switching careers and finding peace in the middle of stress.

    The book focuses on how to reorganize your life so that you focus on the positive things and work to enhance the things you're good at that you enjoy.

    I definitely related to what Buckingham had to say about strengths and weaknesses. He writes that a true strength is something you enjoy and are good at. A weakness can be something that you're good at, but that you don't enjoy and that isn't good for you or doesn't contribute to your happiness. You need to avoid doing the things that drain and bore you, and if you have to do them in the meantime while you push toward a better strength, then you can find ways to put positive spins on the weakness. You can find ways to use your strengths so that your weaknesses won't seem so bad.

    Buckingham gives several strengths and describes them in detail. He also provides a test online that you can take to find out what your strengths are. I don't put much stock in the test, though, because my results didn't really fit me. But Buckingham makes up for this with the last section of his book, which focuses on specific situations and how to deal with them. It answered some of my questions about my stress over finding work. But I didn't walk away with a solid, I need to do this and this is how I make a decision.

    Overall, though, I got a lot of encouragement out of this book. It's a lot of obvious content written in such a way that makes you think. I recommend to any woman.

    *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Review: The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews

    Book: The Butterfly Effect
    Author: Andy Andrews
    Genre: Table/Gift Book

    Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

    Summary: Motivational speaker and writer attempts to drive home the point that any small action can have an eventual huge effect. He demonstrates this with one longer story of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who helped win the Civil War and saved thousands of lives. But there were other people who made Chamberlain's life possible - others effected those others, as well, as so it goes on and on.

    Review: While it's an interesting concept, The Butterfly Effect really didn't do anything for me. It doesn't make for a very good table or gift book. It's short and easy to read, which can be a plus, but it's not something I would ever want to read again. Much of it is exactly the same as the children's book version, "The Boy Who Changed the World," and I enjoyed the children's book much more. At least it has colorful pictures to make me happy. I'm just not a huge fan of pointless gift books. But if that's your cup of tea, you'll enjoy this book.

    *Disclaimer: I received this book from in exchange for my honest review of it.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Review: The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

    Genre: Children's Book
    Rating: 5/5 Stars

    Summary: The book takes the reader back in time one person at a time, revealing how each person made a small difference that eventually changed the world.

    Review: This is a great children's book. It has beautiful illustrations, and it teaches a good moral that every person can make a huge difference, even if they don't realize the small things they do are making that difference.

    * Disclaimer: I received this book from in exchange for my honest review of it.