Book Reviews, Spiritual Growth

Read any good books lately?

What book are you currently reading?

For me, this question has opened the door to some amazing conversations with friends and family.  I find I can tell a lot about a person by the books he reads.  And as an added bonus, I get free and personal book review on some great reads that I can add to my ever-growing “to read” list (my list is a mile long).  I’m not certain what people would learn about me if they gauge me on a book list alone.  I simply love books.  I don’t overspend or go crazy about clothes, shoes, purses, makeup, gadgets — any of those things that are typical for my gender — it’s books where I have to “guard my heart and my budget.” From a biography to a murder mystery; from hot-off-the-shelf to hundreds of years old; fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, children’s board or picture, 1500 page theology-based, paperback, hardback, Kindle; it really makes no difference — I love books.  Hours in a bookstore?  Why yes!  That sounds like a great date night to me — thanks for asking.  🙂 I have a passion for the written word and get lost reading and writing and yes, even Dictionary.com turns my crank (such a nerd).

Every now and then I pick up a book with gift-giving in mind and find that I will eventually give it away, but I usually have to go back to the store and buy another one because I’ve marked and ear-tagged “the gift” so much it’s really in a poor condition to give away. 

I purchased “a gift” that fits this description last week, and if I had a ton of money, I would drop ship this title all over the world to my friends and family who have experienced (and continue to experience) what this author describes as “licking the floor of hell.”

Lysa Terkeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, in her new title, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, gives her readers a glimpse into the struggle she and her family had through a breakup in her marriage and health issues concerning cancer. 

But this work is not exclusively about Lysa.  She opens the door to all who have experienced heartbreak, trial, struggle, and pain and through her gut-level honesty, coupled with her blatantly honest (and at times totally unexpected) quick wit, she allows the audience to see how to truly trust God when everything is turned completely upside down.

Yes, I purchased this book as a gift, but after devouring every page, I’ll be wrapping it up (used) to give away camouflaging it with a pretty red bow, but quickly getting online to purchase it again for myself. 

I want this on my Kindle shelf to read again.  Oh, and I have no doubts I’ll be recommending and gifting this title many more times because as long as we are on this side of glory, life will continue to not turn out the way we expected.  And as long as we are on this side of glory, we will continue to need encouragement.  I highly recommend that you add Lysa’s book to your gift-giving list this Christmas.  You may find (as I did) that the perfect person on your list just might be yourself.  Merry Christmas to you!

 

Here are just a few lines from Lysa’s thoughts:

“Are there any ingredients in your life right now — any difficult or disappointing situations — you wish you could just leave out?”

“Would you say you have been spending more time wallowing in turmoil lately or wrestling well with Truth?”

“Using God’s truth as your fighting words will not change what you see, but it absolutely will change how you see.”

“If we have a misunderstanding of God, we will most certainly have a wrong understanding of our circumstances.”

“It’s our choice whether we stay stuck in our hurt or get renewed in our hearts.”

It's Not Supposed to Be This Way

https://www.thomasnelson.com/p/its-not-supposed-to-be-this-way-book/

Terkeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: finding expected strength when   disappointments leave you shattered.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 2018.                          ISBN: 978-0-7180-3985-1

Book Reviews, Spiritual Growth

“Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart”

Stop Asking Jesus“If there were a Guiness Book of World Records record for ‘amount of times having asked Jesus into your heart,’ I’m pretty sure I would hold it” (Greear 1). This is a direct quote from J.D. Greear’s book entitled, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart  / How to Know for Sure You are Saved.  J.D. Greear is the lead pastor of The Summit Church, a multi-site congregation in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.  This scholarship has been read and endorsed by Matt Chandler, James MacDonald, Joshua Harris, David Platt, Ed Stetzer, Paige Patterson, and others. This power-packed little book is less than 130 pages long, but filled with so much spot-on frankness concerning security in salvation that I feel compelled to share this with others.

Perhaps the reason this book speaks to me so clearly is because like Greear, I have prayed the sinner’s prayer at least 1000 times, and what I have discovered is that I am not alone.  For a long time, I didn’t tell anyone that as a young person, I prayed for salvation almost every night in fear and doubt.  I always thought my doubting stemmed from coming to Christ at such a young age and not really having a deep-dark “sin list” from which to repent. Nor was there a visible  difference in me like there was for the 54 year old redeemed drug-addict.

What I have found is that the more I encounter people and talk with them about their walk with the Lord, the more I realize many struggle with these same questions: “Did I really understand what I was doing the first time?” “If I’m saved, why do I continue to struggle in so many areas?” “If I die tonight with unconfessed sin in my life and Jesus returns, what if I’m left behind?” “Why do I feel compelled to pray that same prayer EVERY TIME we have a revival and the evangelist leads the whole congregation in unison?” “What if I wasn’t sincere enough?” “What if this…” “What if that…” Greear addresses this as “the damnable doctrine of doubt” and states that “every religious message except for the gospel uses doubt and uncertainty to compel obedience” (22).  He goes on to explain the difference in the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s desire that we obey because we want to obey, not out of fear of punishment.  And “the only way to develop real love for God is to have fear removed” (22).

One would think a book so small could be read in a short afternoon; however, this work has taken me much longer simply because of earmarking pages, annotating chapters, referencing scripture, re-reading paragraphs simply because they speak a balm to my soul, and working through the supplemental study-guide questions which are available as a free download (jdgreear.com #sinnersprayer).  I plan on contacting a few personal friends who have struggled with this issue for far too long, but I also plan on keeping this book on my shelf for continued reference material.  My goal in recommending this book through my blogsite is a desire to help others who may be living in turmoil over where they stand in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  Hopefully, after reading Greear’s work those who have doubted in the past can once and for all drive a stake in the ground, draw a line in the sand, step across and walk in confidence and ultimate peace.  No. More. Doubting.

I hope to meet this author face to face one day and simply say, “Thank you for being willing to say publicly what so many of us have feared to even whisper to ourselves.”

 

 

Greear, J.D., Stop Asking Jesus in Your Heart / How to Know for Sure You are Saved. Nashville,         Tennessee: B&H Publishing, 2013. Print.  

 

Book Reviews

The Magnificent Obsession / Embracing the God-Filled Life

TMO…”and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23). This is the premise behind the thoughts contained in Anne Graham Lotz’s book, The Magnificent Obsession / Embracing the God-Filled Life. As Anne walks through the life of Abraham, she paints a vivid picture of a very real man who walked by faith (most of the time), and not by sight. Taking the principles learned through Abraham’s journey, readers of this work will be encouraged to apply these same principles to their personal lives.

This book will challenge its readers to examine personal desires, thoughts, and actions with the truth of God’s Word as the guiding plumb-line. Accompanied with a complete study guide which walks through the pages of scripture along with a DVD session lecture, Anne’s book has captured my attention and “re-captured” my focus toward my own Magnificent Obsession with the God of Abraham.

The book and complete study materials can be obtained through Angel Ministries website: http://www.annegrahamlotz.org/

Book Reviews

one thousand gifts… book recommendation

     “It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation.  How long 1000 giftsdoes it take your soul to realize that your life is full? (Voskamp, 76)… [I]f authentic, saving belief is the act of trusting, then to choose stress is an act of disbelief…atheism.  Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical athesim (148)… [T]rust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks.  Remembering frames up gratitude.  Gratitude lays out the planks of trust.  I can walk the planks — from known to unknown — and know: He holds” (151).

It has been a long time since I have picked up a book that captured my attention and piqued my interest like this innocent looking paperback one thousand gifts.  Author, Ann Voskamp, a mother of six, writes in a way that is more than prolific — her words are poetically enchanting and speak in such a way which carries the reader to a point of longing to stay and relish the beauty of what is seen through lens of simplicity and thankfulness. Looking for the formula to live life to the fullest in the midst of everyday-in and day-out tasks, Voskamp beautifully leads her audience to the realization that the mystery to experiencing a miracle is really no mystery at all. Scripture and biblical truth are intertwined throughout the pages as well as much practical, life application.

I will be looking for more of this author’s work and am thankful for the sweet friend who gave this heart treasure to me as a Mother’s Day gift. Click on the picture to see more information on this book which can be purchased in Kindle or paperback through Amazon.  It also can be found at LifeWay.  I have noticed that an accompanying study and DVD are also available.  This is one book I will certainly allow to be borrowed, but will reference time and time again from the shelves my personal library as well.

Book Reviews

Vertical Church

Publication Date: August 1, 2012  (this post is from Amazon.com)
An emergency call, and I rush from my coziness into the dark community where the police have requested a chaplain. Arriving in minutes, I find the family imploding with grief having just discovered their son hanging in the garage. In a moment of unshakable pain, he jumped off the ladder and into eternity. And I will never shake the look in their eyes when I asked why he hadn’t called a church. “Why would he do that?” Across town, a pool of tears on my kitchen table as an out of town guest feels the weight of his infidelity, despairing that his famished soul finds no refuge and that he has to board a plane to feel fellowship. “Has your church tried to help you?” And the Christian leader confesses he hasn’t been to church in years.Infighting, backbiting, heartbreaking, frustrating … church.Though exceptions do exist, the reality is that church in America is failing one life at a time. Somewhere between pathetically predictable and shamefully entertaining, sadly sentimental and rarely authentic, church has become worst of all … godless.Vertical Church points to a new day where God is the seeker, and we are the ones found. In Vertical Church God shows up, and that changes everything.

If you want to experience God as you never have before and witness His hand at work, if you want to wake up to the first thought, “Thank God it’s Sunday,” if you’re ready to feel your heart beat faster as you drive to your place of worship … then devour and digest the lessons of Vertical Church.

Book Reviews

Choosing to SEE – Book Review

 Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman

This book was more than I had hoped.  It was full of God’s grace, mercy, and sustaining love — that, I expected.  But what I really appreciated was that the author did not leave out the “real life” pain, heartache, anger, tears, and millions of questions that accompany the death of someone you love.  Don’t read this work expecting to find a sugar-coated cure to loss… it’s not there.  However, what you will find is a real family dealing with a gut-wrenching tragedy that affected every member of their household differently and God’s balm of grace and healing coming to each one right where they are and helping them to see His goodness and love.  It won’t take you long to read the book’s contents, but it will take much longer for you to get the past the impact it will make on your life.  I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who have lost a child or family member.  God bless the Chapman family for sharing this intimate story with the world.

Book Reviews

Radical

 

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

I have heard David Platt preach in person and had the privilege to sit in to listen to a panel discussion with his wife at a pastor’s conference.  They both are passionate about their walk with Christ.  It won’t take you very many pages into this book to realize the majority of believers today have had their faith “Americanized” into something other than a sold-out following of Jesus Christ.  Read it with an open heart and mind and expect to be challenged and changed.