Monday, January 16, 2017

Talk Yourself Happy by Kristi Watts

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Talk Yourself Happy
by Kristi Watts


ISBN-13: 9780718083861
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from BookLook:
How does a person bounce back after being beaten down personally, professionally, and emotionally? What impact do words, thoughts, and beliefs have in determining one’s level of happiness? Kristi Watts asked herself these questions after her marriage dissolved and she left a high-profile position as a cohost of The 700 Club. Known as the upbeat host who was always filled with joy and laughter, she soon stumbled into emotional pitfalls that left her discouraged, disappointed, and distant from God.

When one’s words focus on faulty perspectives, faith is quickly derailed, but by remembering God’s blessings and verbally claiming His promises, hearts change. Using biblical principles, Talk Yourself Happy illustrates the importance of relying on God to tame our tongues and train our minds, and it exposes the hidden traps that keep Christians from living lives of happiness, empowering readers with the ultimate transformation of their hearts.


My Review:
Talk Yourself Happy is a memoir about a dark period in the author's life and some lessons that God taught her through those trials. I'd expected the book to be focused on God's character and promises and contain a lot of Scripture quotes, but there's not much of this. The focus was mainly on the author and the hard things she went through.

The author came to realize that some of her attitudes and actions were standing in the way of God's blessings. There was an ongoing theme about not speaking negative thoughts aloud. I agree that words have power and that blaming or criticizing other people can stand in the way of your healing and joy. However, I felt burdened by the repeated idea that any negative thought will stand in the way of God blessing me--though I doubt the writers of the Psalms would agree with this idea.

Overall, though, her points were good ones. We feel happier when we remind ourselves of the things God has done for us (and others) and about his character than when we focus on our problems. Reaching out to help others, showing compassion and forgiveness, praising God, and seeking God's perspective about our identity and situation are all good ways to find happiness. So, overall, I'd recommend this book, especially if you're interested in "what ever happened to Kristi Watts?"


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie

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Fear Fighting
by Kelly Balarie


ISBN-13: 9780801019340
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Baker Books
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
We all live with fear. It hangs around, whispering in our ears, reminding us of all we can't do or will never be. But that's not the end of the story. We also have a God who draws close to say, Fear not. I am with you. This Spirit transforms us into fear fighters--women breaking free of trepidation to find bold dedication to God's peace-, purpose- and joy-filled callings.


My Review:
Fear Fighting is about overcoming feelings of insecurity, shame, failure, and unworthiness. The author used a very pep-talk tone and included many short one-liners like "Let blind faith be your guide" and "Your stain is really your gain." She wrote very poetically, which I realize some people like but I prefer authors to be clear about their meaning. She could also get wordy, and I sometimes lost track of what her point was by the end of a poetical passage. So this wasn't my favorite writing style, but others may love it.

The overall idea seemed to be that, if we follow God's ways and humble ourselves, the result is a courageous, bold, Spirit-led life. That we just need to take courage and fear will fall away because God is eagerly waiting to rescue us if we ask for help. She had some good points and suggested some things you can do. But I guess I was hoping for more focus on Bible verses than on pep and metaphors.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Shalom in Psalms by Jeffrey Seif, Glenn Blank, Paul Wilbur

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Shalom in Psalms:
A Devotional from the Jewish Heart of the Christian Faith
by Jeffrey Seif,
Glenn Blank,
Paul Wilbur


ISBN-13: 9780801019470
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Baker Books
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The ancient Jewish life-giving balm in Psalms helps us recover our equilibrium in a world where so much knocks us off balance and steals our shalom. This devotional and Tree of Life Version of the Bible come from the heart of today's Messianic Jewish movement to provide the Jewish essence of Psalms in a way that promises shalom for the heart and soul.


My Review:
Shalom in Psalms is a devotional that works through the Psalms. Each devotional started with one of the psalms in the Tree of Life Version followed by commentary by one (or more) of the three authors. They focused on what the psalm was saying and how we can relate to it even now. Hebrew words or phrases that don't translate well into English were further explained to help readers understand the psalm. Also, as the authors are Messianic Jews, they point out how the Messiah is seen in the psalms and give a Jewish viewpoint on some repeated themes in the psalms.

I liked these devotions and felt encouraged by them. After reading a bunch of Christian books that imply that good Christians are joyful and evangelistic at all times, it was nice to read a devotional acknowledging that circumstances can get us distressed, depressed, or angry. But the psalms also point back to God as our Savior even when we wonder why He's "hiding His face" or taking so long. Overall, I'd highly recommend this devotional.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Women of Easter by Liz Curtis Higgs

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The Women of Easter
by Liz Curtis Higgs


ISBN-13: 9781601426826
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
You re about to meet three women named Mary, each of whom has a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Mary of Bethany prepares the way for the Lord s burial when she anoints His feet and fills the air with her perfume. His mother, Mary of Nazareth, remains by His side from His first breath to His last, her loyalty unwavering. Mary Magdalene, delivered of seven demons, bravely supports her Teacher through His darkest hours and then proclaims the glorious news of His resurrection. What a trio. What a Savior!

Your mind and emotions will be engaged and your faith strengthened as each scene unfolds, preparing your heart for a richer, deeper Easter experience. Liz Curtis Higgs, a seasoned Bible teacher and award-winning novelist, combines her storytelling skills with a thorough verse-by-verse study of Scripture as together you explore the remarkable lives of the women of Easter.


My Review:
The Women of Easter is a Bible study focusing on the women involved in Easter events (from Mary's anointing of Jesus' feet to after Jesus' resurrection). The author went verse-by-verse and commented on events. She provided cultural background information so the reader could better understand and visualize events. She also suggested what various emotions people might have felt during those events. There's a short study guide in the back with questions for further discussion or thought.

The book is very readable, and I found it to be encouraging and full of grace. I suspect I'll often read it around Easter time as a devotional. I'd highly recommend this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The American Miracle by Michael Medved

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The American Miracle
by Michael Medved


Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Crown Forum
Released: October 25, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In The American Miracle, conservative radio host and best-selling author Michael Medved describes a stunning series of amazements in early American history that each suggest an "intelligent design"—a higher power that has steered crucial turns in our nation's story, and will again.

The American Miracle traces the grace that shaped twelve decisive moments in our history—from the desperate passengers of the Mayflower who were blown off course to the one spot in the region that gave them a fair chance for survival, to the casual discovery of three cigars wrapped in handwritten notes that assured Union victory in the Civil War. Sometimes Medved reveals the providential nature of well-known incidents, and at others he focuses on an unknown historical event that had long-term impact.


My Review:
The American Miracle described incidents in American history that where attributed to the divine hand in part due to how improbable they seemed. He looked at the period from the Pilgrims to the Civil War. At the beginning, he mostly focused on specific events. As the book went on, he focused people who had a series of "divine incidents" happen in their life. The book ends with Abraham Lincoln, and that section read more like a biography. The more biographical portions are on George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, Nicholas Trist, and Abraham Lincoln.

When describing an incident, he often quoted people who actually witnessed these events. I'd previously heard of many of these events. However, I did learn some interesting new details about those events and learned about some events I was unaware of. If you're not familiar with this theme, I think a person would find it very interesting and well-researched.

Incidentally, his point is not that we have the right to be arrogant or feel faultless because God has intervened in our history but rather that we should be grateful and are obligated to act more nobly because of it.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Today's Moment of Truth by Lee Strobel, Mark Mittelberg

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Today's Moment of Truth
by Lee Strobel,
Mark Mittelberg


ISBN-13: 9780310359401
Hardback: 400 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: July 12, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Leading apologists Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg present 180 insightful devotions that will give you daily infusions of spiritual truth while deepening your knowledge of the evidence for Christianity. Each devotional is based on scientific, historical, or biblical facts that will bolster your confidence in Christ. You will be inspired, encouraged, and equipped to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).


My Review:
Today's Moment of Truth is a 180 day devotional. Each devotional started with a short verse from the Bible, was usually followed by a critical comment about the Bible (related to the verse) by an atheist, and then briefly described a scientific, archeological, or Biblical point (like prophecy) that supports the Bible account.

If you've read Strobel's books or other in-depth apologetics books, you probably won't find much new here. However, if you (or a friend) are interested but don't have the time to read those books, this is a nice, bite-sized way to get informed. It's more for strengthening your faith than learning to counter arguments. The entries are too brief to give a full argument on a topic.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps by Nancy Guthrie

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What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps
by Nancy Guthrie


ISBN-13: 9781433552359
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books
Released: Sept. 30, 2016

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When someone we love is grieving, we want to be there. But it's easy to feel paralyzed, worried that we might say or do the wrong thing. Nancy Guthrie has personal experience dealing with pain and knows what words of encouragement are helpful and what words are harmful.

Drawing from her own life experiences--including the loss of two young children--Guthrie has written this helpful resource for Christians who want to be better friends to those who are suffering. Practical and down-to-earth, this book includes examples and helpful tips from real grieving people who have been helped (and hurt) by friends who meant well, equipping readers to come alongside and comfort loved ones who are hurting.


My Review:
What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps focused on grief from losing a loved one by death. The author understands that different people will be comforted or offended by different things, but she tries to give general principles about what to say and do and what to not say and do. She also includes comments by people who have experienced this grief, explaining what they found comforting when they were grieving.

What I found most helpful was insight into the mindset of people who are profoundly grieving. Some of the suggestions seemed contradictory, as some people said they would find it comforting but others said they would not, but I found some suggestions that I would be comfortable doing. I'd recommend this book to those who want to better comfort those grieving the lose of a loved one.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.