Monday, September 18, 2017

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

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31 Proverbs to Light Your Path
by Liz Curtis Higgs


ISBN-13: 9781601428936
Hardcover: 206 pages
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
With her signature ability to blend ancient truth with real-life takeaway, best-selling author and Bible teacher Liz Curtis Higgs examines thirty-one verses from the book of Proverbs, and then offers a unique "One Minute, One Step" challenge at the end of each chapter, suggesting a do-it-now task that requires one minute or less. Readers will quickly discover how practical and applicable the book of Proverbs is, and how the Lord can use even the smallest steps to lead us in the right direction.


My Review:
31 Proverbs to Light Your Path is a devotional study that focused on 31 verses from proverbs. Each chapter started with the verse from proverbs. The author then pulled out each major thought in the proverb and discussed it. She used phrases from different translations to help bring out the full meaning of the proverb.

I appreciate that she kept the focus on what God has done (rather than making the reader feel like they need to work harder to measure up). Each chapter ended with a quick activity that you can do to help apply or remember what you've learned. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

From page 6: "As to our being righteous, that is entirely the Lord's work. Righteousness isn't about our goodness; it's about God's goodness. We can't become "right-living people" (MSG) on our own. Our walk with Him is upright only because He bent down to carry a cross.

"It's His Spirit in us that prompts us to say and do the right things--to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and disciplined. All that delicious fruit of the Spirit is produced when we depend on God, not when we depend on our own strength. What a relief!"


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, September 11, 2017

Unseen by Sara Hagerty

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Unseen
by Sara Hagerty


ISBN-13: 978-0310339977
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: Aug. 29, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from BookLook:
In a culture that applauds what can be produced and noticed, it’s hard to spend time hidden from others—the long afternoons with a toddler, the fourth-floor cubicle, the laundry room. Aren’t those wasted hours? Wasted gifts? In Unseen, Sara Hagerty suggests that God created every heart to be seen—and it’s the unseen moments that draw hearts closest to the One who sees them best.

Through an eloquent exploration of both personal and biblical story, Hagerty calls readers to offer every unseen, “wasted” minute to God so that they might find new intimacy with Him. She looks in particular at the story of Mary, who wasted perfume at Jesus’s feet. Mary had such love for Jesus that she was able to pour herself out for Him, though no one applauded. In doing so, with nothing tangible to show for her actions, she changed the world.


My Review:
Unseen is part memoir and part Bible study. Her intent is to help draw people into a closer relationship with God. The author looked at how Mary lavishly "wasted" her time (and perfume) on Jesus and was praised for it. Using Mary's story as a jumping off point, she talked about things that happened in her life that illustrated a certain point or that showed how mundane moments drew her closer to God.

As a young adult, she felt that any minute not spent serving God was "wasted," so the overall theme was how God taught her that the ordinary, unseen moments of life also please Him. She talked about how we can deepen our relationship with God and see His greatness in the everyday moments of life, like doing laundry. The author (and her husband) adopted orphans from several foreign countries, so she explained how raising them has given her insights into how we're like these adopted orphans in our relationship with God. Overall, 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Every Piece of Me by Jerusha Clark

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Every Piece of Me
by Jerusha Clark


ISBN-13: 9780801007644
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Baker Books
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Throughout Scripture, God reveals himself as the great I Am. He does not define himself with reference to any thing, person, or trait. He is, and that is enough. Women find themselves in a far different situation. When we introduce ourselves, we typically describe ourselves in terms of our relationships (the wife, mother, daughter, sister, or friend of someone else) or in terms of our accomplishments (our title, position, education, or accolades). When our identity is wrapped up in these external things, we inevitably (and exhaustingly!) strive to prove ourselves worthy of love, attention, or affirmation.

God never meant for us to focus on whether we are "enough," whether we measure up. Jerusha Clark discovered this while exploring Jesus's seven powerful "I am" statements recorded in the Gospel of John. She invites women to join her in embracing the life and truth of these words, relishing the freedom of an identity fixed on Christ alone while leaving behind fear, bitterness, busyness, and toxic thoughts.


My Review:
Every Piece of Me studied several of Jesus's "I Am" statements and linked them to various issues with which women often struggle. The author talked about each "I am" statement, explained the context of what was going on when Jesus said it, then talked about a related issue that women deal with. She also suggested some things you can do to shift your outlook into alignment with how God views you.

For example, she talked about the "I am the bread of life" statement. Talk about eating led to talk about how women view their bodies and appearance. She suggested things like noticing when you think or say self-judgmental words and to take a "fast" on saying them. In the section on the Good Shepherd, she talked about anxiety and worry. When feeling anxious, she suggested thinking of things that you're grateful for since you can't think anxious thoughts at the same time as grateful thoughts.

The book was easy to read and understand. She made good points and offered useful suggestions on how to shift your focus over time. Overall, I'd recommend this book, especially if you feel like your identity is wrapped up in what you do or how you look and that you'll never measure up.


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, August 28, 2017

Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

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Get Out of That Pit
by Beth Moore


ISBN-13: 9780718095826
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: July 11, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Booklook.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
From her first breath of fresh air beyond the pit, it has never been enough for Beth Moore to be free. This best-selling author and Bible teacher who has opened the riches of Scripture to millions longs for you to be free as well--to know the Love and Presence that are better than life and the power of God's Word that defies all darkness.

Beth's journey out of the pit has been heart-rending. But from this and the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 has come the reward: a new song for her soul, given by her Saviour and offered to you in Get Out of That Pit--friend to friend. This is Beth's most stirring message yet of the sheer hope, utter deliverance, and complete and glorious freedom of God:

I waited patiently for the Lord
He turned to me and heard my cry
He lifted me out of the slimy pit
He set my feet on a rock
He put a new song in my mouth

It is a story, a song--a salvation--that you can know too.


My Review:
Get Out of That Pit is a God-help book based on Psalm 40 and other verses that refer to pits. Beth Moore talked about indicators that you're in a pit, the different ways you can get into a pit, how to get out of the pit, how to know that you're out of the pit, and how to stay out of pits. About half of the book was about identifying when you're in a pit (you feel stuck, you feel ineffective against attack, you've lost your vision and creativity) and the ways you can get into one (thrown in, slip in, jump in).

She then talked about three steps to out of a pit (cry out to God, confess any sin and that you need Him, consent to the process and wait upon God as He works in your life). At the back of the book, she included verses that you can speak out loud to yourself for each of these three steps. She also talked about how others might not want you to get out of a pit and that you need to make up your mind to cleave to God and call upon His power for the rest of your life. She used Scripture and told stories to illustrate her points. Overall, I'd 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Encountering the History of Missions by John Mark Terry and Robert L Gallagher

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Encountering the History of Missions:
From the Early Church to Today
by John Mark Terry and Robert L Gallagher


ISBN-13: 978-0801026966
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Baker Academic
Released: Aug. 22, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
This new addition to a highly acclaimed series portrays the sweep of missions history, revealing how God has fulfilled his promise to bless all the nations. Two leading missionary scholars and experienced professors help readers understand how missions began, how missions developed, and where missions is going. The authors cover all of missions history and provide practical application of history's lessons. Maps, tables, box inserts, sidebars, and discussion questions add to the book's usefulness in the classroom.


My Review:
Encountering the History of Missions is a textbook about missions history. The authors started at around AD 100 and went up to 2017, but the book was only loosely in chronological order. They took groups (like the Jesuits or Moravians) or movements (church growth movement, etc.) and looked at their missionary efforts. The focus was on how various individuals and groups spread the gossip (methods) and what the results where--did the church last or send out missionaries of its own?

They mainly looked at European and Asian missions efforts, though they did briefly touch on missionary work from all around the world. They looked at all Christian missions, including Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. However, they mostly looked at Protestant missions after describing the Reformation. They talked about missionary councils and congresses, movements, various specializations within missions (radio, Bible translations, etc.), and suggested what we can learn from past missionary efforts.

Most of the early sections gave some background to explain why the missionaries acted as they did and then gave short biographies for the notable missionaries from that group. There were also case studies and side bars with discussion questions. Overall, I found the information interesting as it provided an overall arc that I've not gotten before. But while I grant that this is a textbook, it isn't likely to keep the attention of someone not already interested in the 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem by Ben Witherington III

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A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem
by Ben Witherington III


ISBN-13: 9780830851737
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Released: Aug. 14, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
It’s A.D. 70. Amid smoke, clamor, and terror, Jerusalem is falling to the Romans, its temple being destroyed. As Jews and Christians try to escape the city, we travel with some of them through an imagined week of flight and faith. In this narrative retelling of events in the ancient church, New Testament scholar Ben Witherington leads us behind the veil of centuries to see and experience the historical and social realities of the epochal event of the fall of Jerusalem.


My Review:
A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem is a narrative retelling mixing nonfiction about the Fall of Jerusalem with fiction about what happened to various Christ followers. The first two or three days focused on what happened in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 when the Romans finally broke into the city. Then the story shifted focus to the scattering of the Christ followers, their plans for the future, and things that had happened to them between A.D. 30 and A.D. 70.

The fictional parts were largely speculative. For example, as Levi (Matthew) flees Jerusalem, he meets other Christ followers, collects stories from Christ's life, then returns to Galilee to finally give up tax collecting and start work on his gospel. Mary, Martha, and Joanna flee to Pella, where Mary Magdalene has been living. Titus, Josephus, and some other people (some purely fictional) also have brief parts.

As the narrative unfolded, various historical and cultural elements were mentioned. The author provided sidebars that gave further information on these topics--things like slaves, taxes, villas, and coins. The author used modern wording and phrasing, so it's an easy read. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book, though I liked A Week in the Life of Corinth better.


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, August 8, 2017

Fear Less, Pray More by Janet Ramsdell Rockey

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Fear Less, Pray More
by Janet Ramsdell Rockey


ISBN-13: 9781683221852
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
This devotional guide features 180 readings around the themes of fear and courage. Inspired by this promise from God's Word: "Be strong. Take courage. . .because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG), You can live courageously every single day—whether you fear the unknown, aging, rejection, losing a loved one, being alone, or something more.


My Review:
Fear Less, Pray More is a devotional about "taking courage." Each of the 180 devotions took about a minute to read and looked at a different fear or situation. Because each fear was dealt with so briefly, the author couldn't go very deep. She mainly just admonished the reader--to trust God or find comfort in God's word or even to look at the situation as an opportunity to tell others about Jesus.

Each devotion started with a Bible verse that contained the word relating to that day's fear. The author told a story that happen to her or someone she knows, then wrapped up with why we shouldn't be afraid along with a short prayer. So, for example, we're told how she was afraid of her writing being criticized, but she benefited from it. So we shouldn't be afraid because we benefit from criticism.

The verse for the day (if read in context) often had little to do with the author's entry for that day, or it was a stretch to make it fit. Sometimes, though, she did take the verse in context and even looked at the events surrounding it rather than focusing on her own life.

From the title, I thought the devotions were going to be about how prayer can reduce our fears, but instead the overall theme was that we should take courage because God is with us. Frankly, though, after reading 180 different ways that life can be scary, I'm feeling more unsettled than comforted. I wish the focus had been more on our mighty, loving God and less on our fears.


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.