Monday, October 16, 2017

Prayers for Hope and Healing by Sarah Forgrave

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Prayers for Hope and Healing
by Sarah Forgrave


ISBN-13: 9780736971515
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Released: Oct. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Serious or chronic medical issues bring a litany of painful and confusing feelings that only someone else who's been in a similar situation could possibly understand. Sarah Forgrave has walked the difficult road you find yourself on. No matter the road ahead, you don't have to face it alone. Even in the depths of your worst emotional and physical pain, God is right there beside you, offering His comfort, love, and peace.

As you read these heartfelt prayers and devotions, let this book be your manual to help navigate the difficult set of emotions that come with health issues. Read it front to back or go directly to the devotion addressing how you feel at any given moment...when you need it the most.


My Review:
Prayers for Hope and Healing is a prayer book covering 44 topics. You go to the issue(s) you're dealing with to read that entry. Most of the prayers seemed targeted at people who have to stay in the hospital, make many doctor's visits, have surgeries, and the like. For example, there's a prayer about difficulty sleeping in a hospital room and a prayer about difficulty sleeping due to medication, etc. There were also prayers about feeling bored, having too many visitors, or feeling lonely because no one is visiting. She has prayers asking God to help you continue to follow doctor's orders or continue to take pills that are hard to take or have bad side effects. Some prayers had a wider audience, like when you're angry with God for not healing you or you're losing your faith or you feel far from God.

Each prayer started with one or two Bible verses related to that topic. The author made a few "I know how it is" comments and invited the reader to trust God. Then there's a prayer for you to read. My overall impression was that the author looked to doctors for healing and to God for the hope, peace, and strength to make it through. As God made the universe (including my body), knows how everything works, and can heal with a word (and can heal me when the doctors can't), I was disappointed that God seemed relegated to a more emotional-support role.


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, October 9, 2017

Renegade: Martin Luther by Andrea Grosso Ciponte, Dacia Palmerino

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Renegade: Martin Luther
by Andrea Grosso Ciponte,
Dacia Palmerino


ISBN-13: 9780874862072
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Plough Publishing House
Released: Oct. 9, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Five hundred years ago a brash young monk single-handedly confronted the most powerful institutions of his day. His bold stand sparked the Protestant Reformation and marked one of the great turning points in history. Martin Luther, a spiritual and historical giant, is loved and hated to this day – and for good reason.

The anniversary of the revolution he helped start has produced a spate of doorstop-sized biographies. Luckily, today there exists a more accessible format that does justice to such a colorful, complex character and his tumultuous life and times – the graphic novel. Each chapter of Luther’s life comes vividly to life thanks to cutting-edge graphic techniques, meticulous historical research, and compelling writing.


My Review:
Renegade is a graphic novel biography of Martin Luther's life. I assume the intended audience is protestant Christians, so I was surprised by the gore and use of bad language. A couple bad guys say things like "D*mned stubborn idiots!" and even Luther says, "Who the h*ll does she want?"

I understand that life and war back then were pretty cruel, but I was surprised by the focus on gore when the graphic novel format limits how much information can be included. Why not focus more on what Luther did and said rather than panel after panel of scenes of people dying horribly or him being bored during a time when he was hiding? Some pages showed people impaled on a tree, a woman slowly burning to death, and rows of hanged people with broken necks. We even get three panels focusing on a severed head that's impaled on a large hook.

The novel started with Luther as a youth and followed him until he died. It also showed how other people used the sentiments that Luther stirred up in the peasants to start a war. There were several pages with Luther in old age preaching against the Jews and blaming them for his sickness, plus some scenes after his death. I'll accept that Luther's marriage might not have been a love match, but he's shown as not even respecting her even as he agrees to marry her. I don't know--maybe Luther wasn't such a great guy, but I would have liked more on what he preached and did that lasted. It's what lasted that I'm interested in.

Update: After reading this book, I read two text-based biographies about Martin Luther. This is a case where a picture was not worth a thousand words. Some of the pictures in the graphic novel have meaning if you know Luther's story but meant little to me when I didn't. Also, the graphic novel didn't always accurately portray Luther. Sometimes it was due to pacing, like Luther bad mouthing Kate and considering marrying her within the same scene. Sometimes it was going with legend, like the inkpot and the devil before inkpots were used. Sometimes, it just wasn't accurate, like how he's shown as paranoid against the Jews. While he did write some unfortunate things regarding Jews, both text-based biographies said it was because he was frustrated that the Jews weren't converting to Christianity.


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:


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Enjoying God by R. C. Sproul

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Enjoying God
by R. C. Sproul


ISBN-13: 9780801075483
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Baker Books
Released: Sept. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Confused, angry, and hurt after the death of his father, a young R. C. Sproul began his personal search for ultimate truth with these piercing questions: Who are you, God? And why do you do the things you do?

In Enjoying God, readers journey with R. C. Sproul to discover the attributes of God through the questions many of us have asked: Where are you, God? Can I trust you, God? and more. Dr. Sproul communicates deep truths in a fresh and easy-to-understand style as he shares his passion to know God and urges the reader to dig deep and seek the God who is alive, who is real, and who loves each one of us.


My Review:
Enjoying God looked at several of God's attributes, like omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, infallible, truth, justice, love, unity and diversity. Though written for the lay person, it's more an exercise in logic and philosophy than worshipful contemplation. For example, he tried to explain infinity (though he admits that finite beings have trouble with this concept). He delved into what is a being and how this shows that God is the Supreme Being. He explained how God is present in all places, yet He's not creation. He talked about how omnipotence means that God has complete power over His creation, not that He has the power to do things that go against His nature.

I appreciated the author's theology and enjoyed what he wrote. He did a decent job of explaining concepts that most people have trouble grasping. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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, October 2, 2017

I'm Not a Scaredy-Cat by Max Lucado

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I'm Not a Scaredy-Cat:
A Prayer for When You Wish You Were Brave
by Max Lucado,
Illustrations: Shirley Ng-Benitez


ISBN-13: 9780718074913
Hardback: 32 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
I’m a big cat. I’m a strong cat. I’m not a scaredy-cat . . . except when . . .

From New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado comes I’m Not a Scaredy-Cat, a hilarious new picture book to help kids manage their fears and worries and learn to trust God.

Follow a silly series of misadventures as scaredy-cat faces his worst fears: an appalling abundance of (gulp!) yellow and pink sprinkles on his donut, an elephant on the verge of a ginormous sneeze, and the terrifyingly loud chime of a clock. For each of the fears, Max provides this reassuring prayer for children:

“God, you are good.
God, you are near.
God, you are here!
And, God, you love me.”

A fun read for children and parents, I’m Not a Scaredy-Cat will open doors for important conversations about fear in a nonthreatening way and help you instill godly bravery in your kids.


My Review:
I'm Not a Scaredy-Cat is Christian juvenile fiction that suggests praying when you're afraid. It's a short, hardback book which follows a cute young cat that gets frighten by things like loud noises or unexpected things. They're generally things which kids can relate to but exaggerated so that they're funny rather than fear-inspiring. The illustrations are charming and make the cat engaging.

There are four sections that start with the "I'm not a scaredy-cat" sequence and end with the "Then I pray: 'God, you are good. God, you are near. God, you are here! And, God, you love me.' And I feel better" sequence. The fears range from scary noises to things that make you feel uneasy (like falling leaves or going down a slide) to times when you don't know what to do (like an elephant about to sneeze on you or a caterpillar on your foot) to when you feel skittish and tearful (like getting soaked in the rain or when a bunch of clocks chime).

I'm not sure how well the book would work by itself, but it certainly provides jumping-off points for discussing the fears that child has (some of which may not be rational) and how praying and trusting that God loves you and is near (to protect you, I presume) can help. Overall, I'd recommend this fun children's 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.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Four Birds of Noah’s Ark: A Prayer Book from the Time of Shakespeare by Thomas Dekker

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Four Birds of Noah’s Ark:
A Prayer Book from the Time of Shakespeare
by Thomas Dekker,
Robert Hudson (Editor)


ISBN-13: 9780802874818
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Released: Oct. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
As the Black Death ravaged London in 1608, the theaters closed, many people moved out of town for safety, and playwrights scrambled to find other outlets for their talent. While Shakespeare retreated to his hometown of Stratford, Thomas Dekker wrote Four Birds of Noah's Ark, a book containing fifty-six prayers for the people of London and all of England.

Dekker's prayers bear witness to his deep faith and profound understanding of human psychology with a power and poignancy that few written prayers in English literature achieve. Bringing this devotional classic back into print for the first time since 1924, editor Robert Hudson has included a fine introduction, annotated the prayers, and modernized the language without sacrificing any of its beauty and simplicity.

This lovely book at once surprises and enchants with its literary voice, devotional heart, and accessible writing.


My Review:
Four Birds of Noah’s Ark is a prayer book written in 1608 during an outbreak of the Black Death. Unsurprisingly, the author (a playwright) worked the thought that death could happen at any time into many of his prayers.

The prayers were divided into 4 sections. The first section had prayers for common laborers, like sailors, midwives, women about the give birth, apprentices, servants, and farmers. The second section contained prayers for the more upper class people, like the clergy, lawyers, king, and nobles. The third section had prayers about the seven deadly sins. The fourth section had prayers thanking God for our salvation through Jesus Christ. The final section was a collection of sayings by early church fathers, like Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory.

This version has updated the language of the original prayers so that modern readers can understand his meaning. The prayers give a unique perspective on the thoughts and beliefs of the time period, or at least of Thomas Dekker. The prayers were based off of Scripture and had sentiments even modern readers can relate to. Overall, I'd recommend this book if you find old prayer books interesting.


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, September 26, 2017

Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

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Fire Road
by Kim Phuc Phan Thi


ISBN-13: 9781496424303
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
"Get out! Run! We must leave this place! They are going to destroy this whole place! Go, children, run first! Go now!" These were the final shouts nine year-old Kim Phuc heard before her world dissolved into flames—before napalm bombs fell from the sky, burning away her clothing and searing deep into her skin. It’s a moment forever captured, an iconic image that has come to define the horror and violence of the Vietnam War. Kim was left for dead in a morgue; no one expected her to survive the attack. Napalm meant fire, and fire meant death.

Against all odds, Kim lived—but her journey toward healing was only beginning. When the napalm bombs dropped, everything Kim knew and relied on exploded along with them: her home, her country’s freedom, her childhood innocence and happiness. The coming years would be marked by excruciating treatments for her burns and unrelenting physical pain throughout her body, which were constant reminders of that terrible day. Kim survived the pain of her body ablaze, but how could she possibly survive the pain of her devastated soul?

Fire Road is the true story of how she found the answer in a God who suffered Himself; a Savior who truly understood and cared about the depths of her pain. Fire Road is a story of horror and hope, a harrowing tale of a life changed in an instant—and the power and resilience that can only be found in the power of God’s mercy and love.


My Review:
Fire Road is a memoir that describes how Kim Phuc found peace for her soul. She told her life story, which includes descriptions of the bad things that happened (the napalm burns, how political officials prevented her from pursuing her dream and used her as a propaganda tool) and how these events affected her emotionally and physically. However, she didn't dwell on the bad things so it's a sad but not depressing story during these worst parts. She initially followed her family's religion with great devotion, but the gods didn't help her. When a Christian pastor came into her orbit and answered her questions, she realized that Jesus also bore scars and endured pain.

As she told the story of her life, she also told the story of her spiritual growth and how God provided for her. She described how, as a new Christian, she fought depression and a desire to commit suicide by memorizing Scripture and praying the Psalms back to God. She talked about how she slowly came to forgive those who abused and wronged her by praying for them (as Jesus instructed us to do). And she talked about how she deals with the physical pain by singing praises to God (among many other things).

I'd never heard of Kim Phuc before, partly because I was born several years after she was burned. I found her story interesting and touching. People who do know her story will likely enjoy knowing some of the things that have happened in more recent years. As Kim acknowledges, everyone carries their own scars and pains, though not all are as obvious as her scars. I'd recommend this story to anyone, but especially to those who want to know how she found peace despite the pain and scars she still carries.


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 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.