Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: A Transformational Read

B&H Publishing Group provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     Have you ever wondered if you are praying properly? Or serving Him well? Or are doing enough? You just know if you do one more thing in the name of God you will have found what has been missing from your spiritual life. For whatever reason, you are always running after God, running after religion.
      Angie Smith knows this all too well. Instead of enjoying God, she found herself chasing him, diving in to religion and in the process was coming up dry. In her new book, Chasing God, Smith encourages the reader to stop grasping for straw and instead grab a hold of God, our sustenance, He who is substance. Religion can be confining following rules, making checklists and exhausting oneself. Yet, God doesn't want us to add another "to-do" for us to be holier. He wants us to seek Him for the purpose of resting in His glory, to know Him a little more intimately and embrace His extended hands. God wants us to enjoy Him for who He is, not what we want Him to be.
     This was another book that was placed in my hands at the needed moment. I began feeling empty and closed the book with a renewed sense of longing and hope in my spiritual life. Smith validates feelings of doubt and other feelings we are shamed to acknowledge during our walk. It is easy to think if we are experiencing a lull in our journey than we aren't doing enough. However, it may be we are doing too much and missing God. What it comes down to is an understanding that what we are chasing may not be there, but what is may far exceed our expectations. In His abundance we can be fulfilled.
      Chasing God is an experience to be had, not a book to skim through. We are blessed to have authors, such as Angie Smith, gracing our shelves with a vulnerability and candor that is accessible, a pen that soothes and words which inspire. I simply couldn't put this book down. I wanted more. I needed more. The greatest aspect of Smith's work is she doesn't prescribe more rules on us or another set of miraculous self-help steps. She uses her journey as case in point and draws upon life. Somethings that may work for her, may not for you. Just as each of us are unique, so will be our journeys, completely different, yet all wonderful. I can assure you that Chasing God is a book that will impact you and your journey. May you stop chasing and begin knowing God.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Unity Under the Trinity

Chosen Books provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
      All Heaven Will Break Loose: When We Make the Priorities of Jesus Our Passion by Joy Dawson is a book that calls for the body of Christ to unite under the authority of the Trinity in the name of Christ. There are far too many divisions that plague the church across the globe for petty circumstances. Author Joy Dawson implores each believer to contribute to the church setting aside ego and encouraging one another to use our gifts for His glory especially within our ministries.
     It sounds simple enough,  but pragmatically uniting in humility can be difficult. Dawson using biblical references models for us the workings of Trinity unity in the church and the subsequent blessings. Following the definition and workings of this unity she also provides circumstances that may hinder unification and the solutions to overcome.
      I love Joy Dawson's message without a doubt. I have seen too many people criticize others in the name of righteousness, meanwhile they are perverting the Word of God. This is a timely message to unite under the name of Christ for the sake of spreading the gospel. Great things can abound when His Good News is shared in love with all, particularly with brothers and sisters by our side.
     However, I did find the writing a tad dry at times. Some chapters moved very slowly for me in general. The transitions between subtopics seemed rough and frankly, I found it disruptive to the chapter at large. Yet, I would not want to discourage you to not pick up this book based solely on my opinion of her writing style. The content of this volume greatly surpasses the minor writing flaws.
     All Heaven Will Break Loose may be the book you need at the moment to persevere in your area of ministry. The book is 143 pages long and provides solid, biblical teaching. May His glory be seen in your life.


Book Review: Living in Faith

BookSneeze graciously provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     We are all born with potential. Yet, many lead quiet lives of discontent never stepping out in faith and wondering when life passed by. That's the bad news. But, that is where it ends. For today is another day waiting to be embraced for all its worth.
     Pastor and author Terry A. Smith encourages people to not only envision their preferred future, but also to create it in practical terms bringing it into fruition in this engaging book, Live 10: Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life.  Using biblical references and personal accounts Smith guides the reader to see what they want and to subsequently take steps to attain their goals.
     Smith really hones in on leading in whatever realm you work in, whether you are a businessman, stay-at-home mother or a teacher. We all have realms of influence, people to help, people to encourage. Whatever future you have planned can help bring others up along side you and that is where our futures have the greatest potential for impact. Taking an active role in our lives is what will create our preferred futures.
     I am very grateful to have read this book. As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama my days can seem rote and a tad monotonous at times. (Please don't misread that as any disdain for motherhood. I love it.) So, Live 10 really helped me to realign my day with my ideals and goals for my family and myself. It also has created a spark in me to envision my life after homeschooling. If this book can speak to me I really believe it has the potential to reach many others.
     Smith has a way with words that flows naturally and hits home. He is very poignant and intentional with each word written. His questions at the end of the seven parts dig into the heart of the matter and help you align your intentions with your actions. Though he spurs you to dream big, the path he lays to guide you makes it all seem attainable.
     The greatest strength of Live 10 is that Smith includes God. Often God can be pushed aside out of our equations. We create plans without our Lord. Smith makes it a point to include God, to know Him and what those implications can look like in light of our preferred futures.
     In 207 pages you will have gained tools to go from the mundane to living the extraordinary. The question is: What does a "10" in your life look like? Dare to dream. Dare to do. Live 10!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: A Voice for our Brothers and Sisters

Image provided a complimentary copy of The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution by John L. Allen Jr., in exchange for an honest book review.
     The "war on Christianity" has been misused in political rhetoric now for years. Defining what religious persecution is, is in itself a taxing task. The debates are endless and of course, everyone wants to be correct. So, this book sets out to tackle the issues head on with a sobering humility.
     Author John L. Allen Jr. writes with an uncanny ability to distinguish observable fact from fiction and estimates the unobservable circumstances as best as anyone can. A lot of the persecution that Christians endure worldwide does not have a face, many victims don't even have names. Ultimately, The Global War on Christians gives the faceless and nameless a voice.
     The atrocities people face for their beliefs is scandalous and heart-wrenching. No one should ever have to suffer at the hands of others for their beliefs, yet it is a daily occurrence. The West is so far removed from the tragedies it is truly hard to comprehend real persecution. These brothers and sisters are not just suffering at the hands of radicals of other religions, but Christian zealots as well. There is an inter-group struggle to dominate some countries, pitting Catholics against Protestants and vice versa.  Allen defines persecutions, gives a rather tedious account of persecution continent by continent and then cuts out myth from fact. He also delves into the repercussions that result from persecution.
      It was startling to say the very least to read of atrocities too great for anyone to bear. The better part of the book was absolutely awful to read, though not of any fault of Mr. Allen's writing. Rather it was the nature of the work that made this volume at times downright dreadful.
     It is hard to say that The Global War on Christians is a good book in the enjoyable sense. The content is awful, though thorough. I am glad to have read it page by page coming to question what I know of the world around me in contrast to the world at large. This book looks at Christians, yet it never negates the value of any people group, while still calling out certain groups (even Christians) for their hatred. I am wiser for reading this work and certainly more aware of what our brothers and sisters endure all for the name of Christ.
     The Global War on Christians is a wonderful book as it will give you a new or renewed sense of awe for what other Christians are willing to endure. You may even question the depth of your faith. More than likely, some scenarios you read of will make you uncomfortable. However, I hope this book will reach the hands of millions and give a voice to the voiceless.

You can read the first chapter here.

Purchase at Amazon through here.