Inspirational

Book Review: God is Able

God is Able with TemplatePriscilla Shirer

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group

Pages: 176

Price: $8:18

ISBN: 978-1433681912

Christianbook.com

God is Able studies Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory  in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Paul wrote Ephesians 3:20-21 when he was imprisoned, it seems more likely that he would write a liturgy to his suffering as David did in many Psalms. Instead, Paul found hope in God apart from his circumstances.

I reviewed a book by author Priscilla Shirer several years ago, published by Moody Press--publisher of learned treatises on Christian truth. I found that book, though valuable and useful, a little dry.

But Moody editors must have removed her personality. God Is Able gives a glimpse of an attractive woman who lives her faith. She writes as she probably speaks.The reader will find no dryness here.

She understands discouragement and trouble, but has come through it more in love with Christ than in all her life as a preacher‘s daughter. God is Able is not self-help. If you follow these five steps it will all be fixed. There isn’t a single step to follow (unless you count turning your life completely over to God).

I came away from God Is Able encouraged, and determined to pray bigger to a bigger God than any of us can imagine.

One point of  disagreement; it has become fashionable to stick the title in the middle of the page with no other decoration and call it a cover. I miss the days of beautiful covers. There is no reason to choose this book in a bookstore.

Priscilla Shirer is the daughter of Dr. Tony Evans and a busy writer and speaker in her own right.

 

I received this book from the author's representative. I have not met the author and I receive no pay for any review. This is my opinion.


Book Review: Joni&Ken

Joni and KenKen & Joni Eareckson Tada With Larry Libby

Subtitle: An Untold Love Story

Publisher: Zondervan

Pages: 192

Price: $18.99

ISBN: 978-0310314691

Publication Date: April 2, 2013

Christianbook

An athletic seventeen-year-old girl broke her neck while diving, changing her life forever. Over thirty years later, she still lives in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. She has also traveled throughout the US and the world advocating for the disabled. Few of us haven’t heard of Joni Earekson Tada, singer, writer, and artist who does oil paintings by holding the brush in her teeth. 

Ken Tada is the amazing man she found, married, and has loved for thirty years. When he married her, he knew there would be challenges. But he discovered the extent of those challenges on their wedding night. They had periods of near-estrangement as he struggled through the inescapable dailiness of it all.

Ken became depressed. Then Joni’s physical disabilities increased. She went from no feeling in her body, to terrible pain, breast cancer, and pneumonia.  

The Lord took them through the turbulence to a place of deeper-than-ever love for each other and Him. There is a cute set of pictures on the back flap of the two of them laughing together. 

The authors of Joni&Ken tell the story in personal narrative, leading the reader into the action as though walking along with them. Neither Joni nor Ken are perfect, though talented and spiritually sensitive. What might be too depressing to read, becomes a journey with two nice people that we like.


Book Review: Discerning the Voice of God

Discerning Voice FOR TYPEPAD

Priscilla Shirer

SubTitle: How to Recognize When God is Speaking 

Publisher: Moody Publishers 

Pages: 224 

List Price: $14.99 

ISBN: 978-0802450128 

Christianbook.com 

Too often, Christians fret concerning whether they know the will of God. No trumpets blow. No burning bush stops them in their tracks. No angel knocks on the door with a letter from God. Priscilla Shirer, daughter of Dr. Tony Evans and a minister, tackles the problem of  how we may recognize the voice of God with certainty. This version is the eleventh edition of this book (revised and expanded). 

The first chapter pace moves a little slowly, but it picks up as the reader goes to the later chapters. The author mentions her experiences to illustrate, though often in general language. She mentions “a new ministry” for example. I wanted to know what new ministry. 

Discerning the Voice of God would work well as a study guide for a group--probably its purpose. The reader will enjoy the book more by reading a chapter at a time which would fit well as a daily addition to devotions. Most Christians will find something new, and feel more secure in making decisions. 

 I received this book from Moody Publisher. It is an honest review.


Book Review: Engaging Today's Prodigal, Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope

Engaging Today's Prodigal for TYPEPAD

Carol Barnier

SubTitle:  Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope 

Pub Date:  April 01, 2012 (Available for Pre-Order)

Publisher:  Moody Publishers 

List Price: $12.99 

Pages: 176 

ISBN:  9780802405579 

Amazon.com 

Carol Barnier left her Christian church and later became an atheist. She joined the American Atheists, organization of the infamous Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Later, she talks about her difficult son. She defines a prodigal as one who leaves the faith, as much as one who lives a riotous life. Though the original prodigal mirrored the addict of today, the author merely questioned herself out of the church. She blames misunderstood promises. Some churches claim some things as promises through misinterpretation. When we accept them as promises, it shakes our faith when the Lord doesn’t respond to our prayers as we believe He “promised”. 

Part One talks about parental guilt and how that affects behavior toward the prodigal. Part Two describes how we, and the church, should respond to the prodigal. Part Three tells the author’s story. Among other facts, she points out that she came from a Christian home with loving, well-intentioned parents. 

Parents will find encouragement in these pages. The load may become a bit less heavy. The author uses herself as a case study throughout. She writes intelligently and with humor. Anyone seeking hope in this trying situation will find a compassionate advocate in Carol Barnier.

I received this book through NetGalley. It is an honest review.

 

 


Book Review: Spirit Rising, Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit

Spirit RisingJim Cymbala

SubTitle:  Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit 

List Price: $19.99 

Pages: 208 

Publisher:  Zondervan 

Pub Date:  March 01, 2012  

ISBN:  9780310241256

Spirit Rising talks about the Holy Spirit and the work of the third person of the trinity. “The Holy Spirit is God’s agent on earth” author, Jim Cymbala says. He: “chooses people for ministry assignments;” “searches out the deep things of God to make them known to believers;” “makes Christ a living reality to the believer;” is “coequal with both the Father and Son.” We can struggle to be like Jesus but unless we give our lives to the Holy Spirit, everything spiritual will remain a struggle. 

The author tells of many testimonies of miracles done by the Holy Spirit. My favorite is the story of Roma Black. I wonder what happened to that hit man. Is he a person who will no longer kill? Are there murders that this nation will never experience because of him? How could there be any other outcome after the Holy Spirit climbs in the car with you. But this tells the story of Roma. 

The author’s need to pray for Pakistan demonstrates one way the Holy Spirit works—Pastor Cymbala felt possessed by a need and unable to let it go. He says that the way to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit is to obey His voice when it comes. Pray to be sure it is Him, but do what He wants when you are sure. We must succumb to the Spirit, letting His direction be all we want, taking time to hear His voice. 

Pastor Cymbala leads a charismatic church, but anyone who wants more of God will find Him here no matter what the reader’s church denomination. My prayer changed after reading this book.


Book Review: 7

7 for typepadJen Hatmaker

Sub Title: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess 

Publisher:  B&H Publishing Group 

Pages: 224 

List Price: $14.99 

Pub Date:  January 01, 2012 

ISBN:  9781433672965

The book, 7, tells of the author and family’s decision to abstain from seven areas of excess in their lives; food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. Each month the family decided to do with less of that item. I found the month concerned with possessions especially interesting. Family took possessions and gave them away—no change of mind later, saying, “I need that back now.” 

 This entertaining book is coffee with your funniest friend. The worst thing I can say about someone is that he/she has no sense of humor. This book fulfilled my humor quotient. 

It starts with fear as the author contemplates giving up what she has always had or done: then comes the honeymoon phase. Toward the end, her experiment metamorphoses into missionary zeal. Permanent changes have taken place. 

The author lapses into a few dissertations complete with quotes that slowed the writing in a couple of places, but 7 is a fun and valuable read. It does bother me that no one cares about cover art any more. This one probably meant to emphasis simplicity, but, for me, it just emphasises that cover art is being neglected.


Book Review: How to be a Best Friend Forever

How to be a best friend forever bDr. John Townsend 

Publisher:  Worthy Publishing 

Sub Title:  Making and Keeping Lifetime Relationships 

Pages: 192 

List Price: 19.99 

Pub Date:  01/13/2012 

ISBN:  9781936034437

Amazon 

How to be a Best Friend Forever delves into becoming more than surface friends from the perspective of a Christian psychologist. The tone is easy to understand rather than professional, although occasionally, he describes ways of talking to your friends in doctor-ese. However, readers who want to deepen their dearest friendships will find useful information here. 

Dr. Townsend discusses the importance of a best friend in crisis. You won’t find information on getting these friends. He says that it takes time. Jumping into a close friendship with someone you don’t know well probably won’t work. It’s through social groups or working together that people find their best friends. He spoke of a neighbor who became a friend when they decided to walk together for exercise. 

He goes into detail about confrontation and other situations that can come up when people know one another well and gives concrete ideas for fostering these important bonds. 

A Discussion Guide at the end makes this a useful tool as a teaching aid in a class about friendship, or possibly as a guideline for counselors. It offers good advice to anyone who wants to make deeper friendships. 


Book Review: Up, Down, or Sideways

Up down or sideways for typepad

Mark Sanborn

SubTitle:  How to Succeed When Times Are Good, Bad, or In Between 

Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers 

Pages: 150 

List Price: $15.99 

ISBN:  9781414362212 

Amazon:

More philosophic than how-to,Up, Down, or Sideways refers to our personal economics. We will always be Up Down or Sideways and those conditions will change. If we are wealthy and well, plan for those conditions to change. Thankfully, joblessness and illness can change as well. So how can we live successfully amid life’s uneven flow? 

The author allows us to define our success—not always financial but often including the financial. He says success means different things to every reader. He contends that most of what happens to us is not in our control, but we can control our responses. He discusses optimism without denial and goes into the power of thinking positively without kidding ourselves.  

I got into this book slowly, wondering where he was going with it, but that soon changed. I get most of my review books from Net Galley so I won’t have to sort and discard later. Otherwise, books build into a paper mountain or lie sideways in the bookcase because they won’t fit any longer. But I plan to buy this book and read a chapter each day until I “get” it. The “Ingredients of Love” section especially moved me and convicted me to look at my definition of caring and spotlighted the holes in it. 

He touches on gratitude as a mindset and persistence in getting where we want to go. 

The author talks about faith, but he doesn’t go into detail about his beliefs. The reader won’t see CHRISTIAN in capital letters, but his words echo the lessons in the Bible. This book applies to anyone who wants a well-lived life. A potentially life-changing read.  


Book Review: Reggie, You Can't Change Your Past But You Can Change Your Future

Reggie Reggie Dabbs with John Driver

Subtitle: You Can’t Change Your Past But You Can Change Your Future

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

List Price: $15.99

Pages: 240

ISBN: 978-0849946264

Amazon.com

Reggie Dabbs travels the world as a good pied piper to teens, leading them out of the dungeon of self-loathing in to the sunlight of a future and a hope. He gives his testimony as motivational speaker. Then he tells them they have worth and they will do wonderful things. The book, Reggie, explains his philosophy and relates his testimony. Pages follow each chapter so readers can understand how their past might have affected their lives. 

I hesitated to read Reggie because I thought “Oh no. another poor li’l kid story.” I reviewed other books in that genre and liked them for their happy endings. Presently, I don’t want the sadness. 

But I enjoyed Reggie’s story. He’s laugh-aloud funny even while telling of heartache when his schoolmates teased him because he looked like Fat Albert, Bill Cosby’s cartoon creation—and his sadness in discovering the parents he loved adopted him. He hurt for the mother who had him in prostitution to feed the rest of her children.  

He believes too many children grow up feeling without value. It’s his mission to set them on a path of self-respect and achievement. He speaks like your neighbor across the fence, so those who want a scholarly thesis may want to bypass this. Worth reading for those with a heart for teens or a heart for a man who took a life of anything but privilege and, with God, changes society, one child at a time.


Book Review: Craving Grace: A Story of Faith, Failure, and My Search for Sweetness

Craving grace Lisa Velthouse  

SubTitle:  A Story of Faith, Failure, and My Search for Sweetness 

Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers

Imprint:  SaltRiver

List Price: $16.99    

Pages: 272  

ISBN:  9781414335773 

Amazon.com 

This book may have begun as a diary of Lisa’s six-month fast from sweets. The reader sees her maturing spiritually and chronologically. Lisa spends her life trying to do good to earn God’s approval. Her commitment is impressive. So, to get it right, she decides to do more—she embarks on a fast from sweets for six months. When she starts, her faith feels flat to her. But it isn’t until she finds herself failing at things she had committed her life to—like saving her first kiss—she even wrote a book about that--that she begins to experience God’s Grace. She comes to realize that God isn’t looking for our perfection, but for surrender. 

Craving Grace is a book for the young—probably a little too young for me. I found myself put off by her vows of her own perfection, but as she gets more deeply into her fast, she looks outwardly more and understands God more. The perfection crumbles a little. Readers will find some valuable lessons here. Once or twice, I laughed aloud. I hope she meant for me to.