Thursday, May 29, 2014

GREAT book: The Privilege of Persecution by Dr. Carl A. Moeller and David W Hegg

The Privilege of Persecution: And Other Things the Global Church Knows That We Don'tThe Privilege of Persecution

(And Other Things the Global Church Knows That We Don`t) by Dr. Carl A. Moeller and David W Hegg

with Craig Hodgkins

   This book is a must-read. In more ways than one.

''Many Americans view the global church as 'third world', needy, uneducated, and poor-sorely lacking in much of what we assume the church needs to function well. But the irony is that we're in much greater need of them. 
It is a lesson that is best viewed through a lens of humility, and both of us have had to learn in our own way.''- the authors.

   As you and I read this book, let us begin aright as well, with a heart of humility and repentance.

   From the first chapter, I was grabbed by this heart-touching, convicting, motivating book. One can tell that the authors know their topic. As I raced through this medium-sized book, my heart was convicted about my lack of understanding of what it truly means to live-and die- for Christ. The more I read books like this, the more I am convinced of my apathy. Living in North America has been a blessing. But instead of using that blessing to glorify God more, I like so many other citizens of the West have squandered this privilege. We are now at the point that Christians in the East are praying for us!
''In the West, we are not persecuted. We are intimidated.'' (-Brother Andrew)

''When we claim allegiance to God's kingdom but...bend to fit into the culture, we are hypocrites by definition and we are wide open to the criticism we receive.'' (page 99)

The Privilege of Persecution is well-written, well laid-out and organized into several chapters. Each chapter was distinct yet flowed with the main purpose of this important book.
1. God and His Word

2. Worship and the Church

3. Prayer and Dependence

4. Community, Culture, and Evangelism

5. Leadership, Authority, and Power

6. Generosity and Stewardship

I found this book to be well-rounded. It was easy to understand yet convicting. Needless to say, I do recommend this book for all audiences! It was not condemning, yet didn't skimp on truth.

''Persecution often results in pain, but that same pain can bring perspective, a perspective of who we really are- or can be- in Christ, through God's great mercy...'' (page 146)

And these brothers and sisters in the global church have experienced this first hand.

'Obedience doesn't lead us to the blessing. Obedience is the blessing.'' (page 131)
This is something those strong Christians know. Let us be humble and seek God. Seek true and lasting faith.

More about this book (from the publisher's site):
Many Americans view the persecuted church as "third-world," needy, uneducated, and poor -- sorely lacking in much of what we assume the church needs to function well. Essentially, we see them as being in need of  us. But the irony, say Carl Moeller and David Hegg, is that we're in much greater need of them.

Through a combination of inspiring real-life stories, first-hand experiences, and exposition of key Scripture passages, Dr. Carl Moeller and Pastor David Hegg examine the "normal Christian life" of Christ-followers currently suffering persecution around the world. In topical chapter after chapter, the authors conclude that the suffering church's vibrant, sacrificial, and communal faith is much closer to God's intent for His church and His children.  The authors explore the areas of community, leadership, worship, prayer, and generosity, among others, revealing specific attitudes and actions of the suffering church that can renew the spiritual lives of Christians in the West. Each chapter ends with challenging questions and suggestions for personal and corporate application

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

book reviews: Growing Up God's Way for girls/boys

Growing Up Gods Way For Boys And Girls
Growing up God's Way....for boys, for girls!
By Dr. Chris Richards and Dr. Liz Jones

These two books are for girls  and boys on growing up! They answer all the questions a pre-teen may have concerning body changes, marriage and more. I really appreciated the regard the authors gave to GOD'S word. They explain clearly the WHYs and WHEREFORES in light of God's laws. 
As an adult, I was curious to see what this book contained for children who have yet to reach those years of change, change change! The book is recommended for ages 9-13. I have some issues with that age range, which I will explain further. 
These books each begin with the changes that will happen in the body. This I agree with. If it's going to happen, there is no wrong in explaining why and how it happens. I would insert here that I think it's better when the Mother explains things to her daughter. But for some parents, this can be difficult I can imagine. So this book is a good alternative. 
This portion of the book, as well as the basics on modesty and keeping our hearts and bodies pure is great for your average 9-year old. So is the prelude to the marriage chapter. 
But this little book goes just a little too deep in my opinion for 9 year- olds when it comes to the ''Married'' portion. The authors give a pretty thorough explanation of what is meant for husbands and wives only and in my opinion that is a little unnecessary for your average nine-year old. On the other hand, it goes without saying that if your child goes to public school some in-depth explanation on purity is going to have to happen. At an even earlier age than 9 years. It's up to you, the parent how much that talk will entail for such a young child. I DO agree that it is important for the parent to make sure their child hears about these things from a Christian source. BEFORE the world tries to indoctrinate them. And before they 'accidentally' find out such stuff on their own. Also before they start asking too many embarrassing questions. I can imagine that parents want to keep their child innocent. But you can only do so for so long. 
I also didn't think it necessary for a pre-teen girl to read even the short blurb on boy's changes which is included in this book. Again, the parent will have to decide this. 

Likewise, I think the short chapter on changes in girls which is found in the book for boys was a little too detailed. Maybe I'm just too private. But I wouldn't want boys of the ages 9-13 knowing what's going on with girls their age... Again, this is up to the parents discretion.

You can trust that your child will come away with a Biblically-sound view of why we are created male and female! I thought the authors did a great job upholding the differences between males and females, the reason why we were created thus, the sanctity of marriage, etc. etc.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

book review: A Table By The Window

A Table by the Window: A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom RecipesA Table by the Window: A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom Recipes (Two Blue Doors) Paperback  by Hillary Manton Lodge 

A Table by the Window is a romance which just radiates warmth and good aromas as if you, the reader, were experiencing the same inspirational flavors which are the backbone of this interesting Christian novel. As a culinary enthusiast myself, I loved the theme of the book. Hillary Lodge did a marvelous job expressing the passion a cook has for his or her art!
   The book opens with the main character- Juliette, discussing with her brother Nico the future of certain treasured belongings from their recently deceased and beloved French grandmother. As the story unfolds, you can't help but love Juliette and even her feisty Italian-French family. 
In this first-person story the reader follows Juliette's (never Julie) trials as well as her joyful moments. But all along, ''Etta'' knows she is lonely. And scared. Frightened of starting up another relationship which, like the last, could cause friction. Worried about balancing her job as well as her passion- helping with the family restaurant.
I thought it delightful that throughout this book there were delicious recipes; most often coming right after being mentioned in a chapter! 
I loved the honest picture the author was able to paint of the restaurant and culinary world- a world of class and good flavors. 
Coming from a French background, I applaud the author for realistically portraying the French ''hospitalité''. Juliette seems to have that inborn flair for entertaining in a  comfortable yet sophisticated manner.
This is only book one in a small series which the author is embarking on and it opens up family mysteries as well as romance...Juliette's world will never be the same! And the question is, what will she be willing to give up in order to marry the man she loves? The soon-to-be-written sequel will provide all the answers. 
I was surprised to find that I, who don't usually enjoy first-person books was able to look beyond that 
On a critical note, I didn't think the Christian message very strong in this book. In fact, I was not left with an impression of a specific Christian point. Nevertheless, this book is a nice read for someone who loves fiction...or should I say one who loves cooking?
Bon Appétit!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

book review: The Waiting by Cathy LaGrow

The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up

The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up

  This is a heart-touching tale of a young mother's love for her missing child and her faith that God knew best.
Sixteen year-old Minka's innocent world is entirely shaken one summer afternoon when she is assaulted and raped by a strange man. Still believing that babies are delivered by ''the stork'' she finally discovers several weeks later that she is pregnant. In that day and age, teen pregnancies were hidden and thus Minka is sent off to a home full of girls such as herself to await the birth of the baby. My heart, already sore from the trauma of the beginning to this tale was broken by the love Minka felt for her little girl as she gave birth and took care of her the crucial weeks following birth. I understood the young mother's anguish as she was forced to part with her child. And I was in awe of the fortitude the girl had as she resumed her former difficult life on her family's farm, never saying a word about her child. For almost 80 years, this faith-filled woman never set eyes again on her beloved firstborn daughter. The engaging book chronicles Minka's adulthood, marriage, motherhood and finally climaxes with the reunion....
This well-written book will bring you to tears of sympathy as well as tears of joy as you see God's hand over two different lives; the mother and daughter. 

More about the book:
An unforgettable true story that will touch your heart and make you believe in love’s enduring legacy, and in the power of prayer.
In 1928, 16-year-old Minka was on a picnic in the woods when she was assaulted and raped. And suddenly this innocent farm girl—who still thought the stork brought babies—was pregnant. The baby was secretly born, named Betty Jane, and given up for adoption. For decades, Minka wrote letters trying to get news of her daughter; she kept loving and praying for her, even though she never dared believe they would meet again. Until nearly eighty years later, when Minka whispered her secret, impossible prayer for the first time: Lord, I’d like to see Betty Jane before I die. I promise I won’t bother her or interrupt her life. I just want to lay eyes on her. Unbeknownst to Minka, that very same day, a judge was releasing the sealed adoption records to her 77-year-old daughter. And soon, Minka’s phone would ring. Written by Cathy LaGrow (Minka’s granddaughter), The Waiting brings three generations of this most unusual family together over the course of a century to tell a story of faith that triumphs, forgiveness that sets us free, and love that never forgets.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

book review: A Cause To Be Thankful by Yolanda Shanks

A Cause To Be Thankful by Yolanda Shanks

"Allow me to say it again: the Creator of the heavens, the earth and all therein owes us nothing! However, on the flip side, we owe God absolutely everything!" -Yolanda Shanks

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 107:1 ESV

This small book by Yolanda Shanks has a very important message.
   Having overcome depression in her past, Yolanda is one of the best teachers on seeing all that God has given us and wants us to be. Through seven chapters, she encourages the reader to analyze his or her life and be grateful for what God has done for them. She uses accounts from the New Testament- the story of Zaccheaus and the ten lepers Jesus healed.
I wasn't incredibly impressed by this book as compared to others I have recently read on the topic of God's grace, thankfulness, etc. I didn't find this book well-planned out. Although I think this topic very important, and because of that- I didn't find that this book stayed on topic as much as other books I have read on the topic. I am no perfect person, but the content was pretty basic. I wasn't convicted as much as with another book I read on thankfulness recently.

" So let us proclaim His goodness together , and allow a wail of praise to rise
from the depths of our souls as we consider the fact that God Himself
considered us in our darkest hour!" By Yolanda Shanks

I was pleased to receive this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion of it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

book review: A Stitch and A Prayer

A Stitch and a Prayer by Eva J. GibsonA Stitch and A Prayer by Eva Gibson
The eighth book in the ''Quilts of Love'' series, A Stitch and a Prayer is about newly-wed couple beginning their life together in the woods of the Northwest. The bride, Florence is just recovering from her recent struggle with a bone-weakening sickness. Throughout the book, she must learn to trust and rely on God's strength, not her own. All women will be able to relate to the fears and struggles of the young wife in this book.

Personally, I was not impressed with this literary work of fiction. I was confused about the time period in which it takes place. It sounded more to me like present-day Amish than regular pioneers of 1897. Being a history buff,  I found several mistakes in the book- references to one character's denim dress, recently-coined words such as ''okay'', etc.
Secondly, I thought the romance between the husband and wife over-wrought. Almost as if the author was trying to prove to the reader that they did indeed love each other! It was just too repetitive. Thirdly, I wasn't able to really understand the main character, Florence. I realize it is difficult to make a character come to life in a book. But I have read many, many books. Some accomplish this feat, some do not. Unfortunately, this author had a difficult time creating a realistic woman in this new book.
I conclude, I do not think this book was well-written or featured a great plot.

More about the book....
After her fiancé returns from the Klondike gold rush in 1897, Florence Harms sets about building a new life in her new marriage—even though the lingering effects of illness have left her weak and vulnerable. She and her young husband, Will, work tirelessly to clear the land around their Northwest cabin, content with their modest life.

But then a stranger comes knocking and Florence suddenly senses a restlessness in Will’s spirit that she had never seen before. When he leaves her with only a note that tells her he will return before their baby’s birth, she is devastated, and the illness that stiffened her joints returns. Counting the days until Will walks back through her door, Florence busies herself with a Tree of Life quilt displaying a map of the farm they call home. Doubts claw at her heart as Florence struggles to believe Will’s promise to return to her. Will her labor of love—and faith in God—sustain her as she waits to see her beloved once again?

I received this book free through the Litfuse blogger program and was encouraged to give my full and honest opinion. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Good book: Daisies Are Forever by Liz Tolsma

Daisies are Forever Liz Tolsma

Daisies Are Forever
Captivating story. Perfect for young adults. Some of the content is not suitable for younger readers. Good Christian message, interesting story.

Very engaging! Heart-touching! Interesting! Historically-accurate! Good message! Good romance!

From the first chapter, I was captured by this book. I was instantly drawn into the world of the characters within. This new Christian novel by award-winning author Liz Tolsma takes place in war-torn 1940 Germany. Unusually, this book comes from the perspective of innocent German citizens, terrified by the encroaching Russians.
Gisela is of German family but American-born. She is staying at her cousin's home in Germany when news of the Russians impending arrival comes. Gisela takes on the weight of shepherding Ella's two daughters to safety. Thus begins a long, harrowing journey, during which there are welcome- and some not so welcome- additions to their group as well as losses. Liz Tolsma is an excellent author. She captures the attention of the modern reader without sacrificing quality and depth in her literature. I loved the message of faith that the author carefully brings forth in the story.

All in all, this was quite the exciting read!

I would add this note: this book is for the young adult/adult reader. Some of the content would not be suitable for younger or innocent readers. Especially later in the book, there are graphic descriptions of the horrors of assaults of women by the enemy and such. Not too much for a reader over 15. But I just wanted to give a heads up. Also, the romance is deep and could be (perhaps should be?) beyond the less mature reader.

I received this book in exchange for my review through the Litfuse blogging program.

About the book:

Gisela must hold on to hope and love despite all odds in the midst of a war-torn country.
Gisela Cramer is an American living in eastern Germany with her cousin Ella Reinhardt. When the Red Army invades, they must leave their home to escape to safety in Berlin.
However, Ella is a nurse and refuses to leave, sending her young daughters with Gisela. During their journey, Gisela meets Mitch Edwards, an escaped British POW. She pretends she is his wife in order to preserve his safety among other Germans, especially one wounded German soldier, Kurt, who has suspicions about Mitch's identity. Kurt also has feelings for Gisela and tries to uncover the truth about her "marriage."
Their journey to Gisela's mother in Berlin is riddled with tragedy and hardship, but they strive to keep Ella's daughters safe so they can reunite with their mother. During the journey Gisela and Mitch begin to develop feelings for one another beyond friendship. They reach Berlin, but their struggles are far from over. Gisela and Mitch must learn to live for the day and find hope in the darkest of circumstances.
In this moving, historically accurate portrayal of WWII Germany, the characters learn that, even with destruction all around them, some things last forever.

Book review: 10% Happier

10% Happier by Dan Harris

  I requested this book though a program which I thought offered Christian books. I wasn't expecting this book to be doctrinally-sound, but I did assume it was Christian. oops.
Definitely not. After glimpsing some pretty bad language, I made the decision to not read the book in whole. But I read enough to inform me of the author's goal in writing it. He has come to the conclusion that meditation is the answer for finding personal peace and that extra 10 percent of happiness.

   First, there is absolutely NO happiness apart from Jesus Christ. In now way can you add to the happiness of your existence if you don't the true source of joy in the first place.
Secondly, although I am not against yoga as a form of exercise, yes even as a relaxing form of exercise, meditation on anything but the things of God is dangerous and wrong.

This book was very strange and whether you agree with me theologically or not, you probably will be quite displeased with the language.

I received this book through Litfuse blogging tours and was encouraged to express my entire honest opinion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

book review: Daughters in Danger

Daughters in Danger: Helping Our Girls Thrive in Today's Culture 
by We women like to imagine that we are perfectly safe and independent. I know daughters, especially teenagers feel that adventuresome urge to ''get out there and see the world''. But what do we do when we let them and the world gets them?
When they are scarred emotionally or physically by the world? 
Maybe it's not necessarily a desire for adventure but rather a need for love which your daughter is experiencing? It is natural for girls to look forward to marriage in their future. However, it is the duty of the parents to keep her safe from 'predators'. And how much should your daughter know about the dangers in the world? 
Author Elayne Bennett deals carefully with many, many issues of our day and age in this new book; Daughters In Danger. 
I really appreciated her stand and views on daughters. Although agreeing that women must be protected, she doesn't hold to a 'prison-like' view of daughters. She's not suggesting total control and protection in a drastic manner. Yet she shares story after story of true happenings in the lives of many young women. Several of these accounts are disturbing. Yet it's important that lenient parents realize what's out there instead of turning a deaf ear to the evils of the world. The world that their daughter could be experiencing in college, work, apartment life, etc. Let us make wise choices. Not to live in fear, but to live thoughtfully. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

good book: Just 18 Summers

humorous. touching. inspiring!

Just 18 Summers   Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox present a new book which will touch your heart. Soon to become a motion picture, this novel is sure to appeal to and inspire all audiences- men as well as women, parents, siblings and anyone who is a part of a family.

  Although focusing on parenting, this book is wonderful for all members of families.
I know because I cannot claim that honored title of parent, yet I was greatly moved by this thought-provoking book.
I could hardly put it down, so real are the characters who come to life through the pages. At first I did find it a little confusing remembering all the characters but if you take the first few chapters slowly, you will have no problem getting to know the characters, who are all introduced in the first chapter.

   Four different families are struggling with parenting problems, whether they realize or admit it or not. All have been impacted by the joyful life of Butch Browning's late wife Jenny. Jenny's sister Beth is struggling with regret over lost time with her children who are now leaving home, Helen has spent her years as a mother vicariously, pouring into her children all that she wanted as a child yet is at a loss as to why she doesn't have her children's hearts, and first-time mom Daphne is driving herself-and even more so, her husband- distracted with attempts to create a perfect environment and future for her soon-to-be born child. The lessons presented in this novel are wonderful. The main purpose of this tale is to impress on parents and indeed, every individual, the importance of using our time wisely. As the admonition which inspired this book goes....''Don't forget- you have just 18 summers...take time to make some memories.''
I really appreciated the fact that at least two of the mothers in here were stay-at-home moms. It made it easier to relate to them. However, any women-stay-at-home or not can relate. And although I highlighted the women who are struggling in this book, the men have a major- and oftentimes humorous- part of this novel. Therefore I can imagine fathers enjoying it as well.

The authors write with a definite first-hand knowledge of human nature, human weaknesses, and God's unfailing power and mercy.

I was pleased to receive this book through Tyndale's blogger program. I was encouraged to state my entire opinion. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Surprised By Grace book review

Surprised by Grace: A True Story of Relentless Love by Elizabeth Sherrill, © 2014

Originally published as All the Way to Heaven, this newly-published work is by longtime Christian writer Elizabeth Sherrill. She explains, ''this book is about discovery––the discovery of a secret. It's the story of how heaven, which I used to think of as an imaginary realm-in-the-sky, has become more real to me than the ground beneath my feet. Real in the past, real for the future, and best of all, real right now. And this book is also an invitation. An invitation to us all to look back, to look ahead, and to look around, and keep being surprised at what we see.''

I thought that paragraph was beautiful. It definitely captures the essence of this book.
Although this book was slow at the start, I also found that it picked up speed rapidly until I was engrossed in Elizabeth's Sherrill's world. She tells of her childhood, of meeting her husband and of their marriage. Most importantly, the book tells of how she was found by Jesus. 

You trace my journeys and my resting-places....
You press upon me behind and before....
Psalm 139:2, 4 (BCP)

Although I quite admire the work Elizabeth and her husband did, I don't agree with much of her theology. Content in an Episcopalian church, the Sherrills accept a variety of denominations as being the same way to God. This disappointed me. Elizabeth's faith is sincere, yet she seems to believe that doctrine isn't very important. 

Lastly, I really enjoyed the artistic qualities of this newly-published book. The cover as well as the pages inside are all very appealing to the eye. 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

read more reviews here