Wednesday, June 26, 2013

By Grace Alone: Finding Freedom and Purging Legalism from your Life

 In trying to explain the delicate balance of faith and works/law and grace, Derek Prince delivers solid information in a relatively dry, heavy style that reads like a term paper. His writing style would be improved by'fleshed out' examples, stories, illustrations or parables. By communicating dryly, the liberating, beautiful concept of grace seems dimensionless. A much more interesting book on this exact same subject is the life-changing "Prodigal God" by Tim Keller. Theologically, this book has much to teach, but without an element of pathos, it doesn't powerfully deliver.

Thank you to Chosen Books for allowing me to review this book.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Confronting Jezebel

Growing up as a pastor's kid, I witnessed some fairly tragic church splits and conflicts. Reading this book opened my eyes to glimpse some of the motivations and spiritual warfare that occur through people in regards to church conflict. Though the memories are painful, it's important to really understand the driving forces (often demonic) behind church-splitting Jezebels so that I can be discerning if one ever pops up in church again. (Very likely!)

The best part of this book were the stories that fleshed out what Jezebel looks like in real time. The more you read about them, the more one can recognize traits and behaviors in people that operate under this controlling spirit. It also opened my eyes to some controlling behavior I have -- and helped me work and pray through it.

Overall, the book is good due to the stories and real-life examples, but I wish the book would focus more on God and His power to pull down the devil's strongholds. Sometimes, it's better to study the Truth than the counterfeit (Jesus over Jezebel), but I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone in ministry!

Thank you to Bethany House publishing for giving me this book for reviewing purposes.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

An Unexpected Page Turner!

Living a gloomy existence in a war-torn town, Quaker-girl Hannah finds herself restless and impatient with her Friend's pacifistic stance on the Revolutionary War. Her insatiable desire for justice is at odds with her family's stringent rules. Guilt presses upon her as she begins to do the unthinkable: spying for the Rebels!

Jeremiah Jones cannot bear to ask for help, much less ask for help from the uppity, self-righteous Quaker girl! But with so many lives in his hand -- the only one he's got left -- he's quickly running out of options.

Siri Mitchell uses double narrative voice which was a wonderful technique. The male narrator (Jeremiah) was so real and lifelike, I couldn't wait to get to the chapters in his voice. The romance developed subtly, through bitter banter and witty quips (which I loved!)without dominating or overpowering the work. Suspense, action, raw emotion and deep faith-probing will keep the pages flying!! It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

Thank you to Bethany Publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review. All opinions were mine, and I received no other compensation. I hope they make a miniseries out of this!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My sweet friend, Julia, recommended this book to me:  Parenting by the Book by John Rosemond.  I really liked it, and I feel so inspired to parent with confidence I gain from trusting Scriptural truths.

Here are some quick things I learned/liked:

-teaching a child manners is key in child-rearing.  When a child gives another person preference and respect, he gains self-respect.  He is teachable (in school) if he is respectful and obedient to others.  This starts with manners.

-High self-esteem in a child should be avoided at all costs.  If a child esteems himself highly, he is proud, selfish and thinks the world revolves around him.  Teach a child to be humble and considerate to others.

-A family should be more marriage-centered than child-centered.  After the age of 3, the parents shouldn't cater to every need of the child, but rather, teach him to serve the family (chores, etc) and be a contributing member instead of ruler of the roost.

- Tell and compel.  I shouldn't ask, plead, cajoul or beg my child to do anything.  I tell them once, and turn away so they only have a back to argue with. Lead with confidence -- inspiring and influencing.

- Predicable consequences (such as spanking a child for the same infraction over and over and over) immunizes the child to the spanking.  Instead, make discipline unpredictable (and creative), increasing the punishment each time the infraction is made. 

-Limiting activities after school and allowing more time for kids to be kids in free play is good.  Rosamond points out that going to a kid's soccer game is NOT family time, team building is less important than family building.  He says a mother's identity should not be wrapped up in her children's activities.  Amen!

-Micromanaging Moms:  (I could tend toward this!)  If you are constantly checking in on your child's homework, affairs and other things, you are teaching the child that he doesn't have to be responsible, since you're always there to remind him of things, fight his battles, pick up last minute supplies he needs TOMORROW etc.   

Rosamond talks a lot (too much?) about how modern parenting (prompted by today's psyco-babble) has truly derailed children, but he insists that if we base parenting on Biblical truth -- we will never be flailing for answers or doubting the legitimacy of our "curriculum." 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stacks of books on my dresser topple and fall. "Silver Refined" catches my eye, and upon cracking it open, I cringe as my eyes drink in the opening lines. I whisper, "Lord, why does REFINING have to be so painful. I don't know if I want to be refined . . ."

Kay Arthur knows from a painful past the agony of being refined. Melted and poured out, Kay's horrific personal experiences (which came as an utter surprise to me) have molded her into one of the most godly women teachers of the Bible. Stories of God's work in her life, as well in the lives of her friends serve to demonstrate that God is a God to be trusted. And the pain the accompanies trials lifts our faces to a God who HEALS.

I definitely ate this book up -- 4 stars for this excellent resource for people going through difficult times in their lives.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books for reviewing-- which in no way influenced my review.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The foolish man built his house upon the sand. When the rains of death, financial trouble, relational battles and personal loss come, the foundations crumbled. I ask myself: on what have I built my house? Randy Alcorn's 90 Days made my mouth dry and my heart thud -- is my faith strong enough to get me through the tough times? No, but my God is.

This amazing book by Randy Alcorn has a title that I think sounds fluffy and light. Trust me, this is anything but light. Alcorn tackles issues of terminal illness, losing your children, divorce and other painful things that come, and he shows how God's hand always orchestrates things for the good. God is good. All the time.

Alcorn's main point that really drove home for me, was that BEFORE trials come, you must know in your heart that God is good. Troubles WILL happen in this life. After reading the book, of course I still dread them. But I've learned a little more of my Creator that gives me hope that He will be present to pull me through my grief.

With long passages of Scripture, this book works perfectly for a daily devotional. (Though it might make you cry at points.) I'm going to read it again with my husband.

(This book was given to me by the publishers.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See 

This novel reads like an Amy Tan story with its vivid Asian imagery and strong female-dominated plot.  Expertly written, this story within a story captures the deep friendship between two young girls as they struggle their way through customs and traditions in becoming proper grown women.

This book's description of footbinding was like nothing I'd ever heard.  Did you know that mothers wrapped their baby's girls' feet and made them walk on it for days until the bones would break and settle?  I learned that 1 in 10 girls died from infection incurred from improper binding techniques.

One of my favorite parts of the story is when the main character realizes that her heart is like a black shriveled mushroom.  That she's really evil and dark on the inside.  Unfortunately, after this revelation, she tries to work away her penitence instead of accepting the forgiveness that was freely offered to her.  The ending makes it sound like she made peace with herself through her acts of remorse, but you and I both know that "shriveled mushroom" hearts won't change by any means other than Jesus's grace imparted to us.