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Review: Keep It Shut

_240_360_Book_1459_coverKeep It Shut by Karen Ehman

Non-Fiction. Published 2015.

Read: February 2015, 228 pages

★★★★☆

Book Blurb:

Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman explores how to better control your tongue, knowing what to say and how to say it, and realizing when it is best to say nothing at all.

This book explores what the Bible says about the many ways we are to use our words and the times when we are to remain silent.  Even though we know that Scripture has much to say about how we are—and are not—to use our words, this is still an immense issue, causing heartache and strain not only in family relationships, but also in friendships, work, and church settings.

Karen Ehman is the communications coordinator for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a writer for their online daily devotions. Her numerous books include A Life That Says Welcome and Let. It. Go. She is a favorite presenter at women’s events and a frequent guest on national television and radio programs. Karen is also a contributor to Focus on the Family’s online magazine, Thriving Family. She lives with her family in central Michigan.

Impressions:

Words CAN be used in wonderful ways, but sometimes we need to be reminded of that! Choosing our words wisely can create the relationships and atmosphere we all desire. Keep It Shut offers a helpful tips and biblical knowledge to help Christians learn styles of speech that we often forget are tearing others down. Words do matter.

Thoughts:

While certainly this book would be quite a lot to cover, I want to focus on two specific parts I’d like to share- Chapter 4: Zip It and Pray and Chapter 6: Behind The Screen. Ehman notes that prayer must be an important component when considering censorship with others. Allowing ourselves to pray before we react can greatly influence our ability to show compassion and discernment. The author suggests several things to become a prayer warior: A) Pray Your To Do List, B) Be Intentional- make time for prayer, C) Read and Write, D) Make a Recording and Memorize, E) Identify and Apply the Bible’s Nonnegotiables. These things will make us more readily able to react and speak in ways that save us from disaster.

In Chapter 6, Ehman focuses on controlling your digital tone- something very important to remember while online. Here are some Rules for the Cyberspace Playground that will get you “talking”: A) Pray Before You Post, B) Imagine the Recipient Sitting Next to You, C) Remember that When You’re Online, You’re Also on Stage, D) Ask Yourself If You’ve Earned the Right to Address the Subject at Hand- are you slinging an uninformed opinion, E) Ask Yourself If You Have a Close Enough Relationship with the Person to Warrant Offering Your Opinion, F) When You Do Speak, Let Your Speech Be Laced with Grace.

I received this book free of charge in exchange for my review from Book Look Bloggers.

Quotes:

Talking to God helps me know how to talk to others. -p61

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Review: The Jesus Code

The Jesus Code by O.S. Hawkins

Non-Fiction. Published 2014.

Read: September 2014, 275 pages

★★★★☆

Book Blurb:

Jesus gets attention not with exclamation marks, but with question marks. Jesus was always asking questions. Whether with a small group or large crowd, Jesus opened hearts and minds by asking questions that grasped attention and made one think. In The Jesus Code, author O. S. Hawkins poses fifty-two thought-provoking questions found throughout the Bible that believers should be able to answer as they grow in their faith and share their faith with others. Each question features a devotional thought to help readers find answers and promote further reflection.

Impressions:

This 52 question devotional provides a way to learn more about your faith and God’s will for your life. I received The Jesus Code through booklookbloggers. All royalties go toward Mission:Dignity. Mission:Dignity is an organization that supports retired pastors and their spouses living near the poverty level. If you are interested in studying more about Jesus this book can be helpful along that path.

Thoughts:

The Jesus Code is interactive with the reader. Chapter 6 asks a tough question many are asking today “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” Many around us are suffering. We, at times, are suffering. “When discouragement comes, it has a dastardly way of diverting our focus from God and His blessings to the circumstances and situations around us.” The book explains that God does not leave us, this too shall pass. The devotional leads to greater understanding and ability to feel confident as you share your faith with others. Hawkins’ book can be a great way to open up a discussion with others or make a great gift for a loved one.

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Review: Plain Faith

 

Plain Faith by Irene & Ora Eash

Non-Fiction. Published 2014.

Read: June 2014, 208 pages

★★★☆☆

Book Blurb:

This is the true story of Ora Jay and Irene Eash, Amish farmers from northwest Montana whose lives changed in an instant when a semi-truck struck the family buggy, killing their two young daughters. After the accident, the couple turned to their Amish community for comfort, but they remained haunted by the thought that they might not see their girls again in heaven. Eventually Ora Jay and Irene learned that grace, not works, was enough to ensure their place in eternity. But with that knowledge came the realization that they could no longer live in an Amish community that didn’t share this precious belief. This is the story of their journey to the hope that is heaven, a hope stronger than the loss of children, family, and a way of life.

Impressions & Thoughts:

I received Plain Faith through booklook. The Eashes share their personal stories and journeys about how they became Christians despite the setbacks and criticisms they endured. The story depicts their Amish lifestyle centering around rules and traditions. The family was concerned about doing enough good works to meet their children in heaven. After such a major loss they stopped identifying with being Amish and sough English ways and were able to gain comfort in their new faith. The book is helpful in understanding parts of the Amish culture and lifestyle.

Quotes:

God planned it all just so; they were too sweet to stay. -p50

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Review: No Cape Required

no capeNo Cape Required by Kristen Parrish

Non-Fiction. Published 2013.

Read: April 2014, 229 pages

★★★☆☆

Book Blurb:

As children, we dream of throwing on a cape and changing the world. Then we grow up, we learn to see the flaws in our movie stars and athletes, and we accept that true heroism is not possible in the real world.  You continue to dream, though. Isn’t that why you still love watching heroes on the big screen? It’s more than just wish fulfillment. You resonate with Superman’s justice and Dorothy’s courage because you have those same qualities within yourself.

In these pages, Kristen Parrish looks at the qualities of fifty-two heroes, and then shows how you can acquire every one of those qualities. No gamma rays or radioactive spider bites are needed. You can unleash your inner hero through prayer and practical action. While others watch and dream on the sidelines, you can step out in faith, learning from heroic examples and praying for God’s help to make you who you were meant to be.

Impressions:

This 52 day devotional is easy to read and clarifies ways each day to take action to improve your own heroic traits. I received No Cape Required through booklookbloggers. What would make someone want to pick this book up? It’s a light read that over time would develop important personal qualities such as kindness, determination, growth, honor, and thankfulness. Parrish’s book is a neat way to incorporate all kinds of “heroes” in history (Woody, Dorothy, Zorro, Wonder Woman, Robin Hood, among others).

Thoughts:

No Cape Required can benefit to develop character traits. I can see it being useful as a teaching tool or as personal development and has useful “to dos” to merge the learning into real life. Each chapter also includes a daily prayer. I enjoyed the chapter ‘Hope in Others’ where Parrish uses Belle as the heroine. “Like Belle, you have the power to turn darkness to light, In fact, it only takes the  same words Belle used, ‘I love you’. Loving someone breed hope not only in your heart but in the other persons heart as well.”

This book is a chance to easily connect again to the passions of being a Christian and growing in positive ways.

Quotes:

Remember that you’re not alone if you’re on  a quest for something hat is difficult; you have a power that works in you from God Himself. -p179

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Review: Let Hope In

Let Hope In by Pete Wilson

Non-Fiction. Published 2013.

Read: December 2013, 219 pages

★★★★★

Book Blurb:

It can disarm guilt, shatter shame, and put your past in its place. All you have to do is make the choice to let it in. It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick. But it is possible and we serve a God who promises over and over again that anything is possible. Pete Wilson presents a new look at the power of healing through hope, revealing 4 unique choices that have the potential to change your life forever. With Wilson’s telltale cadence and candor, Let Hope In explores accounts of seemingly hopeless moments in the Bible illustrating God’s ultimate plan for healing by letting hope fill the dark places of your past. Discover how pain that is not transformed becomes transferred. Embrace the freedom of being okay with not being okay. Learn that a life of trusting is far more magnificent than a life of pleasing. Because hurt people hurt people, but free people have the power to free people. So make today the day that you get unstuck. The day you fill your past with the light of hope, the day you say good-bye to regret and shame. The day you choose to change your future and embrace who God created you to be, simply by making the choice to let hope in.

Impressions:

I LOVE this book. I don’t mean that lightly, I have proof! Generally, I will dogear several pages in every book I read for the worthy quotes, funny stories, and best qualities of the book… My just read copy of Let Hope In has about 33% of the pages dogeared! Did I tell you I love this book? The concepts in this book are things I get to use daily, now backed with good insight and lovely scripture. This book delivers a wonderful read that is best used when applied. I took my time to complete this book to try and retain its’ knowledge. I received Let Hope In through booksneeze. I want to quote every page for you, but it’s better you get your own copy I suppose. I highly recommend it to all of those who have ever hurt (that’s you, and you).

Thoughts:

Let Hope In is a book for everyone who needs to walk closer to God, to learn to really trust God, and let go of the past. The last chapter of the book talks about Jesus the vine and God the gardener. Are there things in your life you will let God prune so you can become more fruitful?

‘Loving Deeply’ is one of the chapters that ends with the idea of a Reverse Economy. Love is meant to heal. If you want to receive, you give. If you want to lead, you follow. If you want to live for certain things, you have to be willing to die for them. There is “healing, peace, and life” when we can extend God’s love for us to those around you.

Let Hope In is a chance to transform, forgive, and rebuild. There is strength in letting go.

Quotes:

God’s main purpose for you is not what you do. It’s who you become. -p125

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Review: Dreams and Visions

Dreams and Visions by Tom Doyle

Non-Fiction. Published 2012.

Read: April 2013, 272 pages

★★★★☆

Book Blurb:

What would you do if Jesus appeared to you in a dream? What if He came to you in a vision and told you to follow Him? What if these visions continued for over thirty days? would you believe? Would you put your trust in him? Would you devote your life to him?

Would you if you were Muslim?

Pastor Tom Doyle has spent eleven years as a full-time missionary in the Middle East and Central Asia, spreading the word of Jesus Christ. Throughout his journey he has encountered a staggering number of Muslims who were first introduced to Jesus through a vision or dream so powerful that they eventually turned from their lifelong religion of Islam and embraced Christ as their Savior. Despite living in a culture where converting to Christianity can result in execution, these former Muslims have found hope, peace, and inspiration that comes from knowing Christ. Their stories will amaze you. Jesus is reaching out to the Muslims and they are responding. Did you know that Iran has the fastest growing church in the world?

Dreams and Visions is a remarkable collection of stories directly from the world of Islam. Doyle not only relates these stories, but also addresses the questions: Why would God use dreams to reach the Muslim world? Can dreams be trusted? What happens after these dreams or visions occur? Travel to the heart of the Middle East to meet new believers who have truly been touched by Jesus in the most miraculous way, through their nightly dreams.

Impressions:

Although it is very dense, this book delivers an interesting trip through the Middle East. You will meet many individuals who are experiencing dreams and visions of Jesus, moving them away from Islam and closer to Christianity. It describes how learning more about Islam can deepen your discipleship to Muslims and how God is working to help them receive the message of Jesus. I received Dreams and Visions through booksneeze. I recommend it to people who want to know more about the Muslim culture and are interested in discipleship. It may take you a while to get through the book but it’s well worth it.

Thoughts:

Dreams and Visions is completely fascinating. Foremost, it explains how Muslims are receiving dreams of Jesus and coming to Christianity. It explains how these dreams break down barriers and create questioning for them. The book explains Middle Eastern culture and the dangers of converting. It is a way for the author to explain how to be empathetic and disciple Muslims.

In chapter 16, Doyle explains that Judaism focuses on knowledge, Islam focuses on power, and Christianity focuses on love. People are more willing to come to Christ when they feel and see the difference that Jesus loves them. He points out that Muslims have built-in presuppositions. Understanding how the Qur’an depicts Jesus versus statements that are backed/not backed by the Bible are critical in any Christians ability to explain their faith to Muslims.

Quotes:

Minutes after she clicked Send for the last time, Fatima’s brother entered the room. He beat her cruelly, breaking bones and rupturing skin. Finally, he cut out her tongue and dragged her outside where he burned her alive. -p61

The Bibles sewn into my hijab are uncomfortable. But I get twenty Injils each trip to Jordan. -p68

I resigned myself to thinking, God just doesn’t work that way today. But I was really, really wrong. -p126

Dreams and visions break down barriers that keep Muslims from embracing Christ. -p241

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Review: The Tiger’s Child

The Tiger’s Child by Torey Hayden

Non-Fiction. Published 1995.

Read: February 2013, 264 pages

★★★☆☆

Book Blurb:

When Hayden first met Sheila, she refused to speak, her only communication coming through bursts of destructive, violent behavior.  After five intense months, Hayden successfully broke through to Sheila, and successfully fought to have her placed in a regular classroom.

Hayden did not see Sheila again until she was 13. Much to Hayden’s astonishment, Sheila remembered little about their extraordinary time together. As Hayden continues to renew her relationship with the teenage Sheila, the memories slowly come back, bringing with them feelings of abandonment and hostility.

Impressions:

The Tiger’s Child is the squeal to One Child where it catches up to Sheila and Torey’s life years later. I adored One Child- you can check out my review of it hereAlthough it fills in the rest of the story for the reader, it neglects to be pleasantly delivered. This book is “more honest” as Sheila puts it.

Thoughts:

It is far too often that children are mistreated and abandoned. Sheila is no exception. You learn of further abuse she suffered and the difficulties that remain ahead of her as a teenager. Sheila begins working with Torey as an aide for a summer program with children. Torey sees Sheila more as a client than as her caretaker, which is what Sheila is longing fore. I was appalled that Torey got a letter from Sheila reaching out about suicide and did not respond. It takes a whole year more and more letters from Sheila until she visits her a children’s residential treatment facility.

It breaks your heart to see the pain Sheila endures and her strained relationship with Torey. One thing to take from this book is that Sheila felt ‘Torey/social services/the system’ should and could have done more for her. She was continually forced to remain within an unstable, abusive, and dangerous environment.

Quotes:

What I remember are the colors…as if my whole world had been in black and white. -p61

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Review: More Hot Stuff to Help Kids Chill Out

More Hot Stuff to Help Kids Chill Out by Jerry Wilde

Non-Fiction. Published 2000.

Read: February 2013, 85 pages

★★★☆☆

Book Blurb:

This is a follow up to the popular original Hot Stuff provides children and adolescents with new ideas to cope with anger and hostility. This book also contains ideas to help manage stress, which is an important component of any anger management program. More Hot Stuff is filled with more illustrations, more activities, and more ideas to help kids learn to handle their anger before their anger handles them.

Impressions:

I do not own the original Hot Stuff so I cannot speak to it’s comparison. This little book is packed of starting points for kids to grasp how anger and stress interact. It has an anger survey at the beginning and end to show your improvements in each area the book covers. I would recommend this primarily for late elementary or middle school ages. It is a workbook style and has illustrations to break up monotony.

Thoughts:

More Hot Stuff  points out that we are in control of our anger. It addresses our self-talk.. what are we telling ourselves about anger?

Importantly, the author added several facts and information on the seriousness of stress and ways to reduce stress- the always important positive coping skills such as calling a friend, exercising, listening to music, being artistic, mediating, playing a musical instrument, and reading. I really like this book and use the concepts regularly. It would be great for a take home assignment. Anger causing beliefs, errors in thinking, and managing anger are included as well.

Quotes:

You, and only you, control how you feel. -p24

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Review: The Five Love Languages

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Non-Fiction. Published 1992.

Read: January 2013, 203 pages

★★★★☆

Book Blurb:

Skillful communication is within your grasp. While love is a many splendored thing, it is sometimes a very confusing thing, too. And as people come in all varieties, shapes, and sizes, so do their choices of personal expressions of love. But more often than not, the giver and the receiver express love in two different ways. Dr. Chapman identifies these and guides you towards a better understanding of your unique languages of love. Learn to speak and understand your mate’s love language, and in no time you will be able to effectively love and truly feel loved in return.

Impressions:

The Five Love Languages was enjoyable and insightful. It offers a guide to specific and personal ways people express their love. Everyone has different needs and when they aren’t met it’s hard for others to reciprocate love. Dr. Chapman insists that speaking the love language of your mate will even rekindle a relationship that appears to be broken beyond repair. I recommend this book to all who are seeking to improve their relationships with others. At times the book is wordy and technical, but the author adds many relatable examples of real couples to illustrate his points.

Thoughts:

We all have unique preferences when it comes to expressing and receiving love. Dr. Chapman lays out what each love language is and how to identify which category a personal falls in to. Your love language is the way that you most feel loved and cared for. The problem is most people know how they want to be loved, but that doesn’t tend to align with how their partner wants to be loved. You have to learn to speak your partner’s love language. The five love languages are:

  1. Words Of Affirmation: Encouraging words, verbal compliments, kind words, appreciation, humble words, admiration
  2. Quality Time: Togetherness, focused attention, quality conversation, listening, expressing emotions, scheduled activities
  3. Gifts: Purchased gifts, physical presence, made gifts
  4. Acts Of Service: Doing something for your partner that you know they would like for you to do
  5. Physical Touch: Holding, intimacy

Quotes:

Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love. -p92

Love doesn’t erase the past, but it makes the future different. -p130

Is it possible to love someone whom you hate? -p147

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Review: Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After by Craig Groeschel

Non-Fiction. Published 2007.

Read: January 2013, 230 pages

★★★☆☆

Book Blurb:

What do you do if you want a marriage that doesn’t just survive, but thrives? That doesn’t just begin romantically but ends magnificently? You do something different.
 
For today’s generation, “getting what you want” is often a substitute for love, and disillusionment about marriage is the new normal. But you can have a long-term, love-blessed marriage. Whether you’re still considering it, are about to be wed, or have been married for a while and want to make changes, Happily Ever After delivers an infusion of hope. Author Craig Groeschel clearly and honestly lays out the choices and commitments you can make now to change the way you think and act—to build the relationship you want for the rest of your life.

With an invigorating mix of personal story, practical guidance and biblical truth, Craig invites you into a candid conversation about first dates, intimacy, communication, integrity, forgiveness, and commitment. Along the way, he shows how you can build a soul-enriching, God-honoring relationship with the one you love. This book was previously released as Going All the Way.

Impressions:

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor at LifeChurch.tv. Craig, his wife, and their six children live in Oklahoma  where LifeChurch.tv began in 1996. He speaks frequently at conferences and has written several books.

Happily Ever After is a quick read that doesn’t have a lot of depth to its’ points, but covers some good issues. His book addresses many of the big questions on finding the one, friendship, intimacy, how far is too far, cohabitation, responsibilities, and break ups. His philosophy- God is your number one and your spouse is your number two. So many times priorities get mixed up and leave marriages hurting. People place their children and wealth above their covenant to God. Craig wants you to be successful in marriage and work for it.

Thoughts:

The book misses a big opportunity as it lacked depth. Happily Ever After is still encouraging in ways. In the chapter Habits of the Heart, Craig discusses the habits which will nurture a godly marriage. The greatest thing you can do is invest in your relationship with God. The more you lead like Jesus, the better all your relationships will be. Spend time in solitude and prayer. Serve others.

Craig connects the book to his personal experiences. He seems genuine in having a passion to help others.

Quotes:

He will empower you to find His beauty dormant in her heart. Look for it. See what others overlook. Encourage her. Build her up. Lift her high. -p164

A covenant is serious business. -p208

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