Tag Archives: faith

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 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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Review: Call of a Coward

Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston

Non-Fiction. Published 2012.

Read: September 2012, 184 pages

★★★☆☆

Book Blurb:

Moses never wanted to be a leader. Jonah ran away from his missions call. And when Marcia Moston’s husband came home with a call to foreign missions, she was sure God had the wrong number. His call conflicted with her own dreams, demanded credentials she didn’t have, and required courage she couldn’t seem to find. She promised to follow where God led, but she never thought the road would lead to a Mayan village on a Guatemalan mountainside.

From the trecherous road trip to their new village home, to learning to navigate a new culture, to a stateside mission field in Vermont, Moston’s journey reveals that God leads just as clearly today as he did in biblical times. Her candid account tells a story of learning to trust and obey when faithfulness seems foolish.

Impressions:

This book is a sweet and humorous insight into Marcia’s relationship with God and pursuing his purposes. She shows courage and strength as she sets out to be a missionary with her husband and young daughter. I received Call of a Coward through booksneeze. I would recommend this book as a story of faith and God’s power to always provide. Some details are lacking as it seems more of a highlight of several years of her life rather than an in-depth experience.

Thoughts:

The goal behind this book is to show that God is always in control and can turn cowards and ordinary people into courageous servants. Marcia relies on signs from God to move her. Marcia’s faith is continually tested as she moves with her family to a village in Guatemala to oversee the orphans and widows home. They experience many difficulties on their trip including the dangers of traveling outside of the United States. This is eyeopening to remember how safe and comfortable we are in the states. She battles between conviction and logic as she forges forward. This book is conversational and light. It’s easy to envision the family on this marvelous trek. Certainly makes you wonder if you’ve got the faith to abandon all that you know and follow God.

Quotes:

At times my faith had the attention span of a four-year-old. I had to keep wrestling down the conviction that God was more in control of her life than I was. -p84

When this life doesn’t make sense, it’s good to remember you are just traveling through. -p129

Hope does not disappoint. -p153

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Review: Sins of a Father

Sins of a Father by Kitty Chappell

Non-Fiction. Published 2003.

Read: July 2012, 227 pages

★★★★☆

Book Blurb:

Kitty Chappell’s childhood was terrifying. She and her family suffered appalling abuse at the hands of her father, who eventually went to jail for attempting to murder her mother. She forgave him upon his release, and they were reconciled–a reconciliation that lasted until he killed his second wife and then himself. Chappell’s story is extraordinary not because of its anguish, but because she has emerged emotionally and spiritually whole. “While my book begins with the horrors of a child born into abuse, it ends with hope, for it is a book about overcoming.” Chappell’s book does not contain psychological theories, but credible, biblical hope for overcoming pain from one who has earned the right to speak on the subject. Her triumphant story is liberating for every woman, because ultimately the choice of forgiveness is before us all.

Impressions:

I dogeared so many pages of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the style of writing and Kitty’s openness. Her story is moving and powerful. If you’re interested in how to forgive, she brings many interesting points to the table. The best part is her connection to God.

Thoughts:

Kitty understands she was created for God. She trusted him and chose to forgive her earthly father. She talks about changing her self-image, building character, seeking God, and letting go. God will help us do what we need to do but he won’t do it for us. From survivor to over comer: 1) forgiveness, 2) accountability, 3) gratitude. Personally, I am constantly teaching these three principles to the kids I work with as a therapist. We cannot let our circumstances or our past define us.

Quotes:

What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God. -p143

It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go. -p164

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Review: Heaven In Her Arms

Heaven In Her Arms by Catherine Hickem

Non-Fiction. Published 2012.

Read: July 2012, 216 pages

★★★★☆

Book Blurb:

Jesus is Mary’s son and Jesus is the Son of God. The God of the universe hand picked Mary to raise His Son. Mary was there the day Jesus was born and she was there the day he was crucified. Her story is deep and rich and has myriad lessons for any woman-mothers, daughters, sisters, friends. Mary’s story reveals that a woman’s heart is important to the Father. When God selected Mary,” Hickem says, “He was looking for heart. God set out to find the precise woman who would give her heart to Him, completely and wholly. He wanted a woman with whom He could entrust His perfect Son. This was going to be no ordinary woman.” Heaven in Her Arms will touch your heart if you are facing fear and uncertainty, wondering about leaving your plans behind, feeling a need for community and the support of other women, or wanting to deepen your life of faith. Hickem reflects on Mary’s story and offers practical applications, as well as inspiring real-life stories from contemporary women. With a six-week Bible study for individuals or small groups, Heaven in Her Arms shows the life of faith Mary exemplified and God’s tender heart for His daughters.

Impressions:

I was hoping that his book would be educational and inspirational. This book delivered a learning experience and warmth as I strive to deepen my faith. I received Heaven In Her Arms through booksneeze. This book is interesting and holds your interest. I recommend it to women in hopes of better understanding Mary’s story.

Thoughts:

Heaven In Her Arms hits on several topics that are under told and overlooked. Mary will always be a very inspirational Christian.  Mary was trusting and embraced her fears. She fully trusted in God and knew God as the Master Designer. It speaks about living life for God and His purpose rather than pursuing our own. It spotlights praise, connection to other Christians, reflection, obedience, trust, acceptance, and prayer. Mary doesn’t take on the task of parenting alone– something that I think many parents could begin to realize in their own lives. Children need to base their beliefs off of integrity not hypocrisy.

This book is a chance to closely examine Mary in her role in the greatest story ever told. It shows the intimacy with which God longs to participate in the life of a mother. It also connects Mary’s truths to stories of modern-day moms. Hickem hopes Mary’s life will remind Christians that there are no accidents in God’s divine plan for His daughters.

Quotes:

Every child needs to know that someone bigger is in charge. -p19

The more we are willing to be real and honest with God, the more we will see God  do the impossible in our lives. -p50

The sense of being all alone produced a deepening of the soul as well as a meaningful dependency on God. -p113

Mary teaches us that regardless of what we will face, we must do it with faith, dependency on God, and a commitment to enduring love. -p143

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Review: This Thing of Ours

This Thing of Ours by Cammy Franzese

Non-Fiction. Published 2012.

Read: February 2012, 208 pages

★☆☆☆☆

Book Blurb:

Small-town girl Cammy Franzese didn’t plan to marry one of the most powerful mob bosses in the country. She didn’t expect to raise her children alone while Michael served hard time. And she certainly didn’t anticipate what would happen when he finally made the stunning decision to turn his back on the life and become a devout Christian. Cammy shares the details of her painful and joyful journey. She shares what it was like being under law-enforcement scrutiny, dealing with death threats, harassment from the FBI, and having to move several times to protect their family. Cammy also talks about how she stayed faithful to Michael and raised their children on her own while he was locked up for eight years. With painful honesty, she speaks about restoration, miracles, and the confidence we can have knowing God prepares us for the challenges and obstacles we will one day have to face.

Impressions:

One out of five stars! This book is full of snooze and was painful to read. I rarely like to say such negative things, but this book is not worth picking up. Cammy’s journey is full her attempts to woo the reader as her ‘poor me’ tone is ever untouching.

Thoughts:

Cammy was supposedly so naive to her husband’s guilt and continued to enjoy the money coming from… ‘I didn’t ask questions’.  The book is meant to be about how faith saved a marriage that was torn apart when her husband was put in prison for mafia-related crimes. The book lacked a real story of faith or mentioning of religion. It was a constant tale of how hard Cammy worked to save her marriage through her own means. I was provided this book by Booksneeze.com for my honest opinion.

Quotes:

‘I’ve found that peace is much better than having the luxury of answers.’ -p25

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