Wednesday, February 14, 2018

When Is It Right to Die? by Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni Eareckson Tada has been a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic for more than 50 years. She is sympathetic to the physical, emotional, social and spiritual struggles of those who are challenged to have a full life. This book is Tada’s answer to the right-to-die movement, and she writes thoroughly, considering the movement itself. One of her unique contributions to the topic are her beliefs about how euthanasia affects others, self, Satan and God. I understood the author to say she believes that only when death is actively approaching without hope of reversal is it right to withhold life-sustaining measures. This was a thought-provoking work with which I happen to not agree, as I am of the opinion that science has outpaced ethics; just because a person can be kept alive does not mean they should be. The last few decades have challenged medical ethics with mind-bending dilemmas in a way they have not been challenged for millennia. Artificial means of sustaining life now call for reason and emotion to make decisions that bodies alone used to make, which makes it necessary for books such as this one to be written. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How Healing Works by Wayne Jonas, MD

Although the word “holistic” is not used by the author, that is his approach. Jonas begins in Section 1, Rethinking Healing, by describing how he learned that a solely Western approach to medicine garners poor results, often little better than a placebo might. Using a number of case studies, the author describes in Section 2 The Dimensions of Healing, which include the presence and comfort of family and home, acting right (choosing beneficial behavior), loving deeply and finding (or attaching) meaning (to the health situation). In Section 3, Your Healing Journey, are helpful approaches addressing body, behavior, social and spiritual aspects of healing by focusing on inner, interpersonal, behavioral and external factors including physical environment, the behavioral dimension, social/emotional needs and mind/spirit connection. I found Sections 1 and 2 to be overly long, with many points belabored by case studies described in great detail. For example, the first 15-page chapter includes four case studies occupying 12.5 pages, which I found far exceeded my interest. Repeatedly the author states how the placebo effect can account for close to 80% of medical successes until I wanted to scream, “I GET IT!” It is unfortunate that so much of the book was devoted to case studies, which could have been summarized in a paragraph or two; the text really bogged down in those first two sections. Section 3, though, was worth the price of admission, being both helpful and interesting. Approaching a patient as a whole person makes sense, and having a medical doctor take this approach was refreshing. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hope for Each Day - Billy Graham

This daily devotional is a beautiful book with a leather or leather-like tooled cover and a ribbon bookmark. Each devotion starts with a verse, includes a few narrative or illustrative paragraphs and ends with a Hope for Today, comprised of a thought or a prayer. The themes of the devotionals are what you might expect from Billy Graham, heavily related to salvation, assurance of salvation, evangelism, heaven, and learning to walk with God. This book is particularly suitable to those who want to know more about God, the Bible, and salvation. It does not seem to aim to teach per se but more to challenge and encourage. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Be the Hands and Feet - Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic’s calling and mission is to bring as many people as possible into relationship with God through Jesus Christ through his example of love and respect, while being bold and confident to proclaim the gospel. His newest book delineates what is our calling, too, to be winsome and attractive everywhere we are, including at home, to encourage others to be godly. In the second section of this book, Nick writes about opportunities to serve, including foster care, mentoring others, and following any vision God gives to spread the gospel, whether that is in schools, by way of your church, and supporting others. The last section speaks poignantly about Nick’s father’s battle with cancer and Nick’s own recent health challenges, as well as lessons learned. While the author made good points, this book felt long at 222 pages, as much of it was repetitious. I think it could have been half this length and still covered all its bases. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Life Beyond Amazing by Dr. David Jeremiah

A Life Beyond Amazing by Dr. David Jeremiah This very refreshing book focuses on the nine fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23 and how a decision to pursue each will change your life into one "beyond amazing". The nine qualities are love, joy, peace, endurance, compassion, generosity, integrity, humility and self-discipline. Dr. David Jeremiah describes each, both in terms of what they are and what they are not. He challenges the reader, in very practical ways, to cultivate each. I found each chapter to be personal and easy to understand, as the author uses memorable real-life illustrations of each quality. Jeremiah also has what I thought were some original thoughts. Of particular benefit to me was one on page 54: "There are four main highways upon which the peace of God travels: the Spirit of God, the Son of God, the Word of God, and prayer." In the chapter on self-discipline, the author writes: "Ïf we're not unhappy and dissatisfied with how much and what kind of love, joy, and peace we have in our lives, nothing will change. If we're not convicted that we fall short in generosity and compassion, we'll stay the same. And if we think we're humble and resilient when we're not, we fool ourselves and a life beyond amazing for us will just be a nice title to a new book. "So embrace your dissatisfaction with your life. Don't let it depress or discourage you. Remind yourself that the more you want a better life, the more power and fuel you have to achieve it!" This is a common tone in this book; after laying out the chapter's quality, Jeremiah talks to you like a wise friend, zeroing in on your responsibility to God and yourself. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

You Are the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen

This collection of 365 meditations by a Catholic priest who died in 1996 has something for everyone. Nouwen’s perspective, heavily influenced by time spent contemplatively in solitude, makes for unique insights. I am not Catholic and so do not share Nouwen’s views on saints and relationships with those who have died, but there was much here to like. Nouwen encourages the reader to embrace experiences usually thought of as “negative”, such as loneliness, pain, and death. Here are a couple of my favorite selections: From February 25, “There is a false form of honesty that suggests that nothing should remain hidden and that everything should be said, expressed, and communicated. This honesty can be very harmful, and if it does not harm, it at least makes the relationship flat, superficial, empty, and often very boring. When we try to shake off our loneliness by creating a milieu without limiting boundaries, we may become entangled in a stagnating closeness. It is our vocation to prevent the harmful exposure of our inner sanctuary, not only for our own protection but also as a service to our fellow human beings with whom we want to enter in a creative communion. Just as words lose their power when they are not born out of silence, so openness loses its meaning when there is no ability to be closed.” From October 9: “You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are. . . . The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely come from that source. you need to let your wounds go down to your heart. Then you can live through them and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.” I highly recommend this book, as it will help you think about the way you think. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, November 27, 2017

In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh has written many books, but none as honest as this one. In it, she admits to a lifelong struggle with suicidal ideation which likely took root after her father committed suicide when she was five. This book aims to help those who struggle with debilitating emotional issues by applying the truth that salvation is not just positional or future but is for today, with power to reach the depths of our pain. Sheila encourages the reader to talk about what is secret, buried, and walled in. In doing so, freedom can come by letting go, telling oneself the truth, and allowing oneself to be fully known and loved. The author encourages the reader to talk aloud to God about whatever is held privately, to break the habit of suffering in silence. Then one should use great discernment to find other women, “safe-place sisters” who will offer support and encouragement through the turmoil and pain. I recommend this book to any Christians who struggle with lifelong emotional challenges, especially those related to family. It is well written, with a balance between Scripture and the practical. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.