Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

This is the first book I’ve read by Andy Stanley, who is a masterful writer. When he turned his sights to the topic of the grace of God, the result is an in-depth look involving a refreshing perspective, an engaging style, and challenging applications. The author gives everyone something meaty to ponder.

Clearly outlined is man’s need for God’s grace, as well as God’s desire to extend grace to everyone at all times. Scripture is used extensively and well, and some familiar Bible stories, such as the story of Joseph and the parable of the prodigal son, are retold in a fresh way. The author explores many facets of grace in chapters entitled, among others, Surprised by Grace, Ruled by Grace, Sustained by Grace, Puzzled by Grace, and Commissioned for Grace.

This book was interesting, enlightening and thought provoking. I would recommend this book to everyone, especially to those who are new in their faith.
I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Love You More by Jennifer Grant

This book chronicles the author’s journey of adopting her daughter, Mia, from Guatemala in 2003. It serves both as her personal account and a narration of what potential adoptive parents can expect from the adoption process. The author readily acknowledges that adoption is not for everyone; she is not a zealot who believes that if you can adopt, you should. Yet she makes the case for adoption for those who are looking at their desires, motivations, and reasons.

Jennifer Grant writes well, and every chapter was interesting. She gives a compelling account of Mia’s story while giving a full picture of people’s response to Mia, from both her adoptive parents to her siblings to friends and even strangers. If you are not an adoptive parent, the author will make you think about your response to adoption.

There are few references to the Bible and a smattering of references to prayer and God’s working in the author’s situation, but that is not a criticism, for this book is an account, not a manual. I would recommend this book to those considering adoption. At the end of the book are useful questions and helpful resources listed.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

This newest offering by energetic, funny, master storyteller Patsy Clairmont is a treasure. Stepping away from her usual wry and witty style, the author pulls the curtain back on her life, her thoughts, and her deep perspective. She writes thoughtfully of challenge and loss, reflecting on how those times have shaped her into someone who values the brokenness in herself and in others that results. Patsy offers practical steps to help when facing challenging times.

Patsy reveals a side of herself that is at once aware, articulate, and deep. One of my favorites of her statements in this new book is, “Words that give us pause are often a window to our needs.” It is that kind of thoughtfulness that permeates this work.

In addition, every chapter ends with suggestions of art to view, music to hear, and written words to consider if further exploration of the topic is desired. This is an offering not often seen in books and is a way to pursue anything that resonates.

This little book is a keeper, one to consider time and again when life creeps or crashes in.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado

This book discusses the fact that the universe and everything in it, including mankind, is designed to reflect and focus on God, as God’s person and character deserve and demand it. Man’s responsibility is to reflect and broadcast God in his message, body, struggles and success.

This was an interesting book, effectively making the point that all of life is to be focused on God, not on people. This author is a bit wordy, but he makes good points. Lucado particularly uses illustrations and biblical references very well to direct the reader’s attention back to the importance of keeping God first.

I would particularly recommend this book those wondering what the Christian life is to be all about, either those seeking to know God or ones who are fairly new to faith in Christ as Savior.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How To Be God's Little Princess by Sheila Walsh

This book is an updated primer on what used to be called deportment. It instructs young girls how to dress, accessorize, move, and conduct herself by socializing and interacting with others in person and with electronic media. It gives specifics about table manners, personal grooming and hygiene, developing a good attitude, and cultivating a relationship with God.

This is an excellent book, both informative and entertaining. The author does an exceptional job of presenting manners and personal improvement as logical and worthy goals for young girls. The style is friendly and helpful.
The author does an appealing job of weaving Scripture into the book’s principles and gently presents the gospel toward the end of the book.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book for young girls.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max on Life by Max Lucado

The author answers 172 common questions, organized into seven categories, including Hope, Hurt, Help and Home.

The questions were excellent and, for the most part, so were the answers. For example, one person whose mother was in a nursing home had difficulty visiting her. Max told of visiting his mother there, saying, “At first I saw age, disease, and faded vigor. With time I saw love, courage, and unflappable unselfishness. Ask God to show you his work. He will be happy to do so.” With just a few words, Max demonstrated the ability to help shift a perspective. His answer to a person’s question about suicide was equally good: “God does not measure a person by one decision, nor should we.”

Some answers, though, came across as trite. One person struggled with forgiving an abuser, and Max responded that hurt people hurt people, and forgiveness breaks that chain; Jesus forgave people, including the abuser: “Before you get caught in the crazy cycle of hurt and forgivelessness, try shifting your glance away from the one who hurt you and setting your eyes on the One who has saved you. We all need forgiveness. Especially the person who hurt you.” It was as if Max were answering the question, “Do I need to forgive?” rather than, “One day I feel that I can forgive, and the next I feel I can’t.”

This book was a courageous attempt to answer people’s hardest questions, and I recommend it. While it was a little uneven, many questions were answered well.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Conversation with God by Alton Gansky

This book asks common questions people have of God, providing answers from the perspective of God, Jesus and biblical characters who faced issues reflecting those questions. Major topics covered are the reality of God, trustworthiness of the Bible, and what the Bible teaches about the future, pain, Jesus, the kingdom, heaven and hell, humanity, Christian living, and today’s world.

Frankly, I didn’t expect too much because 1) the subject matter is so broad and 2) the author was unknown to me, but the author did an exceptional job of responding to each question in a thoughtful, kind vein with what I consider to be accurate, biblical answers. His answers are firmly founded on Scripture, which he quotes constantly and at great length. My one wish is that the author would have woven the references into his text rather than putting them in endnotes.

This book was interesting, enlightening, and helpful. It would be especially profitable for a new Christian. It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I recommend it.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Left at the Altar by Kimberley Kennedy

This local newscaster was told by her fiancé at the wedding rehearsal that he was backing out. The trauma of that experience, and coming to grips with it before the Lord, is what this book is all about. It is a wonderful narration of learning to let the Lord lead the way in terrible times.

The author lists what she calls “tools for healing”: know that God cares, realize it’s okay to mourn, allow family and friends to comfort you, don’t mourn too long, focus on the truth, don’t waste valuable time plotting ways to get him back, get back into your routine quickly, find a godly counselor, stay in constant contact with God, and turn off the deceiver’s voice.

This is an excellent book which gives practical encouragement for use in coming to grips with painful emotions. It is well written and profitable.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh’s latest book applies Scripture to challenging situations where provision, peace, confidence, love, grace, hope, and strength are needed. She devotes a chapter to each of those needs, plus a couple of more when there are no answers except that God can be trusted and will make everything right someday. The author’s writing is very comforting and centers on biblical promises and examples. Each chapter can stand alone.

Sheila Walsh always does a good job conveying biblical truth. She quotes often from Scripture and then explains or expounds on that. It can feel a little formulaic, with chapter after chapter of first Scripture quotation and then expansion by the author.

The author can make Scripture and one’s walk with God come alive. A highlight was in the chapter on love, where the author likened questioning God’s love to standing at the top of some stairs. As you listen to and incorporate that first lie, “God doesn’t care. There’s no hope,” you take a step down, and as you believe more and more lies, you fall to the bottom of the stairs. But if you reject the first lie and tell yourself God’s promises, you can escape. I thought this was a very useful illustration and wished the book had more of these practical tips.

All in all, this was a good book. It was pretty basic, but even so, it served as a good reminder of the faithfulness of God.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan

This book contains the story of the writing of 150 songs and hymns, including ones for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. On the left page is the song, including the music, and on the right is a one-page narration about the hymnwriter.

This was an interesting book, reminding me of the long line of believers who encouraged generations with their words and music and impressing with the fact that many of those who wrote words and music sacrificed significantly to pursue their talent. A surprising number of these hymnwriters lived and died under tragic circumstances.

For the most part, the book was well written. The author carefully matched verses to hymns and so incorporated biblical truth. I would recommend this book to others.
It’s my perception that the average Christian has little to no interest in hymns. I hope this great heritage of hymns and spiritual songs will not be lost, but if the past few decades are any indication, there will be little call for books such as Morgan’s in the decades to come, a great pity and a huge loss to the church.

I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.