A Few Good Books

The books in this post have been provided to me from the publisher for the purpose of giving an honest review.  While the books were provided to me free of charge, the thoughts and opinions on these books are my own.

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The Bible is a really big, God sized, story of redemption from creation to revelation.  Among the pages are books, chapters, and verses that reveal this big story through small stories made up of Biblical heroes and tales of miracles.  We see free will, judgement, grace, and forgiveness unfold throughout the pages.  Our eyes are opened to The Gospel and hearts are pressed forward into The Great Commission.  As many times as we can slide our hand across the pages, and our eyes soak in every Word, there is a beautiful opportunity to learn from others who are in this same faith journey.  We go to services on the weekend, participate in small group Bible studies, attend conferences, and even watch sermons and speakers online.

We do this because we desire to understand more, learn more.  I was thrilled by The Good Book by Deron Spoo because it is a resource that I can put into my personal study library and revisit often.   Between the covers, Deron Spoo has explored forty major themes found in the Bible.  Spoo doesn’t just set us down to tell us what he thinks, but begins each theme on the foundations of the Scriptures in full content, not just a random verse or two.  Then he expounds upon the theme from the scripture and encourages personal reflection at the end of the chapter.  This isn’t just a book for reading, but a book for study, sharing, and for future reference.

I’d recommend this book for new believers who are trying to grapple with the entirety of the Bible; as well as seasoned believers who may enjoy a fresh perspective.

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I have had my hands on this book for a little bit, I wanted to do this book justice and held onto it until after the kids were out of school.  Rest is incredibly important, for our body and for our mind.  Also, for our soul.

As I have mentioned in the past on the blog, I have an autoimmune disease.  It can leave me feeling beat down and fatigued… even after a full night of sleep.  Part of getting a hold on my health was making decisions about what I would eat, how I would spend my energy, and the products I use on my body.  I needed to detox my body of all the bad things that could be getting in the way of my health.  This was an important step in healing my body so that I could do all that I wanted to with my life, my time, my energy.

Just like our bodies can be burdened by what we eat and drink, our heart and soul can be burdened by the sin of the world.  There are our own personal sins of days past that may haunt us, the sins of others which create anger and resentment; even the daily news can break our hearts for what is happening all around us.  If I want to improve my physical health, I must be mindful of what I eat and drink, put onto my body, and what I do with my body.  So much I take tender care with my heart and soul.  We can’t take care of the outside of the temple, and let the inside rot away or cave in under the burdens of the world.

Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray walk us through 40 days of detoxing our soul through devotions that remind us of how God sees us (as beloved) and what that means in our choices, our daily lives, our future dreams, and healing from the inside out.  Each day explores the theme for that day, The Word, coupled with prayers and reflections, and calls to action to reclaim our mental, spiritual, and physical selves.

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Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier is a fantastic book, truly.  Letellier explores those incidences in Biblical history where the faith of others caused Jesus to take pause.  These were people that remained unnamed and yet we talk about them to day.  We call her the “woman with the blood disorder”, and we call him the Roman Centurion.  There are others too, whom we know just by their affliction, pain, tragedy… and their display of remarkable faith.

I can’t recall reading a book from this perspective, where the focus was on the nameless people who had a faith that was stronger than their affliction; and that is so relevant today.  These are the true stories of people whom we could (and probably do) encounter in our churches every day, on the streets as we pass by, and even in the dynamics of our own families.  I think this would be a fantastic book for a small group, or even potentially a starting point for a sermon series.

I think of so many women, in particular, who feel unseen.  These nine people remind us that even those who names may be lost to history were far from unseen.  They were known by God who created them, known by the Savior who marveled at their faith

Alive in Him by Gloria Furman

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I received a copy of Alive in Him from the Publisher for the purpose of reviewing.  The thoughts and opinions in this piece are my own.

On my flight out to Indiana, for The Gospel Coalition Conference, I brought my copy of Alive in Him by Gloria Furman.  Coincidentally, the theme of the conference plenary sessions was unpacking the book of Galatians.  And, here I find myself reading about it’s neighboring book Ephesians.

Alive in Him is an exploration of the book of Ephesians, and was designed to be read along side an open Bible.  I’ve been a fan of Gloria Furman for quite some time, and I love her intelligent writing style.  She tackles the Scriptures beautifully without underestimating the readers ability to comprehend.  Yet her written word flows with grace, beauty, and femininity.

You can tell that Gloria Furman loves the Word, and desires her readers to understand the depths of God’s promises to His children of redemption.  Then she takes this information and packages it in a way that makes it relatable to our every day life… what does this mean to me today?  How do Paul’s letters to the Ephesians matter in the world, city, and church that I live in today?  What do these letters mean to my personal life and circumstances?

So why read Alive in Him?  If there is anything that I can say comes through Gloria Furman’s writings and interviews is that she has a deep love of God.  It’s not lip service, but genuine and infectious… you want the world to see that same level of love for God in your own life.  However, we must each come to that place on our own … where we truly “get it”.  That is why you should read this book, because Furman desires for you to see God’s tremendous love for you in the same way she does.

This walk through Ephesians presses you not just into how Furman perceives the text, but sends you directly to the Word for your own participation in the conversation.  She shares her wisdom and what she has learned, but challenges her readers to view the text and experience it for themselves.  This isn’t a one way teaching, with a professor standing at a lectern.  Instead you are almost transported to her living room, as if you have been invited to Small Group at the Furman house.

Her approach is kind, loving, and graceful as she unfolds the Scriptures before you.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is:

“The Holy Spirit will not allow you to live satisfied on the rubbish heap; he will nurture a longing for the City of God to beat in your heart.”

~ Gloria Furman, Alive in Him

And I think that quote really does justice to the theme of the book, to help you fulfill that desire to have the “City of God” beating in your heart.   If that is your longing, this book is a great start to put you on the path.

Of all the crazy things…

This week, this book goes on sale…

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… and I’m one of the contributors.

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This is the craziest, coolest, thing ever.

I’m thankful to my family and friends who encouraged me in all the little steps that led here, and are still my cheerleaders for what is to come. 

Lord, let me use this gift well and for your glory.

Book Tour! Day 10 – Divine Direction

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

DAY TEN:  DIVINE DIRECTION by Craig Groeschel

booktour7 I am really excited to be apart of the Launch Team for Divine Direction.  When you are on a launch team, you get an advanced copy of the book for the purpose of reading it and helping promote it leading up to the sales date.

I love a good sneak peek!

So expect to hear a bit more about this book in the coming days.

One of the things that drew me to the book was that the 7 decisions are really small choices that will yield big impact.  Groeschel walks us through making these small choices from a Biblical standpoint.  Connection our decisions to the desires of God’s heart.

Stop what is hindering you.  Start a new habit.  Determine when to stay or when to go.  Serve where God wants you serve.  Connect genuinely.  Trust in God who has known you since you were knit in your mother’s womb and the hairs on your head; God who has a plan for your life.

 

Book Tour! Day 9 -100 Bible Verse

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

DAY NINE:  100 MOST ENCOURAGING VERSES OF THE BIBLE by Troy Schmidt

100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible was given to me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing.  The thoughts and opinions in this piece are my own and not influenced by the publisher or author.

Sometimes, it is nice to have a little book of verses edited around a theme.  One I have used for years is God’s Promises to Women.  When I saw this book on the list for potential reviews, I really thought it was going to be the same thing.  A compilation of Bible verses, categorized  under headings, with the potential of being another “go-to” book for when a need a quick verse for a card or friend.

It was much more than that.

Not only does the book have a great list of 100 encouraging verses, but each verse is also accompanied by a passage that puts the verse into context or application for our life.  This book could serve as a great daily devotional, added to your study routine.  It’s a slim line book, which means it will fit in your tote or even the pocket of your bible cover.  It’s a great gift item, but also a good resource for your personal library.

Book Tour! Day 8 – Leadership Promises

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

I received a copy of Leadership Promises for Every Day, Daily Devotional by John C. Maxwell for the purpose of reviewing.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

DAY EIGHT:  LEADERSHIP PROMISES FOR EVERY DAY by John C. Maxwell

Leaders really do need to be encouraged.   Leaders, good ones, are constantly pouring out into others.  We can’t pour out of an empty vessel, so leaders need to have someone who is pouring into their lives.  This isn’t always easy though, especially if you happen to the be at the top of the ministry ladder.  I love this devotional, where John C. Maxwell pours a daily dose of scripture and leadership wisdom into my life.

I’ve enjoyed the book so much, I have in turn found myself giving it as a gift to other leaders.  I would have preferred a “Day 1”, “Day 2″… format over a calendar dated format.  But, that may be my OCD talking… because despite flipping through it… I literally waiting until January 1st to official start using it.

Additionally, I get a lot of great feedback from those who received it as a gift.  Which really spurs me on to continue gifting it, knowing that it’s not just me… but various leaders who are benefiting from these devotions. 

Recommendations:  Pastor Appreciation Gift,  Ministry Leader Birthday, Anniversary, or “Just Because” gift, Speaker Gifts, etc.

 

Book Tour! Day 7 – Racial Reconciliation

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

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I received a copy of The Gospel Life Series- Racial Reconciliation from B&H Publishers for the purpose of reviewing.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is a big topic right now.  Some topics are really hard, complex, uncomfortable, and we may even try to avoid them.

If you want to have a voice in the conversation, you have to be willing to hear some hard truths.  Your eyes have to be open to see what may have been hidden from your life.  Your ears need to be open to hear the experiences of others, that differ from your own.  You also need to be prepared for what is going to come your way.

When you pray for the Lord to break your heart for what breaks His, expect to be deeply broken.  Invest in tissues, because you won’t be able to unsee or unhear.

It was in a recently interview, I heard a Pastor state that he believed that the Lord is bringing this issue forward, that we can no longer ignore it.  Another Pastor said the church needs to be on the front line on this issue, not hiding behind the pews.

The Gospel for Life Series – The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation is a great book to start your journey on this complex topic.  It’s a small book, which means it gets right to the point.  It’s also a collection of voices, with chapters contributed by J. Daniel Hays, Thabiti Anyabwile, Trillia Newbell, Eric Mason, Matthew J. Hall, and D.A. Horton.  There is also a list at the end of the book for additional reading to continue learning.

What I have learned in regard to this discussion, is that first I need to listen.  I need to read.  I need to watch.  I need to lean into those who have experience, not opinions.  I need to feel for those who hurt, not try to justify the how or why things happened.  I need to open my eyes, ears, and heart to what the Lord would say.  This book is certainly a great tool in that process.

We explore what the Bible says from our creation in His image (all of us), what the Lord purposed us for, how the Bible would have us interact with one another, how things went wrong, inter-ethnic marriage, how to get to know those who don’t look like us or come from a different background, how the church should engage, and what does the culture around us say (and how do we respond to that).

In Chapter 4, Pastor Eric Mason states:

“Churches need to recognize that one of the Enemy’s devices is to fight against reconciliation between God’s people (2 Cor. 2:11).”

When we recognize this, we know that we can’t stay silent.  It’s US versus the Enemy.

Book Tour! Day 6 – Lists to Love By

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

DAY SIX:  LISTS TO LOVE BY FOR BUSY WIVES by Mark and Susan Merrill

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I received Lists to Love By from Faith Words for the purpose of reviewing.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ok… so Valentines Day is not too far away, and what a better thing to do on Valentines Day than celebrate your marriage!

Times have changed, women are not at home tending the kids and prepping dinner before their husband gets home.  We are busy.

* We are busy at work.

* We are volunteering more.

* We are pinteresting perfect birthday parties for our kids.

Ok… to be fair, some of our busy is self imposed.  But, I remember thinking how much free time I would have once all three of our kids were in school.  This was a lie.

My whole life is organized by ongoing lists.  Lists keep me sane.  Lists make sure I don’t forget.

It is no surprise that this title would appeal to me.  Yes, I’m admitting it.  I need a list to be a better wife.

I’ve actually been a fan of the Merrills for quite some time, through Family First.  I expected that I would probably read some familiar ideas and suggestions, but also eager to get new ones too.  Turns out that this book was not exactly what I was expecting.

Expectation:  I would find cute, fun, romantic, and inventive check lists of ideas for date nights or flirty texts I could send my husband.

Reality:  This book digs a little deeper than superficial lists.  For example, the first “list”, is 7 Truths About Marriage.  Yep, we are going to dig deep to truth.  And… there was a quiz at the end of the chapter. List Three was on 5 Powerful Words for Your Marriage.  I realized I could do a better job in how I communicate with my husband.  List 12, it wants to talk about a struggling sex life. Yep, we are going to get personal.  Discussion questions follow that one, so… yeah I also have to talk about it.  UGH.

In all seriousness, this book is filled with 30 lists that are well beyond check off boxes with novelty suggestions.  It is filled with 30 lists that are meant to help us refocus on our marriages, our spouses, with intention and purpose.  Reading ideas, lists of truths, answering questions to explore these little chapters, actionable steps to be a better wife.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is married, or preparing to get married.

Great engagement or bridal shower gift, for certain.  I might also recommend this book to the woman who is struggling with her marriage.

It’s true that the only person you can change is you.  So, if we want a better marriage… I can only change myself.  If we put forth the effort we can save a failing marriage, take a good marriage to great, or keep the exceptional marriage going forward.

Book Tour! Day 5 – Successful Leaders

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

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I received Successful Leaders of the Bible from Faith Words, for the purpose of review.  The thoughts and opinions are my own.

DAY FIVE:  SUCCESSFUL LEADERS OF THE BIBLE by Katara Washington Patton

Yesterday’s post was about building a culture of developing leaders within your church.  Today’s book is a collection of Biblical examples of leaders.  Each chapter of the book is devoted to leader, from the Bible, and the character of their leadership.

This is not the first book by Katara Washington Patton that I have read, and it just fits perfectly within her style.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  Patton examines the leader in relations to their purpose in God’s redemptive plan, highlights their positive attributes as a leader, and then applies these lessons to our every day life.  However Patton also reveals the areas where some of the leaders lost sight or slipped up.  A reminder that even the most Godly leaders we celebrate were still imperfect humans, redeemed by God’s love for them.

I’ve always said that we learn two things from the people we encounter, when it comes to our personal development.  We learn 1) who we want to be and 2) who we do not want to be.  Even from the greatest leaders we can learn just as much (if not more) from their mistakes and we do from their success.

If you truly want to understand more about what Biblical Leadership looks like, from the perspective of the leaders found in scriptures, Patton’s book is a great starting point.  Patton is careful to include scripture references, which can allow you to examine these leaders further.  I’d encourage you to look beyond these nine leaders and keep digging into the scriptures for more examples of good (and bad) leaders that you can glean from.

Book Tour! Day 4 – Designed to Lead

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

I received Designed to Lead from B&H Publishers and Lifeway Stores, for the purpose of review.  The thoughts and opinions are my own.

DAY FOUR:  DESIGNED TO LEAD by Eric Geiger an Kevin Peck

My ministry work revolves around the training of other leaders, therefore it is vital that I am reading books on leadership, team building, etc.  I read these books to learn to lead better myself, but also to convey to others more effective way we can lead in our ministries (and even businesses).

Leadership development is something that has been on my mind lately.  I’ve been looking at various churches and trying to understand why their Associate Pastors are hired in from outside, and not being developed within the church.  Curious as to why we need a Pastor Search Committee for a new Head Pastor, when we have a team of Associate Pastors that should move into place.  Contemplating why it throws a ministry into havoc when a leader steps down, shouldn’t there be someone ready to take over that position?

I’ve heard many leaders suggest that if we are a Paul (a leader) that we need to be training up our Timothy (eventual replacement).  Yet, I’m seeing very few upper tier leaders who are walking the talk.  Are our churches lacking the conviction to develop strong leaders?  Or, do they simply not know how to do it.  Is it one thing to train someone to become the next small group leader, but a totally different thing to train someone to be a Pastor or ministry leader?  If you are a Pastor, I wonder… how many people in your church are you personally mentoring because they feel called to the role of Pastor?  How many people from your church have answered the call to Missions, and how have you prepared them for that call?  Or, are you sending them off to some organization to do the work for you?

I’ve had the pleasure to bear witness to churches who HAVE been purposeful in not just encouraging leaders, but also developing them and encouraging them toward that call.  I’ve also scratched my head and wondered why the members of a church have no idea that leadership positions are being advertised on staffing sites, and not offered to qualified people in the church.  I’ve seen churches HIRE someone from another state, when a qualified person sits in their pews every Sunday who would do the job for free as a service to the church, using their talent to bless the church.

This is why I am a big fan of Designed to Lead, because the authors share that same vision.  A vision of not just developing strong leaders but creating a culture that also encourages those leaders.  A building structure that isn’t waiting  around for someone to say “hey, I’d like to be a leader”, but is instead INTENTIONAL on identifying those leaders and creating a system to develop them in to the best leader that they can be.

I must admit that I am tired of watching people LEAVE their church as the only way they can LEAD in the church.    If we had an intentional and systematic plan in place to develop leaders in the church, would we ever need a Pastor Search Committee again?  Would we ever need to put out a classified ad for a Ministry Leader?  Would we need to pay relocation expenses, or help our new hire find housing?  Wouldn’t we also create a place where we are creating jobs for our community of believers?

A woman once shared with me that a position opened up in her church, that she was qualified for, but she only found out after the church hired in a woman from another area.  The woman was not only qualified for the job, but currently unemployed.  That job would have been a blessing to her family, and her experience would have been a blessing to the church.

Designed to Lead walks us through the type of Leadership we need to encourage, creating a culture for leadership development by intentional pathways, and keeping a focus on the biblical models and expectations of leaders.  As you work through the text, there are questions that will prompt you to explore your own thoughts and the needs for your church.  There are diagrams to help visual learners understand the concepts being shared.

Ultimately, this is a great book for leaders who desire to build up other leaders.  It is also a challenging book for those who haven’t created that culture within their church or ministry.  I would recommend taking your time to read through the book and really examine your own positions on the subject and respond to the challenges and convictions.