Monday, December 13, 2010

Voices of the Faithful

I usually try to steer clear of devotionals and spend my reading time in the Word of God, but this collection of missionary stories intrigued me. I have enjoyed studying God's Word through several of Beth Moore's studies and was excited to see her role in this devotional.

This daily devotional is divided into categories or themes by month. The topics covered include God's Character, God's Word, Prayer, God's Grace, Witnessing, Persecution, God's Working, Contentment, God Before Me, Spiritual Warfare, Compassion and Christmas Around the World. Beth Moore introduces each month's theme in her own style of writing. Each daily reading starts with a Bible verse, a short testimony from a missionary and ends with a prayer.

I am excited to add this book to my collection of resources. With my strong interest in global missions and my desire to expose my children to inspiring, challenging, real stories, this will be a book our entire will enjoy for many, many years.

I received this book free form the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Year With God

I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of devotionals. I used to depend on them for my "daily bread", but have found simply reading through the Bible to be much more beneficial in my spiritual journey. After having finished reading through the entire Bible this year, I thought I would give another devotional a try.

This devotional of 365 readings contains passages from the Old Testament followed by Nettlehorst's thoughts. I found it interesting that the book did not included any information about it's author and that several translations were used for the scripture readings. It would be interesting and perhaps helpful to know why certain translations were chosen. Each devotion is a page in length and is mostly divided evenly between scripture and reflections. This definitely appealed to me, as I like to read more scripture than human interpretation.

The book is divided into related yet contrasting topics such as Hope and Fear, Forgiveness and Anger, and Faith and Doubt. I also liked that the daily readings were numbered and not dated. This allows readers to use the book more freely, and not feel locked in by dates.

Overall I found Nettelhorst's reflections interesting, though not overly thought provoking.

I received this book free form the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The King's Christmas List

This new book, The King's Christmas List by Eldon Johnson, is a wonderful book that teaches children to love giving.

Emma and her dog Shu-Shu receive and invitation to the King's birthday party. They find a present to give the king and get ready to go. Along the way they encounter some people who need help. Emma gives her cape and cake to a little boy and his grandmother, and she gives her cherished teddy bear to another distraught little girl.

When she arrives at the party empty-handed, she is embarrassed that she has nothing to offer the king. She notices that even though it is the king's birthday, no one is giving gifts to him. Instead they seem to be giving gifts to each other. She asks the king about this and he explains that people have gotten so wrapped up in the spirit of giving gifts on Christmas, that they have forgotten that He, the king, also has a Christmas list.

Anyone who desires to give Me a gift, behold!
Give food to the hungry and clothes to the cold,
Give care to the poor, both young and old,
Whatever gift you've given to a person in need,
Is indeed a gift you have given to Me.

I absolutely love the message of this book. For the past couple years I have been trying to refocus our family at Christmas, and encourage ourselves to find ways to give gifts to Christ instead of each other.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.

Adventures in Booga Booga Land

Today I am reviewing this new DVD from Tommy Nelson. I was excited to receive my copy of Stories from the Parables of Jesus, but very disappointed when we watched it. The three stories include main characters Gerald the giraffe and Marty the monkey. The stories to parallel the parables, but there is no explanation of the parable - just the story. I felt this resource was really lacking in teaching children the meanings of the stories.

The three episodes and parables on the DVD are:
1. So this is Booga - The Workers in the Vineyard / Matthew 20:1-16
2. Marty's Sandcastle - The Wise and Foolish Builders / Matthew 7:24-27
3. No Light in the Lighthouse - The Lamp Under the Bowl / Matthew 5: 14-16

I received a free copy of the video in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

My Princess Bible by Andy Holmes

This new Bible is targeted for little girls. The book covers 19 women of the Bible and in simple rhyme, gives a brief synopsis of their story. Each story ends with an opportunity to personalize the story for your own little princess (K is God's special princess. K takes care of God's world.)

The selections are brief, but offer a great starting point for digging deeper into the story. My three year old daughter loved that the focus of the whole book was princesses. And I loved that the focus was Biblical roles models, not Disney princesses! Of all the princess books in our house, this is the one most welcome on our bookshelf.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Outlive Your Life

I haven't read a lot of Max Lucado's books so I wasn't drawn to his newest one because of his popularity. Rather, it was the subject of the book that was appealing to me. The subtitle "You were made to make a difference" really resonated with me and I was curious to see what Max had to say about it.

Each chapter focuses on a theme and Max uses both Biblical (mostly from Acts) and real life stories to illustrate each theme. Some of these themes include the importance of prayer, persecution, doing good quietly and the power of working together as teams. The book is full of scripture and inspirational stories as well as wise words from a great author. I also enjoyed how each chapter ended with a sincere prayer that the reader could personalize for their own growth.

Some of my favorite moments include the following:

On persecution -
So how can we prepare ourselves? Simple. Imitate the disciples. Linger long and often in the presence of Christ. Meditate on his grace. Ponder his love. Memorize his words. Gaze into his face. Talk to him. Courage comes as we live with Jesus.

On standing up for the have-nots -
Get ticked off. Riled up enough to respond. Righteous anger would do a world of good. Poverty is not the lack of charity but the lack of justice. Why do a billion people go to bed hungry every night? Why do nearly thirty thousand children die every day, one every three seconds, from hunger and preventable diseases?

On compassion -
The sign of the saved is their concern for those in n
eed. Compassion does not save them - or us. Salvation is the work of Christ. Compassion is the consequence of salvation.

This is a book I would probably read more than once, and if I did, I would likely gain new insight each time I read it. In this book, Max calls Christians to action. I also appreciate that one hundred percent of the royalties will benefit children and families through World Vision and other faith-based, compassion ministries.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson as part of their Book Sneeze blogging review program, in exchange for my honest review.

Driftwood Lane

This is the fourth installment in Denise Hunter's Nantucket Love Story series. Although I did not read any of the other books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson publishers (through Booksneeze) in exchange for a candid, honest review.

Meridith Ward has created a life of security for herself including a good job and a fiance. Abandoned by her father at a young age, she was raised by her mom who battled bi-polar disorder. One phone call changes her life and all her plans. She learns that her father and his wife have died, and she has gained full custody of their three children. Meridith goes to Nantucket to care for the siblings she has never met and hopes the children's uncle will take over custody once he learns of the situation. Much to her dismay, her well intentioned plans are once again foiled as she unknowingly falls in love with the kids and their uncle.

This is a delightful read for the summer. The plot, though not complicated, moves along quickly and keeps the reader engaged.

Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson

Anne Jackson asked a question on her blog one day; "What is one thing you feel you can't say in the church?" Although she was simply driven by curiosity, she was overwhelmed by the response she received from readers.

In her new book, Permission to Speak Freely, Anne shares her own testimony, confessing her struggle with sin and depression. She introduces us to the concept and gift of going second. By honestly sharing our struggles with others first, we are opening the door for them to also share and speak freely about their brokenness.

I really enjoyed Anne's humor and willingness to openly share her struggles. Her honesty is inspiring and gives great insight into the value of giving ourselves permission to speak freely.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, in exchange for my honest review.

Resurrection in May

May Seymour has graduated from college and has her whole life ahead of her. Claudius Borne is a sweet, kind, old farmer who has no family of his own. After finding May, drunk and alone on the side of the road, the two become friends and wind up sharing a home on the farm.

May goes to Rwanda on a mission trip and experiences the horrible tragedy of the genocide. Although she witnesses the brutal murders of everyone in her village, she survives and finds her way back to Claudius and his farm, where she will learn to live life again. While on the farm, she renews a friendship with Eli, a former college flame. He is on death row and the two become pen pals, helping each other deal with their situations.

This book is full of emotion and Lisa Samson develops the characters so well. It is not a light read, nor does the plot move quickly, but I found myself so deeply involved in the story and lives of the characters. There is a very unexpected turn at the end and the transformation we see in May is remarkable.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.