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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Courageous Teen review

Courageous Teens is a student-focused presentation of Courageous Living by Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer of the hit film Courageous.

Catt brings fresh insight to “stories of people in the Bible who displayed great courage when it would have been easier to play it safe . . . (who) challenge me to keep moving forward. They demand that I examine my priorities and deal with anything that brings fear to my heart.”
Teen readers will be inspired to resolve to live for God as they learn more about Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, Ruth, Daniel, and many more.
Best-selling youth market author Amy Parker arranges the heart-stirring material into four categories: Courageous Faith, Courageous Leadership, Courageous Priorities, and Courageous Influence. Discussion questions are also included at the end of each chapter.

My Review:
First some background. 

Courageous is a movie about fathers, a call to action for them to lead their families.  If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, I highly recommend it.  But the call to be courageous isn't just for fathers, it's for all of us.  That is what this book addresses.

"In this decade of American Idol, we need a generation who will not worship the gods of this world and will serve the one true God."   The young people of today will be the leaders, the fathers and mothers of the next generation.  This is their call to step up and stand up for the one true God.  Catt skillfully combines scenes from the movie, Bible examples, and real life to illustrate how teens can step up to the plate.  After all, "God has called us to think differently than the world thinks.  But until right stands up and looks like right, then wrong doesn't take it into consideration." 

I  found this book to be a great reminder that we each have a purpose here, and that quite often God calls us outside of our comfort zone to act for Him.  That way we can give Him all the glory.  This would ba a perfect book for individual or small group study, and despite the "teen" title, even younger children can use and apply the teachings in this book.  My preteen daughter is reading it now and with each chapter she gets more excited about how she can be courageous for God.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Greater review

Book Description:

Are you ready to open your imagination to the possibility that God has a vision for your life that is greater?  We all have honest moments when we’re gripped by a desire to feel that what we’re doing matters more. That who we are matters more.

And according to one of the most shocking verses in the Bible, Jesus wants the very same thing for every one of us:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” -John 14:12
That single promise—“even greater things than these”—should be enough to shatter our acceptance of spiritual mediocrity. Unfortunately, most believers have only tried and given up on vague notions of greatness…then settled into a life that’s just good enough.
Good enough = Baseline living that is marked by mediocrity, stuck in spiritual survival mode, and controlled by complacency.
Greatness = Vague, unrealistic aspirations of doing better that don’t work in real life and lead to endless frustration.
But there is a third way.
Greater = The life-altering understanding that God is ready to accomplish a greatness in your life that is entirely out of human reach—beyond anything you see in yourself on your best day, but exactly what God has seen in you all along.
In Greater, Pastor Steven Furtick draws on the biblical story of Elisha to empower you to:
   • Take a God-given dream from idea to reality
   • Stretch your limited resources and abilities in ways you never thought possible
   • Replace the images of yourself that keep you feeling stuck in the past
   • Make a significant impact with your life starting today, rather than making endless plans for tomorrow that you never get around to

If you’re tired of being ordinary, it’s time to dream bigger. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to begin, it’s time to start smaller. It’s time to ignite God’s Greater vision for your life.

My Review:

First, I have never attended a Pastor Furtick's church, had never listened to one of his sermons before this book, and I didn't realize that he was as well known as he apparantly is.  I read this book for two reasons.  First, the topic really interested me.  **Seriously, why else would I read a book!  ;o) **  Second, Melissa Taylor was going to be leading an online Bible study using this book in November 2012 (you can find out more at ). 

Let me start by simply saying my Kindle had so many highlights that I really think someone could have read just my highlights and totally understand the book!  It was awesome!  From the beginning when Furtick says, "You can't keep living like this.  It's not fine for you to settle for going every day to a job you'd prefer to quit, doing decent work, being a pretty good person compared to your neighbor, paying your bills on time and sporadically reading the Bible as though it's your guide to the great things God did in other people's lives in the past." I knew this was going to be a life changing book. 

Furtick takes us through the story of Elisha and his path to "greater" and shows us how we too can walk that path.  From burning our plows to raising an axhead from a river, to learning that even though we may be surrounded by enemies we always have more with us that against us if we open our eyes and look around.  Furtick tells us that like Elisha, we will come to a point where we are "standing at the crossing point to your future...parents, friends, maybe your spouse, maybe your children...are waiting for you to do the things only you can do by the power of God's Spirit.  They are waiting for God to touch them through you, even if they don't know it yet."

We are reminded that we each have a purpose, a calling, in our lives.  We can not simply stand in the middle of the path and watch the world flow around us and think that we are making a difference in Jesus name.  We are called to be greater than that and Pastor Furtick inspires us to discover where our path to greater starts and begin walking, no begin RUNNING, on that path!  Greater isn't something only "special" people should strive for, it is a calling for us all.  If you are looking to improve your relationship with God then this is a great kickstart!

You can find out more about the book here

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The River Review

Book Description:

“You were made for The River . . .”

Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure.

But something holds him back—the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old—something no child should ever see.

Chains of fear and resentment imprison Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He remains trapped, afraid to take hold of the life awaiting him.

When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reach. Claiming that destiny will be the hardest—and bravest—thing he has ever done.

My Review:

Let me start by saying, I am NOT in to rafting at all, which is what some may think this book centers on.  While it does take place around a river, and while rafting does seem to be a central theme, you don't have to even have a working knowledge of rafting to "get" this book.

We have all experienced something in our life that has dramatically affected us.  Fortunately that doesn't include the death of a parent at a young age for many of us, but that also doesn't keep you from "getting" this book.

Gabriel loses his dad at the age of 5 in a terrible accident.  As a result he leaves everything behind and moves to the complete opposite side of what life had been for him.  He grows up refusing to live life in a lot of ways as a result of the accident.  He has few friends, tends to live inside of himself, and just goes through the motions.  How many of you can relate to that?

But Gabriel doesn't stay there.  As so often happens we are one day brought face to face with our past and a choice must be made, live there or learn from it and move on.  Gabriel struggles with this but does learn to embrace his past once he begins to really understand what happened and uses it to improve himself.

This is a well written book, although it is predictable and you can almost see the ending at the beginning of the story.  The characters are well thought out and most have some depth to them,.  I have to say my favorite character isn't Gabriel, but Ezra, an old man who seems full of wisdom and patience. 

A great, relaxing pleasure read that can have depth to it if you look for it.  Reminds me of some of Andy Andews fiction titles.

You can purchase the River on Amazon here
You can also purchase a CD with music inspired by The River here

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unglued review

Book Description:

In her bestseller Made to Crave, Bible-teacher Lysa TerKeurst shared her struggles with what went into her mouth and how her food choices were based on her emotions. Now in Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, she focuses on what comes out in her speech. Sharing from her own experience, Lysa observes how many women hold their feelings inside, until circumstances reach a crisis and we explode, speaking in anger and saying words we'll regret later. In a very real way, we can come unglued and lose control of our emotions.

But there is hope for women who desire healing for their emotions. Without offering pat answers or simple solutions, Lysa brings insight to help women resolve conflict in healthy ways and improve communication with those whom you're in close relationship. Discover what it means to "renew your mind" in Biblical and practical ways.

My Review:

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl was my introduction to Lysa Terkeurst, and that book really impacted my relationship with God. Then there was Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food which helped me to see how my relationship with food was a symptom of problems I had with my relationship with God. In this book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions , Lysa  addresses our emotions, or rather our desire to not let them control us.  And again this book has helped me to draw closer to God.

I love Lysa's honesty throughout all of her writings.  She doesn't preach at you, but rather shares real stories about having been there.  She comes unglued on her daughter not realizing that she has pocket dialed her pastor and he can hear it all, she cleans her house for company only to have company arrive and aks, "Lysa, where's the toilet seat for the kids' bathroom?"  She is downright honest, which makes it so much easier to hear that we need to change, and opens us up to her suggestions.  After all, if this gal who has similar unglued experiences can progress towards wise choices, why can't we?

And that's what this book is about, progress not perfection.  Lysa keeps it real here too.  Rather than tell us we will have a new us by Friday she tells us that we aren't going to get it right quickly, not if we want it to stick.  We are aiming for imperfect progress, where our steps forward are greater than our steps back, because we will have steps backwards.  No shortcut to happily ever after in this book, but I don't want the sugary sweet your life is going to be complete in 5 easy steps version.  I want truth, I want to know that when I mess up it doesn't mean the game is over.

So if you have ever felt like sometimes your emotions control you rather than the other way around, grab this book and start reading.  At best you will start on your own path to imperfect progress, at worst you spent $10 on a book that you can turn around and sell on ebay!

If you are interested in reading Unglued as part of an online Bible study, stop over at and sign up!  Study begins September 23, 2012