Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. In addition, many of the books reviewed on this site were received free from the publisher through various book review bloggers programs. I am never required to write a positive review. On ocassion I will review a book that was not provided by the publisher. If that is the case I will note it on that particular post. Otherwise, assume that it was. All opinions I have expressed are always my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jesus Calling Bible Storybook
Jesus Calling Bible Storybook Description:

Jesus is calling out to our hearts, and you can hear His voice in every story in the Bible. These carefully selected stories are paired with new children’s devotions from Sarah Young and will help young hearts understand God’s grand plan to send His Son, Jesus, to save His children and prepare a place for us in heaven. 

Bestselling author Sarah Young has touched millions of lives through her devotionals based on Scripture and written as though Jesus is speaking directly to the reader. This book will lead God’s children, young and old, to talk to Jesus through prayer and to listen to His voice speaking love to their hearts.

My Review:

I LOVE Sarah Young's way of presenting God's promises to us in a personal way.  I first discovered Ms. Young when I read 40 Days With Jesus: Celebrating His Presence, which prompted me to purchase the year long devotional (Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence). When she published Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids I bought it! I type up the devotionals and add a picture to them and include them in my daughter's lunch box every day. When I saw this title,Jesus Calling Bible Storybook I was excited to have one to share with my preschooler.

But this one is so much more than the others! It includes 49 Old Testament stories and 51 New Testament stories presented with beautiful illustrations (thank you Caroline Farias)and a great age appropriate narration. According to Young this book was "designed to help young children come to know God's Word and enjoy the Presence of Jesus in their lives. This book tells the wonderful story of God's great love for His people." I have to say that this has definitely been accomplished.

The Bible portions that have been included show God's love from creation, through Abraham, David, and finally the life of Jesus as well a reminder that "one day, things will become perfect the way God wants them to be. Someday God's love-brighter than the brightest sun-will be the only light we the vision that Jesus showed to John, God and his children lived together as one perfect, happy family--the way it was supposed to be back in the Garden with Adam and Eve all those years ago." I found the stories to follow the Biblical account very closely and that made me happy. So many children's Bibles turn the accounts into fairy tales.

What I especially enjoyed is that at the end of each story is a Bible verse that corresponds to the events as well as a devotional in the expected Saray Young style. For example, the devotion after the story of Ruth and Naomi reads: Everything that happens fits into My plan for good if you love Me. Trust Me with big things, like your friendships and future dreams. You can also trust Me for little, everyday things. Remember how I took care of Ruth and Naomi. Nothing is too big or too small for Me. So talk with me about everything.

And the watercolor illustrations are absolutely GORGEOUS! I would love to frame some of them!

If you have a young child, this is a book you need to have on your bookshelf!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Soul's Gate review

   Soul's Gate (A Well Spring Novel)  Description:

What if you could travel inside another person’s soul? To battle for them. To be part of Jesus healing their deepest wounds. To help set them free to step boldly into their divinely designed future.

Thirty years ago that’s exactly what Reece Roth did. Until tragedy shattered his life and ripped away his future.  Now God has drawn Reece out of the shadows to fulfill a prophecy spoken over him three decades ago. A prophecy about four warriors with the potential to change the world . . . if Reece will face his deepest regret and teach them what he has learned.

They gather at a secluded and mysterious ranch deep in the mountains of Colorado, where they will learn to see the spiritual world around them with stunning clarity—and how to step into the supernatural.  Their training is only the beginning. The four have a destiny to pursue a freedom even Reece doesn’t fully fathom. But they have an enemy hell-bent on destroying them and he’ll stop at nothing to keep them from their quest for true freedom and the coming battle of souls.

My Review:

If you enjoyed Frank Peretti's Piercing the Darkness or This Present Darkness then will probably enjoy Soul's Gate as well.  Spiritual awakening, fighting the forces of evil, realizing the power we have through Jesus to overcome, this book has it all!

The only drawback about this book is that it wanders a bit farther into mystical than I would like.  While the author freely admits at the end of the book that he does not believe it is possible to travel into the soul of another and battle there, that is the HUGE premise of this book.  It is a wonderful thought, but ultimately our soul battles are our own.

The characters are great, the hurts that must be overcome are relateable (is that even a word?!) and you will probably find yourself in one of them.  (Although I have to admit that the way I pictured them was NOTHING like the actors in the above book trailer.)  It was a good read, and a great reminder that we are all called to battle the forces of evil, we all have the power of Christ that we can use during these battles, and ultimately the battle has already been won!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

1,000 Days review

Book Description

An opportunity to meet Jesus Christ like never before.

Have you ever thought that when Jesus Christ came to earth more than two thousand years ago, he could have simply given us salvation—period!—and never done another single thing? Jesus Christ could have chosen to be born of a virgin, live for 33 years in relative obscurity, die on the cross, be buried, and rise from the dead three days later, and still give us the opportunity for salvation without doing any of the things we read about in the gospels.

Yet there was more.

For three years—roughly 1,000 days—Jesus served in public ministry while on earth. He didn’t need to do this ministry, yet he did anyway, and that’s the key for us. This intentionality implies that there is a lot of information in Scripture that we need to grapple with. We need to understand what Jesus said and did during his 1,000-day public ministry, so we can apply his teachings to our lives today.
What makes these 1000 days of Christ so vitally important?
Jesus’ public ministry was to help us understand what true love is all about—both for God and for other people. When we love God and others first, the rest of life falls into place: our possessions, our ambitions, our hopes and our dreams. Jesus modeled everything he taught, and his invitation is to make his mission our mission too.

My Review:

Falwell's book covers the roughly 1,000 days of Jesus ministry here on this earth in 15 short chapters with titles such as:  Jesus Close-Up,  The Way of Radical Love, When Temptation Meets Endurance, and Beyond Hype to name a few.  The chapters include a short "modern day" story, references to one of Jesus teachings, and Falwell's explaination of what is going on, as well as reflection questions.  In addition a Bible Study guide and a list of 100 "events" in Jesus life.

I have to be honest in that I was not a fan of the Jonathan Falwell's father, Reverend Jerry Falwell.  I decided to read this book based upon the recomendation of a friend's opinion of Jonathan Falwell's preaching.  Also, along the honesty line, this book was not what I had expected after reading the description.  I had though that it would be more about Jesus life and less of a "lesson" type book. 

While this does include many highlights of Jesus life I didn't feel like "Falwell persents the unique chance to study this miracle, looking closely at those last three years in Jesus' life and revealing vital information from the gospels for our lives today."  I didn't "meet Jesus like never before" as the dust jacket claimed I would.  I felt like it was more about what Falwell could tell me about Jesus than actually about Jesus. 

In addition I felt as if Falwell included many of the original Greek words in his text unnecessarily, and at times I really felt he stretched his explainations of them.  For example when discussing Matthew 5:8 (Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.) He tells us that the Greek word for see is optanomai.  "It simply means "see."  It's hard to elaborate on that definition.  The word optanomai is the root of our English word optimal.  So Jesus was saying that the pure in heart...will have an optimal view of God." (p. 46)  Really?  So the word "see" means "see" and he takes a leap and tells us that because optimal has the same root word it is interchangeable.  These words are doublets, and not all doublets (words with a common root in the same language) are interchangeable.  (an example is entire and integer both from the Latin word integrum meaning whole)  Another example is on page 56 where we are told the Greek word translated as peace means peace.  Falwell seems to give up the idea of showing off his knowledge (or access to Strong's Concordance) early in the book though as it doesn't continue throughout. 

I found the writing dull at times, and some of the story connections were weak.  It wasn't a book I enjoyed reading, nor was it one I felt I learned from.  However, for those who like his style, don't let that deter you.  He does a good job of including scripture to support his thoughts and obviously has a sincere heart for God.  Unfortunately his style just wasn't for me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Leading the Way through Ephesians review

Book Description:

Throughout the book of Ephesians, Paul refers to "the riches of God's grace," "our riches in Christ," and "the riches of His glory" as he reminds believers of the spiritual treasures they already possess in Christ.
Leading the Way Through Ephesians applies these great truths in such practical areas of the Christian life as
  • enduring trials, suffering, and persecution
  • maintaining the unity of the church through Christian love
  • living out the gospel in our marriages and family relationships
  • praying with power
  • maintaining our armor against the attacks of Satan
Through sound teaching, vibrant illustrations, and a brisk conversational style that applies God's truth to the realities of the twenty-first century, Leading the Way Through Ephesians will show readers the way to a stronger, more active, more dynamic faith.

My Review:

I used this book as a resource for my women's Bible study group when we were studying Ephesians and absolutely loved it.  Youssef does a phenomenal job of incorporating modern day examples with Bible text and storytelling.  I found myself engaged and digger deeper into the Bible than I might have otherwise.  I began preparing using a different Ephesians study and found myself referring more and more to Youseff's book as I went along.

This book takes you through Ephesians not only chapter by chapter, but subject by subject.  This means the 6 chapters of Ephesians translates into 14 chapters in this book with titles such as "you have all you need" and "from darkness to light", "God's plan for marriage", "God's plan for raising children", and "God's plan for your workplace".  

I found that the chapters were a bit long to be considered a devotional reading, and they would have benefited from some review/reflection questions at the end of each chapter to be a better devotional.  However it was a great commentary.  

You can purchase Leading the Way Through Ephesians (Leading the Way Through the Bible) on Amazon as well as at your local Christian bookstore.

Learn more about Michael Youssef and his ministry at Leading the Way.