Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Three Hearts

I was recently given a chance to review this new documentary put together by Samaritan's Purse about the Children's Heart Project.  This film follows three children from Mongolia with congenital heart defects who were chosen to participate in this program, from the moment they are told they will receive life-saving surgery in the United States to the time they return home.  You get to see their home land, meet their families, learn more about the Children's Heart Project and what it does, and see the generosity and love of many people who make it all possible. 

My favorite thing about this program is that they not only meet the physical need of surgery for the children, but they meet their spiritual needs as well.  When the mothers and children come into the United States they stay with host families and are supported by host churches who show them where to find hope.  Many of them go home healed in more ways than one.  From what I understand, the doctors and hospitals involved volunteer their time.  The money raised is for screening and initial tests in the child's home country and their transportation to get here.  There are currently over 200 children on a waiting list who will die without a surgery that cannot be performed in their own country.

This film does a great job of highlighting the great need that is out there and the difference that we can make.
To learn more about the Children's Heart Project go to http://www.threeheartsmovie.com/

I was given a complimentary copy of this DVD by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unshaken by Dan Woolley

This book was a real page-turner!  Dan Woolley is on staff with Compassion International and was in Haiti working on a film project when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck in January 2010.  He was trapped inside the rubble of his hotel for 65 hours before being rescued, and decided to share his experience with others in order to bring glory to God. 

There were several reasons why I enjoyed this book.  First, it gave me an inside look into Compassion's Child Survival Program in Haiti.  I am already serving as a child sponsor through Compassion, so I was interested to learn more about their ministry and the impact they are having on families in Haiti. 

Then, of course, is Dan's story of survival.  This book not only details the physical challenges that he had to overcome, but lets the reader feel his emotional and spiritual journey through this time....his worries about his family...his need to renew his commitment to God...and conflicting moments of despair and peace.  My favorite part was his conversation with a Haitian man who was trapped near him.  While facing death, Dan was able to lead this man into life in Christ.  He says "It was his moment of decision, and I could tell he was sincere in his choice to live for God.  The moment changed his eternal fate, guaranteeing him everlasting life in heaven...even if the rest of the building collapsed and killed us or we died in a few days because we didn't have any food or water, Lukeson's decision meant he would be with Jesus in heaven".  Amen!

The third topic that is discussed in this book is told through flashbacks, remembering his wife's depression and fearing that it could return if he didn't make it out alive.  While I didn't think all the detail given to the depression was necessary, it was eye opening and helped the reader understand the challenges his family has already walked through.  There are also a few chapters near the end of book told through his wife's perspective as she learns of the earthquake and then his eventual rescue.

Overall, this is an inspiring story of God's grace and faithfulness, showing how He can bring good out of all circumstances.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver

Joanna Weaver's previous two books have focused on Mary and Martha.  She writes, "We all know Jesus loved Mary...after all, look how she worshiped.  And we can even understand how Jesus loved Martha.  Look how she served.  But what about those of us who don't know where we fit in the heart of God?"  This final book of the Bethany trilogy dives into the story of their brother Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.  The book brings insight into the account of Lazarus as told in John 11:1-12:11, as well as expanding on various related themes.  For those who wonder....Does Jesus really love ME?  What does it mean to be a friend of God?  Why isn't He answering my prayers?  Can I truly be free?  How much faith do I need to have?  How can I hear God's voice?  What would it look like to be awakened, living in the light of eternity?...this book is for you.  There are also study questions included for use in a small group.

I found this book to be very well-written, pulling together insights from many sources.  But it wasn't until Chapter 8 that my pencil started underlining frequently and God really started speaking to my heart.  I'm at a point in my life where my struggle is not with whether or not God loves me (I've thankfully got that truth moved from my head to my heart already)...it's if and how He can use me.  That's what Unwinding Graveclothes is all about.  When Lazarus came out of the tomb, resurrected but still wrapped in graveclothes, Jesus instructed others to "loose him, and let him go." (John 11:44)  This chapter explores what our part is in helping to free others.  Jesus does the work, but we get to be involved in "loving someone back to life."  Joanna learned a few lessons that were important reminders for me.  "First, that I'm not responsible for everyone, but I am responsible for the ones God lays upon my heart...Second, to lay down my expectations for the people I try to help...and finally to obey God and His promptings, then leave the outcome to Him."  As Mother Teresa once said,"God has not called me to be successful.  God has called me to be faithful."  Great words of wisdom for any ministry leader!

I now enjoy seeing the story of Lazarus through a new set of eyes, and I'm sure the truths in this book will stick with me in the years to come.  Click here to read the first chapter for yourself...

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sticky Faith by Powell & Clark

What is sticky faith?  It is a faith that is internal, as well as reflected in one's actions.  It is personal and expressed in relationship with others.  It is mature, yet always growing.  All Christian parents desire for their children to have this kind of faith....but we often wonder what we can do to transfer our faith to them in a way that sticks.  This book has done extensive research to help parents and youth leaders find the answers.  While the authors admit that there is no easy formula to follow, there are many factors that make the development of a sticky faith more likely.  This book shares those findings, ideas for practical application, and discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

I found this book to be very insightful...one that I will probably re-visit every five years or so to get fresh ideas as my boys grow older.  Right now (at ages 4, 6, & 8) I recognize the need for my husband and I to model and talk about our faith with our boys, also including them in serving others.  The book talks about the need to surround children with a web of healthy adult relationships who will encourage and care about them.  There are also many helpful suggestions for the later teenage years and to help with the transition to college.  While I feel a long way off from that phase, I can remember my own college experience, and the advice provided seems to be right on target.  The authors "top suggestion is this: trust the Lord with your kids and continue to ask - maybe at times beg - the Lord to build in them a sticky faith."   There are certainly things we as parents can do, but ultimately we need to trust them into His hands.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.