Monday, October 29, 2012

Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow

Like any Christian parent, I want to surround my boys with as many good influences as possible.  When I saw that Tim Tebow had written a book targeted for my son's age range I knew I had to check it out!  My 9 year-old son is a bit obsessed with sports.  Playing sports...sports video games...sports books...sports name it.  And he just got done playing his first season of football as the back-up quarterback.  Yes, this book will find it's way under my Christmas tree. 

What is so special about Tim Tebow?  He is committed to using his popularity to share his faith and raise money for missions.  He spends his time ministering in prisons, hospitals, and overseas.  In college he would write a Scripture passage on his eye-black patches in order to have the opportunity to share his faith.  Yes, he is driven to excel athletically, but he also knows that there is more to this life and gives God the glory for his success.

The message presented in this book that I hope my son will hear loud and clear is this: trust in Jesus, honor your parents, work hard, be thankful in all things, stick up for others, and finish strong.  Tim says "For me, leaving something behind is more about being rewarded in heaven.  Seeing a plaque or trophy with my name on it sure is nice.  But God wants us to make a difference in the world...I want to act in a way that causes the people I help to want to help others.  Finish strong and you help not just yourself - you help others."

I like that each chapter begins with a key verse, one that kids could understand and focus on.  Sometimes the football game details got a bit much for me, but I know my son won't have any trouble following along!  I am simply thankful that a professional athlete would use his influence over the younger generation to speak to them about living godly lives, and provide an example for them to follow. 

NOTE: Be aware that there are two versions of this book, both with the same title.  One is for adults, and the other (on which this review is based) is a Young Readers edition.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Letting Go

The following blog post was just too good not to pass on.  It's written by Katie Davis, who is serving the children of Uganda. Go HERE to read her post and prepare to be blessed! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Girl's Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs

Want an easy-to-read and informative study on the book of Ruth?  Look no further.  Liz Curtis Higgs has done extensive research and uses her heartfelt storytelling to bring the drama to life.  We, the readers, are the on-lookers...trying to understand what took place and why it matters.  Liz is our guide, taking us through each verse and adding in cultural background and application to our lives today.

What makes this book unique?

1. The Scripture and narrative are intermixed in such a way that the story is always moving and held my attention.  There is just enough commentary added to aide in understanding, but not too much.

2.  The author has done her research and brings in information from many different sources.  I especially liked how she uses the wording from different Bible translations.  The main text is taken from the NIV, but she weaves the alternate translations into her narrative, clearly marking each one.

3. The text is humorous, insightful, authentic, and helps bridge the gap between cultures.  I definetly have a better understanding of the book of Ruth after reading this book.

4.  There are study questions provided for two types of groups.  One set of questions is for a single group discussion.  There is also a more in-depth study guide for groups going through the book chapter by chapter.

(If you would like to get a sneak peek of the first chapter, take a look here.)

I enjoyed this book very much and hope that Liz writes more like it in the future!

*Thank you WaterBrook Press for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From This Day Forward

For anyone looking for a good marriage resource, check out a recent series by Craig Groeschel entitled "From This Day Forward" found HERE.  There are 5 messages that you can watch online or download and listen on your iPod (like I did).  Marriage is a topic that I've read a lot about, but it's always good to check our attitudes and make sure we're on course.  I enjoyed Pastor Craig's humorous and truthful reminders of what makes a marriage thrive.  And there are some things I will never think of in the same way again!  (You can also access "talk notes" in the sidebar which gives you the main points, scripture references, and even some discussion questions.) 

Watch them with your spouse! Add in a dinner beforehand and some "belly button-to-belly button" time afterwards, and you'll have 5 date nights that both you and your husband will enjoy :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Perfect Word for Every Occasion by Liz Duckworth

Have you ever sat down to write someone a note or an email and stared at the blank page for a while struggling to find the right words?  That happens to me.  Whether it's a note of congratulations, or encouragement, or sympathy, it can be hard to find something meaningful to say.  There can also be that fear of saying the wrong thing that could be taken in a way other than you had intended.  That's where this unique resource comes in!  Words for the grieving and the sick.  Words of thanks and congratulations.  Words for birthdays and weddings.  Words to ask for forgiveness or encourage others. Divided into chapters that touch on nearly every occasion - this book is designed to spark some ideas and help you express your feelings.

Each chapter is broken down into sections.  I will use the chapter on Grieving to illustrate.  After the author shares a few thoughts, she shares Prompts to Help You Begin.  For example, "What does the person you are writing mean to you?  Thinking about the person who has died, what were some outstanding qualities he or she brought to life?  What wishes do you have for the person to whom you are writing?"  Then comes Words to Make Your Own. The suggestions found are not meant to be a substitute for us searching for our own words, but to be adapted to the situation at hand.  There are suggestions of what to say for the loss of a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, a colleague, and even a pet!  This chapter even includes ideas for what to say in a receiving line.  Then comes Aunt Me-me's Guide to What Not to Say.  Sometimes we mean well, but words can come out that are insensitive.  This section is aimed at helping us to avoid those mistakes.  And finally there are Quotes Worth Sharing and Scripture Passages that can inspire our writing or be included in the note.

This book is not one to be read cover to cover....but it's a great resource!  No more staring at blank note cards for me.  I'm sure this book will get a lot of use over the years...thanks Liz!

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Not a Fan. by Kyle Idleman

"Many of our churches in America have gone from being sanctuaries to becoming stadiums.  And every week all the fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in truly following him".

What does it mean to be a completely committed follower of Jesus?  How do you know if you are a follower or a fan?  This book can help all Christians think through and discover what areas of their lives still need to be surrendered to God.

Part 1 contains several chapters designed to help the readers diagnose whether they are followers or fans.  For example, do you have knowledge about Him or intimacy with Him?  Are you following Jesus or just following the rules?  I thought the content was good.  The only thing that irritated me a bit was the use of foot-note humor.  I didn't always find the author's humor to be funny.  It's kind of like that awkward moment when you know you should laugh but all you can muster is a polite smile.  This humor was normally found as a foot-note at the bottom of the page.  You're reading along and find an asterisk in the text, then have to travel down to the bottom of the page to read the unnecessary comment, and then find the place where you had left off.  In my opinion, if the comment is going to be printed it should be put in the text (using italics or parentheses if necessary).  The use of foot-notes distracted my train of thought.  Thankfully, the rest of the book didn't use this style as frequently.

Parts 2 & 3 clearly lay out Jesus's invitation to follow Him and what that means.  The main scriptural focus is Luke 9:23 which states "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  The author uses examples from Scripture and real life to show what this invitation entails.  He does a great job presenting analogies, including that of a romantic relationship, to help the reader understand what committment really means.

The invitation is for anyone.  "When Jesus invites you to follow he wants you to start right now from your current location.  You don't have to go back to where you started.  You don't need to get a little closer on your own.  He reaches out to you with grace and love and invites you to follow him.  He wants you to start following him from right where you are and he wants you to start right now".  Don't know how?  Grab this book and start reading!

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

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Devotional for Tween Girls

I was asked to review The One Year Be-Tween You & God: devotions for girls by Sandra Byrd.  While I don't have a daughter, I do have a neice and several friends of my son who are in the targeted 9-14 year old range.  This review contains both my opinion and that of an 11 year old girl I will refer to as "Sara", who will be receiving a copy of this devotional as a thank-you for her input!

Each page in the devotional is labeled with a day of the year, amounting to one short devotion per day.  The top of the page highlights a question that a girl in this age-range (or at any age for that matter) might have.  Some examples are: "Dear God, How do I know that the Bible is the true Word of God? * Dear God, Why don't you just get rid of all the bad people in the world?  *Dear God, Sometimes it seems like you made a lot of rules.  Why did you do that?  *Dear God, Which Bible verses will help me when I want to talk back to my parents?....yep, I like that one!!!  Sara agreed that the questions were interesting and captured her attention.

Following the question are a few paragraphs in response.  Sara and I found the information to be easy to read and thought provoking.  At the bottom of the page there is a related Bible verse and a question to answer and discuss with God.  While there is a Scripture Index in the back, I think it would have been more helpful to have a Topical Index.

Besides the content being appealing to young girls, the embossed leather cover is beautiful!  I think any girl would treasure this book.  Sara is very interested to begin reading it daily and get some of those questions answered!  With Christmas shortly upon us, this would make a great gift for the "Tween" girl in your life.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston

What would you do if your husband came home one day and announced that he thought your family was being called to go minister in Guatemala for a year?  Would you agree to go or would fear hold you back?  This is what happened in Marcia Moston's life.  Her book is an honest look at the fears that plague us and the faith that is required to follow God when He asks us to move.  "The problem with promising God you'll follow him wherever he leads is that you just might have to go"!

I could relate to the idea of wrestling with the what-ifs.  The Moston's had a ten-year-old daughter that would be making the trip with them.  Guatemala is not the safest place to be traveling.  There were fears of bandits, unsafe traveling conditions, and disease.  Would it be irresponsible for a parent to take a child into these conditions?  What Marcia discovered is that it all comes down to trust.  She says "I wondered how I could so easily believe in Someone who created the universe, parted the Red Sea, and rose from the dead, but not trust him to take care of my daughter."  Questions like these are challenging for all of us, not only those contemplating going overseas.

The book was very interesting and easy to read.  The message applies not only to missionaries, but to anyone who wants to be faithful in following God, even when the path doesn't make sense or line up with our dreams.  As Marcia discovered, "His plans and purposes are far more marvelous than ones I could ever conjure up myself".  Her story is full of examples of God at work in the details of our lives.

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