Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Learning to Love by Heidi & Rolland Baker

This is essentially a book about Iris Ministries, which is centered out of Mozambique, Africa.  The Bakers share their passion for the poor and show what it looks like to stop and care for the one in front of you.  While there is some teaching and application to be taken from the book, it is mostly an account of God's power and miracles being displayed in Africa through this ministry.

On a positive note, the stories shared are eye-opening.  Miracles such as healings that we Americans find so hard to believe in are very common in a land of desperate need and strong faith.  To think that the deaf hearing and the blind seeing are "normal" occurrences simply amazes me.  While I don't feel the call to be an overseas missionary, it is so encouraging to hear how entire villages are hungry for the Word and have been transformed due to the Body of Christ.  I also really enjoyed the pictures throughout the book.  It helped me to visualize the land and the people who are being reached.

My only critique is that the text didn't flow well.  It seemed like a series of ministry newsletters stacked together and bound into a book!  I'm not even sure if there was a chronological order to the chapters. 

Heidi writes "I realize that reading this account of what God is doing in Mozambique can seem terrifying, overwhelming, and somewhat detached from the day-to-day reality of life for many.  Or is it?  If there is one thing I have learned it is this: Poverty and desperation do not always look the way we expect.  There are countless thousands in our world who need someone to stop for them, someone to show them God's kindness and mercy...There are people in need where you are, just as there are people in need where I am".

The main message here is to pay attention to those who are right in front of you and be obedient to do what you can do - so that God can love others through you.

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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

God's Not Dead by Rick Broocks

I decided to read this book because the back cover promised "clear, easy-to-follow explanations of the key concepts and controversies" regarding the Christian faith.  But be warned...unless you are a very intellectual and scholarly-type thinker, this book may be over your head.  In my opinion, this is not written in a way the "average" skeptic or Christian would easily grasp.  Here's why...

While there are good bits of information in the text, they are hidden between gobs of references and quoted sources.  (To prove my point, the "Notes" citations in the back of the book is 20 pages long!)  Having all these references may be thorough, but it makes the reading choppy.  The language is also very complex and at times hard to understand.  It is nice that there is an index at the end of the book to assist in finding information about a specific topic...otherwise it would be very difficult to do.  (And as a side note - doesn't this book cover look like it was printed 50 years ago?)

I think the author's intent was great...to help the believer "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15) Also - to provide evidence for the skeptic that God is not dead.  However, I think it was done in a manner that only very intellectual thinkers will be able to appreciate and comprehend.

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

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Outrageous Courage by Kris & Jason Vallotton

This book shares the testimony and adventures of Tracy Evans, a physician assistant who is serving as a missionary in Mozambique, Africa.  Her story is a powerful account of how God can and does work in the world today.  She has ministered to the homeless in LA and to the poor in various other countries.  She has seen miracles, such as God raising a women from the dead.  She has nurtured babies, tended to the sick, and led prisoners to the Lord.  Yet while she shares her acts of courage and compassion, I liked that she also is authentic in sharing her mistakes along the way.

What made Tracy so bold and courageous?  This quote may be a clue..."I am forever grateful that God led me in my early years with Him to places where, instead of being confused and trapped by powerless religion, I saw people set free and transformed by the real power of the Gospel.  Those years established an unshakable confidence in me that what Jesus did on the cross was real and powerful - powerful enough to take the most broken, bound sinners and turn them into whole, righteous saints.  Not only that, but I also came to understand that seeing such transformation was why I was on the planet."

I liked this book because it is another witness to God's power and love.  However, it was hard to relate to because Tracy's personality and experiences are radically different than mine.  I could not even imagine walking in her footsteps...but then again, I haven't been called to.  What I did find was a challenge to a deeper faith, obedience, and love...right where I am.

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