Sunday, September 29, 2013

Forgiveness by Matthew West

Matthew West, a popular Christian musician, invited people from all walks of life to share with him their stories of forgiveness.  The result is this small book and several songs that the stories inspired.

The stories are divided into sections: Forgiving Others, Asking for Forgiveness, Forgiving Yourself, and Embracing God's Forgiveness.  After each story is shared, the author writes a few pages expanding on the theme and sharing his own experiences and Scriptures.  I was very impressed with the way the book was organized and how well it flowed!  Forgiveness is a tough topic, but I think it was presented here in a way that was easy to understand and interesting to follow.  I'm sure every person can relate to at least one, if not many, of the stories laid open on these pages.

The story that spoke the loudest to me was written by a pastor's wife.  She says "I never expected the sources of my greatest hurt in life to come not from people in the world, but from people inside the walls of a church."  After being a pastor's wife for only 3 months now, I could relate so well and was able to benefit from the lessons she and her husband learned.  Her husband (also Matthew West's father) shared with him these words, "Son, people will let you down.  Even God's people will let you down.  Your mom and I will let you down.  But you must keep your eyes on God at all times.  You cannot let your view of God be tainted by the imperfections of His people." Amen.

For fans of Matthew West's music, this book will explain what inspired several of his newest songs.  Songs like "Forgiveness", "Restored", "Hello, My Name Is", and "Love Stands Waiting" were all written in honor of a person's story.  Hearing those stories forever changed the meaning of the music for me. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with or wants to understand more about forgiveness.  It really can set you free.

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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Raising Boys By Design by Jantz & Gurian

Since I have 3 boys, ages 6-10, this book got my attention.  Of course I want my sons to thrive and "grow into the strong loving men God created them to be."  The question is...did this book help me as a mother?

While I can't say that I learned much new, I can say that this book took information that I've heard from various sources and combined them all into one resource.  In one book, these authors provide info on how boys develop and think differently than girls, what they need emotionally from mom and dad, important character qualities to encourage, sexuality issues, school performance, technology, rites of passage, and faith.  Whew!  Each chapter concludes with action steps to take.

The drawback to touching on all these issues, and the authors being a psychologist and a counselor, is that I found the book to be dry.  These was an occasional story here and there, but most of the text was slow moving and I had a hard time staying focused and interested.

The one new idea that I really liked is providing the adolescent boy a "rite of passage" which allows him to go on a journey toward manhood and connect with older men as mentors.  Tim Wright has developed a curriculum that churches can use to offer this program called Following Jesus: A Heroic Quest for Boys (  I would love for my boys to participate in something like this when they are at the right age.

Would I recommend this book?  It depends.  For someone who doesn't read much and wants an overview of all these topics and how they relate to boys -go for it.  There is good info in these chapters.  However, if you like to read and would rather read multiple books that are more enjoyable (rather than one that is a bit slower), I would keep searching.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sweet & Simple Moments With God Devotional

Kim Newlen has written a devotional for the new year full of sweet insight and simple thoughts to dwell on throughout the day.  There is a one-page devotion for each day of the year.  Each one begins with a Scripture verse, is followed by a few paragraphs, and concludes with a key thought or action to take. 

One thing that I like about this book is that the devotions are tied to the day they are intended to be read on.  For example, today is September 11th.  The verse referenced is Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart.  Kim writes about where she was when those terrible events unfolded in 2001.  She remembers being comforted by His Word that had been hidden in her heart..."When I am afraid, I will trust in you (based on Psalm 56:3)".  In that time of need she drew strength from those words and was able to comfort others.  The devotion concludes by encouraging us to pray for comfort for those families who are still mourning.  It was a very fitting way to start my morning.

Another thing that I found helpful was the Scripture Index at the back of the book.  From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures mentioned in this devotional are in order and linked to the "day" in which they appear.  This would be a great tool if you use a daily Bible reading plan and want to find some devotions to go along with the Scriptures you are reading. 

Sweet & Simple is a good description of what you will find in this book...thoughts to help us set our mind on things above and opportunity to connect with God.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Encouragement for Today

100 days of encouragement...from one woman to another.  This book is a collection of devotions written by various women.  Each devotion is two pages long and includes a point to remember, a question to reflect on, a suggested way to respond, and related Scriptures to look up.  If you have just 5 minutes, you have time to receive a small dose of encouragement from one of the readings.

I personally like having the variety of different authors.  If you can't relate to one woman and what she has experienced, just turn the page and maybe the next one will speak into your situation.  What I've found is that these devotions touch on topics all women face: maintaining a thankful attitude, being content, not over-committing, navigating friendships, overcoming insecurity, etc...  Starting off your day with one of these readings can give you a thought and a Scripture to set your mind on during the day ahead.

There is a Table of Contents listing each devotional title, but no topical index (which I think would have been a nice addition). 

While this book would be great to give as a gift or read anywhere, there is also a way to get daily devotions from this same team of women electronically!  Simply go to the Proverbs 31 Ministries website (click HERE) and read or sign up to have the devotions sent to you each day.  Either way, you will be blessed by the words of wisdom and encouragement. 

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