Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Unafraid by Susie Davis

There is a lot to fear in this world for ourselves and our loves ones.  Cancer. Rape. Murder. Infidelity. Abandonment, Theft. Natural Disaster. Economic Decline. Crazy Drivers (to name a few).   With all these things to worry about, how do we live without being dominated by fear?  In this insightful book, Susie Davis shares her personal struggle with fear and the journey she is taking  to overcome and trust God.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the authenticity.  Susie endured a traumatic event that began a persistent pattern of living afraid.  She shares many stories and examples of ways that fear took hold and caused her to act and think irrationally.  While my experiences have been different, I can say that I can relate to this madness.  Other readers will also be able to see that they are not alone.  The stronghold of fear is real and can make us think that we are just being "careful".  However, Susie points out that being afraid can be a symptom of not trusting God.

She writes "The Enemy knows just where to grab for me.  Pouncing in with outrageous ideas and ridiculous scenarios, fear falling like new snow.  The Enemy knows that when I listen to fear, it quickly leads to distrust.  Distrust in God. And his provision. And his plan.  We don't have the luxury of listening to the Enemy's lies if we desire to live free from fear and worry.  And we don't have the option of letting lies settle into our minds if we intend to allow God his rightful place in our lives.  So we must pray for discernment to recognize the Enemy's bid for our minds and then do something about it.  Speak the truth..."

Susie's testimony proves that fear can be overcome -  through our daily choices and surrender to God.  There are discussion questions and a study guide included at the end of the book to be used in small groups.  I encourage you to grab some close friends and talk through these issues.  Learn some ways to lessen the hold that fear has on your life.

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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas

Here is a book packed full of marital insight!  While I found the second half of the book to be more engaging than the beginning, there are nuggets of wisdom to be found in each chapter.  Here are some of my take-aways...

The first section of the book begins to establish a healthy perspective of marriage.  It encourages us to view marriage in light of eternity, let challenges push us toward dependence on God, and live on mission as a couple.  My all-time favorite concept was viewing God as "Father-In-Law".  It's the idea that we are all God's children.  I want my children to be loved by their future spouses despite their faults.  People can earn my favor or wrath by how they treat my kids.  Is it possible that we can cause God pleasure or pain by how we treat our spouses (His kids)?!?

"A good marriage isn't something you find; it's something you make". The next section of the book focuses on growing together.  We are taught that each couple is unique.  With God's help marriages can be built and re-built if necessary.  Gary helps us understand power shifts that can occur during different life stages, and how honesty and oneness can benefit our marriages.

The final section of the book is on loving....the way that God has called us to love.  "Biblical love isn't a feeling to be felt; its a commitment to be kept...The kind of love the Bible calls us to is a love that is focused on others' welfare; our desire is for their good, not our own benefit."  It's a call to be giving, rather than self-focused.  We learn that love is not the same thing as desire.  Sexuality is discussed, as well as the sin of withholding good.  It's also mentioned that doing small loving things consistently is more effective than the occasional grand gesture.

I've mentioned a few of the highlights, but I encourage you to read the chapters in full to gain greater understanding.  Each chapter ends with a few discussion questions that you and your spouse can discuss if reading this book together, followed by a prayer.  The time spent thinking through and applying this material will be well worth it!

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

Thursday, August 6, 2015

War Room by Chris Fabry

This book is a novelization of the soon-to-be-released movie, War Room.  For those of you who have enjoyed the movies Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Courageous - this story was created by the same writers.

I read this novel within a few days - it was hard to put down!  It was easy to visualize what was happening in the story and get caught up in the characters' plight.  The story focuses on a couple who is having marital problems, and how prayer and obedience to God can make all the difference.  It also shows how a parent's choices can impact the lives of their children, and how a spiritual mentor can speak life into a generation in need of guidance.

The War Room is a room of prayer - meaning we are to fight our battles not with each other, but with our true enemy.  The older woman, Clara, provides many insights into prayer throughout the story. She says "God does hear what we pray.  You don't need a megaphone or a million people to get His attention.  But the point of prayer is not to get what you want.  Prayer changes the person who prays."  This book/movie can give people a greater understanding of the meaning of prayer and inspire them to spend more time engaged in spiritual battle.

The only criticism I have of the story is that it was fairly predictable.  Even so, I still enjoyed reading how everything played out.  There was a good mix of humorous and serious elements.  At the end of the book is a group of discussion questions to help individuals or groups apply themes from the story to their own lives.

While I have not been able to compare the book with the movie, I highly recommend this novel as a light fiction read that packs in a lot of truth.  May many "war rooms" be created because of its influence!

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