Monday, March 11, 2013

Everything by Mary DeMuth

Mary DeMuth speaks to the heart in her latest Christian living book, Everything. I have read Mary's autobiography, Thin Places and her book on spiritual warfare, The Beautiful Battle. Mary's voice is one that draws the reader to join her at the table of her life. She reveals her life as a follower of Christ in her struggles, her failures, and her fears. As she reveals her (sometimes) messy life, she is able to turn her stories into stories that speak into the reader's life.

Mary doesn't always have it together. She had a childhood that has wrought beauty in her life despite the fact that it was tumultuous and victimizing. Despite the things that could have kept her from the abundant life in Christ, Mary has continued to receive the grace of God for her past, her present, and her future. Mary seems to work through the circumstances life throws her way and finds that Jesus has provided for her at every turn.

For the mature Christian, this is not a deep theological book (although you find theology tucked into her writing here and there.) Still I think it is particularly important for those who have lived the Christ-life for years to read this great conversational processing of a life that has and is growing up in Christ. Mary's words are a call back to those who have made Christianity a title they tag to their identity. She reminds us that to follow Christ is to have a real and growing relationship with him that is vibrant and freeing.

Mary is a woman of words that come off the page as timely and practical. She is the friend that everyone needs speaking into their lives----someone who loves God and pursues Him with passion and grit.

Her Texas roots come through in her words. She writes with authority because she backs up her encouragement having lived out her admonitions in the ups and downs of her life---one that is embraced and cherished.

I loved Everything. I would recommend it as a read-through or a book to read chapter-by-chapter as you would a devotional, taking time to consider and journal Mary's questions at the end of the chapters. I intend to read it again and do just that!

I received this book free from Booksneeze, Thomas Nelson Publisher's blogger program. My review is my own opinion and I was not compelled to give a positive response to the book.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Unexpected Love

Julie Coleman's book, Unexpected Love, was an unexpected surprise for me. One reason is because I don't think the title reflected the main theme of the book. It would have better used as a subtitle. The other reason the book was an unexpected surprise is because I really didn't think I had much more to learn about some of the nine women that make up the "characters" of this book. The author wrote explaining with great insight, and from well-documented research their encounters with Jesus. Using the Scripture as her springboard, she took her own ideas about what happened in each encounter based on her study of commentaries and the Greek text to reveal the heart of Jesus toward women. As she points out all them different with one common need---the need of Jesus as their Savior.

I especially liked the insight and biblical history she gave when she wrote about the women brought to Jesus who had been caught in the act of adultery---where Jesus wrote in the sand and sent her away to "sin no more."

I did a read through of the book but there are questions at the end of each chapter that I think would be great for a book study or club. She provides, with the questions, Scripture references to look up and to dig deeper. I will say the further into the book I read, the better I understood what the author was teaching and I began to appreciate her study and her point of view more and more.

There is also the opportunity to apply what you have read about concerning Jesus' encounters with other women and the circumstances of their lives to those of the reader through a journaling prompt included at the end of each chapter.

Julie Coleman is a teacher at heart. I think she used her gift beautifully in her book. As a women's ministry leader, I see myself coming back to this book as a reference and a refresher on just how Jesus turned the world upside down for women in his encounter and relationships with them.

I reviewed this book for the Booksneeze bloggers program for Thomas Nelson. The book was given to me in e-format. My review expresses my own opinions and the positive review is not given in turn for receipt of the book.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Yours Is The Day, Lord, ----Yours Is the Night
Compiled by: Jeanie and David Gushee

With full disclosure I will say have not read every prayer in this morning and evening prayer book since I am not reading it like a regular book. I have enjoyed the morning and evening prayers although I will admit that I read both the morning and evening prayer for the day at the same time. I am using the book daily as the it is intended and have been for several months.

This is a great collection of prayers. I don't believe in rote prayer but I do believe that prayers lifted by others continue to be a fragrance before the throne of God. No prayer goes unanswered. The prayers that Jeanie and David Gushee have collected are important prayers expressed from ages past to ages recent. Often they comfort me and are jumping off places for my own prayers. What a privilege to be able to speak from the heart to Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, to have taken on the privilege as one saved by the gospel of Christ to be one of the priests in the great Kingdom of God.

An aside: this is a light-weight book for it's size (almost 400 pages). I think it would be a good gift for the elderly who might be unable to hold a heavy book. And although the print is not large, it is a quite nice size font for easy reading in even dim light.

I received this book from Booksneeze bloggers program by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The positive review is my own and I was not compensated for it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Encouter

The Encounter by Stephen Arterburn is a sweet story that is highly sentimental and rather predictable, but if you want a easy read that gives you a little lift you will like this little book.

The book is fictional but the author has a long afterward that explains that it is based on different real life events----his own and those of others that he himself has encountered in his New Life seminars.

I read it in about three sittings and thought it would make a good Hallmark movie. (I like a simple movie with some conflicting relationships and a redeeming end.)

The best part of the book was the end where the author makes strong points about the need for and the power of forgiveness, as well as the destructive nature of anger.

Too bad he felt like he needed to explain to the Southern Baptists about his encounter in a restaurant where God taught him something that brought healing into life that involved wine.  The aside took away from the testimony of God's faithfulness to him and I thought totally unnecessary.

I received the book as an ebook from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze Review program for bloggers. This is opinion is mine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stuck---The Bible Study

I have never reviewed a Bible Study before for a book company but I requested this one from Booksneeze the program by Thomas Nelson that allows bloggers to review books.

I can say I have done a cursory review only. As a Bible Study leader in women's ministry for 20 years, I was looking for something fresh.

I really don't like reviewing something that is meant to be used in group setting when I haven't experienced it in a group setting. After watching the video prompts that author has taped to begin the week's discussions, I thought that they were well produced and heartfelt. The author seems to be making a good effort at being real and vulnerable.

This study is geared to a younger crowd and it isn't the regular fill-in the blank type of Bible Study. It seems to try to appeal to all learning styles and both sides of the brain---experiential and pragmatic learners. The author's intention is to use the truths of the Bible to move the learners to action---become "unstuck."

I wanted to do this with my classes but it would have to be adapted some and I am not sure about how the older ladies would relate since most of them, I assume, are past being "stuck." I don't have the time to get a younger group together to do this and see how it would play out. Maybe I can do that in the summer when my regular classes don't meet.

The lessons include chapters on brokenness, anger, discontentment, fear, being overwhelmed, saddness, and getting "unstuck."

There is a good leaders guide and a set of conversation cards to use with a small group. The leaders guide is detailed and would be good for someone who doesn't have experience leading a small group.

The member's book would most likely appeal to a younger 20 to early 30 set as would the videos. The book is not big and cumbersome. However, the publisher was not thinking about putting a pen to paper when they chose the thin, almost glossy workbook pages. I don't think I have a pen that would both write on the pages and not bleed through. They are very thin. You can see the print through them pretty easily. It is the first thing I noticed when I picked up the study book.

As to doing this study with a class, I hate to say I can't give a go ahead. As I mentioned, I have not done it but as a leader who looks at expensive Bible studies in closed boxes, I wanted to give some insight for the leader who needs to know what's in there.

I really think this would be great for a small group of friends to do together in an informal setting like a living room. I don't know the price point so I don't know if that is possible.

Booksneeze provided me with study for this review. My opinions are, of course, my own.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

I closed up my book on the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer amazed at the story of what I believe revealed an extraordinary life of faith in the midst of one of the darkest times in the history of Europe, in the history of the world.

It is quite daunting to pick up such a thick book, but quickly I was drawn into to the life of this man and his family.  The author did a great job of drawing out the influences of the people in Bonhoeffer’s life even from his earliest days and that really set the tone for who he would become as a young man called of God to preach the gospel of grace.

I have read many books of people whose lives were impacted by the events of the rise of the power of Adolf Hitler but not from this perspective, from one who held a patriotic love for the place and people of Germany and saw from very early on, that this man, Hitler, would lead his beloved country to no good end. He was right and Hitler destroyed so much.

This is the story of a life built on key relationships----first his relationship to God and his passion for theology and truth; second, his relationships to his family, and lastly his relationships with his piers and those he mentored and pastored. One interesting relationship documented in letters in the book were to his fiancé. The paperback volume, which I read, includes information about this relationship that was not included in the early hardcopies of the book.

It is also a book about decisions Bonhoeffer made knowing that he could sacrifice his very life by doing what he was compelled to do in the midst of the evil that had swept over the land of his birth, over the people he loved.

I put the book down, encouraged by a life that speaks loudly to think and to pray. In a world where very few things are often not thought through to the end, I see Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a man who did just that.

I highly recommend a slow and thoughtful read of this book. Congratulations to Eric Metaxas for bringing this book, this great man’s story to the world today.

Great teachers continue to teach even when their lives and their worlds are far away from our own. May we learn well from the great teacher, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Please note:  This book I received free from  All opinions are mine and I did not give this favorable review based on anything other than my personal opinion regarding the book.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rumors of God

I really liked the book Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson. In a very straightforward way, these ministry leaders lay out some of the fundamentals of what it means to live out Christianity in and out of the church in the post-modern culture.  It is not a wake up call kind of book that is in your face. It offers the grace it talks about to the church and to Christians, but the book is an exhortation to make the “fame of the Lord” know in the land by living out the life that the Bible teaches, truths that are often so crowded by the culture that they have become only rumors.

In the third generation of rugged individualists, Christians must learn to love, offer grace, extend justice, and offer community and accountability if we hope to make the glory of the Lord know in a land that is blasting consumerism, self-gratification, and is increasingly isolating people from the fullness of life that God has for his children.

I particularly loved the chapters on grace and commitment.  And I love their story of the friendship and passion for God that started years ago in the country of their birth, Australia.  They cover important Biblical truths and share great stories and illustrations to show application of the Biblical themes addressed in the real world.

Often, I find books with two authors somewhat off kilter but I didn’t find this to be the case with book.  A quick read that will leave you with hope that God is not finished with the church in America----even as he sends his leaders from Australia.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255