Tag: Christian

Book Review: The Ministry of Ordinary Places, by Shannan Martin

 

ministry of ordinary places
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

 

Title:  The Ministry of Ordinary Places
Author:   Shannan Martin
Genre:   Nonfiction, Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

Many people dream of big ministries in places they feel at home in, surrounded by people like them. Shannan Martin found that that sort of ministry wasn’t her destiny at all. Instead, she ended up in a working-class neighborhood in Goshen, Indiana—okay, a neighborhood where sometimes finding a job to work at is hard—an ordinary place, surrounded by ordinary people who might be wildly different on the surface, but who are alike at heart:  struggling and in need of love.

Truly paying attention to both the big things and the small can open your eyes to the truth in the world around you, and Shannan built a home amidst people who were willing to do life together—no matter how hard that is at times. Sometimes, when God calls people to ministry, it’s not a Billy Graham-style of ministry. Instead, it’s smaller, quieter, and has a profound effect on the people around us, the people who make up our lives.

This book. This book. Usually when I read nonfiction, I can only read a few pages at a time, but I wanted to read large chunks of this at a time. Shannan’s writing is so powerful and evocative, full of truth that touches the heart and opens the mind to broader ideas of home—and what that can look like.

Shannan Martin is a writer and speaker. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Chosen for Christ, by Heather Holleman

chosen for christ
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:  Chosen for Christ
Author:  Heather Holleman
Genre:  Nonfiction, Christian
Rating:   4 out of 5

Most people spend their lives in search of something:  marriage, career, prestige, a better job, more education…but these things we plan on often leave us frustrated and searching for more. What if we started living as if we were chosen for a person, Jesus Christ, instead of a plan? A calling is about more than a plan. Turn that old way of thinking on its head and embrace your true identity.

Chosen for Christ is all about embracing your identity as being chosen by Christ—and what that really means for you and your life. This book was both inspiring and uplifting and gave me a whole new way to think about things. An excellent read!

Heather Holleman is a wife, mother, college teacher, and author. Chosen for Christ is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Return of the Song, by Phyllis Clark Nichols

returnofthesong
Image belongs to Gilead Publishing.

Title:   Return of the Song
Author:   Phyllis Clark Nichols
Genre:   Fiction, Christian
ating:   4.2 out of 5

Caroline Carlyle lost her fiancé six years ago and lost her music as well, at least the ability to finish the song she was writing for him. Now her days are a pleasant haze of piano lessons, church, and time spent with her neighbors. She doesn’t have the to heart to try anything new.

But change starts when Caroline hears someone playing her song—in her home—one night. The mystery of her stalker starts to stir things up, and soon Caroline is searching for her childhood piano, which leads her to Kentucky and a mysterious, reclusive gentleman. Change is coming—even if she’s not ready for it.

This was a calm, soothing read, with a vividly-realized setting and characters. It’s a quiet book, and one I enjoyed very much. I don’t know a lot about piano music, so some of the nuances were lost on me, but I loved every single page, and I was not expecting the resolution to the mystery of her stalker.

Phyllis Clark Nichols was born in Georgia during a hurricane. Return of the Song is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Gilead Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle , by Tony Evans

warfare
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle
Author:   Tony Evans
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

So many people have problems they’re fighting:  depression, drug use, anger, divorce, financial problems…the list goes on and on. But these are just the symptoms of a much greater problem. The real battle isn’t with these issues, it’s with the devil and his armies.

Tony Evans shows us how to fight these enemies—and win. He shows you how spiritual warfare is impacting your life and those around you, what effect these enemies are having, and the weapons at your disposal. He’ll show you how to become a victor over the enemies in your life. This truly is a war.

Tony Evans uses powerful teaching in an easy-to-understand style as he lays out the battles facing us every day, before he turns to the weapons to use to fight back, and the power that stands behind us. This a wonderful, powerful book for all Christians to read.

Dr. Tony Evans is an evangelical leader, pastor, and speaker. Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle is his newest book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Things I’d Rather Do Than Die, by Christine Hurley Deriso

things I'd rather do than die
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:   Things I’d Rather Do Than Die
Author:   Christine Hurley Deriso
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Jade Fulton is a senior in high school who only hangs out with her best friend. She spends time with her family:  her brother, half-sister, stepmom, and her dad. She watches high school drama from the outside and can’t wait to go away to college. Until her father is diagnosed with aggressive cancer, and her world just doesn’t make sense anymore. Then she’s held hostage in the gym where she works, locked in a dressing room with Ethan Garrett.

Ethan is the star quarterback, popular, high-achieving, and a Christian. He has his life planned out:  a scholarship to prove he’s not like his abusive, alcoholic father, life with his cheerleader girlfriend, and growing in his faith. But when he’s locked in the dressing room with agnostic Jade, he soon starts to ask himself questions he thought he already knew the answers to.

Their shared ordeal creates a bond between Ethan and Jade that lingers back in their regular lives. But those questions—and answers—they shared while locked in the dressing room cause them both to realize that what they always had in life is no longer good enough.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints and people marking this book as DNF…because it’s Christian, and they think Christians are too judgmental and close-minded. Which seems a bit hypocritical, considering they automatically refused to read it. And Christians are the ones who are judgmental? Right. Sure, some Christians are judgmental. Just like some people who aren’t Christians are judgmental. Judging an entire group by the actions of a few is never the right choice.

I was impressed that Ethan is a teenage boy with a strong faith. You don’t see that much. Here’s the thing:  Ethan actually listens to Jade and starts asking himself and others questions as he learns from her remarks. He realizes he needs to make some changes to the way he thinks, especially about non-believers. I found his wishy-washiness with his girlfriend and the way he kept taking her back pretty annoying, but he’s a teenager. He’s still learning.

Jade has a sizable chip on her shoulder because of her family history, her experiences with racism, her feelings about religion, and her dad’s illness. She’s plenty judgmental, but she’s too close-minded to see it. She does some stupid things during the story, but she learns and attempts to grow from them.

Christine Hurley Deriso is a YA author. Things I’d Rather Do than Die is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: God Speaks Your Love Language, by Gary Chapman

God Speaks
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   God Speaks Your Love Language
Author:   Gary Chapman
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   4 out of 5

Millions of people say The 5 Love Languages saved their marriage. Now Gary Chapman applies those love languages to God and those who follow Him.

Some people see God as an impersonal, far away deity, but He is really an up-close-and-personal Father who chooses to speak to us in the language we are most comfortable with. This book both reveals ways that God speaks to us in each love language and shows us ways we can speak to Him and learn new love languages.

I’ve never read The 5 Love Languages (Yet. But I did just buy it, after reading this), yet the author speaks so candidly and simply that all the concepts are easy to understand and relate to. I loved the sections on different forms of worship!

Gary Chapman is the author of The 5 Love Languages. His newest book is God Speaks Your Love Language.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All Your Life, by Darryl Dash

how to grow
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All of Your Life
Author:   Darryl Dash
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

I want to call you to do ordinary things that will make an extraordinary difference, not just in your life but in the lives of others.

This quotation sums up the entire book in one simple sentence. This isn’t a complex book, full of convoluted to-do lists. Instead, the author offers simple, basic tenets of faith—praying, reading the Bible, involvement in a church—to build a foundation on, followed by “extra” things that can be added on after the basics are mastered. (Hint:  the basics are never completely mastered.) The conversational tone and examples from the author’s life make this easy to read and apply. I highly recommend it.

Darryl Dash is an author, pastor, and church planter in Toronto. How to Grow is his new book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Do Something Beautiful, by R. York Moore

 

do something beautiful
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   Do Something Beautiful
Author:   R. York Moore
Genre:   Christian/Inspirational
Rating:   4 out of 5

As individuals, we are always searching for more; something bigger, better, more meaningful. No matter what we have, we want more. We want our lives to matter more, to be about more, to experience the grand, larger-than-life moments.

Do Something Beautiful shows you how to take the simple, everyday moments in your life and look at them differently, turning “ordinary” into “beautiful.”

The voice in the book is conversational, putting the reader at ease and making it feel like a chat with a friend—not an academic lecture. Anecdotes from the author’s life and stories from people he’s met bring his points to life, making this an engrossing and eye-opening read.

R. York Moore is an evangelist, a speaker, a revivalist, an abolitionist, and an author. Do Something Beautiful is his newest book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Heart Between Us, by Lindsay Harrel

HeartBetweenUs2
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Megan Jacobs spent her life being careful, being in the hospital, and watching her sister, Crystal, live life to the fullest, while Megan dreamed about the future, what she would do when she was no longer sick. Three years ago, Megan got a heart transplant, but she’s still playing it safe, living with her parents and working at the library while she yearns for more.

Then, Megan’s heart donor’s parents give her their daughter’s journal, and Megan finds someone she identifies with in the pages. She also finds an unfinished bucket list and decides to fulfill all the items on the list, pushing past her comfort zone as she fights her tendency to play it safe.

When Crystal decides to come with her, Megan hopes they can repair their fragile relationship. With Crystal at her side and her old friend Caleb—a fellow heart transplant recipient—encouraging her, Megan thinks she has all the support she needs to complete her audacious journey. But will she be able to overcome her fears and embrace her new heart?

I related to Megan so much. Her fear of change and of new things is so familiar, as is her desire to travel and to write. So familiar. She’s been through so much, and it’s easier to coast along with the status quo, than to risk failure. Even when Megan has stepped out in faith, she still falters, but the love of those around her propels her forward. This is Crystal’s story, too, the “perfect” sister who is driven by her ambitions even while her marriage is failing. Stepping out in faith and changing is just as hard for Crystal as it is for her sister, but the two don’t even realize they have this in common. I loved this book and highly recommend it!

Lindsay Harrel writes inspirational fiction. The Heart Between Us is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot, by Mo Isom

sex
Image belongs to Baker Books.

Title: Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot
Author:  Mo Isom
Genre:  Non-fiction, Christian
Rating:  5/5

Sex. (There. Got your attention, didn’t I?) Society is obsessed with it, and the church doesn’t talk about it, apart from an unequivocal “Don’t do it!” Christians don’t talk about it, but we should—because there are far too many people wandering lost in a world that glorifies sex, promiscuity, and sex-pectations.

Mo Isom talks about it as she tells her story of a life lived according to expectations, a life scarred by pornography, misunderstandings, and the silence of the church on a topic that permeates our culture. She takes something the world is obsessed with, removes the bondage associated with it, and turns it into something that glorifies God.

I don’t generally review non-fiction books, especially the Christian books I read. (They’re on my Goodreads and my Books Read posts, though.) However, this book is one that needs to be talked about. I grew up in church—Southern Baptist—and my church never talked about sex. (My current church—non-denominational—does talk about it, some.) None of the churches my friends grew up in talked about sex. But our culture is obsessed with it. So, why is the church not talking about it? Why does the church let the world be the only source of information related to a topic that saturates our culture? And why are we surprised when Christians have a worldly view of sex, and not a Godly view?

I loved Mo Isom’s voice in this. (So much so that I’m now reading her first book.) She does talk about sex: her exposure to it growing up, the silence on it she experienced in the church, and her struggles to give it its rightly place—not a worldly one. Her voice is like a comfortable chat with a friend and makes this a must-read book.

Mo Isom is a New York Times-bestselling author, a former All-American soccer goalkeeper, and the first female to have trained with and tried out for an SEC men’s football team. She is the author of Wreck My Life:  Journeying from Broken to Bold and her newest book, Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot.

(Galley provided by Baker Books in exchange for an honest review.)