Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh {A Review}

A few years ago Bissell had a slogan, “Life’s messy, clean it up”. I don’t know if it helped them sell vacuum cleaners or not, but it brought a truth to the forefront of our minds. Life is messy and needs to be cleaned up.

Life is messy and it oozes it’s mess all over. Life is messy when those we love don’t love us in return. Life is messy when friends say good-bye. Life is messy when mates say good-bye either by death or divorce. Life is messy when people are in it.

Sometimes life seems more messy for some than for others. This is, or can be, especially true when we’re on the outside looking in, or on the inside looking out. We all have a tendency to judge our neighbor’s outside by our inside.

And we lose badly when we do that.

We need to realize we each have pain. And each life is messy.

Is there hope? Is there a cure? What can we do? Can a Bissell vacuum clean up this mess?

Sheila Walsh knows very well how messy life can be, she knows well the sting of gut-wrenching, leg crippling pain. Her father passed away when Sheila was still a very young girl, she grew up believing she was responsible for his death. She has battled depression and thoughts of suicide.

She has written several books about her struggles, the latest of these is In the Middle of the Mess. It’s a book about finding Jesus in the middle of our mess. It’s finding Him and His strength and healing. It’s a book about inviting Him into the middle of our messes and experiencing His life and His healing. It’s inviting Him in so we can hear His voice right there in the middle of our messy life.

You can get this book through your local Christian bookstore or online retailer.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges {A Review}

51JAXctyoTL._AC_US218_The late Jerry Bridges is known for authoring many books on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His books include: The Practice of Godliness,  The Pursuit of Holiness, and many others.

I had not read any of his works before reading Transforming Grace. I might have to change that.

Transforming Grace is simply the best book I have read on the topic of God’s Grace toward us.  I have read many books on the topic of grace by many different authors, but none hold a candle to this one. So much of the book resonated deeply in this heart.

If you want or need a good book on the topic of God’s grace go to your local Christian bookstore and purchase this one. An added bonus there is a study guide in the back of the book. This book would work well for an individual, personal study of grace or it could be used in a group study.

Jerry Bridges, as much as any man could, had a handle on grace. He tenderly teaches us that our salvation is all Jesus and not at all us. It’s isn’t Jesus + Whatever I do, but it is simply Jesus and His great Grace.

A few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“This instantaneous act of God by which He beings sanctification in us is just as much a gift of God’s grace as justification. God does not wait until we ‘surrender all’, make a second commitment to Christ’s lordship, or anything like that. God give sanctification by His grace.” (page 117)

And another one.

“Our love for God, expressed through obedience to Him, is to be a response to His love, not a means of trying to earn it.” (page 92)

One last one.

“God is worthy of my loving obedience because of who He is, not because of what He does.” (page 89)

What did I love about this book? In short, everything. It put into words what my heart believed and couldn’t articulate. So many times I was inwardly shouting, “YES! This is exactly right!!”

It opened my eyes and brought out many questions, hard questions that I needed to answer.

What did I not like about the book? Nothing.

Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges will change your life and is a necessary addition to your library. It is published by NavPress and is available through your local Christian bookstore or your favorite online seller.

 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. All opinions are my my own.

Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

Murder in Disguise by Donn Taylor {A Review}

murderPreston Barclay is normally a History professor, but every now and again he puts on his detective hat and solves crimes.

Even when he claims he isn’t investigating anything, as is the case in Donn Taylor’s new mystery, Murder in Disguise. His friend, Jordan Collier is the History Department Chair when he commits suicide.

Or does he?

And is Preston really investigating? And if he is, what does his investigation uncover? Does it show a seedy side of his friend who is caught in a web of evil?

You know I’m not going to tell you those answers. That would ruin the book and trust me, you will want to read this book!

Murder in Disguise has all the best elements of a mystery novel. Characters, romance, intrigue and humor. Oh my soul this book is hysterical. The best kind of hysterical, the kind that creeps up on you until the laugh burst from your lips. You can’t help but laugh out loud while reading this book.

What did I love about this book? In short, everything. The characters were well developed, the story line moves along at a nice pace. The funny parts are, well as mentioned before, hysterical. Donn Taylor is a masterful storyteller.

This was my first time reading his books and you can be sure I will be reading more of his books. If you haven’t read any of his books you should start now.

What did I not like about the book? Very, very little. Only one small, small, minute detail. And since I’m not a detail person the simple fact that I noticed this is amazing. The one thing I noticed was Preston had a thing for a ham sandwich and coffee. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m nuts about coffee but with a ham sandwich? Ham sandwich and coffee for breakfast. Ham sandwich with coffee for lunch. And a ham sandwich with coffee for supper. Not all in the same day, but you get the idea. He had it a lot.

So as it all goes down, I love this book and I give it 50 out of 5 turning pages. Yes. It’s that good.

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse for the purpose of review.

Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

Big and Little Coloring Book {A Review}

Artists run in my family. Down throughout the generations there have always been those souls so talented. I am not one of them. I struggle to draw stick people. As a girl I always wanted one great talent, something I could say, “I do this well!”

I remember trying so hard in art class. And failing so miserably. I would look at others and feel a pang of jealousy for their wonderful creations while knowing mine was destined for the trash heap and it looked like an infant created it.

So I threw myself into coloring. I could color for hours. I would put myself in the pictures and mentally tell myself stories.

20171108_142431I still enjoy time spent coloring. So when I saw this book was available from B&H Publishers I knew it would be something I loved. What could possibly be better than coloring with your child and sharing a devotion?

This book is designed in a way that you have a page to color and your child has a page to color. Each page also has a short devotional to read and discuss with your child. The adult coloring page is much more intricate in design, so you can use this with even very young children.

The adult page has a verse at the bottom and this corresponds to the child’s color page and the devotional. The devotional is on the parent’s page and only takes a minute or two to read.

20171108_142500

The child’s page, as I mentioned, is less detailed, meaning it would be great to use with young children. The devotionals seem to be geared more towards adults and seem very incomplete.

What I liked: I liked the way it is designed, to open flat so you can color at the same time.
I liked the Scripture and that the child is coloring the words of Scripture.  It is a great way to renew our mind.

What I didn’t like: I wish the devotionals were longer and pertained to more than just adults.

If you’re looking for a devotional to use with your child, you should check this one out! You could add meat to the devotionals, or just talk about them while coloring.

I give this 4 out 5 turning pages.

I received a free copy of this book from B&H Publishers for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions re my own.

Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael Emlet {A Review}

OCD, ADHD, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder . . . these are no longer just technical terms and medical diagnoses, they are part of our common vocabulary andculture.
As Christians, we shouldn’t isolate ourselves from this discussion or dismiss these important issues. But we also should be careful not to accept the entire secular psychiatric diagnostic and treatment enterprise without question. What we need is a balanced, biblically (and scientifically) informed approach that neither blindly accepts nor harshly dismisses psychiatric labels, diagnoses, andmedicines that are prescribed to help those who are suffering.
As both a Biblical counselor and medical doctor, Michael R. Emlet, MD, gives readers a Christ-centered approach to psychiatry and guides both lay and professional helpers through the thicket of mental health labels andtreatments with a biblical lens. In a clear and thoughtful way that puts the person experiencing mental health issues at the forefront, Emlet uses Scripture to show how the Bible engages in the discussion of psychiatric labels and the medications that are often recommended based on those labels. The first book in the “Helping the Helper” series, Descriptions and Prescriptions will give readers a biblical, gospel-formed perspective to help them understand and minister to those struggling with mental health issues.
Michael R. Emlet, MDiv, MD, practiced as a family physician for over ten years before becoming a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He is the author of the book “CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet,” the minibooks “Asperger Syndrome;” “Chronic Pain;” “Angry Children: Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control;” and “Help for the Caregiver: Facing the Challenges with Understanding and Strength,” andmany counseling articles.
Find out more about Michael at http://newgrowthpress.com/.
My Turn
I was giddy with excitement over the opportunity to review this book.  As soon as it arrived in the mail I skimmed through it and couldn’t wait to dive in.
The church seems divided into to camps when it comes to mental health. Those who think medication is the only way, and those who think counseling/prayer/Bible study is the only way.
Dr. Michael Emlet writes Descriptions and Prescriptions to show people helpers, pastors, church lay counselors how the two can work together.  He writes the first part of his book to give us a quick understanding of psychiatric diagnoses. Is there any value in a diagnoses of our mental health? What is the value? Does it help or hinder the lay counselor? How?
The second part provides some understanding of  psychoactive medications. How do they work? How can they benefit the people we are called to help? What is their place? Do they have a place in Christian counseling?
I found this book to be incredibly informative and is one I will need to read and re-read. It appears to be written from an assumption that those reading it will have a degree in counseling, psychology, or related field. Most it was over my head, because of this I struggled through it.
A few quotes that stood out to me:
“Psychiatric labels don’t tell a story.”
“‘Be still, and know that I am God’ involves learning to quiet both our minds and our bodies.”
“Submit psychiatric diagnosis to biblical diagnosis.”
This book would be a wonderful addition to any pastor’s or people helper’s library.
I give this book 5 out 5 turning pages.
I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

The Lost Sermons of Spurgeon Vol. 2 {A Review}

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man who is often equated with great wisdom and a great love for Jesus. He has been referred to as The Prince of Preachers. He came to Jesus in 1850 after reading Isaiah 45:22 and he preached his first sermon later that year. He was 15.

C.H. Spurgeon, though, wasn’t only a preacher. He was a prolific author. Each week on average he wrote 500 letters. By the time of his death when he was 57, he had authored approximately 150 books. This does not include his sermons, which he edited weekly and were published in over 40 languages in his lifetime.

Spurgeon was always one of those authors I tried to read but just wasn’t able to grasp what he was trying to say. I always gave up in defeat. He was an author I thought “every ‘good Christian’ should be able to read his books without issue” and I believed that quoting him would show a great mind and love for Jesus.

Imagine my immense surprise when I saw The Lost Sermons of Spurgeon ( compiled by Christian T. George) was available for review and I picked it. This was Spurgeon, the very man I didn’t understand and couldn’t follow.

20171021_083759When the book arrived, I quickly opened the box and the ohs and ahs began in earnest. The book was stunning.  The colorful cover is eye-catching and has been designed to replicate the original notebook.

Inside the book are full-color pictures of the actual sermons as they were written in Spurgeon’s own handwriting.  These include any finger smudges or prints as well as his crossed through mistakes.

20171021_083814.jpgOn the opposite page from the photos of his notebook, are the sermons typed out. Each of the sermons is noted and brief explanations are given at the end of the sermon. These make Spurgeon seem a little more real.

This book is one that could be read through as any other book, but doesn’t necessarily need to be. One could very easily pick and choose which sermons to read.

This would be a great gift for the theologian in your life. It would also make a great a great addition to any library.

I give this book 5 out of 5 turning pages. Yes, I know it’s Spurgeon. Yes, I know I can’t follow him, or read him. It’s good!

I received a free copy of this book from LifeWay publishers through their review program for the purpose of review. All opinions and photos (except for the video below) are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews, Jesus, Life as it happens.

Know The Word Study Bible {A Review}

Diving deeper into God’s Word can be easy and rewarding if you break it down book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic with the new KJV Know The Word Study Bible by Thomas Nelson. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God’s Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

This fall, become a regular student of the Bible and enter to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of the KJV Know The Word Study Bible
  • A Kindle Fire 7
  • A Kindle Fire case (winner’s choice)

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 31. The winner will be announced November 1 on the Litfuse blog.

My Thoughts:
First things first. The dust cover has the look of aged parchment with a black band around it near the bottom. It’s beautiful. Under the dust cover it is a medium grey cloth with gold letters emblazoned on the front and the spine.
I love that it has a presentation page. Most Bibles now don’t have this and I think it’s a necessary page. Especially if it was a gift.
It gives a list of the Topic-By-Topic Articles. These are broken down into major topics, like Trinity, Love, Obedience, Sanctification, and many others.
Each book of the Bible has a brief summary of the book and a section on how-to study that particular book.
There are also different devotionals scattered throughout on various topics, all are designed to draw the reader in and deepen their understanding of the passage given.
This Bible does not have center-column references, but does have study notes at the bottom of the page.
What I don’t Like:
I always hate to say what I don’t like about a Bible because it is a Bible. But here goes.
The font is small! My eyes are not the best, but even with new prescription lenses I would not be able to read this in church as the font is just too small.
It’s a heavy Bible also. Definitely not your sword drill type.  I know as a general rule hardbacks are heavier than leather or cloth back so probably in a leather cover this Bible would not be near so heavy.
Now this is going to sound very strange because I requested this Bible to review and I knew it was a study Bible. I’m not fond of the notes on the pages. I’d rather dig into the Word for deeper understanding but not everyone is like me. And I found no issues with the notes I read. (Obviously I did not read all of them.) What I would like to see is wider margins (which would of course increase the size of the Bible) to give the reader more room to write their own notes.
What I Like:
The cover is simply beautiful! The dust cover is made to look like parchment and has a black band across the lower portion. Under the dust cover the hardback is covered with a medium grey cloth. On the cover and the spine the words are in gold.
The extensive concordance at the back of the Bible! Wow! I love that!!
I love that the first time I opened the Bible the pages did not stick together. This is probably due to the hardback, but I’m a fan of that!
Again, this will sound weird but I liked the notes feature because not everyone is like me. Some people use them so having them available is a great thing!
***I received a free copy of this Bible from Litfuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.***