Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

Counseling Under the Cross by Bob Kellemen {A Review}

My first experience with counseling was as a young teenager. That counselor was a lifeline of Jesus to my soul. I saw Jesus in him and his relationship with Jesus drew me like a moth to a flame.  So much of who I am now and the path I’m following is a very direct result of his influence on my life. He showed me a different way to live, a different life and I am so thankful for his careful care and concern. He is one of the very precious Jesus grace-gifts of my life.

As a direct result of his influence in my life, I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. I wanted to be a Christian counselor, I have wanted to help others the way he helped me. I want to point others to Jesus, to be a beacon of light in someone else’s darkness. I have wanted to be used to draw others to the flame of Jesus until they can, like I do, dance in His Holy Fire.

Because of all this, I am still drawn to books about counseling or by counselors. When I find a book by a counselor on the topic of being a better counselor I am giddy. You can imagine my immense giddiness when I received an email from Litfuse about Dr. Bob Kellemen‘s book, Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther applied the Gospel to daily Living.  I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t think twice, I immediately clicked “Review This book”.

20170918_152631In Counseling Under the Cross, Kellemen teaches counselors to counsel the way Martin Luther counseled..under the cross and with the full gospel. Kellemen has divided the book into two sections. The first section is to get us acquainted with Martin Luther before Jesus gripped his heart. He lived in constant fear of the anger and wrath of God. He would spend hours confessing every known sin in his life. Martin Luther saw God, not as a good Father, but as a righteous and vindictive Judge.

And that is where chapter one ends. And where chapter two begins. Martin Luther went through a metamorphosis of ginormous proportions. He moved from seeing God only as wrathful to seeing God as his loving and kind Father.

This transformation not only changed Luther’s relationship with Jesus, it changed how he related to Jesus and to those people under his care.  His new freedom in Jesus drove him to share it with others.

Chapters 3-11 talk about how Martin used his freedom in Jesus to minister to others.  He used a cross-shaped method of counseling:

  • Sustaining,
  • Healing,
  • Reconciling, and
  • Guiding

Kellemen shares Luther’s theology and methodology of each one. He shares through letters Martin wrote to those he was helping, his table talks, and other writings.  Kellemen writes in such a way the reader really sees the heart of Martin Luther for all believer, but especially those who were hurting.

This book should be on the Must-Read list of every Christian counselor and/or pastor, as well anyone who has a heart to bring health and healing to the hurting in Jesus. 

What did I like about the book? In short, everything. Bob Kellemen wrote in a manner that drew me in deeper with every page. I had to read it with a highlighter in my hand because there is just so much good!

Bob Kellemen also wrote in a way that opened my eyes to circumstances I’ve experienced personally. I had many personal a-ha moments. So while this book is written for those in the role of counselor, anyone could read it and benefit greatly.

What didn’t I like about the book? From the introduction when Kellemen would quote someone, he only used their last name. I know this is nit-picky of me, but I would rather have the author’s full name at least the first time he is cited.

I also wish he had capitalized pronouns referring to Jesus.

A few of my favorite quotes:

When life stinks, our perspective shrinks.

When the devil casts up to us our sin, and declares us worthy of death and hell, we must say, “I confess I am worthy of death and hell. What more have you to say?” “Then you will be lost forever!” “Not in the least: for I know One who suffered for me and made satisfaction for my sins and His Name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So long as He shall live, I shall live also.”

The Spirit empowers us to live out who we already are in Christ.

Faith activates love.

You who are so pugnacious in everything else, fight against yourself!

I give this book 10 out of 5 turning pages. Yes! It is that good!

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

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Posted in Book Reviews, Jesus

The Bad Habits of Jesus by Leonard Sweet {A Review}

If you’re like most people I know and have talked to about this book, the title scares you. It probably conjures up thoughts like, “But MY Jesus didn’t have any bad habits! He was God!” And you are right.

Leonard Sweet is in full agreement with your statement, but in this delightful book he encourages us to look at Jesus in a different way. He wants us to take off the Sunday School glasses we tend to wear when we view Jesus and read the Word.

He points out that Jesus did things and said things that we would not dare say or do today because it is considered bad.  A few examples:

Jesus spit.  Think about that. He spit and made mud. If that wasn’t bad enough, He then smeared that mud on a man’s eyes.

Jesus procrastinated. His procrastination led to a man’s death, and He was completely unbothered and unapologetic about it. He simply kept on being God.

I loved this book. I have been reading Leonard Sweet’s books since “A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Cafe” was published in the late 90’s. When I see a book with his name on it, I gravitate towards it like a moth to a flame because I know I will be challenged by it.

This book, The Bad Habits of Jesus, did that. It challenged me to look at Jesus and what He did in a whole new way. I was encouraged to think outside of the box, or even to throw away the box, when looking at Jesus and the familiar stories. In a world full of fluff books that preach to the Millennial “me first” gospel, this book was refreshing in it’s simplicity but also in it’s meat. This is not a milk-toast, watered down gospel book. This book will require the brain to be fully engaged. Leonard Sweet does not offer milk, but steak and he doesn’t feed you.

I love the cover. I’m a Harley-loving woman and the resemblance to the Harley-Davidson logo on the front is eye-catching.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Life Is____. Forty Day Experience by Judah Smith. {A Review}

judahsmithbook(NOTE: My 13-year old read this and here is her review. My comments will be in italics)

If I’m being honest, I’m not really a devotional type of girl. I think it has something to do with only being allowed to read a chapter a day. (Me here. This is not a house rule. But with devotionals there is a part to read every day and often we just can’t stop.) That revelation doesn’t sit with me. I’d much rather read the book a day devotional. (Okay, I had to ask her to explain that. She said she would rather read a devotional series of small books…one a day.) I’m pretty sure if someone wrote one of those it would make millions.

But that’s beside the point. The point is that this book is amazing! Fact. End of story. The fact that one of the chapters is titled Amazing probably contributes.

Have you ever wondered what the purpose of life even is? If so, then this book is for you. And I don’t mean that in a creepy, self-help book featuring a corny title like: “7 Easy Ways to Discover Your Destiny” way and all that.

No, Judah Smith directs you to the all-powerful Creator of the universe. With compassion and wit, Judah will introduce you to the Revealer of the Mystery. So go ahead and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

(Thank you, Judah Smith, for writing books that my teens can read!)

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood by Sarah Humphrey {A Review}

unnamed-3About the book:

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom (Abingdon Press, August 2016)

Nourishment for a mother’s soul through 40 days of devotion and . . . doodling!

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:

-Self-acceptance
-Self-care
-Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations
-Generosity
-Presence
-Forgiveness

In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dPEdIC

About the author:
 
 

Often considered a dreamer and silly heart, Sarah Humphrey uses inspiration from her most beloved career, motherhood, to fuel her passion for writing, creative movement and teaching. She has and is authoring several books and children’s books. Sarah currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and three beautiful, bouncy kids.

My Turn

I’ve always been a fan of coloring. In college a couple of friends would often give me new coloring books and crayons because I love coloring.

I have a couple of “adult” coloring books and if I had the time I’d spend more time coloring.

I LOVE this book! It is a great way to nurture your soul while you create a little space for quiet contemplation of our GREAT God! He is so faithful to nourish our souls with His grace, His love and His very presence.

If you need to create a little space for a little joy in your mothering, you’ll want to get this book!

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

Experiencing God Through His Names by Sheryl Griesbrecht {A Review}

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00053]Experiencing God Through His Names was an interesting review for me. I don’t really review devotionals, generally speaking, but this one was well worth it. (Fyi: This review is from my daughter who has been studying the names of God.) 

Each day we looked at a new name of God as used in the Bible. Sheryl Griesbrect introduces each name with a story–maybe a fable or a personal tale that she experienced. She then applies the name of God to that story and attaches a Bible where that Name is used. She connects the Name to our daily lives, diving into what it means for us. It’s a little…old people-y, so I don’t recommend it for teens too much, but I definitely enjoyed it. There were some grammatical errors that got on my nerves; however I still learned a lot and found myself praying more specific Names of God.

Experiencing God Through His Names was a great read I loved ending my day with it. Yaya, Sheryl!

(Yaya teenage daughter speak for “YAY!!!”)

 

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Jesus and The Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roelveld

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About the book:

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life (Abingdon Press, September 2016)

What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?

Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalkexplores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:

-Faith
-Goodness
-Knowledge
-Self-control
-Perseverance
-Godliness
-Affection for others
-Love

In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dcnopJ

About the author:
 
 

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is the author of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and Red Pen Redemption. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.

My Turn:

I was so hopeful with this book. So very, very hopeful.
Like you, and the rest of the world, I have giants. Giants that need to be slain. Giants I’m powerless against. 
And that’s the whole point. I’m powerless. But Jesus is powerful! And He is the giant-slayer. 
If this book had just said that very thing it would have been a GREAT book! I would be singing it’s praises. But it fell flat with me.  
I felt as if the author was telling me to just be better at loving Jesus, produce in myself more faith. If I just DID more, the giants would be killed by MY OWN sword. But that’s isn’t the way it works! 
What works is abiding in Jesus, allowing His life to take over my deadness and my giants, submitting to His leadership, standing firm IN Him, and then I can watch those giants fall. Not because I’m strong because I’m not, but because He is strong! Apart from Him I can do nothing!

The author said a few times that we are small. But we aren’t!  We are NOT small, we ARE God’s children, infused with His Spirit. And that makes us BIG and Dangerous

We only feel small when we focus on self and those we consider giants.
I thought the author used a lot of suppositions that might or might not be true.
I did like the amount of Scripture the author used in the book. I love love love it when I can read for myself the very verses the author is quoting.
I love this line (and I really wish the sentiment was in the whole book!!)

“Longing for transformation we focus on the flesh instead of the Spirit, attempting to accomplish the work ourselves rather than submit to Christ.”

I give the book 3 out of 5 turning pages. 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.
Posted in Book Reviews, Life as it happens.

Hunting Hope by Nika Maples {A Review}

5193EHfXjKL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_Winter is inevitable. Both in nature and in our own lives. We will all at some point in time or another face a winter of the soul.

We will encounter those times when life is hard and painful and God seems more like a figment of our imagination than anything real and tangible. Our world will be darkness, we won’t be able to see anything good.

But good is there. Crouching just under the surface, all we have to do is search for it, to pray for our eyes to be open to His working good in us and through us. We won’t see it right away, but in time, in His timing we will. And we will rejoice.

In Hunting Hope, Nika Maples gives us a road map to Hunting Hope. She lovingly, kindly and at time humorously teaches us how to be a hunter of Hope. She reminds us we are not alone, that we won’t always see death around us. She tells us that when we look around at the bare trees, the grey skies, the silent world, we can still have hope if we choose to hunt for it.

In this short book (just a hair over 200 pages), Nika shares personal stories, God stories and uncovers the hope we all have in Christ. She floods each page, not with her words, but with the words of God. I love the amount of Scripture she uses! It is so refreshing!!

And it teaches us where our true Hope comes from!

This book is so well-written, you’ll want to sit down and read it all at once. But don’t! Take your time, read it slowly, look up the Scriptures. Pray about what you’re reading. And hunt for your own hope.

I fully recommend that everyone read this book now. Not later when you’re experiencing your own winter of soul, but now, so when your winter comes, you are prepared and armed for battle.

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is revolutionary!!

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