Thursday, December 1, 2011

Heaven is for Real for kids

This is a guest review by Makenzie, Vicki's awesome 10 year old daughter, and I'm here to do a report on Heaven Is For Real For Kids.  In this book a boy named Colten Burpo gets very sick and has to go to the hospital.  He closes his eyes and suddenly he's in Heaven! While Colton is in Heaven the book describes all the things Colton got to see, including Heaven's Gate, lots of Bible heroes, and even Jesus and his horse!  Throughout the whole story their are bible verses that match the text on the page.  The words are very understandable and there are beautiful illustrations.  If your kid wanted to read the original but hasn't quite mastered reading just yet, then this is the book for them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Smack Dab in the Middle of God's Love

So this time I thought I would get a children's book, thinking maybe I would post the review quicker. However, one has to have the time to sit down at the computer long enough to write the review in order to get it done!  So here goes...Abby Grace is sleeping...She is beautiful, by the way. 
This is the first children's book authored by Brennan Manning, the author of many other great books, including Abba's Child, The Wisdom of Tenderness, and my favorite, The Ragamuffin Gospel.  And in this book, as in his other books, his emphasis and strength is in sharing how big, how great, and how deep the Father's love is for His children.  There are many illustrations he uses to help a child understand how the Father shows His love through His creation, good friends, and "the gift of someone who really loves you", because "every good thing comes from smack-dab in the middle of Abba's heart".  Even though we may struggle with understanding that He could love "even me", as one of the little girls in the story, the main character, Willie Juan, shares, "we are all smack-dab in the middle of Abba's love...a love big enough to hold us all."
And now, Makenzie and Caleb are home from school and STARVING for a snack, so I'm off again!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Max on Life

Like so many others, I have always enjoyed the writings of Max Lucado.  He has a way of making deep spiritual truths relevant and easy to understand.  He speaks and he writes with the heart of a pastor, even with the heart of Jesus, with an obvious desire to see people know and understand all the wonders of God's glory and love.  He uses storytelling and short chapters to make his points, which makes his books easy, even fun, to read.  True to form, Max on Life is a collection of stories, in the form of readers' questions, covering 172 topics from "Who is God?" to "Why me?" to "Is this wrong?"  Many are age-old questions, but many are questions that the church often avoids talking about because the questions are awkward or uncomfortable. This book is written for those who are hungering for answers to life's difficult questions and those who are trying to figure out how to apply God's Word in their everyday lives.  My only criticism is the title and cover...I love Max Lucado and would pick this book because of him, but there are many who would really benefit from reading it, but will never pick it up because they don't know who Max is.  I would hope that they may release a new edition someday with a different title and cover to broaden the appeal to those unfamiliar with his work. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Radical Together

This is a sequel of sorts to David Platt's first book "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream".  Whereas "Radical" was addressed to individuals in their personal walks of faith, "Radical Together" is addressed to the local church.  I wish that I could say that the book's contents were not all that radical...I saw nothing in it that was outside of Biblical teaching.  However, the subtitle, "Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God" is exactly what the church needs most, but to find it is all too rare.  There are six chapters, each based on a guiding principle for the church to live radically. "1) One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church. 2) The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work. 3) The Word does the work. 4) Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people. 5) We are living--and longing--for the end of the world.  6) We are selfless followers of a self-centered God." 
If these principles sound like something that you would like to read more about, then you would really enjoy this book.  Even greater, the book would be great for small group study, with a discussion guide at the end with questions and brainstorming ideas to unleash your own local body for the purpose of God! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Women of Faith

I just won two tickets to the Women of Faith conference this fall!!!  Who wants to go?
More information to follow...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Declaration of Independence: A Spiritual Document?

Well, it's been a while since I have posted anything...What a crazy past couple of months!  Maybe it's about to get crazier with Abby Grace joining us soon, but hopefully the craziness will center around home, sweet home.  It was a great privilege and honor for Makenzie and I to be involved in "Annie Get Your Gun", and so wonderful to get to know some great new people!  While my heart is sad that it is over, my body is glad for the rest.
So rest is what we are doing this holiday weekend.  Well, I am resting while JJ has been hard at work painting the nursery.  And in an effort to communicate the importance of this day to my children, I came across something worth sharing with others.  Although I did try to share it with my children too, but I'm pretty sure they weren't listening...Oh, well...
From what I remember about President ("Silent Cal") Calvin Coolidge from high school history class (Thanks, Mr. Worley!), he was not known for his elaborate speeches.  However, in this speech made to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he said some words that we would do well to remember today:
              "We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things.  These did not create our Declaration.  Our Declaration created them.  The things of the Spirit come first.  Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp.  If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it.  We must not sink into a pagan materialism.  We must cultivate the reverance which they had for the things that are holy.  We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed.  We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped."

Now that gives greater meaning to our inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"!
Happy Independence Day!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Daddy Dates

JJ couldn't take it anymore...I was getting all these free books, and he was jealous!  So he finally started his own blog, and will soon be reviewing books too.  So he is "guest reviewer" on my blog today, as he gets his blog up and going.  I got the book "Daddy Dates" by Greg Wright for him, and here's what he thought:

What an incredible book for fathers, not only of daughters but also of sons. This book challenges us as parents to spend time getting to know our kids. Not just hanging out, but really getting to know them--their likes and dislikes, their wants and desires, their fears and dreams. Time is too precious and is fleeting away fast.
Greg Wright does a wonderful job of breaking down the chapters into bite size pieces so that those who aren’t avid readers or those who are simply too busy to read much at one time can chew and digest his thoughts. I enjoyed that he shares his personal struggles and how he had to humbly admit to not having all the skills to communicate properly with his daughters, although his profession is as a communicator. We can all learn a lot from this admission. No matter how much schooling or job skills we have, raising a family is very different. Each child is a little bit different. Each situation has its nuances. I had to admit it got to me a bit emotionally, because I saw my own kids growing up as I read it.

From the encouragement to not allow your daughters to date outside of groups in high school to treating them like royalty when you spend concentrated time with them, I found this book very helpful for me being all there for my daughter, who is nine going on seventeen. Every father should read this book to realize what special person they have in their home. As a parent, God has blessed us with an opportunity to mold the life of a child of God into His image. May we treasure the time we have been given and not waste it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Final Summit

I have been wanting to read a book by Andy Andrews since I saw him speak at Women of Faith last fall...What an amazing speaker!!!    Because I did not read the "prequel" to this book, "The Travelers", I wasn't sure if I would really get the most out of it though.  However, he gives plenty of background in his storytelling, so I didn't feel too behind.  What I love about Andy's storytelling is that he finds these precious gems...historical stories that are relatively unknown...and he uncovers them for the world to discover.  I don't want to tell too much to ruin the discovery, but he definitely does that in The Final Summit!  In the process, he also gives several other history lessons, including discussion of what we can learn from the wise and unwise decisions of those who have gone before us.  It was an easy read...finished in 1-2 days, so a great book for light readers and book lovers alike!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Life Without Limbs

I'm very excited to share my most recent read.  I saw this guy on a youtube video a year or two ago, and was just blown away!  Everyone loves a story of someone who is able to overcome obstacles to prove to the world they can, when everyone thinks they can't.  Nick Vujijic is an inspiration to others to live beyond our limitations, whether physical, mental, emotional, financial, or anything else that may hold you back. You cannot possible read one chapter of this book and walk away uninspired to live life to the fullest!  You can't help but get the sense that Nick has tapped into the supernatural ability to live life fully and unhindered by excuses of any kind.  Several times while I was reading, I found myself trying to counter his optimism with my own cynicism...thinking, "But it's just not that easy."  But in light of his story, I would have to come around to, "Well, maybe it is that easy..."  Like Nick says, "I'm ridiculously happy, what's your excuse?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Goodness of God

I had never read anything by Randy Alcorn, but the title intrigued me, so I selected The Goodness of God:  Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering for my most recent read.  And was I ever blessed!  Regardless of whether you are going thru a tremendously difficult trial or just the ordinary struggles of everyday life on this earth, there is so much for you  to take from this book.  The best thing that it has to offer is helping us in the struggle to transition from believing in God to trusting in God, particularly when we encounter times of suffering and our beliefs are challenged.  He takes us through each piece of evidence, proving that God is good (all the time), by looking at such difficult issues as inherited sin, delayed justice, and the "prosperity gospel".  There are so many nuggets of wisdom that I felt compelled to read with a highlighter in are a couple:
 "God is not only preparing a place for us, he's preparing us for that place, through our suffering   and growth in character."
"Satan intends your suffering for evil; God intends if for good.  Whose purpose in your suffering will prevail?  Whose purposes are you furthering?  Satan attempts to destroy your faith, while God invites you to draw near to him and rely upon his soverign grace to sustain you." 
 I have a feeling that while this book is going on the shelf, it won't stay there long.  I have already been  pulling it out and reading again the highlighted passages.  It has challenged me to continue to be a student of God's Word and to seek first His righteousness in this broken world.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Read and Share: The Ultimate DVD Bible - Volume 2

We have been through a lot of children's Bibles in this family...A LOT!  Mainly because we have visited so many different churches through the years, and it seems we tend to make our donations to them in the form of leaving children's Bibles at each one of we've seen more than our share.  But this one has a different comes with DVD's that illustrate each of the Bible stories.  The videos are each several minutes long, and they word-for-word match the stories in the book, which is nice for helping your child learn to read.  Even my elementary-age kids liked watching the videos one day...the stories move so quickly from one to the next that it really kept their attention.  My only criticism is that because it came after Volume 1, it's a little random...some OT stories are in Volume 1 and some in Volume 2.  For example, Volume 2 begins with the story of Joseph, because all of the stories from earlier in Genesis are in Volume 1.  If you like a sequential approach, that might bug you.  But, overall, it offers something unique from other children's Bibles, and if your kids are like mine, the DVD will add another great way for them to soak in the treasure of God's Word.  Incidentally, where do you think the Bible is right now?  Why, it's at church, of course!  But only because we used it Sunday in the preschooler children's church for Bible story time...another great way to use this Bible!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love at Last Sight

If you find yourself snowbound, my latest good read is Love at Last Sight.  In a culture where "love" is all about what makes me feel good, this practical guide on how to really love people is a welcome change.  This book is filled with short chapters, practical action steps, and simple common sense (that is not so common), making it a must-have for anyone seeking to invest in their relationships.  The book gives you four weeks of emphasis: Being All There, Acting Intentionally, Risking Awkwardness, and Letting Go. The only thing missing for me was that I wanted it to take me a little deeper into the scriptural wisdom on this topic.  But I think this book's strength is not in its depth, but that it spells it out so simply that anyone could relate and apply what it says to make real changes in their relationships.

Voices of the Faithful

Well, the New Year has started...time for making resolutions that usually last a week or two...or not.  So if your resolution has anything to do with spending some time reading, here is a worthwhile pick.  Voices of the Faithful is a different kind of devotional book, in that it is a compilation of various writers, all international missionaries, meant to spur you on in your own walk of faith.  The author listed in big print on the cover is Beth Moore, and she does add so much with her introductions to the topic for each month's collections, including God's Character, God's Word, Persecution and Compassion.  However, she is quick to draw the focus to the authors of each daily entry, as her "friends who put their lives on the line for God".  Their stories are inspiring and so interesting to read, as they take me out of my narrow focus on my tiny little corner of the world.  What a great way to start the day and the new year!