Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Powerful True Story

Echoes of an Angel: The Miraculous True Story was written by Aquanetta Gordon, the mother of the subject of this book.  This is powerful, true story about a young boy named Ben Underwood, who lost both of his eyes when he was two years old to a rare disease called bilateral retinoblastoma.  This is the story of his journey of living life despite his blindness and other physical issues, until his death. 

It is a story about a mother’s will to help her son never lose the will to live, to embrace life, even when it was not easy.  It’s also the story of a mother who struggled with faith in God, but ultimately grew in her faith.  While the mother did some things I did not agree with the basis of the story, which is true, is powerful and inspiring. 

To picture Ben riding his bike and jumping over ramps and so cool!  Ben didn’t live like a person who was blind; that is where I give so much credit to his mother and to Ben’s will to live a normal life.  He played with friends and even played video games.

Echoes of an Angel was a wonderful reminder of putting our faith in God and watching what He can do! The book contains pictures and a Discussion Guide.

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stand in the Gap

Reading  In the Gap: What Happens When God's People Stand Strong, by Wilfredo De Jesus was a challenging book.  The purpose of this book was to identify the ordinary people who do extraordinary things to make a difference in the world.  De Jesus defines a gap, as ‘something which represents a place of weakness, vulnerability and danger.’

We often times see this when looking around the world.  De Jesus shares many stories about these ordinary men and women who saw ‘a gap’ and sought to transform the gap into something which would be strong and powerful. 

This is an encouraging, yet challenging book to read.  As we read the book we should be reading with our eyes open to our own communities and where the ‘gaps’ are so we can get ready to make a difference.

De Jesus includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which can be used for personal reflection or group discussion.  It has a self-evaluation tool at the back of the book to help you determine “where God is already at work in your life … and where He may need to do a little more to sharpen and shape you.  Finally, it includes useful suggestions for how to use the book in small groups and classes.  There is also a Bible Study series to go along with the book.

I recommend this book to people who are not comfortable and want to learn more about how they can make a difference in the world.

I received this book at no cost as a digital download through Net Galley.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Thanks also to Assemblies of God and Influence Resources publishers.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Inspiring Story












This was a very easy to read book, with great nuggets of spiritual truth to guide the reader along their journey.  Laurie Short’s book, Finding Faith in the Dark: When the Story of Your Life Takes a Turn You Didn't Plan weaves stories about her life and those around her; along with stories from the Bible.

She takes a look at what happens when life does not go as we planned it to go.  This is an encouraging book.  A great book to give to someone who is going through a difficult time in their lives.  Ms. Short encourages the reader to never give up, because we do not know what the next chapter is in our story.  Often times God is more at work in our difficult seasons than we realize and understand. 

Once again, this would be a great gift book.  It’s easy to read and you will identify with the author and the stories.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Powerful Story to Faith

In her book, Good God, Lousy World, and Me: The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist from Unbelief to Faith, Holly Burkhalter gives a very open and honest autobiographical account of her journey to faith.

As the title suggests, this is in Holly’s opinion, an improbable journey from someone who was borderline agnostic / atheist to someone who found faith.  Working in the world of human rights in many countries, Ms. Burkhalter witnessed so many atrocities to humans.  It became difficult for her to believe there was a God, let alone a good God, who would allow all of this to occur to God’s creation. 

It was not a one time crusade where Holly got it.  It was watching and witnessing people at work who were followers of Christ.  She saw them in action, helping people who were hurting and yet at the same time extolling the goodness of God.  This led to the changes in her personal life and ultimately faith in the living God. 

While Holly does not have all of the answers, in raw honesty, she leads us on her journey, an improbable one.  A journey with so many lows, yet she discovered faith in Jesus.  This is a powerful story about one woman’s journey to faith in Jesus, in spite of the tragedies she experienced. 

This book is worth the reading!

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books for the purpose of reviewing.  All opinions are mine. 

Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

Stepping Into the World

I greatly appreciated reading Church in the Middle: Stepping Outside the Building to Reach the World of Tomorrow by Rolland Daniels.  I was in total agreement with his view of the church.  As the title states, and it’s his premise, that in order to reach the world of people who are not part of the church, we need to leave the church and engage people where they are at. 

For many years the church has simply assumed if we open our doors people should want to come in and have their lives transformed.  We no longer live in that world.  Daniels offers many practical suggestions / tools to help pastors and churches make the jump from inwardly focused to outwardly focused.  He offers assessments and more to help the people gain a better understanding of the call of Jesus to go into the world and make disciples of all people. 

Overall, this was an excellent book.  It was easy to read and should help churches wishing to become more engaged in their community.

I received this book at no charge from Net Galley, published by Warner Press, as a digital download, in exchange for an honest review of this book.

How We Learn! Read All About It

As a parent of two teen boys, I was really interested to read this book and gain insight on ways to help them.  I was not disappointed.  Although it will take time to help them gain new study habits, I greatly appreciated reading  How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, by Benedict Carey. 

There were times I felt the book slowed down as Benedict wrote about the methodology and the different aspects of the brain and how it functions.  I was able to overlook that, but it could be of interest to others.  I was fascinated with the way he described studying in a more chaotic situation can be more helpful than harmful.  While my children do not cram for tests, the way our brain remembers words, etc. was interesting.

His discussion about sleep and its impact on memory and studying was so helpful.  I am not a morning person, and this cemented it as well.  Some schools start ridiculously early, and it does not help the students learn.

This book would be great in a synopsis view for teachers to read.  I would love for some teachers to test his theories and see if they work.  That’s the hard part now.  Do I trust what Carey his written to try these out with my children?

Overall, there were those dry moments, but this is an excellent read for those wanting to better understand how our brain works and how we learn.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Random House Publishers.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Very Good Devotional

The Jesus Code ~ 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer, by O.S. Hawkins has an interesting premise to it.  Hawkins began to wonder about all of the questions Jesus asked, and then went on a search throughout the Bible to examine the questions he felt we need to answer.

This book, which is not related to the God Code is broken down into 52 chapters.  A chapter per week, and the chapters are only 5 pages or so long.  The goal is to read and meditate on the question and discussion questions from each chapter.

This can be used as a family devotion or individually.  The book has a beautiful imitation leather cover which makes it look really great! 

Overall, while I have not finished the book, as I am trying to take it slowly, is a good book, which asks leading questions causing the reader to dig into his / her spiritual journey.  I didn't find Hawkins overly preachy, just trying to help me see where God is in my life, which is a good thing.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Fascinating Story

Neil Swidey has written and excellent nonfiction book, entitled, Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness.  By the time I was finished reading the Prologue, I was hooked.  The build up to the book was great.  Then Swidey takes us on a journey to move throughout the history and build up to this expedition. 

The book was well written with a great deal of care and precision on a delicate matter in which he had to talk to families who lost loved ones.  There is a great deal of documentation and footnotes at the end of the book to help some readers look beyond the book and read more articles about the issues with the Boston Harbor. 

This book could easily be made into a movie.  It was definitely be worth watching, especially after reading this book.  At times, the book moved very slowly, in part because Swidley took such care to talk about the backgrounds of the various divers and individuals in the book.  I believe he could have left some of these details out.  As the story stands on it’s own and was interesting to learn about the dynamics of working 10 miles out to sea in a tunnel.

For those interested in history and drama, this is a very good book.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."


Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

An Excellent Book for Dads

In his book, First Team Dad: Your Playbook for a Winning Family, J. Drew Pittman has written a wonderful and powerful book about what it means to be a dad.  He mostly uses stories about athletes and coaches to help bring home his point for each chapter.

He starts the chapter by talking about the particular person, then he segues into what we can learn from that person.  He ends each chapter with a section called "Game Plan" in which Pittman offers questions and thoughts for reflection.

At the end of the book, he has a few different appendices to help the reader move a little further in their faith journey as a father.

This is a very easy to read book, with 5-6 page chapters.  I would highly recommend this book, as a Father's Day book, for birthdays or even as a Christmas present.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Heartwarming Story

Susan May Warren has written a very heartwarming story in her newest book, Evergreen.  This is a story about a couple, John and Ingrid Christiansen.  Over the years and especially this past year, they've witnessed their family go through turmoil and loss.  They've were forced to say too many good-byes.  Now the stress is taking a toll on their married life. 

John has his dreams and Ingrid has hers, and at this time in their lives the dreams are pulling them in different directions.  The reader is brought into the struggle of their home life as both, John and Ingrid are pulled to look at life in new and different ways as the book takes a few twists and turns along the way. 

The book is about living and embracing a new reality of life.  It should hit home with many readers who want a feel good story, yet one which is based on real life.  This is one of those books which could easily be converted into a Hallmark movie.  It's also an easy to read book, which was nice.  Susan included some discussion questions at the end of the book as well, if you wanted this book to be on the book of the month reading list.

According to guidelines from Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Captivating, But . . .

The premise for this book, I HUNT KILLERS, is eerie, but can be fascinating if you're into delving into the minds of authors and characters in books.  The premise for this book was a boy's father is a famous serial killer who has been captured and is in prison.  The book follows a period in the life of the son as he attempts to figure out who he is supposed to be.
 
I felt the author, Barry Lyga, did an excellent job developing the main characters, the son, Jazz and his friend Howie.  The book takes a number of twists and turns and we seem to be waiting for Jazz to explode and be more like his father, yet he reminds himself over and over again that "people matter."  This helps him overcome the demons which are raging within him.

I felt at times there were gruesome details added for effect and actually took away from the book.  I could have done with less gore for effect and more into the minds of the characters.  

In addition, from what I have read, this book is recommended for YA readers.  I do not believe this is appropriate for teens to read.  This is not a book for under high school, and even then I believe this book should be an adult book, not for teens.

I received this book through Netgalley.com, and the publisher "Little, Brown Books for Young Readers."


Books! Books! And More Books!

For those who read my blog, I want you to know that I am trying to read books which are not just Christian books.  I'm trying to get a wider perspective of what the world is reading, not just what I want to read.

With that being said, most of the books I read I receive at no charge, as long as I give an honest review.  So, you may be seeing more reviews of books which you would not ever consider and I fully understand that and appreciate that.  Yet, in order to better understand the world around us, I'm trying to be selective about what I read (no porn), etc. in what I read, but I still need to know what the general world is reading and learn why.

Hopefully this helps me to improve in my ability to communicate the message of Christ to the world who desperately needs to hear and experience the love of Jesus!

Thanks for being part of this blog.  I hope you find it helpful!

Blessings,

Pastor Michael

Monday, July 28, 2014

Powerful Book

In her book, Let Me Be Clear: Barack Obama's War on Millennials.  And one woman's case for hope, Katie Kieffer has written a hard hitting book about her disappointment with President Obama and her belief that he lied to the very generation who helped elect him as our president.

Kieffer looks at the way Obama was elected president, and focuses on his words, "Let me be clear" which he used during his campaign, as her title.  She then looks at the different policies and their impact upon the millennials ~ 



  • Economy
  • Health care
  • Education
  • Housing crisis
  • Family systems 
  • Military
  • Foreign policy 
  • Gun control
She ends the book with a look at the best solutions and how to move forward.  I appreciated the fact that Kieffer did point out many faults and shortcomings of her generation, the millennials.  She took them to task on the ways they've overlooked many of President Obama's lies. 

I read this book because I wanted it to stretch me in my understandings of politics and how President Obama has manipulated the people.  Yet, at the same time, I read with a certain degree of skepticism, but appreciated the many references and notes Kieffer includes in the book.

This was an enlightening book and I recommend it.

"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

Excellent and Practical Book!

In her newest Sticky Faith book, The title is The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Kids, Kara Powell has hit another home run.  This is an excellent book, with great practical suggestions. 

The author has realized we are losing a young generation of Christians as they become older.  What's the solution?  Kara Powell believes it is helping our children gain a greater "practical" understanding and usage of their faith.  That all starts with parenting and planning how we can help our children grow in Christ.


There is some theory, but mostly there are many, over 100 ideas for helping our children grow into the people Christ calls them to be.  Their premise is that we make plans for so much of life, but we leave out the plans to help our children hold onto their faith through all of life. 

Topics of chapters touch on
  • Forgiveness
  • Mistakes
  • Family Relationships
  • Communication
  • Vacations
  • Senior Citizens
  • Servanthood, 
  • and more.
If you are wanting to read something which has tons of practical ideas which don't take hours to prepare, but will help you and your child connect better and at the same time help them to become more Christ centered, then this is a great book to read.

I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.