Book Review

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero [Book Review]

I’ve always believed whatever is inside you will spill out. If we’re okay emotionally and spiritually, then we’re healthy Christians. I believe we can appear to be okay outwardly but inwardly tells a different story. That’s why I’m thankful for Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Scazzero.

Majority of this book I agree with and it’s definitely a book I’ll revisit from time to time to do an internal check.

It’s impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature.

Think about this statement for a minute. One can be spiritually mature (ie: Go to church weekly, read Scripture daily, pray often, etc) and still struggle inside. This is what Scazzero discusses in his book.

What defines someone who is emotionally healthy?

  • Naming, recognizing, and managing our own feelings
  • Identifying with and having active compassion for others
  • Initiating and maintaining close and meaningful relationships
  • Breaking free from self-destructive patterns
  • Being aware of how our past impacts our present
  • Developing the capacity to express our thoughts and feelings clearly
  • Respecting and loving others without having to change them
  • Asking for what we need, want, or prefer clearly, directly, and respectfully
  • Accurately self-assessing our strengths, limits, and weaknesses and freely sharing them with others
  • Learning the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that consider the perspectives of others
  • Integrating our spirituality with our sexuality in a healthy way
  • Grieving well

This year alone I’ve had to deal with all the above in different situations. Especially how easily our past can spill into areas it shouldn’t and how conflict when not dealt with quickly and maturely can be destructive spiritually. Other key points stood out to me including: practicing silence, solitude, unceasing prayer, learning to rest attentively in God’s presence, loving others out of a life of a love for God, and living in community that passionately loves Jesus above all else.

I had to think over these things carefully and do an assessment of how I’m doing in these areas. These areas are the missing ingredients in a life totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit. When a life is totally surrendered to the Spirit’s leading, every area of a person’s heart will be an honest reflection of who they are in Christ.  In other words, authentic.

Emotional health is important to our spiritual lives.

This book is highly recommended if you struggle in any of the above areas.

How are you doing emotionally?

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.

Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life by Joan Chittister [Book Review]

Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life by Joan Chittister is about humility and what it means to live a more humble and authentic life. The Benedictine spirituality is the foundation of this book. Some parts I had a difficult time relating to, but overall, the message was easy to understand, even convicting.

Humility is not our culture’s biggest asset or our most desired character quality.  A character of humility has to be cultivated in good soil and this allows other Christ-like characteristics to bear good fruit. We are known by our fruits after all.

Chittister explains the twelve steps of humility are an invitation to freedom. From these twelve steps we are finally authentic and fully free, totally authentic and driven by the Holy Spirit.

Recognize that God is God

Know that God’s will is best for you.

Seek direction from wisdom figures.

Endure the pains of development and do not give up.

Acknowledge faults and strip away the masks.

Be content with less than the best..

Let go of false sense of self.

Preserve tradition and learn from the community.

Listen

Never ridicule anyone or anything.

Speak kindly.

Be serene, stay calm.

Do these steps of humility define your life? The list feels exhausting, but this is the life we’re called to live.

Acknowledging faults and stripping away masks is the step that resonated with me most. Mostly because transparency and authenticity is very important to me, especially in my spiritual life. As a follower of Christ, everything is spiritual because He is everywhere!

I recommend Radical Spirit if you want to grow spiritually in the above areas.

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

The Way of Letting Go by Wilma Derksen [Book Review]

The Way of Letting Go by Wilma Derksen was a timely read. I feel like most of my life has been spent learning to let go. While I’ll never understand the pain of losing a family member to unspeakable tragedy, I understand what it means to lose someone I love.

Forgiveness is a way of life, and with this book, Wilma shows you how to start.

The time between letting go and learning to forgive is a never ending process. Forgiveness isn’t a one time thing and then you’re free; forgiveness is a lifetime of learning to love other people, love those who hurt you, and ultimately, yourself. 

This wasn’t my favorite book of the year so far, mainly because it was hard to connect with her tragedy and my heart break. It felt silly at times to compare the two. But regardless, I believe any one who struggles with forgiveness or is still in the process of learning to forgive can relate to this book.

Forgiveness is a moment by moment decision to set the offender free. 

If you’re in a season of life where forgiveness is difficult, this book will help.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

Talk Yourself Happy Transform Your Heart by Speaking God’s Promises by Kristi Watts [Book Review]

Talk Yourself Happy Transform Your Heart by Speaking God’s Promises was a timely read.  I think one of our biggest misconceptions is if we think happy, we will be happy.  In my own life, this isn’t always the case. One thing I loved about Kristi’s perspective is speaking God’s promises and Word over our life and circumstances. This has the power to change our perspective significantly.

Our thoughts and words have power, especially the ones directed at ourselves. I’m getting better in this area with God’s help. We have a powerful weapon available to us daily and that is God’s Word. Kristi reminds us speaking God’s promises out loud breaks the enemy’s hold over us. Using the Word of God and speaking His promises allows for spiritual breakthrough.

Speaking God’s promises over our life is not just a pep talk, but a way of life. 

I’m learning this a lot lately. Every time I get into a funk, I repeat scripture back to myself. Thankfully, I have friends in my life who remind me daily of God’s truth.  We need to believe daily the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and break through the lies of the enemy. This is the key to happiness. 

If you struggle in this area, Talk Yourself Happy is the book for you.

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.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

How’s Your Soul? Why Everything that Matters Starts with the Inside You by Judah Smith [Book Review]

How’s Your Soul? by Judah Smith was a good book to start 2017 with.  The inside us is more important than the outside us and Judah explores this idea throughout this book. There were a lot of things I nodded in agreement with and this will more than likely be a book I revisit again throughout the year. I can’t say though this is in my Top 5 favorites but it’s still early.

At the end of 2016 and even now I wrestle with the inside me more than the outside. I think it’s important sometimes to ask ourselves what’s going on inside us and rather than ask people, “How are you?” we should instead ask them and ourselves, “How’s your/my soul?” This question will definitely change the way we connect with God and other people.

The chapter that really resonated with most with me was “Is Love God or Is God Love?” This is the only chapter I had to read more than once.  Judah explores one of my favorite scripture verses on love.

Roofs Without Skylights

Love is a roof and a cover. Love protects, shields, and conceals the weaknesses of others. This doesn’t mean we ignore sin; it means we don’t use people’s faults and failures to expose or shame them. We publicly cover them and privately restore them with the goal of bringing about health in their lives. 

Some people are roofs, but they have a lot of skylights. Skylight Christians have good hearts, but they are exposers, not coverers. They build skylights into every conversation because somehow the fact that they have the scoop makes them feel better about themselves. We don’t have to do that though. We can be so secure in God’s love and our identity that we don’t have to give people glimpses into other people’s business. We can be a safe place for hurting people, a place where they can find unconditional love and support – both public and private – while they get back on their feet.

This was by far the best chapter of How’s Your Soul? It made me evaluate my life, my friends, and how I talk of hurtful people and situations. Let me just say this is an area I’m not perfect with. When I’m hurting, I pray, I write, I vent. But I’m learning how to navigate and process my hurt without being bitter or resentful … or both.

I recommend this book if the inside you needs some repairing.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

 

Jesus Over Everything by Clayton Jennings [Book Review]

Jesus Over Everything by Clayton Jennings wasn’t my favorite read of 2016.  I first heard about Clayton Jennings earlier in the year so I was excited about his new book. I don’t follow Clayton on social media but some of my friends do. He’s very popular among the Christian community and he made that very obvious throughout his book. He talked about his many followers on social media quite often through each chapter which was my biggest annoyance with this read.

Apart from that, I had a very difficult time connecting with most of this book. There were a few parts I agreed with but most of it were hit and miss. I will say though, I admire and respect Clayton’s passion and heart for Jesus. To his credit, he’s young and attractive. Most of the attention throughout Jesus Over Everything was on Clayton, not Jesus.

Opinion aside, I think this book will resonate with the younger generation who are early in their walk with Christ. I read a lot of books this year and Jesus Over Everything didn’t have the depth I was looking for.

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

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence by Sarah Young [Book Review]

_240_360_book-2036-coverJesus Always is another favorite devotional by Sarah Young. When I first opened it, there was already confirmation from a conversation I had with a friend the night before. I love Jesus Calling by her so I was excited for this and I haven’t been disappointed.

Like Jesus Calling, the devotionals are short and perfect for morning devotional and Bible reading time. I love Sarah’s writing style in that it feels like Jesus Himself is speaking directly to you and your heart. I know it’s helped me look at certain situations in my life from His perspective.

The only drawback about this devotional is it lists the Bible verses highlighted in the day’s reading but it doesn’t give you the scripture written out. Which is preferred for me. However, it’s good because it allows you to look up the verse yourself and study it on your own. This is a minimal drawback though.

Sarah uses different translations for verses (NIV, NLT, NASB, AMP, ESV, MSG, etc) throughout Jesus Always. Reading the verses this way really does help you apply and understand what is being said in the day’s reading. It helped me see verses and their meanings in a different way.

I highly recommend Jesus Always if you’re looking for a quick daily devotional. If you liked Jesus Calling, you will love Jesus Always.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst [Book Review]

_240_360_book-1988-coverAt some point in our life we have all been rejected. Rejection is something I’ve talked about frequently in this space. It’s not a feeling I ever wanted repeated in my life but it has been for some time now. Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst was written for me and every person who has ever felt the hurt from rejection.

Page by page I felt myself nod in agreement, felt convicted, and circumstances in my present were put in perspective. This book was written for me in this time of my life, no doubt in my mind.  Lysa’s biblical perspective throughout Uninvited confirmed so many things I’m going through as I write this. She took the words right out of my heart and mouth.

Recently, I’ve had a desire to run towards people and things to fill the void left from past rejection. It worked for a while and then it didn’t any more. This is why Uninvited is so timely. I realized the things I was running to were taking God’s place in my life. Instead of turning to Him, I chose to turn to things I knew in my spirit wouldn’t satisfy but chose them over Him anyway.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy realizing the damage past rejection has done to me. It’s pretty bad. I’m still coming to grips with it. I don’t want to make excuses for my words, actions, or behavior in the past few months, but I know it’s time to start making real changes in my life. It’s time for me to be honest with myself and let God take the wheel again.

There is nothing pretty about rejection. I can’t think of a single moment when rejection ever felt beautiful, but it’s all about perspective. I was able to relate to almost all of Lysa’s experiences with past relationships. I appreciate Uninvited so much because God was speaking to me directly through Lysa’s heart.

Rejection cannot define our future unless we allow it to.

I don’t know your experience with rejection but I highly recommend Uninvited. I hope it speaks to you as much as it did me.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

People of the Second Chance: A Guide to Bringing Life-Saving Love to the World [Book Review]

People of the9781601428547 Second Chance: A Guide to Bringing Life-Saving Love to the World by Mike Foster is my 8th read of the year and I couldn’t put it down. I’ve been following the POTSC movement for a few years now and this book was timely.

We are all flawed and broken and God uses them for good. 

This is the overall message of this book. It’s more than that though. It takes real strength to be vulnerable and transparent with our brokenness. Most of us hide behind ours too afraid to make them known. Mike’s transparency and heart in this book is palpable throughout. Mike invites us to live as God’s beloved instead of living a life of shame, guilt, and fear.

Some of this book repeated what I’ve already been told before but I believe when something is continuously repeated, it’s almost as if God Himself is trying to get my attention. We need to be told often we are loved, chosen, and accepted. I can’t think of a single moment while reading this where I didn’t begin to see things in a different way. It shed light on things I was doing to myself and to others close to me.

I highly recommend this book if you struggle with fear, guilt, or have some hang up you’re allowing to control you. It may be something from your past and even now in the present. It’s a very quick read.

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

Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher [Book Review]

 

9781601428400Rooted by Banning Liebscher is another great read for 2016.  Every book I’ve picked up this year has been timely and Rooted was no different. Banning discusses how God develops us through the process of Intimacy, Serving, and Community. The biggest take away I got from Rooted is when God develops us, it takes time. Until we are fully developed through His process,  we cannot fully live out our purpose.

All of Banning’s words resonated with me, but the section on serving really struck a cord. God put us here to love and serve others. To lay our life down for our friends and those close to us. I have reflected on the past month of my life and realize the people who need my love most are the people I see and interact with daily. It goes beyond that but it starts there.

Rooted will both challenge and convict you. It will make you see life through a different pair of lens you’re used to as a follower of Christ. You will rethink areas of life, namely, your relationship with Christ and how it affects your relationships with other people and importantly, yourself.

What kind of legacy do you want to have? You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit that lasts for eternity, just like David, just like Christ. 

Banning encourages us to remain rooted in the Source; Jesus. I highly recommend this book.

How rooted are you?

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

 

NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback [Bible Review]

_240_360_Book.1937.cover

Normally, I’m not a fan of the NKJV version of Scripture, but this Bible came in handy to study with. The NKJV Study Bible is a great study Bible for adults who want to dig deeper into scripture.

My favorite feature are the verse by verse notes at the bottom of each section of reading. I have found this feature extremely valuable and highly recommended for any one who wants to deepen their understanding of scripture. The other feature I found helpful were the cross references and the articles highlighting key doctrines/principles in the Bible.

This is a very compact Bible and perfect to carry with you to work or for group study.

I highly recommend this Bible if you’re a fan of the NKJV translation.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Unqualified by Steven Furtick [Book Review]

9781601424594

I’ve been listening to Steven Furtick for about 4 years now and he is one of my favorite pastors. Unqualified is the first book I’ve read by Steven and it couldn’t have  spoke to me at the right time.

We all have weaknesses and sometimes we live in our weaknesses instead allowing God to use them for good. Furtick reminds us God loves unqualifed people.

There have been a few times in my life when I didn’t feel qualified to do God’s will. I was encouraged and inspired by Steven’s reminder God uses broken people to fulfill His purpose. We don’t have to be perfect to be used by Him.

At times, I know my behavior and actions don’t please the Lord. Yet, God still speaks and works in my life. No matter what I’ve done or how rotten I feel, He still loves me enough to remind I can still be used to accomplish His plans.

Unqualified is a reminder as long as we’re here, imperfections and all, we’re still usable by the Lord.

About Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. The church has been listed by Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest growing and largest churches in America.

Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still.

Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

Check out Elevation Church here.

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