Book Review

Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human [Book Review]

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This is the second book by John Mark Comer I’ve read and was a very timely read. Garden City is a book that I believe will resonate and connect with any one who finds themselves wondering if their job in life matters. I know for me, I often get wrapped up in the idea of “What’s next?” or in the mentality that God wants better for me. But what if where God has us is where we are meant to be? I believe God uses us where He plants us.

Garden City emphasis is that no matter what we do, everything, the most mundane, unimportant stuff in our life should be “for the glory of God.” John Mark reminds us we’re the image of God and our job is to make the invisible God visible, to mirror and mimic what He is like in the world.  Whether our position is an assistant, parent, clerk, teacher, student, all of this matters and all of it should glorify God.

In life, we are God’s representative. People see God’s presence and beauty in how we live.

From personal experience, I found this book challenging. A lot of John Mark’s points hit home. I highly recommend this book if you are working an ordinary job and wasting your time and energy chasing the next “big thing.” God is in the business of equipping us for the work He has called us to and I believe it starts in our life doing the ordinary things we think are insignificant.

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.”

NIV Bible for Teen Girls: Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love [Bible Review]

_240_360_Book.1643.coverNIV Bible for Teen Girls: Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love is probably one of the best Bibles I own. The Bible is not only visually appealing but makes scripture simple to read and understand. One of the many things I love about this Bible are the devotionals in each book of the Bible.

Recently, I’ve joined a Bible Study and have used this Bible instead of my original NIV and Amplified versions I currently own. This Bible is easy to carry and not too bulky. Though this Bible is meant for Teen Girls, I believe any woman can benefit from it. The other feature of this Bible I find extremely helpful is how it highlights key verses for you.

Simple is truly better for me as I study scripture and this Bible definitely does that. This will probably be the last Bible I own. It’s really that good.

I highly recommend NIV Bible for Teen Girls for any woman, any age.

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. 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.

Slow to Judge: Sometimes It’s OK to Listen by David B. Capes [ Book Review]

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This was probably one of the most important books I’ve read this year.  Capes brings up the topic of being quick to judge others without first listening and I believe this is a very timely reminder in this season of life. Having been on both ends of judgement, I identified a lot with what was discussed in this book.

At some point, we have all been guilty of rushing to judgement too often and too soon without first understanding other people or learning the power of forgiveness and grace. I believe this book is for any one but I especially liked how Capes pointed everything back to scripture.

There were quite a few memorable quotes from Slow to Judge which I found myself writing down and memorizing as I read through it. Some of the following points by Capes really connected with me:

The prerequisite for judging another is humility. Without humility and without inspecting our own faults first, we should best remain silent.

We are not to judge in order to damage another’s reputation. If we judge at all, we must do so with a deep and sure hope that faults can be mended, relationships restored, and depression lifted. If there is no hope for reconciliation, then there may be no point in expressing our opinion.

It is easy to love everyone in general and no one particular.

Love must be particular. Love must have an object. And the object of love is often a particular person who is imperfect, flawed, and occasionally a real mess. 

Honestly, right now I’m dealing with judgement both on and offline. I know there have been many times in my life when I felt no one understood me, tried to understand me, and have made assumptions based on perception rather than truth. Of course I try to remind myself people will think what they want about you regardless. And it’s something I have to continuously have to remind myself of as I put more of my life out there both on and offline.

At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves God is the ultimate judge. God will place the right people in our life at the appropriate time to speak truth in love and pour their wisdom into our life, but He is our example.

It takes discipline and hard work to be slow to judge and quick to listen. 

I highly recommend this book if you struggle in this area.

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. 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.”

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans [Book Review}

_240_360_Book.1565.coverSearching for Sunday is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Held Evans and it’s one I had to read in stages rather than tackle all at one time. Each section I identified with and I found myself nodding in agreement to a lot of her points as the book progressed. What I most identified with is how honest Evans’ was with her experience in and out of Church.

I know over the years Rachel has received a lot of backlash for her writing, primarily her blog, but I read this with an open mind. I think regardless of where someone is in their faith whether they have been wounded by the Church or not, they will find themselves relating to a lot of what shes says. Searching for Sunday is a very honest book told from Evans’ own experience with Church; both finding, leaving, and returning.

At some point in our walk we all have questions about Jesus, God, and our faith. Questions are good and what I love about Searching for Sunday is I didn’t feel alone with my questions. There was someone out there I could identify with and it validated my feelings; they felt more real.

Any person in their faith journey can identify with this book. I highly recommend this to any one who is struggling or has questions they’re afraid to speak of in their Church community.

 

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. 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 Swagger: Break Free from Poser Christianity [Book Review]

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Are you a poser Christian?

This the question Jarrid Wilson wants us to ask ourselves in his book Jesus SwaggerI’ve been following Jarrid since 2011 and have seen him evolve the past few years thanks to social media. Jesus Swagger offered a small glimpse into Jarrid’s personal life offline, but I felt there was more his book could have offered.

Jesus Swagger has a lot of tweetable quotes and is targeted primarily for younger generational Christians who are new in their faith.  Jarrid’s book asks good #heartcheck questions, but I felt his approach was a bit too cliche’.

I connect more with writers who are authentic, who share their stories, and connect their message through their own personal experiences. There wasn’t much story telling in Jesus Swagger, as it was more of eight chapters of what not to do and what to do more of as believers. I think my expectations were set too high for this one.

Chapter 3, “Love Without Limits resonated most with me. Jarrid made a lot of solid points about what it means to love other people. Some of it was a #heartcheck for me as I read through it, so it connected with me out of all the other chapters.

Some quotes that stood out to me were:

What we cannot see, God still provides. What we cannot understand, God still creates. And what we cannot comprehend God still continues to make reality.

Sometimes your willingness to love those who need it will be the difference maker in whether or not people come to realize the love of Jesus really does exist.

Regardless of what the Bible says about cursing, drinking, homosexuality, sex, cheating, lying, or stealing, we are still called to love one another. It’s that simple. No questions asked, regardless of how you interpret Scripture.

 This chapter stood out most to me because I’ve been there. I’ve been slandered and rejected for loving people who the world chooses to reject and shun. Isn’t that what Jesus did? 

Jesus Swagger is a fast and easy read. It’s not a book I would recommend to a mature believer, but it is definitely for teenagers and young adults who need a little push in their walk with the Lord to begin taking it seriously.

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.”

 

 

Scary Close by Donald Miller [Book Review]

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Donald Miller’s Scary Close” is one of probably the best Don has written. One thing I really appreciate about Scary Close is Don’s honesty and transparency throughout this book.

Everything is a performance and act until the veil must be pulled back and who we are is truly exposed. It took Don almost his entire life to truly learn to be intimate with others. Not intimate, sexually, but intimate, relationally; allowing someone else in.

It’s scary.

But, Don’s story and raw transparency throughout his book gives readers a glimpse into what it’s like for someone else to be on the inside of their life. This book is more than just being good at relationships, but learning to be good at loving ourselves, our real selves, and letting someone else see this person without edit.

Scary Close is a reminder it’s okay to be perfectly willing to be perfectly human.

What I love about Don is how he knows he has more work to do to be completely comfortable with being himself, but at least he admits it. Some of us will go our entire life trying to win the approval of others and care what others think, but this journey is our own.

If you are trying to discover and unearth this person, I encourage you to read Scary Close.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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.”

Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say it, and When to Say Nothing At All [Book Review]

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Karen Ehman’s book “Keep it Shut: What to Say, How to Say it, and When to Say Nothing at All” is such a timely book. Words are powerful. They have the ability to build up or tear down. Karen’s book reminds us to know when to speak the right words, how to speak them, and when silence is sometimes the best option.

As a woman, I haven’t always used my words for good. What I like most about Karen’s points in her book is she shares others’ stories and gives real life examples/experiences to encourage us to be better with our words.  She also gives practical, applicable, advice on how to improve how we speak to others and tame our tongue.

God wants us to honor Him with our bodies but also our mouths. 

I cannot recommend this book enough to every person who has ever struggled with controlling their tongue. This book is definitely one you have to chew on, it’s not an easy read but it’s a definite #heartcheck. 

If you’re a woman who struggles with your words, this book is 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. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community [Book Review]

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Anne Marie Miller’s, “Lean On Me” could have not have come at a better time in my life. Anne’s story pretty much solidified much of what I went through last year in finding genuine, life giving friendships and consistent community.  Chapter after chapter hit home for me. I think all of us at some point have searched for intentional, vulnerable, and consistent relationships in our life, but Anne, through our own story, pain, and struggle reminded me  why community is so important through the difficult patches of life.

Lean On Me reminds us how important our need is for God and others.

I, wholeheartedly recommend this book to any one who is in a season of loss and looking for a glimpse of hope.  I will definitely be revisiting this book again in the future as a reminder how imperative it is to find others willing to do life with you and that being vulnerable, while scary, is exactly what Jesus needs from us.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. 

NIV Once a Day Bible [For Leaders] Review

The NIV Once a Day Bible [For Leaders] is the best Bible for readers who prefer a more disciplined and structured approach to reading scripture. One thing I liked about this Bible is how it pairs the Old and New Testament together along with Psalms and Proverbs.  The NIV translation has always been my favorite translation of the Bible (Sorry NIV haters) so reading this Bible is perfect.

My favorite part about this Bible is the “Reflection” section before each day ends. The reflection section has quotes from well known Christian leaders and writers so the scripture really connected after reading their insights.

The NIV Once a Day Bible [For Leaders] is good for those of us who live busy lives but still want to make scripture apart of their daily routine. I know the advantage of making Scripture a part of my daily life. Without it, I’m spiritually dead. No fruit can be produced if we don’t read scripture and apply it to our lives everyday.

Recently, I started reading through the Psalms each day so this is a good addition to that and since I’ve never read through the entire Bible, this Bible is a good fit.

I would recommend this Bible for any one, whether leader or new believer.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program.

The Solomon Seduction: What You Can Learn From the Wisest Fool in the Bible

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The Solomon Seduction by Mark Atteberry is a great read. Atteberry helps readers identify areas in our life where we need more of Jesus and less of us. Most, if not all, the areas in this book addressed areas in my own life where I’ve either avoided taking responsibility or addresses areas in my life where I need to surrender to the Lord completely. The Solomon Seduction is about the seduction of sin and how it can manifest in our life and spiral out of control.

Sin will infect every area of our life.

We all have one or more sins in our life we are managing or in denial about and Atteberry’s book basically says to run from sin, all of it, and for good.

This book is definitely a wake up call.

 I received this book free from the Thomas Nelson 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.”

Clout: Discover And Unleash Your God-Given Influence by Jenni Catron

Print

Fear

Comparison

Jealousy

Scarcity

Insecurity

Pride

Control

At one point in our life we have all experienced the above clout killers. Jenni Catron’s book, “Clout: Discover And Unleash Your God-Given Influence” is a book I needed to read at this point in my life.  Through every point in my life where I felt God move most, I have experienced all of the above clout killers, sometimes all at once.

What is clout? 

Clout is the influence that God has given to you and no one else. Discovering our clout is an essential part of unleashing our purpose. You have a specific purpose, a calling, that only you are qualified to fulfill. Your God-given influence defines your purpose.

Jenni Catron explains how fear, pride, comparison, insecurity, scarcity, control, and jealousy kill our God-given influence. There were a few moments while reading when I had to stop and reflect on my life and realize I have allowed all these clout killers to ruin God’s calling on my life. Insecurity, fear, and control are three clout killers I struggle with most.

As I read Jenn’s words and understood her perspective, it blew every dark door of my life wide open. I didn’t realize how afraid, insecure, and how much I enjoyed being in control until opening this book. This isn’t easy to admit. Honestly, it’s pretty embarrassing. Just because we believe in the Lord, it doesn’t mean old parts of our character magically disappear. They will remain until the point of total surrender.

  • Profound sense of self-doubt
  • Uncertainty about our basic worth and place in the world
  • Chronic self-consciousness
  • Chronic lack of confidence
  • Anxiety about our relationships
  • Fear of rejection
  • Uncertainty about whether our feelings and desires are legitimate

These are all descriptors of insecurity and all of them hit me in the gut. I feel like this entire section was written specifically for me. It would take an entire lifetime to summarize how insecurity has defined my life. 

Having insecurity in your life is like having a wrecking ball constantly swinging through your soul

Jenni explains we have to exchange insecurity for love. We cannot love others well when we’re struggling with our self-worth. Ouch. This resonated deeply.

Clout is a book everyone needs to read. I feel I am only scratching the surface because all of us struggle or have struggled with these clout killers. It’s not easy admitting struggle but we cannot live out our purpose with clout killers in the way.

In order to fully understand our plan, our purpose, our intention, our influence – our clout – we have to get to know the one who created us.

Clout isn’t a book for the faint of heart. Those inner demons all of us like to hide will be exposed. You’ll see a part of yourself in every section and realize areas in your character which need work.

You’ll recognize areas where you need God more.

When you truly understand how uniquely God has designed you and how specifically he has equipped you, you will thrive.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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.”

Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female

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Loveology  by John Mark Comer is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It couldn’t have come at a better time in my life when I have so many questions about love, marriage, and sex. Loveology connected some missing dots in my own struggle with being a single, a virgin, and unmarried. It wasn’t the tone of the book but it was the message throughout and a lot of it was spot on.

John Mark Comer begin the book in the garden of Eden. He followed the story of Adam and Eve, the fall, and why many of us struggle the way we do in marriage, relationships, our identity, and God’s overall design for men, women, and His creation. There was so many nuggets of wisdom throughout the entire book and it was hard not to write everything down.

While Loveology can’t speak for us as a whole it can fill some missing pieces in our logic towards love, marriage, sex, and a better reality in a culture laden with sin, expectations, and an urgency to be in love, be married, and have sex. Comer mentions the importance of singleness and waiting and God’s purpose for marriage. He explains the purpose of marriage isn’t marriage, it’s to fulfill God’s calling in our life which can only be fulfilled when men and women are partnered together to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.

The purpose of marriage is for God’s glory, not ours.

Loveology provided confirmation to me as I reached the end of the book, especially when Comer said, “We don’t marry projects. We marry partners.” Basically, we can’t change people, we have to love others where they are for who they are. And I don’t know about you, but I struggle a lot with this. I’ve always been a fixer, but it’s not my job, it’s God’s. Our role in others’ lives is to walk with them towards the cross, not try to change them.

Loveology will challenge you, it may even change you, but it won’t speak for you, it can only speak to you. God knows our hearts better than any one and while Loveology helped process things in my life with better clarity, it may not for you.

Whether single, married, divorced, or searching, approach Loveology with an open mind and heart.

Love, marriage, sex, even singleness — this whole thing was created by God. It’s good, and it’s for you to enjoy. But know this. Nothing in this world can fill this gaping void in your heart by our departure from Eden. Not the best marriage, the best sex, the best romance-nothing. All that stuff is incredible but it’s not God. The letdowns will come. And when they do, remind yourself that this life, in its best moments, is nothing more than a signpost pointing forward to the age to come. The day when “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” When “sorrow and sighing will flee away.” And when we will be with God, just like we were supposed to be in the beginning. (Comer, 241)

I received this book free from Zondervan 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.”