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Book Review // Love That Lasts

 

Like many, I first became familiar with YouTube sensation Jefferson Bethke after his video, Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus, went viral. I really appreciated Bethke’s timely message for those who falsely believe that Christianity is about earning one’s way to God via their own righteous living. I agreed wholeheartedly with the message of the video and for a while followed Bethke and his wife Alyssa on social media to see what other material they would produce. I receive their emails from time to time and when I saw that they were offering their latest book Love That Lasts, for free to members who participated on the launch team, I was eager to sign up.

I had read this blog post from Summer White, co-host of the Sheologians podcast and was intrigued by how she pointed out that the Bethke’s tend to mention statistics to back up their positions when it comes to relationships and marriage, more than Scripture. My fandom for them began to decrease as a result but I decided it would be wise to read Love That Lasts for myself and see how it measures up to Scripture as well as White’s claims.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Love that Lasts and learning about the Bethke’s testimonies of coming to know Jesus as their Lord. There were many aspects of their personal backgrounds along with their love story that reminded me so much of my background and how my husband and I met.

From a literary standpoint, their style of writing is more conversational which was very unappealing to me as it ignores basic rules of grammar. However, the book is supposed to be geared toward those of the millennial generation so perhaps younger folks will prefer and appreciate this style. The book began with some personal testimony and then veered into the Bethke’s sharing advice on dating, admonition against porn use and then went into their love story.

As this book is written from the perspective of a Christian couple, I was highly disappointed by the lack of Scripture present within. There are a few Scriptures (I counted 9) alluded to throughout the book which readers can find by looking over the Notes section in the back, and there are 24 additional resources listed consisting of articles, books and quotes, but the overall use of the Bible is poor.

Since Jesus Himself is the Word (John 1:1, Revelation 19:13), and it is through knowledge of Him that Christians receive everything they need for life and godliness, it makes the most logical sense to read a Christian book about romantic relationships and compare it with the standard of truth the author(s) claim to uphold. It makes sense also, that the authors are able to prove their positions by providing supporting Scriptures but such proof in Love That Lasts remains to be seen.

My concerns with Love that Lasts are in bold and my thoughts about them are described below:

  • On page 73 of the book, Jefferson’s response to a statement about defeating porn use is, “We need to replace the no with a better yes. The only way to create lasting behavioral change is to provide a superior pleasure.” Biblically speaking, the only way to create lasting change is not simply by changing behavior, but the heart, and this requires turning from sin and trusting in Jesus alone for salvation and freedom from sin. Jefferson does mention later on the same page that Jesus is the superior pleasure yet he doesn’t give his reader any Scripture to support this or any direction on how to turn from sin and place their hope for salvation in Christ alone. Additionally, the language of this statement sounds very much like the unbiblical philosophies Lysa Terkeurst includes in her book The Best Yes. The Bethke’s have produced videos for Lysa Terkeurst’s latest book Uninvited so I’m curious about whether or not the language reference was intentional.
  • On page 78, Jefferson addresses those addicted to porn by telling them, “Let me tell you, you are so loved. I mean, like crazy-ferociously-pursued-and-loved-by-the-Creator-of-the-universe love. And guess when He loves you the most? In the very act of the sin, not after.” This is actually very contrary to what God has said in Scripture. God’s love is truly for those who have turned from their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation. Those who don’t love God are actually His enemies as Isaiah 59:2 says that their iniquities separate them from Him and that their sins have hidden His face from them so that He does not hear. The good news of the Gospel is that God made a way for sinners to be right with Him through Jesus alone. It is God who opens the eyes of the spiritually dead for them to see their need for Jesus as their savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). While God is sovereign in doing this, there is a responsibility on the part of sinners to repent (turn from sin) and pursue living like Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). As followers of Christ, Christians are commanded multiple times throughout Scripture to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 11:45, Leviticus 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16) – the very moment one is in sin, they are actually doing the opposite of what God commands. For the believer, there is grace that abounds more than sin (Romans 5:20), but Paul reminds us that being covered by grace is not a license to pursue sinful living (Romans 6:1-2).
  • On page 121, in telling his side of their love story, Jefferson stated, “She’d broken up with me after a two-week mission trip where she had ‘heard from God.'” My concern with statements like these are that readers will take them as authoritative and will also try to hear from God. When looking at the Bible though, it is very clear that God doesn’t speak outside of His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2Deuteronomy 12:32Proverbs 30:6, Hebrews 1:1-2Revelation 22:18). This may seem like a trite concern and not worth mentioning but the unbiblical concept of listening for God’s voice is growing and often the statements people claim to hear from God don’t actually align with Scripture.

My biggest concern with Love That Lasts is that readers aren’t pointed to Scripture and it is through Scripture that people come to know Jesus or become more like Him. As Christians, our desire for others to know Christ ought to compel us to share about Him. As this is a book on relationships and marriage, I was disappointed that there was no mention of how believers ought to treat members of the opposite sex (1 Timothy 5:1-2) and no mention of the beauty and purpose of marriage as it reflects Christ’s relationship to His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Being on the launch team, I had the opportunity to read the introductions for some of the team members and was sad to see some on the team who shared that they don’t love Christ (or some who claim to but are currently, unrepentantly pursuing sin in their relationships) but are fans of the Bethke’s. They were heartily welcomed on the team by Jefferson himself yet I question whether or not they truly know the good news of the Gospel.

Additionally, the Bethke’s have a promotional series for Love That Lasts on the television channel TBN which is the home network of many popular false teachers and teachers with unbiblical authority who promote unbiblical practices. Seeing the Bethke’s listed alongside people who are famous for preaching the false prosperity gospel and emphasizing experiences over Scripture is deeply disheartening. I watched the first episode of the series, Communication and there was no Scripture used whatsoever. The thirty minute chat included the Bethke’s sharing their experience and opinions on communication. The episode also contains a video of Lysa Terkeurst elaborating on communication. Regarding Lysa, Jefferson says, “She’s on the Mount Rushmore of Christianity in regards to Bible women teachers.” I was really discouraged by the Bethke’s high regard for Lysa’s ministry as she teaches with unbiblical authority over men in her church and claims to hear God speak to her.

Like Love That Lasts, I was saddened at the total lack of Scripture in the episode. In addition to the video by Lysa, there is a video shown that Jefferson made about cell phone addiction. His video has some good points and thoughts but still, no Scripture. God doesn’t even receive a mention until the end of the video, when Alyssa prays and then follows with, “Communicate with Him, I guess that’s where it starts.” I would have loved to hear them begin the video with that and elaborate on that from Scripture. I also found it hard to follow along with what they were saying as they both speak quickly and constantly interrupt one another. I found this ironic since the episode is on communication.

In this day and age, I’ve seen many people eager to devour resources that contain the label “Christian” but very apathetic about God and His Word and how such resources actually match up to it. This is a dangerous dilemma and unfortunately, I see Love That Lasts contributing to it.

I’m afraid that those reading the book who haven’t turned from their sin and trusted in Christ alone for salvation will have a false assurance that it’s okay to be a Christian and simultaneously be pursuing a sinful lifestyle, which is so contrary to Scripture. Christians will have a lifelong battle with sin but they will desire to put to death the deeds of the flesh as, “. . .  to set the mind on the flesh is deathbut to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to Godfor it does not submit to God’s lawindeedit cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” (Romans 8:6-8).

When it comes to resources about relationships and marriage, Love That Lasts missed the mark and I do not recommend it.

If you are looking for solid, Biblical resources on relationships and marriage, I’ve provided a few below just in case.


I received Love That Lasts compliments of Nelson Books in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review // A Small Book About A Big Problem

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A Small Book About A Big Problem is the latest book from author and Christian counselor Ed Welch. This book consists of 50 meditations on anger, patience and peace that are brief but convicting. I appreciate that Welch is willing to ask the hard questions that really uncover the way anger manifests itself through various sins. Welch really gets to the heart of anger with various passages of Scripture and encourages readers to seek wisdom instead of anger. I really appreciated the reminder that Jesus is Lord and God is judge because often when anger manifests itself in my heart, I am falsely thinking those roles belong to me. When I remember who God is and what He’s done for me in Jesus, I am less likely to respond to situations and people in anger.

Thankfully, Welch doesn’t stop with anger as this book is an all encompassing remedy of sorts. He outlines a plan for seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged out of anger on the meditation for Day 7. On Day 27, Welch offers readers 9 reminders from Scripture as to why Jesus died and what that means in the battle against anger. My favorite point from Day 27 is listed on page 100 and states, “Jesus died to cancel the legal demands against me and to secure forgiveness of sins (Colossians 2:13). I am so thankful to not be held accountable for my sins. I will work to not hold others accountable to my court of justice for sins against me.”

I highly recommend this book for Christians struggling with anger. My only regret about this book is that it was not published sooner but, I am thankful have it now and look forward to reading it again in the future.

A Small Book About A Big Problem is available now at all major booksellers.

I received A Small Book About A Big Problem compliments of Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review // Church of The Small Things

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Church of The Small Things is the latest book from blogger and author Melanie Shankle. I’ve read two out of three of Shankle’s previous books (Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room) and have found them to be delightful, hilarious and very relatable. Like her other books, Church of the Small Things is autobiographical and unlike her other books, it contains more of her personal life philosophy, which is from whence she derives the title of the book.

 


Philosophically, Church of the Small Things is about being faithful in the little things and how much good can come from the small moments even though we often think, and long for, what comes of big ones. It’s also about how it is the small moments that, when strung together, form a life, rather than the big ones.

Shankle is a Christian so her philosophy is shaped by her beliefs, but as you will read in Church of the Small Things, not all of these beliefs are Biblically accurate. In this book I also noticed that she mentions some of the female Christian teachers she knows and has learned from which was a minor concern for me (minor because the book isn’t a theological expose at heart, but still worth mentioning because wrong theology is dangerous). I’m not about throwing out the baby with the bath water but I desire for women to really know who God is and to do that, we must look to His word, the Bible.


Here are some of the minor concerns I have with Church of the Small Things:

  • There are many pages in the book in which Shankle mentions receiving direct revelation from God by feeling and hearing His voice. We know from Scripture that God doesn’t speak to us outside of the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:2Deuteronomy 12:32Proverbs 30:6Revelation 22:18). Additionally, no where in Scripture are believers instructed to learn how to hear God’s voice.
    • Pg. 25, “He used those jobs to get me to San Antonio, which is where I learned to hear his voice when I was all alone, met my husband, figured out I loved to write, and am now raising my family. “
    • Pg. 146, in reference to listening to the song Oceans, by Hillsong United, Shankle stated, “As I listened – really listened – I felt God say to me, ‘You feel like this is too much because you’re trying to figure out how to do it in your own power, and none of this is about you.'”
    • Pg. 213, “At that moment, I felt God speak to my heart, saying, ‘You need to quit asking ‘Why?’ and start asking me ‘Where?’ I knew immediately it was God because I wouldn’t have come up with anything that profound.”
  • Shankle uses The Message paraphrase of the Bible (Pgs. 53, 106) along with other versions. These are the reasons why I have great concerns with The Message. Additionally, when I see The Message used it is often because the paraphrase fits well with whatever is being communicated but doesn’t actually remain true to the context the verses were originally written in, or the author’s intended meaning of those verses.
  • On page 143, Shankle mentions she taught a workshop on blogging at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference. Proverbs 31 Ministries is headed up by Lysa Terkeurst who has authority teaching over men in her church, which is unbiblical, and she also claims to receive direct revelation from God (see more here). This was a concern to me because what I’ve seen produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries and Lysa Terkeurst has been, thus far, unbiblical.
  • On page 216, Shankle uses the unbiblical means of Scripture translation known as eisegesis to explain Zechariah 2:4-5. Reflecting on the passage, she states, “I believe God wants to make our city – our lives – so big that walls can’t contain it. His idea of big is so different from ours.” When reading Zechariah 2:4-5 in context of all of Zechariah Chapter Two, it is clear that the verses aren’t referring to the greatness of the lives of individual believers but God’s care for His people, specifically Jerusalem. We can know from this verse, God’s character in that He cares for those who have turned from their sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation. The term “walls” isn’t a metaphor for our lives, it is referencing actual city walls.

The bulk of Church of the Small things is the retelling of small moments in Shankle’s life that left a big impression and have shaped her into who she is today. As I read these, I laughed, I (almost) cried and often thought, “Me too!” If you are looking for a book that is clean, relatable and laugh out loud funny, look no further than Church of The Small Things (as well as Shankle’s other works). Overall, I truly enjoyed Church of the Small Things and apart from the theological inaccuracies, I look forward to reading more from Melanie in the future.

Church of the Small Things is available at all major booksellers on October 3rd.

I received Church of the Small Things compliments of Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review // The Action Storybook Bible

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I first learned about The Action Storybook Bible a few years ago from a couple at church who had purchased it for their sons. The concept of creating a comic style Bible for kids is definitely unique and since I hadn’t read The Action Storybook Bible previously, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was very pleased to find that this format of the Bible is a great way to engage children ages 8-11 in the big pictures of Scripture – God redeeming a sinful people to Himself through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. The artistry is exceptional and this Bible reads like an actual comic.

Each story is the perfect length for kids and is written in such a way that they will grasp what is happening in each one. At the conclusion of each story, there are questions for parents to discuss with their children and a little prayer based on what happened in the story.

 

Action Storybook pin 2

My favorite aspects of The Action Storybook Bible are:

  • It presents the Gospel in a way that is easy for kids to understand
  • The stories highlight different aspects of God’s character

I really enjoyed reading The Action Storybook Bible and I believe you (and especially your kids) will too!

I highly recommend this book as a tool for introducing children to the key concepts of the Gospel and for providing them with a basic overview of the Bible as a whole.

The Action Storybook Bible is available now in both digital and hard copy formats! Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how you can win a copy of The Action Storybook Bible and an Amazon Kindle e-reader!

I received The Action Storybook Bible ebook compliments of Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

. . .

Discover your family’s place in God’s incredible story and together put your faith into action with the new The Action Storybook Bible from David C Cook! Explore God’s redemptive story together with your children ages 8 and under in the 15 episodes highlighting key milestones in God’s story. Master-artist Sergio Cariello created more than 350 brand-new illustrations to captivate your family and help you recognize how God is moving through each story.

Join the adventure to begin to figure out where you fit into God’s beautiful and exciting plan for the world by entering to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on September 29. The winner will be announced October 2 on the Litfuse blog.

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Book Review // Raising Men Not Boys

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When I saw via a Facebook post that Pastor Mike Fabarez was writing a book on parenting boys and was looking for members to join the book launch team, I was really excited to sign up. I saw in the comments on the post that women were tagging men in their lives who they thought should sign up to read it and I wondered why they themselves weren’t signing up for it. I was a bit discouraged as I wondered if women would be accepted on the launch team so I decided to apply and find out. I was quite skeptical about the status of my application since I don’t have any sons but was ecstatic to learn that I made it on the team.


Part of being on the launch team means that I, along with the team, have been able to participate in Facebook live sessions with Pastor Mike regarding Raising Men Not Boys. It’s been really fun to hear his heart behind writing the book and I was thankful to learn that he actually is hoping moms will get a hold of this book and share what they learn with their husbands. My husband and I thought it would be fun to read Raising Men Not Boys together to cultivate conversations around parenting that we might not have otherwise. We don’t currently have a son, yet it’s been a delight to read Pastor Mike’s perspective and learn from his wise Biblical counsel. Although the book is targeted toward raising boys, there are Biblical applications which are appropriate for raising children in general.

Raising Men, Not Boys – A New Book by Mike Fabarez from Compass Bible Church on Vimeo.

We haven’t completed reading the book just yet, but at just a few pages in, we have both learned so much. I’m excited to share a few of the insights we’ve gained so far and will update this review with more once we’ve completed Raising Men Not Boys.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the intro and Chapter One:

  • “Our kids, especially our boys, need to be nurtured and fostered by a larger community of shared values. That, of course, is what the church is to provide us as Christians,” (pg. 13).
  • “God is jealous for our boys to become men who truly know Him (James 4:4-5). As parents, this must be our ultimate goal for our sons,” (pg. 23).

The intro to the book contains a section titled, “Spiritual Common Sense,” in which Pastor Mike establishes the difference between the certain application of God’s word (truths that we can be sure of from Scripture) versus possible application of God’s word (using wisdom to guide decisions that the Bible doesn’t necessarily give mandated instruction for).

He informs readers that this book contains both types of application which is important because 1), It demonstrates that all of God’s word is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness and 2), It serves as a reminder to readers that Scripture is sufficient to inform all areas of life even though there may not be a specific command for each and every situation.

Raising Men Not Boys is a desperately needed book in this day and age in which there is so much confusion about God’s design for men and women. Offering insight on topics ranging from technology use to curfews, this book is what I refer to as Parenting Gold. If you have been looking for a book that will provide you with Biblical wisdom when it comes to raising young men, look no further.

Whether you have sons, may have sons, are a son or know someone who has sons, this book is for you. I give Raising Men Not Boys my highest recommendation and look forward to reading more from Pastor Mike.

You can read the first 3 chapters of Raising Men Not Boys for free here.

 

Raising Men Not Boys is available now at Amazon and all other major booksellers.



 

I received Raising Men Not Boys compliments of Moody Publishers in exchange for my participation on the launch team.

2 In Book Review

Book Review // Praying for Girls

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Praying for Girls by Terri Lynne Underwood is a helpful guide for moms who want to pray for their daughters but might not be sure where to start. Terri is the mother of a teenager, so she’s been through a few seasons of raising a daughter and it was delightful to read about her experiences thus far. Terri writes in a style that is transparent and truthful which I found to be quite refreshing. At the end of each chapter, Terri provides a few prayers to pray over your daughter and Scriptures to support them. What I liked most about these prayers is that first of all, they are Biblical and second, Terri left blanks in each one so the reader can input the name of their daughter. For example, here’s one of my favorites:
“Lord, I pray ________ will recognize her need for salvation early in life and call upon Your name, knowing it is only through You any of us can be saved. (Acts 2:21, Joel 2:32),” (pg. 160).

This book is aimed at moms whose daughters have already made a profession of faith in Christ but is still really helpful for moms like me who hope that their daughter will do so in the future.

My daughter is only one, but by reading Praying for Girls, I was really encouraged by the opportunity to pray through so much Scripture for her and it made me hopeful that one day, Lord willing, she will turn from her sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

In a time where so many “Christian” books for women are lacking Biblical truth, it was very exciting to see Terri not only use Scripture abundantly, but to do so in context!

I love that Terri reminds moms that they can’t be the ones to save their daughters and that salvation comes through Christ alone. Addressing this in Chapter 18, Terri wrote, “Our daughters can only walk in the fullness of their identity in Christ when they belong to Him. Their hearts and minds can only be rooted in and guided by Him when they have experienced salvation through Him. The way they relate to others can truly reflect the character of Christ only if they are being conformed to Him,” (pg. 159).

I didn’t have any major theological concerns with this book but thought it might be helpful to provide my thoughts on the following content:

  • Terri includes an excerpt from an email she received from a blog reader who was so encouraged by what Terri wrote that she made a prophecy quilt for her daughter, “But, as a quilter, I felt the Lord place on my heart to make a ‘prophecy quilt.’ I didn’t even know it was a thing (and maybe it’s not, really!),” (pg. 26). I encourage readers to be discerning with such statements and test them against Scripture. No where in the Bible does God instruct anyone to make a prophecy quilt. This doesn’t mean making the quilt or the quilt itself is inherently sinful however, it should serve as a caution to consider how much weight we ought to give things that are inspired outside of Scripture.
  • On page 81 there is a sentence that states, “Discuss with her how important it is for us to listen carefully for the Lord’s voice and then do what He says quickly.” We actually don’t need to listen for God’s voice because everything God has to say has been given to us in Scripture (Hebrews 1:1-2, John 1:1). Referring to Jesus, Revelation 19:13 states, “. . .the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” If we want to know Jesus, we can by simply reading His Word. I believe Terri would agree with this and perhaps I am being too sensitive to the syntax but I felt the need to address this with the plethora of “Christian” books available that focus on the unbiblical practice of listening for God’s voice. 

Overall, I really loved Praying for Girls and my heart was blessed by Terri using so much Scripture throughout its pages. Reading this book made me so hopeful that God will save my daughter and reminded me not only of my need to be in prayer for her but also of my need for God and His Word. This book was a great reminder for my heart to ensure that I am putting my love for Christ and Scripture on display for my daughter.

I highly recommend Praying for Girls for any mama with a daughter who wants to know how she can care for her daughter through prayer. The chapters were short but really impactful and even challenged me to want to grow in my love for Christ, especially by going to Him in prayer.

Praying for Girls is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all major booksellers.

I received Praying for Girls compliments of Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review // Still Waiting

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I initially learned about author Ann Swindell by reading a post she had written for The Gospel Coalition titled, Don’t Write Just to Get Published. As a blogger, I could relate to the sentiments expressed in her post and was encouraged by her truthful and intelligent writing. I began following Ann on social media as a result of the blog post and when I found out she was writing a book, I knew I would have to read it. I was ecstatic when she announced that she was accepting applications to be on the launch team for her first book, Still Waiting and I was equally excited when I received an email stating my application had been accepted.

In Still Waiting, Ann begins each chapter with a fictional narrative from the perspective of the bleeding woman in Mark 5:25-27. I appreciate that Ann made it clear that these were her thoughts on what life might have been like for the bleeding woman and they were not actual Biblical accounts. Although I learned much about what life would have been like for the bleeding woman from a cultural standpoint, I felt that the book could have been equally as enjoyable without the accounts but as Ann’s story unfolded, I recognized her reasons for placing them there.

Still Waiting, overall, is Ann’s personal account of a struggle she has with trichotillomania (a disorder, which for her, results in obsessively pulling out her eyelashes) and her hope that God would take it away. She shared various lessons she’s learned in the waiting and questions that she’s challenged her own heart with to make sure that Christ is always first in her life. I love that Ann shared her story without deviating from the truth of the Gospel and unlike many books for Christian women, Still Waiting foregoes the fluff.

There is presently a plethora of books for Christian women that are all about being broken, messy, etc. that encourage women to have their focus on themselves rather than Christ. Still Waiting,thankfully, is not such a book. Evidence of this is a few sentences found of page 87 of the book where Ann elaborates on Colossians 2:13-15, “We now have a new identity. We are no longer known by God as broken and sinful. Because Jesus took our shame, our sin, and our brokenness, our true identity is now found in him.”

Still waiting is chock full of Biblical reminders that I found especially encouraging in my own season waiting when my husband went through unemployment twice this year.

Two of my favorite aspects of Still Waiting are Ann’s abundant use of Scripture within its context and her willingness to challenge women to consider whether or not their suffering has become idolatrous. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “If I couldn’t have healing, I knew I could still have Christ. He would be enough for me,” (p. 112).

Still Waiting is a bit lengthy but nonetheless a pleasure to read. If you are in a season of waiting, I highly recommend Ann’s book knowing it will be a great encouragement to your heart and soul.

Still Waiting is now available from Amazon and all major booksellers.

I received Still Waiting compliments of Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review // Home

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Elyse Fitzpatrick’s latest book Home is one that spoke to my heart and greatly encouraged me in my own personal journey of what it means to long for home. Fitzpatrick’s book is a Biblical dissertation on the desire every human has to be at home. For those who are in Christ, we have hope knowing that He is preparing a place for us and that our ultimate Home (what Elyse refers to as our capital H Home) isn’t here.

What I appreciate about Home, and I think many readers will appreciate, is that the tone differs from Elyse’s other writings. Most of her books are geared toward Christian women and serve as solid reminders of the Gospel and the hope we have in Christ. Home absolutely includes these reminders but also contains a good deal of personal anecdotes in which Elyse details two very difficult times she recently experienced that caused her to deeply consider what it means for believers to be at home.


I certainly appreciate her other works but there is nothing more consoling, I’ve found, than receiving counsel from a fellow Christian who can simultaneously relate to my personal struggles. Rather than coming across as Biblically academic in nature, Home felt more personable and transparent. At the time I read Home, I was living in Austin, Texas having left the only home I knew in Southern California a little over a year prior. I longed for home and Home, sinfully at times, and found Elyse’s book a great comfort as it not only reminded my heart that Jesus is coming again and also convicted my heart when I found myself idolizing home rather than Home.

Each chapter of Home concludes with compelling questions making this book great for individual or group study. I’ve never had any theological issues with any of Fitzpatrick’s works and can’t say that I necessarily did with Home, however, I did find a few cautions worth noting:

  1. The use of The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible. I personally am not a fan of The Message because I believe it creates a standard of acceptability in making God’s word say and mean what we want it to versus reading it in a manner in which the words have been accurately translated from the original languages of the Bible into English. Pastor Eugene Peterson created The Message to help his congregation better understand the Bible, but the best way to do this is by studying it from an accurate translation (I prefer the ESV but have heard that the NASB is also pretty solid).
  2. Elyse mentions on page 185 of the book that,” As a matter of fact, I’ve been attending two churches for months now. . . Just because I’m that needy.” This statement caused me to pause in confusion. The biggest question that came to mind after reading this was, “Why?” I don’t know of any passage in Scripture that would make it necessarily sinful to attend two churches but at the same time, I question whether or not doing so is wise. Since Elyse didn’t really explain why she attends two churches, apart from the brief statement previously mentioned, my concern is that people will read this and believe that it is okay to not be committed to a local church, which would violate what is set forth for Christians in Hebrews 10:24-25. I hope this isn’t Elyse’s heart and believe it isn’t however, I didn’t see this clearly spelled out.

Overall, Home greatly encouraged me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and helped redirect my heart to longing for the day of Christ’s return and it receives my recommendation.

 

I received Home compliments of Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.
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Book Review // 60 Days of Happiness

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I don’t typically post reviews for books until I’ve completed reading them but 60 Days of Happiness by Randy Alcorn is the exception, and this is a good thing. Alcorn adapted 60 Days of Happiness from two other books he’s written on the topic. This devotional book takes readers through 60 days of looking at what the Bible says about happiness and how it should effect the lives of Christians. Alcorn argues that Christians often assign a negative connotation to the word happiness and a positive, more spiritual weight to the term joy. In studying the words “blessed, happy and joy” as written in the original versions of Scripture, it is patent that they can and should be used interchangeably.

Alcorn notes that there is no difference between happiness and joy and that believers are not less Godly should they proclaim happiness. Rather, they should be the happiest of people because the object of their happiness is God who is happy. What I appreciate most about 60 Days of Happiness is Alcorn’s willingness to challenge the popularly held notion that happiness is less holy. Alcorn also uses many Bible verses, in context, to support what is said in each daily reading. I don’t necessarily love that he uses different versions of the Bible to do so, but I believe he is attempting to help readers understand that the terms happy and joy can be used synonymously and that happiness and holiness go hand in hand. Honestly, I am only 14 days into this book but it has greatly encouraged my heart and really challenged my thinking. 60 Days of Happiness has given my heart the much needed reminder that I can be happy because I serve God, the ultimate source of happiness. I give 60 Days of Happiness my highest recommendation and look forward to reading more from Randy Alcorn in the future.

 

I received 60 Days of Happiness compliments of Tyndall in exchange for my review.
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Book Review // Becoming A Woman of Excellence

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A few years ago, I had the privilege of going through the book Becoming A Woman of Purpose by Cynthia Heald with a group of women at my church in California. I remember being both challenged and encouraged by that book and was ecstatic when I received the opportunity to review the 30th anniversary edition of Cynthia’s book Becoming A Woman of Excellence.

The premise of this book is, taken from Ruth 3:11 in which Ruth is referred to as a worthy woman or, woman of excellence. What I enjoyed most about this work is that it is saturated in Scripture! I presumed that anything by Cynthia would be solid since my previous church had recommended her books but I always like to read books for myself and see how they match up to Scripture. Overall, Cynthia’s book is theologically rich and cuts to the heart of issues women deal with including Godly character, discipline, purity and wisdom. The book can be summed up with Cynthia’s words on page 15,

“We want to become women of excellence because we are children of an excellent God.”

Cynthia does use multiple Bible translations in her book, which I am not a fan of but it seemed she did so in order to help her readers understand the words that are used in the verses mentioned. I appreciate the heart behind this but when we don’t know what Scripture says according to translations that are closest to it’s original languages, I fear that we may become lazy students of Scripture. Let this be an exhortation to you to study and know God’s word!

One small concern I had with this book was Cynthia’s admission of “unmistakbly hearing God’s voice” in her heart (pg. 50). If you’ve read previous book reviews of mine, you may be tired of me pointing out that God doesn’t speak to us today outside of His word (Deuteronomy 4:2Deuteronomy 12:32Proverbs 30:6Revelation 22:18). Since Becoming A Woman of Excellence is overall theologically sound, I doubt that Cynthia was meaning to convey this sentiment yet since some may find it concerning, I found it necessary to point it out.

I really enjoyed Becoming A Woman of Excellence and am pleased to give it my highest recommendation. I can’t wait to gift a copy of the book to my sisters for Christmas and my mom for her birthday. Ladies, if you are looking for a Bible study that will enhance your knowledge of Scripture while challenging you to grow into the woman God is calling you to be, look no further.

I received Becoming A Woman of Excellence courtesy of Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.