Interested in an Online Book Club?: Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha

Spiritual Misfit

“I decided to admit once and for all that I didn’t know what I was doing, what I thought, what I believed, even sometimes if I truly believed. I would tell the truth: I wasn’t like them; I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t a proper Christian. I didn’t have it all together like they did. Why not, I figured? What in the world did I have to lose?”

Next month, I will be posting a review of Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha. Early buzz about this book is very positive and I thought it might be fun to host an online book club.

I’m not sure what this will look like yet; whether it would be hosted on a Google hangout or on my Facebook page. I’ll figure that out based on interest.

Spiritual Misfit will be released on April 15. My initial thought is to read the book in April and May and start the book club in June. If you’re interested, please leave a comment, drop me an email or comment on my Facebook page.

Jesus Feminist: Book Review

The word “feminist” carries different meanings and evokes a variety of feelings depending on the circle it is used in. I suspect most in the conservative arena (myself included on occasion) have tended to believe feminist=man hater. Sarah Bessey not only refutes this definition but she gently challenges the church to fully welcome women’s “diverse voices and experiences”.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect with Jesus Feminist since the word has angry undertones. I suspected this book would have anger and vitriol woven through it based solely on the title. I’m glad my assumptions were inaccurate.

Sarah Bessey is a popular Canadian blogger who has written Jesus Feminist out of a place of peacefulness and hope. The topic of feminism and women leading within the Church is a powder keg subject today among Christians. The topic of women leading within the Church is not a topic I spent much time thinking about. I have no desire to lead or to preach, but I have gifted, talented female friends who do. By virtue of association, I now pay more attention to this subject. It now matters to me because it matters to those I care about.

The author finds a way to discuss this topic without animosity or bitterness. Bessey invites the reader to join her around a proverbial campfire to sit, listen and share. She gently points the reader towards stories of heroic and strong women from the Bible, shares her own story and asks questions about what Scripture means in regards to women in leadership within the Church.  She references Scripture and asks questions but does not point fingers nor provides pat answers.

I will have to read this book again. The electronic Advanced Reader’s Copy I received is riddled with typos and formatting errors which made it very difficult to focus on the author’s message. I feel I missed a great deal as a result.

However, the bottom line for me is Sarah Bessey is a talented writer who takes on a hot button issue without disparaging anyone or cheapening Scripture. She’s a fellow sister in Christ who has questions and is seeking answers. I’m quite eager to read more of her work.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of review. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Wall Around Your Heart-Book Review

Wall Around Your Heart

 

2013 has been a year of change for many of us in my family. Some of these changes were choices of our own making, some were the result of the passage of time and some were beyond our control. Quite frankly, we were wounded and it hurt. When the dust settled down from all the “newness” and we attempted to get used to our new normal, I realized I was carrying around a very bitter heart inside of me.

Resentful, angry, bitter, incredibly sad and hurt were the only emotions I was capable of feeling. I knew I wasn’t emotionally healthy but I didn’t know how to get out of this depressing spiral. Rational thinking, time, and encouragement from my friends wasn’t helping. I couldn’t let go of what happened which meant I couldn’t move forward.

I felt permanently broken inside. People suck and no one can be trusted.

Enter The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You by Mary DeMuth. DeMuth knows about being wounded, being hurt and betrayed. She also knows about grace, forgiveness and breaking free from the past. Her story can be found here.

The Wall Around Your Heart is the first book I’ve read by Mary DeMuth and I’m impressed by her transparency and her depth. Usually I’m skeptical of books of this nature. Some authors tend to make light of real problems or treat prayer as a band-aid; slap it over the wound and move on. DeMuth does not take her subject matter lightly. This book breaks down The Lord’s Prayer verse by verse and guides the reader in how to use this prayer as a road map toward healing, forgiveness and living more openly.

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Mary does not claim to have forgiveness and freedom from her past completely figured out. She is open about her mistakes, some aches are still present in her life but she constantly points the reader back The Lord’s Prayer and the healing power of God. The author has been through the wringer throughout her life and is finding redemption, grace and healing. Reading her story and this book have been the beginning of healing in mine.

The Wall Around Your Heart is not a quick or an easy read. You will be challenged, you will think and you may shed a tear or two. DeMuth doesn’t shy away from pushing her readers to face pain or harsh truths but she does it with grace and love. It’s very apparent she wants her readers to experience freedom and open up their hearts to living again.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of review. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Holy is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present

Holy is the Day

I was first introduced to Carolyn Weber through her first book, a spiritual memoir entitled Surprised by Oxford. This book chronicled Weber’s surprising conversion to Christianity while a student at Oxford. I loved this book so much…and I don’t particularly care for spiritual memoirs. I tend to find many of them  self-indulgent and whiny.

But not Carolyn Weber.

Weber has a gift with words. She paints beautiful images on the page. I fell in love with her writing and became a bit envious of what I assumed her life was like. The author is a beautiful blonde, attended Oxford, found romance and became a college professor and a published author.

Then I read Holy is the Day and find I have quite a bit in common with Ms. Weber. She’s a wife and mother. She works outside the home. She has broken relationships in her life she aches to heal. Rough patches and bad things happen. Terrifying events occur. I created a fantasy version of Carolyn Weber that “Holy is the Day” proved false. Carolyn Weber has struggles and painful moments like the rest of us. She shows the reader it is hard to find God in the mundane moments and in the dire situations.

Weber writes with an achingly beautiful voice as she recounts being willing to ask (and accept) help, learning how beautiful authentic community is and finding the presence of God in a hospital delivery room when her life and the life of one of her unborn twins was at stake; and experiencing God while being surrounded by cranky children and mountains of laundry.

“Holy is the Day” will be available in October. I whole-heartedly recommend this book as well as “Surprised by Oxford”. As my friend over at Bookwi.se expresses, this author is not necessarily well-known. She doesn’t appear to have a large popularity, she does not pack arenas at speaking events, but I dare say that she has a talent for words that few people possess.

Giveaway!-Hey God, I’ve Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up!

If your child has been to church more than a couple of times, he has probably heard the story of Jonah and the Whale.

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Author, Troy Schmidt, turns this tale around and gives us the whale’s point of view in his book”Hey God, I’ve Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up!”   My six-year-old son is a new reader and wanted to contribute his thoughts to this review.

“It’s funny!”

Thanks, Ben. Short and to the point.

I adore stories when the old tried and true stories when told in a new way and this book does not disappoint. “Hey God!” stays true to the Bible story, incorporates humor for the kids, has colorful illustrations and a “Parent Connection” feature inside the book to help parents take the story further.

Jonah giveaway

Thanks to FlyBy Promotions, I am pleased to be able to give a copy of “Hey God!” away to a reader. To enter, do the following:

1. “Like” me on Facebook. I’m needy and need the validation.

2. Leave a comment below stating which book you loved when you were a kid.

A winner will be selected on Friday, April 26th.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.

Constantly Craving-Book Review and Giveaway

Since that fateful day in the Garden when Eve decided she didn’t want to be who she was or where she was, human beings crave more in life. Whether it’s romance, more romance, more from our marriages or more contentment, we all find ourselves wanting…craving…something better. We want more.

In Constantly Craving: How to Make Sense of Always Wanting More, author, counselor and Women of Faith speaker Marilyn Meberg discusses the cravings that we feel whether they are written into our DNA, influenced by childhood experiences or act as the driving forces behind the decisions we make as adults.

  • More Romance
  • More from Marriage
  • Contentment
  • Happiness
  • More from Friendship
  • More Meaning in Life
  • Meaning in Solitude
  • Revenge
  • Forgiveness
  • Relief from Guilt

Meberg walks the reader through the above topics sharing her own experiences from the point of view as a counselor and from her own personal experiences. She skillfully points the reader towards the real thing we’re craving deep down inside.

Constantly Craving is an insightful book and I’m happy to give my copy away to a reader who comments on this post. To enter:

  • Subscribe to the blog
  • Leave a comment stating something that you crave in life

I’ll choose a winner on Monday, August 6.

I received Constantly Craving from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review program, Book Sneeze, in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

As One Devil To Another-Book Review and Giveaway

I’m a skeptical person by nature. So when I read the praise of As One Devil To Another by Richard Platt as “reading as if C.S. Lewis himself had written it”, I wasn’t buying it. But…that praise is not entirely off the mark.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read C.S. Lewis. The first book I read of his was coincentally The Screwtape Letters, the letters written by a veteran demon, Screwtape to his apprentice demon, Wormwood.

As One Devil To Another is an updated version of this Lewis classic. Veteran demon, Slashreap, is writing to his demon apprentice, Scardagger, coaching and instructing him on how to best keep his female assignment from seeking out or becoming closer to The Adversary (God).

Both books are designed to have the reader feel he’s getting an inside look at the Enemy’s playbook. As One Devil To Another is no Screwtape Letters but it is a very good commentary on twenty-first century society.  Lewis’ book  resonated with me on a deeper level, but that could very well be because I was a fairly new Christian at the time and incredibly EAGER to learn. Platt’s book is quite good and might may have quite the positive effect on a younger generation with more recent cultural references.

I’m giving away a copy of this book.  To enter to win, just leave a comment below and tell me what you’re favorite classic book is.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers as part of their blogging program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Book Review: The Grace Effect; How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief

Now that various ongoing projects at home have wrapped up, I’m attacking my book pile (paper and virtual) with a relish. At the top of the pile was The Grace Effect by Larry Alex Taunton.

I have no idea how I came into position of this book. I’m sure I found someone who was offering for free.  I can’t say no to free books.

The Grace Effect is a multi-purpose book. On the surface, it tells the story of the Taunton family’s adoption of their daughter, Sasha, from the Ukraine. That in of itself is a compelling story but the author also gives the reader a very readable history lesson in the history of Russia and the Ukraine, socialism, his interesting conversations and relationship with deceased author and journalist, Christopher Hitchens. The main take away from Taunton’s book is how society cultivates its own demise when it rejects the ultimate source of grace.

Taunton has written an excellent book. I devoured this in two days. His descriptions of Orphanage #17, where Sasha lived, echoes the stories my in-laws told when they returned from mission trips to Russian orphanages. I have no doubt that Taunton’s descriptions are accurate and without embellishment.

I plan to reread this book again mainly to absorb what he calls “common grace”.  This book is too good to keep to myself so I’m giving my copy away. If you’d like to win, just leave a common on this post. I’ll draw a name at random on Wednesday, June 6.

With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God (Book Review)

Fifteen hundred years ago, a emperor of Rome constructed a tomb for his sister which is now known as Galla Placidia.  It’s a small building designed in the shape of a cross with a vaulted ceiling covered with mosaics of stars in a dark night sky.  The focal point of the ceiling is a depiction of Jesus surrounded by sheep in paradise.

Located in Italy, visitors will be disappointed when the enter the tomb. What little windows exist are quite small and the tiny light that does enter the room is usually blocked by throngs of tourists.  In this setting, there’s not much to see.  If you’re impatient and leave early, you can miss something quite wonderful.

With no warning, spotlights near the ceiling are turned on if someone deposits a coin into the metal box on the wall.  The lights are illuminate the mosaics for a few brief moments before they go out. There’s really no time for your eyes to take it all in before you find yourself in darkness again.  When the lights go on again, you can grab another glimpse of something you didn’t see before.

It’s with this analogy of the Christian faith that Skye Jethani, author of The Divine Commodity, opens with in his latest release With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God.

The author likens the experience of entering Galla Placidia to how many Christians enter the faith…with great expectations but once inside, many are disappointed.  Many leave without experiencing a life WITH God.

Jethani states that Christians tend to relate to God in one of four ways:

  • Life FROM God: Consumerism or the “prosperity gospel”. God is a divine vending machine.
  • Life OVER God: God created the world and humankind but now He has no bearing on one’s daily existence.
  • Life FOR God: Wanting your life to be of significance and to control the outcome by achieving great things for God’s kingdom.
  • Life UNDER God: Trying to control God by obedience.

The majority of With goes into great detail explaining what is wrong about relating to God in these avenues.  I agree with his points, but I do not agree with how Jethani gets there. Some of the non-complimentary verbiage he uses, I know I’ve heard from well-known pastors and in a well-known church I used to attend. Some of these sections smacked of church bashing which left a bad taste in my mouth and made me a little less likely to listen to Jethani’s point.

With that observation aside, Jethani has written a good book.  The last 20% of his book is really helpful in pointing the reader in the direction of a life WITH God and providing a list of resources and disciplines to help the reader get started on his journey.  He has a lot of great points, it just takes him a little too long to get there.

I received With from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Sneeze review program in exchange for a book review. I was not required to write a positive review.