Book Review – Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood

When my husband and I found out we were expecting, I was still working at a Christian Bookstore part-time, and came across this book for expectant parents. I only read two books during my pregnancy; this one by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, and Pregnancy: The Best Time to Submerge Your Baby in Prayer, by Edna Rivera. (I discussed the other one with my husband, but decided not to review it here because it was originally written in Spanish and we think some of it was lost in translation. I’d give the English translation 3 out of 5 stars.)

20170911_195623I enjoyed Gosselin’s book because it wasn’t about how to take care of a baby; I grew up with four younger sisters, so that’s not the part of parenting that scared me. Instead, this book discusses not only some of the changes your body will face during pregnancy, but also things like your changing marriage/relationship; how your finances or career decisions may be affected; and social challenges you may face.

A few of my favorite chapters are those directed at dads, surviving the social sides of pregnancy, and the chapter on fitting in and finding community. 

My husband isn’t much of a reader, but I convinced him to read the “Being a Dad” chapter. And I didn’t realize how beneficial the chapters on surviving the social aspects of pregnancy and finding community were until we found ourselves planning our own baby shower and, later, bringing our precious bundle home. Our family doesn’t live nearby, so we don’t have the familial support like many of our friends. Now, 7 weeks in, I’m searching for a mommy group and/or women’s bible study.

In conclusion, if you’re an expectant parent I recommend adding this book to the list of parenting books you’ll want to read. 

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Book Review – I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian

I picked up a book back in December, by Thom Rainer, called “I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian,” but it wasn’t until recently that I actually took the time to read it. It’s a short read–just a little over 100 pages–so this is going to be a really quick review.

wp-image-1867108290jpg.jpgI’m not sure what I expected when I picked up the book, but I think I thought it was going to be more about missions. So, I was a little surprised to find out that it’s actually directed towards believers.

It’s no secret that the state of the American church is in disarray. As Rainer put it, “Somewhere in the twentieth century, believers, particularly in America, began to shift from an attitude of self-sacrificing service to God and worship of God, to consumer-focused, self-servicing attitudes” (p. 30). This statement pretty much sums up the purpose of the book: to make believers aware of this fact (if we weren’t already) and to show us the way back.

Rainer talks about our attitudes as believers; the importance of being a growing member of a church, and worshiping in community; serving (both in and outside of the church); being a giver; sharing the gospel; and avoiding the traps of what he calls Churchianity— which he defines as “practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines” (p.93).

Overall, I think this is a good book for believers who find themselves often complaining or are unsatisfied with the churches they attend. If you find yourself constantly complaining about the music, the message, the parking, the ministries, etc., then perhaps you may want to pick up a copy of this book, take a step back, and rethink the purpose of the church. (Honestly, I think that most believers have felt frustrated with the church at some point in their walk, but our attitude and how we react–whether or not we allow God to change our heart–makes all the difference.)

After reading this book you should come away asking what you can do for the church, rather than what the church can do for you. So…what will you do?

Take care, and God bless!

Book Review – Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

I finished Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, by Francis Chan, a few weeks ago and have been meaning to work on this book review, but I’ve just been so busy. On top of that, I wasn’t really sure how I felt about this book. Coming from a background, in which we recognize the Holy Spirit as part of the trinity, and on equal footing with God the Father and God the Son, it was a little difficult for me to understand where Chan was coming from. However, after I thought a little more about it, I realized that even coming from this background, even I sometimes forget the true power of the Holy Spirit in my life and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So how do you know if this book is for you? First off, if you have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the Holy Spirit, then this book is definitely for you. If you’ve never studied or heard of the theology of the Holy Spirit (see below), then book is for you.

Theology of the Holy Spirit510f+LEaDML._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

  1. The Holy Spirit is a Person.
  2. The Holy Spirit is God.
  3. The Holy Spirit is eternal and holy.
  4. The Spirit has His own mind, and He prays for us.
  5. The Spirit has emotions.
  6. The Spirit has His own desires and will.
  7. The Spirit is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.

If you’re afraid of the Holy Spirit, because of things you’ve heard or have been previously taught, then this book is for you. If you take a look at your life and can’t see a difference between the life you’re living and the lives of unbelievers around you, then this book is for you. If you want to better understand the Bible, then this book is for you. If you want help surrendering and submitting your life to God, then this book is for you. If you want to align your life with the will of God, and see the world from His perspective, then this book is for you. If you want to love people more, then this book is for you. If you desire an intimate relationship with the Lord, then this book is for you. If you want to experience joy and peace in your heart, then this book is for you. If you need help turning away from sin, and walking towards the Father, then this book is for you; because the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us is absolutely necessary for all of these things, and more!

So…is this book for you??

Book Review – Refresh: The Road to Revival

Last Monday we finished a 9-week study on Michael Catt’s Refresh: The Road to Revival. It took us a little longer than 9 weeks due to some cruddy winter weather; and although, we started out with a pretty large group, most of the time it was just the fiancé and me. (Which, actually turned out to be a blessing, because it taught us how to study the Word together. 😉 )

From the moment I picked up the book in my local Life Way store, I knew that it was a Refresh imagestudy that I really wanted to do. I don’t want to give away too much information, but I want you to have enough, so you’ll want to go and pick up the study for yourself. The introduction is as follows:

There is a path to revival worn throughout the pages of Scripture and the annals of church history. Churches across America are realizing that we need a fresh touch from God. The principles contained in this study will help your church focus on the essential elements of revival.

What are those essential elements, you ask? Desperation, surrender and persistence.

Weeks 1-3 focus on the importance of desperation and brokenness before God. Weeks 4-6 focus on repentance and surrender. And weeks 7-8 focus on prayer and persistence.

I’m telling you, guys, I highly recommend you pick up this study. And don’t let it be just “another study,” instead, be desperate, be surrendered, and be persistent. Let God change your heart and your perspective, and earnestly seek Him and His will; and not just during the study, but allow your entire life to reflect an attitude of brokenness, humility, and desire for the things of God.

Who knows! Perhaps we will see revival in our churches, cities, and nations much sooner than we think.

Take care and God bless!

Book Review – Revolution in World Missions

As I waited four hours at Sears a few Saturdays ago, for mechanics to change the brakes on my car, I finally had the opportunity to finish reading K.P. Yohannan’s Revolution in World Missions. Yohannan isn’t really an author, he’s a missionary and founder of a ministry called “Gospel for Asia,” but he does a pretty good job of getting his points across in this book. Yesterday, as I was thinking about this book review I thought that the book’s title should have been Revolution in World Missions: Changing the Way You Think About Missions.b1-cover

The first point of the book may be difficult for United States believers to hear. Yohannan starts the book by discussing the abundance of gifts and freedoms we have in the U.S. that God has poured out on us and we often take for granted. For instance…

  • “In 1998, personal expenditures in the United States averaged $19,049 per person of which $1,276 (6.7 percent) went for food, leaving a comfortable $17,773 for other expenses. In India, the average person had only $276 to spend, of which $134 (48.4 percent) went for food, leaving a scant $142 for other needs for the entire year” (p. 44).
  • “The United States has about 5,000 Christian book and gift stores, carrying varieties of products beyond my ability to imagine—and many secular stores also carry religious books. All this while 4,845 of the world’s 6,912 languages are still without a single portion of the Bible published in their own language…” “Besides books, 8,000 Christian magazines and newspapers flourish. More than 1,600 Christian radio stations broadcast the Gospel full-time, while many countries don’t even have their first Christian radio station. A tiny 0.1 percent of all Christian radio and television programming is directed toward the unevangelized world” (p. 50).
  • “The United States, with its 600,000 congregations or groups, is blessed with 1.5 million full-time Christian workers, or one full-time religious leader for every 182 people in the nation. What a difference this is from the rest of the world, where more than 2 billion people are still unreached with the Gospel. The unreached or ‘hidden peoples’ have only one missionary working for every 78,000 people,’ and there are still 10,000 people groups in the world without a single church among them to preach the Gospel” (pp. 50-51).

Yohannan’s point? That the abundance God has blessed is with should be used to build His kingdom and reach the lost.

The second point of Yohannan’s book? To remind the reader that providing for people’s physical needs is not the same as providing for their spiritual needs. “Substituting a bowl of rice for the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will never save a soul and will rarely change the attitude of a man’s heart. We will not even begin to make a dent in the kingdom of darkness until we lift up Christ with all the authority, power, and revelation that is given to us in the Bible,” writes Yohannan. He goes on to provide examples of ministries and teams that have gone out with the intent of reaching the lost through education or humanitarian relief, but end up failing because they get sidetracked by these other things and forget to keep the Gospel of Christ the center and focus their mission. His point: we must remember to keep the main thing, the main thing; providing for other human needs is important, but even more important are their spiritual needs.

Yohannan’s final point is that the best way to reach these unreached people groups is by training national missionaries—people already living there—and providing them with the financial support they need to reach as many people in their hometowns, neighboring towns and countries. This makes a lot of sense. First, because it’s less costly to support national missionaries than it is to send missionaries from other countries and provide them with the financial support they find necessary. Second, because people are more likely to listen to those they are most similar to and feel connected with. A wealthy American family, for instance, will have difficulty understanding not only the language, but also the perspective and culture of the poor migrant farmer of India. Lastly, because those of other nations have difficulty trusting those from the U.S. due to various historical events (i.e. imperialism, colonialism, proselytizing) and because of what they’ve seen of our culture (based on television programs and news).

Yohannan’s point is not that U.S. missionaries give up on serving in foreign countries, but that they leave behind a group of nationals that can be self-sufficient and will continue to develop and grow the church. When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of Paul, since this is what he did. He shared the Gospel with the lost, mentored them, sent them letters, and encouraged them, but he never stayed in one location for too long (until he was imprisoned). He allowed the churches that were established in each city to grow and develop under local leadership. As I finished up this book, I thought of the two churches my local church has been supportive in establishing in Ghana and El Salvador, and recognized the significance of local, national, leadership in their formation.

I definitely recommend that you read this book with a spirit of humility. It may seem that the author is simply criticizing the U.S. church; however, I don’t believe that he writes these things to insult us, but to correct our course and to make our mission—to share the gospel to the ends of the earth—more effective. If you’re interested in missions–and I believe we all should be, to some extent–I recommend you read this book. Take care and God bless!

P.S. You can request a free copy of this book here.

Book Review – Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

A week ago, I finished reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. I was reading through it for a second time; this time, with a friend from work. The first time I read Crazy Love was back in 2010 after I rededicated my life to Christ. It was the perfect read for someone who had been walking in the world. It showed me what it meant to be loved by a holy God, and what it looks like to be in love with Him, and to follow Him.Crazy Love

This time, as I read Crazy Love from the perspective of someone who’s been walking with the Lord for some time, I felt convicted for my complacency. Many people criticize Francis Chan for his “unrealistic” views of what it looks like to be a follower of Christ; but when I read the New Testament, I find everything he says to be biblically accurate. Chan challenges his readers to rise above the comfortable life of the “normal American Christian,” to open their eyes to the true heart and calling of Christ, and to follow the examples of the early Church. God doesn’t want lukewarm Christians (Revelation 3:15-16)! He wants us hot! He wants us passionate about Him and passionate about reaching the lost. We’re not called to just meet once or twice a week and study the word, we’re called to be doers of the word (James 1:22-25)!

The fact that Chan had to write a book to tell us this, when we could just pick up the Bible and read it for ourselves, says a lot about the state of the American Church. I finished this book being reminded that my job as a follower of Christ isn’t to just sit in a pew, it’s to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world, to share His truth and love, to be intentional. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be “normal” and I don’t want to serve “leftovers to a Holy God” (Chan, 2013). He deserves my best, my all!

So, whether you’re a new believer, or someone who’s been walking with Christ for some time, be sure to check out this book for a quick spiritual check-up.

Book Review – Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

multiply_square_black1[1]Welcome to my first book review! Yesterday, as I was browsing the isles of my local Lifeway Christian Bookstore, I noticed a woman perusing through the Francis Chan section and reading the back covers of CrazyLove and Multiply and I got really excited. So excited, in fact, that I proceeded to tell this poor woman about how our Friday night women’s Bible study group just finished up Multiply and I proceeded to give her a synopsis of the book. This made me think that I really needed to post this blog, lol.

Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples is a great book! It asks tough questions that get you thinking about what it means to be a disciple–a follower of Christ–and discusses the purposes and need for the church body, both local and global. Then it goes on to describe why and how we should study the Bible, and briefly covers the Old and New Testaments, leaving the reader with a better understanding of the Word, God’s plan for redeeming mankind, and the call God has placed on our lives to “go forth and preach the gospel.” I believe what this book does best is it encourages the reader to be more confident and more intentional about sharing the Word.

One of the questions asked towards the end of the book was, “What does it mean to be a fisher of men?” Immediately, I realized I’ve been missing it! Fishing requires work! The fish don’t just jump in the boat. We have to cast the net and hook the line!

If you haven’t realized it so far, I highly recommend this book. It’s basically a small group study, so work through it with a small group (don’t have one? create one!) and be sure to check out the website for handouts for those who don’t have access to the book.