Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Sudden Glory by Sharon Jaynes

"A Sudden Glory" by Sharon Jaynes is one of the best books I've read, in a long time, on how to see those special moments of God's touch in our every day life.  We all have "dry" times in our life, when God seems so far away.  But really, He has not moved, we are just are not seeing clearly.  She encourages readers to begin a "Sudden Glory" notebook, where each day you record those "sudden glory" moments with God - by recording them, when you have a "dry" season rereading these "sudden glories" will be refreshment to a weary soul.

Sharon's style of writing is fabulous...very conversational - like sitting at the kitchen table with a special friend, chatting about the things of life while sipping on Lattes.  Every page of the book contains rich nuggets that would make wonderful teaching moments or even to expand on and make into sermons.

One of my favorite, and most impacting, segments of the book was where Sharon described being drawn into John chapter 20 - she literally envisioned herself being with Mary Magdalene before the empty tomb and then racing back to the disciples with the news of Jesus being risen.  As she continued to read the passage and envision the scene, the Lord spoke to her about the fact that the disciples didn't recognize Jesus until He revealed His scars to them.  He went on to tell her that this is how Jesus is still revealed to the world today - "when My people are not ashamed to show their scars."  Sharon continues, "This was a moment of sudden glory that changed my life and my ministry forever.  He showed me the power and purpose behind the scars in my own life: to help others recognize Jesus. The scars of my past (and your past) are not something to be ashamed of.  They tell a story.  A story of wounds healed by the Healer.  They tell of the power at work in our lives.

Included in this book is a study guide for use with a small group or individually.  I would highly recommend going through the study guide, not just to get the most from this book, but to go deeper in your understanding of Jesus and his love, which in turn will enhance and deepen your relationship with Him.  And it's not just a page or two of discussion questions's a well-rounded, complete chapter-by-chapter study guide with several questions per chapter (25 pages total!).

This book will definitely be going into my "ministry" library!

I'd like to thank the wonderful people from Waterbrook-Multnomah and Blogging For Books for the complimentary copy of this wonderful book.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Reason by William Sirls

"The Reason" is William Sirls' first book....and it's an amazing read.  After lightning strikes the cross in front of a little country church, some amazing things begin happening to many of the inhabitants of this small Michigan town.  The story weaves around the lives of Pastor Jim, his wife Shirley, their mute son Charlie, their "foster/adopted" daughter Brooke, her son Alex and several of the doctors and nurses at the local hospital, as well as others in the town and, probably the most interesting character of all...the Carpenter.  The main theme of this story is that all things are possible if you will "Only Believe".

It was refreshing to see the characters response to God's call and how they each realized that they are never alone - God is always there.  The way he created each character was wonderful as well - they each had a great depth about them.  I was intrigued by the 'stories' of each of the characters as well and of course my heart sank as little Alex was diagnosed with leukemia -  I've walked alongside many cancer patients, supporting and encouraging them on their journeys and by far the hardest ones are the ones that involve kids...but the interesting thing is, that's where you often find the deepest faith and the greatest life lessons.

Reading about the author, William Sirls' idea for this book came several years before he was sentenced to jail for fraud and money laundering and with this being his first book, a couple of things are very obvious - he's a great writer with amazing ideas, but he's also a man who really understands God's grace, mercy and how lives are drastically changed when they encounter the true, living God.  

I would highly recommend this book.  You'll be moved by it and you'll truly see what can happen when you....'Only Believe'.

Thanks to the people of Booksneeze for the complimentary copy of this book.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Love Does by Bob Goff

Bob Goff says, "I wrote Love Does to capture some of the stories of hope, joy and whimsy that have helped to shape the way I see Jesus.  What I've realized is that I've learned a lot more about who He is from that people have done with their faith than I have from what they've said about their faith."
Bob Goff is a lawyer with an office in Disneyland.  He sees the world differently.   
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It's best to read it in small increments to fully absorb the profound truths held behind the veil of his stories. Each chapter is only a couple of pages and is easy to read in 5 minutes or less, giving you plenty of time in between "bites" to digest the truths.  Bob knows how to use a few words to say a lot.  Each and every chapter is a gift inside a lesson, wrapped inside an amazing story, enveloped inside a nearly unbelievable event that Bob and his family or friends got into. 
There are no doctrinal debates in this book, such as the age old issue of faith and deeds. He isn't trying to change your religion at all. He is zeroing in on a way to look at life through the eyes of how Jesus sees us. To love more, but more importantly to let that love do more.  Love is never stationary.
I recommend this book to anyone to challenge yourself to be a little more active in your love.  This book will add a  jolt of caffeine added to your walk with God! 
Thanks to the folks of the BookSneeze Blogger Program for the complimentary copy.

My Hair and God's Mercies . . . New Every Morning: A Story of a Life Changed by Grace Written by Yvette Maher

God never leaves us, even when we may think, "How could God still love me after what I did?" It's amazing how He shows His hand of grace, picking up the pieces of our broken life.  I find it inspiriting to read about others' lives and to see how God's works in each life He touches.  

In "My Hair & God's Mercies....New Every Morning:, Yvetter Maher shares some of the pain she's experienced in her life. Her book is filled with stories about different times in her life when things could have been hopeless, but God was still there and how He redeemed the hopeless situations and brought beauty from ashes.

While this book was very good, there didn't seem to be an "order" to the stories Maher included and sometimes it was hard to distinguish her "before" and "after" salvation life.  Most stories that I've read of a person's life experiences there seems to be a chronological order to the story, which wasn't always found here - I think that's what leads to some confusion.  The overall writing of the book seemed a bit disjointed.  I was also a bit unsettled about the title - it's long and wordy.  When I requested the book, by the title, I thought it might include a journey through cancer or something...the "hair" part of the title vs. story didn't match up, in my opinion.  Overall it was a good read.

Thanks to Tyndale for the complimentary copy.

The Necessity of an Enemy-Ron Carpenter Jr.

Ron Carpenter Jr. is able to explain difficult concepts a blunt and honest way while remaining positive, uplifting and encouraging.  His writing style is very down-to-earth.  He shares things he's learned in his spiritual journey.  The concepts he explains express profound thoughts that will make you "Selah" - pause and think on that.  Reading this book was much like reading a sermon a day.
Carpenter's writing will encourage and enlighten readers, while challenging them with a new way of seeing why one face suffering, trials, persecutions, and difficulties. 

“The Necessity of an Enemy” would make an ideal study for both individuals or small groups. Each chapter is loaded with solid biblical teachings and lessons.

There are three main reasons for bad things in life: (1) You are off track and God is helping you refocus on what is important; (2)You are on the right track and about to reach a new level with God but Satan wants to distract you all he can and discourage you; and (3) being persecuted is actually what it means to be blessed - if we are living as we should be, the world is going to hate us.
I highly recommend this book, if you've been undergoing great conflict and difficulty in your Christian walk.

I wish to thank the great folks at Waterbrook Multnomah for the complimentary copy of this book.