Sunday, October 8, 2017

Whole: Restoring What Is Broken in Me, You, and The Entire World by Steve Wiens

This was my first time reading a book by author and pastor, Steve Wiens. I received a copy of the book for review from Tyndale House Publishers and was excited to have the opportunity to read something by a new author. Although this was Mr. Wiens second book, I had no idea what type writing style he enjoyed but found it to be pleasantly surprising.

The book is all about restoration. I enjoyed the way Mr. Wiens was able to weave beautiful analogies and personal experiences into a story of love and compassion from Christ. I also enjoyed the various word studies included in the book. I found it very helpful to have the original Hebrew, Greek, and German word meanings included in Steve's book. They helped me gain a better understanding of what he was trying to convey.

Mr. Wiens touched my heart with several of his statements. In the beginning of the book, he says, "When something shatters, the broken pieces find their way into hidden cracks and crevices. Then they end up inside of us, causing pain, especially to the most vulnerable. It's easy to walk past the fragments of brokenness. We're busy and overwhelmed. And maybe that particular piece of jagged glass hasn't hurt you. But it is hurting someone." There is profound truth in those statements.

Over and over again, I found myself relating to what Mr. Wiens was sharing. When he talked about the root word Racham, which is used to describe the action of someone showing deep affection, compassion or mercy for another, I was surprised to learn the root word also meant the same as the word womb. Since my oldest daughter is currently pregnant and dealing with the possibility of a premature birth, I completely understood what he was trying to say. In essence, when we show compassion for another, we're providing a womb, or safe place for them to be loved, fed, and grow.

Mr. Wiens' word pictures were so vivid and the in-depth studies he provided were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have highlighted so many passages in it. I'm sure I'll refer back to it many times in the future and I'll recommend it to others as well.

This book is filled with so much truth! I think it will probably speak differently to each person who reads it. If you're interested in learning more about the heart of God and how He longs to see us live our best life, I know you'll enjoy this book.

I'd like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the chance to review this remarkable book. I was not encouraged to provide a positive review however, it is my pleasure to do so.

To purchase your copy of this book, visit Amazon or Christianbook. 

The Way to God by Dwight L. Moody (Updated Edition)

Iconic pastor, Dwight L. Moody, never fails to disappoint in his books. When I received a copy of the updated edition of The Way to God, I was eager to start reading. I've read many of his books in the past and have always found his writing style to be very enjoyable and truth filled. Throughout The Way to God, Mr. Moody shares vital truths, personal stories, scripture references, and descriptive examples. As you read his books, you find yourself feeling like you're sitting across from an old friend having a serious conversation.

Mr. Moody conveys many points in this updated version of the Christian classic, The Way to God. Among one he wants the reader to grasp are:
-the depth of God's love
-the importance of repentance and what that truly means
-the gift of salvation and how to be assured of it
-living the Christian life
-loving others as Christ loves us

The book is a quick read with only 9 chapters. Each chapter contains a Scripture verse at the beginning of the chapter. Chapters included are:
Chapter 1: Love That Passes All Knowledge
Chapter 2: The Gateway into the Kingdom
Chapter 3: Two Groups of People
Chapter 4: Words of Counsel
Chapter 5: A Divine Savior
Chapter 6: Repentance and Restitution
Chapter 7: Assurance of Salvation
Chapter 8: Christ Is All
Chapter 9: Backsliding

While reading the book, I understood Mr. Moody's heartfelt sentiments. He wanted his readers to comprehend the depth of God's love for them but not only that, he wanted them to understand the process involved in coming to that understanding.

This book would appeal to those who already have a grasp of the Christian faith but would also be a useful help in reaching those who don't yet know Christ as their personal Savior.

I enjoyed this book very much and I am happy to give a positive review. I would like to thank Aneko Press for allowing me the opportunity to read and review The Way to God, Updated Edition.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Amish Story by Rebecca Borntrager Graber

I was intrigued by yet another personal story shared by an Amish person. This story comes from a woman by the name of Rebecca Borntrager Graber. Born into the Amish faith, Rebecca follows the traditions and tenets of her religion to the tee but as she and her family move to Montana, she begins to question whether her religion is complete. She longs for more.

Soon Rebecca is introduced to Christianity. As she learns about Christ's unconditional love, her life begins to change. She and her husband make the tough decision to leave the Amish faith and embrace Christianity. Her story includes the many challenges and struggles they face as they step forward to follow after Christ.

I enjoyed this book because of Ms. Graber's openness and honesty. She shares her feelings and emotions as they face shunning, she tells how friends and family treat them, and she helps the reader feel part of the story.

The vivid descriptions of Amish life made me feel like I was part of their community among wagon drawn buggies, bearded men and bonneted women. As I read, I could almost envision beautiful quilts, clothes on the line, and butter being churned. That simple life of faith was a good life for the Grabers but they were missing the key ingredient to the best life possible - Jesus Christ.

I'm thankful I had the opportunity to review this book for Aneko Press. I was provided a complimentary copy. I enjoyed this book very much and know it will bless those who read it. If you enjoy learning about the Amish faith and culture, be sure to visit Aneko Press to obtain your copy here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Gospel of Jesus Christ - A Study in Mark (book review)

The book The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Whosoever Will Come After Me by Russell M. Stendal, is a study done on the Gospel of Mark. In this powerful book the reader will find many unexpected things. As I began reading it, I was expecting the author to expound on each verse (which he does) and give a commentary (which he also does). I wasn't expecting anything more. I assumed it would be the equivalent of one of my seminary studies but as I read, I found so much more. The author makes a point of giving key truths, Biblical history, Greek word studies, tips on righteous living, and an introduction to many Jewish customs. I learned so many new and exciting things as I read.

Mr. Stendal's writing is descriptive and easy to read. The reader will find he/she is being transported back in time. An example of the writer's ability to do this can be found in Chapter 8 of the book. This title is called "Thou Art the Christ" and focuses on Mark chapter 8. You may have heard about the blind man who had his sight restored by Jesus. This man had been blind from birth. He had heard about Jesus healing others and he wanted to be healed. His desire to regain his sight led him to walk forward with courage to approach Jesus. Jesus did not turn him away but took him by the hand, led him out of town, spat in his eyes and healed him. As you read the account offered by Mr. Stendal, you'll gain a new perspective. Let me share an overview from one of Mr. Stendal's chapters, Mark 8: Mr. Stendal quotes the verses from Mark chapter 8. He begins in verse 22 and for this account, goes on to verse 26. Mr. Stendal gives background information on the city of Bethsaida. As he sets the scene, he says: "Bethsaida was a religious city whose inhabitants were not interested in giving God the glory for what Jesus was saying and doing..." Then he goes on to describe the healing event. "Jesus personally took him by the hand and led him out of the city in order to restore his sight, which he did in two stages. Unconventional as always, Jesus began by spitting into the man's eyes. That is hardly the sort of medical therapy that any of us would volunteer for, and among the Jews in particular, this was a great offense, as it was considered to render unclean the person who had been spat on. Even viewed from a spiritual perspective, it could be a very traumatic experience for any self-righteous religious person if Jesus were to 'spit in their eye' and demonstrate that their entire world view is unclean. The blind man, however felt nothing but gratitude, for after that first touch from Jesus, his vision began to return and he saw men who walked as trees." Mr. Stendal goes on to share relevant facts for today, "When Jesus first opens the eyes of those who are spiritually blind, the same thing tends to happen, inasmuch as the first reaction of many is to elevate man (to see men as tall as trees) and look up to those who are gifted and in ministry. It took a second touch from the Master to complete the healing to the point where the man was whole and could see everyone, far away and clearly. So, too, with fully recovering our spiritual sight."

The clear and concise writings of Mr. Stendal will provide an enjoyable and informative experience for the reader. His analytical thinking process provides the reader with definitive answers to questions they may have as they try to read and understand the book of Mark. At the end of each chapter, the author offers up prayer for the reader.

I found this book to be delightful. It was filled with so much information, I felt like I needed to read it a second time to glean more. Mr. Stendal's exposition of the chapters found in the book of Mark are well done and it is evident he has done much research to provide his text.

I would like to thank Aneko Press for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book. I would like to give it a 5 star recommendation. I was not encouraged to give a positive review but it is my honor to do so. For those wishing to increase their biblical knowledge, this book is a must. You may purchase the book by visiting Aneko's website. If you'd like to download the free Ebook for Kindle, click here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sarah's Journey of Faith, Volume 3 - a book review

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the book, Sarah's Journey of Faith, From the Dark Clouds of China To the Blue Skies of America, Volume 3 by Sarah Liu. I knew before I even started to read this book that it would be special to me. China has had a soft place in my heart since 2005 when I traveled there for the very first time as a short term missionary. I had never been out of the country but knew God was calling me to be obedient to Him. My team of missionaries went to China under the guise of teaching English as a Second Language. That was the best way to get our Visas approved so we could enter the country. I went through specialized training so I could teach English but knew in my heart that wasn't the main purpose for my journey.

When I entered the country, I was astounded. In the airport, there were armed guards at every corner. In full uniform, they looked very ominous. Our sponsors warned us to remember we were entering a Communist country. We would need to abide by the Chinese government rules and regulations at all times. There was a feeling of being constantly watched as we proceeded through the airport and it had us on pins and needles.

After checking in to our hotel and meeting with our sponsors, we were able to connect with high school and college age students. They were interested in learning English but knew we were missionaries. We had many opportunities to share Christ with them and I didn't realize the real danger until one afternoon when I stepped out into the common area to meet with a young Chinese girl. I had my Bible under my arm and was ready to sit down and talk to her about how much Jesus loved her. There were guards surrounding the courtyard and they were moving toward me. My sponsor must have felt something was amiss. I was dumbfounded when he quickly approached me, took my Bible, and whispered, " You can't have this out in the open." At that moment, I was fearful. The reality that I could have been imprisoned slapped me in the face. Later that day, when our team reassembled to pray, the sponsor explained how dangerous my mistake had been. I could have jeopardized the entire team's work. God's hand was on me because He prompted the sponsor to come over to me and help at the very moment I needed it. I was humbled and grateful.

As I read the book, Sarah's Journey of Faith, I felt like I was back in China. As Sarah shared her story of being smuggled out of China, I clearly understood the danger. Her faith and bravery were so apparent as she trusted others to help her in dire circumstances. God's providential hand was upon her at every turn and when complete strangers stepped up to aid her, Sarah's faith was strengthened.

Despite being tortured and beaten, Sarah remained steadfast in her beliefs. During one particular instance of torture, Sarah said she felt like giving up. She silently prayed, "Lord, take my life, I can't endure this anymore." Sarah says, "In that case, God gave me a vision of Jesus on the cross, suffering for me. Enduring all that wrath of man, for me. In my darkest moment, Christ became my noonday sun in all its brilliance for me. I saw perfectly clearly what I was to do. I repented for wanting Jesus without the cross. In torture and in pain, I took up the cross and was taken to the edge of the abyss, and He was there!" Her statement, wanting Jesus without the cross, was so powerful. How many times do we long for Jesus but forget the immense amount of suffering He endured on our behalf?

Sarah also talked about the underground churches in China. When I was there, I was able to see some of these churches. They were well hidden and our sponsor explained we could not go closer for fear of jeopardizing the lives of the believers who worshiped there. Understanding their willingness to worship despite the possibility of torture, imprisonment, or death was heart wrenching and made me realize how very blessed we are to live in a country where we can worship freely.

Sarah's Journey of Faith, Volume 3, is a continuation of her testimony woven into 3 devotional books. As each chapter shares a little of her journey from China to America, she shares a verse of Scripture and provides some provoking questions to help the reader journal and reflect.

This book is a true story of sacrifice, faith, hope, and love. It will touch readers in a profound way. I recommend it especially for those interested in missions to Communist countries.

In closing, I want to mention one more instance of Sarah's book that struck me personally. Sarah shared the following, "At 9:30 a.m. on August 2, 2005, while two American tourists were preparing to have Christian fellowship with 41 Chinese House church pastors and believers in Zaoyang City, Hubei Province, approximately 30 Chinese plain clothed police officers rushed into the house. The same day, the 41 Chinese pastors and believers from evangelical South China Church were taken to No. 2 Zaoyang Prison." This incident happened exactly one month after I left China. I had been in the city of Xiamen on the Fujian Province, Zaoyang City was only a day away. The dangers there are very real and even today Christians in China are persecuted. Please remember to pray for those willing to risk their lives to take the gospel overseas. Chinese people need to learn about Christ's love and Sarah is just one of those who risked her live to obey Christ at any cost.

I would like to thank Aneko Press for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I was not encouraged to give a positive review although it is my honor to do so.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to Study the Bible by Dwight L. Moody (a review)

Dwight L. Moody is a well known name among Christians. This gentle man was born in Massachusetts in 1837. He was one of nine children. At the age of four, his father died. At the age of seventeen, he left home to become a shoe salesman. The following year, Moody was introduced to Christ by his Sunday school teacher and was saved. He continued to sell shoes and was making a comfortable living but felt the call to follow God. Leaving his job, he stepped into full time ministry. Although he was never ordained, he was a powerful evangelist.

How to Study the Bible is one of the Christian classics. Aneko Press has taken on the task of updated the original work which was entitled Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study. The updated version is easy to read and maintains the integrity of the original book.

The reader of this book will find evidence of Dwight L. Moody's love for God's Word. Throughout, Mr. Moody emphasizes the importance of understanding, studying, and treasuring God's magnificent gift to us, the Holy Bible.

Some of the chapters included in the book are as follows:

  • No true life without the Bible
  • The Word of God Is True
  • Don't Neglect the Old Testament
  • Take Time and Study
  • Look and Learn; Read and Remember
  • Take God at His Word
  • And more...
The author gives so much wisdom in this little book. I loved reading his perspectives and would like to share some of his wisdom and practical advice here through his direct quotes:
1. "The more you love Scriptures, the stronger your faith will be."
2. "If we feed on the Word of God, it will be easy to speak to others about the Word of God; and not only that, but we will also be growing in grace the entire time, and others will notice the change in our walk and conversation."  
3. "There is no book that will draw people in like the Bible."
4. "We must study the Bible thoroughly and hunt through it, as it were, for some great truth." 
5. "The quicker you learn to feed yourself, the better." 
6. "The best law for Bible study is the law of perseverance." 
7. "Read the Bible itself; do not spend all your time on commentaries and helps." 
8. "Every child of God ought to be like a soldier and always hold himself in readiness."
9. "Get ful lof Scripture, and then you can't help but say it."
10. Remember, it is the Holy Spirit and not you who does the converting and who gives new life."

How to Study the Bible is an excellent reference filled with powerful information. This book would be a wonderful addition to the library of old and new Christians alike. After reading How to Study the Bible, a reader would be well equipped to dig into God's Word and understand it better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave me new insight on better ways to study. I would like to thank Aneko Press for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not encouraged to give a positive review, but it is my pleasure to do so.

If you'd like your own copy of How to Study the Bible, click here

Monday, July 31, 2017

I'll Push You - a book review

I love reading true adventure stories so when I was given an opportunity to review the book, I'll Push You by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, I couldn't wait to start reading. The story begins with Justin explaining his health issues that began not long after a motor vehicle accident he suffered in 1991. He began to notice weakness in his foot and leg. After many visits to doctors and several incorrect diagnoses, he finally receives the information he's needed. He is diagnosed with Multifocal Acquired Motor Axonopathy, also called by the acronym "MAMA." This disease is similar to ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a muscle wasting disease that renders its victims physically debilitated.

After Justin receives his diagnosis, he contacts his long time friend, Patrick Gray. Patrick and Justin have known each other since birth and have remained good friends throughout the years. Justin shares a dream with Patrick and asks for his help. Justin longs to travel the Camino De Santiago, a network of routes across Spain and Europe which all lead to Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest of Spain. Justin wants to accomplish this goal as a way to prove to himself that he can overcome his physical limitations. Patrick finally agrees to accompany Justin and tells him "I'll push you." As Patrick makes that commitment, he has no idea what lies ahead.

Justin and Patrick begin planning their trip and realize they face insurmountable odds. They have no equipment, no finances, and neither of them know how to take a wheelchair over rugged terrain. They begin to pray and God answers in ways they could never fathom. A local company agrees to purchase the specialized wheelchair Justin needs, friends and strangers donate money to buy the equipment, and God sends a team to help document the journey.

As Justin and Patrick begin their journey they begin to see that God wants them to learn more about themselves and about Him along the way. Traveling over rocky paths, through dense mud and other obstacles, Justin and Patrick forge a deeper friendship with each other and a deeper faith in God. Patrick thought he was going on this journey to help his friend reach a lifelong goal but he never expected to receive the spiritual insight God allowed him to experience.

This book touched my heart in so many ways. In 1991, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident which left me in a wheelchair for a year and a half. As I was praying for the crushed bones in my leg to heal, I had to learn how to maneuver day to day life without use of my legs. I could personally relate to Justin as I read the physical challenges he faced. It was at that time in my life, God used my trial to draw me closer to Him so I wasn't surprised when Justin shared incidents in his own life where God had done the same thing. In reading about Justin and Patrick's devotion to one another, I was reminded of a several verses in the Bible, "A friend loveth at all times," and "Greater love hath no man than he who lays down his life for his friends." Those verses speak to the type friendship Justin and Patrick shared, a very rare and valuable one.

I think you'll enjoy this book and I highly recommend it. It's easy to read and well written. The first hand accounts given by Justin and Patrick help the reader grasp the differences in their personalities and discover more about their faith.

I'd like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not encouraged to give a positive review.

If you'd like to purchase the book on Amazon, click here.

If you'd like to purchase the book on Christianbook.com, click here.