Review: “Unglued Devotional” by Lysa TerKeurst


I read this book somewhat by accident. I was looking at the books that were available for review on Booksneeze, and of the options they had, this one stood out the most, sounding like an interesting devotional on keeping cool through the stresses of life. What I didn’t pick up from the description was that it’s written from the perspective of a mom and wife, and very much for an audience of people like her. Which I’m kind of not.

Accidental as it may have been, I was glad I chose the book and read it. Moment of transparency: I’m reading the earlier devotionals about dealing with stress and still staying calm and about treating others better and the like, and I thought to myself, “I know exactly who needs to read this book, someone who desperately needs to learn all these lessons.” And then I read a bit further to the devotionals about empathy and not judging others, and I realize that the person who really needed to be reading the book was me. With that bit of humility firmly emplaced, I started getting a lot more out of it.

Review: “Humble Orthodoxy” by Joshua Harris


So what exactly does the title of  Joshua Harris’ “Humble Orthodoxy” mean? Well, in a sentence: “Speak truth in love.”

In fact, that sentence also provides a pretty good summary of what the book’s about. There’s a lot to unpack in those four words, and Harris does so in a way that’s accessible, engaging and, largely, lives up to the very “truth-in-love” challenge the book delivers.

Traditionally, Christians are often known for being much better at the first half of that sentence than the latter. We’re excellent at telling people what we believe and why you should believe the same. And at our Bible-thumping best, we have a unique talent for pointing out others’ alleged shortcomings and letting them know how they fail to measure up — to God’s standard, and, implicitly or explicitly, to those who have chosen to live by it. There may be some truth there, but there’s often not a whole lot of love. (Even if we manage to justify those critiques as being delivered for the recipient’s good.)

Harris challenges — or, perhaps better, encourages — readers to focus more on the latter half of the sentence, the love part. What are the things that really matter, and what are the things that are purely divisive? When things need to be said, what is the best way of saying them? Is the result of our words to tear others down, or to build them up? To push them away, or to draw them nearer?

Of course, the book also reveals the challenge in actually living this approach. Harris stresses that speaking truth in love doesn’t mean ignoring or withholding truth. But truth in Harris’ book is truth as Harris sees it. The things he stresses we must stand for our things that not all Christians would necessarily agree with. It’s important to speak truth, but it’s more important to first know truth. And simply calling something truth doesn’t make it so.

But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, and Harris’ book provides a good foundation for beginning that difficult journey.

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.)

Review — “Revealing Heaven” by John Price


Revealing Heaven

I’m going to start this review by mentioning that I received a free copy of “Revealing Heaven,” by John Price, for participating in the TLC Book Tours campaign for the book, in part to get the whole legal disclaimer thing out of the way, but also because the fact that this book came to me without me looking for it is relevant to what I got out of it.

The primary focus of the book deals with near-death experiences, how they relate to scripture, and what they say about God and heaven. Price, an Episcopal pastor and a hospital chaplain, has taken great interest in the subject, and in this book combines the results of both his readings and research on the subject and personal interviews he has conducted with those who say they have had near-death experiences.

I’ll be honest, I approached that primary focus with a large degree of skepticism. I have to admit that if you taken his explanations of his research as true, he makes a very convincing case. I also have to admit that I don’t have a strong counterargument to his conclusions. However, being honest, I don’t know that I’m ready to fully take the leap of accepting that his explanations and the stories he was told are infallible. The implications of the case he makes here would be huge, and it’s hard to fully understand how they could be true without having had that huge impact. However, I am forced to leave the book with a much more open mind on the subject, and imagine I’ll be paying it much closer attention in the future.

Equally intriguing to me was the meta-story of the book, a look at the reality of the modern church. Price began his career as a pastor not truly believing in heaven or an afterlife, and had been trained that way in seminary. It was interesting to discover new aspects of the diversity of the modern Christian church, and to read about large elements thereof that believe in a very mundane supernatural. On the other end of the spectrum, he recounts stories of pastors who lost their job because they stopped preaching an angry God in favor of a loving one. The book brings home just what a wide array of beliefs the word “Christian” covers.

I was particularly either challenged or encouraged by his final analysis — that the lesson to be learned through all of this is that, as scripture says, God is, quite literally, love. Challenging because I like his conclusion without necessarily being ready to fully buy into the math that got him there, encouraging because, as I said, this book found me at a time that it echoes a place my personal journey has been taking me.

Whether you agree with it or not, “Revealing Heaven” is a fascinating book with challenging ideas for those interesting in having their horizons broadened.

tlc tour host

Review: “Constantly Craving” by Marilyn Meberg


More.

The desire for “more” is seemingly an inescapable part of the human experience. It comes in many, many forms — the desire for more “stuff,” the desire for a new relationship (or one better than what we have), the desire for deeper friendships or purpose. Why? Why does this desire seem to be a universal part of being human? Where does it come from? What do we do about it? That’s the focus of Marilyn Meberg’s new book, “Constantly Craving.” Meberg, a professional counselor, examines both how these desires manifest on the surface, and what the deeper needs are that fuel them.

For the lay reader, “Constantly Craving” is an excellent introduction to the relationship between counseling and spirituality. With an accessible, personable tone, Meberg takes a counselor’s approach to examining and explaining a common driver in human behavior, the desire for more and better in life. Then, taking things a step further, she relates these counseling concepts to relationship with God — providing the answers to the questions of why humans are this way, where those needs come from, and what we do about them. Humans are constantly craving more, Meberg explains, because we are looking to meet an innate desire for the ultimate “more” — the perfect fulfillment of relationship with the Almighty Father. Veteran students of the link between human behavior and spirituality may not find much new in Meberg’s book, but for those seeking an understanding of why we are wired the way we are, “Constantly Craving” provides an excellent first step toward that knowledge.

(I received a review copy of Constantly Craving” from Booksneeze.com)

Review — “Rumors Of God” by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson


Chances are very good, you’ve heard about this “God” guy Christians talk about. You probably even have some idea of who you think He is. But how accurate are those impressions? How many of those are misconceptions? Even for a lot of Christians, some of the most important truths of the nature of God are things they’ve only heard something about. In this book, Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson explore the deeper reality of these “Rumors of God.”

The greatest merit of the book comes in making the divine personal. The book is divided into chapters that each explore the truth of a different “rumor” of God, exploring a different aspect of each nature — grace, love, freedom, justice. But in doing so, the authors do far more than reveal who God is — by shedding light on who He is, they explore what it means to be a Christian, and what it means to be a church, and how the two are intricately linked.

For me personally, I could not have asked for a better book at a better time. I read it serendipitously, having received a free review copy through BookSneeze, but it was an incredible blessing. I’ve been through a period that had really challenged my view of who God is, and this book helped me break apart and better rest in my understanding of Him.

Rumors of God on BookSneeze

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