Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cries from the Cross

Cries from the Cross  *****
by Erwin Lutzer

Overview: Lutzer takes the reader on an in depth look at Jesus' last words on the cross.  Lutzer says in the book's introduction, "To stand at the foot of the cross is to witness the purpose for which God created the world. Here we see the attributes of God on display; and if we look carefully, we will see ourselves, with all of our needs, sins, and self-deceptions. Thankfully, it is at the cross that God chose to remove His wrath from those who would humbly trust Christ as their sin-bearer."

Positive elements: Lutzer is an amazing writer. He makes difficult truths and deep theological ideas so clear and easy to understand.

Negative elements: My only complaint is that I wish the book was longer. I appreciate that he is to the point and doesn't just fill up pages of a book. But I could go on and hear more of what he has to say!

Conclusion: I read this book the week before Easter and what perfect timing that was! I have never gone through Jesus' last words one by one and really thought about them before. However, this isn't just a theological book about the degree of the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Jesus' suffering has everything to do with me today, and my attitude towards embracing suffering. Near the end of the book, Lutzer quotes Bonhoeffer, "Christianity is a religion of suffering; a man throws himself into the arms of God and awakes in Gethsemane. We must leave our cherished dreams at the feet of our crucified Savior."

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

One Dress. One Year.

One Dress. One Year.  *****
by Bethany Winz with Susanna Foth Aughtmon

Overview: Bethany Winz wanted to do something to fight against human trafficking. She was only a junior in high school, but she didn't wait to grow up and make a difference. She started right away. She sewed a black dress and wore it every day for a year. She explained to people that those who are enslaved have no choices in life. They wake up to the same thing day after day. So she woke up to the same dress for 366 days. (It was a leap year.)  Each day she blogged about her experiences, shared info about trafficking, and sought to raise money for the cause.

Positive elements: Bethany is very transparent in this story. She talks openly about her struggles to believe that she doesn't have to perform for God. She shares about her health struggles. I love how she isn't pretending to be a Christian super star. She is seeking to follow Jesus, and this book is just a year out of her life.

Negative elements: You just have to remember that this story is written by a junior in high school. Her perspective of life is different from mine because she is so much younger. For example, the worst thing that happened all year to her was a mean photo on Facebook. However, I think it can be a good challenge to read something from a very different perspective. And even though I'm 34 and not 17, I still struggle with so many of the same things she does.
Conclusion: I keep wrestling with what my part is in the fight against human trafficking. I am encouraged by Bethany to step out in faith and follow Jesus where He may lead. And I love how she ended the book because ultimately this isn't a book about ending present day slavery; it's a book about identity...Bethany's and ours.
On the last page she says, "The pastor of the church I was attending in Nashville said that we all ask ourselves the same two questions: Am I lovable? Am I valuable? He said we get obsessed with the idea of leaving a legacy because we think that's what gives our lives value when, in reality, our only legacy is that we are loved by may take years to understand it, but it's the only truth that matters. And the craziest part is that when you truly believe it, you start to find freedom."

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Healing the Wounded Heart

Healing the Wounded Heart  *****
by Dan B. Allender

This book is truly about what the subtitle says..."The heartache of sexual abuse and the hope of transformation." The first part of the book is about how sexual abuse harms the heart and why that harm is so deep and long lasting. The second part of the book is about what the road to healing looks like.

I was hesitant to read this book because so often ignorance is bliss. However, God has brought some people into my life who have suffered from sexual abuse. As much as I want to pretend these horrors do not really exist, I know they do and I should seek to understand if I can help the healing process in any way.

This book is really long and in depth. I skipped some of the chapters that didn't seem to apply as much. And a few chapters I skimmed just because they were so hard to read. The book seemed balanced in that it talked about the subject from so many different angles. I learned about the brain and how it is affected by sexual abuse. I learned about why people behave certain ways after abuse. I learned about different kinds of sexual abuse and signs that they are occurring. And in the end, I was left with some hope. I think I also gained some understanding as to the depth of the pain these people have gone through so that I can be more empathetic to their current struggles. And while the author says that these victims won't be fully healed until heaven, God can begin to heal, and He can use me in that process.

This isn't a light read or a fun read, but I would recommend it. We are surrounded by sexual abuse, and I feel like we need to ask God what our part is in ending it and supporting those who have already endured it.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.  


Prayer  *****
by A.W. Tozer, complied by W.L. Seaver 

This is a compilation of short essays on prayer by Tozer. After each essay, Seaver writes some comments on the essay and provides some questions for discussion. Tozer writes with such clarity and conviction that I didn't feel like the essays needed any commentary. I guess if you read the book with a group, the questions might be good for discussion. After awhile, I ended up skipping the commentary and just reading Tozer's essays. 

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in prayer. The essays cover a wide spectrum topics related to prayer. I enjoyed how short and easy to understand the essay are. You don't have to be a Bible scholar to understand what Tozer is talking about.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I Can

I Can  *****
by Kathryn O'Brien

This is a sweet, hard covered picture book about Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." The book slowly builds on the verse and explains it. It would be a fun way to help your kids memorize the verse.

The farm scene pictures are very cute, too. I also like that there is a dedication page in the front. You could fill that out, and it would make a very nice gift.

I would recommend this book to pre-schoolers.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Just Me and My Mom

Just Me and My Mom  *****
by Mercer Meyer

I like the story Just Me and My Mom. The story has mom and brother in it. I like the story because it has a lot of action in it and a lot of things going on. I like the pictures in the story.
by Sophie Staples, 5 

Sarah Plain and Tall

Sarah Plain and Tall  *****
by Patricia MacLachlan

Sarah Plain and Tall was okay, but it was a bit boring. It is about a family who did not have a mom. So their dad put an ad in the newspaper and Sarah came. Sarah drew with them. Sarah helped fix the roof. Sarah teaches the kids to swim.

One day, Sarah goes away and they do not know where she has gone. So they thought she had left forever. If you read it, you will find out what happens.    

by Sabrina Staples, 7