Due to the seasonal nature of this book as well as my commitment to review this book within a particular time frame, this will probably be my shortest review to date. Posting this Christmas Day means that you all are probably not looking for an advent book. I also apologize to any faithful followers of my blog for my lack of posts in 2019, since I have only published a dozen reviews (this being the 13th) and nothing else. But I am working on some awesome plans for my blog and YouTube channel in the coming months that I cannot wait to share. I also hope you are still encouraged by this review, even as we continue to remember the significance of the incarnation beyond Christmas Day ~ Bethel
In his book, The Characters of Christmas, Daniel Darling walks through the different stories of the nativity narrative from the perspective of each major and even some minor characters surrounding the birth of Jesus. Giving historical context along with personal insights, this book gives a new perspective to many of the characters we don’t think much about, and even those we do. Even going back to some of those in the lineage of Jesus, Darling illustrates the incredible tapestry of people that God wove together over 2000 years to help bring Jesus into the world, and with Him, the redemption of all mankind. This book is much different from many devotional book, or even books on advent. It’s an invitation to step into their world in order to become a part of the redemptive story of mankind. This book is pretty straightforward and a great compliment to any holiday tradition. Get your copy today!
Personal Rating. My major criticism of this book that there were several details about Joseph and Mary that we being asserted as facts that are not mentioned in the Bible and cannot be proven from external sources. For example, the author makes the assertion that Mary would have been illiterate. Although it’s true that she came from a small town in a small country, this is not a detail I am comfortable with him asserting as fact. This is one of several examples in the first several chapters of this type of assumption. The last chapters (starting with the one about the Wise Men) are much better in this respect, after you are dealing less with specific details about Joseph and Mary that the Bible doesn’t give. Other than this noticeable problem, I enjoyed the book overall.
* I received a copy from the publisher for the purpose of this review
To read my past blog post to give you a new perspective on the details of the nativity narrative, click here
I was so excited when I heard about the film Unplanned. I and my family have always been prolife. I even remember participating in a few “walks for life” when I was still a child. I knew a lot about pro-life arguments, and even some pro-choice strategies. But I knew hardly anything about Planned Parenthood and I definitely knew very little about what goes on within the walls of these types of clinics. But when the film Unplanned was announced and it immediately attracted controversy, I was drawn to support the film. After I was inspired by seeing the film, I became interested in reading Abby’s book to learn the more complete story of her personal journey. I am so glad I did. Although the film does a wonderful job at portraying the story of her life, I loved hearing more of her story in her own words. If you are interested in learning more about the pro-life cause, or want to read a book about a life transformed by a radical transformation in Christ, this book is a must read ~ Bethel
Abortion is one of the most controversial topics in American culture. I believe this is because of a prevailing mindset in our culture that we should be able to pursue happiness in any way we see fit and never have to deal with the consequences. But the truth is there are almost always consequences, not just for you but for those that are impacted by your decision. This is especially true with sexuality in America. By this mindset, a women should be able to have sex and not have to suffer any of the consequences, including an unplanned pregnancy. As long as that mindset is prevalent, they will always be women seeking what seems to be the easy way out. There will always be women willing to buy the lies fed to them about the baby being only “undeveloped tissue.” It makes it difficult for those that are pro-life to have hope that we will ever be able to make a difference in the fight for the unborn.
In her book, Unplanned, Abby Johnson shares her journey from being pro-choice to pro-life, all the while demonstrating God’s redeeming grace at work in her life. When Abby first heard about Planned Parenthood at a college volunteer fair, she had no idea how much this organization would change her life. Having had abortions herself, she decided to support women in crisis by volunteering at the local Planned Parenthood clinic. Over the span of eight years, he rose to being clinic director, truly loving the job of helping women in crisis. Despite the disapproval of her Christian family, she was committed to her cause. But when she actually participating in helping with an ultrasound guided abortion, she knew she could no longer be a part of abortion or Planned Parenthood. She turned to the same people that she had been fighting against, the Coalition for Life, literally moving from one side of the fence to the other. When Planned Parenthood filed an injunction against Abby and the Coalition (which was shoot down in court), she was given a platform to share her story with the world and help further the pro-life cause. Abby’s story isn’t an easy one to hear, for she even warns you of this in the first sentence of her introduction. But it is one that demonstrates God’s grace and forgiveness. In a story much like the apostle Paul, we can see that God can turn the most zealous of hearts back to Himself. We just have to trust Him with all the details, even the ones that are unplanned. Get your copy of the book or the movie today!
Quick Review: Unplanned Movie
Since I had posted a quick review of this film on my Facebook page, I will go ahead and share the images of my review here. Enjoy!
This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. I think my mom found this book on sale years ago and gave it to me. But I wasn’t familiar with Nancy’s work at the time and didn’t think too much of it. When I finally got into Nancy’s writing over this last year, I finally was interested in reading it. I found that this book was so helpful in more ways than one. As a single young woman who has gone through a lot of difficult circumstances over the last few years, I needed a reminder of how important and significant daily gratitude is to the Christian life. It’s also another great example of Nancy’s incredible ability to break down spiritual disciplines from Scripture and make it clear about what God is calling you to do. This is one of those books I would recommend to practically anyone ~ Bethel
“Thank you” is a phrase that is often unappreciated in our culture. We say without thinking about it or actually meaning what we say. We struggle with being thankful when many of us are in general ungrateful. We complain about every little thing and we get overwhelmed when we face difficult circumstances. This seems to be especially true for Christians, and we get frustrated when we are told that that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances”, because we often don’t even know where to start. We want the joy found in an abundant life in Christ, but we don’t know how in the middle of all the difficult circumstances that life brings our way. It makes us ask the question: How can we live grateful and joyful lives in our world today?
In her book, Choosing Gratitude, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth [published under her maiden name, Nancy Leigh DeMoss] helps her audience find the more abundant life that comes when our gratitude is as abundant as the grace that redeems us. When looking at the circumstances, Nancy says we have two options: “I can whine OR I can worship.” We learn what it means to worship and give thanks in everything, not just despite our difficult circumstances, but for our difficult circumstances. Giving examples from Scriptures and from the lives of others, Nancy helps us see that living a life of gratitude is possible in hope of our salvation in Christ Jesus. There is no promise that it’s going to be easy, but we will find peace and hope if we trust and obey. This book is compelling and relevant to all of us, regardless of our age or phase of life. This is a book that every Christian should read. Get your copy today!
Don't forget to check out my other reviews of Nancy's books in the Book Review Archive
When I heard that Nancy and her husband were co-authoring a book, I was so excited. I already loved the video that explained their love story on YouTube (see video below), but I really wanted to hear a more in-depth version of that story. I claimed a review copy* as soon as I could. When I finally sat down to read it, it was not quite what I was expecting, but I was not disappointed with the content. If anything, I loved the content even more than I thought I would. Not everything in this book is about their story, and that’s what I loved about it so much. They shared stories from people they knew (including one of my favorite authors, Bethany Beal, co-author of Girl Defined) and they also shared stories from stories in the Biblical narrative. That’s a huge part of what make the book work so well. It totally spoke to me in the season that I’m currently in, and I believe it will for you too ~ Bethel
The stories of our lives are filled with twists and turns. Some of those twists are happy, while many of those twists are difficult and painful in endure in the moment. Many of us have heard that God is the Master Storyteller. Those of us that have read Hebrews 12 know that Jesus is the “author and perfecter of our faith”, but we have a very hard time holding onto this truth in confidence that that God will work all things out for our good. Sometimes all we can see is the pain, and we push back, trying to find ways to write our own story, which often doesn’t work out very well. He sometimes reject His plan for us, and often end hurting those we love. It makes us ask the question: How can we embrace the story that God is writing?
In their first shared project, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, couple Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth help us see that we can trust the Master Storyteller by embracing the mysteries of providence. It was originally intended to be the story of how Robert, a widower after forty-five years of marriage, and Nancy, a woman who have never been married in her fifties, fell in love and were married. But it became so much more than that. They found they didn’t want this book to be just about them. So although they share their personal stories throughout, there is only one chapter dedicated to that part of their story. The rest is meant to use the stories of others to illustrate the same lesson that they learned: God can be trusted to write our stories, even in the most difficult of chapters of our lives. Many of the stories shared are people they knew personally. But there are also many stories from the Biblical narrative that so clearly demonstrate God’s hand at work. Through all of this, we are reminded that even in the mist of the most difficult chapters of our lives, God is with us and for us, using the narrative you’re in for your redemption and His glory. It both part of the smaller story you’re in and the eternal story that He is writing, one of which you should feel blessed to be a part. What we need to do, like the old hymn tells us, is trust and obey. This book is incredible. The stories, both personal and biblical, were well-chosen and well-written. Powerful, compelling, and hope-filled, this is a book I recommend to practically anything. Get your copy today!
*I recieved a copy from the publisher for the purpose of this review
Check out some of my other reviews of Nancy's books by going to the Book Review Tab
This book has been on my wish list for a long time, but I didn’t know too much about it, other than it was all bestselling book about prayer. But as I have been trying to improve my personal prayer life, I decided to give this book a shot. I had it read a little over 24 hours after it arrived on my doorstep. I found this book to be insightful and a completely different approach to prayer than I had encountered before. Although I will probably not use all the methods he outlines in the book, I am definitely interested in utilizing some of them in my personal prayer life. This has also made me interested in reading more books by Mark Batterson in the future, as well as other books on prayer. I that is something that all Christians should do to improve their relationship with the Lord. If you haven’t, then you should start today ~ Bethel
We are so often afraid to pray for our greatest dreams. We struggle to have the faith to believe that the Lord a come through for us. Sometimes, it’s because we misunderstand the way God answers prayers. This often results in us putting an all-powerful God in a tiny box, limiting what He can and can’t do, which in turn limits how far we will go when asking God for our greatest dreams. Yet, many of us know that there is more to prayer. We read stories of those whose prayers virtually moved mountains, but don’t know how to get there. It makes us ask the questions: How can we pray for our biggest dreams when we aren’t sure how God will answer?
In his bestselling book, The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson walks us through what it means to pray circle around our biggest dreams, which is often give us victory over our biggest fears. We learn the story about Honi the circle marker, a Israelite man of the intertestamental period that drew a circle around himself during a drought and resolving to stay in the circle until God sent rain to quench the dry land. Mark concludes that most of us struggle with our prayer lives is that we don’t pray through – praying until we get to the miracle or the answer. Encouraging us through the example of Honi, as well as Elijah the prophet and the Israelites that marked around Jericho, we are encouraged to define our own prayer circles. The first circle is to dream big, realizing that God can handle our dreams, even when they seem insurmountable. The second circle is to pray hard, fully believing that the dreams we have in line will God’s will can and will be answered. The last circle is to think long, praying and living our lives in light of what will matter into eternity. Through it all, it seems that when we pray through, although things don’t always work out the way we hope, we are often changed by our own prayers. This book is engaging, compelling, and inspiring. It’s an great resource on prayer that it’s no wonder it became a bestseller. Get your copy today!
Personal Rating. I had three small criticisms of the book: 1) Although I understood the heart of his message, I think some people could easily misinterpret his writings to support the belief that God is like Santa Claus - if you’re good and do everything you’re supposed to, then God will give you everything you pray for. Although he does refute that line of thinking in the book, I still fear that Christians that are not as strong in their faith could be lead astray if they misinterpret it. 2) The stories about his church plant became pretty repetitive and kind of disjointed by the end of the book. I have a harder time when authors tell stories in a circular narrative (jumping back and forward in time) rather than a linear fashion 3) I think there was a little too much emphasis on goal setting and no emphasis on alternate forms of fasting. Other than that, this is a book I was personally challenged or inspired by. If you haven’t read it, you should!