It's been quite a while since I've written on this blog. I've not posted any books reviews this year, even though I've read a few books I've intended to review. Self-publishing a book at about the same time the pandemic became widespread in the US resulted in a struggle to figure out where I am going next with this blog. I have a few new writing ventures that will probably be announced soon that have been taking most of my spare time. But I have not wanted to completely abandon my love of reading and reviewing books. So I am trying an experiment by listening recommendations of books I've already reviewed on this blog. I will make some brief comments and also link my original review if you want more information. I hope you will enjoy these posts and consider checking out a few of these books for yourself ~ Bethel
We are currently living in unprecedented times. As we are navigating the covid-19 pandemic, many of us are uncertain about the future. We are unsure how long it will be before we can leave our homes without fear. We are unsure where our next paycheck is going to come from. We are unsure when we will times will return to normal. As we try to figure out where to go next, we often struggle to turn to the best source of strength and hope: our Lord and Savior. As I have tried to figure out how to navigate this pandemic, some of the books I've reviewed have come to my mind and have helped me to find joy and peace in the middle of difficult circumstances. If you are looking for books to read during this time, I give you 5 recommendations as a place to start:
Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors
A powerful story of a young women who learned to hope through a series of difficult and trying circumstances, Daring to Hope is an inspiring testimony that will encourage you, regardless of what season you are currently facing (as is her previous book Kisses from Katie).
To check out my review of Daring to Hope, click here.
You Can Trust God to Write Your Story by Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth
A collection of stories from their personal lives, the lives of friends, and the lives of characters from the biblical narrative, this book is a powerful reminder that we can trust God to work in any and every season of our lives.
To check out my review of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, click here.
Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth
A biblical exploration of the concepts of gratitude, this virtue is important for us to develop, especially with the circumstances that we are currently facing. Our outlook on our circumstances will change significantly if we learn to choose gratitude in any and every season of our lives.
To read my review of Choosing Gratitude, click here.
Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko
One of the best books I've read about trials and suffering, Through the Eyes of a Lion is a book designed to help you face your current and future trials in the strength of Christ. When we face painful situations head on instead of hiding from it, we find the strength to "run toward the roar".
To read my review of Through the Eyes of a Lion, click here.
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
An incredible perspective on prayer, The Circle Maker is the perspective you need to help you change your prayer life. I am currently read through the devotional book Draw the Circle and enjoy its unique perspective on how to pray for God's glory in all that we face.
To read my review of The Circle Maker, click here.
Have you read any of these books? Are there any books that you would add to this list? Be watching for more recommendations over the next month!
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 have always been prolife, as is the the rest of my immediate family. I even remember participating in a few “walks for life” when I was still a kid. 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