I love this book. I first heard about it when I was in college, taking my Apologetics Readings Course. As I was going through the lists of books about defending the Christian faith, this book stood out above the rest. Since it was on the lists of optional readings, I ordered it right away! I enjoyed this book’s insight about understanding the messages within movies and how important it is to understand the messages they are trying to communicate. This book was by far my favorite book I read that semester and in some ways has become one of the motivations I have had in writing reviews on this blog. The content on this book is just as relevant now as it was when it was published. Any Christian 15 or older would benefit greatly for reading this book ~ Bethel
We love movies. But more than that, we loved to be entertained. We are quick to watch the newest movie at anyone recommendation. When movies satisfy us, we watch them again and again. When we dislike movies, especially ones based off of known books or stories, we are quick to verbalize disappointment. But either way, we often just watch the movies to be entertainment, not to get something out of it intellectually or spiritually. We often let our guard down for the sake of being entertained. As a result, the messages that are being communicated through the film are not being filtered or being contrasted against personal beliefs. We often don’t have the tools needed to discern the messages communicated in our favorite movies. It leaves us to ask the question: how can we discern what moviemakers are communicating in films today?
In the book Hollywood Worldviews, former screenplay writer Brian Godawa tells us how to discern the messages being communicated in the movies we watch and not just being pacified by them. Godawa uses his writing experience to explain the structure of storytelling in films, which is essential for quality and significant in understanding the messages with films. We walk through the reality of worldviews that are communicated in every film we watch, whether we realize it or not. Godawa explains two of the most prevalent views present in films produced by Hollywood, existentialism and postmodernism. He also presents the reality that Hollywood’s portrayals of spirituality, faith, and even angels and demons, are tainted, often with the intention of making Christians look foolish and intellectually inferior as a result of blind faith. But even in the middle of all the conflicts in worldviews portrayed in films, he concludes that even though Hollywood is seemingly opposed to us, there is still a way to watch movies with integrity in our faith, finding a way to be in the world but not of it. This is all explained in a friendly writing style with examples for several films to illustrate his point. This is a great book and can be a fantastic resource, especially if you work with teens or are the parents of teens. I highly recommend this book to anyone! Get a copy today!
[Note: I did not realize until after I completed this review that the edition of this book I own is actually out of date. The first edition is dated 2002. The second edition, which has an eye on the cover, is dated 2011. This version of the book has more updated film and media example than the edition I read and reviewed. If you plan to purchase this book, make sure it’s the more recent edition]
I would have never guessed she grew up in a cult. I “met” Anna online when she was the publisher’s leader of one of my most recent book launches. In fact, I realized we had been on other book launches together! She is so fun and full of passion, especially when it comes to reading and launching books she believes in. (She even called herself the “cat header”, lol) When she friended me on Facebook, I was excited to find out that she had written her own book, but I was shocked to discover what it was about. I was very curious and brought it soon after. I was amazed when I finished it, amazed by all that this woman has overcome. Much of her story is shocking and unsettling, especially for those of us that haven’t grown up in a polygamist culture or in extreme poverty. Being this vulnerable about her broken and difficult past wasn’t easy, but God has used it for His glory. I am so grateful I found this book and for Anna’s courage in sharing her story. I hope that anyone that reads this book will be inspired to let God use the broken pasts of your past for His glory ~ Bethel
Many people with broken or difficult pasts struggle to share their story. Especially when you are still in the process of healing from your brokenness, most of us would tend to suppress memories of our past trials. This tends to lead to a feeling of isolation and can often hinder the healing process. Therefore, it takes great courage to write a book that shares your life story when you have brokenness in your past. In fact, after reading this book, I’ve come to realize that writing a autobiography or memoir is one of the most courageous and vulnerable things any writer can do.
In Anna LeBaron’s memoir, The Polygamist’s Daughter, we meet one of over 50 children of the infamous Ervil Lebaron, the murderous leader of a Mormon fundamentalist group with 13 wives. Anna and her siblings grew up in the worst of condition, as their family was extremely poor and constantly on the run from law enforcement due to her father’s illegal activities. She was often separated from her mother and mistreated by her father’s other wives (sister-wives). They all believed that Ervil was a prophet of God and they have to do whatever he told them. As a result, they all suffered at his hands. When her father was arrested and eventually died in prison, the oppression from the cult did not stop. They living conditions did not improve and many of her siblings and the sister-wives were forced to work for slave wages or no wages. When Anna’s mother and some of her siblings moved away from the cult’s leader, things finally started to turn around for their family. They had some money to provide for basic needs and things were going well for them. But when the cult’s leader convinced Anna’s mom to move back, Anna knew that she could not go with them. She ran away when she was 13, moving in with her half-sister Lillian, her husband Mark, and their six children. After being enrolled in a Christian school, Anna (as well as Mark and Lillian) can to know Christ and they lived changed for the better. But this doesn’t mean that their troubles from the cult were over. After several years past, some of the people that escaped the cult were murdered at the exact same time, Anna’s life was once again turned upside down. Several years later, after 5 children and a marriage that she through twice, Anna found healing throughout that time through the help of counseling, and was finally able to break down the walls of defenses she had built up to survive during her childhood in the cult. And seeing where she ends up is probably the best part of all.
This incredible woman should be an inspiration to all of us. I am personally in awe of the raw honesty in her story and as her courage in being willing to share it with her readers. Through many trials, she has overcome is now a strong woman in Christ. My heart grieved for what she went through, but also rejoiced to see all that she overcame. You will be moved, challenged and inspired by this powerful story if you read it. I highly recommend this book to anyone about 13 or older (due to moderate references to violent events and mild sexual content). Get your copy today!
From the moment I heard what this book was about, I was intrigued. Loving the LGBT community has been both a serious struggle and topic of significant controversy among Christians for decades. This struggle has been one that I have personally wrestled with every time I’ve heard of a friend or a family member that has chosen to identify with that lifestyle. So when I heard there was a book written by an Ozark Christian College graduate that has gay parents and found a way to love them without compromising conviction, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. But it took recently learning about another close friend making that lifestyle choice for me to determine that this was a book that I needed to buy. When I did finally read it, I was not disappointed. This pastor has a heart for this difficult-to-reach community that is rare, because he was raised in that community. I now have a perspective to help me still uphold the truth of God’s word, but to also love these people as never before, thanks to this book. This is now my first recommendation on the topic of homosexuality for Christians, hands down. ~ Bethel
Giving grace is really hard. We have all received it, but Christians struggle to give to those that need it the most. This seems to be especially true when it comes to a Christian’s response to the LGBT community. When it comes to responding to this people group, they often choose to push on the truth in a condescending way, or they choose to order too much grace, to the point that they ignore what God has to say on the subject. Neither one on its own fully pleases God, but we struggle to find a way to find a balance between grace and truth. Especially they put the label of “hater” on us just as quickly as some will put the label of “sinner” on them. In the end, we are left unsure of how to even begin to approach the subject in a Christ-honoring way. It makes us ask the question: Is there a way to love those in LGBT community in a Christ-honoring way? Can we love them without compromising our convictions?
In Caleb Kaltenbach’s book, Messy Grace, he shares his personal journey of having two gay parents, finding his way to the Lord as a teenager, and eventually learning how to love those in the LGBT community without compromising his conviction about homosexuality. You follow Caleb as he describes how he was partly raised by his mom and her partner, and how he even participated in gay pride parades. He was taught that Christian hate gay people. When he was teenager, he started going to church, and he eventually became a Christian and was baptized. His parents were less than supportive, even his dad who was still in the closet at the time. He eventually went to Christian college (my alma mater, Ozark Christian College) and became a pastor, and has learned about how to minister to the LGBT community. He walks us through what it means for us as Christians to live in the tension between grace and truth, demonstrating that it is possible as he displays in his own personal journey. He shares what this can look like in the context of a church, and helps us to see that in order to love as Jesus loved those who struggle, we have to be willing to get a little messy.
You will be inspired and challenged by Caleb’s testimony and biblically grounded insight, if you choose to take these truths to heart. This is a book that every Christian about 13 or older needs to read, especially if you have loved one that identifies as LGBT. This book is available pretty everywhere Christian books are sold, so get your copy today!
When Heather Hart (an acquaintance from a book launch team) approached me about reviewing a book she co-authored, I was excited. Although it took much longer than it should have to finally read it (like 9 months after I first received it! Opps!), I was grateful that I finally did. This book is powerful, relevant, and necessary in our culture today. Shelley worked hard to make her original edition of the book more relevant by bringing Heather on as a co-author, and I think it really paid off. As an adult, I find that I need to be reminded of my worth in God’s eyes, especially in the middle of a world that gives so many unfulfilling methods to find our value. Not only do I think that this book is great for teen girls (the primary target audience), but as a youth leader, I think this book is a fantastic resource for anyone working with teen girls, because it covers so many relevant topics. I also found that like Shelley and Heather, I too have a heart to proclaim similar truths about finding confidence in Christ to women that need to hear it, especially teen girls. This is definitely a resource I will use in the future. Thank you Heather for reaching out to me to review this book. I was greatly blessed by it. I know that any other woman or teen girl that reads it will be too ~ Bethel
Every girl wants to be beautiful. We all want so desperately to be thought of as attractive, especially by guys our age. But unfortunately, in the process of trying to achieve that beauty, we often turn to the wrong sources to find and keep our beauty. Everyday makeup, inappropriate clothes, overdone hairdos, relationships (good or bad) with guys, and the list could go on. In addition to that, as we seek affirmation, we also struggle with what the world tells us about how to live our lives and where we can find our happiness and contentment. They all look appealing, especially since everyone else is doing them, but none of them really work. All of this makes it hard to live life as a young woman in our culture today while keeping our self-assurance and our self-esteem intact. It makes us ask the questions: How can I find assurance in our world today? Am I really beautiful, or is there another way to measure my value and worth?
In their book, Mirror Mirror…Am I Beautiful (2nd Edition), authors Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart answer the questions of where women (especially teen girls) should find our value as well where to find assurance in our culture today. They take the opportunity to address many relevant issues that are so prevalent in our culture, and they share ways that we can understand them from a biblical perspective and demonstrate how we can use our responses to honor the Lord in the process. What makes this book so relevant is the number of topics it covers. This isn’t your typical Christian book on beauty and self-esteem; it’s really a guide book to help you find your confidence in Christ and to live your life in such a way that expresses that confidence. And this confidence in Christ will be what will make you beauty, not anything you can do to yourself or for yourself. All of this is communicated in easy to understand language and relevant examples from the lives of the authors and from other girls and women just like you. There are even discussion questions for each chapter in the back of the book that can be used for a Bible study.
Whether you struggle with not having enough confidence in Christ, if you find you have too much confidence in the world’s ways, or if you find you’re somewhere in between, this book is for you. I would recommend to any teen girl around 15 or older, or anyone that works with teen girls, like parents, youth sponsors, or teachers.
This book, as well as a leader’s guide for the Bible study, are available on Amazon (both paperback and Kindle) as well on the book’s website: www.FindYourTrueBeauty.com. Get your copy today! (Remember to look for the 2nd Edition from 2016. The 1st Edition was released in 2008 by just Shelley Hitz)
This book is a powerful sequel to her first book. I was more than sure it would be from the first time I heard that Katie was releasing a second book. It’s both a continuation of her life story as well as her honest reflections, her heart's "psalms", of everything that has led her to this point. This book has blessed by life in more ways than one. This was a message that came at a time I needed to hear it. I too have been going through some difficult times of my own. But Katie’s book has reminded me that even when things don’t go as planned, even when we have to die to ourselves in regards to our future, God has the ability to make beauty out of the ashes of our broken dreams. I am so grateful that Katie has chosen to pour her heart out once again so that this truth can shine through. If you loved Kisses from Katie, this is definitely a book you need to read ~ Bethel
"Relationships are the whole of reality. Katie lives in the rarest, realest, and most Jesus-revolutionary way. These pages testify to an intimate love affair with Jesus that births a hope that cannot disappoint." - Ann Voskamp, from the foreword of Daring to Hope
Hope is sometimes hard to find. Life throws many obstacles at us, in different shapes and sizes. Death, sickness, divorce, betrayal, and the list could on. They all threaten to steal our hope, if we let them. But avoiding them is nearly impossible. Brokenness is not just in our lives, but it's always all around us. We see it in our family, our friends, our neighbors, and even in the lives of strangers. We become so easily discouraged and defeated by our own brokenness and the brokenness of those around us, we don’t know how to put ourselves, or those we love, back together. It makes us ask the questions: where can I find hope when everything seem to say there is none? Can I really take the chance?
In the newest book by the New York Times bestselling author, Daring to Hope takes us through a portion of Katie Majors’ personal journey to illustrate that daring to hope is worth the risk. After starting a nonprofit ministry in Uganda, beginning to adopt 14 Ugandan girls without a home, and deciding to permanently reside in Uganda, Katie went through some difficult trials. Starting when one of her daughters was claimed by her biological mother, Katie found herself in many situations for ministry that where physically and emotionally exhausting. Despite having 13 daughters, she continually opened up her home and her guest house to those that needed extra attention and care that the local hospital could not provide. Katie sometimes had 8 or more house guests, most of them with medical needs, on top of caring for her girls. Some of these people, despite the love and care Katie worked so hard to provide, did not get well, leaving Katie crying out to God for hope and peace. But through it all, Katie learned that even when we go through the dry and weary land, God can use it for His glory, making beauty out of the ashes of our brokenness. After several years of helping many out of her own home, God surprised her with unexpected gifts to prove His faithfulness, and creating a beautiful mosaic for His glory. To find out how, you will need to read it for yourself!
Katie’s honesty and vulnerability are evident on every page of this book. Her ability to go above and beyond in service and in love is inspiring. And her hunger for the Lord, especially during her seasons of trial, is unforgettable. All of it points back to a God that is with us in our mess, giving us a reason to hope. If you have read Kisses from Katie or are going through a difficult season of your life, this is a book you need to read. Get your copy today! See the link below!
Note: I originally received an uncorrected proof prior to the book's release (around September 2017) as part of the book's launch team, but I had not had the opportunity to verify the review with the final edition (as was stated as a requirement by the publisher). In February 2018, I received a review copy of the final edition from Blogging for Books. This allowed me to verify the review, as well as read the endorsements and the foreword for the first time.