Book Review – The Louder Song by Aubrey Sampson

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Have you ever been at a point in your life when you asked God “Why is this happening?”

If you’ve been filled with grief over a tragic event and you can’t understand why God would allow such disappointment, Aubrey Sampson understands. Such a point in life she refers to as lament. Lament can happen over a job loss, diagnosis of an illness, death, or a difficulty in a marital relationship. In her new book The Louder Song, she talks about her own journey of lament and weaves it with the lament stories that you might have heard in the Bible (or may not have, given that Christians are so often told to put on a happy face).

Aubrey Sampson is honest in telling her story. She knows that on the journey of grief, you can’t just get a how-to-do-grief book, and go on your merry way. You can’t just fix it neatly for yourself or someone else. You have to go through it. You have to feel the hurt and pass through it. There are no shortcuts for grief. She affirms every Christian who has asked the tough questions – why did this happen? How could God do this to me? Why don’t I have answers? She affirms that you are not a weak Christian for asking the questions and not having answers. Faith and questioning can and should co-exist in times of trials.

If you want a book that’s honest about grief, I highly recommend this book. Sampson is honest with her raw emotions and about her questions of God; I really liked her vulnerability.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Kingdom Single

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     “Poor single woman!” she continued. “The world wants her to fornicate, and the church wants her to marry! Whatever happened to what Paul said about the blessings of being single? William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, wrote” (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris, page 84)


Depending upon the denominational circles in which she finds herself, a Christian woman might be the exception if she isn’t married by 25, making it difficult to find peers who can relate to her life as a Christian single in a world where sex before marriage and cohabitation are the norm.

There are plenty of books that tell Christian singles what not to do (don’t fornicate, wait on the Lord for a Godly spouse) and lots of books tell Christian teens how to Biblically date or court. But many of these books are geared toward the younger crowd who aren’t yet in the “career” age yet.

It was with this reality that I was really excited about Tony Evans’ new book Kingdom Single.  One of the bullet points on the back cover says that God has a mission for you to join now, as a single. You don’t have to wait until you’re married to have a rewarding life. Even if you never get married, you can still live fulfilled and satisfied as a whole person, with a happy life. This is a very different approach from any other Christian book on singleness that I’ve read, so I was really excited about it.

But it wasn’t long into Kingdom Single that the book fell flat. While it has some positive ideas, the way they’re explained falls short. One in the beginning is that you shouldn’t just wait idly in your life wondering where your mate is, but you should be busy with your mission in life. This is a powerful idea that I agree with, but the example used to illustrate it is so bizarre that it wasn’t of much help. Tony uses the Biblical example of Adam and Eve’s creation in Genesis 2. We see very clearly that God looked at Adam and said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and from that, God decided to make a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18). This is also why Eve was created – because of Adam’s lack of a suitable helper. Tony says that Adam wasn’t looking around wondering where his woman was, and that when Eve was created, she wasn’t looking for her man. And that’s correct- but Adam was only on Earth for seven days (literal or metaphorical, we could debate), and Eve was created for the sole purpose of being a helper to her husband, before sin and corruption entered the world, so she didn’t have to endure a long process of having to wonder where her husband was, if he existed, how to find him, and so on. For the single Christians wondering where their suitable partners are, this example is not the best one to look at and say that Christian singles should just be busy about their business not wondering where their suitable partners are. If anything, Genesis 2 validates a Christian single’s desire to feel loved and supported by a marriage partner. Better examples for both sexes on how to live out a calling and what to search for in a partner could be found in Proverbs 31; this passage has incredible mileage for both sexes as it gives women something to aspire to and men something to pursue. (And a Proverbs 31 woman can make some assumptions that for the virtues she’s pursuing, her man can meet her standards of Godliness as well.)

Another part of Kingdom Single that made this such a difficult book to read – and why I didn’t finish it – was the lack of practical suggestions or examples from people living today. The examples were all from the Bible, and while I appreciate Biblical examples, living examples are good too. While the premise of Kingdom Single was promising, it didn’t read as a book written for single people on how to live out their singleness in a Godly way. It just seemed to be a book on how to life a Godly life with the word “single” or “kingdom single” slapped on in various places. The content didn’t match well to what the book was supposed to be about.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Kingdom Single from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: 100 Bible Stories for Children

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What’s your favorite Bible story? Do you remember the first time you heard it or what you thought about it?

If you grew up in church your answer might be very different from someone who came to faith as an adult.

If you come back (or do a first read of) some classic stories in the Bible – stories that most people know about, like Noah building the Ark or Adam and Eve in Creation or Jesus’ birth in a manger – reading these stories as an adult can be like seeing them all over if you read a version written for a child’s eyes. This was my impression when I reviewed 100 Bible Stories for Children, published by Tyndale Kids. I loved how this collection kept the integrity of the Bible by keeping the stories in the order that they appear to us today, in a “grown-up” Bible. I also liked how they also included stories that I hadn’t heard in a long time, like Elisha replacing Elijah, Jacob stealing a blessing, and the story of angry King Saul. And I loved how it took pieces out of stories that could raise an adult’s eyebrows – like how Esther becomes Queen because her future husband gets furious at his wife for humiliating him in public after a week-long drunken feast – and it takes these same stories and doesn’t omit the truth, but explains things in a kid-friendly way. (King X got tired of his wife. Really sounds simple, doesn’t it?)

I highly recommend this book for any parent, Sunday School teacher, or anyone who wants to teach young kids about the Bible. I can easily see young kids being fascinated by these stories and the pictures that go along with them. And I can see a book like this becoming part of a parent-child storytime routine… where Mom or Dad gets to tell a story again or even learn it for the first time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.

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A solution to #MeToo?

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Is there a solution to #MeToo?

Day after day we’ve been bombarded with headlines of men behaving badly in the news. Popular men, celebrities, politicians, well-liked men, who’ve done things that have shocked and disappointed us all. We’ve all grown tired of these sad headlines. It’s time for a change. It’s time to hear about men behaving heroically. Proudly. In ways that honor their families, workplaces, and communities.

While men’s minister Kenny Luck doesn’t mention the #MeToo movement in his new book, Dangerous Good, it’s hard for me to not think that he wasn’t thinking of it while he was writing. He mentions men behaving badly and a “moral vacuum”. He asks: “Will masculinity continue to retain its negative connections with the world’s injustices?” ( xv) It’s similar to the question asked by Dan Connor in the recent Roseanne TV reboot, when Dan asks “When did masculinity become a dirty word?”

But this revolution, a “Coming Revolution of Men Who Care”, is all about the power of men who love Jesus, and not just guys who go to church, but guys who will fight for good. Those who will fight for the things that matter in life. Those guys have the power, together, for good. Kenny says, “When a man’s character and conduct become healthy, it changes things. Most directly, the women and children connected to his life and choices suffer less and develop better.” (p.95)

Dangerous Good is meant to inspire men to be their best selves, as the men they were meant to be, through the power of God. Kenny Luck challenges Christian men to be brave, to be in community with one another, and to think about their legacies. He doesn’t play along with gender wars of putting men and women against each other – he tries to inspire men to take on their God-given roles as warriors.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of it from the publisher in exchange for my review.

 

Book Review: Loving Grace (a novel)

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Watermelons, beauty pageants, young hearts caught in a first love… April Smith ties it all together in Loving Grace, a novel from Ambassador International. Grace Summer is the protagonist appointed as a “Watermelon Queen”, which is part beauty contest winner and part watermelon product promoter. After the death of her loved ones, Grace struggles to bounce back from this loss and go on with life, but she finds a special spot in the hearts and lives of the Baron family, whose livelihoods rely on the harvest of watermelons. This clan, who sponsors her role as Watermelon Queen, includes two young men that help prove the point that things aren’t always what they seem, especially when it comes to love.

Who this book is for: Grace Summer, the main character, is about to enter her senior year of high school, and the story doesn’t have anything that isn’t family-friendly. So, if your daughter is in high school, or even junior high, this book would be an enjoyable read. College- age girls might also like this book as it accurately shows the highs and lows of a first love. All in all, Loving Grace is a cute story.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Loving Grace from the publisher, Ambassador International, in exchange for my honest review.

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