Paying less for Christmas gifts

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There are only 21 days left until Christmas! While you’re wrapped up in your holiday shopping, you can still keep your eye on the ball when it comes to staying on budget. Check out these tips for paying less for Christmas gifts.

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Book Review: a Biblicist View of Law and Gospel

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Law and Gospel. Are they two separate things, or do they work together?

That is the question that Lester Stephenson aims to answer in his book, A Biblicist View of Law and Gospel. He uses Matthew 5:17-18 as the basis:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (KJV)

Stephenson points to examples in the Old Testament that link to the New Testament. But this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

There is a growing movement of Christians who would describe themselves as “Torah-observant” or who are learning about and putting a growing emphasis on the Old Testament. An online search can show examples of this – women who are covering their heads, men who won’t cut their beards, both genders who are Christians but who are celebrating the Jewish holidays and eating kosher only. And they are Christians. All this because they’ve searched the Bible and believe this is Biblical.

The answer to which traditions we should uphold and which the gospel frees us from… those are things I hoped this book would answer, but it doesn’t. I don’t think the author had those questions in mind. Over and over “the law” is mentioned, but he never really stops to say “This is what the law is”. There is a chapter that explains the 10 Commandments, and he also mentions “The Mosaic Law”, so I think it would strengthen the book if some explanation of what “The Law” is would have been placed in the front of the book, rather than leaving the Commandments towards the end.

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

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Book Review: Braving Sorrow Together

 

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Life is hard. Relationships, jobs, health, and life are hard.

Ashleigh Slater gets it.

Her new book, Braving Sorrow Together, is a beautifully anointed work showing how so many people have come through sorrows like death, miscarriage, job loss, and more, able to share their stories with others.

I’m not a mom, but I love how she explains her journey of becoming a parent and how connected that was to her career. In explaining how she mourned her own career dreams not coming to pass, and coming to terms with how her own worth is more than just what she does for a living, she says:

“I realized that I’d put too much emphasis on my worth being tied directly to my aspirations and the fulfillment of them… I’d strongly believed that… my life would have greater value than it did at home changing diapers and filling up sippy cups with strawberry milk. I came to see that I was wrong.” (page 102)

Her words on this topic are a blessing to people who struggle to understand that their own significance is more than just what they do during their working days. She’s speaking to the self-worth that we all have.

Overall, Braving Sorrow Together is highly relevant and highly recommended.

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

Book Review: Rising Above a Toxic Workplace

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If you’ve ever worked in what you’d describe as a “toxic” work environment, you’re not alone. Rising Above a Toxic Workplace is the newest book from psychologist Gary Chapman and his co-authors Paul White and Harold Myra, and it’s full of stories from workers describing the ways they’ve been demoralized, discouraged, and let down in the workplace. Their stories of how bosses have humiliated and berated them may increase your blood pressure if you work in a negative work environment.

Rising Above a Toxic Workplace is intended to give guidance on “taking care of yourself in an unhealthy environment”. While the book shows employees doing their best in one type of chaos or another – whether it’s managers who don’t know how to talk to people or organizations where ethics are questionable – the book is short on solutions. If you’ve purchased this book for yourself or someone you know in hopes that it will provide a clear plan to help them, you will probably be disappointed.

Rising Above a Toxic Workplace is probably best for readers who are just looking for somebody to say “It’s not you, it’s them.” If you’re in a work environment where you feel like something’s not right, or that the leadership style isn’t ok, this book will give you lots of stories and you may be able to relate to many of them. However, this is not a solutions-oriented book. There are some answers presented, but they are few, and they aren’t specific. For the most part, this book isn’t about “Rising” above a toxic workplace, but about “Describing” it.

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

PREPARE Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture

As Americans, it’s easy to feel free, but J. Paul Nyquist wants American Christians to be aware of changes to their religious liberty. In his new book, Prepare, he explains why American Christians need to ready themselves for changes to their way of life, and why they need to get ready for religious persecution.

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Why, you may ask, is this necessary, when American Christians are free to worship as we please, where we please, how we please? Nyquist explains that persecution is not just physical harm or death, but it comes in many other forms. With this understanding, persecution is coming for many American Christians. He urges those in America to decide how they will respond to this when it happens. He lays out some responses to persecution and explains how large cultural changes in America have happened.

Overall, Prepare is a well-written, thought-out book. For those paying attention to the issues of religious liberty in society at large, a lot of what the author is saying will make a lot of sense.

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

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