Archive for the ‘books’ Category

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of me giving a review. I guess they are wanting more than, “Wow, just wow!” but that’s pretty much what I have to say. This book does a careful dance between heart-wrenching and uplifting and it does it flawlessly. You’ve no doubt heard the stories of the “Lost boys” of Sudan, but have you heard about the lost girls? The book is the autobiography of Rebecca Deng, who was one of the first group of unaccompanied refugee children to enter the U.S. after Sudan’s second civil war. The book begins with an almost idyllic description of her very early life in a small village. While they did not have much by western standards, she felt blessed and loved. That all changed when her village came under attack when she was just four years old. Her mother died in that attack. Later she lost more and more family members and ended up in a refugee camp.

Things were unbearably hard there, but it was also there that Rebecca grew in her Christian faith. Her story is a rollercoaster of pain and redemption, but it led to a life of helping others to overcome what she had experienced. This is the story of a real person who went through real tragedy but who came through it all and managed to see God at work. If you have ever wrestled with your faith or doubted whether or not one person can really change the world, this book is a must read. Five stars and I’d give it a sixth if I could.

Want to understand the human condition? “What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than man which will make him happy. The reason it can never succeed is this. God made us, invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way, without bothering about ‘religion.’ God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Okay, prepare for superlatives. I’ve been reading some pretty heavy stuff of late so when I saw this in my recommended reading on Amazon, and the cover art looked pretty cool, I thought I would give it a shot. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I needed to read a little fiction. It’s listed as middle grade, so maybe it would be too kiddie or something of the like. Oh my word, this thing has shades of two of my favorite authors, Lewis and Tolkien, and no I am not exaggerating. This thing is a page turner. Two young rabbits whose world falls apart find themselves thrust into an epic adventure. While we know the characters are rabbits, they are so well anthropomorphized that you soon forget they’re not human and they become very real and relatable. Someone needs to option this thing into a movie. Smith knows how to tell a story. Yes he sets us up for a sequel, but the story still has a beginning, a middle and a satisfying resolution, something many writers of series forget. I can’t get over how good this book was and I look forward to starting the sequel. Take a chance on this one, it’s fantastic.

Another fantastic book by Leonard Ravenhill. It’s strange, I started reading his books in order to find a book to use for a book study on revival for my church. This would be a fine book to use for that, but if can be summed up in one word. PRAY! Now that’s not to say there’s not a lot of useful information here, and in truth it’s one of the most inspirational books I have read, but the basic point is revival is not coming unless we,the church, earnestly commit to real and concerted prayer. This book will be highly beneficial to your prayer life. It is extremely convicting without being hopeless. One of the best books on prayer I have ever read, now I just need to apply it. The only negative I can give on this book is that in the entry for this Kindle version, there are quite a few typos. Nothing that makes it unreadable.

Man, what a book! If you’re looking for a soft, easy, feel-good read, this might not be your book. Ravenhill writes with a power and a passion that is sorely missing and sorely needed in our day. This book holds about a conviction a page, maybe more and will challenge the reader to his or her core. I did not necessarily agree with him on every point, I thought him too harsh on Catholicism for example, but when it comes to the need for prayer, deep passionate prayer, for revival, holiness in the church and especially the clergy, I resonated completely. This is a life changing book, and will no doubt be a book I will return to often. This is a no-nonsense book from a man who desired to see God’s Kingdom come, and His will done. I came away from reading it very convicted and yet extremely inspired. I cannot overstate how important this book is to the church in general. I highly recommend this book.

I got this copy free from the publisher for reviews but I requested it because I was really intrigued by the topic. Johnny McGowan is a pastor at Lakewood Church, on staff with Joel Olsteen and he has written a wonderful book here. The basic premise here is rather than ambitiously chasing after advancement and the world’s glory, we should step up in the positions where we find ourselves and work as if we are working for the Lord, trusting the Lord to advance us. It’s about being a humble servant and glorifying God, “blooming where we’re planted.”

McGowan is a fine example of this, having started out as a volunteer in the audio visual department at Lakewood and in the course of Stepping Up has grown into a pastoral position and basically the “right-hand man to pastor Olsteen. So many of us would be so much happier if we could embrace the teachings of this book. I highly recommend it.

This is one of those books I received from the publisher for free in exchange for review, but to be honest, I would have been glad to have paid full price for it, and am really grateful to have found it. The reason is simple. I have read quite a few books on prayer and they have always sort of left me either wanting or feeling inadequate. They either offered “one size fits all” formulas that didn’t quite fit, or they made me feel like I was an incompetent pray-er unworthy of so much. This is How We Pray is different. For starters Adam Dressler is honest to a fault about the struggles he faces in prayer. I haven’t met many people who really feel like their prayer life is all it should be, and I certainly do not. It’s okay, maybe even good, but it’s nowhere near where I want it to be. I think the subtitle of the book sums up what Dressler and I and so many others really desire. Discovering a Life of Intimate Friendship with God.

Dressler handles this masterfully, showing us genuine friendship with God that does not diminish God’s greatness, Holiness or anything else. Dressler’s chapters each have a one word title that relates (mostly) to the struggles we face. He expounds on struggles such as distractions, guilt, disappointment and worry. He also deals with what friendship with God looks like as well as essential topics such as repentance and forgiveness. Using a combination of biblical, personal and literary examples, Dressler fleshes out what we face as we reach toward a deeper relationship with God. The last chapter, Simple, deals with some things to be considered, (tips?) that can be used to enhance our prayer life. It’s not one size fits all, just some simple things that we can try. I loved this book and was blessed thoroughly by it. This is one of those books I will return to and read at a slower pace, so I can glean more from it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever struggled with prayer and desired a more intimate walk with God.