Tag Archives: faith

Astonished

Title: Astonished
Author: Mike Erre
Publisher: David C. Cook
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0537-2

“We can know God but can’t ever fully figure Him out. And so we walk by faith and not by sight. As we do this, God gets bigger,” Mike Erre states in his fifth authored book, Astonished.

This two hundred and forty-two page paperback targets those interested in establishing or recapturing an amazing, wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ. Using mainly the New International Version of the Bible, the ESV is also used. With a short author biography on the back jacket, ending chapter notes are included.

Separated into three sections, discussed are the nature of God, the nature of faith, and the faith-filled life, concluding with knowing God more intimately. Often blending personal experiences of the author/pastor’s life, he tells of his appreciation of infomercials, his struggle with panic attacks, the frustrations giving sermons, his marriage, and loving his Down syndrome son.

In this book, Erre reiterates that many of us incorrectly relate to God as a consumer product, wanting to fill a void in our lives. When the dry, harsh times come in life, we assume it is not normal, but God hiding from us.

Examining the “why” of God’s supposed hiddenness, the writer reflects that we purposely hide from Him, His timing is different from ours, we do not want or need to seek Him or we fear He will not acquiesce to our prayers. We separate the sacred from the secular, looking for sensational to hear His voice.

While God works through our human weaknesses, not our human power, the author promotes He actually gives us more than we can handle so we learn to trust Him, which increases our faith. We need to wake up, notice God’s sign language by looking backward in our lives, and reconsider where our treasures are placed.

Biblical characters such as Jacob, Moses, Job, David, Jesus, and Paul are examined. M. Scott Peck’s stages of human spiritual development are listed as chaotic/antisocial, formal/institutional, skeptical/individual, and mystical/communal. Walter Brueggemann’s three categories of Psalms show how orientation, disorientation, and reorientation affect our relationship with God.

As Erre reminds us, by having faith that demands mystery, desperation, and surrender, through joys, sorrows, and lamenting, we will become more astonished of God, His wonder, and awe.

Thanks to David C. Cook for furnishing this book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s opinions.

This review will be posted on DeeperShopping, Bookpleasures, and Amazon with links on Bookfun.org, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Faith – Joseph’s Story

Title: Faith – Joseph’s Story
Author: Sandra Lea Hardage
Publisher: CrossBooks
ISBN: 978-1-4627-2783-4

“As you read the story of Joseph’s life, see God’s hand in the reasons He brought Joseph to power in Egypt, and then recognize His hand in your own life as He prepares you for tasks He planned for you before you were born,” Sandra Lea Hardage writes in the introduction of her book, Faith – Joseph’s Story.

This one hundred and eighty-eight page paperback book is targeted toward those interested in an in-depth study about the life of the Biblical Joseph and how his faith in God can inspire in current day living. After a preface, acknowledgements, and introduction, there is over seventy pages of a nine chapter novel and an epilogue about Joseph. With a few pages about how to become a Christian, there is a seventy-four page Bible study, thirty-two page leader’s guide, a poem about the character, and author’s biography.

Written in first person, the first half of the book is Joseph explaining his family life, his coat of many colors, and how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, along with when he put in jail for supposedly raping Potiphar’s wife, interpreted several dreams, tested his brothers in need of food, moved his aged father to Egypt, and returned to Canaan to bury his beloved parent. Joseph’s constant connection and faith in YHWH is mentioned and how he relied on the Almighty to show him what to do next and praised Him for His guidance.

In the second half of the book, an actual study based on the novel by chapter has detailed sections for the reader to look up Bible verses correlating to the stories, review and fill in a few charts or blank areas, and room for writing down personal applications how the reader can grow and strengthen his or her faith in God. The leader section is an answer key with notation on personal answers.

This read is an ideal high school to adult Bible study series for a group atmosphere, especially those who do not know or remember the plethora of stories about this famous, interesting Biblical character. Hardage writes with passion in the novel part, as she conveys in her study her true love for our Lord and how to put our trust and faith in Him as He is in control, knowing and directing our paths.

This book was furnished by The CWA Review Crew in lieu of an unbiased review.

This review will be posted on DeeperShopping, Bookpleasures, and Amazon with links on CWA Review, Bookfun, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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Examine Your Faith!

Title: Examine Your Faith!
Author: Pamela Christian
Publisher: WestBow Press
ISBN: 978-1-4497-9919-9

“Confident belief for what is not yet proven, or that which is not yet experienced, can only exist once a person has sufficient objective, verifiable evidence and/or experience. The term sufficient is key – what is sufficient for one may not be for someone else,” Pamela Christian states in her book, Examine Your Faith! Finding Truth in a World of Lies.

At two hundred and twelve pages, this paperback book is targeted toward readers seeking a solid foundation in their religious faith in God. The writer believes that if you find truth for yourself in what you believe, you will obtain a confident faith. Using mostly the New King James Version of the Bible, there are chapter endnotes on other references used.

After having her own personal crisis in her faith, Christian had to research and reinvent her belief-system in a Supreme Being. In her search, she explored the lies of religious tolerance of syncretism, the deception of education, the equality of religions, and the examination of evidence of faith. She learned that by mixing different faiths, it produces a lack of core convictions, people have been trained, not educated, and faith is based on personal preferences.

With the book divided into three parts of defending, discovering and deciding the Truth, the author first explains relativism, revisionism, and religious pluralism. In the second part, there are discussions of five major religious faiths and secular points of view that include Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and secular New Age / Humanism. In each chapter on these religions, history of founder and faith, teachings, distinctions, and Americans’ reactions are discussed. However, there is no mention of what some consider cults invented by Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses and their current infiltration into the Christian community in America.

The third part of the book is dedicated to why Christianity works, giving viewpoints from individuals who believed in other religions and their testimonies how each found the True Way. The author explains good versus evil, different views of Jesus within religions, Biblical and historical findings on Christ’s birth, prophecies fulfilled and evidence of Jesus’s resurrection.

Completing with the plan of eternal salvation with a confident faith, this book is an asset to those individuals who are on the fence about their religion and need clarification in regard to Jesus Christ. Although it does not go into detail other cults and religions growing in popularity today, one can glean confidence in one’s faith-based beliefs.

This book was furnished by The Book Club Network, Inc. in lieu of an unbiased review.

This review will be posted on DeeperShopping, Bookpleasures, and Amazon with links on Bookfun, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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Ladybird

Title: Ladybird
Author: Grace Livingston Hill
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-62029-391-1

“You needn’t worry about me, really,” she laughed. “I’m perfectly all safe, and you know God is in New York, too. ‘The Bible says He is.’” Farley explains in Grace Livingston Hill’s novel, Ladybird.

At two hundred and fifty-one pages, this paperback book is targeted toward readers who enjoy light romance, relationships, and learning about the West and New York in the early nineteen hundreds. With no profanity but suggestions of physical and sexual abuse, alcoholism, and violence, mature readers would enjoy its contents with quotes from the King James Version of the Bible.

Born in the nineteenth century, Grace Livingston Hill wrote over one hundred novels and was considered the pioneer of Christian romance. In reading her tomes now being republished, the reader is instantly transported back in time with descriptive, expressive, and detailed scenes.

In this tale, coming-of-age Fraley MacPherson is a sheltered young girl living in the remote mountainous terrain of the West with a band of criminals. After her father has supposedly fallen to his death five months ago and her frail mother dies, she must flee drunken, angry men who want to own and possess her for cooking, cleaning, and ulterior evil motives.

As she escapes out the window of the family’s meager cabin, she feels hunted by both man and beast, trying to survive. Having learned to read and write, her prized possession is her mother’s worn Bible along with tattered clothing and fifteen dollars to her name.

While fleeing, she meets a kind woman and her family that she shares a memorized Bible story with along with George Seagrave, a man from New York who decided to help a sickly man preach to his flock out West. Knowing nothing about God, Jesus, or preaching, Seagrave is inspired by this fresh, endearing, and altruistic young lady.

When Seagrave helps MacPherson get on a train to New York so she can find her unknown relatives, the girl is enamored by her surroundings, especially when she meets Violet Wentworth who showers her with gifts, clothing, and an opulent life style.

Rooted in her Biblical upbringing, the young girl tries to stay obedient to the Word as she affects those she befriends. Aware of her past and the men that want to track her down, she tries to remain honest and true to herself.

Author Hill writes with such clarity and dimension that the reader is instantly caught up in the storyline, racing to the ending to find out if Ladybird sticks with her values or succumbs the worldly ways that test her.

This book was furnished by Barbour Publishing, Inc. in lieu of an unbiased review.

This review will be posted on Bookpleasures, DeeperShopping, and Amazon with links on Bookfun, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

Title: A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider
Editors: N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles
Publisher: That’s Life! Communications
ISBN: 978-0-9784963-1-0

“Would you like to take a break from your busy life, have a heartwarming conversation with a friend, and come away refreshed, encouraged and inspired?” editors N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles ask in the introduction to their book, A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider.

This sequel to their best-selling first book, Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul, is targeted toward readers who enjoy simple, quick yet effective stories about God involving faith, love and hope.

At three hundred and twenty-four pages, this paperback book begins with three pages of reviews, includes over fifty stories, and ends with thirteen pages of authors’ short biographies with black and white photographs. A separate one hundred and twenty page study guide for readers, book clubs, and small groups and speakers is also available that includes four to seven questions regarding each story.

Written by Canadian Christians who are members of the national association of The World Guild, there are thirty-seven authors who write fifty-one brief stories from one to eleven pages long about hope and encouragement. These authors come from various ages and walks of life such as pastors, missionaries, teachers, writers, editors, doctors, photographers and speakers and include names as Belec, Blenman, Cummings, Fast-Vlaar, Fawcett, Inman, Meyer, Payne, Phillips, and Sketchley to name a few.

Most of the stories are non-fiction, written in first person, covering the gambit from personal heartbreak of losing a child, having a stroke, or marital problems to quilting, using junkyard trash, or getting new eyeglasses. A few fictional tomes about sharks, farmers, dementia, a reunion, empty nest, and an awkward funeral are added with some poems and a short drama.

While all writings “stimulate the mind and delight the spirit,” the thread of God, His redeeming and cleansing love and grace weave throughout the tender stories, sometimes with Bible verse noted or written out.

Take the short story titled “Charlie” by Adele Simmons about a gruff old man in an assisted living complex. One day she walks into his room and he is not having a good day. After singing and playing guitar of country and World War II military songs, he slowly softens when he thinks of his past wife and two sons. By the end of the story, they both are singing “Jesus loves me” with tears in their eyes.

Not to be skimmed or placed on a shelf, this book is a wonderful, casual read to pick up at any time and be uplifted and refreshed, remembering how awesome, amazing and powerful our God is.

This book was furnished by Bookfun.org in lieu of an unbiased review.

This review will be posted on DeeperShopping, Bookpleasures, and Amazon with links on Bookfun, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

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52 Ways to Grow Your Faith

Title: 52 Ways to Grow Your Faith
Author: Gregg Peter Farah
Publisher: Carpenter’s Son Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9849772-5-3

“But also take time to allow the God of the universe to invade your brain and soul. In fact, let the Bible serve as the filter for all you watch, read, and listen to,” Gregg Peter Farah recommends in his book, 52 Ways to Grow Your Faith – Connect with God in a Busy, Noisy World.

This two hundred and nineteen page paperback book is targeted toward Christians who want to connect with the Almighty by increasing in their faith. Using the NLT, NCV, ESV, Living Translation, The Message and unnamed Bible translations, this series’ book is divided into eight sections on faith, in relation to yourself, a friend, a group, while on the go, methodically, courageously, artistically and on your own. After the notes at the end of the book, there are four examples of another book in the series of fifty two reasons to believe in the Bible, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

All fifty-two ways are numbered and start with “All you need is ….” There is a paragraph about the topic, a key Bible verse followed by several paragraphs, usually written from the writer’s personal perspective, a key quote, a “try it” paragraph on how to implement the faith characteristic with a testimony of someone who did try it, ending with a short prayer and space for notes.

Methods to increase faith include ideas such as viewing nature, ask a friend a question, or arrive early to a group meeting to use a map, slow down, stop and say hello, borrow a church hymnal and stop and pray immediately.

The concept of the book is to stop focusing on the busyness and noise that surrounds us but gradually focus on God. By reading one tip every day or per week, by oneself or in a study group using the suggested template, a stronger, more faithful attitude toward God will develop.

For example: Way # 23 is about a good pair of shoes as Farrah promotes praying while taking a walk, listing the key verse from Ephesians 6:18. He talks about walking in Nepal to Bible school with a friend, praying as they traveled. A Marcel Proust quote is given and it is suggested to start walking around the block, praying for neighbors as you pass their homes. After he gives a man name Peter’s testimony about “prayer walking,” there is a short prayer with space to add personalization.

Since life seems to be often out of control, this is a great reminder book to center us back to thinking about God more often, which will increase our faith. Although there is plenty of the author’s personal input, much can be gleaned to connect more clearly and constantly with our Lord.

This book was furnished by Bookfun in exchange for a review of the reader’s honest opinion.

This review will  be posted on DeeperShopping, Bookpleasures, and Amazon with links on Bookfun, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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Beyond the Shadows is Tomorrow

Title: Beyond the Shadows is Tomorrow
Author: Rhonda Walker
Publisher: WestBow Press
ISBN: 978-1-4497-9438-5

“Without exception, every woman shares the belief that strong faith in God is tempered and made firm because of, not in spite of, the rough seas of life’s touch times. I believe this, above all, is why these women stand as glowing testaments of faith and strength,” Rhonda emphasizes in her book, Beyond the Shadows is Tomorrow.

This one hundred and eighty page paperback book is a collection of women’s thoughts, memories and heartbreaks in life and how God has given them strength, encouragement and fortitude to press onward. Targeted toward Christian women, it can be read by anyone who is looking for direction through life’s challenges.

Enclosed are twenty-six chapters based on women’s viewpoints of God from different aspects of their lives, be it married, single, house wife, divorced, mother, grandparent, young or elderly. Blending a few unknown and authored poems and hymns, chapters are one to twenty-three pages long, sometimes written in first person.

Throughout our lives, we are tested, have trials, and weather tribulations that God allows to strengthen us and make us closer to Him. Stories told involve tender memories of upbringings, church-going and never losing faith to overcoming addictions, facing illnesses or depressions of loved ones or themselves.

Entwined in the stories shines God’s love, mercy and grace as women promote relying on God, praying, reading the Scripture, keeping a journal or singing praises to overcome their hurt, shame, silent agony, guilt and sometimes devastating circumstances.

Take the raw, real life story of Doris. Rebellious at a young age, she was so addicted to alcohol that her children were almost taken away from her and her husband, who was once involved with pornography. Later when both turned their hearts to Jesus, the road was still tough, but she gives God the glory and credit through each day of her sobriety.

With tales of drug use, alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse, abortion, miscarriages, affairs, divorce, mental illness and depression along with seeing the presence of spiritual beings, all is laid at Jesus’s feet for redemption and forgiveness.

With a multitude of sorrow and sadness, Walker has forged the way for broken women to get past the dark shadow of their lives and move into the beautiful, bright, cleansing of Christ which may help others who are bogged down to see the Light.

This book was furnished by the publicist for review purposes.

This review will be posted on Bookpleasures, DeeperShopping and Amazon with links on Bookfun, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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When Mockingbirds Sing

Title: When Mockingbirds Sing
Author: Billy Coffey
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8821-9

“You said we were f-friends, and you’re the only f-friend I have. The R-rainbow M-man said you’d help me. But you don’t buh-lieve me, d-do you?” stuttering Leah insecurely questions in Bill Coffey’s novel, When Mockingbirds Sing.

This three hundred and twenty-nine page paperback book about young girl and her imaginary friend is targeted for young mature adults and older. With “hell” being used as mild profanity, there are no overtly sexual scenes, graphic violence or perverse language. Written as a Christian coming of age story, the topic of faith, grace and forgiveness is discussed with no distinct plan of eternal salvation. A ten point reading group guide is at the back of the book.

The Norcrosses have rid themselves of the city life of Alway to start life anew in the small, quiet town of Mattingly, where hopefully the past will not find them. Tom, a psychologist with inner struggles of his own, and Ellen, his apologetic wife, protect and shelter their stuttering nine year old daughter, Leah, who is withdrawn, shy and nervously scratches her worn thumbnail.

Being newcomers to the town flittering with mockingbirds, Leah’s parents throw their daughter a birthday party at their large house where Leah not only befriends the ever-talking, out-going, inquisitive Allie, but she encounters the Rainbow Man, an imaginary character and constant companion who foresees the future as he sings music with no beat to the naïve girl.

When the Rainbow Man helps Leah paint a stunning picture for Barney, an old forgotten man with a loveable but ill wife, the town’s people have to draw the line if they believe in the mysterious vision or listen to the skeptical Reverend Reggie’s admonitions to keep away from the strange child. The “spiritual not religious” family is torn between hiding Leah’s unique artistic gift and her stubborn yet faithful admiration of the fictional false prophet while they try to be analytical and objective in supporting their child. With past issues between man and wife, both parents take different routes to try to accept their daughter’s new-found beliefs.

Coffey writes with such emotion and faith in both God and loving one another that the reader is rapidly pulled into the town’s tumultuous atmosphere, feeling he or she is standing right there, next to Leah, as the citizens try to decide if the Still Small Voice of Maybe will witness another miracle done by the Rainbow Man.

This book was furnished by Booksneeze for review purposes.

This review will be posted on Booksneeze, Bookpleasures, BookFun, and Amazon with links on LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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The Bridge: Between Cell Block A and a Miracle is Psalm 91

The BridgeTitle: The Bridge: Between Cell Block A and a Miracle is Psalm 91
Author: Jackie Carpenter
Publisher: Xulon Press
ISBN: 978-1-61579-684-7

Do you ever wonder if God still does miracles in our everyday lives? Author Jackie Carpenter definitely has learned to trust in the Lord in her book, The Bridge: Between Cell Block A and a Miracle is Psalm 91, especially when she writes, “The only peace that I obtained was when I got into my prayer closet, closed myself off from the world, and crawled into the Book of Psalms.”

At one hundred and seventeen pages, this short paperback book can easily be read in a couple of hours. With no profanity but adult discussions about a murder case, the book is mainly targeted toward Christian believers who want to rely on God more than man in everyday trials and tribulations. A few grainy, cut and pasted photographs with typed overlays and newspaper headlines with partial articles are included that relate to the storyline. Key point Bible verses, mainly from Psalms, are dispersed among the chapters.

This quick read is about the author’s personal experience and viewpoint when her grown son accidently shoots and kills an illegal alien at a house he was constructing in Georgia in 2008. Explaining the true events through his mother’s eyes, Jason, married and father of a young boy, is arrested and put in jail for nine days for the felony murder and four other charges when a police deputy lies about the facts, two friends of the deceased have conflicting stories and the prosecuting attorney promotes it as murder, not an accident. Through the constant praying of family and friends during the ten month ordeal, Carpenter hands out “Psalm 91 Packets,” continually holds torn Bible pages for comfort in the courtroom and calls desperately on the Lord for a miracle.

By quoting so many heart-felt and encouraging verses from Psalms in the Bible, the reader feels the writer’s shock, pain and tears along with her path to realizing that God is ultimately in control of all things, and He knows the truth, outcome and reason both good and bad things happen to us.

Even though there is some repetition, Carpenter writes from her heart and soul as she explains how the miracle of her son’s five “not guilty” charges were orchestrated by the One who created the universe and cares deeply about each of us. As it states in Psalms 91, the book is a reminder that God promises, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in time of trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.”

This review will be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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