Thursday, August 17, 2017

BFB Review: Sinners in the hands of a Loving God

Does God's Wrath Define Christianity? Or Does God's Love? 
In his famous sermon -Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, - Puritan revivalist Jonathan Edwards shaped predominating American theology with a vision of God as angry, violent, and retributive. Three centuries later, Brian Zahnd was both mesmerized and terrified by Edwards's wrathful God. Haunted by fear that crippled his relationship with God, Zahnd spent years praying for a divine experience of hell. 
What Zahnd experienced instead was the Father's love--revealed perfectly through Jesus Christ--for all prodigal sons and daughters. 
In Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, Zahnd asks important questions like Is seeing God primarily as wrathful towards sinners true or biblical? Is fearing God a normal, expected behavior? And where might the natural implications of this theological framework lead us? 
Thoughtfully wrestling with subjects like Old Testament genocide, the crucifixion of Jesus, eternal punishment in hell, and the final judgment in Revelation, Zanhd maintains that the summit of divine revelation for sinners is not God is wrath, but God is love.




My Review:

We all know the Angry God trope: Humans were literal pieces of trash, and God sent a flood so he could start the whole game over.

In elementary school (before we learned not to discuss religion or politics) we would have a lot of discussions about this. The Korean Christians and the Catholic Christians stood by the idea that "just because God promised never to flood again, doesn't mean he won't burn the planet to the ground if we get out of hand." The Christians Not Otherwise specified tended to debate "Okay, but we got out of hand again and instead of burning the planet God sent Jesus."

Zahnd goes through this book describing his transition from team #BurnThePlanet to team #InfiniteSecondChances (Or, you know, his thesis statement) and the bulk of this book is why he changed teams. The references and well written arguments all lead to his conclusion that Jesus is Life itself embodied by love. (Or if you want to romanticize it, the Lamb of Revelation)

Overall, a well thought out book on God's love and why the Fire and Brimstone trope doesn't necessarily work anymore. Points off for the cover, though. Just doesn't do it for me.

Notice of material connection: I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tyndale review: WOW! The gospel in four words

For anyone looking for a fresh way to present the gospel to young children, Wow! The Good News in Four Words is a perfect resource. This whimsical and fun book outlines the gospel in a simple and memorable way (for both adults and kids!), using fun words to highlight the story. The book will present Creation/Genesis (Wow!), The Fall (Uh-oh . . .), Redemption/Jesus' Life and Sacrifice (Yes!), Restoration/The New Heaven (Aaahhhh), ending with one last Wow because we get to go out and tell the Good News! 














Durability: The dust jacket did not last long. But the pictures did engage my daughter and keep her from ripping the pages.

Story: Simple enough, though so simple you would think it would be a board book for a younger audience than a 3 year old.

Giftability: Fantastic gift for religious families.

Overall: 4 of 5. Could have been more challenging.

MP Newsroom review: Design your day

Days shouldnt live themselves. Heres a guide to making the most of each one.  

In Design Your Day, productivity guru Claire Diaz-Ortiz introduces the Do Less Method, a productivity and goal-setting model that will help you do more in less time and succeed more often.

When it comes to productivity, hard work is half of the battle. The first half—the crucial half—is planning well, and that’s what Claire helps you do, from start to finish.

From the big-picture to minutia, Claire walks you through every step of setting and achieving smart goals. She gives tips for brainstorming goals, choosing the best ones, and adjusting them to make them realistic. Then she helps you put key strategies in place to reach them, day-by-day, year-by-year.

Whether you want to finish a house project, lose weight, or write a book, Design Your Day—by someone who read 150 books as a first-year mom—is an all-in-one guide to crossing off your to-do list. When you take back your time and strategically use it, you will win more often and enjoy life along the way.
 


My Review:

I once read that if you read 5 non fiction books--quality books, mind you, academic ones--on any one subject, you would be an expert in that subject. Claire Diaz-Ortiz is certainy calling herslf a productivity guru, and claims to have read 150 books (were they all on productivity? we don't know) in one year while taking care of a new child.

Let's be fair. This is a pretty good resource to have in a library, or to give to someone who doesn't have pinterest. But these are also not original ideas. This book is not groundbreaking, or even particualrly motivating. The cover is nice, and it's nice to pick this off of a shelf instead of having to sort through pinterest boards. I just don't see this adorable little book swimming in a tank full of actual productivity sharks, who study human behavior for a living.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway - Jesus: The life and Ministry

Reflections on Christ, from a beloved spiritual writer
A. W. Tozer was a man of remarkable knowledge, an avid reader of Christian writers and philosophers from throughout the ages. But he meditated on the Bible. He was, like John Wesley, “a man of one Book and a student of many.”
Combine this with his poignant writing style and you have works like this onehigh thoughts of God brought low, yet no less moving. 
Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son features selections from Tozer’s writings on the God-man, Jesus Christ. It follows the chronology of Christ's earthly life and explores classic themes of Christology, helping readers better comprehend and appreciate Jesus’ person and work.
When you set out to study Christ, you want to behold His splendor the best you can. That’s why writers like A. W. Tozer are excellent guides: they love the Lord, know Him well, and yet have a way with the written word. They're able to lay the weight of glory on the human heart as few can.

Read Jesus and appreciate anew the Savior of the world and the power of the written word to glorify His name.




My review:

As many of these books I read, you would think I just join a theology class already. On that line of thinking, if I wanted to be preached to I would go to church. If you're writing a book, you need to be aware that you are at once reaching many people and one person. I want to learn about Christianity and God, not be called 'bretheren'.

Between the preaching, there were some interesting ideas, not the least among them the meaning of 'in the beginning'.

There's a lot of hemming and hawing and "Well answer my question and I'll answer yours" but let's be fair, it's a tough subject to tackle for chapter one.

Ultimately, this book is not my cup of tea. But the cover certainly is--I'm a sucker for a god cover.


I received this book free through a Goodreads Giveaway. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

MP Newsroom review: Created for More

If you ever feel like your devotions are disconnected from your day, like your quiet time is competing with your responsibilities, or like your spiritual walk is separate from a walk you take through the grocery store, you need this devotional.

You were created for more.

Devotions aren't supposed to be isolated from your life; the God who created you also calls you to create-whether that is a business, a family, a book, a photograph, a website, a sermon, or a meal for someone hungry.

By tying together our daily creations and our characteristics from God, Created for More will remind you of the life God is calling you to. Read your Bible with excitement, let prayer seep throughout your day, and see your devotion to God multiply as you rejoice in creating for Him.






My review: 

In general, I love devotionals. Particularly daily devotionals. It's like bible study, church, and theology class in 15 minutes a day. What I've been missing from previous devotionals though, is how to pray. I've been praying for a little while now, so I wouldn't say I'm new at it, but the prayer starters in this book are perfect for a jumping off point in each chapter. 

Devotionals also largely tend to be a solitary thing, but this book happens to have a companion website where you can share and talk about challenges with others who are reading this book. Even the challenges that take two people--hello, Internet! There's a website for that. 

While this is marketed toward creative people, it's important to mention there are great takeaways for everyone--from how to be humble with god, to how to be content and relax once in a while. It doesn't take much to tweak some of these challenges to apply to someone who works in an office job (*ahem*) if you're not so creatively inclined.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BFB Review: When God Made You

YOU, you... God thinks about you.
God was thinking of you long before your debut. 
From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved and a unique creation in our big universe is certain to help them spread their wings and fly. 
Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God's divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves. 
'Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knew
That the world needed someone exactly like you!








My Review:

Before we get into the story, let's talk about David Catrow, the Illustrator. The man who drew Molly Lou Melon. The man whose drawings I grew up with, whose drawings I now get to share with my daughter. Catrow's drawings hold a special place in my heart (largely because of the life he brings to curly hair). Thank you, David Catrow.

Now on to Matthew Paul Turner, who wrote this book. This is a lovely book with a great message for kids, which can place the foundation for deeper conversations about who they are and the extraordinary blessing it is that humans are made in God's image. Everyone is special, unique, and serves a purpose in God's greater plan, whether big or small. This can be a tough conversation to start, but this book opens the door.

While I'm not excited to read Turner's other works (25 books and not a real trend on what genre he writes/likes best), I am interested to read his other works. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tyndale review: Larger than life Lara

This isn't about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up. At least that's what Mrs. Smith, our English teacher, says. 

But the story is about ten-year-old Laney Grafton and the new girl in her class--Lara Phelps, whom everyone bullies from the minute she shows up. Laney is just relieved to have someone else as a target of bullying. But instead of acting the way a bullied kid normally acts, this new girl returns kindness for a meanness that intensifies . . . until nobody remains unchanged, not even the reader.

In a unique and multi-layered story, with equal parts humor and angst, Laney communicates the art of storytelling as it happens, with chapter headings, such as: Character, Setting, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax. And she weaves an unforgettable tale of a new girl who transforms an entire class and, in the process, reveals the best and worst in all of us.

This is a powerful and emotional story, which School Library Journal called "Thoroughly enjoyable and unexpectedly wry, . . . as intelligent as it is succinct."


My Review:

There's one thing that I know is true. I knew it from life, and this book brought back a lot of feelings and memories: kids are mean.

Bonus one: As emotional as this book is (even though, pre-motherhood I never would have cried, but....) it gave me hope. It gave me an inspiration to do all that I can to raise my daughter to be kind and strong. 

Bonus two: the chapter titles!!!! I love reading, and I loved English class. And I loved writing (even though my writing days are somewhat confined to documentation at work and book reviews right now) Oh, a child after my own heart, As heartbreaking as the book got, the chapter titles kept me going.

Con one: This book is so short! I guess it falls in line with the premise that a fifth grader is writing it, but there's so much more of Laney and Lara's world that I want to know and read about.

Con two: I wish the ending had been more like a fairy tale, but it's also important that it was realistic. So, I guess not really a con?

Overall, a great read. Thank you Tyndale publishers for letting me review this.