Category: books

Book Review – One Thing: How to Keep your Faith in a World of Chaos

I’m a voracious reader. I read constantly, and many of those books fall in the Christian Living category. So I’ve decided to write book reviews more regularly, in hopes that it will help my readers decide whether they want to read them. Or not—maybe I’ll save you money by helping you decide not to read it!

I’ll be reviewing new and old works; it isn’t uncommon for me to order something with a copyright date of 1987 if I think it is interesting. I also frequent used book aisles, and I love reading classic works. If you’d like to see a review of a particular book, drop me a line; I’ve probably read it.

Today’s review is on One Thing: How to Keep your Faith in a World of Chaos by Chuck and Pamela Pierce

There are 13 chapters. Each chapter revolves around one principle for living a better life. Every one of those principles is God-centered, and the entire book is full of anecdotes from their lives that serve to give the reader ‘nuggets’ to use in their own experience.

In chapter one, “Letting Go: Trusting God to be an Excellent Father,” Pamela shares a lot of their struggle with pregnancy and adoption. This helps the reader get to know a little bit about the couple and how strong their faith is.

Chapter 2 is called ”Chaos versus Simplicity: Understanding How to Function in Faith.” Through more of their own trials, we see how we can live by faith. One particularly transparent moment is when they had a discussion over the raising of hands in worship—something my own husband and I have discussed. “I recognized later that the enemy was trying to distract me from what God was about to do, but as we drove along the interstate highway I just wanted to pick a fight,” Pam admits.

Chuck (who did not believe in raising hands, in general) said, “You get desperate enough in all of your circumstances and you will raise your hands, stand on your head, or do whatever, to sense the lord’s presence.”

Can’t we all relate to that?

Chapter 3 “Don’t Be So Complex! Just Do the One Thing He Tells You” is relevant to every believer. On page 35 it says,

‘Many things around us exist to conform us into a way of thinking that negates simple faith and action. Reality is something not imagined or pretended, but the quality of something being true to life.’

I love this. It made me think about what the things are that exist merely to conform us. Consider all the ads that hit us from every side: TV commercials, half the daily newspaper, and ads on every side as well as popping up on the computer. We can’t get away from them.

Chapter 4 is “Lost and Found: Recovering Hidden Treasures” and is very short. It’s about finding lost items through God’s perfect timing.

Chapter 5 is “Out of the Mouth of Babes: How Faith can become Simple”. Pierce explains that faith comes through hearing God, and we tend not to do so because of the chaos in our lives. He shares many stories demonstrating the way we can hear God’s voice is we listen correctly. He relates how the Lord spoke to his heart and said, “Your borders are too narrow. But I can cross your borders, I can bring the supply that’s needed.”

Chapter 6, “Her Name is Maggie: The Power of Adoption” begins with a story about adopting a dog. It goes on to explain how God knows your name, your capabilities, and where you should be positioned.

Chapter 7 is “Please Pass the Biscuits: Finding Your Way Through Discipline.” It is a heartrending story of Pamela’s early life as her family moved from one place to the next, then she was sent to live with an aunt and uncle who eventually adopted her and her sister.  Pamela describes herself as a child who was not easy to love, but who learned it is valuable to do one thing well. She wisely comments that her adoption by this family made it easier to experience spiritual adoption later.

Chapters 8, 9 and 10 are longer and “meatier.” They could have stood alone as a book. They detail how to find security and, places of refuge, and how to adapt to change.

Chapter 11, “Pills and Bills,” discusses being in debt, freedom from debt, poverty, and giving. Chuck gives several points about giving, like “we give when we worship” and “we give when we respond to authority with generosity and blessing.”

Chapter 12 is about boundaries and our futures, and 13 reminds us not to repeat old patterns over and over. “The enemy,” Chuck says, “has another plan: to get us going in cycles.”

There are many helpful bulleted lists and helpful hints in the book besides the many faith-filled anecdotes. It is not a book of theology, but if you enjoy reading about others go through or if you want to read about how Christianity looks when the world isn’t perfect, read the book. Three butterflies.

 

A Big Announcement

Come Back to Jesus and Don't Bring your Blackberry

To all my faithful readers:

I’m happy to announce I’ll be leading my Bible Study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry online. I’ll do this at GoodReads (goodreads.com) on my author page. If you don’t have a GoodReads account, sign-up is quick and easy, I used my Google account and it simply connected. There’s a link in the right column if you are reading this on my blog page. Here is a direct link to the Book Club page.

“I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most“

I’ll also present it here on the blog as a duplication if you prefer; just let me know! I’m really excited because this will be my first time leading it online, except for the focus group that helped me correct it prior to publication; that group had several online participants.

The book is about how to clear out the unnecessary bits of your life so you have time to worship God better. I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most; they come up and thank me later. So, if you’re saying you don’t have time for it– perhaps this is exactly where you need to be?

You can get a copy of the book at Amazon or at your local bookstore. There are 2 versions: paperback and Kindle.

Also~ Another announcement. Some  readers subscribed through the RSS feed. Some subscribed another way and I’ve been inputting your emails manually. Just today I submitted them all to Feedburner so you can still get the posts via email, but you’ve received a subscription notice in your email. You need to click that to confirm the subscription. Trust me — Feedburner is a lot more reliable than me!

Til next time,

T.

Book Review: Faith Dare

I finished `The Faith Dare: 30 Days to Live Your Life to the Fullest’ by Debbie Alsdorf only a couple of days late. Not bad for me, I usually fall way behind. This was supposed to be read Aug. 1-30 and I finished Sept. 2.

Here is a slightly-longer-than-usual review of the book:

What Would Happen If You Lived Out Your Faith Every Day, In Every Situation? Jesus came to give us abundant life, to give us freedom from worry, fear, and the constant search for significance.

In the Introduction, the author says,

“Trusting God is a spiritual lifestyle to be learned. Walking out that faith takes a lifetime of baby steps in the direction of spiritual trust. As we grow, we learn how to trust God. We develop new habits of looking to him, new habits of processing and digesting the Word of God, new habits of living our faith, and new habits of relating to other people in our lives. New habits don’t happen overnight; they happen over time.” (p. 10)

So creating or rebuilding these new habits usually involves overcoming deeply ingrained wrong habits and beliefs. Most of us put our faith in human wisdom/human understanding. We’ve allowed the world to infiltrate our thought patterns, living habits—to a point that we miss out on God’s best for us. This author is trying to get us away from our worldly selves and into a godly thinking frame of mind.

After a lengthy introduction, we get down to business with 3 sections of ten days each. Each day’s reading is about 5 pages. Each day includes Today’s Praise/Prayer, Today’s Truth, Today’s Dare, a Journal section, Today’s Prayer, and Today I Believe. (It’s not as much as it sounds like! You can do this in maybe 15 minutes)
The sections are:
* Live Up! In Relationship to God
* Live In! In Surrender of Self
* Live Out! In Relationship to Others

Day 10, which I already blogged about here, spoke to me more than any other. Near the end of the book it seemed as if the author had run out of dares; somehow the words felt more hurried.
From the conclusion:

“Your life is no longer your own. Your life is not random. It is hidden in Christ. You are protected, shielded, care for, provided for…by Christ. You are covered by his faithfulness and power. To look up, focus your attention on what is biblically true rather than on what you are feeling.” (p. 228)

The book was a pleasure to read with my online Bible study friends. We discussed it once a week, pushing one another for deeper meaning and insight. Personally, I wished that the dares could have had more than one day, more time to soak in and live in them and ruminate on them. But of course, we can’t have a 30-week dare, can we? 4 stars.

Book Review The Merchant’s Daughter

The Merchant's DaughterThe Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! The Merchant’s Daughter is a new take on an old story, Beauty and the Beast. However it’s set in the 1300s. Annabel is the daughter of a wealthy merchant, but due to unthinkable circumstances she becomes an indentured servant to Lord Ranulf. He’s been injured in an accident and carries his scarred left hand against his body; his scarred face wears an eye patch. His manner is gruff and frightening to those beneath him.
Yet Annabel sees only the good in him….
I won’t give away the rest, but this was a pleasurable read. The best part is, although this is a Christianity-based story, the faith was skillfully woven in. It never feels forced or pushed upon the reader the way many Christian novels do. Part of that is the setting, a time when faith and life went hand-in-hand; much of it, though, is the skill of the author.
I will be looking for more books from Melanie Dickerson. 🙂

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Blessed Church, Robert Morris

Robert Morris is the founding senior pastor at Gateway Church in Texas, which in twelve years has grown from a living room to a megachurch with 24,000 members. Many people have asked him how he’s built such a church. In response, his latest book, The Blessed Church (Waterbrook Multnomah 2012), is a discussion of the principles for building a godly, growing church; he calls these nuggets “Keys to a Blessed Church.”

The book is aimed mainly at pastors, but it would be a useful read for any leader or elder who is interested in applying a different strategy to church leadership. Usually, churches apply one of two models for leadership; Morris has successfully created a third. Having been a church staff member myself for some years, I was eager to see what he had to say.

At the beginning I found the book a difficult read; the writing is choppy. He states that he’s not a writer and, well, he’s right! Too, the beginning of the book was a summary of the early days, so part of my problem may have been that I was eager to get to the meat: what are the secrets to building a strong, cohesive, godly church?

Morris is remarkably open, honest, and humble about the church he leads. He shares insight as a man of vast experience, knowledge, and vision. Again and again, he reminds the reader that this is God’s story, not his own. Every key statement is backed by Scripture passages. By the middle of the book, I was dying to go hear him preach.

Some of Morris’ Keys are:
•You can’t communicate vision unless the vision is from the Lord.
•If you are called to pastor, you are called to lead.
•The true shepherd models where he wants the sheep to go. He leads by example.
•Power doesn’t lie in the office of pastor or in the office of elder. Power in the church lies with Jesus.

Morris states: “True and lasting unity comes from valuing relationship above corporate accomplishment, personal fulfillment, and mere policy preferences. Remember: “Relationships above issues.””

This, I believe, is why his church has grown. It’s not about the numbers, or growth. It’s about feeding the sheep and maintaining relationship. He believes that growth without church health is not sustainable.

I recommend this book to anyone who is considering revamping their church’s organizational structure, or who is starting a new church. It would also be a fascinating read to those who are curious about the inner workings of a church.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for free in exchange for creating this review.