The Imitation of Christ

Watkins, James N. Kempis, Thomas A. The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions In Today’s Language. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

imitationofChrist

SUMMARY:
As a classic devotion read by many for the past 500 years, author James Watkins updates the original in his compilation, The Imitation of Christ. Modernizing the language and text which was originally written in Latin yet staying true to the meaning and intent, this classic rendering is sure to be available for many more years to even more readers. Part imitation Christ, part imitating Christ’s character, the included 90 devotions includes scripture passages, contemporary words, and section headings. Bringing a classic into the present and making it accessible to future generations, The Imitation of Christ claims to have been read second only to the Bible…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a humble and faith-filled introduction to his new book, the author shares the impact of this book on his life. Due to that strong impact, he decided to compile and edit into today’s language, that very book. With a beautiful cover, a more compact size, an updated and useable set-up, and true to the meaning focus, The Imitation of Christ is a wonderful devotional book. By no means a quick read, the included devotions are thought-provoking, gentle, soul-stirring and life changing. Appearing to take little credit for his accomplishment, the author absolutely deserves credit for the positive influence on today’s era.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Imitation of Christ from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

 

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Lifedeck

Lull, Greg. Lifedeck: Balance The Four Corners Of Your Crazy Life And Be Happier Than You Ever Thought Possible. USA: CrossLink Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
lifedeckAn out-of-control, crazy, unbalanced life can create havoc on the road through life. Based on the four corners of life: spiritual, physical, relational and financial, pastor and author Greg Lull examines each area. Through personal anecdotes, recollections of friends, Bible stories and explanations, Lifedeck shares, considers, instructs and encourages balance within the four corners. Events, stages, intention, and control are all explored in relation to balancing, simplifying, un-crazying, and responding to situations, many of which attack us at the same time. Finding your own personal profile, plan and action contribute to true happiness with God in control and at the front.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Honestly, hoping this would not be just another self-help book with lists of actions needed, I was very surprised and encouraged to find myself easily reading it from cover-to-cover with my interest intact. The personal stories were reassuring, the Bible characters relate-able, the style interesting, the message inspiring, and the chapter questions intriguing, lending to the importance of responses to situations of imbalance. I really liked his example of the egg and the potato…when placed in hot water, one becomes hard and the other soft. It really made me consider my own responses which led me to realize I need to work on my own balances.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Lifedeck from BookCrash for my honest review*

Proverbs Prayers

Mason, John. Proverbs Prayers: Praying the Wisdom of Proverbs for Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
ProverbsprayersAiming to help others pray the Proverbs scriptures, John Mason writes from his own experiences and life changes having prayed the Proverbs himself. With guidance to read each Proverb and then pray the corresponding prayer, Proverbs Prayers provides the tools necessary to experience God’s presence, wisdom and strength in life as never before. Set-up as a friendly devotional in thirty concise sections filled with magnitude, blessing and grace, the Proverbs principles are chronicled and noted at the end for a quick reference.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Such punch encapsulated in a smaller devotional book! Taking the approach of studying the scriptures in a smaller-scale method, I thought this book on the Proverbs was perfect. Reading the scripture and praying each included prayer kept everything in one handy place giving me the necessary time to concentrate on the devotion. My favorite part was the conclusion listing of the Proverb principles with the coordinating scripture and brief thought. A perfect gift, devotional, Bible study or personal tool, Proverbs Prayers even comes complete with a beautiful peaceful cover.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Proverbs Prayers from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Irresistible Community

Donahue, Bill. The Irresistible Community: An Invitation To Life Together. grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
irresistiblecommunitySet around the topics of table, towel and truth, The Irresistible Community explains and encourages the need to be a part of a group. Acceptance, inclusion and ownership coincide in fellowship with Jesus. Modeling the relationship of Jesus with his disciples, Bill Donahue stresses the importance of belonging to a community for all…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I found the organization of this book to be very effective and creative. Introducing each disciple at the beginning of each chapter was a unique approach which set the stage for community involvement. Coordinated into three sections, (table=manners, any community setting, picking your seat…towel=serving, not giving up, arrangement at table…truth=honesty, knowing the difference, being kind), I was able to connect as the theme continued entirely throughout the book. Belonging can be such a powerful tool in bringing people to faith, along with the influence of being a member of a local neighborhood, both ideas which are developed in attainable manners. Perfect as a Bible study or ministry, The Irresistible Community was well done.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Irresistible Community from Baker Publishing Group for my honest review*

Boundless

Bishop, Bryan. Boundless: What Global Expressions Of Faith Teach Us About Following Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
boundlessTraveling the world as a researcher for Youth with a Mission, Bryan Bishop experiences different religions following Jesus in unique, cultural ways. Challenging his own beliefs and way of thinking, as well as those of his readers, the author presents more culturally-tied expressions of faith with Jesus as the main focal point. Though different in customs and practices, the ultimate goal is the same.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Living in such a diverse world with emphasis on keeping customs and cultures alive, I found this book to be very thought-provoking and interesting. Unraveling some of the assumed conceptions, author Bryan Bishop shares his personal experiences in an easy, inviting manner. Perfect for a Bible Study (with included material), sermon topics, ministry or personal knowledge, Boundless is sure to provide new insights, answer questions, pose new thoughts and respect cultures while evangelizing Jesus. Though everyone doesn’t fit into a tidy religious box, the end result- being followers of Jesus- is worth the time spent. (Love the cover!)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Boundless from Baker Books for my honest review*

While My Soldier Serves

Melson, Edie. While My Soldier Serves: Prayers For Those With Loved Ones In The Military. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
soldierDuring the difficult time of her son’s deployment, author Edie Melson spent hours praying for his safety. Realizing she wasn’t able to keep him safe herself, she turned to the One who could, God. In her book, While My Soldier Serves, she shares prayers for the soldier serving as well as the person at home. Set into sections with many topics (fear, peace, patience, faith,strength, protection, courage), each page-length prayer includes a quote, prayer and scripture verse.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect for Memorial Day as we remember those who have served (or are currently serving), While my Soldier Serves is full of prayers that may sometimes be hard to start. Written for anyone who has a family member, relative, neighbor, or friend serving, this beautiful book of prayers is sure to encourage, strengthen and speak to the heart. Wonderful as a gift, ministry or personal use, the topics covered are sure to resonate and comfort many.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of While My Solder Serves from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Worry Less So You Can Live More

Rubietta, Jane. Worry Less So You Can Live more: Surprising, Simple Ways To Feel More Peace, Joy And Energy. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
worryEveryone experiences worry. Worry about money, children, parents, careers, mortgages, safety…life. In Worry Less So You Can Live More, pure pleasure and assurance are enjoyed when God is in control of tomorrow. Worry can be exchanged for delight in God which allows child-like faith and happiness. Encouraging, uplifting, and complete with Bible verses and discussion questions, Jane Rubietta shares personal stories and struggles while she tries to worry less…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Women worry…lots. The author, Jane Rubietta, is no exception. With lots of experience and insight, she shares many ways in which to look up towards God, realizing He is in control and worry will not change anything. Through humor, personal anecdotes, Scriptures, poems, and inspiration, I appreciated the message which was shared. Often we live our lives as “worry warts”, missing the many blessings we could be enjoying. Though not always easy to stop worry, this book caused me to stop and “smell the flowers” as I considered how much worry affects life.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Worry Less So You Can Live More from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Esther

Hunt, Angela. Esther, Royal Beauty: A Dangerous Beauty Novel. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
estherShared from two differing points of view, Hadassah (Esther) and Harbonah (an eunuch of the king), Angela Hunt weaves the story of Esther in new light. Taken as a young girl and chosen as the wife of the king, Esther is called upon to save her people though hiding her identity. Told from accurate detail yet mingled with fiction, Esther is a book of a beautiful woman who was designed by God for a purpose.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Following a personal goal to try new genres, I read Esther; however, I did not truly care for the novel. While the concept was intriguing, the book did not keep my interest for long. The balance of history and fiction was disjointed in that the sections told through the perspective of Harbonah, became didactic – or in other words, it became too much of a history textbook experience. Though Esther had a purpose in saving her people (the Jews), this aspect of the Bible story was not drawn to the forefront of the novel; thus, the opportunity to expound on Esther’s beauty as a gift designed for God’s purposes was missed. The story of Esther appeared to be used as an opportunity to take liberties that result in content that may be too graphic for a conservative reader’s taste or a younger audience. Esther is part of the Dangerous Beauty series with Bathsheba and Delilah due out in the future.

RATING:
2 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Esther, Royal Beauty from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Your Life Still Counts

Miles, Tracie. Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
livelifeThough shame and regret often are allowed to define people, Tracie Miles sets out to show how a person’s past can be part of a beautiful future when healing and grace are received. Using the past to shape the future, God has a purpose for each that depends on history, decisions, choices and forgiveness. Full of many personal stories, thoughts to ponder and tons of encouragement, Your Life Still Counts provides the reasons to live life as designed by God.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With many shared stories from many different people, Tracie Miles also shares her own hard past. Using examples, purpose ponderings (questions to consider), scripture and explanations of God’s plan for each, the author promotes forgiveness, healing, direction and redemption to be used to reach out and minister to others to find the same. Though not always an easy read in terms of information, Your Life Still Counts would be wonderful as a Bible Study, Women’s Group or an Outreach Ministry. I appreciated the honesty with which the author wrote; I appreciated the honest message which she shared.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Your Life Still Counts from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Unshockable Love

Burke, John. Unshockable Love: How Jesus changes the world through imperfect people. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
unshockableOnly imperfect people can change the world…which means everyone has that chance to make an impact. Having studied Jesus and his interactions with people in the Bible- not just the words and messages of Jesus but the social interactions and attitudes towards those people by Jesus-John Burke shares short stories and real-life examples of people reaching out and witnessing to “shocking” people. The end result? All involved were impacted and brought closer to God…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Turning to those people who needed him most, Jesus surrounded himself with “shockable” people. Very relevant and relative to society today, “shockable” people still need love. John Burke does a wonderful job in this book of sharing love and acceptance of messy folks, resulting in a change in all. The message conveyed within was well-received due to the interesting and very plausible accounts written as well as the engaging style. A bit unsure of what to expect when I started reading, I am glad I pursued it. Definitely worth the time; definitely a book to be shared.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Unshockable Love from Baker Books for my honest review*