Let Hope In – review

Let Hope InSometimes you read a book because you’ve read the author’s previous writings and you like what he/she offers. I picked up Let Hope In based on the recommendation of someone I know and trust. He spoke highly of the author, Pete Wilson, so I thought I would give his book a read. It was a good recommendation.

In Let Hope In Pete Wilson offers four choices people can make that have the potential to be life changing. In the opening chapter, Wilson makes this statement that provides the foundation for the rest of his book: “I’m learning that everyone needs healing. Everyone has been hurt. Some of us have been hurt worse than others, but no one escapes this life without some emotional bruising along the way. And if we haven’t dealt with the hurt from past, it will continue to impact everything we touch.”

Whatever our past looks like, everyone has some type of pain or regret and Wilson offers some insight and encouragement in how to let God bring hope in and help us move past our past. Wilson uses both scripture and stories from people he has encountered to provide practical ways to allow hope into our past experiences and regrets.

One chapter that stood out to me addressed the topic of shame. I appreciated how Wilson addressed the issue of shame. He expressed it this way: Shame is not like guilt. Guilt says, ‘I did something wrong,’ while shame says ‘I am wrong.’…Shame says you are not normal” I thought how he both defined and then addressed the issue was helpful and gave a new perspective on the shame our past can bring.

Let Hope In is a practical resource for anyone who struggles with a difficult past or who desires to walk alongside others working through past issues. I found myself highlighting phrases along the way that were helpful. All of us have a past. How we deal with that past makes the difference.

(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

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You’ll Get Through This – Max Lucado

You'll Get Through ThisSeveral years ago I remained pretty diligent at reading any book Max Lucado wrote. I remember titles like Six Hours One Friday and He Still Move Stones among others. When I added his latest, You’ll Get Through This, to my Kindle, I was somewhat in awe of the number of books Lucado has written. Yet with all those pages and pages of written words, Lucado brings a fresh, challenging perspective to the life of Joseph. He draws out practical applications from the follower of God who faced multiple challenges through his life, yet remained faithful.

Two things really stand out in my mind about Lucado’s latest offering. One is how he crafts words to communicate his message. His use of descriptive words and phrases not only keeps the reader engaged in the chapter, but also brings the subject matter to life. The second strength of this book is how Lucado applies the principles he draw out of the life of Joseph to just about any individual who might be reading the book. He speaks to the married and the single, the young and the old, the one who is content and the one who might be struggling, the convinced and the one who is seeking. Lucado is able to hit just about any person reading his book.

As always, Lucado is quotable. He is able to take a compelling principle and make it memorable. A couple of phrases I highlighted: “This planet is God’s waiting room. While you wait, God works.” “God recycles into righteousness.” Far from just trying to be clever, Lucado uses multiple passages of scripture to point the reader back to the God that Joseph served and in Whom he placed his trust.

Check out Lucado’s book and learn valuable lessons from the life of Joseph.

7 Men review

7 men7 Men gives a brief look into the lives of seven men who influenced the people of their time period and whose impact still endures today. Most readers will recognize the names of the men in this book, but probably don’t know a lot about each man’s story. The men featured in the book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paull II and Chuck Colson.

Obviously each man is recognizable for something they accomplished – George Washington for being the first President of the US, Eric Liddell for refusing to run in his strongest Olympic event because it was held on Sunday, Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier in baseball. What 7 Men focuses on are the circumstances leading up to or following those well-known events. The author highlights the decisions and choices that were made that lead up to those notable accomplishments and what occurred afterward. For example, most of the chapter on Eric Liddell discusses the direction of his life following his Olympic experience. Most people know about his gold medal. Many probably don’t know what he did when the games were over.

7 Men provided an honest look at the lives of these men. The author shared both their successes and their shortcomings. It was a good read that might prompt the reader to investigate more information about these men than what these shorter biographies provide.

Gods At War

gods at warIdols are defeated not by being removed, but by being replaced.” Kyle Idleman ends many of the chapters in Gods At Warwith that phrase. Through this offering, Idleman seeks not only to help the reader identify what idols strive to take the place of God in his/her life, but what steps to take to remove that particular idol.

Last summer we studied Kyle’s previous book, Not A Fan, with our youth group. I know of several individuals and groups that worked through that book and were challenged by what he wrote. I was anticipating much of the same in Gods At War and found it to be a good read. The author brought the issue of idolatry into our modern context and identified several ways that idols still exist in our lives.

While not just pointing out the problem, the author also provided tools to help the reader deal with the problem of idolatry. At the end of the chapter, Idleman offered questions that served to identify if a particular issue had become an idol and also some steps to remove that idol by replacing it.

An added bonus in the book were the stories of people who had overcome various idols. I was fortunate to read the Kindle version of the book which contained links to brief video clips of the people whose stories were shared. It brought to life not only the pain that idolatry can bring, but hope that those idols can be replaced.

Gods At War is a good read for both individuals and groups to work through together.

(I received this book through the BookSneeze program in exchange for my review)

Draw the Circle

draw tge circleI was pretty excited when I saw that Draw the Circle was an available book in the BookSneeze list. I’ve read all of Mark Batterson’s previous books and appreciate his writing style. Several months ago I was able to purchase multiple copies of The Circle Maker to make available to some of our leaders here. Draw the Circle is a continuation of that book.

In this offering, Batterson builds on the principles of The Circle Maker, but also includes stories and testimonies he has received from people who have read his book. He designed this book to be a 40 day devotional and it came at a good time for me as I was just finishing up a Bible reading plan.

I have found Batterson to be quite quotable and my Kindle version of the book has a list of highlights from various chapters. While Batterson is a proponent of believers spending time in prayer, he doesn’t see prayer (or drawing prayer circles) as a way to get God to do what we want Him to do. In one chapter of the book, Batterson writes: “Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them.”

Just a few pages later, Batterson makes this statement: “If we’re being completely honest, most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God’s glory.”

Draw the Circle is a good resource for those looking to grow in the discipline of prayer. I found both Batterson’s words and the stories he shared to be both helpful and challenging.

Jesus is ______________

Jesus-Is-3DAlong with a cool title (and a cool book cover), Judah Smith’s latest book was a good read. While I don’t think he really said anything brand new, he does write about Jesus in a fresh way to remind us of not only of who Jesus is, but how He looks at us. I appreciated Smith’s transparency about his life and ministry, his humor throughout the book and the way he presents Jesus.

One of more compelling quotes from the book was this one: “If you want to know what God thinks of you, or what God would say about your sin, or how God would respond it he were face-to-face with you, just look at Jesus, and you’ll know.”

Judah Smith’s church launched the “Jesus is                       ” campaign in Seattle to get Jesus on the minds of people in the city.  In this book, Smith offers a look at Jesus that is far from what people might think about Him.  In one chapter he shares how Jesus is Grace.  Some people (especially church people) don’t want to go too crazy on the grace angle because people might start sinning.  I really like what Smith wrote next and it depicts his humor pretty well:  “News flash: they are already sinning.  People don’t need grace to sin.  They need grace to deal with the sin they already have.”  Jesus is not surprised or shocked by our sin; that’s why He came.

Smith gives us a picture of Jesus who knows us deeply, knows all about our sin and humanity, yet still invites us to relationship with Him.  He even loves us.  In the book, Smith shows Jesus as Friend, as Grace, as The Point, as Here and as Happy.

It is a good read for an individual seeking to know who Jesus is and for the person who is a follower of Jesus.  The book would also make a good study for a small group to really dig into the passages Smith presents to talk about who Jesus is.  If you get a chance, grab a copy of Jesus is                        .

(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own)

Who Do You Think You Are – a review

who-do-you-think-you-are-bookIn his latest offering, Mark Driscoll writes about the importance of finding our identity in Christ and not in our accomplishments or failures. Through the pages of the book Driscoll shares stories from people who have wrestled with their identity in Christ in light of past experiences. One woman talks of surviving brain cancer along with struggling with some issues with her family. In referring to her past experiences she says this: “They may help explain me, but they don’t define me.”

In the opening chapters Driscoll identifies a distinction between a biography and a testimony. A biography is about person’s life, accomplishments and determination. A testimony is about Jesus and how He steps in to be our Savior. Our story is more about our testimony – who we are in Christ and what He has done for us – than a biography based on our own efforts and experiences.

Each of the chapters start with the phrase “I Am” and each spells out a different aspect of our identity in Christ. To help explain our identity, he walks through the book of Ephesians and uses Paul’s words to help us see who God wants us to be.

While I thought all of the chapters were well written, I thought the chapters on suffering and spiritual gifts were well written. Driscoll ends each chapter with the scripture references he used. It is obvious he spent quite a bit of time in study as we wrote this book.

Who Do You Think You Are is a good read on our identity in Christ and a good resource for those studying the letter to the church in Ephesus. He uses a lot of scripture throughout the book, but also adds personal stories from people who have walked through these identity issues. It is a good read.

(I received this book from BookSneeze.com in exchange for my review)