Friday, March 31, 2017

Cries from the Cross by Erwin Lutzer

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This is a good book. It's small, it doesn't take long to read and it gave me a different perspective to the sayings of Jesus on the cross.

Erwin takes the seven sayings of Jesus and calls them:
A Cry for Pardon
A Cry of Assurance
A Cry of Compassion
A Cry of Anguish
A Cry of Suffering
A Cry of Victory
A Cry of Submission

In a sense, we were there at the cross, because it was for my sins and your sins that Jesus had to die, that He had to take on the anguish of suffering so we could live forever with Him, so we could be forgiven.

A lot of times when I read books like this, I have a few quotes that I give on my review. I don't have that today. Erwin's writing is simple and easy to understand, yet it holds some good truths that are meant to be held on to. He also quotes from songs that were familiar to me, which I really liked. One of them was the song, "And Can it Be?" Think about these words as it relates to Jesus' sayings on the cross, of his cry to the Father of why was He forsaken, His cry of anguish.

"And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"

Amazing, God loved me so much He was willing to allow my sin to pursue Him to death and immeasurable pain so I could go free. What amazing love.

I enjoyed this book and am planning to read a few more of Erwin Lutzer's books. I was given this book by Moody Publishers and am not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Grace Behind Bars by Bo and Gari Mitchell

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An Unexpected Path to True Freedom

Starting a church, rapid-fire decisions, stretched too thin. This describes Bo Mitchell before 1992. A 10 minute discussion and decision with a "trusted banker" to do a loan for two friends who had helped out with the church plant landed Bo on the FBI list and earned him a prison sentence.The loan seemed innocent enough, he did it, paid it back and moved on. It took seven years for the law to catch up and when it did, Bo was honest and forthright. He made the initial contact with the FBI, he showed integrity in his dealings and he landed in prison. Bo took full responsibility for his actions, even though he had been entirely innocent in the whole scandal.

And, I believe, by taking responsibility for his actions and assuming the blame and bearing the guilt and the hurt to his family, is what changed Bo's life. He determined to use his prison experience to his benefit. He used that time to seek God, to pray, to change his life. Now his time spent with his family was intentional, there was nothing to distract them when they were together, no TV, no radio. They just talked.

When he got out, he was a changed man and he determined to stay that way. He had an accountability group to hold him responsible and he was open to their opinions.

It was a good book about taking the seemingly ridiculous and awful in life and using it for good, for allowing the bad to make a better person out of Bo.  While the writing isn't real suspenseful or grab-your-attention like some books, the content is solid and something that everyone could learn from. I really enjoyed reading it. I want to remember the lessons Bo learned and use the tough times in life to grow me as a daughter of God, to learn to say with Bo that I've never been better. That is his response when someone asks how he is, "Never better."

This book was given me by Tyndale House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

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Cimarron Creek Trilogy

Aww!!  This was one of those novels, mostly romance with a bit of mystery tossed in to keep you wondering. Lydia shows up in Cimarron Creek only to find out her fiancee has disappeared and left behind a pregnant wife. Other mysterious things keep happening and she and her friend, the sheriff brainstorm about it. Eventually, of course, they fall in love and solve the mysteries. That's the short version

There were a couple of life lessons that I thought of when I finished the book. I'm not sure if I can remember both of them now, but the main was this thing of jealousy. As it turns out, the sheriff's first cousin and good friend was behind all the mysterious crimes that kept happening, the worst resulting in the death of their aunt. Why? Because he was jealous. All his life, his older brother was praised as the best around and he didn't feel he got his deserved credit. Then his cousin becomes sheriff when he wanted to be and so he goes out to prove how incompetent his cousin is. It culminates in him committing suicide rather than go to jail. How can someone allow jealousy to consume them like that? I'm gonna guess it starts small. It's a good reminder for me to not let things like that bug me and to truly rejoice with those who rejoice.

Along with that, a good reminder as parents not to show favoritism. Each child is unique and lovable in their own ways and it is our job to make sure they know they are loved and not praise one above the other.

Forgiveness was another good theme in here. Lydia had to forgive her fiancee for running off and marrying someone else. She was able to do this and to hire his wife as her assistant in the candy store of which I would have liked to work. The candy sounded very yummy

So it was a nicely written book that was a fun read and if you dig, you can uncover some truths to apply to your own life.

This book was given me by Revell Books and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

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This has got to rank as one of the better fiction books I've read in awhile. I know I say that a lot, but this one was a bit different from the norm.

It was fiction, yes, but the theme of the story has some basis in truth, probably more truth than you or I want to even recognize. It's the fictional story behind how our clothes are made, the crowded conditions that can and do result in factories burning and people dying inside from fire or outside from jumping out of windows, the forced labor that some workers endure, and also the rape that can happen as well. While Presto, the main corporation in the story, is purely fictional, the question is raised, do you know where our clothes, our toys, our electronics, etc. come from? Are you okay with having your things made by people who are forced to work in crowded environments for little pay and who can suffer abuse at the hands of supervisors and managers?

This was a thought-provoking book that makes me stop and consider free trade items a little more carefully than I have in the past? What difference will it make for me? I'm not sure, but I would like to think I would try a little more to look for a better option. And better options can be hard to come by, because a lot of big corporations don't list where their things are made or where their supplies come from.

The book does jump back and forth a bit between two main characters, but I thought Corban did a good job of weaving everything together so it was easy to follow. It is not a Christian book. I thought I read somewhere on a Christian book website that was selling this book that they were aware that it was not a Christian book, but the overall theme of the book was good enough that they were choosing to list it.  There are just a couple words I would not want to use, but overall I can't complain about the quality of the book. But for any potential readers, I would want you to be aware of this. It is published by Thomas Nelson, which could raise some questions about other books that they publish, but so far I have never come across anything else. I make this disclaimer because I was reading some other reviews and saw that people had a problem with the language and the fact that it was a Christian publisher. Normally, I would be all over something like that too, but like I said, somewhere I thought I read that comment I shared above and therefore wasn't expecting a Christian book.

I very much enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a different kind of fiction. I think this might be his fourth book or so and I would like to read his other ones as well.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith

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Ruth's Story

I often shy away from Biblical fiction. I'm not sure why, except I think I often wonder if it really happened like that. To make a story, so much has to be added to the Biblical account and I think I can start questioning if there is any element of truth in it. I guess, like I said, I'm not sure why I steer away from it.

However, I read Jill's story of Ruth and I loved her writing. She is a very interesting author and has a very good way of bringing the story alive and, at the same time, making sure the parts that are in the Bible are true to account.

She brought out things about Ruth that I had never thought of. With Ruth being so willing and determined to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, could there have been a piece of Ruth that was dissatisfied with the gods of Moab, with what would have waited for her back there? Was Orpah more willing to go embrace the culture and the gods and accept whatever awaited her.

Jill brings Boaz out as a recent widower, which was something I had never thought of, though it would make sense that Boaz would have been married before because of his age.

She also brings out some of Ruth's possible inner struggles with Naomi's bitterness with what life had dealt her and Naomi's refusal to acknowledge that Ruth was any good in her life, at the beginning of their return to Bethlehem. This was something I had wondered about, if Ruth didn't feel a little less than because of Naomi's comments.

And finally, the theme of redemption comes through, giving a chance for Mahlon's lineage to live on, giving Naomi a new lease on life, new birth through Obed, and ultimately our Saviour Jesus through the line of a Moabite woman. Isn't it amazing?

Anyway, I really enjoyed this story and wouldn't mind reading Jill's other Biblical fiction stories that she has written.

I received this book from Revell Books and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

When God Made you by Matthew Paul Turner

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Illustrated by David Catrow

This is a children's book, for ages 3 to 8. It's a nice hardcover medium-sized book I would say that talks about being special to God. How he planned your culture, your head shape, your toes and your nose. It talks about how you were made in God's image and God loves to see you being you. It talks about God dreaming about you, which I find a little unusual. I have never really thought of God dreaming, but the book is written in rhyme, so sometimes you have to ad lib a bit to make it work, I guess?

For the most part, I would say the writing is playful and charming as the book's description says. Like I said, I'm not sure about God dreaming part, which is mentioned a couple times, but overall I think the moral of the story is that God made you exactly as you are, so go out and live like that.

The illustrations are described as vivid and fantastical. I guess that is one way to put it. I try not to be critical of books, especially illustrations because I can't draw at all, but this book is, in my mind, just not pretty at all. There might be a scene with caricature like people, which is fine, but then there will be just some weird colors and shapes thrown in with it that don't seem to go with the story at all. When I opened the book, that was some of the first things that jumped out at me and I haven't really been able to move beyond that yet in my opinion of the illustrations.

So overall, the book is all right. I will probably keep it, but it's not what I would give as a gift. I like children's book that are a little less "fantastical" I guess.

This book was given me by Blogging For Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...