Top reads of 2012

Love_DoesLove Does by Bob Goff–This book rocked my socks. An easy read that's inspiring, engaging, and all around fun. Mr. Goff convicts us to put love into action by embracing whimsy and engaging the stories unfolding around us.

Freeman_Graceful-3DGraceful by Emily Freeman–Though written for teenage girls, my friends and I (all college grads) used this book as a weekly discussion starter. Mrs. Freeman speaks to the good girl in all of us and challenges us to live lives of grace in His abundant freedom.  

Revolution barnaRevolution by George Barna because it's encouraging to know the Church is radically alive among our generation even if we don't go to church. 

The-Beautiful-Side-of-Evil-Michaelsen-Johanna-9780890813225The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelson–Through Mrs. Michaelson's story of her journey of redemption from the occult, I gained a better understanding of how to engage in the spiritual warfare we often forget about. 

Adam 250Adam by Ted Dekker–a fast-paced story full of near death experiences, a little bit of romance, and lots of mystery, this thriller exposes the evil we are all capable of and the beautiful redemption of Love. 

Another good re-read [because the movie came out] this year was Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

 

What did you read in 2012? 

Top reads of 2011

Think by John Piper

Think

"All thinking, all learning, all education, and all research is for the sake of knowing God, loving God, and showing God" ~John Piper

A logical approach to using your mind for God's glory. 

Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

Erasing-hell

Erasing Hell dives into the scriptures in hopes of finding the truth about the afterlife of those who do not say yes to Jesus. The answers they come to are pretty clear but ultimately the decision about what to do with them is up to the reader…

Click here to read my review

 

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss

Stepping-heavenward

 

Instead of going to prayer-meetings to get into a 'good frame,' we should live in a good frame from morning till night, from night till morning, and prayer and praise would be only another form for expressing the love and faith and obedience we had been exercising amid the pressure of business.

Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward   Click here to read my review

 

Mirror Ball by Matt Redman

Mirror ball

"All the big dreams and visions we work toward are within reach if we will harness our gifts and energies and pull together in one direction" ~Matt Redman

A beautiful series of vignettes and insight from personal experiences about "living boldly and shining brightly for the glory of God"

 

Heaven Trilogy by Ted Dekker

Heaven trilogy

A gripping page turner telling the same story three entirely different ways–God's relentless pursuit of man.

 Souvenirs of Solitude by Brennan Manning

Souvenirs of solitud
A series of devotions that challenge and encourage.

 

What did you read in 2011? Any recommendations for 2012?

 

Book Review: Erasing Hell

I didn’t really want to write this book review mostly because of the way it might be received. It’s a tough and unpopular topic that many of us don’t want to approach. But as the authors say, it’s necessary. “We cannot afford to be wrong on this issue” because “this is not about doctrine but about destinies”

Erasing Hell, written by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, explores what the Bible has to say about Hell. It dives into the scriptures in hopes of finding the truth about the afterlife of those who do not say yes to Jesus. The answers they come to are pretty clear but ultimately the decision about what to do with them is up to the reader. Chan and Sprinkle acknowledge that though most of us don’t really want to or feel like embracing the truth about hell, we do. They explain that “God is compassionate and just, loving and holy, wrathful and forgiving. We can’t just sideline His more difficult attributes to make room for the more palatable ones” They remind us that His ways are higher than our ways and encourage the reader not to be embarrassed of the ways God has chosen to reveal Himself. Chan and Sprinkle close the book with some frequently asked questions. Among them, they answer the question “How can God be loving and still send people to hell?” in the most understandable way I’ve read so far.

Though sometimes hard to swallow, this book helped change my perspective. The statement “It’s not about doctrine but about destinies” really hit me. It made me view people differently. I mean, as much as so-and-so gets on my nerves, would I really want them to spend eternity separated from God in eternal punishment? It takes a while to digest, and I’m not exactly sure how to respond to these truths in regards to my relationships. But I do know that it takes courage to believe and act upon them and I pray that the Spirit will guide us along the way.

Even though you may not want to read it, remember that just because you are uninformed of the truth does not mean that it is nonexistent. And this is not about doctrine but about destinies. I recommend this book and I hope you have the courage to read and act on the truths it discusses.

Book Review: Stepping Heavenward

Instead of going to prayer-meetings to get into a 'good frame,' we should live in a good frame from morning till night, from night till morning, and prayer and praise would be only another form for expressing the love and faith and obedience we had been exercising amid the pressure of business.

Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

This is just one of the nuggets of wisdom found in Stepping Heavenward. Currently this book is quite high on my list of recommendations. It is a timeless source of encouragement for all women striving to walk with God. 

Stepping Heavenward is written as though it were a journal. We follow the writer, Katy, from her 16th birthday until her journal runs out (which I’m guessing is around her forties). Candidly written, the reader is made privy to Katy’s thoughts, dreams, disappointments, opinions, and feelings as though they were her best friend. She deals with issues such as being possessive of her friends, a failed engagement, finding joy in less than enjoyable tasks, falling in love, having a stubborn personality, losing a child, and dealing with annoying relatives. The relationship between Katy and her mother is also developed quite well. Always having a respectful admiration for her, we see Katy’s view her mother go from being a source of frustration to a trusted mentor. 

 Originally written in 1891, the grammar and syntax take a little while to get used to. Also, the writing and subject matter matures as Katy does; so, the beginning may seem a little slow. The pace definitely picks up as Katy grows and matures both physically and in her walk with God.

 Stepping Heavenward is a great encouragement. Through Katy, Mrs. Prentiss verbalizes the struggles and joys most women experience in their walk with the Lord. I highly recommend this book to you, ladies.  

Not safe but good

“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.
“Aslan?” said Mr, Beaver. “Why don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, …”

“Is–is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and son of the great Emperor-beyond-the Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and that’s no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just silly”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe?  ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you”
                                            ~C.S. Lewis
                                             The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Dancing with God

Little by little I'm understanding what this looks like. The monks have a theological idea they call perichoresis. They believe that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit exist together in a sort of choreographed dance of love. Since the beginning of time they've been tangoing, moving together in a beautiful embrace. And we're invited into that dance. We get to spend our days dancing with God. In fact, we were created in God's image, and so if God is always dancing, we were designed to dance too. Our lives were meant to be a dance with God–and a dance is passionate interactive, fun at times, romantic at others.

Abiding looks like a dance with God. Now when you dance with someone it's typically awkward at first. You're very aware of what you're doing, of what the other person is doing, of the correct steps you're supposed to be taking. But when people continue dancing together, eventually it becomes totally comfortable. You stop having to think about what you or the other person is doing or the correct steps to follow. It all  becomes very natural. In fact, if you watch people who can really dance, it's sometimes almost hard to tell where once person ends and the other begins.

And that's what God is after with us. That's what abiding looks like. It's a moment-by-moment sharing of life with him that may be awkward at first. In the beginning it may take great conscious effort. And there may be embarrassing trips and falls and stepping on toes. But slowly it becomes more and more instinctive, effortless, and enjoyable. Eventually, we might even come to a place where it's not that I have to practice the presence of God and remember to focus on and spend my time with him. It will be like we're one person, connected and "lost" in each other.

Excerpt from I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt by Vince Antonucci

Book Review: Before You Meet Prince Charming

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Before You Meet Prince Charming is aguide to radiant purity by Sarah Mally. Sarah is the founder of Bright Lights ministries and writes the book in a truthful, honest, and thought provoking way. She sprinkles bits of humor and personal stories onto sound advice for girls.

This book is written to be instructional but it is also entertaining as well. Sarah begins each chapter with a story about a princess. This princess illustrates what the following chapter is about. As we finish the book, we have followed the princess from maidenhood to the beginning of her married life. Each chapter in this book focuses on one thing that young ladies can focus on while they are waiting for marriage. Sarah discusses being a servant, dealing with disappointment, how to respond to a crush, how parents can help, and guarding our hearts, along with many other things. She offers the information in a manner that is relevant and appropriate for young ladies who have decided to wait for the Lord.

Overall, I would recommend this book to any young lady over the age of 10. It offers great insight and advice while at the same time encouraging girls. Before You Meet Prince Charming is one of the best books I've read regarding purity and preparing for marriage.