Saturday, April 12, 2014

Out of the Depths: A Book Review

Few of us will ever experience the nightmare of drifting in a life jacket in the Pacific, knowing at any moment we could be the next to die of shark attack or dehydration or hypothermia.  Although we all need God’s grace daily, the men who survived the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis came face to face with a situation where they truly know God was their only hope from one moment to the next.

This account of the tragic loss of the U.S.S. Indianapolis during WWII was heartbreaking in its detail.  Edgar Harrell was a young marine aboard the ship when it was sunk by the Japanese.  The harrowing tale of the survivors' struggle to hang on does not end with their miraculous sighting and rescue after days in the open sea.  They had to fight on to reveal the truth about the ship's sinking and exonerate their skipper, who had been the government's scapegoat.

Harrell is inspirational in his humility and his lack of residual bitterness.  In sharing this account, he honors those who served and their memory.  He also teaches us all how to go on living, thankful for every new day as a gift.

As a native of the Indianapolis area with many Navy men in my family tree, I found Out of the Depths the most scary and riveting since I read "Blind Man's Bluff" about submarines during the Cold War.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers for my review.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Girl at the End of the World: A Book Review

Elizabeth Esther has a story that needs to be heard.  In the name of Jesus, some preachers and their followers have hurt people with their legalism and authoritarianism.  How do those who were raised without grace find their way to the truth? To a God who loves them with an everlasting love and made a way, by his grace, for them to be forgiven and victorious?

Elizabeth Esther bravely shares her years growing up as a granddaughter of George Geftakys, leader of The Assembly.  I cried over her experiences at church camp, because they were so bleak compared to my own warm experiences--experiences that brought me closer to Jesus and never left me afraid.

She and her husband, after much research and anguish, left the assembly and spent years recovering from their abuse.  How it must grieve the Holy Spirit to see people so traumatized that opening a Bible or going into any church building gives them a panic attack! Fortunately, she and her family were able to find the real love of Jesus after Elizabeth had premature babies in the NICU.  In her anguish, she remembered that Mary, like her, had to watch her child suffer.  When Elizabeth was afraid of Jesus, she says He sent His mother to bring her back to him.

I cried over the pain of the children and wives abused in the name of a twisted interpretation of Holy Scripture.  I rejoiced over their escape and recovery.  I am burdened for those still in bondage to modern Pharisees who substitute their rules for the grace of God.  You can read chapter one here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Extreme Results from Normal Homeschooling

Unlike many homeschooling books, this book is not preachy or judgmental toward those who make other choices.  The Hardings humbly present their personal experiences in case they might help others. Their kids typically start college work before they are teenagers and graduate from college while age peers are still in high school.  This is done without Stephen Hawking-like IQs or pushy parenting.  The kids just read every day, write every day, and do some math every day.  

This is an unvarnished story about a family that simply loves their children, loves learning, and serves God.  Learning does not require a classroom and a one-size-fits-all lesson plan.  While their results seem extreme, their methods are not--most of our ancestors who were educated simply read lots of books. Perhaps their results would seem less extreme if the majority was not already so invested in K-12 institutional education and prolonged adolescence instead of learning at a natural pace and finding one's calling early in life.  Might this "norm" be better than 13 years of relentless age peer "socialization" and young adults still trying to "find themselves" well into their twenties?

The Brainy Bunch will be available May 6.  I reviewed an advance electronic copy provided free by the publisher through NetGalley.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Practical Prayer Guide for Married Women

This book is based on the important Biblical premise that “While we don’t have authority over our husbands, we do have authority over the enemy that seeks to harm him.”

Jaynes tells the “why” of intercessory prayer, then gives a practical plan for the “how” of daily prayer on behalf of one’s husband.  This 30-day program of prayer is based on anatomy so it is easy to remember.  Begin at the top to pray for his head, meaning what he thinks about, all the way to his feet, meaning his walk--wherever he goes.

I received a free electronic review copy from MultnomahBooks.

Between Heaven and Earth by Steve Berger

Pastor Steve Berger wrote this book out of his experience as the father of a young man who is already in heaven.  His son’s untimely death in an accident caused Berger to be much more interested in heaven than before.  What is heaven really like? What will we do there?

This balanced book addresses what it means to look forward to eternity while doing our work on earth. His main example is Paul, who best described the experience of longing to be with the Lord, but understanding the Kingdom work he still needed to do on earth.

For a book about heaven, this is very down-to-earth with practical advice for Christians still sojourning on earth. One chapter in particular emphasizes the importance of knowing Scripture.  When we understand God’s Word and His plan, it is harder to stay discouraged and easier to look forward to our eternal home.

I received a free review copy from the publisher, Bethany House.

Knowing God by Name by David Wilkerson

Rather than a scholarly treatment of the names of God, Wilkerson has chosen to write about how the names of God give us heart-knowledge of Him.  God is infinitely multi-faceted, so we need to understand that every time He reveals one of His names in scripture, He is giving us a picture of how He relates to us.

Abraham, friend of God, received many such names.  Wilkerson explains what those names mean to us today.  As Pastor Wilkerson points out, God “revealed these names to His people only as they needed them.”  After all, it means much more to hear from Jehovah Jireh when He is actually engaged in providing for your desperate need!

This is a user-friendly book for all Christians, not just theologians or teachers. 

I received a free electronic copy of this book from Bethany House/Chosen Books for my review.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Overwhelmed by Perry Noble

It is so wonderful to find a book that addresses depression and the Christian.  It is even more impressive that this book is written by a man and a pastor, since Christians are often reluctant to admit struggles with depression. Perry Noble shares his personal stories alongside Bible examples to show that struggling doesn't make you unspiritual or unsaved--it just means you are a human who is saved but still on earth.
Overwhelmed is a good resource for struggling Christians as well as those who counsel, teach, or live with those who have experienced depression or discouragement.
Book is available April 1, 2014.  I received an electronic advance review copy from Tyndale Publishers.