Category Archives: Christian Living

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know by Kampakis

10truths_rnd2Teens have it tough these days. I’m sure every generation says that, but how many generations have almost no privacy, the ability to be bullied from anywhere in the world at any time, and live in a world that is so overwhelmingly visual that almost all other aspects of our life take a back seat?

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know
by Kari Kampakis
Thomas Nelson
November 2014

In this world, it’s important to know the truth about yourself and the right and wrong ways to act. With relativism so prevalent it’s tough to sell “ultimate truth” but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that we shouldn’t try. And this author tries and succeeds on so many levels!

The 10 Ultimate Truths focus on 10 important ant issues that girls (and boys, to an extent) deal with:

Popularity
Confidence
Reputation
Interacting with Boys
Self Worship
Perseverance
Patience
Image
Inner Beauty
Self Talk

As I read the books – as a man with two teenaged daughters and two sons – I found that the truths here applied to boys as well as girls in most cases. The truths exposed were demonstrated and illustrated for girls but they apply to everyone. Consider the “Interacting with Boys” chapter, for instance, where the truth is “Chasing boys doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a nuisance.” While the illustrations may change the fact is that boys are at least as likely to annoy girls buy how they pursue girls as girls are buy how they pursue boys. I don’t believe the point here is not to show interest but a healthy way to show interest is the key. That’s a lesson everyone can learn from.

I loved that when you read through the book you don’t just get answers, you get questions. Self discovery is a key way to make learning stick. The author includes several important questions in each chapter to bring the topic home. Also included are relevant Bible verses that tie these current teachings to the timeless truths of the Biblical teaching. Verses like Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is greater than silver and gold” fits perfectly with the chapter on reputation.

Reading through the book I not only thought these were truths that my daughters should know but that I wished that I had known these things when I was a teen. These really are “ultimate truths” as they speak to who we are as created and loved beings and speak to an inner peace that just doesn’t come from any other source but the foundation of God. This is a must read for teenaged girls and their parents. I highly recommend it.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Jesus is the Question by Copenhaver

JesusQuestionTrue to the title, Copenhaver asks questions of the reader to come to a deeper undertaken of who Jesus is to us and who we are to be for him.

Jesus Is the Question
The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered
by Martin B. Copenhaver
Abingdon Press
September 2014

Each of the 8 chapters on the questions of Jesus is filed with anecdote anger story after parable all towards the goal of asking the questions in just the right way to get the response Jesus was going for originally. Starting with “what are you looking for?” and moving through topics dealing with compassion, identity, faith and doubt, worry, love, heading and abundance.

Starting with chapter 9, the author takes us through the very important, eternity impacting questions for us that Jesus answered: who Jesus is, what happened on the cross and what the resurrection. The book ends with nearly 10 full pages of all of Jesus’ questions listed out then some study questions.

A worthy read that should prompt growth and understanding.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Unbelievable Gospel by Dodson

Modern stereotypical evangelism isn’t the way it is supposed to be. It has become rote, by the numbers and simply unbelievable.

The Unbelievable Gospel
Say Something Worth Believing
by Jonathan K. Dodson
Zondervan
September 2014

The good news (pun!) is that there is a cure. What sinks is how obvious it is. What truly sucks is how underutilized. Be a real person and build relationships based on actually caring.

The world around us isn’t interested in hearing old words that don’t mean anything and canned responses to questions. But people are definitely still hurting and have needs that we know God had the answer for. How to bridge that gap? Do like Jesus and Paul did.

Dodson calls readers to real relationship and then customized metaphor for the Gospel. Instead of a one size fits all approach we should listen and then speak in the language and express the facet of the Gospel that would make the most sense to our friend.

This is a message that is very well written, scripturally sound, and so needed.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion by Thielen

answerToo often the main excuse for people who avoid going to God is the people who are supposedly Christian and how they mistreat others.

The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion
A Guide to Good Religion for Seekers, Skeptics, and Believers
by Martin Thielen
Westminster John Knox Press
February 2014

There is a lot of bad press about Christians today. Sure, a lot of negativity is stirred up in Hollywood but there is enough smoke here to say a fire exists. So a message that clearly explains why someone shouldn’t abandon Christianity because of Christians is a welcome and needed one.

While I don’t agree with everything Martin Thielen writes regarding some specifics the can be no doubt that he is right in the broad sense. Christianity is much bigger than doctrinal distinctives. Interpretations and beliefs can vary and frankly everyone thinks they are right. But the truth is there is Christ and Him crucified then everything else. And any Christian who forgets they are a sinner and so would prefer other sinners not come to their church is a hypocrite. It is far better that everyone comes to know God and His love for us regardless of sin than for some to avoid God because they aren’t welcome. Sin is sin and the hope we all have through the process of sanctification is that we will stop sinning. That applies to everyone no matter their sin.

A great word that should be shouted from every pulpit: no matter your sin or your attitudes or culture, you belong in church. You belong with God. Don’t give up on Christianity!

I recommend this book highly.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

IN THE FIELD OF GRACEThis is a fictional story based on the story of Ruth and Boaz as recorded in the Book of Ruth in the Bible.

In the Field of Grace
by Tessa Afshar
Moody Publishers
June 2014

In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar is the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz based on the story in the Bible. The story opens with the death of Boaz’s first wife and continues on to give background into Ruth’s life before she married Naomi’s son. After the death of her husband and two sons, Naomi decides to return to Israel. Ruth decides to go with Naomi but since she is a Moab woman, she is not accepted at first but because she is so good to her mother-in-law Naomi, she slowly wins the acceptance of the people in Naomi’s village. While gleaning in a field she meets Boaz and he tells her to glean no where but in his fields. Naomi explains the redeemer law to Ruth and she does exactly what Naomi tells her to do. Boaz is interested in Ruth and he does all the things necessary to make her his wife. The story of Ruth begins when she is the young widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi and living in Moab. From that beginning, she becomes the wife of Boaz and this puts her in the genealogy of Jesus.

The only facts that we are sure are true are those found in the story of Ruth in the Bible. The author does an excellent job in writing this fictional story of Ruth. Through her development of the characters, dialogue, and scenes, the author makes the story even more real. The things portrayed in the story could have happened and they definitely do not take anything away from the Biblical account. The author has stayed true to the account in the Bible and writes a wonderful story that makes you want to go to the Bible and reread the Book of Ruth.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a lover of Biblical fiction.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Crazy Stories Sane God by Turner

Crazy-Stories-Sane-GodThere are ton of really weird stories in the Bible. As a reader we have two options: ignore the weird and focus on the clear and easy or try to figure out the point of the weird.

Crazy Stories Sane God
by John Alan Turner
B&H Books
March 2014

Turner obviously goes with option two taking off the wall stories (literally in the case of the writing on the wall) and, starting with the fundamental idea that every story in the Bible is there for a reason, attempts to answer the question of value. What is the point? What are the Biblical authors trying to teach? The book deals with quite a few stories that readers of the Bible may have read or skimmed and then, devotion style, explains a possible reason for it being there.

We may be tempted to assume that all the stories would be from the Old Testament, but New Testament stories are included as well. So we get stories like talking donkeys, Moses’ son’s circumcision, Job and God’s debate, Ezekiel’s visions and so on next to stories like demons in pigs, and Ananais and Sapphira.

In most every instance, Turner does a good job of tying the story to the bigger revelation of God and how many of them are foreshadowing Christ and his life. Some, like Moses’ son’s foreskin, seem strained – I think he could have gone with propitiation via blood instead of covenant relationship, but I quibble.

This is a solid book that deals with tough stories and provides viable answers for parts of the Bible that most of us ignore. I recommend it.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted Giveaway

Marriages either get better or worse.  They never stand still.”  -Dr. Gary Chapman

The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted
by Dr. Gary Chapman
Moody Publishers
2014

When my husband and I married 13 years ago, we were given a copy of Dr. Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages.”  While I’ve never really been a fan of self-help, psychology books, something about Dr. Chapman’s work struck me as open and honest.  So, when given the opportunity to review “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” I jumped at the chance.

Dr. Chapman’s work specifically details how marriages aren’t easy.  They don’t happen automatically, and they don’t happen without work.  In this book, he details through several chapters how we allow our marriages to drift apart and how we can then find out ways back together.  At the end of each chapter, Dr. Chapman takes readers through several introspective activities.   They are designed to get the reader thinking about their spouse and themselves, making the connection between the information he’s outlined in that chapter and the reader’s own specific situation.

What I like about Dr. Chapman is that he provides examples and anecdotes from both points of view: male and female.  Other books I’ve read by other Christian authors spend a great deal of time talking about how the source of the problem is a failure of the wife to take her more submissive role (Biblically) or the failure of the husband to  assert his authority on the marriage.  Instead, Dr. Chapman outlines key changes that BOTH spouses must make in order to strengthen the relationship.  He does so by also presenting key passages of the Bible for review and reflection.

Overall, I am as pleased as I was with “The 5 Love Languages.”    So much so, that I’m thrilled the generous team at Fly By Promotions has also provided a copy of Dr. Chapman’s book as a giveaway.

Interested?  Fill out the form below:  I’ll be drawing the winner by Saturday, 2/22.

This contest is over.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.

 

 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

The God Puzzle by Ackerman

godpuzzleAs much as Sunday School is for education and edification, the fact is that most of a child’s moral development will happen at home as they watch and learn from parents and siblings. That’s why it’s so very important to have some kind of Biblical learning going on in the house. That’s where books like this one come in to play.

The God Puzzle
How the Bible fits together to reveal God as Your Greatest Treasure
Valerie Ackermann
HigherLife Publishing
October 2013

Built in workbook form, the God Puzzle takes children ages 7 through 12 through 26 lessons on basic Christian theology. Starting with the fundamentals of God, sin and redemption and then digging deeper into how the Old Testament and New Testament are a unified story of redemption followed by practical guides on what worship, the church, spiritual gifts and the sacraments are. Each of the lessons has multiple types of illustrations and worksheet questions allowing for multiple different types of learning styles. For instance, there are reading and comprehension questions where you’d read a passage and then circle the appropriate, related words or questions that deal with emotional intelligence where you read a statement and then decided how that should or does make you feel. There are fill in the blanks and short answers as well. And each lesson ends in a journaling exercise with prayer.

The first thing a parent should notice is that this is a workbook that requires reading. So if your child is not a capable reader yet then you’ll want to work through this with them or come back to it when they are. Second, these lessons are written in a way that should be very familiar to younger elementary students and they may respond the same way they do at school: I have to do work!? If you set them down and assign this to them they are likely to resent it instead of enjoy it. A group setting or pairing up is recommended. This is a parent plus child workbook (if you want it to be effective.)

I really like how this book avoids the pitfalls of majoring in the minors, if you know what I mean. Consider the Spiritual Gifts lesson (p157) where so much could have gone wrong and so much could have been polarizing but the author does a great job of only using the Bible passages and then goes in to a detailed way that we can exercise the gifts in our lives. I think this works well for both Charismatic and non-Charismatic believers because there is room to personalize to family beliefs without undermining the workbook.

This is a great workbook and I believe it fills a gap between Sundays and Wednesdays that every Christian family has.


Scott Asher is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

All In by Batterson

all inThink of a sermon. Think of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God – like sermon where the pastor just goes off. Non-stop attacking sin and complacency. If it were a 200 page book it would look exactly like this one.

All In
Mark Batterson
Zondervan
September 2013

Batterson, well known for his previous books, especially on prayer, hits the ground running in this book calling Christians to move past complacency and a lackadaisical attitude towards their faith and calls us to live like we actually believe what we say we do. Every page reads like an aggressive attack exemplifying the point: we should be attacking sin and fighting for the Kingdom of God with every breath and every word.

But we really don’t, do we? With books like Radical by David Platt and Not a Fan (and Gods at War) by Kyle Idleman it’s clear that the church recognizing the sleepiness of American Christianity but is anyone listening? Sales suggest yes. I recommend yes. But like so many before Batterson, including way back to Paul, complacency is a characteristic of fallen mankind.

Still, a message that should be read again and again until like sparks a fire is finally built.


Scott Asher is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Gods at War by Idleman

The one sin that most people would say they don’t commit is the one that everyone does. All the time. Idolatry.

All In
Kyle Idleman
Zondervan
February 2013

We read about Idols in the Bible. We read about poles, and mountain top monuments, temples to other gods. We read about “doing evil in the Lord’s sight” which is another way of saying “worshipped other gods.” But we American Christians don’t think much on what forms Idolatry may take in our current era. How might they? Love. Comfort. Money. Self.

Idleman’s follow-up to the immensely impactful Not a Fan with another book that can and should change lives. When I started reading this I got to Comfort, the first Idol uncovered, and literally put the book down and didn’t pick it back up again for months. I was so convicted. In fact, I was so convicted by this book that I ended up teaching it to adults at church where it also changed lives.

Gods at War is a book that sheds light on a dark part of our lives that we have somehow kept hidden even while openly admitting to other sins. Idolatry just isn’t as well understood in our culture as other sins. We don’t understand how Idolatry is the heart of the other sins we fight against. But if we heed the words of this work we will understand it far too well; uncomfortably well.

This book will change your life. If you let it.


Scott Asher is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.