Category Archives: Christian Living

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.

Hot Buttons Series by O’Dell

Hot-Buttons-booksParents of teens can use all the help they can get. That’s where this new series of topical help guides aims to fill those needs.

Hot Buttons Series
(Bullying and Image Editions)
Nicole O’Dell
Kregel
September 2013

Kregel sent two of the series to me for review: Bullying and Image Editions. (They also publish Hot Button books on other topics like Internet, Sexuality, Dating, 30-Day Challenge, and Drug Editions.) The books are written by a well known talk radio and author who specializes in parent/ child relationships. As if having six children of her own wasn’t enough reason to respect her opinions!

Each book in the series starts with exploring the issue (with chapters on Why, When and How) then moves in to particulars on how to reach and teach your child to respond appropriately in situations surrounding the Hot Buttons. Each book is timely and doesn’t feel dated (like so many parenting books do). We deal with real current even stuff like Cyberbullying, Self-Harm, Eating Disorders and such and then move in to part three of each book: strategies.

I really liked how relevant these topics are to today’s teen. Reading the strategies – filled with Biblical references and responses – came across as genuine and helpful not preachy or tired. And if you think your child isn’t going through these struggles then you need them more than most parents. These struggles are real and prevalent.

Each book is less than $10 on Amazon and well worth the price.


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.

The First Christmas Night and Giveaway

christmasIt’s Christmas time and nothing makes more sense than reading about the reason for the season.

The First Christmas Night
written by Keith Christopher
illustrated by Christine Kornacki
Ideals Books
October 2013

This version of the Nativity is set to the song the Night Before Christmas. Instead of the “Night before Christmas and all through the house / Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” we get “Twas the very first Christmas, when all through the town / not a creature was stirring, there was not a sound.” Normally, I wouldn’t go for what some may consider a knock off, but Christopher, the writer, does come up with some endearing – and original – lines that make it worthwhile. Consider, “He had not a crib, but in a manger instead / the tiny new baby lay down his sweat head. Mary looked down at his cute little nose / and silently counted – ten fingers, ten toes.” As a father, this resonates.

The illustrations are lush and full of life; vibrant and colorful. I liked that the characters seemed to be a-racial (if I can make up my own words) – the character’s seemed to not be any or to be all races. So we don’t worry about a blond, blue eyed Jesus here. I also like that one of the Wise Men was black, even though that may not be historically accurate. It is inclusive and I liked it.

Speaking of Wise Men, though, I didn’t like that they were in the story. This is the story of Jesus’ birth and these guys were definitely not there at the time. What I get is that this story is based more on tradition than the Bible, which I’m not a fan of. I’d have preferred we not propigate the traditional errors but instead correctly tell the story.

Overall, though, this is a very well done, colorful, engaging, and easy to read book about the birth of Christ.

Thanks to the publisher we have a copy of this beautiful hardback book to giveaway! Enter below. Note: You may only win one giveaway per 30 days at BookGateway.com.

Congratulations to Anna E. of Anza, CA for winning a copy of this book!


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief 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.

1 Girl Nation CD and Giveaway

1girlnationThere are a ton of kid’s music out there. Songs by artists that are influencing our children through catchy lyrics and music. Now there’s a Christian alternative. Is that a good thing?

1 Girl Nation
Lauryn Taylor Bach, Lindsey Ciresi, Carmen Justice, Kayli Robinson, Kelsey Sowards
Reunion Records
August 2013

I’ve got two daughters and can’t get away from their music. (Cue sad I-must-be-getting-old moment here.) When they were preteen and “tweenagers” it was all Disney pop music and now as they move to Junion and Senior High School it’s country music (thankfully they seem to have skipped over the former Disney singers) with some pop. This kind of music is all catchy, synth music with danceable beats. And there really is nothing like it on the Christian station (which seems to play mostly towards earnest life growth focused songs).

Enter 1 Girl Nation. Yeah, it’s a cheesy name, but it’s exactly right in line with younger girl expectations. It sounds exactly like Cheetah Girls and similar Disney pop music. On the solo songs, this CD sounds indistinguishable from current synth pop music. Except for the words – which can be overhanded at times – that clearly mark this as a message for Christians.

My younger daughter (11) took this CD and hasn’t given it back. My older daughter (14) said of the music, “I don’t want to call it cheesy… but.” And then sang along with it. (If you have a teen you know that tension that exists between wanting to grow up and still enjoying the “kid” stuff.) Interestingly, my sons (both younger than the girls) love the music and dance and sing to it regardless of the female focus. From my perspective, the music is very cheesy but it’s also very needed. Kids are going to listen to music and they are going to sing along. I’d rather them singing these lyrics than Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana, of which we have several CDs in the house).

Isn’t that the point though? This is not music for parents – we have enough of that. This is music for the missing demographic: tweens and teens. And it is just right.

This is an enjoyable, simplistic, Christian version of pop synth music that everyone in my family enjoys (even if they don’t admit it.) Listen to the CD a few times and you’ll be singing along too.

Thanks to the record label, Reunion Records, we have a giveaway! Enter below.

Congratulations to Paris R. of Glendora, CA! Your CD is on the way!


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief 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 CD was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

91k9goHHX+L._SL1500_The participation of Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna in the Christmas story are presented through scripture verses from the Bible and the narrative of the author.

The Women of Christmas
by Liz Curtis Higgs
Waterbrook Press
September 2013

The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs is a wonderful book for the Christmas season or for any time of the year. The book covers the lives of Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna in the months before the birth of Jesus and a few weeks after His birth. Each woman is presented through Bible scriptures and the narrative of the author. Mary is newly betrothed but she is pregnant, Elizabeth is old and barren but she also becomes pregnant, and Anna is old, widowed, and lives in the Temple waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. Of course the story also includes Joseph a carpenter who is betrothed to Mary, Zechariah a priest who is the husband of Elizabeth, and Simeon also a priest and living each day waiting to see the promised Messiah. The one thing that all three women have in common is that their hearts belong to God. And Mary and Elizabeth are blessed to have husbands that love and obey God.

Liz Higgs does an excellent job in presenting the story of these three women and showing the involvement in and contribution of each of them in the Christmas story. The style of the writing made for easy reading and enjoyment. Liz wrote a paragraph or two to introduce each woman and then a verse of scripture was given and Liz would then give her interpretation of that verse, another verse was given, Liz would interpret, and this style of writing was continued throughout the entire book.. This form was also used for the three men in the story. This style of writing made the Christmas story so easy to understand and brought new thoughts to mind even though I have been hearing and reading the Christmas story for decades. A study guide is presented at the end for individual or small group study. This is a small book but it packs a big punch.

I definitely recommend this book to all who would like to know more about Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna and their participation in the Christmas story.


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.

King’s Faith Movie and Giveaway

kingsfaithCue blurred scene. A male body is lying on the ground in a pool of blood. A woman is crying out, holding him. Police rush in and arrest her. Voice over: I watched my best friend die. This is not your average vanilla Christian movie.

King’s Faith
Directed by Nick DiBella
Provident Films
October 2013

Brendan King (Crawford Wilson) found Jesus and true faith serving time after the police arrested him – when his friend from his gang was shot in the opening scene – and is given one last chance to find a home; his 18th foster home. Mike (James McDaniel) and Vanessa (Lynn Whitfield) lost their policeman son four years ago when he stopped a car and was shot and killed by the driver. Mike hasn’t given up on trusting God that there is a plan that included the tragic loss of their son and sees Brendan as a way to serve God and His plan. Vanessa still struggles with the loss and with the idea that a God who loves them would take her son. When Mike brings home Brendan it causes a schism of priorities between Mike and Vanessa.

Brendan, for all his arrests, felonies and gang affiliations, seems genuinely committed to his faith. He joins the local school Bible study / Christian group, the Seekers, and takes humble work mowing the playing fields at school. When Brendon saves prom queen Natalie (Kayla Compton) from her wrecked car before it burned he find acceptance and friendship and above all – hope that he has finally found a way out of his past life. Then his gang shows up.

[SPOILERS] Eli (Brandon Correa), a member of the same gang Brendan belonged to, wants a stash of drugs that Brendan and their slain gangmember hid prior to the bust. Brendan doesn’t want the drugs out on the street, but when Eli and his crew start hurting Brendan’s friends, and beat him badly, he decides to take the gang out to the drug stash then kill them. Mike, who doesn’t know about the details only the difficult decisions, told Brendan that he needs to rely on God, but Brendan feels that this is the only way. [END SPOILERS]

This is a “Christian” movie that defies stereotypes. It isn’t cheesy and the resolution seems more realistic than many miracle-at-the-last-second stories. This film is full of violence, drugs, sexuality (including an admission by one of the characters of having an abortion). Non-Christians may still look at the story and think parts of it are too good to be true, but that’s the difference between degenerate and regenerate thinking. God really is too good to be true.

One thing I struggled with was the casting in the story. Brendan, Crawford Wilson, is such a clean cut, earnest white guy that it is hard to envision him as a thug drug dealer. Crawford is straight out of 90210’s preppy school of acting that even with (obviously fake) tattoos and a couple scars he just isn’t able to pull off the complexity of the character. I bought earnest Christian. I didn’t buy thug.

This story is well acted by the other actors, especially the sinister Eli, Brandon Correa, mentor Mike, James McDaniel, and hurt mother Vanessa, Lynn Whitfield. I especially liked that Brendan was already saved and dealing with consequences from his previous actions – something that Christians sometimes gloss over suggesting that faith fixes everything, which is not true.

This is perhaps the best Christian film of recent years. Realistic and redemptive.

Thanks to Provident Films we also have two copies of this DVD to giveaway.

Congratulations to John K. or Murfreesboro, TN and Latoya P. of Antioch, TN for winning copies of this DVD!


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief 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.

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.

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

One Way Love Giveaway!

“Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better.  If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good.”

One Way Love:  Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
by Tullian Tchividjian
David C Cook
October 2013

In Tullian Tchividjian’s opinion, the world needs a new view of grace.   We spend a great deal of time trying to earn our way, while struggling with the rules and regulations that Christians create for one another.  In his most recent book, Tchividjian examines how we work so hard to achieve grace and completely ignore the fact that grace is not about work.  It’s not about how good we can be or how well we can follow the rules.  It’s about a gift, freely given.

What impresses me about Tchividjian is his willingness to go against what is the normal message in churches.  The message that if we are good enough, do our best, and follow the rules, we’ll be able to earn our place at the table with our peers who work to be “good Christians.”  One of the most profound statements (posted above) is a message my own pastor repeats often.  The point of his book is that grace from God isn’t conditional.  We don’t deserve it, but He gives it to us anyway.  It’s One Way Love.

While that’s the basis of his message, Tchividjian goes into deeper detail about his reasoning, his experiences, and different aspects of our lives where God’s grace is applied.  Additionally, he is not stating that God’s grace means that we are free from direction (or laws in his words).  He does point out that they both have their place and direction.

The only issue I run into in Tchividjian’s book has nothing to do with his message or the point he’s trying to support.  It’s the manner in which he does it.  As he continues through the book, he repeats the assertion with anecdote after anecdote.  While I like the sections of scripture and lessons from the Bible, the other stories become redundant after time.   Also, Tchividjian relies heavily on references from other writers and “experts.”   His writing is strong enough on its own, so long passages from other writers feel unnecessary.  Finally, the continued name dropping and several pages of endorsements from names in the Christian community seem in direct contradiction with Tchividjian’s message.

Overall, Tchividjian’s book is very good.  The message is one with which I can get on board.  Anyone in need of grace should know it’s there for the taking: no questions asked, no conditions applied.

 

Want to read a copy of your own?  I have one to give away!   Just fill out the form below.  I’ll be drawing a name on October 26th.

 

Good Luck!

 ***Congrats to Rebecca F for winning her own copy of One Way Love!! 

 

 

 


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.

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