Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Spectacle of Glory - Joni Eareckson Tada

A Spectacle of Glory: God's Light Shining through Me Every Day by Joni Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby is a compact devotional that focuses on how God loves you and enables you to live daily as a spectacle of His glory. 

Joni Eareckson Tada, who has lived nearly half a century as a quadriplegic following a diving accident as a teen, knows a lot about living with pain daily, and we would certainly understand if she complained about her physical pain and frustrations. But she has learned to say yes to God on a day-to-day basis and continue to follow Him on this difficult journey and glorifying Him through it all. Joni uses her experience to encourage you and bring comfort in difficulties by helping the reader focus on following Him each step of the way. No matter how insignificant you may think you are or what challenges you face, you can use your life and circumstances to glorify God.

Using a passage of Scripture to look up, a couple of paragraphs of thought on it, followed by a prayer, this book, together with a Bible, is intended to help the reader focus on glorifying God through simple changes in attitude and thought patterns. Instead of being overwhelmed, it is bite-sized portions of Scripture to slowly digest and allow to nourish your spirit. The book is also compact-sized, making it easy to slip into a purse or briefcase to carry with you. This is a wonderful gift for anyone, including yourself, if you need encouragement during hardships---or simply feeling too insignificant to be used by God.

Many thanks to Handlebar Publishing for providing me with a copy at no cost to myself. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado

Grace for the Moment (Large Deluxe): Inspirational Thoughts for Each Day of the Year by Max Lucado offers inspiring devotions to grow in your faith as you embrace the hope of the Lord every day. Featuring Scripture, along with devotional writings from Max's best sellers, each day's writing is a short but powerful message to remind the reader of God's love. Although there are variances, the majority of the Scripture is from the New Century Version (NCV). The devotion for each day also indicates which Lucado book used. 

This is the deluxe, large print edition of the classic devotional with a leather-flex cover, beautifully designed pages, and a ribbon marker. It is fairly lightweight and fits comfortably in one hand if you hold it to read. The pages do not flip and are thick enough that you can highlight or make notes that won't bleed through to several pages. (I recommend using colored pencils when highlighting, though. I have used them for years.) The strong binding will ensure this book can endure daily handling and will be a treasury you can visit in years ahead. I also love the look and feel of the cover. The book is published by Thomas Nelson, a registered trademark of Harper Collins Christian Publishing. 

I love the book and will definitely recommend it to anyone searching for a new devotional for themselves or as a gift. These are small nuggets of truth, with an insight to give the reader something to mull over and to build upon their faith.

I received a copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers for review purposes. A positive review was not required, and all thoughts regarding this book are my own.        

Sunday, December 18, 2016

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette by Max Davis

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette: Loving People Like God Does by Max Davis is a collection of stories of people who have done more than just tell others about Jesus but have actually displayed the personification of Jesus to others. You have heard the phrase, "be the Hands and Feet of Jesus, " and this is exactly how these people have chosen to live their lives. But it starts with a person first allowing themselves to be transformed by Jesus.

The book opens with a remarkable story of an encounter with a young woman in a grocery store. What Max intended as a genuine outreach of compassion turned into a poignant lesson on truly trusting in God in all circumstances. It also reminds me that "learning to be content in all things" is much more than just a 'refrigerator magnet verse' but an actual lifestyle.

It's not until chapter 3 that we actually meet the "green-eyed brunette" who had---and continues to have---such an impact on the life of Max Davis. When he met her, he discovered that there are people who simply lve their lives as a follower of Jesus with no judgement or condemnation of others, but because they are being obedient to the call on their life. Accecptance of others but unwilling to compromise seems a bit rigid, so perhaps it's better to say that she was a light in the darkness, showing a better way---but the Light was the reflection of Jesus.

The book, only 208 pages, is filled with stories of people whose lives reflected the light of Jesus to others and made a profound impact by simply trusting in God and following Him closely. There are also stories of trusting God and waiting patiently when instinct is to take another action. One story in particular was a reminder that our parental instincts to protect our [adult] children is when we must lean even closer into God as He places people just where they need to be. He loves our families even more than we do.

Finally, there is the lesson of listening to the Voice of God and obeying---even if you don't really want to obey what you hear. You may not see an immediate difference, but you can be sure that you were used if God called and you responded. But there are times when you see a radical change. Sometimes you may be the only 'Jesus' someone sees---so be prepared to always let God love others through you.

“Jesus is very much alive today and still does incredible things—sometimes supernatural things—through us!” ~ Max Davis

GIVEAWAY: Respond by Thursday, December 22, 2016, to be entered into a random drawing for your own copy of "When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette." 
"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 a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

#JesusGreenEyedBrunette #FlyBy

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Of Stillness and Storm - Michele Phoenix

"of stillness and storm" by Michele Phoenix is, in her own words, "My hope is that this novel will be a cautionary tale..."

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.
At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry. (Thomas Nelson product description)

I have mixed feelings on this book. Phoenix did bring more layers to characters as the story enfolded, although my frustration with each also increased as I read. The story is thought-provoking, especially for families who feel the call to become missionaries, so mission accomplished as far as what Phoenix hoped to convey. Perhaps the clearer vision of the reader is what leads to my frustration with the book. I can't fault her for creating characters I don't particularly like, but I grew more annoyed rather than more empathetic. This is definitely not a "happily ever after" fairy tale, which is not a requirement for my enjoyment of a story, but I would have liked to have felt a bit more hope for the characters.

The writing itself is very good, and the story flows well and gains momentum toward a suspected conclusion. I confess, I wasn't sure HOW the author would arrive there, so I will not say predictable, but it was a conclusion that left me feeling empty. I can't judge the book based solely on my opinion of the characters, but neither can I say I loved the book. However, it is an interesting study of missionary life from a viewpoint one may not have fully considered. I have an opinion, but each person should be free to draw their own.

Thanks to Handlebar Marketing for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Charlie the Tramp by Russell Hoban

Charlie the Tramp is celebrating 50 years with a new hardcover release. Winner of the 1968 Boys Club of America Junior Book Award, the book was authored by Russell Hoban (Bread and Jam for Frances; Emmit Otter’s Jug-band Christmas) and illustrated by Lillian Hoban. Lillian illustrated 6 of Russell's books, but is best known for a young chimpanzee named Arthur and his little sister, Violet. 

Charlie the Beaver wants to be a tramp when he grows up. “Tramps don’t have to learn how to chop down trees and how to roll logs and how to build dams. Tramps just tramp around and have a good time. Tramps carry sticks with little bundles tied to them. They sleep in a field when the weather is nice, and when it rains they sleep in a barn.” Charlie sets off with his bundle. But when he hears water trickling, he can’t get to sleep. Will he be able to resist the urge to make it stop? As Grandfather Beaver says, “You never know when a tramp will turn out to be a beaver.” (publisher)

This is a cute story, with delightful illustrations, about the adventures of a beaver who decides he wants to be a tramp when he grows up. With the encouragement of his parents and grandfather, young Charlie sets out to a nearby field to be a tramp. He returns home at mealtimes to do some chores in exchange for his food, but travels back to the field to sleep. But...a noise keeps distracting him. A stream of water is singing much to loudly and Charlie goes over to investigate. When Charlie does not show up for breakfast, his family makes an interesting discovery.

I don't remember this book from my childhood, but would have been too old for it by the time it was written. But, had I been younger, this would have been one I enjoyed. Some may say it is a bit outdated, but I don't find offense at any of it. I see a family who is encouraging a little boy to explore his aspirations within a safe boundary. This is a charming tale of natural instincts and a nurturing family with the sense to know that children need a bit of freedom to explore possibilities. I, too, remember a brief desire to become a tramp as a child. :) My parents calmly explained the pros and cons, and I decided to postpone that dream. 

Charlie the Tramp/Plough website

GIVEAWAY: There is also a copy for one of my readers. Simply let me know in a comment (blog or Facebook) that you want to be entered. Deadline is December 10, 2016. USA residents only.
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.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Know the Word NKJV Study Bible

A good study Bible is a must have for anyone who is wanting to dig deeper into God's Word. Know the Word Study Bible, published by Thomas Nelson, offers three easy ways to go beyond casual reading to becoming a regular student of the Word. Do you have a preferred method? Here is an overview of the different ways you may prefer to use:
  • Book by Book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. 
  • Verse by Verse studies help you to dig deeper into God’s Word at a verse level. 
  • Topic by Topic articles, which cover 21 key theological topics, give you a bird's-eye view of Scripture and guide you through the main themes that run throughout the Bible.

Features Include:
• New King James Version Bible text • Three easy approaches to study the Bible: Book by Book, Verse by Verse, Topic by Topic • Book introductions • Words of Jesus in red • Two-color interior page design • Comprehensive list of theological notes • Concordance

The things I like most about this Bible are the ease of using three different study methods, notes, the concordance, and the maps. It is also compact, easily held in one hand, sturdy due to hard cover, and the words are easily read. Also, the words of Jesus are in red, and pronoun references to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are capitalized. Not only is that more respectful (in my opinion) but it is another aid to clarification. NKJV is much more understandable that the original KJV, and seems to be an acceptable compromise.

My only major dislike is that I like to have wide margins for taking notes. Of course, passages can be highlighted (I prefer using colored pencils), but there is very little room for any comment. Other than that personal preference, I am very well pleased with this Bible and definitely recommend it to others.

I received a copy of this Bible at no cost to myself from the BookLook Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review.