Book Review: Listen, Love, Repeat

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I get  opportunities to read and recommend books. It’s been a long time since I was this excited about a book. It is a rare thing to find a nonfiction book that  blends and balances “how to”, biblical resources, and personal testimony–Karen Ehman does that in this book!

Honest. Practical. Needed. These are the things this book offers, page after page after page. Author, Karen Ehman, packs so much into this book. The chapters identify different groups and individuals who need to receive the practical experience of God’s grace—and the specific ways we can extend His love to them. The timeliness of this book is matched beautifully by the timelessness of message: moving from self-centered me-ness to being focused on others.

As a pastor of a church in the heart of a small town, I believe this book offers tools my people can use to be encouraged in new and refreshed ways. One of the chapters I read through tears was “The Lonely and Unloved.” One of the questions found near the end of this chapter were an arrow to my heart: Can you create one more space at your table this week? Yes, I can…but will I?

This book is like a box of seeds. Plant these seeds (ideas and principles), and watch what grows! I am looking forward to sharing this book in my church and seeing the amazing things God has in store for us as we step up to new ways of listening and loving.

(I received a free copy of this book to provide an honest review.)

Meet the Author: Ginger Solomon

Today I am excited to share my post with an author who has done more to open my mind—and heart—to reading romance.

Ginger Solomon is the author of the Belikarian Weddings series. And the third book in her series is coming out 9/22/16. When I heard there was another story I jumped at the opportunity to read it and share it with you.

One of the things I love is knowing more about the authors whose books I enjoy reading. So I want you to know somethings about Ginger.

Ginger, tell us a little about where you live and write—and about your amazing family.

I live in northern Alabama where the temps have yet to realize it’s fall. I write wherever I can find a quiet space at any given moment. 

I have a wonderful, supportive husband and seven great kids—five boys and two girls. My two oldest (boys) are engaged to be married, and my oldest girl left a few weeks ago to go to a nearby school supported by our church. My third son is in his sophomore year of college. My youngest daughter is a senior in high school. And then I have a 9th grader and a 7th grader. I’ve home schooled them all and have been blessed by the experience.

Why romance? With all the different genres, what draws you to romance?

I don’t know. Maybe because my husband doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body—which I knew when I married him. I find my romance in my head. I’m very, very careful not to compare my heroes (or those of other writers that I read) to my hubby because he is great in so many other ways. I also like romance because I enjoy the correlation between the love between a man and a woman to that of our relationship with God. It’s not give and take. It’s give 100% always. God always provides His best for us, even when we don’t understand His ways. So should a man and a woman strive for the best thing for their partner.

What has been the biggest influence in your writing?

My relationship with Jesus. I know love because He first loved me. I grew up in a dysfunctional family that didn’t show love well. I know my mother loved me the best way she knew how, but… Anyway, when I met Jesus and truly turned my life over to Him, I knew what TRUE love felt like. I strive to show others that unconditional love through my writing.

Most writers face “writer’s block” at some time. How do you overcome it?

I have a side story—I call it my play story—that has no rules. I write without concern for whether it’s believable or whether anyone will like it or whatever. I still follow basic writing rules (like no head-hopping), but it’s a no-limits story. It frees up my mind to work out whatever is wrong with my main manuscript.

Do you have a portion of scripture that encourages you as a writer?

Every year, many people find a word they hope will encourage them through the year. I do that, but I also choose a verse. This year my verse is Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representation of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” My word for 2016 is consistent. I have tried to be consistent in my testimony about who Jesus is to me—through my books, my blog, and my life.

What advice would you give someone who is considering self-publishing?

Weigh the costs—cover, editing, formatting. How much can you do yourself? I am pretty computer literate, so I do the covers and formatting myself. I have qualified writing friends who edit for me and in exchange I edit for them. Read about others’ experiences. Learn from their mistakes and successes.

How can we pray for you?

I’m not sure when this will post, but on Friday September 23rd, I’m having a pretty invasive surgery to remove a mass that is on my pituitary gland—effectively brain surgery (but they’re going through my nose). There are tons of risks (as with all surgeries), but I appreciate prayer that my sight is not adversely affected (effected, I hate those two words) as the mass is pushing on my optic nerve. There are three scenarios…my sight will not change, which I can live with; my sight will get better, which is what I’m praying for; or I could lose my sight completely, which is a rare occurrence, but possible.

I will have at least a week of being down and out, so I’d also appreciate prayer for my family as they deal with Mom being unable to do everything she normally does. 😉

Here’s a teaser to get you interested:

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Aileen Najjar joins the royal household when her boss marries the princess. She loves working in the kitchen, but when the head cook allows her to prepare most of the meals, trouble finds her. The handsome head of security turns out to be her ally as she struggles to fit in.

 Matthias Firat wants to find the mole who leaked information leading to the attempts on the princess’s life. His attraction to the new kitchen helper prompts him to ask for her help.

 When she discovers the truth, it might very well break both their hearts.

Author’s Bio: Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). She writes or reads inspirational romance of any genre, and if she’s busy homeschooling, doing laundry, or fixing dinner, it’s on her mind. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for InspyRomance.com and at gingersolomon.com.

 

 

Teaser: A Mary Like Me

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I’m not ready to review this book. But I want to let you know that what I’ve read is wonderful. I’m so excited about it, I would love to find a group of women who want to dig in and find God’s word.

I couldn’t get past the subtitle: flawed yet called. Who can’t relate to that?

Here’s what I know for sure: the author, Andy Lee, is a student of the Word, a lover of Jesus, a servant with a huge heart and burden for women. I follow Andy’s daily bites of bread on Facebook and look forward each morning to her breaking open the Word live on Periscope.

This one is going to be good.

Book Review: The Apocalypse Within

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I have never been interested in studying Revelation. The most I have ever done is give attention to the letters to the seven churches and the wonderful imagery in the final chapter. As far as I was concerned, the most important word was Maranatha—come now, Lord!

DiTizio’s book claims to be different kind of study of Revelation, one that “is about what happens inside of us when we accept Christ into our life.” He asserts that the imagery throughout the book are “about our sinful nature being destroyed by the blood of the lamb.”

To say I was intrigued is an understatement. I quickly tune out those who espouse the contemporary fulfilments of the players in revelation. I just felt there had to be more. We spend so much time trying to explain what will happen in the end times. The imposition has always felt stilted and contrived.

While I don’t completely feel that this book has answered all my questions, it has given me much to consider.

One of the things that I found interesting—enough that I will do more research—is it’s analysis of the Aramaic language. The author draws on experts in this area, as well as many others.

In the very first chapter, the author makes an unusual statement. He says that it is his hope the book will prove useful, but if it doesn’t then go back to what you’re comfortable with, and he makes reference to 1 Thessalonians 5:21: Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.

It’s rare that I finish a book and not have a solid yay, or nay opinion. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. This book has put me in a place where I just might have to do more studying of Revelation.

This book was provided to me by BookCrash in return for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Choose, Fulfill Your Created Purpose

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One of my favorite things to do when I’m in a library or book store with someone is point out the authors that I know personally. I’m going to let you know: I know David Brannock.

But more than just know the person and the author, I know this man’s heart–and it shines through in this book.

Choose is straight from his heart.

Finding purpose and direction may not rank up there with college choices, prom dates, and summer jobs in the minds of many graduates, but David understands that what they decide about Jesus truly is the most important choice they’ll every make.

This is not a long book, but it is a rich one. There is a lot of scriptural foundation that backs up the authors points. Each chapter has questions that will guide the reader as he or she considers their future.

The book claims to help the reader chart their course wisely. And I think it clearly delivers on that claim.

I would recommend this book as a gift for graduates. Churches, pastors, and Christian Ed Committees would do well to consider it for all their graduates. It would also be a great small group study. It’s one I will consider for the graduates in our church.

Book Review: The Imitation of Christ, Classic Devotions in Today’s Language

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One of my favorite movies is a sappy romantic comedy called, “Kate and Leopold.” In the movie a character from the late 1800’s ends up in the 1990’s. In one conversation the stars have, Kate asks Leopold what he misses from his time. His response is that he misses the pace. Modern time is to fast and chaotic.

Perhaps that is why I love Peterson’s translation of Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:29. We are invited to “catch the unforced rhythms of grace.”

As I began reading this modern translation of The Imitation of Christ, I felt the pace change. I sensed an unusual, but very comforting rhythm. I found I couldn’t help but slow down–and in the slowing, go deeper.

There has always been a timelessness about the message of the original work, but now people can more easily hear it and hopefully be changed by it. I love how the messages flow from the Christ and from the Disciple. We are so naturally tuned into the message and pace of the world and this books speaks to that…and to us.

I would strongly recommend this book for personal study, but also see how it could be beneficial to study it’s message in a small trusted group. There is much to be gained from the accountability with other believers.

The only thing that would made the book better was more room to write in the margins. I found many times when I wanted to respond to the Christ as the disciple did.

 

 

Book Review: The Fragment

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Once again Davis Bunn has challenged my preconceived notions about a specific genre. I enjoyed his book, The Pilgrim, so I wanted to follow up with The Fragment. Prior to reading these books, I was quick to stay away from Historical Fiction. But Mr. Dunn does his homework and I don’t feel like I’m studying a history lesson or wonder if that’s how it really was. As is typical of this author, I dive into the story, get lost in the characters, and only come up for air when I have to.

I especially like the strength of the story’s leading woman, Muriel. She’s intelligent without being arrogant or pretentious. She is educated and real, and remains true to the convictions of her faith.

As for the villain…I sure didn’t see that coming!

If I have any complaints about this story it is that it ended too quickly and too soon.

When I reviewed this book on Amazon, I was stumped for a title. Then it came to me: No Fragments Here–This One is the Whole Package. And it is. I so thoroughly enjoyed the characters, I really do hope there’s more about them in the future.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Message 100 Devotional Bible

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Each time a new Bible is printed, the question that typically gets asked is, “Why?” Do we really need another Bible?

In our Twitter crazed, cut to the chase world, it’s not easy to convince people to take or make the time to study a book that’s centuries old. They struggle just maintain a 30 second devotion—how will they ever commit to 30 minutes?

Enter The Message 100 Devotional. Readers are invited to partake of a story: the Story of God. The point, of this devotional, according to the introduction, is to draw the reader in, right into the unfolding Story of God.

At the beginning of each reading there is an intro or explanation. They are inviting and encouraging. They seemed conversational and I liked them.

Many are looking for a new and fresh way to read scripture, and The Message 100 provides both. Reading out of the traditionally presented order is challenging. It’s enough of a jolt to push the typical Bible reader out of their familiar rut.

People often resolve at the start of the year to read the Bible all the way through, but burn out by the end of March. The beauty of this format is that readers will be almost done at the end of three months. A double accomplishment! Not only will they have realized a goal, but they will also gain knowledge and growth in their faith.

That’s a win-win in my book!

I highly recommend this Bible devotion.

I was given a copy of the The Message 100 in return for an honest review.

 

Book Review: Intentional Warfare

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The goal of this book is to increase awareness of believers’ daily spiritual battles. Life, for the believer, is about battle training and being battle ready. According to Ms. Scro, being ready doesn’t happen overnight and only as we intentionally continue to grow.

This book has a great balance of scripture and personal experience. It is practical and pragmatic, not a dry how to book.

Included with each chapter are exercises that give the reader opportunity to train and try the principles being taught.

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I especially appreciated the format the author used. WARFARE is not just the theme, it is the outline and checklist for readiness. I like this because it makes it easier to learn the points and put them into practice.

The author also included an appendix that contained a list of her favorite books on prayer, spiritual warfare, and other related topics. I find these helpful in understanding what and who has influenced an author.

I recommend this book for believers seeking to go deeper in their understanding of and need for being spiritually armed and ready.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Book Review: Hymns of the Heart

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As close to perfect as I’ve read in a long time.

There is really nothing I didn’t like about this book. I only wish there was more. The author addresses thirty five psalms in this volume. There is a good representation of familiar and less familiar selections included. The author gives the more familiar psalms a look that is refreshing, while taking the time to lift up less familiar hymn an intention and well-deserved nod.

In the epilogue the author notes mentions the varied emotions expressed in the psalms and how this was encouragement to the growth of his awe and wonder for God. His intention to draw the reader into similar patterns of growth can be considered “mission completed.”

The heart of this pastor is poured out on each page. I can imagine the material being preached and the people being blessed. Rev. Faughn has done his homework, but it neither comes across as “preachy” in a negative way or condescending manner. I found myself learning and going deeper.

Each chapter is written in an easy to follow style. I love the author’s use of alliteration. The way it is presented could clearly enhance a person’s individual study time or be well-suited to a class or small group study.
I highly recommend this book. I received a copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.