Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg

Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg is the latest book that I’ve received from Thomas Nelson for reviewing.

There’s been a lot of books with themes of cravings… mostly along the lines of following God and not our flesh. This is not one of those books.

This is a book that discusses many of the areas where we always find ourselves wanting more no matter how much we have. It doesn’t get into things like addictions or personal weaknesses, these are areas that everyone tends to feel, like relationships.

But rather than go the route of beating ourselves up over these cravings, or being a how-to on trying to make them stop, Marilyn shows them simply as being signs pointing to the fact that we are made for more than just the human experience.

It’s a fun read, and has a lot of stories and real life examples… but the whole different approach towards the topic of cravings was really what stood out to me. It’s so much of a change to have a discussion of the topic that doesn’t totally revolve around trying to make cravings go away.

Definitely a good book!

Amazon page for the book
Thmas Nelson’s page for the book

Passages by Brian Hardin

Passages by Brian Hardin is the latest book I’ve received from Litfuse to participate in its current blog tour. http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13507671/brianhardin

The subtitle is “How reading the Bible in a year will change everything for you”, and that’s actually a pretty good summary of the book! The majority of the book focuses on the practical benefits to your life that come from having the better understanding and frequent exposure to God’s Word.

It starts off with Brian’s story, and how he found himself drawn to creating a daily podcast reading through the Bible in a year. It then goes on to explain the changes that he’s seen in his own life as a result, and some about the community that has formed on the podcast’s website and the changes they have seen.

The book is an interesting read. He keeps the tone fairly casual, and uses a lot of real life examples.

And, given the subject matter, I was glad to see that it kept away from the beat you over the head sort of strategy. While he does have some discussion on the fact that we all know that we should be reading the Bible and making it a higher priority, it isn’t approached in a shaming sort of way that tends to dominate in a lot of daily Bible reading discussions.

Given that the book is written resulting from a podcast, it does lean a bit more towards the hearing and goes a bit into the origins of the Bible as verbally taught lessons, which made it a sort of an interesting twist from the common approach focusing on reading more than listening. Which probably does help make the whole thing seem a lot less intimidating to those who aren’t the strongest in reading and might otherwise struggle with the prospect of doing the amount of reading every day for the full year. (But then, I’m not sure those are the people who would pick up this book as casual reading…)

My one less than positive feeling about the book is that it does seem a bit like a diet book, promising big payoffs that don’t seem to be as guaranteed as implied. He does address this in the book, saying that daily Bible reading isn’t a magic bullet, and that it’s more like a workout routine that doesn’t always show results instantly but will certainly show them if you stick with it.

And I do know that there is a lot of benefit to knowledge and exposure to God’s word, and that it can be worked through in awesome and powerful ways. And reading it is a habit that’s probably only going to be a positive thing. But I guess I just find myself a bit reluctant to believe that these benefits are certain to be as dramatic of a change for every person, particularly within one year’s time. And particularly when they may be reading, but not deeply digging into it with passion. (Which is sort of interesting to realize in itself… but sort of off topic to go into right here.. but I’m going to make it the next post because it does tie in…)

In either case, it’s a good read, and interesting to see the results that have happened in people’s lives.


Daily Bible Reading & Devotion!

About Passages
Many Christians feel guilty when they think of reading the Bible. Though they want to love reading Scripture, they rarely have time for more than a few verses on the run. But the Bible is not meant to be a burden. It is the story of God’s passionate love for His children. It is also not a book of mystical incantations. It is a best friend offering counsel and companionship. And it is not a distant relic, but something very near. Near enough, in fact, to be every reader’s story. So how do Christians delight in this story rather than see it as a source of failure? The founder of the immensely popular Daily Audio Bible, Brian Hardin shows readers how reading through the Bible in a year will change their life and the lives of others.

Passages
 by Brian Hardin shows readers how to read the Bible and offers practical ideas for immersing themselves in God’s life-giving words.
 Here readers will discover that reading the Bible can be a breathtaking adventure.

Zondervan 2012.

About Brian
Along Wooded PathsBrian Hardin is a speaker, photographer, record producer and an ordained minister.In 2006, he created the Daily Audio Bible, an online podcast that now delivers 1.5 million downloads a month. He has produced over 150 albums and works with artists and the arts extensively. He is married to Christian musician Jill Parr.

Visit www.dailyaudiblebible.com for more.

She’s Got Issues by Nicole Unice

She’s Got Issues by Nicole Unice is the latest book I’ve received from Tyndale for reviewing.

And let me start by saying I don’t like the title.

To me, the phrase brings to mind people who struggle with particular, non-universal problems. And that isn’t who this book is really about.

It’s about the areas of struggle that are common to almost all of us in one way or another. All of the little things of our daily lives that we battle with that seem small on their own, but add together to keep us from really being changed by being a Christian.

It goes through different areas, and includes different quizzes to evaluate where you might need to consider things in your life.

But not all of these are going to be obvious. Quite a few may have different ways that they would show themselves that you wouldn’t really think would apply to you at first glance.

For example, you may not have issues with control as in trying to control other people, or being obsessive about trying to control things in life… but there’s also another side of the coin, in being overly avoiding of control and feeling like you don’t have control over life, that things are mostly up to chance.

I was sort of surprised on how many chapters I figured wouldn’t relate, only to read through and find that they really did in ways I wouldn’t have expected.

But really… not a fan of the title. It doesn’t really go where the book goes, but it also makes it a book that’s a lot less likely to be picked up or purchased (or even read in a place where other people can see the title) by the people that the book really aims for, bogged down by the accumulation of the smaller struggles in everyday life rather than battling a particular “large” issue.

Amazon’s page for the book
Tyndale’s page for the book

My Own Worst Enemy by Janet Davis

My Own Worst Enemy by Janet Davis is the latest book I’ve received from Bethany House for reviewing.

I guess I sort of expected this book to be about physical ways that we make life harder on ourselves. Debt, health choices, those sort of things.

Instead, I was surprised by the depth, in a positive way.

It focuses more on ways that we sell ourselves short.

Maybe we let our true dreams die off, and never truly find our purpose.

Maybe we let ourselves be beaten down by certain parts of our past that we hide, and let ourselves feel like we are “less than“.

Maybe we hold ourselves back, not willing to stand out from the crowd and show the true talents that we’ve been given for fear of showing off.

This isn’t a book you are probably going to get through quickly if you are really open to reading it. It’s one of those that will probably take some time of just sitting and processing and really reflecting.

But it’s very worth the time spent.

Amazon’s page for the book

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack is the latest book I’ve received from Waterbrook Multnoma for reviewing.

It tells the story of a group of hired fishermen who were on a boat that was damaged during a storm, and who found themselves drifting…. and drifting… and drifting.

Eventually the boat made it all of the way across the ocean, from Mexico over to near Australia… and three of the men survived.

The book also tells the story of the author, who worked in Hollywood, and was very successful but still found his life falling apart, and his journey of recovery.

Later, it ties the two stories together, and tells of how the author saw the story of the fishermen as a parallel to his life, and explains his quest to make contact with them and tell their story.

It’s a really interesting book, and the stories both draw you in and make you want to keep reading.

But it sort of gets awkward with the two stories mixed together… especially at the start of the book when they really seem to have nothing to do with each other, but the chapters flip back and forth.

I think that the two stories really would have done better told separately… completely tell one, then the other, and then relate them. The author does explain that he only intended to write about the men, but was told by many people that he needed to include his story too… but I don’t think this was the best way to do it. At some points, the flipping back and forth even sort of seems to trivialize the struggles that the author was facing… in comparison to being hopelessly adrift at sea while your crewmates die, just about anything else is going to seem trivial.

It’s still a good read… but keeping the big picture of where he’s trying to go with this in mind at the first part of the book might be helpful.

Amazon page for the book

The Call To Wonder by R.C. Sproul Jr.

The Call to Wonder by RC Sproul is the latest book that I’ve received from Tyndale House for reviewing the book.

The book mostly focuses on the various aspects of being “like little children“, and how these relate to our relationship with God.

Some of these are fairly straightforward… such as the call to trust our Father, and the nature of children to be happy to be able to please just for the sake of being able to please. (He does actually have 8 kids… though sometimes looking at the kids that I know I might the question the latter trait.)

The call to wonder itself, from the title, is one of these but not the entire book focus as I had expected.

Some points of the book were made really well, such as the difference between just being in awe and feeling small in comparison to being in wonder and thrilled with the mystery of the vastness.

His approach on some of the topics was different that what I’m used to, and really made me think of things differently at times.

One that particularly struck me was a minor point made that what God says can be trusted, because what he says becomes reality. He says there is light, and there is light. The example was used that if God said that the author is a car, God would not being lying, the author would find himself suddenly having wheels.

However… at other times, this also made me feel like I’m really just not quite getting it. I found myself wishing this were a class instead of a book so I could ask him to explain it a bit differently or give another illustration.

The example of this that stands out to me is in a discussion of his special needs daughter.

He explained that when we enter the presence of God, we are transported in location into another realm.
(Got it this far..)
But because God is eternal, his presence is in eternity… so when we enter, we are as well… thus we are also transported into another realm of time, not just a different realm of location.
(New, but ok, I follow here..)
So he believes that in these times, since we are in eternity, we are also past the victory… and so in these moments his daughter is healed, and can understand him perfectly, and can speak, though she doesn’t as it then allows him to believe by faith instead of sight.
(Ok, I’m not quite sure that I’m getting this one. If I have a broken arm in the physical realm and current time, being in the presence of God may transport my spirit.. but my arm would still be stuck here and now. Though, yes, I do believe that the presence of God showing into this realm can change things here, I guess I’m just not quite getting the connection on how he’s getting where he’s getting here.)

I think I might have preferred reading this book as part of a group study, mainly to be able to discuss and try to get some of the points where I feel like I’m just not quite getting it… but it is a good book and an interesting read, and does have some perspectives that were new to me and made me think about things in a different way.

1st Chapter .PDF

Tyndale book page

Amazon book page

Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn

Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn is the latest book I’ve received from Thomas Nelson for reviewing.

This particular version is an updated and revised version that also includes the workbook that goes along with the book.

Each chapter of the book focuses on a particular choice each person has to make to choose healing, and the common lie that counters it. For example, the choice to forgive, and the lie that forgiveness must be earned. There is a list of ten total.

The writing style is easy to read, and gives lots of real life examples to show how each point plays out. The choices/lies themselves are pretty standard, nothing too groundbreaking or controversial.

To someone who is new to reading “recovery” sorts of books, this is probably very useful and maybe even rough to work through in some areas… going more into depth in sometimes painful spots.

Personally, in some ways it does seem like it made the concept more complicated than needed by breaking it down so much. Some of the different chapters seem like they have quite a bit of overlap with others, and it seems at times that focusing on each of the particular areas of the choice to move on with your life sort of loses the focus on the big picture.

The overall message is good that each person has to make their own choice to choose (repeatedly) to move on with their life instead of allowing it to trap them into wallowing. But I’m not sure this would be my top choice of books on that point to recommend to someone.

However, if I did, I think that I might actually tell them to get the older version instead. There was good content in the workbook sections that I wish would have been put into the book chapters themselves, but the way this version was done really didn’t make the combination go smoothly. The workbook sections appear to have been taken directly from the original workbook, and follow each of the regular chapters.

It was sort of annoying to read the chapter, do some exercises as the chapter went along, then have the same stories that you’d just read a few pages before be retold in a summary version, and then have many of the same exercises repeated… mixed in with some new ones and a meditation and prayer section.

It also makes the book feel really long. The chapter length itself isn’t bad, but when the extra repetition is added, they feel long to go through. (Total of about 450 pages)

I really wish that if they were taking the time and expense to make the new version, that they would have gone further and really merged the content together and removed the duplicated areas and made things a lot smoother.

It is a good book…. and can probably really change lives for some. But just not the best formatting, and maybe too divided and detailed.

Thomas Nelson book page

Amazon