June 24, 2016

Book Review: 25,000 Mornings

25,000 Mornings: Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World, by Fay Rowe is a Christian devotional book.

According to the book, the author shares, "A few years ago, a television ad for the state of Michigan said we have 25,000 morning, give or take a few.  Michigan has given us 68,49 years....  I've lived a considerable number of mornings already, and I've learned a few things about life.  One of the most important things I've learned about life is this: We need God in it."

The devotionals are based on personal reflections and antidote by the author, as well as cultural references and biblical stories.  25,000 Mornings is written in a straightforward manner that's easy to read and a way to spend a few minutes each day.

In the book, the author states, "One way to ensure we keep God in our lives is to keep him in our days.  I'm convinced that as we start each day by turning our thoughts to him and his ways it will help us live our very best life, and our thousands of days will be filled with his goodness.  As we spend the next few mornings together, I hope these simple devotional offerings helps you begin your morning with a sense of joy and peace, and with expectation for what God has for you--and has for you to do--in the rest of your day."

There are over 150 chapters (or devotionals) that are grouped into several sections.  Some of the section titles include the following: Starting Out or Starting Over, Believing Words, Never Giving Up, Resting on the Rock, Talking to God, Something We Can't Earn, Living the Plan. Getting It Right, Being Yourself and Living with People, and Clocks and Calendars.

These are quick devotionals to read, along with a scripture verse to mediate throughout the day.

While this book is applicable for young adults to older generations, it's geared more towards newer Christians or those wanting a lighter look at scriptures.

Note: I received this book from Book Look Bloggers, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

June 23, 2016

Book Review: One God, One Plan, One Life

One God, One Plan, One Life: A 365 Devotional, by Max Lucado is a non-fiction devotional book that's geared towards teenagers.

According to page two, "Your life is so confusing.  There's so much to figure out....  There is One who has the answers you seek, who knows your future.  One God.  One plan.  One life.  Love him, and everything else will fall into place."
This devotional book has been adapted for teens by James Lund and features material from Max Lucado's books.  According to page 383, "Devotional material has been excerpted and revised from the following books written by Max Lucado."  This books include Grace for the Moment, Volume 1; Grace for the Moment, Volume 2; Live Loved; Max on Life; Wild Grace; and You'll Get Through This.

This book has twelve sections, one for each month, with a prominent scripture verse featured at the beginning of each month.  For every day, there's a one page devotional with the month and day at the top (example: February 25).  Each devotional includes a scripture verse, devotional title, devotional text, and the One More Thought section to further ponder and pray. 

At the end of the book, there's a bonus section: Reading the Bible.  According to page 386, "30 Days with Jesus walks you through the life of Jesus while he was here on earth.  90 Days Through the Bible gives you all the major happenings of the Old and New Testaments, beginning with the Creation in Genesis and going all the way through to Revelation."

One God, One Plan, One Life is geared towards teenagers, yet may be adaptable for junior high students through college age young adults.  It's a great way to encourage teens in an enjoyable, yet challenging way, to incorporate a daily devotional into their everyday lives.

Note: I received this book from Book Look Bloggers, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

June 21, 2016

Book Review: The 21-Day Financial Fast

The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom, by Michelle Singletary is non-fiction book that serves as a practical guide to managing money, as well as dealing with financial stress and seeking financial peace.

On page 21, Singletary wrote, "Wherever you fall on the financial spectrum--compulsive spender or good steward--you'll be surprised at how much more you can have when you follow God's blueprint for making, keeping and giving away money.  My prayer for you is that this 21-day financial fast will give you both the biblical principles and the practical tools to achieve the prosperity God promises." 

On page 14 and 15, the author shared, "Use the twenty-one days to consider what being rich means to you.  And in case you're wondering, when I use the word rich, I'm not talking about material wealth.  I'm talking about the peace that comes when you've done all you can to wisely use the financial resources God has entrusted to you.  The 21-day financial fast is about preparing yourself to prosper and leaving a legacy for your family that allows them to prosper, too."

This book is easy to read, yet still challenges the readers with applicable advice.  The author has filled The 21-Day Financial Fast with helpful tips and practical guidance that's rooted in Biblical aspects and Christian values. 

On page 17, Singletary stated, "The Bible is the key source to this book.  Even if you are not religious, the Old and New Testaments give the best and most basic advice on how to handle your money--in good times and bad."

This book has four main parts: Why a Financial Fast, Fasting for a Better Financial Life, Fasting to Avoid Financial Drama, and Fasting for Financial Peace.  These four parts are divided into twenty-one chapters (or days), as well as an introduction, titled Prosperity on Purpose, and additional appendixes.  

The chapter titles include the following: Twenty-One Days to Financial Freedom, A Promise of Prosperity, God's Generosity, Tithing Today, The Evils of Entitlement, You Can't Buy Contentment, The Benefits of Budgeting, The Salvation of Saving, Diversification Delivers, Marrying Your Money, Leave a Legacy of Good Money Sense, The Devil Is in the Debt, The Curse of Credit, Cosigning Is Crazy, Guard Against Greed, The Caregiver Cliff, Perpetual Peace, Broken Bonds, Strengthen Stewardship, Relationships Recused, and Financial Freedom.  The five appendixes are titled as the following: Blank Budget Worksheet, What's Next: Starting Your 30-Day Spending Journal, How to Start a 21-Day Fast in Your Church, Sample Daily Fast Journal Page, and Financial Fast Scripture Verses.

On page 19, the author wrote, "The chapters and parts build on each other to help you establish a strong foundation for financial peace and freedom."

Each chapter starts with the Main Point and My Pledge sections, and then each chapter ends with the Testimony Time and Daily Assignment sections.  These quick reading sections enhance the pertaining chapter's theme.  There are various quotes and scripture verses, regarding the topical themes, are interspersed throughout the chapters.

On page 211, Singletary shared, "Your financial life may be a wreck, but don't lose faith.  This fast can help bring serenity back into your life.  I can't promise you everything will be fine when it's over, but I know that you'll be closer to finding financial freedom.  If you already handle your money well, then the fast should confirm what you already knew--that following God's financial road-map for your life takes to straight to a place of peace."

The 21-Day Financial Fast is designed to be read one chapter a day, which is an ideal way for individuals and couples to read this book.  However, book groups and bible studies may find one chapter a week is more feasible.  This book is relatable and recommended to those who have properly managed their finances, as well as those who don't know where to start.

Note: I received this book from Book Look Bloggers, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

June 16, 2016

Book Review: Women Living Well

Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home, by Courtney Joseph is a non-fiction book that includes the author's personal experiences with scripture verses and references interspersed throughout the book.  It's written in a conversational tone, as well as it's encouraging to women, yet challenging them to focus on their lives and living well. 

In the book's introduction, Joseph shares, "The voice of the Lord is powerful and majestic, yet it is nearly impossible to hear over the clamor of this world."  The author continues, by imploring readers, "Will you join me on a journey to be women living well as we intentionally block out the world's noise and tune in to the voice of our Creator?  He loves us, and He longs to speak to us.  Be still and listen with me.  Come.  Let's walk with the King."

This book has four main parts: Your Walk with the King, Your Marriage, Your Parenting, and Your Homemaking. These parts are divided into twenty chapters, as well as an introduction and conclusion.  The titles include the following: Which Voice Are You Listening To, I Want the Spa, but I Need Solitude with God; No Time for a Quiet Time; How Thirsty Am I; The Effects of the Media Revolution; Never Walk Alone; The Time-Warp Wife; Marriage in the Age of Media; Banishing Bitterness to Find Happily Ever After; The "Completing Him" Marriage Challenge, Week 1; The "Completing Him" Marriage Challenge, Week 2; The Influence of a Mother; Parenting in the Digital Age; Motherhood Mess-Ups; I'm Gonna Blow My Top; Schools of Thought, Schools of Choice; Juggling Homemaking, Ministry, and Work; Making Your Home a Haven; Routines That Bring Rest; Media and Your Homemaking--Times Have Changed; Discipline and Diligence: The Proverbs 31 Woman; and Conclusion: What Is Your Driving ForceAt the beginning of each chapter, there's a scripture verse or quote pertaining to the chapter's theme.   

The author writes about practical ideas and various suggestions to implement into daily life.  Also, Women Living Well and Good Morning Girls are two of Joseph's ministries that focus on women.  On page 226, it states that the author's "desire is to see women living well through discipleship in God's word.  This led her to co-found the rapidly growing, online Bible study community at the Good Morning Girls website. There, thousands of women, globally, join together daily to dig into their Bibles through online devotionals, videos, free Bible reading plans, and tech-based accountability groups." 

Women Living Well is geared towards women, particularly ideal for married women with children; however, several chapters span beyond that basic premise.  The readers may be single or married, have many children or none, and serve as a housewife or work in an office.  This book is recommended to all women, from young adults to older generations.

Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

June 13, 2016

Book Review: 31 Days to Happiness

31 Days to Happiness: How to Find What Really Matters to Life, by David Jeremiah provides an in-depth look into the life of King Solomon, particularly through the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.

In the Preface, on pages xii and xiii, the author shares about King Solomon: "It is not the proverbial Solomon but a weary and despairing one who cries out into the emptiness his questions of passion and pathos....  Yet we need to know this Solomon, for by the grace and wonder of God, his wounds are mingles with wisdom.  His pain is colored by perception.  And not in spite of but because of his suffering--supplemented at the onset by a special gift from God--Solomon becomes known as the wisest man on the face of this earth....  This is not only Solomon's voice; a deeper quieter, yet more powerful breaks through his weariness and desperation."

This thirty-one day study is primarily interspersed with biblical references to Solomon's life and corresponding scripture verses, as well as various historical and current references and quotes.  As a published author and senior pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah has written an intriguing and thought-provoking study of Solomon's life during the Ecclesiastes time period.

The chapters begin with a scripture verse reference, which allows readers the option to read through the biblical book of Ecclesiastes alongside reading 31 Days to Happiness.  In addition to the Introduction and Conclusion, there are thirty-one chapters.  The chapters are titled as the following: Introduction, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Bored to Death, Trivial Pursuits, Careening Careers, Impressions About Life, Insights About God, Read the Instructions, When Justice Isn't Just, From Oppression to Obsession, When 1 + 1 > 2, A God Who Can't Be Used, Governments Never Change, Dollars and Sense, Money Without Meaning, Employment Without Enjoyment, Solomon Answers Your Questions, The Joy of Misery, The Pleasure of Rebuke, The Hard Way Made Easy, Time to Move On, The Perspective of Wisdom, The Power of Wisdom, Hard to Be Humble, Dropping the "D" Word, Life Cheats, Foolishness in Little Things, Foolishness in Leadership, Labor, Language, and Lunacy, Life is Uncertain: Embrace It, Life is Short: Enjoy It, Life is Mysterious: Examine It, and Conclusion: Life Is Obedience: Express It.

As a thirty-one day study, this book is easily adaptable into thirty-one weeks (or more) as an in-depth study guide of Ecclesiastes, which may be utilized by a small group bible study, as well as a personal bible study for individuals.  Also, it's worth reading to simply enjoy and learn about the Bible with the possibility of adapting the learned (or re-learned) biblical values.

On pages 160-161, the author focuses on this theme, by sharing that "God is speaking to us all the time, and He will use whatever megaphone catches our attention....  That is why I firmly believe that your reading of this book, like many of your other experiences, represents a 'message moment' for you.  What you come away with will depend on what you are willing to take seriously about this moment." 

31 Days to Happiness is geared towards all ages, particularly young adults to older generations.

Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

June 6, 2016

Book Review: Billy Graham in Quotes

Billy Graham in Quotes, by Franklin Graham with Donna Lee Toney is an intriguing book with a compilation various quotes by Billy Graham.

According to the book's back cover, "Billy Graham, the world-renowned author, preacher, and evangelist, has delivered the gospel message to more people face-to-face than anyone in history and has ministered on every continent of the world in more than 185 countries.  Millions have read his inspirational classics, including Angels, The Secret of Happiness, Peace with God, The Holy Spirit, Hope for the Troubled Hearth, and How to Be Born Again." 

In the book's Foreword, Franklin Graham shares, "My father, Billy Graham, is known for speaking out about the one and only thing that matters in this world: the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He remembers the call of God more than seventy years ago to preach the Word of God to all those who would listen about salvation that comes only through Christ....  The quotes contained in this book are predominantly from my father's writings from 1947 to 2010 (spanning seven decades).  I trust the message will penetrate your heart and encourage you in life."
In Billy Graham in Quotes, there are numerous chapters, which are divided into themes and listed alphabetically.  The chapter themes include the following: Billy Graham on Abortion, Addiction, Age, America, Angels, Anger, Anxiety, the Bible, the Blood, Character, Children, Choice, Christianity, Church, Comfort, Commitment, Compromise, Conforming, Conscience, Conversion, Convictions, Creation, the Cross, Death, Deception, Decision, the Devil/Satan, Disappointment, Discipleship and Discipline, Encouragement, End Times, Eternity, Evangelism, Evil, Faith, Family, Followers, Forgiveness, Glorifying God, God, God's Will, the Gospel, Grace, Greed, Grief, Happiness, the Heart, Heaven, Hell, Holiness, the Holy Spirit, Home, Hope, Human Nature, Imagination, Entertainment, and Fun, Influence, Integrity, Jesus, Joy, Judgment, Knowledge, Life, Living the Christian Life, Loneliness, Love, Lust, Marriage, Money, Morals, Parents, Patience, Peace, People, Persecution, Pleasure, Prayer, Preaching, Pride, Race, Religion, Repentance, the Resurrection, Right and Wrong, Salvation, Service, Sin, Society, the Soul, Speech, Strength, Success,Suffering, Surrender, Temptation, Testimony, Thankfulness, Time, Truth, War, Witnessing, the Word of God, Work, the World, World Evangelism, Worry, Worship, and Young People.

Within each chapter, the theme is posted, as well as a scripture passage and quotes by Billy Graham regarding the particular theme.

In the Introduction, Billy Graham wrote, "I am humbled and enormously grateful for what has been compiled in this book; quotes taken from my literary works through the years.  Most of all, I am pleased that these quotes have their foundation in the Word of God.  Each topic has been selected based upon Bible verses that address these same issues....  My hope is that those who do not know Him as their personal Savior will be moved by the message found in these pages and be drawn by the Holy Spirit to the foot of the cross, where forgiveness is found and salvation through grace is granted."

This book may easily be utilized as a reference guide, as well as a weekly devotional.  Billy Graham in Quotes is geared toward a variety of ages, from teenagers to older generations. 

Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

June 4, 2016

Book Review: The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby

The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your Pregnancy, by Erin MacPherson is a non-fiction book that's written in a friendly, yet informative manner.  By sharing practical tips with Christian values in a humorous way, the author relates to women and their pregnancy concerns.

In the Introduction, MacPherson shares, "I've always wondered how God created the heavens and the earth in seven short days and yet it takes nine long months to create a baby.  Nine months.  Seems like an eternity, doesn't it? I remember getting so irritated when people told me that my pregnancies would pass in the twinkle of an eye.  They swore that I'd be holding my baby before I knew it.  That's kind of hard to believe when you're carrying around twenty (er, thirty) extra pounds and gagging every time you catch a whiff of someone else's dinner.  But, really, your pregnancy will be over before you know it.  In the meantime, you're probably going to need some girlfriend-to-girlfriend advice to get growing-by-the-minute, gagging, vomiting, and sweating point you're most likely at right now, to point B--the glowing, ecstatic, sleep-deprived-but-you-don'-care-at-all point that you'll be at in less than forty weeks.  And that's why I wrote this book."

This delightful informational guide has sixteen chapters (as well as introduction and epilogue), which are titled as the following: Introduction: You're Havin' a Baby, One: Getting Into the Pregnancy Groove: Being Pregnant and Loving It, Two: Pregnancy 101: A Crash Course on Your First Trimester, Three: The Dreaded Morning Sickness: How to Deal with Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness, Four: Feeding Frenzy: How to Eat (er, Devour) for Two, Five: All That Medical Stuff: An Up-Close and Personal Tour of Your OB or Midwife's Office, Six: Work It, Mama: Exercise and Pregnancy, Seven: Pregnancy 201: Everything You Need to Known About the Mythical Second Trimester, Eight: Gearing Up for Baby: What (and What Not) to Buy for Baby, Nine: Name Games: How to Choose the Perfect Name for Your Baby, Ten: Pregnancy 301: Surviving Your Third Trimester, Eleven: Ready, Set, Don't Go: Getting Ready for Baby's Arrival, Twelve: Let the (Labor) Games Begin: How to Know When It's Time to Go Have Your Baby, Thirteen: Labor Day: Labor, Delivery, and Everything in Between, Fourteen: The Christian Daddy's Guide: What Dads-to-Be Need to Know About Pregnancy Resources, Sixteen: The Christian Mama's Guide to Your Baby's First Days: What to Expect from Your Brand New Baby, and Epilogue: The Mommiest. 

The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby is ideal for women (particularly those with Christian values) who are recently pregnant or planning a pregnancy in the future.

Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

June 2, 2016

Book Review: Draw the Circle

Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, by Mark Batterson is a forty-day devotional book, which focuses on prayer.  This book is considered to be a sort-of sequel to The Circle Maker.  However, it's not necessary to read the books in order; I've only read Draw the Circle.

In the Introduction, Batterson shares a brief summary of Rodney "Gypsy" Smith, and he states, "Gypsy revealed his secret to a delegation of revival seekers who sought an audience with him.  The wanted to know how they could make a difference with their lives the way he had with his.  His answer was simple yet profound--as timely and timeless now as it way a hundred years ago.  He gave them this advice: 'Go home.  Lock yourself in your room.  Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself.  There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.'"

Hence, the title: Draw the Circle.

This book has forty chapters spread across forty days.  Each day includes a scripture verse and the prayer challenge text.  The forty days are titled as the following: Get Ready, Established by God, Amazing Things, Don't Pray Away, Write It Down, Shameless Audacity, Put on Waders, One God-Idea, Dream Factory, Crazy Faith, First-Class Noticer, Sow a Seed, One Day, Speak to the Mountain, Contend for Me, Lord Surprise Me, Do Not Delay, Keep Circling, Memorial Offereings, Go Set Ready, Set Your Foot, Prayer Fleece, Not Now, Find Your Voice, A Prophetic Voice, Game with Minutes, Double Circle, Quit Praying, A New Prayer, Abide in Me, Spell It Out, Get a Testimony, Prayer Covering, Raise Up a Remnant, The Longest Lever, Senior Partner, Prayer Contracts, Climb the Watchtower, Holy Ground, and Prayer Alphabet.

In Day 40: Prayer Alphabet, Batterson states, "Prayer is the difference between appointments and divine appointments.  Prayer is the difference between good ideas and God-ideas.  Prayer is the difference between the favor of God and the luck of the draw.  Prayer is the difference between closed doors and open doors.  Prayer is the difference between the possible and impossible.  Prayer is the difference between the best we can do and the best God can do."

Draw the Circle is ideal to read with a small group, as well as individually.  This book is geared towards various ages, from young adults to older generations.

Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.