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Book Review: Am I Enough? By Grace Valentine

Book Review: Am I Enough? By Grace Valentine

Am I enough is a great book for any young woman who has often found herself wondering if she truly IS enough. If she’s beautiful enough, smart enough. If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, then this book is for you.

There are so many things that society tells us we are and aren’t. Most often, it tells us that we aren’t good enough. Through reading this book, Grace Valentine guides you through her own experiences with not feeling good enough and invites you to join her in revealing those lies that we tend to believe about ourselves and encourages you to replace those lies with the truth, God’s truth. She also has a reflection portion at the end of each chapter, which helps you reflect on what you have learned and what lies you’ve been believing. This is a great help as it ensures that you are not only looking within to find any lies you’re believing; but it encourages you to pray, to speak those things out loud and to see God’s perspective and His truth. The book is both convicting and encouraging. A very easy read with short chapters. Highly recommend!

The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran

The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran

Loved reading this books growing up, and I know that I can trust this series to provide fun stories that have age-appropriate content. My daughter is a little too young to fully enjoy these stories just yet, but she really loves the colorful pages and pointing out all the different objects. This book, along with many others in this series will be staples in our household for years to come. I liked how they have made books for specific people and situations, so now their grandparents can read this one with them!

Book Description: 

In The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran, the newest title in The Berenstain Bears Living Lights series, Mama, Papa, and the cubs decide it’s high time they honor Grizzly Gramps and Gran.

It’s almost Grandparents Day and the Bear family has never celebrated this special day before. So working as a team, the cubs, with a little help from Mama and Papa, come up with a fun and creative way to show Gramps and Gran just how much they are loved and appreciated.

 

Book Review: Do Your Children Believe? by Terence Chatmon

Book Review: Do Your Children Believe? by Terence Chatmon

Do Your Children Believe?

Becoming Intentional About Your Family’s Faith and Spiritual Legacy

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15 NLT)

Now that we have kids, this is a topic that has been on my mind quite a bit lately – how to be intentional with our faith in a family setting. This book by Terence Chatmon is a great starting point for putting together a practical plan on how to cultivate an environment where engagement and growth can occur, even at younger ages.

“I’m not talking about whether your children have professed belief in Christ or been baptized, officially marking themselves as Christians, as church members. I’m talking about kids who deeply know the Word, kids who are confident in articulating the basis for their faith, kids who are active in synthesizing their biblical understanding with the kinds of lifestyles they lead and the heart for service and servanthood they embody.” – Terence Chatmon

This is what I want for my children, and this is what we all ought to want for them.

Do your Children Believe? challenged me to think in terms of spiritual legacy. As a father, one of the callings we have is to be the leader of the household, and that includes a spiritual leader. Growing up I did not have a personal example of this, or what to make of this calling in a practical sense. I want it to be more than just praying at dinner and before bed.

“Will your priorities, as they’re presently arranged, help to make you the kind of person who leaves the greatest possible legacy behind you? If not, what needs to change?”

“I needed to seek the kind of relationship with Him that I wanted them to experience so I could show them it was real, not just talk about it. I wanted the kind of faith that would rub off on them through real interactions together as a family, not through some kind of forced “Bible time.” I wanted to model genuine love for God, not boring legalities. Genuine love for others, not guilty obligations.”

This! That is where I want my heart to be, though I find myself struggling to achieve this at times. However as he so eloquently puts it; “all the choices we make are windows on our priorities.” I want to live a life by conviction and not by convenience. But how to get there?

“He gave me four words that have come together to show me how transformation is supposed to take place in me: (1) surrender, (2) sacrifice, (3) humility, and (4) dependence.”

“God’s priorities are the best priorities. They’re the ones that really matter. And they need to be ours too.”

“Do you know what you want for your children? The one thing? …to make Christ known to my kids.”

Do Your Children Believe? by Terence Chatmon uses biblical truths to provide a way to create a lasting spiritual legacy. The chapters are broken down well, and the biggest portion of the book is on the practical ways to implement a spiritual growth plan. At the back of the book he includes examples of what those plans may look like to use as a guidelines, which I have found to be extremely helpful in creating a plan for my family.

I would definitely recommend this book if you currently have kids (no matter their age) and would like to cultivate an atmosphere that encourages questions and growth in each others faith and walk with God.

Bible Review: Faithlife Study Bible

This NIV Study Bible is amazing.

It has a ton of cool info-graphic features that really helped bring a greater meaning and understanding to certain passages of scripture. For example, being able to see a genealogy chart in Numbers really helped me to follow along with the huge list of names that are being presented. I don’t know about you but being able to visualize it in a family tree definitely helped me see connections and the magnitude of what had been recorded much easier.

The font is bigger than my other Bibles, which makes it easy to read, especially with all the study notes that are included on each page.

I attended a conference on how to study the Word of God and happened to bring along this Bible. The pastor made several references to study notes that were in this Bible already! That helped bring credibility to what he was saying and knowing that the study notes were solid.

If you are looking for a study Bible that has those extra features, this is definitely the Bible you should be picking up. It contains family trees, overview articles on key themes and topics, several maps and special time lines of Jesus’ life, and many other cool features.

The I Factor by Van Moody

The very first book I reviewed for BookLook Bloggers was The People Factor by Van Moody. In his follow up book, The I Factor, Van Moody focuses on how building a relationship with yourself is the key to a happy, successful life.

I knew I would love this book considering how much his previous book poured into my life. This book is full of biblical stories and scriptures to help you build a great relationship with yourself. Each chapter has what he calls “Internal Building Blocks” and are essentially a review of the major points of the chapter; a feature I found very useful. The chapters also contain reflection questions to help apply the principles and concepts shared throughout.

This book is definitely one I suggest you take a good amount of time to read and re-read and not just run through it. One of my favourite sections is where he talks about the importance of knowing your identity and defining clearly your foundation to live your life from. If you are struggling to find your identity or where to start on how to build a successful relationship with yourself and with God, I would recommend you give this a read.

Favourite Quotes:

“From God’s perspective, the wilderness is the proving ground of our identities; it’s the place where we pass or fail the test of knowing who we really are.”

“Until we understand and live out of our identities, we can easily become our own worst enemies and set up stumbling blocks for ourselves, often without even realizing it.

“God is so committed to His will for your life that He will not release you to your next step of destiny until He knows you are ready and until you have proven your readiness to yourself.”

“Your identity is the compass that guides you through every aspect of your life and keeps you grounded and centered in the things that matter most to you.”

How’s Your Soul? By Judah Smith

How's Your Soul? Book Cover How's Your Soul?
Judah Smith
Religion
HarperCollins Christian Publishing
November 15, 2016
224

How’s your soul?

Such a simple question, perhaps not such a simple answer. Full of vulnerability and personal stories, as is the norm with Judah, this book asks a question that needs to be asked, especially in today’s culture. How are you doing, or how is your day are questions that 99% of the time receive a one-word answer with zero reflection. I have done it, frankly, we all do it. Asking “how is your soul?” however, requires some introspection to answer properly.

Judah Smith’s book is aimed not only at Christians but those searching for more. It’s a book that can make you go through a field of emotions, from laughing to crying to deep thought and back to laughing… all in about three sentences! He uses his expository skills to show that our souls need rest, responsibility and restraint. This book is clear and easy to read, and the overall size of the book makes it a great gift as well.

Favourite Quotes:

“Guess what parenting is all about? Leading our kids to a place where they can say no for themselves, even when they want to say yes.”

In the journey of life, emotions make great companions but terrible leaders.”

What if we all counted to three and then simultaneously did whatever we felt like doing? Play it out mentally. It would be complete and utter chaos. You think zombies are bad? Imagine billions of people whose only criteria for decision making were their feelings and emotions and desires. It would be like shopping on Black Friday.”

Either life is meaningless and my existence doesn’t matter — or God is the only hope I have”

Even when we confront, we do so from an attitude and an expectation that our love is not going to be withdrawn no matter what happens”

Do I live according to who I really am, or do I live according to who people perceive me to be or want me to be?”

Rather than asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” we should ask a far more important question: “What do you want your life to look like?” Or maybe, “What kind of soul do you want to have?””

Too many times as Christians we imply that people have to first behave and believe the right way before they can belong to our communities. We don’t do it on purpose, but our actions and reactions when we see their flaws leave little doubt that they are outsiders.”

All we need to have healthy soul identities:

  • We have our identities set firmly in Jesus, the source and definition of who we really are.
  • We have a Saviour who is superior to all authority and power, and he declares that we are blessed and approved.
  • We have a salvation that is great, that is complete, final and free.
  • We have a community of Jesus followers where we belong even if we don’t believe or behave exactly right.

Whatever God starts, he finishes. Think about that. You can’t find one place in the Bible where God started something and said, “Actually, I’ve changed my mind. I lost interest. This is too much work. I’m out.””

Life’s complexities and challenges would be far less complex and far less challenging if we could approach every day like Jesus did: from heaven to earth.”

 

 

Book Review: The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord's Prayer Book Cover The Lord's Prayer
Rick Warren
Juvenile Nonfiction
November 1, 2016
32

This iconic prayer is paired with flowing illustrations by award-winning artist Richard Jesse Watson and thoughtful insights by bestselling author Rick Warren, resulting in a book that rejuvenates the familiar prayer for a younger audience. Using poetic scripture from the King James Version, The Lord's Prayer: Words of Hope and Happiness helps familiarize children with real biblical text while also presenting contemporary illustrations and insightful words that make this beautiful prayer come alive.

Now that I have a daughter, I have been on the look out for books to read to her. Rick Warren’s The Lord’s Prayer is a perfect fit. The writing is huge, there isn’t a lot of text on each page and the pictures are beautiful. Research shows that big letters, repetition, and talking clearly and loudly, help babies learn to read. This book meets that criteria. On top of all that, it is about The Lord’s Prayer. It’s a perfect book to read to Olivia (my daughter) to bed. It will teach her how to pray before she is even aware of what prayer is. It also shares and breaks down each line of the prayer to further explain the love of God and His Son, Jesus.

The book comes in a hardcover option which I chose. The pages are big and the quality is great. If you are looking for a simple book to teach your children The Lord’s Prayer, this is the perfect choice.

I received this book from booklookbloggers.com. If you like to read Christian books I suggest you check them out!

Falling Free by Shannan Martin

Falling Free by Shannan Martin

Favourite Quotes:

“Our culture bombards us with the message that we should aspire to have more and do less…God offers a better way: have less and do more.”

“There’s a difference between being too scared to do hard things and doing hard things scared. Communing with the God of the universe will inspire all kinds of unscripted movement and giant leaps past “normal.” It’ll make surrendering seem like the safest way.”

Great Questions she asks:

“In a world where we possess the power to distract or buy our way out of most discomfort, can we ever really mean it when we say God is all we need?”

“Can I really trust enough to believe my plans are meaningless apart from him?”

I actually chose to review this book for my wife to read. Instead I ended up reading the first chapter and was unable to put it down and so, decided to read it for myself. This is a story about Shannan Martin and her family and how she ended up being rescued from the life she always wanted. It makes you question whether that perfect dream life you imagine for yourself is really the life you should aim for. Perhaps, when we are fully in God’s will there is an even better dream life that we couldn’t even imagine.

Falling Free is a story that will challenge you emotionally and spiritually as you learn story after story of their surrender and sacrifice. It is written like you are having a coffee table conversation about life, full of raw honesty, humour and questioning whether the choices she makes are the right ones. Her story really helped add a new perspective to what it means to surrender to what God wants to do with our life.” As an example, they go from living their dream life to living in what most would call the ghetto as she feels led by the Holy Spirit. They give up their life savings and their dream farm house, then deal with her quitting her job and her husband then losing his. They adopt one child, to then adopt another, to then adopter another(!!), then let a 19 year live with them. Enough surrendering and sacrifice than most of us would typically like to admit we would want to handle. If you want a story to challenge you to do more, be more grateful for what you have and push yourself closer to surrendering your whole life to God, then read this.

This book was given to me to review by booklook bloggers and has no impact on how I review. If you are an avid reader and would like to receive free books to review, I highly recommend you checking out www.booklookbloggers.com

 

 

What House Will You Choose?

by Ben Silk 0 Comments
What House Will You Choose?

 

I was listening to a message recently on salvation and it brought up a well known question of whether you can be “saved” more than once. Does salvation just come from accepting Jesus into your life or is there more to it than that?

The quickest answer is, yes and no.

In order for us to be “saved” there needs to be a saviour. We need to be rescued by a person, not by a list of laws. That person, can’t just be any person. When we look to a friend, family member, celebrity figure or anyone else we may idolize, as our saviour, that person will always fail. Why? Because just like they us, they make mistakes, they are imperfect and they were not created to be an example for all mankind.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

At some point, if we are going to be rescued by our true saviour, Jesus Christ, we have to accept and acknowledge who He is. After that, we have to build a relationship with Him so that we can protect ourselves as we continue to live out our lives and fulfill our purpose here on earth. Imagine the President meeting his secret service, sworn to protect him, and then he just leaves them where he met them and never returns. That would be pretty stupid, useless and wouldn’t make any sense.  How are they supposed to protect him when they are not in his presence? It’s the same for our Protector, how can we expect Him to protect us if we are not in His presence, if we aren’t building a relationship with Him?

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (Psalm 91:1,4 NLT)

As I was listening to the message, some pretty intense imagery was put in my mind of just how upside-down our citizenship in the Kingdom of God can look.

Imagine you are walking down a street, it’s a beautiful neighbourhood. Each home you walk past the owner of the home is trying to persuade you to buy it. The first house you come by appeals to your lusts, you know it’s not the place for you but you can’t control yourself and you want it anyway. The second house you come to appeals to your greed, they tell you they will sell it to you cheap and you can sell it and make way more in the future. Another house appeals to your fears, if you don’t take their home you will be homeless. Another home owner tries to tell you if you buy their house you will be content with life, that this home is really what you need to be happy. One of the owners goes for ego and pride and tries to tell you how great you will feel, how everyone will admire and look up to you, if only you purchase their home.

Eventually you get to the last house, which was really the first house, you just ignored it because it looked so ordinary and out of place. The owner of the home comes to greet you and His name is Jesus. He tells you that he saved this home just for you, that you can have it, for free. He smiles at you and hands you the key. You walk in and are in awe of the splendor and magnificence of the home. You don’t understand why someone would just give something so amazing away for free. How could something so ordinary looking on the outside be so beautiful? In His presence you find real Freedom. As you spend more and more time in the home you begin to fall in love with Jesus.

For most of us, we skip by the ordinary mundane things and get distracted by what the world has to offer. Everything around us pulls at our lusts, our temptations, our need for more, our desire for comfort, for safety, and perhaps the biggest for a lot of us, our pride. It’s easy to fall victim to the owner of the other houses on that street, Satan.

Just look at what the Bible has to say:

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21, MSG)

Isn’t that so many of us? I know that has definitely been me. Carrying around past hurts and bitterness. Seeking happiness in the wrong places. Thinking, if I have this or that item I will be happier, people will like me more, I will like me more. I used to question whether I would ever get a girlfriend or be married. Receive one thing I wanted and instead of being grateful, immediately thinking of the next thing I wanted and why I don’t have it yet. Questions of abandonment, addicted to being numb and pretending everything is okay.

I mean, I look at that list and see that I have been most of those things at point in my life, and that scarily is what the world has to offer. So many of us are lost and broken and don’t even know it. We can always try and fill these holes in our life with what the world offers, but just like Paul says in Galatians, “if you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” It’s like we are repeatedly putting a square peg in a round hole, as much as we can try and make it fit and jam it in there, it will never fit. Jesus is the only peg meant to be in that hole in our life.

So how should we use our freedom given to us in Christ? One thing that is clear is that we are called to make disciples. Sometimes when I read the Bible, I come to a passage and just find myself stopping there, camping out, meditating on why that scripture stuck out so much for me. One such passage recently is 2 Corinthians 5:18 where Paul states that God “has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” We are called to be ambassadors, to show people who that perfect fitting peg is and what a life living in His presence looks like.

How can we have others realize that we are different than the rest of the world? It is irrational, illogical acts of grace and love, our testimony, our consistency to care when the world won’t, our concern for the poor and broken-hearted; especially if they are against us, that will cause people to wonder why we are doing the things we as Christians, ought to do. This type of impact in their daily lives, along with a searching curiosity, will help others be reconciled with God. As modeled in Acts, good deeds done by the body of Christ should always precede sharing the Good News. It allows for good will to be built so that an open atmosphere can be created to share the gospel effectively.

Which brings us back to that ordinary yet royal home Jesus gave us the key to. In order for us to make disciples we are forced out into the world where we most definitely will come face to face with the enemy. Just like a soldier heads out to battle with armor, we are called to equip ourselves with the armor of God:

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:14-18, NIV)

If the passage in Galatians is a template of what we don’t want our life to become, what does a life walking in Freedom look like? Our goal isn’t to be perfect, but to be whole. The only way we can ever achieve this is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

How do we do that? By allowing the Holy Spirit to overtake us.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. (Galatians 5:16, NLT)

How can this be, what about all my past mistakes? Amazingly, God’s economy isn’t built on a normal ledger keeping track of what you have spent and how much you owe. It’s built on an economy of grace. Our Father has freely given us all a clean slate in Jesus. He is forgiving us for all our past mistakes and all our future mistakes.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10, MSG)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:8, 18, NIV)

So what house will you choose?

As for me and my family, we’ll worship God. (Joshua 24:15)

Devotions For A Deeper Life – Oswald Chambers

Devotions For A Deeper Life – Oswald Chambers
Devotions for a Deeper Life Book Cover Devotions for a Deeper Life
Oswald Chambers
Religion
November 1, 2016
416

This is a 365 Day Devotional. This is a collection of writings by Oswald Chambers, most known for writing My Utmost for His Highest. You can definitely sense the style of writing that was used back in the early 1900s. The amazing thing is that it is still so relevant today. Each devotion contains a scripture, a writing by Oswald, a prayer thought and suggested reading. So far the devotions I have read have been awesome, challenging and brought a different perspective to the scripture. In this sense, the devotion lives up to its name of bringing about a deeper life.

As far as the quality and size of this devotional, it is amazing. Hard cover, pages are thick and glossy, with grey and gold theme. It also comes with bookmark.

The one thing I would change is the Bible translation. It uses KJV and boy was that hard for me to understand. Often I just looked up the scripture in my Bible or on my phone so I could understand what it said. I understand this is most likely what Oswald was using and they wanted to keep it genuine to that, however, I believe NKJV could have been used to allow for a better user experience. If using a KJV version for scripture, or checking your own Bible to read the scripture doesn’t bother you than I would definitely recommend this devotional, as the actual content that Oswald Chambers shares is on point.