Saturday, July 24, 2010

Love is a Flame

Love is a Flame was such an encouraging book to read. James Stuart Bell compiled a group of marriage stories to encourage and inspire. The book contains stories about couples who were recently married to stories about couples who have been married for years. The issues in these stories affected couples who are in full-time Christain service, couples who are self-employed, and couples who work in the regular job force.

These stories covered topics such as pornography, unexpected illness, death of a child, adultery, discontent, and well as many other issues that can plague a marriage. In some of the stories the issues were with the husband and in others it was the wife that struggled. In spite of the seeming hopelessness of each situation each couple realized the value of their marriage and worked to resolve their issues using God's word, recognizing the power of prayer, and seeking human counsel and help when needed.

I appreciate the openness with which each story was told. I'm sure it was not always easy for each couple to write their personal struggles for everyone to read. Even if the reader is not struggling with any of these issues right now it is encouraging to know that when these storms of life come there is hope. We can emerge from these struggles with a greater love for our spouse and our God who carried us through.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for review purposes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No More Christian Nice Girl

What a refreshing change from the last book (Captivating) I read for review. No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. Degler tackles the problem with just being "nice." Not only do they show why just being nice is wrong, but they teach us how to change. They do that by using many Biblical examples.

The emphasis of the book is placed on the fact that Jesus was not always nice. He did not always tell people what they wanted to hear; he told them what they needed to hear. He did things that made other people angry, and he even showed anger himself. The authors call him the "360-degree Jesus." Since, as Christians, we want to be more like Christ, we can't just pick and choose the aspects that we like or feel comfortable with. We need to emulate all of Christ, the "360-degree Jesus."

This book also uses the phrase "speaking the truth in love." The authors remind us that in every situation we have to speak the truth even if it is not what people want to hear. But, not only do we speak the truth, we must speak in love. We are also reminded that there are times when the wisest response is to say nothing at all.

I loved the fact that Scripture is abundantly used throughout the book. At the end of each chapter there are questions as well as Scripture passages to study. Real life examples and other modern examples are used, but God's Word is the foundation for all that is written. I enjoyed reading this book, and was given a lot to think about. Although I don't necessarily agree with all that the authors said, I believe there are truths to be gleaned from reading No More Christian Nice Girl. I do recommend this book to others. Just remember God's Word is the final authority, and this book is written by humans. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you discernment as you read this book or any other book.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for review purposes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I was very excited to receive a copy of the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. The title and subject really drew my attention, and I was very interested in what the Eldredges had to say. My excitement soon turned to dismay as I read. In order to keep this a review and not another book I will not go into great detail the problems I had with the book. There were some good aspects which I will list first, and then I will briefly describe some of the problems.

Before I even started reading I liked the idea of both John and Stasi authoring the book. I thought it would be very beneficial to get a man and womans point of view. A lot of times I just didn't know who was writing so that got a little confusing. They made several interesting observations about Scripture that I had never thought about and thus made me search those Scriptures to see for myself. For example, on pages 48 and 49 they are describing the scene in the Garden of Eden where Eve is being tempted by the serpent. On page 49 they write, "Now, to be fair, Adam doesn't exactly ride to her rescue." Definitely food for thought.

I appreciated the fact that Stasi was willing to open her heart and share a lot from her personal life. I'm sure it took a lot of courage to actually write her struggles, fears, and past sins in a book for all to read. I could tell she has a genuine concern for women and wants to do all she can to help.

The best part of the book was found on page 126. I believe this is precisely what the authors are trying to help us understand is the heart of the issue. They write, "Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind' (Matt. 22:37)... It is from hearts filled with love for him that all good works and acts of love flow." I believe the authors are trying to help us understand that for a woman to be truly captivating and beautiful she will love God with all that she is. I absolutely agree, but this brings me to the problems I have with the book.

Instead of introducing this passage of Scripture and taking us to an understanding of how that looks for a woman today, they start the book by generalizing how all women think or what they want. Little girl dreams of princesses and fairy tales, dress-up clothes, and tea parties are expounded upon. Too many movies are quoted. (I have never even seen half of the movies they mentioned.) The first part of the book seemed totally unnecessary. Why do I need to be reminded of how I felt or acted as a child. All of that is right and good in its proper place, but how do princesses and tea parties help me to love God with all that I am?

The biggest issues I have with this book are over God's Word. I had hardly starting reading when on page 6 Stasi criticizes the Proverbs 31 woman! Then on page 45 Stasi (I think) writes, "Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God-a life offering, life-saving lover, a relational specialist, full of tender mercy and hope." WHAT?!?!?!? The incarnation? Someone please tell me I read that wrong! Song of Solomon was quoted occasionally and there again liberties were taken that I do not believe were accurate. On page 197 the author again writes, "Ladies, you are the Bride of Christ." Now I understand that this is a book written to women so the author could have just been using the word ladies, because as Christian ladies we are part of the church. However, since there are other theological issues with this book I'm not quite sure how to read that statement. Then on paage 220 the author again writes, "He [Jesus] is captivated by your beauty." I'm sorry, but I can't agree with that statement either. There is a lot I could say just on these few quotes, but this is a review not another book. These quotes are just a few examples of why I have problems with this book.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book to anyone. There are too many theological issues. If you do choose to read it, be very careful. The authors make there ideas sound very good and Biblical. That is the problem! They are THEIR ideas! Have a copy of the Bible beside you if you do read Captivating and compare what you are reading with what God's Word says. You will find that Captivating does not line up with the Scriptures. Follow God's Word (not me or the author of any book) and you will find the truth.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for review purposes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Somewhere to Belong

Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller is a great read. This is a book about two young girls with completely different backgrounds. Life in the Amana colonies is all Johanna has ever known. Life changes completely for Berta when her parents decide to move to Amana. Each girl has secrets to uncover, as well as secret desires to fulfill. I enjoyed the way the book is written from each girls' standpoint. The author alternates between Johanna and Berta to allow them to each tell their own story. Even though there was deception and disobedience throughout the book, the consequences of these actions were clearly presented.

I had never heard of the Amana colonies previously, and I expected the colonies to be much like the Amish. This was not the case. The author did a great job helping the reader understand what life in the Amana colonies was like. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a free copy of this book to preview.