Angels {A Bethany House Review}

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Angels are kind of a fringe topic.They tend to be the subject of paintings, movies and new age beliefs. However, angels have a very powerful and interesting role in the scriptures, and it’s one we often overlook because we’re too busy thinking of them as cute little cherubs with harps on clouds. So, when I saw the new book by Jack Graham called Angels: Who They Are, What They Do, and Why it Matters, I was intrigued with the idea of how a Baptist minister might approach this topic, so I couldn’t help but request it for review.

One of the most charming moments of this book was when Graham starts it off with admitting that Angels are a fringe topic, and that he never intended on writing a book on it. Then, at the suggestion of his publishers and a friend, he began making notes about angels in the Bible, and before he knew it, a book was born.  However, this book is about more than just angels.  Graham uses the fifteen chapters of this book to explore fifteen different aspects of Christ’s sufficiency made manifest by angelic dealings in the Biblical account.

For example, deals with Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne and his sighting of angels at the throne. The topic of the chapter is actually God’s holiness and his forgiveness of our sins. He discusses the symbolism of the appearance of the angels and the seraphim that touches the coal to his lips and what that coal represents. It’s a beautiful chapter, and it’s just the tip of the deep theology that is contained in this book.  I read this book much more quickly than I meant to as a reviewer.  It’s a book that deserves to be pursued and thought over. It’s a book I’ll be keeping on my shelves for some much needed rereading.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Doodletopia Cartoons {A Blogging for Books Review}

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The children and I all love to draw.  However, some of us feel a little less than crazy about the end results of our drawing, so I have been looking for some drawing instructions and tutorials as I have time for all of us.  So, when I received the opportunity to review Doodletopia Cartoons: Draw, Design, and Color Your Own Super-Fun Cartoon Creations, I thought it would be a good fit for us in helping us to learn how to draw.

Doodletopia Cartoons is a large highly-illustrated workbook, filled with step-by-step tutorials and examples of various cartoon drawings to inspire and to instruct users.  In fact, users are encouraged to write directly into the book as they work, completing drawings and adding shading and colors.  Many common cartoon topics, such as animals and expressions, drawing of clothing, cartoon lettering and ridiculous inventions are covered.  There are also excellent examples of completing cartoons and drawing the other half of a drawing to provide even more practice.

I really found this to be a fun and excellent workbook for myself and the children to work out of.  My only problem is that pretty soon the kids are going to each want their own copies to draw with!

Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What Christians Ought to Believe {A Booklook Blogger Program Review}

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Sometimes we don’t see ourselves as part of an unbroken line of faith. Instead, we see our interpretations of the Bible as independent of anyone else’s interpretation and of any other Christian’s beliefs.  Yet, history tells us that when we have those feelings and interpretations that we’re incorrect. The very beliefs that we take for granted as being the only interpretation of a Biblical passage are often the more nuanced discussion of Christians almost two millennia before us. How can we learn and become better Christians from that?  This is the idea that sparked Michael F. Bird’s journey through the Apostles’ Creed in What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through The Apostles’ Creed.

In this book, Bird first makes a very strong argument for what the creeds are and why they’re important to our beliefs.  He points out Biblical examples of creeds, discusses the development of scripture and theology alongside the creeds and explains how our Christian faith can be enhanced using the Christian creeds.  Then, in the main body of the book, Bird takes each part of The Apostles’ Creed apart and explores it line by line in reference as to what it means to Christian theology and how through the Apostles’ Creed we can find a key to our faith.

This is really a beautifully written book, and I found that it brings meaning to a creed that I truly love. I know that many people who I associate with have no use for the Christian creeds, but I think it’s as meaningful an encapsulation of our beliefs as the Lord’s Prayer is for us as an index prayer. This is a basic book of instructional theology, and it’s a good refresher for any Christian. (I took many notes of verses and ideas that I want to explore.) However, as a homeschooling mom, I find that it would also be an excellent high school level textbook for my children as part of their Biblical studies in their Junior or Senior year.  It would also be good for most mainline denominations to use for introductory theology courses for laypeople.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy {A LitFuse Publicity Group Review}

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There are a lot of myths that we seem to believe about our husbands.  One of those myths for unhappy wives is that if their husbands would change, that they would be happy.  Others include ideas such as, “If I were married to someone else, I’d be happier,” “If I were prettier, he’s love me more,” and “More money equals less stress.” These myths and other common ones for wives are the myths tackled in Rhonda Stoppe’s new book, If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy (& Other Myths Wives Believe).  As I occasionally lapse into believing some of these myths (mostly the ones about being prettier or having more money), I was thrilled to get the opportunity to review this book and share a few of my thoughts about it.

In this book, Rhonda shares personal stories, helps you enrich your relationship with your husband, teaches you to deal with unfulfilled longings, gives you a secret to keeping your husband’s attention, and give you 10 keys to a happy marriage. She also has her husband write a page or two each chapter giving insight into the myths from the husband’s perspective. She has small audio clips and resources on her website for each chapter of the book and some reflection and application questions at the end of each chapter, making this a great resource for a young wives Bible study.

There are some of these myths that I tend to believe, and others that I know aren’t true, so I felt bolstered by Stoppe’s self-assured and confident tones in the book. I also felt bolstered by her reliance on scripture as her guide. So many of the marriage books that I have read (even Christian ones!) do not point you back to Christ as a part of advice that they are giving you. Stoppe constantly reminds you that your husband is not supposed to fulfill all the longings in your life. Only Christ can do that.

I also was constantly impressed by Stoppe’s continuance to have wives look at the changes that they can make in their attitudes. She reminds wives not to be self-focused on their own happiness.  Instead, she reminds us to focus on loving Christ and looking to the happiness of others above our own happiness.  With those guidelines, we’re able to live a more Christlike life, and our marriages will improve, even if our husband never changes:-)

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book {A Booklook Bloggers Program Review}

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The Bible tells us that we have an enemy.  This enemy is active, on the prowl and attempting to destroy our witness and our lives. Yet, we do not always take that battle seriously, and sometimes we don’t even recognize that we’re in a battle.  How are we going to recognize the battle and see through Satan’s wiles?

That’s the point of David Jeremiah’s new book, The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book. In this book, discusses the spiritual warfare that we are in and the enemy we fight.  Then, he goes through each piece of God’s armor and our prayers to help give us weapons to fight in this war.

This is a small book, really gift-sized in a nice padded hardcover.  The pages are thick and glossy, and it would be a great gift for a Sunday school teacher, prayer partner or disciple.  The book is formatted into small snippets with a question-and-answer format maintained throughout.  It’s a quick read if you’re reading straight through, but you could linger and read one or two questions a day as part of a study of spiritual warfare or as a supplement to studying the armor of God.

I enjoyed the book, and I found a few new things and ideas to linger over.  I especially liked the prayer section with Jeremiah’s personalized outline of the Lord’s prayer as a part of his answers for others.  Great thoughts here and an easily readable format!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Becoming a Woman of Excellence {A Tyndale House Publishers Review}

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There are many spiritual giants and mentors that I have never read or learned from before and Cynthia Heald is one of them.  So, when I received an opportunity to review the thirtieth anniversary edition of her class, Becoming a Woman of Excellence, I knew that it was a chance to experience an author that many people have learned from, and I found that to extremely exciting.

Becoming a Woman of Excellence is a Bible study book inspired by Ruth 3:11.  In this verse, Boaz tells Ruth:

All my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.

Because I tend to read in the King James translation, I’ve always read that verse as a “virtuous woman.” A commentary that I’ve been reading through as I’ve read through my annual Bible reading plan this year reminded me, when I got to Ruth, that she’s the only woman in the Bible who is called a “virtuous woman” or a “woman of excellence.” What makes her called so, and what character qualities are we to show in our quest for excellence?

In this book, after studying the life of Ruth and some of character qualities that Ruth has, Heald has extrapolated those character qualities and created a Bible study of those qualities.  This book is really a workbook of working through scripture passages and questions to learn and apply more Biblical wisdom to the ideas of excellence, God’s character, becoming like Christ, surrendering to God, obedience, discipline, discretion, a gentle and quiet spirit, purity and wisdom.  Throughout, Heald has come back and written additional reflections  from the perspective of an older woman, thirty years after the writing of the original Bible study.

This is really a beautifully done study, and is certainly worthy of the revision and updating they’ve done for its thirtieth anniversary. I’ve spent a little bit of time with it during my morning quiet time, and I’ve found that, as with all Bible studies, I get more out of it as I put more into it. However, whether in groups or individual study, this is a Bible study that all women could learn from as they pursue excellence and a more Christ-like life.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Better Together {A Moody Publishers Review}

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It can be hard to make friends, be friends or have time for friends. Yet, God created us for community and to make connections with others. With that in mind, author Jill Savage and her daughter Anne McClane have collaborated to create a book on making friends for moms of all ages. This book, Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone, caught my attention when I listened to an interview that Savage did on The Busy Mom podcast a month or so ago, and before I knew it, Better Together was making its way to my home.

In better together, Savage begins by explaining why you need Mom friends, what categories of Mom friends you need, where you can find friends and how to make them. Then, she has you go through some personality quizzes and apply the results to discover your Mom friend style, and how that effects the size and depth of your Mom friend circle.  The rest of the book is spent describing ways that Mom friends benefit each other, and it has tons of practical help for being a better Mom friend as well as anecdotes from Savage’s life, as well as from McClane’s life and sidebars from other ladies as well.  These chapters include, learning with friends, helping friends, caring for friends, sharing, praying, forgiving and encouraging each other.

This was a really warm and fuzzy read for me, and it helped me to realize that not every friend I have has to have a soul deep connection with me to be a friend.  It also helped me to see that it’s okay when you drift closer to and farther from particular friends in certain seasons of life.  As an introvert who processes internally and has a medium-low capacity for activity and a busy schedule, I’m going to have fewer friends and less activity than other moms do.  I’m okay with that, but sometimes seeing friendship activities on social media do make me jealous, and that’s a character flaw in myself that I just have to deal with.

However, when I do feel the urge to branch out and make new friends, I feel much more empowered to actually take the extra steps necessary to make those friends.  For that, I have to say that I really enjoyed Savage’s book and found it very helpful.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.