Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #45: Fabookulous November 26, 2010

The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll

Book description:

“Bound and shackled by legalists’ lists of do’s and don’ts, intimidated and immobilized by others’ demands and expectations, far too many in God’s family merely exist in the tight radius of bondage, dictated by those who have appointed themselves our judge and jury.”-Chuck Swindoll [from the Introduction]

The Grace Awakening calls all Christians to wake up and reject living in such legalistic, performance-oriented bondage. The God of the universe has given us an amazing, revolutionary gift of grace and freedom. This freedom and grace set us apart from every other “religion” on the face of the earth.

In this best-selling classic, Charles Swindoll urges you not to miss living a grace-filled life. Freedom and joy-not lists and demands and duties-await all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

With his characteristic style and gentle authority, Swindoll disarms the counter-attack of all those who would not preach grace-filled living and who would claim that focusing on grace would fill our churches with wild, undisciplined people with no godliness in evidence. Yes, Swindoll says, teaching and preaching grace is risky. Some may push the limits and misuse their freedom. But grace is the message of the gospel…the good news of salvation. As Christians, we sing about God’s amazing grace. We understand that we are saved by grace. Let’s learn to live by grace! Discover how in The Grace Awakening.

While Christian non-fiction tends to be my favorite genre, an audiobook of that genre feels like a very long sermon. Which is okay, but just needs to be taken in a little at a time. Which is why I took almost a week to get through this audiobook. I love Charles Swindoll’s books and have been making my way through his Great Lives series. This is the first book of his I’ve read (er, listened to) out of that series; he certainly has a lot to offer in the way of Biblical teaching!

Swindoll shares some valuable insights regarding grace and our ability to abuse it or misuse it. While it is offered freely to us, we tend to abuse that privilege and view it as a right or as permission to keep doing what we want. But what I appreciated most from this book is the discussion on legalism in Christianity. So many Christians follow a list of rules or regulations and then stand in judgment of others who do not do the same. (This isn’t even necessarily restricted to Christians) I love a good discussion on legalism in the Christian faith because among the many denominations, folks really do get caught up in the rules of it all. Swindoll gently reminds us (in a nutshell) to do as we see fit and allow others the same freedom. Isn’t it all about freedom anyway? Why do we put ourselves in a box most of the time and limit our ability? Ah yes–because rules are restrictive.

Swindoll is a mature and seasoned Christian who offers wonderful insight and wisdom. I will probably want to read the rest of his books rather than listen to them and save my audiobook experiences for fiction. But I think I got enough take away from this one to make it worth it anyway!

4/5 stars

Fabookulous

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Book #41: Fabookulous November 12, 2010

When God Winks on New Beginnings by SQuire Rushnell

Book description:

Whether you’re starting out or starting over, it’s comforting to know that you’re never alone- God is watching and guiding your every step. Oftentimes He sends little assurances to you through so-called “coincidences” or suddenly opens a door of opportunity and encouragement at just the right time- little “godwinks” letting you know He’s there.

If you’re standing at a new threshold in life and need a boast of reassurance, When God Winks on New Beginnings will ignite your spirit with powerful, true stories of people just like you who have followed the “signposts of encouragement,” and watched how godwinks mapped their paths to destiny.

I’ve read and loved all of the “When God Winks” books by SQuire Rushnell (and yes, the Q is supposed to be capitalized.) These books are filled with stories about “coincidences”, which SQuire refers to as little “godwinks” in your life which are God’s way of letting you know you’re on the right track or something is meant to be. These books appealed to me a couple of years ago with the first one because I do not believe in coincidence. I do, however, wholeheartedly believe in what I now know to be “godwinks” and I love hearing others’ stories of these little (or big) experiences.

From a long lost couple who turn out to be soul mates, to that “sign” (godwink) that this is the right job/career path; from knowing when to buy a home (and which one), to flying cross country for a vacation, God is guiding us all the way. When God Winks on New Beginnings focuses on those times where you may be “starting over” in a particular area of life. Whether it be love, career, relationships, or finances, this little book will inspire you and make your heart smile. If you read this book, you will probably relate to one or two (if not several) of the stories and may begin to notice the godwinks you’ve experienced.

I’ll share one and this is actually a godwink on behalf of another. I sent this in to SQuire’s website, where he asks for godwink stories for future books. Here’s the following story I sent in (and I’d LOVE a Godwinks book about pets and animals, but alas I am not the author) 🙂

My aunt suddenly and tragically lost her dog a few years ago. His name was originally Bear but the people she adopted him from had renamed him Tyler. She had lost her previous dog to cancer and a little while later, Tyler was a 40th birthday present from her sister and brother-in-law. He was a lab mix and he brought such joy to her life after going through the pain of losing her longtime pet before him. Tyler was just four years old when he was struck with Lymes disease. While taking him on his normal 3.2. mile walk that he loved, I was by myself with him one day and he started to lay down during the walk and just couldn’t take it anymore. That was highly unusual for Tyler and he was always so full of energy, it was an immediate tip off that something was wrong. When we got home, he had no appetite and couldn’t do much but lay on the carport and mope. It was only a few days later that he passed and my aunt, family, and myself were devastated. We missed him so much and couldn’t understand why he’d be taken so soon from us.

My family members have always had dogs in their homes and it wasn’t long before my aunt began to crave that companionship and love from another pet. So she began her search for another dog that needed a home. After looking at a few, she found one that looked JUST like Tyler! It reminded her of him and she wanted to meet him. It was love at first sight! And his name was….wait for it….Bear! (Tyler’s original name before it was changed) As my aunt went through the adoption procedure with the animal rescue, all of the paperwork and information was exchanged just in time for her to pick Bear up and bring him home. And of all days, she brought him home on her birthday! (Just like Tyler was a birthday present) The fact that his name was also Bear, he looked just like Tyler, and that it all happened on her birthday was enough to convince my aunt this was the dog for her. God was winking the whole time He led her to Bear.

One week after Bear came home, my aunt adopted another dog named Mona and the two of them are the best of friends. And now my aunt has double the unconditional love pets bring to a home!

Whether you like love stories, funny stories about “chance” (godwinks), or to feel inspired and warm and fuzzy, I recommend the When God Winks series to you! You’ll enjoy them all, so just pick one and enjoy. And then stop by to let me know what you thought and if YOU have any godwink stories!

5/5 stars

Fabookulous

 


 

Book #28: Fabookulous August 12, 2010

Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore
Straight Talk about God’s Deliverance

Book description: From her first breath of fresh air beyond the pit, it has never been enough for Beth Moore to be free. This author and teacher who’s opened the riches of Scripture to millions has longed for you to be free as well. To know the Love and Presence that are better than life- and the power of God’s Word that defies all darkness.

Her journey out of the pit has been heart-rending. But from this and the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 has come the reward: a new song for her soul- given by her Savior and offered to you here, friend to friend. It is Beth’s most stirring message yet of the sheer hope, utter deliverance…and complete and glorious freedom of God:

I waited patiently for the Lord
He turned to me and heard my cry
He lifted me out of the slimy pit
He set my feet on a rock
He put a new song in my mouth

It is a story, a song- a salvation- that you can know too.

Goodness knows we’ve all been in pits before and wondered how we get ourselves out of them. This message is certainly good and helpful in times like those. I didn’t pick this book up now because I’m currently struggling in a pit, rather I love Beth Moore’s teaching (and if you’ve been following this blog, are well aware of that fact) and I had this in my pile at home. Time to get through these books and either swap them on PaperBackSwap or give away to those who want to read them. I don’t keep books around because (as I once heard in a movie), “I like to lighten my load.”

Anyway, this is probably one of my favorite Beth Moore books yet. Despite the fact that I couldn’t necessarily relate at this season in my life, her teaching is clear, and this is also probably the most entertaining book of hers to read. Her husband, Keith, who she references often and is madly in love with, authors the Foreword of the book. They are such an adorable couple and I love how contagious their faith and beliefs are!

Beth teaches there are three ways we find ourselves in pits: We are thrown in (think: young child gets abused by a parent), we slip in when we are distracted (think: someone who just wants to watch their weight and then find themselves dealing with a serious eating disorder), and we jump into a pit knowing we shouldn’t be there (think: someone who wanted to have an affair or someone who wanted to steal that money). Of course there are tons and tons of other examples, and we’ve probably all been in pits through all of these methods- albeit different types of pits. We just can’t help ourselves. We’re human and we make mistakes regularly.

Several though-provoking points stuck out throughout this book:

  • When we won’t forgive, the people we often want to be around least because they’ve hurt us so badly are the very people we take with us emotionally everywhere we go.
  • Remember, God’s pursuit is relationship. Confession is one way we talk back after He speaks. He initiates conversation through conviction, and we answer back  through confession.
  • Without Jesus, history reads just like prophecy.
  • Smooth living invariably, eventually, makes for sloppy spirituality.
  • No family is perfect, and perhaps none less so than the one that tries to convince us it is.
  • Our hearts and minds still need considerable healing as long as somewhere deep inside we still associate fun with sin.

Those are just a few nuggets in this book filled with biblically sound teaching and instruction on how to protect ourselves from falling into a pit. God is always there ready to deliver us if only we seek Him and ask. This was brilliantly written, Beth’s humble attitude and willingness to share her trials to help others grow is endearing, and I highly recommend this book!

5/5 stars, without a doubt!

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous


 

Book #22: Fabookulous July 5, 2010

When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (Arming Yourself in the Age of Seduction) by Beth Moore

Book description:

It is reported in the headlines, confessed in the pulpits, and hidden in the pews in churches around the world. The seduction of God’s people by the deceiver is a tale as old as the garden, but we are always surprised when it happens. We must realize that Satan is a lion on the prowl and we are his prey.

Writing with a passion fueled by the biblical warnings of the schemes of Satan’s seductive activity and the broken-hearted concern of a teacher who receives countless letters from repentant Christians limping on the road to restoration, best-selling author Beth Moore examines why devoted followers of Christ indeed can and sometimes do fall into the traps of Satan. Delivering dire warnings to Christians to safeguard themselves against Satan’s attacks, Beth writes, “We, Christ’s church, are in desperate need of developing His heart and mind in issues like these.” When Godly People Do Ungodly Things is a guide to authentic repentance and restoration.

Going back to one of my favorite authors and Christian teachers, I picked up one of the variety of Beth Moore books that are on my To-Be-Read (TBR) list. I’ve had When Godly People Do Ungodly Things for a while, having swapped it on PaperBackSwap. There was no particular reason I read this book other than a simple curiosity and a love for Beth Moore’s biblical teachings.

Today I did the majority of my reading because I finally found a day to relax and read. Seems like the summer has kept me almost too busy to read! By the time I get into bed, I don’t get very far into a book before my eyes are shutting. So I was really grateful for the extra day off work due to the holiday so I could sit under Beth’s teaching.

When Godly People Do Ungodly Things is split into three sections: a warning to believers, a section to show us a plan against an attack from the enemy, and a section pointing the way back to God for those who have been seduced by the enemy. I believe a lot of Christians take too lightly the schemes of the enemy and believe situations and events are harmless when in fact they can be laying the very groundwork for a future attack. Beth argues the latter point in this book as she uses case studies as examples of how something in one’s past can later come up in a bigger, more dangerous way.

I’ve always enjoyed Beth’s teachings and believe she has the best of intentions to deliver God’s messages given to her. Written with a passion for God’s Word that is unparalleled by many, I can see how this book could come on too strong for those who have not read her books or studied one of her bible studies before. While reading the first section, it was easy to see how serious she took her topic. I’m grateful she did as I feel like there is a lot of valuable information and tools in this book for finding one’s way back to redemption.

Another wonderful book by Beth Moore, if you are currently struggling with sin that you can’t find your way out of, if you know somebody who is and you’d like tools on how you can help them, or if you’d like biblical guidance on how to protect and arm yourself for future attacks, I’d encourage you to pick up this book.

4/5 stars.

Happy Summer Reading,
Fabookulous

 

Book #19: Fabookulous June 6, 2010

Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado

Book description:

Have you ever had the feeling deep down in your heart that God put you here for a purpose- and then wondered why you haven’t found it yet? According to beloved minister and bestselling author Max Lucado, that’s a sure sign you haven’t found your “sweet spot” in life. Now in this insightful guide, Max offers practical tools for finding your individual purpose so you can figure out just why God has planted you here on Earth. Max refers to this comfortable place as the “sweet spot” because it’s where we fit so perfectly in God’s plan for us that our work goes smoothly, our lives flourish, our families and friends benefit and our faith reaches new heights. If you need a cure from the “common life,” you’ll be surprised at how easily Max’s medicine goes down.

Do you feel drained by the “commonness of your life?” The day to day patterns that cause you to go through the motions without fulfilling you? You were never designed to live that way! God wants you to thrive, to be completely satisfied and to engage in your gifts that he equipped you with before you even came out of the womb.

I’ve had this book for years and never actually read it. Luckily, the small group bible study I co-lead decided to begin a Christian themed book club while we are in between our bible studies. Having just finished a Max Lucado study, the group voted on Max’s Cure for the Common Life as our first book together. I just finished this book today and I’m not surprised at all that I loved it. Max uses such clear teachings and writes laugh out loud examples. I even read parts of it out loud to those who were nearby.

Max is clearly living in his “sweet spot”, which is writing and teaching and ministering, and he does a fantastic job in helping show the reader how to find their sweet spot. All those quirks, likes, dislikes, and hobbies of your youth, adolescence, college, and first career ventures are signs of what you are destined to do.

While many are familiar with personality tests that are taken for high school, college, and for some even in the workplace, many may not know their spiritual gifts or their “sweet spot” as well. So what’s the sweet spot? It’s where what you do (your unique giftedness) intersects with why you do it (making a big deal out of God) and where you do it (every day of your life). We all came pre-packed with a bag of qualities, traits and tools to discover our sweet spot.

Outlined as your S.T.O.R.Y (Strengths, Topic, Optimal Conditions, Relationships, Yes!- what makes you say Yes!), Max helps you define what you are already equipped to do to cure your case of the common life. At the end of the book is a Sweet Spot Discovery Guide by People Management International, Inc. and Steve Halliday where you can really reflect on your experiences and personalize what you’ve read for your own life.

This was a great read with valuable guidance and teachings. I can’t wait to meet with our group next month to hear everyone else’s thoughts and feedback. I recommend this book for anybody searching for their sweet spot; Max Lucado never disappoints.

5/5 stars!

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous

 

Book #16: Fabookulous May 4, 2010

Elijah: A Man of Heroism and Humility by Charles Swindoll

Book description:
Elijah the Tishbite. He stepped out of nowhere to become a significant prophet of God. The rugged, gaunt prophet from the obscure town of Tishbeh became God’s powerful instrument of confrontation.
Alone, Elijah faced off with over four hundred prophets of the false god Baal…and won. Yet, on another occasion, he became so terrified of a woman that he ran for his life. He was a man who God sent His ravens to feed. A man who God loved so much that He prepared a special chariot and horses of fire to transport him from earth to heaven. He was Elijah–the man in a whirlwind, the humble hero.
Like Elijah, we’re all subject to times of bravery and times of fear. One day we’re able to face life with a smile; the next, we feel crushed by its oppressive weight. We vacillate from courageous to cowardly, from hopeful to hopeless. Like Elijah, we are ordinary people with seemingly overwhelming problems. And the answer is in God alone as the name Elijah indicates: It means, The Lord is my God.
He lived courageously with his peers and walked humbly with his God.

Where are great leaders like Elijah today? Uncompromisingly strong, yet self-controlled. Disciplined, yet forgiving. Audaciously courageous, yet kind. Heroic in the heat of battle, yet humble in the aftermath.
We see a few such men and women, but the list is tragically short. Rarely does someone model these invaluable traits more obviously than God’s mighty prophet Elijah, whose calling was anything but calm and free from conflict. Nevertheless, as you are about to discover in this book. Elijah exemplified true heroism and genuine humility amid the relentless pressure of battle.

Elijah: A Man of Heroism and Humility is the fifth volume in the best-selling Great Lives from God’s Word series by Charles Swindoll. The series also includes such powerful biographies as Joseph, David, Esther, and Moses.
Exploring the depths of Elijah’s fascinating life as a prophet of God, Swindoll does not gloss over his human weaknesses; rather, he presents an honest picture of this ordinary man who God transformed into His personal spokesman to confront idolatry and evil in the ancient world. You will find that it’s a life worth emulating.
In a world that has lost its way, due in part to the lack of balanced, godly leadership, we are more than ever in need of a few Elijah-like men and women who are not afraid to live courageously among their peers as they walk humbly with their God.

May this book establish deep within you a desire to stand strong for what is right as you bow low before Him who is worthy of your trust and obedience.–Charles Swindoll

Yet another wonderful read by Charles Swindoll! Reading these books remind me of what my grandmother used to tell me. When I was in the 10-12 year old range, I read a lot of R.L. Stine novels (Fear Street series, anyone?) And my grandmother, a devout Christian with G rated thoughts, used to ask me, “Why don’t you read some nicer books like animal stories or biographies?” At the time that just sounded horrendous. But the older I get, the more I really do enjoy both! haha (Guess my Nana was on to something…)

And I can’t help but think she would have loved the Great Lives from God’s Word series by Charles Swindoll. Biographies dedicated to men and women of the Bible, this series teaches what we can learn and take away from their lives to better our own. I have previously read (and loved)  Volume 2: Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity and Volume 3: Joseph, A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness.

I was thrilled when I was able to get my hands on a copy of Volume 5 (which was hard to track down; thanks to a local used bookstore I snagged one!) These books not only offer a great study of the person’s life, but Charles Swindoll does a fantastic job of sharing life application principles. I especially felt that the take away messages of Elijah’s story were very powerful. I’ve been talking about some lessons I’ve learned from this volume to anyone who will listen.

I didn’t know much about Elijah before reading this book but I’m glad I read this. His life is a wonderful example of how we can put ourselves through “boot camp” for God, trust in the Lord without hesitation, and do it all with a humble attitude. Humility is a lost art in today’s world and this was a wonderful refresher on the topic.

I highly recommend this book (and series!) to those interested. Other characters featured in the series are David, Moses, Paul, Job, and the greatest life of all: Jesus. Hopefully you’ll see my reviews for the others sometime this year!

5/5 stars.


Happy Reading,

Fabookulous