I have discovered over the years, that life can be challenging. God desires to sustain us as we look for "splashes of His grace" every day. My desire is that through posts, or book reviews, you may find something that points you to the grace of God, and that He ultimately will make a difference in your life.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dangerous by Caleb Bislow

I am not a risk-taker.  I usually stay on the "safe side". Caleb Bislow, author of the book Dangerous, would be my polar opposite! Caleb started out as a youth pastor, but became a person on mission in some of the most "dark, dangerous, and despised" places in our world.  He metaphorically calls it ministering on the 13th floor -- a place people usually try to avoid. He shares stories about his journeys to places like the Congo, villages in Africa, Haiti, Guatemala, and red-light districts in Asia.

The book is not an easy or comfortable read. We are exposed to "darkness" in places where the light of Christ has not shined. We are exposed to the sin and suffering of people groups that have not heard the name of Jesus yet. We get a glimpse of prison life, prostitution, human trafficking, and yet we see that the truth of the gospel can reach into hopelessness and bring peace. We see a need for courageous men and women to step up to a challenge. We see a need for us to listen for the leading of the Spirit of God, and then move in the direction He leads.

I believe God has created certain people, like Caleb, to take these great risks, and "boldly go where no one has gone before" and to train others to do the same. He is very deliberate in letting people know they need to be prepared before they venture out. The appendices of the book lists various organizations along with their websites, that interested readers could find further information. If God calls you to this "dangerous" mission, then GO!  If He doesn't, then do what he HAS called you to do here, where you are!

The book challenged me to look at myself and see what God has in store for me beyond my comfort zone. We don't have to go to third-world countries to find some of the same sin and suffering.  We have a lot of the same problems here!  Am I willing to go across the street, or across my own city, state, or country to share the hope I have in Jesus?  That, to me, could also be considered a HUGE risk for someone like me!
Dangerous is a book that will inspire you to do SOMETHING for the cause of Christ. You may not board the next plane to India (or maybe you will!) but this book will make you at least think about it!

I received a complementary copy of this book from the Bethany House Blogger program. The opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Secrets to a Happy Life by Bill Giovannetti

Many people spend a great deal of their lives searching for “happiness” and never truly finding it.  They look to circumstances, possessions, or position in life hoping that the next “thing” will make them happy. Disappointment often follows.

In his book, Secrets to a Happy Life: Finding Satisfaction in Any Situation, author Bill Giovannetti, attempts to challenge his readers to look deeper as he describes the eleven secrets to a happy life. Truly happy people find their satisfaction in the deeper recesses of their soul and in their faith in God.  Giovannetti artfully weaves the biblical story of the life of Joseph through the book to illustrate how even when “bad things” happen,  a person can remain content, satisfied, and “happy” (or using a biblical term – joyful) throughout his life.

I found the book to be engaging, thoughtful, encouraging, and very practical.  Secrets to a Happy Life makes it clear that being “happy” is a choice. It all comes down to how we view our situation.  Not everything in life is good or easy.  The life of Joseph exemplifies that!  But like Joseph, we can find peace and joy even in the midst of chaos.  We can entrust our lives to a God who loves us unconditionally. We can anchor our soul in that. This book inspired me to look at situations differently and trust that God can work in and through any situation.  I can choose to be happy, or I can choose to be miserable. It’s my choice!

Each chapter concludes with a series of questions for reflection and discussion, making it a book that could be used in a small group study.  The questions help you process the information you just read and allows you apply it to your own life situations. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who would like to discover what true happiness is!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hopelifter by Kathe Wunnenberg

Feeling hopeless can be devastating. Life can throw you into situations where you find yourself emotionally and physically drained. You are knocked down and sometimes it just takes someone to come along side of you and to help lift you up.  That's what the book Hopelifter: Creative Ways To Spread Hope When Life Hurts is all about. Author Kathe Wunnenberg offers practical ways that we can help to bring hope back to our friends, family, co-workers, and those we come in contact with.

The book is divided into three sections: Discovering Hope, Embracing Hope, and Giving Hope.  Before you can share hope, you must discover the true source of hope, Jesus Christ. As you understand and experience that hope yourself, then you will be able to share the hope you have found with others. She does caution her readers that there will still be times when you, yourself, may need to be lifted! As you embrace that hope, she encourages her readers to have a plan of action so you will be able to spread hope. Because each of us have different personality types and different resources, the way we express hope may differ. The final section gives personal testimonies of how others have expressed hope in specific situations.  These "life events" are listed alphabetically, so if you want to see an example of how hope was extended to someone suffering from cancer, or depression, you can easily find it by the topic. These may be a catalyst to spur ideas of how you could minister in a specific situation.

At the end of the book, there are other helpful appendices which include Discussion Questions if you'd like to use this book in a small group setting, Verses of Hope to share and be encouraged by, and a list of Helpful, Hopeful Websites, where you can find additional resources to help others.

Overall, I found this book to be a down to earth resource to help you begin to discover how you can be the hands and feet of Jesus as you purposefully look around you and see the needs. Sometimes you will find an encouraging word is all someone needs. Other times it  will require a longer commitment on your part as you walk through a tragedy with others.  Either way, we can be a Hopelifter -- someone who sees those around them who are hurting and brings the hope Jesus promises to them.

The only slight problem I had with the book was the quality of the cover.  It seemed to immediately begin to curl.  That doesn't diminish the content of the book, but it did bother me a little!

I received a complementary copy of this book from the blogger program, BookSneeze, in exchange for my personal review.