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BOOK REVIEW: Find Your Brave

Wagner, H. (2016). Find Your Brave. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press.

SUMMARY: Wagner bases the book upon Acts 27 and Paul’s encounter with a fierce storm while he is prisoner on a ship along with her own personal struggles in life to deliver a survival guide for followers of Christ. Her words are backed by Scripture. There are many ways suggested to approach and endure difficult times. Wagner gives readers practical steps in identifying a storm, how to discover the source of it, and how to handle each element.

The book directly addresses keeping God first and trusting in His power rather than your own. Wagner is very frank about ways to navigate your way through rough waters by discussing certain aspects such as hope, courage, and perseverance. She gives examples of how that is possible and how to grow in the power of the Lord. Wagner even provides Scriptures to speak over your situations in the back of the book along with group discussion questions if using the book in a small group setting.

My $.02: We all face hardship during our lives. I know when the 5 year pit came I was truly unprepared. However, from the experience was birthed Refining and the ministry God has placed in my hands today. I have read of countless others who have been given a struggle to bear witness to the miraculous power, love, and healing of God.

During the storm it is not always easy to know or carry out the survival skills based on biblical truth. Most of the time you are just trying to survive. This book gives readers great insight to the type of storm they are enduring and practical steps to handling life during and after the hardship. It is a good read for anyone but especially encouraging for anyone in the middle of a raging storm. I especially enjoyed the Scriptures given to pray over your situation. The book is worth every penny.

See what others have to say:

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/27833541-find-your-brave

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Potential

Pope, W. (2020). Hidden Potential. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

Summary: Written based on the life circumstances and personal attributes of Moses, Pope addresses four issues which have the ability to restrain a follower. These are presented as main topics: failures, fears, frailties, and faults. The writer defines and expands on each topic directly incorporating a focus on how each can create a stumbling block when serving the Lord.

Through biblical sound teaching, Pope illustrates the lies of the enemy and encourages readers to restore their “fractured faith”. She clearly prompts the reader to face the elephant in the room by identifying areas in our lives holding us back from the full potential of God’s plans. Pope delivers the content using Moses’ excuses and downfalls to shed light on the Lord’s continual view, love, and mercy towards His children.

Pope incorporates self-reflection prompts, discussion questions, and real-life stories to transition Moses’ story into a modern-day application lesson for believers. The primary take-away is for readers to comprehend their value and usefulness in God’s eyes despite their personal feelings of worth based on their individual failures, fears, frailties, and faults. Pope sums up the overall message in her own words, “You are a worthwhile possibility to God, full of potential, waiting to be discovered”.

My $.02: Wow! Just the book I needed to propel me forward. There are several areas where God has led me yet, I have hit some roadblocks and lack of confidence. (okay, along with MANY other things!) Do I ever question future potential despite the dreams and vision deep within my heart? Maybe I should just say yes and not reveal how many occurrences a day.    

Pope brought back to mind the failures, fears, frailties, and faults of Moses. I had forgotten several of these regarding his life. Based on many of these areas, the author had a way of prompting me to deal with my own barriers. She reminded me that God remains in control and continues His own purpose regardless of my downfalls and selected setbacks. The book confirmed the issue of me being my own worse enemy in numerous fashions.

I love how Pope defined each term and presented a simple self-reflection question at the beginning of every chapter. It is always refreshing to see an author acknowledge the two sources of help from God: His Holy Word and the Holy Spirit. Throughout the writing, Pope reflects upon scripture and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Her candidness and translucency present an inviting opportunity to lay out all your struggles and excuses before the Lord. The words are offered and communicated with great reverence for God and His love for everyone, “warts and all”.  

Personally, I found so many inspirational statements that my highlighter may be requesting a thirst-quenching vacation ASAP. Let me just share a few with you:

Failure – “God uses every failure to mature our faith.”

Fear – “It is possible to be faithful and fearful at the same time.”

Frailties – “No one is too damaged or unskilled to join God in His work.”

Faults – “You see, we aren’t meant to lead and direct our own lives.”

If you are struggling with letting God lead, afraid of the pathway He has been asking you to take, and/or simply think you don’t have what it takes to carry out the plans of the Lord, find this book. God wants you to hear about the potential you really have if you are willing to be His surrendered servant. He knows you, inside and out, and sees a useful-valuable vessel to advance His kingdom. Stop putting it off—You have an amazing future ahead.

Don’t just take my word for it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52223634-hidden-potential

BOOK REVIEW: I Want It ALL

Smith, G. (2016). I Want It ALL. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

Summary: The book is based on Smith’s desire to experience exceptional living under God’s authority. The author crafted the information based on three categories: faith, power, and impact. Readers are given many personal examples throughout each of the fourteen chapters as a method of transparency in conveying how God can work in and through our daily lives.

Smith reveals some deep hurts, pains, and trials endured which refined her life and assisted her in discovering the greatness of God’s love, grace, peace, joy, courage, direction, and wisdom.  Each chapter highlights the many blessings God has for believers when they surrender items such as temptation, pride, fear, doubt, trials, fickle emotions, etc.  

The author frequently list steps to take and/or catchy acronyms to assist in practical application along with scripture reference. Smith backs her writing with quotes, poetry, reflection and response questions, and a study guide located in the back section of the book. Smith overall message is for readers to embrace “living with great expectations of what God can do in and through your life”.

My $.02: I have read a multitude of devotions written by Gwen Smith through Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotional ministry. However, I had never read any of her books until now.

Smith has a unique way of just “talking” to you in her southern dialect and making you feel welcome. Each chapter seemingly feels like a mini-book on a particular topic. This talented writer infuses her poetry and touching personal stories throughout, using the right timing and conveying the precise message. There were times in the book where I could visually picture her examples through her expert delivery.

The reflection and response questions allowed for personal inventory and application. There are numerous sections that were eye-opening, extremely relevant, and sometimes even convicting. Although my intent of reading the book was to gather a sense of writing style and exposure to her online book study delivery, the writing proved to be a supportive resource for the Proverbs study group I am currently leading.

Smith’s material is timeless and will still be applicable fifty years from now. My favorite sections were over the topics of taming the tongue, dealing with temptations, defining the fear of the Lord, and exchanging weakness for God’s power. Smith is bold and inspiring.

Whether you are a new believer or a seasoned follower, the depth of the book will be measured on your willingness to listen to what God’s message is for you as you journey through the pages. I believe if you ever have the book in your possession and begin engaging with the material, the Lord has a reason for it and wants to personally show you exceptional living under His authority. Then pass it along to someone else as a tool to help them grow as well. As for me, it is going to stay in my personal library for a bit to reference and support future teachings.   

Don’t just take my word for it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25779507-i-want-it-all, https://www.amazon.com/Want-All-Exchanging-Average-Greater/product-reviews/0781413702

BOOK REVIEW: Talking With God

Webb, A. (2017). Talking with God. New York: Waterbrook.

Summary:

The author is the founder and pastor of Embrace church. The book focuses on prayer and its purpose. Weber emphasizes the importance of building a relationship with God and defines prayer as simply carrying on a basic conversation. Many life experiences are used to support his stance. The author delivers the information as a practical guide to assist the reader in becoming comfortable and familiar with talking with God. Readers are given precise examples of conversations that are brief and honest throughout each chapter. His approach to delivering the content is organized into primarily three main sections: defining God, the reasons for prayer, how to pray when we experience seven different areas. Weber uses several personal stories to convey his point in the majority of the chapters. Each chapter begins with a quote from various people such as C.S. Lewis and Charles Spurgeon. The field notes have bible references although scripture is not prevailing throughout the book. The dominant message is “Just talk with God”.   

My $.02:

I grabbed this book to supplement my current writings when I saw that Craig Groeschel recommended it. There are three and a half pages of recommendations found at the beginning of the book. Weber is a humble writer and very transparent. He has several personal stories that touched my heart. My main take-away was a statement he made about most followers. The point was we do a lot of talking ABOUT God but not enough talking TO God. All of the dialogue examples italicized in the text were appropriate to give readers a good sense of how to carry on a conversation with God. They exemplified asking questions, praising, requesting, surrendering, etc. when chatting with the Lord.  I really enjoyed his honesty displayed in the illustrations of prayer. For instance, when Weber discusses the topic of extending grace, he addresses the lingering hurt. “God, I give this person over to you again today. I’m still hurting. Help me to extend grace. Jesus, I thought I was past the anger. Past the bitterness. Past these feelings. I need your grace because I have none to give.” Wow! Have you ever needed to say those words to God? I sure have! I appreciate the closing of the book. “Jesus, I want to know you. Jesus, I want to be with you. Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I want to talk with you for the rest of my life.”

Don’t just take my word for it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30896358-talking-with-god

BOOK REVIEW: The Will of God

Stanley, Charles F. (2019). The Will of God. Howard Books, New York:NY.

SUMMARY: In this writing, Stanley conveys the belief that God has a plan for every individual and wants each person to know it fully. The writer has developed means of discernment to assist readers in identifying their purpose and calling in God’s determined and desired will. All main points are backed by an abundance of scripture and examples from the Bible.

In the first few chapters, Stanley addresses God’s ultimate goal and His sovereignty. Readers are reminded that God wants a personal relationship more than anything else. The Father is said to communicate in an individual manner according to each person’s way of hearing. However, Stanley does recognize the barriers which block out God’s voice and the issue of free will.

The writer gently reminds believers that the key to knowing God’s will is a complete surrender of themselves. He identifies this subject as “staying on the altar” to be fully invested and remain connected to God’s will.  He also tackles the importance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit by focusing on the role each plays. Stanley pinpoints eight elements in acquiring God’s will and reason for not hearing God. The final chapter is designed to assist readers in their dedication and commitment to fulfilling God’s plan for their lives.

MY $.02: This book was recommended by a friend and they even loaned me their book. My heart honestly skipped a beat as I began reading. Each page is filled with scripture reference and encouragement to knowing and living God’s will. It perfectly aligns with Refining because it focuses on the importance of attaining God’s purpose for your life, the significance of having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and the need to continually rely on Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

I appreciated how Stanley shared personal experiences and biblical stories to help solidify some of his points throughout the book. The book highlights key points and uses bold print to catch the readers attention to main thoughts or steps written.  One example is “God’s desired will is that we serve Him—and that we do so wholeheartedly. Whether we do and to the extent that we do is up to us.”  

If you are struggling to hear God’s voice, know your life purpose, identify your calling, or just want a deeper walk with the Lord, I would suggest this book. For me, it is a great personal resource to reference and is a perfect support when delivering some main topics in the Refining study. I love the fact that the appendix is filled with “promise verses about God’s will”.  

Don’t just take my word for it:

https://tinyurl.com/rquf8gs

BOOK REVIEW: Chazown

Groeschel, C. (2017). Chazown revised and updated edition. New York, NY:Multnomah.

SUMMARY: Chazown is a book assisting readers to find God’s purpose which is designed for them. The writing is divided into five sections, creating a “Chazown” discovery process. Pastor Craig clearly addresses the need for individuals to embrace a vision and the importance of aligning it with God’s will. The method presented attends to personal core values, spiritual gifts, and past experiences. Readers are urged to establish a purpose statement and a plan of action. Groeschel concentrates on five fundamentals of a person’s vision as relationships with God, people, finances, health, and work. In closing, the author discusses the significance of accountability and the magnitude in plays on staying “hot” for God. The book is supported with online resources and participant guide.

MY $.02: I have been on the hunt for a prominent means to support individuals in discerning their unique, God-given purpose. Before reading Chazown, the main resource I referred others to employ was Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. Groeschel’s book is a valuable read for those who lack direction and/or unsure of their God-given purpose.

Chazown is thoroughly laid out with many concise, straight to the point chapters. Groeschel presents several scenarios, written illustrations, and personal experiences. The book is filled with scripture references and meaningful key points which are thought provoking and relevant. I found myself mesmerized by various topics presented because they paralleled with my writing of Refining.

One thing that caught my attention was his distinctive weight given to a person’s past. His key thought in this area was “Your past often holds the key to unlock your future.” He denotes the magnitude of purpose in your grief, pain, heartache, etc. Groeschel had a way of validating life’s residue as part of my endurance and making me feel well-equipped to live out God’s plan because I have undergone a very qualified past.

This is a remarkable read for those individuals who have not taken the time to ascertain their individual purpose, core values, and spiritual gifts. I found it useful in re-examining my vision and goals. It supports the reader in the process and allows an individual to discern areas of needs. The online resources and study guide questions make the discovery doable. The massive amount of scripture references reinforced the material and maintained the primary focus-God’s exceptional plan for each life. I bought more than one copy because it is worth the investment to share with others.    

Don’t just take my word for it:

https://tinyurl.com/u3tj6jc

BOOK REVIEW: gods at War

Idleman, K. (2013). gods at War. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

SUMMARY: gods at War is a book about idolatry applicable to all readers. Idleman plainly addresses several false gods which separate us from fully worshipping God. The writer furnishes relevant testimonies to illustrate how honor is given to things like success, food, personal pleasure, and money. The writing is crafted to engage the reader through insightful questions in order to personally identify the “little gods” within the heart and mind. The author distinctly concentrates on the inner war and focuses on its effect-prohibiting a close, pure relationship with the Lord.

My $.02: Before reading this book, I would have probably said I did not have a concern with false gods in my life. Idleman’s writing was a pleasant wake-up call. The situations shared were touching. Idleman was gentle in his method of revealing items we idolize and how they prevent us from experiencing an intimate relationship with our Savior. I found myself evaluating my own actions and thoughts to discerning the false gods I had approved to takeover. I utilized this book with an adult small group for thirteen weeks and paired it with the 13 chapters of Hebrews. The book is an eye-opening read geared for adults. My copy is out on loan currently because I feel it is a good recommended read for those wanting to enhance their relationship with the Lord.

Don’t just take my word for it:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16182595-gods-at-war

BOOK REVIEW: Grace is Greater

Idleman, K. (2017). Grace is Greater. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

SUMMARY: Grace is Greater is an engaging writing with a straightforward message about the capability of God’s grace. The writer furnishes significant stories and profound personal experiences based on Hebrews 12:15. Grace is exhibited as a two-fold approach; first, understanding what grace is and then, experiencing its true potential on a personal degree. Idleman distinctly expresses, “God’s grace is compelling when explained but irresistible when experienced”. Three applications of grace comprise the narrative’s main sections: your past mistakes, your hurts from others, and your life circumstances. The writer crafts his delivery throughout the book with the main message being, “Grace is only grace if it goes both ways. Receiving it from God but refusing to give it to others isn’t an option.” A powerful ending awaits readers showcasing the immense depth of grace when applied.  

My $.02: On many occasions, my prayer has been for God to establish in me a pure heart as in Psalm 51:10 in order to acquire a steadfast spirit. This is a struggle for me because of my own shame and guilt from situations I see in the rearview mirror as well as hurts and broken relationships I can’t seem to shake.

There are a few people from the past that I find it hard not to say, “Go get’um Lord!”. Yet, selfishly, I want grace extended to me. Call it what it is-unforgiveness. This book allowed me to take ownership for my actions and extend grace to others because of God’s unsurpassable love. Honestly, this book revealed how to supernaturally love others through the power of God’s grace given.

If you wrestle with regret and/or unforgiveness on any level, I would recommend reading this narrative. For those of you that have been able to overcome such adversities, the book offers great insight for everyone as life brings disappointments, weakness, and despair.

You will find the book in my library!

Don’t just take my word for it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30259187-grace-is-greater

BOOK REVIEW: It’s Not About Me

Lucado, M. (2004). It’s Not about Me. Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

SUMMARY:

The book was released over a decade ago yet the message is applicable to past, present, and future—we exist to glorify God. Lucado fills the book with analogies and life experiences to support his stance. The author delivers the biblical based posture in two parts: God-Pondering and God-Promoting. Readers are given many examples of historical and modern-day life that contradict the real reason for our existence. In the second half of the writing, the author crafts his approach by covering all aspects of a person’s life as a reflection opportunity to reveal God’s glory. Lucado exposes the selfish human nature in order to shed light on the need to exchange egotistical reasoning for upward thinking. Each chapter is backed by scripture and reflection through the study guide found in the back section of the book. The conclusion of the book leaves the reader with a daily choice based on a story shared containing a moral.  

My $.02:

I have read this previously when it was first published. It is part of my husband’s reference library. As I have fallen deeper in love with the Lord, I am aware that my approach to reading has been transformed. Each book is now read with an intense purpose—to refine my self-centered human way of thinking so I read it through a different set of lenses this go around.

The book is written in such a way that it feels as though Lucado is in the room speaking to me. There are numerous sections that were eye-opening and convicting. Although my honest intent was to gather supporting information for a Refining lesson, the book captured my attention and spoke to me on many levels. This timeless book is relevant to everyone who reads it. Lucado has an enticing delivery technique and packs a powerful punch at our sinful nature. He shares some of his own family experiences and lessons. I pray with God’s refining I can live out a life all about God and leave this world as a nobody. If you are curious about life and want to know what God has to say about it, read this! 

For a formal book review: https://tinyurl.com/y35rh9w8

BOOK REVIEW: The Promise Principle

Hunter, P. (2017). The Promise Principle: A New Way to Encounter the Bible. Southlake, TX: Gateway Press.

Summary:

The book is based on a technique to use when reading and studying God’s Word. Hunter shares the strategy as a steadfast method to grow spiritually and rely solely on faith. The author shares numerous stories where the struggles in life seem to overwhelm individuals and control their everyday emotions. Readers are urged to study scripture through the lens of discovering God’s promises and deciding if the verse is a truth or a commandment. Then, Hunter encourages participants to apply the promise to a current circumstance and carry through with a prayer of thanksgiving or a request in faith.

My $.02:

We have been using the promise principle in our small group for about a year now. This technique reminds me of what I began doing as I learned how to effectively pray scripture into my circumstances. During the dark valley I was walking out life with scripture and guarding my heart from the circumstances by relying on God’s Word. The Promise Principle confirms what I was doing during this time:

a. not being tossed around emotionally by circumstances

b. using scripture to become steadfast

c. applying scripture to life by using the sword. (the weapon to fight)

I would recommend this book to those who desire infusion of God’s promises into their everyday life. The prayer format given is based on “me” language and not just a general overall covering. It requires each individual to make it personal. Application was the greatest take-away for me.

It did seem to be a struggle to implement the “I, me, my” language for some in our mixed adult group but like anything new, we all improved with practice. (Just keeping it real)

For more info: https://www.amazon.com/Promise-Principle-New-Encounter-Bible/dp/1945529148

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