Inner Beauty Forever

just my thoughts on books and stuff :)

‘The One Year Devos For Teen Girls’ Book Review August 9, 2013

9781414371597_p0_v2_s260x420Title: The One Year Devos For Teen Girls
Author: Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel
My Rating 2/5
I believe that it is very important that we are in God’s word on a daily basis. I also believe that it is important that teen girls have a firm, biblical foundation on practical, applicable issues in society today. I was hoping that this devotional would provide just that. However, I came to have mixed feelings about it.
I liked the way that this devotional was formatted. Each day’s reading began with a passage from scripture pertaining to the topic that is to be discussed. Next, the author shares her feelings, beliefs and thoughts with the reader, normally tying in the verse with a relevant subject. Each day’s reading ends with an ‘action step’ which is a practical, personal application based on the passage and devotion just read.
However, although I did like the format, or layout of the devotional, I was not overly impressed by the content. Although I thought the topics were relevant, important issues, I did not find the information, or thoughts shared, to be very deep or thought-provoking. I believe that the content was basic, perhaps even watered-down. It may possibly be beneficial for a new believer, but I do not believe that a more mature Christian would be challenged by, or learn from this devotional.
Overall, I would say that although I was pleased with the format in which the devotional is written, I do not believe that many girls would truly benefit from the content within it.
Although I would not necessarily recommend this devotional, I would recommend the Josh McDowell’s One Year Book Of Youth Devotions.
Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.

 

‘Billy Graham In Quotes’ Book Review August 7, 2013

billy graham in quotesTitle: Billy Graham In Quotes

Author: Franklin Graham with Donna Lee Toney

My Rating: 5/5

When I was baptized, my church gave me a copy of The Bible Promise Book. It was a little book that contained many different Bible passages, organized by topics. This book reminds me a lot of The Bible Promise Book, only it contains quotes from Billy Graham instead of Bible passages.

This book contains hundreds of quotes from Billy Graham, covering 110 topics from anger to abortion, from society to worship. Each section of the book contains a passage that follows the same theme or thought of the quotes that are to follow, laying a biblical foundation for what is to be read. And I found that the quotes contained are biblical, encouraging, inspiring, and applicable.

I am very excited about this book. I believe that it is a great resource that I can put to good use. Whether in writing, preparing lessons, or looking for a credible source to quote for a school project, I believe that I will definitely  be coming back to this book frequently. I would definitely recommend the book to you for your own life, whether simply to read, or to refer to, I believe that it contains biblical, truthful quotes that you would benefit from.

Note: I received this book free from my blog in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.

 

‘Bible Savvy’ Book Series Review July 28, 2013

Title: Bible Savvy (4 Book Set)

Author: James L. Nicodem

Date I Finished Reading: July 21,2013

My Rating: 5/5

I love when I come across a book that is just practical, yet still full of truth. I do! They are biblical, easy to understand, and easy to apply. The Bible Savvy Series is one of those reads. Based on scripture, easy to read, and full of biblical, practical applications, I found this series to be very beneficial to me!

Epic: The Storyline of the Bible

In this first installment of the series, NIcodem walks through the Bible, making a brief overview of it’s vast plot. Working his way from Genesis to Revelation, he shows how all of scripture is one common theme. Even though there are 66 books within the Bible, they are all part of one plot: The story of redemption. He discusses the outline of redemption prompted, redemption prepared, redemption prophesied, redemption purchased, redemption proclaimed and redemption perfected. Seeing how all books and divisions of the Bible fit together under one common story line helped me to better comprehend how the pieces fit together as well as to be reminded that each portion of scripture is important and not to be overlooked as unimportant.

Foundation: The Reliability of the Bible

In this second book, we are shown just how we know that the Bible is what the Bible says that the Bible is (comprehend?).  The key topic throughout is how we know that the Bible is truly the word of God? How do we know that it is God-breathed? How do we know it is true? How do we know it is without error? How do we know that we can trust the Bible? Basically, it describes to us why and how we can have confidence in the Word of God. In today’s culture it has become extremely important that we know what we believe, and how to defend that belief. This book proved to be a wonderful tool in answering those questions, and giving me knowledge to pass on to others when this topic arises.

Context: How to Understand the Bible

Out of all of the books in this series, I believe that I found this one to be most beneficial and helpful to me. In this particular volume, Nicodem discusses each genre of scripture and presents you with how to properly read and understand them. He discusses books of poetry, books of prophesy and everything in between. As I read it I was encouraged to better study and search scripture as well as to better utilize outside resources in order to better understand the context under which different scriptures were written, which will help me to better understand the meaning of God’s Word.

Walk: How to Apply the Bible

I feel that this book did an excellent job at wrapping up the Bible Savvy series and showing why this is relevant and applicable to our personal lives. He also walks through the COMA outline and provides wonderful examples that allow you to both learn how to as well as actively practice searching out the context, observations, message and application of scriptures. It was extremely helpful in helping me to comprehend how to better understand scripture as I read and study God’s Word.

I would most definitely recommend this series to you if you desire to better understand, study and apply scripture to your life!

Note: I received this series free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, opinions are my own.

 

‘Finding God In The Hunger Games’ Book Review June 19, 2013

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Title: Finding God In The Hunger Games: 30 devotions to inspire faith
Author: Selena Sarns
Date I Finished Reading: June 18, 2013
My Rating: 3.5/5

I am an insane Hunger Games fan. After reading Suzanne Collins’ trilogy I discussed, contemplated and raved about the story for several weeks endlessly, and still do quite frequently. However, I never saw any Biblical parrallels in the plot, which is why the title of this book piqued my curiosity. I expected the book to be a bit far-fetched, failing to truly contain anything of use. Nevertheless, I grabbed my sunglasses, headed to the city pool, and floated leisurely in a tube as I explored this new devotional.
I was, in fact, delightfully surprised by what I found within the covers of this book. Where I had expected to find far-fetched, cliche points, I instead found biblical parallels that I could clearly see where I once had never considered before. Sarns did an excellent job of using passages of scripture and portions of The Hunger Games story to teach lessons through beloved characters. With topics ranging from unconditional love to gratitude, we find little life lessons tucked away between the pages of the trilogy.
There were only two negative aspects of this book that I discovered. The first is that although good points were made and explored, they were not necessarily deep or very thought-provoking. My second complaint has more to do with he book itself rather than its contents. I read the book within a day, yet as I neared the end, more than half of the pages fell from the binding, suggesting poor quality.
Overall, I would say that although this devotional is not extremely deep, I believe Hunger Games fans would definitely enjoy it. A word of warning, however: this devotion contains snippets of the story from all three books in The Hunger Games trilogy, and could contain spoilers for those who have not yet finished it.
Note: I received this book free in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.

 

‘When God Makes Lemonade’ Book Review June 12, 2013

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Title: When God Makes Lemonade: True Stories That Amaze and Encourage
Author: Don Jacobson
Date I Finished Reading: June 12,2013
My Rating: 5/5
I know from my own life that sometimes the hardest, hopeless, most painful circumstances in life often become God’s greatest blessings. And that is what this book is all about. A compilation of 68 individual stories and testimonies, it truly is an excellent read.
Each story you read in When God Makes Lemonade shows God’s grace and wisdom as well as his love in the lives of those involved. Some of the stories made me laugh, some amazed me, some brought tears to my eyes, yet all of them gave praise to God.
I would most definitely recommend this book, especially to those presently experiencing a trial or struggle. It is sure so inspire you as well as to strengthen your faith.
Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.

 

‘Naked God’ Book Review May 31, 2013

adornment_4670_1440x900Title: Naked God: The truth about God exposed

Author: Martin Ayers

Date I Finished Reading: May 30,2013

My Rating: 2/5

In this book Martin Ayers explores questions such as is there a God? Who was Jesus? How does this influence my life? And he does so in an attempt to persuade or encourage non-believers to follow the Christian faith. Having this knowledge, I was eager and curious to begin reading the book, hoping to find a great resource to pass on to others, Christians and non-Christians alike. However, the book was not what I had hoped it to be.

There were a few different issues, or arguments that I had against this book. One would be that it seems Ayers uses very little scripture or outside resources to support his points, instead following the path of reasoning and logic. Now reasoning and logic is not necessarily a bad or negative thing, but I believe that when exploring a theological issue God’s word should be at the center of our thinking, and other people’s writings and thoughts can prove to strengthen the argument. This is why I was disappointed that so few scriptures appeared throughout the book.

Another aspect of the book that I disliked was the fact that at one point Ayers promotes the belief that evolution and the big bang theory is in line with biblical teachings, and therefore can be true.  I personally was turned away by this. Scripture points to God’s creation of the world through his words in a six-day process. This is not what evolution and the big bang theory teaches, and therefore they cannot both be right. I believe that God’s word is true and right in everything, including creation. This alone would prevent me from passing this book on to another, especially a non-believer, because I find that it could become very misleading.

The final complaint that I have against this book would be that it does not seem to go very deep. I personally did not find anything in this book that was challenging or even thought-provoking. At the beginning of this book Ayers says that his goal was to remove assumptions and merely explore the truth about God, who He is and how it affects us. And although he does remain neutral, I feel as though not much was exposed, but merely the more obvious was stated.

To sum it up, I wouldn’t recommend this book to another person, especially to a non-believer. I just feel that resources we pass on to others should contain and be supported by scripture. This book is not. I simply feel that the points presented in this book are basic, and do not go very deep, and that there are many other resources for Christians and non-Christians alike that would be more beneficial to read from and to study on this topic.

Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, the opinions expressed are my own.

You can find a copy of this book here: http://www.amazon.com/Naked-God-Truth-About-Exposed/dp/192144164X/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1370018335&sr=8-10&keywords=naked+god

 

‘Past Darkness’ Book Review May 3, 2013

pdTitle: Past Darkness

Author: Laurel Woiwode

Date I Finished Reading: May 5,2013

My Rating: 2/5

The following is a description from Amazon.com

An uplifting story about the importance of family, the power of music, and the ever-present mercy of God.

“I could hear my heart­beat in spite of the commotion and noise. I’d never seen anything so horrible…What’s wrong with me? I thought. I knew everything had gone black and silent, but I couldn’t remember why. I could hear now, but was still surrounded by darkness.”

Gabrielle Larson is a fifteen-year-old living in Chicago with reasonable plans for her life: to follow in her parents’ footsteps as a Christian musician. But when tragedy strikes, Gabrielle finds herself forced to relocate to North Dakota, where she must learn to live with the difficult reality of her past in a strange and unfamiliar place.

Years pass as Gabrielle not only fights to accept the aftermath of what’s happened, but also to survive on a farm full of horses, cows, Uncle Will, and Aunt Bea. Enduring nature’s windstorms and the loneliness of grief, she struggles to heal, and even finds herself face-to-face with the possibility of love in the most unexpected place. But the darkness is real and her heartache profound—will she ever emerge from the noisy past to catch the redemptive tune of the present?

Have you ever been extremely excited about something, only for it to not reach your expectations? That is how this book was for me. I was anxious to read it, expecting to find a touching story about a teenage girl and a horse. However, that is not what I found. Although the description hints at this type of plot, it is somewhat misleading. The story mostly takes place when Gabrielle is an adult, and the involvement of horses in the plot is minimal.

There were some aspects of the book that I did not like. For example, the writing style that is used is choppy, even childish. Woiwode uses few descriptions, the characters are not very well drawn-out and the scenes are short and vague. These characteristics combined together to create a plot that was unengaging and hard to be drawn into. Also, it seems like all of the character’s problems were solved in a flash, which is very unrealistic.

Overall I would say that this story had potential, but was poorly executed. The plot could have been touching and sweet, but due to the author’s style was instead boring and difficult to enjoy. I would most likely not recommend this book as an enjoyable read for you.

I received this book free from Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, however my opinions are my own.

To Read Chapter One of This book go here: http://static.crossway.org/excerpt/past-darkness/past-darkness-download.pdf

You can find a copy of this book here: http://www.amazon.com/Past-Darkness-Laurel-Woiwode/dp/1433535181/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

‘Take A Chance On Me’ Book Review April 7, 2013

images (3)Title: Take  A Chance On Me (A Christiansen  Family Novel)

Author: Susan May Warren

Date I Finished Reading: March 22,2013

My Rating: 5/5

Bitterness. It is like an evil that grows within us slowly and quietly. Often we don’t even realize that it is consuming us. Ruling us. Eating us alive. We fail to see that our own unforgiveness and anger is destroying us. This is exactly the scenario that Darek Christiansen is in. For far too long — nearly three years —  he had harbored anger, bitterness, and hatred against Jensen Atwood, the man who used to be his best friend. Then comes Ivy Madison, whose painful, unstable past has caused her to become lonely, maybe even bitter towards God. Both of these people struggle to forgive someone. They struggle to move on. Is it possible for them to forgive, accept, and love again? And can God truly work ALL things out for good?

This is one of those “I cannot put this down! What is gonna happen next?!” Type of books. I fooled myself into thinking I could read a few pages and come back to it later. However a few pages turned into a chapter, a chapter into a few more and two days later? A finished book.  You KNOW a book is good when it does this to you. It became quite obvious as I read that Susan May Warren is a very talented author to whom much credit is due. She works suspense, romance, family, faith, and healing together in a comical, engaging, addicting read. One that is very hard to put down.

There were several aspects of this book I liked. One in particular would be the characters. Warren does a phenomenal job  at creating real, down-to-earth characters who capture your heart and attention. Each one is well thought-out, contributing to the story. Another aspect I enjoyed would be the originality of the plot. Some books (especially in the christian romance genre) can follow a cliché story line. You know what I mean. Many books follow such a common theme that you find them predictable and unengaging. This is very much not the case here. The plot was original with unexpected twists and turns, as well as real struggles that are easy to relate to. These are two things that I was rather impressed with as I read the book.

However, the one thing that I loved was the moral to Warren’s story. This was not a book that I finished and said “aw! What a cute love story!” No. This was a book that had me saying “Wow! Susan Warren is a talented woman. And I can definitely see this book touching and ministering to many hurt people.” The plot, characters, theme, everything tied together to paint a picture of love, forgiveness, and trust. It shows us that none of us are more innocent than another before God, and that we, even though it may be difficult, should come to a place where we forgive others in the same way that God has forgiven us.

Overall, I would say without a doubt that I would recommend this book to you (although, due to more mature topics, I would caution a younger audience). I truly believe that this story will touch your heart, and perhaps even show you the blessing of and call to forgiveness.

Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.

Check out the links below for more on this book and Susan May Warren:

You can find a copy of this book here: ‘Take a Chance On Me’ on Amazon

 

A Lesson From 10-year-old Boys March 26, 2013

Are you ever blown away by the gospel? Do you ever cringe when you think on or imagine the brutality of what Christ endured both before and during his time on the cross? Or does the intensity of it all escape your thoughts, leaving you dulled to the horror and extent of Jesus’ sacrifice for you? These are some questions that I have been asking myself today.

Each Tuesday morning some of the fourth grade students from local elementary schools come to our church for one hour during the school day. During this hour they are taught from the scriptures, learn memory verses, play games, sing songs, etc. It is a truly amazing opportunity and an immense blessing. I have the privilege of teaching one of these classes. My class is made up of three boys, whom I have become rather fond of. Throughout this school year we have been working through the Bible. We began at creation, and now, as we near Easter, are exploring Jesus’ crucifixion.

Having grown up in a Christian home, being active in my church, and being homeschooled, I have grown up hearing the gospel, which is a true privilege. My WRE (weekly religious education) kids have not had that. So this morning when told them the story of Jesus’ beating, the cat o’ nine tails, and the crucifixion process, I watched their reactions. The boys, all about ten-years old were wincing, cringing, and shocked by the details that I was describing. They were blown away by what Jesus endured. This got me thinking.

Do I take what Jesus endured too lightly? Do I sometimes take for granted the fact that he was beaten with leather, glass and bone to the point where he was not even recognizable? Do I? Do you? Do we sometimes hear that Jesus died for us, and fail to grasp just how intense and excruciating this death really was? I am sad to say that sometimes this is the case with me. Sometimes I breeze over the gruesome details of his death and instead focus on the happy ending. Why? Maybe because it is painful to come to the realization that I deserve that death. It hurts to think of and picture myself in Christ’s place, which is where I deserve to be. I deserve to be the one beaten with the cat o’ nine tails. I am the one who deserves to be spat at. I am the one that deserves to drag a massive cross — an emblem of shame– up a mountain in humiliation. I am the one who deserves to die on a cross. And so are you, as harsh as that may sound. But no, Christ took our place. How awesome is that?!

Today I was reminded of the extent of Christ’s sacrifice, and the depths of his grace.  I was once again brought to the startling realization of the pain, ugliness, and disgrace brought about by sin. I was once again shown the love, glory, and magnificence of my savior. And what did it take? Three ten-year-old boys. What will it take for you?

 

‘The Bondservant’s Life’ Book Review March 13, 2013

untitledTitle: The Bondservant’s Life: Foundation for Understanding Prophecy, and a Call to Maturity, Love, and Unity in the Knowledge of God

Author: John Brenner Chandler

Date I Finished Reading: March 13,2013

My Rating: 2/5

I was not expecting this book to be so big. Honestly. This book is a total of 500+ pages packed full of notes, thoughts, scriptures and teaching. It dives into the life of a bondservant and of submission to God.

Some positive attributes of this book would be Chandler’s knowledge. It became obvious as I read this book that he knew what he was talking about, and had illustrations, quotes, articles and other resources to support his thesis. I was impressed with how much scripture he brought into the book, making it centered around God’s word.

However, at the same time, I struggled to read this book. Chandler’s writings are very deep, but the way that he presents his beliefs is very difficult to understand. He is very wordy and at times long-winded. I understand and appreciate the use of good vocabulary, but this was excessive, to the point where it made the book difficult to read and understand. This is why I gave this book the rating that I did. While Chandler may have depth and substance to his writing, but how can you think on and apply the teachings if you can hardly make sense of what he is trying to say? I couldn’t.

Overall, I would say that this book had potential. It could have been a great resource, but the length and style of writing made it difficult to understand, enjoy, or apply.

Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.

You can find a copy of this book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Bondservants-Life-Foundation-Understanding/dp/0983810206/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363189877&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bondservant%27s+life