Monthly Archives: August 2014

Review of “Good News for Weary Women”

I’m writing today from Memphis, sipping on coffee as I overlook a busy street, watching doctors walking by to the hospital across the street. Would you consider lifting a prayer for my uncle and his family today? Thanks, friends.

Last year I read Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Give Them Grace and fell in love. She captivated me with her incredibly easy-to-read, humorous, yet blunt style of writing, so when I had the opportunity to write a review on her brand new book, Good News for Weary Women, I couldn’t refuse!

And the timing couldn’t have been better! Good News for Weary Women was both refreshing and convicting, leaving me with a lot to contemplate, and a heightened sense of gratitude for the work of Christ.

In our fast-paced society, it is easy to become weary. We struggle under burdens we pile on ourselves, constantly comparing ourselves to others, trying to see how we measure up, desperately hoping for some relief from the striving, the trying-hard, the suffocating behind our facades of having it all together.

NEWS FLASH: None of us have it together, and we never will.

Like it or not, we simply cannot control our lives. Sure we have responsibility, we have choices to make, but ultimately, it is God, in His Providence, who orchestrates our lives, all for our good and His Glory.

So the weeks when you spend hours on the phone trying to fix your unresponsive computer? When you feel like you can never make it through that growing to-do list? When you are sitting in the intensive care waiting room, wondering if your loved one will make it through an eight hour surgery okay? When you are pinching pennies until the scream? When your heart breaks as you watch a loved one lose their memory to Alzheimer’s? When you just don’t know how to be brave and pursue your dreams?

That is when we need to remember the Gospel, and like Elyse Fitzpatrick reminds us over and over again in Good News for Weary Women, our justfication through Christ is complete. We don’t have to struggle through the days, wondering if we are doing enough, measuring up, becoming more weary by the moment. We can actually begin to embrace the joy of who God created us to be, to learn to love how He so wisely designed and gifted us, unbound by the endless rules we so often create for ourselves.

We can rest in the beautiful fact that our standing before God is not impacted by how many organic, from-scratch meals we fix a day, whether we wear jeans or jumpers, whether we have tattoos or not, whether we listen to a capella hymns or pop music. And when we stop comparing ourselves to others, we can love them for who they are, no matter how different they are from us.

We as Christians, particularly Christian women, need to shake off the bad, unbiblical advice we get, whether it is from the church or the world, and fix our eyes on Jesus, who has already justified us by His work on the cross. It is finished. Our job is not to earn good standing with God– we have the free gift of Grace we never deserved, and never will, and Christ’s sacrifice was complete, and no matter how much it hurts our pride, He doesn’t need our help!

I am so thankful for Elyse Fitzpatrick’s timely message in Good News for Weary Women. I highly recommend it, and give it an “A+”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blogger Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

 

 

 

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Review of “Let’s All Be Brave”

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Earlier this year I enjoyed reading and reviewing Annie Downs’ first book, Perfectly Unique So when I read that Annie was writing a book on being the brave person God created you to be, I was excited.

Some of you who know me well know that I am not a brave person. I struggle daily with being a people-pleaser, battling my natural tendency to be consumed with making sure those around me are happy, suffocating in the little boxes I try to squish myself into, just to make sure other people like me.

In an effort to grow in 2014, in an attempt to shake off the opinions of others and embrace who I am, I chose Brave as my ‘word of the year’.

But I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle. Just look at pop culture right now– if the films we watch, the music we listen to, and the books we read are any reflection of our personal lives, I would say the majority of people (girls and women, in particular) face this issue of being brave. We are a culture being inundated with the message that we can be brave. 

Our heroines, from Katniss Everdeen to Tris Prior, know what it is like to struggle to choose to be brave. Our favorite singers, from Sara Bareilles and Moriah Peters to Hunter Hayes and Taylor Swift, belt out tunes that let us know we aren’t alone in this struggle to embrace who we are designed to be.

And Annie Downs knows what it is like, too.

In Let’s All be Brave, Annie shares deeply personal stories of how her life has been riddled with doubt and fear, lacking bravery. But Annie does more than just tell us to be brave. In her outrageously humorous way, she makes us feel as though we are drinking lattes together in a downtown coffee shop, a safe place where we can acknowledge together that no, we aren’t brave, but God created us to be vibrant individuals, living life fully, taking risks for the glory of God.

More than a pep talk, Let’s All Be Brave is a reminder that God didn’t give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but that he designed each of us with unique talents and passions, and that it is our job to use them wisely. Encouraging us to believe not in ourselves, but in the One who made us, Let’s All Be Brave will make you laugh and cry. Overall, I found Let’s All Be Brave to be an excellent and easy read  that I would highly recommend, and I would give it an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

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Review of “1 Samuel For You”

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There is still time to enter for the Down South Giveaway!

Recently I had several people recommend Judges For You, so I was excited when I had the opportunity to review 1 Samuel For You! Written by Tim Chester for The Good Book Company’s God’s Word For You series, 1 Samuel For You delves into the book of 1 Samuel, providing a closer study of 1 Samuel, ideal for laymen.

Designed to be a resource for people of all ages and walks, 1 Samuel For You would be particularly useful for Bible study groups or personal devotions, as each chapter is broken into two parts, and each part ends with questions to encourage reflection on how the Scripture pertains to our personal lives. 1 Samuel For You is easy to read, and contains an extensive glossary, along with a map and bibliography.

Throughout 1 Samuel For You, we are reminded that the kings of Israel point us to the True King, Jesus Christ. And Chester’s discussion on page 167 of how Jonathan encouraged David, helping him to find strength in God, is a beautiful reminder of an important responsibility we as Christians have.

Overall, I found 1 Samuel For You to be an excellent resource for Christians, and would highly recommend it! I would give 1 Samuel For You an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Reviews Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Review of “Hope Rising”

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If you have visited The Nerdy Bookworm before, you have probably noticed the links along the sidebar to various charities, such as a Show Hope and Compassion. If you know me personally, you know that I believe we can do incredible things in our world, by the Grace of God, for the Glory of God.

That is why the tagline of Scott Todd’s Hope Rising, captured my attention: “How Christians can end Extreme Poverty in this Generation”. What an incredible goal!

Encouraging Christians to take action, to work for a world where extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 a day) is a thing of the past, Todd reminds us that faith is not merely intellectual, but also active (James 2:14-17).

While I applaud Todd for his passion for children and families living in extreme poverty, I believe he lost focus and floundered in the writing of Hope Rising. With a writing style that was at times disjointed and repetitive, it was the solution to extreme poverty that he offered which concerns me the most.

Throughout Hope Rising, Todd emphasises the government’s moral obligation to contribute financially in aiding those who are living in extreme poverty, even suggesting that at least 10% of our national budget should be allocated for foreign aid (p.127). However, there are some obvious issues with this plan:

1) You can’t give what you don’t have. As Americans, we currently have a national debt of more than $17 trillion. What good is it to give foreign aid when we can’t even pay our own bills?

2) Foreign Aid is not unbiased. As we have seen with the Affordable Care Act, Americans  have a wide range of personal opinions and moral convictions. Will everyone be satisfied with how the Government disperses Foreign Aid?

3) It isn’t the Government’s job. This is the primary objection. From Scripture we see that it is the Government’s job to enforce justice (Romans 13:4). Government’s role in society is to defend and encourage the good, and punish the evil (WSC 23:1), not to bring an end to world poverty!

Todd even has quotes in Hope Rising from those who believe government-funded Foreign Aid is detrimental, causing more harm than good, yet he shrugs off their concerns because he believes this is our opportunity as Christians to be advocates for the poor (p. 132-135). While he also encourages Christians to work to end extreme poverty through business and church, even noting that Africans trust churches more than governments (p.147), it is disheartening that Todd pushes for more government-funded Foreign Aid.

Hope Rising is a reminder that we live in an amazing time, where we see a fast-approaching future where extreme poverty is no more. We live in a time where corporations like AmazonCoca-Cola, GoogleLevi StraussMacy’s, and TOMS have joined the effort, donating funds for fighting poverty, gender inequality, and sex trafficking. We live in a time where shoppers are concerned with buying Fair Trade products and supporting businesses like Claro, FEED, 3Strands, and 31Bits, where they know their money will help farmers receive fair wages, women are empowered, and children are fed and educated.

But what we as Christians don’t need to forget, and what I believe Hope Rising failed to emphasize, is that food and clean water, health care and education are not, and will never be, what those who live in extreme poverty (and those of us who don’t) need the most. Our primary goal as Christians should be to share Living Water and Bread of Life (John 4:13-14; John 7:37-38; Matthew 4:4; John 6:35; John 6:48).

Overall, I found Hope Rising to be both encouraging and frustrating. I would give Hope Rising a “C”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

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Giveaway!

downsouth   Thanks to the great people over at Blogging For Books, I am pleased to announce a Giveaway of Donald Link’s Down South! You can read the review I posted recently here. The contest starts July 31, 2014 at 6:00 am EST and ends on August 20, 2014 at 11:59 pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21, 2014 and will be alerted by email. For a complete listing of rules, please see link below.

http://form.jotformpro.com/form/42116719757966

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Review of “Starting at the Finish Line”

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Some of you may remember when I wrote a review of Stephen Mansfield’s The Mormonizing of America last year, that I said I have some friends who are Mormon. They are some really great people, and I love them dearly, despite our differences of belief. So when Starting at the Finish Line: The Gospel of Grace for Mormons became available for review, I was excited! Finally, a tool to help me share the Gospel more effectively with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints (henceforth referenced as LDS).

The author, John Wallace, is a dentist, and was a member of LDS for twenty years. His familiarity with the beliefs of LDS is valuable and extensive, and for me, was the best part of Starting at the Finish Line. It was so nice to have someone to explain different doctrines and positions held by the LDS, and actually have references from LDS standards and literature.

But while I came away understanding far more about what members of the LDS believe, I could not in good conscience advise others to buy copies to share with their Mormon friends, family, and coworkers, due to some major concerns I have with Wallace’s theology.

I found Wallace’s theology to be a bit confusing, in that he seemingly embraces aspects of Calvinism, Arminianism, dispensationalism, and the charismatic movement.

Starting at the Finishing Line had an oft-repeated emphasis on actively accepting salvation, even stating that we have a role in our salvation (p.86). We know this is not true, however, since Scripture clearly says we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13) and enemies of God (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). Wallace seems to purport, too, that our salvation can be lost if we do not “maintain” it (p. 94, 187), but the Bible says our salvation is eternal (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39). He also intimates that God loves us before we are deserving (p.69), but we know there is no way we could ever deserve God’s Love, Mercy, and Grace (Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 64:6; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:8,10). Wallace also shares a story illustrating our relationship with Christ (p.102-103), however it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of our relationship with Christ. In his illustration, because the young woman’s fiancé was the owner of the store where she had amassed great debt, her debt was forgiven. But according to Scripture we know that our debt was paid (Isaiah 53:4-5; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:6,8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Overall, I found Starting at the Finish Line to be helpful in understanding LDS doctrine and beliefs, but would love to see a book address the topic from a distinctly Reformed perspective. I would give Starting at the Finish Line a “C”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Reviews Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

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