Monthly Archives: September 2014

Review of “Beside Bethesda”

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Joni Eareckson Tada is one of those people who absolutely inspire me, and encourage me in my walk with Christ. However, I had only read one of her books (years ago), but since one of my best friends, Kirsten, is both very passionate and involved with Joni and Friends camps every year, I decided to jump at the opportunity of reading and reviewing Beside Bethesda. 

And I am so thankful that I did! Beside Bethesda is a 31 day devotional designed to encourage Christians in their walk with Christ, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

Those of you who know me, know that I have severe allergies which result in me sometimes having days of hives, swelling, and all-around uncomfortableness. Now understand, I am not saying that I have any idea what it is like to be a quadriplegic, or to live in chronic, debilitating pain like so many do– but one thing that I have come to realize in my twenty-two years is that because of the fall (Genesis 3:1-19), we all have pain in our lives.

Perhaps your pain comes in seasonal allergies, or back pain, the loss of a limb or a learning disability, the loss of a child or arthritis. But however it comes, it is real, and it is painful.

Beside Bethesda encourages us to focus on Christ, to meditate on Scripture, and to live fully right now, right where God has us.

I found Beside Bethesda to be a beautiful reminder that God is in control, and that physical healing was not God’s ultimate goal in sending His Son– it was our Spiritual, eternal healing. I would highly recommend Beside Bethesda, and give it an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog 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 “Live”

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Rebecca Manley Pippert’s Live is the first in a new trilogy of Bible study aids, aimed at encouraging both new and long-time Christians in their personal walk with Christ.

Broken into five segments, that cover topics like ‘What is the Good News’ and ‘New Life in Christ’, Pippert’s Live is ideal for women’s study groups, as it is a combination of DVD sessions and personal reading and application. Complete with recommended reading for each segment, Live is a valuable resource for churches across denominational lines.

Overall, I found Live to be deep, yet easy to understand, and would give it a “B”.

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 “A Vine-Ripened Life”

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Looking at Grace, the fruit of the Spirit, and abiding in Christ, A Vine-Ripened Life reads much like a series of sermons. Written with an eye towards encouraging Spiritual fruitfulness in the lives of believers, Stanley D. Gale’s A Vine-Ripened Life is both honest and hopeful.

Working through the fruit of the Spirit (listed in Galatians 5:22-23) one chapter at a time, A Vine-Ripened Life points us again and again to the work of Christ in us, transforming us by His Grace, training and pruning us into His image, into Spiritual fruitfulness for His Glory. Ideal for Bible studies or personal devotions, A Vine-Ripened Life opens each chapter with Scripture, and ends with questions to cultivate Spiritual growth.

Overall, I found A Vine-Ripened Life to be an enriching little book, worth reading and contemplating. I would give it a “B”.

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 “The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig”

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Born and raised in the South, I have a great fondness for Southern food, and the pig is a cornerstone in Southern cooking. From bacon and sausage to ribs and ham, most of us in the South enjoy pork.

The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig offers a unique, and mouth-watering, view of the pig and its role in Southern life. With random facts about pigs scattered throughout, and snippets about an assortment of the best pork-serving restaurants in the South,  The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig is far more than a cookbook! It is an ode to the pig, to Southern culture, and to the  incredible heritage that Southern foodies enjoy.

But don’t just expect to see all things porcine in The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig! There is also an impressive collection of rubs, sauces, mops, and sides, which you are sure to enjoy. From stunning photography to step-by-step directions for selecting, preparing, and serving a whole pig, The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig is sure to delight foodies, Southern or not.

After cooking the Sausage Pancakes (found on page 144), I can say that they were easy and delicious, and I look forward to preparing many more recipes from The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig!

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 “The Giver”

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It has been several years since I first heard of The Giver, written by Lois Lowry. As I remember, it was when a friend told me that she dropped out of a reading club because they were reading this “weird” book called The Giver. 

And while it could be called a bit “weird”, it was a stepping stone to the current dystopian literature craze that has been raging since Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games burst onto the scene in 2008, a good fifteen years after The Giver first published.

“It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.”

As we begin The Giver, we are introduced to Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who lives in a futuristic, dystopian society where you are given a spouse, two children, a home, an occupation, and have no choices. It is a world with no pain, suffering, or sorrow– but it also lacks joy or love.

Throughout the book we are forced to contemplate what it would be like to live such a life? To have a life, but not truly live.

“For the first time in his twelve years of life, Jonas felt separate, different.”

At the end of their twelfth year, in a group ceremony (for there are no birthdays), children are given Assignments, the work they will do during their lifetime.

This is the only time that their differences are honored.

When Jonas is skipped over during the ceremony, he begins to worry. What has he done wrong?

But at the very end, he is singled out, set apart, selected to train to be the next Receiver of Memory, a position held by only one person at a time.

“Call me The Giver.”

The society in which Jonas lives is a society void of memories, save the ones held by The Giver, who begins to transfer them to Jonas, the new Receiver of Memory.

Jonas is surprised, scared, and delighted as he begins to experience the memories, which range from sledding in the snow, seeing colors, sunburns, and sailing to war and starvation.

But he begins to struggle, wondering why his society has deemed only one person should bear the pain, joy, and wisdom of the memories, rather than allowing everyone to bear their own bits of good and bad.

“Jonas was forced to flee.”

When Jonas finds out that an toddler being nurtured by his father in their home is scheduled to be “released”, he realizes it is time to act.

So he breaks the rules, stands for what is right, and risks everything. Will he escape? Where will he go? If he is caught, what price will he pay?

“I would like to see this morning’s release.”

A few words of caution to parents: while I believe The Giver to be  a thought-provoking read, and quite beneficial for sparking discussions about the roles of government, society, and individuals, I would not recommend the book for children under the age of twelve. I simply do not think eight or nine year olds will be able to understand or benefit from some of the content of the book, despite Scholastic’s recommendation for third to fifth graders!

There are a few disturbing scenes in the book: namely when Jonas watches a video of his father (a Nurturer in his society, something similar to a neonatal nurse) euthanize a smaller twin in a procedure referred to as “release”, as well as the accompanying discussions of how those who care for the Old are trained to “release” the elderly, and the daughter of The Giver requested “release” and injected herself. While certainly not glorified in the book, these scenes illustrate a society that has cast aside the Scriptural principle of the Sanctity of Life (see Genesis 9:6, Exodus 20:13, Exodus 21:14, Ecclesiastes 3:2).

Also, it should be noted that Jonas experiences what is referred to as “Stirrings”, in which he begins to have feelings for a girl his age, at which time he is given a pill each day to eliminate all such “Stirrings”.

While perhaps not a powerful as it could have been, I found The Giver to be a very insightful and thought-provoking read. I would give the book a “B”.

Have you read The Giver? If so, what are your thoughts?

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