Monthly Archives: April 2015

Review of “Living Without Worry”

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Living Without Worry. What a title for a book! As someone who is prone to worry, my attention was captured from the moment I first read the title.

In Living Without Worry, Timothy Lane, a Presbyterian (PCA) minister and author, encourages us to stop and reflect on our lives, asking ourselves difficult questions: what is worry? why worry? what do we ‘over-love’? Offering hope for those who feel burdened by worry, and those struggling with an anxiety disorder such as PTSD or OCD, Lane gives practical suggestions for overcoming worry and embracing joy in the Christian life.

I found Lane’s discussion of topics such as meditation, grace, and identifying your fears and triggers in Living Without Worry to be immensely helpful. For me, my worry is often rooted in ‘over-love’ of the opinions of those I care about. And that has caused me to oftentimes strive for conformity rather than authenticity, often resulting in misery and stress, because my focus was on pleasing people, rather than on bringing glory to God, and enjoying Him.Our God is greater than our fears! We cannot allow others, or our situation, to control us.

Living Without Worry was an easy read, yet beneficial for the everyday Christian. Firmly rooted in Scripture, with an emphasis on God’s Grace, I believe the perspective offered in Living Without Worry can be summed up well by the U2 quote found in chapter seven: “Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”  I highly recommend Living Without Worry, and would give it an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Blogger 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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My Journey to Presbyterianism and “On Being Presbyterian”

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If you know me, or have read my About page, you know that I have had a turbulent relationship with the church.

Neither of my parents grew up in the church, but had childhood experiences with Baptist and Church of God denominations, respectively. As an adult, my Mamma chose the Methodist church, and that is the denomination my parents joined, were married in, I was christened in, and we attended until I was about eight. Due to conflict with our pastor (he denied the infallibility of Scripture, among other things), we left and attended a nondenominational (strongly Baptist) church until I was 13. We then left and began attending a home church, followed by another home church. During our time in the second home church, my family began studying the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) and the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646).

The more we studied, the more convinced we became that we leaned more towards Reformed than Baptist. So we dove into R.C. Sproul’s What is Reformed Theology? By the time we finished What is Reformed Theology? we had decided that we were ready to find a local Presbyterian church. After searching for local Presbyterian churches, we wondered what the difference between a PCA church and a PCUSA church was? So we contacted some Presbyterian friends who lived in Georgia for some clarification, since we had visited their church and trusted their advice. They recommended visiting our three local PCA churches, and so we did. And after two years, we joined one of them– last month was our one year anniversary of becoming members!

I could not be happier in our current church, and I know that it is where God wants me right now. I have been so blessed by the faithful preaching of the Word, the fellowship, the emphasis on Grace, and the room and encouragement to grow spiritually.

Along my Spiritual journey, I have experienced some dark days, I have faced turmoil, and I have lost dear friends. But I wouldn’t change anything. I do not regret one moment, because it has all been for my good, for my growth. Because after the darkness, the light is all the more brilliant. After the turmoil, I have a deeper appreciation for peace. After the years of legalism, I have a stronger love for Grace, and more tolerant view of those around me. And the friends I lost? In retrospect, they weren’t so good for me after all. I would far rather walk in the joy, grace, and liberty of the Lord right by myself, than with a life-long friend, legalism, and contention. Praise God for new beginnings!

Upon joining my current church, I was given a copy of On Being PresbyterianExplaining the distinctive beliefs, practices, and history of Presbyterians in understandable language, On Being Presbyterian is an immensely helpful book.

I would encourage all Christians to read On Being Presbyterian, no matter their denominational ties, so that they might better understand the rich theological and historical heritage of Presbyterian denominations, particularly the PCA. But On Being Presbyterian would be especially useful for those who are members of a PCA church, or considering joining a PCA congregation, as it gives the reader a more full view of what it means to embrace the Presbyterian faith.

I would give On Being Presbyterian an “A”.

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Review of “Inside the Criminal Mind”

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I have a confession to make– I am a huge fan of the show, Criminal Minds. I have a weakness for both legal and medical procedurals (ok, if I’m honest I have a weakness for Friends and Full House, too), and I am fascinated by the psychological undertones of Criminal Minds. So you can imagine how excited I was when I had the opportunity to read and review Inside the Criminal Mind  by Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.

Revised and expanded for a thirtieth anniversary edition, Inside the Criminal Mind is a scholarly work, yet is easily understood by the interested layperson. While certainly not for the faint of heart, due to descriptions of criminal activity and strong language, including the “f-bomb”, those interested in psychology or criminal justice will find Inside the Criminal Mind to be both fascinating and insightful.

After reading Inside the Criminal Mind, I am left with a heightened sense of gratitude for those who work in the fields of criminal justice and psychology, and also a deeper understanding of the depravity of man (Jeremiah 17:9).

I also must point out that while Samenow does not write from the perspective of someone who approaches all of life through the lens of Scripture, he came to some shockingly accurate conclusions, such as: we are not victims of our environment (p. xii, Proverbs 14:12) or circumstances beyond our control (p. 3, James 1:2-4); drugs and alcohol do not change our nature, but simply magnifies it (p.176, Matthew 6:21); the myth of the “out of character” crime (p.235, Proverbs 4:23); the importance of watching our thoughts, and never buying into the idea of “having it made” (p.322, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Corinthians 10:12, Galatians 6:1); and recognizing the fact that “we are as we think” (p.330, Proverbs 23:7, Romans 12:2,Ephesians 4:23-24).

Overall, I found Inside the Criminal Mind to be a wonderful book, and would recommend it to mature readers with an interest in criminal psychology. I would give Inside the Criminal Mind a “B”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books 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 “For the Joy Set Before Us”

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Since I was a young child, I have enjoyed reading the stories of missionaries, and often thought of becoming a missionary, even going through a time where I slept on the floor in order to prepare myself for a life of missionary service. Obviously that didn’t last, but my love for missions, and deep appreciation for those working on the mission field has never left me.

Unfortunately, Erica Fye’s For the Joy Set Before Us was a bit underwhelming. Far from being the next Kisses from KatieI found For the Joy Set Before Us to be a slow read, and I found the book, though small, to be disjointed and frustrating to read, often leaving me with the feeling that it was a hastily thrown-together edition of personal reflections better suited for a blog than a book.

While there were numerous points in the book that I found beneficial and well-written, I finished For the Joy Set Before Us feeling disappointed. And while I am deeply grateful for Fye’s selfless and necessary work in Uganda, I can only give For the Joy Set Before Us a “C+”.

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Review of “The One O’Clock Miracle”

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This book is the second in the Tales that Tell the Truth series from The Good Book Company. You can read my review of the first book in the series, The Christmas Promise.

I have absolutely fallen in love with the incredible children’s books that The Good Book Company releases, such as Alby’s Amazing BookIt is becoming increasingly rare to find quality children’s books that are beautifully illustrated, captivating, and theologically sound. The One O’Clock Miracle did not disappoint, but rather continued the quality storytelling and illustrations that I have come to expect!

Alison Mitchell’s retelling of John 4:46-54 is easy to understand for little readers, without compromising the heart or historicity of the Biblical account. And Catalina Echeverri is quickly becoming one of my favorite illustrators with her whimsical, humorous, and colorful illustrations!

I believe that parents and children alike will love The One O’Clock Miracle for years to come, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with children in their life, or those who, like me, simply enjoy a well-crafted children’s book! I give The One O’Clock Miracle an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Blogger 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 “Acts: EP Study Commentary”

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If you came to my house, you would see that I have a weakness for commentaries– on my shelves you would find commentaries by John Calvin, Matthew Henry, John Gill, and James Montgomery Boice, among others.

So when I had the opportunity to review Acts, an EP Study Commentary written by Guy Prentiss Waters, who is a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi (my home state), I jumped at the chance!

And I was not disappointed.

Weighing in at more than 600 pages, Waters’ commentary on the book of Acts might at first seem daunting, but do not let the size deter you! Waters’ Acts finds a wonderful middle ground between scholarly and approachable, making it perfect for both the lay reader and pastor. Written in a way that is easily understood, Acts also gives readers the benefit of footnotes, though not in an overwhelming quantity.

Ideal for those who adhere to the Reformed or Presbyterian set of beliefs as set forth by the Westminster Standards, all Christians will find benefit in Waters’ commentary on Acts, although those who are not of a Reformed background will, of course, find points on which they will disagree with Waters’ commentary.

I often found myself feeling that I was reading transcripts of sermons, as Waters’ style of commentating is exegetical, following a pattern much like my pastor’s sermons: opening notes that help connect the text to what we have previously read and studied, the reading of the text, the explanation of the text, and the application of the text.

I found Acts to be a beneficial read, and look forward to using it in times of personal Bible study. I would give Waters’ commentary on Acts an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Blogger 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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