Category Archives: Book Review

Common Souls, Uncommon Courage, Predictable Grace

Forward-in-the-Face-of-Fear-pictures

It was Hudson Taylor who famously said, “God is not looking for men of great faith, only some common souls like you or me…willing to trust in His great faithfulness.”

If you want a front-row seat to a modern-day example of that quote, you need to pick up the newly-released autobiography by Dr. Edgar Feghaly, Forward in the Face of Fear: My Life for Christ in the Muslim World.

I first read this during the pre-publication editorial process, but only after two of my coworkers had already read it. They described stories to me that were over-the-top unbelievable. When they told me they had barely scratched the surface in what they had relayed and that the book was full of such stories, I held private doubts. Continue reading

5 Extraordinary Ways God Leads Ordinary People

Where-Only-God-Could-Lead

Over the years, the Lord has used biographies to strengthen my faith and encourage my effort. Thus, biographies always have a place on my upcoming reading list.

Often, when I mention benefits of reading biographies in a teaching setting, someone will ask for recommendations. I’ve never really compiled a list, so I’ll usually just mention one or two that have been a recent blessing to me.

Well, today I have a recommendation: Where Only God Could Lead: the life story of Don Sisk.

This newly-released biography by Cary Schmidt is published by Striving Together, so I got a behind-the-scenes editorial pass to read it before it was published. I knew I’d enjoy it, but I didn’t realize just how encouraging and faith building it would be. Continue reading

Book Review: A Word to the Wise Daily Devotional

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Just this week, Striving Together Publications released a new daily devotional by Pastor Chappell: A Word to the Wise: Practical Advice from the Book of Proverbs.

With a devotional reading from Proverbs for every day of the year, this book is perfect as your daily devotional or as a gift. (Through Wednesday of this week, if you purchase the hardback, you receive the ebook free—so it can be your devotional and a gift! Also through Wednesday, if you purchase multiple copies, you receive further discounts. These are release week bonuses only, however. So hurry!)

Each day’s reading begins with a text from Proverbs followed by a brief action-orientated application. Although the devotions are all drawn from Proverbs, there are support/cross-reference Scriptures all throughout the book. Additionally, each page of the devo includes further reading that will guide you through the Bible in a year. Continue reading

Book Review: Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Choosing-Gratitude

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your gratitude? If you had asked me this spring, I probably would have rated mine about a 8.2.

But then I read Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Through this book the Lord worked in my heart to show me how ingratitude had worked its way into my life in ways I had not recognized. Subtle expectations I hadn’t identified and buried pride surfaced.

As the subtitle suggests, this book connects the dots between gratitude and Christian joy. I already knew the two are related, but I was challenged through the book to recognize specifically on what points they connect—namely humility and an outward focus.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in ourselves—even in our service to others—that we become burdened and inward focused. Choosing Gratitude highlights how effective gratitude is to usher us into the presence of God. It enables us to break away from ourselves and renew our joy.

Even today, as I flip back through the book to reread my highlights, I was challenged anew. Here are a few: Continue reading

Book Review: The Burden Bearer

  • How is it that we who personally know the One who invites us to cast our cares upon Him still stagger on bearing our own loads?
  • How is it that we who have chosen Christ’s easy yoke persist in carrying our lopsided weights on our shoulders rather than hitching them to our shared yoke with Christ?
  • How is it that we who have dedicated ourselves to the service of the Burden Bearer so often find ourselves feeling heavy, burdened, weighted, and exhausted?
  • And one more question: If we learn to cast our cares on His shoulders, do we release them from our own?

These are the probing, opening questions in The Burden Bearer by Pastor Paul Chappell. Perhaps you’ve had similar questions. So has Carrier—the allegorical Lifter with whom I readily identify. Carrier’s story is woven throughout the book with plenty of Pastor Chappell’s personal illustrations and biblical insights given as well.

This book was one of the projects I have been privileged to help with serving on the team at Striving Together Publications. Without a doubt, The Burden Bearer has been one of my favorite projects. Released just under a year ago, many have shared with me that this is one of the most encouraging, uplifting, helpful books they’ve ever read. Continue reading

Book Review: Plowed Under by Amy Carmichael

Plowed-Under

I “read” my first Amy Carmichael biography when I was probably about five years old. My mom read With Daring Faith to my sisters and me at the lunch table—a chapter every day.

I was not only fascinated—I was changed. Although I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, Amy’s walk with the Lord, commitment to pure motives in spiritual work, and passion to reach “the least of these” made a deep impression on me. As a teenager, I read a fuller biography of her life, A Chance to Die.

This summer, I had the opportunity to read a newly republished book Amy wrote in 1935: Plowed Under: A Young Girl’s Obedience. God’s Ever-Present Grace.

This relatively short read (140 pages—I read it during a day of travel) was encouraging on multiple levels. Continue reading

If by Amy Carmichael: Book Review and Free eBook

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The copy of this book in my library would be more properly titled When than If. I can’t read more than a few pages (if that) of Part 2 without being convicted at the weakness of my love.

Part 1 of this little book is really an introduction. In a few short pages, Amy shares how the book came to be written and how to read it.

Part 2 is the meat of the book. Here we are invited to compare our love for the Lord and others to the gold standard of love—the Cross. Each page (in the printed version) is comprised of one paragraph that begins with the word “If” and ends in the phrase “then I know nothing of Calvary love.” Continue reading

My Greatest Highlight of 2012

[I wrote the article below for the website Ministry127. It’s a great website with free resources and ideas to encourage and equip leaders in church ministry.]

March 7, 2012—it was the beginning highlight for what would become the delight of my year.

That evening, I had the joy to begin leading a young Christian through our church’s formal discipleship program.

What is discipleship?

  • It is a front row seat in seeing God’s Spirit bring growth.
  • It is a fresh reminder of the depth and grace of God’s love.
  • It is spiritual energy as you observe a tender heart for God and growth in His grace.
  • It is the incredible opportunity to work with God’s Spirit in pressing the button to watch a miracle of His grace unfold in a life.
  • It is the perfect vantage point from which to watch God’s Word change a life…at the deepest levels of the heart.
  • It is an indescribable joy to participate with God in His work.
  • It is…my favorite event of the week!

Continue reading

Things as They Are: Book Review (and Free Ebook)

When you read missionary prayer letters, what do you expect? Sensational stories? A string of unbroken triumphs?

Would you like to know things as they really are?

Here’s the truth: Missionaries do see victories. But the mission field isn’t romantic in the least. Sometimes it’s downright heartbreaking. The daily reality of the mission field is grueling and often disappointing.

I know this because I know missionaries personally (and even familially). But I recently read Amy Carmichael’s Things as They Are, and I was reminded in a fresh way of the real spiritual warfare missionaries face. Continue reading

Book Review: Fighting for Dear Life

We all believe in the sanctity of our own lives. But what about the lives of others? What about the lives of those who don’t benefit us? What about the lives of those who actually inconvenience us?

Today marks seven years since Terri Shiavo passed away—a result of a forced dehydration and deliberate withholding of care. Terri’s death and the proceedings leading to it mark a slippery slope of reasoning that threatens to bring our nation to frightening depths.

In Fighting for Dear Life, author Attorney David Gibbs III reveals an inside legal perspective of Terri’s fight for life. He shares what he saw firsthand, what he did to change the situation, and why the outcome is important to the life of every American.

I picked up this book one evening a few months ago while attempting to “wind down” for the night. Several hours later, I finished with bleary eyes and a fresh perspective on the value of every life. Continue reading