Book Review: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst

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Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst is a book to help you take the rejection life throws at us and give to God who is waiting for us. This is not a self help book that promises relief in three easy steps. Lysa’s points on how rejection affects life will hit home with most people. She makes the book personal, sharing feelings that are genuine and relatable.

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This book is not designed to be read in one sitting. It is designed to be read a chapter at a time so that the thoughts of the author and Biblical truths can be digested into your life. This is a book you put down to think, pray, and sometimes cry over. Yet at the same time, you’ll want to keep reading because you found the topic so engaging.

Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true.

We have all been rejected at some point in our life. Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true. Not only did I learn how to deal with past rejection and how to stop rejection pain from taking root. But I also learned that by extending the same love God gives to me, to others, I can help stop the cycle of rejection.

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After reading Uninvited, I have thought differently about the things that are said and done to me. I have thought about my own actions and words toward not only myself but also my friends and family. Uninvited is definitely a book I would recommend to others, be prepared with a highlighter.

God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me. And it’s the place from which I should live…loved.

I was given a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

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Book Review – 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom

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Eric Anderson and Nathan Marchand invite you along on a 42-day journey. A journey filled with Star TrekDoctor Who, and the worlds within and beyond Marvel.

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42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom bridges the gap between pop culture and the Bible. When successful, soaring to personal heights that speak to the soul. On off days, testing the cultural and spiritual bonds woven together to the point of collapse.

Despite a few daily entries that felt forced, I enjoyed my devotional journey. Each daily entry features an introductory Bible verse followed by a narrative. The narrative then ends with a “Quest for the Day”. Offering a time of action, questions to journal through, and reflection.

Note: The “Quest for the Day” section is where the devotional fell apart for me. I would find myself skimming over the questions. Failing to engage with the book any further. If the extra scripture reading listed was added to each entry, I might have read it.

Eric and Nathan’s book is perfect for those interested in the junction point of pop culture and faith. I appreciated the chance to read and review their book. Which you can buy here.

Thanks guys!

Scary Close – Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller

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“The strongest character in a story isn’t the hero, it’s the guide.” – p16

“Sometimes the story we’re telling the world isn’t half as endearing as the one that lives inside us.” – p22

I first discovered Donald Miller in college. I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure about my Christian faith anymore. There was a disconnect between the Christians I read about in the Bible and the Christians I met everyday. Tired of the hypocrisy, I found honesty in Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Someone was finally writing from a perspective that felt authentic. God used Miller’s words to remind me of the freedom we have in Christ; He used Donald Miller to bring me back to Him.

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“The problem is this: those of us who are never satisfied with our accomplishments secretly believe nobody will love us unless we’re perfect.” – p44

Throughout the years, Don and I have checked in, though he doesn’t know it. His book on growing up without a father, Father Fiction, helped me to heal wounds of the past. Father Fiction encouraged me to be a dad who is real with my son. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years taught me the importance of living the story God is writing with me. Don always seems to come along and speak into my life when I need it most.

“Love can’t be earned, it can only be given. And it can only be exchanged by people who are completely true with each other.”

Scary Close chronicles Don’s journey to define and live out relationships that are healthy. His relationships with family, career, and even his thought life began to change as he cast aside the masks that prevented him from finding true intimacy. The book is set against the backdrop of Don dating his now wife, Betsy. His courtship of her, witnessing positive relationship examples in her family, only served to spur his change. The season before marriage sheds light on things before held in darkness and forces one to deal with the past. Reading Scary Close is to watch Don transform into the man God has always called him to be. Not perfect, no, but healthy and more whole.

God used Scary Close to remind me of the importance of being honest and open with others, especially my wife. He also reminded me of why I love her so much, of all of the neat parts that make up who she is. As Don puts it, “Intimacy means we are independently together.” Relationships can easily become unhealthy. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective, such as reading a book like Scary Close, to make one see things for what they are.

I enjoyed my time with Scary Close. As Bob Goff said in the forward, “This book will help you sort the junk mail you’ve been bringing to your relationships.” Definitely pick up Scary Close if you have a chance.

Quotes to share:

“I’ll add this to the mix too: I believe God is a fan of people connecting and I think the enemy of God is a fan of people breaking off into paranoid tribes. And I think all the clanging pots and pans in the kitchen to scare people from the territory we feel compelled to defend is playing into the hands of dark forces. I think a lot of the shame-based religious and political methodology has more to do with keeping people contained than with setting them free. And I’m no fan of it.” – 124

“…kids with parents who are honest about their shortcomings seem to do better in life.” – p157

“I remember growing up in church hearing about how there was a hole in our hearts that could only be filled by Jesus, but later in life when I became a Jesus guy myself I continued to experience the longing. He simply wasn’t doing it. The experience was so frustrating I almost walked away from faith.

Later, though, I read in the Bible about how there will be a wedding in heaven and how, someday, we will be reunited with God. The Bible paints a beautiful picture of a lion laying down with a lamb, of all our tears being wiped away, of a mediator creating peace and a King ruling with wisdom and kindness. The language is scattered and often vague, but there’s no question something in the souls of men will be healed and perhaps even made complete once we are united with God and not a second before. What differentiates true Christianity from the pulp many people buy into is that Jesus never offers that completion here on earth. He only asks us to trust him and follow him to the metaphorical wedding we will experience in heaven.” – p214

I was given a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

A Book Review – Open by Craig Gross

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The first time I heard the word accountability was shortly after high school. A good friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be accountability partners with him. This meant that we would talk about the deeper things that boil beneath the surface; things that hold most tightly to themselves. I am not sure if I was scared or what, but I quickly declined his invitation. I did not want anyone getting closer. I was an island.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent…

– No Man Is An Island, John Donne

Open, by Craig Gross, is a book that encourages living a life in accountability to another. The book is divided into three parts:

  1. Part 1: Why accountability is…(Good, Safety, Deep, Necessary)
  2. Part 2: What you need…(Honesty, Courage, Help)
  3. Part 3: How – Get…(Involved, Intimate, Effective)

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The Good:

Starting in Chapter 8, I love how Craig breaks down exactly how to establish an accountability relationship and exactly what that looks like. He talks about the small things such as:

  • Picking someone of the same gender.
  • Finding someone you are compatible with (preferably someone who knows you).
  • Having an accountability partner whose views are slightly different than your own (this way you avoid someone who is simply going to be a yes-man and will instead challenge you).
  • Choosing someone who you can trust. I have found point to be especially true. If you don’t trust your accountability partner you will never go below the surface conversations that you have with everyone else.
  • Taking into consideration whether you want someone in the same stage of life (income, age, marital status, kids, etc.) as yourself.

Though Craig’s background is primarily in dealing with pornography through XXXChurch, in Chapter 9 he goes beyond porn in asking, “What are you seeking accountability for?” (p146). This is a fantastic question because accountability can be for almost anything from exercise to the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible. I know that when I hear the word accountability I automatically think of someone needing to overcome some sort of terrible sin.

Finally, in Chapter 10, Craig discusses scheduling, deciding on a meeting place, and what the format for an accountability meeting looks like.

“Honesty can be spontaneous, but spontaneity often arises from planning.” (p171)

He suggests:

  • Five minutes of small talk
  • An opening prayer
  • A series of staple questions you ask each other each week (“How was your week? Were you honest and truthful in all you did? State one lie you have told someone in this past week or a secret you are keeping from someone else or the group.” (p173))
  • Asking specific questions that apply directly to you (Did you steal from the cookie jar?)
  • Closing prayer
  • Further discussion/ small talk
  • Close

The Bad:

I dislike the tone that Craig writes with at the beginning of Open. The first few chapters paint a picture of a man who is all about self promotion/himself. This turned me off to the book and caused me to skim until I found material that was actually helpful and worth reading (the back half/practical end of the book). This is a shame as I can see this as a turn off to other readers.

In Closing:
Despite a poor beginning, Open features useful discussion on the why’s, how’s, and what’s of going beyond the personal island and seeking out others to walk through life with.

I was given a copy of this book by BookSneeze. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: The Jesus Bible, NIV

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The Jesus Bible, NIV is a children’s Bible that focuses on how Jesus is interwoven throughout scripture. Helpful features include:

  • A timeline of Jesus’ life
  • A simplified Family Tree of Jesus
  • Devotions for every day of the year
  • Biblical book introductions that answer the question of, “Where is Jesus in this book?”

The Good:
The Jesus Bible, NIV is presented in an easy to use format. As my son grows older, I can see myself working through this Bible with him. Parents should keep in mind that The Jesus Bible, NIV is geared towards kids ages 9-12.

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I also like how the daily devotionals are short and simple to read. They include an opening theme verse, thought for the day, and a closing prayer. The devotionals serve as a great introductory tool to get children into a daily habit of reading scripture.

The Bad:
I have two complaints against The Jesus Bible, NIV: 1) The hardbound version that I was given to review is heavy. I realize that this does increase the life span of the Bible due to durability. But yet I wonder if a child would indeed carry a Bible that is so heavy. 2) I dislike the pink font that is used throughout the Bible. I think a more gender neutral color could have been chosen.

In Closing:
If you are looking for a children’s Bible that points towards Christ, look no further than The Jesus Bible, NIV.

I was given a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.