Category Archives: Nonfiction

Joyful Surrender

Joyful Surrender

By Elisabeth Elliot

The Story

Finding freedom and happiness in divine surrender

In our age of instant gratification and if-it-feels-good-do-it attitudes, self-discipline is often overlooked. Yet it may be one of the most important lost virtues of our time. In Joyful Surrender, former missionary and beloved author Elisabeth Elliot offers her understanding of discipline and its value for people of all times. She shows you how to

  • discipline your mind, body, possessions, time, and feelings
  • overcome anxiety
  • change poor habits and attitudes
  • trust God in times of trial and hardship
  • let Him have control in all areas of life

Elliot masterfully and gently takes you through Scripture, personal stories, and incisive observations to help you discover the understanding that your fulfillment as a human being depends on your answer to God’s call to obedience.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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Elisabeth Elliot’s book is full of practical advice for believers, particularly when it comes to surrendering our whole lives to Christ.

I enjoyed the timeless quality of her insight in this book. Though she’d written these words and disciplines years ago, they still hold true.

The writing style of this book was a bit different from previous books I have read from her. It didn’t feel quite so conversational and was a bit harder for me to get into. And just from my personal opinion, at times there were things that she said we should do that were more preferences than actual commands from Scripture. Not to say they weren’t good ideas, just still preferences. There were also several areas that felt a bit off-topic to what the book and chapter were intending to discuss.

Overall, I found it a little more difficult to engage and track with her in this book. That being said, I did have many good takeaways from her insights into God’s Word and examples from her own life.

About the Author

Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) was one of the most perceptive and popular Christian writers of the last century. The author of more than twenty books, including Passion and Purity and The Journals of Jim Elliot, Elliot offered guidance and encouragement to millions of readers worldwide.

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

A Cloud by Day, A Fire by Night

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night

Finding and Following God’s Will for You

By A.W. Tozer

Compiled and Edited by James L. Snyder

The Story

Discover Where God is Leading You!

How can I know God’s will for me, personally? It’s a question that haunts us all at times–maybe when we’re looking for the right job, thinking about moving to a new city, or deciding whether or not to get married. At every stage we have difficult decisions to make, and we long for God’s direction and His warm reassurance that we’re heading the right way.

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night captures A.W. Tozer’s teaching on the will of God. Taken from sermons he preached just before he left his successful church in Chicago, the title comes from the story of God leading His people out of Egypt and into the promised land.

Tozer was no stranger to facing difficult decisions. His wisdom and biblical insight will help guide you in decisions of your own and reassure you of God’s presence every step of the way.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I’ve enjoyed A.W. Tozer’s insight and easy-to-follow style in previous books, so I jumped at the opportunity to review one that had been compiled from sermons and writings of his.

The premise of this book is based on how God led the Israelites through the wilderness, and the lessons and trials they faced along the way. Each chapter looks at their experience in a different way, while constantly moving forward in that journey.

I like to use a highlighter while reading Christian living books like this and had it handy every time I opened this book. There were many good points that I highlighted, some convicting, others encouraging. This quote really sums up much of what the book deals with:

“If we let God lead us and give up on our own wisdom, He will lead us on a path that we never imagined we would be on.”

While there is much to be gleaned from this book, there were some things that made it difficult for me to engage as a reader. Some chapters felt like repetitions of previous ones. I’m sure there was an enormous amount of material to condense and include in this book, but there were parts that seemed like mere restatements of previous chapters. It also felt vague at times, like uncollected thoughts, not the well-thought out works that I’d read from him before.

There is plenty to glean and learn from in A Cloud by Day and A Fire by Night, there were just a few things that I personally struggled to get past.

About the Author

A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) was a self-taught theologian, pastor, and writer whose powerful words continue to grip the intellect and stir the soul of today’s believer. He authored more than forty books. The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy are considered modern devotional classics. Get Tozer information and quotes at www.twitter.com/TozerAW.

Reverend James L. Snyder (www.jamessnyderministries.com) is an award-winning author whose writings have appeared in more than 80 periodicals and 15 books. He is recognized as an authority on the life and ministry of A.W. Tozer. His first book, In Pursuit of God: The Life of A.W. Tozer, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Because of his thorough knowledge of Tozer, James was given the rights from the A.W. Tozer estate to produce new books derived from over 400 never-before-published audio tapes. James and his wife live in Ocala, Florida.

(Biography from Bethany House’s site)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Made for the Journey

Made For the Journey

By Elisabeth Elliot

The Story

In this deeply personal account of her first year as a missionary, Elisabeth Elliot shares the challenges she faced as she worked in the jungles of Ecuador to bring the Word of God to a people virtually untouched by the outside world. With fascinating detail, she captures the stark realities of life in the jungle, the difficulties she encountered while developing a written language for the tribe, and her confusion when God didn’t “cooperate” with her efforts to accomplish what she believed was His will.

More than just a memoir, Made for the Journey is a beautifully crafted and deeply personal reflection on the important questions of life and a remarkable testimony to authentic Christian obedience to an unfathomable God.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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It’s not often that I stay up late reading a nonfiction book, but Made for the Journey had me captivated. I couldn’t stop reading until I had learned as Elisabeth learned and reached her conclusion. Somehow, I’ve never read a book by Elisabeth Elliot before, but I officially have a new hero of the faith. This memoir is deeply personal, and Elisabeth is able to share her heart, her struggles, and her failures of both mission and intent, so honestly that it astounded me. Such transparency, even years after the fact, is incredible. And it touched me because I felt she was writing to just where I’m at.

I don’t usually read a book with a pen next to me, but I discerned within the first couple pages that this was a book I would be returning to, and needed to mark what meant so much to me.

What I really loved was her answer, really at the beginning of the book. So many things in life simply don’t make sense. And our Creator, the Lord of the universe, doesn’t always give us answers. This was her response to that:

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.’”

I underlined so many different quotes in this book, that I’m pretty sure it would count as plagiarism to put them all in my review. 😉 This incredible memoir is the most impactful nonfiction book I’ve read this year and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

About the Author

Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) was one of the most perceptive and popular Christian writers of the last century. The author of more than twenty books, including Passion and Purity and The Journals of Jim Elliot, Elliot offered guidance and encouragement to millions of readers worldwide.

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Day by Day through the Gospel of John

Day by Day Through the Gospel of John:

365 Timeless Devotions from Classic Writers

Compiled and Edited by Lance Wubbels

The Story

365 Days in the Presence of Jesus

Words from the past can have a remarkable ability to refresh us today. The writings of legendary preachers and Bible teachers, such as Charles Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor, Catherine Booth, and Andrew Murray continue to provide encouragement and truth for Christians around the world.

From the classic writings of these revered saints, Lance Wubbels has compiled and edited the best of the best of their inspirational insights into this 365-day devotional. Chapter by chapter, through the Gospel of John, readers will gain an unforgettable understanding of the life, words, and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Excerpts are taken from the writings of: Charles Spurgeon · Alexander Maclaren · Joseph Parker · S. D. Gordon · Alexander Whyte · George MacDonald · John Wesley · R. A. Torrey · Hudson Taylor · Charles Finney · Matthew Henry · Frances Ridley Havergal · Catherine Booth · Adam Clarke · Andrew Murray.

Here is a one-year devotional that is packed with profound biblical commentary, brilliant wisdom, and practical application that you’ll look forward to reading every day.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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What I most looked forward to in this devotional was seeing some of the writings from these influential men and women from our more recent times, as many I hadn’t actually read anything from before. While there is a smattering of each in this devotional, by and large the majority of the writings are from Charles Spurgeon, Alexander Maclaren, Joseph Parker, and S.D. Gordon. The beginning of the devotional gives the biographies and notable works of those quoted in this devotional, and their listing gives an idea of how often their writings will appear. This is something to be aware of before purchasing the devotional.

With that in mind, the theology of this devotional can also be gauged by this as well.

I loved how this was compiled because of a passion for remembering and learning from those men and women who have gone before us. I believe it is very important to glean what we can from those people, and I love that this has been compiled to see their insights and what they learned from the book of John.

This is an easy 1 page a day devotional that covers the book of John over the expanse of a year. Generally, each devotional covers one verse. Sometimes, several days will take the same verse, with different perspectives by the different people.

Overall, I enjoyed this devotional and will look forward to going through it more extensively in the future.

About the Author

Lance Wubbels served for eighteen years as managing editor at Bethany House Publishers, was the vice president of literary development at Koechel Peterson & Associates, and currently runs his own literary service to publishers and writers. Wubbels has written several bestselling gift books with Hallmark, three gift books with Simple Truths, seven novels with Bethany House, and eighteen Christian Living Classics with Emerald Books. Two of his books have won Gold Medallion awards from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Lance and his wife make their home in Minnesota.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Real-Life Romance Review and Giveaway!

Real-Life Romance:

Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love

By Rhonda Stoppe

The Story

Do you believe in true love?

In a world of broken relationships and hurting people, it can seem like all we ever see is heartache-that marriages are doomed from the start and romance isn’t worth the risk.

But heart-fluttering, long-lasting love is all around us…we just have to look for it!

This collection of beautiful, real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears as you enjoy each story of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Page after page, you will find inspiration to

-rekindle the romance in your love story

-trust in God’s providence and timing

-faithfully hope for your own happily-ever-after

-celebrate true romance

-believe in life-long love

Don’t let the world define romance for you! See how God is at work in the hearts of His people-knitting together hearts in a love that forever endures.

(Back cover summary from Litfuse Publicity Group)

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I LOVE hearing real-life couple’s stories about how they met, fell in love, got married, and weathered the storms and sweet times of marriage. So when I had the opportunity to review Real-Life Romance, I jumped at the opportunity.

What undergirds each real-life story in this book is that at some point, Christ became the middle of their marriage, their glue. Each started in different points of life. Some knew each other growing up, some met in high school, others later on. Some were believers, some were not. But God graciously drew each one to trust in Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite stories was Don and Barb’s. God brought them together, but they each struggled with trusting Him. Then they suffered a tragic loss. Reading how they struggled through that, and came out with a faith, and a marriage, refined, was so beautiful and encouraging.

And then Curt and Vi’s marriage. *Sigh* The two compared their marriage to a waltz. At the end of Curt’s life, after a long marriage together, he said these words in answer to Vi’s question of what he would want to say to Jesus when he first saw Him, “I am going to thank Him for giving me you.” Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

The stories in this book, all true, all heart-achingly life-like, are pictures of God’s grace. And they encourage me to always seek Jesus first in life, above all and anyone else.

If you enjoy romance, there’s nothing like the real-life kind, and you’ll love this book.

There’s a giveaway going on for this book!

Whether you’re single and looking for a reason to believe in love or a parent watching your own child fall in love, Real-Life Romance by Rhonda Stoppe will inspire you to believe in life-long love. This collection of beautiful, real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears as you enjoy each story of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Don’t let the world define romance for you! See how God is at work in the hearts of His people-knitting together hearts in a love that forever endures.

Join Rhonda and other real-life romancers on March 6 for a Facebook Live party, plus enter to win the Make Your Own Real-Life Romance prize pack!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • One copy of Real-Life Romance
  • A $50 restaurant gift card
  • A $25 movie gift card

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 6. The winner will be announced at Rhonda’s Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Rhonda and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Check out the other blog stops to read more about the book, see some great author interviews, and more! http://litfusegroup.com/author/RStoppe 

About the Author

Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. With more than 20 years of experience as a pastor’s wife, mom, mentor, author, and speaker, Rhonda uses humor and honest communication to help women build No Regrets Lives. She and her husband live their real-life romance in northern California, and have four grown children and eight grandchildren.

Find out more about Rhonda at http://www.rhondastoppe.com .

(Biography from Litfuse Publicity Group)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Adored Review and Giveaway!

Adored

By Lindsay A. Franklin

The Story

In an ever-changing world, we can be certain of one thing: we are beloved by God.

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women tackles tough topics girls face, from bullying and social media to friendships and dating, all the while showing readers how infinitely precious they are in God’s sight.

Each day features an easy-to-read, relevant devotion paired with a scripture verse and journaling space to help readers reflect on the day’s message. With honest, poignant, and sometimes humorous text, every page will speak to the pressures and changes girls face, giving them real-world applications to find God in their hearts and in their lives. Perfect for everyday use, Adored will resonate with girls searching for truth and guidance. Gift givers will love this highly designed book featuring a beautiful, foiled cover, and two-color interior pages.

(Back cover summary from Zondervan Publishers.)

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Adored is a sweet, simple devotional aimed at young women. It begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation, appropriately. Differing from other devotionals for young women that can often focus on relationships, this devotional hits all aspects of life. It brings out doctrine, making truths from God’s word easily understandable and applicable. I enjoyed reading the verses from the NIV and also the insights that were written underneath. Each devotional is short, only a verse or two, with two or three paragraphs underneath and then several lines below that for journaling. Adored would be a good springboard for further personal study.

With pretty design and overall solid doctrine, this would be a nice Christmas present for a young woman in your life to encourage her in her faith. You also have the opportunity to win this devotional for you or a special young woman in your life! Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

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About the Author

Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her husband (master of the dad joke), their awesomely nerdy kids, two thunder pillows (AKA cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following (@therealwombatman). You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and she Facebooks at www.facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.

(Biography from Lindsay Franklin’s website.)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

66 Ways God Loves You, and a Giveaway!

9780718087708-jpgBook Review: 66 Ways God Loves You

Author: Jennifer Rothschild

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website for 66 Ways God Loves You:

66 books, one incredible message

God’s Word is many things—instructive, historical, poetic. Yet to Jennifer Rothschild, the Bible is also an incredible love letter. In 66 Ways God Loves You, she walks you through each of the sixty-six books of the Bible and shows, in concise and thoughtful ways, how every book reflects God’s love for each of us, such as:

In Genesis God fashions me with His hands.

In Esther He Makes me royalty

In Acts God’s Spirit comes to live in me.

In I Peter God gives me victory over suffering.

Each chapter includes a succinct, meaningful reading on the message of that book in the Bible, along with a simple takeaway to help you bring the message to light in your own heart and life.

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            I really enjoyed this book. I was encouraged as I read it, and very impressed by how Ms. Rothschild could take one book of the Bible, narrow its focus down so she could write two pages about how God’s love is portrayed in it, and make it applicable for us without taking it out of context. This book is visually appealing, but also appeals to the heart and soul as she teaches the reader more about how much God loves them.

Though it’s a small book focused on the love of God, 66 Ways God Loves You is also surprisingly rich in doctrine. I wasn’t sure what sort of doctrinal basis this book would have, if it would only focus on God’s love and forget His justice, but I was very impressed by Ms. Rothschild’s ability to balance that out. Inevitably, different doctrinal issues came up in this book, but I found we agreed on most everything, which I found interesting.

One of my favorite (because I can’t narrow it down to one!) chapters was the one from Zephaniah, The Mighty God Sings Over Me with Great Joy. It was such an awesome reminder that not only does God love me, He likes me too! And He delights in me.

            All in all, I really liked this book. It’s definitely a keeper for me, and maybe for you too! Today, courtesy of the publisher, I’m going to be giving away one copy to one of you! Make sure you enter to win this great book.

Click on the link and fill out the options to enter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/fea9d3732/

About the Author

Biography from Thomas Nelson’s website: Jennifer Rothschild has written 13 books and Bible studies, including the bestsellers, Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Self-Talk, Soul-Talk. She has appeared on Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Life Today, and a Billy Graham television special and spoken for Women of Faith and Extraordinary Women. She is the founder of the Fresh Grounded Faith conferences and womensministry.net. She lost her sight at age 15 and regularly travels and speaks around the country, sharing her story and all God has done in her life. Jennifer lives with her family in Missouri.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.