Friday, September 27, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Reads - Christian Book Review

I love to read!  With two busy little boys entertaining me day and night I can't always find the time so it's a treat when I get to sit down and enjoy a good book.  Below I'll share with you some of my favorite Christian books, including a quote from the book and a little bit on why I like it...

1) For Women Only ~ Shaunti Feldhahn

"Men want to show us how much they love us and long for their women to understand what is going on inside, even though they sometimes can't explain it well.  More than once I have seen men tear up as they read the draft of this book, moved by the though that their wife might be able to -or want to- understand them."

This is the most recent book that I finished and I must admit that I cried at the end!  The author, Shaunti Feldhahn, did extensive research with thousands of men to find out how men really feel - who they really are on the inside.  Some of the information was not necessarily new to me, some blew my mind (hello chapter 5)!  Really it gave me a renewed appreciation and sensitivity for the man that my husband is and an understanding of how much he really depends on me as his wife for his self esteem and emotional well-being.

It's broken up into 9 chapters and is a pretty easy and quick read (it took me two days).

Chapter 1: Lightbulb on!
  How I Woke up to What I Didn't Know About Men

Chapter 2: Your Love Is Not Enough

  Why Your Respect Means More to Him than Even Your Affection

Chapter 3: The Performance of a Lifetime

  Why Your Mr. Smooth Looks So Impressive but Feels Like an Impostor

Chapter 4: The Loneliest Burden

  How His Need to Provide Weighs Your Man Down, and Why He Likes It That Way

Chapter 5: Sex Changes Everything

  Why Sex Unlocks a Man's Emotions (Guess Who Holds the Key?)

Chapter 6: Keeper of the Visual Rolodex

  Why It's So Natural for Him to Look and So Hard to Forget What He's Seen

Chapter 7: Chocolate, Flowers, Bait Fishing

  Why the Reluctant Clod You Know Really Does Want Romance

Chapter 8: The Truth About the Way You Look

  Why what's on the Outside Matters to Him on the Inside

Chapter 9: Words for Your Heart

  What Your Man Most Wishes You Knew About Him

2)  Piercing the Darkness~ Frank E. Peretti

"Tal scanned the horizon and could see the thick hedge of angelic warriors that surrounded the town, sealing it off from demonic invasion.  They were there to serve the saints within, responding to their prayers, widening doors of opportunity to minister.  The town was not perfect, not without problems; it still had its taverns and turmoils, its scrapes and its sins.  But the Lord was working in Ashton, its saints were praying, and for Sally Beth Roe it was safe."

Piercing the Darkness and its predecessor, This Present Darkness, are two of my all time favorite Christian novels!  The books center around fictional battles between good and evil, on earth and in the heavenly realm.  The author's vivid imagination of how the Lord's angels and the Devil's spirits look, act and speak are captivating.  We get to see what is happening on earth and how simultaneously the spiritual realm is responding.  I often visualize the spiritual realm as exactly how I've read it in these books, picturing the mighty warrior angels surrounding a city or a room in a house!  I love how, as in the quote above, the story shows the heavenly hosts grow stronger as the people on earth gather to pray and alternately how areas in the grips of darkness and sin have a much stronger presence of evil spirits.  If you love a good read as much as I do you won't be disappointed with this one!

3)  The Case for Christ ~ Lee Strobel

"'I'll be honest with you," I said to Metzger. 'When I first found out that there are no surviving originals of the New Testament, I was really skeptical.  I thought, if all we have are copies of copies of copies, how can I have any confidence that the New Testament we have today bears any resemblance whatsoever to what was originally written? How do you respond to that?'"

This book is a classic book on apologetics.  I actually found this book at a thrift store and bought it out if curiosity.  I was quite surprised at how eye opening it was to me and how much I learned about my faith that I had never known despite being a life long believer in and follower of Christ.  If you (or someone you know) have hard questions about the Bible and who Jesus was, like the one above, this would be a great book to check out.  It was written by a self-described atheist who set out on a journey to find out for himself whether there was any merit to Christianity after his wife came home one day and told him that she had become a Christian.  He was disappointed at first until he began to see the changes that had taken place (for the better) in her life.  Being a reporter, he decided to go on a search for facts to support or refute the legitimacy of Christianity, and after two years put his findings into this book.

4) Rekindled ~ Tamera Alexander

"Larson's heart pounded out an erratic rhythm.  He blew out a steadying breath.  Kathryn's gasp at seeing him had wounded him more deeply than he could have imagined.  Certain she was gone, he raked his hands over his face.  He didn't know which hurt him more - her reaction to him or the raw truth that she hadn't recongnized her own husband."

Aghhhh!  This book, I can't say enough about how much I loved this book!!!  This is a romance novel better than any I've read.  I find it hard to find a romance novel that is clean and not crude but that also makes my heart pound and eyes tear up.  I could not put this book down.  It takes place in the mid 1800's, a story of a husband and a wife, unmet expectations and a journey of discovery.  There are unexpected twists that will keep you turning the pages and wanting more!  

5) The Five Languages of Apology ~ Gary Chapman & Jennifer Thomas

"Without apology, the offense sits as a barrier and the quality of the relationship is diminished.  Good relationships are always marked by a willingness to apologize, forgive and reconcile.  The reason many relationships are cold and distant is because we have failed to apologize."

I would imagine many of you have heard of the book, The Five Love Languages?  This book is written by the same author.  The Love Languages concept had a huge impact on me and the way I strive to relate to my husband so I thought just maybe it would help us in the area of apologizing (not one of our stronger points)!  The information in the book is laid out so simply - it is quite an easy read - and it just makes sense!  The basic concept is that we each speak different "languages" when it comes to apology.  While one person might simply need to hear I'm sorry to really feel the apology is sincere, another person may need to hear, "I know I was wrong, would you please forgive me?"  The book gives many examples of how couples or co-workers or friends got stuck in a conflict because they truly felt that the other was not genuinely sorry.  According to the book in one survey 75% of couples spoke different apology languages!  This means that 3 out of 4 couples needed to learn a different way to convey their apology to make it meaningful to their significant other!  Here are the 5 basic languages of apology:
1) Expressing Regret, "I am sorry"
2) Accepting Responsibility, "I was wrong"
3) Making Restitution, "What can I do to make it right?"
4) Genuinely Renting, "I'll try not to do that again"
5) Requesting Forgiveness, "Will you please forgive me?"

6) Choose Joy - Because Happiness Isn't Enough ~ Kay Warren

"Then I wonder, if all of creation sings, why don't I?  If the trees, the flowers, the oceans, the mountains, the clouds, and the animals are praising God's name every day, why don't I -the crown of his creation- sing praise to him?  Do I hold back my songs of praise for trivialities as small as no parking space at the crowded mall?  My hair didn't curl the way I wanted it to?  It's raining?  The price of gasoline went up again?  All of God's works sing for joy before him, and when I meditate on what he has made, on his stunning abilities as the maker Creator, I too sing.  I too shout for joy!"

This book...  This book had a huge impact on me just a little over a year ago and ever since, "choose joy" has been my mantra.  At the time I was going through some trials in my life (which I wrote about here) and realized that I had a choice to make.  I purchased and read this book as my church was doing a message series based on it.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever faced any trials of any kind in life (um, hello... EVERYONE!).  Kay writes from such an honest place and is so encouraging about being intentional when choosing our attitude towards life.  We ALWAYS have the ability to choose joy and the Lord longs for us to experience joy in our lives - the fullness of his joy, not just situational happiness.

*** We would love for you to share with us what your favorite Christian books are! If you've read a book that you would like to share with us, leave us a comment... it might just be the next on our reading list!!  

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