Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson


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The apostle Paul often spoke of prayer. In the openings of his letters, Paul told his readers how he prayed for them, and asked for prayers in return. Paul’s focus on prayer should draw our attention.

D. A. Carson lays out several prayers from Paul’s letters. He breaks them down to reveal what Paul is praying for and why. He reveals, most importantly, that the prayers of Paul are God-centered.

This book turned out to be a lot more theologically rich than I was expecting, but after reading it I can see why. Carson really gets into the bones of Paul’s prayers. There’s nothing superficial here.

There were moments when I got a little confused, and had to re-read a passage, but it’s worth it. I did a lot of underlining in this book.

1) Is it understandable = 4
2) Presentation of Information = 4.5
3) Quality of Writing = 4.5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 4

Average score of 4.25 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

2019 Reading List


I mentioned in my OneWord post that I would be focusing more on non-fiction Christian books in the new year, and I wanted to share some of the books I plan to read.

Her-Story is a devotional. Each day of the year, you learn about a woman from the Bible or Christian history who had a love for Jesus. I’ll be reading this throughout the year.

This is something I’ve wanted to study for a while now, and 2019 is the year. I had to think about how to do this. I wanted to break it up either by one question or chapter per week, but at 107 questions, in 64 chapters, that won’t be possible to complete in a year. So, I’ll be doing two chapters a week, which will give me some wiggle room if anything comes up that I can’t do two in one week.

The rest are books I’ve had on my shelf; some for years, some for just a couple months. Some classics, some modern. Here are the covers:

Have you read any of these? Do you have one waiting on your shelf? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin


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Published in 1539, the second edition of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion contained a new chapter: On the life of a Christian Man. It has since been published many times in various languages as part of the entirety of the Institutes, as well as separate books, such as this one.

In this new English translation, editors Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons strive to not just give us the message of Calvin, but to stay true to his words and tone.

Calvin lays out what the Scripture says about the life of a Christian regarding success and suffering. How are we to respond to success? How do we respond to suffering, be it illness, poverty, or persecution? How does our response portray our relationship with God?

This book is an encouragement of truth. Where most churches today convey Godly success as prosperity in every area of life, this little book reminds us of what the Bible says. Simply, the Christian life involves strife. That strife should drive us to God.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

A Plain Leaving by Leslie Gould


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Jessica Bachmann has been on her own for three years. She has a job that she loves, and a boyfriend she cares for. Her life is good enough that she doesn’t regret leaving her Amish community, despite the time it took to get over the pain of the separation.

Now, after the death of her father, she must return for the funeral. She struggles through her grief, as well as the painful reunion with her family, most of whom are anything but welcoming. She must also deal with the resurfacing emotions toward Silas, the love she left behind.

In the midst of it all, Jessica’s aunt tells her the story of Ruby Bachmann, an ancestor from the time of the Revolutionary War. Ruby was faced with hardships and hard decisions. Will Ruby’s story guide Jessica back to her family? Or will it reinforce her decision to leave?

This is the first Amish novel I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I gave it a chance. It’s very well written, and Gould does a good job of weaving the two stories together. There were a couple of times where I lost track of whose story I was reading. I don’t really fault the author for this. I think it was only in part due to the fact that the Amish community didn’t change much between the times of Ruby and Jessica. But it wasn’t a major confusion. It was more along the lines of “oh, wait… that’s right, Jessica has a car.”

Other than that (which I blame mostly on my lack of concentration as of late), the book is wonderful. If you’re looking for a clean, faith-inspiring read, this is it.

1) Overall Plot = 5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4.8
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.8

Average of score 4.92 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

Tethered by Brenda H. Cox


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Henrietta Hall Shuck married at seventeen, then sailed to the other side of the world with her new husband as a missionary in China. Through disease, heartbreak, poverty, and war, the Shucks remain determined to follow God’s leading and remain in the country, sometimes against the wishes of the mission board, until Henrietta becomes the first female American missionary to set foot on China’s mainland.

There is no denying that Henrietta Shuck’s life is fascinating. She is an example of what it is like to follow God’s will, even when it would be easier (even life-saving) to turn back.

But as a novel, Tethered misses the mark. Very little of the book feels like a novel. The parts that do are quickly interrupted by time-jumps, tidbits of future information, or information dumps. The book was obviously well-researched. I think it would have been much better as a non-fiction piece with a narrative feel, but still non-fiction.

1) Overall Plot = 4
2) Characters = 3
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 3
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 2.5

Average of score 3.5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

Will You Join Me On My Journey?


A couple of months ago I shared that I entered a writing contest as part of my plan to treat writing as a career and look for opportunities to be published. I’m still waiting on the results of that contest, but I want to share some things on my writing journey as a whole.

I shared last time about a Ko-fi account that I created that would allow my readers (you guys!) to help support me on my journey, and I am very grateful to have received a couple of sizeable (more than I would have ever expected) donations that have allowed me to purchase a few writing resources/tools (including Scrivener) and join the American Christian Fiction Writers. A membership in ACFW can mean great things for a writing career in terms of support and connections. I am thrilled that I was finally able to do this.

I also mentioned in that previous post that I was considering using Patreon as a way to get support, and I’ve done it (click the picture below).

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The great thing about Patreon is that I can set up donation tiers. Even the smallest amount helps, because those small amounts add up when more people give.

My tiers are $2, $5, $10, $15, and $25. At each level, you get a little something: from periodic updates about my writing, to being able to suggest topics for a blog post, to book giveaways. The more you give, the more you get.

This support means a lot to me. To be able to purchase the things I need to not just write, but move toward publication, is amazing. Another item I was able to purchase with the last donation through Ko-fi was The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. This one purchase can help me greatly with publication possibilities.

So, I’m asking for two favors.

  1. If you can, please become a Patron, at whatever tier is comfortable for you.
  2. Whether you can become a Patron or not, please spread the word. This post will be shared on Twitter. Please consider sharing it there. If you have a WordPress blog, please consider sharing this post to your blog.

One day, when I reach the publication of a novel, I’ll try to do something amazing for my supporters. For now, this is what I can offer in return for support that would mean the world to me.

Thank you all. God bless.

How to Be a Perfect Christian by The Babylon Bee


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What’s the key to being a perfect Christian? You need to remember that it’s all about you. In this guide, you’ll get tips on finding a church that caters to your beliefs and spiritual needs. You’ll learn how to keep your fellowship at the surface level so that no one learns enough about you to see what a mess your life really is. Best of all, you’ll learn how to use your Christianity as a tool to call out non-believers, vilify people who vote differently than you do, and protect your family from imperfect Christians and heathens.

In the satirical tradition of their popular website, The Babylon Bee has created something hysterical in its ridiculousness. This book pokes fun at the odd (and sometimes un-Christian) behavior and thinking of modern Christian culture.

The authors make sure to lace the mocking with traces of Biblical truth, which beautifully contrasts the objects of their humor. They even manage to proclaim the true gospel in the final chapter, though still in the form of satire.

Overall, this book is brilliant, and calls out the modern church on things that need to be called out.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

I received an advanced copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Shrouded in Silence by Robert L. Wise


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Jack and Michelle Townsend are looking for the original ending to Mark’s Gospel. Their search brings them to Rome where their lives are put in danger by two different groups who want to stop them from succeeding.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get past 30 pages of this one. Though the writing felt stilted, the prologue was a little promising, but it went downhill. The entire first chapter should have been omitted, in my opinion. I’d already figured out what I’m guessing should have been a mystery before the end of chapter two. The writing was too formal, and long-winded at times, with too much explanation and description. The dialogue always felt like two people who really didn’t like each other, yet they had to be civil.

I love a good suspense thriller, especially when it revolves around church history, but I can’t recommend this one at all.

Since I didn’t read very much of it, I can’t honestly use my usual rating system. But based on what I read, I can’t give this novel more than 1 out of 5.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal


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The world has a lot to say about dating and relationships. It has a lot to say about people who are single and whether or not marriage is even necessary in the times we live in. But what does the single life, and dating, look like for a Christian?

As a single woman in my 30’s, I was hesitant to read this one, but decided to give it a shot. Most Christian books I’ve read regarding singleness, especially those written by married people, gear the message so heavily toward marriage and having children that they left me feeling lonely, and burdened by my singleness. That is not the case with this one.

Segal spends the first part of the book speaking of singleness. He tackles that loneliness mentioned above in an honest and upfront way. We crave affection and want to be known. Marriage and relationships can give us that, so we tend to long for them, but as Christians the best and most intimate relationship we can have is with Jesus. Segal takes the time to explain that sometimes our singleness is God-given, for a purpose. There may be things God wants us to do for Him that are better suited for someone who doesn’t yet have a spouse or children to take care of.

The rest of the book is centered around dating with the intention of marriage. What does that mean for a Christian? How do we date in a way that looks different from the world? It’s not just setting physical boundaries (though that is important), but it’s about keeping Jesus first in the relationship. The Bible says we should love God first and foremost. That means even above our spouse.

What I love most about this book is that Segal is careful to gear the message equally toward men and woman. While much of what he presents is generic, he reminds us that men and women have different roles and needs in a relationship, both spiritually and emotionally. He also guides the single toward a healthy, God-centered marriage without alienating the single who aren’t actively seeking marriage, even us “older” singles. In fact, he includes them.

If you’re single, whether you want to be or not, I highly recommend this book to put your singleness in the right perspective.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

I received an electronic copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.