Monday, December 8, 2014

A Review: "Unplanned" by Abby Johnson

21556369"Unplanned" by Abby Johnson is an incredibly important book in the pro-life discussion. Abby Johnson was involved with Planned Parenthood for eight years, initially being recruited as a volunteer while as a college student. She worked her way through the ranks, eventually becoming the director of the Bryan, Texas, clinic.

Despite growing up in a pro-life family, Johnson never really thought critically about her position on the matter. She was captivated by the lofty ideals of Planned Parenthood:  reducing the number of abortions by increasing access to birth control. Drawn in by this proposition and by the chance to help women in crisis, Johnson started her career path at Planned Parenthood. During her time there, she came into frequent contact with volunteers from the Coalition for Life who gathered outside the fence surrounding the clinic to pray for an end to abortion. Through compassion and gentle discussions, Johnson began to see that maybe the people on "the other side" weren't as bad as they were portrayed by Planned Parenthood.

Then came the day she was requested to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. As she watched what happened to the unborn baby, she was horrified. It was that particular instance that caused a crisis of belief for her. She began to question everything she had ever done at Planned Parenthood. Her first stop was the nearby Coalition for Life who had won her over by their genuine care and concern for her, as well as their daily prayers for her.

"Unplanned" is a riveting book and an incredible look at the issue of unborn life from both perspectives. Because of Johnson's role with the organization, she offers a unique look at Planned Parenthood from the inside, revealing things that they would probably prefer to remain hidden (for instance, that they need to increase revenue by increasing abortions, something that goes completely contrary to their main talking point).

It is fascinating to read the thought process and beliefs behind why she wanted to work for Planned Parenthood. Her transformation from believing the pro-choice rhetoric and semantics to a Bible-believing pro-life Christian is amazing.

This book was initially published in 2010. It was recently re-released with an additional chapter containing follow-up information that has occurred since the book was previously published. Johnson and her husband launched a non-profit ministry called And Then There Were None, with the goal of assisting abortion clinic workers who wish to leave their work. So far, they have helped over 100 workers who chose to leave the abortion industry. Throughout the book, Johnson helps the reader to see that it's not just women seeking abortions who need help, care, and prayer; abortion workers are in just as much need.

"Unplanned" is an important book in the conversation of unborn life. Johnson is able to offer a unique look from both sides of the discussion. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand the "other side", no matter which side you may be on.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Review: "Vanishing Grace" by Philip Yancey

Presented as a follow-up to "What's So Amazing About Grace", Yancey returns to the subject of grace in his newest book "Vanishing Grace". In four sections, he confronts the issue of why, since we have such good news to proclaim, Christians continue to lose influence and credibility among the culture at large.

This book helps Christians to confront where we have collectively gone wrong with our approach to culture in general and non-believers in specific. The first section looks at how the Church has failed to demonstrate love and grace to those who need it most. The second section examines three models of ways to approach love and grace better. The third section takes a look at three pressing questions:  is there anyone else? why are we here? how should we live? The fourth section addresses how the Church should engage with our culture.

While the book as a whole was deep and thought-provoking, it was the fourth section that was the most convicting. In the first chapter, he looks at how Christians should be involved with politics. In the second chapter, he revisits the three models he discussed in section two.

This is a difficult book to read in that it really causes you to think and examine your approach to culture and non-believers. But even if it may be a difficult book to read, I think it's a necessary one.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Review: "Wounded by God's People" by Anne Graham Lotz

This latest book by Anne Graham Lotz tackles a heavy subject:  woundedness. Not just any woundedness, but wounds inflicted by those who are part of God's family. Taking the biblical story of Hagar as her base, she takes readers on Hagar's journey and explores just how relevant Hagar's story is to our modern story. She also draws on her own personal journey through pain inflicted by other Christians to help the reader engage even more.

Whether the wounds come from Christians or not, our world is full of "the walking wounded". Pain abounds in our sinful, fallen world. Lotz takes a deep look at how wounds affect people and relationships. She also explores the key role of forgiveness in finding healing from wounds that others have inflicted.

This book is a wonderful tool, especially in this day and age. With so much hurt, both intentional and unintentional, every Christian needs to read this book to help overcome the brokenness and woundedness that occurs so regularly. I highly recommend this book, both for the individual and small groups to read and discuss together.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)


Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Review: "Miracle in a Dry Season" by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Cover Art"Miracle in a Dry Season", the debut novel from Sarah Loudin Thomas, takes place in Wise, a tiny hamlet in the mountains of West Virginia. Casewell Phillips is a well-respected member of the community. He harbors a deep desire to marry, but hasn't found the right woman yet. Perla Long came to Wise with her daughter, Sadie, to reside with her aunt and uncle in order to escape her past, but finds it to be difficult to leave it all behind. Circumstances bring them together, particularly a severe drought which brings the community together in ways they would never have forseen.

The novel was full of likeable characters and some interesting sub-plots. The theme of sin, forgiveness, and God's grace ran strong through this novel. The story is mostly told through Casewell, which brings an interesting twist that isn't found in many Christian fiction novels. The characters are well-developed and the descriptions of life in this tiny Appalachian town are wonderful. This book was a nice debut novel and provides high hopes for future novels from this author.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)




Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Review: "The Family Project" by Glenn T. Stanton and Leon C. Wirth

The Family Project: How God's Design Reveals His Best For You - Book  -     By: Glenn Stanton, Leon C. Wirth
"The Family Project" by Glenn T. Stanton and Leon C. Wirth is a companion book to the 12-session small group curriculum created by Focus on the Family. With the idea of family in such disarray and under attack in public arenas, this book brings some clarity, definition, and meaning to "family". The book is divided into four sections which seek to lay a Biblical framework for family and marriage. Each chapter concludes with a reflection statement which sums up the main idea from each chapter, as well as a number of reflection questions for digging deeper into the ideas presented in each chapter.

I found this book a little hard to digest on my own, but believe it would be an excellent resource for a small group to go through together. There were a lot of theological ideas presented, which can make for heavier reading at times. The main points were presented clearly and each chapter built well on the previous ones. Overall, this is a good resource for bringing added definition and clarity to what family means.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Review: "The Berenstain Bears: God Shows the Way" by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

"The Berenstain Bears:  God Shows the Way" by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain is a slim volume that contains three separate stories. "Faith Gets Us Through" focuses on how faith can help see us through any difficulty that may come our way, as evidenced by a Scout pack exploring a cave. "Do Not Fear, God is Near" helps readers understand that with God, we have no reason to be afraid, a lesson Sister Bear learned to help conquer her own fears. "Piggy Bank Blessings" instructs about the value of saving money, as well as generosity toward others.

My boys rather enjoy stories about the Berenstain Bears, and this volume is a great one--not only because it contains three books, but also because the faith lessons taught in each story are ones that I am eager for my boys to internalize. Having stories like this that help reinforce certain faith concepts are fabulous. They have already been requesting re-reads of the stories!

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Review: "The Chopped Cookbook"

Chopped Cookbook: Use What You've Got To Cook Something Great (Hardcover) Book
"The Chopped Cookbook", a beautiful hardback cookbook compiled by the Food Network, starts with the premise of using what you have in order to cook something great. They focus on common ingredients that most of us already have in our pantries and present all kinds of recipes that can be prepared quickly and easily.

The book starts off with "The Chopped Pantry", which contains a list of basic ingredients to help you stock and organize your own pantry. Then it launches into the recipes, divided into different categories such as pasta, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and salads. Many of the recipes contain full-page, full-color photos as well as number of servings, prep time and total time. There are also helpful cooking tips scattered throughout. Also sprinkled throughout are questions and answers with various judges from "Chopped".

This is a great cookbook for a beginner or intermediate home cook. One downside:  it isn't spiral-bound, so the book doesn't stay open on its own while you are preparing your meal. Overall, it's a great cookbook!

(I’ve received this complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)