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Shifting Stats – refreshing survey of the Canadian Church

Shifting Stats CoverChristians love to analyze ourselves.  Why people are leaving the church, why people are staying in the church, what we are doing wrong, etc., etc.  Most of what we on the north side of the 45th parallel base our “informed” opinions on are statistics and story from the south side of that same parallel.  We quote American stats and Pastors.  And while some Pastors are very quotable, it was wonderful to read about things worth sharing in the Canadian Church.

Shifting Sands, this collection of stories published by World Vision, lets 40 churches from all the provinces and territories tell you how they are the Body of Christ in this nation.  They represent 25 denominations (who knew?), from backgrounds and cultural heritages as varied as our country is, and in congregations that have 15 – 3500+ in attendance on an average Sunday.

Each church shares is passion for the ministry God has called them to do.  I love how they have found their unique niche in their community.  And so it should be – no ministry setting is like another, and no ministering body should be a cookie cutter formula.  People bring their own dynamic, and when that combines – beautiful things happen.

Patricia Paddey and Karen Stiller have brought a collection of inspiration to us.  May God use this tome to challenge us to find our niche in our community – and to go and serve the needs of our own corner of The Kingdom. This should be mandatory reading for every leadership team serving any ministry in our country.  It will surely spark discussion, and hopefully drive vision as The Church seeks to bring Jesus to this fine country God has entrusted us with.

Thank you to Nuts About Books, and World Vision and Graf Martin Communications for providing this review copy.  As an independent reviewer, I am free to provide my honest opinion of this material.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Buried Secrets – Irene Hannon

buried-secrets

Irene Hannon is a new author to me.  I’m always happy to read new authors, and love to read genres that I typically wouldn’t just grab off the shelf.  Buried Secrets is the first in a new series “Men of Valor”

Lisa Grant has had enough of life in Chicago as a homicide detective, and has traded it in to become the chief of police in a lovely small town.  She is content with the routine policing until a construction crew discovers a skeleton at a site they are working on.  As it is discovered there is more to this burial than first meets the eye, Lisa’s routine policing takes on a very different tone.

Enter ex-Navy SEAL, Mac McGregor a detective sent to help unravel the case.  He also manages to unravel Lisa a little.  As they work together, it is predictably soon that both begin to think about each other as more than colleagues.

As we learn of the events that brought about the demise of our victim, see the lengths the killer will go to in order to not have the truth revealed – it reminded me of other mysteries where one controlling person can manipulate situations to their favour at any costs.

The story itself is engaging, although I was reminded why I don’t read “romance” genre books.  I find them too predictable.  Thankfully this book was categorized Romance Suspense, and the suspense piece of the writing made up for the very predictable budding romance.

I never fail to be surprised at the varying levels of Faith that can be included in a book to have it be part of the Christian Publishing World.  Yes, the main characters both are God centred in their lifestyles, nowhere in the writing would a person who is looking to grow in, or explore a relationship with Jesus, find any encouragement or challenge.

That aside, it was a good read – with a great conclusion to the mystery at hand.

Thank you to Nuts about Books, and Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this book. I was given a free book in exchange for an honest review. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover

Hoover_goodtograce_wSPine.inddIn a society that tells us that good is never enough, I often wonder just how many of us have bought into that lie.  I’m quite sure we all have seasons that it is true for each of us.  Little did I know that as I was reading this book – I would enter just a season.  God certainly has a beautiful sense of timing.

Christine writes from her own experience and solid Biblical application, and delves into the areas where the “goodness gospel” lives in our lives.  It was refreshing to read that I’m not the only one…

She challenges women who see themselves as not being, doing or having enough with the truth that God believes the exact opposite.  And because He is our Creator – who are we to argue!

My heart ached during the passage of the book where she relates about a friend who leaves church feeling worse about herself than when she went in.  This is directly related to the fact that her Pastor teaches that God’s love compels us to serve, but that all she hears is what she is doing isn’t enough.  Her ability to relate to God in a more intimate way then suffers because of her feelings of inadequacy.

I loved her explanation of what Grace does.  “…grace is not lonely at all.  Grace attracts where the law repels and divides.  More accurately, grace attracts those who know their need for it, and repels those who think they’ve got it all figured out.

Grace is a concept that can be so elusive, yet the truth is – Scripture abounds with it.  God wants to abundantly share it with us, and Christine shares Scriptures that help us see that.

An excellent read – first for oneself, and then for others.  I would recommend this for individual, but also for a small group or Book Club.

This book has been provided for my independent review by Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman – a book review

finding meLife has not been easy for our main character, Kelli Huddleston.  As the book opens, her honesty sees her lose her job.  This after her father and step-mother have just died in an accident.  She then learns that the family she thought died many years earlier, is actually alive, and it is she they think died years ago.

Needing to learn about the father’s past life, she heads across the county to the town they live in, and tries to keep a low profile.  She quickly finds a job, meets her mother and sister (but tells them nothing), and finds an apartment to live.  The reader is drawn into the dual life she is trying to live in a town where people think she looks like someone they knew a long time ago, and we warm to the caring relationship that develops between Kelli and her sister Beth.

When more information arrives from an unexpected source, Kelli learns that the life she knew and the past she thought was true, were not the case at all.  Then, a trusted part of her new life shares that they know exactly who she is – her plans fall apart.

I was most taken with the scene where she is learning a new song to be able to sing confidently along with the congregation in church (what a great idea for people who are not used to our repertoire).  Kelli doesn’t understand the concept in the words, but finds herself so moved, that it opens an opportunity for the truth of the Gospel to be shared.

I liked that this book didn’t feel like a formula was being followed.  I was engaged in Kelli’s quest all the way along, and found the last half of the book hard to put down – truly the mark of a well written story for me.

I am thankful that this book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Crimson Cord, Rahab’s Story – A Review

the crimson cordAs an independent reviewer, I am thankful to Graf-Martin Communications and Revell Books for the opportunity to read this very new telling of a very old story.

Rahab’s story is one that causes most of us to be uncomfortable with.  Let’s face it – she’s not a woman that most moms would hold up as a mirror for their girls to aspire to.  Nor are we content that she is only one of a very few women to be named in the lineage of Christ.  Yet, she is an example of courage, of God’s never ending grace and the beautiful great-great grandma of King David.

Jill Eileen Smith has crafted, very skillfully, a new engaging story of Rahab, and how she came to assist the Hebrew’s fulfill God’s plan for Jericho.  A faithful, yet abused wife finds herself sold into slavery to pay off her husband’s debt.  Her purchaser has many other plans for her.  Tastefully dealing with the degradation that happens with sex slavery – we understand Rahab’s complete lack of faith in herself.

She does though, find a way to assure her safety and her that of her family when the Hebrew’s come to claim the land God has promised.  Then we “watch” as God redeems her past life, and brings her to a place of honour in history.  She is a pre-cursor to the story of the kinsman redeemer named Boaz, and gives us a glimpse that all people are loved so much that God wants them to be part of the family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read – although I must admit I began quite skeptical at what could be done with a bible character we know relatively little about.  Bravo!  I savoured every page.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in book reviews

 

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The Beauty of Grace – A Review

beauty of grace coverI love books that will serve a greater purpose.  To teach a lesson, to tell a lasting story, to provide a story for just the right time, you know – a Greater purpose.

This book, from “today’s most popular writers” (although I must admit I’d never heard of a great many of them) filled that purpose.  Stories from their every day world, yet filled with God moments that stick with the reader are offered here for each of us to savour.  I think this would be a lovely little book to give as a supplementary devotional.

Right from the first story set in a thrift shop, with it’s subject being a man in a suit and holding a mirror – I was enchanted.  It’s timing was wonderful, as I am currently leading a Bible study that helps the students see the wonder of God.  I will be recommending this title to each and every one of my ladies.

The book has also expanded my reading list – especially on the (in)courage daily blog, where most of these ladies contribute.  It may be a simply constructed marketing tool for faithful followers, but it has done it’s job, and I will find ways to read these ladies more often.

If you are looking to be encouraged in your desire to see God’s hand at work all around you, or needing to share that with someone you care for, be sure to pick up a copy of this book.  You’ll be blessed by it.

I am thankful to Graf-Martin Communications, and Revell books for the opportunity to share this unrestricted review with you.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Hope amid the heartbreaking reality – The DropBox Movie

DropboxA new movie is set to release the first week of March, and I was honoured to be able to view an advanced copy, thanks to Graf-Martin Communications, Focus on the Family, and Kindred Image.

Each year, hundreds of babies are abandoned on the streets of Seoul, South Korea.  Some have been discarded immediately upon birth by young, unwed mothers who can’t face the shame their family will heap upon them.  Others have disabilities that the mother feels she just can’t cope with.  It’s a staggering and heart breaking reality.

We meet a church pastor, Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his family to hear about how his deeply caring heart is saving lives.  Because of the shame attached to most of the circumstances around the birth and subsequent abandoning of these babies – he knew that if he could have a way that a child could be safely brought to his home, while keeping the anonymity of the mother, he might just be able to save lives.

A dropbox was installed at their home.  It has an alarm wired, so that when an infant is placed inside it, the whole house is alerted, and his son’s description of what it does to the family is poignant.  Pastor Lee and his wife have two natural children, but they have adopted 15 of the hundreds of children that have come to them, each with their own challenges, and each whom have come through the dropbox.

I am not a documentary fan, nor do I enjoy films with sub-titles – as much of this film has.  However, the story is so compelling, that I was completely drawn in, and soon forgot that I was reading the dialogue.  The commitment to the children that Pastor Lee, his family and the troop of volunteers have is inspiring, and challenging.

Theirs is a story of inspiration and well deserving to be heard and seen.  Pastor Lee and the filmmakers bring a voice to those who have none, and put faces to those that society would have forgotten.  If you are able to get to a theatre March 4th or 5th, take time to see this fine movie.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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