Living Life in Real Time

A Year With Jesus December 5, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 6:01 pm

I love a good devotional.  Some of my favorites are those that keep you closely tied to the actual stories of Jesus.  In the same way I loved the devotional “A Year with God” devotional, I’ve found the same inspiration in the devotional “A Year with Jesus.”  Again in this wonderful devotion you find the power of the actual words Jesus spoke…like they are recorded in the Bible…as the main focus of this great devotional.  “A Year With Jesus” is a great combination of Biblical text, reflections and insights into that text that leads me into a wonderfully rounded morning.

Here are my favorite parts… The Biblical text is actually written at the top of each page.  So you don’t need to have a separate Bible to look up the verses…let’s just say it like it is…when I’m in a hurry that’s the part that gets left behind.  Love the way it’s dated “Day 7” instead of January 7.  That means I can pick up the study at any point in the year and not feel guilty about skipping 4 months of content to get to the right day.  Or in more likelihood I can miss a day or two and not feel guilty about being behind!  Just pick it up where you left off.  Another great selling point is that it’s broken up into topics…that way if I’m wanting to read a devotion about Love…I can flip to that section and find something that will fill me up for the day.  That’s a handy tool that many devotionals leave lacking.  What can I say…I liked it.  I’ll still keep my others on my desk, but definitely I’ll add this one to the stack!

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Decisions, Decisions November 7, 2011

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I’m not a fan of politics. So, I didn’t get this book with the intent that I was finally going to have the upper hand and “I told you so’s” into the good or the bad decisions that occurred in that time frame.  However, what I did find was a nice personal perspective from someone who is challenged with life-altering decisions day in and day out.  It’s an interesting 1st person biography written in much the same way as he speaks which pulls you in and gives you the feeling of reading a personal bed-side journal.  Each section is broken into major topics:  Afghanistan, Iraq, Leading, Katrina, etc…  Then takes you through the major events and decision points of these time frames. Even if you didn’t support the decisions he made while in office, you’ve at least understood the challenges he faced, learned a little more about how the government works and received a personal perspective from the man behind the office.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


A 100 Day Adventure September 9, 2011

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I’m on day 17 of my adventure into my 100 days of prayer and I have to say I look forward to hearing what the next day has for me.  The whole concept of this book is focused on the transforming power of actively waiting on God.  I’m not much of a waiting type of person, so it was very difficult for me to read just one day and not plow ahead to see what the next day or two offered.  I wisely concluded that this type of behavior is exactly why I need to read this book in the first place.


In “Your 100 Day Prayer” John Snyder gives you a verse for the day, followed by a couple of paragraphs to describe the thought for the day, then guides you through an intentional prayer on how this days lesson moves you further into the reality of actively waiting on God.  Then at the close of each day there is a place for notes, reflection, and how God is meeting you in this process.  Waiting is not easy for me, but somehow it makes it feel a little more productive if I can glance back and see how God is moving and laying out His plans.  It’s in those times where we feel like nothing is “happening” that God is doing His most important work.

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A Stanley Staple September 1, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 1:35 pm
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I just finished reading “Enemies of the Heart” by Andy Stanley and found it to be very inline with the standard Andy Stanley books. It’s clear, practical advice for how to move past the destructive forces of guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.  Andy write is an easy, down-to-earth style that is sprinkled with stories from his own life experiences.  This book gives great, biblical advice for how to navigate the “heart problems” that so often own our feelings and our actions.  This would be a great resource to take into your next small group as it lends itself to experiences everyone has from time to time.  Stanley breaks down each heart issue with easy to follow advice with a section at the back full of small group discussion questions.  If you’ve been a Christian for a while you’re probably not going to read anything that’s a pure revelation.  Much of the advice Stanley gives is the status quo.  However when life comes at you and gives you circumstances that challenge your “quo,” you’ll have this smartly written book to go to for advice.  I’d recommend this book without reservation.


Note: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of the Blogging For Books program. I’m obligated only to give my honest opinion.


Stained Glass Hearts August 9, 2011

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Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont is a wonderful book that I read in 2 days.  Pasty has this unique way of sharing her story that has you laughing and crying all in the same sentence.  She is honest with the hard parts of life and encouraging with how God meets you along the way and mixes it all with just the right amount of humor.  It feels like you’re sitting on her porch swing listening to her tell you about her life.

The idea of the stained glass window takes center stage.  It’s about how God takes something that is broken, ugly and without purpose, but with His light shining through it we become beautiful and full of life.  From chapter 3 she writes: “My favorite part of the mosaic set in the floor at the studio was that every piece of the broken heart was there.  We have a Creator who knows where the scattered pieces of our hearts land and how to fit them back together again.  Not one splinter escapes His redemptive work.” That’s so true of everyone of us…and sometimes we need a reminder.

One of my favorite parts of the book is “The Art Gallery” at the end of each chapter where you can find additional questions, places to explore, poems to read, prayers that go along with the chapter themes and music to listen to.  What a nice addition.  This book is a great reminder that even in our brokenness, God sees our beauty and is more than able to put our broken pieces back together in His way to make us whole.  I’ve heard Patsy tell stories for years and they never get old. Loved it!


Discovering the Secrets of the Vine July 1, 2011

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The Secrets of the Vine for Women, ISBN 978-1601423979, is a great little book that would make the perfect group study or personal devotional. The story is set in Tuscany with a daughter and her father as they discuss the wonder and workings of their family vineyard. Each chapter begins with a look into the life of this family as the father gently instructs and illustrates the secrets to the vines, all the while preparing his daughter for a future full of promise. What a great metaphor for our relationship with Christ as the vineyard owner and we are the vines. I found the simple truths wrapped in a visual word picture engaging, transforming and relevant. This little book would make a perfect gift for every woman in your ministry.


And It All Started With Advent January 7, 2011

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My original motivation for reading The Liturgical Year, ISBN 978-0849946073 was to become more familiar with the Advent season.  I grew up Baptist, as while we had a long list of do’s and don’ts we really didn’t incorporate practices of the church into our lives other than the marking off of the days until Christmas, waving the palms (which is really cool when you’re 7) and getting up at the crack of dawn on Easter Sunday.  I guess you could say we were more about the big events rather than the seasons.


Having worked with and in churches for several years I’ve noticed one thing:  people are yearning for this connection to traditions of faith.  We’re talking more than about “religion” we’re talking about the “relationship” and that’s what The Liturgical Year brought to the table.  It’s an easy read as far as a theology type of book goes.  It gives easily understood descriptions of the seasons of the church’s calendar, it tells you why they are important in the big picture and the chapters are short.  I’ve discovered, after a lifetime of being a Christian, an adventure in the history of the church.  Living the liturgical year gives me a basis and a grounding for the seasons I’ve celebrated for years, and the authors Chittister & Tickle have done it in a way that a novice can understand and begin to apply.   It’s an easy, quick read if you’re looking to dip your big toe in the ocean of Biblical theology.

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