Luke: Stories of Mission and Mercy by David Murray–Book Review

Each of these 50 devotions by Pastor David Murray provides a chance to hear God’s story as written in the Scriptures and then respond, imagining how His story might change your story and the story of others. As part of a series — StoryChanger Devotionals–this volume leads the reader through the book of Luke chronologically.

Well written and Biblical, the readings are short, but meaty. At the end of each one there is a summary, a reflection question and a prayer, which may lead you into journaling or further contemplation of the text. I particularly enjoyed taking a fresh look at many of the parables of Jesus.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. A great resource for individual study. I look forward to trying others in this series.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

https://www.crossway.org/books/luke-tpb-4/

For more book reviews see these posts:

Bold: Moving Forward in Faith not Fear by Sean Feucht–Book Review

From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks–Book Review

Where the Children Take Us by Zain E. Asher–Book Review

To Love and Be Loved by Jim Towey–Book Review

Subtitled A Personal Portrait of Mother Teresa, this book is also the story of Jim Towey’s own spiritual journey. Towey met Mother Teresa in the 1980’s when he was working as a congressional staff member and a lawyer. Through her influence, he began volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen in Washington D.C. Over the years, he traveled with Mother Teresa, arranged meetings with politicians and donors, and provided pro bono legal work for her organization. Through his volunteer work as the Missionaries of Charity AIDS home, he met his future wife, Mary. The entire family considered Mother a family friend and trusted spiritual mentor.

When he first met Mother Teresa in the 1980’s Towey says:

“Nearly all my activities were dedicated to my professional and social advancement–those not dedicated to my own pleasure, of course…I looked around the chapel and saw people my age …who had come to India to serve others… and there I was, seated among them as a spectator. I was the gatherer incarnate.”

By the time Mother dies in 1997, he has changed:

“… I have become a better person, a better Christian, a better version of myself. I am a giver, not a gatherer,”

His association with Mother shaped his spiritual life in a profound way.

This book is, indeed, a personal glimpse of Teresa of Calcutta, not as a saint, but as a very human friend and mentor–something we can all aspire to be.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. An inspiring and enjoyable read!

For more spiritual autobiographies see these posts:

The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan — Book Review

In My Grandmother’s House by Yolanda Pierce–Book Review

Fish Out of Water by Eric Metaxas–Book Review

Far Flutterby by Karen Kingsbury–Book Review

Far Flutterby is the story of Cody the Caterpillar and his metamorphosis into a butterfly. Bored with his existence in the town of Better-Than-Brown, he is assured by Beulah Lee Bird that God has a good plan for him. He is meant to fly to the land of Far Flutterby, but he must have faith.

Bouncy, rhyming dialog is accompanied by illustrations, which are not exceptional in my opinion. Cody’s world changes change from monotones to bright and vivid colors as he undergoes his transformation into a butterfly.

The Christian message is a bit ambiguous. God has a plan for us, and struggle will get us there… but what does that mean? All I can see in this story is the implication that things will be more exciting, and we will be happier. Young children aged four to seven, will not be able to grasp the allegory which is pretty slim at best.

VERDICT: 2 STARS. I was not impressed.

For more reviews of books for children see:

This Little Light of Mine by Kathleen Long Bostrom

The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury–Book Review

Gracie’s Garden by Lara Casey — Book Review

Beneath the Bending Skies by Jane Kirkpatrick–Book Review

Beneath the Bending Skies is a novel based upon the life of Mary Sheehan Ronan, originally told in Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, published by the Montana Historical Society. It is a realistic glimpse into life in the old west.

Mary (who goes by Mollie) led an interesting life which included many moves (you will be reminded of the Little House books), along with tragedy, tribulation, and joy. Her mother dies when she is quite young, and through the example of her stepmother, Ma Anne, she learns that women must be “agile” by adapting to changing circumstances and putting their trust and faith in God. She is able to maintain an optimistic attitude, believing that:

“We will have to listen for God’s guidance…. Something will come up. There are always new possibilities.”

This is wise advice for all of us, and a message I needed to hear right now.

By the end of the story, Mollie and her husband have settled at the Flathead Reservation in the Mission Valley of Western Montana, where Peter is the government agent. The agency becomes known as a welcoming place and attracts many visitors (including the wife of Lt. Col. George Custer). Mollie develops her gift for hospitality and “neighboring” and Peter works for justice for the Indian tribes among whom they live.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. A light but engaging historical read.

For more reviews of novels see:

The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron–Book Review

white picket fences by Susan Meissner–Book Review

until Leaves fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin–Book Review

Three Mile an Hour God by Kosuke Koyama — Book Review

Kusuke Koyama (1929-2009), was born to Christian parents in Tokyo and later moved to the United States. He is considered one of the leading Japanese theologians of the twentieth century. This book is a series of short essays reflecting his thoughts on a wide variety of topics including idolatry, technology, syncretism, war, peace and social justice.

Since the book was published in 1979, many of the examples and topics seem a bit dated. His perspective is Asian, with one entire section devoted to his thoughts about WWII and its’ aftermath. I found it quite interesting to view these events through a different cultural lens. I also enjoyed the section on syncretism and the similarities he found between Christianity and other religions.

This is not an easy read, but the material, at least in my view, was worthwhile. If you decide to give it a try, you will find that in spite of generational and cultural differences, we are still facing many of the same challenges defined by Koyama. As the book of Ecclesiastes puts it, “there is nothing new under the sun.”(Ecclesiastes 1:9).

VERDICT: 4 STARS.

For more book reviews see these posts:

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt–Book Review

Live Your Truth and other Lies by Alisa Childers–Book Review

Unexpected Harvest by Scott Stroud–Book Review

The Lord’s Prayer with commentary by Rick Warren–Book Review

Beautiful, bright and detailed illustrations by Richard Jesse Watson accompany the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Scenes from everyday life, using realistic images of children (in some cases friends and relatives of the artist served as models) are appealing and an aid to worshipful meditation.

In his introduction, Rick Warren stresses the responsibility we have as parents, to teach our children to pray. However, they can also teach us.

“And (Jesus) said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

The prayers of children are straightforward, bold and unselfconscious. It is Warren’s hope that the book will become a meaningful tradition for children and parents, as they study and pray together.

At the end, Warren dissects each segment of the prayer, explaining the meaning in simple terms that youngsters can understand.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Make this one part of a bedtime routine!

For more reviews of books for children see:

The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury–Book Review

Great and Small Easter by B&H Kids Editorial Staff — Book Review

Bedtime Blessings by Marianne Richmond–Book Review

Jesus Listens by Sara Young–Book Review

With thick, glossy pages and an attached silk bookmark, this 365-day devotional would make a beautiful gift for a Christian friend. It includes a presentation page. Each devotion is dated, and includes a daily prayer, as well as a number of Scripture references that support the theme. There are prayers of peace, joy, hope and love and are designed to be a starting point for other personal prayers.

In the author’s introduction, she says:

“Many years ago, I went to Covenant Theological Seminary…. I especially enjoyed a course on the Bible’s wisdom literature, and the professor was indeed very wise. From the array of wisdom he imparted, one simple teaching has stayed with me …. his personal practice of praying, ‘Help me Holy Spirit’ throughout the day… it reminds me that I am not alone.”

The prayers in Jesus Listens, if used regularly, will also remind us that Jesus is always available, and ready to hear us.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I have enjoyed using this book during my morning devotional time.

For more devotionals see these posts:

Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie–Book Review

90 Days with The God Who speaks –Book Review

Big and Little Coloring Devotional – Book Review

Bold: Moving Forward in Faith not Fear by Sean Feucht–Book Review

Bold is the story of the Let Us Worship revival movement started in 2020 by worship leader Sean Feucht. He became deeply disheartened and angry at the announcements in California (his home state) closing churches and/or limiting attendance and forbidding singing due to the COVID virus. Why were protesters allowed to march in large numbers? Why were strip clubs and dispensaries staying open? He believed that churches were being unfairly singled out, at a time when people were in great need of the hope and comfort only offered through faith in Christ.

As a consequence, Sean began organizing large outdoor worship events, beginning with a call for believers to show up for a “spontaneous prayer meeting” on the Golden Gate Bridge on July 9th. Four hundred people attended, and one police officer asked him, “What took you so long?” Over the next year, he visited other cities, and along with local pastors and others gathered worshipers to pray for revival in America. The book ends with a description of the service held on 9/11/2021 in Washington D.C.

Sean experienced great opposition, as many called him a “super-spreader” and accused the events of endangering the homeless. Certainly, many thought he wasn’t wise. However, according to Sean:

“The Bible tells us that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). I don’t think this is because God wants us to be afraid of Him in the traditional sense. I think it’s because fear is a basic motivator of action, and quite often, when we need to make a decision, fear will tip the scale faster than logic or reason. If we fear what others think of us or that something we do might offend someone, then the kneejerk reaction is not to do that thing. … However, what if our immediate reaction were, ‘What would God think if I did (or didn’t) do this?”

VERDICT: 4 STARS. Although I’m not a fan of contemporary worship and I don’t agree with the author’s theology in many cases, (altar calls and healing) or his political views, I applaud his courage in standing up for the right to spread the gospel.

I Wanted to Know All About God by Virginia L. Kroll–Book Review

Young children are visual, literal learners, and this book by Virginia L. Kroll, teaches them how to experience and imagine God through His creation. It evokes the sights, sounds and smells of everyday life and reminds that God can be seen in both nature and the people around us.

The lovely, colorful illustrations by Debra Reid Jenkins depict children from different races and cultures enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. Youngsters (ages 4-8) will easily relate to scenes from the garden, the beach, a pond and a snowy forest.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Attractive, well-done and age appropriate.

For more books for children see these posts:

Bedtime Blessings by Marianne Richmond–Book Review

Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Kimball Moulton — Book Review

Flashlight Night by Elisabeth Hasselbeck–Book Review

God Loves the Animals by Jan & Mike Berenstain–Book Review

This sturdy board book brings back fond memories for me — my daughters loved the Berenstain Bears books, and we read many of them together. In this story the little bears and their parents take a nature walk. Along the way they observe many animals in their natural habitat, and marvel at how God provided them with a place to live and food to eat.

The illustrations are bright and colorful, and young children will enjoy pointing out their favorite animal. Names of the animals are printed in bold to help beginning readers learn new words.

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, and all the creatures that moved along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25

In case you are wondering this Berenstain Bears book is part of the Living Lights series published by Zonderkidz. Mike Berenstain, son of Stan and Jan Berenstain is a Christian, although he reports being raised in a secular household.

VERDICT: 5 STARS.

For more books for children see these posts:

Flashlight Night by Elisabeth Hasselbeck–Book Review

The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey–Book Review

This Little Light of Mine by Kathleen Long Bostrom