The Great Lemonade Stand Standoff by Art Rainer–Book Review

This book is the first in the “Money Club” series.  Three friends, Jake, Sophia and Brody find themselves in a “stinky” situation due to poor financial choices.  After Agent G.B. invites them to become Secret Slide Money Club members, they are invited to redeem their selfish decisions.

They learn that the Master’s Money Plan is simple:  GIVE–SAVE–LIVE.  Give first, then save, and finally use what is left over to live.  Agent G.B. also gives them a verse to guide them:

“Each person should do as he has decided in his heart–not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

They meet with adventures, challenges and temptations in order to accomplish their first mission:  helping their classmate, Drew, meet his goal to raise money for the local pet shelter.

Elementary age students will enjoy this humorous story as they establish a valuable foundation on which to build a lifetime of stewardship (they’ll get a bit of math as well!).  The book includes a money challenge so that the reader can put these lessons into practice.  There is also a “sneak peek” of the next book in the series.

VERDICT!  Well done.  I give it 5 stars, and it will be appearing in our Little Free Library very soon!

Would you like to purchase this book?  Follow the link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/the-great-lemonade-stand-standoff-the-secret-slide-money-club-book-1-P005801166

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

 

 

 

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Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

This board book, written by Pamela Kennedy and illustrated by Anna Abramskaya, is truly a delight to the senses.   Beautiful pictures of God’s creatures, great and small, adorn every page, and the size and shape of the book is just right for small hands to easily hold. Toddlers will enjoy discovering each animal, along with the sound it makes, behind the flaps.  The brief, rhymed prayer encourages reverence for God and the world He has created.

I will definitely be reading my copy to granddaughter, Hailey, next time we visit!

For other Christian books for children, go to these posts:

The Silent Noisy Night by Jill Roman Lord — Book Review

Who Will Play With Me by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

ColorFull by Dorena Williamson–Book Review

GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

VERDICT:  5 Stars!  I loved it!

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

Great and Small Prayers for Babies

 

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey–Book Review

This book describes Preston Yancey’s spiritual journey as a young person with lots of QUESTIONS!  He begins by saying:

“When you grow up in the evangelical South, you hear God speak all the time.”

However, at some point, Preston stops hearing God, and he doesn’t know what to do — he knows intellectually that God is still present, but he just isn’t feeling or hearing Him, and he loses his ability to pray.  During his college years at Baylor University he attends a variety of churches — Baptist, Episcopalian,  Anglican –even The Church Of No Windows! He asks lots of questions. He begins to find some solace in the written prayers, church seasons and rituals of more liturgical churches, but because of his evangelical upbringing has difficulty understanding or accepting infant baptism or the real presence in communion.

His professors and coursework in religion encourage him to question, but also trust.  One Christian friend reminds him of this verse from the Psalm 78:19:

They spoke against God;
they said, “Can God really
spread a table in the wilderness?

Of course, the answer to this question is YES!   God leads Preston through his personal wilderness of silence, depression, questioning, loss of friends, romantic disappointments and doubts to prepare a table for him, a place where he doesn’t have all the answers, but he  feels accepted and loved and at peace in the midst of his questioning.

I really enjoy spiritual memoirs, and hearing  how other Christians navigate through life with God and others. This book was no exception.  I found myself laughing and crying as I identified with Preston’s struggles as a young adult searching for God.  A great read!

VERDICT:  5 stars

Advocates by Dhati Lewis — Book Review

If I had to boil this book about racial reconciliation down to a question, it would be “are you an aggravator or an advocate?”

When author Dhati Lewis uses the phrase “racial reconciliation” he says:

“I am referring to when people or people groups divided by tribe, language, skin color or nationality are restored through justice, mercy and forgiveness, to God’s original design for relationships with him and with one another.”

His definition of an aggravator is:  a person who engages issues or people without a heart set on reconciliation.  So being an aggravator means not just acting in a way that intensifies division, but doing things without the correct heart posture — without having a heart set on reconciliation and unity.  Most of us are aggravators at some times and in some ways.  We may aggravate by lashing out, but we can also aggravate when we try to ignore disunity by pretending the problem doesn’t exist.  We may also see the problem but aggravate it by doing nothing because we are afraid any action we take is sure to offend someone.

An advocate, on the other hand needs:

“….a wholistic understanding …. that includes awareness of systemic injustices in the world and a desire for personal holiness, one that brings the gospel to bear on social issues and on personal issues.  To imitate Christ …. and to work toward reconciliation.”

Lewis’s prescription for become an advocate is three fold:

  1. Reflect personally — to apply the Golden Rule, we first need to understand how we want to be treated.
  2. Empathize corporately–to put ourselves in the shoes of others, to understand their perspective, to give dignity to their viewpoint, to allow ourselves to connect with the emotions that motivated their actions.  To really empathize, we must connect with something in ourselves that causes the same feeling that others are experiencing.
  3. Pursue reconciliation–pursuing justice isn’t enough — for all of us justice without reconciliation means just one thing –Hell. Reconciliation requires not justice, but mercy.  Jesus “reconciled the world to himself and he has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18)

Dhati Lewis makes some worthwhile points, and this book has made me more more sensitive and aware of my own “aggravator” tendencies.  However, I felt he spent too much time defining his terms and describing the problem.  A better developed strategy for solution would have been welcome.  When he mentioned his church’s study of the book of Philemon to address the issues, I was disappointed that he did not dig deeper into the Scripture and its message in his book.

VERDICT:  A worthwhile read, but I give it only three stars

If you would like to purchase this book or learn more, click on the link below:

Advocates

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

 

 

 

Coffee With Mom by Mike Glenn — Book Review

Anyone who has been a caregiver to a parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia will find things to relate to in Mike Glenn’s musings about his mom. I did. (see my posts Wash One Another’s Feet?? and Washing Feet (continued)).  As the “decider” of the family Mike’s mom did not gracefully accept her son’s new role as her guardian.  She was often angry and she let him know it! She didn’t want to give up her car keys;  she didn’t want to move from the home she had lived in for years;  she didn’t want to leave her church for the one Mike was pastoring.  However, her continuing descent into dementia made these things necessary.

Mike came to see that:

“Her happiness was no longer the goal;  her health and well-being were.”

To others facing a similar situation he says:

“The only thing that matters is if you can live with yourself and the decisions you make…. No one has figured out Alzheimer’s.  Don’t be angry at yourself because you didn’t figure it out sooner, faster or better.  You did the best you could, and sometimes, that’s all you can do.”

Coffee with Mom: Caring for a Parent with Dementia

Mike maintains his relationship with his mother by stopping by for coffee with her every morning and is able, at times to relive family memories.  He realizes that her time at the piano is her way to pray, and he finds humor in some of her comments to him, many of which he “tweets.”  For example:

  • “My friends tell me you’ve been talking about me.  How do you get on that internet thing so I can talk about you?”
  • “Your sermon was short (I went about 22 minutes).  After all week, I thought you would’ve come up with a little more.”
  • Well, if you’re to going to buy me a car, get me a chauffer like that lady in the movie.”

Nobody’s journey with dementia is the same, but reading about the experiences of Mike and his mom can help us feel less alone.  This was a moving story, but frankly repetitive.  It would have made a better essay or article than a book.

Would you like to order this book? Follow the link below to learn more:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/coffee-with-mom-P005813403

 

VERDICT:  4 stars

 

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

 

Look Before You Lead by Aubrey Malphurs–Book Review

This book would be an excellent resource for churches looking for a process of revitalization. I read through it pretty quickly, because many of the ideas were already familiar to me — they are very similar to the Fanning the Flame process that our congregation has been pursuing this past year.

Look Before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture by [Malphurs, Aubrey]

Before embarking on change, a congregation needs to assess where they are in the present, and gain acceptance of the change process.  Communication is key. Spiritual gifts are an important emphasis. This book is somewhat more academic and technical than From Embers to a Flame (previously reviewed on our blog From Embers to a Flame — Book Review). There are a number of helpful appendixes for assessing and auditing character of church leadership, maturity level, culture, core values and more, and well as personal assessments for personality, temperament and gifts.

Several chapters deal with the pastor as change agent, and helps for the pastor in reading and changing the church culture. Malphurs notes that some personality types are better at promoting change than others.  At the end there are suggestions for closing a church or merging with another church as alternatives to congregational renewal.

Author Aubrey Malphurs is a professor of pastoral ministries and leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary and president of the Malphurs Group which engages in church consulting and training.  You can visit their website by following this link:

Home

VERDICT:  4 stars.  I preferred From Embers to a Flame, but this book was also helpful and had some additional and interesting assessments.

 

Above All by J. D. Greear–Book Review

This book surprised me because I was inspired and challenged by the message.  I expected it to be rather basic — after all, we all accept the centrality of the gospel to our life as Christians.  And yes, the author’s explanation of the gospel is theologically sound and nothing I don’t already know.  However, Greear made me see how far I actually stray from putting the gospel “above all.”  For example,

“When people in our communities think about and talk about us, they should think and talk about the gospel.  It should be both the ultimate point and the basis of every ministry and endeavor of our churches.”

Can I honestly say this about myself and my congregation?  He goes on to say that if we are truly gospel-driven:

“The question we bring to church will not be, What kind of church do I prefer?  but, What type of ministry best reaches the people in this community.”

Above All

Throughout the book, Pastor Greear invites us to place the gospel above our culture, our preferences and our politics.  He paints a beautiful picture of what would change in our lives and our churches if we truly put the gospel’s mission, hope and grace above everything else in our lives.  If you think that’s impossible, then consider that:

“The gospel is the one thing in the New Testament, other than Jesus himself, that is referred to directly as the power of God.”

Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we have that gospel power within us.  It can change our lives and the lives around us when we surrender to it.  I’d like to get our entire congregation to read this book and then wait to see how God works!

VERDICT:  5 stars

If you would like to purchase this book or learn more go to this link:

Above All

 

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255