Bedtime Blessings by Marianne Richmond–Book Review

With colorful, cute illustrations (also by Marianne Richmond), this book will help parents instill the habit of grateful prayer in their children. Aimed at ages 4 and up, the bouncy rhymes teach the reader to give thanks daily for many blessings –family, home, food, God’s presence, our bodies, our friends. In addition, it teaches the value of prayer for others.

It could easily be incorporated into a family bedtime routine. The concepts are easy to grasp and portrayed in a way that will appeal to young children and be easy to understand.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I recommend it!

For more Christian books for children see these posts:

When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner

Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

Win or Lose I Love You! by Lysa Terkeurst

No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler–Book Review

I ordered this book from my local library because of another book by the same author that I really enjoyed (Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie–Book Review). In this memoir, Kate walks us through her experience of being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 35. It deals with the issues of suffering, pain and the seemingly random events that cause them.

All of us are living with uncertainty, but most of the time, we choose to ignore it. We meander along, day by day, behaving as if our life will last forever and nothing much will change. Having a life-threatening disease reveals the absurdity of our assumptions. Will this be my last Christmas? My last birthday? Will my young son remember me? What’s more important — my accomplishments or my relationships? These are the kinds of questions the author asks herself as she navigates her health crisis.

Kate survives, but her perspective has changed. She now realizes that in light of our mortality, the question is “how do we live now?” Each of us is living in the space between a past that is over, and a future that is uncertain. We must learn to accept that with courage, doing what is possible today. The promise of eternal life always gives us hope, but when it comes to our life here and now, we will never feel finished.

At the end there is an appendix listing some of the cliches we often hear to explain suffering, and along with what the author has experienced as the more complicated truth.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. This is an easy and inspiring read.

For more spiritual memoirs see:

Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey–Book Review

Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me by Ian Morgan Cron–Book Review

Suffer Strong by Katherine & Jay Wolf–Book Review

How High is Heaven by Linsey Davis–Book Review

Children have lots of questions when someone they love dies. In this book, a little boy wonders how to get to heaven where his grandmother now lives. Can he get there by building a staircase, by jumping, by flying, in a hot air balloon, on a plane? Finally in church he learns that there is a way to get to heaven, but it’s not about travel or anything else we can do. It’s a gift that comes through grace and faith.

The illustrations are colorful and attractive, and the bouncy rhymes make it fun to read. It will also help parents to discussing death and heaven with young children.

I did have a few theological concerns. At one point, the author says that heaven “will be our reward.” Of course, as Lutherans, we know we don’t deserve a reward! Heaven is about getting what we don’t deserve. It also implies that grandma is “watching over me.” There’s no biblical basis for believing this and I personally wouldn’t teach it, even to children.

VERDICT: 3 STARS

For more books for children see these posts:

Birds of the Air by S.E.M. Ishida

Every Which Way to Pray by Joyce Meyer–Book Review

God is Hope by Amy Parker–Book Review

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

Another Gospel by Alisa Childers–Book Review

This book falls into the category of apologetics (works that are written to justify Christian doctrines). It’s also the story of one person’s journey to understand and affirm the faith she practices.

As a young woman, Alisa Childers joins a church with a pastor who is “progressive.” He invites her and others to a class in which he deconstructs the beliefs she has always been taught. He asks many questions she cannot answer, such as:

*Why do we think the stories in the Bible are true and inspired by God?

*Aren’t the creeds just the opinions of the religious sect who “won”?

*Why would a good God at times seem so cruel?

*Why would God require a blood sacrifice for our sins?

*Didn’t Jesus overturn the religious beliefs of His time?

*Would God really condemn people to Hell?

Alisa turns to the Scriptures themselves, to early historians and the church fathers in order to “reconstruct” the foundation of the faith that she believes. While the progressives tell her that their slant on things can be compared to a candy bar that is the same, just in a different wrapper, she comes to disagree — they are preaching a different gospel altogether. She realizes that the terms they use may sound like the “church speak” she has always heard, they have redefined those words in subtle but important ways.

For anyone who is wrestling with contemporary views of Christianity, this is a great resource. It will enable you to better understand and defend traditional views of the faith. Ms. Childers has done all the homework for you! It is not a difficult read, and there are discussion questions and further resources you might be interested in at the end.

VERDICT 5 Stars. You might want to use this for a book club, or small group study.

For more on apologetics see:

Surviving Religion 101 by Michael J. Kruger–Book Review

Why I Still Believe by Mary Jo Sharp –Book Review

Film Review — The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

It’s Not Your Turn by Heather Thompson Day–Book Review

Do you ever feel that things are falling into place for everyone around you, while your wheels are spinning but you’re going nowhere? In this book subtitled, “what to do while you’re waiting for your breakthrough”, Heather Day gives some suggestions for turning a time of waiting into a time to grow, to learn and to listen. Her most important advice is to realize that sometimes it’s just not your turn — but you can still applaud and be happy for others.

Much of Heather’s advice deals with adjusting our attitude, letting God transform our minds. For example, instead of dwelling on what we do not have, or haven’t accomplished, look around and really see what we have already been given as disciples of Christ. She stresses setting goals and working toward them in small steps and developing positive relationships with others.

Each chapter ends with a Bible memory verse, and some discussion questions which could easily be used for journaling.

VERDICT: 3.5 STARS. The author is a biracial millennial, so I’m in a very different place than she is, and I didn’t agree with all of her opinions. Putting that aside, there were many interesting statistics and worthwhile recommendations.

For more book reviews see:

Faith In God by Kevin McFadden –Book Review

The Great Passion by James Runcie–Book Review

Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie–Book Review

Dream Big, My Precious One by Jill Roman Lord–Book Review

This book is a delight to all the senses! Lovely illustrations (kudos to illustrator Brittany Lakin), lively rhymes, excellent content.

Mom encourages her little one to dream big, listing the many jobs, tasks and roles that he may fulfil in his life. Some are achievable right now — ride a bike, paint and draw — others are for later –designing cars, exploring Mars. Some are secular–open a store–others are altruistic–serve the poor. She emphasizes that our dreams are not just for us, they are meant to help others in ways we may not even see. Best of all, God is with us in all our dreams, whether they are fully realized or not.

The book closes with this verse from 1 Chronicles:

“Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I loved it!

For more books for children see:

I Can Only Imagine by Bart Millard — Book Review

Little Sweet Pea, God Loves You — Book Review

The Great Farmapalooza by Jill Roman Lord — Book Review

Waiting for Wonder by Marlo Schalesky–Book Review

I’ve been using this book as a part of my morning devotional reading and have really enjoyed it. In fourteen short chapters, the author leads us through the life of Sarah during her long wait to see the promises of God fulfilled. In each one, there is a brief meditation from Sarah’s point of view, as well as some of Ms. Schalesky’s own experiences. She invites us to apply the message of faithful waiting to our own lives, and to see it as a blessing.

“Legacy is born in the waiting. A life that matters is not built through a big bang of success, but through God’s work in the long wait. It was true for Sarah. It is true for us. God is working in our waiting to create a masterpiece, to create a life that points to the wonder of his majesty and love.”

If you are waiting for something in your own life — something to change, something to happen, some way to understand what seems unfathomable, this may be the book for you. Biblically based and realistic (yes, we will all fall down at times, just as Sarah did), it encourages a thoughtful perspective. God is at work, even when we cannot see Him.

VERDICT: 5 STARS

For more book reviews see:

Faith In God by Kevin McFadden –Book Review

A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller–Book Review

Women of Courage: a Forty-Day Devotional — Book Review

Medicine and the Bible by M. Roy Schwarz, M.D.–Book Review

*Can the plagues of Egypt be explained by natural phenomena?

*How was David able to defeat Goliath?

*What was Job’s disease?

*Could a physical ailment have caused Esau to sell his birthright?

*Was Zaccheus a dwarf?

Reading this book will give you the answers (or the author’s suppositions) to these and other questions you may have about diseases and medical conditions in the Bible. You will probably agree with some of his educated guesses and disagree with others (I did). However, you will certainly learn more about the diseases of Bible times, the preventive measures that were used, and how and if the same illnesses persist today. I especially enjoyed the section on public health which highlighted how many of requirements of the Mosaic Law had to do with maintaining health and preventing disease. As the author says:

“We must constantly be on guard for new epidemics using lessons we’ve learned from past challenges. To know the lessons means that we must know the history of the diseases and the people who contended with these disorders. ….There is not a better primer for this task than the Bible and the lessons it attempts to teach.”

VERDICT: 4 STARS. In places many readers will find this book a bit too technical, but it is well worth reading and would make an excellent resource for your church library.

I received a copy of this book from the author. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, leave a comment on this post and I will find out for you.

The Prophet’s Wife by Libbie Grant–Book Review

This historical novel tells the story of the early years of the Mormon church through the eyes of Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma. The author was raised in the Latter-day Saint faith, although she is no longer a practicing member. For the most part, she has tried to give an accurate account of the events that created and shaped the church until Smith’s death, including many disagreements and schisms.

Although most Lutherans would place this faith under the umbrella of “false teaching” or even a cult, if we are to witness to others with different beliefs, we must understand what they think and why. This book will help you do that. It sets Mormonism in the happenings of the time — this was a period when religious revival was common, and there was also a preoccupation with the end times. In addition, the author’s notes mention the masonic influences that crept into later Mormon practices.

Was Joseph Smith really a prophet, who received visions and revelations from God? Was he simply deluded, or was he influenced by the demonic? Did he realize that he would be setting in motion a religious movement that would continue for hundreds of year? These are some of the questions you will ask yourself as you read this novel?

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Well written and informative. You’ll enjoy it and learn some things.

For more about false teaching see these posts:

A Field Guide on False Teaching — Book Review

What is False Teaching?

What is a Cult?

Peace Is a Practice by Morgan Harper Nichols–Book Review

As an adult, author Morgan Nichols was finally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Now she could understand why, over the years, she had been troubled by so many sensitivities that made it hard for her to feel relaxed and peaceful. In this book, she explores some of the ways she has learned to be peaceful over the years. For her, as for most of us, peace is a practice, not just a fleeting feeling.

Each section of her book has a topic– things like journaling, conversation, trusting, silence, rest. In addition to a short personal essay, there are suggestions for implementing the particular practice into daily life. Morgan is a poet, and snippets of her poetry are included as well.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I used this as a devotional, reading a chapter or two every day and then trying out some of the ideas. The Bible tells us to “pursue peace” and this book would make an excellent starting place for doing just that.

For more book reviews see:

What I Wished I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism by Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, PH.D–Book Review

Making Darkness Light by Joe Moshenska–Book Review

Be Thou My Vision by Jonathan Gibson–Book Review