As You Grow by Kirk Carmeron — Book Review

This book is part of a series for children published by Brave Books. You may want to check out their website,, for other resources. You can join a book club to receive a book every month, and also earn points to receive price reductions on books. You can also see if there are any Brave Books story hours near you, or purchase supplies to do your own.

This book focuses on the fruit of the Spirit and how those fruits will increase in our life as we grow older and encounter more life experiences. The focus is on caring for others as we learn to reflect the love of God. It is aimed at children ages 4-12 and will be better understood and received by school age youngsters.

The pictures are bright and attractive, and the text is minimal. The best feature, in my opinion, is the “Brave Challenge” at the end. There are a series of games and suggested questions that will be wonderful for the family to use together and reinforce the teaching.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. If you a parent of young children, this series would be well worth checking out.

For more books for children see these posts:

Where is Wisdom by Scott James — Book Review

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

Bedtime Blessings by Marianne Richmond–Book Review

Reactivity by Paul David Tripp–Book Review

According to the author, the central question of this book is this: in the situations, relationships, and social media interactions of our daily lives, do we value what God values? In determining what this is, he refers to the fruit of the Spirit as enumerated in Galatians 5:22.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Unless we learn to communicate with one another according to these principles, we will never attain unity. Too often, we place ourselves at the center of the universe. Our words are driven by anger, envy and self-righteousness. We live in a culture of “reactivity” and social media has encouraged it. Now we can quickly respond to an email, tweet, or article and never have to face the person behind the words.

This doesn’t mean we must agree with something we believe to be wrong. It does mean we see others as children of God, deserving of respect and dignity. It means we speak the truth in love, seek to encourage, and strive to understand and believe the best of others.

Full of good, biblical advice, this would make an excellent book for a small group to study.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Biblical, practical and very readable. I loved it!

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of thisbook 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:

For more book reviews see these posts:

Lead by Paul David Tripp–Book Review

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

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

Producing Fruit

I recently heard a sermon based on the parable of the fig tree from the gospel of Luke. If you don’t remember the details, here it is:

“…A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” Luke 13:6-9

It’s meant, of course, to show the patience God has with us. He is willing to wait, and to give us the benefit of time and careful cultivation — but the rest of the story is this — if we are not in union with Christ, we will be like that unfruitful fig, just taking up space.

In the gospel of John, we learn:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “John 15:5

If we are in Christ, we will bear fruit. Once again, we see how this doctrine lays the foundation for everything is else in our faith life. The fruit that we can expect to see in a true believer is described in Galatians 5:

” … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

We can’t produce this crop on our own. In baptism, we’ve been united to the One who can. The more we lean into that relationship, the more we learn to depend upon Him, the greater our harvest will be. The fields are ripe for harvest today — don’t be an unfruitful fig!

For more about the fruit of the Spirit see:

Fruitful Gifts

Mmm . . . Fruit.

How to Bear Fruit

Unity in the Spirit

Most Christians agree that unity within the church is not only a worthwhile goal, but necessary,  In the high priestly prayer of Jesus, shortly before His death, he makes this request of God::

“…. that they (his followers) may all be one in me, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:21-23

This spiritual unity of believers is described in the Bible with organic analogies, such as the vine and the branches (John 15:5) or the human body (1 Cor. 12:12).  It is only possible through the reconciling death of Christ on the cross, and the action of the Holy Spirit.  It does not depend upon uniformity (we all have different gifts) or complete agreement with one another, but on love and forgiveness.  In Ephesians, Paul says:

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”  Ephesians 4:1-6

If you look closely, you will see that our unity depends upon the fruit of the Spirit:  love, gentleness, patience, and peace.  These are gifts.  Treasure them, cultivate them, be worthy of them.

For more on unity see these posts:

Unity Not Uniformity

Tertullian on Christian Unity

Dwelling In Unity


John Stott on the Holy Spirit

“Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible.  There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from His fruit, and no effective witness without His power.  As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.”  John Stott

This quote pretty well sums up all we have been discussing this month about the Holy Spirit.  For more about John Stott, see these posts:

How Should We Then Live? –A Quote by John Stott

How to Read Scripture (according to John Stott)

Stott on the Christian Life by Tim Chester –Book Review


More on Fruit of the Spirit

I’ve often heard older people, or those in ill health say, “there is nothing I can do for God.”  This quote expresses very well the truth that there is something any of us can do, regardless of our situation.

“We cannot be useless while we are doing and suffering God’s will, whatever it may be found to be.  If we are bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, we are not useless.  And we can always do that.  If we are increasing in the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, we are not useless.  And we can always do that.  While we pray, we cannot be useless.  And we can always do that.  God will always find us a work to do, a niche to fill, a place to serve, nay, even a soul to save, when it is His will and not ours, that we desire to do;  and if it should please Him that we should sit still for the rest of our lives, doing nothing else but waiting for Him, why should we complain?  Here is the patience of the saints.”

Anthony W. Thorold

For more by Anthony W. Thorold see:

When Things are Unclear–Trust God

Two Quotes on the Sacrificial Life


Deep Kindness by Houston Kraft–Book Review

Kindness is another fruit of the Spirit.  If the book I recently reviewed on gentleness was challenging, some of the statistics in this one are chilling:

  • Empathy has dropped 40% in college-aged students since the year 2000
  • The average student today has as much anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950’s
  • A recent survey showed that 40% of U.S. adults eighteen and older reported feeling alone and 47% felt left out

The underlying reason for all of these problems in a lack of significant human connectedness.  The sharp decline in empathy and increase in anxiety and loneliness seems to  coincide with our technological inventions and advancement.

According to the author, kindness is not normal (we Christians would agree –(after all, we are innately sinful and selfish).– it is something we need to cultivate.  There are different levels of kindness:

  • Common kindness –i.e. politeness and courtesy.  Showing basic respect for others.
  • Confetti kindness– mass-marketed, warm and fuzzy things like “random acts of kindness” or pay-it-forward coffee lines.
  • Deep kindness– generosity that overcomes our selfishness and fear, and that helps others without expecting anything in return

The author explores some of the reasons we avoid deep kindness:  fear of rejection or failure, embarrassment, business, exhaustion and inconvenience.  There are also many suggestions and exercises for developing deeper empathy in our lives.  Most of us would agree that our world needs kindness now more than ever before.

Although not overtly Christian, this would be a good read for Christians.  It goes right along with the findings in a previous book I reviewed, The Other Half of Church by Jim Wilder & Michel Hendricks–Book Review.  Often our churches paint a picture of good behavior without any training in the “how” of actually achieving it.  In consequence, we know how we should act, we just don’t do it.

VERDICT:  5 Stars.  This would be a good choice for a book club or small group to read and discuss.

For more on kindness see these posts:

A Quote on Kindness

The War For Kindness by Jamil Zaki — Book Review

The Kindness Crown

Apathy, Sympathy or Empathy?



A Gentle Answer by Scott Sauls– Book Review

This book will challenge you, convict you and possibly bring you to tears, as you consider how gentle Jesus is to us, and how often we fail to extend that same gentleness to others.

It is divided into two sections.  The first describes the gentleness of Jesus who befriends the sinner (in us), reforms the Pharisee (in us) and disarms the cynic (in us).  The second section discusses how his gentleness should change us.  We must become less prone to taking offense, control our anger, receive criticism graciously, forgive completely and bless those who hurt and betray us.  He uses stories and examples, some personal, others well-known, to illustrate his points.

Many of us are self-satisfied because we have avoided the “big” sins;  throughout this book, the author reminds us that we are all capable of serious transgressions when the situation is right.  We may not kill, but we have murderous thoughts;  we may not steal, but we rob others of their good reputation through gossip;  we give lip service to forgiveness while harboring grudges, and so on.

After each chapter there are discussion questions, so this book could be easily used in a small group.  In fact, I think it would be an excellent choice, because it encourages change as well as understanding.  Two of the questions are always the same:

  • Name one thing from this chapter that troubled you, inspired you, or both.  Why were you impacted in this way?
  • Based on this chapter, identify one way that the Lord might be nudging you toward growth or change.  What steps should you take to pursue this change?

VERDICT:  5 Stars.  Biblically sound and highly recommended.  It certainly comes at an opportune time, when gentleness is sadly lacking in our society.

P.S. In case you haven’t noticed, gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, so I selected this read because of our monthly theme.

For more on gentleness see:

With Gentleness and Respect

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Some Quotes on the Fruit of the Spirit


Keep in Step with the Spirit

In our second church study of the Holy Spirit, we took up a new topic — the fruit of the Spirit.  Good fruit in our lives does not come through self development — it is a gift from God.  Our redemption has a purpose — to transform us into fruit-bearers. This is called sanctification — the process of becoming Christlike.

In Galatians we find a detailed description of what this means:

“So live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:  sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft;  hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy;  drunkenness, orgies and the like.  …..

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. ”  Galatians 16:5-22

You may take note that love is central to the fruit.  The sinful acts listed destroy love, while the fruit of the Spirit increases love.  Why would this be?  Because God is love, and His desire for us as His creation is that we love Him and love one another.  We were made to live, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God.  So,

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:24

In other words, LOVE.

For more on the Fruit of the Spirit see these posts:

Let the Fruit of the Spirit Flow

Martin Luther on the Fruit of the Spirit

Increasing the Fruit




Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Fruit of the Spirit

“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For more quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer see these posts:

A Quote from Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Brotherly Love (Philia)

Blessed Are the Merciful by Dietrich Bonhoeffer