Category Archives: Faith

Book review: Stronger by Clayton King

I like to look at the bright side of life, but we all have to deal with our share of trials.

When I had the opportunity recently to receive a free copy of the book “Stronger: How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power” by Clayton King to review, I hoped the book would help make me stronger to deal with the difficulties and sadness that are inherent during different seasons of life.

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Reading the book did help prepare me for difficult times, but not by helping me find ways to be mentally and emotionally tougher to endure through those times.  The focus is that, as a Christian, I should be leaning on God’s strength to get through hardships – and trusting in His purpose through those circumstances.

Of course, I would prefer to not have to go through difficulties at all.  And when I do, I would like to emerge unscathed – like walking through fire without burning my feet.

However, this book points out on the back cover that “when we are in Christ, our deepest pain becomes the source of our greatest power, and our times of testing become our strongest testimony.”

King notes that hardships can leave scars, but those scars are part of our testimony.  “Scars tell our stories,” he says.  “They connect us back to a painful thing that left a mark on us.  They connect us to other people who have scars of their own.  They’re a testimony that we got hurt and we lived through it.”

He uses the greatest example, Jesus, to discuss how our scars play a role in our testimony. He notes: “Isn’t it interesting that after his own resurrection, Jesus himself bore the scars of the cross?  And he made no attempt to hide them.  In fact, he showcased them, revealed them, and invited others to look at them and to stretch out their hands to feel them.  They were real.  They proved something.  They told a story of weakness, death, resurrection, and restoration.”

If Jesus didn’t get an exemption from the trials of life, I guess the rest of us can’t expect that either.

As King says, “If we all got an exemption from hard times, we would have no stories to tell and nothing of substance to hold on to.  We could never encourage another living soul to press on through hard times…. So we might as well stop wishing for an exemption and start enjoying the presence of our Companion.  In hard times, we must embrace the fear we’re feeling while listening in faith to what God is saying: I am with you, I am in you, and I am for you.”

So what about those times we wonder why bad things happen?  King says, “What God wants to do in and through the difficult seasons of our lives is not to give us information but to give us understanding.  God may never give you an intellectual understanding of your suffering…. Seldom will you find easily discernible ‘reasons’ for the depth or timing of your hardship.  We live in a world where the kingdom of God has not yet been fully realized on earth, and in the meantime there are many things we can and must experience that we cannot make sense of with our intellect.”

But King points out, our hardships can, in turn, allow us to become a source of encouragement for others.  As King asserts, “This broken world doesn’t need more ‘experts.’  What’s more helpful are broken people who are allowing God to heal them and make them stronger as a result of their weakness.  Those kinds of people (like me and like you) can and will be used by God for the sake of helping others.”

This book deals with serious life and death circumstances, taken straight from King’s own life experiences.  It was heavy reading at times, and it took me a while to read through it, but I’m glad I did.

I usually like to leave books in pristine condition, but I found myself folding down page corners as I read passages in this book so that I could refer back to them later.

In 10 chapters, the book walks through spiritual implications of hard times in a Christian’s life.  It starts from brokenness in chapter one and humility in chapter two and works through to worship in chapter nine and finally glory in chapter 10.  Along the way, the book frames a better understanding of how God uses all of these circumstances in the life of a Christian.

“Stronger: How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power” by Clayton King (affiliate link) is available at Amazon.com.

I received a free copy of the book “Stronger” by Clayton King from the publisher,
Baker Books, to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.
Please refer to my disclosure statement for more information.

Book review: Blessings for the Morning by Susie Larson

Starting the morning well always makes a day seem better, doesn’t it?

That’s why I was drawn to the book “Blessings for the Morning: Prayerful Encouragement to Begin Your Day” by Susie Larson. I received the book complimentary from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

The first thing that struck me about this book is the beautiful photography on every page. It truly is a lovely book to peruse in the morning. The wonderful images make each page inviting.

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The 203-page book has a Bible passage on each left-side page and an accompanying blessing for the day on the right-hand page. The Bible verses are primarily from the NIV translation, although some verses are from the NKJV, NLT, TLB, and The Message versions.

Although this book doesn’t specifically say it’s blessings for women, it is certainly aimed toward a female demographic. The delicate tea cup and pink flowers on the front cover may already make that obvious, but I thought it was worth a mention. At least one of the scripture passages (on page 50) is from Proverbs 31 focusing on women.

One of the things I like best about this book is the extensive table of contents at the beginning. There are no dates associated with the blessings, so you can read straight through or select pages topically from the table of contents.

The titles for each page make it easy to find an appealing passage for a particular day or circumstance. Topics cover a wide range, from “Seated with Christ” to “Ready for a Change” to “Rest While He Works.” The book includes blessings for special occasions, including Christmas and the New Year.

The book does as its subtitle describes – it offers encouragement for the day. I wouldn’t classify it as a true devotional book because it is focused more on the reader’s experience and outlook rather than about God. However, it does point the reader toward God on every page. It’s not a Bible study, but instead a collection of encouraging thoughts – blessings – from the author for living the day in faith.

This is a handy book for positive, uplifting spiritual thoughts about God’s love and grace.  With its small size, this book could be easily tucked into a bag to take along on a morning commute or stashed in a desk at work.  Physically, the book is well made, with a sturdy hardcover design and glossy pages.

Blessings for the Morning: Prayerful Encouragement to Begin Your Day is available at Amazon (affiliate link).

This post contains an affiliate link. Please see my disclosure statement for more information.

I received a free copy of the book “Blessings for the Morning: Prayerful Encouragement to Begin Your Day” as part of the Bethany House Blogger Review Program.  All opinions are my own.

Book review: 365 Moments of Peace for a Woman’s Heart

I’ve mentioned it a few times on this blog, but I’ll say it again.  I love things that are positive and uplifting.  I’m a “glass half full” kind of person.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of difficulties in life.  Health concerns, money issues, strife between people, and other things weigh us down.  Sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

As a Christian, my faith is the thing that keeps me hopeful.  The Bible makes it clear that life isn’t easy.  I mean, even the greatest Christian examples endured many hardships.  Despite the difficulties of life, the Bible also makes it clear that we can have peace, joy, and comfort through our relationship with God.

Devotional books are a great way to be refreshed daily in our walk of faith.  Good devotionals bring us closer to God and reveal Him more to us.365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart devotional book review - amerrymom.com

I enjoyed reading the devotional book “365 Moments of Peace for a Woman’s Heart: Reflections on God’s Gifts of Love, Hope, and Comfort” from Bethany House Publishers.  It has short daily devotional thoughts with an uplifting tone.  Each passage begins and ends with a Bible verse and has a brief prayer to accompany it.

Although the readings for each day are short, I found them effective in turning my thoughts to God in a positive and helpful way.  They contain helpful reminders for Christian women to find God’s love and grace in everyday circumstances.

The book offers wisdom from the Bible for common issues we face in the day-to-day ups and downs of life.  The Bible selections highlight God’s goodness and His promises to us – to offer hope and inspiration to serve Him on a daily basis.

This devotional uses a wide variety of Bible translations for the passages.  I counted 18 translations listed on the copyrights page.  With the book open to two days of devotional readings, it usually has verses in four different Bible translations.  For example, the January 1 and January 2 pages use passages from the HCSB, NASB, NIV, and NRSV.

I sometimes found this to be distracting to read verses in translations I don’t normally use.  Some translations (The Message, in particular) stray too far from the other versions to suit me.  Ultimately, though, that didn’t take too much away from my reading of this devotional book.

If you’re looking for an uplifting devotional book that offers a quick thought for the day, this one is worth considering.  It doesn’t dwell deeply on any of the passages it addresses, but it offers a nice selection of daily reflections that do what the title says: offer short moments of peace and inspiration from God’s word.

It’s always nice to start a devotional book right at the new year and read it from the front cover.  However, this book could be started at any time of the year, since the daily readings are independent of each other.  They don’t build on the topics from one day to another.

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman’s Heart: Reflections on God’s Gifts of Love, Hope, and Comfort is available at Amazon (affiliate link).

What’s your favorite devotional book?

 

This post contains an affiliate link. Please see my disclosure statement for more information.

I received a free copy of the book “365 Moments of Peace for a Woman’s Heart” as part of the Bethany House Blogger Review Program.  All opinions are my own.