The Visual Word by Patrick Schreiner

The Visual Word: Illustrated Outlines of the New Testament Books is a really cool book written by Patrick Schreiner, and illustrated by Anthony M. Benedetto. This is a large hardcover book with gold accents. The total page length is 178 pages.

Schreiner summarizes the entire new testament, gives new/unique insight, and points readers to the main story.

I’m always on the lookout for bible study resources (bonus if they’re aesthetically pleasing!). This book has really neat illustrations and a simple but visually appealing layout.

The Visual Word is a great book for lay people, but it’s also an informative tool for pastors and students. This would make a great gift book for someone’s office or coffee table.

I really hope Moody Publishers comes out with an Old Testament version!

*I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review | Gospel Centered Life Bible Studies

I recently had the opportunity to read and review three of the brand new Gospel Centered Life Bible Studies. I was given digital copies of 1 John: Relying on the Love of God, Psalms: Real Prayers for Real Life, and Ecclesiastes: Life in the Light of Eternity. I was unfamiliar with the study series until someone I follow on Instagram shared that there were review copies available, and boy am I glad I saw their post! These studies went above and beyond my expectations.

The first study I did was over 1 John. This is a super short ~130 page study with eight lessons (more than I was expecting for a small book). My favorite lesson was #2 which had a bit on legalism and antinomianism. These are two topics that have been coming up a lot in my social circle, so I enjoyed sharing what I read in the study with my friends.

The study on Psalms was also around 130 pages, and is a review of our lives and emotions, basically. There’s an interesting “anti-psalm” writing exercise, little prayer layouts and a chart comparing when you try to be your own king vs remembering Jesus is King.

I’m still working through Ecclesiastes, but I have a time limit, so I’m prematurely reviewing to say this is the most interesting of the three.

I like how the studies are laid out, and they’re rich yet accessable, and very Christ centered. These studies are designed for groups, but can be done on your own, but you’ll gain more from group discussion.

I’m going to keep a lookout for these studies and the rest of the series to go on sale. I really enjoyed them!

The History of Evangelism in North America by Thomas P. Johnston

The History of Evangelism in North America edited by Thomas P. Johnston is a three hundred and fifty page book academic overview of Christianity starting with Jonathan Edwards and ending with the twenty-first century. The book covers missionaries, and big figures like George Whitefield, John Wesley, Billy Graham, John Piper, etc.

The History of Evangelism in North America is a mashup of different authors and their research. Each chapter readers are not just introduced to someone in history, but a new author (I like books with multiple authors, it helps me find writings styles I enjoy so I can check out other books). The chapters are basically short biographies of each person, what they did, what they are most known for, their beliefs, their successes and failures. Some chapters I enjoyed more than others, some felt a little bit like info dumping at times. Regardless, I thought it was interesting seeing how evangelism moved its way throughout American history.

Prior to reading this book, I did not know that much about church history, let alone the history of North American evangelism. As an American and as a Christian, I should probably studying some of the history, but I never knew where to began. There are too many books, podcasts, lectures, and other resources. At times, it can be a bit of an overwhelming topic! I found this book very easy to read, and I enjoyed the footnotes (with lots of sources for anyone who is writing on these people!), and while it is an academic title it is a great choice for average laypeople.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

The 30-Minute Bible by Craig G. Bartholomew and Paige P. Vanosky

The 30-Minute Bible: God’s Story for Everyone by Craig G. Bartholomew and Paige P. Vanosky is a 30 day guide to reading the Bible.

The bible is scary. It’s big and full of many genres. Some of the poetry and genres can be confusing. And Leviticus? Practically everyone struggles with reading all the books by Moses, and it’s easy to get discouraged. The authors of this book created this guide to help you read an overview of the bible, and they help you see and understand the whole picture.

This is a great book for anyone questioning Christianity, new believers, or old believers who are feeling a bit burned out with reading. Each chapter is a day’s reading and it takes 30 minutes to read both the chapter overview and the assigned bible reading.

This book has black and white illustrations by Martin Erspamer. I really enjoyed the illustrations and found the art style fun and unique. There are pictures of Jesus on both the cover and inside the book for anyone who has convictions.

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Lead Like Christ by A.W. Tozer

Lead Like Christ is a book compiled and edited by James L. Synder that is based off sermons by A.W. Tozer. This is a book for men and women of all backgrounds to read and study Titus to see if their leadership looks like and follows Christ.

Lead Like Christ is a short book with nineteen short chapters. Each chapter is only a few pages long, so readers can easily use this as a devotional to get daily advice, encouragement, and wisdom.

Anything by Tozer is a must read. He’s rich and easy to understand. My dad and I are both glad James Snyder is making Tozer’s sermons into books.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Essential Andrew Murray Collection

The Essential Andrew Murray Collection is a 450+ page bind up that includes Humility, Abiding in Christ, and Living a Prayerful Life. The publishers price for this on the cover is $17.99, which is a great deal for three books.

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was a South African pastor and missionary who received an education in Scotland and Holland. I didn’t know much about Murray until I started reading this book. All I knew was his books are often found on Christian classics lists.

In Humility, Andrew Murray talks about how Christians are to turn from pride, empty themselves and fill themselves up with Christ. While I did find it a little bit redundant at times, I thought it was thought provoking and insightful.

Abiding in Christ is a thirty-one day devotional on daily meditation, prayer, and surrendering yourself to Christ. I’m not a huge fan of devotionals, but this didn’t feel like the ones I usually read!

The final book in the bind up is Living a Prayful Life. This book helps the reader with prayer, and gives practical advice and examples from the Apostle Paul, George Muller, and Hudson Taylor.

My favorite book from the bunch is probably Humility, but all three books were good. I like how short the chapters are, so you can use the book more as a devotional.

*I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ragged by Gretchen Ronnevik

Ragged: Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritually Exhausted by Gretchen Ronnevik grabbed my attention because “spiritually exhausted” is how many are feeling right about now. The book’s synopsis says, “In Ragged, Gretchen Ronnevik aims to reclaim spiritual disciplines as good gifts given by our good Father instead of heavy burdens of performance carried by the Christian… The good news is that spiritual disciplines have less to do with what we bring before God and more about who Christ is for us, not only as the author but also as the perfector of our faith.”

Ragged is 15 chapters, and just over 200 pages long. I think Elyse Fitzpatrick summerises the book up in her forwards when she says, “What you’re about to discover is that the life of the Christian, the life of the free woman or man, is not a life that’s freed from all spiritual disciplines. Rather, it’s a life that’s free to do the disciplines- from the position of being beloved, forgiven, and assured of eternal life…” (pg xi)

In the first chapter Gretchen says how the deeper she studies God’s word, the more she understands that God is exposing her neediness to her own eyes so she can depend on him. This is something every Christian must learn, and some find it hard to grasp. In chapter three, when talking about sanctification, Gretchen says how God isn’t calling us to add to what he’s done, but to lean into what he’s done and how he wants every ounce of our strength to come from him because the Christian life isn’t about accomplishments, but dependence on Christ. Just in 40 pages there’s already so much comfort given to readers.

Chapters 7-15 each focus on individual disciplines… Here are some things that stuck with me.

In the chapter on rest, you’re reminded that we are not the creators but the receivers of rest. The Sabbath was made for man, and resting was a thing before the fall. Prior to Christ, the week was made up of six work days followed by a day of rest. After Christ, we have Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day reflecting of our rest in Christ because our work is completed in him (but everything we do comes out of our rest IN him, not TOWARDS him).

The next chapter is on bible reading. We shouldn’t flaunt our time in the word, we should treat it like fasting. We also shouldn’t have a mindset like, “I need to read X amount or I’m not doing my duty!” Yes, we should have the desire to read God’s word, but it’s okay if we read a small amount each day. It’s not required to read for hours on end. A friend a while back was telling me how he doesn’t feel as holy as an older woman at his church because she spends 5-8 hours each day reading her Bible and praying, and it really put him in a bad mindset for awhile.

“Once we understand that spirituality isn’t something we accomplish, but something we receive, then we must brace ourselves for the fact that when God gives, he gives in abundance.” (pg 133)

The chapter on meditation was also interesting. Gretchen says that it’s normal that we feel uncomfortable and wrestle with God, because he knows that we need to understand it deep in our bones. She also mentions how she was reflecting on Simon carrying the cross with Jesus, and how that didn’t mean God needed help, it meant that Jesus was being humbled even on his way to the cross.

The book covers a lot of topics, and has some interesting and very helpful insights. I read it slowly so I could reflect on it. It’s a good book, I highly recommend paring this with Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes and comparing/contrasting.

“The law gives meaning to the gospel. Work gives meaning to rest. Death gives meaning to resurrection. If we are to extol the glory of the gospel, the glory of rest, or the glory of the resurrection, we must not minimize what it is conquering…” (pg 187)

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy for review!

The White Chief of Cache Creek by Faith M. Martin and Charles R. McBurney

In 1889, William Work Carithers went to Oklahoma to share the gospel, and to help the Comanche-Kiowa-Apache Native Americans develop skills to survive white culture. William had 12 years before 30,000 settlers arrived in a single day, but the story spans 30+ years. Faith M. Martin and Charles R. McBurney did a lot research and wrote this book using personal letters, diaries, and articles.

I never know what to say about biographies and books on historical events and people. I will say, I haven’t read much on Christian missionaries or Native American history, so I found this book very interesting. I live by some reservations and used to visit them as a child. A lot of the Christian history in these parts is never talked about unless it’s by left leaning non-Christians calling whites colonizers, and Christians racists, so I really enjoyed learning about what happened, and think many people interested in American history and missions will enjoy this book.

My favorite part of the book is the photos. I love seeing is photographs and putting faces to name. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.

God Breathed by Rut Etheridge III

God Breathed: Connecting through Scripture to God, Others, the Natural World, and Yourself by Rut Etheridge III is a philosophy and theology book with a tone that reminds me of a high school pep rally. Rut Etheridge has an exciting and passionate tone. You can tell the book was written for teens and young adults who are struggling with many spiritual and theological questions, but adults of all ages will benefit from this book.

Over the years, most of my friends from high school have left Christianity. Their arguments are all the same. If God is real, why is he silent? Why do bad things happen? How can the bible be trusted? There are too many denominations and they all conflict and claim their views are biblical. I’d say the most frequent question I’ve personally encountered is, “Why suffering?”

Quoting Bruce Shelly, Etheridge says, “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humiliation of its God.” God doesn’t even stop bad things from happening to Jesus.

In one part of the book, Etheridge says as though speaking for God, “Do you really want me to deal with injustice? Then let me start with you.” I want to say it was R.C. Sproul who said this, but I’m most likely not remembering properly… The quote is something like, “If God is real, why doesn’t he destroy all the evil people in the world?” In reply, whoever said the quoted says, how that would include God destroying you.

Etheridge answers all the commonly asked questions and covers some current cultural stuff (like “my truth”, but only briefly). It’s an interesting book, for sure. I think the average teen or young adult might get bored with the philosophy bits, but I’m glad to see a book like this that’s more accessible for laypeople.

Thanks to the publisher for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Self-worship feels fine for a while, but when we realize our inability to be truly and ultimately satisfied in ourselves, when we realize our incapability to be God, it makes us desperate and sometimes dictatorial, in our relationships with other people. We want godlike control in our life, but we can barely manage our own lives. We want companionship, but it’s just so hard to trust. Our hearts are powder kegs of incendiary insecurities. When someone sparks deep desire within us, we explode into a firestorm of irrational demands, consuming the person whose presence we craved.”

Bible Study | Summoned by Megan B. Brown

Summoned: Answering A Call to the Impossible by Megan B. Brown is an 8-week bible study over the book of Esther. Megan B. Brown is a military spouse, Bible teacher, and missionary with Cru Military with a degree in ministry leadership from Moody Bible Institute.

The author herself describes this bible study as “rough and raw” and says that the study will have hard topics causing us to grapple with God. I was really intrigued by this! A few years ago I read a book on Esther that really made me see things differently, and I was curious to see what insight Brown had to add.

The layout of this study is similar to the others. There is no weekly intro, and each day is a few pages long. Brown slowly takes you through Esther a few verses at a time so you can really focus on what’s going on, the cultural context, the historical elements, etc. Week 8 is just a reflection over everything, it’s not broken up into 5 days like the previous weeks.

I really enjoyed reading Brown’s commentary throughout the study. She’s very bold and blunt about things. I really hope she comes out with more studies in the future!

* I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.