Saturday, February 26, 2011
"Couples Who Pray", written by husband-and-wife team Squire Rushnell and Louise DuArt, is a fresh look at the benefits of prayer to a marriage. The authors use their case study of couples who took a 40 day challenge to pray with each other as encouragement for others to do the same. Couples who engage in prayer together will receive wonderful benefits in their marriage, including increased communication, better lovemaking, greater satisfaction with the marriage, intimacy, longevity in the relationship, and weathering the storms of life. The book is full of personal stories of several couples to illustrate the author's claims.
This is not a spiritually deep book! In fact, it is on the light side and relies too heavily on personal stories in my opinion. The biblical foundation is there but the spiritual side of prayer is only dealt with on a surface level. The emphasis seems to be on the wonderful benefits WE get out of prayer as a couple, rather than focusing on God (who is the intent and object of our praying.) However, if you have a spouse who is less spiritually inclined than you are, this book may be perfect for them. It was not a selling point for me that most of the couples cited in the book were celebrities; I would rather have heard from ordinary people like myself. Still, it was not a difficult read and it did inspire me to try praying with my own spouse, so the authors' purpose was accomplished!
I received this book for purposes of review free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishers and the BookSneeze blogger program. I am not obligated to give a positive review. 3 out of 5 stars.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
In a market where self-help books promise to help you be a better you, this book stands apart! In Soulprint, author Mark Batterson wonderfully articulates the truth that God must be at the center of who we are meant to be. He uses imagery from art to describe the process of becoming the unique "you" that God designed you to be as allowing God to chisel away the roughcut stone from our life and reveal our true selves. People can go through their whole lives deriving their identity from what they do, becoming like others, living up to expectations, self-improvement, or past history. God designed each human in His image but unique to themselves. We will never rest in our unique identity until we stop trying to become someone we are not, and allow God to reveal who we are. Batterson beautifully brings this truth to light through five scenes from David's life.
This book was a delight to read. It brought to life the stories of King David and his writings in a way that made me closely identify with aspects of my own life. Many self-improvement books leave you with big "to-do" list of things that you soon run out of willpower to sustain. This book was a relief, describing many things we can let go of. Yes, there are practical suggestions of things to do on a self-discovery journey. These are helpful tools to help us treasure the memories of our past and redeem the circumstances of our life, past and present, to allow God to shape us into the masterpiece He has in mind. I found this book encouraging, uplifting, insightful, challenging, and releasing. I recommend it highly.
I received a copy of this book for free for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Fasting is one of those ancient disciplines that is seldom practiced by many Christians. In his book, "Fasting," Scot McKnight makes his case for the relevance of this discipline in our time. He proposes the definition of fasting as "the natural response of a person to a grevious sacred moment in life." Through this lens he views and explains many biblical and historical examples of fasting. Honest discussion of reasons why one should fast, as well as why one should not, help to dispel myths or misappropriations of this means of grace. In order to understand fasting, McKnight leads the reader to explore the idea of "whole-body spirituality" - a perspective which has been lost in recent generations.
McKnight writes with depth and honesty about a discipline he obviously knows well. For someone who is looking for a biblical discussion about fasting, this book offers many insights. I was disappointed that the book was repetitive and redundant, coming back to the same points chapter after chapter. I also found his treatment of the current mindset somewhat disparaging and negative, which is not really necessary since his presentation of fasting is attractive and positive enough to make the reader interested. There are some good nuggets of truth in there, so it is a worthwhile read for anyone serious about pursuing this discipline.
I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers (BookSneeze) for purposes of review.