Sunday, December 22, 2013

The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley

Prepare to have your heart broken if you read The White Umbrella  by Mary Frances Bowley. From the first page through to the last you'll read story after story of women who have been abused, some survivors, and some not. 
While reading this I learned that one out of every four females in the USA have been sexually abused. I had no idea that the number was that high. It's not something that we talk about. While some of these are one-time experiences, others lead to a darker side of our country--one that few people realize exists. 
The sex trafficking trade is very alive in the United States. Women and girls are lured in by friends, smooth talkers, criminals, and others. Being held against their will and being forced to have multiple sexual encounters daily is a growing reality right among us.

From the back cover:
Every year over 100,000 girls int he United States are forced to do someone's sexual bidding. Most of them are between the ages of 9 and 19. This is not some faraway, foreign problem. This is in our own neighborhoods, our own towns and cities.
Throughout these pages read the stories of these girls and the people who have come alongside them to hold the white umbrella of protection and purity over them on the road to restoration. See the need for these protecting, serving partners. Learn what it means to love and care for these survivors in action, prayer, and support.

My thoughts:
We are used to hearing about these things when missionaries visit our churches. They tell us of the goings on in places like India and Nepal. We don't like to hear that the same thing happens in our own cities. This book is based on the happenings in Atlanta. Atlanta is the third largest sex trafficking locale in the USA. 
This is not a third world problem. It is our problem.

For more information visit The White Umbrella Campaign. And you can learn more about the home that is available for recovery of the girls at Wellspring Living.

This book was provided for review by Moody Publishers.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ministering to Problem People in Your Church by Marshall Shelley

Oh my goodness, where has this book been for the last 20+ years that we've been in ministry? Seriously, EVERY pastor needs to read this book. This is without doubt, the best book I've read on the topic of ministry. With real-life examples of "Well-intentioned dragons" and the stories that are all too familiar with our own experiences, this book will encourage and give hope to pastors who are going through the trials that are caused by people. 
While the term "well-intentioned dragon" is used to describe these folks (meaning that they are fierce but that they don't realize it) I have to disagree somewhat. I've met some dragons and I'm fairly certain that they knew exactly what they were doing. Some of these people are just dragons, no good intentions at all. There was one at a church we pastored who I refer to as "Servant of Satan" because of the evil that seeped from him, this man was definitely a dragon and he was intent on dragging others down his spiral. 
What I loved about this book was the practical, Biblical advice that it gave on how to handle these people and their problematic tendencies. For each example there is a solution, and one that is attainable.
Thank God for Marshall Shelley and his approach to church conflict. I hope that this book helps pastors do what they need to do.
This would be a great Christmas gift for your favorite pastor!

This book was provided for review by Bethany House.

From the back cover:
Every church has them-sincere, well-meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don't intend to be hostile; they don't conciously plot destruction or breed discontent. But they do often undermine the ministry of the church and make pastors question their calling.
Ministering to Problem People in Your Church will guide you in dealing with these challenging people. Based on real-life accounts of battle-scarred veterans, this book helps you go beyond just tolerating the problem people to limiting their damage and showing them God's love. You'll discover effective strategies to turn dissidents into disciples.
This time-tested book by the editor-in-cheif of Christianity Today's Leadership Journal has new chapters on using social media and caring for those with mental illness. It will help you not only preserve your sanity (and maybe your job), but minister more effectively, even to those who make life difficult.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Prodigal by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett

The Prodigal by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett is the first book I've read of either of these authors. Truth be told, it's the first I've heard of either author. Yes, I read a lot--but a lot of fiction. It's where I go and I'm happy there.
This book quickly captured my attention and drew me in, I empathized with the pastor who had a very fast downfall and soon found himself without anything. The love shown to him by people he walked out on years before was a true picture of how we should treat each other, though often don't.
I didn't like that this book ended rather abruptly, as though it was set up for a sequel. There were many unanswered questions left after the final page. 
It was a good story of the way a father loves his child. Though some of the language could have been done without. 
Overall, this was an okay book. Not one I'm going to remember for long though. 

This book was provided for review by BookSneeze.

From the back cover:
Jack Chisolm is "the people's pastor." He leads a devoted and growing megachurch, has several best-selling books, and a memorable slogan, "We have got to do better." Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing. What he doesn't know is anything about grace.
This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there. Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already, on the news.
After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisolm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness. The church elders remove him from his own pulpit. His publisher withholds the royalties from his books. Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter. 
But as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son; "Come home."
A true companion piece to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Prodigal illustrates the power of grace through  the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably. Jack Chisolm lost everything-his church, his family, his respect, and his old way of believing-but he found grace. It's the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katheringe Reay

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay was as delightful as I hoped it would be. Written almost entirely as a series of letters, I wasn't sure if it would be easy to get into but it was. It really was. I love the influx of debut novelists lately, and this is one that I will be sure to watch for more from.

Sweet, vulnerable, gripping, and sometimes heart-wrenching, Dear Mr. Knightley touched on almost everything that I love in a book. It had a character who showed growth throughout the novel, it showed her searching for something and then finding it, showed the different facets of relationships and levels of friendships. There was nothing that I didn't like about this book. It was simply darling.

From the back cover:
Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.
Bu life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University's prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters ot the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.
As Sam's dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it's straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.
Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay's debut novel follows one young woman's journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

This book was provided for review by LitFuse.