Book Review: Single, Gay, Christian by Gregory Coles

Title: Single, Gay, Christian
Author: Gregory Coles
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction, Biography, Memoir
Publisher: IVP Books
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Format: Kindle
Pages: 144
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★

In an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles tells his own story.

Let’s make a deal, you and me. Let’s make promises to each other.

I promise to tell you my story. The whole story. I’ll tell you about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attractions were persistently and exclusively for other guys. I’ll tell you how I lay on my bed in the middle of the night and whispered to myself the words I’ve whispered a thousand times since:

“I’m gay.”

I’ll show you the world through my eyes. I’ll tell you what it’s like to belong nowhere. To know that much of my Christian family will forever consider me unnatural, dangerous, because of something that feels as involuntary as my eye color. And to know that much of the LGBTQ community that shares my experience as a sexual minority will disagree with the way I’ve chosen to interpret the call of Jesus, believing I’ve bought into a tragic, archaic ritual of self-hatred.

But I promise my story won’t all be sadness and loneliness and struggle. I’ll tell you good things too, hopeful things, funny things, like the time I accidentally came out to my best friend during his bachelor party. I’ll tell you what it felt like the first time someone looked me in the eyes and said, “You are not a mistake.” I’ll tell you that joy and sorrow are not opposites, that my life has never been more beautiful than when it was most brokenhearted.

If you’ll listen, I promise I’ll tell you everything, and you can decide for yourself what you want to believe about me.

This book wasn’t written for me. It probably wasn’t written for you either. Unless, of course, you happen to be LGBTQ, Christian, and single/celibate by choice. Gregory Coles did not write this book for straight Christians to teach them how to treat their LGBTQ sisters and brothers in Christ. He wrote this book to help those brothers and sisters in Christ who are LGBTQ understand they are not alone in their struggles.

I’m not saying straight Christians can’t learn something from this book. I absolutely believe they can. They can learn what struggles a person who identifies with a sexual minority feels in the Church. How they cope. How scared, frustrated, and even how lonely they may feel. Thsi book is a 5 star representation everyone should read, but any LGBTQ Christian needs to read.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: All in All Journaling Devotional by Sophie Hudson

Title: All in All Journaling Devotional
Author: Sophie Hudson
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction, Devotional, Journal
Publisher: B&H Books
Release Date: August 01, 2017
Source: B&H Books
Rating: ★★★★☆

Wherever you are, let Jesus be your all.

Written by popular author and blogger Sophie Hudson, this beautiful devotional journal for teens and young women reminds you that Jesus is your All in All—over all, through all, and in all that you do.

As you dig in to Sophie’s words and wit, you’ll better understand the wholeness and freedom that come from a life filled with Jesus. Each of the 100 devotions is followed by journaling prompts that will get you writing, keep you thinking, and help you grab all the goodness He has waiting for you.

When I chose to review this journaling devotional, I did so because I thought it was unique. I have several devotionals laying around the house, but none of them are particularly “interactive” where you would actually answer questions, write out your thoughts or feelings, or even really think about possibly praying about what you’d read. They’re just little blurbs by this or that author – some of them are about strong women of faith, others are different “insights” about Christ’s love for us and our walk with Christ. But none of them had the journaling aspect to them.

I wasn’t disappointed. “All in All” is a 100 day devotional geared toward teen girls. It features a devotional, scripture readings, and a place to answer questions, write out your thoughts and feelings, and even a place each day to write out the day’s prayers. If you want to be able to use the devotional for multiple girls, I’d suggest giving each girl who will be using it a notebook or journal to write in instead of writing in the book – or buying one for each girl.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for a good devotional for a teen girl. I agree with some of the responses on Goodreads – I’d like to see a version for women as well.

I received a copy of this book free from B&H Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: The Mockingbird Parables by Matt Litton

Title: The Mockingbird Parables
Author: Matt Litton
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction
Publisher: Tyndale House
Release Date: August 1, 2010
Source: Tyndale House
Rating: Abandoned

The Mockingbird Parables compels us to ask the often-ignored questions: Do we truly love our neighbors? Are we building community? Are we influencing society for the better? By illuminating the parallels between Christian faith and Lee?s masterpiece, The Mockingbird Parables reaffirms the magnitude of a novel perhaps more relevant today than ever before.

When I originally picked this book up, I thought it would be fairly straightforward. I knew it was based in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, but I wasn’t expecting to need to read that book before being able to use/work with this book.

Sadly, this book requires a working knowledge of/familiarity with “To Kill a Mockingbird” or else you won’t understand what is going on. Unfortunately, as that book was never on any required reading lists I had in school, I’ve never read it and so was completely lost when attempting to go through this book.

If you haven’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird” don’t bother to pick this book up until you have because you’ll be completely lost.

I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: Know Who You Are | Live Like it Matters by Tim Tebow and A.J. Gregory

Title: Know Who You Are | Live Like it Matters
Author: Tim Tebow, A.J. Gregory
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Release Date: May 15, 2017
Source: Waterbrook Multnomah
Rating: ★★★★☆

The World Does Not Define You!

Nobody said your life would be easy. And the older you get, the more difficult it seems to become. Deep down you may know your value as a person isn’t defined by wearing cool name-brand clothes, scoring points for a sports team, or even by having a huge number of social media followers. And you’re right! Your identity resides in something–in fact, Someone–much greater than anything this world can offer:

The only identity worth having…is found in Jesus Christ!

American sports icon, Tim Tebow knows firsthand what it’s like to face pressure head-on. In Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters, he shares the wisdom he’s learned–not from what the world says, but from what God says in His Word.

Tim will guide you through thirty-six weeks of lessons, each based on a key Scripture, to discover who you are–by learning more about whose you are! You will also have the opportunity to write down your thoughts, feelings, and ideas on topics such as:

* Building godly character
* Maintaining great relationships
* Standing out from the crowd
* Doing things that matter in the big picture

Get ready to live bigger than ever before…with your faith and identity secured in a God who loves you beyond measure!

If anyone thinks this book is *just* for home schooled children, they’d be wrong. This book is actually good for any teen, and even good for some adults to be honest. The fact the Tim Tebow was home schooled is most likely the reason behind him determining the book would be for home schooled kids.

This book gives 36 helpful weekly lessons on figuring out who you are and how following the Lord can make your life better. Each lesson comes with a writing exercise to encourage the reader to think about the lesson that was provided. While I read the book in 2 days because I wasn’t following the lesson plan, I would be more than willing to go back through the book and do the writing exercises.

36 weeks is equal to approximately one school year, so parents can use this book during their curriculum if they home school or just as a weekly study for their kids in general. I think this book is an excellent tool for helping kids find their faith and figure out who they are in Christ.

I also think that new Christians might benefit from this book, even though it is geared towards teens. It can be hard to figure out who you are in Christ at any age, especially if you’ve grown up in a family where faith is not a big part of your life.

Tim gives good, solid accounts of when he was a child/teen and how situations were handled. He admits he made and makes mistakes, something that it is good for anyone to see – that nobody is perfect.

This was a solid 4 star read and I have to say, I’ll probably be going back through the book and doing the writing exercises for myself.

I received a copy of this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: The Incredible, Powerful, Inspiring, & Engaging Story of Women in the Bible by Jumoke Akinniranye

Title: The Incredible, Powerful, Inspiring, & Engaging Story of Women in the Bible
Author: Jumoke Akinniranye
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

You will be inspired, challenged and encouraged to arise and journey with the Lord as women of the Bible did!

Join Jumoke Akinniranye in exploring the incredible, inspiring lives of many of the women in the Bible. In a time when women are searching for their true identity in God, this book will give you a good insight and understanding of the strength, gifting and weaknesses of these extraordinary women, allowing you to grasp the truth that they were ordinary woman, just like you, who chose to walk in the fullness of God’s purpose for their lives.

This book will give you the confidence and assurance you need to boldly journey with the Lord as these women did – despite the challenges they had to confront and overcome. It will also show you how each of them was able to anchor their abilities and gifts to the Lord.

I believe that through this book you will receive a greater revelation of the Father’s heart for women, which will help you in your journey with the Lord as you read it.

JUMOKE AKINNIRANYE is an accountant by profession. She was born in the UK and raised in Nigeria, the third child of Christian parents. She had a major encounter with the Lord in April 2009, spanning a continuous nine months, during which she received an unprecedented presence of God and was called into the offices of Apostle and Prophet. Jumoke resides in Hertfordshire, England with her two sons Ore and Seun.

While I was drawn in by the title of this book, I honestly thought I would end up not liking it. After all, I usually get annoyed with non-fiction Christian books for some reason. There always seems to be something that just bugs me about them. Not so much for this one.

Jumoke Akinniranye paints a fuller picture of some of the most prominent women of the Bible, giving insight as to how they might have felt, what the culture of the time was like and how they fit into that culture, and showing what we can learn from them. She even includes women who set bad examples, such as Queen Jezebel – so we can learn from their mistakes.

One of my favorite sections was on Martha and Mary from the New Testament. We all know the story of how Martha got fed up with Mary not helping her with the work that needed to be done while Jesus was visiting and basically asked Him to tell Mary to get up and help her. Then after Lazarus died, when Jesus arrived, she argued with him about various things. In all honesty, I see a lot of Martha in me. I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t shut up and listen, I’d be arguing because I overthink everything.

I must say there was one spot that I was a bit flustered with – the story of Sarah/Sarai. In this section, the author states that nothing is known of Sarah’s lineage, but that’s not actually true. In Genesis 20:12, when Abraham is answering to Abimelek as to why they lied about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife, Abraham answers that she really is his sister – the daughter of his father though not of his mother, who happened to become his wife. So we know that Abraham and Sarah share a father. But this is just something minor in comparison to the lessons this book as for women of faith.

I definitely recommend this book to any woman looking to grow her faith and see how God could use her to serve Him.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: All Saints by Michael Spurlock with Jeanette Windle

Title: All Saints
Author: Michael Spurlock, Jeanette Windle
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Discover the true story behind the film ALL SAINTS, and be inspired by one church’s extraordinary response to a group of refugees in need. Pastor Michael Spurlock’s first assignment is to close down the tiny church building of All Saints. But when its people begin welcoming refugees, Michael is called to discover new depths to the words love your neighbor.

Imagine being called to lead a church with issues. Dire financial issues, a recent split in the congregation, and a congregation that needs to heal from said split. Now imagine that you’ve been called to lead this church as your very first assignment out of seminary. That’s what Reverend Michael Spurlock faced when he was called to lead All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, TN.

This book was nothing short of amazing to be perfectly honest. The telling of the backstories, which was essential to understanding what was happening with Rev. Spurlock, Ye Win, and other major players in the book, worked very well. I will say that I had hoped to learn more about All Saints’ split that happened just prior to Rev. Spurlock taking over, but that probably wasn’t something that was necessary to the story and was more to satisfy my own curiosity about the matter.

This book shows what it is to do as God and Christ command and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Trust me when I say that by human standards, Rev. Spurlock would have been more than justified in telling the Burmese refugees that All Saints couldn’t help them and that they needed to find somewhere else to go. But he didn’t. He recalled scripture, when Christ said that if someone has done something for the least of these, they’ve done it for Christ. And to Rev. Spurlock’s surprise, those refugees helped All Saints as much as All Saints helped them.

This book is a great read that can be accomplished in about a day or so – at least that’s how long it took me to read it. It was very well written, easy to follow, and gives you a great glimpse into the world of the refugees so you can understand how they felt and where they came from. This book would make an excellent choice for a Christian book club to read and discuss. I gave it 4 stars and I have to say, I’m going to have to see that movie now.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: He Calls You Beautiful by Dee Brestin

Title: He Calls You Beautiful
Author: Dee Brestin
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction, Bible Study
Publisher: Multnomah
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 228
Source: Waterbrook Multnomah
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Did you know that God loves you with a passion—and He wrote a love song to help you experience that love in a personal way?

Tucked away in the pages of Scripture is one of the most fascinating and most misunderstood books of the Bible: the Song of Songs. Although the Song of Songs details a passionate, earthly love story, it is intended to illuminate the best love story, the intense love God has for us, His beloved.

In He Calls You Beautiful, Bible teacher Dee Brestin explores this love song from God to reveal transformative truths for each of us, whether married, single, or widowed. With rich contemporary illustrations and insight from biblical scholars, Dee shows how God uses poetry and exquisite images to illuminate the intimacy that Jesus longs to have with you.

God calls you to know His love not only in your head but also in your heart. He sings over you a song of love, a song of salvation, a song of hope. A Song of songs.

I’m generally looking for new Bible study books and when given the chance to review He Calls You Beautiful I thought I’d hit the jackpot. Finally, someone could explain to me why in the world Song of Songs (Song of Solomon in some Bibles) was even included in the Bible, because it just didn’t seem to fit.

Sadly, I just wasn’t impressed by this book. It was difficult for me to get interested in it. The writing isn’t bad, in fact, the writing is beautifully done. But for some reason the material presented just didn’t resonate with me. Perhaps it is because I’m not in the right time/place in my life, so this isn’t a message that I need to hear?

I love that the book includes Bible study material for both individuals and small groups. The subject matter is such that when I saw that it included Bible study materials, I figured it would be specifically for individuals because, well, the message is to each person individually. The message would seem to be that Heavenly Father and Jesus love you. The message is for you. But, it’s really for everyone because God and Jesus love everyone.

I gave the book 2 stars because it’s not horrible and in all honesty, if I come back to it at another time in my life, it might well work out for me a lot better. Perhaps right now just wasn’t the right time for this message for me.

I received a copy of this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.