I have been given the opportunity to do some reviews on some books from a few different publishers. Some of them do not quite fit into the focus I have for Living Infuzion, but obviously have some good information. Here are some of my perspectives on some pretty good books! Enjoy!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reckless Faith by Kevin G. Harney

I have read many books where they are filled with facts and information.  I have read books where I have been taught something.  This book “Reckless Faith” by Kevin Harney, is one of those books that goes beyond teaching, and has challenged me to DO something.  I don’t know how you could read this book and not be motivated to do something for God…. To change your complacency and examine the amount of time that each of us wastes.  Anyone else tired of just coasting in their faith?
The book is chaptered into sections on love, generosity, service, relationships, prayer, and words.  Each chapter challenges the reader to really dig deep into all of these areas.  The chapter on love talks about loving… truly loving God’s people.  It also goes into the reckless love of God that allows some to be martyred.  The section on generosity is about sharing with people, and giving to the work of God.  Service is something that is lacking in the current mindset, and the Bible teaches leadership by serving.  And the book continues with the other topics.  The topics chosen are areas where people are likely to just let complacency set in…. prayer, and the words that they use are two.
There is a pattern.  Those that have reckless faith accomplish what God has for them, and they have the impact that God wants them to have.  This book challenges the reader to such faith, and it has deep scriptural roots for what it challenges.  The book also draws on the experiences of Christians throughout history that have acted on the faith that it takes. 
Harney also writes in a balanced way to the idea of reckless faith.  He teaches how to find God’s voice in the acts of faith.  This book is not about going out and doing the crazy, but the reckless faith that comes from hearing God’s Holy Spirit.
I recommend this book to anyone feeling blah in their faith, or to those that think that they are just doing ‘good enough’.  Those that are out living the reckless faith probably don’t have time for this kind of book.
I was provided a copy of this book for my unbiased review by Baker Books.
For shopping online, or when in the Ottawa area, check out Salem Storehouse.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Cast Of Stones - Patrick W. Carr

"The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones.  In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.  Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom's dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins--but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones."

I don't usually read the fantasy fiction genre, I often find it rather hard sometimes to follow; but when I read the synopsis for this book, I thought I would give it a try.  (Especially when I saw it involved medieval times which is one of my favorite periods of history)  While it took me a little bit to get into, I will say that the book did not disappoint.  The author did a great job of weaving a tale and having it unfold at a good pace. (I was rather shocked to find that this was the author's first novel.  It definitely didn't come across that way!)  I found that this really didn't read like a typical fantasy novel; but more like a beautiful medieval tale.  Errol is such a flawed character with immense struggles to overcome.  I look forward to the next novel to see how Errol's story continues to unfold. 

 "Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Friday, April 19, 2013

Grace by Max Lucado

I love Max Lucado books!  If there is a person out there that shows that there is a gift of a teacher, he has it!  In Grace, Max Lucado writes about several aspects of the idea of God’s Grace in the Bible.  The subtitle for the book in “More than we deserve.  Greater than we imagine.”  I think this is one of the biggest things that is misunderstood by people in current culture.  By Grace we are saved… through faith.  We don’t have to work for God’s Grace.  That is the focus of this book.
Lucado touches on a few stories that are familiar to most, but he applies his usual way of unlocking them, and sharing them in a way that is relevant to a modern reader.  He leads in the book with his own story of a heart operation, and then compares that to how receiving God’s Grace can be like having a spiritual heart transplant.  He uses the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, ask the modern reader what act of sin they would be caught in?  How does God’s grace apply to the reader?  He brings in the story of Barabbas, and the story of the Exodus.
This book is the perfect balance of biblical narrative, scripture application, and modern application to be able to teach people about God’s Grace.  As a pastor of tweens, I can see how I could teach them from the lessons here, but there is something in this book for a Christian of any age.
I was provided a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for my unbiased review. 
For shopping online, or when in the Ottawa area, check out Salem Storehouse.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Church in an Age of Crisis by James Emery White

As they say, “the handwriting is on the wall”.  Culture changes and people are culture.  The way people think changes.  The way a society organizes itself and structures itself changes based on the desires of the group.  The message of the Gospel is for all people, and is relevant for all time.  If the church wants to keep moving forward, then there does have to be some thinking about how the message of the Gospel is perceived by society, and how it can be shared with society.
The Message of the Gospel is sacred.  The method that it is shared is not.
In The Church in an Age of Crisis by James Emery White out lines 25 ways that thinking has changed, and how the message of Scripture sits with respect to those changes.  It is a book about the alarming degradation of moral thought and behaviour in North American culture.  The book is broken into section about faith, thought, the family, media and then it has a section at the end about the mission of the church in all of this.
In that last section, Dr. White speaks to some of the ways that the Church is misrepresented, and about how there are many myths that people believe that have nothing to do with the church.  He discusses the relevance of church in society, and how to listen to those that are unchurched.  He also discusses the idea of evangelism, and how it is not happening.
I found this book to be a very sobering look at where the church is, and how it’s impact on the world is… how it REALLY is.  I go to a church where we use some pretty unconventional means to reach out to this generation of young people, but I get the impression that the church as a whole needs to do more…. A WHOLE LOT MORE.  Get out and share your faith!
I was given a complimentary copy of the book by Baker Books for my unbiased review.
Visit Salem Storehouse for Christian books, music and supplies, online, or when you are in the Ottawa area.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler

The Conviction to Lead (25 Principles for Leadership That Matter) by Albert Mohler takes is a different kind of leadership book.  I have read many books on leadership over the years, both from the general leadership, and the church leadership perspectives.  Most focus on the “this is how I run my day” tone.  Those are very good, and you can learn a lot from those books.  But I think Dr. Mohler takes things to a deeper level.  He addresses the core of the person.  Who is that person?  He talks about how to lead, you must be able to find your conviction, and be able to impact others and transfer those conviction to them.  By getting people to act on their convictions, they will be changing others, and even challenging the culture.
Some of the topics discussed are: how leaders must be able to teach, how leaders develop strong character, how leaders are readers and how in turn they should also be writers and communicators, and how leaders manage power and authority.  The book also touches on the things from the culture that push on the leader and how they must move forward.
This is a very well rounded leadership book, and will definitely challenge the way leadership is practiced in many churches and organizations. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House to review.  I was not required to give a positive review.
If you are in the Ottawa area, please check out http://www.salemstorehouse.com/

Thursday, April 4, 2013

insignificant by Chris Travis

Publisher's Description:
If you want to change the world, you have to do it God's way. And God's way looks nothing like our culture's way. Author and pastor Chris Travis gathers powerful true stories--including his own experiences teaching in a dangerous public school--to cast a vision of how God has a way of turning things upside down: he makes the weak strong, the foolish wise, and the insignificant matter. Anyone who wants to live a life of meaning will benefit from this gripping and insightful book. Includes end-of-chapter questions for personal study or small group discussions.
insignificant by Chris Travis was really interesting to me.  I have never worked in a school in Harlem, but I have gone through times in life where God has stripped me down to the core, and then begun to rebuild me.  I think anyone that has been in leadership has had to go through something similar and Travis writes in a way that you can identify with him in his agony and his thoughts.  Leaders learn to rely on their gifts, but what happens when they are useless to the situation, and you are forced to do things by leaning on God for everything?  This is a must read for the well-established leader.

A copy of this book was provided by Bethany House for my review.

If you are in the Ottawa area, please check out http://www.salemstorehouse.com/ for Christian books and supplies.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Icecutter's Daughter - Tracie Peterson

"As the lone female in a houseful of men, Merrill Krause dedicates her life to caring for her family and their business, as her dying mother asked. Besides, it suits her; she's never felt like she fits what most people expect in a girl--she'd rather work with her father’s horses and assist with the ice harvest. And though she’s been mostly content up to this point, a part of her wonders if there will ever be anyone who will notice her amid the bevy of brothers determined to protect her from any possible suitors.  When Rurik Jorgenson arrives in their small Minnesota town to join his uncle's carpentry business, he soon crosses paths with Merrill. But unlike other men, who are often frightened away by her older brothers, Rurik isn't intimidated by them or by Merrill's strength and lack of femininity. The attraction between them begins to build...until Rurik's former fiancĂ© shows up with wild claims that bring serious consequences to Rurik.  Can Rurik and Merrill learn to trust God--and each other--when scandal threatens their newfound love?" (Publisher's description)

I always enjoy reading Tracie Peterson's novels and with The Icecutter's Daughter, she most definitely does not disappoint.   I loved the character of Merrill.  Not being much of a girlie girl myself, I can totally relate to Merrill.  Her strength and determination to care for her brothers and father is wonderful.  I felt bad for her when Corabeth and her grandmother kept trying to make her more girlish so she would attract a guy better.    I wanted to reach into the pages and strangle Svea and her manipulative ways, but was pleased at how she turned out in the end.  I loved also reading about the process of ice cutting and the dangers it entails.  Cannot wait for the next book in the series!!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Swept Away - Mary Connealy

When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there's going to be trouble in Texas!  Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke Stone...so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.  Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won't let it go without a fight. Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can't just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she’s going to have to go with him.  But the more time Luke spends around the hardworking young woman, the more he finds himself thinking of things besides revenge. Will Ruthy convince him to give up his destructive path and be swept away by love? (Publisher's description)

This is the first book I have read by Mary Connealy.  I have always enjoyed western fiction this certainly does not disappoint.  I must say I thoroughly enjoyed every page.  It kept me hanging on from the very opening scene, right up until the end.  I enjoyed how the heroine Ruthy is not just a damsel in distress.  She's spunky and can hold her own when it comes to Luke.  I loved each of the other members of the Regulators and am looking forward to seeing them explored in future books.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Unrivaled - Siri Mitchell

"Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.  Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget"  (Publisher's description)

I loved reading this book.  Lucy is a wonderfully written character full of spunk and fight but is also blinded to how her desperation to help her save her father's company hurts those around her.  Charlie struggles to deal with reconnecting with his father who abandoned the family when he was younger but now wants him to help him run his candy company.  When Charlie & Lucy realize that the other is the competition, they struggle with their feelings for the enemy.  This is the first time I have read a book where it flips back and forth between the two main characters' points of view.  I found that it really added to understanding what drove both Charlie and Lucy and how their actions and decisions made the other feel.  The only downside of this book was that I found myself wanting to eat candy while I read it because of the wonderful descriptions of some of the candies Lucy makes.  (Made my mouth water!) 

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.