Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book/DVD Review-She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice

Nicole is a gifted author, Christian counselor and youth leader who shares her struggles with control, insecurity, comparison, fear and anger (along with unforgiveness). In her experience, she has found that these "issues" seem to be common among most women and this book/study was written to help the reader live in victory vs defeat. The book includes 14 chapters that can be read by itself or can be used along with the 6-session DVD. As mentioned before the topics range from dealing with fear and anger to giving up control. Each chapter concludes with a prayer and heart probing questions with space to journal as well as a link to bonus YouTube videos.

In the first chapter- Cheap Plastic Souls, the following questions really struck home, "If the grocery store cashier or your kid's teacher or the last waiter who served you described you with complete honesty, would loving be there first word he or she would use? Or would you be known by something else..." Wow, well in all honesty, I know that the word loving would not be their choice. Granted this was on the heels of a hectic/frazzled grocery trip with my 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 year olds. But in past few years, I have been challenged with the fact that so many well-meaning Christians don't exude true biblical love-love according to Luke 10:27, Matt 22:37-39, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I have been working on this as part of my sanctification and really striving to understand and praying about how this looks in one's everyday life.

I don't often read or use The Message version of the Bible simply because it is such a loose paraphrase of the word of God; I believe it ought to be used more as a devotional than a study tool, but the way that Eugene Peterson puts Matthew 5:3 is very personal and resonated in my heart. "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." This is in place of the NIV of Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Again, another challenge to give up and surrender the so-called control that I enjoy in this life and allow God to be the one in charge.

In addressing the topic of insecurity, Nicole states this, "How difficult it can be to not base our purpose and identity in whatever consumes our time and energy. Yet there is a core of us that isn't about motherhood or even womanhood. It's the part of our should that is created to find rest in God alone." I find that reassuring and peaceful knowing that I don't have to strive to do or strive to be; I just need to rest in God alone. Makes me think of the song In Christ Alone:

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Again, quoting Nicole on the topic of insecurity she states, "This is the discipline of our souls, to continually remind ourselves of the hope and security that comes from Jesus' work in our lives."

In the next topic, comparison, Nicole writes about the fact that we cannot"love our neighbor" as Christ commands when we continue to compare ourselves to those around us. This game we play is a "major hindrance to a loving life with Christ." In reality, the only standard Christians ought to have is the word of God. A challenge is to ask God what He sees when He sees you/me or as in Psalm 139, "Search me and know me..." After all, He is our Maker, He formed me and created me just as I am in order to do good works that He has planned in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

On the topic of fear, Nicole challenges readers to stop striving to relieve anxiety because, "We miss opportunities to love, to grow and to serve. We take the energy and passion God has put in us for change and we turn it into a cycle of self-protection." Thank goodness for sanctification, God doesn't want us to remain stuck in endless cycles of anxiety and fear.

Once again the issue of love and being loving comes up when we address the issue of angerJohn 13:34-35 says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is impossible to experience both love and anger simultaneously because "once anger takes root, it chokes out love." So when we are in that moment of decision, we have a choice to explode or suppress, good news we can have victory (Isaiah 31:21-And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left). With God's help we can replace our angry feelings with "spirit-born love." 

In conclusion, Nicole writes the following in the chapter titled: Living the love (with issues), "I started to wonder if being a Christian was supposed to truly transform my life-not just give me some rules to live by but create a life bursting with love. To see others, not for their annoyances or criticisms or weaknesses, but as individuals fiercely loved by God. To respond to people, not through my own personality or filter, but by the directives of the Holy Spirit and my subsequent obedience, to compare, to act in anger? In retrospect, I'm learning that perhaps the biggest problem was never my issues. My biggest problem was the lie I so desperately wanted to believe: that Jesus works despite my issues or around my issues. But now I believe the truth: he wants to work right through my issues."

Like I mentioned before, this is the process of sanctification. God won't leave us the way we are because He loves us. Let's embrace that and allow Him to work through our issues and not use them as excuses; so that we truly can live in victory!

I cannot give this 5 stars or recommend to everyone for the mere fact that Nicole is a Christian counselor which means that she incorporates secular psychology in her understanding of these issues. But, if you read it with a biblical filter, you can glean some good points, as with anything- read with caution and compare everything to Scripture. 

I received a copy of "She's Got Issues" book and DVD from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review-The 60 Minute Money Workout by Ellie Kay

Ellie Kay is a good author with some practical advise. The premise behind the book is that you or you and your sig other sit down once a week for a timed financial overhaul session. She provides all the information, quizzes and online worksheets necessary for each workout. There are 13 topics/workouts that you can pick from and then you can choose the order and even skip some if they don't apply. I think the topics she covers have the potential to really transform an individual or a family's financial outlook. I mean who doesn't need some tweaking of the budget every now and again. I really appreciated her specific guidelines for the workout, including stating something positive to yourself or your partner to begin and end the session.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DVD Review-Being Kind and Caring Chuck Swindoll's Paws & Tales #8

The DVD has two 25 minute episodes that are opened by a short introduction by Chick Swindoll. This particular DVD is the 8th in a series. The main characters C.J. and Staci, best friends and school-aged bears who are learning what it means to live like a Christian. The first episode: The Hullabaloo at Hunker Hill was mostly about a bully named Hugh who gets blamed for a pretty serious accident involving Staci and a soapbox derby car. Ultimately, it is a story of forgiveness and is based on Matthew 18:21-22. The second episode: The Great Go-Kart Race was all about working together. C.J. has organized a club made up of his friends, but everyone has their own idea of how the club's go-cart should look. They end up splitting up and coming up with some pretty sorry racers that each have their issues. In the end, they decide that working together is the best way and is based on Matthew 6:14.

Our family is not familiar with this series, but it looked good. So, I watched this DVD with my three year old son. He really liked the colorful characters and I liked the message. I also like that they didn't show a "fight" scene between two of the kids. There is also an option to print some resources on the computer which I plan on checking out.

Overall, I give it 4 stars and may check out other titles in this series.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this DVD in return for this blog.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review- Heroes of the Faith Ken Taylor Bringing the Bible to Life

Back in 2005, I was working as a physical therapist in Carol Stream, IL and I treated a patient whose name I associated with some Christian literature, I thought some children's bibles. His name was Ken Taylor and I remember my boss telling me that he was a very important patient. Until reading this book, I had no idea the impact Mr Taylor has had on the 21st century. You see, he started as director of Moody Press and helped get it up and running. During his time there, he felt there ought to be a Christian organization for booksellers to network, he called it the Christian Booksellers Association which has been hugely successful.
Mr Taylor admitted that he had difficulty reading and understanding the KJV and began the incredible task of translating the bible into a thought-for-thought paraphrase; he called it The Living Bible which has sold over 40 million copies. He started with the Epistles and called them the Living Letters, which was personally endorsed by Billy Graham. In order to get it printed though, he needed a publisher, thus was born Tyndale House Publishers. He named it after William Tyndale, who died at the stake after translating the Bible into English. The Living Bible was published in it's entirety in 1971, turns out my parents have a copy that I read when I was a teenager and we have a copy on our shelf!
Needless to say, I wish I knew more about him while I was treating him. Little did I know that he would soon pass on to glory. On June 10, 2005 Mr Taylor went home to be with the LORD. Recently, I started blogging for Tyndale and am amazed at the lives that continue to be changed because of one man.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review-The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy

                                        Check out the video and personal challenge by Coach Dungy

This is the second book that I have come across by Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker. And for those of you who don't know, he coached the SuperBowl XLI winning Indianapolis Colts, who beat my beloved Bears in 2007:( Previously, my husband and I had listened to Quiet Strength on Audio CD, so I was familiar with Coach Dungy's background and his relationship with Tyndale.
The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge is a daily devotional follow-up to his book Uncommon; their goal is to have individuals take the 365 day challenge to spend time with God everyday for an entire year. Which is a wonderful challenge! They have established a website and registration to "take the challenge" and receive encouraging words from Coach Dungy. The book targets 7 categories, my personal favorite is the faith topic, and each one is written about once per week.
Coach Dungy and Mr Whitaker use stories about coaches, athletes (they really like Tim Tebow), sports analogies, metaphors nearly everyday-which is good if you are a sports fan. They also fill the pages by sharing many personal stories and use the New Living Translation for the daily verse, personally not my favorite version, but it does the job. They conclude each day with a challenge or a tip.
Overall, I think it is a good book and would recommend it for a male sports fan, young or old, who are looking for an easy read to get them started in the right direction of actually studying God's word daily; I would give it 4 stars. Enjoy!
Happy reading,
*almost forgot: the first person to leave a comment will receive a certificate for a FREE copy compliments of Tyndale House Publishers*

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.