As a volunteer for Moody Publisher’s Book Review Blogger Program, I have read and reviewed the titles you will find below. I am pleased to share my reviews with you!
Not From Around Here
by Brandon O’Brien
Not From Around Here is an enjoyable and thought-provoking “road trip” through the various places author Brandon O’Brien has lived. The book’s style is much like a memoir, so Brandon’s first-hand experiences form much of the book’s message, making it an engaging and easy read. Through story and reflection, he brings to the surface both positive feelings and negative associations many of us have towards the city, the suburbs, and small-town America and the people who live in those places.
His stories are well-crafted and serve as strong points of connection for the reader and made all the more lively by his comedic retelling. As is true for most of us, Brandon’s personal growth is linked to the encounters he has with family members, friends, and total strangers.
“Through these experiences I realized that understanding other people better can result in your understanding yourself better. That’s why we need each other — to help us see what we can’t see alone.”
Brandon’s writing is disarming and reveals our own need to connect with and learn from others with humility and intentionality. These may be people who live next door or down the street but whose daily life and experience is very different from our own. These may be estranged family members or fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who we keep at arm’s length because of where they come from.
Not From Around Here is a brief read but delivers much for us to consider and act upon as followers of Christ and sojourners on this earth.
by Brian Fikkert & Kelly Kapic
True to its title, Becoming Whole addresses the subject of poverty alleviation in a holistic way. As one who would rather cling to a practical list of do’s and don’ts when faced with a difficult situation or a problem to solve, I was challenged and pleasantly surprised by Fikkert & Kapic’s thoroughness and “big picture” approach to poverty alleviation. With a strong Scriptural and theological framework, they pull back to look at God’s design for human flourishing and what it means for all of us, poor and non-poor, to live in right relationship with self, God, others and the rest of creation.
Fikkert and Kapic also address the lies and false stories of change that many of us have embraced and live by. “Exposing the misconceptions of both Western civilization and the Western church about the nature of God, human beings, and the world, they fundamentally reframe success and the path forward …” We cannot confine poverty to a physical problem that can be “fixed” with material prosperity; but we also cannot just comfort someone who’s starving with the future hope of heaven. Human flourishing and living as image-bearers of God carry weight as we consider both the physical circumstances and the spiritual condition of the people we seek to help. The gospel truth of Jesus guides the conversation throughout Becoming Whole, leaving each of us with renewed hope for wholeness as we work to help the poor.
Stages of the Soul
by Nancy Kane
As believers, we know that growth characterizes our Christian life, but we are sometimes left wondering, How does God actually change us? How do we know we are maturing in our faith?
These are the questions Nancy Kane brings to the table in her book, Stages of the Soul. Weaving in testimonies of Christians whose lives display characteristics of each stage, Nancy unpacks what maturity and growth in Christ look like – from our conversion till our death. With practical insight and Scriptural truth, Nancy also addresses the temptations and obstacles we will face as we walk through stages of obedience, perseverance, sacrifice and intimacy with the Lord.
Our relationship with Jesus is truly a journey, and throughout the book, Nancy reminds us that maturing in the Lord will look more like a spiral than a straight line – we come to love God in deeper ways and know Christ in greater measures. This truth helped me to picture my own walk with Christ as I read Nancy’s descriptions and admonitions for each stage. Some parts I found a bit dry and repetitive, but reading the personal testimonies reminded me of the nuances of maturing in Christ and the reality that we often circle back to foundational truths and see the Lord expanding what we know of His love, grace, forgiveness, etc.
Stages of the Soul addresses the development of spiritual formation in a methodical but meaningful way. In saying yes to Jesus, we don’t magically reach perfection; rather, we experience a lifetime of knowing Christ and loving Him with all that we are.
by A. W. Tozer
Tozer’s writings are consistently characterized by strong conviction and resounding joy, and Jesus is no exception! The life and ministry of Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed with truthful reverence and hopeful celebration, and Tozer does not neglect either side of the spectrum. His writing provides us with a deeper understanding of the character of Christ and urges us to respond in worship.
Tozer does not shy away from stating the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things. Your relation to Jesus Christ is really the all-important matter in this life, Tozer writes. Jesus Christ cannot be corralled into a corner of religious experience; He is the central reality of our existence and of all things. Throughout the book, but particularly in the second half, Tozer emphasizes that Christ’s nature and ministry (Jesus as our High Priest, Jesus our Risen King) cannot just be spiritual head knowledge but must impact how we live our lives as Christians.
The book as a whole is expressed with conviction and clarity. Some of Tozer’s explanations, however, are long-winded. I believe he could have written more succinctly and not have sacrificed the truth or poignancy of his statements. I also found I did not agree with a few of Tozer’s theological conclusions regarding the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity; however I respect and appreciate the explanations he provided.
Jesus is a vibrant and engaging read from start to finish. To anyone seeking to better understand and rejoice in the matchless character of Jesus Christ, I highly recommend Tozer’s work.
All That’s Good
by Hannah Anderson
Daily encountering a surge of ideas, information and opinions can leave us exhausted and overwhelmed in our digital age. All That’s Good is an honest and hopeful invitation for each one of us to pursue and rediscover the goodness of God that permeates our world and our lives.
With a personal and practical tone, Hannah Anderson leads us through the timeless truths of Philippians 4:8. She writes, with grace and clarity, that discernment is our opportunity to uncover “all that’s good” amid the brokenness and evil in our world.
The study questions and reflection points which close the book further equip us to walk forward as a Christ-follower who seeks and discerns the goodness of the Lord in a confused and chaotic world.
FTC Disclosure: I received these books for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own entirely, and I have not received any compensation.