Category Archives: Spirituality

“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel

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20121230-204126.jpgI began this book in December 2010. My intention was to read it for a small group I was co-leading at the time. However, the focus of the group changed shortly after I began reading, and I ended up put the book back on the shelf after three chapters.

Fast forward two years. I had been eyeing this book occasionally for the past few months, and found that now was the time to finish. Once I picked it up again, it was actually easier to get into. Yes, Mr. Strobel’s writing style is very direct and full of factual information, which does not necessarily mean easy reading. But once you set that style in your mind, it’s very interesting to delve into the wealth of information he has garnered from his studies and the scholars he interviews for each chapter of this book.

I have been a Christian for many years, but I liked reading through the information in this book nonetheless. It is a good reminder in some areas and a revelation in others about the truth of the power that God embodied in Jesus, and really, the power He wants to embody in us as well. I recommend taking the time to read it.

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“Grace for the Good Girl” by Emily P. Freeman

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Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman is a look at a struggle that Christian women sometimes don’t recognize, or refuse to acknowledge. It’s that struggle to make sure that we’re always doing the right thing. Whether borne out of a need to atone for the sins of the past, or fear of not being good enough for the future, or simply the constraints of a life always lived in the mindset, many Christian women expend so much effort trying to maintain their Good Girl status. Emily takes a hard look at what that status resembles, and its underlying struggle. She then takes us beyond the Good Girl framework, into what it really means to be free to trust God with details of a Christian life.

This book is such a wonderful book. It’s relief-inspiring, really. It was eye-opening to recognize struggles I’ve faced, to see the root cause of those issues, and to learn truth that can free me from the vicious cycle of trying and failing to be good all the time. Basically, it all boils down to this: Stop trying so hard and trust God with your rest! The rest of your world, the rest of your life, the rest you need right now. You can’t get it, truly get it, unless you trust God, truly trust Him. And you can’t trust Him when you’re just trying so hard to look the part of someone who trusts Him.

Lay down your good girl tools and all the toil the bring, and rest.

Review: The Runner’s Devotional

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The Runner's Devotional: Inspiration and Motivation for Life's Journey . . . On and Off the RoadThe Runner’s Devotional: Inspiration and Motivation for Life’s Journey . . . On and Off the Road by Dana Niesluchowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Runner’s Devotion is a great weekly devotional for runners. Each devotion is broken up into seven section and includes journal space and a running log. There are sections focusing on The Runner, The Race, and The Result, and also questions to draw your attention to key points.

But this devotional is more than just a book on the physical aspects of running. Each devotion offers a tie-in from physical to spiritual exercise. The goal of each week is to encourage you in your physical race and in your spiritual race.

With 52 weekly entries, plus training schedules for everything from a 5k to a marathon, this is a great book for many runners. I don’t know that it’s so great for more casual runners (of which I am one). However, I’ve warmed to the idea of reading it before my Saturday run — it helps me focus on what I can do before I run, instead of what I can’t do.

One other thing I really like is that each of the training schedules (with the exception of the marathon schedule) includes Sunday as a rest day. Those are the first schedules I’ve seen that have that option, and they were a pleasant surprise.

If you run, or are starting to run, this is a good way of keeping on track, spirit, soul, and body.

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I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Beautiful Outlaw: The Most Human Face of All

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Sometimes we forget just how insane God’s love toward us is. Or maybe we don’t forget; maybe we just don’t want to deal with the brain-exploding truth that we’d have to deal with if we thought about it. Jesus is fully God. And he is fully man.

It’s so easy to think of him as one extreme or the other. Jesus is God: obviously. He’s so great and wonderful, out there in the distant space, being God. It’s easy to imagine him being perfect, never lashing out in sin or in pride or in fear. Of course he didn’t; He’s God.

Or — Jesus is man. Warm fuzzies all around. Hey, he was a man, just a really great guy. He bled and died; sure. That’s the point of the story we focus on, right? He died, so he must have been human. Not so much now, we think — ’cause nobody come back human.

But that’s just thing. As John Eldredge illustrates in his book Beautiful Outlaw, Jesus is God. And he is Man. That makes everything he did, is doing, and will do, so amazing.  He physically got tired. He had emotions, and he had to deal with them. He had friends, and some were better friends to him than others. He got incensed about things, and did something about it. He came face to face with situations he didn’t want to deal with — especially the situation of the cross — where he said, “I don’t want to do this.” So when he says, “there’s not anything you could face that I haven’t dealt with,” he’s not joking, or talking in some lofty God-above-it-all way. He’s really been there.

Beautiful Outlaw goes into detail about the personality of Jesus. John’s goal is for us to see him as he really is, so we know him, and so we can love him. You can’t love what you don’t know. You may think you know — I certainly get in that habit. But when was the last time you stopped and seriously thought about who Jesus is? Not just what he did, or expansive worship terms to describe him, but who he really is? When we think of and talk about Jesus, the words that come up usually don’t not include human. But are we not missing an essential part of who he is if we skip that part? And then we wonder we feel so incomplete ourselves; we were created in the image of someone, and we keep ignoring the part of him that most closely links him with us. How do we define a relationship with someone without the integral facet of that relationship?

No more, says John. now we can who we were meant to be; human, without all the trappings and bondage that sin wraps around us. Jesus was (and still is) humanity untouched by sin. When we realize that we can have the hope, through him, of being our best humanity untouched by sin as well..

Check out reviews of other chapters in the book below:

You can also check out the book’s website, and the Free Downloadable Participants’ Guide.

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I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.