Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur

Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur is a book which gives a brief bio/overview of the life of several Bible characters which the author has labelled as heroes. This list contains many of the "obvious" ones (if you've been brought up reading/hearing the Bible) -- such as Joseph and Esther and some others who you perhaps wouldn't think of in view of this title -- people such as Enoch and Onesimus.

In the introduction of the book the author defines his meaning of the word "HERO" -- not as it's used often today, sports heroes, superheroes, movie stars, etc. but rather as "Men and women whom God used in unique and powerful ways to accomplish His purposes. Their exploits vary greatly, yet the common thread that runs through all of their testimonies is faith." He also acknowledges that, "They had quirks, flaws, and shortcomings. But through the power of God, they were used in mighty ways to accomplish His purposes and bring Him glory." He goes on to introduce 12 Bible characters and show how they fit this definition of hero.

I will tell you that my favorite parts of this book were the introduction and the epilogue. Sections which some people skip right over. But -- in my mind, the most powerful parts of this book. I had some trouble with some of the chapters -- the beginning chapter -- Enoch -- had a lot of info from sources other than the Bible and got all twisted up with stories of other individuals, just picking here and there some segments of Enoch. In my mind this was not a good start to the book. One of the "heroes" was Miriam, and I don't really think I would have included her in with this definition of a hero.

I will say that the book is easily-readable -- written in a way to be able to read it clearly and easily. There are a lot of historical (not from the Bible) details given, and for some of them, this part is how the author calls them heroes (James especially).

Did I like the book? Well, I liked the intro and epilogue. The rest was fine. It was a good overview/review of several Bible characters. Having been brought up in a Christian home and church, much of what I read in this book was familiar. To someone with a different background it may be more "wow". As for me, I probably won't read it again.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cowboy candy!!!


We had a huge crop of peppers this year -- lots of jalapenos and banana peppers and some othe hot ones that I got from my father in law -- little cute red and green round ones. Now, my family is not the fire-breathing-pepper loving type, and we had made salsa with lots of the peppers, but they just kept producing and producing!

So what to do with such a bounty? A few weeks ago I found this recipe for "cowboy candy" which is pretty much candied/pickled jalapenos. We tried making some and a few weeks following the canning we tried them and they are DELICIOUS!!! Not too crazy-hot, but hot and crisp.

So -- when we had to bring all the remaining things in from the garden before an overnight heavy freeze, we were set for lots more of this delicious use of peppers!

(by the way, in case you're wondering what I did with all that eggplant -- baba ganoush!! I'd never had it before, but it was such an easy recipe and DELICIOUS also -- we made lots and froze the extra. Here's the recipe we used for that -- here.

Coming Home by Max Lucado -- disappointing!

The book Coming Home by Max Lucado is written as a children's book. It has nice illustrations and a cover that catches the eye of little boys (or girls) who are interested in pirate/lost at sea type stories. As I read the note inside the front cover, written to parents, it still sounded good. It was to be an "allegorical tale about the second coming of Christ." Interesting.

Unfortunately, to me, that was just about as far as the "positive" thoughts on this book go. The story jumps right in to a setting on an island where a captain and two young boys live. The captain is leaving and the boys will be left until he returns. All is gray on the island except for their hair and eyes. They have all lived there for fourteen years. They are to remain on the beach, the safe area, and not venture into the forest. The forest is where all the other living creatures reside (and they are all gray as well -- due to the eruption of a volcano long ago (Okay, my mind races with questions -- fourteen years? what did they eat? how did they survive the seasons? especially if they never see/hear etc the other creatures? How is everything still covered with gray? etc etc.) Okay, it's an allegory, I get that--fairy tale like I suppose?

Anyhow, those questions fade into head-shaking as the story goes on. The twin boys are left alone with a little mantra to repeat and with each other's eyes and hair to look at. One twin ventures into the forest and turns grayish. The other waits faithfully for the captain's return. The captain returns and the faithful boy joins him; the unfaithful one also joins them in the boat; the captain touches him and he returns to color. And they sail off.

Ummmm. . . .Max Lucado? What are you telling us? I am confused. Is the allegorical correlation of the return the Lord's return? or death? And are you saying that the choice of following God can be made after that point? Doesn't sound like the message I'd expect from you. And it is not the message I want to pass on to anyone else.

So -- did I like the book? No.

Would I recommend it? No.

Would I give it as a gift? No.

Will I read it to my children? No.

Allegory aside, I did not even like the story! I surely will not recommend it.

I received this book as a part of the homeschool review program of Crossway books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The One Year Be-Tween You and God by Sandra Byrd

I am always looking for devotional books for my daughter, ones that she will like and use and learn from. This new publication by Tyndale, The One Year Be-Tween You and God is written for the pre-teen, early teen age that she falls into right now. I was excited to get a chance to get a look at this book and to review it!

First off, the book looks lovely, it has a gorgeous leather cover and actually kind of looks like a Bible. It's not too large, and definitely cute. So there's the superficial part :) . (But hey, it appealed to my daughter!!)

Inside the book are devotionals for every day. They begin with a question. . .one that is meaningful to girls of this age -- for instance, "Dear God, my brother and I don't get along. Seriously. What should I do?" After the question is a discussion of Biblical answer to the question, with a Bible verse which relates written out near the bottom of the page. There's also a question for thought or response.

Reading through the topics, they seemed very much the things that my daughter is concerned with. Things like discipline, fairness, styles, debt, siblings, parents, emotions, and on and on. Topics that are right there at that age.

I was very pleased to see that the topics are right at that age level. Not way above, not things that older teens are dealing with, but those just entering the teen years.

As far as my daughter's thoughts on this book -- It is a great book, a great devotional, short sections, good topics, cute cover, not too weird topics. I will be able to use this every day.

I am very pleased with this book, and I will be stocking up on it -- it's a great book to use as a gift for many of my nieces and also my daughter's friends. I would recommend this book for sure.

There ARE a few things I wish were a little different -- I wish there had been a section for journaling or writing out their thoughts/responses to the questions. I also wish the Scripture verse featured more prominently on the page, rather than in a small corner near the bottom.

Nevertheless, I still think this is a great tool to aid in a young girl's daily walk with God.

GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have the opportunity to give one copy of this book away to a blog reader! Please enter this giveaway by becoming a follower (if you aren't already) and by leaving a comment on this post! Make sure that I have an email or a way to contact you if you're the winner! I will choose a winner on October 22, 2012!

**I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale publishers for the purpose of this review.

Great for God by D. Shibley

Great for God by David Shibley has the subtitle "Missionaries Who Changed the World." The book is made up of short summaries of 23 different missionaries. At the start of each section is the missionary's name, their date/place of birth, their date/place of death, their "legacy", and a quote by that individual. After this is a narrative section of a few pages which gives a short summary of their life as it relates to missions.

I was pleased with this book in a sense. At first I was disappointed because each segment is so short (!) and I really wished to read more about these people, more details. I think I am just used to reading missionary biographies (such as the Christian Heroes Then and Now) which tell the life story, using an entire book on one individual.

After I had reconciled myself to the fact that this is meant to be a brief introduction/overview of different missionaries, I came to see it as a book about missions/missionaries rather than about individual missionaries. That statement may sound a little confusing, but what I meant by it is that throughout reading this book it will be obvious that there is no ONE type of missionary, no ONE way of "doing" missions, no ONE set pattern, no ONE background, etc. Missionaries are people who spread the gospel, in many different ways, in many different places and settings. This book introduces several different missionaries, some well-known, others less-known. If you are a person like me who likes to read more than just a few pages about these individuals, there are books available elsewhere to expand on the names you read about here.

I would recommend this book as a picture of missions and missionaries. It's also useful in introducing the names of missionaries you may wish to learn more about.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

knitting! :)

Well, somehow I have become inspired to knit a little! I know how to knit, but haven't really enjoyed it lately/in the past -- but I've been truly enjoying knitting lately! I made a really quick and easy hat -- found the pattern here. Cute, huh? (here's my version)

To make this a super inexpensive project, the yarn which I used was actually from an ugly wool sweater that I bought at a rummage sale for the purpose of using the yarn :) So glad to have this cute hat and lots of yarn left for other projects!

My knitting frenzy is continuing -- I made my husband an easy men's hat and am in the middle of a super cute fish hat for my youngest daughter -- will post a pic later!