Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book Review: In Search Of Wisdom: Life-Changing Truths in the Book of Proverbs by Joyce Meyer

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:6 

Publishers Description

#1 New York Times bestselling author Joyce Meyer takes us on a journey through the wisdom of Proverbs that leaves us transformed and prepared to face daily choices and challenges.

The book of Proverbs is a treasure trove of spiritual and practical wisdom that equips us to live our best lives. Knowledge is important, but if it isn't converted into action, it fails to create transformational change in our lives. It is important to gain a thoughtful and practical understanding of the seven foundational principles in the book of Proverbs:
Discernment, and
Fear of the Lord.

If we desire to possess these qualities, we must make a commitment to a deeper understanding and implementation of these values in our daily lives.
Featuring inspiring questions to promote thoughtful reflection, In Search of Wisdom will enlighten you with God's understanding and teach you the foundational principles and secure God's help in practicing them.

My Personal Review

In Search of Wisdom: Life-Changing Truths in the Book of Proverbs by Joyce Meyer serves as a beautiful map of the book of Proverbs!

This is an excellent book that imparts practical wisdom on how to make daily decisions that will grow us closer to the Lord and keep us physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe. In the author’s usual manner of concise Biblical teaching, Joyce Meyer clearly defines that in order to obtain wisdom, we must first understand that by definition, “wisdom is not just the ‘gathering’ of knowledge, but the ‘proper use’ of knowledge." 

The work is organized into chapters that coincide with the book of Proverbs. The idea is that there are seven basic foundational principles to gain wisdom. If we can practice these principles, we will gain a deeper Biblical comprehension and thereby strengthen our walk with the Lord, which in turn, will help us manage our lives better. The principles uncovered within the book of Proverbs are: wisdom itself, understanding, prudence, knowledge, discretion, discernment, and the fear of the Lord.

What I love about this latest teaching treasure, besides it’s extremely timely release in a day where we are surrounded by confusion and turmoil, is the unashamed way that the truths of the Bible are addressed head on. Joyce does not mix words about hot topics, but rather addresses them directly from a Biblical stance. She reminds us that the fruits of our actions when we follow the guidance within the book of Proverbs, will be a blessing to not only our own life, but the lives we come in contact with on a daily basis. 

My take away from the book, In Search of Wisdom is threefold. First, the book serves as an uplifting reminder that God has given us an instructional manual within the book of Proverbs that is as relevant today as it was at the time of it’s initial writing. In our shifting world of unstable ideas, it is a beautiful gift to find a concrete list of behaviors that will help us live safe, content, abundant lives. Second, this latest work by Joyce Meyer could easily be used in a small group Bible study of Proverbs. There is enough material within each chapter to spark lots of exploration of God’s Word and open dialogue about how that applies to our lives. Finally, the book is one of encouragement and inspiration. As time goes by and life delivers new challenges, the reader will find new nuggets of truth and fresh perspective to handle many situations; it is a book that can easily be reread many times over! 

Thank you to FaithWords a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. for this complimentary review copy of In Search of Wisdom by Joyce Meyer. I was not required to give a favorable review, but to simply read the work in it’s entirety and give my honest opinion.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Book Review: The Return by Nicholas Sparks

 Book Review: The Return by Nicholas Sparks

The Return is a great reflective read!

Publishers Description

In the romantic tradition of Dear John, Nicholas Sparks returns with the story of an injured Navy doctor -- and two women whose secrets will change the course of his life in this #1 New York Times bestseller.

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, North Carolina. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he'd inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

Tending to his grandfather's beloved beehives, Trevor isn't prepared to fall in love with a local . . . yet, from their very first encounter, Trevor feels a connection with deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson that he can't ignore. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she's hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road. Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather's death, but she offers few clues -- until a crisis triggers a race to uncover the true nature of Callie's past, one more intertwined with the elderly man's passing than Trevor could ever have imagined.
In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie's secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.

My Personal Review

The Return by Nicholas Sparks is an entertaining and engaging read! 

I patiently waited until Veterans Day to post this review. Why? Because it's main character is a Navy Veteran who struggles with PTSD. I can't think of a better day than today to champion a book that will not only entertain, but also bring potential help to a population of our countries's heroes who might suffer with emotional trauma. Now, lest you think this is a self help book, think again, it's definitely not! True to his previous works, Sparks will not disappoint you as he holds to a model of chivalrous relationships and endearing romance woven throughout the book.
The author manages to craft a story of mystery, love, and hope while gently giving glimmers of perspective into the life of an injured war veteran, Dr. Trevor Benson, the narrator in the story. His voice is very authentic as he shares his trials with both the physical and mental manifestations of PTSD. 

The gem in this work, however, is the way in which the author cleverly interjects tools to assist those that are experiencing this delayed stress syndrome. The novel, The Return utilizes the main character, Trevor, to model a very healthful lifestyle of conscious choices to regain his life back. The tools presented to the reader include, but are not limited to Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and honest evaluations of one's own feelings of fear. 

The acknowledgment that some of the greatest challenges to a healthy mental life circle around the fear of rejection, judgement, anger, and disappointment is clearly presented in this book. Recognizing that we can only control our own behaviors and as such we are not responsible for other's behaviors is also a theme tucked away within the story. 

Here's my takeaway after reading The Return. I love it! It's good for someone who is wanting to escape and relax with a good mystery, as well as those introspective folks like myself who are always thinking beyond the words. You really get two for the price of one in this book...entertainment and advice! The Return captures your attention from the beginning, as a trail of clues grows throughout the chapters and the reader is left to figure it out. There are also stepping stones of hope carefully placed at equal distance throughout the book. The author's mission to impart wisdom with threads of tangible help to victims of PTSD while still entertaining the audience is priceless.

Yep....this is a good one. It's strikingly obvious to me why The Return by Nicholas Sparks is on the "#1 New York Best Sellers" list, along with all of his other novels; It's uplifting, relaxing, tender, intelligently written and has a steady rhythm that 2020 so desperately needs! Enjoy!

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing an imprint of Hachette Book Group for the complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review of this book, but simply asked to read the work in it's entirety and give my honest opinion.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Bible Review: NIV Life Application Study Bible~Third Edition

Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.


    Trusted & Treasured by Millions of Readers for over 30 Years, the Tyndale Life Application Study Bible Is Today’s #1–Selling Study Bible
    Now thoroughly updated and expanded, offering even more relevant insights and spiritual guidance for applying God’s Word to everyday life in today’s world. With a fresh, new interior page design and comprehensively updated study notes and features, this Bible will help you better understand God’s Word and provide you with practical ways to apply it to your life every day. The Life Application Study Bible—It’s how to do life!
Study the stories and teachings of the Bible with verse-by-verse commentary. Gain wisdom from people in the Bible by exploring their accomplishments and learning from their mistakes. Survey the big picture of each book through overviews, vital statistics, outlines, and timelines, and grasp difficult concepts using in-text maps, charts, and diagrams.

Features Include:
  • Enhanced, updated, and with new content added throughout 
  • Now more than 10,000 Life Application® notes and features 
  • Over 100 Life Application® Bible character profiles 
  • Introductions and overviews for each book of the Bible 
  • More than 500 maps & charts 
  • Dictionary/concordance 
  • Side-column cross-references 
  • Index to notes, charts, maps, and profiles 
  • Refreshed design with a second color for visual clarity 
  • 16 pages of full-color maps 
  •  Durable Smyth-sewn binding, lays flat when open
  • Presentation page
  • Single-column format
  • Christian Worker's Resource- a special supplement to enhance the reader's ministry                          
  • Full text of the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV)
  • Black Letter
  • Text Size: 8.5 Point
  • Note Size: 7 Point

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Beautiful two tone brown with stitching,
this Bible looks great on a table or
even better....in your hands!
The NIV Life Application Study Bible~Third Editionfor the remainder of this review referred to as the "NIV LASB~3rd", is an incredible update to your previous edition study Bible, or will make a wonderful first study Bible for anyone who has not had the opportunity to own a "study bible" up to this point. With a claim of "over 75% of the Bible's features being application oriented", relating scripture to your life has just taken on a whole new meaning!

Diving right in, I want to mention just a few things right off the top about the NIV LASB~3rd. First, I want to clarify that this is a study Bible with emphasis on application in your life and as such, when you put it side by side with non-study Bibles, you will immediately see a huge difference in organization of content, as well as, a greatly increased volume of notes, maps, outlines and other tools to assist your comprehension of the history and context of the designated passages. Secondly, if you are comparing this Bible to other study Bibles that are not assigned the "life application" title, you will also see stark differences in the notes, as the non-application Bibles will not generally address the final question of "how does this passage relate to me?" The NIV LASB~3rd will answer that question and so many more!

I want to examine the NIV LASB~3rd from two perspectives. The first one being that of comparison to a general non-study NIV Bible. The second angle is to differentiate the NIV LASB~3rd to it's previous editions, begging to answer the question, "do I really need to update my older NIV LASB edition?" Spoiler alert...the answer is...yes.

Here are a few of our Zondervan NIV Bibles.
So much goodness!

Let's start by exploring the features of the NIV LASB~3rd to reveal the immense difference in this Bible versus a non-study Bible. The NIV LASB~3rd has such incredible fluidity and includes all of the following categories in a beautiful color scheme that sets the Bible passages apart from the commentary making it easier to access the information. Each book is set up in the exact same way, so before long your muscle memory is taking over and your eyes are looking right to the section you want without having to hunt all over and flip back and forth from page to page. It has an unending supply of resources to assist you with your search for truth. It's a beautiful thing to behold! Obviously a non-study Bible is also filled with truth, it's just more challenging to sift, sort, comprehend, and apply.

The NIV Life Application Study Bible~3rd Edition Features include:

  • Notes
  • Book Introductions: divided into a timeline, vital statistics, overview, blueprint, megathemes, and maps.
  • Outline
  • A Harmony Of the Books of Kings & Chronicles (3rd Edition only)
  • A Harmony of the Gospels
  • Personality Profiles
  • Maps 
  • Charts & Diagrams
  • Cross-References
  • Textual Notes and Section Headings
  • A Christian Worker's Resource (3rd Edition only)
  • Master Index
  • Dictionary/Concordance

There's the question again, do you need to update your older edition (1988 and forward) NIV LASB with the new 3rd Edition? For that answer, this interview (click here to read) with the general editor of the NIV LASB~3rd, Ron Beers, on the Bible Gateway Blog may give you some clarity. He likens this new Bible edition to the Smart Phone updates that keep us current with the times. I enjoyed this analogy and I would agree with him, a new updated edition will only serve to enhance your experience with this Bible. 

Here's why I think it's a great investment. There are enough intriguing updates to make it worth your money to purchase this latest version. One of the newest features is 
"A Harmony Of The Books Of Kings & Chronicles." This new section provides a timeline of the books of Kings and Chronicles. It does an excellent job to assist the reader in understanding the interaction between the timing, location, and accomplishments (albeit good or bad) of each king's reign. It even identifies which prophets were prophesying during the leader's rule. It is a fantastic systematic summary of the northern and southern kingship reigns with plenty of reference scripture to lead you on an in-depth search, if you so desire.

There is also a new feature titled: "A Christian Worker's Resource". It's located towards the back of the NIV LASB~3rd directly before the 365 Day Reading Plan and Master IndexIt has been created to equip and empower the Christ follower for witnessing, mentoring, and even leading a small group. One of the sub-sections within this titled, "So You Have Been Asked To Speak", provides ideas for leading a small group or Bible study. The direction found within these two pages claims that "you'll be able to put together a talk that is both informative and challenging-to any audience at anytime." While I haven't had the opportunity to utilize the plan yet, I love the ideas and structure and now have a great place to quickly access when the need arises.

Side by side comparison of NIV LASB~1st
with the NIV LASB~3rd Edition.
Besides the addition of several new features, I also recognized the consistent subtle content differences between the Personality Profiles under the headings: strengths-accomplishments and weaknesses-mistakes within the 3rd edition as compared to the 1st edition. This is a feature that the old edition has, however, the new edition is using a bit different language, some extra characterizations, and a few noted omissions from the older version. 

Let's compare one of the profiles so you can see what I mean. We'll look at the "Eve Profile". 
The first edition states that Eve "displayed certain characteristics of God", whereas the NIV LASB 3rd omits these words. The first edition states "The female shares in the image of God", compared to the 3rd which states, "Women share equally in the image of God". Finally, the "occupation assigned" for Eve in the older edition defines her as a "wife, helper, companion, co-manager of Eden". The new edition only states that she is, "The Co-Manager of Eden". These are intriguing differences. There are enough distinctions that I want to ponder them further.             

The content of the NIV LASB~3rd has a plethora of historical information, commentary, cross references, notes, maps, charts, diagrams, and leadership tools. Clearly the expansive team of contributors are a group of individual professionals who are dedicated to the Word of God. It even includes an abbreviated 365 Day Reading Plan that is a perfect "tour of God's Word", as it leads the reader from Genesis to Revelation in a "streamlined look at the entire Bible". 

The design, physical appearance and functionality of this specific Bible is  gorgeous. The "lay flat" design provides a completely horizontal page by page viewing when the book is open. The distracting arching and flopping of pages during reading is a thing of the past with this quality work. The pages with their two tone color, as described in the product description, truly does help to clarify what is part of the outline and  feature content as opposed to the scripture presentation. 

There are really only two items about this Bible that are a slight issue, but one has a solution and the other one will actually develop your gift of patience. The first challenge is the font is crazy small at 8.5 for the scripture and 7 for the notes. Now, having said that, if you have "young eyes" and some bright light, this won't bother you at all. However, if you have "older eyes", say over half a century like mine, then you might want to consider getting the large print option, although you will have to wait a bit longer because it doesn't release until 4/2019. The second difficulty is that the pages are incredibly thin. I'm sure that was necessary to try to keep the book more compact, but the result is that the pages stick together while you're trying to turn them. This isn't a deal breaker though, because again, you will develop perseverance and self control while you carefully peel apart each page. Once you have gotten through every page of the Bible, they no longer do that....so problem solved...read the whole Bible!! :) 

In conclusion, I am not a theologian, nor am I currently attending seminary. I am, however, a lover of Christ and continually desirous of growing closer to Him. I have found incredible insight through studying the Bible and immeasurable peace by "hiding His Word in my heart" through scripture memorization. If you want to deepen your relationship with the Lord, spending time in His Word will certainly help you attain your goal! The Bible literally tells us that the Word of God is God! If you're looking for a great Study Bible for yourself, or perhaps someone on your Christmas list, you should look no farther; the NIV Life Application Study Bible~Third Edition will not disappoint you! It is an excellent Bible and after many hours of study and comparison, I would highly recommend it!! 

Also, keep in mind that not only will your money be going towards something that could potentially enrich your love of God and open your eyes to how Christ is moving in your life today, but in addition, every NIV Bible you purchase helps www.biblica.com translate and give Bibles to people in need around the world.  

It has been an honor and privilege to be able to review this NIV Life Application Study Bible~Third Edition as part of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid  (BG2) program. Thank you to Zondervan and Tyndale House Publishers, Inc for this complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest assessment of this work. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Help! My Bible is Alive: An Interview With Nicole Unice by Jonathan Petersen of Bible Gateway

Psalm 27:13 (NIV)

Jonathan Petersen, Content Manager for BibleGateway.com, recently did an interview with Nicole Unice, author of the book: Help! My Bible Is Alive! 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God's Word.  The link to that interview can be found by clicking here.

Reading the article challenged me in many ways! One area that piqued my interest was her discussion about Bible study habits. She speaks of our western culture and what I would term as a "pathological distraction" as she references the statistic that the average American attention span is merely 9 seconds....less than a goldfish! Ouch!!! That's kind of scary! 

This trend is a difficult finding as it relates to growing closer to the Lord, because as she shares, we need to spend some dedicated time in the Bible each day in order to consistently study the scripture and hear the voice of God. Without this focused time in the Word of God, we will end up missing the guidance and blessings that He intended for each of us to receive.

If you would like to learn more about the book: 
Help! My Bible is Alive and how to set up a consistent "distraction free" time with the Lord, access her interview here. It's definitely worth your time and attention! 

Do you ever find it difficult to concentrate and still yourself as you're reading the Bible?  It is a challenging task to consistently take hold of the living Word of God and allow The Holy One of Israel to transform our lives for His glory, but with the right tools, I believe it's an obtainable goal! 
Enjoy your day today...and wherever you are, take time...hopefully more than 9 seconds.....to enjoy God's Word and observe the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Book Review: Forties on Fire: Honor Your Moods, Rediscover Your Sexuality, and Thrive Throughout Your 40s by Kathryn Kos

Proverbs 3:8
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Publisher's Description

Take Your Forties by Storm with Simple, No-Nonsense Steps to Balance and Wholeness

Your 30s and 40s are loaded with surprises. More fatigue. Less “You Time.” Trampled romance. Dissatisfaction with your body.  Mood swings. The often overlooked season of perimenopause lurking around every corner.
Sound familiar?
Now raise your hand if you wish you could move past these symptoms of imbalance and live the life you’ve always dreamed.
You would, right?
Good news: Kathryn Kos is here to help, with her myth-busting, action-boosting book, Forties on Fire: Rediscover your Sexuality, Learn to Honor Your Moods, and Thrive Throughout Your 40s and Beyond. 
Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with an M.Ed. in Rehabilitation Counseling and by taking a functional approach to health, Kos helps her clients find the root causes of their conditions to help them find healing once and for all.
Now she’s bringing these insights to readers, in a compassionate, compelling guide jam-packed with tips you can put to use today.
Inside this book, you’ll learn:
  • How to honor your emotions without letting them rule your life
  • How to turn back aging – mentally, physically and emotionally
  • Why sunlight matters so much to your health
  • How to recapture your sexuality and feel like a teenager again (in a good way)
  • How to add simple movement back into your life
  • The importance of R&R in grounding and fulfilling you
  • The role of perimenopause in how you feel and how you can embrace it in your life
  • … and more.
For anyone interested in simple personal development, holistic wellness and vibrant sexuality, this is a must-read. Filled with simple steps to help you take action and improve your own life, you’ll find it easy to rediscover the real you.
If you’re ready to wake up with pizzazz and reach bedtime with enough energy left to read or … ahem … anything else, it’s time you hear what experienced nutrition and wellness counselor Kathryn Kos has to say.
Ready to meet the strong, cheerful, actualized woman you know you can be?

Don’t wait. Buy this book NOW to build the happier, healthier, stronger business you’ve always known you could have.

My Personal Review

This book is a great resource for women as they travel into the perimenopauseal phase of life!

I loved this quick read, Forties On Fire written by Kathryn Kos. Her credentials as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with an M.Ed. in Rehabilitation Counseling bring a validity to her message that transfers easily to the reader. From the beginning of the book, where the author explains what is happening within our bodies during perimenopause, and throughout the remainder of the book, which is directed toward healthful habits to ensure a smooth transition into the next season of life, you will find a steady stream of applicable information.

Kos’ communication style is a good balance between lay person terms and clinical jargon. She manages to educate us without tipping over into verboseness and confusing the reader. She infuses encouragement and wise counsel throughout the book. One such nugget was, “How we feel does not define who we are. You are not your thoughts!” This is a truth that I think many women are still trying to figure out. She challenges us to find the root cause for our emotional state of being, because there is definitely a mind-body connection. Her message that, “You are always enough,” is a breath of fresh air.

The summation of Forties on Fire is that our spirituality, nutrition, supplementation, sex, grounding, prayer/meditation, sleep, play, and sunlight all work together to provide a beautiful canvas for an eminently salubrious life. Kos has done the research in these areas and provides the reader with plenty of references for further study if so desired. It appears to me that each one of the afore mentioned categories could be a book unto themselves, and if I’m not mistaken, I think that is the point of this book….to dig a little deeper and own your health!

I am a Registered Nurse with over fifteen years experience working in our local hospital’s Cardiac Intensive Care. I have always found it odd that we are called “Healthcare” Workers. “Healthcare” Workers isn’t really what we are at all. In fact, we are actually “Diseasecare" Workers. We take care of people with illnesses and chronic diseases when they reveal their ugly heads. What if we could get to a place where we rarely ever needed the hospital? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?! Reading this book could be a step into your whole person health. Kos’ gives a message to find a Functional Medicine Practitioner. That is excellent advice! Forties On Fire by Kathryn Kos is a spring board into a healthier version of you…the whole you…mind, body, and spirit.

Thank you to Archangel Ink for this review copy of Forties on Fire: Honor Your Moods, Rediscover Your Sexuality , and Thrive Throughout Your 40’s by Kathryn Kos. I was not required to write a favorable review, but simply to give my opinion of it’s content upon a thorough reading.