At first, this book felt hard to read. Short sentences. Choppy phrases. At times, random-sounding thoughts strung together like Pascal’s Pensees. Profound but disjointed. Like reading poetry. Not an easy speed-read.
The book has more periods per square inch than most books I’ve read. As a person in a hurry, the many periods of punctuation came like speed bumps, forcing me to slow down. When I did, I found a gift.
Writers do their best thinking with a pen, and One Thousand Gifts reveals Ann Voskamp as a deep thinker. She writes her book around the theme gleaned from Greek verb, euchartiseo, a term that means “to give thanks.” She introduces the theme early and repeats it in every chapter—so much so that you can open the book anywhere and be blessed. The book could be half as long and still as profound.
Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy. —Ann Voskamp
One Thousand Gifts reminds us that contentment begins and continues by giving thanks for the blessings right in front of you. Ann did this by writing a list of 1000 “gifts” from daily life for which she is thankful.
Writing the list is a wonderful idea because it causes you to constantly look for new additions for the list. This daily assignment shapes a renewed mind, habitually searching life for reasons to thank God instead of for excuses to complain.
From the everyday context of mothering, Ann gives us the simple principle that the life we’re looking for is right in front of us—right where we are.
There are thousands of gifts from God if we will only insert many more periods in the sentences of each day.
I use Evernote to help organize my piles of papers and files at work and home. From bills to blogs, from songbooks to sermons, from cards to conference notes, Evernote has helped me go virtually paperless.
Of course, the greatest benefit of this application is its ability to find what I stick in there. It has become my digital brain—with the added benefit that it never forgets.
Because of Evernote’s optical character recognition (OCR), I can find words I’m searching for in handwritten notes and even in photographs. Any word in any picture—I can find with a few clicks on my computer or iPhone.
This provides a nice benefit for Bible study.
I’d like to show you how to use Evernote to search your Bible Atlas.
Cradle My Heart: Finding God’s Love After Abortion reaches its hands into the secret places of your heart—feeling around in the crags and cracks so deep, hidden, and dark you didn’t even know they’re there. But the probing creates a surprising result.
Kim Ketola’s authentic voice and gifted pen guide readers through the difficult journey of an honest appraisal at what abortion causes—and more importantly—at what it doesn’t have to cause: lasting and debilitating guilt.
Kim interweaves her personal story with countless others—both biblical and modern—people who have found the relief that comes from no other place.
Your worst failure can be God’s greatest redemption. —Kim Ketola
The message of hope that flows from each chapter of Cradle My Heart is that God offers genuine hope and true healing. It’s there for the taking.
This book shows you how you can have it.
Exploring Christian Theology (Bethany House Publishers, 2014)
Most theological texts seem to use doctrine as a sleep aid. Dull and dry, these books hide the truth behind the reader’s yawn.
How refreshing to read Exploring Christian Theology! With an appropriate balance of readability, clarity, and humor, Drs. Holsteen and Svigel have made the key doctrines of our Christian faith accessible—without compromising orthodoxy.
Truth should never leave us yawning. This book makes me want more.
Most of us give Christmas gifts that are quickly forgotten. After the iPhone gets cracked, or the DVD gets watched, or the sweater gets snagged, they all end up at the landfill. This year, why not give a gift (or ask for one) that will last a lifetime?
(Photo: by Carsten Tolkmit. Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Bible Lands study tools make great gifts because they take your personal Bible study to the next level. What’s more, they don’t wear out.
Here are my top 5 recommendations this year for gifts you’ll enjoy giving (and receiving).
For many years, December showed up and I realized I had read very few books that year. This year, I thought I’d try to read more. I set a personal goal to read 50 books by December 31.
It was a crazy goal because I had “no time.” With a busy family, a full-time (plus) job, a demanding blogging and writing schedule, and lots of home projects on my plate, I held the goal loosely—but pursued it eagerly.
Amazingly, this week I completed the goal. (If you’re interested, I’ve listed the 50 books at the end of this post.)
But more importantly, I want to show you how I tackled the goal in order to encourage you that you can read more than you think you can.
You really can.
I would also love for you to tell me how you read books and what books you enjoyed this year.
In a world of get-rich-quick schemes and scams, it’s refreshing to read some common sense about money.
Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover walked me, a skeptic, step by step, from reluctant reader to Dave Ramsay fan. It’s easy to see how so many people have come to sing Dave’s praises. His method for financial freedom is simple, but it isn’t easy. Each chapter contains testimonies from those who have used the system and benefitted from it.
The “makeover” includes these steps, which I’ve paraphrased:
When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.
This colorful book has more than great photographs. It carries with it inspiration for its reader.
Following the stories of how 21 very different people chose to step out beyond mediocrity and make their mark, Make Your Mark reveals that normal people can be used by God to make a difference. From well-known individuals like Mark Burnett and Roma Downey and Lecrae to lesser-knowns like Katie Davis and Gary Haugen, the believable takeaway from this softcover inspiration is that no matter who you are, you can make a difference.
The foreword by Jeremy Cowart says it well:
“This isn’t a book to celebrate the best in others as much as it is a book meant to call out the best in you. . . . It doesn’t matter who you are, how big your audience or your bank account, you can make a mark.”
Cowart is a photographer who captured each person’s portrait with him or her holding a frame of the “mark” they have made—and are making.
Stories of extreme sacrifice and love surface page after page. In between each mini-biography is woven the entire text from the Book of Mark—a nice touch. Especially since the key verse for the gospel mirrors the lives of those featured in What’s Your Mark?
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
The book urges readers to visit www.shareyourmark.com and leave how they are leaving their mark.
For me, the book’s purpose seems to have helped me take the first step. After reading the little volume, I prayed: “God, how would you have me make a mark for your glory in my life?”
You can read the book in one sitting, but I doubt you’ll be the same if you do.
Having enjoyed Eric Metaxas’ book on Bonhoeffer, I was eager to review his latest volume, 7 Men.
The book covers seven famous men in history whose faith made a difference in the way they lived.
Metaxas expressed it this way: “I was looking for seven men who had all evinced one particular quality: that of surrendering themselves to a higher purpose, of giving something away that they might have kept.”
- George Washington
- William Wilberforce
- Eric Liddell
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Jackie Robinson
- Pope John Paul II
- Charles Colson
Each chapter of 7 Men includes a brief introduction why Metaxas chose the man, the story of what made the man great, and—by indirect suggestion—how we can live by their example.