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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks introduces a new character into the world of forensic art. Taking a break from Gwen Marcey, Parks introduces readers to Murphy Anderson, an artist with a mysterious past and a need for cash. This leads to a few lies that land Anderson a job as a forensic artist. The first job leads to a second as things spiral out of control and bodies start piling up around her.

Throughout this book, the reader goes on two journeys with Anderson. The first is discovering what in Anderson's past is driving her current actions. The second is how the case she's involved in relates to a mystery in the area's past. As people start dying, both Anderson and the reader are unsure to which mystery the deaths are linked. Parks leaves that mystery until the very end, wrapping everything up in the last few chapters.

Overall, Formula of Deception is an enjoyable read. I wish there had been a been more detail given at the end when everything is wrapped up. The ending felt a bit rushed and not completely wrapped up. However, that doesn't take away from the excitement of the rest of the book.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Monday, July 9, 2018
One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love by John M. Perkins contains the hard earned life long wisdom of a man who has spent his entire life working to repair and strengthen relationships between blacks and whites in America. The main institution through which he has worked is the church. If members of the church of Jesus Christ can't get along, how can we expect people outside to?

Perkins knows what the church is capable of and uses the book to encourage her in that way. He has forged relationships with men and women of all races through the shared connection of a faith in Jesus Christ. The church has led in this area in the past in America, but has recently not been the leading force it once was. Perkins uses One Blood as a call to the church in America to once again step to the forefront in this vital issue.

One Blood is easy to read and understand. It includes a discussion guide in the back with helpful questions to discuss the content of each chapter. There are also profiles of several pastors who are leading thriving multicultural churches throughout America. They all prove that multicultural churches can happen in any area of America, as long as those leading it are intentional about pursuing people of all races.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, See Part 255
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Friend of Sinners: Why Jesus Cares More About Relationship Than Perfection by Rich Wilkerson, Jr. uses the Bible to highlight the fact that while on earth Jesus was more interested in relationships with people than rules and regulations. He is the same today as He was then.

Jesus is more concerned with relationship because He knows that once one is in relationship with Him, change comes as a natural product of continually seeking Him.Wilkerson uses both personal anecdotes and parables from scripture to illustrate this. One of the main themes of Friend of Sinners is that Jesus is very accessible. Humanity and religion have foisted rules and regulations upon Him that can serve as impediments. However, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and He wants nothing to stand in the way of Him doing so. 

Wilkerson's writing style is fluid and very accessible to anyone, regardless of where one might be in his/her spiritual journey. Friend of Sinners serves as both a primer for those who know nothing about Jesus as well as for a good, solid reminder for those who have known Him for years. I would recommend this book to anyone willing to read it.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in A Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman examines how Christians should engage in the public square in today's extremely divisive political culture.

Leeman uses various groups in today's society such as the local church, Bible, and government to talk about how Christians should handle politics in America. Each chapter focuses on one of those aspects and defines both what that particular group or thing is and is not responsible for. The church has a different God ordained function than the government does. In the same way, a pastor has a specific focus when it comes to leading his/her church than he/she does in his/her personal life. There are things that all Christians should fight for or against and others that we should be willing to peacefully disagree with other believers about.

How the Nations Rage is helpful in that doesn't tell the reader exactly how to think about any particular political issue. Instead, it provides a framework of realms of responsibility both corporately and individually that serves as a helpful guide. Anyone interested in how Christians can thoughtfully engage in American politics today would benefit from this book.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255R
All Together Different: Upholding the Church's Unity While Honoring Our Individual Identities by J. Brian Tucker and John Koessler is a treatise on how numerous people with sometimes conflicting identities can come together as one body in the local church. This book identifies and examines personal and group identities using spiritual, social, and psychological parameters.

This book is somewhat of a tough read. There is a lot of good information, but it is densely packed which prevents an easy sort of flow from developing. It probably would be easier to read in chunks rather than several chapters all together. However, once one knows this, there is a lot of helpful information in here for church leaders in various contexts.

The main point of this book is that the overarching and most important identity of an individual in a church is that of a follower of Christ. All other identities are important and some must be addressed, but only that of a follower of Christ should be considered ultimate. This is how so many differing identities can become one - by uniting in that of a Christian.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, See Part 255
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Jesus Calling Adult Coloring Book: Creative Coloring & Hand Lettering by Sarah Young is a beautiful collection of coloring pages centered around scriptures and quotes from Sarah Young's popular devotional, Jesus Calling.

Most of the designs include pictures of nature. Insects, plants, and birds are the most common elements. There is an even balance between the number of pages centered around Bible verses and those centered around quotes from Jesus Calling.

Scattered throughout the book are hand lettering pages that have quotes on which one can practice doing different kinds of lettering. There is also a practice page in the very back with the entire alphabet of one particular design of letters. It would be easy to make copies of this in order to practice until one felt comfortable enough to design quotes on one's own.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
A Contrarian's Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Larry Osborne is the book every American Christian should read though few would think to look for. Osborne goes against conventional wisdom with this book that helps those who may feel they don't fit in the American church find a home.

Most Christian living books advocate for some kind of program to follow, or steps to take to strengthen one's faith. Osborne takes the opposite approach. He points out that since people are so different in wiring, strengths, and likes, it would be silly for God to expect everyone to relate to Him in the exact same way. A Contrarian's Guide to Knowing God gives the reader permission to pursue God in ways that are most effective for the individual.

This book was previously published under the title Spirituality for the Rest of Us. This is an updated version with a few new chapters. It is easy to read and accessible for any reader. A Contrarian's Guide to Knowing God is full of practical advice that should benefit anyone who chooses to engage the content.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255