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Friday, September 16, 2016
The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? by Rhett Smith, is an examination of the role of anxiety in the life of a Christian. Rather than dismiss anxiety as something sinful or un-Christian, Smith offers a way to reshape anxiety into something God uses in our lives.

Smith's own struggles with anxiety greatly informs this work. This makes what he says have a ring of authenticity that allowed me to more fully accept what he says about anxiety. Those who haven't struggled with anxiety or depression can offer words of wisdom and advice, but there is something about these words coming from a fellow traveler on this specific road that adds weight. If he can live with his anxiety and allow it to shape him in positive ways, than maybe I can too. His work as a marriage and family counselor is also helpful as he has been able to see the principles he discusses play out in the lives of others as well.

The Anxious Christian is full of scripture, words from other authors, and Smith's own life experiences. He offers practical advice both about how to deal with anxiety as an individual, and how the Church as a whole should deal with it. Each chapter ends with discussion questions, exercises, and a prayer that relate to that chapter's specific content. The questions and exercises are helpful for either individual or group use.

Overall, The Anxious Christian is a great read. Those who struggle with anxiety will appreciate it for its sense of "me too" as well as its practical tips. People who don't struggle with anxiety, but want to better understand those who do will also find it informative. This is also a helpful tool for anyone who does any kind of counseling.

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, September 13, 2016
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alex Kershaw is a riveting story of the efforts of one particular family who was part of the French Resistance during WWII.

Dr. Sumner Jackson was an American who had served in the American Red Cross Hospital of Paris during WWI. He was married to a Swiss woman named Toquette and they had a 12 year old son named Phillip at the time of WWII. As the Nazi's marched toward Paris, Jackson was put in charge of the hospital as many of his colleagues decided to go home. Dr. Jackson helped the cause of the Resistance before the Nazis even got to Paris. He hid an American spy until he could escape under new papers.

I don't want to spoil what happens, so I'll stop there, but the rest of the book continues the story of this remarkable family and how each one contributed to the cause of defeating the Nazis. Kershaw tells their story in such a way that one feels one is reading a thriller. The suspense builds as the story unfolds.

Anyone interested in WWII in general, or the French Resistance in particular will find this a thrilling read. Even those who don't consider themselves history buffs will enjoy Avenue of Spies. It is a very entertaining story that has the bonus of being about true heroes.

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

Me Too: Experience the God Who Understands by Jon Weece is about God's ability to relate to human suffering. Far from being a distant presence who can't relate to the pain humans go through, God became man through Jesus Christ and as Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (ESV)

God's people are to model themselves after Him. In regards to suffering, God doesn't call His people to grit thier teeth and bear it. Nor does He ask them to paste on a smile and pretend everything is OK. The church should be a place where broken people walk with one another through the messiness of life. This is Weece's point. Everyone suffers, and because of that, we can give one another the gift of saying "Me too." I've been there. I hurt and suffer just like you.

Me Too is broken into three parts. They are, "What Jesus Did," "What Jesus is Doing," and "The City - What Jesus Will Do." Weece uses stories and scripture to illustrate how God and His people suffer, and how we can help one another through the hard parts of life. 

Anyone who has suffered will find something to relate to in Me Too. God intended us to live in community so that we could carry one another through the times of suffering. This book is part of that community.

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
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape by Jessica Luther is one of the most thorough and thoughtful books I have ever read. The relationship between violence, specifically against women, and sports, especially football, has never been more in the news and discussed than it has in the last few years. However, often it is discussed and that is it. No real change is made, or even suggested. The systems that protect those who commit violence remain unexamined, and those who profit from these systems continue to live their lives as if there is nothing wrong. In Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Jessica Luther takes a stand to change all of that.

Luther uses her journalistic skills to examine the relationship between college football and sexual assault. She uses cases going back to the 1970s to illustrate various aspects of this relationship. After a detailed introduction that defines terms and sets the stage for the conversation, the book is split into two halves. The first half examines "the playbook" as it stands. The playbook is how teams, universities, the NCAA, the media, and fans have responded to allegations of sexual assault against players in the past, and for the most part, how they continue to respond. Each institution is culpable in perpetuating systems that shame victims and go out of the way to protect perpetrators of violence. The second half of the book offers thirteen suggestions to change the playbook as it stands.

I appreciate that Luther tackles such an important topic. She doesn't shy away from difficult subjects that most would rather avoid. I also really like that she offers potential solutions, and doesn't just point out problems. She admits her own struggle in dealing with sexual assault allegations as a lifelong college football fan. Nothing can change if it remains unexamined or discussed. People who are willing to put money or even just the sometimes almost religious experience of being a fan of a huge football program ahead of the well-being of non-football playing students and others who don't have as much "value" have to own that they are part of the problem. Luther does a great job of pointing out how various groups are at fault, and how each group can change. Violence in our culture is not just the responsibility of those who commit it; everyone can be a part of the solution is we are only willing to ask, "How?"

I recieved this book for free through LibraryThing. I was not required to write a review at all, much less a positive one.