Unshakeable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God

By Max Lucado

A Review By Tom Kennedy

Lucado’s new book is a celebration.  It is his 40th one.  As it says on the jacket, “He is American’s bestselling inspirational author….” The book started high on the ECPA top 50 best-selling list of Christian books and at the time of this review is #4.  People love to read Lucado and he continues to inspire.  In this book Lucado uses a promise scripture at the beginning of each chapter, followed by illustrations about how this scripture has worked itself out in the lives of certain individuals.  Lucado illustrates how we, too, can partake of God’s promises and occasionally confronts us about our lack of faith in them and Him. If you are a Lucado fan, you will love this book.  If not, it will still inspire you.

Reviewed on November 2, 2018.

 

A few of the structural things I liked about the book:

  • Starting each chapter with a “promise” scripture
  • Staying focused on supporting scriptures within each chapter
  • I love that he includes group discussion questions for each chapter at the end of the book.

 

Great quotes from Lucado’s hardback book:

  • From the first chapter of Scripture, the Bible makes a case for the dependability of God, p. 5.
  • God’s goal is simply this: to rub away anything that is not of him so the inborn image of God can be seen in us, p. 19.
  • Were Satan to read the Bible…he would be utterly discouraged, p. 30.
  • Your spiritual account has been funded….You will never exhaust his resources, p. 38
  • He [God] gave not only forgiveness for your past but also authority in the present and a role in the future, pp. 52-53.
  • Pride is the hidden reef that shipwrecks the soul, p. 64.
  • Because Jesus is human, he understands you. Because he is divine, he can help you, p. 78.
  • You’ve won the greatest lottery in the history of humanity, and you didn’t even pay for the ticket! Your soul is secure, your salvation guaranteed, p. 102.
  • You have never lived one unloved day, p. 123.
  • Fellowship is not always easy, but unity [through the Holy Spirit] is always possible, p. 134.
  • [At the great judgment] From his throne Jesus will forever balance the scales of fairness, p. 145.
  • Your soul separates you from animals and unites you to God. And your soul needs an anchor. Your soul is fragile, p. 156

 

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely

By Lysa TerKeurst

A Review By Lysa TerKeurst

This is TerKeurst’s second Christian best seller. She was a New York Times bestselling author of The Best Yes.  In Uninvited she focuses on how women deal with rejection based on their past abuse and/or rejections.  I have not read her first book, so my review will be based solely on reading this one (paperback version).

 

Statements in the book I liked:

  • No matter how saved, sanctified, mature, and free we are, there are misalignments embedded in our souls. 3
  • Negative self-talk was rejection from my past that I had allowed to settle into the core of who I am. P. 6
  • The mind feasts on what it is focused on. P. 24
  • Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life like abiding, delighting, and dwelling…..P. 37
  • They say time heals—and I think this can be true—but only if that is the goal here: healing. P. 68
  • I can’t fully continue to fully embrace God while rejecting His ways. P. 80
  • No amount of outside achievement fixes inside hurts. P. 98
  • And you know what felt like an utter betrayal? God could fix this, but He didn’t. p. 105
  • One rejection is not a projection of future failures. P. 130
  • …six out of ten women say they feel like they want to change something about their lives at least occasionally after looking at social media. P. 152
  • Even if life handed me love, I suspiciously waited for it to be snatched away. 195.

 

My concerns about the book:

  • Some people may be full of God’s grace and still be super sensitive.
  • There is a lack of emphasis on God healing through involvement in the church.
  • I also wish more was said about going to a licensed Christian counselor. Many people refuse to share their hurts until they go to a professional.
  • The bonus chapter was very scattered.

 

My Take: This book is a good inspirational read and has some good inspirational suggestions, but it is less step-by-step practical that hurting readers might need.

Total Money Makeover

By Dave Ramsey

A Review By Tom Kennedy

Dave Ramsey is well-known Christian financial adviser who wants you to get out of debt as soon as possible.  His book was #7 this month down from #4 last month on the Bestseller List.*  He provides a radical guidance that has worked for thousands of those drowning in debt.  What you need to add to his principles is a zealous commitment to follow the plan. If so, soon you too can call his radio program and shout out to the listeners, “I am debt free!”

Statements I like from this book:

  • This Book is NOT Getting Any Complaints or Criticism…from people who do it. P. xix
  • If I can control the guy in the mirror, I can be skinny and rich. 3
  • Taking a car payment is one of the dumbest things people do to destroy their chances of building wealth. P. 30
  • …living right is not complicated; it may be difficult, but it is not complicated. P. 50
  • …the mismanagement of plastic (credit cards) is robbing you every month. 67
  • Budgeting was the best and the hardest part of the whole process. 91
  • …3 percent who had written their goals achieved more financially than the other 97 percent combined! P. 93
  • The first major Baby Step to your Total Money Makeover is to begin the emergency fund. P. 100
  • An obvious step to working the Debt Snowball is to stop borrowing. P. 114
  • …the definition of “Creative Financing” is “Too Broke to Buy a House.” 138
  • The average student paid $5,000 more to live and eat off-campus that to live in the dorm and eat cafeteria food. P. 155
  • If you walk your way up these Baby Steps, you can send your kids to school (college) without debt. P. 164.
  • Paying cash for a home is possible, very possible. What’s hard to find is people willing to pay the price in sacrificed lifestyle. P. 177
  • …I can find only three good uses for money. Money is good for FUN.  Money is good to INVEST.  And money is good to GIVE.  182

 

Some concerns I have:

  • Ramsey’s financial style is for people who are overwhelmed with their money management and under tons of debt. I would consider this approach best for those people.  In my opinion, those who are more disciplined from the beginning can have two or three credit cards, but only if they charge very little and pay off all the debt at the end of the month. But Ramsey is right, it is a temptation to charge too much.
  • I would like to see a chapter on how the local church can help in money management. Many churches have his video program and have helped thousands of people through horrendous debt.

 

Recommendations: I give this book 4 ½ stars out of 5.  God wants you to control your finances. Debt is an evil enemy.  Following Ramsey’s advice will lead to peace of heart for you and your family.

 

*Evangelical Book Publishers Association: top 50 Christian Bestsellers, September 2018.

 

Girl, Wash Your Face

By Rachel Hollis

A Review By Tom Kennedy

This is an exciting book that is at the #1 spot on Christian best sellers.*   It is primarily for those women who are over-involved and feeling guilty about not being the best (or even good enough) in today’s world of marriage, parenting, and business.  Rachel Hollis came from an abusive background and her way to compensate was to work harder than anyone else.  She has had tremendous success in her marriage, parenting and work life.  Yet she had to go into therapy to learn to let go of the perfectionism that was also destroying those three areas of her life.  Rachel deals with some important Christian issues about self-care in an enjoyable biography/teaching manner.  If you are struggling with the similar issues, this book may be good for you.

 

Statements I liked from the book:

  • I recognized a great truth: if I wanted a better life than the one I’d been born into, it was up to me to create it. 6
  • Slow down your ‘yes’. Only commit to things you know you can accomplish and because they’re incredibly important to you. P. 18
  • I struggle to celebrate or enjoy any victory, no matter how big, because I’m always mindful of something bigger I could be doing instead. P. 22
  • I did a lot of therapy. Then I did some more.  29
  • …just because you believe it, doesn’t mean it is true for everyone. P. 40
  • People will treat you with as much or as little respect as you allow them to…. P. 51
  • I committed to my orgasm. 79.   (If you are married, this chapter is worth the price of the book.)
  • Constantly castigating myself for my choices wasn’t fair to my children, and it definitely wasn’t fair to me. P. 97
  • …the most beautiful things in my life were never on my to-do list. 110
  • Remember Philippians 1:6. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion.” P. 122
  • SOMEONE ELSE’S OPINION OF ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS. P. 146

Some cautions:

  • Rachel is high energy. Most people are not high energy.  We should not feel guilty or apologize for not being able to accomplish the number of things that high energy people can.
  • I am also concerned that involvement in the church was barely mentioned in this book. According to the Bible our earthly terminus is the local church.  Of course, much of Rachel’s abuse came from church leaders, but the local church is very important for the earthly survival of real Christianity.

I give this book four stars out of five.  If you are a wife, mother, and work outside the home, I recommend it highly.

 

Reviewed by Tom Kennedy, Ed.D.

*Evangelical Book Publishers Association: top 50 Christian Bestsellers, September 2018.

Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People

By Bob Goff

A Review By Tom Kennedy

This book was at the number one spot on the top 25 Christian books* and was also a New York Times bestseller.  Hint: people like it.  I was amazed at this man’s ability to meet people and get great projects done.  His faith shines through each page.  Goff is not an American.  He is an honorary consul to the U.S. from the country of Uganda.  His normal life is a hilarious mixture of reaching the unreachable and interacting with them as he thinks Jesus would.  He is a strong advocate of Becoming Love.  In the last few chapters of the book he tells of his efforts to put an end to the common practice in Uganda of witch doctors kidnapping children and cutting off their heads or, for boys, their genitals.  This was done for evil, spiritual purposes.  He helped stop this practice by having a witch doctor arrested and convicted.  Later he led the man to Christ.  That witch doctor will live in prison the rest of his life but is now sharing Christ with the other prisoners.  He and Goff became good friends.

Sentences I loved:

  • Loving people means caring without an agenda. P. 48
  • When I meet someone who is hard to get along with, I think, Can I love that person for the next thirty seconds? 54
  • He [Jesus] wants our hearts, not our help. 72
  • …loving people the way Jesus did is always great theology. P. 83
  • God doesn’t like us more when we succeed or less when we fail. He delights in our attempts. P. 102
  • We are not held back by what we don’t have, but what we don’t use. P. 117
  • He [God] won’t try to shout over all the noise in our lives to get our attention. He speaks most clearly in the stillness desperation brings. P. 136
  • …we will become in our lives what we put in our buckets. I knew I needed to fill mine with patience. P. 160
  • Many of us think our biggest mistakes as disqualifying us; God sees them as preparing us. P. 180-181

Who would like to read this book:

  • For all Christians to see how one Christian can change his world.
  • For all Christians to expand their ministry, if they do not have one (see Concerns below)
  • For extraverts who need an extra inspiration.

Concerns I have:

  • “Sadly, sometimes I only pretend to care for people who are hurting. The way I know this is simple—I don’t do anything to help them.” (My concern is that not even Jesus would heal all of the hurts of people when he was on the earth.  We should help hurting people but not to the point of burning ourselves out and then retreating from future help.  My advice: pick your ministries and work with a passion.  Encourage other Christians in other ministries.  More is accomplished this way.)
  • Goff is high energy. For those of us with low energy, his type of life can be overwhelming and intimidating.  My advice: Just use your talents till you are stressed, but not overstressed.
  • He does a poor job of linking the church to his ministries. I think this is his biggest flaw.
  • He takes phone calls from prisoners. My advice: I strongly recommend against taking phone calls or trying to help prisoners who randomly call you.  I have worked in a prison before.  Some of these people are very dangerous.

 

Recommendation: buy and read the book.  I give it four stars out of five.

 

*based on sales data from Christian Book Expo: https://christianbookexpo.com/