Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | April 16, 2019

What trees reveal about God

forest  From the very beginning of creation, trees have played a major role in the history of our faith. From the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to the book of Revelation when Jesus calls Himself the Root and the descendant of David (Rev. 22:16), the Bible gives us clues to our understanding of God.  The Bible itself is made from tree products. It is called the Tree of Life in Proverbs 3:18.

While the topic itself is intriguing and I appreciated the depth of insight into the hidden language of trees throughout Scripture, the message of environmentalism and environmental rights that Matthew Sleeth preaches in “Reforesting Faith” are a little strong and forceful.  At times, it seemed like his environmental stance took precedence over his theology of trees.

Even so, Sleeth does a good job of researching and presenting the information.  “Reforesting Faith” would make a good book study but should be read alongside the Bible to check for accuracy.  I struggled with the first few and last few chapters, but all in all, Dr. Sleeth’s book is an okay study resource.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Penguin Random House as part of Waterbrook Multnomah’s Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | April 13, 2019

‘Choosing Real’: A devotional thought journal

bekah  “Choosing Real” is a “Devotional Thought Journal”, created by Bekah Jane Pogue, for the purpose of initiating true intimacy between you and Jesus.  It is a companion to her book of the same title.  I did not read the book.  Although the journal can be used without it, I’m sure it would be beneficial for understanding some of the quotes used, but not necessarily.

One page features an inspiring Scripture while the opposite page features a quote from Pogue’s book which can be used to facilitate your journaling experience.  There is a lot of white space to fill, but Pogue does an outstanding job coordinating Scripture and journal prompts to get you started.  You may even find it difficult to stop writing at the end of two pages.

Pogue teaches us that when we put God first, even in the unexpected moments, He can lead us through life’s unplanned circumstances so we can celebrate how He shows up in even the smallest details.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing, Inc. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | April 13, 2019

A story that needs to be told…

Bradley Patricia Bradley’s “Justice Delivered” could have been ripped from today’s headlines about human trafficking and the trauma left in its wake.  Carly Smith was kidnapped and sold to a sex trafficking ring.  After 16 years, she had finally escaped and started a new life, but she was never able to let go of her fear or her obsessive desire for justice.

Because of her trust issues, especially with men and law enforcement, she refuses to file a report or tell anyone of her experience.  When her niece is kidnapped, she must overcome her fear and learn to trust the people who are trying to find her.

I struggled with this story at first.  Two pages in and I was emotionally vested in the characters and the story.  I knew what was going to happen (it’s on the back cover), and I was concerned that things were not going to turn out okay.  The problem with human trafficking is that “real life” stories rarely end well.  How could Bradley pull it off?

But halfway through the book, I discovered that the true depth of courage is moving on, doing the hard things and learning to trust others. Can you really trust Patricia Bradley though?  Few suspense writers can weave a story that captures your mind and your heart and keeps you guessing, but Bradley offers plot twists that will keep you reading long after reasonable people would find a bookmark and go to sleep.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, as part of its Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | April 13, 2019

Seven Disciplines for the Believer’s Life

elliot  Though originally published in 1982, “Joyful Surrender” is a timeless treasure written by former missionary Elisabeth Elliot.  This simple book is a compilation of wisdom that only comes through total surrender to God’s will.  The seven disciplines outlined by Elliot are just as valuable today as they have always been, but our instant gratification culture has made it easy to overlook them.

Using personal anecdotes and Scripture, Elliot shares the importance of disciplining your body, mind, honor, time, possessions, work and emotions.  Elliot shares how practicing these disciplines will lead to greater joy as we surrender to God’s leadership.  We will live more fulfilled lives if we understand what allowing God to control our lives really looks like.  Elliot guides and encourages readers to seek obedience to God and gives us a glimpse into her life and spiritual journey.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, as part of its Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | March 26, 2019

Measuring your spiritual growth

stages Christians long for a deeper relationship with God.  Nancy Kane’s “Stages of the Soul” teaches us about the five stages and how to identify where we are. The five stages are “Our First Love”, “Obedient Love”, “Persevering Love”, “Sacrificial Love” and “Intimate Love”.  Each chapter ends with a summary of key characteristics as well as thought-provoking discussion questions. The appendix includes a chart to help you decide what stage you are in on the soul stages journey.

“Stages of the Soul” is a comprehensive and concise study of spiritual growth. It is a great resource for your personal study as well as in a group.  If you are in a mentoring relationship, this book would work well in a one-on-one mentoring partnership.  Kane not only explains each stage in depth, but she also gives advice and wisdom on moving through each stage.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Moody Publishers, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

madeforthis Jennie Allen helps us answer life’s ultimate question, “Why am I here?” in her new book, “Made For This”.  This 40-day interactive study blends two of Allen’s previous books, “Anything” and “Restless” and creates an insightful study that can be used individually or as a group.

This interactive book will help you find your purpose through the “Believe”, “Respond” and “Read & Reflect” portions at the end of each day (chapter).  Each day builds on the last and by the end of “Made For This”, you should be able to pray the “Anything” prayer with confidence and enter into God’s purpose for your life with a spirit of excitement and adventure rather than holding on to your insecurities and clinging to the security of the world.

I loved the format of the book allowing for more writing room on the discussion pages.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Booklook Bloggers, as part of Thomas Nelson‘s Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | March 19, 2019

The delight of receiving God’s promises

fish  Using the stories of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and 4,000, Troy Schmidt shows us how God makes and keeps His promises and does even more than we can imagine.  “Fish Sandwiches” takes us back to two miracles that showed how Jesus provided an abundance out of a few fish and some loaves of bread to feed His flock.

When we lack something we need, Jesus doesn’t just take notice; He wants to do something about it.  Sometimes He provides it without us being aware of it while other times He waits to be asked.  He not only provides for us, but He also gives in abundance.

Not once does Jesus look at our need and His provision and tell us He doesn’t have enough. Not once does He overlook us or fail to provide for us.  His provision may look different from what we want, but Jesus will never fail us.

Schmidt teaches us about nine promises of God that are presented from the miracles of feeding the multitude.  If you are hungry for God and searching for answers, “Fish Sandwiches” will fill you with God’s Word. Schmidt pulls you into Scripture.  He doesn’t just write about it.  He shows you God’s promises in the Bible.  If you are looking for a guide that will walk you through the truth of Scripture to show you eternal truth about how much God loves you, “Fish Sandwiches” will do that and more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | March 19, 2019

Second chances and new beginnings

HOPEHARbor    In “Driftwood Bay”, tragedy brings together three families who moved to Hope Harbor for a second chance and a new beginning.  Jeanette retreats to Hope Harbor to create a new life after a personal tragedy leaves her refusing to risk getting close to others. Dr. Logan West and his niece are trying to start over again after the death of his mother and brother.  And a persecuted Syrian family of refugees are trying to find peace and make a new life in Hope Harbor.  Jeanette and Logan find themselves pulling together to help this family adapt to their new country and new language and culture while at the same time exploring their own emotional needs.

I love going to Hope Harbor where Irene Hannon’s characters find healing, hope and a fresh start.  I especially enjoyed the bigger role Charley played in this story.  I’m hoping that one day Hannon will bless us with Charley’s story of how he found Hope Harbor and why his second chance included fish tacos and two seagulls named Floyd and Gladys.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, as part of its Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | March 12, 2019

Prayer really does work

breakthrough Now a major motion picture, Joyce Smith’s inspirational story about how her son was saved by a simple prayer in a hospital ER, “Breakthrough”, recounts how her 14-year-old son’s death and coming back to life drama and his recovery after he fell through an icy Missouri lake.

Smith explains how she never gave up on God or her son and how over the course of his recovery, John made remarkable progress thanks to God’s hand on his life.

“Breakthrough” is a powerful testimony to prayer and how God works in our lives when we have faith in Him.  The movie releases on April 17 in theaters.  I believe the movie will do a better job of presentation and reach a lot of people.  The book went into a lot of detail than was necessary.  It read like a daily diary which is helpful for Smith to process what she and her family went through, but the day-to-day details and medical procedures were just too much information.

Because of the lengthy discussion of his medical recovery process, the book was, at times, boring and dry, but the story itself is incredible and inspiring and needs to be shared to emphasize that God still works miracles today.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Hatchette Book Group, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program.  The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | March 11, 2019

A marriage that brims over

emptiedWritten by Wynter and Jonathan Pitts, “Emptied” is about the intricacies of marriage and what makes a marriage full and satisfying.  Men and women bring certain expectations into marriage, but oftentimes these expectations are all about themselves and what they want.

Wynter and Jonathan were no different. Each came into marriage from a different background–Wynter from a single-parent home and Jonathan from a two-parent family.  Over a fifteen year marriage, they learned how to die to themselves and be a servant-leader in their family.  In “Emptied”, they share their story, their struggles, their victories and their marriage.  They offer wisdom and advice to husbands and wives who want marriages that are full, passionate and satisfying.

“Emptied” is one of the best books on marriage that I have read. Their story is entertaining and keeps you interested while simultaneously feeding you biblical principals on marriage.  Each chapter ends with a chance for you to think about what you’ve discovered and a prayer for you and your marriage.

Sadly, the same day that Jonathan emailed the final manuscript to the publisher, Wynter passed away at the age of 38, but she left behind a great legacy of faith.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free as part of Lindsey Hartz Creative Author Ambassadors Launch Team.  The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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