Christian

Refine & Restore


Author: Rachel C. Swanson
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1344-0
Pages: 272
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
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If you’ve ever wondered Why does this Christian life feel so empty?, Rachel Swanson can sympathize. After years as a happy and fulfilled Christian, she sought answers for why she felt distant from God. Refine & Restore offers us a glimpse into her life story, and how she came to be in the place she suddenly found herself in.

Reviewing her life, Swanson realized that some of her own actions contributed to her unrest. Unhealthy friendships, body wars, lust, anxiety and depression are just some of the issues she faced in her past. But with prayer and faith in God, she made the decision to turn back to Him for healing. As she shares her own story, she gives us guidance and hope in moving away from the damaging worldly influences in our lives.

Swanson holds nothing back as she shares her own missteps along this journey. Refine & Restore is a breath of fresh air to those who also are living ordinary, mistake-filled lives – not the airbrushed, holy ones we often read about.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

True Reflections


Author: Laura L. Smith
Genre: Christian devotional
Pages: 60
Price: $10.00

Author’s website
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God may have created us, but do we really know who we are? We may know our personalities, preferences, and occupations, but do we know who we are deep inside? In this 30 day devotional, Laura L. Smith guides us through an exploration of what the Bible says about who God created us to be.

Each of these thirty devotions is designed to be completed in one day. On one page, we’re given a Bible quote, followed by the author’s musings on the topic presented, and a probing question for us to ponder. The second page offers a reflection opportunity with lots of blank space for recording our thoughts. Finally, the devotion ends on a nugget of truth for us to hold onto as we go about our day.

The Bible offers so many great affirmations about our worth to God. This 30 day devotional will help us hold them close in our hearts. I highly recommend True Reflections.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

The Unknown God


Author: Mathew P. John
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-8307-8074-7
Pages: 208
Price: $17.99

The Mosaic Course
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God created humanity, and it’s no surprise to find that He’s active in all religions – not just Christianity. In The Unknown God, author Mathew P. John shares his perspective on these world religions and how they all point to Jesus as Messiah.

Having grown up in India, John has a unique perspective of witnessing several religious practices in his home country. He looks at Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian beliefs in an attempt to show how Jesus appears in each, and how God is still using those religions to bring his people to Christ.

God sent a Gentile group of Wise Men in search of his beloved Son on the eve of his birth. These men had no Jewish upbringing, yet they knew that a Savior was to be born, as they set off to follow the star. The Unknown God provides a wonderful explanation as to how He’s still reaching the people who don’t yet know Him.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, fitness, health

Find Your Weigh (with Bible study)


Author: Shellie Bowdoin
Publisher: Source Publishing
Genre: Weight loss / Christian
ISBN: 978-971-503-442-5 / 978-9715034456
Pages: 251 / 111
Price: $13.99 / $12.99

Author’s website
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Buy the Bible study guide at Amazon

Would you like to be free of your weight issues? Do you believe that God can help you succeed? If so, Shellie Bowdoin has given us some pointers on how to let Him, as she encourages us to let go of the diet mentality, once and for all.

We all know diets don’t usually work. We go on a diet, lose the weight we want to lose, and then go off the diet, only to regain the weight. So instead of going on yet another new diet, Shellie gives us some new principles to follow – goals that redefine our process as healthy weight management. She also encourages us to journal what we’re feeling, and even provides special blank pages and some weekly reflection questions, along with her own journal as a model. The Bible study guide is accompanied by free Youtube videos, and throughout the study, Shellie shares Bible wisdom to encourage us in our efforts.

Losing weight can be a struggle, but God wants to help us in our efforts. Find Your Weigh provides encouragement and resources in making the changes we know we need to make.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

Brother John


Author: August Turak
Illustrator: Glenn Harrington
Publisher: Clovercrost Publishing
Genre: Christian living
ISBN: 978-1-945507-94-6
Pages: 48
Price: $19.99

Authors’ website
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When answering the question, “What is the Purpose of Life?” in an essay for the Templeton Prize, August Turak shared an encounter with a Trappist monk named Brother John. His essay won the contest and went on to be published in two anthologies. Readers reached out to him over the years, telling how the story had inspired them. But as it grew harder to find, Turak realized it was time to publish it as a book of its own.

Brother John is a simple, humble man who manages much of Mepkin Abbey, a 3000+ acre property run by the Trappist monks. There is no task he considers beneath him, and he’s always there to lend a hand for anyone who needs it. As Turak spends time at Mepkin, he encounters Brother John holding an umbrella one rainy Christmas Eve, waiting to walk with anyone who had forgotten his own. Struck by the way that Brother John lives his life, Turak examines his own, questioning if he has the ability to be so selfless in his giving.

Brother John offers a gentle reminder that Jesus asks a lot of us, and many of us aren’t willing to take the risk to give more of ourselves to others. What is the purpose of life? No answers are given, other than to look things square in the face and do the work we know we must do.

Turak receives a wonderful message from his spiritual director: You would not seek Me if you had not already found Me, and you would not have found Me if I had not first found you. May we all find Him in our own lives.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, Christian

Night Night Devotions


Author: Amy Parker
Illustrator: Virginia Allyn
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0890-6
Pages: 208
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
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Bedtime is a great time to ponder the goodness of God. Night Night Devotions is a collection of 90 devotions for children to meditate upon as they fall asleep.

Devotions are broken into two sections – Old Testament and New Testament. The table of contents provides the topic along with the Bible verse, so kids can choose the appropriate devotion to fit their day. Each devotion is two pages long, and includes a Bible verse, the devotion itself, and a four line rhyming prayer. Then the devotion closes with “Night Night, God” along with a message for kids that builds on the devotional topic.

Like all of Amy Parker’s Night Night books, Night Night Devotions shares positive messages about God and his love for children. This book would be a wonderful additional to every child’s bedtime routine.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls


Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  Bible
ISBN: 978-0-310-76355-0
Pages: 1472
Price: $34.99

Free coloring pages
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This beautiful NIV Bible is pink hardcover with a leather-like feel, and the book lays flat when open for ease of coloring. The pages are thick enough to hold up to colored pencil or crayon coloring, but not thick enough for markers. There are hundreds of coloring pages scattered throughout, and they are simplistic in style, suitable for younger girls. Other pages have blank lined sections for note-taking.

I colored four images in colored pencil, pictured above, and had fun doing them. They weren’t overwhelming in detail, and took less than a half hour each to color. For more artistic girls, I recommend the Complete Guide to Bible Journaling to add even more personalization to this Bible. Girls will really enjoy making this Bible their own through color.

Please be sure to enter the giveaway going on from December 2-16. I received a copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls from Zondervan (HarperCollins Christian Publishing) for this review. This post is sponsored by Zondervan.

Reviewer: Alice Berger