Review: City On Our Knees

by TobyMac

for anyone who has ever wondered how they could possibly make a difference in the world, but has no idea where to begin, this book by recording artist, TobyMac would be pure inspiration.

City On Our Knees is packed with stories and real-life examples of what happens when ordinary people put aside their ordinary lives to make an extraordinary difference.

broken down into four sections, TobyMac relates the stories of some remarkable people, both from recent and past history. the first section is all about taking that first step, getting out there and beginning to make a difference in the world. part two is about leaving your comfort zone and making the dream that God has placed inside of you a reality, no matter what awaits. the power of togetherness comprises the next section, and how our efforts are multiplied when we band together. and the fourth chapter emphasizes the fact that action must be preceded and saturated by prayer.

if you don’t know what your calling is, if you are unclear, if you truly have no idea, but want to make a difference in the world, then the answer rings loudly all over the pages of this book: pray. and don’t stop praying until you have your answer.

i dare you to pick up this book. i dare you to look at the lives of these people and ask yourself if there is something, some dream that God has placed inside of you that you have been pushing down in favor of a ‘normal’ life. and i dare you not to be moved and changed in their shadow.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Review: Gracenomics

by Mike Foster

is there anything we want—or need— more desperately than grace?

and yet, is there anything we find more difficult than extending this same grace we crave to others?

this dichotomy is addressed beautifully in a book by Mike Foster entitled, Gracenomics. Foster, co-founder of People of the Second Chance, defines Gracenomics as ' the science that deals with the production, distribution and consumption of grace.' {p. 15}

unfortunately, the world we live in does not have to work hard to convince us that there isn't much grace to go around. anyone who has ever made a mistake or misjudgment only to be pounced upon by an online (or live) chorus of boo-ing and stone throwing, knows that grace isn't the default reaction when people feel wronged. But Foster, his book, and his organization strive to change that, one person at a time.

Gracenomics is packed with pithy subtitles, like 'Pez Dispensers of Grace', 'Don't Trust Your Blink Brain', 'People Are Not Evil, They Are Weak', and 'Grace is the New Black', along with thought-provoking quotes, and excellent real-life examples of grace in action. this book cannot help but inspire, challenge, convict and spur its readers on to becoming grace dispensers themselves. i know that it did all these things for me.

while this may have started out as just one of the 75 books i'm reading this year, it has ended up changing me— someone who has always struggled with both receiving and dispensing grace— in ways i cannot begin to put into words, and i have a sneaky suspicion that it's not finished with its impact on my life yet.

Review: Have a New You by Friday

by Dr. Kevin Leman

i don't know about you, but i don't need to think very long or hard when it comes to thinking of something i would like to change about myself. given that, Dr. Kevin Leman's new book, Have a New You by Friday: How To Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days might seem like just the right book to pick up.

starting on monday, he takes each day of the week to tackle a different obstacle or challenge area in life. from personality discovery to family dynamics, and from love languages to what our childhood memories tell us about ourselves, Dr. Leman lays out a journey for his readers that culminates in friday's chapter of encouraging his readers to be their own shrink, not be afraid of doing the hard work with what they have discovered over the course of the week.

my only caveat is that unless you have some serious time on your hands, even for an avid reader, getting the most out of the book just might require more than one week. there is so much to think about, not to mention the many questions and exercises that fill the book, five days may be pushing it a bit. but for someone who is intent on improving their life, this is an excellent place to begin.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Review: Choosing To See

by Mary Beth Chapman

when you decide that you're going to read 75 books in one year, you end up picking up books that you might not otherwise have picked up. the good thing about this process is that you end up have your life greatly impacted by a book you would otherwise have missed out on.

Choosing To See is just such a gem.

most everyone in the Christian community heard of the tragedy that occured in recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman's family back in May of 2008. the news that their youngest daugher, Maria, was tragically killed when their son, Will, hit her with his car. this unimaginable tragedy, parents losing one child at the inadvertent hand of another, caused many who heard of it to wonder how a parent would cope with it.

this book is the beautifully written, heatbreaking, and hope-filled answer to that question.

Mary Beth Chapman, the lesser know of these parents of six, writes a beautiful memoir of a life that didn't go exactly as planned, but even in the unplanned and unexpected parts of life, beauty can be found if you choose to look for it. Mrs. Chapman reminds us that even if life doesn't happen the way we want it to, it doesn't mean that we can give up when we face the unthinkable.

as i already mentioned, this book was a beautiful, raw, messy and joyful gift. i read it in one day, and while it is in no way comical, there were times when i actually laughed out loud. a short time later, however, i could not stop the flow of tears while walking with the family through their tragedy.

whether or not you normally read memoirs, i strongly recommend you pick up Choosing To See.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Review: In Every Heartbeat

by Kim Vogel Sawyer

given that i am not usually a fan of historical fiction, it surprised me how much i liked In Every Heartbeat.

three orphans, friends since childhood, leave the school that has meant both home and family to them to go to college together, each with their own dreams. Libby's desire is to become a journalist and travel the world making a difference. Pete feels called into the ministry. Bennett wants nothing more than to join a fraternity, to find a place where he belongs. but the attempt to reconcile the plans of the future clashes with the unresolved issues of the past, and ends up pushing these friends to the boundaries of friendship, as well as the edge of what they believe they can cope with.

even though the book has 300+ pages, i fairly flew through it, reading it in about three nights. with believable characters, each carrying their own private scars and issues from their abandonment, both towards God and others, you find yourself wanting Pete, Libby and Bennett to succeed and resolve all that holds them back.

all in all, it was a good book, and i recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Book has been provided courtesy of
Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.