Wednesday, October 14, 2009


John Bevere has a wonderful talent for inspiring Christians to examine their faith.  His writing is always a challenging “I dare you to go deeper” approach that will set a spark in your spirit or wake you up to what you could have.

Extraordinary: The Life You’re Meant To Have is a well-written challenge to surrender the simple in search for the fantastic.  It’s an attempt to stir Christians to make use of the gifts and abilities God has placed in them.  It’s a call to be more than just the average joe.  Extraordinary sparks hope inside the reader and wakes up the dreams we have undermined with doubt and fear.

The first chapter perfectly expresses Bevere’s heart and purpose for writing.  This chapter ends with a prayer.  Each chapter is written with a very personable voice.  Chapters are concluded with questions for review and reflection. 

I always feel a little bad when I read books by John Bevere.  Somebody worked a lot of hours to create the pages and bind them into this wonderful looking book and there I sit with my pen in hand marking it up from front to back.  With notes and underlined sections all over the place, John Bevere books always end up looking more like a spirit-led journal once I’m through with them.  The truth is I learn a ton with every sentence.

Extraordinary begins with the definition of the title word.  To be ”beyond what is unusual, exceptional, exceeding the common measure.”  If we can learn to live this book and the scriptural foundation it’s built on, we could take our world by storm.  We could overwhelm them with the talents of God manifested in his children.

Personally, I received the majority of the message God had for me through this book on the second chapter.  I re-read it over and over again.  Boy do I struggle with concept of how deep God’s love is for me.  The fact that God loves and values me whether I am viewed as extraordinary to the world or not just amazes me.  It makes me want to do big things, not to gain His love, but to demonstrate the courage His love gives me.   

I will be recommending this book to friends.  I’ve already mentioned it to my Pastor’s wife who is now dying to read it.  She’ll have to get her own copy though.  Mine is too marked up with eye-opening notes.
You can order your  copy of Extraordinary here.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of Random House, October 2009 

A Family Guide to the Bible

A Family Guide to the Bible by Christin Ditchfield is a historic look at the making of the Bible as well as a brief book by book overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  Readers will learn about the authority and message of the Bible as well as how to study it and where to find important verses.
I think this book is more for older middle school children to enjoy with their families.  It can work with younger children if you pre-read each chapter and paraphrase to their understanding.
We were just learning about  the Guttenberg press when my review copy arrived.  It was great to be able to read to my daughter the impact the press had on the accessibility of the Bible. 
In homeschooling my children often have scriptures assigned for copywork.  This book provides wonderful lists of good scriptures for Christians to hide in their hearts.  I love the section on Verses to Help You Celebrate Holidays.  We are working on Thanksgiving scriptures right now.
There are also maps in the back of the book which are helpful.
With some preparation and a bit of reading ahead, this book would be a wonderful resource for teaching the purpose and history of the Bible to kids.  
You can find this book at

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of Crossway, October 2009 

If God is Good

Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us. delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all. Alcorn, Randy
In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God–Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?
These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard DawkinsChristopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.
In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.
Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.
As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven
Author Bio:
Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels includeDeadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.
My Review:
Randy Alcorn takes a different approach to suffering in his book If God Is Good Faith In The Midst of Suffering and Evil.  Where many books on this topic tend to center around feeling, emotions and reaction Randy’s Book deals with logic.  He provides detailed scriptural evidence and analytical thought to the problems that plague all of humanity. 
Sin is a real problem and to understand it is to understand pain on a much deeper level.  Randy writes about the root of sin from it’s very first occurance and provides a roadmap through scripture of sin’s effects and how to overcome them.  This book also tackles our confusion about God’s character that causes even christians to waver in their faith.  Problems and trials are hard to line up with the idea of a good God, but when you come to the last page of If God is Good you will understand God in a new way.  You’ll be ready to trust Him with your problems when they come.
One of my favorite spots in this book included Ch. 11 A Study: Bart Ehrman, a “Christian” who Lost His Faith.  This chapter was a rich and thought-provoking warning of the dangers in questioning God’s wisdom and goodness.  I was challenged by it.
I also love what Randy writes on Pg.488:
“Suffering is limited.  It could be far worse.
Suffering is temperal. It could last far longer.
Suffering, as we’ve seen, produces some desirable good.  It can make us better people, and it can reveal God’s character in ways that bring him glory and bring us good.”
If you are facing a time of suffering, pain or trial I recommend checking out Randy Alcorn’s If God Is Good.
You can go here to purhase this book online. 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

West Oversea

As teachers, we often need to learn about subjects of little to no interest to us. That's exactly how I felt about Vikings when I placed them on our list of things to study this year. After reading West Oversea, I find the subject fascinating me. West Oversea is an adventure novel set during the time of Leif Ericson. The story is told in first person by Father Ailil, the priest to Erling Skjalgsson. Erling is a good man who seeks to see the spread of Christianity in Norway. He is an honorable leader, a friend to slaves, and a willing adventurer. When Father Ailil suggests going to Greenland for the purpose of finding his long lost sister, Erling is kind enough to agree. The trip is complicated by demonic forces that grab hold of all they can get, beginning with Father Ailil. 

West Oversea provides an educational and entertaining view of Viking life. It's also a great morality tale that addresses temptations and the effects of sin in the spirit realm. Some parts of the book were high action. Others were quiet and thought provoking. The list of characters was extensive and a bit intimidating. Nevertheless, I was completely locked into the story before I even finished the first chapter. I was locked into the story. I truly didn't expect to get hooked! 

I believe West Oversea is most appropriate for upper middle or high school ages. There are instances of foul language in the book, and Father Ailil has a struggle with lust that is alluded to but not graphically explored. Parents may want to read the book prior to giving it to their child. Reading it ahead would also allow you to discuss truth, temptation, greed, and many other interesting topics. It's important to remember that West Oversea is a depiction of Christianity forming in Norway. These characters are not well-versed Christians, and they are portrayed as men who seek God while struggling with releasing their pagan ways. If you prefer to avoid flawed characters, then you will want to stay clear of this book. 

I enjoyed West Oversea very much. I felt so caught up in the story that I could almost feel the fierce cold of the Icelandic snow. I would recommend this book to others. The price is typical for books of this length. For $12.95 you can join me and become hooked on the fascinating life of Vikings. 

You can order your copy at

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2009