If you want to read a book that defines classic Christianity, this is it!
At the age of 95, following 70+ years of preaching the Christian message, Graham comes once again to the defense of biblical Christianity.
In a world where designer faith, trendy faith, and blended faith are rampant, Billy stands true to the Bible, freely speaking of sin, redemption, repentance, faith, Heaven, Hell, and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
There is very little nuance in this book. I found it refreshing.
Graham describes his conversion at the age of 15, stating, “I exchanged my will for God’s way, I traded my calloused heart for a cleansed soul. I had sought thrills, I found them in Christ. I had looked for something that would bring perfect joy and happiness, I found it in Christ. I had looked for something that would bring pleasure and would satisfy the deepest longing of my heart. I found it in Christ.”
The chapter on “Defining Christianity in a Designer World,” talks about faith in today’s “make-it-up-as-you-go” culture, Americans tailoring their faith to fit their needs, and customizing their beliefs to accommodate how they want to live, faith blending—claims of faith, while worshipping other gods—re-branding faith as spiritualism cloaked in tolerance.
Graham addresses the “need to belong,” which he says all people experience, and points them to an unchanging, loving, biblical God, in contrast to the gods of pop culture. He says that Facebook is one way people meet this need for connection and social acceptance.
Graham’s message in this book is clear and unequivocal. A few quotes to illustrate:
“True Christianity is not religion. True Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ.”
“Just because people claim to be Christian doesn’t mean they are Christian.”
Eschewing “easy believism,” and a God who makes no demands, Graham says that, “becoming a Christian means that Jesus Christ comes into your life to take over.”
“You cannot have Jesus in your life without change.”
I believe this is Graham’s best book! And he has a life to back it up!
I received this free book as part of the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of “Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons.”
***A Personal Side Note: When I, as a teenager, came to faith in Christ, Billy was already famous as a preacher of the Gospel. In the 40s and 50s, groups of students came fromWheatonCollege in theChicago suburbs, to minister atPaulStreetBibleChurch, where I then attended. As aWheatonCollege student, Billy occasionally lodged with the Ivan Parr family onWest Madison Street inOttawa.
My Story and Likely Yours Too
By Elisa Morgan
Elisa Morgan is probably best known as the former president of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International, a nonprofit ministry, reaching over a million moms. For twenty-some years she served as a kind of “poster child” for the movement that promoted successful mothering and perfect family values, while her own family experienced alcoholism, learning disabilities, legal issues, abortion, homosexuality, addition, teen pregnancy, infertility, adoption, divorce, and death. While she stood on platforms teaching mothering and family values, she worked to integrate her private world with her public world.
This is her story. She tells with honesty and compassion how her childhood family was a broken family and, as a result, she determined that her family would be a perfect family. It didn’t turn out the way she expected.
She says: ”There are many who are desperately in need of being set free from the guilt and confusion of the myth of the perfect family. . .” She seeks to destroy that myth.
The book reads as a memoir, detailing the ”fractured family” of her childhood, her parent’s divorce, her mother’s alcoholism, her conversion to Christ as a teenager, her marriage to the stable and dependable Evan, who cannot father children due to a previous bout with cancer. Their children are adopted.
The book contains many lessons for families and individuals that are broken. Morgan points us to the love, forgiveness and freedom that is found in Jesus Christ.
Chapters on commitment, humility, courage, reality, relinquishment, diversity, partnership, faith, love, respect, forgiveness, and thankfulness, culminate in the final chapter on the beauty of the broken and “a beautiful broken legacy,” lessons we can learn only through disappointment and brokenness.
Morgan’s story reads like a novel, moves through a lifetime of sorrows, as well as joys, and tells how we can learn to trust God in our broken places.
An Appendix of Hope includes scriptures, quotes, and poems, providing great fodder for meditation.
Readers who want to know if they are “proud” or “broken” can find the answer in Am I a Proud or a Broken Person? How Can We Know? a beautiful piece in the appendix of the book.
Morgan reminds us that Jesus kept his scars, even after the resurrection. Why was this? ”. . . He carried with Him remembrances of His visit to earth. For a reminder of His time here, He chose scars.”
I received this complementary book as a participant in the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons, published by WinePress in 2007.
( Author of Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl)
Life is Meant to be Spent.
This is a book about living fully and freely–about our lives as story, a family’s visit to France, Belgium, Rome, Jerusalem, and London, and places in between; a rambling travelogue on death and life and trouble, soul food, paper boats, and rules for mortals. I was never sure if the chapters were meant to be essays, or not. The chapter titles were intriguing.
The chapter on The (Blessed) Lash of Time was my favorite. I loved Wilson’s statement: ”Gratitude is Liberation.”
I enjoyed the chapter Born to Trouble where the author asks, “Would you like to be Adam, dooming your descendants with the thunder of your own folly? Would you like to be Eve, the first to welcome darkness into your home, the first to embrace the biggest lie? Here we are, with our feet on a path given to us at our births. Born to trouble.”
The family scenes in the book are nostalgic and heartwarming. Wilson weaves in assorted ancestors and other members of his family and God, as he describes the race of life that propels us to the finish line. The book is funny and imaginative. Clever nuggets of truth are tucked here and there.
“Living to live always reaches inevitable and pointless Darwinian burnout–bigger fears, deeper mortal panic; therefore, live to die,” advises Wilson.
I found the book entertaining, but confusing in format.
I received this book as a participant in the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons, published 2007 by Winepress.
By John Christopher Frame
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be homeless? You can learn about it in John Christopher Frame’s recent book, Homeless at Harvard, published by Zondervan.
“If you’re going to be homeless anywhere, Harvard Square is probably the best place to be,” says Chubby John, one of the people the author meets while living on the street at Harvard.
Chubby John adds, “. . .there are services for the homeless in Cambridge and there’s no problem raising money. If you’re hungry, you just tell somebody walking down the street and somebody’s going to buy you a sandwich or a pizza.”
Frame, the author of the book, wanted to learn about homelessness from the inside out. While a divinity school student at Harvard, one of his professors suggested translating life experiences into actions in order to serve a greater purpose. So Frame decided to build relationships and share experiences with those who lived on the streets and he chose Harvard Yard as the place to spend ten weeks in the summer.
In his book, Frame introduces us to Neal, Dane, Chubby John, George and others who share the community of the homeless at Harvard.
Many of the chapters are written from the view point of people who live on the streets and are, indeed, homeless.
“On the streets there’s more freedom and less rules,” says George.
Neal, who is dying of a terminal disease, says he wanted to become an actor but “because of my health I always feel like ‘What’s the use of doing anything because I’m going to die anyway?”
Hank describes the danger of hanging out at “the pit” while other homeless people describe “the Coop” and the “Camp,” places familiar to them in their “neighborhood” on the streets.
I found this book a fascinating first-person account of another lifestyle and the lessons learned by the author who spent a summer as a homeless person in Harvard Yard.
I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
A Memoir . . . of sorts
By Ian Morgan Cron
It was the title that caught my attention!
The story begins in London in the fifties, during the cold war, where Cron’s father is employed as the managing director of Screen Gems, a television subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, in theUnited KingdomandEurope. The children attend the finest private schools in London, and their home is filled with cooks, maids, and nannies. The family is rich. Later, after his father loses his job and they move to the States, they become poor, due to his father’s mental instability and alcoholism.
Cron describes his childhood as a train wreck. He takes us on a rollicking ride through his growing up years and beyond, centering on his relationship with his brilliant, abusive, and narcissistic father, who is occasionally and mysteriously later employed by the CIA. He describes his mother as “rock and flower, steel and clouds.”
It’s a book about shame, resentment, faith, love, and “falling into God”
The author is witty, wise-cracking, irreverent, and tender.
His faith adventure begins during his Irish Catholic boyhood, where he says he “fell into God” during his first communion. He attends parochial grade schools, GreenwichHigh School, and BowdoinCollege, where he struggles with bitterness and alcoholism.
In spite of the heart-rending events described, this book is delightfully funny! The metaphors and comparisons made me laugh out loud. Cron is an excellent, entertaining writer.
In the early 1970’s, during a religious revival at a small Episcopal Church in an affluent community in Darien, Connecticut, he meets young people from an evangelical ministry called Young Life, where he later plays a leadership role, in spite of his continued battle with alcoholism.
Does he ever break free? I’ll let you read the book to find out!
If you enjoy memoirs such as The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, you will love this book which received positive comments from a wide variety of sources, including Publishers Weekly, Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M.; Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury; Makoto Fujimura, founder of International Arts Movement, and Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers under the BookSneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons.
Defeating the Idols That Battle for Your Heart
By Kyle Idleman, bestselling author of not a fan
Do you think of idols as statues that people in far off countries worship? Do you think there are no idols in your life? You may think differently after reading Kyle Idleman’s latest book, Gods at War.
When I finished reading this book, I wanted to buy a copy for everyone I knew. Idleman’s first book, not a fan, has been a popular choice for discussion groups. I think Gods at War has even greater depth.
According to the Bible, God is a jealous god. Idleman says idolatry is adultery, and God is in hot pursuit of our whole hearts. Our lives take the shape of what we care about most and the object of our worship will determine our future and define our lives.
The author recalls the biblical character, Joshua, who challenged the Nation of Israel to choose whom they would serve, whether the gods of their fathers and mothers, the gods of their past, the gods of their culture, or God Himself.
People today also choose the gods they serve. We can worship the gods of pleasure, food, sex, entertainment, success, money, achievement, romance, family, or simply the “god of me.”
Idolatry is the issue and the battleground is the life of every Christian believer. “What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry? asks Idleman
In the chapter on the god of entertainment, Idleman recalls the book by Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, in which Postman argued that popular culture is dumbing down our world at a startlingly fast rate. Idleman says, “Never in history has there been so much entertainment and so little satisfaction.”
”We were made for God and until He is our greatest pleasure, all the other pleasures of this life will lead to emptiness,” says the author.
This would be a great book for individuals or discussion groups to consider.
I received this complimentary book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons.”
Thoughts for Easter Sunday 2013 –
My friend, Rita, shares this Easter story: Following the Easter Sunday church service, she stopped to chat with her little grandson. “What did you learn about Jesus in Sunday School today?” she asked. In reply, his bright eyes shining with excitement, he exclaimed, “He’s out!”
Jesus is out of the tomb! He is risen! Alive and well on Planet Earth–in our world, and in our lives! Our sins are paid for, eternal life is ours through faith in the risen Christ! Go and tell! He’s out!
Following the risen Christ is life’s greatest adventure.
by Larry Osborne
This book asks the question, “Is it possible to be too zealous for God?”
In Jesus’ day, being called a Pharisee was a badge of honor. The Pharisees excelled at spirituality–they were zealous, committed to their faith, theologically informed, biblically accurate and obedient to even the most obscure commands. They even made up a few extra rules, just in case! They boasted and looked down on everyone else. But Jesus in his sermon on the mount said that unless a person’s righteousness exceeded that of the Pharisees, they couldn’t enter the kingdom of heaven. He raised the bar to perfection and alarmed his listeners! They understood that ”they couldn’t pull off their own salvation. He’d have to do it for them.”
No one today deliberately sets out to become a Pharisee. But many of us easily fall into that category, thinking we can add our righteousness to that of Jesus, or simply playing the “comparison” game.
Larry Osborne in his newest book, Accidental Pharisees, warns us that believers today often fall into the same trap as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.
I needed this book! I saw myself in its pages, over and over again. Osborne cites various pitfalls of an over-zealous faith–pride, arrogance, exclusivity, a “new kind” of legalism, the quest for uniformity (my desire to make everyone just like me!) and “gift projection.” That last one is the tendency to think everyone should exercise identical spiritual gifts.
In light of many popular books urging us to really follow Jesus, not be lukewarm, or passive, this book is a welcome pause to consider what it means to find rest in the one who said His yoke is easy, His burden light, and simply become who God intended us to be.
I received this complimentary book as part of the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons
(Previously published in The Times, Ottawa, IL — January 31, 2013)
Since the news of Lance Armstrong’s deception broke several weeks ago, I’ve heard it said several times that, “everyone lies.”
Its true, psychologists say we can’t avoid lying altogether, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes we are simply in error. We have the facts wrong. Things change. Or we want to be loving and diplomatic, but we wind up being devious, telling half truths.
If everyone lies, why is it such a big deal that Lance Armstrong lied for seven years about his drug use?
Is it because lots of money was involved? Large sums paid out in rewards and law suits?
Is it because he was a hero—a sports figure?
Probably all of that.
Mostly, I think it’s because we are disappointed.
We wanted to believe there was someone who wouldn’t cheat.
We thought it was Lance Armstrong, who inspired athletes and cancer patients alike. We cheered his accomplishments. If he could overcome such great odds, maybe we could too.
On CNN I recently heard the following reasons why people cheat:
They live in a “bubble”– like the sports world — they think it’s just part of the game.
If “everyone does it,” it must be okay.
They believe rules don’t apply to them.
They believe they are smarter than other people.
They like the risk involved.
Cheating provides a dopamine rush.
They like pushing the boundaries and creating their own moral code.
We tried to always tell our children the truth—even referring to Santa as more of a literary figure, like Snow White, rather than a real person.
So on summer days when I told our children we would go swimming, and then it rained, I heard them declare, “You lied!” while the rain poured down.
I like people who say “yes” and “no,” rather than, “I think so,” “maybe,” or “sort of,” “somewhat,” or “I’ll try . . .” People who tell the unvarnished truth are refreshing. I prefer blunt to devious! At least I know where those people stand and what they think.
We may feel we are being diplomatic by shading the truth, but deception and the desire to avoid conflict are at the root of it. Someone may not like us if we speak the truth. We don’t want to argue.
We are told to “speak the truth in love,” because truth is after all the most loving thing we can speak.
At a time when much of our culture has forsaken biblical principles, and we confess not to a spiritual leader, but rather to Oprah–a new kind of high priestess–we still cling to the idea that truth is a good thing. Truth is precious. We want to be able to trust someone. To quote from the movie Excalibur, “When a man lies he murders some part of the world.”
We may believe that everyone lies, but we still want to think that somehow, somewhere there is someone who won’t.
By Mark Driscoll
I’ve often wondered why there isn’t more emphasis on what it means to be “in Christ.” Pastor Mark Driscoll answers that need in his recent book, Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ.
This is an excellent exposition on the Book of Ephesians, with an emphasis on who the believer is “in Christ.” How does our “identity” affect how we see ourselves? This book explores various aspects of this question in detail.
Chapter heads include: I am Saved, I am Heard, I Am Forgiven, I am Loved, and many others–sixteen in all. I most apreciated the chapters on I Am Rewarded (a subject often misunderstood) and I Am Victorious.
I also found the chapter on Reconciliation to be insightful with regard to Jews and Gentiles.
Driscoll is the Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Real Marriage. He is the co-founder of the Acts 29 Network.
Driscoll closes the book with these words: “So who do you think you are? If you love Jesus, serve him, follow him, and call him your Lord and Savior, there’s good news: in Christ you have a new identity. And the great news about this good news is that once you really know and believe that, your life will be changed forever.”
I received this free book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of Who Am I Now, Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons.”