Monday, August 31, 2020

Is God Speaking to Me? by Lysa TerKeurst

This little booklet is taken from TerKeurst's book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. She shares her profound experience of hearing God tell her to give her personal Bible to the fellow next to her on a plane. Her obedience and the subsequent events she experienced are very encouraging.

TerKeurst shares how she has learned to hear from God, though never audibly. She gives us her morning prayer and provides several questions we can ask to distinguish our thoughts from God's impressions. She also tells us how God will confirm His messages to us.

This is a good little booklet for readers who wonder if God speaks today and want to know how to hear His voice. There are study questions to answers and Scriptures to read so this would make a fine study for a weekend. TerKeurst's writing style is a pleasure to read in this honest and encouraging booklet.

You can read a preview here

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Lysa TerKeurst is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times bestselling author of several books. She and her family live in North Carolina. You can find out more at

Harvest House, 64 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, August 30, 2020

After Evangelicalism by David P Gushee

Evangelicalism is in decline. Some say 25 million people in the U.S. raised evangelical no longer identify themselves as such. (1) Some of the decline may be attributed to youthful rebellion but Gushee notes that something else is going on. Ex-evangelicals have left because of perceived offenses against themselves or others, because of unresolved intellectual issues, and because of political and ethical issues.

Many ex-evangelicals are confused, Gushee notes. They are not sure what they are leaving or where they are going. He has written this book to shepherd them on their journey.

I appreciate Gushee's exploration of the history of the evangelical movement, how it watered down minority traditions, reducing the “spicy diversity” within Christianity. (23) I appreciate him pointing out how political affiliation “deeply compromised the religious identity and mission of evangelical Christianity.” (24)

The involvement of evangelical leaders in the most recent presidential election in the U.S. was the last straw for many. “The sense that card-carrying American evangelicalism now requires acquiescence to attitudes and practices that negate core teachings of Jesus is fueling today's massive exodus.” (28)

Identifying the problem is one thing but identifying a way past it is another. Gushee suggests a form of Christian humanism, after Erasmus. It includes a Jesus centered Christian piety combined with rich classical learning and a humane and pacific spirit. (60) Christianity is for humans, he says, not mainly about protecting doctrinal purity or the church's self-interest. (60)

Many would describe Gushee as a liberal, I suppose, though he affirms his belief in the bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus. (97) He is critical of the weight evangelicals put on the inerrancy of the Bible. He is inclusive in ways that will offend evangelicals. He shows from history and Scripture that the church must remain a healthy distance from political powers. (146)

Some of Gushee's views rattled my beliefs based on my evangelical upbringing. His exploration of Christian movements through history convinced me evangelicalism does not have to be the spiritual path I follow to be a Christ follower. His concerns for our fellow man stirred in me the awareness evangelicals have not done a good job caring for others, including the poor, the immigrants and those not white.

While I do not agree with everything Gushee has written, I do think this is a valuable book that should be read by evangelicals. The present state of evangelical Christianity is troublesome and Gushee's work helped me understand why. Gushee says he wants to live for Jesus and help other people. He invites us along.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

David P Gushee
(PhD, Union Theological Seminary) is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He is the author or editor of twenty-four books. An award-winning blogger for Religion News Service, he is the Past-President of both the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. He and his wife live in NE Atlanta. You can find out more at Photo: Alice Horner Photography.

Westminster John Knox Books, 242 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Harbinger II by Jonathan Cahn

Cahn is a master at correlating Old Testament passages to American events. He writes, “America was founded after the pattern of ancient Israel.” (221) America is falling the same way Israel did, he says. More judgment will come unless we repent.

Cahn proves his ideas with some stunning correlations between America and Israel. Most of them revolve around 9/11. New York has great significance in the role it plays, from the initial relationship to the current virus judgment. I am disappointed more of the information was not documented (I had to look up much to make sure Cahn was accurate). I am also a bit leery of all the correlations Cahn projects. As a student of science and statistics, I know one can find an amazing number of correlations with a specific date if one looks hard enough.

Nonetheless, this book is an important one in discussing the current state of America and the possibilities for its immediate future.

Sometimes I feel Cahn goes beyond the facts and makes broad assumptions. One concerns Winthrop and the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Winthrop declared a covenant with God when establishing that colony. Cahn broadens this one colony establishment to the entire American civilization. (108) He writes, “...we do know that America's founders made a covenant with God, based on Israel's covenant with God.” (108) Winthrop's covenant statement is broadened to all the founders without supporting evidence. There were several previous colonies founded, beginning with Jamestown in 1607. I do not think one can expand one man's words about the founding of one colony to the future of the entire nation. I know we want to believe America was founded as a “Christian” nation but one colony does not a nation make.

Cahn later appeals to George Washington's inaugural address, writing, “America's first government committed and consecrated the nation's future to God.” (231) Washington's actual words were, “...that Almighty Being...whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government...” (See 1 below) Washington asked God to consecrate, or bless, the U. S. To me, that is not the same as dedicating the nation to God. (232) And Cahn says where Washington made his dedication of the nation is St. Paul's Chapel. (232) Not true. Washington's inaugural speech was at Federal Hall (26 Wall Street) not St. Paul's (209 Broadway). Granted, Washington went to services there after his speech but did not give his speech there.

This brings up a thought provoking question. Because Winthrop made a covenant statement, does that mean every American is involved? Because one group of people projected the image of a god on the Empire State Building, does that mean the entire city of New York is under God's judgment?

Sometimes Cahn doesn't give the whole story. The recent change in the abortion law in New York is a case in point. Cahn writes, “...the law legalized the killing of children up to the point of birth.” (191) He fails to notice the conditions required: danger to the mother's life or health or the lack of viability of the child outside the womb. I would rather such declarations by Cahn be more accurate.

And another issue. Cahn says the peek of the seven day average for the infection rate in New York was April 9 and April 10, exactly 50 years to the day New York expanded the abortion law. (229) Actually, the seven day rolling average peeked on April 8 at 5305, April 10 and April 11 rolling figures are 5205 and 5040, according to NYC Health website. (See 2 below) Cahn's source is a newspaper article, not the official state data source. This may be a small issue but Cahn makes a big deal of the “exact date." It's not. While I verified many of the correlations, it does make me wonder about the others I did not take the time to check.

While I disagree with some of Cahn's information and conclusions, there is still enough amazing information in this book that a skeptic like me would recommend it. It is an important wake up call to the country to repent. Will the future hold more judgment or restoration?

While this is the second book in a series, there is no need to read first one as the basic harbingers revealed in that book are reviewed in this one. It should also be noted that this book is fiction.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jonathan Cahn is the author of several previous books and is known as a prophetic voice of our times. He leads Hope of the World and Beth Israel/the Jerusalem Center, his ministry base and worship center in Wayne, New Jersey. He is a popular speaker and appears through out America and the world. You can find out more at

Frontline (Charisma House), 304 pages.

1 (    accessed 8/29/2020)

(, accessed 8/29/2020.)

I received a complimentary advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Friday, August 28, 2020

Seven Sevens in the Gospel of John Blog Tour

About the Book

Seven Sevens in the Gospel of John
Author: Sinikka Smothers
Genre: Nonfiction
Release Date: January 22, 2020

The number seven is significant in science and history as well as in the Bible. When a science educator applies the lens of seven onto the gospel of John, intriguing patterns emerge. Author Sinikka Smothers says, “God has a purposeful design for every area of His creation—including the use of numbers. God loves numbers, especially the number seven. He used mathematical algorithms to construct the matrix we call our universe. Mathematics is God’s language of creation.”

Discover refreshing insights into the life of Christ through this study of seven themes embedded in John’s gospel narrative. The author presents John’s message in seven parts, each one divided into seven sections. Revisit the familiar seven “I AM” statements of Jesus and other sevens that are not widely written about:
  • Seven signs and miracles Jesus performed
  • Seven witnesses that testify of Jesus
  • Seven ministries of the Holy Spirit
  • Seven life-changing conversations of Jesus
  • Seven women
  • Seven questions Pilate asked Jesus
This unique commentary includes rich historical details and paints a vivid portrait of Jesus the Son of God as Master, Savior, and Friend. Relevant stories and personal applications bring the familiar accounts of the book of John to contemporary contexts.
Click here to get your copy!
My Review

I knew the number seven had spiritual significance but I was not aware of its use in the gospel of John until I read this book.

Smothers does a good job of retelling biblical events with added imagined details. Her writing style is very good and engaging. I like how she has related the seven “I am” statements of Jesus with His miracles. Jesus declaring He is the bread of life is related to the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus is equated with God, providing spiritual and physical food. Jesus declaring He is the resurrection and the life is paired with raising Lazarus from the dead. His identifying as the true vine is related to His turning the water into wine.

Even though I have read the gospel of John many times and studied corresponding commentaries, I still found new insights in this book. It is not designed for use in discussion groups but it does make an insightful addition to the books on the gospel of John.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Sinikka Smothers
emigrated from Finland to Alabama to study after receiving a college scholarship. While her original plan was to become a missionary, meeting her future husband, Jim, in college changed the direction of her life. She worked twenty-five years as a science teacher with individuals who are visually impaired, and earned her doctorate in education from the University of Alabama. Recently retired, she enjoys teaching Bible classes and spending time with her husband of forty years, two children, and three grandchildren.

More from Sinikka Smothers

A mob of men, women, and children were climbing up the hillside by the Sea of Galilee. “There he is!” someone shouted from above. Those withing hearing distance turned quickly and began to hasten in the direction of the voice. The rest of the large crowd followed their lead, trapped in a current of motion. It was difficult for them to see ahead since the number of people had grown to more than five thousand. Mothers and fathers picked up their young children to protect them from the travelers pressing against them while trying to move ahead to the front of the throng…
Seven Sevens in the Gospel of John began with hand written notes overflowing the pages of my devotional journal. The journal led to several hundred typewritten pages of commentary on John’s narrative of the life of Jesus. After teaching two bible studies based on my emerging outline of seven sevens, I ran into Athena Holtz with Redemption Press. Athena connected me with an editor who condensed my tub-full of writing to a sleek 195 pages. The ten-year-long writing project reached its finish line in January 2020 when I received my “author’s copy”. I will always remember the joy I felt at the first sight of the shiny book cover featuring a summer sky above the gold colored pages of an old parchment. Indeed, if John’s gospel is the treasure map, the timeless treasure it points to is Jesus, our Savior and Lord.
Seven Sevens in the Gospel of John does not add anything to John’s masterful presentation of Jesus as the Son of God and the Son of Man who invites everyone to live in a personal relationship with Him. It merely offers refreshing perspectives and a novel framework for the reading and rereading of this well-loved gospel. Each of the seven themes in my book contains seven subtopics, totaling 49 chapters. The chapters include special anecdotes, personal stories, and information pieces that connect the themes to contemporary contexts. It is my hope that the reader will find the book useful as a Bible study companion, book study, teaching outline or a devotional reading.
After my book project was completed, something new and surprising began to rise up in my spirit: I became inspired to experiment in visual arts. I wanted my Facebook posts for my book to stand out and speak to diverse audiences; as a result, I constructed collages, used mystery photos from the Holy Land, searched through our family’s Google photos, and began to paint images on old wooden boards I found in our shed.  This explosion of artistic expression has led me to rent a booth at a local antiques and crafts mall. If you visit Huntsville, Alabama, please stop by at the Top Key Market to see my booth, at the center of which stands a worn pulpit featuring Seven Sevens in the Gospel of John.
I inherited my love for words from my mother who always spoke the right words for every situation. She often quoted wonderfully quaint Finnish folk sayings that carried centuries of wisdom. I became an avid reader and writer at the age of 6. Academic studies occupied most of my professional life as a teacher, but after retiring four years ago, I have plunged into reading and writing to make up for the lost time. My husband and I have been married for 41 years. Our two children and four grandchildren live nearby and add a lot of fun to our weekly calendar. I look forward to writing a biographical book in the near future. The theme, of course, will include the number seven.

Blog Stops

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Solstice Shadows by Avanti Centrae

This novel got off to a slow start for me. It is a sequel and you need to read the first one to understand the action in this one. (I did read that first book in the series, VanOps: The Lost Power, and you can read my review here.)

A star chart discovered in the first book is stolen in this one. Some think the chart will identify the location of superconducting materials. The good guys need to find the location before the bad guys do and construct a superconducting computer with which they can control the world.

The novel takes us all over the world, from ruins to cities to deserts. The narrative of the novel jumps around as the two small VanOps teams pursue leads and are hunted by the bad guys. I did find the frequent breaks in tense action a little disconcerting, though each change in location was clearly identified. Some of the characters have special powers, like the ability to throw lightening. There is some advanced technology used too.

This novel is action upon action. There is not a great deal of character development. This is a novel for readers who like nearly continuous escapes from attacks. And you will learn a great deal about ancient archaeological possibilities and secret societies.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Avanti Centrae
is the author of the international award-winning VanOps thriller series. The first in the series, The Lost Power, was awarded a genre grand prize blue ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival. She lives in Northern Californian with her family. You can find out more at

Thunder Creek Press, 350 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Rescued Hearts Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Rescued Hearts
Author: Hope Toler Doughtery
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Release Date: September 19, 2017

Children’s clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball’s soft spot for  animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar-entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Beaten, bound, and gagged by the two thugs inside, Mary Wade loses hope for escape when a third villain returns with supplies.

Discovering the kidnapped, innocent woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Weighing the difference of ruining his three months’ investigation against the woman’s safety, Brett forsakes his mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind.

When Mary Wade’s safety is threatened once more, Brett rescues her again. This time, her personal safety isn’t the only thing in jeopardy. Her heart is endangered as well.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this good mix of romance and suspense. The romance has a twist. Mary Wade and Brett are forced to spend time in close proximity. Feelings of romance develop but is it because of the stressful situation? Can the romance be sustained when the situation changes?

I like the females in the novel. Mary Wade and Brett's grandmother might seem like mild women but they rise to the occasion when in danger.

Dougherty has added the issue of parental expectations to the mix. Mary Wade's parents think she should have gone into some full time ministry. Mary Wade's situation would make for a good group discussion.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy a good romance sprinkled with suspense.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Hope holds a Master’s degree and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her novels include Irish Encounter and Mars…With Venus Rising, Rescued Hearts, and Forever Music. She’s a member of ACFW and RWA. Residing in North Carolina, she and her husband enjoy visits with their daughters and twin sons.

More from Hope

I live in the country on land my great grandfather owned. For exercise, I ride my bike on our two-lane roads. One afternoon a few years ago, I took a detour off the paved road and onto a dirt path not too far from my house.

The lane meanders by the location of a distant cousin’s long-since demolished house. Trees and a few bushes still outline the phantom house’s parameters, but no boards or bricks mark the spot. Farm equipment waits under nearby shelters.

As I passed the lonely trees and silent tractors, a creepy sensation tickled the back of my neck. My imagination kicked into gear. What if a bike rider rode by an abandoned house? What if she saw a kitten entangled in a honeysuckle vine at the porch steps? What if, while she tried to free the kitten, someone grabbed her and dragged her inside where she was beaten and threatened with rape?

My pedaling picked up speed, and I reached home in record time.

Those questions continued popping up in my mind, however. I began seeing the characters, then hearing them speak every night as I dropped off to sleep. I’d never written a romantic suspense story before, but the characters refused to leave me alone.

Those initial questions led to the first chapter of Rescued Hearts.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 25

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 26

Betti Mace, August 27

Texas Book-aholic, August 28

deb's Book Review, August 28

Inklings and notions, August 29

For Him and My Family, August 30

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 1

Batya's Bits, September 2

Older & Smarter?, September 3

CarpeDiem, September 4

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 6

Life, Love, Writing, September 6

Artistic Nobody, September 7 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Nidderdale Murders by J R Ellis

I grew up reading Agatha Christie so I like a good British procedural novel. I enjoyed this one. My favorite aspect was the setting. Ellis has done a good job of taking readers into the many Yorkshire locations, from moor to gorge. I liked learning a bit about land used for hunting, in this case a grouse hunting moor. The plot was very interesting, with the murderers clearly wanting to be seen in the act. I like how Ellis slowly and deliberately takes us on the journey of solving the case, revealing background information bit by bit.

The novel is about Detective Chief Inspector Oldroyd and we learn a great deal about his life and family. Ellis does maintain a good balance of character development, mystery plot and setting. This is a good novel for readers who like a slow and methodical investigation into puzzling murders.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

J R Ellis has lived in Yorkshire most of his life and has written four previous novels in this series set in Yorkshire. He was previously a teacher. He has won awards for his poetry and short stories. He is currently working on nonfiction projects as well.

Thomas & Mercer, 301 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Ephesians by Scotty Smith

This book is an overview or an introductory level study of Ephesians. There are twelve lessons, basically two to a chapter of Ephesians. Each lesson covers around 10 to 20 verses, with lesson four covering 23 verses while lessons 10 and 11 cover just four verses each. The studies hit the highlights, not going into depth nor looking at the Greek (except for doulos). The lessons take about an hour of group time and require no homework nor preparation (except for the leader).

Smith draws attention to some good issues in Ephesians. One is the challenge to compare what our prayers look like against Paul's in Ephesians 1:15-19. I was impressed with Smith's insight that Jesus fulfills the promise of every piece of armor in Ephesians 6:11-17. “As we live in faith union and robust communion with Jesus, this entire armament is ours.” (1735/2144)

Of the studies in this series I have reviewed, this one contains the most personal content from the author. Smith writes of his experience needing a root canal, of growing up in the church in the South, of sitting next to his mother dressed in his Sunday best saying the Lord's Prayer, and includes a complimentary letter from a visitor to his church. He even shares the wrong concept of holiness he was taught as a child, writing “I don't want to project my story (and pain) on you, but...” (1050/2144) While Smith relates these personal experiences to a lesson from Ephesians, I found his personal experiences distracting from the incredible wealth of material in Ephesians itself. Including his childhood experience of holiness teaching that created fear and doubt in him was really unnecessary.

This is a good introductory level study on Ephesians for those who want no homework. It covers the highlights and will hopefully inspire participants to explore Ephesians in much greater depth.

My rating: 3/5.

Scotty Smith graduated from The University of North Carolina, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Covenant Theological Seminary (DMin). He planted and pastored Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, for 26 years. He worked on pastoral staff of West End Community Church as teacher in residence and also served as adjunct faculty for Covenant Seminary, Westminster (Philadelphia), RTS (Orlando), and Western Seminary (Portland, OR). He has authored several books. He and his wife live in Franklin, TN.

New Growth Press, 160 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Titus by Jeff Dodge

Titus may be a small book in the Bible but it contains topics very relevant for Christians today. Here are a few covered in this study: that belief and actions should match, the character of church leaders and how they should be models, being aware of people trying to introduce false teaching, grace and the importance of godly behavior.

This study has some serious things to say about how we should behave as transformed followers of Christ. From Titus 3:1-8 comes the admonition to submit to rulers. Also, “One of the most visible expressions of godlessness is not the way we treat God, but the terrible way we treat our fellow human beings," Dodge writes. (802/1183) Those thought provoking issues are only from one lesson and there are six more.

I like how the format is designed for group study. Everything can be done in about an hour and requires no homework. It is a good study for people who cannot take the time for lots of homework when doing a Bible study. There are leader's notes in the back of the book so this study would be a good one for someone new to leading group studies.

This is a good seven lesson study on a small book with some very important issues for Christians today.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jeff Dodge (DMin, PhD) is the teaching pastor at Veritas Church in Iowa City, Iowa. He also directs The Salt Network School of Theology as part of The Salt Network, a church planting movement. He is the author of two previous books. He and his wife have four children and several grandchildren.

New Growth Press, 96 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Friday, August 21, 2020

Becoming Your True You by Heath Davis Havlick

Becoming your authentic self is a popular topic in the Christian realm. The Enneagram is also becoming more popular as a way to understand one's self. I read this book because Havlick offered to help me understand the personality styles and then give me strategies and practices to help me reclaim my true self.

I gained the insight from this book that my human personality is not my true self but rather an identity I began forming around age three to help me navigate the world. It was created by and dwells in the mind. (2571/3222) I lose touch with my true self as the false self of personality is formed because of hurts, disappointments, etc. The true me lives is my spirit, as does God. (278/3222) We were designed to live from our spirits but do so mainly from our souls. The idea is to break through the false layers of personality to my true self.

The idea is to understand our own personality and how it filters our thoughts and feelings about God, ourselves, and others. Awareness will help reduce the separation from my true self. Havlick offers other suggestions too, many of which are familiar spiritual disciplines or practices of self awareness. (Contemplative prayer is essential.)

I gained some insights but I am left with many questions. One is about my true identity. Havlick notes that we have a general identity in Christ but we are also to seek out our own specific identity and purpose. (2294/3222) How will I know what that even looks or feels like? My true identity must have preferences, likes and dislikes but how do I distinguish them from the ones my mind has created? Also, she says God works with our personality to take us beyond it. (2166/322) How do I distinguish events and encounters that are causing my mind to create personality and the false self from those God initiates to take me beyond that false self? I need much more insight about emotions, which we are not to feel, and the states of being with which we replace them. (2750/3222) Havlick says every conflict is a personality conflict. (1867/3222) What about spiritual warfare? (I am a five and my needing more knowledge is showing!)

I feel like this is an introductory book to a long process. I feel like I have just seen the tip of a huge ice berg. Havlick does say near the end of her book that it was designed to get readers started on the sacred journey. She suggests joining an Enneagram group and offers many further resources such as books to read. I'll be pursuing this topic for some time.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Heath Davis Havlick is a Riso-Hudson Certified Enneagram Teacher. She has been a Christian for over forty years. She has a BA in creative writing from  the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has awards in screenwriting, poetry and journalism. She and her husband live in Felton, California, where an Enneagram group meets every month. You can find out more at

Independently published, 202 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through NetGalley. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Doubtless by Shelby Abbott

We Christians are faced with doubts. That is not a bad thing. As Abbott points out, we need doubt as it helps strengthen our faith. We should not avoid nor ignore doubt. But we cannot be passive about it either. We must work through doubts with intention and enthusiasm, Abbott writes. This is not a book of apologetics. It deals with the principle of doubt in general with ideas to work through it.

I like the way Abbott distinguishes doubt and unbelief. Doubt is the natural questioning one has about faith. Unbelief is a deliberate decision one makes about belief. Even though doubt is far from unbelief, Abbott reminds us doubt, unchecked, can lead to unbelief. Hence the encouragement to work through doubt.

We cannot think we will get a definitive answer to our every doubt, however. I like how Abbott points out the arrogance of having the unreasonable attitude we can know and have the ability to understand everything about God. We are not on the same level as God in knowledge and understanding and we must leave room for mystery. So it might seem a fine line, feeling one must work through doubt yet knowing there will not always be answers.

College students and young career age are often the most challenged about their Christian faith. Abbott has written this book to help them work through the idea of doubt, what doubt is and how it is to be tackled. He has practical teaching and thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter.

Abbott points out the value of having the right people beside us as we struggle with doubt so I would recommend this book be used in a group of trusted friends. Going through this book will be a good help in understanding and working through doubt.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of CRU. He is the author of two previous books. He and his wife have two daughters and live in Downington, Pennsylvania. You can find out more at

New Growth Press, 128 pages

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

For Whom the Book Tolls by Laura Gail Black

I enjoyed this cozy mystery, the first in a series from Black. I liked the heroine, Jenna. She was escaping a bad situation only to find herself in another one. I liked her character developed as a compassionate person who was framed for murder in the past. Rather than being overwhelmed when confronted with a similar situation, she pursues finding the real killer.

The plot is a typical one with an unexpected murder, an unexpected opportunity, and a mean cop who wants to peg her for the crime. Jenna has a couple of people come to her aid and a couple of really quirky characters invading her life. I thought the introduction of an impostor heir was a plot point that did not work so well. His character portrayal was a little over the top and obvious.

I liked the setting of an antiquarian bookstore. That Jenna could take over the business without some serious training in pricing books was a bit far fetched. That skill takes years to acquire and I do wish she would have looked to a master in the business for some help.

Black's writing style is straight forward and reasonable for a debut effort. The novel is an entertaining and relaxing read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Laura Gail Black writes cozy mysteries on the shores of Lake Marion in South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and their five rescue dogs. You can find out more at her blog,

Crooked Lane Books, 264 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

You are Loved and Free Blog Tour

About the Book

You are Loved & Free
Author: Micah Ruth
Genre:  Nonfiction, Christian Purpose
Release Date: July 29, 2020

How do you gain your sense of worth and significance? Career? Kids? Marriage? Finances? Living in a culture where your achievements define you makes you prey to attacks on your very identity. But God values you regardless of your wins and losses and provides the tools in His Word to help you win the battle and rebuild your identity on His truth as you walk with Him into your purpose.

Born achiever Micah Ruth found herself questioning her value during a career demotion and personal crisis. Feeling like a failure and questioning her every move, Micah began listening to God as He led her to make major life changes and reassess the source of her worth. Through exploring the book of Ephesians, Micah uncovered the lies that held her captive and broke the self-inflicted chains of shame to ultimately experience deep soul transformation.

Micah weaves her story as inspiration for you to embark on your own journey of freedom and discovery. Devotionals, journal questions, and practical application prompts provide opportunities for you to remove your armor of self-reliance, grow in your faith, and reflect on your story. You Are Loved & Free also includes resources to help you discover your gifts and purpose while you cling to your newfound identity as a beloved and free child of God.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Ruth does a good job of relating her own experiences and sharing the spiritual lessons she has learned from them. Her spiritual journey centered around identity. I was struck by her insight into Satan using our confusion over identity to keep us from God's best. Ruth was in a career that allowed her to avoid the truth of the path she was on, thinking accomplishment was necessary for God's love and approval. She craved promotion, thinking that success would give her a sense of worth with respect to God. But, as she says, God had a different idea. Ruth was challenged to rebuild her identity in Christ based on the truth in Ephesians.

Ruth desired her journey would be an inspiration for us to take a similar journey, to knowing we are loved and have the freedom to be who God created us to be. Her story is written well and contains good insights into our identity in Christ and what that means for us. I like that Ruth includes questions for reflection, written prayers, and teaching on Scripture passages, including Ephesians.

This is a good book for readers who have the sense something is missing in their life, even though there may be career success. You'll be challenged to find what really matters, to find out if your thoughts and feelings line up with God's Word. And you'll be encouraged, knowing the fruit of the experiences Ruth went through can be yours too.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

About the Author

After focusing solely on her career in the corporate world for eighteen years, Micah Ruth discovered and leaned in to her calling from Christ to share her journey and inspire others through her writing. Through her blog, Created Significant: Living Loved & Free, and first published book, she is committed to helping others see themselves as Christ sees them. Micah is a wife and mother to three kids, a lifelong Colorado resident, avid mountain biker, and a lover of the outdoors, where she does most of her writing.

More from Micah

Just after a devastating demotion, Micah Ruth sees the revelation God wants to speak to her in this season. You are not what you do, you are not what they think of you, or have said of you. You are a loved and free child of God. With this new revelation, Micah goes on a journey to break down what she had allowed to identify her and rebuilds her identity in Christ.
You are Loved and Free is a devotional journey through the Bible, focusing on the book of Ephesians which holds the Truth about who we are in Christ. Through testimonials and heartfelt stories, Micah shares her journey, inviting others to go on the journey for themselves. She also shares the Biblical wisdom and practical application to rebuild your identity in Christ God revealed to her. Both by uncovering the lies about who you are and revealing the Truth in God’s word, you can find and start walking in your identity as a loved and free child of God.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 19

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 20

Inklings and notions, August 21

My Devotional Thoughts, August 22 (Author Interview)

deb's Book Review, August 22

Texas Book-aholic, August 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 24

Wishful Endings, August 25 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, August 26

Artistic Nobody, August 27 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Mary Hake, August 28

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 29

Through the Fire Blogs, August 30 (Author Interview)

Splashes of Joy, August 31

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, September 1

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)