Gospel Fluency Handbook” By Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Gospel Fluency Handbook: A Practical Guide To Speaking The Truths of Jesus Into the Everyday Stuff of Life

The Gospel in Me, the Gospel with Us, and the Gospel to Others

“Gospel Fluency Handbook” provides in-depth studies of the Gospel with a concentration on helping the reader recognize areas of unbelief to strengthen and grow in their faith equipping the reader to live the gospel message as the central purpose of daily life immersing them in their local community culture. Practical and interactive penetrating self-examination questions call for a keen sense of honesty, transparency, and accountability among the participants.

Each of the eight-week chapters includes guided readings, reflections, group discussions, exercises, and suggestions for prayer. Themes are centered on foundational truths of the creation, the fall, redemption, the new creation, the fullness of Christ, and unity in the faith. The authors differentiate between “Bible Fluency” and “Gospel Fluency” to address topics related to culture shifts and demonstrate how the impact of “Gospel Fluency” becomes a life-changing reality. A helpful appendix explains over a dozen defining theological concepts.

The handbook is designed to be used in a group or community and is structured for interactive discussion which encourages personal Christian growth, application to daily life, becoming fluent in expressing and proclaiming your faith, and reaching beyond to the ends of the earth. Whether used in a class or as an individual learning experience, you will want to participate in a fellowship of believers to encourage you to share the good news of Jesus that can change lives forever.

Saturate Publishing, 227 Bellevue Way N. E. # 224, Bellevue, Washington 98004, 978-0996849326, $ 24.66, 2017, 262 pages

 

 

 

 

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Dementia Grief – Unspoken Feeling, By Richard R. Blake


Journal Entry – November 18, 2017

Thelma makes a sound, an unintelligible attempt to communicate. I smile looking into her eyes. “Tell me what you’re thinking,” I ask. “Let’s talk some more about what your day has been like.”

Thelma laughs a combination grin and giggle. Our eyes meet as Thelma smiles in a warm, self-satisfied way. I gently touch her hand.

Her eyes close. I quietly watch Thelma rest, her face relaxed, peaceful, tranquil, and serene. I find paper and pen and begin to write.

Her eyes open briefly. She watches my pen as I scribble words on the page. I tell her, “I’m painting with word pictures, as I create your portrait on my paper. She seems to like this idea. Her face shows a kind of curiosity, love, and acceptance. I have come to understand that our inner feelings do not always have to be expressed vocally. Thelma’s eyes and her smile say it all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I understand it usually takes about two years to work through the stages of grief. It isn’t often you can share this grief together with your loved one. Thelma and I are traveling that journey together, one day at a time.

I am learning new lessons all the time as I relinquish Thelma’s care into the hands of others while I deal with the apprehension and anxiety that accompany the uncertainty about the future of this journey.

I am getting a better understanding of the truth that God never intended for us to walk alone and that our times are in God’s time. I am learning to be willing to become vulnerable and to respect the feelings of others as well.

I am finding a new closeness to Thelma, as we share quiet moments, allowing our mutual feelings blossom into a joyful hope. I continue to accept the process of death and the conflicting feelings of loss and the agonizing dread of that day.

I draw strength from our assurance and the blessed promise of a wonderful life awaiting us in heaven in the presence of the Lord Jesus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Can you identify with Richard and Thelma’s unspoken sense of communication?
  2. Are you familiar with the book “The Seven Stages of Grief?”
  3. At what stage are you in on this journey as a caregiver?
  4. Do you understand the term Ambiguous Grieving?
  5. Are you familiar with “Palliative Hospice Care?”

More Questions to Consider:

  1. Do you have a Health Care Team?
  2. Are you officially designated as a decisive health care proxy for your loved one?
  3. Are you familiar with the term Health Care Advance Directives?

Encountering the Goodness of God – 90 Daily Devotions By Bill Johnson – A Book Review


 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Daily Reflections on the Goodness of God

In a culture of world turmoil, fast-paced living, family, and social pressures Pastor Bill Johnson, of the Bethel Church in Redding California, challenges the reader to begin a 90-day devotional adventure by following the principles introduced in his book  “Encountering the Goodness of God.”

Each day’s reading includes a significant Scripture, powerful insight into experiencing God’s goodness, and an invitation to claim the rest, peace and encouragement available in Christ, whatever your circumstances.

Unique features of “Encountering the Goodness of God” include;

90 Selected relevant Scriptures centered around the theme of God’s Goodness

  • Guidelines for experiencing a sense of personal encounter with the God of Creation, and the challenge of being directed to fulfill a specific purpose to live out for him daily
  • Prayer Prompts with blank ruled lines for the reader to complete a personalized prayer response
  • Pastor Johnson captures the essence of biblical truth with insight and clarity while creating an intimate conversational atmosphere for communicating an important application, principle, or promised blessing.

“Encountering the Goodness of God” is designed for those seeking to see things from God’s perspective, to live as Jesus lived, to be “at home” in His presence, and to encounter more of his boundless goodness.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions express are my own.

Destiny Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768414868, $15.99, 2017, 192 pages

History Maker – Arise and Take Your Place in Leading Change By Cindy Trimm – A Book Review


 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Releasing Your Inner Strength – Leadership Principles for Becoming History Makers

In her book “History Maker – Arise and Take Your Place in Leading Change” Dr. Cindy Trimm uses real-life faith-based modern-day stories, deep Biblical truths, and perceptive personal observations to inspire and challenge the reader to make a commitment to join in a quest to influence and lead in bringing about changeDr. Trim is a gifted communicator, a former senator, a bestselling author, visionary, and empowerment specialist. She is recognized as a global strategist, and a noted for her cutting-edge message for this generation. She motivates her readers to grow to their fullest potential by unleashing their powers within to radically transform their future and influence change by inspiring and empowering others to become history makers.

“History Maker – Arise and Take Your Place in Leading Change” is a blueprint for the discovery of a transformational process for becoming agents of change. Social innovators, political and business leaders, and individuals looking for ways to make a positive difference in their own lives and in the lives of others will appreciate Trimm’s fresh viewpoint. She is known for her skills in implementing change with a message of hope.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publishing, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768417081,$16.99, 2017, 252 pages

 

 

Top of the Hill – Learning To Think and Grow Rich at Napoleon High School By Jim Stovall – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

Introducing Napoleon Hill’s Personal Analysis System to a New Generation of World Changers

“Top of the Hill – Learning to Think and Grow Rich at Napoleon High School” is the second book in Jim Stovall’s Homecoming Historical Series. “Top of the Hill” is an amazing story of what can happen when a mastermind group or dream team discover and put into practice the Napoleon Hill’s 17 success principles.

 

Philip Madison, a former student and High School English teacher at Napoleon Hill High School, in Wise, Virginia is currently the principal of the school.  Madison is recognized for his community service and is considered the anchor of Napoleon Hill High School (NHHS).

 

Philip was greatly disturbed by a letter, from Ronald Slade, chairman of the state school board, announcing the closing of the NHHS, at the end of the present school year. The closing was due to a drop in enrollment and the loss in tax revenues from the distressing economic conditions; the result of the closing of the local mine.

 

When Philip arrived at his school office, greeted Amanda Cornett, a senior, possibly the best all-around student ever enrolled at the high school, was already at work as an office assistant.  Amanda already completed all her required courses and is working as a volunteer in the principal’s office to develop business skills. She is also taking college courses at the local university.

 

Amanda’s tears betrayed the fact that she had read the letter from Ronald Slade, still in her hand. Ronald Slade. Principal Madison attempted to console Amanda. Amanda took note of a poster on the wall containing a list of Napoleon Hill’s 17 Success Principles. Principal Madison was reminded of Hill’s philosophy that “Opportunity often comes, disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” Philip went on to show Amanda how setting a goal is the first step toward solving a problem and of the importance of putting together a mastermind group to help solve the problem at hand.

 

Amanda immediately set about recruiting a “Master Mind Group” or dream team from the class of seniors NHHS to commit themselves to keep their school from being closed.  The group included a unique group of talented high school seniors.

The maintenance engineer of the school, Philip and his wife Helen, who worked as an officer at the local bank, and Robert Campbell, an attorney rounded out the team.

 

One by one each of the dream team members contributed their talent as they discovered a challenge from Napoleon Hill’s Personal Analysis. The elements of celebration, disappointment, and intrigue add to the suspense of a well-structured plot, the growth of individual characters, and an unexpected surprise ending.

 

Stovall has created a fast-moving, plot, driven by an unforgettable cast of characters. Stovall uses a combination of fact, fiction, and core beliefs. Each of the chapters of the book builds on the theme of one of the principles included in Hill’s Personal Analysis System.

 

Stovall writes with an upbeat attitude, often using “tongue in cheek” humor. His writing awakens all five senses with vivid metaphors which describe sights, sounds and smells. Other mental images are formed through his picturesque expressive phrases. These ingenious word pictures create vibrant images which stimulate the reader to move from personal application to positive dynamic action.

 

“The Top of the Hill” is written to encourage anyone going through a period of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, or overwhelming adversity. High School seniors, college students, or young entrepreneurs, will benefit from this introduction to Napoleon Hill’s writing.

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 9781937879914, $ 14.95, 2017, 192 pages

 

 

Well – Healing Our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa, By Sarah Thebarge – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Lessons You Can Learn when Love Looks Around

After reading the editorial reviews on Sarah Thebarge’s new book, “Well – Healing Our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa” I knew I had to read the book for myself. I thought I was ready to consider the hard questions we seldom want to face.

Author, Sarah Thebarge, a spokesperson for Compassion International, describes the seemingly hopeless conditions in Togo, West Africa, including the suffering, disease, the cultural conditions, and the discomfort of the climate extremities.

Chapter after chapter, Sarah kept me spellbound as she related her experiences. From baggage claim at the airport in Lomé the capital city of Togo, her first shift on the job at the Hospital of Hope in Togo, right on through her three months of Medical Ministry, I was drawn into the reality of a broken world and burdened by a deep concern to find my place in making a positive difference in the healing process.

Sarah writes with candor and an intense vulnerability that draws the reader into the conflicting reactions of the physically demanding, and emotionally challenging trauma of her experiences and in her search to find hope in an intolerable situation. Sarah’s writing grips your heart. Her sense of compassion becomes contagious.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Faith Words, Hattchet Book Group, Inc.1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N. Y., 10104, 978-1455553198, $20.00, 2017, 322 pages

 

 

 


The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence

By: Marsha Barth

Reviewed By Richard R. Blake

A Memoir Written as a Novel – A Shattering Story of Child Sexual Abuse

In her book “The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence” Marsha Barth uses a fictional character, Julie, to relate her story of overcoming child sexual abuse. Through Julie, Marsha, tells how she tried to bury the hurt, pain, and heartbreaking trauma of parental verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.

Marsha’s writing is candid, open, realistic, and forthright. She helps the reader understand the devastation and intense traumatic sense of shame and hopelessness of the victim of abuse. Marsha tell how the aftermath of abuse shatters the spirit, robs its victims of self-worth, value and inadequacy, and an understanding of the meaning of true love. The social stigma and emotional scars of shame and guilt that follow are demeaning and unspeakable.

Marsha Barth is an inspirational speaker, author, and advocate for breaking the silence of the ongoing cycle of sexual abuse. She offers hope to victims in their quest for wholeness.

“The Shattering II” is a story with spiritual implication, an amazing story of a survivor of the hurt, pain, and brokenness of abuse, of her steadfast faith and her determination to overcome the hopelessness of a being victimized to claim victory, inner peace, and healing.

Deeply moving, clearly insightful, an important relevant message at a time when there are reportedly over 60,000,000 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and countless other victims of rape, domestic abuse, and bullying.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P . O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 978-1944297053, $16.95, 2017, 360 Pages

Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For By: Lisa Lloyd – A Book Review


Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For By: Lisa LloydProduct Details

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Using the Stage as a Platform to Proclaim the Prominence God for His Glory

In her book “Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For,” Lisa shifts the focus from self-seeking affirmation to pointing people to God as the one to be honored. The theme of exchanging auditioning for approval from the crowds and seeking world renown challenges the reader to change the focus and to seek to proclaim the excellences of God.

Chapters are filled with Scripture truths and an invitation to:

  • Embrace yourself as unique
  • Find God’s unique purpose for you
  • Break free of the bondage of shame and guilt
  • Boldly step out to accomplish your mission of proclaiming the redemptive message of Christ.

Lisa’s writing is articulate, relevant, profoundly thought provoking, and rich in illustrative metaphor. Lisa is openly transparent; and shares an account of an incident from her life when she was young, vulnerable, and felt alone and trapped. She also tells of events in her career where God orchestrated unexpected blessing after a period of testing.

The ‘Questions to Consider’ feature at the end of each chapter can be easily adapted for use as a Reading Guide for book clubs or a discussion guide for small group Bible studies.

Destined to become a spokesperson for a new generation of Christian women, Lisa Lloyd is a successful actress and writer and is a popular speaker at women’s retreats, conferences, and other events, nationally. “Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For” is highly endorsed by her peers, and by well-known Christian leaders.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

New Hope Publishers, P. O. Box 12065, Birmingham, AL 35202, 978-1625915177, $ 14.99, 2017, 192 pages

 

Created for the Impossible – Break Every Hindering Thought, Believe What God Says About You By: Krissy Nelson A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

See Yourself the Way God Sees You – Live Out His Amazing Plan for Your Life

In her book “Created for the Impossible – Break Every Hindering Thought, Believe What God Says about You” Krissy Larson establishes the foundational truth of the depths of God’s love, the centrality of the cross, of God’s transforming power, and of his unique purpose and plan for every individual life.

Krissy has a gift for casting vision, inspiring dreams, and encouraging hope.

Her writing is uplifting, transparent, and genuine.  Krissy relates stories and testimonies that touch the heart are authentic and meaningful.

Each chapter ends with the question: What is God saying to you? As I listened expectantly in spirit filled wonder, He reminded me of the innocent faith of my childhood, never a doubt of who Jesus was, , an innocent blind faith, the faith of a child, deeply rooted in Christian heritage, a faith that embraced God’s love and saving power.  Chapter by chapter I listened. He spoke.

“Created for the Impossible” is written for anyone willing to dream dreams, ready to “challenge the impossibilities of life,” and will resonate with those Christ followers who understand what it means walk in an attitude of expectancy and experience the miraculous power of God at work in the lives.

Krissy Nelson regularly hosts women’s conferences and is founder of Not Alone Ministries. She has a vision and passion for people, to help them learn how to let God’s supernatural promises, dare to dream, and overcome obstacles

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 9780768411706, $15.99, 2017, 238 Pages

 

 

Faithing It – Fight For Your Faith By: Cora Jakes Coleman – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Discovering Miracle Working Power of God – On a Path with Destiny – A Life Changing Message of Faith

“Faithing It – Fight for Your Faith” is an important book for anyone who has ever faced a challenge that made them wonder if they could survive. Cora Jakes Coleman’s story is faith building. Stories from Cora’s life and from the testimonies of her friends reveal how to conquer obstacles, face tumultuous times, and heart breaking disappointments by fighting for your faith

Each chapter contains a faith building lesson, teaching from the scripture, a personalized prayer designed for the reader, an affirmation to claim, a faith point to ponder, and a faith activation exercise to put into practice. An added benefit is an essential resource, a list of 30 short daily affirmations. designed to be used throughout the day affirming evidence of God’s confirming word in your life.

“Faithing It – Fight for Your Faith” is filled with powerful lessons for facing inner struggles, on how to prevail in prayer through deep travail or from the “ashes of despair,” and to move from misery to ministry.

Coleman’s writing is filled with penetrating insight, sound principles, and a step by step process for fulfilling your dream, purpose, and destiny. Cora is an incredible communicator; her stories offer hope and inspiration to the reader. Her writing is authentic and meaningful. Highly motivating

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 9780768409109, $ 16.99, 2017, 252 pages