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The Wounded Land

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I bought this book not knowing it was the beginning of a second trilogy, not the first. That was a good mistake because this ended up being my favorite of all six. This is Thomas Covenant's second trip to The Land, and the once beautiful terrain is now scorched and ugly. His treacherous journey with Linden Avery is tense as Lord Foul attempts to thwart them. Their traveling companion, a small black creature named Vain, is as deadly as he is key to saving The Land. It's a bit violent at times but satisfying.
Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work

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Work is more than a paycheck. Work is good. It is part of God's plan and a blessing, But this attitude is a choice we must make. If work is about making money, self-glorification, control, fulfillment, there will be little or no fulfillment. Work is the place we're at "for such a time as this," and Tim Keller shows the connection between being in a job and fulfilling God's plan. I loved the illustration of Queen Esther's life as the example of doing what one is called to do. Fulfillment comes from know the Lord and understanding His love. Then and only then can one work and be a light in the workplace.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

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Theologian, writer, discipler, teacher, musician, inspirer, undaunted, charismatic, truthful, gentle, likeable...these are the qualities that powered his ministry. What would it have been like to sit at feet and hear his voice? Metaxas gives a detailed account of the nazification of the apostate church versus the determination of the true German believers who not only engaged in civil disobedience but also joined the resistance movement. Pastor Bonhoeffer's commitment to establish and strengthen the Christian church while foregoing personal safety is spellbinding.Metaxas also includes much about both Bonhoeffer's trips to New York City. His disillusionment with Union Theological Seminary and Riverside Church strike a personal chord, as I have entered that church. He quickly discerned the apostasy that is still present today.His tragic death in some ways feels like loss for the world. If he had not been martyred, Bonhoeffer would have blessed the world with more teaching and writing. Why the Lord allowed his death at a young age can never be explained, but the good news is he made use of every moment to serve God, and much of his story was preserved in his formal work and personal diaries. The storehouse of his writing is life changing.Metaxas is great storyteller -- great narrative and no preachiness. I will be reading more of his books.
Cure for the Common Life Workbook

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A process for discovering your passions and abilities in God's kingdom. This is not a book about introspection. Rather it is an exhortation to review your life history to identify what you've done in the past to understand what you might do well for God in the future. Lucado tells us to take risks and serve through our passions by being faithful at our current jobs while exploring new paths.
The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask: (With Answers)

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While there are many more questions the ones in this book, the author has certainly identified the more common ones. It's tough answering questions like these because the answers aren't easy or necessarily what people want to hear. But the discussion in this book is solid enough to help someone who is asking with a teachable heart.
The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ

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This tool has been helping me answer questions from a friend who is struggling to find truth. What excites me about this book is that the story of Jesus, as told in the Gospels, is not only reliable, it is reliable in many categories. The internal and external proofs are overwhelming, and anyone who is sincerely looking for answers can be assured Jesus really lived on earth, died on the cross, and rose from the dead on the third day.
A Cousin's Prayer

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This is a coming of age story about a young Amish girl, Katie, whose fiance was killed in a vehicle accident the previous year. She is overcome with grief that translates into fear when she returns to her home town where he died. Her panic attacks confuse her family and friends and even spark rumors of a possible secret pregnancy.To overcome, Katie must find solutions at the emotional and spiritual levels. The counselor encourages her to practice facing her fear, but to even do that she needs to face her Lord and make the most important decision of her life. I loved the three-dimensionality of the main characters, Katie and Freeman. Their flaws aroused my compassion and their choices to overcome my applause. In spite of emotional issues, Katie's decision to break her fears gripped me. I laughed out loud at the comedy of errors that Freeman created when he recklessly violated Katie's confidentiality. In spite of their foibles, they were easy to forgive. The ending of the book was as predictable as fiction gets, but I still enjoyed watching it happen.There were two story lines that left me wanting more story -- the subplots of the abandoned baby and the miscarriage suffered by a newlywed Amish wife. I was hoping the bereaved woman could adopt that boppli or some similar happy ending. A sequel perhaps?This was my first Amish fiction, and now I understand why this is a bestselling genre in Christian literature. The purity and simplicity of the Amish make them attractive in contrast to the ills of the world.
Intellectuals and Society

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This is the book that introduced me to mid-20th century history. I had no understanding of why the U.S. annexed Puerto Rico, why we jumped into WWI, why Europe appeased Hitler, or why it took us way too long to enter WWII to stop Hitler. More recently, intellectuals have deceived many of us into incorrect views of public figures, such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. They say he is a recluse when in fact he is the most hospitable and sociable of all the justices. The folly intellectualism has been repeated continuously throughout history and has caused senseless suffering from society to society. How nice it would be if we would learn from our mistakes, but instead we forget the lessons of the past and repeat the same nonsense. Modern intellectualism is an oxymoron -- and it's pure foolishness.
Together: Adults and Teenagers Transforming the Church

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Pastor Jeff Baxter captures one of the keys to establishing and strengthening a Christian church in this new millenium. Unless adults learn to connect with teenagers and twentysomethings in church life outside of youth ministry, a church cannot disciple young people. It's not just the youth director's responsibility, in fact, he is not the number one influence. Youth discipleship starts with the family, i.e. parents devoted to their children. After that, it's all our responsibility. We must all reach out and touch other generations.
Crime and Punishment

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Dostoyevsky enters the mind of a murderer who feels no remorse but yet cannot bear to keep his act a secret. Rodya commits a senseless crime, which could have been the perfect one but for his arrogance. This story is an excellent description of the criminal mind: the sense of entitlement, the narcisissm, the weird mix of ruthlessness and charity. This author, my all-time favorite, is the master of the psychological novel.
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