I have been privileged to read and review books for a number of years. I am a total booklover, but sometimes there are books that not only are an excellent read but make an impact on you or your life personally. WaterBrook Multnomah sent me these books to read and review, and I wanted to let you know about them! They’ve all impacted me in multiple, and postive, ways.
Dee Brestin’s The Jesus Who Surprises: Opening Our Eyes to His Presence in All of Life and Scripture is both a book and a Bible study. It can be used in a group, or by one person on her own. We all know that Jesus is mentioned many times in the Old Testament, but we may not know exactly where. Here, Brestin draws us through different segments of the Bible (the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets) to show us a more intimate portrait of Jesus and to connect the dots between the OT and the New.
Each chapter focuses on an image of Jesus pulled from those three Bible segments and is introduced beautifully by Brestin, who shares her own experiences and even her own suffering and how Jesus met her. We learn about Jesus’ love and the seemingly paradoxical correction He administers (see the moneychangers in the Temple); how to live and serve out of joy rather than obligation; the Lamb as He’s beautifully described in Isaiah; intimacy and prayer; the royal Wedding; suffering; God’s holiness, and more. The book’s Bible study sections include lots of room for the reader to answer questions; to ponder; and to journal.
This is a deep, intimate, sweet, and beautiful study. It brought meaning and vividness to my personal quiet times, and my own view of and understanding of Jesus. I’ve heard tons about Dee Brestin and her amazingness over the years, but this was my first time to read one of her books. I’m only sorry I waited so long! The Jesus Who Surprises was one of my most favorite reads/Bible studies of 2019.
As a new Christian, years ago, one of my most pressing questions was: how do I know what God wants me to do?
Over the years I have learned to hear God better. I certainly don’t get it right every time or always hear God well. But there are moments when I do, and those moments have brought beauty, joy, and fulfilling careers and choices to me (and, I hope, to those around me). There’s also the downside, though. As a human, with failings, family histories, and traditions, I don’t always get His voice and direction right. (Ugh!) So I do still have that same question, reframed a tiny bit: how do I hear God well?
Nathan Finochio, teaching pastor and worship leader, has a book that I’d recommend to anyone who’s wrestling with the same questions I did and do, still: Hearing God. This book is honest, funny, and designed to help you tear away the “myths” about hearing God so that you have a better perspective to understand how He might be speaking to you. Such “myths” include: that it’s always easy; that if messed-up people weren’t around you you’d hear Him better; that the Holy Spirit can be divided from the Bible; that if your life weren’t full of so much messed-up stuff you’d hear Him better.
I love what emerged as the bottom line for me: God loves me, desires for me to grow toward maturity, and will continue working with me when I mess things up (or when I don’t!). Nathan’s funny, conversational style clearly explains what God might be doing with us despite our faith traditions, our bad habits, and our own misconceptions. Hearing God is great. We actually used it as a read-aloud in our homeschool; it was perfect for me and my teen!
Core 52 by Mark E. Moore’s subtitle says it all: “A fifteen-minute daily guide to build your Bible IQ in a year.” In 52 chapters, Moore starts with Creation and ends with Heaven, and covers tons of information on what the Bible actually SAYS about these topics. Which is awesome! This book would be perfect not only for individual study and reading, but for quiet times, small groups, and even classroom teaching in a religious setting.
Here are some of the other topics Moore covers in Core 52:
- The Fall, Covenant, and Holiness
- Our True Identity
- Jesus and David
- The Messiah
- Prayer, Money, and the Golden Rule
- And clearly, tons more; that just scratches the surface of the 52 topics!
Each chapter starts with a question (e.g., “Who do you say Jesus is?” or “How can I achieve greatness?” or “What kind of kingdom is the kingdom of God?”). Then, Moore writes an essay which explores those questions (and sometimes, inspires further questions!). Each chapter closes with a summary of key points.
There is a box alongside each chapter that gives a daily (for 5 days each week) assignment to complete. Those assignments include reading the essay, looking up Scriptures, Scripture meditation, and a related activity that varies from chapter to chapter, like taking communion, writing notes, seeking out ways to grow in different areas. There are also bonus assignments for overachievers (ha ha!) and extra reading ideas.
Reading and utilizing Core 52 will take the reader through what almost amounts to a discipleship course on living and walking with Christ, understanding the Christian church, and becoming deeply familiar with the Bible and its precepts. While it would definitely be effective for new Christians, it will be just as powerful for more seasoned Christians.
Are there books or materials you’ve deeply enjoyed lately in your life? Be sure to share in the comments below!
DISCLOSURE: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.
I received these books from WaterBrook Multnomah to read and review.