Book Review: Heart of the Matter by CCEF

Over the past few years of studying biblical counseling, I have been greatly helped by the ministry of CCEF (The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). If you’ve followed Precious Adornment for any length of time, you have probably noticed that I often share excerpts or videos containing biblical advice from men like David Powlison, Ed Welch, or Paul David Tripp. The reason I do this is because I have learned so much about understanding and applying God’s Word from the counselors, authors, and teachers connected with CCEF, that I want to pass as much of that knowledge on to you as I can.

For that reason, I’m glad that I can now recommend a new resource from CCEF called Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Changing Lives. In this one year devotional book, you will find comfort, challenge, conviction, and encouragement in the form of brief, daily readings provided by the faculty of CCEF. These daily devotionals cover a wide array of topics such as suffering, relationships, the process of change, overcoming fear and anxiety, trust in God, forgiveness, and much more. 

As you read this book, you will find that your attention is continually being pointed to Christ and the hope of the Gospel, God’s sovereignty over all things, and His loving purposes for you as His precious child. The readings are deep, yet completely accessible. Because I was reading Heart of the Matter for the purposes of this review, I had to move through it more quickly than I wanted to, and I often found myself thinking that I would benefit much more from reading and considering just one devotional at a time, which is of course, how the book is intended to be used.

I am thoroughly convinced that the Bible contains every truth required to care for the human soul (2 Pet. 1:3-4), and I believe that Heart of the Matter illustrates well what a rich resource God has provided for us in His Word. The authors go deep into the Scriptures to reveal profoundly beautiful truths that we too often miss in our hurried approach to Bible reading. 

Book Giveaway!

New Growth Press has provided me with the opportunity to give a copy of Heart of the Matter to two of my readers. If you would like to enter the giveaway, please add a comment to this blog post and make sure to provide your email address in the appropriate field (so I can contact you if you win!).

At midnight tomorrow night, I will use Random.org to choose two winning comments.

Update

Thanks to everyone for participating in the Heart of the Matter book giveaway. As promised, I used Random.org to find two winners…

The first winner is Colleen who posted the third comment. Congratulations, Colleen!

And proving that God has a sense of humor, the second winner is Taaron N Niki Parsons who posted the 18th comment.

Many thanks to New Growth Press for making this giveaway possible.

Book Review: Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston

If your husband returned from a short-terms missions trip and told you he believed God wanted you both to return to another country as full-time missionaries, what would you say? Although many of us would hope we’d be able to respond in a God-honoring manner, most of us are probably just relieved that we don’t actually have to answer the question right now!

Marcia Moston’s Story

Marcia Moston, however, did have to answer the question. In her new book Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife, Moston shares the story of how her family unexpectedly decided to abandon their comfortable life in the U.S. to move to a rural village in Guatemala where they hoped to minister to widows and orphans in need. Upon arrival, they learned that providing that care would be far more challenging than they had optimistically imagined.

In addition to the usual barriers presented by differences in language and custom, Moston and her husband quickly learned that the lack of oversight at the little mission had led to significant debts which they had no ability to pay. Only a few adults and a handful of children actually lived on-site when the Mostons expected many more. In spite of these obstacles, the new missionaries pressed on to adapt to their surroundings and begin making a difference where they could.

A Reader’s Response

Call of a Coward is an enjoyable account of a modern day missionary venture. The best aspect of the book is Moston’s writing style. Her use of vivid and picturesque language is nearly poetic at times and helps draw the imagination of readers into foreign surroundings they’ve likely never encountered. 

Although I did enjoy reading about many of the daily struggles endured and the spiritual lessons learned through Moston’s experiences in Guatemala, I felt that some of the anecdotes included weren’t all that beneficial to the storyline and thought that perhaps they had been added to lengthen the account since the Moston family’s time in the country was relatively brief.

Overall, though, I found Call of  Coward to be a pleasant read, which personally challenged me to hold loosely to the comforts I daily enjoy here in the U.S. and to be ready to answer, “Yes, Lord,” when He calls.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

True Woman ’12 News & a Giveaway

9 Days to Go!

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of True Woman ’12 for almost two years now, and finally, it’s just over one week away! Yesterday, I received my “ticket” in the mail—the wristband you see above—and I’m ready to put it on and head to Indy.

So far, over 8,000 women are registered to attend the conference. At a time when many in the church have either willingly or unwittingly embraced feminist philosophies, it’s truly thrilling to know that such a large number of women are interested in attending a conference where God’s Word will be honored and His design for femininity will be celebrated. 

No Need to Miss Out

If you’re one of the many women who would love to attend True Woman ’12 next week, but for various reasons won’t be able to make it, you don’t have to miss out. For the first time, you can enjoy True Woman via live webstream from the comfort of your home.

If everything goes as planned, I’ll also be blogging from True Woman ’12 as it happens. So if you’re unable to watch the live webstream, you can check in here at Precious Adornment to follow along through my blog posts.

And now for the giveaway…

Just to whet your appetite for the upcoming teaching at TW ’12, I’d like to give away a copy of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s brand new book The Quiet PlaceThe Quiet Place features one year of daily devotional readings designed to help you withdraw from the distractions of the world to spend time meditating on the truths of God’s Word.

In the introduction Nancy says, “Far too often, far too many of us—myself included—opt for checking Facebook over meditating on His Book, playing Words with Friends over savoring the Word of our dearest Friend…It is my hope that this volume will help you cultivate a quiet heart and find fresh springs of blessing in the presence of the Lord.”

If you would like to enter for a chance to win a copy of The Quiet Place, please add a comment below telling me about your favorite Scripture passage or a passage that the Lord has used to encourage you recently. Be sure to include your email address in the appropriate field (which will not be displayed publicly), so I can contact you if you win. 

Comments will close tomorrow night at midnight (EST), and the winner will be announced Thursday morning (9/13).

Shipping to U.S. addresses only.

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

 

If you and your family love The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, then you’ll be excited about this…

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing is scheduled to be released October 9, and is available for pre-order now.

Learn more about the book HERE.

Book Review: Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur

The Common Definition

If you were to describe a hero, what words would you use? Courage, conviction, passion, strength, selflessness—these character traits and others like them are probably the ideas that quickly spring to mind. In our culture (and most others), we think of heroes as individuals who distinguish themselves from all the average joes of the world through their extraordinary lives and reputations.

In his new book, Twelve Unlikely Heroes, John MacArthur provides a completely different perspective on what it takes to be a true hero in this life. He says, “The greatest heroes are those who are the human means God uses to change people forever—for their good and His glory. And these true heroes who make an eternal impact are invariably the most unexpected and ordinary people—God makes unlikely heroes.”

The Unqualified Candidates

Twelve Unlikely Heroes follows MacArthur’s two previous titles, Twelve Ordinary Men and Twelve Extraordinary Women, as the newest addition to his popular series of books focusing on the lives and legacies of biblical characters. In his latest book, MacArthur features the biographies of both familiar and lesser known names in Scripture—Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon and Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James (brother of Jesus), and Mark and Onesimus.

As MacArthur expounds on the biblical accounts of these individuals, he makes it clear that on their own, none of them is actually worthy of being called a hero. In the end, there would be nothing notable about the lives of these men and women, if not for the God they served.

The Ultimate Hero

MacArthur recently explained the overriding theme of Twelve Unlikely Heroes:

In truth, God is the real hero of every story. He relished choosing and using the most unlikely people to make spiritual impacts far beyond their own imagination or inherent usefulness. These aren’t lessons about human potential, positive thinking, or how to do the miraculous; they’re about how God, in His providence, deals in the circumstances of lives to accomplish His purpose. They show how God can order the affairs of ordinary people—the flawed, weak, and faltering—for His own significant spiritual outcomes.

My Humble Opinion

I greatly enjoyed reading Twelve Unlikely Heroes and found myself repeatedly thinking, “I never knew that!” In this book, MacArthur not only provides the reader with skillful explanations of the Scriptures, but he also sheds light on the text by sharing numerous cultural and historical insights. Additionally, I also appreciated the way that MacArthur brought his teaching down to a practical level, helping readers to see what the life of each biblical character reveals about God and how it should make a difference in their lives today.

Twelve Unlikely Heroes is both interesting and insightful, and as such, is a book I would gladly recommend.

More from Dr. MacArthur on the unlikely heroes of Scripture…

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through a blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Book Review: No Greater Love by Levi Benkert

Before last weekend, it had been quite a long time since I’d found a book so intriguing that I read it through in one afternoon. But when I sat down with Levi Benkert and Candy Chand’s new book No Greater Love, that’s exactly what I did.

No Greater Love tells the remarkable true story of how an unexpected phone call turned Levi Benkert’s world upside down and resulted in he and his family doing something he would never have imagined. Within the course of 6 weeks, Levi, his wife, and three children left everything they knew in America in order to travel across the world in the hopes of rescuing innocent children destined for death in Ethiopia.

An Unthinkable Practice

The Benkerts’ hearts were captured by the plight of children labeled as mingi by certain tribes in rural regions of Ethiopia. Steeped in superstitious pagan beliefs, these tribes remain convinced that for various reasons, certain children are “unclean” or “cursed” and must be put to death in order to prevent evil spirits from punishing the entire tribe with drought, crop failure, and death. Children are declared mingi if they are born out of wedlock, if their parents conceive without a special tribal ceremony being performed beforehand, or if their top teeth appear before their bottom teeth.

An Incredible Calling

When Levi and his wife Jessie learned that mingi children are routinely starved, drowned, or suffocated by their own parents, they knew God was calling them to do something to make a difference. Once they arrived in Ethiopia however, the Benkerts realized that rescuing these children and providing them with loving homes and families would be far more complicated and heartrending than they could ever have envisioned. Although they faced countless challenges in their new ministry, Levi and Jessie persevered and saw many lives saved and their own hearts forever changed.

A Powerful Story

No Greater Love is a captivating story which is well-worth reading. I found the Benkerts’ experiences to be especially meaningful because of my own family’s deep connection to the country of Ethiopia. Evangelle and I often pray together that God would shine the light of His gospel into the darkness of her home country, and No Greater Love provided me with a sweet reminder that He has not forgotten the people of Ethiopia.

Learn More

No Greater Love is now available for purchase.

Read about Levi and Jessie’s current ministry in Ethiopia at their website Bring Love In.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through a blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Book Review: The Truth about Grace by John MacArthur

We say it’s amazing. We describe it as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. But apart from that, what do we really know about grace?

In his new book, The Truth about Grace, John MacArthur sets out to help believers gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of this often misunderstood topic. The Truth about Grace is one in a series of three small books now available from Thomas Nelson. Other volumes include The Truth about Forgiveness and The Truth about the Lordship of Christ

In the introduction, MacArthur explains that although divine favor is central to the concept of grace, the oft-repeated definition “unmerited favor” simply doesn’t go far enough. He says, “Grace is not merely unmerited favor; it is favor bestowed on sinners who deserve wrath. Showing kindness to a stranger is ‘unmerited favor'; doing good to one’s enemies is more the spirit of grace (Luke 6:27-36).”

He suggests the following definition instead: “The free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners.” In his concise and straightforward style, MacArthur goes on to teach readers from the Scriptures about the two kinds of grace (common and special), God’s sovereignty over grace, common distortions of the topic, the effects of saving grace in the lives of believers, and much more.  

Although some readers may shy away from books dealing with weighty theological issues such as this, there is no reason to fear the subject matter contained in The Truth about Grace. One of the many things I appreciate about John MacArthur is his ability to explain the deep truths of Scripture in a highly understandable manner. Whether you’re struggling with confusion in your understanding of grace or are simply interested in learning more about this merciful gift of God, I believe you’ll be encouraged and blessed by reading the brief, yet thorough teaching provided by MacArthur in The Truth about Grace.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Book Review: Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis

I had every intention of posting this review last Saturday, and if I weren’t a mom, I’m sure I would have done it. My 14 month-old daughter, however, had other plans for me, plans that kept me revolving around her from sunup to sundown.

By the time she finally went to sleep that night, I still hadn’t produced the first word of a book review, and I was completely drained. Apart from keeping my daughter clean and fed, I felt I had accomplished nothing else of significance that day. 

Moms have lots of days like that—days that seem so filled with the menial and mundane you can’t help but wonder if they even matter at all.

In her book Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role, author Erin Davis encourages frazzled moms to remember that, yes! It all matters!

A Corrected View of Ministry

Last week in my review of the book Missional Mom, I expressed the disappointment I felt when I realized that the majority of the book appeared to equate “ministry” with activities that took place outside the home. As it turns out, Erin Davis once had a similar mindset.

Davis explains in Beyond Bath Time that she and her husband actually put off having children because they thought little ones would hinder their ability to do “ministry.” She later came to see such thinking as entirely misguided:

We had been lied to. It’s a lie that has been whispered into many ears.

More and more women are choosing childlessness…Motherhood is not revered as a sacred role. Career is king. The modern equation leaves little room for children.

I believe this is one of the greatest tragedies of our time.

Davis goes on in the rest of the book to explain why she believes Christian women should “stand up to the culture and reclaim motherhood as a high and holy calling.”

A Big Message in a Small Package

At just under 150 pages, Beyond Bath Time is a great size for busy moms. Davis looks at how motherhood has been damaged by the feminist movement, by lies that women commonly believe, and by the trend of choosing childlessness.

She then moves to focus on what the Scripture has to say about the role of motherhood and encourages women to see the eternal impact they can have as they daily nurture the souls of their children…

What you’re doing might seem small…But God multiplies your efforts. Your small tasks point to a very big God if you are determined to do it all for His glory. 

Just as our definitions of blessing and burden have gotten jumbled, so have our concepts of big and small stuff for the kingdom. If a woman surrendered her life to share Bible stories with children in unreached people groups overseas, we would consider that big, and rightfully so.

But your children are also an unreached people group. They don’t come into the world with a knowledge and heart for God. It’s your job to teach them, and it’s a big job.

That’s a message we need to hear far more frequently within the church today, and I appreciate Erin Davis for sharing it.

A Wealth of Encouragement for Weary Moms

Whether you’re a brand new mom or one with years of experience, I believe you’ll find valuable encouragement in this little book on how to make your mothering count for the Kingdom of God.

Another plus is that Beyond Bath Time is one of the first books to carry the new True Woman publishing imprint, which means that the content has been approved by Revive Our Hearts and The True Woman Movement. If you know anything about the biblically-grounded nature of those ministries, then you’ll understand why that’s a very good thing.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through a blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Book Review: Missional Mom by Helen Lee

This week, I hope to share reviews of two books I’ve read recently which I believe contain very different ideas about the ministry of motherhood. I hope you’ll benefit from hearing about them. Here’s the first… 

Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home & in the World

When I first saw the cover of Missional Mom by Helen Lee, I was truly excited about having the chance to read the entire book. Based on the book’s title, subtitle, and back cover, I had the impression that Missional Mom would call attention to the vital role that motherhood plays in changing the world for Christ. What I was surprised to find, however, is that the book actually focused very little on the ministry of motherhood at all.

What Is a Missional Mom?

In the introduction, Helen Lee discusses the feelings of frustration, purposelessness, and despair that many women seem to experience once they have children. Lee set off to discover if missional living was the missing key for these moms. She spent the next year searching out women she calls “missional moms” and concluded that “Ultimately, mothers who choose a missional lifestyle have found the secret to the conundrum many mothers experience: that living missionally brings a profound sense of heavenly affirmation and peace.”

Lee goes on in the rest of the book to explain the distinctives of missional moms: they join with God in His mission to redeem lost humanity by living counterculturally, they make evangelism part of their everyday life, and they educate themselves and then seek to meet the needs of people close to home and around the world.

What I Enjoyed

Lee is incredibly passionate about encouraging women to take seriously their primary calling to love and know God by living in obedience to the Great Commission. She challenges women to resist cultural pressures that would motivate them to isolate themselves and their children in search of security, bow to materialism in search of comfort, or to idolize their children’s achievement and success in search of happiness. What Lee encourages moms to do instead is to sacrifice and push themselves outside of their comfort zones in order to advance God’s mission of redeeming the lost.

As you read Missional Mom, you simply can’t ignore Lee’s love for the Lord and those in need. Her enthusiasm and desire to honor the Great Commandment and Great Commission are obvious throughout the book, and I personally found myself challenged to evaluate my own life and seek more opportunities to help the hurting and reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What’s Missing

In spite of the many good things said in Missional Mom, my greatest concern about the book, as I referred to earlier, is what the book doesn’t say about motherhood. Although moms are mentioned on nearly every page, Lee says relatively little about the ministry of motherhood itself and seems to put the focus of missional living on those outside of the home.

Even in the eighth chapter “The Missional Mom Creates Missional Families,” Lee still neglects to address what the Bible has to say about motherhood or parenting. She recommends resisting materialism and showing generosity and hospitality as methods of creating a missional family. These are good things, of course, but when Lee suggested that moms discuss with their children fair trade coffee, global warming, and how wasting energy affects polar bears, I failed to see how these topics related to the Gospel and missional living.

What the Scripture Teaches

Unfortunately, the major impression I’m concerned readers will take away from Missional Mom is that a mother’s ministry to people outside her home is more important and more in line with the Great Commission than is her ministry to her husband and children. Biblically speaking, this is simply not the case. Paul had not forgotten the Great Commission when he instructed older women to teach younger women “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (Titus 2:4-5). In fact, he explained that moms should live this way so that God’s Word would not be dishonored (2:5).

When a woman fears the Lord, loves her husband and children, “looks well to the ways of her household” (Prov. 31:27), partners with her husband to diligently teach their children God’s commandments (Deut. 6:7) and to train them in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), she is living missionally. A woman’s family is her primary mission field and the work she does to make disciples in her own home is no less important than the work done by a missionary on a foreign field.

These are vital points that I believe are missing in Lee’s approach to missional motherhood. You simply cannot accurately portray Christian motherhood without first explaining what God has clearly revealed in His Word regarding the topic.

In Conclusion

I appreciate Helen Lee’s desire to inspire moms to share God’s heart for the lost and needy and take the Great Commission seriously. As moms who have children living at home, we must ensure that we don’t allow our primary mission field to become our only mission field, and Missional Mom contains some helpful advice on how to avoid that error by creatively responding to the needs of the world around us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through a blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Book Review: Stress Point by Sarah Francis Martin

Nearly every teenage girl in existence lives in eager anticipation of the day when she can finally enjoy all the freedom, independence, and excitement that is sure to accompany her future life as a twenty-something. However, it’s often not until a teen actually transitions into her twenties that reality sets in revealing the painful truth that adulthood isn’t quite as blissful or carefree as she once imagined!

Stress—It accompanies every decade of life, and the experience of a twenty-something is no exception. In her book, Stress Point: Thriving through Your 20s in a Decade of Drama, Sarah Francis Martin seeks to help young women navigate through some of the major challenges they’re likely to face during this stage of life.

Overview

Martin devotes one chapter each to ten different stress points: career, self image, body image, love and dating, serious romantic relationships, friends and family, money, independence, making a difference, and spiritual maturity.

Each chapter follows a specific structure. Martin begins by illustrating the chapter’s particular stress point with three case studies, often using stories from popular TV shows, movies, or her own life to help the reader relate to the topic at hand.

She then directs twenty-somethings to the necessity of “Worshiping at the Throne of the King” by highlighting a name of God and teaching how His character is revealed through that name. Worshiping leads to “Waiting at the Throne of the King” as Martin encourages readers to see that waiting on the Lord is an active and beneficial process, rather than passive and useless as it often appears to be. Finally, each chapter concludes with “Finding Focus on the King” where the author explains how readers can find satisfaction and fulfillment by keeping the Lord central in all that they do.

Stress Point’s Strong Points

I greatly appreciate the goals that Martin aimed for in writing this book. As a result of the lack of solid biblical instruction in many homes and churches today, young Christian women often move into adulthood with a great deal of confusion regarding how their faith should shape every aspect of their lives. Stress Point offers some much-needed teaching that will help readers see how they can please God even in the midst of major life changes.

Martin repeatedly hammers away at the importance of living under the Kingship of Christ and seeing that He is Lord over every stressor a woman may face. By providing questions and journaling space in each chapter, she encourages personal application of the material covered as well as interaction with the Scripture.

I particularly appreciated Martin’s emphasis on worship and the need to deepen one’s knowledge of the character of God. These topics, which are often neglected in modern Christian women’s literature, are truly vital to understanding our identity and purpose on this earth. When a young woman grasps the biblical truth that she was created by a wise and loving God to bring Him glory in all that she does, her life is infused with meaning and direction she would otherwise never experience. Stress Point provides valuable assistance in this regard.

Stress Point’s Weak Points

As much as I wish I could give Stress Point my wholehearted approval, I do have some reservations about certain aspects of the book. The first concerns Martin’s handling of Scripture. In a few instances, she takes an Old Testament passage which refers to a particular individual or where God is speaking to the Israelites in general (for example, Ps. 45:11; Is. 62:3-4), and she attempts to apply it directly to individuals today. Although all of Scripture has bearing on the lives of Christians, it is a mistake to interpret any passage without considering the original audience and context.  

This problem leads to my second concern—Martin’s attempt to bolster the reader’s sense of self worth by using these Old Testament passages to assure readers that God is enthralled with or captivated by their beauty. In my opinion, this approach actually undermines Martin’s stated desire to help women turn their focus from self to Christ because attention is still being placed on self and human beauty rather than being placed on the Lord and His beauty.

As human beings thoroughly marred by sin, we must remember that any beauty we have is derived from God Himself as our Creator and from Christ as our Savior. We have worth as human beings because we’re created in God’s image; we have beauty as believers because we’ve been clothed in Christ’s righteousness. So whenever we speak of our worth or identity as individuals, it needs to be done in biblically accurate terms or we can easily make the mistake of sounding as though we have some sort of loveliness that is not directly derived from and dependent upon God Himself.

A third area concerns specific illustrations and points made on the issues of drinking or visiting a bar and physical relationships with the opposite sex. For the sake of space, I can’t go into detail here, but I thought some statements should have been avoided and more should have been said to encourage avoiding temptation and sin in these areas.

Final Point

There is a great deal of good contained in Stress Point, and for that reason, I truly wish I could enthusiastically recommend it. While readers will benefit from much of Martin’s teaching, the concerns I’ve mentioned above prevent me from giving it my full approval.

Reading & Singing about Jesus

Two of many things I hope to pass on to Evangelle are a love for books and a love for music. Thanks to author Sally Lloyd-Jones, I think Evangelle and I have gotten off to a pretty good start in both areas.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been enjoying Lloyd-Jones’s Bible storybook for itsy-bitsy children like Evangelle, Baby’s Hug-a-Bible. You may already be familiar with Sally Lloyd-Jones because of another more well-known book she wrote for little ones, The Jesus Storybook Bible. Since I love The Jesus Storybook Bible, I quickly ordered a copy of Baby’s Hug-a-Bible when I found out that Lloyd-Jones had written it as well.

A board book wrapped in a soft fleece cover, the Hug-a-Bible is just right for Evangelle’s size. Like The Jesus Storybook Bible, in Baby’s Hug-a-Bible, Lloyd-Jones focuses on God as the hero of every story instead of drawing attention primarily to the courage of David, the faithfulness of Daniel, or the obedience of Noah, for example, as many children’s Bible storybooks do. 

The 10 Bible stories included in the Hug-a-Bible are told in simple rhyme form that is much easier for younger audiences to follow.  

The colorful illustrations by Claudine Gévry capture Evangelle’s attention in a way that no other book has. When we read a story together before bedtime, her eyes stay riveted on the page while her little hand traces over the different elements of each picture.

The book is great, but I also mentioned music, didn’t I?

Recently, a group of various artists, including Sandra McCracken, recorded a children’s album using the text of the Hug-a-Bible for lyrics. Rain for Roots: Big Stories for Little Ones is a collection of folk music that both Evangelle and I are greatly enjoying.

You can download a free sample to get an idea of why I find myself singing these songs throughout the day. They’re very catchy, but not in a “This is the Song that Never Ends” kind of way. :) The music is truly enjoyable for children and parents alike.

It’s not often that you find a Christian kids album with good lyrics and good music, but Rain for Roots is one of the best. You can purchase the entire album for $8.99.

I Couldn’t Love You More

For the last few years, I’ve been on the lookout for children’s books that combine solid Christian texts with skillful illustration. I’m happy to say that when Evangelle arrives, she’ll find a nice little library awaiting her enjoyment. Still, there’s always room for another good book…

I’ve just learned about I Couldn’t Love You More, a new children’s book featuring the lyrics from one of the songs Matt Hammitt wrote for his son Bowen. Many of you will remember praying for Bowen about one year ago when none of us knew whether or not God was going to continue sustaining his tiny life.

Praise the Lord, He heard and answered our prayers. Bowen’s health has dramatically improved, and as you’ll see in the following promo video for I Couldn’t Love You More, he is now one adorably healthy-looking chunk of a
baby boy. 

I’m looking forward to sharing this beautiful message with Evangelle one
day soon…

I Couldn’t Love You More

In the night He is with you
At morning light He is with you
Do not fear for He is with you
When I’m not here He is with you

I couldn’t love you more
I couldn’t love you more
No, I couldn’t love you more
But somebody does, Jesus

Rest your eyes, He is with you
I pray you find, He is with you
When I let go He is with you
And I can know that He is with you

I couldn’t love you more
No, I couldn’t love you more
No, I couldn’t love you more
But somebody does, Jesus

And you are mine for a moment
But you are His, forever His
And in this life I am holding you
But in His arms you live

I couldn’t love you more
I couldn’t love you more
No, I couldn’t love you more
But somebody does, Jesus
Oh, but somebody does, Jesus 

I Couldn’t Love You More is available for pre-order on Amazon.


Girls Uncovered

Girls are in trouble in America.

Even though I live in a small city in North Carolina, that fact is clearly illustrated to me on a weekly basis at the local pregnancy resource center where I volunteer as a peer counselor. For the majority of young women I counsel, sexual promiscuity, unplanned pregnancies, and cohabitation are a way of life. Sadly, this lifestyle is often accompanied by abortion, STIs (sexually-transmitted infections), unemployment, and poverty. The lives of these women are a wreck, yet they hardly seem aware that any other options exist.

Girls Uncovered

In their new book Girls Uncovered, Joe McIlhaney, Jr. and Freda Bush document how America’s highly sexualized culture is destroying young women. In addition to years of professional experience as board-certified ob/gyns, McIlhaney and Bush also draw from current medical and sociological studies to reveal how the popular hook-up culture in our country is devastating the very women it claims to have liberated. The authors share this information in order to educate parents regarding the crisis facing their daughters and to motivate them to reclaim their role as their daughters’ primary protectors. 

What Society Says

Girls Uncovered is both fascinating and heartbreaking. The authors spend the first seven chapters of the book showing how our society, through its promotion of sexual promiscuity, actually works against the hopes and dreams most girls have for completing their education and establishing successful marriages and families in the future. Although adults once provided safety for young people through their oversight of the traditional process of courtship, McIlhaney and Bush believe parents in modern times have by and large left their daughters unprotected or “uncovered” by leaving them alone to navigate relationships with the opposite sex.

Without parents guiding them to make wise decisions, McIlhaney and Bush stress that young women have little option but to follow the lies they consistently receive from the media and culture which say that sex outside marriage is normal and no big deal, contraceptives make sex safe, abortion is a minor procedure, and sexual promiscuity leads to happiness.

What Studies Show

Using a wealth of statistics, McIlhaney and Bush debunk each of these myths and show that sex is a significant act which deeply affects a woman both physically and emotionally.  Brain research reveals how a complex combination of hormones released during sexual activity actually bonds women to their partners and creates a sense of trust which may partly explain why women often remain in harmful relationships. Although young people usually consider pregnancy to be the greatest risk involved with premarital sexual activity, the authors emphasize the grave consequences of STIs, which affect millions of people in the U.S. every year and can lead to infertility, miscarriage, or even death.

The Authors’ Solutions

After painting a grim picture of the risks facing girls today, McIlhaney and Bush then go on to explain what society and parents must do in order to provide the protection young women so desperately need. I would describe their solutions as traditionally moral, yet short of biblical. Although Girls Uncovered is designated as “Christian Living” and is endorsed by Josh McDowell, the content is not specifically Christian.

The authors cite the positive role of religion in raising daughters, yet do not identify the teachings of Scripture as providing the ultimate solution to the crisis our highly sexualized culture is creating among women. Nevertheless, the advice they provide is common-sense and moral and would greatly benefit our culture if put into practice.

My Thoughts

I would recommend Girls Uncovered as a helpful resource for parents, pastors, counselors, and anyone interested in ministering wisely to young women, since the information contained in this book will help adults to better understand the temptations and pressures girls commonly face in our society. It is important to remain aware, however, that it is only the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture that can transform the hearts of young people and empower them to flee sexual immorality and glorify God in both spirit and body.