Have I mentioned before that I love reading?
During the last month, I have had the privilege to read four Bible studies/devotionals for reviewing and I'm excited to share them with you:
A Beautiful Life by Kerry Clarensau
Published September 6, 2014 by Assemblies of God
The subtitle of this book is “Discovering the Freedom of Selfless Love.” And that is exactly what this book is about. Through stories, Scriptures and personal experiences, Kerry helps readers discover how to grow love in their lives.
I especially liked that the first parts of this book focused on how we were created for love, and how God is love and thus the One who defines love. Having this foundation of truth is essential to building relationships in love.
Messages to Myself by Helen B. McIntosh
Published May 15, 2009 by Nazarene Publishing House
In this book, Helen addresses the need to deal with harmful and destructive thoughts. Through her experiences as a counselor, she teaches how to identify these thoughts, and replace them with God's truth to “overcome a distorted self-image”.
I greatly appreciated that Helen focuses on the truth and power of Jesus to overcome damaging thought patterns, not just positive thinking.
What Am I Supposed to Do with My Life? by Johnnie Moore
Published November 4, 2014 by Thomas Nelson – W Publishing
This book is all about “demystifying” God's will. The author writes that a big lie Christians fall for is the lie that God's will for their life is hard to find.
Throughout the book, Mr. Moore uses stories, experiences and Scriptures to teach that God's will is more about who a person is rather than what they do; that God has created each person with gifts, desires and passions that can guide them in His will; that the decision-making and planning for one's life is to be a partnership with God.
I greatly enjoyed this book and found it encouraging, challenging and thought-provoking. If you're asking the question, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”, I would definitely recommend this book.
Truth, Lies and Single Women by Allison Flexer
Published September 7, 2014 by Nazarene Publishing House
In this book, Allison teaches from God's Word to dispel 10 common lies that single women combat, such as, “There must be something wrong with me”, “God has forgotten me”, and “I'm not beautiful”.
As a single gal with the deep desire to be married, I can say that Allison hit the nail on the head in this book. Not just in identifying the lies, but also in refuting them using Scriptural truths and looking to the character of God. She also shares advice from other women, both single and married.
I highly recommend this book to women, and even teen girls, whether they are dating or not, because this book brings to light a lot of truth about not being defined by a boyfriend or lack of, a person's worth, trusting God, and sexual purity.
Please share any good Bible studies (or other books!) you've read!
I love reading! It's one of my favorite things to do. I'll spend hours at it when I can. I like many different genres of books, and try as I might, I CANNOT narrow down what my top five, or even ten, books are. Maybe I should try coming up with a top twenty?
During these fall months, I've had the opportunity to read four new Bible studies/devotionals. If you're wanting encouragement and to learn from God's Word, then read on. Maybe one of these books is for you.
Colliding with Destiny by Sarah Jakes
Published September 2, 2014 by Bethany House Publishers
Colliding with Destiny is a 30 day study on the book of Ruth. Sarah walks through the book of Ruth, passage by passage to show that our past does not have to define us and that the most painful times in life can move us to our destiny in Christ.
In reading this study, I would have liked to see more looking to Scripture for learning. Several chapters had the few verses from Ruth as the only Scripture passages, a prayer at the end of the chapter, and the rest seemed more like a pep talk than a drawing out of God's truth. There were some chapters that barely mentioned God besides the verses from Ruth and the written prayer.
However, the study was encouraging, and there was nothing false or unscriptural in it. The chapters were easy to read, with thought provoking questions at the end.
If you're dealing with overcoming past mistakes or hurts, and are feeling defined by them, Colliding with Destiny could be a good starting point for looking to God's Word for healing.
Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller
Published October 7, 2014 by Thomas Nelson Publishing
We hear the word "community" a lot. And it's something we all long for. But how real and genuine are our relationships? In this book Anne shares her own story of finding "intentional, vulnerable and consistent community", and encourages us to do the same.
While I greatly liked and appreciated that Anne shared her personal experiences, I was hoping for a bit more of exploring God's Word to discover how authentic community could be a reality in my life. This book does not claim to be a Bible study, but on her blog, Anne hopes the book will "help people think about and relate in community in very Jesus-like ways". I did find Anne's story encouraging, but my story is very different from hers, all our stories are different in some way, so we need the consistency of Jesus' truth and His example.
I Want God by Lisa Whittle
Published October 1, 2014 by Harvest House Publishers
This book is all about wanting God. Really wanting God. Desiring Him above all else and truly being willing to do whatever He calls us to do and be whoever He calls us to be.
The subtitle of I Want God is “Forever Changed by the Revival of Your Soul.” Throughout the book, Lisa encourages, challenges and helps us to identify the things that keep us from wanting God most, and seek the revival that will change us.
Lisa's writing style is a unique blend of bluntness and poetic imagery. At times, I liked this, and at other times, it caused the chapters to feel a bit long and redundant.
But if you're wanting to want God, this book will challenge and encourage you in your seeking Him.
A Young Woman's Guide to Discovering Her Bible by Elizabeth George
Published October 1, 2014 by Harvest House Publishers
This is an excellent how-to-study-your-Bible book. Elizabeth shares her own story of discovering the truth of God's Word, and gives teaching on how you can discover this truth for yourself.
Each chapter walks through a different passage of Scripture and applies easy-to-remember study steps so you can learn what God's Word has to say for your life.
Elizabeth's writing in this book is geared more for teen girls, but those in their early twenties who are new to studying the Bible would also benefit from this book.
Have you read any good Bible studies (or books in general) lately? I'm always on the lookout for a good read, so please share!
Well, after a crazy busy summer, I'm back!
I have something different for this post: a book review!
I haven't written one of these since high school, but I love reading and am grateful for the opportunity that came for me to read an advanced copy and then write a review on Tosca Lee's newest novel, The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen
Tosca Lee is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of Iscariot, Demon: A Memoir and Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker. To learn more about Tosca Lee, visit www.toscalee.com
About Legend of Sheba: The Rise of a Queen:
As the name suggests, this novel is about the Queen of Sheba. All I know about this queen is from the Biblical account found in 1 Kings 10:1-10 and 2 Chronicles 9:1-12, when she travels from Sheba to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon, whom God has given unmatched wisdom and wealth.
But in the novel, there is much more to the story:
Q&A from Tosca Lee:
What do we actually know about the Queen of Sheba?
We know something about the Sabaean (the Israelite Sheba = ancient Arabian Saba) people: that they had a capital in Marib, a sovereign “federator” who united the kingdoms of Saba, an elegant and evolving script, a sophisticated dam near the capital that turned Marib’s dusty fields into oases, and that there is great evidence of Sabaean settlement in the area of Ethiopia near what would become Aksum. We know the Sabaeans of the 10th Century BC worshipped the moon god, Almaqah, though experts do not agree whether this was a male or female deity. We know that in terms of the ancient world, they were quite rich due in large part to their cultivation of frankincense in the southeastern region, and that they had an extensive and evolving trade network that extended as far north as Damascus, as far east as India, and as far west across the Red Sea as Ethiopia and the continent beyond.
The queen is a very minor character in the scope of the biblical narrative, but you assert that her famous visit to King Solomon is vitally important in the scope of the Old Testament history. Why?
For two reasons. If the story of the United Monarchy (the kingdom of David and his son/successor, Solomon) is not true, then the bedrock of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) collapses into fiction, and the claim of Jews to the land of Israel with it. Perhaps the authors of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles knew that, because they took the opportunity to basically say, “Hey, this queen from the ends of the earth, that famous Queen of Sheba, came and brought tribute to our king, and blessed him and our god and said ‘All that I heard was true, and I never even heard the half of it!’” This is fascinating. It begs the question: what was it that was so great about this female sovereign—in a time when the world was ruled by men—and a pagan, no less… what was it about her that was so outstanding that her endorsement of Solomon, his riches, wisdom, and god, held so much weight as to be included in the Old Testament narrative? Who was this woman who matched wits with the wisest man in the world—whose throne was so secure that she could leave it and make the 1400 mile journey of half a year to visit this king… before making the long trek back? Well, this must be a woman worth knowing something about.
Bringing to Life:
Like previous Biblical historical novels by Tosca Lee, The Legend of Sheba causes one to think, “What was it really like?”
What did these people hear, see, taste, smell, feel and think? What did they themselves look like? Sound like? What made them laugh? What made them cry?
So often we read the stories in the Bible and think of them as just that: stories. We can forget that these were real events, real places, real people, and a very real God of all.
With her meticulous research and poetic writing, Tosca paints pictures of the Sabaean lands, Jerusalem, the riches of royalty, and the characters, from the perspective of the Queen of Sheba, bringing the story to life.
Though being told from the viewpoint of the queen, who is pagan, there was still woven into the story events, thoughts and conversations, that showed the Lord as being God over other gods. There were contrasts made between the Lord God and false gods that I had never thought of before.
Just so you are aware, there was sexual content in The Legend of Sheba:
The queen is raped as a young girl. It does not go into detail, and this happening does play a part in shaping the character of the queen. The queen, being pagan, does have sex outside of marriage. Once again, this does not go into detail. There are also some innuendos, due to Solomon having many wives.
I did not find the sexual content to be in excess or graphic.
Overall, I enjoyed The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen. I found this novel well-written, original, interesting and thought provoking, with strong characters and plot.
The reviewed title was given to me via Netgalley for me to read and write an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.
The post Book Review: The Legend of Sheba first appeared on The Overflowing
Photos of book covers, interview Q&A, and synopsis of The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen courtesy of Tosca Lee