Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters: A Review

 

Photo: Amazon

Tim Tebow is most widely known for the Christian life he leads in the sports world. More recently, however, Tebow has enhanced the scope of his mission field to include written texts. Hence this new book, directed specifically at homeschool audiences, Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters.

In this 196-page book, Tebow provides homeschool students with 36 devotionals, urging them to discover their true identity in Christ and the implications this identity poses. The book is designed to be completed over the course of the academic school year (36 weeks = 36 devotionals), and each 1-3 page devotional is followed by writing questions and/or assignments (letters, short stories, dialogues, etc.) to maximize application and understanding of the concepts presented.

The book is divided into four sections, each 9 weeks long. The first section discusses a Christian’s identity in Christ. The second section focuses on “uncover[ing] guidance when the going in life gets tough” (pg. 3), while the third section focuses on building and maintaining godly relationships. The final section challenges students to “Live Bigger” – to dare to “do” the hard and often by-passed love that is demonstrated for us in the life of Christ.

Pros

  • Sequence – The book starts off with a necessary foundation – knowing who you are in Christ – and ends with the most challenging weeks of actually living out one’s faith in the hard places.
  • Personable Structure – Each devotional features a personal anecdote from Tebow’s life in order to more readily engage learners.
  • Reflection Opportunities – The writing opportunities at the end of each chapter allows students to make the lessons personal, to examine their spiritual lives and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they draw closer to Christ.
  • Sincerity – This is the real Christian walk. Nothing fake or artificial. It’s sometimes hard, but as Tebow encourages readers, it’s always worth it.

Cons

  • Gaps – This book provides a great start on knowing who you are and living like it matters. But, the book simply does not contain enough “material” to cover a whole week of study for students. Parents would be well advised to either include supplementary material, perhaps service learning or Bible study, as well as parental and/or peer discussion for this book. The concepts themselves are definitely worth focusing one week of study on, but more material will likely be needed to really get the most out of this book.

Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters. is now available from retailers. For more information, or to purchase a copy, check out Amazon or Waterbrook Publisher’s web pages. This book is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.

Enjoy – A Review

Have you ever felt guilty for enjoying something innocent, like one chocolate chip cookie, a favorite TV show after a good day’s work, or time out for coffee with a friend? Has a fear of idolatry or a sense of legalism been tying you down from enjoying the good things in life God has given you? If you’re like me, these factors have plagued you at least once in life. But, in Trillia Newbell’s new book, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts, we see the Biblical reason why we do not have to succumb to guilt, fear, or condemnation as we embrace the gifts of our Lord. In this 212-page book, Newbell explores how we can biblically enjoy things like friendship, recreation, and fellowship with Christ. “We enjoy because we know that the gift is given by God for our enjoyment,” Newbell explains. “The gift starts with God as the Giver. If we believe this and see all things as his gifts to us, we are free to abandon our man-made rules and self-imposed guilt and simply enjoy” (10).

Each of the book’s 11 chapters (with the exception of the introductory chapter) explores a different gift God has given us to enjoy. The topics covered include:

  • Friendship
  • Marital Intimacy
  • Work
  • Rest
  • Money and Giving
  • Food
  • Nature
  • The Arts (literature, art, music, dance, theater, etc.)
  • A Relationship with Jesus
  • Our Eternal Hope

In each of these chapters, Newbell ties the pure enjoyment of these things back to the Garden of Eden and God’s original purpose for them. She then goes on to explain how they have been affected by the Fall, the redeeming work of the cross, and the wait for total redemption with Christ’s return. A recurring theme in each chapter is God-centeredness over self-centeredness. Newbell explains that as we remember that every good thing is a gift from God, we come to focus on the Giver instead of fearing or idolizing the gift.

Throughout the book, Newbell also challenges her readers with what she calls “The Enjoy Project.” This is a list of 7-8 reflection and practice activities at the end of each chapter, meant to maximize the lessons for that chapter’s topic. This feature makes this book ideal for a weekly women’s group or Bible study. Each chapter could easily constitute a week’s discussion, and the activities in “The Enjoy Project” could easily become each day’s homework (1 activity per day).

Pros:

  • Numerous personal anecdotes and connections make the author seem much more personable and relatable.
  • The Enjoy Project makes the application of each chapter’s concepts easier and more meaningful.
  • Each topic is explored in a theologically sound manner, with evidence cited from Scripture to support the author’s claims.
  • This book is a refreshing weekend read. At 212 pages, it’s a fast book to read, and the content is refreshing to the soul. It certainly brightened my weekend!

Cons:

  • Although “The Enjoy Project” and the chapter content provide a few strategies for how to simply enjoy the gifts of God in light of the Giver, I wish there were a few more. This is merely personal opinion. I happen to be a very “How?” driven kind of person, and bulleted lists and structured procedures are my “thing.” I understand, however, why these were excluded from the book. Mrs. Newbell is trying to eliminate any legalistic attitudes from her readers’ minds, and the addition of steps/lists would likely hurt this goal. Still, I would have liked a few more suggestions, or even anecdotal examples, of how people practice enjoying the gifts of God.
  • This book is marketed as “Christian Living,” but it is written specifically for women. Just a heads up!

Enjoy is still a fairly new release, having made its public debut in December 2016. The book is available in both print and e-book forms. For more information on the author, visit her website at www.trillianewbell.com. Enjoy can be purchased on Amazon or through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publisher’s website.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.

Is the Bible Good for Women? A Review

Photo: Amazon.com

The title of Wendy Alsup’s book is all revealing – Is the Bible Good for Women? Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture. In the 199 pages that follow, Alsup identifies the questions many women have been asking about what God expects from them, and then she answers them by allowing the “Bible to be its own best commentary” – in other words, using the Bible to understand the Bible.

What does the author mean by the question, “Is the Bible good for women?” Aslup explains that many people consider some of the passages in the Bible directed at women – such as 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11 – to be restrictive of what the author calls “the inherent dignity of women.” How can a Bible that calls for submission and identifies women as “helpers” to men be good for the female sex?

What follows is a masterful exploration of Scripture that clarifies so many misconceptions we as Christian women may have held about how God values us and what He expects of us.

Each chapter focuses on answering a single question. The answering of each of these question prepares the reader for the following chapter’s question, so this book builds upon itself. In the first chapter, Alsup establishes what she calls a “Jesus-Centered Approach” to Scripture – that is, seeing the Bible as a whole document that testifies to the need, appearance, crucifixion, resurrection, and anticipation of the return of Christ. Then, she delves into Genesis 1-3 in Chapters 2, 3, and 4. Here, she unpacks God’s purpose for the female sex (spoiler alert: This totally changed my outlook on womankind being “simply” a “helper”), the Fall of man and how that marred the fulfillment of that purpose, and finally, the need for a Redeemer, the coming of Christ, and the restoration he provides towards fulfilling God’s original purpose for womankind.

After establishing this key understanding of Scripture, Alsup then moves on to address the main question of the book – “Are women blessed or harmed by reading, understanding, and obeying Scripture as it has been handed down for generations?” (76). In Chapter 5, Alsup points out the need for defining “good,” explaining the world defines the word based on a temporal perspective, but God defines it based on eternity.

In Chapters 6-10, Alsup begins to explore specific passages of Scripture that spark controversy about the rights of women in the Bible. These passages include sexual ethics in Deuteronomy 22, the rape of Dinah, commandments for women to be silent in church, and the command for women to wear head-coverings in church. Alsup explains these passages to her readers in a way I really admired. I have noticed, often times, these passages are explained based on the culture of the day. While there is nothing wrong with this, I’ve often wondered if that’s really how the authors intended for them to be understood. If it was, why didn’t they offer a further explanation when they were writing the Scripture? Alsup approaches these “problem passages” differently. Instead of citing secular source documents or historical data on the culture of the Bible, she pulls passages straight from the Bible to contextualize Scripture. The connections she draws among passages, I feel, is theologically sound. No passages appear to be taken out of context or manipulated to woman’s advantage. What results is a clear, Jesus-centered, Biblical understanding of women’s God-given, “inherent dignity” and a deeper revelation of how much God loves us and seeks to protect us.

Pros of the Book:

  1. Each chapter is set up to answer a key question. This question-posing format makes for easy comprehension of a topic that has been muddled over the years.
  2. Alsup’s entire approach on her key question is strictly – and I mean strictly – Jesus-based. Although the law is referenced, it is viewed in light of the fact that Jesus has fulfilled it. This is fleshed out at the beginning of the book (Chapters 1-4) to allow the reader to approach the “harder” passages with a clear and Biblical understanding of truth.
  3. The beginning of each chapter features a summary of the previous chapter. This allows for more thorough comprehension and absorption of the material. It also makes it easier to set the book down and come back to it. This isn’t a book you have to read through all at once in order to really “get it.”
  4. The end of the book features a series of discussion questions to accompany each chapter. This makes this book an ideal resource for a women’s Bible study group or book club!

Cons of the Book:

  1. Some of the sentences are syntactically confusing due to long strings of prepositional phrases. Several times, I had to back-up and re-read a sentence or just slow down and mentally “sound it out” to make sense. However, this didn’t distract me very much from comprehending the argument.

Is the Bible Good for Women? is set to come out on March 21st, 2017 in both print and e-book editions. For more information on the author, you can visit her blogs – theologyforwomen.org and gospelcenteredwoman.com.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.