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.

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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.

Heaven is for Real – A Review

Am I the last person on earth to read this book?
Probably. It’s too bad it took me so long to get around to it!

I’ve been wanting to read Heaven is for Real since I first heard about it about four years ago. I was fortunate enough to see the movie in theaters when it first came out, and I loved it. You know the book has got to be amazing if the movie its based on is so good, there probably wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Well, this book didn’t disappoint. In fact, I read it in two days.

Todd Burpo was just a normal guy living in a small Nebraska town. He was a pastor, wrestling coach, volunteer fireman, softball player, husband, and father trying to keep up with the demands of life, as we all do.

Until life happens, that is.

When Todd’s son, Colton, begins throwing up on a family vacation, Todd and his wife, Sonja, think its just the return of a previous bought with the stomach bug. But, when Colton doesn’t get better, the Burpo parents take their son to the hospital. After being misdiagnosed, Colton is taken to another hospital where it is discovered his appendix had burst five days before.

Colton Burpo was dying.

Waiting through the torturous moments when their son is in emergency surgery, Todd and Sonja are left with one question – Why? Why would God allow their son to suffer and possibly die when He could see that they were good people trying to do His work?

We’ve all been told that God has a purpose for everything. And the Burpos’ testimony is the prime example of how true this statement is.

Colton survives the surgery, and after he recovers, he begins to tell his parents of an experience he had while on the operating table. The blonde-headed little boy, only four years old, speaks of meeting Jesus, hearing angels sing, and seeing the throne room of God. This, of course, catches Todd and Sonja off guard, but as they realize what their son has experienced, they are blown away by the prospect that their son has experienced the place of each Christians’ eternal reward.

Of all the paintings he has seen of Jesus, Colton Burpo says this one looks the most like Him. This painting, “Prince of Peace,” was painted by eight-year-old Akiana Kramarik, pictured here.

This book chronicles the years following Colton’s miraculous recovery as Todd and Sonja learn from their son, piece-by-piece, what awaits God’s children in Heaven. It is a testament to the goodness of God and a perfect example of the power of childlike faith. God uses those who, on earth, seem like “the least of these” to communicate to us the most powerful truths. He made a four-year-old boy his mouthpiece to stir up the hope we Christians have in our Savior’s promise to take us to the place he has prepared for us.

Of course, some people have asked, “How do you know this isn’t a hoax? This little boy could have made it all up.”

As Todd shows the reader, Colton knew about things that he had not experienced on earth. For example, he met his sister, who had been miscarried almost two years before Colton was born. Todd and Sonja had never told their son about their lost child, but Colton told them that he had met his dark-headed sister while in heaven. Additionally, Colton was only four-years-old at the time he experienced heaven, too young to know the theological guidelines of heaven outlined in the Bible, and thus too young to make up such a Biblically accurate account of our eternal home. Todd provides scriptural evidence to support each of Colton’s statements about heaven, which further solidifies the account. Here, Colton discusses who he met in heaven, and Sonja Burpo talks about what it meant to her to learn about her miscarried daughter.

I think we have all feared death at some point in our lives. We are so scared to leave what we know for a place we’ve never been. But, after reading this book, you may never fear death again. The little boy who experienced heaven sets an example for all of us. Todd tells of a time when Colton had run off into a parking lot after coming out of a store. Upon catching him, Todd points out to his son a dead bunny rabbit, the unfortunate victim of a car’s front tires. Todd explains to his son, “That’s what can happen if you run out and a car doesn’t see you! You could not only get hurt; you could die!” To which Colton replies:

“Oh, good! That means I get to go back to heaven!”

Wow. That right there sums it all up. Because what could be better than getting to be in the eternal presence of our Savior and Lord?

Colton Burpo’s story is one of hope – hope in the promises of God and His goodness and a true reminder that “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).