Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hiding in the Light


I first heard of Rifqa Bary when a video clip of her interview with Pat Roberston (link below) came up in my daughter's newsfeed. My heart went out to her--I couldn't iamgine my faith costing me so much; couldn't imagine living in fear that my own father would put me to death. 

Rifqa tells her story with intense joy and hope, her deep faith shining through even the darkest moments. God is so real to her--you can feel it in every word. From the "Presence" she sensed as a small girl in Sri Lanka, through her her discovery of Jesus and her experience of meeting Christians, her conversion, her secret-keeping, escape, and the eventual court battle for her freedom and her very life, I was glued to every page. This book unlike so many autobiographies, is well written and intensely interesting. 

5 out of 5 stars.

More about Hiding in the Light:
“After four years of hiding my faith from my family, I knew that it was time. I wrote with shaky hands, ‘Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I refuse to deny him….’ There was no turning back now. I had to get out of that house if I wanted to live. Was this worth risking everything for? Yes.”
Rifqa Bary grew up in a devout Muslim home, obediently following her parents’ orders to practice the rituals of Islam. But God was calling her to freedom and love. He was calling her to true faith. He was calling her to give up everything.

Leaving Islam for Christianity cost her more than she imagined
but gave more than she could have dreamed.

Hiding in the Light is the story of Rifqa’s remarkable spiritual journey from Islam to Christianity. It is also the untold story of how she ran from her father’s threats to find refuge with strangers in Florida, only to face a controversial court case that reached national headlines. Most of all, it is the story of a young girl who made life-changing sacrifices to follow Jesus—and who inspires us to do the same.
More about Rifqa Bary here.  

Thank you to Blogging for Books for my review copy.

Standing Tall--On One Leg

It's one of a parent's worst nightmares...their child being diagnosed with cancer. Joel was an athletic 16 year old in seemingly great health before his diagnosis and the subsequent amputation of his leg. In Standing TallJoel's mother, Kathy, tells the story from a mother's point of view, with Joel's input. Kathy relates her heartache and the trials of the entire family during Joel's incredibly difficult battle with cancer, as well as Joel's faith, courage, and the the way their community stepped in to support them.

Osteocarcoma, a childhood cancer, took the life of a dear friend of ours just one year and a half ago. Because of this, Joel's story was even more poignant to me.

3 out of 5 stars.

More about the book:

Book Description
When Joel Soukup was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 16, the diagnosis changed him and his family forever. This family traveled down an unknown path and emerged from their journey in a way they never expected. Read how this young patient and his family handled the devastating diagnosis with strength, love and faith in God.

About the Author
Kathy Soukup was born and raised in Minnesota and resides near the town of Pine River. She and her husband, Verdale, have raised three sons and now have six grandchildren. Kathy continued to work, mostly part time, during the years her sons were growing up. She now enjoys spending more time enjoying outdoor activities, as well as quilting, gardening, cooking, visiting with friends and neighbors, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Joel Soukup grew up in northern Minnesota near the town of Pine River. He is the youngest of three boys. Joel is attending college at St. Cloud State University in central Minnesota and will soon receive his degree in community psychology. He hopes to use his education and experience to help others who have been handed an unforeseen, life-altering diagnosis such as the one he received at the age of sixteen. When he is not busy with school, he enjoys outdoor activities and sports, hanging out with friends, watching movies, listening to music (especially attending concerts), and rebuilding motorcycles with his brother

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my review copy.

Anything--The Prayer That Unlocked My God And My Soul

Have you ever asked yourself, "Is this it? Is this what God wanted when He called me to serve Him?" Have you ever wondered what would happen if you prayed, "Anything, God. I'll do anything"? I have. It's a scary thought, isn't it? But why?

Jennie Allen and her husband prayed this prayer. They committed everything, anything to God. Jennie writes about that process, their prayer, and the results in Anything, the Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul. 

Honestly, I believe that every christian will get to this place of surrender, not just a chosen few. What "anything" looks like, and the process involved, will be different for each individual, but the desire to give a God everything, to live completely submitted to Him, is the heartbeat of every true child of God. 

This book was a bit of a struggle for me. Here are my pros and cons:

1. There are some really deep thoughts in here. Stuff like this:

        "We love our earth. We love our people. We love our stuff. We love our schedules. We          love our short lives here. And God is saying, Look up. This is going fast. Your life          here is barely a breath. There is more. Way more. 

        Time is almost gone. Our lives are spent well on Him and whatever stories He has              written for us. What are we really so afraid of losing? 

        Heaven feels far away, and we forget. But it is real...and it is coming."

2. Interesting stories are sprinkled throughout.
3. This book will convict you. 
5. The cover art is beautiful.  
6. Parts of this book were reminiscent of In His Steps

1. There is no real flow. The writing seems disjointed and hard to follow. 
2. On page 30 depression, failed marriages, and fear are lumped in with sins. Maybe I misunderstood, but it didn't sit well with me. Here's the quote: "We have seen friends come out of hiding, confessing broken marriages, pornography addictions, depression, abuse, alcoholism, fear, even self righteousness, and they've been met with the restorative grace of God." 
3. Some of the terminology seemed to simplify God a bit, as if that could be done, and sounded a bit...irreverent? One statement even made Him sound nearly schizophrenic. 
4. On page 102, depression is once again mentioned in an almost accusatory tone, and I seemed to understand that, in her opinion, depression is one of the things that will weaken with full surrender to God. As someone who struggles with chronic depression, I can tell you that that isn't so. Not always, anyway. 
5. The book mentions "our glory". As in ours and God's. But we don't get any glory, and God doesn't want us to. It's all His. Always has been, always will be. 
6. On page 192: "God wants to go crazy through us." I'm not trying to nitpick...I'm really not...but it always bothers me when God is not spoken of with proper reverence. 

So there are more cons than pros for me, however, there is some important stuff here that people need to hear, so I do recommend this book with caution. 

3 out of 5 stars.

More about the book:

Book Description
What if you told God you would do anything . . . and he took you up on it?
In the years since the initial release of Anything, God continued to stretch Jennie Allen and her faith because of the courageous prayer of surrender that she and her husband, Zac, prayed, "God, we will do anything. Anything." Previously caught in the dizzying haze of worldly happiness and empty pursuits, Jennie went on to begin living out the adventure God had written for them-to include becoming the founder of IF: Gathering, an organization to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation to live out their purpose.
Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move you to stop chasing things that just make you feel happy and start living a surrendered life that matters.
This newly revised edition is updated throughout to include a new introduction and an in-depth Bible study component for those who have been wanting to lead a study on this topic.
Join Jennie on an adventure to discover your anything, those things that actually mean nothing until you know the God truly worth giving it all up for. And when you do, that will change everything.

About the Author
Jennie Allen is a passionate leader following God's call on her life to catalyze this generation to live what they believe. She is the author of Restless and the Bible studies Stuck and Chase, and is the founder and visionary of IF: Gathering. Jennie is married to her best friend, Zac, and they have been blessed with four children.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for giving me this book in exchange for my honest review.