1 Star: Daily Gifts of Grace: Devotions for Each Day of Your Year by Women of Faith

Daily Gifts of Grace: Devotions for Each Day of Your Year by Women of Faith and compiled by Sue Ann Jones is your typical pretty devotional. Pretty cover, artwork, design and 365 short daily devotionals by a group of women known as the "Women of Faith". And just like many devotionals, this book is void of any brain cells and all full of fluff. It is a complete waste of time - a pretty looking, fluff piece with some nice words but not a brain cell behind those words. The devotional words by the women are empty, don't flow well and half the time make no sense. Just try summing one up after you read it. Nearly impossible because the paragraphs don't flow well or stay on the same topic! Normally, writing should have a start and finish to the story - not so here. It's just random thoughts.

"Women of Faith" is a group of female authors -  Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Harper, Lana Bateman, Lisa Whelschel, Natalie Grant, Sandi Patty, Donna VanLiere, Luci Swindoll, Joni Eareckson Tada, Kim Cash Tate, Mary Graham, Carol Kent, Jenna Lucado, Barbara Johnson, Lori Robertson, and Donna VanLiere - put together by controversial author Stephen Arterburn. If you don't already know some of these names, these are not your safe and conservative Christian authors. These people fly under the "non-denominational" title but some of them are supportive of/preaching the "propserity gospel" which is the primary teaching of the "Word of Faith" cult and are raking in the millions in a FOR-PROFIT organization called "Women of Faith" that belongs to publisher Thomas Nelson. Arterburn has some far out teachings and is an adulterer, self-professed murderer (aborted a child), divorced and re-married author/speaker who is more concerned about his career and money than family (per his own re-released book "Healing is a Choice"). Sheila Walsh is formerly of the cultic Word of Faith preacher Pat Robertson's tv show The 700 Club. Based on the authors and organization (the female version of Promise Keepers) alone, I would never recommend this book.

Sheila Walsh's prosperity gospel teachings come through in her writings in this devotional: "I felt very hopeless. I heard God speak four words to me: I will deliver you! Receive his promise. Grace and peace are our birthright as his children." Recognize how "entitled" she is - "grace and peace are her birthright". She is claiming God owes her peace in life. So how does she deal with trials?

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and choose the very best books!

5 Stars: Proverbs Reconstructed by Gus Dallas

In Proverbs Reconstructed, Gus Dallas has rearranged Proverbs into about 380 different topics. He writes "Proverbs is re-arranged and developed in a manner for extracting the much-needed wisdom on an as-needed basis" "Many have been instructed to "read one Proverb a day." But that does not work. Since we absorb information in a filing system sort of way, not too many people can retain the eclectic information given in each proverb. The format is such that a person cannot learn very easily because the author deviates from topic to topic with no given direction on how to navigate through the pages. Nearly every chapter and verse is grouped with many different subjects and situations, making it very difficult to comprehend." "So, now you can absorb the information because it has been broken down into subjects and is further separated into good verses opposed to bad verses. The value for each verse is that we can learn from the verses which edify us and verses which admonish us." "Pastors are encouraged to use the information as a reference tool help to prepare sermons, counseling sessions, marital ceremonies, and public forums. Parents are encouraged to use the information for themselves as well as to tutor their children as they encounter challenges and/or celebrations of life, from bullying to friendships, educational struggles to learning successes, and many other emotional encounters, all of which aid spiritual growth."

The author declares "Reconstructed is ultimately the best way to access the scriptural gifts from our heavenly Father offered in Proverbs in order to improve our lives." Although some may automatically scream "How can Gus Dallas believe his version of Proverbs is better than King Solomons?" However, if we are really REALLY honest with ourselves, for most of daily life, Proverbs Reconstructed into 380+ topics is MUCH more useful than random topics here and there. Now, we might find some of Dallas' topics weird or unusual or unhelpful and wish the categories were a bit more useful, but still, categories are better than randomness! Try finding "anger" verses in the Book of Proverbs! How many are there? It would be nearly impossible! So I believe, even though it may have some shortcomings and there is room for improvement, Dallas' book is a HUGE SUCCESS!!!

I will be referring back to this book again and again and will probably rarely if ever refer back to the Bible's version of Proverbs again. You can disagree with me, but your reason for disagreeing is probably not so much based on usefulness but on holding the Bible as "the Word of God" and in high esteem. Many like to think that God wrote and arranged the Bible and that His order must be the best. But perhaps Proverbs was just a gathering of Solomon's intelligent sayings that some humans put together in no particular order or in a poem-like order and the goal was not to dissect the topics like we do today.

Here is a list of Dallas' topics: (Notice some topics are duplicated in the Kindle ebook version? That is because the first topic "Answer" is for "good" answers, while the second "Answer" are for "bad" answer verses. Remember, "good" and "bad" refers to "the verses which edify us and verses which admonish us")

Abomination Adultery Adversity Advocate Anger Answer Answer Anxiety Age Animal Ant Apple Argue Associations Associations Atonement Authority Bear Behavior Blameless Blameless Blessed Blessed Boasting Borrower Bread Bribes Brother Burden Chastening Contempt Christian Christian Commands Commands Commandments Commitment Confidence Confidence Confusion Contend Contention/Argue Contentions Correction Correction Corrupt Counselors Counsel Countenance Countenance Court Covet Covet Creation Crown Curse Death Death Deceit Deeds Deer Delight Delight Deliverance Disciple Desire Desire Devise Evil Devise Devotion Diligent Discernment Discernment Discipline Discretion Discretion Dishonor Dog Ear Employment Enemy Enemy Envy Eternal Life Evil Evil Exalted Eyes Eyes Faithful Faithful Faithless Father Father Favor-High Esteem Fear Fear Of The Lord Fear Of The Lord Feet Feet Fight Followers Followers Folly Folly Fool Fool Friend Friendship Gain (By Greed) Gamble Generation Generosity Gift Give Giving Glory Glory Gluttony God Gold Gossip Gossip Grace Greed Guilty Hands Hands Happy Harlot Hastens Hates Hatred Hear Hear Heart Heart Heed Hell Help Honor Honor Hope Hope Horse Horse Humble Hunger Hypocrite Iniquity Iniquity Instruction Instruction Integrity Iron Isolates Jealousy Jesus Joking Joy Joking Judges Judgment Judgment Just Justice Justice Just Man Kindness King Knowledge Knowledge Lazy Labor Labor Law Law Lazy Learning Lender Lender Lies Life Life Light Light Lion Lips Lips Listen Listen Lord Lord Love Love Lust Lying Man Man Meddles Medicine Memory Mercy Mouth Mouth Mother Mother Murder Name Name Neighbor Neighbor News Obey Offended Partiality Partiality Patience Patience Peace Peace Perceptive Perish Perverse Plans Plans Pleasure Poor Poor Poverty Praise Prayer Prayer Pride Pride Profit Prophecy Prudence Punishment Pure Rages Reap Rebellion Rebuke Rebuke Refuge Rejection Rejoice Rejoice Repentance Repentance Reproach Reproach Revenge Reward Reward Riches Riches Righteous Righteous Rod Rod Ruler Ruler Sacrifice Sacrifice Satisfied Satisfied Salvation Salvation Saved Scoffer Scoffer Scorners Secret Seek Servant Servant Shame Shame Shepard Sickness Silver Simple Sin Sin Sinner Sleep Sleep Snare Son Son Sorrow Soul Soul Sow Sow Spirit Spirit Strength Strength Strife Strife Sun Suffer Teach Tent Test Thief Thoughts Thoughts Thorns Tongue Tongue Tradition Transgressions Transgression Treasure Treasure Trials And Tribulations Trials And Tribulations Trouble Trouble Trust Trust Truth Understanding Understanding Unfaithful Unjust Upright Upright Valued Vengeance Vents Violence Vow Walk Walk Water Ways (Goodness-Paths) Ways (Darkness-Paths) Wealth Wealth Whisperer Wicked Wicked Widow Wife Wife Wine Wink Wisdom Wisdom Wise Wise Witness Witness Woman Woman Words Words Work Work Worry Worship Wrath Wrath Zealous

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I always give brutally honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

4 Stars: The Voice New Testament by Ecclesia Bible Society

The Voice New Testament by Ecclesia Bible Society is a New Testament bible only. However, the great thing about this bible is that it starts off with a summary of the Old Testament and explains in lay terms how Jesus and the New Testament are the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenants and promises!

This review is for the Kindle ebook version of The Voice New Testament. In the ebook version, the table of contents clearly outlines each New Testament book and also the chapters, so a reader can easily find a verse. In the beginning of this ebook, there are also 5 different reading plans available - a reader can read through the entire New Testament, or only specific verses to "Celebrate Advent" or "Readings for Lent and Easter" or "Read the New Testament in 24 weeks" or "Daily Readings for Personal Growth". This ebook Bible also includes an introduction into each book of the Bible, including who the author is and his purpose in writing and the main ideas and theme of each book.

The thing that sets The Voice New Testament apart from other bibles and New Testaments is that it seeks to make the Word of God easily understood by the lay person. It eliminates all the difficult language and is an easy semi-paraphrased Bible - think New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT) or Message Bible (MSG). And to make sure readers understand what they are reading, every few paragraphs, there is an easy-to-understand commentary that explains a few extra details. I find these extra details very helpful to the understanding of the stories.

I highly recommend this Bible to all Christians who wish to easily understand the Bible stories and how Jesus Christ fulfills the Old Testament covenants and promises. The only reason I have it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I prefer the NIV bible because of accuracy and less paraphrasing. But the NIV is more difficult to read. So for those who want a very simple easy-to-understand Bible, read this one.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I always give brutally honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

5 Stars: As Silver Refined by Kay Arthur

As Silver Refined by Kay Arthur teaches a biblically accurate view of God's process of refining Christian believers through trials. While humans love to moan and complain about suffering and trials, Arthur explains the purpose of trials in a Christian's life. She also explains that trials should be a source of joy and thanksgivings for Christians, as they recognize that character is developed through trials. If we had no trials, we would barely grow in our character. Imagine a rich millionaire's son who was shielded from all trials and all the bad things in life - he would have everything handed to him and would not know the value of hard work and struggle. If we aren't forced through trials to depend upon and lean on God, we learn to become self-reliant and lose our gratitude and thankfulness to God for our every meal and daily sustenance.

 Some of the great teachings that Arthur includes in her book are teachings that once we are saved, we really are saved and also that God is sovereign and powerful above all the creation. Since God is sovereign, we can understand that all trials ultimately come from God and that there is a good purpose behind them. Arthur encourages us to see the positive side of trials and to trust God through them. I highly recommend this book!

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I always give brutally honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

3 Stars: Jesus Calling Devotional Bible NKJV by Sarah Young

This is a review for the Kindle ebook version of Jesus Calling Devotional Bible NKJV by Sarah Young. This bible is a normal NKJV bible with 260 devotionals plucked from Sarah Young's other books and inserted into a NKJV bible. These 260 devotionals are EXACTLY word-for-word the same devotionals from Young's "Jesus Calling", "Jesus Lives", and "Dear Jesus" books. For those wanting to find the devotionals, thankfully, there is an index to each devotional by subject matter: Sorrow, Thankfulness, Brokenness, Control, etc.

So, if you already have a NKJV bible and you own Sarah Young's devotional books (with 365 devotionals per book), you will be better off without this bible. It only has 260 selected devotionals, not 365 devotionals times 3 books = 1095 devotional days. I give this bible 3 stars because there is nothing new in this bible. In fact, I feel you are better off just buying Young's 3 books and hanging on to your current bible.

Now, if you are not familiar with Sarah Young, she writes devotionals "from Jesus' point of view/perspective." She says that she began "listening" to what Jesus spoke to her as she read the Bible. So all her devotionals are from Christ's point-of-view. It is as if Jesus is speaking directly to you. Many find these "words directly from Jesus" to be very inspiring and helpful. Others may find this to be blasphemous because Young is writing words as if her words are being spoken by Jesus. So I will leave it up to the reader to decide where to draw their line.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I always give brutally honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

2 Stars: RE-CREATED FOR GREATNESS The Quest for the Promised Glory by Evangelist Francis Boafo

RE-CREATED FOR GREATNESS The Quest for the Promised Glory by Evangelist Francis Boafo is about the life that we MUST live to actually make it to heaven. Many people assume once they read their paragraph, that they've got their ticket into heaven and now they can go back to living their normal sinful lives. However, Boafo warns us that Christ may say "I never knew you." Boafo explains that the part of the paragraph that most people miss is the part about Jesus Christ becoming THE LORD of our lives! This is what some called "Lordship Salvation." If you really REALLY ACTUALLY do believe in Jesus Christ and all he claims to be, then you must repent and become a new person and subject yourself under his lordship. If you continue living as you lived before reading the paragraph, you are in essence saying that you do not actually believe that paragraph and will not allow Jesus to be Lord of your life. Boafo strongly strongly emphasizes obedience and creating a relationship with Jesus Christ.

As I started this book, I was SOOO excited and certain I was going to recommend it to all my friends and buy multiple copies. However, as the chapters progressed, I found all the steam deflating. Boafo beats readers down with obedience and living in relationship to Jesus or else you won't be going to heaven. I understand this is a serious topic, but the problem is that Boafo doesn't really get into the particulars. HOW DO YOU ACCOMPLISH THIS? How do you build a relationship with Jesus? Boafo tells us that if we can build one or even get one sip of the water that Jesus offers, that we will be hooked and never turn back. I doubt many Christians actually feel like this. Boafo's answers are very idealistic, but very impractical. His idea of building a relationship with Jesus is... obeying, praying and reading your bible. Again, in theory that sounds great. But in real life, it seems a bit simplistic.

I know some will say that the way is simple, that's true, but I just see many Christians start doing 1, 2, 3 and getting into obeying laws without any heart. Where is the passion? As Reformer John Piper (author of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ) says, We should obey God our of love, reference and heartfelt thankfulness. There should be genuine worship and joy coming from being Christ-like and obeying Christ. We shouldn't be like pouty children, threatened with hell, so we begrudgingly obey out of threat.

I also felt like the author has some unusual, unorthodox and, in my opinion, not biblical ideas. For God to be selfish is not wrong because God should get exactly what he wants. Also, God's reason for not invading the earth with angels was because man was created to fall and be saved by Christ to God's ultimate glory. This story brings God more glory than sending angels to fight. Also, there are NO "legalities" that bind God. He chose to have Christ redeem man simply because God wanted to! He doesn't have to explain himself to anyone! See below:

"God never does anything except to satisfy His laws, His justice and righteousness. He is Holy and has no selfish motives! He works by law: the law of love, mercy, righteousness, truth and justice, and so on. Why did God, not invade the earth with His powerful angelic host, to redeem lost man, and to restore the earth to His will? He did not do so, because of His justice and righteousness. He was aware of the spiritual legalities, concerning His placement of man in the earth. The Bible says in Genesis 1:28, “So God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air; and over every living thing that moves on the earth”. Since God deeded the earth to man, He must reclaim all that was lost through a man, which was in accordance with His righteousness. Therefore, God legally placed His Word in the earth in human body, as Jesus the Christ."
Evangelist Francis Boafo. Re-Created for Greatness (Kindle Locations 947-955). WestBowPress.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I always give brutally honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.