Tag Archives: nonfiction

A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

Deep and Wide {Book Review – A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker}

A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith by Brandon Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

As a host and guest judge for HGTV and DIY Network (My Big Family Renovation, Brother v.s. Brother, Tiny House Arrest), Brandon Hatmaker understands what it takes to rehab a home. But after twenty-plus years of working with the local church (and as husband to bestselling author Jen Hatmaker), he has an even greater understanding of what it takes to rehab an everyday faith. In A Mile Wide, he helps readers see more clearly how the gospel works in us and eventually through us to transform an anemic spiritual life into a deeper, fuller, and more effective faith.

Offering fresh perspective on eight essentials of Christianity—the gospel, identity, scripture, discipleship, kingdom, mission, community, and justice—Hatmaker provides biblical insight and practical applications that tap into the richer life Christ promised his people, individually and as a community. God wants more than simply to save us; he’s also determined to transform us, restore us, and use us to reveal the coming of his kingdom right here, right now.

My thoughts:

It took me a long time to read this book. And I think I needed to take it slow.

I have so many notes and parts marked to go back and read and consider and discuss. And also? To do something about.

One of the author’s main intentions in this book is that our faith is to be lived out daily and in all areas of our lives. Not just within the church family. Not just within our town. Not just in monetary donations abroad. But in all aspects.

I marked over 50 quotes (my norm might be 10-12). I have pondered what’s in this book, shared it with others, and more.

The author approaches this material with a straightforward yet conversational tone. He uses anecdotes from own experiences as a pastor, a father, a community member, and more to show his own lessons learned (without ever being condescending or judgmental). He also uses biblical stories to exemplify gospel in action, especially focusing on how Jesus was and is the prime example of mercy translated into action (p. 164), with closer looks at a few select verses.

Written mainly to those who are already believers, the book is split into two main sections (“The Gospel in Us” and “The Gospel Through Us”) and nine chapters that expand on the previous discussion. Each chapter ends with discussion questions that would be best used with a partner or group, as this book definitely warrants discussion and implementation.

I highly recommend reading this book after reading Love Does by Bob Goff (my review of that amazing book here) for a fantastic look at loving and faith through action (with the foundation on why and mercy and love received from God) and in our daily lives. I also recommend it for any leaders within faith communities, as many discussions are on mobilizing folks in genuine and welcoming ways.

What’s one of your favorite books that affecting how you live your faith daily?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Chasing God by Angie Smith

Seeing Him All Along {Book Review – Chasing God by Angie Smith}

“So the sermon notes, the stacks of Christian books, and all the fellowship potlucks you have on your calendar are a waste of time if you aren’t relying on Him. Our strength is just not enough to make us grow in holiness.” – p. 86, Chasing God

When an author writes this quote in her book – a book that certainly qualifies as one of those in the “stacks of Christian books” mentioned – you know she’s aiming to be realistic and honest about the truths and struggles of faith. Chasing God by Angie Smith

In Chasing God (B&H Books, 2014), Angie Smith discusses faith founded on love and understanding that love even when we can’t understand the whys and hows of happenings around us. Her main point while introducing the book is that we naturally love to chase something, or we give up chasing easily. This chase doesn’t always translate into a healthy faith.

“…it’s safe to say that our running (chasing) was based on the presumption that we want something more than it wants us.” – p. 2, Chasing God

She goes on to state that the goal of the book is to “offer my thoughts on the difference between looking for Him and looking at Him” (p. 2). She does so through personal stories, in-depth considerations of biblical stories, and reflections on her own faith journey.

Angie’s tone is non-threatening, but extremely effective. She reveals, connects, and convincingly urges all in one paragraph. She offers a good blend of conversational tone with reflective and eloquent thoughts and witty observations. (If you’re not fond of conversational interjections within a book, you might find that aspect a little too frequently, but I found it fun and entertaining.)

I related to Angie’s perspective several times, particularly when regarding perfectionism, feeling like I have to “follow the rules” to show my worth of love, and lack of control. Angie covers realistic, yet deep questions in anyone pursing a genuine faith. She writes on prayer, trusting in daily life, enduring trials, and more.

The chapter on prayer is one of the most influential chapters on prayer I’ve recently read in a contemporary book. I’ve actually begun to change the way I pray largely due to Angie sharing the biblical basis of her own journey in prayer. She guides the reader through examples of prayer from Christ and how we can apply these patterns in a meaningful (not rote or Pharisaical) way. I also love her take on the woman who endured twelve years of bleeding and Thomas’s actual faith in the last two chapters of the book.

For a fresh perspective on God’s love with good discussion on many biblical stories, check out Chasing God.

“He asks us to have the kind of faith that wakes in the morning not knowing how He will provide, but believing that He will, based on what we know of His character.” – p. 118, Chasing God

With Angie’s perspective on chasing God, how do you feel about your faith journey and how much you fee like you have to “earn” rather than just see God’s love right where you are?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other manner.

The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets

Seeking His Company {Book Review – The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets}

What often keeps us from noticing and enjoying the presence of God?

For me (and maybe for others), it’s usually myself – my self-imposed to-do list, my mind flitting from one thing to the next, my choices or my perspective. Even during the challenges of life, I can still choose whether or not to seek and praise Him.

The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets (Bethany House, 2014) addresses some of the ways we can redirect our focus to Him.The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets

With 30 shorter chapters (of about 8-10 pages each), this book can be used as a month-long devotional, or just a regular non-fiction read. Each chapter focuses on one part of the relationship between believer and God (examples: “The Discovery,” “The Friendship,” “The Offering”). The author uses a conversational tone combined with biblical discussion and study to look at how we can learn and apply examples within the Bible in our lives. Each chapter then ends with a page-long prayer.

The author shares the foundational premise of the book on page 15:

“Our company is what He longs for. Enlightened worshipers know this. They also know that when they approach Him, He responds; and the pleasure of His company becomes their reward.”

This author’s tone in some parts throws me off just a little bit. He offers valid points in every chapter (like “God is a Father at heart”), but occasionally comes across as criticizing in some of his stories. Some readers may enjoy his tone (which is not meant to harm, but probably more for effect), but others may prefer a different “voice.” This is personal preference, but I still think most readers will gain encouragement from this book. I wouldn’t recommend this book for those unsure about the faith or brand-new believers, but perhaps more for those who are looking for encouragement to refocus on who God is as our Creator and passion-filled God.

“Most of us don’t believe, or we don’t take the time to consciously consider, that we always have the ability to choose the simple devotion demonstrated by Mary. But we do.” – p. 77

How do you re-center and focus on the pleasure of God’s company?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

5 Books to Read on Now via Under God's Mighty Hand

5 Books to Read on Now

5 Books to Read on Now via Under God's Mighty Hand

In this, my year of now, I need to surround myself with reminders that now is now and now is not the future or the past. Now need not surrender to fear of what might come.

Since I love words, and I love reading, books help widen my perspective and redirect my mind. With now so much on my brain and heart this year, here are 5 books I want to read this year to remind me of the important of now.

5 Books About Now

  1. Start by Jon Acuff – I’m reading this book now. I’ve read Jon’s blogs for a couple of years now, but this is actually my first experience with one of his books. I’m already excited, and as one of the chapter titles says, “Action always beats intention.” (Stay tuned for a review of Start next week!)
  2. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – Okay, so, I’ve actually had a copy of this book for over a year, but just haven’t read it yet. I know I’ll love it when I do (I very much enjoy her blog). And since Ann always reminds us “life is not an emergency; slow down” and to remember gratitude, One Thousand Gifts will likely help renew my mind to the beauty of now.
  3. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence – This classic has also been on my to-read list for quite some time. Part of focusing on now involves remembering God is always present. I figure I need to read this book.
  4. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker – Clamoring after materials/excess usually causes us to look too far into the future, into the “want” and what we wish “will be.” From everything I’ve read about 7, it’ll bash that notion.
  5. Surrounded by the Sacred by Clayton King – My husband and I have heard Clayton King speak (and he used to have a radio show), and he has a fiery heart for seeing our powerful God. This book aims to help us “never miss another sacred moment.” I’d say that’s a good reminder of the now, too.

I plan on reading these books this year, and I’ll share my reviews on this blog, too.

Check more of the books I’ve read or want to read on my Reading List (along with links to my reviews), on my GoodReads profile, or on my reading Pinterest boards.

What’s on your to-read list this year? Do you have any books related to your one word for the year or ones you’d recommend for living in the present? I love to “talk” books, so chime in the comments!

No affiliate links present.