I am finally catching up on sharing reviews of the books I’ve read so far in 2022. For those of you (all 3 of you, lol!) anxiously awaiting these long-awaited reviews, here you go!
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I usually share these stacks as I read them, which means they are mixed up together. But since I am eight months behind and I have no idea in which order I read them, I think it will be more beneficial for all of us if I just share them according to genre! Here’s the link to the first stack I reviewed: Spiritual Growth Book Stack, Part One.
Now, here is a recap of the other spiritual growth books I have read so far this year:
Beautiful People Don’t Just Happen by Scott Sauls
While I enjoyed this book, it was a little disappointing to me. It came highly recommended through one of the online communities I participate in, so my expectations simply may simply have been too high. It was a good book, and there were parts of it I really appreciated.
The premise is a fundamental truth of Christianity, often lost in the midst of today’s culture: Beautiful people don’t just happen, they are created and shaped through difficult experiences and suffering. The authors intent is certainly to help his readers embrace this truth and recognize Jesus not as a Divine Dictator to fear and cower from, but a Gentle Healer to whom we can turn for comfort, strength, and redemption. Through sharing his own experiences with depression and anxiety, Sauls’ vulnerability makes it easy for readers to connect and relate to his message.
I think what is difficult for me with this specific niche (which is currently trending) is that I have always experienced God in this way, as a loving Father who I turn to with my sin, shame, hurts, and weakness. So while this message feels like overkill to me, I also recognize that there are many who have been raised with or developed an opposing view of God, and to whom this message will bring tremendous hope and life.
You’re Not Enough (and that’s okay) : Escaping the Toxic Culture of Self-Love by Allie Beth Stuckey
This book brings such a refreshing narrative in the midst of our current self-focused culture. In You’re Not Enough (and that’s okay), Allie Beth Stuckey counters five prevalent myths with the truth of God’s Word. While her message is certainly counter-cultural, her logic is both sound and transformative. These lies she addresses are as old as time, reminiscent of a whispered conversation in the Garden. Satan and the world tell us focusing on ourselves, our feelings, and our desires will bring us happiness and fulfillment, when the truth is, it ultimately leaves us feeling more empty than ever. Why? Because we are not enough.
Thankfully, Stuckey doesn’t leave us stranded in that hard truth. She lays out a path very different from what we hear from the world around us; a road that is narrow and a gate that is small, but one that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). She closes with these words: “It is through the self-forgetfulness found in Christ and the humility of following his commands that we find life—nowhere else. When we recognize him as God, removing ourselves from the center, we find the ‘enoughness’ we’ve been craving. It’s not found in ourselves. We are not enough, and we were never meant to be. That’s good news.”
Hope is found in our relationship with Christ, in depending on Him to be what we can never be on our own. In acceptance and surrender lies peace and joy. This is good news, indeed! I wish this book was required reading for every young woman between the ages of 16 and 25!
Live No Lies by John Mark Comer
Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, switches gears in this book and goes deep quickly, leaving the “feel-good” stuff behind. Readers who enjoyed his last book will find a definite shift and call to higher responsibility in Live No Lies.
At its core, this book is a battle manual, addressing how we are biblically called to fight the three enemies of the soul: The devil, the flesh, and the world. His theory is that not only do we believe the lies from these three entities, but more importantly, we live them out, creating tremendous internal and external chaos and causing great damage to our souls.
The book is divided into three parts, each one focusing on a different area of these lies we believe. Part One looks at the author of lies and how his deceptive ideas infiltrate our thinking and beliefs, often without us even realizing it. In Part Two, Comer confronts how these false ideas play to our disordered desires, redefining what is true so that it instead feeds our selfish longings. And in Part Three, he reveals how this strategy culminates with these lies becoming normalized in a sinful society, making it easy for us to embrace our sin and rally against the biblical truths we once stood for.
Each section ends with a battle plan for how to combat those specific deception strategies, and a call in the final chapter for the church to open her eyes and FIGHT against the lies. He gives the Remnant this charge: Either deny Jesus and follow yourself (put your desires on the throne) or deny your self and follow Jesus (crucify your desires and desire God above all else) (p. 251). You must choose one or the other.
This is not a book for the faint-hearted; it is not a feel-good, weekend beach read. Instead, Live No Lies is a deep, theology-rich call to action; a charge to true believers to open our eyes, recognize the battle waged against us, and rise to the challenge to embrace the only One who can give us the Life we long for.
3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager by Kara Powell and Brad M. Griffin
This is an excellent book for student pastors, high school teachers, mentors, coaches, and parents of teens—anyone who has a desire to better understand what goes on in the hearts and minds of teenagers. Having worked with teenagers for several decades, the authors are extremely knowledgable and draw conclusions based on actual research with teens, not just adult perceptions.
In this book, they outline the three core questions that every teen struggles with (and many adults, for that matter): Who am I, Where do I fit, and What difference can I make? These questions arise from the fundamental human needs of identity, belonging, and purpose. Powell and Griffin break down each of these areas, sharing personal testimonies, interviews, and specific examples of teenagers who are struggling with these questions. After showing how students attempt to answer these questions and meet these needs in ways that eventually leave them lost and longing for more, they then explain how Christ offers lasting identity, belonging, and purpose, and show what that looks like in very practical ways.
This is an excellent book for anyone who invests in teenagers! It would make a great resource to work through as small group leaders or to discuss in a parents of teens home group or book club.
Raising Prayerful Kids by Stephanie Thurling and Sarah Holmstrom
I absolutely loved this book! Seriously, I wish I’d had it 10 years ago when I had a houseful of little ones and was desperately trying to figure out ways to plant seeds of faith in their little hearts.
Raising Prayerful Kids is filled with fun and creative ideas to engage children in intentional prayer. Many of the ideas were familiar to me from my years of serving in Children’s Ministry, but there were plenty of options that were new to me as well. My girls would have absolutely loved the Fortune Teller game (so fun!!), and I really enjoyed the depth of some of the ideas in the Focused Prayer section.
The authors have such an engaging, relatable writing style, which will make it easy for both seasoned mamas and those who are new to the faith to use it with their children. This is definitely a book I will share with the young moms in my life who are looking for intentional ways to connect their kids with Jesus.
Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens by Jodie Berndt
The older our children get, the more we as parents realize how little control we actually have and just how much we need to depend on the Lord! “Talk less, pray more” is an appropriate mantra for parents of teens. This book is the perfect resource to help you do exactly that.
Berndt covers so many of the areas that teens wrestle with: Character, relationships, temptations, mental health, wise choices, and more. She encourages her readers with stories of other parents who have fought for their teens in prayer during extremely challenging situations, and then shares several Bible verses to use as a prayer guide for each topic.
I highly recommend owning this book! If you have a teenager, it is a resource you will likely return to again and again and again. And if you like this book, check out my printable resource, 31 Days of Praying Scripture Over Your Teens and College Students. To get it for free, use the code: backtoschool.
Her True Worth by Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer
I am almost finished with this one, and I already called my 20 year old daughter and recommended she read through it with some of her friends! These authors have an Instagram account where they share quite a bit of the truth from this book, and I have found it so encouraging to women of all ages.
It is sad that so many of today’s books have to confront the lies bombarding us from current culture, but then I guess that was a struggle in the New Testament days (and even back to the Garden). The important thing is that God, the author of life and the definer of Truth, has so much more to offer us. Her True Worth is filled with this truth! It is an excellent resource for all women, but I especially recommend it for young women ages 18-30(ish).
Well, that’s it for this first stack! I also have a stack of fiction and and a stack of YA Fantasy to review, so watch the blog for those. In the meantime, I would love to know if you’ve read any of these books, and if so, what were your impressions?
And I’m always looking for new recommendations. What’s on your nightstand?