faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Detours in Your Life

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Have you ever been on a detour?

Frustrating right?  Just when you think you’ll get there with some time to spare, there is a detour, and now you are running late. 

And it’s hard to be patient!

You know there are repairs that need to be done, BUT you hate to be late!

This book is like that.  Yeah. Not only is Tony Evans writing about God’s detours that happen, but he has written a book that reads like a detour.  It’s called obviously —

“Detours”!

You start out expecting this book to start like gangbusters as some of Tony’s sermons, but it lays a foundation first.  It goes slowly, so we all understand what is a spiritual detour.

Tony Evans quote –“We think that because of our own hookups, human abilities, talent, contacts, or even our own resources – that if we just toss a prayer on top – we can get to where we want to go. … God doesn’t work that way.”

As I kept reading, the book was getting more interesting, and moving along at a good clip.  Then it jumped into turbocharge!  The points were flying by!  I had to pay more attention, and even re-read a few pages to be sure I understood. 

The detour Tony Evans took us on, to lay out the foundation, was a really good idea.  Without the foundation, I would have missed how God works through detours.  I would have missed that we need to involve God in our detours.

What Tony Evans tells us in general, is that detours are good things when you bring God into your plans, into your problems, and into your daily life.  It is true that detours are no fun, but without the foundation, the structure, and the development of the plans, the outcome would fail. 

If you want God’s plan for your life to be successful, then you have to be willing to take some detours.

This new book “Detours” by Tony Evans tells you how to involve God in your life plans and problems, how to recognize detours, and how to patiently walk through the detours knowing that God has a great outcome planned.

>Click here  if you want to get your hands on a copy of “Detours”.

>Click here  to read part of the book by Tony Evans by clicking the book cover.

Jump on the website!  You will find more of Tony Evans’ teachings and background.

I would so appreciate you sharing this review on Facebook or Twitter.  The buttons are down below this post to make it real easy for you.  Thank you!

I did receive a free copy of this book from B&H Books, so I could write an honest review of the book.  Hopefully you just read my review, so click on the links above and find you a copy to read!

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Katharina and Martin Luther

 

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The Black Cloister where Katharina and Martin Luther lived.

Katharina and Martin Luther by Michelle DeRusha

This book is fascinating! Who knew that Martin Luther, the reformer of Protestant Christian religion as we know it today, a former Catholic monk and priest, married a runaway nun?  She was twenty-four when she escaped from the convent.  Even so, once married several years later, they lived in an abandoned monastery in Germany, the Black Cloister.  They both had received death threats because of their marriage.  They had 6 children, and many visitors at the monastery.  Their life was very busy, and Martin traveled often to give sermons or participate in religious debates.  Yes, he was instrumental in beginning the Protestant Christian religion, but his personal life was also eventful. 

This is one of the best biographies I have read!

Katharina, Martin’s wife, lived an incredible life as well.  The work she had to do to keep up the monastery and the household for their family is heroic.  I never knew anyone who worked as hard as she.  She also was very talented in many ways, as with natural medicines, butchering animals for food, and running the household finances.  Luckily for the Luthers, Katharina had received good schooling at the convent where she grew up.  At that time, most women were illiterate, but Katharina could read and write (in both Latin and German), and she had memorized portions of the Bible, especially the Psalms.

Martin Luther was also, though poor, well-educated.  He eventually earned a doctorate – Doctor of Biblia- meaning “teacher of the Bible”.  He published many papers.  He taught at a University, and was preacher to the Augustinian monks in Wittenberg.  This was the background of the man who later wrote the “Ninety-Five Theses” that were nailed to the church door of the Castle Church, making the public announcement of the start of the Protestant Christian religion.

Michelle DeRusha tells a fascinating tale of intrigue, rebellions, escapes in the night, illnesses and deaths.  This is like the dramas seen in current historical TV on Masterpiece Theater!  It is hard to believe that church history could be so interesting.  I will definitely by watching for Michelle’s future books.  She can really tell a story!

>Click here to read or purchase this book.

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I did receive a free digital copy from the Publisher through >NetGalley.com, so that I could write this honest review.

NetGalley Challenge

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Prayer Changes Things

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My motto is “Prayer changes things”. 

Having grown in my faith, and grown in my prayer life over the years, I see how they interplay.  As faith grows, we turn to prayer; as we receive answers to prayer, our faith grows.  They build on each other.

For several years I led the prayer ministry at a Christian church.  During that time I bought some books on prayer.  Two of them I still have on my bookshelf.  They were instrumental in my own prayer life, and in leading the prayer ministry.  I want to share with you why I am recommending these books.

One is a classic, “What Happens When Women Pray”

by Evelyn Christenson.

The other is a prayer powerhouse, “Let Prayer Change Your Life”

by Becky Tirabassi.

The subtitle of this one by Becky is “How You Can Release God’s Power”.  That summarizes this book quite well.

Evelyn’s book “What Happens When Women Pray”, covers topics you would expect in a classic on prayer.  Here are some of the chapters:

“Prayer is the answer”I love this chapter.  Some people make fun of people who say, “I will pray for you.” But I agree with Evelyn that prayer is THE answer to any problem!  I cherish the people who have prayed for me through Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, divorce, and cancer.  I am alive today and happily married because of those prayer warriors.

“Forgiven as we forgive”.

“Praying in One accord”.

 “How to pray in God’s Will”.

“God never makes a mistake”.

“Where, when, and to whom we pray”.

“Results”.

“Telephone prayer chains”.  I don’t know if you are familiar with prayer chains.  I’m not sure if churches are still using it.  To begin with the prayer ministry I led consisted of a telephone prayer chain with several groups of women on a list.  When a prayer request came in, one person was called in each group, and then she called the next person on her list.  In this way, many people were praying for the same prayer request the same hour, and even more during the rest of that day.  We were a small church, so this was effective for the few prayer requests we got. 

In addition, I had each group pray regularly for one of the ministers at the church and one of the elders.  Each group had a minister and an elder to pray for.  In that way, all the ministers and elders were prayed for throughout each week and each month, all year.  I also added an annual prayer retreat, and a 24-hour prayer sign-up for The National Day of Prayer.  Basically, I had led a classic prayer ministry.

Becky’s book, “Let Prayer Change Your Life”, ramped up my belief in prayer.  My eyes were opened to the power of God that is released through prayer! Please don’t let anyone tell you that prayer is not important.

For example, Becky tells a story about prayer that she experienced.  She was on her way to lead a prayer workshop The location was far enough away that she had to fly there.  At the airport she found out that the airport was shutting down for a couple hours because of construction on the runway.  She called to tell the host for the workshop that she would be arriving there a couple hours later than planned.  The person on the line prayed while they were on the phone.  Becky then went through security, and then heard that the construction was cleared and the plane would leave on time.  She then made a quick call to the host again and told her of the quick answer to her prayers.  Only later did she find out that the delay was not construction, but a bomb.  A local sheriff had decided to remove the bomb himself, instead of waiting for a bomb squad.  Talk about answered prayer!  Not only was the plane on time, but no one was injured by the bomb!

Please don’t ever let anyone tell you that prayer is not important!

Becky’s book chapters include these insights about Prayer:

“Prayer fuels faith”.

“Prayer teaches trust in God’s Plan and our purpose”.

“Prayer releases God’s power”.

And “Prayer unleashes love for God”.

And all that is in addition to the chapter “The Blessings and Benefits of Prayer”.

If that list doesn’t get you eager to read a book on prayer, then maybe I can encourage you by asking you to —

>click on one of the links below to read more about these two books.

Purchase one or both, or find them in your local library. They don’t cost much, and they could change your life, because I believe that “Prayer Changes Things”.

>“What Happens When Women Pray” at Barnes & Noble both new or used plus shipping.

>“What Happens When Women Pray” at Amazon both new with Prime free shipping and available used with shipping.

>“Let Prayer Change Your Life” at Barnes & Noble online only used for $1.99 plus shipping.

>“Let Prayer Change Your Life” at Amazon, available used with shipping.

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My Heart

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Julie Manning lived a normal life with her husband and young son.  She had gone back to school to become a nurse, and was working with children who had heart problems.

Then on the day she was to give birth to their second son, her life changed.  She found out that she had a very dangerous health condition – heart failure.  Her life and her family’s lives all changed on that day.

What is amazing is that this story is real.  This book reads like a drama, an intense fictional story, but it is a true story.  Julie Manning is living this story.

Reading this book is an awesome experience.  I feel like I did not breathe the whole time I was reading it.  It was hard to put down.  Julie tells her story so well, with so much honesty and emotion, that you can’t help but feel like a close friend worrying for her.

Not only does Julie accept her heart condition, but she lives it with courage and an amazing faith in God.  She does not close herself up in her house out of fear, no she bravely goes about living her life, and being a wife and mother.   I do not know how she can express herself with such calm focus.  I would not have been surprised if she was weeping out of grief, and screaming with fear or anger, and yelling at God, but she does none of those things.

Julie calmly picks up a pen and begins to journal her experiences, and to write letters to her two sons.  She shares some of these journal entries, and letters with us, so we can hear her thoughts about faith and purpose in God.  We hear her love for her sons, and her hopes for them.  I have never heard anyone express these thoughts before.  I never even thought of asking for these things that she is hoping and praying for her boys.  I cannot help but wish I knew her, but at least I learn a lot about her as she tells her story in this book.

I cannot say this to you strongly enough.  You really need to read this book I think it is urgent that you read this book.  Really, this book has the potential to change your life, and the lives of your current or future spouse and children for the better, so much better!  All you have to do is read this book, and use her life as an example of what your life could be.  You can have a life filled with love, hope, and purpose.  Yes you can!  Julie tells you how she does it.

I truly believe that if you read this book, and really listen to what Julie is saying to her sons, and to you, this book will knock your breath away!  This book could change the way you look at your daily life, and your relationship with your family, and with God.  Yes, this book is written that well.  Yes, this book contains an amazing true story, told with extreme honesty and vulnerability.

Julie Manning, I give you a standing ovation!  Your life is a role model for us.  I feel that in my life I missed so much love and purpose that could have been there if I had only known it was possible. 

I hope and pray that you younger women will read about Julie’s life, so you have the chance to know what your life can be, and be encouraged and inspired, to cultivate it in your own life. 

This book will astonish you!  This book will knock your socks off!

Just order this book, >Click HERE!   It will be available to ship on February 1, 2017.

On Amazon read part of the book now >Click HERE.

You can buy this book in book stores beginning February 1, 2017.

If you buy the book before February 28, 2017, you can submit a copy of your receipt to receive a special reward – a FREE prayer journal from Julie.  To submit your receipt >Click HERE, then click “Redeem Today” at the top of the My Heart website page.

Find out more about Julie’s life and the book, at her website >MyHeartBook.site

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Great Books by Presidents

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Because of the inauguration of a new U.S. President this week, I am reminded that there are many excellent books written by our country’s Presidents that cover fascinating and important historic events.   According to “Good Reads”, there are 117 books written by our Presidents, starting with George Washington.  Many of these books were written before being elected President.  To see Good Reads’ complete list, >click HERE.

Since I am interested in books by Presidents, I thought you might be too.

I will focus today on only the books written by a U.S. President (not written by someone else about a President) because I think a first person account on their own life is more compelling.  I am also focusing on those books written after being elected to the Presidency.  To me these books will have discussions of the most important historical events from the point of view of the top decision-maker on the issues.   I also focus on the more recent Presidents, as I am more familiar with that history, and so more interested in reading about them.

Some of the books I have personally read, and some are recommended on lists.

The top 10 list by CBS includes a book from each of these Presidents:  Obama, Reagan, Carter, Kennedy, Truman, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Grant, Madison, and Washington.  Of these I found several to recommend.  To see the entire list, >click HERE

“The Reagan Diaries” by Ronald Reagan, which is taken from his daily diary that he kept during his Presidency.  No other President has kept a daily diary.

“Memoirs By Harry S. Truman: 1945 Year of Decisions”, called a “must read on the CBS list, because it is written so candidly about the death of President Roosevelt, WWII and the use of atomic weapons.

“Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings”, is recommended because he is said to be the best writer of all our Presidents.  Interestingly, of all our Presidents, President Lincoln has had the most books written about him. 

A #1 N.Y. Times Bestseller, “An Hour Before Daylight”, by President Carter, is written about his boyhood growing up in rural Georgia.  The title refers to the time he would get up each day to work on his father’s farm.  The New Yorker calls it “an American classic”.

Another #1 N.Y. Times Bestseller is “My Life” by President ClintonThe original version of this book, which I read, was 1,000 pages.  Currently it is sold as 2 volumes.  I found this book to be fascinating!  It is amazing how many people President Clinton has met, and vividly remembers.  There are so many good stories in this book it is worth the time to read it.

Because it covers so many important events, I am including here, “Decision Points” by President George W. Bush.  It includes the 9/11 attacks, starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I must list “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety” by President Carter, even though I am still reading it.  This book is a treasure, as the author has 90 years of experiences that he can pull from to share wisdom and reflection.  He may be the only 90-year old President to write a book at that age!

“A Nation of Immigrants” by President John F. Kennedy sounds very interesting to me, as the issue of immigrants was a hot topic during the campaign for our current PresidentAlthough his life was cut short by an assassin, I do not want to leave President Kennedy off my list.  He surely has an interesting perspective.

Although this last book was written before he was a U.S. President, he was offered a book contract because he was elected the first black president of the “Harvard Law Review”. Later becoming the 1st black U.S. President, historically makes this book an American classic.  It was also included in the Top 10 CBS list as well.  This book deals with President Obama’s heritage, and since there was much made of where he was born during his campaign for President, this book does cover his life in Hawaii, and should have settled that issue at least for those who read the book. “Dreams From My Father” by President Obama is a book about a man who never really knew his father, because he left shortly after his son was born in Hawaii, and his father later died in a car accident.  Still his father changed his life, because his father was black.  I definitely want to get my hands on this book to read with poignant recall of connections to his future as a two-term U.S. President.

If you want to read more about these books you can go to Good Reads’ list >HERE.

If you want to purchase one of these books you can go to www.Amazon.com  and in the search window type the title of the book you want.

I hope this list of books by U.S. Presidents has intrigued you.  If there are other books you would like to suggest for my list, >please let me know in the comments below.

In case you are wondering why Donald Trump is not in this list, he only just became President, so there are no books to list.  We will have to see if he writes a future book as President.

 

 

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The Rest of Your Week

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Mark Buchanan says that as a writer and speaker, his job is to remind us of the truth.

In his book “The Rest of God”, he is reminding us of the truth that God created Sabbath for us.  Sabbath gives us a chunk of time and space to rest in, so we can arise stronger and more clear-minded. 

Do you think Sabbath is not something you need?

The author wrote this book, because his life was like a spinning top.  He was exhausted, but was not really accomplishing anything.  He went weeks without even 1 day off.  He was irritable, argumentative, and gloomy.

He finally remembered that Sabbath rest was the thing he had been forgetting.  Sabbath was something he was not taking the time to do.  He remembered that Sabbath rest is healing.  God invites us to find rest in Him, and remember Him. 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

If your life is too busy, too exhausting, too crazy, Sabbath can be a solution, not just another appointment.  Sabbath can be a catalyst for change to a better life.  It starts with a decision to take time for Sabbath each week.  It yields a changed attitude.  That progresses to a changed heart.  Soon you will see changes in your priorities, your schedule, and in your thoughts.  Your mood will improve.  You will be more fun to be around. 

This book will show you the benefits of Sabbath, and the depths of God’s love for us.  The last couple chapters of this book had me in tears.  These were good tears.  These were tears of recognition that God really does love us, and tears of hope for a better way to live.  This truly is an awesome book.  Mark Buchanan reminds us of the essential truth that because God loves us, He gave us the gift of Sabbath. 

Will you accept God’s gift?

If you have no idea how to find time for Sabbath, then I would like to suggest another book — “Rhythms of Rest” by Shelly Miller.  Shelly shows how you can find time for Sabbath in smaller chunks.  If you are a working mom, or you have kids that need to be driven to many activities, or you work weekends, Shelly can help you find Sabbath time in just an hour.  Her book gives many examples of how other women practice Sabbath by making even a small amount of time, restful and rejuvenating.  Gradually you will be able to, and want to, bring more time into your Sabbath.

We all know that our culture’s idea of rest is a weekend, but our weekends are even busier than the rest of the week.  So for rest we go on a vacation.  How many vacations have you taken that leave you feeling rested?  If you are like me, most vacations leave you more exhausted than before.

God’s solution of Sabbath brings real rest.  God offers a time of refuge.  Sabbath lets us find a deep peace, one that will carry over into the rest of our week.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Isn’t that what we all want?  

To read a portion of these books, or to purchase either one, click on these links:

 “The Rest of God” by Mark Buchanan.    “Rhythms of Rest” by Shelly Miller.

To find out more about Shelly Miller’s book, “Rhythms of Rest”, click HERE.

 

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One Word for 2017

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My One Word for 2017 is “Forward”.

I was working on setting goals for the New Year, using Lara Casey’s blog, 2017 Goal Setting Series.  I like her style of setting goals that are encouraging.  Lara also makes it fun by having a big giveaway! Her goal setting blog series and giveaway are >HERE!

In the process of reviewing last year from step 1 of Lara’s blog, I was thinking about what would my >One Word be for next year?  (Every year I pick a word that will help direct my entire year.)  I thought of “forward”, but I wasn’t sure. 

God has been showing me “forward” is exactly the “One Word” I need!

At church the weekend of New Year’s Day, our minister talked about leaving last year behind, and moving forward into 2017! “Wow” I thought, “Forward really is my word for 2017!” Then Sunday afternoon, when I was reading a Bible study, the word “forward” came up again.  So now it was certain, my One Word for 2017 was “FORWARD”!

If you pick some goals or “One Word” for 2017, you first need to leave 2016 behind.  Do you feel like you can’t step forward yet?  If so, then something is holding you back.  At church we sang these words >“Break every chain, a song by Tasha Cobbs .  You need to break free of whatever guilt, shame, or regret you are holding on to! Tell God you are sorry, and let God forgive you.  Know that God has put all your sin so far away that He no longer remembers it.  You can then forgive yourself for any mistakes from the past (if God can forgive you, you can), then step FORWARD into your new year!

Each step is progress!

You may choose a different “One Word”, or you may pick a New Year’s resolution or goal instead, but if you break free from the past, then you can step forward toward your goal.

One of the things I am having trouble leaving behind is my fear.  Fear has held me back for years!  So this year, using my One Word “Forward”, my goal is leaving the fear behind.  One of the ways I am doing this is reading a new book by >Kelly Balarie, >“Fear Fighting.  Kelly tackles fear head on, and she knows from experience.  She had many fears, and she didn’t like how that affected her life and her family.  Since it worked for Kelly, I am jumping into the book to use her “Fear Fighting” tactics!

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I am praying that you can step forward into 2017 and make progress toward your goals!

If you want to tell me what your goals or One Word are for this year, tell me in the comments below. I will read every comment.

 

 

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I Am Going

First let me say, I’m not really going anywhere.

 I am reviewing the book “I Am Going” by Daniel L. Akin.

This is a small book that gives a good explanation for one Scripture.

It explains “The Great Commission”.  This is what Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,even to the end of the age.”

If you are like me, and never really understood the meaning of this, then this book is a good explanation for you.  I now have a better understanding of how to do what Jesus told us to do in this Scripture.

Several places in the book, the authors give you a statement to fill in, committing to do something.  For example at the end of the book, you are asked to fill in this:

“I am going to _________.”

But let me say that not everyone is expected to go to another country!  The authors explain that some are called to be missionaries, but the rest of us have other ways to follow this Scripture.  There are several options thankfully.

This is a very short book, and small in size.  Sometimes the explanations are a bit too short.  After reading the book once, I am not ready to fill in all the blanks given in the book.  I will be re-reading it, so I can take time to think and pray, before I make a decision as to what Jesus is asking me to do.  I would recommend the same thing to you and other readers.

If you have always wanted to be a missionary to another country, then maybe you don’t need to read this book.  Just make plans to go.  But if like me, you shudder at the thought of being a missionary, then this book is a good place to start.

To read part of the book, or to purchase, Click here.

I did receive a free copy of this book from B&H Publishing, so I could write an honest review of it.

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Fear Fighting – by Knowing Who Is

I have something special for you! 

This is my first guest post here on my blog!  Kelly Balarie is here sharing her heart and talking about her new book “Fear Fighting”.

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 Now that Christmas is over, we think about changing things for the New Year. 

We hope for promises of grace, starting over, and moving forward without fear!  Yes! I want that too! We can both start the New Year working on fighting our fears.  I am so glad to welcome Kelly to my humble blog — Read More

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Most Awesome Books of 2016

I decided to share with you, my list of —

the Top 5 Most Awesome Books this year!    

(Just click titles to read more.)  

1.Most Awesome Self Help book — “Unashamed” by Christine Caine!

Christine has never disappointed me.  I have read 3 books by her, and they were all awesome.  I read this book and participated in a group study of the book.  Everyone was blown away by how helpful this book was, at a deep personal level.  This book can help you get rid of so much that keeps us stuck in a rut, or depressed, or self cutting.  This book will give you the inspiration and encouragement to release you from shame and fear that keeps you from doing the things you really want to do.  This book is definitely awesome!

2.Most Awesome Science book —  “Star Struck” by Dr. David Bradstreet!

Dr. Bradstreet is a top notch astronomer.  In this book he shares so much about the amazing universe God has created.  Be prepared to be blown away!

3.Most Awesome Fiction–“The Undoing of Saint Silvanus” by B. Moore!

Beth Moore has written her first novel, and it is so good!  Now this is not science fiction or fantasy.  This book is about a family and their friends who live in New Orleans.  It is a mystery, a really good mystery.  It has murder, detectives, romance, family dirt, and interesting characters. You can even download for free the first 4 chapters to try it out. I haven’t done a review on it yet, because Beth is doing a free webcast in January, so I am waiting until then to post a review on my blog.  Go here for info on the webcast.

4.Most Awesome New Bible — “The Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible”!

This is an amazing new type of Bible, that just might get you back in the Bible.  This Bible is all about having the room to take notes, color, draw, and be inspired!

5.Most Awesome Leap into the Future book –-

The Great Spiritual Migration” by Brian McLaren.   

Don’t expect this book to be ordinary.  It is not your normal Christian book on Christianity.  It is about a new movement changing the church for the better hopefully.  It may be the only way to save churches.  It may be the only way for Christianity to address the modern world, with its multi-cultural life filled with technology and tired of discrimination and injustice in traditional churches.  Try it out and see if you can identify with this exciting movement.

I just love these books, and I hope you agree that this is an awesome list! I’ve enjoyed this so much I just may have to do this list every year!

Want to nominate a book for me to read and review for next year’s awesome list?

Tell me in the comments below or send me an email (see the right column).

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