“Freedom from Worry” by Patricia Wilson (Upper Room Books)

Patricia Wilson delivers an encouraging book for those of us who are chronic worriers.  If I, personally, could trade the time I’ve spent worrying over my life for the same amount of positive thought, I believe my life would be much different today.  I have a sneaking suspicion that most readers fell much the same.

Wilson takes us on a four week tour of the scriptures, and of our own faith, and aims us in the direction of overcoming worry.  She offers us a daily reading, scriptural reflection, a prayer, and a mindfulness exercise to help us “wrap our arms around” the worry that slows us down.  During the 28 day journey, she offers wisdom that undoubtedly comes from personal experience, challenges us, questions us, and motivates us to, as the 15th day lesson says, “Let Go and Let God”.

That LGLG stuff is easier said than done.  Take that from a certified worrier and controller.  This short and simple set of lessons easily guides us to find our solution in Our Heavenly Father.

In Week 2, Patricia causes us to examine our worry and its relation to yesterday, today, and tomorrow, with the basic underlying lesson is that God is in the now, and our own faith in Him leads us to live in the now, not fretting over yesterday, nor dreading what tomorrow holds.

I love reading devotionals, especially ones of 30, 60, or 90 days.  I’ve found that reading in a year long devotional, we can get bogged down, tend to skip one, a few, or several days.  But, I take refuge in these shorter devotional readings. Shoot, anyone can stick in there for a month, and in turn take a whole lot away from the experience.

Though I still harbor a bit of natural worry, as it is an ingrained part of my psyche, I felt that Patricia Wilson’s four week work has opened my eyes, and allowed me to Let Go and Let God.

Get this book, folks.  It’s an accessible read, and takes you on a quick journey through the scriptures and the experience of overcoming your own worry.

I received this title in e-book format as an ARC from the publisher, Upper Room Ministries.  I did so with the understanding that I would provide a fair and honest review.  There are no personal, personal, or financial ties or expectations between the author, publisher, or myself.

May you, too, be encouraged by the writing of this author.  God Bless.

This review also appears on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, and NetGalley.com.

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Find Your Voice in the Psalms

In Find Your Voice in the Psalms, author and Episcopal priest Elizabeth Canham, takes us on a short tour of some of her favorite psalms.  Psalms that call us to worship, quiet, meditation, and prayer.

She pulls selected verses from each of these psalms, some very familiar and others somewhat less familiar.  She encourages us to get into the reason why each of these psalms were written, and how we can apply them to our everyday life.  She cites examples from her own life experience, using interesting stories to illustrate how these psalms apply to our own lives today.

Though each psalm discussed is equally pertinent to life today, I was especially impacted by a couple.  The first one was Psalm 46:10…”Be still and know that I am God”.  I (we) live in a technological post-modern world.  It’s full of noise and distraction.  With cell phones, IPads, iPods, digital downloads etc., we can easily fill our world with noise.  Even sitting on the porch at night in a town of some size, one can hear distant train whistles, trucks on the highway, sirens, tires screeching, etc.  Or when driving and sitting at a stop light, you often hear the basso pounding and thumping coming from the big woofers in a young driver’s car. 

Basically, it’s nearly impossible to escape our noisy world.  The writer commented that she even dealt with issues of finding that quiet, peaceful stillness while in the wilderness, devoid of all the sounds of civilization.  She talked about finding quiet and stillness in her mind.  And, that statement was one of the many that spoke directly to me.  For I, like her, find much difficulty in quieting the unpeacefulness that manifests itself in my noisy mind and spirit.  Ms. Canon’s guidance and suggestions helps the reader fight to overcome the noise in our hectic lives.

Elizabeth Canon has magnificently brought these psalms to light, and given us new paradigms that will greatly enhance our worship, prayer and meditation experiences.  I believe you will be absolutely blessed by this small book filled with great blessings.  Get it.

I received a digital copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher (Upper Room Books) in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I have no personal, financial, or professional ties to either the author or publisher.  You may also find this review on Netgalley,com,  Goodreads.com, Amazon.com and my blog: JonReviewsBooks1.Wordpress.com.

Aphorisms from A to Z” by Jay Friedenberg

Jay Friedenberg’s “Aphorisms from A to Z” is a book of quotes on subjects that are vital to life.  Topics such as Pride, Humility, Politics and Politicians, Philosophy, Optimism, and countless other subjects.  Friedenberg collected these sayings, quotes and commentaries with the help of a half dozen “Aphorist Scholars”.

More than just a book of quotes, the author begins the book discussing the various types of aphorisms, and a list of five forms of utterance that cause a saying to be an aphorism.  I reference the following from the introduction of the book:  “No matter how you want to refer to them, aphorisms have been thought up and used by individuals throughout recorded human history.  They span most human cultures, countries and geographies…. In fact, there has probably been no major period in history when aphorisms were not being written.”

Friedenberg winds up his introduction with short interviews with six respected academics considered to be expert aphorists.

Early on, Friedenberg notes that aphorisms should be calls to action.  Calls to change our lifestyle, or the path down which we travel.  Calls to make some major change in philosophy or belief, and calls to literal action to improve our culture and community.

This was an extremely interesting book, because the subjects are so varied.  There is a small collection of aphorisms to address almost any subject.  It is obvious that the author invested an incredible amount of time and energy in research and assimilation of these hundreds of aphorisms. 

Always one who has enjoyed quote books and websites with quotes, this fits right there among those.  Friedenberg’s investment was indeed painstaking.

Out of the hundred of quotes I read, here a couple of my favorite’s:

“By studying genius, we better understand stupidity.”

“Life without humor is like dinner without dessert.”

“You are who you are, not who you think you are, unless who you think you are is who you are.”

An enjoyable read that automatically calls for self-reflection.  I highly recommend this book and urge you to obtain it. 

I received an e-copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  There are no personal nor professional connections or expectations between the publisher, author, and this reviewer.  You may also find my review on http://www.GoodReads.com, Amazon.com, and my blog: BookReviewsByJon.WordPress.com.

Thank you.

“The Book of Questions” by Gregory Stock (New and Revised, 2013)

The Book of Questions is a delightful read that asks 293 different questions that cause the reader to look within and assess their morals, values, dreams, and goals.  Each question comes out of a proverbially “Left Field”, asking questions like:  “If someone offered you a bribe….?”; “What is your greatest accomplishment?”; “If you came upon a scene of an accident….?”  On and on, one is forced to look within and consider their own persona, their curiosities, their attitudes.  

The original book was published in 1987, and has been updated to reflect our more technological society, and the gradual erosion of our society’s values and norms.

If the reader is looking for a book that would cause some fun, entertaining, and interesting self-examination, this is a book for you.   I thoroughly enjoyed my initial reading, and fully plan to re-read and write answers to each and every question.  I think it will be a very valuable and worth-while exercise.

I highly recommend this read.

I received an ARC copy of this book in e-book format from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest appraisal.  There are no personal, professional, or financial ties between this reviewer and the publisher or author.  My review may also be found on http://www.Netgalley.com.

“The Book of Questions” by Gregory Stock

The Book of Questions is a delightful read that asks 293 different questions that cause the reader to look within and assess their morals, values, dreams, and goals.  Each question comes out of a proverbially “Left Field”, asking questions like:  “If someone offered you a bribe….?”; “What is your greatest accomplishment?”; “If you came upon a scene of an accident….?”  On and on, one is forced to look within and consider their own persona, their curiosities, their attitudes.  

The original book was published in 1987, and has been updated to reflect our more technological society, and the gradual erosion of our society’s values and norms.

If the reader is looking for a book that would cause some fun, entertaining, and interesting self-examination, this is a book for you.   I thoroughly enjoyed my initial reading, and fully plan to re-read and write answers to each and every question.  I think it will be a very valuable and worth-while exercise.

I highly recommend this read.

I received an ARC copy of this book in e-book format from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest appraisal.  There are no personal, professional, or financial ties between this reviewer and the publisher or author.  My review may also be found on http://www.Netgalley.com.

“Utah Expectations” by Michael Wojciechowski

I found this to be a rather entertaining and educational read.  I do, however, agree with a couple of the other reviews, in that the use of the vulgarity in the book did not add to the story, and, in fact, was a distraction.  It seemed the author just found it necessary to insert a word or phrase here and there in the dialog, and worked them in as needed.

I found this to be a fairly believable tale.  I am not a Mormon, but have been a student of the church for a number of years.  I don’t prescribe to the teachings or beliefs of the church, but I do find their history to be fascinating, and an important part in America’s westward expansion.

A story of two Mormon brothers, aged 21 and 19.  I really try to not include any spoilers in my reviews, so my commentary about the story will be rather generic.  These brothers are coming of age and dealing with the community’s expectations of them serving two years as Mormon missionaries.  The bulk of the story is about the younger brother, and all his trials and tribulations as he prepares for his own mission to Chile.  

There are discussions by both brothers as they question not only their own beliefs, but the status of the LDS church, the self-proclaimed “only true church”.  Major side stories involve a religiously fanatical mother, each of the brother’s girlfriends, and the brothers’ journeys from typical died in the wool Mormon young men, to their own spiritual awakening, and the impact of those journeys on others.

The story moved along quite well, but I was disappointed at a relatively anti-climactic ending.  The fate of the major characters left me hanging and wanting answers as to what happened to them.

I’ve read a number of books about Mormonism over the years.  I have had missionaries visit my home, and from my experiences and exposure, the story fairly well portrayed what young missionaries do in the field.  

Like I said from the outset, the book was entertaining and enjoyable.  I do warn that explicit language is part of the storyline and the reader should be prepared.  Because I’ve read numerous books considered both “pro-Mormon” and “anti-Mormon”.  I found this story to be of average literary quality.  Its one of those “I could either take it or leave it” type reads.

I received a copy of this book at no cost as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I have no personal, professional, or financial ties to or expectations from the author or publisher.  This review may also be found on Goodreads.com, and my blog: BookReviewsByJon.Wordpress.com.  Thank you.

“How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God” by Ian Punnett

This book has been a puzzler for me to review.  The title was interesting and drew me in for further investigation.

Like most of the world, I’ve had periods in my own life where God and I weren’t on the best of terms.  I personally identified with several of the people mentioned in the book, and I was newly exposed to the idea of ‘angry psalms”.

What I didn’t enjoy was the raw, bawdy language used within the text.  I appreciated the discussions on the angry psalms, but, in my opinion, he went too far.  I really don’t need to know how the “f-word” is translated back to the Greek.  Likewise, being informed how “$h!t” translate back through English, German, and back to the ancient languages.  Just like I tell my teenagers: “TMI” (too much information).

Call me a Puritan, if you will, but I believe this writer’s advice borders on the sacrilegious.  I think that if you are not mature in your faith, this book would not be a help in your walk with the Lord.  And, if you ARE mature in your faith, I think your reception of the book could be anywhere between mildly annoyed to greatly offended.  

This book is sure to raise ample controversy upon it’s release.

I received an e-copy of this book as an ARC from NetGalley.com.  There are no personal, professional, nor financial ties or obligations between the author, publisher or myself.  I received the book in exchange for an honest and fair review.  This review can also be found on NetGalley.com, Goodreads.com, and Amazon.com.