Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Lesson by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Book Review

Buzz this

In my years reviewing books, one of my favorite authors is Suzanne Woods Fisher. Not only is she a talented writer, she also seems, from our interactions on Facebook, to be a wonderful person! So I was excited to jump on the blog tour train for the last book in her Stoney Ridge Seasons series, The Lesson.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Sometimes love shows up when you least expect it.
Nineteen-year-old Mary Kate Lapp yearns for adventure, but all she seems to find is trouble. Her dreams of travel have taken a backseat to her assignment to teach school this year. And nothing ever seems to happen in her sleepy Amish community.
But when a sudden and unexplained death conveniently coincides with the arrival of a mysterious young man, M.K. is frustrated that no one takes it seriously. She’s determined to take matters into her own hands and gets to the bottom of it. Will she find more than she bargained for?
Centered on one of bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher’s most loved characters, this is the Stoney Ridge story you have been waiting for. With a surprise at every turn, a gently romance, and a shocking answer to an old family mystery, The Lesson is the dramatic conclusion to the Stoney Ridge Seasons series.

Here is the biography of this author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp.  Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

As per usual, Suzanne’s writing is very creative and entertaining. Here is an example of how she shows Mary Kate’s personality shining through:

        “The school board has decided you will fill in for Alice,”                Amos said.
“Me? Me?” she said with a squeak. “Teach school? You want me to teach school?” She was outraged! It was just an accident. She hadn’t run into Alice on purpose! “No! No, no, no, no, no. I can’t do it! Absolutely not!” The very thought terrified her. Stuck in a hot room with twenty-five slow-witted children, all day long? Boring! Supremely boring! “Dad, you’ve got to tell the school board that I can’t do it. Tell them you and Fern need me to help at Windmill Farm.” (p. 21)

One of the characters in this book, Grace Mitchell, had a struggle in life that happens everywhere (you will have to read the book to learn more), but not always in the Christian Fiction genre. I applaud Mrs. Fisher for tackling a difficult issue.

The ending was unexpected, but satisfying. It is nice when people are content in their lives!

As with the other books from Suzanne, this book is a welcome diversion from the busyness of the modern world. It is a lot of fun to spend time with Suzanne’s Amish characters and its community. Although this is the last book in this series, I am sure there will be more to come from the prolific Mrs. Fisher!

This book was published by Revell Publishers, and provided by the LitFuse Publicity Group for review purposes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming by Douglas S. Huffman – Book Review

Buzz this

As part of my degree program for the Master of Theological Studies, New Testament Emphasis (at Moody Theological Seminary – Michigan), I will be required to take Greek. So when I heard about a blog tour for The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming by Douglas S. Huffman, I was all in!

Here is the synopsis of this book:

Whether you're learning biblical Greek or using it, this is the reference tool to keep on hand. In a quick visual layout, it supplements textbooks to gives you immediate access to:
  1. first-year Greek grammar
  2. second-year Greek syntax
  3. step-by-step phrase diagramming
Easy to carry and easy to use, The Handy Guide to NewTestament Greek crystalizes the information you need to know for classes or enables you to develop a sermon or lesson outline from the Greek New Testament faster than you could from an English translation.

Here are some of the endorsements for this book:

“I enthusiastically endorse and recommend this altogether useful volume and will encourage all Greek students to buy it and keep it close.” – Scot McKnight, Professor of New Testament, Northern Baptist Seminary
“It is one of the best reference tools available.” – Rodney J Decker, Professor of Greek and New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

“Douglas Huffman has written a wonderfully practical and accessible handbook for students who desire to take the next step beyond elementary Greek. I recommend it with enthusiasm.” – Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“A very nice supplementary resource to traditional beginning and intermediate Greek grammars.” – Clinton E. Arnold, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Talbot School of Theology

Here is the biography of the author:

Douglas S. Huffman (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Professor and Associate Dean of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University.

The Introduction explains the Who, What, Why, Where, How, and When of the book. Here is the ‘Who:’

This volume is intended for second-year Greek students (and beyond), pastors, teachers, and preachers. Constant NT Greek users (addicts!) might not need it, but would-be experts should find it useful.  (p. 5)

Here is the ‘Where:’

Since it presumes some of the basics of NT Greek, this book fits into the Greek learning sequence after a full year of elementary Greek has been mastered and then during and beyond the second year of NT Greek studies. (p. 5)

There are three parts of the book:

1.   Greek Grammar Reminder
2.   Greek Syntax Summaries
3.   Phrase Diagramming

I have not had any experience with the Greek language, other than knowing some of the alphabet because of the names of sororities and fraternities, not to mention some words I have been exposed to at church and seminary. I do very well with English and its usage, so I’m not TOO anxious about learning Greek – just a little anxious!

This book is only 112 pages – very portable and compact. I expect I will be using this book a great deal when I get to that area of my studies. I thank Dr. Huffman for writing this useful tool for Greek students, teachers, pastors, and preachers.

This book is published by Kregel Academic and was provided by them for review purposes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Radical Well-Being: A Biblical Guide to Overcoming Pain, Illness, & Addictions by Rita Hancock, MD – Book Review

Buzz this

The beginning of a New Year always brings with it the thought that we want to improve our lives. The latest book on my nightstand, Radical Well-Being: A Biblical Guide to Overcoming Pain, Illness, &Addictions, will definitely help with those resolutions!

Here is the synopsis of this book:

What’s Keeping You From Total Wellness? Research increasingly shows a strong connection between our spiritual life, our emotions, and our physical well-being. Yet too often our physical conditions are treated without taking our lives into account. In Radical Well-Being Dr. Rita Hancock shows you how your mind, body, and spirit are connected and addresses the factors that can contribute to – and even cause – illness, addictions, and chronic pain.

If you suffer from medical conditions like fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, neck or back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, jaw pain, food and drug allergies, depression, anxiety, or unwanted behaviors such as overeating, an eating disorder, overspending, drug abuse or alcoholism, Radical Well-Being will show you a biblical, whole-body approach to overcoming your condition. With nearly twenty years of experience counseling patients from a balanced, mind/body/spirit perspective, Dr. Rita gives you practical advice for healing and wholeness, including how to:

·         identify the lies that affect you on a subconscious level
·         deal with emotional factors that can make your pain feel worse
·         address unwanted addictive behaviors
·         fully accept God’s love and forgiveness on a deep, healing level

True freedom and improved health come when deeply-rooted lies are illuminated and replaced with knowledge from the merciful heart of God. Radical Well-being will help you feel better in all three domains—in your mind, body, and in your spirit. You will end up feeling the way one of Dr. Rita's patients put it: "Like the weight of a skyscraper has been lifted off my shoulders."

Here is the biography of this author:

Rita Hancock, MD, is a board-certified physical medicine specialist with subspecialty board certification in pain management, and she has been in full-time practice in Norman, Oklahoma, for fourteen years. Currently she serves as the Oklahoma delegate for the Christian Medical and Dental Association, as well as their official spokesperson on matters of diet and nutrition.

Dr. Rita's books include The Eden Diet and The Eden Diet Workbook which are about learning to eat in response to physical rather than emotional hunger. Her second book, Radical Well-being:A Biblical Guide to Overcoming Pain, Illness, and Addictions, offers a road map for finding relief if you suffer with nearly any type of symptom or behavior that can be magnified by stress. Examples of such stress-related symptoms or conditions include fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, back or neck pain, migraine headaches, and others.

Dr. Rita writes from the Christian perspective and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and children. To find out more about her, visit and

This book is divided into five parts:

1.   “You’re No Good” – Bad Old Lies and What They Do to You
2.   The Whole You – Connecting Mind, Body, and Spirit
3.   The Spiritual One – Seeing Through God’s Eyes
4.   Take Captive Every Thought – How Right Thinking Leads to Right Action
    5.   Hope In Your Future – Biblical Steps to Healing and               Health     

In the Introduction, Dr. Hancock asks the question, “Are you eager to get started?:”

Are you at the point where you’re sick and tired of wasting time, money, and mental energy on your problems? Are you finally willing to dig deeper into the emotions and subconscious lies that trigger your unhealthy behavior rather than simply cover up your problems with temporary false comfort? Are you willing to get real with yourself?

By the time patients get to me for their pain and weight problems, they are generally exhausted and ready for deep-down help. I imagine you are too, or you wouldn’t have picked up this book.

My friend, I praise God for your faith and courage! And I pray that your continued reading is blessed with supernatural clarity and receptiveness so that you can feel the same emotional freedom I have experienced, as well as find relief from your unwanted addictive behaviors, physical pain, and stress-induced illness. (p. xix)

Yes, half the battle is acknowledging we are at the end of ourselves and need to ask for help.

Each chapter ends with an ‘Action Point – Questions to Ask God in Prayer.’ I really liked the ones at the end of the chapter entitled ‘Trace Your Triggers:’

·         Lord, will You search my innermost places for areas in which I need emotional, spiritual, and/or physical healing?
·         If I need to revisit past memories, will You promise to help me do that at a rate I can handle?
·         Lord, are there false beliefs mixed into my childhood memories? If so, please bring them to light. Are those beliefs about how I see myself? Or how I see You? Or someone else? Or some situation?
·         Lord, in the place of those false beliefs, will You reveal healing truth? What is the truth about me, You, or the other person or situation?
(p. 19)

Another section that resonated with me was in the chapter ‘You Are Delightful.’ Many Christian women are taught that they are inferior to me. It is not always overt, but it is often there. In the section entitled ‘The Lie That Women Are Worthless or Inferior,’ Dr. Hancock makes this important point:

A stay-at-home, homeschooling mom is not better than a brain surgeon because she spends more time with her kids. And the male CEO of the Fortune 500 company is not better than the mom because he drives a more expensive car. Don’t fall into the accuser’s trap and judge yourself and others with gender-based lies. The judgment is what gets you into trouble. Your worth is not determined by your gender. Your worth is determined by the fact that God sent His only Son to die so that you could be reconciled with Him. (p. 88)

One of the important biblical principles we’ve been focusing on in church is forgiveness. Dr. Hancock has a chapter entitled ‘Forgiveness Sets You Free.’  She shares the importance of forgiving others:
Just as love gives us free will, love requires you to forgive. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He sent His only son to die for our sins. By sending Jesus to die on the cross, God created a bridge to connect Himself with mankind so He could forgive us and be reconciled with us. If God hadn’t loved us so much, He wouldn’t have made this kind of sacrifice. That’s how importance forgiveness is to God. (p. 186)

Dr. Hancock uses several real-life examples of people whose lives have been changed by her medical practice and by applying these life changes. They are inspiring!

In the Conclusion, Dr. Hancock shares that change does not happen overnight:
Your journey to wholeness and healing is a lifelong process, not an instantaneous fix. Hold firm to your Christian belief system, and God will bless you abundantly, not only in terms of your physical health but also with overall peace and joy that surpasses all understanding. (p. 243)

Most of us need help in many areas of life. We often can effectively work on a few issues at a time. I appreciate the fact that this book is broken into sections that we can look at individually. I thank Dr. Hancock for writing this very helpful and important book!

This book was published by Siloam. The Advance Reading Copy was generously provided by the author.

Clicky Web Analytics