On the bookshelf: The Gift of Psalms

It’s almost embarrassing that this book sat on my shelf for so long. Reading it has been like opening a hidden treasure.

This beautifully packaged devotional book contains reflections on 50 of the Psalms. Three audio CDs contain 30 devotions — some of which are also found on the book while others are exclusive to the CD.

For the most part, the reflections followed a pattern, starting with a thought-provoking introductory paragraph, moving into a paragraph or two placing the psalm into its historical and/or cultural setting before concluding with additional reflections and applications. While following similar patterns, each of the reflections bring fresh ideas to the familiar words.

Unfortunately, one of the most attractive features is also one of its greatest drawbacks. The CDs offer short reflections suitable especially for drive-time devotions, but I found the readings to be dry and non-emotive — despite the fact that they’re being read by well-known, well-respected actors. For example, I would have hoped that a psalm of praise would sound like a celebration, not a funeral dirge.

Even so, The Gift of Psalms would make an excellent gift, but it shouldn’t be dismissed as a significant addition to your personal collection. Either way, it’s a simple way to jump start your quiet time and to remember that even those who became known as men who followed God with their whole heart went through dark and difficult times.

May we all learn from them.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

On the bookshelf: The Grace of God

We sing about grace. We talk about grace. We claim victory over circumstances by way of God’s grace. We even name our children Grace.

But do we really understand grace and the implications of a living a life fully enveloped in the realization that grace is totally undeserved, unearned and often unexpected?

In his new book, The Grace of God, Andy Stanley takes us through the thread of grace woven through the stories of the broken and the undeserving people of the Scriptures. Unlike other books that discuss the topic of grace, Stanley begins at the very beginning with the grace shown Adam and Eve after their disobedience in the Garden. He continues through various Old Testament stories showing the God of the Old Testament to be the same merciful, grace-filled God we see in the New Testament ― only working in and through the people he has chosen rather than the One (Jesus) he sent.

Stanley’s discussion doesn’t fall under the weight of heavy theological terms. If you’re familiar with his ministry at North Point Community Church in Atlanta, you’ll recognize the simple, clear, conversational style that characterizes his exposition.

Reading the book and recognizing the role of grace in the stories of  Adam, Judah, Rahab and others  is like holding a mirror up to our own sinfulness and brokenness and finally seeing that God is working his grace in us just as he did for them. Maybe for that reason alone it deserves a place on the bookshelf.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”