God’s Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera ~ A Review

God’s Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera and Illustrated by Matthew Sample II

“He’s praying for us and preparing a place
Where we’ll live forever with the God of all grace.”

Gods great plan
God’s Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera is a beautifully written picture book for young children. The illustrations by Matthew Sample II are vivid, detailed and full of meaning. They convey a sense of darkness when discussing the origin of sin, then warmth and comfort when you read about Jesus’ life and purpose. The author’s powerfully simple rhyming couplets communicate the heart of the gospel message from the beginning in the Garden of Eden to Christ’s resurrection.

Cross Focused Reviews

Cross Focused Reviews

Grandparents sit up and take notice. Aunts and uncles, friends and family, I have a gift idea for you. Share this gorgeous picture book with them. When you want to tell the basic simple outline for God’s wonderful plan for man, begin when they are young. Knowing that nothing in life is left up to chance endows our little ones with a sense of purpose and security. Knowing they are loved and cherished not only by their family but also by God and that they play a part in His plan is one of the greatest gifts we can bestow on them. This book communicates the message to our children and grandchildren lovingly and effectively. I know I will enjoy reading this to my grandchildren some day.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Shepherd Press and Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). 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.”

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Red Like Blood: Confrontations with Grace by Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington — A Review

Amazing_graceRed Like Blood: Confrontations with Grace by Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington

“Grace is more of a liquid than a solid. I think most of us know that implicitly which is why we say that grace flows. A liquid needs to be contained or it will run all over the place. Liquids are not passive. Once [Grace] is unleashed there is no telling how far it will go or where it will end up. In the middle of Walmart my friend Noel unleashed grace [through a generous incident], and grace flowed into the cracks of a broken heart as it is always prone to do. Grace needs one thing. It needs cracks. The bigger the crack, the deeper grace will penetrate. A soul with no cracks is like a piece of marble. Grace just runs off but never gets in. At Walmart, Noel found a woman whose husband had just died. Cracks and grace go together. When grace does find a crack to move into there is no telling how far it will go and what it will end up doing. Such is the nature of grace.” Joe

Red Like Blood graphic
Life stories are a remarkable phenomenon–a unique gift from God. Life stories take time to develop; they are sometimes years in the making. They usually have a beginning, a middle and an end. Sometimes a person can experience several life stories over the span of their existence. When we become acquainted with other people, we are usually unaware of their particular life stories until we find common ground. Then one friend tells a life story of theirs to them.

These life stories are like the bubbles children enjoy in the summer. A story becomes a free agent and floats around bumping into other bubbles from time to time. Sometimes the bubbles only touch briefly and go on their way. Occasionally the bubbles bump hard enough to cause one or both to change direction. I’ve seen some bubbles collide, exchange some material and break apart, somewhat altered. From time to time some bubbles may stick together after they meet and touch. Perhaps those are the ones where their life story caused them to bond and continue along the same path together. This last bubble type reminds me of Bob and Joe. Their life stories collided and they bonded. They became stronger for the alliance. As they moved on, they encountered other life stories and like bubbles bumped, changed directions, exchanged material, and proceeded. Like bubbles, our life stories take on a life of their own, known only to God. We can’t even begin to imagine the results when they touch others.

bestow grace on others

This book is different in that there are stories within stories. There is a broader story, but its life is in communicating others’ stories as they touched along the way. The connecting medium for all these shared stories is Grace. We get up close and personal, see the cracks form, watch Grace as it flows and oozes down deep inside. The story was never the same after that. So this book isn’t just about Bob and Joe. It is also about Roland, Ricky, Jay, Mark, Randy, Tim, Andrew, Gene, Frank, Stan, C.J., John, Philip and Euretta, Karen, Dave, Joni, Amy and Rita, Rob, Grace, Big Dan, Jerry, Tom, Byron, Marshall,  Steve and others. Over and over, the stories are about brokenness and God’s Grace.

I loved this book. It is not religious in the sense that it tells you how to do something. No, it is a collection of enjoyable stories that reveal something marvelous, something true. Grace will transform us if we let it. I highly recommend it.

Cross Focused Reviews

Cross Focused Reviews

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by Shepherd Press and Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review on Christianity Lite: More me-Less God by Glen Berteau

Christianity Lite: More me-Less God by Glen Berteau

More Me-Less God by Glen Berteau

More Me-Less God by Glen Berteau

“In today’s culture, many people want ‘More me, less God.’
We need more than a diluted, decaffeinated version of discipleship.
We need the real thing.”

Glen Berteau alerts his readers to recent trends in western culture to trivialize or lighten everything. We eat lite foods and drink lite beverages. We are focused on reducing our responsibilities and adding more benefits. We want life to focus on us. We want our needs to be met. This philosophy of life is creeping into our churches to the point where we want a lite Jesus and a lite church. But does this viewpoint of life work? Is our relationship with Christ enriched and enhanced when we adopt this way of living? We don’t need imitation Christianity; we need the real thing, the real Jesus and the real God. If you want to experience the richness of a close relationship with Christ Jesus, this is the book for you.

The book is set up for individual study, small group study, and classes. But you can also read it through as you would any book on the topic of discipleship. Personally, I would use this for individual devotions, journal my thoughts after each section. There are eight chapters with review questions at the end of each chapter. Each chapter has many sections that can be adapted for daily devotional use. Scattered throughout each chapter are what I like to call, “truth bullets”. They are short statements that hit at the heart of the issue being covered in that chapter. Here are a few of my favorite bullets:

  • “Here’s the truth: Jesus didn’t come to hurt you. He came to kill you.”
  • “Jesus never altered his message to fit His audience.”
  • “People can be very religious without being godly.”
  • “God never wastes our past or our pain.”

The first chapter discusses and explains the “more me, less God” philosophy infiltrating our churches–the desire to have benefits without responsibility. What are these responsibilities we opt to live without? We want to be saved, but without power, without prayer, without cost, without offense, and without sharing. We want to be saved without making an impact on our world. “In Christianity Lite people talk often about the love of God. All the pious words and platitudes taste great, but they’re less filling–they don’t call people to a full-hearted devotion to Christ and His cause.”

The author’s writing style is clear and direct. He uses real life examples and numerous analogies to explain his points. He wants us to know that no one, absolutely no one is beyond God’s grace. His book calls us to serious discipleship, but he assures us that it isn’t what we do that wins God’s favor, but the attitudes of our heart. “If you’ve been drinking Christianity Lite, spit it out! God is tugging on your heart…throw your heart wide open. Stop demanding that Jesus dance to your tune, and begin living the adventure of risk and real blessing.” He explains that Christianity Lite promises we can live any way we want and do what we want. But the Biblical Jesus came to destroy sin, embarrass the flesh, insult the sinful nature, and transform our selfishness into humility and devotion to God. God’s intent is to transform us! Is this the desire of your heart?

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Step by step, the author guides us through the necessary components of discipleship. He doesn’t mince words or avoid sensitive issues. He doesn’t get lost in theological rhetoric, but speaks plainly right to our hearts. I sincerely believe this study will help you move closer into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It has for me.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the author through The Booketeria, a review service for Charisma House Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.