What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

When tragedy strikes as we see all over our world it is a question that plagues all walks of faith.  How does belief matter in those who suffer?  Phillip Yancey takes us within these pages to the aftermath of the Virginia Tech school shooting to impoverish communities to a convention for former prostitutes – who prefer to be called former sex workers.

His travels open up opportunities to see God in ordinary people, sometimes bruised and battered, but time and again there is a spirit of faith and hope that is humbling.

This book was read as part of our Faith N Fiction group.  I come into this read a little bias as I have enjoyed Yancey’s writing in the past and even taught a class for two years based off his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Yancey likes to take a topic, and break it down into bite size pieces for us, many times in story form of real people in real situations and that is what he did here.

Any one of us can recall something during our life time either personal, or globally astronomical that would make the strongest of faith question, “How can God be in the midst of this?”   I found it interesting the title of the book was part of our pre-review discussion as a group as the question came up, was this a good title for this book and does the question get answered.

Great question.

I for one think yes, while Yancey does not come right out and give the answer, I feel it is demonstrated throughout the stories in which he shares.  Time and again he travels to be with the hurt and the broken and their stories come through.  It reminds me of people I know such as Patty Wetterling (in 1989, while I was pregnant with our second son, hers was abducted while riding his bike not 70 miles from my own home and never found).  Wetterling went on to found the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, and continues to this day to be a well known advocate for child safety.  My friend Connie Stanz, the amazing lady who I am writing about, contacted AIDS in 1981 from a blood transfusion.  This year she has lived 30 years with AIDS and runs a camp locally for children and adults with AIDS.  Year round she speaks on stigma, taking care of yourself, etc….

Where is God when it hurts? Where God’s people are. Where misery is, there is the Messiah, and now on earth the Messiah takes form in the shape of the church. That’s what the body of Christ means.  Page 34

Ok – maybe I digress but what I seen in this book was people in all situations maybe not on the track that they thought they would be on due to life “opportunities”, I see God using us the ordinary and making us extraordinary.  This is faith in tragedy’s wake.  Early on in the book Philip Yancey talks about a near death experience when he rolls his SUV he is driving.  While waiting for help three questions came to mind:

1.Who will I miss?  2.How have I spent my life?  3.Am I ready for what happens next?

Those are questions that give me pause as well and as he wrote them I had to ask them to myself. 

The book has some interesting chapters and one that stuck with most of the Faith N Fiction group was the one about the former sex workers.  I enjoyed parts of this book and the stories that went with it.  I liked the thought of Philip going into these different parts of our world and seeing that God does work within the brokenness of our circumstances.  

So what Good is God?  I believe He builds us up through the ashes of broken lives and dreams.  Look in the book… look at the things that people have faced and how they came through.  I seen this read as showing that God does show up – not always in the ways we had hoped, but always as He had planned.  Advocates, strong people of faith are built in many cases through hardship.

Romans 8 reminds us that all these things can be used for good.  All of them are redeemable.

The book is not perfect, I liked it but as I said earlier, I have liked some of his other writing better.  My takeaway comes a lot from who I am and where my passions lie and how God works within these passions in me.

(I apologize if this review seems scattered, I booked myself pretty tight with commitments this weekend and had a class last night and today again from 8 – noon.  I had a small window to come home and write this before I have to go and pick up Chance…. the proactive side of me should have written this days ago and it is totally on me that I waited until the last minutes to organize my thoughts here.  :))

There are some wonderful thoughts around the blogesphere today on this book… please stop and check them out!

The Faith and Fiction Round Table :

Amy at My Friend Amy
Heather at Book Addiction
Julie at Book Hooked Blog
Carrie at Books and Movies
Jennifer at Crazy for Books
Ronnica at Ignorant Historian                                                                                                                                                                                                               Hannah at Word Lily
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
Thomas at My Random Thoughts
Liz at Roving Reads
Sherry at Semicolon
Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog
Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews
Brooks at Victorious Cafe

Unspeakable Journey by Rinda Hahn

Isabella is happy with her life.  She has a loving husband and children she adores.  She lives pleasantly enough and has money to buy the things they need.  On the eve of her thirtieth birthday as Isabella is grabbing a few groceries at the local grocery store she is abducted in the parking lot.

Despite all Isabella does to escape, Hasam, a human trafficker arranges to have her taken into Saudi Arabia where she is presented to the Prince Latif to be taken as wife. Latif, upon meeting Isabella finds her to be a beauty of long lavish red hair and captivating green eyes.

Isabella arrives in a country foreign to her.  Ripped from the love of her family and friends she is forced to live under the laws of this country and live out her Christian faith under the very large and ever-present watchful eye of the Muslim community.

Ok… first off, holy smokes did this audio get me heart racing!  While this is a fiction read it felt as though it could be a memoir.  Isabella’s abduction seemed very real to me, I think in the times we live in there is so much out in the world happening that I listened to the start of this audio and thought, “Why not?  It could happen.”

Isabella’s story is one of a strong faith.  While she loses everything that can be taken away from her, there is one thing that can not by taken – and that is God.  As Isabella’s captivity goes from days, to weeks to months… she has little hope of ever returning home to her husband and her children, and she literally gives it all to God.  If this is His plan for her, then she will abide.  A powerful, POWERFUL reflection of being fully committed to whatever will be.

I found the characters to be well written and the story line engaging.  As Isabella fully gives herself to this new husband as she is demanded to… I found this to be an incredible topic for a Christian fiction read.  There are many questions that came to mind and I felt that author Rinda Hahn wrote a very impressive book.

My only complaint is the ending was so abrupt.  I would have liked to have known more from that point on – however I can see where if there was to be a sequel (hint hint hint!!!) I can see where this story line could pick up and continue into another book.

A book about keeping your faith and knowing God is with you, even in the darkest of days.  A wonderful debut for author Rinda Hahn, who I would gladly read again.

**Stay tune – soon I will be interviewing author Rinda Hahn

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include Unspeakable Journey

I purchased this audio from audible.com

Where is God In Your Life by Susan M. Provost

As Christians, our spiritual journey constantly brings us back to Jerusalem, to the death and resurrection of Jesus, which gives meaning to all that we do. Strengthened by God’s Spirit we join on the walk to wherever, we share meals, and we tell our stories. We remember. God, as we go along our life’s way, will help us to be aware of His presence with us. He will open our eyes, makes us expectant, eager to be met by Him. We will never complete our spiritual journey. “Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation; continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”

This book while broke into three sections, really is about getting closer to God and using this book to develop meaningful two-day retreats.  In past years I have participated in organizing women’s retreats for our church as well as have led some small group sessions.  This book is a wonderful study for developing ideas and/or entire programs around what Susan Provost has put in her book, Where Is God In Your Life.

I enjoyed the topics from prayer, spirituality, community, God’s presence and more.  This book read  more like a reference book and not really a book to just read through and be done with it, but come back to again and again.  I enjoyed the workshop sections and they already had my brain churning up ideas for future ways I can use this book.  I also liked the schedule samples within the retreats, this is something I could use for planning.

I would recommend this read to be a part of any church library and a handy tool to be used for retreat and small group leaders and organizers.

Amazon Rating

392 pages

I received my review copy from Pump Up Your Book Promotion

Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah w/Giveaway

Separate Fact from Fiction
For centuries, men, women, and children have been fascinated by stories of angel sightings. Yet many contemporary beliefs are based on misconception and myth rather than solid, biblical truth. Responding to our widespread, modern cultural interest in the agents of heaven and their role in our world, popular Bible teacher Dr. David Jeremiah provides an in-depth, biblical look at the hot topic of angels. His broad and thorough survey of scriptural teaching is illustrated by powerful quotes from prominent teachers Billy Graham, Corrie ten Boom, C.S. Lewis, and others.
Separate Fact from Fiction
Popular Bible teacher Dr. David Jeremiah explores the Bible’s rich teaching on angels, revealing a fascinating doorway into reliable, eye-opening truth.
Discover the reality of how angels can draw you closer than ever to God as you sharpen your sensitivity toward spiritual realities.
“Outstanding As one would expect from David Jeremiah, this book reflects a theologian’s concern, a pastor’s heart, and a Biblicist’s accuracy.”
–Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, “New York Times “bestselling author
“David has that uncanny ability to be deliberate without being dull. His words will deepen your gratitude for God’s messengers in light of God’s Word.”
–Max Lucado, pastor and bestselling author
“Dr. David Jeremiah shifts the focus from contemporary ‘angel hype’ to the fascinating biblical truth about God’s powerful messengers.”
–Dr. John C. Maxwell, founder of INJOY, Inc.
Story Behind the Book
“Simply put, this is an outstanding book As one would expect from David Jeremiah, this book reflects a theologian’s concern, a pastor’s heart, and a biblicist’s accuracy.” –Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, “New York Times” bestselling author
“David has that uncanny ability to be deliberate without being dull. His words will deepen your gratitude for God’s messengers in light of God’s Word.”
–Max Lucado, pastor and bestselling author
“Dr. David Jeremiah shifts the focus from contemporary ‘angel hype’ to the fascinating biblical truth about God’s powerful messengers.”
–Dr. John C. Maxwell, founder of INJOY, Inc.

Whenever I agree to read a book on scriptures or Biblical truths and I am not familiar with the author, I tread carefully. That was the case in this book.  A book on Angels does not guarantee a Biblical truth and before I said yes to this book I did a little Google searching on Dr. David Jeremiah.  The sell for me was knowing his teachings stemmed around people like Billy Graham, Corrie Ten Boom and C.S. Lewis, all who are respected by me as authors.

What are angels? What is their role in God’s plan? Are they present? Do they appear? Do they give us personal insight about our work and our worship?

I enjoyed going through this book and following where Angels appear in the Bible.  Scripture by scripture, David Jeremiah showed me what angels – and what angels are not.  I enjoyed taking this book chapter by chapter – learning more and ore about the ANgels of the Bible…. sadly, something I had never taken the time to do before.

I admit I went through a phase in my 20’s when Angels were cool to collect and I had a large collection of them throughout our home – because I liked the look of them, but didn’t really go deeper into what (or who) Angels represented.

Jeremiah’s book is a reprint that has already sold 60,000 copies.  Apparently people do want to know more about Angels and I am glad to hear that this author will be the one to help them – and me – know more about the true Angels.  I liked that while he gives his thoughts and insights – he does keep the focus on the Bible and doesn’t improvise his own ideas into the book.  It left me knowing more not only about the Bible, and Angels, but feeling like I knew a little more about God as well.

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah publishing I have a copy of this book to give away to one lucky commentor!

How to Enter?

Leave a comment here for one entry

Bonus Entries?

Subscribe to this blog (upper right sidebar) and let me know in a separate comment and receive two bonus entries

Tweet or blog about this giveaway and let me know in a separate comment for another entry

This giveaway will end on February 28.  Open to USA and Canada entrants only.

Have fun and good luck!


I received my copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Faith In Fiction Saturday

Faith In Fiction Saturday is presented by My Friend Amy.  This weeks question was:

What Christian Fiction books am I looking forward to in 2010?

So…. I thought I would list a few here.

Beguiled by Deeanne Gist, Mark Betrand:   Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston’s wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her. Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

As Young As We Feel by Melody Carlson:   Once there were four Lindas in a first grade classroom. Inseparable, they laughed and cried through their tweens and teens—and then went their own ways. Forty-seven years later, a reunion has brought the successful attorney, empty nester, frustrated artist, and aging starlet together again. Join them as they discover that friendship knows no statute of limitations

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers:  The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive. Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love-but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small-town Christian home and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

These are few that I am looking forward to.  I also currently have Ted Decker’s The Bride Collector.  I havent read Decker in a while but have his last three books on hand.  I am looking forward to visiting his works again.