The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness (Book Review)

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
the shackles of self-love and self-hate are too heavy to bear

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness

By Timothy Keller

Information
Inspiration
Writing Craft
Moral Value

A short piece of much-needed truth in our age of selfie syndrome

I listened to this audiobook in one day, and then I turned around and listened to the last chapter again, and I’ll probably listen to it again.

My husband and I are teaching a seminar for 20-somethings next month, and the subject is “the change,” as in Christian transformation, living as a new creature, undergoing the renewal of the mind. This was beautiful food for thought in developing the seminar content.

What does it look like to live a Christ-transformed life? One HUGE indicator is that mature Christians don’t think about themselves all that much. They don’t think less of themselves. They don’t think more of themselves. They think more about God and others than they do about themselves. This, Tim Keller says, is blessed freedom. I couldn’t agree more.

We are constantly looking for signs that we are important and valuable. We live good, Christian lives in order to achieve our “righteous” merit badges. We look to others for validation—I’m reminded of the tortured Anna Karenina asking her sister-in-law, Dolly, again and again, “What do you think of me?” Keller compares this to being in a neverending courtroom, where we are on trial, and we are looking to others (or to ourselves) for a verdict, an answer to the question: Am I a good person?

Keller says we have to get out of the courtroom. How? We accept God’s verdict of us.

When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, then we are beloved children of God. That is our identity. This verdict comes before any “performance” on our part—the act of faith, the choice to believe in the gospel results in God’s final verdict on our identity and worth. We are His children, loved, and accepted. THEN the transformation happens. The verdict OUTFITS us for the performance to come, the “enduring to the end.”

We step out of the courtroom, no longer trying to prove our goodness, and we are free to stop obsessing over our self-worth and turn our precious focus upward and outward, where we find joy and freedom.

5
The Hiding Place (Book Review)

The Hiding Place (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you want to hear about the power of God in action in the lives of real people in real trouble

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

The Hiding Place

By Corrie ten Boom

Information
Inspiration
Writing Craft
Moral Value

Meet a couple of spinsters who will change your life forever and ever amen.

“Can I weep openly right now?” That’s the question I had to ask myself every time before pressing play on this audiobook. I shed many a tear into my family’s dinner as I was cooking it, into the pavement around my neighborhood as I walked, onto my clean laundry as I was folding it.

It’s been 10 years since my last reading of The Hiding Place, so I was due.

First and foremost, this book is a testament to the power of God, and it’s also a tribute to Corrie’s sister, Betsy, and her faith. This time around, I was struck by how many times Corrie described Betsy as an otherworldly being. “Who is this sister of mine?” When she prayed for her enemies, thanked God for fleas. I think this is what it means to be a new person in Christ, to have a new heart. It’s something that the unbelieving spirit of the world cannot comprehend.

Indeed, this book does not diminish the power of God. Every step of the way, Corrie demonstrates with evidence (tangible and intangible) how God gave them everything they needed to do everything He asked of them. Many times, they didn’t see His hand until after undergoing a test of faith, and only afterward did they realize He’d been at work.

I love everything about this story, and I think everyone should read it. It’s a WW2 memoir that is almost never a downer…ever! It’s edifying and uplifting while also not shying away from the horrors and atrocities.

I’m amazed by how readable and riveting the writing is.

5
A Question of Yams (Book Review)

A Question of Yams (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you want to read a missionary-themed book with your young kids

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

A Question of Yams

By Gloria Repp
Illustrated by Roger Bruckner

Character
Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

Great for kids who are starting to read on their own

This short book came with our homeschool curriculum, and my little boys enjoyed it. They easily could’ve read it themselves. It’s perfect for early readers (big font, few words on a page). And it has a strong Christian message.

Our protagonist, Kuri, is a young boy who lives in an African village where missionaries have converted his father to Christianity. It’s customary to pray to the spirits when planting your yearly yams, but Kuri’s father prays to Jesus instead. He gets pushback from the village Head Men, who warn him that the spirits will blight his crop.

The book is about what happens to Kuri and his family. Does God come through for them?

I like that this book shows that, after becoming a Christian, your life isn’t perfect, but you have God to turn to when tough times come. I also really liked how Kuri’s father prays for the Head Men instead of expressing hatred.

This wasn’t overly satisfying in the plot or character departments, but for a Christian kids’ book, it stands above the crowd.

3.8
The Silent Governess (Book Review)

The Silent Governess (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you like slow-burn, clean regency romances with Christian undertones

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

The Silent Governess (DNF 50%)

By Julie Klassen

Character
Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

When a young woman in regency-era England is forced to flee home, where will she turn?

This is the second Julie Klassen book that I’ve DNFed since the beginning of the year. I tried listening to Castaway in Cornwall on audio first, and then I got bored at the 35 percent mark. I decided to start this one, and I find that I’m forcing myself to go back to the audiobook…I have no desire to continue, so I’m going to just stop.

I don’t know if it’s the audio format or if it’s just not the right time for a regency romance. The books aren’t bad, but I think they’re lacking the conflict and emotion that I’m craving right now.

There are times when a relatively sedate and buttoned-up story is just the ticket. But, that’s falling flat for me at the moment.

Not giving up on you, Jules! I’ll be back.

Content warnings: Nothing graphic, but there was one scene when a man made unwanted advances toward the protagonist, and she got away.

3.3
Do More Better (Book Review)

Do More Better (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you want a few good reasons WHY productivity matters in our walk with the Lord

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

Do More Better

By Tim Challies

Information
Inspiration
Writing Craft
Moral Value

How to be a productive Christian human.

This would make the perfect high school graduation gift for a Christian kid. This is a short, practical method to getting things done that comes from a Christian perspective. It wasn’t earth-shattering for me, but I can imagine it would be super helpful for my teenage nephews who are about to embark upon Real Life after high school.

This is my first interaction with Challies, so I don’t know him in any other context besides this book, but I liked what he had to say about centering life on loving God and serving others. We’re not getting more things done just so that we can amass wealth and accomplishments and fame. We’re trying to steward our lives in a way that will honor God because we love and revere Him, and we acknowledge that He is in charge of our plans and path.

I think this book would’ve felt more “new” if I hadn’t read Mystie Winkler’s planner book. She draws on several of his frameworks, including a weekly review. I liked the planner book a lot because it’s specifically for moms, and it felt more relevant to my situation right now.

I’m not a big app person. I do much better with paper and ink, but I can apply the general principles attached to the digital tools (Todoist, Google Calendar, and Evernote) to my paper planner.
I did enjoy the section on Serve and Surprise. I like the idea of surprising people by going over and above.

4.1