Christian books

Overcoming Adversity by Carl Garrigus: Book Review

Overcoming Adversity The Book of James

(Photo Credit: CrossLink Publishing)

In Overcoming Adversity: Life Lessons from the Book of James, Dr. Carl Garrigus demonstrates how the Book of James can be employed to aid people in rising above life’s challenges. For Garrigus, who holds doctoral degrees in History and Theology, defeating adversity requires a stronger relationship with Christ and an increasingly maturing faith in Him. A false relationship with Jesus will leave one powerless to combating the trials life presents, and a person may struggle with these trials for many years, years without joy and peace. Garrigus teaches the reader how to establish and maintain an authentic and effective relationship with Christ, one that leads to pure gratitude for such a relationship.

Garrigus emphasizes the significance of responding to God’s call to perform good works, which strengthens their ability to experience victory over the adversities they face. Instead of viewing trying circumstances through a negative lens, the scholar exhorts readers to use these circumstances as opportunities to perfect one’s faith.

As a believer, one has to recognize he or she is not seeking victory; he or she is operating from victory. This is a biblical reality for believers I wish the author would have explicitly stated. To experience such victory, one does not need to “reengage” with God as Garrigus posits; he or she simply needs to believe what God said: Christ leads us to triumph in all phenomena we encounter. “Reengage” seems to communicate that believers need to do something, perform some work, some work of the flesh, to earn their victory. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Jesus has already made our victory available to us through the finished work of the Cross.

To his credit, though, the scholar does explain that believers have God available to aid them in developing a constantly maturing and effective faith. Dr. Garrigus provides a powerful word of wisdom: “When a trial comes, don’t turn away from God but toward Him” (p. 13).This statement would be even stronger by instructing readers to remain focused on God and never “turn away from” Him. If he would’ve made this point, then there wouldn’t be a need to advocate for his readers to “reengage.”

Overall, this is a worthwhile read that can help many believers, especially those struggling with their faith, to rely on God for their strength to conquer adversities. I very much appreciate how Dr. Garrigus articulates such confidence in the efficacy of a true and engaging relationship with God. Each chapter of this short book (fifty-five pages total) ends with “Five Questions for Exploration,” affording readers opportunities to plumb nuances of ideas communicated.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to assist with this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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All In For Him by Gwen Thielges: Book Review

 

Gwen Thielges

(Photo Credit: Gwen Thielges)

In All In For Him: Twenty-One Devotions For College Athletes, Gwen Thielges offers college student-athletes a 21-day devotional that empowers them to combine strong athletic preparation and performance with robust spiritual practice and commitment. For Thielges, any athlete, including a college student-athlete, cannot become a complete athlete without building and buttressing his or her spiritual life and foundation. Intending this book to inspire college athletes to develop a closer relationship with Christ and use their platform to display His glory, the author wants these athletes to maximize the potential of their platform to spread Christ’s message and win souls for Him. This book aims to help college student-athletes practice daily gratitude for the opportunity Jesus has given them to perform athletically and be a part of an athletic team.

Athletes, at any level, will find the “Day 1” devotion quite useful: begin the season with a prayer for God’s favor.  The “Day 3” devotion calls for them to abandon negative thinking and discourse and refuse to surround themselves with negativity in any form. On “Day 7,” Thielges makes an important point for college student-athletes to pray for their coaches. As any athlete knows, and the author highlights, a coach is a critical dimension of any team’s success, for if the team is to experience success, it will need a coach who employs principle and discipline.

In a postmodern epoch where many college student-athletes demonstrate such egregious selfishness, “Day 8” provides a sobering reminder of their need to commit themselves to humility and place their confidence in Christ. If athletes, as “Day 10” explains, walk in humility and in the confidence of God, they will serve as role models for their community, nation, and world. Living a humble life, one where confidence in God is at the center of the athlete’s life, he or she will have a proper understanding of how to conduct himself or herself when using social media, as revealed in “Day 12” and “Day 13.”  

Thielges encourages college student-athletes to win with grace. When one considers how nasty, how vicious college sports have increasingly become, her words are timely, calling these athletes, specifically Christian athletes, to serve as an example of what grace looks like in athletic competition. For the author, when athletes win with grace, it’s not about belittling their opponents but more about thanking God for the opportunity to perform successfully and more about showing gratitude for the spirited competition their opponents gave them.

As a coach and scholar who focuses on student-athletes, I am happy to see this book published. For this book to reach its maximum value, it must reach the hands of as many college student-athletes as possible. The publisher and/or author needs to send a copy of this book to college athletic departments across the nation. While this will cost some money to do, I’m confident that this will be a profitable investment, leading to a significant increase in sales, and more importantly, strengthening the lives of college student-athletes.  

To have an interest in purchasing and reading this book, one, most likely, will need to an authentic investment in student-athletes, especially college student-athletes, for its written to and for them. Having said that, though, I would recommend that coaches, athletic administrators, higher education administrators, advisors, mentors, and tutors of college student-athletes, parents of current and future college student-athletes, and serious college sports fans read this book. By reading this book, one gains a stronger understanding of what college student-athletes need, the challenges they face, and how to maximize their impact on and off the field.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His ( by Max Lucado, the popular author of numerous Christian books, presents the dominant thesis that God loves you the way you are but He does not intend to leave you the way you are.  Lucado contends that God wants you to develop a heart like Jesus and He wants to make you just like Jesus.  The author asserts that the central focus of a true Christian’s life is patterning his or her thoughts, words, and actions after Jesus.

I found Lucado’s book to provide a substantive understanding of how God will assist you in becoming what He wants you to be.  At the end of the book, there is a “Study Guide” for each chapter that enables the reader to engage in critical thought about each chapter.  By including this “Study Guide,” the writer evinces his serious desire for the reader to grasp the importance of each chapter’s primary messages.  I agree with Lucado’s overriding thesis that God loves you just the way you are but He does not intend for you to remain the way you are.

Too often religious leaders don’t let people know they have greatness already within them.  When Jesus comes into their lives, He activates the greatness that lies within them.  Lucado’s book is vital reminder to readers that God can use them for His glory as He transforms them into the people He needs them to be.  I found his argument that God longs for total control of humans’ lives to be at the core of what it means to be a Christian and a significant message for postmodern Christians to contemplate and embrace.

I highly recommend you purchase this book today!  The book can be purchased here: http://www.thomasnelson.com/just-like-jesus-5.html and you can read other reviews of this book here: http://www.booksneeze.com/reviews/bybook/9780849947438.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison