Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn

The dawn of a new year is a great time to evaluate your life and set some goals for accomplishing improvements we know we "should" do: declutter, eat less, exercise more, spend more wisely--the list goes on forever but I can't say that I've ever made a resolution to be "kinder."  Is that even a measurable goal?

Feldhahn was influenced by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, a well respected Christian speaker and author and through several years of research with 700 participants, Feldhahn has been "refining, testing, and quantifying specific steps that make a huge difference to any relationship" and what she concluded is that it pretty much boils down to being kind. Shaunti Feldhahn mentions two specific types of kindness that include:

  1. Targeted kindness (toward a particular individual)
  2. Broad kindness (toward the culture at large)
While the book deals primarily with the first type of kindness, the author assures the reader that the book's principles can be adapted in a broad manner to impact society at large.  The book is divided into three parts. The first part is a defense of the importance of exercising kindness and the positive benefits to one's life, work and relationships. The second part discusses elements of kindness and outlines the 30-Day Kindness Challenge.  Last part of the book is the practical helps, tips, and resources for participants.

Readers can take a personal assessment or sign up for daily e-mail reminders during the challenge at The "official" Kindness Challenge launches on January 16 and the website has information on various kindness plans --either general for anyone or specific ones for wives, husbands, parents or workplace. 

The Kindness Challenge is not just a book, but a movement. Feldhahn's website offers abundant free resource to help promote a kindness challenge in a small group or even church wide. I'm looking forward to seeing the fruit of focusing on how to be kinder in 2017.  Grab a copy of The Kindness Challenge--friends, family, coworkers (and maybe even strangers) will thank you!

Disclaimer: I received The Kindness Challenge e-book for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Women of Easter by Liz Curtis Higgs

The premise for the book intrigued me: a book about three Biblical women named Mary.  What struck me was Higgs similarity in writing to Max Lucado's style--down to earth, plain speaking thoughts.

I wanted to like this book. Wanted it to be something that would help me look at Easter in a fresh new way. Unfortunately, I could not get past the first chapter for several reasons.

What immediately struck me was the amount of end notes in each chapter. Chapter one had over forty. If you have just a few sources of reference, I can appreciate an end note but when you are over ten, it's annoying for a reader to have to continually flip to the end of the chapter to find out who is actually the source of a particular idea. After two dozen notations, I was beginning to feel like Higgs was just compiling a reference on other people's works.  Sentences would have partial phrases quoted--why not just assimilate their points into her own words?

Another annoyance was the fact that she would sometimes just cite a phrase within a verse, not the entire verse.  And instead of having an in text reference, it would be in the end notes.  I think it's imperative that Scripture be immediately identified as such, not up to the reader to go dig at the end of the chapter to see the reference.

Thirdly, the author quoted more translations than I have ever seen in one book. Copyright page says most are from NIV but in the first few pages, readers are hit with several others.  I've been a Christian for over 30 years and some of the abbreviated versions I had never heard of.  And I could not find anywhere in the book where there was a list of what the abbreviations stand for. Yes, one could look them up, but that seems like an unnecessary burden.

And finally, once verses were quoted from The Message and The Voice, I knew the book was not for me. Those may be fine for personal reading but it made me cringe to see them included as the basis for her points.

I guess if a reader can get past those things, it may be an insightful book. But when a book is largely a collection of a variety of ideas, I'd prefer to just read the individual works in their entirety.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of  The Women of Easter from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.