I’m beyond excited for my friend Heather, as her second book-baby will be delivered on November 1! The second installment in her series The Tethered World, The Flaming Sword is fast-paced and keeps its claws in you until the very end!
Perhaps my favorite thing about The Flaming Sword is the breadth of growth for the main character, Sadie Larcen. In the first book, liking Sadie as a character was a real challenge for me. She was dragged along on an adventure, instead of reaching out and making her own adventure. I so deeply desired for Sadie to make strong, bold choices! And that’s precisely what happens in The Flaming Sword: The reader sees Sadie blossom from a hesitant, fearful girl who resented her family’s legacy, to a courageous, strong-minded young woman. Sadie’s faith has been tested, and she more fully understands her role in the family and the Tethered World.
This proves to happen in perfect timing, because the Larcens once again step into the world beneath our own — this time to find a darker political atmosphere. The factions and alliances that have formed, in the name of protecting The Flaming Sword of Cherubythe, have the Tethered World on the precipice of war. Unlike their first adventure down below, this time the Larcens are separated. This creates plenty of tension on its own; but the Larcens learn some unexpected things about some unexpected enemies, and these twists and turns keep you guessing!
I very much enjoyed this second installment. Heather has done a fabulous job of ratcheting up the tension for the third book. I can’t wait to read it!
*I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the author.
Falling Free by Shannan Martin releases on 9/20! Click here to pre-order your copy today!
In my opinion, one measure of a non-fiction book’s quality is the extent to which it prompts me to examine my own life. (Actually, more and more I notice that I evaluate fiction books on this spectrum, too.) Earlier this year, I read and reviewed a book that made me reconsider how I plan my days, weeks, and even my year. It helped me to grab hold of a better understanding of efficiency as it relates to life priorities. That was a good book.
Shannan Marten’s Falling Free is also a good book, especially in terms of heart-level examination.
As my eyes moved from page to page, I found my soul praying for the Lord to search my heart…to know me (which, of course, He does) …to show me the ways in which I need to change how I live and love for Him. Because Falling Free is the catalyst for discussions that bring real soul and heart care (and hopefully change), it is the best kind of book.
Since I finished reading Falling Free, it has served as the impetus for deliberation in the following ways.
1. I have begun to reevaluate my priorities in living for Jesus.
This isn’t to say that my priorities will necessarily change drastically or even right away. As Shannan says, not everyone is called to her specific type of ministry, and right now, my sphere of ministry seems straightforward. Being a pastor’s wife and classroom teacher, the stage is pretty set. But the Lord has been pinging around some ideas in my heart for a while now, and Shannan’s words have simply watered the soil around the seeds that were already planted.
As this school year took root at the end of August, I found that Falling Free had changed my heart even with regard to teaching. I teach sixth grade, and if there is ever there is a place that drives you to your knees, it is a middle school classroom, friends. These kids are at a crossroad, and I’ve been given this delicate gift of speaking into their little hearts for the next nine months. Though this doesn’t really tie into the dramatic lifestyle-change Shannan writes about, it definitely is parallel to her words about pouring yourself out for others to show them the love of Jesus. Through my words and actions, I can show these children Jesus for 138 days. Let it be so!
2. I am considering my generosity as regards my time, talent, and treasure.
Sometimes I wish we could just empty our bank account and live in one of those tiny houses with food, books, and our pug. When I think of what a difference that could make, how we could give . . . my heart is stirred. And I always find joy when I get an opportunity to exercise one of my God-given gifts. But you know when I start to feel the squeeze? When using those talents starts to encroach on the time I’ve so carefully allotted for specific activities, it pinches a little. I’m pretty introverted. In truth, at the end of most school days, I prefer to have “carefully allotted” my time to read and drink a cup of tea. But Shannan has reminded me that my time isn’t actually my time at all, and my way isn’t necessarily the best way either. Now it’s time to eagle-eye how I spend my time and to decide how I could spend it more wisely for the kingdom of God. (Not that reading is sinful . . . but I really love to read and it can definitely distract me from kingdom causes.)
3. I am challenging my own ideas and expectations about community.
Above many other things, I value authenticity and transparency (as is fitting for the relationship) in community. But, add to my introversion some painful events from my past, and you have a girl who needs to think once again about what community really means. I’m still percolating on this one, and it might spur a separate post in the future. But for now, as Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
The bottom line is this: If a book can make me start to ponder these things of consequence, I will recommend it to anyone who will listen. Such is the case with Shannan Martin’s Falling Free. Get it. Read it. Let the truths learned through her experience percolate in your mind, take root in your heart, and change your perspective for the better.
Soli Deo gloria,
In exchange for my honest opinion, I received an ARC of Falling Free from the publisher.
The first book I ever read by Jerry Bridges was Respectable Sins. I was a fairly new believer at the time, and you can be confident that it radically enhanced my view of my own sin before a holy God. This is partially because, during his life, Bridges possessed a tremendous gift: He wrote in a way that was especially accessible without watering down a passage of Scripture one bit. (One didn’t need a burgeoning lexicon of theological language to understand him.) I will always be grateful for how the Lord used Bridges to speak (sometimes hard) truth into my life, through the words his fingers typed. Without a doubt, the Lord used The Blessing of Humility to convict with the Word and encourage with the gospel. In short, this book is a treasure!
The Blessing of Humility, a mere 95 pages (excluding the discussion guide), is structured around the Beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12). In Bridges’ own words, “These expressions of Christian character are a description of humility in action” (p. xii). The general premise is that there are precepts (commands) to walk in humility and promises that are God’s grace towards those who do, indeed, walk in that humility. For each character trait (poverty of spirit, meekness, purity of heart, etc.) there is a chapter; in each chapter, Bridges uses stories from Scripture, personal anecdotes, occasional discussion of the original language, and even classic hymns of the church to paint a clear and vivid picture of the commands and promises in that beatitude. Each chapter is quite well-organized; not once did I feel disoriented. Bridges’ thought-flow is smooth and eloquent.
What I’ve always appreciated most about Bridges’ writing, is that he consistently points the reader to three things:
- the complete and perfect sovereignty of God;
- His abundant love for His children; and
- the gospel as the first and greatest hope in the life of a believer.
This happens again in The Blessing of Humility, in the chapters and in the discussion guide.
I think this volume will remain on our shelf as a classic, annual re-read for years to come. In my heart, I know that the bulk of wisdom I gleaned on this first pass is only the tip of the iceberg. Because of Jerry Bridges, I now have a clearer impression of what it looks like to walk in humility, through the power of the Spirit. I pray that this short exegetical work will soon land in your hands, so that you can have the blessing, not only of humility, but also of Jerry Bridges’ immense skillfulness with the written word.
Soli Deo Gloria,
*In exchange for my honest opinion, I received a complimentary advance review copy of this title from Tyndale House.