Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: Undressed

Undressed: Taking Everything Off and Putting on What Matters Most
By: Mark Cornelison
Lucid Books, 2014
English, 164 pgs

"Sometimes, just when you think life is going just the way you expect, things can change. What once was normal and acceptable is replaced by a sense that there is a better life to be lived, often in surprising ways. This describes Mark Cornelison, contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, before his life-changing experience on this popular show.

Mark realized that the life he was living had to look different and he gave God the freedom to, not only change him physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. This new chance to live life brought with it a message that he knew could change other people in the way it had changed him.

The world he had complicated with stuff, that we all think is important, was taken away one layer at a time. He was then clothed with a new, simple life. Now he shares the story and challenges you with what he has learned from the journey.

Come see what needs to be taken off of you so that a better you can truly live.

About the Author:
Mark Cornelison wanted to go on The Biggest Loser because he was ready to make the life changes necessary to get healthy and hoped to give his "smokin' hot wife a smokin' hot husband!" He says a poor diet and lack of exercise led him to start gaining weight in high school. As a youth pastor for more than 17 years, his weight had reached an all- time high and something had to be done.

At 43 years old and 295 pounds, Mark suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux. Mark enjoys doing volunteer work and going on mission trips, both of which were being significantly effected due to his weight. He knew it was time to make a life change when he began taking an anti-anxiety medication in efforts to deal with the side effects of his other prescriptions. A married father of three teenagers - two sons and one daughter - Mark started season 13 with his son, Chism, who gained much of his weight after an accident when he was younger.

After Mark left for the show, Cathy decided to make changes for herself so that the two of them could share this journey together. She began researching all she could about nutrition and healthy eating as well as developing a consistent exercise routine. By the time Mark returned, Cathy had lost 40 lbs. on her own and had created a home where healthy living was the norm.

Mark returned over 100lbs lighter with a new life. He currently has no medical conditions to be monitored and has been removed from all of the medications he was taking before this experience. Besides being role models to their family; their greatest joy is now having the physical and mental ability to do and be anything Christ calls them to be. After taking a stand on the show which ultimately led to Mark walking away from any and all prize possibilities with only two weeks left to go, they have both seen the doors open to sharing the truth of how God is alive and well behind the scenes in Hollywood.

Since the show ended, they have traveled across the US to encourage others. In 2012, they founded SweatCor ( and now work to communicate hope and encouragement with students and adults alike in regards to ministry and health.

In churches, Mark brings a message of what God did in and through him from this experience. his message, "People Matter" has been well received in many churches and groups across the country. It will certainly inspire your body to look past the things that life says are important and to focus on the only two things that really matter...

This experience has deeply changed them and their family...and this is still only the beginning.

I am a long-time fan of The Biggest Loser. For many years, I would watch the show and eat my ice cream and wish that I could "do what they do". Knowing full well that I would never put myself in a television situation or into a highly stressful situation away from my family for months on end. I have a lot of respect for the people who put themselves into this situation, where the good, bad and sweaty ugly are all laid bare for all of the world to see. But I took ideas, exercises, nutrition information and motivation from the show. I knew that I could make a change.

I remember the season that Mark and his son, Chism, were on the show. I remember watching them, knowing he was a youth minister and wondering how they were going to "stay real" on a show that seems to focus on the fantastic. I enjoyed the parts in the book where he gave behind the scenes information about the show. I like that he and another pastor on the show, Buddy, started a church on Sunday nights for the cast. And then the crew started coming. And then they stayed close. And then their lives spoke into a skeptic's heart. God used these men and this situation to bring a child into His arms and His home. That's what matters in the journey.

I am deeply appreciative of the words and the openness in the book. Mark speaks from the heart and tells you flat out that he didn't have it "figured out" for a long time. I know so many people who think a switch gets flipped or something when we come to know Christ. Like we're supposed to suddenly have it all together and understand everything. Well, that doesn't happen. We're still ourselves. We still have to learn and grow and seek and find. It's a process and it's the only thing in life that is 100% totally worth doing.

I'm not totally sure if this season is the one where I made a change or the next one was, but I got up and changed. I stopped making excuses and stopped doubting. I looked at life and health differently. I've lost 100 pounds in the last 5 calendar years. I've put a few back on lately and I've used every excuse for them. A foot injury. Blogging and doing product reviews. No time to exercise (even though my treadmill stares me in the face almost all day).

This book is re-motivating me. I have my tennis shoes on right now and am looking forward to the walk I'm about to go on. I'm going to get back into 5K shape. I'm going to do it again, and better and not stop this time.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: Raising Kingdom Kids

Raising Kingdom Kids
By Tony Evans
Focus on the Family, 2014
English, 272 pgs

From the bestselling author of Kingdom Man and Kingdom Woman, Raising Kingdom Kids equips parents to raise their children with a Kingdom perspective and also offers practical how-to advice on providing spiritual training as instructed in Scripture.

Dr. Tony Evans begins with an overarching look at the need for Kingdom parenting, our roles and responsibilities in raising God-following children, and how to prepare children to take on the assignments God has for their lives. He then takes a practical turn, with examples and illustrations to help parents understand and provide specific training for kids in the power of prayer, wisdom, loving God’s Word, getting through trials, controlling their tongues, developing patience, the surrender of service, and much more.

This book is for every dad or mom who wants to fulfill the parenting role God has given them—not just in raising healthy kids intellectually, physically, and socially, but in contributing to their child’s relationship with God and alignment under His plan.

From the Inside Flap:

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” MARK 10:14 (ESV)

Kingdom parenting is purposeful parenting—helping children learn to live under God’s divine authority, both today and in the future.

No parent does it perfectly, and most of us have regrets about the past and poor decisions we’ve made along the way. But wherever you are in your journey, it’s never too late to start anew, applying biblical principles to parenting and trusting God to bring about the growth.

In this inspiring and practical book, Dr. Tony Evans comes alongside moms and dads with understanding and affection, offering his own hard lessons learned, and easy-to-apply strategies for raising your children in the knowledge that they truly are royalty, children of the King.

No matter what challenges your kids will one day face, raise them so that their hearts will remain open toward home—and the values and principles they learned there.

This is the third in a Kingdom series from Dr. Evans, and the second I have read (after Kingdom Woman). This is focused on being a good parent and raising your children to love the Lord and serve only Him. This is not a book that should be read quickly. Dig into it. Take your time. There is truth dripping from every page and you don't want to miss any of it.

The book is divided into three sections: Establishing a Kingdom Mindset, Cultivating a Kingdom Atmosphere and Instilling Kingdom Virtues. Each section is further divided into chapters with it. The chapters are a little longer at the beginning at shorter in the last section. 

Dr. Evans is a master at story telling and pulling you into what he's saying. I've seen that in his preaching and speaking but can even feel it reading his written words.

He emphasizes that you need to look forward to not only your kids but your grandkids and future generations. What we teach is passed on and it's up to us to make sure it's the "good stuff" that makes it through to our kids.

He tells one story about how dinner time is family devotional time. We always have dinner together, but we usually talk about our days and just generally chit chat (in between telling the kids to eat their veggies or meat) about trains, school or games or nothing of consequence. My husband and I have been more intentional lately about speaking love and truth into their lives at that half hour we have their (mostly) undivided attention.

There are stories scattered throughout the book by Dr. Evans' children and I found those really interesting. It's one thing to be a person who can write a book. I appreciate that Dr. Evans has lived the life before he put the ink on the page. He writes from experience.

I actually loved the book so much, and honestly, read it pretty fast to get this review out on time, that I'm starting over and reading it with my husband so that I do not miss a single drop of truth.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: The Case for a Creator, Student Edition

The Case for a Creator, Student Edition
By Lee Strobel
Zondervan, 2014
English, 112 pgs

Based on the bestseller The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel, along with Jane Vogel, gives students the evidence they need to point to a Creator.

When Lee Strobel was a high school freshman, science convinced him that God didn't exist. Since then, however, incredible scientific discoveries have not only helped restore Lee's faith, but have strengthened it.

In this student edition of the bestselling The Case for a Creator, Strobel encourages teens to challenge the "facts" that say there is no God and to weigh the evidence for themselves. Readers will be astonished by what some of today's most respected experts have to say about the birth of the universe, Darwinism, DNA research, and the astounding fine-tuning of the cosmos. Ultimately, they must consider the question: Could it be that the universe looks designed … because it is?

This is the third book I've read from the Case For series.  This is a little harder to read, since it's a lot about science and creation, but it's very well researched and very convincing.

The chapters cover The Bang, Evolution, Biochemistry and DNA, among other topics. This is the most difficult of the books to read because there is a lot about theories and scientific research. I think this would be good for a student who is being taught in a school where they are pushing non-Biblical "truths". They would be able to use this book to learn to refute the teachings, in a polite way, with solid factual data.

I received a copy of the book from BookLook Bloggers for the purpose of a review on this blog and a commercial bookseller site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Review: Colliding with Destiny

Colliding with Destiny
By Sarah Jakes
Bethany House, 2014
English, 220 pgs

From the Back of the Book:

Find a fuller, richer life by letting God direct your destiny.
The story of Ruth is a journey of transformation. By allowing God to transform her circumstances, Ruth went from a widow who would be excluded from society to a wife with a secure and protected future, a future that ultimately paved the way for the birth of King David! Her story is full of collision--loss, heartache, poverty, even shame--but she never let her past define her. Instead, the most painful time of her life became her most pivotal, propelling her to a destiny she never imagined.

Perhaps you have a past you're struggling to overcome. If disappointments, whether a result of your own choices or the actions of others, have kept you from being your true self, this book is for you. Follow Ruth's life and discover the hope available to each of us. Your yesterday does not have to dictate your tomorrow.

Despite your past pain, you, too, can find redemption and restoration.

This is a very easy to read, daily devotion style, book. There are 30 fairly short chapters which lend themselves to a month of daily study. Each chapter ends with a journal style lesson from the author, questions for reflection and a prayer.

The book is about overcoming your past and the hurts in it. There is a lot of painful biography to read as well as topical application toward life. I found that the biographical material was a bit redundant at time, as if the author was still dealing with moving past her hurts. Completely understandable...not judging at all. It made the progression of the study from hurt to hope more real and allows the reader to better relate to the author. 

The writing is not challenging to read at all. By that I mean that it's easy to understand and clearly expresses the point without overwhelming the reader with concepts that are too cerebral.

I received a copy of the book from Bethany House for the purpose of a review on this blog and a commercial bookseller site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.