Friday, September 29, 2017

Closer Than a Sister: Review and Giveaway

Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish by Christina Fox, Christian Focus, 2017, 191 pages. Release date: October 6, 2017.

The desire for real friendships is part of what it means to be human, made in the image of God, and something with which many of us struggle. I know I long for rich friendships, yet often I find the idea of having the closeness others enjoy elusive and disconnected from my own experience.

In Closer Than a Sister, Christina Fox tackles the topic of friendships for women in the church by emphasizing the local church (the body of Christ), union with Christ, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Divided into three sections, the book lays out theological, expository, and redemptive perspectives on Christian friendship.

In the first section, the author discusses the theological foundations for Christian friendship, the origins of Christian community, and how unity with Christ creates essential unity between believers. Specifically, for Christian women, our bonds go beyond mere secular notions of friendship, because we have been given a bond and unity in Christ intended to make us a heavenly family. On the one hand, we have been made to enjoy community with one another, but on the other hand, because of sin, community is still broken and still often falls short of meeting that desire or honoring the Lord.

As a competent guide and expositor of the relevant New Testament passages, the author then takes her readers on a journey in the second section through various scriptural examples and instructions that depict Christ-exalting Christian friendships between sisters in the Lord.  Fox presents the text from a first person perspective as trained counselor and seasoned blogger on women's topics, speaking and engaging with the reader using a very personal approach. For some readers, this approach may seem intimidating; however, from my point of view, the approach was a welcome change from the sanitized, non-personal academic writing that I encounter regularly in my graduate research program.

Finally, in the third section, the author approaches some of the downfalls that Christian women often experience, including the loss of friendships that result from moving, changes of the season of life, or even conflict. Struggles with idolatry, unrealistic expectations, and gossip regularly seem to exacerbate our loneliness and longing for community. While not every woman in our local churches will become close friends, the author shows us how we can reach out to our sisters in Christ, in a spirit of love and sacrificial service. Ultimately, if we are in Christ, we're called to remember that he is our true Friend -- the One who will never leave us or forsake us and who will never let us down or reject us.

I would recommend this book for several purposes: (1) if like me, friendship is a struggle for you, this book will likely be a worthwhile read and (2) for anyone interested in cultivating a mentoring, Titus-2 type relationship, I would see this book as an invaluable resource for understanding the kind of relationships we might emulate. If you're already gifted in this area, the book is still a very good reminder of what Gospel friendships look like and of the One Friend Who we all are longing to meet face to face in that day.

The giveaway has ended - Thank you everyone who entered!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

And the winner is....

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia. We had 43 entries, and the winner is Madel C

Thank you for your continued interest in our blog!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia: Review and a Giveaway

Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia, John Dunlop MD, Crossway, 2017, 207 pages.

Dementia is a word that can strike fear in our hearts. Over 6 million Americans have dementia, and that number is only going to increase. One-third of seniors will die from this disease. In the face of these grim statistics, is there any hope? Is it possible to find the grace of God in the face of dementia?

Author, Dr. John Dunlop, believes this is possible. He is a practicing geriatrician with over 30 years experience. He has walked this path with both of his parents and his mother-in-law. And he is a brother-in-Christ who believes that God's grace is sufficient even for a disease such as this.

Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia covers medical information and practical advice such as:

- How do our brains normally work and what happens when they don't?
- What are the different types of dementia? How are they diagnosed? Can they be prevented and treated?
- What is the progression of the disease? What challenges do patients face and what changes will they undergo? How can we treat them with respect as people made in God's image?
- What is the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll on caregivers? What support can we give them? When is it time to consider a nursing home/memory care?
- How do we provide the best care and comfort at the end?

But in addition, this book addresses the spiritual side of the equation. There is a whole chapter devoted to how the church can help. The author gives suggestions for proactive teaching on suffering and honoring the image of God in all people, even when their bodies and minds fail them. I was especially encouraged that this trial can be a means of strengthening the faith of not only caregivers but for the patients themselves. This is an opportunity to grow in prayer as we grieve and make our requests known, but we can also grow in worship and thanksgiving for God's grace and provision. This gives the body of Christ avenues for demonstrating love through practical service. I also appreciated Dr. Dunlop's reminders from the Word of what awaits the Christian dementia patient when they have finished the race. They have hope for "the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting" where disease and death are no more and every tear is wiped away.

When I found out about this book, I was very eager to read it. My mother suffers from memory loss, and it is challenging to support my family from afar. There are decisions to be made and even more unknowns. Thus it seems overwhelming at times. The practical insight in Finding Grace has helped me better understand what my mom faces day to day, what to expect in the future, and considerations for her well-being and those ministering to her. It has reminded me again that God wasn't caught off guard by this diagnosis. He has a purpose, but He is not remote from this situation. The Lord loves her and is intimately involved in the concerns of my family. So I am thankful that Dr. Dunlop wrote this book for folks like me.

I highly recommend Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia for family members, friends, pastors, and for those who are diagnosed with this disease. It offers practical wisdom but also points us to the ultimate source of comfort - the God of all grace.

We are giving away a copy of Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia. Please enter your contact information below. The winner will be announced Tuesday, September 26. Thanks for entering!

(The giveaway has ended.)

You can purchase this book from CrosswayWTS Books | Amazon | CBD | Book Depository