Stone Soup for Five: {January} what I read this month

{January} what I read this month

I have to admit, I was taken in by the cover (beautiful) the font, the title, and the subtitle.  Plus, it's super cheap right now ($3.00 on Christian Book!)  Because of the steep price cut I wasn't expecting much, but when I started reading I was quickly engaged.  The author's writing style is beautiful without being tedious.  Her story was both painful and fun, and her reconnection with God and nature was exciting.  But, as a disclaimer, I do not agree with all the theology and standards of church presented here, but that's not why I got the book or enjoyed it.  And, another disclaimer, I didn't actually read the entire book in January, but did finish it in January, so I can't count it on my January reading challenge.

There were only a couple of sentences I underlined:

"For goodness' sake, don't vote for their sparkling personalities.  They're supposed to represent us, not be our friends.  What do you want for your country? Who do you want us to be in the world?"  (This was an interesting quote given that when I read it, it was during the election season.)

And I paused at this section:  "When [the author's friend] first heard me talk about the Internet as a destination--a place to which I travel--she disagreed with that.  She said she could think of the Internet as a vehicle, or a tool, but not a destination. ...But Liz recently moved to the other coast, to a new place where she lives in her new house with her young child and no job.  Her voice thins slightly as she confesses that lately she has found herself often going to the Internet not for any particular reason but just to be there. ...This is our condition--the hours each day alone in our houses, or at our desks, more dependent on conveniences than on relationships, wondering why we feel such a deep craving to connect."

Overall I really enjoyed this book, the writing, and the family stories.  And she didn't make disconnecting from the internet seem fun and easy, the truth of how reliant we are on our phones and other internet necessities really stood out.  

As part of the Brighter Winter Reading Challenge, I picked this book to read (We had it laying around because it was required reading for my son's Brit Lit class last year).  They are short stories by G.K. Chesterton (A name I hear quite often, up there with C.S. Lewis as an early apologist).

These stories are all murder mysteries.   I have to admit murder mysteries are not my favorite (I'm not good at picking up on the little details and figuring out who done it) but each one is definitely a nice read for a small chunk of time.  I like how they play out but even more I love the atmosphere and setting of each story.  He pulls you right into the environment.   I'm not quite finished with all the stories but will be by the end of January, so it'll be a part of my January reading challenge.

A couple good quotes: 

"'I mean that we are here on the wrong side of the tapestry,' answered Father Brown.  'The things that happen here do not seem to mean anything; they mean something somewhere else.  Somewhere else retribution will come on the real offender.  Here it often seems to fall on the wrong person.'"

"What is the good of a man being honest in his worship of dishonesty?"

I don't remember where I heard this book recommended, but I've had it for a while.  I knew it was a story of a Christian missionary who was martyred, and that means I have to prepared to read it, so I kept avoiding it.  But since it fit into the Reading Challenge category of a memoir, I pulled it down from the bookshelf.  I'm so glad I did!  It is a memoir of a missionary family serving among Muslims in North Africa.  She shares the good (lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus), the hard (cultural differences, one of which was you never finish your plate of food because your leftovers go to the children and if you clear your plate they will bring you more and more despite their poverty), and the awful (death and stark fear).  
I'm trying to get better at sharing the gospel myself, and reading books of missionaries and how they interact and share is always eye opening.  For example, in this mission field where it is illegal to convert someone to Christianity, they would often find ways to share stories from the Bible, like how Jesus reacted to a similar situation or point to what the Bible says about something that relates to a real world issue.  They lived who they authentically were.  Which is always inspiring.

Some good quotes:

"We also understood that 'safety' was not a New Testament concept but merely an American one.  Jesus never called His disciples to safety but rather to obedience.  He didn't say, 'Lay down your cross, relax, and be comfortable' or 'I'm sending you out as sheep among sheep.'  Rather, He said, 'Take up your cross, and follow me' (Matthew 16:24 NLT) and 'I am sending you out as sheep among wolves' (10:16 NLT).

"He never denied that hardship would be part of the bargain.  But He also promised there would be great joy and peace in following Him.  Ultimately it boiled down to one thing: Was He truly worthy of our lives?"

"It can be so tempting to strive to achieve the transformation we hope to see in others.  Stephen and I were wearing down, overcomplicating the simplicity of the message of the Kingdom and in the process losing our joy in God's call.  Then the Lord gave us a simple solution:  stop striving.  All I need you to do is love them.
"How had we lost sight of that simple guideline?  All we needed to do was follow God's two basic commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength--and love your neighbor as yourself.  It didn't matter if we had the right points, the right arguments, the right 'evangelism style.'  There was no perfect formula.  Christ had brought us here so we could be agents of His love and blessing to these people.
"Of course we didn't ignore strategy altogether--there's wisdom in planning, and we discovered that certain methods seemed to bring more fruit.  But like the apostle Paul wrote, we could speak with the tongues of angels, but if we didn't do everything from a starting point of love, we'd be nothing better than clanging cymbals.  Embracing this truth brought such peace and freedom." 

I got this book because I have seen Amir's videos from Behold Israel, and I really do want to learn more about the end times.  This book was especially intriguing because Amir is an Israeli.  And it nicely fit into the reading challenge as a book published in 2020.

The first part of the book is background from the Bible, biblical places, timelines, feasts and fasts and some amazing insights into them that I had never thought about.  The second half of the book gets really interesting with chapters on what to look for in the end times, what to expect, and how we are to live in light of this.  

Amir believes in a pre-tribulation rapture and he insists that Israel is and always be God's chosen people.  I loved the last few chapters about the Millennium and what will happen and loved seeing Israel and the Scripture through his eyes.  This year I'd like to read a few different points of view of the end times, just to clarify and think through it more myself.  I'm glad I started here.


"Even when people are doing all they can to rebel against the righteous ways of God, He is still in control."

"The Bible was not written to make us comfortable.  Instead it was given to show us who we are."

and when talking about the believer's judgment in heaven:  "As the crowd gathers around and we take our turn in front of the judgment seat, all our works for the Lord will be read out.  Then they'll be torched.  All that was done out of selfishness or pride or personal gain will go up in smoke.  All that was done out of sacrifice and mercy and grace--everything done out of love for God and for others--will stand up under the fire.  It is for these good works that Jesus will reach down from His seat and place the crowns on our heads."


I love supporting self-published authors.  I found this series from the comments section on YouTube, I think.  However I found it, I'm so glad I did.  This fiction series gets better and better and I ended up buying all three of this first series and immediately after finishing the third, I bought all three in the next series.  This first book reads a little (or maybe a lot) clunky.  There's some weird sections of writing style that jar you out of the narrative, but the storyline is so good, it's worth ignoring them.  The author's style greatly improves with each book, so if you stick it out, you'll be glad you did.  It was so fun to read a fast paced thriller about how the world might look in the end times, even though some of it is a little too close to home to be comfortable. 

I really enjoyed this series and will continue to read whatever Mark puts out next (though he's pretty prolific and there are a lot to choose from!)


  1. Thanks for the reviews! Do you lend out books? If so I would love to borrow the series by Mark Goodwin.

  2. I like the way you have organized your review of the books.

  3. I'm working on a reading list for the first time...thanks for your suggestions & reviews! I just found the Father Brown mysteries on Amazon free as an ebook on kindle! Thanks for always pointing us to the Lord!

    1. free is a very good price! Hope you enjoy them!


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