Heroes of Faith Challenge Winners (Get Inspired!)

The Heroes of Faith Spring Reading Challenge at Gracepoint Berkeley church is officially over. In all, we had 14 people finish, with some people completing twice.

Here are some noteworthy statistics/awards:

  • Most favorited Heroes of Faith: George Mueller (Christian Heroes Then & Now) and Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place)
  • Post-College finishers: 5
  • College Student finishers: 7
  • Elementary Student finishers: 2!
  • Female finishers: 12
  • Male finishers: 2
  • Most represented ministry: tie between Klesis and Koinonia Berkeley with 3 each.
  • Double finishers: Seniors Emily Rah and Krystal Han, from a2f Berkeley and Koinonia Berkeley respectively
  • Most senior finisher: Sarah Kim (?? years old)
  • Youngest female finisher: Julia (9 years old)
  • Youngest overall finisher: Wesley (8 years old)

With their permission, I am featuring our youngest finishers and their mini-reviews. I hope you’ll be inspired to pick up some more books!


 

Julia (holding her favorite biography) celebrating her completed bookmark with two of her friends!

Hi, my name is Julia. I’m 9 years old and in 4th grade. The heroes of faith book I liked the most is about William Wilberforce. I liked that book the most because when he really starts to understand the true meaning of what it is like to be a Christian, lots of people are asking him to present a bill against slavery to Parliament. After like a week he finally decides that he will present the bill. He decided to do that because this guy named Thomas gave him a copy of his essay to read. After he read all those words he started studying slavery. He learned all of these crucial facts about what people were doing to slaves, and that is what led him to the point when he presented the bill to the others.

Throughout half of his life he fought for others to have their freedom even though people kept on rejecting the bill. He still persevered, he brought up the bill several times, and had lots of supporters too. He eventually succeeded and it became a law officially.

This inspired me because he was a really bad person before. He would never study and his tutor would make fun of him if he studied or went to church or even read the Bible, so William would just gamble away and drink a lot. But when he met his old friend Isaac, he turned into a Christian and wanted to help all slaves get their freedom.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone.


 

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Wesley not only reads Heroes of Faith biographies, but plays baseball too. 🙂

Wesley is 8 years old and in 3rd grade. Here is his mini-review of his favorite book from the challenge:

 

My favorite Christian Heroes book I read is about Jacob Deshazer because he was stuck in jail for many years and then he told a lot of people about God in China. When he was in jail for many years, he got to read books and one of them was the Bible. He read it 15 times before he gave it to someone else. This is how he became a Christian. I also thought it was cool that he was part of the Doolittle Raiders who first attacked Japan with a B25 bomber.

 

 

Recommendations from Pastor Ed Kang

Sunday at Gracepoint Berkeley church‘s college worship service, Pastor Ed Kang gave some suggestions for ways to make the most of the precious gift of winter break that college students have. When I was in college, I definitely did not appreciate and consider the reality that the time in college is the ONLY time I would ever have this gift of a month-long vacation!

Among some of the suggestions, Pastor Ed recommended some books. First, he suggested winter break would be a great time to read through the entire Bible. Then he recommended Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles, all by C.S. Lewis. And if that was too intimidating, to start with The Screwtape Letters.

 

It brought back memories to my freshman year of college a “few” years ago, when Pastor Ed issued the same challenge to start building up my faith by reading C.S. Lewis books.

Which C.S. Lewis books are your favorite? Which ones are you going to tackle this winter break? 

Wisdom From the Wemmicks – Pt. 2!

After Alex shared about her experience reading Max Lucado’s Wemmicks books, she decided to share some of the books with her life group. They read You are Special and You are Mine, and had a time of sharing about the gospel truths and life lessons they drew from the books.

Here’s Kaylin, one of the juniors in Klesis at Berkeley, with another plug for the wonderful children’s books:

This was one of the most memorable life group times. I was struck afresh by how the gospel is so simple that it can be presented in a children’s book, while I often make the gospel unnecessarily complicated. I found the Wemmicks and Punchinello’s story to be true to our own world, and was able to draw wisdom that achievements and material possessions are just stars, dots, boxes, and balls. Their story reaffirmed that I am not special because of anything I do, but the fact that I am the Maker’s. The gospel was so clear to me as I was reading the book and I was warmed by Eli’s love towards Punchinello. These books are so good; they are truly layered and deep! After life group, I went on amazon to find the whole collection to read to my baby cousins. 🙂

A limited quantity of the entire collection will be available at the bookstore soon! Perfect gifts for the holidays. 

Wisdom From the Wemmicks

As the holidays draw near, people have been sending me emails asking about book recommendations for this relative, or that aged friend or coworker. So I hope that a series of posts on good books will be helpful for those of you at our churches in Gracepoint Ministries and beyond!

For those of you looking for good children’s books, I highly recommend any of Max Lucado’s Wemmicks books. I confess I’ve had a couple of them in the library for awhile, but didn’t read them until recently. And I was pleasantly surprised and ministered to by the books for their deep truths about our source of worth that comes from our relationship with God our Father and Creator.

I’ve been reading and rereading the books with different groups during our Bibliopolis reading time, and have been making adults who walk by read them as well!

In fact, here is a short testimonial from Alexandria Shen from Gracepoint Berkeley church, who read four of them in succession on a study break. 🙂

I just read four of these books and cried! They are moving and delightful reads reminding us of God’s love. You’ll likely find yourself identifying deeply with Punch and the Wemmicks (read the books if you don’t know what a Wemmick is).  If I had kids, I would definitely read these to them. For now, I think I might just read them with my life group!

As you can see, the Wemmicks books are great for children of any age! So they will make great gifts for children or the adults who will read them aloud for them.

My personal favorite out of the six is Best of All. Which one of the Wemmicks books do you like the best? 

Two Books for Intercessory Prayer

For the month of December, I will try to post as many book recommendations as possible, since many people are looking for good books to buy for people, as well as to read during the colder, perfect-reading-weather days.

Today’s recommendation comes from Susanna, from Gracepoint Berkeley church. She has two recommendations for books to help with intercessory prayer. As a pioneer of many prayer workshops, I for one am going to take her recommendation seriously!


I would like to recommend the following book to help you pray scriptural prayers as you intercede for those who are far from God:

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Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child by James Banks

This prayer book is written by a pastor who had two prodigal children, one of whom struggled with substance abuse for 7 years but is now a minister of the Gospel.  Although it is written to pray for prodigal children, I found this book to be helpful to pray for anyone who is a prodigal, may it be a parent, sibling, relative, friend, or someone you are reaching out to.  You just need to insert your loved one’s name in the prayer.  I have been using this book to intercede for some people, and it has given me so much hope, strength, and confidence in God’s promises, especially when you feel weak and heartbroken.

The following prayer book is for parents, children’s ministers, and youth ministers:

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Prayers for Your Children:  90 Days of Heartfelt Prayers for Children of Any Age by James Banks

Again, the prayers are scripture-based, and based on Biblical themes.  It’s a wonderful springboard to pray and claim promises of God daily for your children (of any age).  Although this is written for parents, it is a helpful resource to pray for children or youth that you are ministering to over the themes of purity, protection, faithfulness, fruitfulness, etc.

I will end with an inspiring quote from James Banks:

“We have a God-given responsibility to pray for them as long as we live.  And we have the comfort of knowing that because of God’s kindness our prayers can even outlive us, finding their answers years after our own lives on this earth are done.”  


Both of these books are readily available for purchase at online booksellers, and in the HB bookstore!

Youth Book Review – Blotch: A Tale of Forgiveness and Grace

blotch book coverElise, a 9th grader from Element youth group, Gracepoint Berkeley church‘s youth ministry, recently read and reviewed a new children’s book by Andy Addis called Blotch: A Tale of Forgiveness and Grace

Here’s Elise’s review:

Blotch was a very entertaining read and definitely a good conversation starter for young readers with spiritual questions. The story about the boy looking for a way to get rid of the stains on his skin is a very relatable one, and touches on the different ways that people try to hide their sins. The main character in the story, named Blotch, gives a clear picture of the humble seeker, who gets to experience the truth that no matter how much you try to put away the “stains”, or sins of your life, they are always still there. I personally found it fun to read about how the author presented each character in ways I would never imagine. It’s an exciting adventure, filled with creative illustrations, that draws attention and gives much insight to problems many people don’t know how to face, and is definitely a recommended read to young and old readers alike.


Addis includes discussion guides at the end of each chapter. This parable was designed for parents or older readers to have conversations with children about the gospel and to make connections to their own lives. It would be a great book to read aloud during family times. I know Bibliopolis will be buying a copy today!

Here is a video trailer for the book:

Have you read Blotch? Share your experience reading this for yourself, or with a child in your life!

Recommended Read: 31 Days of Praise

Today’s recommendation comes from Alice of Gracepoint Minneapolis church. She just so happens to be the mom of Mr. Sketch — remember her wonder-ful book review last year? Here is Alice’s recommendation and review of 31 Days of Praise: Enjoying God Anew by Ruth Myers:

I and some sisters on our team have been praying through a book called “31 Days of Praise” by Ruth Myers and wanted to share about how it has been really helping my times of prayer. There are 31 days of prayers specifically praising God, teaching us to give thanks to God literally in all circumstances. What’s been helpful about these prayers is that the wordings of the prayer is down to earth and helps articulate what’s in my heart into words that sometimes I can’t find myself.

So borrowing the words of these prayers that are also based on various scripture and quotes from different Christian authors, has been helping me gain fresh perspectives on who God is, who I am, and just life itself. What’s also been neat is to find that some of these prayers of praise are very timely to what I happened to be facing day to day.

Learning to give praise to God in all circumstances has been helping me keep my eyes off of myself and upon God more than anything. So I just wanted to recommend this prayer book that I think can help many of us deepen a life of thanksgiving and praise to God.

By the way, the author Ruth Myers, was a native of Minnesota and served as a staff for Navigators in Asia for almost 50 years (she passed away in 2010).

Here is a small sample from one of the prayers that I was impacted by today from Day 24:

“Thank You, my loving and sovereign God, that my failures and mistakes are part of the “all things” You work together for good…I rejoice that these things keep reminding me to depend on You with all my heart…that they prompt me to trust in Your love, Your forgiveness, Your power, Your sufficiency, Your ability to overrule, and Your transforming presence within me.  Thank You for the ways that my shortcomings and failures bring pressure on me to open myself to You more fully, and the way they let You show me deep and hidden needs:  griefs and hurts that I’ve never poured out before You, that I’ve never exposed to Your healing touch, and sins that I’ve never faced and acknowledged.  How grateful I am for Your constant cleansing as I confess each sin You make me aware of, and then turn back to You as my Lord.”

Great news for folks at Gracepoint Berkeley church — new and used copies of the book are en route to the bookstore at this very moment, so be on the lookout!  They will be in our Prayer section in the display shelves.