On My Nightstand: February Reading

I did not finish all the books I intended to this month. I did this thing called start a website, and it took some time. :) I have many great books in progress, though, that I hope to finish this month. Here is what I did finish.

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson encourages parents to focus on giving the Gospel to our children instead of stressing mere behaviorism. I find parenting books to be helpful, yet frustrating. I agree with this premise and I am thankful that a book is out in evangelical circles that is not just addressing behavior. Many of her examples, however, were a bit contrived and frankly unrealistic. It is difficult to imagine that the lengthy conversations she writes out would be possible especially with young children. However, it was a good book to remind me that my goal is not to produce a certain behavior, but for each child to understand that he is a sinner and he needs a Savior.

What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert is a concise book, unpacking the basic truths of the Gospel. Each chapter hones in on one aspect of the Gospel. I personally would not give this book to an unbeliever, unless he was genuinely seeking to understand the Bible and the Gospel, specifically. It is doubtful that most unbelievers would read a book, though small, about the Gospel. However, Christians will benefit from this work in two vital ways. A new Christian who is still growing to understand the Gospel will find it  rewarding and uplifting. A more mature believer will be strengthened in His own faith and will find a very clear presentation of the Gospel, providing a helpful model for giving the Gospel to others in conversation. As always, when I read and think about the Gospel, it strengthens my faith.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam was a very interesting read. This was not a quick motivational book like Eat the Frog that I read last month. This was nearly 250 pages of fascinating case studies and observations on productivity and how people spend their 168 hours. She makes the point that our lives are made up of 168 hours (a week) repeated over and over. If you want to check the book out of the library and read only the first two chapters I think you would come away looking at your minutes, hours, and days differently. The second section covers one’s career and, while this does not bother me at all, it is important for me to note that being a stay-at-home Mom is probably not high on her list of truly productive people (You understand 😉 ). The third section takes a look at the home and this was where I thought she was unrealistic. While I might like the idea, outsourcing everything from laundry, cooking, cleaning, and grocery-buying is probably not realistic for most of us. However, I do see her point that sometimes we need to pick and choose. I totally see the value in outsourcing some responsibilities if you have the resources to do it. Overall, this was an excellent read. In the end, though, what is productive? Every one will have a different definition, I think.

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper is a refreshing and much needed book on race. I have long been saddened at the lack of multi-culturalism in our churches. Often, Brian and I come out of church and mention that we wish there were more races present. I long for a day when race will not be an issue. Piper’s book is both a testimony of his own racism growing up in South Carolina and a biblical treatise on how a true understanding of the Gospel does not coincide with racism. He remembers the vote his church cast to not allow black people to attend. He remembers the black maid that worked in their home coming to his sister’s wedding and the ushers not knowing what to do. They started to take the family to the balcony (where no one else was sitting) when his mother stepped in and escorted them to the front of the church. All of this breaks my heart, but, unfortunately, it is part of our history. I am grateful that someone is speaking out against this biblically. He speaks of interracial marriage not only being right, but a wonderful display of seeing the race of God’s people extend beyond the human races.

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Have you read any great books lately? Leave a comment. I always love recommendations!


  1. Ashleigh Sutter says:

    Thank you for the reviews. A group of ladies and I are getting ready to start a monthly parenting book club, and this book was the second choice for our first selection. I am looking forward to reading it as I think you are right, we (using the royal we since I haven’t truly experienced it yet) too often focus on behavior rather than the heart issues boiling below.

    • Johanna says:

      Behaviorism training is actually not that difficult. Reaching the heart? Much more difficult. But I am thankful for a Sovereign God.

  2. Oh, I’m adding several of these to my book list! I’m particularly fascinated by John Piper’s book!

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