Book Review: “The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy”

By Major Katina Hanson
Eugene Citadel, OR – Cascade Division

We want God to give us the correct answers, or rather our own personal vision of acceptability. The man’s story is similar to many of us in both principle and essence. His intentional journey echoes his unwarranted temerity. In Timothy Keller’s book, The Prodigal Prophet, we read about the account of Jonah, his resistance to God permeates his storyline.

Jonah’s story is found in his Old Testament namesake book. The book of Jonah is only 4 chapters long, but its brevity does not minimize the powerful messages. Keller writes diligently about the prophet Jonah’s known history and complicated relationship with God. Jonah is told by God to preach to the city of Nineveh, a city with a cruel and violent reputation. Nineveh had operated as a terrorist like city, threatening all of their enemies in the ancient world. Jonah responds to God’s command by going the opposite way. God’s instruction seemed impossible for Jonah to accept.

This book discusses the strategies we sometimes use to avoid God, corresponding with Romans chapters 1 through 3. Keller alludes to comparing the prophet Jonah with the Prodigal Son and also expounds the literary correlation with Jesus. Keller took advantage of reviewing the book of Jonah with contemporary connections. Keller’s book explores identity, cultural bias and the tension that resides between.

I would recommend this book as Keller clearly outlines scripture principles with relevant commentary, intertwined with easily understood illustrations. There is always validity in reading scripture as it alters us through the mysterious power of God. The book of Jonah sheds light on the grace of God and shadows upon our demonization of others. The ending of the Old Testament book of Jonah is not resolved like others, it purposely ends with a question. Perhaps how we answer the question gives greater clarity to our own spiritual growth.

Book Review: “For Such A Time as This”

Book Review by Captain Claudia Pardo-Barriga
Divisional Youth & Candidates’ Secretary – California South Division

“Just as Esther was particularly equipped to have an impact on her own time and culture, so you have been prepared to affect this generation.” (Lisa Ryan, 2001)

I love a good read. More so when it is relatable and an easy read. Turning eighteen is such a big milestone in life for any young lady. The sensation of more independence feels very good and yet it carries a bigger responsibility with it. After one year as an eighteen-year-old, I had gone through some good decisions and some not so good ones. It was here when an Officer of The Salvation Army from Venezuela gifted me a book, For Such a time As This by Lisa Ryan (you can find this book in English and Spanish).

This book takes you through the life journey of Esther. The book will literally put you in her shoes. The vivid imagery and well written stories of Esther placed me in the middle of her victories and struggles. The book took me through a time where it was difficult for her to live by the teachings of God because her surroundings were constantly pointing her the other direction. The book couldn’t have come to me at a better time. I was an eighteen-year-old that was living with many struggles. All of which Esther had gone through. Struggles like self-esteem, peer pressure, self-worth, staying pure, sex, relationships, friendships, family dynamics, faith and life goals.

If you are a teenage girl, young adult women, mother, sister, aunt or even grandmother, I recommend you this book.

Book Review: “How To Pray”

Book Review by Major Charity Kramerius
Personnel Officer – College For Officer Training

I recently read the book How to pray, a simple guide for normal people, by Pete Grieg. It’s a quick read, or a short audio book read by the author himself, a person whose clear passion for prayer lead him to co-found and promote the 24-7 Prayer movement around the world.

Mr. Grieg uses the Lord’s Prayer to challenge ordinary believers at all points in their faith journey to pray simple, honest and powerful prayers. It’s not a formula book – how often to pray, where to pray, specific words that would honor God or sway God’s heart. The focus is placed on form – having a genuine heart for God and pursuing a loving and deepening relationship with Him through prayer

Before I even read the first word of Chapter One, I was captured. I like to think of myself as normal and appreciate things put simply. In the intro “How to Read This Book in a Couple of Minutes,” I was challenged to pause. “To start we must stop. To move forward we must pause. This is the first step in a deeper prayer life: Put down your wish list and wait. Sit quietly. ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” (pg. xiv). From the beginning, Mr. Grieg shares from his own experience. “Merely by showing up, you make a declaration of intent…After decades of night-and-day prayer, I have come to believe that 99 percent of it is just showing up: making the effort to become consciously present to the God who is constantly present to us” (pg. 10).

As women Officers, many of us are pulled daily in two opposing directions…be the heart of the ministry while keeping the show on the road at a heart-stopping pace. Balance family and ministry. Pursue and protect a personal time with God as well as serve others sacrificially. Mr. Grieg brings things back to the basics with the encouragement to keep our relationship and communication with God “real,” as a way of practicing God’s presence and receiving His power. I recommend this book and encourage listening to the audio version. The book is also the basis of a 24-7 Prayer video teaching series, The Prayer Course, available free online with a Toolshed of supporting materials.

Book Review: “Grace for the Good Girl”

Book Review by Captain Ryan Boyd
Missoula, MT – Northwest Division

Grace for the Good Girl is a book by Emily P. Freeman. But it was the subtitle for this book, “letting go of the try hard life” that hooked me.

Freeman discusses how being “the good girl” can keep you from experiencing true freedom in Christ. Having been a good girl all my life, this idea both intrigued and scared me. But Freeman talks about letting go of our masks and being who we are – loved by a God who isn’t impressed by our status as a Good Girl.

There were so many parts of this book that I really resonated with, and my favorite thing was how I felt seen and understood – but also called out on my unconscious belief that I had to be “Good” for God to love me. If you find your identity as the “Good Girl” – the one who always follows the rules, the one who is dependable and can be counted on, the one who is letter of the law – then I would recommend that you read this book and help free yourself from the chains that you are creating so that you can live in the true freedom that Christ provides.

My favorite quote from this book is, “Ultimately the law will make you so miserable you’ll want to die. Then you will find that someone already died for you.” It’s time to stop finding our value and worth in being Good and to start finding it in the One who offers it freely.

Book Review: “Liturgy of the Ordinary”

Book Review by Major Angelina Koenig
Medford Citadel, OR – Cascade Division

Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren is a book that discusses how our ordinary, daily lives are shaping us and forming us to live and respond to others. However, this book looks at the spiritual implications in our daily moments as moments to meet God and work on our beloved-ness and holiness with a holy God.

The author shares that God said of his son, Jesus, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” before Jesus did anything extraordinary. God said this before Jesus performed miracles before he died on the cross and rose from the dead. God is well-pleased with us, before our feet hit the ground. “But each morning in those tender moments—in simply being God’s smelly, sleepy beloved—I again receive grace, life, and faith as a gift. Grace is a mystery and the joyful scandal of the universe” (Warren, 20). We pray and ask God to transform us; yet, we don’t really stop and think about the formation happening in the every-day moments we have. From brushing our teeth to the losing of our keys and the arguments with our spouse or children, these are the moments God invites us to see our beloved-ness and pause for grace and transformation to happen in our lives and the lives of others.

My favorite part of the book are the straight-forward comments that bring the reader to light-bulb moment of awareness and acceptance of our beloved-ness because God so loved the world and God loved us first. I enjoy taking the knowledge of the “I-know” this to the “I see this” and “I see how this works in my life”. This, this gives me the affirmation of the beauty of God’s grace in my life.

I would recommend this book to anyone who needs to learn to accept and see their beloved-ness in God. When we question our self-worth, this book is a gentle reminder of God meeting us in our daily moments to affirm our beloved-ness.

Book Review: “The Seven Spirits or What I Teach My Officers”

Book review by Major Rubina Navarro
Assistant Training Principal – College For Officer Training

Is your spirit discouraged? Has the burning flame for ministry dwindled? William Booth’s The Seven Spirits: or What I Teach My Officers, I believe will inspire and reignite the flame.

This book contains series of Addresses delivered by General William Booth to the Salvation Army Officers at the International Congress held in London, in June 1904. His writing is full of knowledge, practical counsel, Biblical principles, encouragement, and call to action for not only Officers but anyone who desires to live out the zealous calling that the Lord has placed in our lives. The structure of the book goes through the Seven Spirits, which Booth references to the seven spirits in Revelation; the Spirit of Life, the Spirit of Purity, the Spirit of Devotion, the Spirit of Holy Warfare, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Faith, and the Spirit of Burning Love. Booth’s explanation for the seven spirits reveals his heart and mission for his Officers.

While this book is short and can be read in one seating, I would suggest allowing yourself time to grapple and marinate oneself to the depth of our Founders teaching and counsel. From reading this book, I found myself encouraged and affirmed in my calling as a Salvation Army Officer. I recommend this book and it worth having a copy in your office.

Book Review: “Be Still and Put Your PJ’s On – 52 Restful Devotions for Women”

Book Review by Major Lynn Stewart
General Secretary of Program Development to LA Metro Area Coordination
California South Division

Rest is something that doesn’t always come easy to us as women. We try and navigate the day while wearing ten different hats going in ten different directions. Add to that worries about Covid 19 and all the mess going on in our world. It can be overwhelming to say the least and that is why I was drawn to this devotional book, Be Still and Put Your PJ’s On – 52 Restful Devotions for Women by Michelle Cox and Sylvia Schroeder.

I’m a girl who loves PJ’s! There’s nothing like getting cozy and putting on your favorite cute jammies and making a good cup of tea. The next progression naturally ushers us into the opportunity to Be Still and to REST. While in quarantine mode I was so quick to turn to Netflix or Amazon prime to so call rest but learned quickly that I could only fill that void for so long. I realized what I was lacking was time with my Savior, the giver of rest, peace, and comfort.

I enjoyed this book because it gives practical ways on how we can be still and rest. It’s filled with delightful though provoking devotionals, reflection time, and REST prompts that’s beneficial to your daily life and mental health.

In the introduction the author writes: “For many of us, rest is something that is almost foreign. It’s out of reach on most days. We know better, but we fill our days with enough tasks to keep six people busy. And then we wonder why were tired, grouchy, or don’t feel like doing anything. It’s time for us to use the commonsense God gave us: to realize that rest is a good thing, and that God designed our bodies to need it. For most of us, that’s going to require some changes.” Are you ready?

I highly recommend this book for the weary woman searching for REST. I pray God speaks to you in a powerful way as you turn these pages and spend time with Him.


“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a ESV

Book Review: “Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl”

Book Review by Captain Vickie Harvey
Divisional Secretary for Program – Northwest Division

I am raising my hand, “I want to know God, personally and intimately”. I believe we all want that as Christian women. Lysa Terkeurst truly spoke to my heart in “Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl”, as she shared her experiences and the scriptures that have shaped them, into our everyday reality. If you’re tired of the same old thing every week – going to church (or watch church), praying and trying to live right; then this is the book to get you out of that spiritual funk.

Lysa Terkeurst will challenge & impact you as she seeks to lead women to the truth of the Gospel and equipped to live it out in everyday life. We need more than Bible knowledge – we need to live in true relationship with Christ because as women, we have a deep emotional desire to be in relationship. As we navigate through life, God desires more than a checklist of spiritual tasks completed. His desire is for us to be in a deeply fulfilling relationship with Him.

This book would be great for a new believer and a great reminder for mature believers. Lysa has also taken this book and developed a supplement that is available for a small group Bible study. I recommend this easy read book to any woman who wants to see God, hear God, and know God for themselves.