Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Inspirational books by Travis Cottrell and Michael W. Smith

I was given the opportunity to share about two books written by experienced and humble worship leaders with a heart for God:  He Knows Your Name by Travis Cottrell and The Power of an Ordinary Prayer by Michael W. Smith.

 He Knows Your Name by Travis Cottrell

Surprised by God when you least expect it . . .

Beth Moore joins her dear friend Travis Cottrell in showing you how to fully experience God’s presence at surprising times and places in your own life.

According to Cottrell, God’s goodness is predictable. His mercy is dependable. His ability to work in every moment of every reader’s life, leading them to him, is unfailing. But often in those moments, even the most devout are distracted by great distress, failing to see or acknowledge God’s presence and provision. Cottrell reminds readers that God is the hope, strength and deliverance we desperately need. In every circumstance, especially those moments when we least expect it, God’s voice can be heard and his presence discerned.

My thoughts

This little book packs a lot of inspiration, power and challenge. Beth Moore gives a moving introduction, but Travis Cottrell's message is no less inspiring.

When someone knows and calls you by name it tells you ...
you have been acknowledged ...
you are somebody, not just a number ...
you have been remembered ...
you matter.

His theme is built around the comforting thought that God knows each one of us by name, and what that means to us personally.  In ten meditative chapters, Travis encourages us to put ourselves in a place where we can hear God call us by name. Each chapter reflects on a particular aspect of worship; for example, joy, hope, heal, abandon, comfort, and surrender.

This quote from the chapter on hope stood out to me:  "Even when our uncertainty is not resolved as we'd like, even when we must face the tragedy we feared, holding to our faith will eventually lead us to a moment when God's presence returns. . . . That is when we can take all the pain and sorrow and offer it up to God. And that is when worship becomes the most beautiful."

He Knows Your Name contains questions for personal reflection and would be a great resource for quiet times or meditations. I was surprised at the depth of this short book and I highly recommend it.

Travis Cottrell

Dove Award-winning artist Travis Cottrell has been worship leader for Beth Moore and her wildly successful Living Proof Live! conferences for 15 years. Travis has been on LifeWay’s Top 10 Artists list for the past five years; Alive Forever has sold more than 150,000 units. Cottrell lives in Jackson, Tennessee with his wife, Angela, and their 3 children.

To learn more about Travis Cottrell, visit his website.

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The Power of an Ordinary Prayer by Michael W. Smith

A touching gift book that helps readers understand the power and beauty of prayer and how it can transform our hearts, so that we can be a catalyst for transformation in others. Many of us seek to be blessed more than we seek to bless others. It’s our heart aligned with the heart of God that brings blessing, because He is by nature extravagantly generous and loves giving gifts. No matter where readers are on their journey with God, they will be motivated and inspired to open their hearts and discover the abundant joy and peace that can be theirs through the power of a simple prayer of blessing.

My thoughts

Ordinary is defined as "commonplace, run of the mill, average" - and my first thought is that there is nothing "ordinary" about this blessing. Michael writes about things that most seasoned Christians already know, but he presents them in a way that in a way that is thought provoking and challenging, yet comforting and reassuring at the same time.

The "ordinary prayer" is a blessing that God placed on his heart, and he encourages us to forget self and focus on being God's instrument to show His love to others. The blessing is broken into sections - God's promises, spiritual health, personal holiness, and spiritual victory, etc. - with room for personal thoughts and reflections.

Some of my favorite quotes are:

-- "The blessing received is not complete until we meet the requirement attached to it - a requirement that always involves a responsibility to others."

-- "The call of Christ . . . is and always has been a call to die."

-- "When we pray for God's blessing, we are praying for God to put us where he intended for us to be, doing what he intended for us to do."

Like Travis Cottrell's book, The Power of an Ordinary Prayer would also be a good devotional resource or gift book. Fans of Michael W. Smith will enjoy his insight and personal stories.

Michael W. Smith

In addition to winning several Grammy and Dove awards, Michael W. Smith has recorded more than 22 albums and had numerous hit songs in the Christian market and on mainstream radio. He is also involved in relief work, at home and around the world, and is the founder of Rocketown, an outreach to teenagers in a 38,000 square-foot facility in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. He has written several best-selling books including Old Enough to Know and Friends Are Friends Forever. He and his wife, Debbie, have 5 children and live in Nashville.

To learn more about Michael W. Smith, visit his website.

These books were provided by Worthy Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

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