Christmas time is a special time of year for family and joy. We should constantly remember the Savior and His love and sacrifice for each of us and here are some outstanding books to help touch our spirits and place our hearts where they belong.
It is Better to Look Up: Life Experiences Shared From the Pulpit is a collection of highlighted stories by fifty different General Authorities over the years. I love the title of Elder Joe J. Christensen’s story: “The Savior is Counting on You”. The first sentence begins like this: “The Savior is counting on you to be a champion of those who need you, and they are all around you – in your school, in your neighborhood, in your family.” Then he goes on to relate a story about an adult who came back to her 20-year reunion to tell another how appreciative she was of her showing friendship and how that friendliness helped her feel better about herself. Each of these short one or two page stories begins with an applicable scripture. Christensen’s began with John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The book is beautifully packaged with photos and paintings that go perfectly with each story.
Women of the New Testament, by Camille Fronk Olson, and with paintings by Elspeth, A. R. and Ashton Young, is rich in telling about more than fifty women in these scriptures. Some women are better known than others, but these stories show marvelous and faithful women while depicting Christ with all of His humility and love. The New Testament is full of stories and teachings from the Savior and his disciples. But this over-sized book, with 366 pages, delves into these women and showcases their strengths, faith, charity and humility. It also reflects the Savior’s attitude and relationship with these women which thereby showcases His strength, faith, charity and humility. The gorgeous oil paintings sprinkled throughout show renderings of some of these women and the pictures are so real they almost look like photographs. Each woman discussed is broken down with different important aspects such as historical context and how they fit into the biblical story. There are also photos of actual locations from the New Testament, as well as renderings of artifacts and dwellings. Don’t be misled into thinking that this just reads like a research manuscript even though there is much documentation and elaborate research. The book reads like a story with each woman bringing her own values to dwell amongst our Savior while delivering modern-day relevance.
The Peter Potential: Discover the Life You Were Meant to Live, by David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman, begins with this statement: “Has anyone ever told you that you are extraordinary? That you are destined for remarkable things? That there is a spark of greatness in you? They should have.” This book is one of those rarities that make gift-giving profound. It helps the reader discover their true value on earth thereby making their life happier, richer and more fulfilling. The Apostle Peter saw himself only as a lowly fisherman, but Christ saw him as a “fisher of men”. This book brings out what our potentials can become through living a life as Jesus desires us to live. The book is small and beautifully packaged with pictures and texts that emphasize what is truly important in our lives.
Jesus The Christ was written nearly 100 years ago in a special room in the Salt Lake Temple by Elder James E. Talmage. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment, have created this new book entitled Jesus the Christ – Study Guide to go perfectly along with next year’s general Sunday School topic of studying The New Testament. There is historical background, insightful teachings from the Prophet Joseph Smith, suggested study questions and a glossary for the more difficult to understand words. Elder Talmage was inspired when he wrote his amazing and uplifting seminal book under assignment from the First Presidency. One really captures the life of our Savior in this most inspiring book. And now with the study guide, it’s perfect.
A Refuge from the Storm: The Priesthood, The Family, The Church, by Elder Boyd K. Packer, displays a powerful message of how we can be protected from Satan’s storm that is continually trying to overcome us. Each chapter in this book builds a foundation of the gospel that helps to keep us safe. The chapters begin with “The Power of the Priesthood” and goes on to advise with “Counsel to Young Men”, “Priesthood Power in the Home” and concludes with “These Things I Know”. This book is a compilation of many inspirational talks given by Elder Packer throughout the years and that are still applicable today.
Fire and Steel, Vol. One: A Generation Rising, by Gerald N. Lund, intertwines two families from completely different regions of the world with this first book in Lund’s new series. The period of time relayed takes place during World War I, the Great Depression, the rise of Germany’s Nazi military and World War II. The Eckhart’s live in southern Germany and deal with both wars head-on. The Westland’s live in southern Utah and they have to deal with life during America’s Great Depression. The story proceeds at a fast pace and as with all of Lund’s books, weaves history throughout.
To My Friends: Messages of Counsel and Comfort, by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, is a book that “writes” to the reader as if you just came through the door for a private visit behind closed doors. Brother Holland’s desire in writing this book is to help you, through encouragement and reinforcement, understand that the greatest friend of us all is the Savior, Jesus Christ. This beautifully designed book encompasses chapters for those who face opposition, those seeking personal purity and those who feel alone. Each chapter begins with “To My Friends” and is filled with inspirational quotes helping the reader feel the comfort and the counsel of the Savior.
Holly E. Newton, M. A.
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