Reviews of Books by Betsy Schwarzentraub
What People Are Saying About "Tossed In Time: Steering by the Christian Seasons:"
Dealing with our interesting times
An ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times," has certainly applied to the last couple of years. This book specifically addresses using Christian principles to deal with the aftermath of Covid, but provides help with all the issues that affect us today. Highly recommended if you think the times are getting the best of you.
"Delightfully written – such fun. Obviously filled with ideas she has used in a career spent in the pulpit. I loved the historical and linguistic references in Tossed In Time. Also I loved all of the fun activities that were listed."
A must-read book
I like the book because it revives the story to its fullest meaning spiritually. The best.
Book shows beliefs
The book shows what beliefs we have and how we developed those beliefs.
Donald C. Anderson
Puts traditions into a different frame
The book puts lifelong traditions of seasons into a different frame. I got the most out of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" meanings and the Canonical Hours. I loved the Peter narratives.
Perspective on our times
I most appreciated the telling of the stories through Peter's eye. I've always identified with Peter. It is a great way of getting a new perspective on the times in our lives.
Another way to worship
The book opens another way for me to get to know God and worship Him.
An eye opener
Betsy's book is an eye opener.
If you have wanted to learn more about the Christian seasons in an approachable way this is a great book to do so. I most appreciated the practicality and easy to understand nature of how the topic was addressed.
Rev. Dave Pettengill
"'Tossed in Time," by Betsy Schwarzentraub, illustrated an engaging citation on Christian seasons and liturgical pedagogies. I can't wait for the next biblical installment in this series!
Liked the questions
Very good explanations of the various liturgical seasons and told in a reader-friendly fashion. Really like the questions at the end of each chapter because they made me think. And enjoyed the suggestions which I would really like to try a lot of them. Especially want to make my own pretzels.
Loved this book
"I loved loved loved this book. I am reading it for a second time. The story of Peter I loved. I like having a simple reference to go to."
Meat for the soul
"Fun to read – an insight into Simon Peter I’d not thought about before. I’ve never seen the Canonical Hours explained so clearly, a lot of meat for the soul – and the heart in this one."
Great stories and reading.
Insightful take on Peter
"I liked Tossed In Time. The questions and things to do at the end of each chapter are great. I hope to integrate some of them. I especially like Betsy’s take on Peter on the water. What a clever insight and delivery. Informative for liturgical seasons of the year and an easy and enjoyable read."
I used this product in a course in the United Methodist Church, Leading Worship. Excellent Book to read about Christian Seasons and it is so interesting: our Christian Calendar and the seasons they represent.
Worship team must have!
A great book for the church season. Some great ideas in the “Things to do” sections. If your worship team is looking for a resource this is the book that I would suggest.
I enjoyed and learned
"(I) enjoyed, learned, (and) will share tidbits back home."
Easy to read, easy to understand
"I was in a class called 'Leading Worship.' This book is wonderful. We used it through the class. It is easy to read, easy to understand, informative, helpful, fun, and good. It has wonderful stories and suggestions. It is factual and to the point. Please buy this book and then buy all of pastor Betsy's books. You will NOT be disappointed."
"Excellent book to read. About Christian seasons and it is so interesting. Our Christian calendar and the seasons they represent."
"It is a unique perspective on what the different seasons of the church are and creative things you can do for each season."
Brought new insight
"Peter’s reflections gave an expanding idea of his experience and brought new insight into an old often repeated story. I will use the book as and if I plan services for different seasons."
Hopeful guidance during the storms of life
"This compelling guide offers comfort, hope and encouragement for the potential disorientation, uncertainty and dampened spirit experienced amidst current times and times of change. In the author's reverent yet down-to-earth approach, she makes Christian biblical scripture and lessons relatable for a broad readership." Barbara Young
Brings Peter's story alive
"What a refreshing way of bringing the Christian view into perspective. Using her imagination and the Biblical accounts from Matthew’s rendition of Peter walking on water, Betsy brings Peter’s story alive. She starts each section as though Peter is reflecting on the storm. She then talks about how each of the church seasons brings hope. Reading her book during the Lenten season has deepened my appreciation of what Jesus and the apostles went through. This book is practical, well organized, and easy to read."
Helps us navigate through tumultuous times
"Tossed in Time is a wonderful spiritual guide to help us navigate through tumultuous times such as the recent pandemic. I enjoyed how Betsy used the story of Peter from the Bible to help us relate to our current circumstances regarding our sense of time lost and how secular worship seasons can help mark time and keep us connected to God. The format of questions and suggestions of things to do at the end of each chapter help to bring a deeper personal meaning of Christian values."
Questions, activities, and helpful ideas
"I really liked learning about the two calendars – I never thought of that. I liked the questions and activities in the book. It has helpful ideas for even young kids."
Liturgical Year for church and worship leaders
"I appreciated the deep thought that went into the book [and] learning more about the Sabbath versus Sunday. Tossed In Time is a great overview of the liturgical year for laity and clergy. I recommend it for all church and worship leaders."
Rev. Matt Pearson
Other ways to look at Peter and Jesus
"Tossed In Time lets you see other ways to look at the Peter/Jesus-in-the-boat experience. The re-narrative of the story was beautiful and moving."
Guides us through not knowing
"This book helps guide us through this time of “not knowing” just when we will have firm footing again."
Brings the Church Year home
"I most appreciated the ideas to bring the Church Year into the home."
Deeply spiritual guide
"Tossed In Time is a deeply spiritual guide to help us appreciate the various seasons and emotions reflected throughout the year. During this particular season of Lent, confronted by Covid and war breaking out in Europe, I certainly feel tossed in this time. So, I’d like to incorporate some ideas of hope and renewal into my own spiritual life in the coming seasons of this, and every, year. This book will be a deeply meaningful resource for me. I commend it to your thoughtful reading."
Rev. Bonnie McGraw
Brings God into daily living
"Tossed In Time is a great way to bring God into daily living. I’d like to build this into each day."
A fresh sense of purpose
"Too few followers of Jesus understand the church calendar. In this helpful book, Schwarzentraub not only walks you through the themes of the season, but helps you practice rhythms to aid you in the strengthening of your Christian faith. Read it and live life with a fresh sense of purpose."
Unique help for a critical time
"It is my pleasure to add [Betsy’s] newest book to our library collection. . . . It is timely in that it pertains to how we Christians as a segment of American society today, right now, are coping with life’s complications brought on by Covid-19, and it is a helpful book full of suggestions for coping better with the aid of some of our Christian traditions.
. . . I recommend it to you to enjoy reading and to seek help from. Her approach, as the title clearly indicates, is for us to learn to cope with each hardship, brought on by today’s complex set of Covid guidelines and rules, by giving thought to the entire day and the entire year in which we are living at the moment. . . .
She reviews for us many of our Christian traditions of worship and meditation that have certain hours of the day and certain times of the year for reflecting on specific teachings. . . . Next she gives the reader a wide variety of activities to turn to, by the hour or by the season, individually or in small groups, to carry out while reflecting along those particular lines. . . . I am impressed by the amount of thought she has obviously given to this way of 'steering' oneself (see the title). So, here is a unique help book that has come along just at a critical time."
An uplifting read for all seasons
"Sometimes it's easy to feel down during the year when faced with so much focus on buying and selling as if that is what is most important during special times. The inner joy of holidays can leak away and leave people feeling empty.
Schwarzentraub's Tossed in Time provides a remedy in setting out the rhythms of the seasons as gifts from a loving and generous God, and in explaining the deeper meanings and offering ideas to consider on how to celebrate the holidays more richly. The book lets people do an end-run around the material fixations that can be so troubling in our times. Highly recommended!" June Gillam
Themes of thankfulness and trusting in Jesus abound
"Themes of thankfulness and trusting in Jesus abound in Tossed in Time. Used as a spiritual and practical guide, the author provides a different approach toward dealing with loss in the present pandemic world, or at any time we feel ourselves encumbered with difficult circumstances that threaten our relationship with God.
Encouraging and meaningful on many levels, Tossed in Time reinforces Christian values as we struggle on our journey toward maintaining an intimate relationship with Christ.
I recommend Tossed in Time as a powerful resource and helpful guide you will want to use again and again." Kelly Lardner
Easy to read, couldn’t put down
“Tossed in Time is a must-read for anyone who has struggled to understand religious books based on the quotes of the Bible. It is written for the lay person to clearly understand words like the apostles, the seasons of Advent, Lent, and others. It was a pleasure to read a religious book which has so many ways to bring God and Jesus into your life on a daily basis.
The book captures us with the seasonal changes in our lives, and the many practical 'Things to Do' to keep us focusing on the true meanings of having God in our life. Tossed in Time allows God to enter our lives on a daily basis in a thoughtful, fun, and creative way.
The initial short story, first told thousands of years ago, is written in today’s language. It also notes our changing times from the isolation of the pandemic, where families have struggled to keep God in their lifestyle, despite being unable to attend church. I found myself looking forward to reading this book and not wanting to put it down. It is an easy book to read and teaches many ways we can honor our God and Jesus." Susan Korn
A timely book
"2020 and 2021 brought disruption to people's social lives. In this book, Betsy presents a way to restore balance by living the year with biblical celebrations and holidays in your own home.
I especially liked the format of the book. An explanation and theme of the holiday followed by questions to make sure you understand and things to do, including recipes." Penny Clark
Wow! Betsy wins again
"Wow, such an inviting cover! And especially during these trying times the image of a busy, churning wave sets the scene for the seasons, explored. One will take a journey through the year with mystery, chaos, questions, and eventually answers and comfort. So cheers to yet another addition to our “toolbox” of learning resources for walking through the Christian Year.
Betsy has again managed to meet us where we are today and to take us back to biblical times to see that the times were very similar - the storms of life, the joys and love of community sharing, and the knowledge of something greater than ourselves. Through Betsy’s colorful descriptions, we see, feel, smell, taste and hear things that we are to experience each part of the Liturgical Year."
Carol S. Kern
"I could go on and on, as many reviews do, but I will cut the chase - READ THIS BOOK!"
What People Are Saying About "Growing Generous Souls:"
In Growing Generous Souls: Becoming Grace-Filled Stewards, author Rev. Dr. Betsy Schwarzentraub delivers an almost encyclopedic review of the literature, philosophy, and biblical principles of Christian stewardship. Building on her own experiences in ministry and incorporating resources from a wide range of leaders across denominations and disciplines, Growing Generous Souls provides churches with tools and real-world examples that will help them encourage generous attitudes and habits as an integral part of spiritual development. . . .
Jim MacDonald, Development Manager for Stewardship and Planned Giving for the Presbyterian Church in Canada
I. . . All faiths can benefit from her knowledge of faith-based teachings and how they can be applied in our present day. Her related website, www.growinggeneroussouls.com, offers a book study and other book resources for new formats being taken during these COVID times. . . .
Reverend Schwarzentraub’s research on each topic within her chapters provides the reader with opportunities for growth in their spiritual journey. . . . Her knowledge and experience and incredible research on the subjects addressed are most impressive. I highly recommend Growing Generous Souls for one’s reading enhancement.
Joan Hans-Stafford, Women of the Table Chapter President
This book is both comprehensive and practical in its approach to stewardship as soul work... I highly recommend this book. It outlines a way of life based on gratitude for the “amazing grace” offered to us by God, a grace that flows to us in forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love, but also flows through us for the sake of the world.
Sharon Delgado, author of Love in a Time of Climate Change
Her [Betsy's] first several chapters talk about how most of us feel that our family budgets are too tight already, and we are too busy already. Next she provides a theological lesson about the soul and an existential lesson on who we are. Then she systematically addresses thankful living, joyful living, simplicity as freedom, and the rewards of learning to live generously. I especially like what she has to say about joyful living and about training oneself to enjoy a simplified lifestyle.
Rudy Dyck, church librarian
Dr. Schwarzentraub’s thorough treatment points the way back for anyone tired of the hassled, consumptive, soul-emptying life, instead of the life that really is life.
Dr. Mark L. Vincent, CCNL, EPC – author of A Christian View of Money, The Whys and Hows of Money Leadership, and Money Mania
Here’s a book that can help begin to change the culture from fundraising to embracing the connection of faith and money, generosity, as a core value of spiritual life. . . .
Dr. Michael Reeves, author of Extraordinary Money; co-author of Faith and Money and Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving
. . . a tough-minded criticism of the tendency to do stewardship according to the rules of the regime of money, productivity, and profit but, at the same time, a hope-suffused confidence in the power of God's grace to shape us for living with money in the "economy of grace.” . . .
Dr. M. Douglas Meeks, Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Emeritus, Vanderbilt Divinity School
Betsy Schwarzentraub skillfully weaves wisdom from the ages, biblical and spiritual guidance, and decades of experience as a stewardship theologian and practitioner into a rich fabric that holds the treasure of the spiritual discipline of faithful generosity.
Marcia Shetler, Executive Director/CEO, Ecumenical Stewardship Center
This is a blockbuster of a book. . . . I love its inclusion of the disciplines, the importance of teaching stewardship based on stages of human development, and integrating the teachings of the contemplative movement.
Rodger R. Rice, formerly with Barnabas Foundation
Betsy’s wealth of experience as a pastor, teacher and leading voice in the stewardship arena makes Growing Generous Souls a critical resource for pastors, and an excellent small group study for churches.
Rev. Dr. Christine Roush, Mission Engagement Specialist for American Baptist Home Mission Societies; author of Swimming Upstream: Reflections on Consumerism and Culture
Growing Generous Souls is a great read for clergy and laity who want to lead and develop cultures of generosity and faithful stewardship in the life of their congregation and community.
Rev. Melvin Amerson, Resource Specialist, Texas Methodist Foundation; author of Celebrating the Offering, Stewardship for African-American Churches and Fruit for Celebrating the Offering
Betsy Schwarzentraub sets forth an abundance of spiritual and strategic insights for nurturing grateful givers. I recommend it to anyone serving in stewardship space in the geography of the Kingdom.
Dr. Gary Hoag, founder of generositymonk.com
Growing Generous Souls . . . overflows with the author’s own spirited enthusiasm and authentic deep love of God. Betsy’s latest book is a genuine reflection of her own life and ministry.
Susan Peters, CFRE, Executive Director, California-Nevada United Methodist Foundation
Dr. Betsy gets to the heart of the matter. She helps us focus on where it really counts long term and not simply quick fixes of generosity.
Jerry Coleman, Director of Speakers, The Francis Asbury Society
Betsy Schwarzentraub has brought forth a breakthrough resource to undertake a very different course that is not only biblically based and theologically sound, but also scientifically relevant.
Rev. Sanford Coon, Vice President, Horizons Stewardship
Betsy Schwarzentraub has given the modern Christian church the stewardship equivalent of Calvin's Institutes or Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica.
Rev. Lynn Miller, author of Firstfruits Living and The Power of Enough
[Dr. Schwarzentraub’s] Questions for Reflection at the end of each chapter are brilliant, as well as her closing Soul-Making chapter. As a spiritual director, I will undoubtedly refer to her wisdom and applications.
Jenni Hoag, Soulcare anchoress; founder of soulcareanchoress.com
What People Are Saying About "Afire With God":
Rekindling a life of meaningful stewardship . . . Betsy Schwarzentraub’s Afire With God addresses the challenges of stewardship. Its short length (115 pages) and the author’s enthusiasm and credentials (ordained clergy and stewardship director within the United Methodist Church) make this slim volume an easy and motivating read. Geared especially toward church leaders, it also speaks to congregations and to the spiritually inclined public.
The author’s thesis is that church stewardship efforts often underperform when done as annual “campaigns” or “drives.” Schwarzentraub contends that stewardship is not a seasonal church event but rather a biblically oriented way of looking at our place in the world and the choices we make when managing, conserving, and donating our resources. “Spirited stewardship” involves intentionally enriching our relationship with God through the way we decide on sharing our God-given gifts (talent, time, and money) to benefit others and the world around us. . . .The last two chapters describe a variety of methods for encouraging spirited giving by individuals, congregations, and church leaders. Also included are questions for reflection to assist the process of becoming spirited stewards.
I found this book to be an easy, quick read. My favorite quote about stewardship is "Stewardship becomes a way of life, flowing out from our hearts, into daily action, our faithful behavior reinforcing our faith." I felt a call to action and will be copying a stewardship practice from the book.
Holding the myth of scarcity to the fire – . . . Afire With God explores divine abundance—God’s “creating, redeeming, and empowering love” (110) and how God’s gifts can be multiplied in our personal, communal and religious lives. This book connects the organizational systems of the church with the intrapersonal systems of the individual human being, linking spiritual elements such as grace, gifts, mission/purpose with practical items such as budgets and timeframes.
Circling back to the apparent opposition of scarcity and abundance, AFIRE offers readers a third notion—the economics of “conversion….car[ing] for all the things and relationships in this life, why we care for them: what we are trying to do in the world on God’s behalf” as a way to transform the gifts we receive through God’s grace so they bless the world around us.
The book is highly recommended both for religious organizations as well as for individuals who want to ignite a richer appreciation of what it means to be stewards of the plenty we find when we look around us—both near and far—with gratitude in mind for God’s gift of life and all it offers. This sort of gratitude can’t help but blaze up into a desire to share our time, talents, and money with others. Afire With God is a handy guide on how to increase the effectiveness of generous hearts; it points to one of my mother’s favorite expressions: “What blesses one, blesses all.”
I am not a church person and only read this because it was selected by the book club I'm in, and it seems geared primarily for ministers. That said, I found much of it inspiring and ended up with two pages of notes for when we discuss it at our next meeting. [A quote] from the book: . . . Scarcity begins with unlimited wants: “as long as we believe that more is always better, we will never have enough.”
There is an essence of “love of God” on every page. Wonderful book filled with inspiring, realistic opportunities to improve stewardship. Different religions can use the basic principles offered with an easy to read format.
An all-encompassing stewardship – For too many people who sit in churches, the word stewardship means sermons about money--and usually about giving more money! This may not seem like the best way to review a book on stewardship, but read on and notice the differences between the typical understanding of stewardship and the insightful work of Betsy Schwarzentraub.
Afire with God urges ministries and congregations to become stewards-in-action for all that God has entrusted to us.
"Real stewardship is radical, which means going to the roots of our faith," writes Schwarzentraub. "If we take stewardship seriously -- and joyfully -- it won't be just another addition to the same old programs we've been doing in our congregations. It will change our thinking, acting and imagining. And it will change our vision of ministry, working from the inside out."
. . . Betsy not only gives good arguments for responsible stewardship of church revenue, she offers a “worksheet” after each chapter suggesting what the reader should take away from the chapter and how it can be implemented. Overall, this is a great guide for church leaders to follow with practical ways to achieve the goal.
. . . Through the book Schwarzentraub uses the burning bush and particularly Moses’ experience as a metaphor to explore stewardship. The first chapter is titled Aliens in Egypt but the heading Getting out of Egypt is more the point. The author says, “Christians are like aliens living between security left behind and a new home beyond the horizon.” She goes on to list seven situations the modern church needs to address to help their congregations journey.
Each chapter has Questions and Activities to aid a discussion group. Also, some have ideas for Meditation or Reflection. . . .In the last chapter Schwarzentraub goes back to the metaphor of Moses and the burning bush reminding us “God may have set thousands of bushes on fire hoping to catch Moses’ attention.”
This little book Afire with God, Becoming Spirited Stewards will help ministers, congregations and laypeople to become stewards-in-action.
A very inspiring read for those seeking to understand the gifts offered to us by God, as well as our responsibility in being good stewards to and for our Lord.
“I found it open, warm and inviting … You get disciples instead of bill payers. … I highly recommend it to every church leader who is tired of the same old ways of doing stewardship and is ready to move into a culture of being stewards.”
“Her dynamic dimensions of God in action strike at the very heart of the Christian’s stewardship journey. Afire With God appeals to readers across faith traditions and orders of ministry.”
“This stuff on koinonia is excellent! … Betsy is a very good writer. I find it easy to move along with the flow of the manuscript. … The book has solid theological grounding in line with the theological position we espouse. I would be pleased to urge its reading.”
“This book (Afire With God) is full of excellent stewardship theology followed by practical concrete exercises. It would be an excellent resource for your library and stewardship educational group.”
“Ms. Schwarzentraub knows her subject. The book is fluid – moving from theology to application, to lists of resources with great ease. Her ecumenical range fills her writing and helps stewardship and finance committees everywhere.”
“For me, Afire With God provides a much broader and richer understanding of stewardship. It is well-documented and insightful. It brings together the thoughts of many leading church leaders who are looking at the future of the church. … The reader is challenged to broaden his/her thinking and to imagine the many ways God has gifted us to be in ministry using our many talents. A wonderful resource for church committees and in a retreat setting!”
“Blending fresh insights with basic descriptive theology, she sets Christian stewardship in a fresh context. Her work is timely, current, and helpful for the individual Christian and for the church. Thoughtful descriptions are blended with helpful suggestions, and all of it is well researched and scripturally grounded.”
“Afire With God is an influential stewardship tool for the time we live in now. I was rituals and traditions. I want to fully live out my calling and stewardship / giving experience with God. Author Schwarzentraub offers advice, models, and moreover, a sincere understanding of the problems which keep so many from living fulfilled lives as steward disciples of Jesus Christ and His teachings.”