Reviews of Books by Betsy Schwarzentraub

Betsy's "Tossed in Time Expanded Edition" comes out on New Year's Day, 2024!

What People Are Saying About "Tossed In Time Expanded Edition: Steering by the Christian Seasons:"

Very beautifully written

This is a beautifully written book. The author takes the story of Peter in Matthew's Gospel and makes it so down to earth. It is jam-packed with scripture, meditation, references and things to do to celebrate the Liturgical Year. This can be used by an individual, a group or a family. I like the various ways of looking at the year, the week and the hours of a day. It can be adapted for any schedule. I really think this could be a very useful tool for Sunday School teachers as well.

Linda S.

 

Generous orthodoxy

I especially appreciated the generous orthodoxy and gentle ecumenical tone throughout. This is a lovely introduction and I will share it in discipling others.

Laura Reedinger, Library Thing reviewer

 

Expanded Edition of an inspirational book

I reviewed the original edition, saying that "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."
All that is still there, updated, but even more, additional material has been added to aid in putting the author's ideas into practice for individuals and faith leaders.

SBGGeorge

 

A great guide for Christian Year celebrations

This book was provided as an ARC.
The author gives the history of each Christian holiday. At the end of each section of the book suggestions of how to celebrate the event at home with prayer, activities, and recipes to try.
I read the original Tossed in Time, Steering by the Christian Seasons, when it was published, and found it easy to read and informative. This expanded edition goes far beyond the first book, and I got much more out of it.
If you're interested in Christian Holidays, check out this book.

egpenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tossed In Time book cover

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.

SBGGeorge

 

Delightfully written

"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."

Nancy Fraleigh

 

A must-read book

I like the book because it revives the story to its fullest meaning spiritually. The best.

Luke Vakaliwaliwa

 

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.

Rita Harrington

 

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.

Deb Cunningham

 

Another way to worship

The book opens another way for me to get to know God and worship Him.

Chris McAnally

 

An eye opener

Betsy's book is an eye opener.

Charlotte James

 

Approachable, practical

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

 

Engaging

"'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!

Angela E.

 

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.

Martha Waterman

 

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."

Robin Shanda

 

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."

Marj Goosey

 

Great reading

Great stories and reading.

Steve Burcham

 

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."

Kathy O’Dell

 

Excellent Book

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.

Joji Vuli

 

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.

Kandi Weider

 

I enjoyed and learned

"(I) enjoyed, learned, (and) will share tidbits back home."

Martha Mossman

 

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."

Noel Stout

 

Excellent book

"Excellent book to read. About Christian seasons and it is so interesting. Our Christian calendar and the seasons they represent."

Joji Vuli

 

Unique perspective

"It is a unique perspective on what the different seasons of the church are and creative things you can do for each season."

Karen Combs

 

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."

Lorraine Vogt

 

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."

Mary Mohs

 

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."

Trudie Atchison

 

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."

Mary Popish

 

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."

Sunny Gottburg

 

Guides us through not knowing

"This book helps guide us through this time of “not knowing” just when we will have firm footing again."

Kathie Stutz

 

Brings the Church Year home

"I most appreciated the ideas to bring the Church Year into the home."

Giles Popish

 

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."

Ruth Reynolds

 

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."

Gary Hoag

 

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."

Rudy Dyck

 

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

 

MUST READ!

"I could go on and on, as many reviews do, but I will cut the chase - READ THIS BOOK!"

John Reinhardt

growing-generous-souls-book-cover-450

What People Are Saying About "Growing Generous Souls:"

Excellent Resource for Individuals and Groups

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. 

The questions and notes at the end of each chapter can help a congregation run small group studies on generosity. Shared this way, Growing Generous Souls can help a congregation turn money from a taboo subject into a spiritual issue and help people put God first in their daily lives.  The author not only encourages open congregational discussion about money but contends that it is crucial to a resurgence of Christian generosity and shows how discussions of generosity are essential for building Christian communities.

For Schwarzentraub, stewardship is expressed in the way we live our lives in response to the Good News of God's love and is, therefore, a key measure of our spirituality.  Exploring the contrast between a life of frenetic "doing" and a life of meaningful, spirit-filled "being with God," Christians are challenged to bring our attitudes and actions in line with what we value and believe, including what we value in ourselves, what we believe about our Christian identity and how we experience fellowship with God.

The book provides discussion of activities to teach children generosity and points to a bookshelf of additional available resources from other providers.   The author delves into the most up-to-date theories on the stages of faith and how each stage affects what people can learn about generosity.  Seeing generosity as a habit as much as it is an attitude, the author explores multiple resources to help families and educators instill "muscle memory" for giving in young believers.  As much as I enjoyed reading the entire book, each section stands on its own and it could just as easily be used as a resource in which the reader peruses only the sections that pertain to their interests or activities. For instance, a Sunday School teacher could focus on generosity education as outlined in the chapter "Growing as Becoming."

The author reminds us that "In the Bible, money is inherently connected to helping people in need" and that the lives of other people are influenced by our money habits.  Using stories of real people living out their real-life experiences of generosity in their churches and the world, the book explores attributes of character that lead to generous living.  These stories illustrate spiritual growth as a process of becoming over time, moving from one season to another across a lifespan.  The author assumes that generosity is part of the process of sanctification and that it takes a lifetime to fully learn how to let go of a scarcity mindset, live a life of simplicity in daily relationship with the Holy Spirit, and consciously practice the living out of our gratitude for God's gifts.

The author's well-researched approach to each topic in the book's fifteen chapters shows in the extensive footnotes. The book is an excellent resource for individuals and groups who are interested in discipling Christians, regardless of age or stage of faith. Growing Generous Souls is not just about faithful stewardship: it is a book of Christian spiritual formation. Pastors, and lay people alike will all benefit from its insights. It is well worth reading, and I highly recommend it.

Jim MacDonald, Development Manager for Stewardship and Planned Giving for the Presbyterian Church in Canada

Faith-Based Teachings

Growing Generous Souls: Becoming Grace-filled Stewards, by Betsy Schwarzentraub, is a book that weaves one's biblical knowledge with the importance of being good stewards to their church. It says that "stewardship" is whatever we do, by our actions, with all that God has given us.

All faiths can benefit from her knowledge of faith-based teachings and how they can be applied in our present day. Her related website 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. Beginning each segment with a reflection of how one might currently perceive their path and expanding on how one might proceed. Then ending each chapter with a set of questions for reflection and discussion.

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

A Perfect Book for Generosity Students

Are you looking for that perfect holiday gift for the person who has everything? Apparently, you can buy a banana and some duct tape, stick it to a wall, and call it "art." Then, you can sell the "gift" (not once but three times) for a cool $120,000 per pop. Wait, scrap the gift, let's call it a new church fundraiser! Debt be gone! See, this blog is full of practical ideas. You're welcome.

But if banana art isn't your thing and if you or your favorite person wants to delve into a comprehensive study of stewardship in all its forms, Dr. Betsy Schwarzentraub's, Growing Generous Souls: Becoming Grace-Filled Stewards is highly recommended. This scholarly work will have you, as one of the descriptions say, "…focusing on being rather than on compulsive doing and consuming…it helps people become more fully grace-filled stewards of all God has provided."

Thoroughly researched, this book is full of surprises. Little did I imagine that I would be grappling with Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine again in the chapter, "What is a Soul?" In another chapter, "Generosity as a Way of Living," I learned about the Greek word for grace, charis and three Biblical dimensions of itThere are enough endnotes (the "Gratitude" chapter has 103 of them) to keep one busy with additional study for months. I plan on following up with some of the resources Schwarzentraub has made available in Growing Generous Souls.

While there are many examples of programs and churches where people are practicing generosity (Oregon's Learning and Serving Together - L.A.S.T gets a shout out) it's not a traditional "how to" book. This is a book that raises and answers multiple questions:

Why should one care about generosity? 
What does the Bible say about generosity? 
How is generosity exhibited in relation to earth care or care of self?
How do stages of faith resonate with different generations?

Two chapters particularly ring true during this Advent season - "Scarcity and the Lure of More" and "An Ethic of Enough." During a time when consumerism is overwhelming nearly everything, Schwarzentraub reminds us, "The regular practice of simplicity can help us find our quiet center, strip away excess baggage and non-essentials, and focus on our relationship with God." These two chapters alone make for a great study during December.

Although anyone can read it, Growing Generous Souls seems particularly designed for clergy, seminarians, or focused small groups that want to dig deep into why being Biblically-centered and grace-filled stewards is so vitally important. Schwarzentraub has also developed a helpful seven-week study guide along with additional resources that can be found on the Growing Generous Souls website.

So, pass on the banana art this year, and instead give your favorite generosity person a gift that will truly keep on giving. You may not have to pay $120,000 for the book (it's $21 on Amazon), but by reading it, your investment will undoubtedly grow great dividends. And bonus! It'll keep its content and shape for years to come.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann, Stewardship consultant for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, The United Methodist Church


New Resource: 'Growing Generous Souls'

Tired of settling for fundraising instead of promoting biblical stewardship and multifaceted generous-hearted living? Growing Generous Souls, Betsy Schwarzentraub's new book, helps people connect deeper faith issues with daily rhythms, including:

  • How to put God first in their relationships and hectic schedules

  • How to live and teach a balance of work and rest and
  • How to deal with money limits and the pressure to constantly consume.

The book makes an excellent tool for pastors and lay church leaders. Challenging the ethic of scarcity, it encourages us to adopt an ethic of enough, find a deeper sense of contentment, and reorient our understanding of stewardship from a church program to a way of life that nurtures grateful people, to rediscover that generosity grows from the refreshed soul rather than the harried life.
Reflection questions in the book, together with a seven-week Small-Group Study Guide and other resources on www.growinggeneroussouls.com, encourage readers to study the book's themes in the context of their own lives and congregations.
. . . . Growing Generous Souls is also available through Amazon (www.amazon.com).

Instant Connection, CA-NV United Methodist Conference, 5/23/2019, ww.cnumc.org/news


Growing Generous Souls by Betsy Schwarzentraub is an excellent resource for church leaders and for anyone seeking to grow in grace. It challenges the notion of stewardship as fundraising and instead focuses on the importance of generosity as a spiritual quality that can be nurtured and developed but is always a response to the grace of a generous God.

This book is both comprehensive and practical in its approach to stewardship as soul work. It gives examples and offers suggestions for the personal practice of generosity in many areas of life, including caring for our bodies, fostering forgiveness in relationships, focusing on "being" rather than "doing," developing an "ethic of enough," and practicing environmental stewardship. This book abounds in stories and suggestions to help congregations foster generosity among its members and take communal actions of generosity based on Jesus' teachings to love God and neighbor and to reach out to anyone who has need. 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


I learned from [Betsy's] book that there are many stewardship specialists that have been writing and teaching in recent years on this subject. The challenge seems to be that churchgoers too often are not appreciating the importance of treating church stewardship as a top priority for two reasons: it is for the local and national church, and it is also for our souls.

Betsy is very direct about the latter. Her 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


Be-ing rather than doing. Becoming as an end state rather than arrival. Generosity growing from the refreshed soul rather than the harried life. Communities of faith that help to make this happen. Dr. Betsy Schwarzentraub writes about that upon which she has long studied and reflected. . . . 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 - Founder, Design Group International;
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


In this book you will find 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;
author of
God the Economist


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. Sit with this book, drink deeply from the knowledge and insights on its pages, and be ready to put into practice its many thoughtful and practical suggestions for growing a generous, grace-filled soul.

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. . . . [This] book is invaluable because everything church leaders need to know about the subject is between its two covers.

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. . . . As Betsy articulates so well - living a life of generosity is about so much more than money! In light of God's grace, how can we be anything but generous? Growing Generous Souls offers a roadmap for living differently.

Rev. Dr. Christine Roush, Mission Engagement Specialist for American Baptist Home Mission Societies;
author of
Swimming Upstream: Reflections on Consumerism and Culture


Dr. Schwarzentraub has produced an outstanding Stewardship/Generosity resource that will help grow faithful, generous believers for all generations. 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: A New Paradigm, and Fruit for Celebrating the Offering


Growing Generous Souls contains a wealth of wisdom and practical reflections. 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, teacher, author, and spiritual counselor for stewards; 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. . . Reading Growing Generous Souls is a joy-filled experience from beginning to end!

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. . . . It's not enough to do or get with a program; Dr. Betsy challenges us to embrace generous hearts that come directly from the heart of God. . . .

Jerry Coleman, Director of Speakers, The Francis Asbury Society; former Area Director for continental Europe, The Free Methodist Church


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. . . . She creates the opportunities for personal reflection, study group discussions and professional growth that move the reader from simply "doing church" to "being church" wherein all dimensions of generosity combine into life practice.

Rev. Sanford Coon, Vice President, Horizons Stewardship; former President of the New Mexico Conference Methodist Foundation


If you are looking for . . . a comprehensive collection of ideas about how a person or a church might develop exciting ministries in this area, Growing Generous Souls is the book you want. . . . Betsy Schwarzentraub has given the modern Christian church the stewardship equivalent of Calvin's Institutes or Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica.

Rev. Lynn Miller, firstfruits educator; author of Firstfruits Living and The Power of Enough


I thoroughly appreciated Dr. Schwarzentraub's breadth of research and ministry insight. . . . Her 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


Afire With God by Betsy Schwarzentraub

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.”