Category Archives: Books

Review of “The Final Summit”

Read this book!

Andy Andrews is a master story-teller, and The Final Summit proves that, captivating the reader through one simple story for well over 200 pages. I told my wife that I considered this to be a life-changing book, due to its thought-provoking nature.

The main character in the story, David Ponder, is brought to a summit meeting with nearly countless historical figures. Most are well known, but a few are important, though slightly unknown. Their mission is to come up with a statement–just one statement–that will bring mankind out of difficulty.

The story then hinges on the intense discussion and debate among these characters as they try to nail down the final wording. Being a history guy, I was amazed at how well Andrews captured the personality of each of these men and women so well, and used that in the story.

I do not wish to spoil the message that finally comes in the end, but I will say that it is quite simple. However, reading the entire book provides so much food for thought that the reader will find this to be a book that will challenge as well as entertain, a rare combination. I highly recommend this book, and it is one of my favorite reads of all time.

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I received a copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, except for the free copy of the book.

I review for BookSneeze®

Review of “The Walk”

Though not my favorite football player of the last few years, I have heard of Shaun Alexander’s faith for some years, so this book intrigued me. The Walk is Alexander’s “path” to spiritual maturity, one through which he has led men around the country, both in private studies and in more public speaking engagements.

One positive of the book is that it does not focus on Alexander to football player as some sort of “proof” that he is a religious man. Far too  many athletes are given a pass in the realm of religion, just because they can run fast or do other amazing feats. While the book obviously mentions football several times, that is not the focus.

The “walk” described by Alexander is 5 steps, that go from being an unbeliever to a believer. The believer, then, is encouraged to become an example, then a teacher, and finally an imparter. Alexander claims that the one who reaches this final “step” can perform miracles of varying types, a statement that clearly contradicts Biblical teaching (see First Corinthians 12-14). Other than this, though, the steps are ones that are quite normal.

Alexander claims that the Apostle Peter was his inspiration for these steps, and he ends each section by going back to the biography of Peter. It is an interesting part of the book to see that connection.

Football fans will be somewhat disappointed, since there is little football in this book. The book does have some interesting stories, and it sheds some light on a religious man, but the stretching and misuse of Scripture is hard to get past. I would pass on this book, unless you are a big fan of Shaun Alexander.

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I received a copy of The Walk for free from Blogging for Books, run by WaterBrook Multnomah. I was not compensated for this review, except through the free book.

Five More Reviews, as I Try to Catch Up

Here are some more book reviews to start your week.

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Getting Through the Tough Stuff

Charles Swindoll

W Publishing (2004), 231 pages

It had been some time since I had read a book by Swindoll, so I was happy to add this one to my list. Getting Through the Tough Stuff is meant to show us that we can get through anything, simply because Jesus did.

Each of the book’s 14 chapters deals with a different area of life that is “tough” (anxiety, divorce, prejudice, disqualification, etc.) and shows from Scripture how Christ handled these areas. As always, Swindoll’s conversational style makes the book easy to absorb, and a fairly quick read.

For preachers, maybe the most interesting chapter is 13, where Swindoll deals with dealing with disqualification. How do we handle it when we are seen as no longer “fit” for something (specifically, the ministry) due to mistakes and sins? It is a wake-up call, and a strong reminder that even that “tough” issue can be overcome.

While there are a few things in the book with which I disagree, overall, I highly regard and recommend this volume from Swindoll.

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I Do…Every Day

Cynthia Bond Hopson and Roger A. Hopson

Abingdon Press (2011) 112 pages

I read this book on my Kindle reader (no, I do not own a Kindle, but I use my iPhone and laptop with the free reader), and found it to be perfect for that type of devise.

I Do is a brief couple’s devotional book with dozens of 2-3 page “chapters” meant to encourage couples in nearly every area of life. Since the chapters are so short, they can be read in just a minute or two, but reflected on throughout the day.

Each day’s chapter has a Scripture, a story, some reflections (“things we’ve learned”) from the authors, and a “honey-do list” of how to apply the lesson. Then, each lesson ends with a prayer.

Due to the brevity of each chapter, there is not a lot of “meat” to the book, but I still found it to be helpful. It is very easy reading, but the point of this book is in the reflection. Most couples would benefit from it, but I would recommend it more to those who have been married for several years and are facing a season that is difficult. Working through a simple book like this one together could be just what is needed. It is light reading, but with serious points.

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From Conquerors to Kings

Drew Kizer

Riddle Creek Publishing (2011) 135 pages

Drew’s latest book–a follow-up to his brother’s Barton’s From Slave to Conquerors–walks teenagers and young adults through the history of the Israelite nation through the life of Samuel and then the first three kings: Saul, David and Solomon. Meant to be an overview, the book still takes a look at several famous stories from the lives of these individuals and makes proper applications from them.

The book’s 13 chapters make it perfect for classroom use, and teachers will find more than enough information in each lesson to have a Biblically-based discussion class.

Drew was a guest on the May episode of The Pages Podcast, as we discussed this book and the planned titles in the future through Riddle Creek. If you wish to listen to that interview, click here.

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Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People

Sarah H. Bradford

MacMay (2008) 112 pages

A free Kindle book, I highly recommend this little biography. Combining stories and notes from old interviews with Tubman, Bradford presents the life of a true hero in simple-to-read form.

Tubman was an amazing woman, and this book tries to relate both personal instances and historical significance to what Tubman did via the Underground Railroad. Her work in rescuing slaves though she was the most wanted person in the South, is a story that will touch you and motivate you.

The one difficulty with this book is that Bradford tries to write quotes from Tubman (and others) phonetically, so reading longer quotes can be burdensome, but by working through it, you can almost hear Tubman’s voice. If you are a history buff, this book will be a breezy read, but will remind you of one of the most important figures in American history.

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Deceiving Winds

Bruce Morton

21st Century Christian (2009) 304 pages

Deeply-researched and methodically presented, Deceiving Winds uses the ancient city of Ephesus and what went on there, both in the Church and in the culture, as a blueprint for what is going on in the West in our modern day. Morton then goes to the Scriptures to show how the Church in Ephesus was told to respond, and how we should respond, as well.

To be honest, at first I was overwhelmed by the depth of this book. I was reading it without any preconceived ideas, and I was expecting “just another class book.” If you choose to read this volume, you need to know that it is far more. Chapters have dozens of end notes (one appendix has 66 of them!), and Morton presents his case with great depth of knowledge.

The book concerns itself with several issues, but I was struck most by two. The first is the mysticism that we see in subtle ways in our society, but which is finding its way into “Christian” publishing, music and worship. Morton makes a strong point that these mystic influences are similar to–if not exactly like–those faced in Ephesus in the First Century.

The other issue that struck me was the radical feminist movement that has engulfed our society in many arenas. Again, Morton points out that this was done in Ephesus, and even some of the methods used by modern-day radical feminists were used in those ancient days, as well.

The call of this book, obviously, is to Scripture, but it is also to open our eyes to the fact that what is now subtle may not be subtle for long. I strongly urge preachers and elders to read this book, but give yourself time to read it with contemplation and thought. It is not a quick read, but it is worth the effort.

Reviews to Start Your Week

Wow, am I behind on book reviews! These will be brief, and they won’t be all the books I’ve read since the last set of reviews, but they’ll help me start catching up.

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The 5 Love Languages

Gary Chapman

Northfield Publishing, 1992; revised in 2010 (201 pages)

Leah and I read this together for our weekly devotionals, and it was an extremely helpful book. While I think most couples know at least some of the information in Chapman’s book, his writing helps to cement what “language” each partner uses, and also provides very helpful tips in helping to “speak” the proper language.

Each chapter is brief, and is perfect at starting very helpful conversations. I recommend this book in premarital counseling, but I think any married couple–no matter how long they have been together–will find great benefit in reading this book with an open mind.

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Cries of the Heart

Ravi Zacharias

Thomas Nelson, 2002 (224 pages)

This is the first book I have ever read that of which Zacharias is the sole author (I had read a book he contributed to and edited before), and I was not disappointed. If you are familiar with Ravi Zacharias’s work, you know that he deals with apologetics from a very deep angle. This book fits his usual mold.

The volume speaks to the questions that so many of us have on a deeply intellectual and emotional level, such as why we struggle with faith, and why there is suffering in the world. Obviously, the volume is not an “end all, be all” answer guide; rather, it is written to make you think more deeply about these matters.

This is not a book to be read quickly, but I highly recommend it for those interested in deep reading on some very tough issues.

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48 Days to the Work You Love

Dan Miller

B&H Publishing, 2010 (222 pages)

No, I am not thinking about leaving preaching, or about leaving Lebanon Road. This book is a helpful read, though, as it helps us see how the current world views getting a job, and especially how to land “that” job. In an economy where finding a job is difficult, I found this a good book to read, to understand at least a small amount of information to help those who ask for guidance in this area.

Also, Dale Jenkins and I utilized this book for the April Pages Podcast, on which Dan Miller himself agreed to appear as a guest. If you wish to listen to the show, you can find it on iTunes, or click here.

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The Fight of Our Lives

William J. Bennett & Seth Leibsohn

Thomas Nelson, 2011 (186 pages)

I wrote a review of this book earlier for Booksneeze.com. Here is the link to that post. If you are interested in the threat of radical Islam, you will want to read my review.

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Dietlinde

Dietlinde Spears

Penmann Press, 1988

Dietlinde Spears is a fascinating Christian. Raised under Nazi and Communist rule in Eastern Europe, this slight book gives her personal reflections on how she came to be not only a citizen of the United States, but also a citizen of the Kingdom of Christ.

Spears has spoken and countless ladies’ days and events throughout the brotherhood, but, as a man, I had never gotten the chance to hear her speak. So I was grateful when one of our elders let me borrow this book to read and enjoy. Written as a memoir, the volume reads fairly quickly, but will amaze you at the human spirit, as well as the ability of Christ to reach anyone from any circumstance.

The book is not easy to find, but I recommend it very highly if you can find a copy.

“The Soul of C.S. Lewis” Book Review

“The Soul of C.S. Lewis” Book Review

A collection of writings from multiple C.S. Lewis works, The Soul of C.S. Lewis is meant to be a devotional book, but with many more “devotions” than most books of that type. The book gives passages from 26 different works from Lewis, from children’s works to deeply theological and apologetic works. After each quotation, there is a discussion of how that quote fits into the overall work. Following that, there is a devotional application for the reader to consider throughout the day. Finally, there is a verse of Scripture. Each one of these readings, except for a few, fit onto one page, making them a good devotional for the reader, though much deeper than many “common” devotional books.

As I began the book, I was confused. Admittedly, I have not read many of Lewis’s works. That was my mistake. I plan to read more of his works, then come back to this book again. Having a better grasp on his overall style would be very helpful to the reader before trying to tackle this work. It does take some background knowledge of his writings for these devotions to “come alive.” If you are a fan of Lewis, this book would be a great addition to your library. If you are not familiar with his works, I would hold off on the purchase until you are.

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I received a copy of this book for free from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network

“The Fight of Our Lives” (Book Review)

“The Fight of Our Lives” (Book Review)

William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn’s 2011 book was a great read. The Fight of Our Lives deals with the threat of radical Islam to America, and, to be more specific, is written as a wake-up call for those who are simply being tolerant of all that radical Islam presents.

The book’s research is impeccable, and while 186 pages on this one topic may seem to be too much, there have been so many news items over the past few years on this front that the book is relevant and interesting. What continues to amaze me as I study this subject is how many are simply turning a blind eye to the radical nature of Islam.

Bennett and Leibsohn do a remarkable job, in my opinion, of presenting mistakes and concessions made by those both on the political left and the political right. While their focus is on the very recent past, stories and research go back to the awful September day in 2001 when “radical Islam” became such a part of our everyday conversation.

The book’s length is just right to present the case, and the chapters are not of any great length. While the subject matter is, obviously, very serious, this book is quite easy to read. Also, the endnotes provide helpful insight into the breadth of research for the volume. I recommend this book very highly.

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I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.

I review for BookSneeze®

5 Reviews to Start Your Week

Here are the five latest books I have finished reading in a word-for-word fashion. I hope you find these helpful and informative.

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The Rocket that Fell to Earth

Jeff Pearlman

Harper Collins, 2009 (348 pages)

Pearlman’s biography is Roger Clemens was an interesting read. Clemens, no matter how you measure it, was one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history. His reputation was tarnished by being tied to the steroid and human growth hormone story in the early 2000s, though.

This book walks the reader through the fiery biography of this man. It is a very gritty read, but, as a sport’s fan, one I enjoyed reading. I lost quite a bit of respect for Clemens, but it was still interesting to learn more of what made this amazing competitor “tick.” Baseball fans will find this an interesting read. I really think those who do not like baseball would find it an especially boring read, because you have to know quite a bit about the game to understand much of what is said.

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Letters to the Seven Churches

William Barclay

Abingdon Press, 1962 (111 pages)

I am currently teaching a Wednesday night class in an in-depth way on the book of Revalation. Barclay’s little volume has been a tremendous help in preparing for the background of chapters 2 and 3 of this book, where Jesus gives a letter to each of the seven churches in Asia.

I have several commentaries on Revelation that I am using to prepare, but this little volume was an invaluable resource in helping with background information. There is one chapter that deals just with that material, followed by another chapter with some sermon material from the letter. In my opinion, the background chapters were far more helpful.

The information in this book can be found elsewhere (for the most part), but Barclay has done a tremendous work in gathering it in one place for the reader. If you wish to study Revelation, I highly recommend you finding a copy of this little book. It has been a great resource for me.

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The Seed Principle

Aubrey Johnson

Gospel Advocate, 2011 (176 pages)

Brother Johnson’s latest book from the Gospel Advocate is a home run! Utilizing the parable of the sower, Johnson helps the reader see scores of helpful lessons from this extremely important parable.

Containing 13 lessons, this book would make a great class study, helping the students be more in tune with the simple (but often overlooked) principle of “sowing and reaping.” That concept is the basis for the entire book, and Johnson is great at coming back to it on a regular basis.

The Seed Principle was also the first book Dale Jenkins and I reviewed for The Pages Podcast. We were blessed to have brother Aubrey as our guest. If you would like to hear that interview, it will be available on iTunes (under “The Pages Podcast”) within a few days.

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A Common Bond

Paula Harrington, 2011 (218 pages)

I reviewed this book a couple of weeks ago. Here is a link to that review.

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Wisdom’s Call

Drew Kizer

Riddle Creek, 2005 (129 pages)

This book was used by my Sunday morning class as a way to study the major themes of the book of Proverbs. While the book is designed for young people, my class (35-50 year olds) still found it helpful. We used the basic themes mentioned and I developed my own way to teaching through the book.

Kizer’s book is very well done, and brings out the practical nature of the book of Proverbs in a way that nearly anyone can understand. Drew is also a gifted writer, and the book is a shining example of that. His message is clear in each part of the book, and readers will find no trouble learning the basic nature of what Solomon was trying to get across to his son.

I highly recommend this book. Proverbs is a difficult book to teach, because it jumps from subject to subject, and often in an irregular way. Drew does a very good job of bringing out the major themes without overwhelming the reader with scores of Scripture references. If you need an basic outline to teach this book with (especially to teens or young adults), I think you’ll find Kizer’s book to be helpful.

Review, Review, Review

It has been awhile since I reviewed books, and there are a lot that have been completed. Here are a few of them to begin catching up.

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Won by Love

Norma McCorvey (with Gary Thomas)

Thomas Nelson, 1998 (244 pages)

The name Norma McCorvey might not strike you, but the name “Jane Roe” certainly would. McCorvey is the famous name attached to the landmark Supreme Court case legalizing abortion. In this book, McCorvey simply tells her story, but it is a unique story.

You see, eventually, McCorvey was “won” by the love of Christ and of His followers. She totally despises the abortion industry, and speaks out against it on a regular basis. She is a “Christian” who professes her faith openly. (While there are some doctrinal issues, the story is nonetheless astounding.)

If for no other reason, read this book to learn more about the abortion “industry.” McCorvey worked in a clinic, and gives many grizzly details of both the clinics and the powerful and influential people who stand up for abortion rights so often. The book is an easy read, but there are times where the details are very grotesque and hard to take.

I am appreciative to Joyce Davidson, the wife of one of our elders, for lending me this book after a recent sermon I preached on abortion. It is a great read and I highly recommend it.

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Studies in Hosea

K. Owen White

Convention Press, 1957 (142 pages)

In February, the Freed-Hardeman University lectures dealt with the minor prophets. I try to read a book ahead of time that deals with the subject, so I chose this volume, dealing with just one of those prophets, but one whose story I love to read.

This book is designed to be a teacher’s guide in walking students through the book. As such, it is quite dense, but contains a lot of good information. To me, one of the strengths is how White was able to bring together many different passages from Hosea that teach the same concept and list them for easier study.

While not easy to read in a word-for-word fashion, I still found this book helpful. If you are planning to teach some lesson on Hosea, you might find this little volume helpful, and it will cause you to think about certain subjects within the book in a deeper and more logical way.

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The Faith of Ronald Reagan

Mary Beth Brown

Thomas Nelson, 2011 (originally published in 2004) (237 pages)

I reviewed this book over the weekend for Booksneeze.com. Here is a link to that review.

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Put Your Dream to the Test

John Maxwell

Thomas Nelson, 2009 (234 pages)

This is not an exaggeration: this book jumps into my “10 books you need to read” list, and did so from page one.

As one who loves to dream, and loves to dream big, I loved this book. The reason, though, may surprise you. I did not love this book because it gave me “permission” to dream. I loved this book because it helped me learn how to dream!

Maxwell’s book lists 10 questions that every person needs to ask about the dreams they have for their life. While none of these are difficult in themselves, when put together, they will help you focus your dreams and see if you really (really, really) want to do them.

Upon completing this book, I began writing down a dream, but it will take some time to finish it. It is due to a lack of motivation, it is because it is really big. In fact, one of my new goals for 2011 is to spend time finishing the writing down of this one dream!

Buy this book!

(and thank me later!)

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There are more books to review, but that’s enough for today. Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll catch up!

Quite a Story!

Quite a Story!

The Faith of Ronald Reagan is a story that intrigued me from page one. As one who has admired President Reagan for years, this title was interesting to me. I am always interested in finding out what motivates those who lead, so this book served that purpose, at least to a point, for learning more about what motivated Reagan.

Mary Beth Brown tries to show that the faith in Christ that Reagan was taught as a child remained with him throughout his years, from college to Hollywood to politics, and ultimately to the Presidency. At times, it seems to me that she stretches just a bit too far in trying to attribute anything and everything that happened in Reagan’s life to faith. However, she is consistent throughout the book in showing Reagan’s faith in many and varied circumstances.

Even if one was not a “fan” of President Reagan, they will find some of the stories found in this book to be interesting. As one who was just a lad when Reagan was elected to the highest office in the land, the stories about the attempt on his life were fascinating to me. I felt it was a strength of the book to open with that incident, and then look back. Reagan’s faith and strength may have never been stronger than on that day, when, for all intents and purposes, he should have died.

If you like Presidential history, or just good political biographies, I think you will enjoy this book.

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I reviewed this book for booksneeze.com in exchange for a free copy.

I review for BookSneeze®

A Common Bond

A Common Bond

Just as only lawyers can really understand lawyers and nurses can only understand other nurses, only a preacher can really understand the life of a preacher. That’s one reason preachers like to get together. When we get together, we laugh, tell stories, and feel a connection that is hard to describe.

A few years ago, Paula Harrington compiled a book for preachers’ wives. My mom was one of the contributors to that book, which was a collection of quotes, tips, advice, and stories. Now, our sister Paula has done it again, this time turning our attention to the preachers themselves. Her new book, A Common Bond, is a collection of stories and tips from preachers who have “been there” and “done that.” I’m honored that sister Harrington asked me to review the book on our blog!

The names of the preachers are ones you will recognize, but it is far more than the names that make this book memorable. What makes this collection of material memorable is that a preacher finds himself nodding, laughing, and even shedding a tear, knowing that he isn’t “the only one” who has faced a particular situation or gone through a certain difficulty.

My dad is among the 30 ministers who contributed to this work. Other names include Dan Winkler, the late Jim Bill McInteer, Jay Lockhart, Keith Parker, and Hardeman Nichols. Simply reading their words (some attributed and some anonymous due to the sensitivity of the questions) will give a preacher a renewed sense of brotherhood.

If you are a preacher, or would like to understand preachers just a little more, I think you’ll find this book helpful. You may click here for more from Paula’s personal blog. Her post contains a link to purchase the book.