Category Archives: Books

Book Review: “Enemies of the Heart”

Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart is a re-release of his former book, It Came from Within. Stanley’s words in this book are highly practical, as the book deals with areas that every person seems to struggle with at times.

Stanley tries to deal with four areas–guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy–that not only harm our relationships with others, but that break us down from the inside. His book seeks to show not only that these things are real, but that they are truly problematic, and that these four areas will destroy us if we leave them untouched.

In my opinion, the best part of the book is the middle section, where the author shares what these four “enemies” do to us, and how they each have a connection with how we either “owe” something to someone else, or how they “owe” us something. (I’m being vague, because I don’t want to give away that part of the book.) These middle four chapters are a must-read.

Overall, the book is highly practical, but seems to lack the Biblical references that I expected going in. Having heard Stanley preach via podcast many times, this wasn’t too surprising, but I thought maybe his books would be a little different. Still, for a practical book, this volume is hard to beat.

—————–

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from Multnomah’s “Blogging for Books” program in exchange for a review. The review is fully  my opinion.

Book Review: “Our Last Great Hope”

Book Review: “Our Last Great Hope”

Ronnie Floyd’s latest book, Our Last Great Hope, is meant to awaken within evangelical Christians the need and necessity for fulfilling the Great Commission. Floyd served for one year as the head of a group within the Southern Baptist Convention that was charged with studying world situations and how best to approach taking the Gospel to the entire world. He wrote this book, not so much as a “report” from that committee, but from his heart that was awakened by seeing the situation.

Of course, there are some statements in the book that deal with doctrines that are false, but this book still needs to be read. As I read it, I kept finding quotes and longer sections that I was reading again and again, because they really were eye-opening and made me look into the mirror and ask, “Am I really doing my part?”

The book has two great strengths.

First, the book is worded very strongly. Floyd pulls no punches as to the need that is ever-growing, due to the increasing population of the world. This book will really make you think about the Great Commission.

Second, the book covers several aspects of how to fulfill the command of Christ. It does not just conclude that we should “get to it.” Instead, Floyd shares ways that individuals and congregations can look for open doors, in people, resources, and finances, to get to work.

I highly recommend this book.

—————————–

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. The review is fully my opinion. The book was provided by booksneeze.com

 

I review for BookSneeze®

Review of “Plugged in Parenting”

Review of “Plugged in Parenting”

Written by Bob Waliszewski, Plugged in Parenting is designed to help parents in the digital age. Though backed with numerous statistics and examples, the book is still easy to read and is a quick read.

One of the positives of this book is that it doesn’t just present “troubles,” but shares with parents tools to help them equip their children to use technology both for information and entertainment. As one might expect, though, the book quickly points out many of the struggles parents face with the complete glut of technology in our children’s world.

As a reader might expect, the book mentions the website PluggedIn.com quite often, at times too much. While not meant as a “commercial” for the site, I still found the number times it was mentioned to be a bit much.

As I read the book, I was struck by how the book could hold up longer than some other books on the subject. While there were some specific examples, there were not as many as you might expect. I find this to be a good feature, as pop culture references and “cool” technologies change so often. I think this book, at least in its major principles, will last for some time to come.

————————–

I received this book for free from Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to give a positive review on the book.

 

I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network

Review of “Love You More”

Review of “Love You More”

Jennifer Grant’s story of international adoption was intriguing to me. As a parent of an adopted child, I love reading other adoption stories. This book did not disappoint. However, since our adoption was from within the United States, reading about an international adoption added to our knowledge of the subject.

Love You More is written by an obviously gifted writer, and the book truly shares the heart of one who wanted to adopt, but had to go through many of the usual “hoops” of an international adoption. The daughter they adopted, Mia, is from Guatemala, a nation that made adoptions quite difficult while Grant and her husband were trying to finish the process.

One of the unique parts of the story of Mia’s adoption is that the Grant family already had children of their own, but had always thought about adopting. The Grants both worked overseas and enjoyed certain parts of the world, so adopting internationally was part of their heart. That adds to the flavor of the story.

Another nice feature of the book is that Grant is willing to publish some of the emails she sent to friends and family through the process, which adds to the “human” side of the book. The book is an easy read, but will pull at your heart strings. I highly recommend the volume.

————————

I received a copy of Love You More for free from Booksneeze.com in exchange for this review. I was not required to publish a positive review.

I review for BookSneeze®

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.

——————————

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.

——————————-

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.

————————————

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.

——————————–

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.

—————————————

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.

—————————————-

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.

————————————–

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.

—————————–

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.

——————————

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.

————————————-

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.

—————————————

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.

————————————————-

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.

—————————–

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.

——————————–

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

I review for BookSneeze®