Category Archives: Books

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®

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.

——————————————-

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.

———————————

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.

——————————

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.

————————————–

A Common Bond

Paula Harrington, 2011 (218 pages)

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

————————————–

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.

————————————

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.

———————————-

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.

———————————-

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.

————————————-

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!)

——————————-

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.

—————————–

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.

The Pages Podcast: A Primer

The Pages Podcast: A Primer

A few weeks ago, Dale Jenkins and I unveiled “The Pages Podcast.” The podcast is set to record for the first time in early March, and we would love for you to be part of it!

The Pages Podcast will be, as Dale describes it, an old fashioned book club for the 21st Century. With advances in technology, we  have the opportunity to have a book club all over the country and even, the world!

Since unveiling the idea, a lot of work has gone in to getting the club organized in a helpful way. Here are some things you need to know:

1. This is not just for preachers. Our goal is to review books that deal with all areas of the Christian life. We will look at biographies, leadership books, finance books, and many other helpful books, both old and new. Our goal is to help you build a nice library.

2. The podcast will be recorded in the evenings. We are doing this so that those with “9 to 5″ jobs can be part of the live podcast. We will interview people from the club, leaders, and even some of the authors. In fact, on our first podcast, we will be interviewing the author of the book!

3. We have partnered with the Gospel Advocate company to bring you great discounts on the books. Our first book, The Seed Principle by Aubrey Johnson will cost you only $5. After that, we will be able to get books published by Gospel Advocate for 25% off, and all other books they sell for 15% off!

4. The podcast will last about 45-60 minutes each month, and we also want your feedback on our Facebook page. Each month, we want your comments and reviews on The Pages Podcast’s Facebook page, so we can build a good set of reviews.

So far, we have about 30 people involved. As word spreads, we feel this group will grow, and we want you to be part of it! If you are interested, send an email to keaton.bell@gospeladvocate.com. Keaton has worked very hard behind the scenes to set up the club in conjunction with Gospel Advocate, and we thank him for his work!

I hope you will join the club, and we look forward to reviewing The Seed Principle with you in early March!

Finally…Some Book Reviews!

Since I write very brief reviews, I have been waiting to do a review post until I had several to pass along. Here is the latest batch.

————————-

The Mystery of God’s Will

Charles Swindoll

Thomas Nelson, 1999 (222 pages)

It is rare that a writer admits from the outset that he does not know the topic very well, but Swindoll clearly makes that claim at the beginning of this volume. Gaining a true and full understanding of the will of God is a nearly impossible topic to cover, but Swindoll’s effort in this book is commendable.

Obviously, there are some things Swindoll writes in this book with which I disagree, but I still found it to be a helpful read. Simply put, it is impossible to explain God’s providence and how it works, but in this book, Swindoll tries to do just that in ways that I find to be over-stating the case.

I would recommend this book for serious Bible students, but would not for those who are not well-grounded in the faith. The book is an easy read, and it worth your time, but it is not a book you can just skim through and take at face value. Deeper study is necessary alongside this book.

——————————-

Contrary to Popular Belief

Joey Green

Three Rivers Press, 2005 (272 pages)

This is a simple “gift book” that contains brief nuggets that we all assume are true. Green tries to give a few short facts to show that these things are not true.

Some are very interesting, while others are clearly wrong. Green, if he is a Christians, surely does not share a literal view of the Bible, as he has about three things in this list of 250 that are Biblical, but claims they are wrong.

The historical and scientific things in the book, though, are quite interesting. They are also fun to read. (One example: “George Washington was not the first President of the United States.” He was the first under the Constitution, but there were Presidents under the Articles of Confederation, too.) If you enjoy little nuggets like that, you’ll enjoy this book. Be warned, though, there is a lot of chaff with the wheat!

————————-

Faith is My Fortune

Richard Clark & Jack Bates

Pepperdine College Book Store, 1962 (316 pages)

A biography of George Pepperdine, Faith is My Fortune is an interesting and entertaining look at a man who truly left an amazing legacy. Pepperdine is best known by many folks as the namesake of California’s Pepperdine University, but he was more than just a philanthropist.

In this book, the authors share tales of Pepperdine’s life from the very beginning. The book is basically divided into three parts. There is the background and growing up years, followed by his work with Western Auto stores, then his work in the Church and with the college. Each of these sections shares insight not only into Pepperdine’s personal life, but also into America at the time. From a small farm in the midwest to a very wealthy man on the west coast, George Pepperdine saw so much.

The book is hard to read at times, as it seems somewhat disjointed, but it is still worth your time if you are a student of Church history, or of biographies.

——————————-

Decision Points

George W. Bush

Crown Publishers, 2010 (497 pages)

I like “W.” While I don’t agree with everything he did as President of our country, I still find him to be a fascinating figure in modern history. His memoirs were a fantastic read.

The title is well-chosen, as Bush sets forth decisions he made throughout his life (mostly during his time as President, of course) that he felt were most important. Instead of a chronological day-by-day account of his time in the White House, these points of decision are a wonderful focus on what Bush will most be remembered for.

To me, the chapter on 9/11 (“Day of Fire”) is the most compelling. I knew much of what Bush’s day was like, but this chapter tells far more that I did not know.

One of the strengths of this book is that Bush is willing to tell of things he did that he now regrets. It is not just a “look what I did right” book, and I highly respect that. Even if you are not a “fan” of George W. Bush, you will find this book to be a great leadership volume. Though long, it is an easy read, and one that I hope to read again someday.

——————————–

Seven Things a Loving God Hates

Allen Webster

Heart to Heart Publications, 2007 (159 pages)

This is the second time I have read brother Webster’s book in a cover-to-cover manner, although I have used it many times for sermon and lesson preparation.

My Sunday morning Bible class is currently studying the book of Proverbs, so, when we came to Proverbs 6 and looked at these “seven things,” we used brother Webster’s book as the basis for our study. It was a great help to me as the teacher, and the class truly enjoyed the study and the discussion each chapter led to.

Based upon his popular tract series, Seven Things is a must-read. Webster supports each chapter with strong research, a multiplicity of Scripture references, and well-chosen illustrations. I highly recommend this book for personal study or for a class or small group study.

If You Like Books……..

If You Like Books……..

It is no secret that I love reading. But I know that many of you do, as well.

An older “tradition” that isn’t done as much anymore is the book club. However, I am thrilled today to let you know about a 21st Century version that you can be part of!

Dale Jenkins and I are beginning “The Pages Podcast.” It is a modern-day book club. Each month, we will announce a book geared toward Christian living. Then, on an assigned night, we will discuss the book in podcast form. You can listen live to our discussion, make comments in the chat room and even, if time allows, call in to make comments. Our goal is to get guests, including some of the authors, to come on with us as we discuss the book.

Now, here’s the best part: we are working on plans to get the books for less money than you would pay for them in book stores! Once the title is announced, we will let you know how to get that month’s book.

Please know that this is not just for preachers. We plan to talk about biographies, finance books, leadership books, books on parenting and family, and general Christian living books. Also, we have a goal of discussing books that are both new and old, so there will be much variety.

Now, what can you do?

1. If you would like to be involved, you can “like” the page on Facebook. If you are not on Facebook, or prefer email, email your interest to thepagespodcast@edge.net. By letting us know, you will be added to our email list and will be notified of the first title (to be named in early February) and the date of the first podcast (early March).

2. Spread the word. The more people we have involved, the more fun this will be. A larger number will also help us “leverage” with authors and book stores as we seek to get you the best price possible on the book each month. It would be great to start out with 100 folks!

We hope you will enjoy this new venture, and that you will learn from the reading and the discussion of these books over the coming months. Our goal is to record the podcasts in the evenings so as many folks as possible can join in live.

——————————-

Dale recently posted a “press release” about the launch. Here is that post.