Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

25
Nov
16

Book Review: Outrageous by Aaron Tredway

 

Outrageous

I enjoyed this book a lot, it was a quick read yet had depth to it. Aaron Tredway has had a lot of adventures, especially relating to his career playing and coaching soccer. What I especially appreciated about the writing of his adventures however, was that he doesn’t do a lot of name dropping and he is very skilled at using all his examples to point to Christ and to bring glory to God.

I will say that the introduction was concerning to me as I read it. It implied that the book was very self-focused, a how-to on living an adventurous life with God as the director, as though the point in life is to have outrageous adventures in and of themselves. But from chapter 1 on, I was relieved and pleased that the rest of the book truly points to God and makes much of Him through all of life’s adventures, outrageous or simple.

I was given a copy of this book from Baker Books for the purpose of reviewing, but my thoughts are all my own.

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20
Sep
16

Unlocking the Bible

unlockingthebibleAs in every age, there is a lot of interest in the Bible.  Ask the average Christian and they will tell you that they know they should be reading the Bible more.  People who are curious about Christianity understand that this is the book on which the faith is based.  But for many people, wading into the Bible is a deep mystery.  Where do you even start?  Why are the different books in the Bible so different?  What is the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament?

For people who ask these questions, Jeff Lasseigne has written Unlocking the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016).  This book aims to give you an overview of the Bible, illustrating how the pieces fit together and giving some tools for how to understand where the Bible came from, where a given book fits into the Bible’s story, how to study a passage and get as much as you can out of it, and even how to effectively teach the Bible to others.  It’s an ambitious target, and the results are hit-and-miss.

It should be stated right up front that this is a book for somebody who is fairly new to the topic.  There are nuggets in here that are helpful, but if you are generally familiar with the Bible, you would probably do better looking at a book that specializes in the area that interests you.  The material is good, but it is definitely a beginner’s level. There is only so much you can cover.

Lasseigne writes from an unabashedly evangelical perspective (specifically dispensational premillennial, if those terms mean anything to you.)  He is absolutely convinced that this is the word of God and he wants you to love it like he does.  He does a solid job of bringing all of these ideas like where we got the Bible and can we trust that it has been transmitted through history accurately very well.  His overview of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the often overlooked time between Malachi and Matthew is solid, but simple.

Fully half of the book is giving an overview of each of the books of the Bible, including its theme, a dozen or so interesting facts about the book, and some famous quotes from people who have appreciated the book.  It’s a little different from the overview you get in a good study Bible … this is more little nuggets designed to make you curious about the book, or little details you can bring up while you are teaching the book.

This brings up one of my two major complaints about the book.  Of the seven regular chapters of the book, one of them is dedicated to how to teach the Bible.  What he says is true and good, but in general this book is a lot more basic than I would hope somebody who is looking to be a Bible teacher would be reading.  That chapter felt a little out of place for the overall target audience of the book.

My second complaint is the humor and stories included throughout.  Now, I don’t mind humor at all … for example, I think Matt Chandler and Alistair Begg are brilliant in including reverent humor in their messages.  I think that is where Lasseigne is trying to go, but it misses.  It’s just trying to be funny for the sake of being funny.  He has a two page illustration of funny quotes by flight attendants which was genuinely funny, but it served no purpose.  This happens a lot in the book.  It’s a shame because he says himself:

When it comes to using stories and illustrations as seasonings, we don’t want to overdo it by substituting stories for sermons or illustrations for illumination!  Too much seasoning spoils the meal.  I’ve heard messages made up of stories and silly jokes and very little Bible study.  That dishonoring to the Lord and is a dereliction of duty (140).

I don’t think his stories go to the extent of replacing content, but it was clear after a while that he was simply including these stories to lighten to the tone of the book rather than to advance the material, for the most part.  After a while I was groaning as I came to another.

Overall, I think this is a valuable book to somebody who is a new believer and who is trying to get an understanding of what all of these books in the Bible are.  I think for that audience, this book succeeds very well.   If you already have a basic understanding of that, I would suggest looking at other book that deal with the topics in more depth.

12
Jul
16

Book Review: Resolved: 10 Ways to Stand Strong and Live What You Believe

Resolved

I highly recommend this book. If you are in a dark season in your walk with God, this book will encourage and rebuild you. If you are in a season of great spiritual health, read this as a tool to recommend to others who might need encouragement, as well as to remind you as to why things are going so well for you right now.

I wanted to read this book because I got the impression from the subtitle and summary that it was going to encourage me in the face of spiritual persecution. That is not the focus of this book. The first chapter, Believe When it Looks Ridiculous, does address that aspect of being resolved in your faith. But the main focus of the book is to stand resolved when the challenge comes from within, when the temptation to forego your faith is because the sin within you or circumstances surrounding you lead you to doubt God’s promises, His power, and His presence. Despite being quite different in content and direction than I initially thought, I was very pleased and encouraged as I read this book. While Ms Abujamra writes in a very conversational style that is easy to read, Resolved is full of meaty truths and powerful Scripture references that build the believer up.

Resolved addresses 10 life situations that can make faith weak. They are: Believe When it Looks Ridiculous, Love when It’s Inconvenient, Obey When It’s not Popular, Yield When It’s my Right, Speak Up When It’s Easier Not To, Give When I Barely Have Enough, Be in Community When I’d Rather Be Alone, Have Joy When Life is Depressing, Hope When it Hurts Too Much, and Rest in the Midst of Chaos. Each chapter has many personal examples from Ms. Abujamra’s life, practical suggestions and approaches to aid the reader in putting the topic into practice in their life, and each ends with a formal resolution that the reader can make going forward.

I appreciated this book as I was in a dark season when I read it, and the final chapter on Rest in the Midst of Chaos was a great balm to my spirit. It is very encouraging to know we are not the only ones going through hard times, and Ms. Abujamra is very open and honest in her writing.

I received a copy of this book from Baker Books for the purpose of reviewing, but I was under no obligation to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

12
Jun
16

book review: 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids & Sex

Cover ArtAs a mom of 4 daughters, I chose to read this book to review because I hoped to find a resource to equip me in talking with them about sex. I was not disappointed by Miller’s book; it is candid, honest, and useful.

Ms. Miller is very open about her qualifications for writing on this topic. She shares about growing up as a pastor’s daughter and the sheltered life that didn’t prepare her for the real world of sex. She endured sexual abuse at the hands of a youth pastor in high school, which led her to turn to pornography and have an unfaithful relationship with a young man she was engaged to before finally breaking free by God’s grace. She is now a speaker at colleges and churches on the topic of sex, and is happily married. Her story is heartbreaking yet encouraging, as she shares how God has healed her and is using her to bring light and hope to a subject that can be intimidating and even terrifying for parents.

Ms. Miller’s 5 points center around one thing: your child is not the exception. In talking to our kids about sex, the ineffectiveness of sheltering, mainstream media offerings, pornography, and sexual abuse, she underlines the fact that avoiding talking with them in hopes of not “spoiling” our kids’ innocence will only backfire. They will learn about all these topics from someone, and don’t we want it to be us, their parents?

She explains that the best approach is not just one big conversation at some predetermined age, but a lifetime of open, respectful discussions that are age-appropriate and that can and should be initiated by both parent and child. Families should determine their values and then cover these topics in light of that. The best way to protect our children is to educate them and to prove ourselves trustworthy listeners and information givers. Ms. Miller gives very thoughtful information based on her most up-to-date research, as well as providing updates via her website 5thingsbook.com.

Each chapter ends with very practical tips (“The Bottom Line”) as well as a written interview with an expert on the topic covered within. I feel well-equipped to have meaningful conversations with my daughters, and am not intimidated by issues that may arise. I am thankful for this book and highly recommend it to parents who want to have honest, real conversations with their kids on a hard but beautiful subject.

I received a free copy of this book from Baker Books, and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

12
Jun
16

book review: liberating king: breaking free from the tyranny of sin

Cover ArtThis book was enjoyable and encouraging, written in a very conversational style that is easy and quick to read. Stephen Miller is a worship leader at his church, and understandably uses song lyrics to illustrate and support his points. He has many examples of people who have suffered and struggled yet held fast to the Lord who liberates.

I am personally in a valley season spiritually right now, so I was greatly excited to read this book. It was very encouraging to read about the hard times that a worship leader has had, seeing that I am not alone in my struggles. Miller is quite relatable and transparent, and I admire and respect him for that. I will be honest though, that the book didn’t leave a deep impression on me, in that I have not been left meditating on the truths he reminds of or the methods he proposes to aid the reader in breaking free.

Overall, it is worth reading and I hope to revisit it at some point. I’m thankful that there are spiritually mature people who are courageous enough to share their struggles without glossing over the fact that walking with Christ does not equal a trouble-free life.

I received a free copy of this book from Baker Books that I might review it. All opinions are my own.

04
Apr
16

Book review: It’s Not Too Late, The Essential Part You Play in Shaping Your Teen’s Faith

dupee.inddThis is one of those rare books that is able to teach and exhort the reader to do what is best, without browbeating him about his failures. I so appreciate books I can start with excited anticipation and finish with satisfied expectations, and It’s Not Too Late is one of the best I’ve read in a while. Dan Dupee speaks candidly, of both his own and others’ experiences with the faith journeys of teens and young adults, and he presents his information in a very readable and helpful manual.

This book is a compilation of Dupee’s findings from surveying 300 plus parents and their kids, through personal meetings and internet communications. He boils down his findings into a concise definition of success: The young Christian adult owns his or her faith in Jesus Christ, reflects it in priorities and decisions, and lives it in community with other believers, seeking to influence the watching world. And as he unpacks this, he consistently (and encouragingly) proves that parents are the most influential forces in their kids’ lives, no matter their age. He debunks social myths such as the irrelevance of parents and the inevitability of college kids to walk away from their faith, while providing practical approaches and do-able tips to parents to give their young kids a strong foundation, foster maturing relationships with their teens, and grace in times of going prodigal.

I so highly recommend this book-while reading it I used chapter 9 Christian Kids Can Thrive in College with a college student I am mentoring, and I am also excited to apply the truths within as our 4 daughters grow up.

I received a free copy of this book from Baker Books for review purposes. All statements are my own and I was not obligated to give a favorable review.

08
Oct
15

Book Review: Tranquility: Cultivating a Quiet Soul in a Busy World by David W. Henderson

I give this book 5 stars across the board: for teachability, readability, Scriptural accuracy, and hopefulness.  David Henderson writes out of his honest successes and failures to make the most of the time and opportunities God has given him.

He begins each chapter with numerous quotes about time, its use and its passage. I lingered on those as I read, allowing them to really sink in. He also interweaves his writing with Scripture, especially Ecclesiastes, focusing on how God has represented time through His human authors, and the wisdom they have gained around it.

My copy of Tranquility is filled with passages underlined and starred, passages that gave me a new perspective or really taught me. The author really probes deeply, helping the reader to see not just the negative results of over-busyness, but the heart reasons we seek busyness in the first place. And they’re not all bad reasons.  He also shows that this is not just a 21st century problem, but rather one that humans have struggled with for centuries.  I for one find it very hopeful when I see that I am not alone in my struggles, and that God Himself knows and has answers for them.

I will close with one of my favorite paragraphs that I think summarizes Henderson’s overall aim:

“There really are only two ways to view our time. We can follow the culture into a driven life, in which we view our time as our own, to meet our own needs. Or we can follow Christ into a called life, in which we yield up our time, giving it back to its rightful owner, and then allow him to lead us into the life he has already designed for us.” (p. 118)

I hope you will be as blessed by this book as I have been. I received a free copy from Baker Books Publishers in exchange for my honest review.