Sunday, June 23, 2019

10 Minutes in the Word: John

This small book consists of 46 devotionals covering the gospel of John. It is pretty formulaic, consisting of the quotation of a main verse in each passage, about one-and-one-half pages of expanded and summarizing thoughts on the passage, a prayer, and a personal challenge. The approach is very basic, with no illustrative stories or other anecdotes. An interesting aspect of this book is that it is unattributed. I searched hard for an author's name, and there was none, although John MacArthur's works appear often in the Notes at the end. As a very basic devotional book to accompany the book of John, for example, for a new believer or a seeker, this is adequate. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Logic of God – Ravi Zacharias

Subtitled "52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind," this book was not what I expected, which was for 52 clearly articulated topics to be addressed in an orderly manner. Instead, as stated in the Introduction, it is ". . . a collection of my writings, most never before published in book form, selected for their perspective on the many ways God has provided us with evidence of His existence and how this 'logic' gives life meaning, establishes the credibility of the Christian message, shows the weakness of modern intellectual movements, demonstrates the certainty of the claims of Jesus Christ, and validates biblical teaching and Christian apologetics." Unfortunately for me, it seemed the 52 chapters alluded to the above topics without always addressing them, as if the author were addressing an audience familiar with his earlier writings. Some chapters were excellent standalone topics, such as "The Pathway of Pain" and "Are You Lonely?", while others, such as "A Bigger Story" seemed an introduction to something that never came. A few chapters, such as 'A Royal Wedding Just Like Mine" seemed almost silly, comparing Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding to the author's own 46 years ago; this particular chapter seemed appropriate for a blog followed by faithful readers and will not hold up well as the years pass. This makes for an uneven reading experience, with the sometimes-profound sprinkled in among the almost-shallow—might I even say "trite"?--chapters. I would recommend this book only to those who have read other works by Ravi Zacharias, which I have not. It is a fairly light work by an author who, I can tell, usually writes works of much more depth. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Rock, the Road and the Rabbi – Kathie Lee Gifford

This is the first book I have read by this author, and it was worth reading. Kathie Lee Gifford has traveled to Israel many times over the last four decades, and she wanted to pass on to readers her enthusiasm for what she has seen and learned in the Holy Land. Each chapter focuses on a location in Israel, and usually the author writes a few pages about what she learned and then asks Rabbi Jason Sobel or another expert to explain in more detail some aspect of the background of the places being visited. Kathie Lee Gifford focuses on the major sites important to Christianity, such as Bethlehem, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. She includes chapters on less-known places, such as Magdala, Caesarea Philippi, Bet Av, and Masada as well. This is not a scholarly book, but there is enough scholarship here that I think everyone will learn something (did you know it is very likely Jesus was NOT a carpenter?). The writing style is very engaging and conversational. Whether or not the Christian reader has been to Israel, I think this book makes one want to know more; it is a good introduction to the places of the Bible. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Grateful American - Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise is an actor who has a passion for supporting veterans. While I knew this because I've seen him for years on PBS at the Memorial Day Concert in Washington, DC, I did not know his background nor much about him as an actor since my TV and movie interests are narrow. His book, subtitled "A Journey from Self to Service" narrates just that, beginning with his childhood and moving to the present day. His personal history is an interesting one; Gary is very much a product of his time, as he came of age in the 1970s. The author's interest in the military stems from family relationships—some of his and his wife's relatives served in different wars, giving him a broad understanding of the importance of the military to America's freedom. Through a combination of others inviting him and his seeking opportunities to honor and support the military, I got the impression that his service in support of the military and veterans has become his life's work; acting almost sounds incidental now. The book is fairly well written, although there were times topics seem belabored. I noticed a couple of typos: on page 47, Neiman Marcus is misspelled as "Nieman Marcus". On page 202, "the" is omitted from: ". . . network execs recognized the opportunity for publicity when announcer could introduce me. . . ." I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the author or who is curious about how he came to be so supportive of the military. The book goes into great detail on both subjects, so readers must be motivated to know more in order for their interest to be held. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Delivered by Beth Moore

This pocket-sized book, "derived from material previously published in Get Out of That Pit," contains the essential excerpts from that earlier work, making it lean and mean, so to speak. Pared down, it effectively addresses how to work with God when we find ourselves in sin or dogged by sinful attitudes, such as resentment or bitterness, which Beth Moore calls "pits". The author addresses the three ways we get into pits: we are thrown into, slip into, or jump into them. Her next three chapters address how to get out in three steps (cry out, confess and consent), waiting on God, and making up your mind. After deliverance, a new song will result, and you can learn to live without pits. Beth Moore's writing is clear, concise and on target. She is often very funny, and I found her illustrations to be on the money. I highly recommend this book. It would be a worthwhile reread a couple of times a year to remind myself of how to stay in a victorious walk with God. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Book of Signs by Dr. David Jeremiah

Subtitled "31 Undeniable Prophecies of the Apocalypse," this outstanding book lays out in a clear, engaging format the author's interpretation of what is commonly called The End Times. It should be stated that it is presented from an unwaveringly pre-Tribulational, pre-Millennial view, which, I should make clear, is also mine; since that is so, I naturally would have no argument with the author's perspective. Since the author's aim is to present his view, there is no discussion of other viewpoints with regard to the events or their sequence. If the reader is hoping to evaluate varying viewpoints in one volume, then this is not that book. For those wishing to have in one source a pre-Tribulational, pre-Millennial view of what is to come, you can do no better than this book as a refresher course of future events, especially if you are acquainted with eschatology, prophetic Old Testament books, and Revelation. The Book of Signs is not an apologetic (that is, a defense of doctrine) work; it is a presentation of one doctrinal perspective. It was very well researched, citing many other respected theologians, sometimes reaching back many years for their works, and used Scripture quotations extensively. Each chapter, beginning with an engaging story meant to capture your attention and make you want to read more, progresses with helpful sections and subsections which help make the book eminently readable. Jeremiah was schooled in a time when alliteration was encouraged as a preaching tool, and it shows. For example, in the chapter "Heaven," the sections are entitled, "The Prominence of Heaven," "The Plurality of Heaven," "The Place Called Heaven," and "The Preciousness of Heaven." This method permeates the book. While the tone of the book is didactic, it is also intended to comfort believers and challenge unbelievers; each chapter focuses on these two things in its closing paragraphs. This was one of the best books on prophecy I have read; it is one I will reread periodically. I did notice a couple of typos: on page 81, it says, "He gave every single one to the hospital, more than $200,000 dollars in all"; and on page 272, it says Adolf Eichmann was a "principle" (rather than "principal") player in the Nazi persecution. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Theft of America's Soul by Phil Robertson

If you know anything about the author, you know he is the very plain-spoken patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family. He is a straightforward, no-nonsense man; if there is anything subtle about him, it would be his sense of humor. In his latest book, Robertson addresses 11 lies that he says are ruining America, the foundational one of which was perpetrated in the 1960s: "God is dead". From there followed the next seven: There is no Devil, Truth is Relative, God did not create life, Sex is for self-gratification, Virtue is outdated, Laws can be ignored or changed if they are inconvenient, and Unity is not possible. The last three lies are aimed at the American church: Church participation and day-to-day life should be kept separate, Christians should shut their traps; and the Truth of Truths, Often the author addresses each subject with his own personal stories, which are both entertaining and instructive. In the chapter on laws, Robertson incorporates a fair amount of historical research, which was new to me. Throughout, he cites biblical support for his views. Robertson hopes he is issuing a clarion call to the nation, that unbelievers would come to the knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior and turn from their ways, and that believers would adhere to the Bible and share and preach it unafraid. Robertson believes that only if enough individuals embrace the gospel with America's decline be halted. Phil Robertson makes a very good case for his beliefs. He evidences a good mind and a stout character that is formed by what he believes. This book is worth your time. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.