Category: Christian Living

Book Review – The Grace of God

In this latest effort, author and Pastor Andy Stanley pens a lucid, salient, and timely biblical journey on the topic of God’s grace. This book, as with Stanley’s other works is well written and full of biblical truth for both the layman and seasoned scholar alike. He rightly begins his discussion of God’s grace at the beginning of the biblical story, namely the story of creation in Genesis 1. Stanley aptly notes “On the surface, it appears that the birth of Jesus signaled the beginning of an age of grace. However, a careful reading of the Old Testament reveals grace to be God’s preeminent characteristic from the very beginning.” This is an extremely valid point to make given the New Atheistic perspective of the Old Testament God promulgated by individuals such as Richard Dawkins attempts to make God out to be a genocidal maniac. In opposition to such a view Stanley points out God’s grace is the impelling narrative from the very first verse of Scripture. The story of God’s grace continues to the calling of Abraham by God to form a new nation, one through which he would in the words of Stanley “extend grace to a graceless world.” Even despite seeming odds that would have seemed to the ordinary individual to be evidence of it being impossible for God to fulfill the promises he gave Abraham, God...

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Book Review – Heroes and Villains of the Bible

Unlike most bible children’s books that are focused solely on providing a “cute” pictorial of events in Scripture from the aspect of story-time for kids, Heroes and Villains of the Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers thankfully avoids the “dumbed” down approach entirely. Instead of just pictures, this more substantial children’s book allows Scripture to speak for itself in sharing the events of not just the heroes of the faith, but those who are rightfully labeled as villains. The purpose of this book is to show children the stories in the Bible are actually historical events and the people involved in these stories were real people. Instead of authoring a short narrative of events in the Bible such as creation, Adam and Eve, Moses, or the parting of the Red Sea, the reader is provided with the words of Scripture itself. Each story is followed by a short paragraph that essentially sums up the main point of the biblical event with a short sentence about how the child can be a true hero of the faith. Many times, this reviewer found the topics discussed to be of use even for the seasoned believer. Perhaps even more impressive is the inclusion of the villains of the Bible as well as noting that even in the lives of those who we consider the heroes of the faith, there were struggles to maintain...

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Book Review – Relentless

John Bevere, bestselling author, speaker and head of Messenger International provides readers with yet another timely book, this time on the need to persevere through hardship while maintaining a firm foundation in God’s Word. At first, Relentless had all the makings of yet another book about how God will make everything work out for the believer provided they simply have faith and a positive attitude in the midst of trials and tribulations, much akin to something from the pen of Joel Olsteen or Robert Schuller. Thankfully, John Bevere’s approach is far more biblically centric fully recognizing the situations believers will face and the necessity to not just poke along in our Christian walk but to conversely press forward through faith and trust in that through the power of God we can indeed be more than conquerors. Relentless begins with Bevere depicting three types of individuals we all face: (1) the unbeliever who merely goes with the flow of everyday life, (2) the believer who recognizes the need to press forward in the fight against the enemy, and (3) the deceived who have the appearance of truth yet are in the end either compromisers of God’s Word or outright charlatans. The need to be relentless, according to Bevere, is based on the desire to “finish according to the desired end.” He rightly notes “There’s no escaping the adversity waiting for...

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Book Review – At the Feet of Jesus

Joanna Weaver, author of such outstanding books for women such as “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World”, has written a valuable daily devotional called “At the Feet of Jesus.” In typical daily devotional style, each reading consists of a scripture reading, the actual devotional, concluding with additional scripture reading and a question to assist the reader in further reflection on the day’s topic. To a large degree, “At the Feet of Jesus” reminded me of daily devotionals such as “Our Daily Bread” in that each day has a particular focus, scriptures to encourage further engagement of that subject and salient questions that will assist the reader in applying the principles gleaned from the scripture and devotional reading. “At the Feet of Jesus” is devoted to assisting women, either in personal devotion or perhaps even in a small group setting to literally sit at the feet of Jesus by looking to Scripture for daily guidance. The daily topics are relevant and present more than just a nice story with a scripture that matches the topic. Weaver cogently uses the stories in the devotions to present a situation that many women might face in their life using Scripture as the method by which to analyze the story or topic. This sets this devotional above the typical daily reading, nice story and move on type approach provided by typical daily...

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Book Review – Jesus Is________

Pastor and author Judah Smith, in his book Jesus Is______ efforts to engage the reader in understanding exactly who Jesus is and why comprehending that concept is vital. Written in a very readable style using elements of pop culture as a backdrop for his discussion of who Jesus is, Smith tackles the subjects of Jesus is our friend, Jesus is grace, Jesus is the point, Jesus is happy, Jesus is here, and Jesus is alive. While Jesus Is_______ can rightly be said to be a book that is very accessible and devoid of “nerdy” theological language, it seems as if the author spent a bit too much time dumbing down theological concepts in an effort to be relevant with his message. Not every book about Jesus has to engage the deep recesses of Christology such as one would find in Oscar Cullmann’s Christology of the New Testament or other books of a more academic nature. With that said, if an author is to appropriately teach the reader about a topic as important as who Christ is and why understanding that is vitally important, a certain degree of theology must be included. This is not to say this book is a complete failure or that the author’s desire to outline who Jesus is and the relevance of that in our daily life was a total bust. For example, Smith rightly...

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