Friday, December 5, 2014

The Divine Progression of Grace by Bob Santos

         Author Bob Santos writes in the first chapter of his new book "The Divine Progression of Grace" the question "Is there is a Biblical topic surrounded by more confusion than grace?" Perhaps one could try and debate his point, but he may be very accurate to a large degree on this issue, since most Christian believers struggle in their journey through life to both understand and appropriate the grace of God in their everyday lives. It is to the end of 'Blazing a Trail to Fruitful Living' as the subtitle indicates that the author has penned his newest work, helping equip others to walk more intimately with God and to bring forth abundant spiritual fruit for his kingdom.
         I have reviewed Bob Santos' previous work "Champions in the Wilderness" on the Refuge blog before. So when the author provided me with a free copy of the book, compliments of 'Search For Me' ministries with no obligation, I was looking forward to reading and sharing my thoughts on the new book. The views entailed reflect my own opinions and I was not required to write a positive review.
         First, if there is one topic I have encountered many people struggle with, grace has to be near the top of the list. One of the reasons for this struggle, as is detailed in the pages of the book, is that most people do not understand the 'multi-faceted nature of grace'. The book walks the reader through the progression, starting with relaying the foundations that we have been taught. To give you a better understanding of the process, page 50 offers a chart with definitions that follow on the ensuing pages to help readers form an understanding of how much more there is to grace than simply being born-again in Christ. He continues through the work, touching on the law, Christ's sufficiency, pride, unity and even includes the subject of sex towards the end. What does sex have to do with grace? Plenty, but you'll need to read to find out more.
         Do I recommend this book? Yes, but with a few things in mind. First, the book is long, and by that I mean it packs a lot of material. It is not something to sit down and read in one setting. Second, connected to my first point, if you want to get the most out of the material, you need to stop and meditate on the concepts proposed and how they apply to your life. Fortunately, each chapter ends with a "Blazing a Trail to Fruitful Living" post that gives suggestions and sometimes summaries to help you achieve the most from that chapter. Search for Me Ministries also provides additional resources on their website which will help you along this path. Read, grow, be fruitful. As I said when I read Bob's previous book "Champions in the Wilderness", I'm looking forward to reading any works you may have to offer in the future.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

John MacArthur - Servant of the Word and Flock by Iain Murray

             I am not an avid follower of John MacArthur, although I have read and reviewed a couple of his books and have listened to some of his sermons over the years. However, I do recognize that he is a gifted Bible expositor, a well loved Pastor by many and, undoubtedly, one of the most influential Christian leaders in the United States and other parts of the world. And so, when I discovered that writer Iain Murray had written a biography of the beloved Pastor only a few years ago, I was glad to obtain a copy on my own and to review it. The book, entitled "John MacArthur - Servant of the Word and Flock" was worth my time.
            First, Iain Murray is a gifted writer and crafts the details of John's life into a splendid tale. The book was relatively easy for me to read, and I finished it within a little more than a day of purchase. Next, it was not overly detailed, as by the author's own admission it was not his intention to write a complete chronicle of Dr. MacArthur's life. And by means of this reduced chronicle, it made the book easier to finish.
            Like any good biography, the author recounts the events of the author's childhood and upbringing, including a little detail about his parents, including his father, Jack MacArthur, who had also been a Pastor and probably the most prominent influence on John MacArthur's ministry. The book does describe the events of  his conversion, college years and Pastoral ministry at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where Dr. MacArthur has served as the Pastor for decades.
            Iain Murray also takes the time to discuss not only controversial teachings that arose in the ministry over the years, but also some failed ventures in the church and trials along the journey. I was glad for his honesty. But, since Mr. Murray is a reformed minister himself, I do feel some of his agreements were a little bit quickly too affirming with some points of doctrine, rather than objective, while on others he states the areas he wishes Dr. MacArthur would change or emphasize more of in his teachings. However, this was not a serious enough issue to warrant not enjoying the work.
            Whether one agrees with everything Dr. John MacArthur teaches or not, as even his own friends don't at times, it would be difficult to argue that he has not dramatically impacted the Christian world in one way or another. This biography will serve to give you a good glimpse into his life and may challenge you to delve more deeply into the Word of God, which he so passionately proclaims that you might grow into the image and the knowledge of God. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Iran:The Coming Crisis by Mark Hitchcock

            There appears to never be a shortage of books on Bible Prophecy and end time events in the United States. However, there does at times appear to be a lack of understanding of the subject by masses. Mark Hitchcock is one author who has become well known on the topic of prophecy in recent years. I had not previously read any of his works and I was given a copy of "Iran: The Coming Crisis" to read for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at I was not required to write a positive review.
            First, this book was first published in 2006 and was written in the context of Iran coming into more prominence on the world scene at the time. Second, the author is a pre-tribulationist This is reflected in his views throughout the book, and he does explain the reasons for his position. A couple of things are in his favor in the book, one of which is the need that there is for people to understand Bible prophecy. Second, he is obviously very intelligent in both scripture and political events. Many of the things you may have missed in the news, he covers quite well.
            I did not, however, find this book to be simple enough for me. While I recognize the importance of explaining current events in the light of Bible prophecy, I felt that the world events were overemphasized at the expense of the scripture they support. It would have been nice to have focused primarily upon the scriptures, as a teaching tool and the events to support them, rather than the other way around. Also, since the book was originally published in 2006, it would have been nice to see this newer edition updated with information that has come out since 2006.
            Who should read this book? Anyone who loves to study Bible prophecy, or anyone who wants to understand a little better about what is going on in the nations of the world and what scripture says about it. If you are a frequent TV viewer of world news, you might benefit better than others who would otherwise be lost in the information. Jesus declared that He is coming soon. I hope that this book will make you more certain of that fact and help to prepare you for when He comes again.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Misfits Welcome by Matthew Barnett

              Some Christian books are meant to be Bible teaching tools. They contain a lot of scriptures and focus on helping people learn and grow from the text. But at other times, we all can use someone who shows us present day examples of those who have been transformed by these Biblical truths and are living testimonies of what the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can do in someone's life, no matter how far gone they feel that they've come from God's grace. My new selection for a book review this month, "Misfits Welcome" by Matthew Barnett falls into the latter category. It was given to me for free through the book review program for bloggers, provided by and I was not required to write a positive review.
             Nearly two decades ago, Matthew Barnett became the founder of The Los Angeles Dream Center. Space fails me to provide a detailed description of the dozens of outreach programs that this ministry serves in their city, but "Misfits Welcome" documents much of their work in the lives of broken and hurting people. Do you feel like you're a misfit and that God could never love you or use you? Then perhaps you should read further. The author draws from a wide range of individuals whose lives have been changed for the better by the power of Jesus Christ at work in them. And not all of the examples are of hopeless people. Some of the stories included are of those that the world might call 'successful", who used their talents, time and treasure in a life impacting way.
             The book's chapter titles include "The Misfit in us All", "Misfit Dreams" and "Misfit Expectations". The chapters discuss the topic covered and use the stories of transformed lives to illustrate the principles contained therein. I found it difficult not to quote many of these stories to my family as I read through the book. There are so many amazing dramas that are unveiled that I was compelled to keep reading and hear more of the victories others had found. And, you may find the stories of both their Children's minister and Youth minister to not be the typical 'how I got into the ministry' saga. But, you will find them to be a testimony to God's goodness in someone's life.
             In summary, I am glad that I read this book and hope that you will also. It made me say 'that's what ministry is supposed to be about' and put in me a desire to ask myself how I can do more to affect the lives of not only those that the world labels 'misfits' but the lives of everyone I have the opportunity to connect with on this side of eternity. I hope that it will do the same for you.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook


              I read a work by Pastor Kerry Shook recently and in it he mentioned a book that his sons had written. When I saw that "Firsthand" by Ryan and Josh Shook was available for free to me, through the book review program for bloggers available at from the Crown Publishing Group, I decided to obtain a copy. I am glad I had read it, and believe that it is a topic that was needed to be addressed, but no one necessarily knew to ask about when requesting a good subject to cover. Allow me to explain.
             The book is written by two brothers who are the sons of a 'mega-church'  Pastor  in Texas. It tells the story of how they realized that the faith in Jesus Christ their parents possessed was not their own. They were, basically, 'second hand Christians'. "Firsthand" documents their journey, each on their own, to discover if they really believed what they had been taught their entire lives. And, while written from the perspective of two Pastor's kids, the book would be good for anyone raised in a Christian home or in church their entire life.
             The topics addressed in each chapter touch on issues such as why it matters, the soul thirst we all have, getting rid of our religious 'checklist' and other parts of learning how to experience a firsthand faith. The chapters end with real stories from others who have gone on similar journeys, things to think about and suggestions to help you try and explore the topic covered in the chapter.
              Not many would think to address the subject of whether belief is personal or not, and if they did, they might not write about it. In our culture, it could be tempting for Christians to assume that people raised in church are automatically Christian. But, everyone has to develop their own relationship with God. If you are someone, or know someone, who is struggling with what they believe, this would be a great book for them to read. Ultimately, the Bible refers to God in many places as the God of "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". I pray that He will be your God too, that you will get to know Him firsthand.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bethlehem Road by Michael Whitworth

bethlehem road_1

             The Old Testament book of Ruth is a classic love story filled with sorrow and joy, despair and victory, death and life. At just a cursory glance, we might overlook the rich wealth of wisdom contained in it's few chapters. In the book "Bethlehem Road" by Michael Whitworth, the author explores the book of Ruth in detail and gives the reader reason to pause and consider the implications of the text on his or her own journey down the road of life. I received this book for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at and the opinions expressed in my review are my own.
             Michael Whitworth is the author of several other books and preaches in Bowie, Texas. At the beginning of this work, he answers questions people frequently have about the book of Ruth. Then he launches into a verse by verse exposition of the Biblical text of Ruth, offering clarification and insight into the contents. He does share personal stories throughout his writing, including the sometimes painful twists and turns we can encounter as we seek to serve God in everyday life. The introduction of the book alone will resonate with many who have had ups and downs in life that left them heart-broken and grieved.
             The book is unique in the fact that it functions as somewhat of a commentary on Ruth, but endeavors to maintain a bit of a devotional feel, in my opinion, throughout it's pages. Commentaries can sometimes be dry and complicated, and he does avoid the excessive complications by keeping the explanations simple. However, a few times I did find it to be a bit slow to get through. Yet, that did not keep me from enjoying it.
              He borrows from a wide range of commentators to explain the verses in Ruth. But, I think the most helpful way to use this book is simply, as I suspect it may have been intended to some degree, as a guide to learning more about the book of Ruth when you do dive into it in your own Bible readings. I do hope to see other works from the author in the future, as he kept enough of my interest to keep the pages turning.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Storm by Jim Cymbala

           Perhaps you have heard of or have been one of those who survived a devastating natural storm in your life. Hurricanes like Sandy, Ike and Katrina have ravaged the United States in recent years and have created untold destruction in their aftermath. But in the world, sometimes these storms are easily identifiable and there are ways to prepare for the effects that we may encounter. Jim Cymbala's latest book "Storm" doesn't address natural weather patterns, but it does detail the signs that show a spiritual storm is likely to come on the church world, and he discusses the things that we can do to better prepare ourselves for it's arrival.
           For over four decades, Jim Cymbala has been the Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle in the heart of New York. He has written extensively in the past and is no stranger to storms, both naturally and in the spiritual lives of the multitudes he has ministered to faithfully for years. I received the book "Storm" for free as part of the book review program for bloggers, available through Book Look at . It was a good read and inspiring, particularly in the area of prayer.
           What can help us before the storm arrives? It is prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit which are the emphasis of the preparations that the author discusses. While building a case for the inevitable storm to come in the church world, Pastor Cymbala stresses the vital need to not only connect with God in this time, but the courage to believe that He can and will change things if His people will pray. Though he does address some of the current trends in the church that are leading up to the storm that is to come, he does not 'bash' the leaders in the church world. He merely exhorts them to focus on that which is Biblical and important in all of our churches everywhere.
           One interesting feature of the book is the testimonies interspersed in it's pages. Every few chapters will appear one chapter that is exclusively dedicated to telling the story of individuals in the Brooklyn Tabernacle who have lived through their own storms and have seen God change their lives for the better. We all may face different types of storms in our lives. But, leaders like Jim Cymbala can help us to prepare ourselves for their arrival and equip us to still be standing tall when their winds have died down for good.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Be the Message by Kerry and Chris Shook

          Pleasantly surprised. That's the way I would describe my reaction to the new book by Kerry and Chris Shook, titled, "Be the Message". This book was offered to me for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at from the Crown Publishing Group. I am not sure what I expected when I first received it, but it was an interesting read that kept me going until I finished it. This was a noteworthy contribution from Kerry and Chris Shook, who Pastor the Woodlands church, in the Houston, Texas area of the United States.
        What makes this book excellent is it's basic premise that I could sum up in two words "Do Something". Whereas many Christian books can focus either entirely on scripture, or in today's culture can be caught up with the emotional, family, vocational and other issues, this book is a clarion call to make a difference on the world we live in today. It is simple, practical and yet motivational in it's approach, with out being a hyped up sales pitch to jump on the trail of the latest fad.
         One of the ideas contained in the pages is the concept that we embody Jesus Christ on the earth. We are the visible expression of what He is like to others. Opening the book as a Pastor stating how tired he is of more sermons, Kerry launches into an exhortation to Christians to begin putting into practice all that they have learned in church and from Christian leaders. What follows are areas these thoughts apply to and illustrations that paint a picture of how each one of us can be effective in reaching out beyond our comfort zones. Just as a note, though they wrote the book together, they don't usually distinguish which one of them is speaking unless they deemed it necessary,
          The book has suggestions at the end of each chapter that will both challenge you to listen to God prompting you on how to be a blessing, as well as practical ideas to make those promptings a reality. If you are wanting to make a difference around you, this will be a helpful resource in accomplishing that goal. I am glad I chose this work and look forward to reading more material from this great couple in the future.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone by Jay Milbrandt

                    There are some stories which need to be told simply because of the impact that was felt by the hero's contribution to society. The life of David Livingstone most surely is a tale worth rehearsing to countless generations to come in the future. Jay Milbrandt, a professor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota has penned a new work about Dr. Livingstone's life called "The Daring Heart of David Livingstone" and I was given this book for free to review as a part of the book review program for bloggers, available at .
                    First, in case you are not familiar with David Livingstone's story, he is the British explorer who was a primary influence in the abolition of the East Africa' slave trade in the late 1800s. This biography chooses to focus on the expeditions which were paramount to achieving that end, rather than focus on the details of his childhood and early life experiences. The book provides an examination of the journeys that became the impetus for his quest to see the slave trade stopped in East Africa. Though, as you will read, Dr. Livingstone set out to discover the source of the Nile and did not succeed, he became burdened by the conditions slave trading had created in East Africa, and had a God given passion to see it stopped.
                    Each chapter begins with a map of the part of the journey discussed in that section, along with how long from that it would be until the East Africa slave trade ended, and the amount of slaves affected at that time. It details the voyages to achieve that end, and you may find yourself surprised by how 'human' Dr. Livingstone was, as many who travelled with him left due to conflicts with his personality and leadership abilities. Though the writer does document some of the spiritual aspects of Dr. Livingstone's life, I found it to be a little weak on emphasizing the commitment of his faith in the exploration process.
                     God uses men and women who are flawed and imperfect to accomplish great things. David Livingstone never lived to see the East Africa slave trade abolished or to ever discover the source of the Nile River.  But, what he did was touch the lives of an untold number of people, both those he came in contact with and those who would be freed from the tyranny of slavery through his relentless efforts to undo injustice. From this book and from Dr. Livingstone's life, may you take away the challenge to do great things, the courage to attempt the impossible and the commitment to not give up in the face of persistent opposition.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Abraham by Charles Swindoll

               Charles Swindoll has been ministering and writing for many decades of his life. Among the works that he has penned, several of them are about specific characters from the Bible. One of his most recent works on "Abraham" was given to me for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at After reading it recently, I was made more aware of the details of Abraham's life that, though I knew them before, were brought into clearer focus through this literary work.
               While not discussing every piece of Abraham's life with overdone inspection, the book highlights the stories that are found primarily in the pages of Genesis, reconstructing a chronological history of this great patriarch of faith. The text of scripture is covered a section at a time, with applications to our lives found at the end of each chapter. Dealing with a variety of topics throughout the narrative, including failure, lying and death, there is a considerable amount of information relating to many areas of life that we will encounter on our journey on this earth.
               One of the things I like about Dr. Swindoll, and it is no exception in this book, is his use of illustrations in his material. He pulls from a variety of sources, with works footnoted and cited at the end. But, while this was one of the positives of the book, I found one of the drawbacks to be some of the conclusions he drew from the text of scripture. On occasions, I felt that he was reading into the verses and pulling out conclusions that were not specifically stated. I still found the book pleasant but not as compelling of a read as I would have initially thought.
               Still, this work can be a useful resource for someone wanting to learn more about scripture in general and the life of Abraham in particular. I was glad to see it available and hope that Dr. Swindoll will continue to write more scriptural works about characters and even books of the Bible, so that future generations may learn the lessons of the scriptures.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Heavem, Hell and Life After Death by Kay Arthur


              Bible teacher Kay Arthur, the founder of precepts Ministries, has been faithfully expounding the truths found in the scriptures for decades, consistently, day in and day out. She has authored numerous books previously and has provided Bible study resources on dozens of topics. Through the free book program for bloggers, available through available at , I received a complimentary copy  of Kay's new Bible study resource "Heave, Hell and Life After Death" for review. It was a simple, but pleasant read for me.
              The book is part of a series of 40 minute Bible study tools that Precepts Ministries offers. It is approximately 120 pages, and is divided into six sections. Each section addresses a particular question, such as "Why do we have to die?", "Can we live again after death?" and others. Within the topics lessons, there are things to discuss and to observe. Anyone familiar with Kay's method of Inductive Bible Study will recognize the circles, underlines and symbols she uses for marking up scripture passages. And one of the features I like about this tool is the scriptures verses that are in the column found to the side of each page, so that you don't have to look them up to study them.
              Though the book can be used by anyone, it addresses the leader of  a small group in the pages, to guide in the process. Ideal for either a group study or individual efforts, the book will help anyone who has questions about heaven, hell and the afterlife. I will caution, however, that to get the most out of this resource, you have to do what she recommends. In other words, if you just read it as a book, and don't do the lessons, you may not find it as enjoyable.
              Bible study is important, especially in the culture we live in, which is quick to question everything and to promote unscriptural viewpoints. I hope that Kay and her staff will continue to produce resources that help the body of Christ and unbelievers everywhere to learn the Bible. If you choose to use it, I believe it can aid you in growing in your knowledge of God and His word.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Case for Christ - student edition by Lee Strobel

                 The field of 'Apologetics' might sound to someone unfamiliar with the term as though one would be studying how to apologize. However,  to followers of Jesus Christ, this discipline is a look into how to effectively give a defense of the Christian faith. One of the more well known teachers of Christian apologetics is a former writer for the Chicago Tribune, an author by the name of Lee Strobel. Lee was converted to Christ while researching the facts of the Christian faith many years ago and wrote a book for adults that became a best seller called, 'The Case for Christ'. And my task, recently, was to delve into the student edition of 'The Case for Christ', given to me free of charge by the program for bloggers at http://
                  As a student edition of it's name sake, this version condenses much of the material examined in the original edition. The book is about 120 pages and is divided into three major sections, asking who Jesus is, how reliable was the information about Him and can a dead man be raised back to life. The nine chapters tackle each of these subjects and present a synopsis version of the material. It is filled with many age appropriate illustrations and does a good job of tackling the questions, giving the author's own personal journey of how he approached the subjects when he first researched them decades earlier.
                  Honestly, the book is full of good information that is very important, but I personally did not find it engaging my attention enough. Perhaps this is because I am not a teen or twenty-something or maybe it is due to my familiarity with much of the material already. Either way, I was not as compelled as I have been by other apologetics books I have read previously.
                  In spite of this, if you have a teen or college student, or know of one, who has questions about the Christian faith or wants to learn how to defend their own faith, this is a good resource to start them with in their quest. The length and style make it a quick read and it is formatted to be used in small, discussion based groups (with other resources available for that purpose). Everyone, at one time or another, has had some questions about why Christians believe what they do. This is a tool that can be used to answer those questions and to point others to faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God, the Savior of the world.

Monday, August 18, 2014

David Wilkerson - The Cross, The Switchblade and The Man Who Believed by Gary Wilkerson

          The book that I have chosen to review will not be available for purchase until September 2. I received an advanced reader copy of it, provided free for bloggers through the book review program for bloggers, available at I was not required to write a positive review, and I did not have to be for this one. Put simply, this was a fantastic book.
          If you have never heard the name David Wilkerson, perhaps there's a chance that you have heard of the name of an organization called "Teen Challenge". The program is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program with the highest success rate in the nation, founded by David Wilkerson many decades ago. No, you haven't heard of it? You might be familiar with the book "The Cross and The Switchblade" which tells the story of how Teen Challenge began. What, you don't know that one? Ok, maybe you've heard of Times Square Church in New York City, where he Pastored faithfully for many years. Oh, you don't know about that one either? Then, you need to read this book. And even if you do know about the things I've mentioned, you still need to read this book.
          Time and space do not allow me to furnish as many details as I would like to share about the content of the book. So, I'll highlight why I thought this was a great read. First, biographies can sometimes be written by researchers, historians and students who admire a person from afar but may have never met them in person. This one, however, was written by David Wilkerson's son Gary. And it is a firsthand account of details, stories and history that others may never have known.
           Second, the author is incredibly honest as he tells the story of his dad's life. He does not portray David Wilkerson as a "superhero" to be idolized (and, just for the record, David would have despised hat). He tells of the highs, lows, struggles, idiosyncrasies, triumphs and tragedies without painting a picture of perfection. He shows you that David Wilkerson was just a man, who struggled like the rest of us, but had faith in an incredible God who accomplished the impossible through him. For this reason, I admired David Wilkerson more as a person, and God, whom I serve, more to  work through ordinary people, greater than when I started. And, finally, the story kept me going. I received the book on a Saturday and finished it on a Sunday. It was a good read.
           If you wonder if God could ever use you and feel like you've messed up too much, read this book. It's not just David' Wilkerson's story. It's the story of multitudes who were changed and used for the glory of God. If you know someone who's struggling in areas of their life with habitual issues, then let them read this book, to encourage them that change is possible. And if you want to see what God can do through simple people, like you, then read this book. In the story of one man's life, you'll become acquainted with Jesus Christ, who makes all things possible to him who believes.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Book of Revelation Made Clear by Tim Lahaye

                   Perhaps the most widely debated and misunderstood book in the Bible is the Book of Revelation. No other book in the Bible seems to have generated as much controversy as this last book of New Testament scripture. Maybe this is due to the symbolism that is used throughout it's pages, or maybe it is because of the amount of fear that surrounds it's message, but it is definitely one of the books of the Bible that people would rather avoid than read. But, one of the Christian leaders who has never been shy at touching the subject of the end times and the contents of the Book of Revelation is Dr. Tim Lahaye. And His new book on the subject "The Book of Revelation Made Clear" attempts to decipher and decode this Bible classic. I was  given a copy free of charge by the program for bloggers at http://
                   The book is literally a verse by verse study of the twenty two chapters of this epic Bible book. As the title suggests, this is not meant to be a complicated  study, but is instead very simplistically structured. Each chapter starts off with a small pre-quiz that addresses items found in the verses of scripture to follow. It then has a few verses, followed by a commentary and the same quiz at the end. It repeats the processes for the next section of verses until you have finished the chapter. The approach is definitely helpful in fostering learning.
                    Dr. LaHaye, co-author of the best selling "Left Behind" series of books, has a pre-tribulation view of the rapture. His book does not delve into the arguments for this position, simply focusing on the verses and what they mean from that point of view. The book is not a college level eschatology book, but is instead a helpful, simple guide to what these verses of scripture say. I believe that those who are new to the Book of Revelation will find it beneficial, as well as those who are 'veterans' at understanding the text.
                    Until Jesus returns, there will undoubtedly be unlimited debates on the Book of Revelation and Bible eschatology. Dr. Lahaye's book is a great primer in understanding one side of this highly contested section of scripture. I trust that your understanding of the text will be deepened and that you will be further looking forward to Jesus' coming soon. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Strange Grace - A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Strange Glory cover image
                I had heard a little about and had read portions of the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life prior to reading the new biography written regarding his life by Charles Marsh. But I had not encountered quite so thorough a treatment of the details of his tale until my recent selection. This book was offered to me for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at from the Crown Publishing Group and since I enjoy reading biographies, I decided to give it a try.
                If you are unfamiliar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life, a little background will be helpful before you even begin. Bonhoeffer was a German Pastor and Theologian who was executed during World War II for his "crimes against the state". The book discusses that portion of his life, and the rest of it, quite extensively, so I won't delve into the story for now. But, I will state that it was his courageous stand against the Hitler regime and the means he was willing to go to which would finally earn him the execution he received.
              First, the book does what a biography should, which is thoroughly cover Bonhoeffer's life with complete chronological investigation, And, it is to be commended for that point. However, I feel that this strength is also it's weakness, as it made the book extremely long for me, and I found it hard to finish once I had started, when I normally am a diligent reader.
               Second, perhaps you may feel differently when you read it, but, I did not find the theology Bonhoeffer espoused clearly differentiated. Many famous theologians and professors are mentioned throughout the tale, and while I had heard a few of their names before, I was not able to understand where that put Bonhoeffer's beliefs because of his interest in these leaders. I also felt like Bonhoeffer's faith wavered in where he DID stand at times throughout his life, so a clear place where he landed was not readily identifiable on the theological map.
               But, last, the story does need to be heard. I found the descriptions of Hitler's rise to power and how it progressively affected the Christian believers to be eerily parallel to the build-up occurring presently in the western world. It would do good for everyone as a Christian to study this history, realize the time we're living in, and like Bonhoeffer of old, determine what we are willing to live for and to die for, prior to no linger being given a choice. I hope that if you read this selection, it will sober you to the truth that makes men free, the truth that is only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Simplify by Bill Hybels

Product Details
                Do you remember a time when life felt so much simpler to you? Maybe you can't or perhaps your recollection of your toddler years has faded into the distance. And, if so, you're not alone. Most people I know find life anything but simple. And, whether Christian or non-Christian alike, this lack of simplicity affects everyone and can have a dramatic impact on our ability to function and enjoy our lives. Bill Hybels new book Simplify, addresses the quest for simplicity and offers helpful suggestions on moving into a less stressful and easier way of living.
              As many people already know, Bill Hybels is the founder and pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in the suburbs of Chicago, which is one of the largest churches in the United States. He has authored several other books, but the book Simplify is written after many years of intense living and the discovery of the lack of simplicity in his own life, which he details throughout the book. I received this book for free from the book review program for bloggers, available at I was not required to write a positive review.
              The chapters are arranged with contrasts as their emphasis, and build a case for ten principles to unclutter your soul. The titles address topics such as "From Exhausted to Energized", "From Anxious to Peaceful", "From Drifting to Focused" and many others. The issues addressed are real life, practical issues. You will find many things that you have encountered in at least some of the areas that will be applicable to your own journey toward simplicity. And there is a wealth of suggestions in the pages of the book.
             I am, however, a tad bit torn on how to rate it. Can you benefit from it? Yes. But, in spite of that, I didn't find it to be as enjoyable of a read as I would have hoped. Perhaps it was too simplistic (pun fully intended). I wasn't intrigued by the contents and did not find it to be personally impacting. Though, as I said, there are benefits that can be derived from the contents. If you choose to read it, you may find it contributing toward a simpler life. And, for that reason, I hope that others will find it to be a blessing to your life.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ex-Muslim by Naeem Fazal

             In the past year, I've read and seen a few stories by several who having been practicing followers of Islam have left their religion and become passionate followers of Jesus Christ. In his book, Ex-Muslim, Naeem Fazal weaves a similar tale of discovery in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but also brings a post-conversion look at what journeying with Jesus has entailed for him since becoming a bona fide believer in Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
             Naeem spent most of his childhood years in Kuwait, a portion of which came at the height of the Gulf War. It was these events that led his parents to first send his brother, and later himself to the United States to escape what looked like potentially no prosperous future for them in Kuwait. However, unknown to him or his parents, shortly after coming to the United States, his brother had received Jesus Christ as his Lord, and it was his conversion which had a direct impact upon Naeem and the course his life took.
            One of the things I've noticed in the Muslim conversion accounts I've read and heard about is that often there is an element of the supernatural involved. By that, I am referring to dreams, visions or, as in Naeem's case, encounters with spiritual entities. It is sometimes these divine interventions in the ordinary affairs of man which attract the person's attention enough to respond to the truth. I was a little disappointed that the book opens with the author's conversion rather than building up to it. And I prefer a more chronological approach to these life events, but it was still a wonderful story of God's love redeeming not just a person but a family (you'll see what I mean when you read it).
            I do hope that you will read the book and learn from one man's journey of faith. I received this book for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at Any accounts of conversion to Jesus Christ are great to read, and Naeem's story is no exception. I pray for other Muslim believers that they too may come to repent of their sin and believe that Jesus Christ is God's son whom He raised from the dead, embracing Him as their Lord also.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Know the Heretics by Justin Holcomb

               Some of you reading this review may have grown up knowing a little bit about Protestant church history. But, many of you probably have a story similar to mine, where you knew virtually nothing. Because my life, as that of so many others, can be extremely busy, I don't have a lot of time to read massive volumes on the history of the church. And that is one of the reasons I did like the new book by Justin Holcomb called "Know the Heretics" which I received free through the book review program for bloggers, available at
               As of this post, Justin Holcomb is presently is an episcopal priest and a professor of Theology and Christian Thought at both Gordon-Cromwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. "Know the Heretics" is part of a series of books in the "Know" series, of which he has also contributed "Know the Creeds and Councils". As I mentioned earlier, I did not know a lot about the heretics that are often cited from church history and this book was a good,  simple, concise look into their lives and un-Christian teachings.\                   
               So if you're not familiar with the names Marcion, Arius, Pelagius and Sabellius (to name just a few) you're not alone. This book will help you to learn parts of early church history in an easy to read manner. The chapters are fairly short and highlight the major thoughts the individual advocated. Included at the end of each chapter are discussion questions and recommendations for further reading. I did find a it a little bit dry at times, but the author does his best to convey the history behind the heresy without complicating the issues as much as possible.
               From this book, I took away a few important things. One of those is that there really is nothing new under the sun. Many of the same heresies of hundreds of years ago resurface today in modern vernacular. Second, I recognized that those that don't know history can be destined to repeat it. Though this is not necessarily a subject that you'll feel inspired to read, it is needed for believers in Christian churches everywhere to know those who have tried to undermine the faith and to be equipped to defend it when the same errors arise again, even if they are clothed in modern garments.