Sunday, January 26, 2014
I had never read any of Stephen Mansfield's previous works before I was given a copy of Mansfield's Book of Manly Men. The author has written several popular books, primarily in the history and contemporary culture categories. His latest contribution to those fields contains a variety of history lessons from the lives of great men, whose characteristics well apply to those in our current cultural era.
Though the book is unashamedly addressing men, the lessons contained in it's pages will be valuable to women readers also. He begins the first few chapters discussing each of Maxim's Four Manly Maxims. These are the foundations that underly the rest of the book. He then begins to discuss the character traits which he believes exemplify manliness. Each chapter discusses one topic, reviews the life of a person in history which illustrates the subject, contains questions to ask ourselves and most often recites a poem connected to the issue.
First, I do believe the book is worth reading as every topic is valuable and the history lessons alone are great to read. However, I do not believe that the author always used the best examples from history to illustrate his points. He also does not offer a reason why these particular traits define manhood and could have easily picked 100 other topics.
I do encourage men and women alike to learn these lessons, as the character traits are timeless and apply to each gender. I received this book for free from the book program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com and the views expressed are my own. I hope that our lives can exemplify the character found in the stories of many n this book, that history may remember us for having an impact in the lives of others.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
How did you enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Was it because you had a dramatic experience? Were you always taught to be that way? Or was it something that just 'worked for you?' All of these and other approaches are the answers cited by those who profess to be believers in Jesus Christ. And, they are just a portion of the topics discussed by author Mark Mittelberg in his excellent new book Confident Faith.
Mark Mittelberg codirects The Institute at Cherry Hills in Colorado, along with author Lee Strobel. He has served in full time ministry for a number of years and has written other books on apologetics previously. What I appreciated most about this book was it's simplicity in presenting the material that he covers. While some books on defending your faith can be, well, 'defensive' and complicated, Confident Faith is easy to read, and reasonable in it's presentation.
The first section of the book discusses the various faith paths that people travel on their journey to their beliefs, ending with the evidential path. He continues with twenty 'arrows' of truth, or areas that point to spiritual truth. And the final section focuses on ten barriers to belief, which concludes with finding a confident faith. This is a great book that will equip you to not 'defend' your faith, but to share your faith with confidence. And I believe that high school students, college students and others seeking to grow in understanding the truths of Christianity will benefit from the material.
Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book free as a part of their book review program for bloggers. In an age where intelligent faith is slowly being replaced with a quick prayer for salvation, Confident Faith is a refreshing book that will strengthen your faith and better equip you to share Jesus with others. I highly recommend this book to you.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
If you are living in one of the Western countries of the world, while reading this blog, then the odds are very likely that you have received very minimal persecution for your religious beliefs. Oh, you may have been laughed at, given dirty looks and perhaps heard obscenities shouted at you. But you most likely have not been dragged into a concentration camp, tortured or left for dead because of your faith (and if you have been, I'm very sorry for you and pray for you). Yet, these trials are what multiplied thousands of those who call themselves Christians endure daily around the world. And that is the subject of John L. Allen Jr's book The Global War on Christians.
The title of the book makes no attempt to hide the contents and neither do the chapters. The writer begins with an overview of the subject and sharing stories from areas around the world like Africa, Asia, the Middle East and others. He then spends a few chapters discussing the myths that surround persecution, such as 'Nobody Saw It Coming'. He concludes the volume with a series of chapters which address the fallout, consequences and response of persecution. It's a wealth of material addressing this often overlooked subject and it is an eye opening education if you have never been exposed to these issues.
Overall the book is good. It's an important subject that needs addressed by many more writers. However, I did not find the book to be an easy read. It wasn't because of the subject matter, because that is important. I found the author addressing persecution well, but also lumping categories of groups as 'Christian' which some might disagree with strongly. While I do not downplay their suffering either, since no one deserves to be tortured or killed for their beliefs, I find that he does not distinguish between faiths very well. It is also quite lengthy and not easy to finish. But I did find myself praying at many times. And it will open your eyes to what many endure for the sake of Christ.
I received this book for free through the "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. You may read a sneak peek of the book at http://www.imagecatholicbooks.com/sneak-peek-the-global-war-on-christians-by-john-allen-jr/. The book is very graphic. But, my hope as you read is that no matter where you live in the world, you'll pray for those enduring these trials and will never be able to say 'Nobody Saw It Coming'.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Dr. Michael Brown has been in ministry for decades as a teacher, author, activist, theologian and radio host. His newest book, Authentic Fire, is just another example of his great contributions to the Christian volumes on theological issues, this time addressing the concerns voiced by another Christian leader, Dr. John MacArthur, in his Strange Fire book and conference. Authentic Fire openly answers Dr. MacArthur and his colleagues criticisms of those come from the Charismatic stream of Christianity. But, he deals with the questions raised not as an adversary of those opposing him, but as a brother desiring to resolve family disagreements with open and honest communication.
For those of you reading who are not familiar with the terms cessationist and continuationist, let me be as brief as I can. These two words define the difference between those who believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 of the Bible have either ceased or continue to be used today. Dr. John MacArthur recently wrote a book entitled "Strange Fire" and held a conference by the same name. In both, he makes several bold assertions against those continuationists, primarily found in what are called Charismatic churches, even declaring a "collective war" on those who hold to these positions. Dr. Michael Brown has written a detailed, thoughtful and Biblically based response to those assertions in the book Authentic Fire, and gives the reader plenty of points to ponder in determining whether or not the gifts of the Holy Spirit are valid in today's contemporary culture.
Honestly, I was disappointed but not in Dr. Brown's book. On the contrary, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will keep it as a ready reference for the topics of spiritual gifts and charismatic expression of them. No, I was disappointed that a book even needed to be written about these issues, when the arguments Dr. Brown presents are so clearly laid out scripturally, historically and systematically. When Dr. Brown has to answers questions like "where is the charismatic hospital? Social Services? Poverty Relief?" he does so graciously, but either Dr. MacArthur never heard of organizations like Teen Challenge, or he forgot them for some reason. I could site many other disappointing examples, but I think one suffices for now.
Dr. MacArthur's arguments in Strange Fire seem convincing at first glance. But, Dr. Brown does a masterful job of bringing to light the truth about the accusations made and does so as a gentleman. I also enjoyed the appendixes found at the end of the book, written by other authors. Sam Storms article on "Why New Testament prophecy does not result in 'scripture quality' revelatory words" should be read by everyone on both sides of this issue.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Dr. Brown's book Authentic Fire for those concerned about these issues, for those who want to be better equipped in defending their charismatic beliefs and for anyone who has never been taught about the Gifts of the Spirit and how God speaks today. I appeal to Dr. MacArthur and those who agree with his conclusions to reconsider their position in light of the truths Dr. Brown presents and to humbly seek to build up rather than divide over these issues.
The book focuses on the arguments raging even among Christian circles that the Bible book of Genesis, chapters 1-11 specifically, should not be taken literally and can very easily be compatible with the scientific discoveries of man and the record "millions of years" of life on the earth. In order to effectively counter the arguments used by those who oppose a literal, six day account of creation, Noah's flood and other passages found in Genesis, the author first has to define terms. After emphasizing the importance of proper foundations in this area, he defines 'science', distinguishing between observational science and historical science.
Moving on to describing the difference between exegesis and eisegesis in interpreting the Biblical text, the author lays a foundation for explaining why he believes the unnecessary inclusion of reading 'millions of years' into the Bible narratives is not only problematic, but can lead to greater questioning of other Biblical texts, such as the resurrection of Jesus. And, while this may sound to someone reading this review as a wide gap between doubting six literal days and doubting Jesus' resurrection, Ken Ham states his case emphatically and provides the reasons he believes such a connection can easily be made.
I enjoyed the fact that Ken Ham is passionate about what he believes in the book. I also liked the fact that he is not simply reciting the literal six day creation position without scientific support. There are thousands of scientists who do not support evolutionary views, and his organization Answers in Genesis publishes a considerable amount of material to present concrete evidence of their views. But, perhaps what I appreciated most was that the book is not simply trying to prove his point on the six days of creation, but rather to emphasize that how we interpret scripture determines how we will inevitably live, and compromising in one part of the Bible can lead to compromising other parts, with possible eternal implications.
A trailer about the book is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwq_jPEtDW8&feature=player_embedded#t=0 . I received this book for free through the Master's Books, a division of New Leaf Press Publishing Group, book review program for bloggers at nlpg.com. The views expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. You may order the book at http://www.nlpg.com/imprint/master-books/six-days or preview the contents of Six Days at the link http://www.nlpg.com/downloads/dl/file/id/518/six_days.pdf . For more more information about Ken Ham or Answers in Genesis, you can read http://www.nlpg.com/ken-ham . The fight that the author espouses is not one of merely six days of creation, it is fighting for Biblical truth. May this book better equip you to win.