Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Paul: A Biography by N.T. Wright

What more can you say if you've read anything by N.T. Wright? This is one of his greatest reads.

Sometimes Wright's books can be, shall we say, simply storage containers for the over-used comma "," but this stuff - boy - is just incredible to digest.

We're talking more than forty years worth of scholarly work on the person of Paul that is presented here.

Wright will transport you into Paul's world and into the thinking and culture of the time. He will give you fuller appreciation for his societal status and his passion/drive.

All that being said - if you have read ANYTHING else that Wright has written about Paul, much of the content of this book may sound familiar.

Say what you want to about N.T. Wright, but this man knows how to pull you in; and with a speculative biography!!

Here's the goldmine of the book: when you get into the sections that talk about the Paul behind the letters. That is where this book really shines. Sure it's fun to imagine what Paul's life was like in a biographical sort of way, but when you take that and put it behind the words of 2 Corinthians and some of the other letters, it makes it pop all the more.

This is such a terrific N.T. Wright book.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker

This books covers a number of genres and it's done very well.

Alicen is living the so-called dream in California until horrific tragedy destroys everything. She then travels to her old stomping grounds and meets up with a childhood friend. But then the twists start happening as she begins to hear "things" and you start to wonder, "what in the world is going on with this poor girl?"

Dekker does a great job keeping you guessing throughout the story. She ramps up the tension in that the last fifteen to twenty percent of the book could be called a throw-down thriller.

Her ability to evoke such emotion for Alicen is phenomenal. The anxiety and the grief, the withdrawal into depression. The ability to get your heart racing with words is the true mark of this author. Let alone when writing about emotions and feelings inside a person's head.

Then the voice start, right?

This is a great book for Rachelle Dekker because it shows the readers that she can step out from her father's shadow. Her first trilogy felt like her dad had a hand in the story. That's okay, I guess, for someone's first outing but this book shouts out loud, "I can do this on my own!" And it's a great work.

The emotion is felt, the anxiety of not knowing what exactly is going to happen, the thrilling aspects toward the end make this a great book to read.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Tyndale House Publishing.

Monday, May 7, 2018

I'd Like You More If You Were More Like Me by John Ortberg

Doesn't everyone have this feeling at least once in every relationship? Yes we enjoy the differences but we secretly want things to be our way.

John Ortberg has written a terrific book about dealing with our intimacy issues. And we're not necessarily talking about that kind of intimacy.

This books is used to answer a number of what if questions. And they all fit inside 14 sharply written chapters.

I enjoyed reading through the idea of if relationships with flesh and blood people are so difficult, why do we think a relationship with an invisible God would be any less difficult?

I enjoy Ortberg's writing style. It is very comfortable and well informed.

You'll learn to avoid relationship pitfalls, how to make God an active part of your everyday life, and how to recognized connection points.

This is a good book to read on relationships.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Tyndale Publishing.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The 49th Mystic by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker returns to the world of The Circle series he created fifteen-some years ago.

In The 49th Mystic we find a girl named Rachelle, same name as Ted's daughter - I feel kinda bad for his other children left out, who will become this titled character.

Just like in the novels Black, Red, White, and Green, two worlds are accessed through dreams. While there are cameos of familiar Circle characters, Ted has said that this book along with its sequel are stand-alone novels.

Rachelle lives in a secluded community that abides by the Law of God under the guidance of the community leader. God has rules and followers of God must live by those rules.

Then the villain shows up, calls into question their way of life and the community is thrown into chaos. If this was your first time reading a Dekker book, you'd wonder if this was actually the hero because you'd swear there was some truth mixed in with what he's saying.

If you have read Dekker's Books of History Chronicles, this book will feel very familiar. You have the dreaming of two worlds through books and blood, you have the villain showing up in a town and creating havok with the townspeople where one young person is to figure it all out and put a stop to it.

You have the questions of "what is real and what is fabricated?"

It all feels very familiar.

Ted has said that this is the culmination of everything he has written. I can go with that, sure. But as I was reading through The 49th Mystic, I kept thinking, "this is like Showdown", "this part is like Sinner", "this is like that part in The Priest's Graveyard", "this part is like Skin".

Rachelle now has quests in both worlds. What happens in one directly affects what happens in the other. The stakes are high and the consequences are dire.

There are a number of shocking deaths.

It is clear by now that Ted has had a spiritual experience that he wants to share with as many people as he possibly can. I have discovered, when novelists have a similar experience, their books are preachy than plot.

There is a character in Other Earth who is a kind of sage for Rachelle. He is used to preach Ted's new philosophy of our relationship with God. There are pages and pages of him preaching this new way of thinking to Rachelle (and us). I don't remember Dekker's writing anything like this until his A.D. 30 & 33 books.

I really enjoy Ted Dekker books. I have every novel that he's written. Here lately, I've not been able to connect or enjoy them as I once used to.

So it must just be me because these newer books are impacting a great number of readers.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Revell Publishing.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Walking as Jesus Walked by Dann Spader

This is a good teaching resource for a classroom or small group.

The questions are not at all cliched Sunday School stereotypes. It causes you to dig deep into what you understand and believe.

The pages are thicker than normal so you can write in them, the spaces available in the answer sections are adequate to write out your thoughts.

This is a good workbook for anyone interested in exploring the discipleship process of following Jesus and using the Bible as the launching point as well as the support.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How Healing Works by Wayne Jonas MD

Do you need all those medications?

Dr Jonas write a book that does not feel as dry and you'd think it should be.

Clearly he isn't talking about thinking your way out of cancer or some serious illness. He is simply reminding readers how their bodies are designed to work when it comes to health and restoration.

I think it's safe to say the United States loves her pills. We love taking them and prescribing them and using them. This book explains there might be a better way than taking a pill for every little thing. And I have to repeat - little thing.

Don't read this book and assume you will cure yourself of some debilitating disease in a week's time. This isn't that kind of book at all.

This is a book reminding you of the important of rest and eliminating stress and eating right and he throws in some creative ways at getting the point across.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Lorena Jones Books.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP by Terry Heaton

Terry Heaton was a producer for The 700 Club back in it's heyday. He was a mix of media and faith and things were going great, until they weren't.

This book is his personal reflection and reasoning behind the rise the Religious Right and Pat Robertson's role in it with his show.

From the get-go, you understand that Heaton is no longer on the Robertson bandwagon. He was uncomfortable with some of the ethical/political activities beginning with Robertson's entry into presidential politics.

He was let go from his position and it certainly left an impression.

This book is a fun read if you like to read behind-the-scenes types of books. You will get an eyefull of information about The 700 Club program, the personalities behind it all and how things broke down.

Heaton despises the Religious Right and, with it, the Republican party. His reasons for hating these organizations is valid in how he presents what they were all about.

What I'm not sure I can agree on is what happens all the time - everyone who identifies as an evangelical Christian is stereotyped by the likes of Pat Robertson. I don't think every evangelical holds the same beliefs as him or the evangelical cartoons we see in the media.

I'm not a fan of lumping everyone under one status. Unless I'm totally off base and the evangelical movement has left me behind?

It's easy to make fun of someone like Pat Robertson and this book will provide plenty of additional fodder to use.

With his venom aimed at some of the Robertson family put aside, some of Heaton's thoughts are quite articulate when it comes to new media and how it has gotten in the habit of failing the viewer.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by OR Books.