Monday, November 14, 2016

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada

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A Spectacle of Glory
by Joni Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby


ISBN-13: 9780310346777
Hardback: 400 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Do you ever wonder why God created you? The Bible spells it out plainly: God created you to showcase His glory—to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those you encounter.

After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God's glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. Along the way, you will find great comfort and encouragement by focusing on the one who longs to lead and guide you every step of the way, every day.

Don't ever think your life is too ordinary, your world too small, or your work too insignificant. All of it is a stage set for you to glorify God.


My Review:
A Spectacle of Glory is a year-long devotional with a theme of glorifying God in every situation. Each day started with a verse reference followed by a short devotion that usually quoted that verse and ended with a prayer. The devotions generally focused on better understanding the verse and how it relates to our walk with God.

The devotions often contained the theme of how we respond to difficult situations (like health problems, financial worries, etc). Short devotions generally can't develop an idea very far, but these devotions were fairly good. They emphasized keeping our focus on Jesus, the gift of our salvation, and heaven rather than our problems.

I'm not sure I agree with some of the author's theology of suffering, but it's made me dig into the Bible to further study the topic. Perhaps people with chronic suffering (from disability or health issues) might find more comfort and encouragement in it as that's the author's perspective. Since it seemed to focus on what a suffering person should ideally be doing and feeling, it sometimes made me feel bad that I'm still confused and discouraged by my suffering and current limitations.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Beyond Suffering Bible NLT by Joni and Friends Inc

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Beyond Suffering Bible NLT
by Joni and Friends Inc


ISBN-13: 9781414392028
Hardback: 1696 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: Oct. 15, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
There is hardly a person who doesn't know someone dealing with a disability, disease, chronic illness, or other form of personal suffering. The Beyond Suffering Bible is the first study Bible to directly address those who suffer and the people who love and care for them.

From bestselling author, singer, and radio host Joni Eareckson Tada and the experts at Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability, the Beyond Suffering Bible is filled with thousands of notes and features that invite readers into a conversation about suffering and its place in each person's life. Each feature has been carefully created to provide readers with valuable information, meaningful encouragement, and challenging applications as they encounter God's Word.


My Review:
Beyond Suffering Bible NLT is a New Living Translation (2015 version) Study Bible. In this paperback version, the pages are so thin that you can see the print on opposite side of the page. This made the Bible text a bit difficult to read, and I doubt you could use highlighters on these pages.

It contains the things you'd expect in a study Bible: reading plans, a topical index, a dictionary/concordance of Bible terms, maps, and footnotes. It also has features targeted at people with disabilities and/or chronic health issues and at their caretakers. It's "for people who want to understand what it looks like to think and live like a Christian in the midst of suffering."

There are some essays by Joni and others about suffering and disabilities from a Christian viewpoint. The book introductions give the normal information about each book of the Bible but also point out the themes in that book relating to disabilities and suffering. There are brief commentary notes ("Connection Points") that also expand on verses relating to these themes.

There are page-long profiles and devotions. The profiles look at Biblical (and some modern) people who suffered and how they responded. The devotions often use modern people in their examples, and they expand even further on verses relating to disabilities and suffering. Some of the devotions are by Joni Eareckson Tada, and she talks about her struggles and insights.

I've recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, so I hoped that this Bible would help me with some of the issues I'm now facing. I believe that people with disabilities or chronic diseases will find comfort and insights in the essays, profiles, and devotions. But I also think that it can be difficult to convey to others how different people have found hope and strength, perhaps because everyone's faith journey is a little different.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire

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Moments with the Savior
by Ken Gire


ISBN-13: 9780310353546
Hardback: 448 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Take a step-by-step journey through Jesus' life. Join Jesus as He travels with His disciples through the Galilean countryside. Press through the throngs at the temple in Jerusalem. Marvel at the Savior’s challenging words, miraculous authority, and tender compassion. This compilation weaves events, emotions, and thoughts into a moving depiction of the life of Christ. A Scripture portion and prayer are included with each devotion.


My Review:
Moments with the Savior is a 66 day devotional. It starts by quoting several verses from the Bible that set the scene. The author then created a fictional short story based upon the verses and invented details to fill the scene out. Theses scenes were usually focused on Jesus. I had expected these devotionals to help a person slow down and consider the scene, but I felt like they were more like a novel or movie. I didn't always agree with the details included since they were based more upon tradition or imagination than historical accuracy. Each devotional ended with a fairly long prayer that was based on the verses for that day. I was disappointed that I didn't get many insights from the devotional.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Guarded by Christ by Heather Holleman

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Guarded by Christ
by Heather Holleman


ISBN-13: 9780802414878
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Heather Holleman used to live a fragile life, a prisoner to fear, anxiety, and despair. Then one day, while reading a simple statement in Scripture, “God guards the lives of his faithful ones” (Psalm 97:10), that all began to change.

In Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us, Heather guides women through a series of practical mental shifts that immensely helped her live strong in the Lord. Learn how in Jesus, you are guarded:
By Christ's righteousness instead of condemnation
By peace instead of anxiety
By hope instead of despair
By the Holy Spirit's power instead of self-effort
By a crucified life instead of a self-important one


My Review:
Guarded by Christ explores what it means to be guarded by God. After reading Psalm 97:10, the author explored Scripture to better understand from what God rescued us and guards us.

She started from a mindset of condemnation, anxiety, hopelessness, weakness, and self-absorption. She concluded that a guarded person would feel confidence, peace, hope, strength, and be savior-focused. She explained each new way of thinking (from anxiety to peace, etc.) and quoted appropriate Scripture verses for each.

She described how she developed memory devices to help her recall these truths daily. She chose to visualize a fortress (as this metaphor is mentioned frequently in the Psalms) and various parts of that fortress. This process has helped to transform her life. Overall, I'd recommend this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Tallit by Charlie Kluge

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The Tallit
by Charlie Kluge


ISBN-13: 9781629987330
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Charisma House
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
To some people the tallit, also called a prayer shawl, is a sacred garment worn during special occasions. To others it is a mysterious object full of symbolism and hidden meaning. This book will help readers experience the significance of the prayer shawl as it symbolically represents God’s presence, healing, love, and forgiveness.

Dr. Kluge uses personal stories and scripture to explore the mystery, explain the history, and reveal the modern meaning and application of the Jewish prayer shawl.


My Review:
The Tallit talks about the prayer shawl, its symbolism, and stories of its use in the Bible and modern times. The author described the origins of the tallit, the modern prayer shawl, and how it's used. He talked about the different parts of the prayer shawl and their symbolism. He also mentioned legends about the tallit that are speculation yet he finds interesting.

The author stated that the tallit is a sacred object that is special because of what it symbolizes and reminds the wearer of, but it has no power in itself. He then went on to tell many stories of powerful things that he's seen happen while wearing or under a tallit. Much of the book was the author's thoughts on a variety of subjects including prayer, fasting, God's voice, being still and listening, seeking God, being humble, spiritual warfare, Israel, and the Last Days.

The author is a Messianic Jew, so he talked about how Yeshua's miracles point to him being the Messiah. He pointed out mentions of Yeshua wearing a tallit and how Yeshua fulfills the symbolism of the tallit. He also included his testimony about the many events that moved him toward accepting Yeshua as the Messiah. Overall, I had hoped for a little more about the tallit in biblical times, but maybe there isn't that much to say.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

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Humble Roots
by Hannah Anderson


ISBN-13: 9780802414595
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Released: October 4, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
A lot of books these days are trying to diagnose our discontentment and exhaustion. While many of us could do to simplify, peace is not about productivity, saying no, or any other external. It's about saying yes to our dependence on God.

The reason many of us feel so unsettled is that we are attempting to be something we were never intended to be—it's an internal issue. We need to recover a theology of creaturehood that leads to true abundance, and Humble Roots is the perfect place to start. Exploring various texts from the Gospels, Hannah Anderson reveals:

*The cause, nature, and dangers of busyness and self-dependence
*What humility is (and isn't), and why it's essential to our identity
*How Christ modeled humility through His incarnation
*How to learn humility and walk in dependence on God


My Review:
Humble Roots explored how we can find rest for our souls through a humble heart--through acknowledging our dependence on God. The basic idea is that God is God and we're not. She looked at a number of ways we might try to be god and not realize it. Our culture teaches and even glorifies some things that are counter to the understanding that we're not God. She also looked at how humility can be shown in how you care for your body and emotions, treat knowledge, resources, and desires, respond to the brokenness of this world, and face suffering and death.

The author focused on the Bible for answers and provided insights into the verses and our culture. She used gardening analogies to help illustrate certain points. I never felt condemned (like any good Christian ought to have this down), just "Arg, she's right! How have I been missing that?" I have felt more rested and less worried after reading this book. I'd highly recommend this book to any Christian.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Crossing Cultures in Scripture by Marvin J. Newell

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Crossing Cultures in Scripture
by Marvin J. Newell


ISBN-13: 9780830844739
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Released: October 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a crosscultural book. Scripture is full of narratives of God's people crossing cultures in pursuit of God's mission. Biblical texts shed light on mission dynamics: Sarah and Hagar functioning in an honor-shame culture, Moses as a multicultural leader, Ruth as a crosscultural conversion, David and Uriah illustrating power distance, the queen of Sheba as an international truth-seeker, Daniel as a transnational student, Paul in Athens as a model of contextualization, and much more.

Missionary and missions professor Marvin Newell provides a biblical theology of culture and mission, mining the depths of Scripture to tease out missiological insights and crosscultural perspectives. This text is organized canonically, revealing how the whole of Scripture speaks to contemporary mission realities. Filled with biblical insight and missional expertise, this book is an essential resource for students and practitioners of crosscultural ministry and mission.


My Review:
Crossing Cultures in Scripture looks at the cross-cultural encounters described in the Bible and draws lessons from them for missionaries and those who work in cross-cultural contexts. The author illustrated his points with stories from his own experiences and those of other missionaries. I think this book would be useful for those who are interested in or newly involved in cross-cultural ministry.

The author started in Genesis and worked all the way through the Bible to Revelation. Some of the lessons were about understanding different cultures, like honor/shame societies, power-distance dynamics, and tribe-clan-family groupings. Most were lessons about embracing the culture you're working in and about circumstances you might encounter, like needing a favor (Abraham), the consequences of ignorance (Jacob), multicultural leadership (Moses), leading a despised cultural minority (Nehemiah), cross-cultural conflict resolution (Acts), and preaching to pagans (Acts).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.