Monday, January 15, 2018

Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, Sean McDowell

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Evidence That Demands a Verdict
by Josh McDowell,
Sean McDowell


ISBN-13: 9781401676704
Hardcover: 880 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The modern apologetics classic that started it all is now completely revised and updated—because the truth of the Bible doesn’t change, but its critics do. With the original Evidence That Demands a Verdict, bestselling author Josh McDowell gave Christian readers the answers they needed to defend their faith against the harshest critics and skeptics. Since that time, Evidence has remained a trusted resource for believers young and old. Bringing historical documentation and the best modern scholarship to bear on the trustworthiness of the Bible and its teachings, this extensive volume has encouraged and strengthened millions. Now, with his son Sean McDowell, Josh McDowell has updated and expanded this classic resource for a new generation. This is a book that invites readers to bring their doubts and doesn’t shy away from the tough questions.

Features Include:
• Thoroughly revised and updated from the previous edition
• All-new chapters defending against the latest attacks from Christianity’s critics
• Designed to be a go-to reference for even the toughest questions
• Offers thoughtful responses to the Bible’s most difficult and extraordinary passages
• Expansive defense of Christianity’s core truths, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ


My Review:
Evidence That Demands a Verdict is a collection of evidence that helps believers have confidence and unbelievers see that there is a reasoned, factual basis to Christianity. I've owned previous editions of this book, the latest being the 1999 version. This book has been updated to include the latest discoveries and arguments as well as commentary at the beginning from Sean McDowell. While much of the core evidence is the same, there has been some rewriting and changes made as the new information was added. Even if you've read the previous versions, it's worth getting this version for the new material. I'd highly recommend this as a great reference resource (for looking up information that interests you) or to read through from start to finish.

The book covered why we believe that there is a god (evidence for theism), ways that the Bible is unique from other books, how the Bible was written, manuscript and archeological evidence that the New and Old Testaments are accurate, how the text of the Bible was copied by scribes and how accurate they were, information about the Gnostic gospels and other texts that were not included in the Bible and why they weren't included. Christian and non-Christian sources and archeological discoveries that support the existence of Jesus, examining Jesus' claims to deity and does that make him lord, liar, or lunatic. Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, evidence for Jesus' literal, bodily resurrection, and why the apostles were willing to die. How the Old Testament and ancient near eastern texts are similar but also strikingly different, evidence for the historical reliability of Genesis (Adam and Eve, the patriarchs), Exodus, the conquest, the united monarchy, the divided monarchy, the exilic period, and other books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch, Isaiah, Daniel). Some alleged contradictions in the Bible and how they can be harmonized. Why truth matters, can you know the truth, answering skeptics, are miracles possible, and many other topics.


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, January 8, 2018

Trade Your Cares for Calm by Max Lucado

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Trade Your Cares for Calm
by Max Lucado


ISBN-13: 9780718074890
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Dec. 26, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
What if faith, not fear, could be your default reaction to circumstances? Imagine being able to walk away from worry, conquer the need to control, get rid of guilt, and end if-only thinking. That’s God’s offer. He wants to exchange your burdens for an abundance of mercy, gratitude, and trust. To replace striving and stress with a faith-filled life in which you’ll see God’s goodness, feel calm in chaos, and find peace through prayer.

Bestselling author Max Lucado understands what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by anxiety. Through unforgettable stories and biblical wisdom, he offers powerful tools to help you manage your fears and worries.


My Review:
Trade Your Cares for Calm is a compilation of previously published material quoted or adapted from some of Lucado's previous books (Anxious for Nothing, Facing Your Giants, Fearless, Max on Life, 3:16 The Numbers of Hope, Traveling Light, and You'll Get Through This). This gift or coffee-table-style book contained many landscape photographs and quick, short entries to read. Each chapter contained short, devotional type material, application and how-to lists, topical collections of several verses, and journaling questions to help you apply the lessons to your worries.

He takes you through four principles (CALM) found in Philippians 4:4-8. He also pointed out that "your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your father increases." So we get some chapters on how God is in control, God is good and He is for you. We're told not to listen to shame- or guilt-based thoughts but apply God's truth and grace. Combat "if only" thinking and discontentment with thanksgiving and counting your blessings. We're also told to focus on God, not our circumstances. And, of course, pray and take your worries to God.

While the book contained good advice, it felt a little disconnected since it's taken from different sources and the advice was dispensed in short, devotional-type entries.


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, January 2, 2018

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg

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Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
by Lois Tverberg


ISBN-13: 9780801017155
Hardback: 288 pages
Publisher: Baker Books
Released: Jan. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Lois Tverberg knows the treasures that await readers willing to learn how to read the Bible through Jewish eyes. By helping them understand the Bible as Jesus and his first-century listeners would have, she bridges the gaps of time and culture in order to open the Bible to readers today.

Combining careful research with engaging prose, Tverberg leads us on a journey back in time to shed light on how this Middle Eastern people approached life, God, and each other. She explains age-old imagery that we often misinterpret, allowing us to approach God and the stories and teachings of Scripture with new eyes. By helping readers grasp the perspective of its original audience, she equips them to read the Bible in ways that will enrich their lives and deepen their understanding.


My Review:
Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus looks at the differences between modern American and first century Jewish cultural perspectives in order to provide insights into the Bible. The author talked about why Jews expected the Messiah to be a king and how this assumption is woven into several New Testament events and conversations. She also explained why a just king would have been a desirable thing. She talked about differences between Greek (logical, theoretical) and Eastern thinking patterns. She explored how the Hebrew language reflects this different way of thinking (which sometimes makes translation difficult).

She talked about the cultural perspective that family and community are more important than the individual, thus making the begats sections and a person's family name (reputation) important to them. She talked about how they didn't question the existence of God, but that a god that cared about humans was unique. She talked about how people learned Scripture at the time of Jesus, and how they linked similar memorized verses to study and better understand the point being made. She showed how Jesus made Messianic claims, just in a very Jewish way that isn't obvious to Westerners. Finally, she applied some of her previous points to Isaiah 53 to illuminate things that Westerners might miss.

She sometimes discussed information that she talked about in her other books or that can be found in other Eastern versus Western perspective books, but she also explored aspects that I hadn't previously heard or discussed them in a slightly different way so it wasn't just repetition. I found her explanations easy to follow, which I haven't always found true with these Eastern/Western perspective books. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book (and her previous Rabbi Jesus books).


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.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Miracles of Jesus by Jessica LaGrone

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The Miracles of Jesus
by Jessica LaGrone


ISBN-13: 9781501835452
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Jesus demonstrated the presence and power of God by performing miracles. He turned water into wine, healed the sick, calmed the storm, opened blind eyes, and raised the dead. While these beloved stories draw our attention to divine power, they also have something else in common: human desperation. Every time we see Jesus performing a miracle, we also get a glimpse into the gift of desperation, a gift that opens us to the dramatic power of God through our desperate need for him.

In this six-week Bible study, Jessica LaGrone leads us in a captivating exploration of the miracles of Jesus, helping us to see that our weakness is an invitation for God to work powerfully in our lives and reminding us that we need God on our best days just as much as we do on our worst.

Themes and miracle stories include:
the gift of desperation (turning water into wine and other signs of God's response of fullness in our times of emptiness)
the miracle of abundance (feeding the 5,000 and other abundance stories)
miracles on the water (calming the storm, walking on water, the abundant catch)
Jesus our healer (5 stories of healing) death and resurrection (Lazarus, Jairus' daughter)
the miracle we all receive (the Incarnation)

The participant workbook includes five days of lessons for each week, combining study of Scripture with personal reflection, application, and prayer.


My Review:
This is only a review of the participant workbook of The Miracles of Jesus (which is meant to be used with a weekly video that I've never viewed). It's a 6 weeks long study with 5 days of study per week plus one page for when you're with a group and watch the video.

She focused on the miracles of Jesus--of abundant provision, healing sickness, calming storms, and Jesus himself. She pointed out how human desperation leads to Jesus' action and looked at why Jesus used miracles. She also provided cultural background information and had us look up related verses to help better understand the context of what was going on. She provided insights into the miracles and clear explanations. Overall, I'd recommend this workbook, and I suspect it'd make a good group study.

From page 82:"We don't get to choose whether the sea we travel is calm or stormy, but we do get to choose where to turn our eyes and attention. We can choose to be overwhelmed by the power of the storms or overwhelmed by the power of God. ...This powerful God cares for you. He has chosen to be in the same boat with you, even in the same storm with you. He is near enough to hear you, know you, and love you up close."


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, December 22, 2017

Deep Blue Kids Bible Dictionary by Four Story Creative

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Deep Blue Kids Bible Dictionary
by Four Story Creative


ISBN-13: 978-1501840616
Hardback: 288 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: Aug. 15, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The Deep Blue Kids Bible Dictionary is written to help kids (age 7-12) learn about the persons, places, events, ideas, and terms in the Bible. Each definition includes references to passages in the Bible where the word appears. The entries also include a guide for pronouncing each proper name and other words. Includes full-color illustrations, pronunciations, maps, over 1,000 scriptural references, and more. This dictionary is perfect for Sunday school groups, families, Christian school classes, and libraries.


My Review:
Deep Blue Kids Bible Dictionary is a full-color Bible dictionary aimed at children ages 7-12. The entries were alphabetical and mainly covered people and places, though also some objects (altar, dowry, etc.) and theological ideas (glory, grace, holy, etc.). Each entry included how to pronounce the word, a brief explanation of the word, and the main places where that word is found in the Bible. They also included some pages at the beginning that showed and briefly described what daily life was like.

Some of the entries had illustrations, ranging from cartoon style to more realistic art to photos. It seemed random why they'd use a cartoon animal in one spot and a photograph of an animal in another spot. There were also some charts and maps. Most of the maps conveyed useful information even if their scale and detail weren't that great. However, the scale was so far off on one map (of Jerusalem at the time of Christ) that I thought it was more likely to confuse things than clarify. In general, kids will probably enjoy this and find it useful, but I don't understand why the maps and pictures varied so much in quality and style.


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.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stranger No More by Annahita Parsan

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Stranger No More
by Annahita Parsan
with Craig Borlase


ISBN-13: 9780718095710
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Nov. 14, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Annahita Parsan was born into a Muslim family in Iran and grew up with the simple hope of one day finding a good husband, having children, and doing some good in the world. Married and a mother before she turned eighteen, Annahita found herself unexpectedly widowed and trapped for years in an abusive second marriage that she later fled—discovering instead a God who might love her. Stranger No More is the remarkable true story of Annahita’s path from oppression to the life-changing hope of Jesus. Fleeing Iran across the mountains into Turkey, she spent months in the terrifying Agri prison before a miraculous release and flight to Europe, where she and her two children knelt in a church and prayed, “God, from this day on we are Christians.”

As the leader of two congregations in Sweden, Annahita has baptized hundreds of former Muslims since her own conversion and is reminded every day that saying yes to God is always worth the risk.


My Review:
Stranger No More is the memoir of a woman who grew up as a not-very-devote Muslim in Iran. She married young only to lose her first, loving husband in an accident. She was left to raise her baby son alone, so she felt sympathy for a man who had lost his wife in an accident and had a young daughter. They married, but he was very abusive to her and the children. Most of the book was about this abusive marriage and why she didn't leave him. They had to be smuggled out of Iran due to his political views and were imprisoned and tortured in Turkey. They were eventually allowed to move as refugees to Denmark, where she tried to commit suicide and eventually was convinced by friends to leave and hide from her stalker husband. She ended up in Sweden and became a pastor to Muslim refuges.

There's more to the story than that (including yet another failed marriage), but only a small part of the story was about her becoming a Christian and her activities since then. It was a hard story to read because she went through so many horrific experiences. The sad part was that most of these experiences might have been avoided if she hadn't been so ruled by emotion. For example, she wanted to return to Iran to visit her dying grandmother even though she was warned (and seemed to know down deep) that her life would be in danger if she did. But she did it anyway, and, happily, God saved her from the worst consequences of that decision. It's clear that God was at work throughout her life, but she also has suffered a great deal due to the choices she made.


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, December 4, 2017

Godspeed by David Teems

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Godspeed
by David Teems


ISBN-13: 9781501847158
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
For the Protestant reformer, times were treacherous. The reformer lived, moved, and exercised his or her faith within the shadow of a powerful church that dominated Western culture. Many of these men and women paid the ultimate price for their faith.

Celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Godspeed is a 365-day devotional that features the words of prominent reformers, including Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Calvin, and others, thoughtfully illuminated by best-selling author David Teems with both historical precision and charm.


My Review:
Godspeed is a 365-day-long devotional. There is an entry for each day of the year. Each entry started with a quote from one of the "Voices of the Reformation"--mainly William Tyndale and Martin Luther, but also people like John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Thomas Cranmer, Anne Askew, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox, and queens Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, and Elizabeth. The author (or a further quote) then expanded upon what the reformer said. This was followed by a brief thought or prayer (often another short quote from that reformer). It ended with related verses from the Bible. Those verses were quotes from different versions of the Bible published in the last 500 years. This devotional is a fun way to get a look at some of the things the reformers wrote.


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.