Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jonah by Priscilla Shirer

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Navigating a Life Interrupted
by Priscilla Shirer

ISBN-13: 9781415868492
Paperback: 157 pages
Publisher: Lifeway Church Resources
Released: July 1, 2010

Source: Bought a copy for group ladies Bible study.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted provides a personal study experience five days a week, leader helps, and viewer guides for the group video sessions of this in-depth women's Bible study.

What do we do when God interrupts our lives? Many times, like Jonah, we run! In this 7-session Bible study, Priscilla redefines interruption and shows that interruption is actually God's invitation to do something beyond our wildest dreams. When Jonah was willing to allow God to interrupt his life, the result was revival in an entire city.

My Review:
Jonah is a 7-session group Bible study inspired by the events in the book of Jonah. It's a group study where the women meet together once a week for 60-90 minutes. During this group study, you watch a video that is 32-48 minutes long and discuss things from the workbook. The workbook had sentences that you fill in as you watch the video, then it had 5 days worth of work to do at home during the week. Each day has 4-5 pages worth of reading in the workbook. The main theme was about divine interruptions (or interventions).

Basically, if Jonah was given a second chance, we then looked at places in the Bible where people were given a second chance and then were encouraged to discuss times in our lives when God gave you a second chance. We were also encouraged to find a "Nineveh" to reach out to as a group. Our church tends to attract people who are involved in various outreaches. Our problem wasn't that we didn't want to do this but that we're already so busy.

Our group of women knew each other but were not close, and our leader was new to leading Bible studies. I would have liked to discuss some things brought up during the week that were never brought up for group discussion in the Leader's Guide. By the end, we were skipping most of the suggested questions and spent more time discussing the parts that we had questions about.

Also, it seemed like each week we were supposed to open up about ourselves. For example, we're suppose to talk about a time God gave us a second chance. We all agreed God had done so, but either due to "which one to talk about?" or "I'm not telling about that!", only the leader actually answered in front of the group. I think many group Bible studies try to get people to open up more than their level of acquaintance makes comfortable.

While I enjoyed getting to know the women who attended, I didn't feel like I really learned anything about Jonah that I couldn't learn from study Bible. The focus seemed more on looking at how something in the story might (somehow) be related to our lives and how to apply that. So it's more of a "Christian Living" study than a true "book of the Bible" study.

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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Insights on Galatians, Ephesians by Charles R. Swindoll

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Insights on Galatians, Ephesians
by Charles R. Swindoll

ISBN-13: 9781414393766
Hardback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: December 1, 2015

Source: Bought.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The Living Insights New Testament Commentary series draws on Chuck Swindoll's 50 years of experience with studying and preaching God's Word. His deep insight, signature easygoing style, and humor bring a warmth and practical accessibility not often found in commentaries. Each volume combines verse-by-verse commentary, charts, maps, photos, key terms, and background articles with practical application. The newly updated volumes now include parallel presentations of the NLT and NASB before each section. This series is a must-have for pastors, teachers, and anyone else who is seeking a deeply practical resource for exploring God's Word.

My Review:
Insights on Galatians, Ephesians is a Bible commentary. The author explained the meaning of various key Greek words and provided information on the cultural and historical background. The author gave a paragraph or two of Scripture and then studied through that verse-by-verse. At the end of each section, he discussed how we can apply the writer's message to our own lives. He also included occasional "journal" pages were he talked about how those verses had been applied or worked out in his life.

Though you can look up information on just a single verse, this is more a Bible study book where it's assumed you'll read the whole book. Some sections focused on clarifying what the verses mean so the reader can better understand them. Others were more of a sermon where he tells the reader what to understand from it.

Overall, this book was easy to follow and understand. I use these commentaries for my daily devotional reading, and overall, I'd recommend them.

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, June 6, 2017

Included in Christ by Heather Holleman

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Included in Christ
by Heather Holleman

ISBN-13: 9780802415912
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Included with Christ is a narrative-driven study where you can write Scripture into your life. Women will learn to spot their "shadow narratives"—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth. This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians will help women combat feelings of exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.

Included in Christ is designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.

My Review:
Included in Christ is an 8-week Bible study of Ephesians (with 5 days of study per week). Each week focused on one of seven verbs found in Ephesians: included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, proclaiming. For example, "proclaiming" talked about the words you use and about evangelism.

The overall theme is that we believe Shadow Narratives containing lies that make use feel excluded, weak, empty, etc. When we learn the truth and live like someone who is Chosen, Included, etc., then we start to live our Savior Stories. She shared Savior Stories that were written by people she knows, and she asked questions to help you identify your Shadow Narratives and rewrite them into Savior Stories. The last week focused on how to write out and share your Savior Story.

The author suggested visualizing meaningful symbols to help remember these verbs and how they affect our lives. This study can be done on your own or as a group study were you share your answers. Some answers involve revealing your fears and feelings, so it might work best for groups that are comfortable with each other. Overall, I'd recommend this Bible study.

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, May 30, 2017

A Brief History of Sunday by Justo L. Gonzalez

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A Brief History of Sunday
by Justo L. Gonzalez

ISBN-13: 9780802874719
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Released: May 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Noted Christian historian Justo González tells the story of how and why Christians have worshiped on Sunday from the earliest days of the church to the present.

After discussing the views and practices relating to Sunday in the ancient church, González turns to Constantine and how his policies affected Sunday observances. He then recounts the long process, beginning in the Middle Ages and culminating with Puritanism, whereby Christians came to think of and strictly observe Sunday as the Sabbath. Finally, González looks at the current state of things, exploring especially how the explosive growth of the church in the Majority World has affected the observance of Sunday worldwide.

Readers of this book will rediscover the joy and excitement of Sunday as the early church celebrated it and will find inspiration in an age of increasing indifference and hostility to Christianity.

My Review:
A Brief History of Sunday is a history of how Christians have viewed Sundays, from the early church to modern times. It's not a history of the Sabbath except in how Christians initially accepted then rejected the Sabbath and eventually came to view Sunday as a Christian sabbath. The author looked at (and quoted) documents from each time period to understand why Christians met on Sunday and what they did together when they met. He talked about the changing attitudes toward Sunday, including beliefs about how one should celebrate or honor the day.

Understandably, there wasn't much documentation for the earlier periods, but there's enough to know how early Christian's viewed Sundays and what they did when together. I found it interesting how much things have changed from the earliest meetings and how Constantine's policies started the shift in how the day was viewed. I enjoy learning about how things got to the way they are today, and I found this to be a very interesting and informative book. I'd highly recommend it to those who are interested in this topic.

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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Comment about BookLook

A few months ago, BookLook--a book blogger site for requesting books--sent me a survey asking how they were doing. At that time, I said their site was one of the easiest book blogger sites I used and, on the rare occasion I needed help, their e-mail help promptly and helpfully responded. After that, I requested a book on April 5...which was never sent, so I can't turn in a review. I've contacted their e-mail help 4 times now, and only received an automated response saying that my request for help has been received. No one has responded and no action has been taken to fix this problem. The only way to free up my account to request another book is to turn in a review, so...hey, this is my review! Sorry to all my readers that you got this as well.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Worship by Jeff Kinley

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by Jeff Kinley

ISBN-13: 9781943852451
Trade Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: True Potential
Released: 2017

Source: Checked out from church library.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Unfortunately, the image of God present in many Christians’ minds today resembles more of a caricature than an accurate portrait. Like a cartoonist’s sketch, some entertain a distorted picture of who God is and what He is like, with many relating to Him as a distant Deity or even as a faceless Force. Others see Him merely as a compassionate, caring, and convenient God. Worse, false teachers have also infiltrated the Church. Many deny core truths, reimagining God to fit their preferences. This flawed, idolatrous understanding reduces Him into a deity that exists to serve us and our needs.

But the God of Scripture exists independent of our thoughts, feelings and ideas of Him. He is not as we imagine Him to be, but rather who He declares Himself to be in Scripture. This biblical knowledge is the very basis and beginning of authentic worship. It is through this heavenly understanding that we come face to face with the real God, discovering and experiencing what worship was meant to be!

With author, speaker, and veteran Bible teacher Jeff Kinley as your guide, journey deep into God’s Word, where you will encounter not only a refreshing simplicity, but also a renewed level of intimacy with your God and Savior!

My Review:
Worship is a Bible Study about worship. It's not about music styles or other "worship service" debates but about what the Bible says. Starting in Genesis, the author talked about how worship was easy and automatic before the Fall. That's no longer true, yet we're hardwired to worship, so where do we start? "Your view of God will determine your worship of Him. The more you know of God's greatness, the greater your capacity to declare His praise."

So the author explored what God is like and why He is worthy of worship. He also looked at examples of "extreme worship" in the Bible, like when David got to dancing or the widow in the New Testament gave "all she had" when she gave her two coins at the Temple. He talked about sacrificial praise, given when circumstances aren't so great...but our God still is.

The book was easy to read and to follow. The author made excellent points. I appreciate that he dug into the Bible to look for answers. Overall, I'd highly 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.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace

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Forensic Faith
by J. Warner Wallace

ISBN-13: 9781434709882
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C Cook
Released: May 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Forensic Faith will help readers: understand why they have a duty to defend the truth, develop a training strategy to master the evidence for Christianity, learn how to employ the techniques of a detective to discover new insights from God’s Word, and become better communicators by learning the skills of professional case makers.

With real-life detective stories, fascinating strategies, and biblical insights, Wallace teaches readers cold-case investigative disciplines they can apply to their Christian faith.

My Review:
Forensic Faith explains why Christians need to learn the evidence supporting the Christian faith and teaches some basic apologetics skills. The first part of the book made the case for why it's important not to just have blind faith that Christianity is true but to understand the evidence that confirms it's true and to build your skill at sharing this information.

Many Christian kids are losing their faith due to unanswered questions, yet the answers are out there. We need to train our kids (and adults) with the answers. Training involves practice, and the author described how he's done this with youth groups. I totally agree that kids should be taught the evidence and the skill to share it. I taught myself some of this way back when I first went to college, and it made a huge difference.

The author was a cold-case detective. In the second part of the book, he explained how skills he used as a detective can be applied to spotting evidence for Christianity and using this evidence to make a case for it. A lot of this information was from (and covered in greater detail in) his previous two books. If you've read those books, you're probably already convinced that it's important to learn and share the evidence for Christianity, but you might still be interested in his suggestions on how to train youth groups or on using the evidence to "make a case" when asked why you believe. However, I'd mainly recommend this book to Christians who aren't very familiar with the evidence supporting their faith.

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.