Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Take Your Life Back by Stephen Arterburn

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Take Your Life Back
by Stephen Arterburn
and David Stoop


ISBN-13: 9781496413673
Trade Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Do you have a relationship that leaves you feeling drained? Maintaining and improving this kind of relationship--whether it's a spouse, a friend, or a child--can feel exhausting, fruitless, and toxic to your own health. It's complicated: You love the person, but sometimes you feel as if you're pouring all your energy into holding your loved one, and your relationship, together.

Arterburn and Stoop have helped millions walk the path of health through their New Life Ministries and counseling center--and now they reach out to those who walk the path alongside them. We are called to love one another deeply, but it is possible to support your loved one in a way that honors the relationship, God, and yourself.


My Review:
Take Your Life Back is about no longer "letting the past and other people control you." The first 127 pages talked about the different causes and ways a person can become reactive (unhealthy) rather than responsive (healthy) in their relationships. The authors came at it from several different angles and from a very inclusive mindset so you're likely to see yourself somewhere in those descriptions. The intent seems to be to help you recognize that you have a problem and what's at the root of it so that you can heal from it.

The next 50 pages were about what you can do toward having healthy relationships. While God and Jesus were talked about, it's in a general way. Unbelievers are urged to consider the Bible and surrender to God. I had expected a much stronger emphasis on the truths found in Scripture as the path to healing. Their advice included finding someone trustworthy to talk with and come alongside you and following the 12 step program. The last 23 pages described what the life of someone who has taken back their life will look like.

This book seemed more about encouraging you to recognize the problem and the goal and to make the effort to change. It does a fine job of that, but I expected more on how to "take back" your life. The advice they did give was pretty general and needs to be tailored to your own situation.


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, September 12, 2016

Good & Angry by David Powlison

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Good & Angry
by David Powlison


ISBN-13: 9781942572978
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press
Released: Sept. 12, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Anger is our complex human response to things we perceive as wrong in a complex world, thus we must learn how to fruitfully and honestly deal with it. Powlison undertakes an in-depth exploration of the roots of anger, moral judgment, and righteous response by looking in a surprising place: God’s own anger.

Powlison reminds us that God gets angry too. He sees things in this world that aren’t right and he wants justice too. But God’s anger doesn’t devolve into manipulation or trying to control others to get his own way. Instead his anger is good and redemptive. It causes him to step into our world to make wrongs right, sending his own Son to die so that we can be reconciled. He is both our model for change and our power to change.

Good and Angry sets readers on a path toward a faithful and fruitful expression of anger, in which we return good for evil and redeem wrongs. Powlison offers practical help for people who struggle with irritation, complaining, or bitterness and gives guidance for how to respond constructively when life goes wrong.


My Review:
Good & Angry provides an in-depth look at anger and what the Bible says about it. The author described what anger is at its core and how anger can so easily go wrong. He also looks at good anger--anger which leads to righting of true wrongs and injustice. He did an excellent job of examining how to do "good anger" with God as our perfect example and by looking at what Scripture says.

The author also looked at how we can deal with anger gone wrong by asking ourselves several questions about the situation. He gave example situations and showed how to work through the questions. He looked at both serious causes and small annoyances that provoke anger as well as anger at yourself and anger against God. Overall, I'd recommend this book to every Christian, but especially those in positions of leadership.


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, September 5, 2016

Living Clay by Keith Missel

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Living Clay
by Keith Missel


ISBN-13: 9781625915054
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: New Hope Publishers
Released: Aug. 8, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
This Bible study illuminates the process of sanctification and transformation in the life of a believer. Filled with theological truth flowing from the context of Scripture, you will see how the Potter purposes to shape you--the clay--into a masterpiece. As Jeremiah was invited to the Potter's house, so you are invited to see how God is shaping you for His glory and your good.


My Review:
Living Clay is an 8 week long devotional with 6 days of devotions in each week. The author looked at how God purifies our lives and shapes us, and he used the biblical metaphor of God as the potter and us as the clay. He provided some information about how pottery is made to help those unfamiliar with the process to better understand the Potter metaphor.

Most weeks started with commentary that used the Potter metaphor. Each day had several verses for you to look up and 4 or 5 questions to answer about those verses. The author also provided some commentary to make sure you understood his main points. He used both biblical and modern people as examples to illustrate his points.

The themes for each week were: how God's hands shape us, hard callings, creating boundaries and rest, suffering and hard times, second chances, finishing well, evangelism, and God's sovereignty. The author has a passion for missions and evangelism, and several of the weeks emphasis those 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.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

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Cold-Case Christianity
by J. Warner Wallace


ISBN-13: 9781434704696
Trade Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Released: Jan. 1, 2013

Source: Bought from Christianbook.com.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Written by an L. A. County homicide detective and former atheist, Cold-Case Christianity examines the claims of the New Testament using the skills and strategies of a hard-to-convince criminal investigator.

Christianity could be defined as a “cold case”: it makes a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence. In Cold-Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace uses his nationally recognized skills as a homicide detective to look at the evidence and eyewitnesses behind Christian beliefs. Including gripping stories from his career and the visual techniques he developed in the courtroom, Wallace uses illustration to examine the powerful evidence that validates the claims of Christianity. A unique apologetic that speaks to readers’ intense interest in detective stories, Cold-Case Christianity inspires readers to have confidence in Christ as it prepares them to articulate the case for Christianity.


My Review:
Cold-Case Christianity looks at the claims of the gospels from the point of view of a cold case detective. The author looked at many "lines of evidence" as he examined the gospels, and I felt he did an excellent job of explaining how he came to his conclusions. He even covered some angles that I haven't read before and which I found very interesting.

He began by using examples of various cases he's worked on to show how a detective examines evidence. He then applied these methods to the evidence surrounding the claims of the gospels. Then he looked at some of the evidence in greater detail. He looked at when the gospels were written, if they are eyewitness accounts, if they are accurate, how well these accounts have been preserved over time, what the motive was behind writing the gospels, and how much evidence is "enough."

I wouldn't hesitate to give this book to anyone who is uncertain about the gospels or who likes to debate these issues. This book will especially appeal to those who are interested in detective work.


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, August 9, 2016

Dwelling Places by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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Dwelling Places
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell


ISBN-13: 978-1501815324
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: June 7, 2016

Source: Advanced Reader review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Award-winning author Lucinda Secrest McDowell knows that if you spend a few minutes every day turning to God's Word for wisdom and guidance, your faith can flourish and grow. Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word--like mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace--to uncover a biblical blessing or lesson you can act on that very day. Each devotion includes stories and illustrations to foster understanding and ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

Organized into four seasons--fall, Advent, Lent, and summer--these devotions invite you to discover those "dwelling places" that offer the joy of God's promises and presence.


My Review:
Dwelling Places is a devotional book with 130 days worth of devotions. These are divided into 4 seasons: Dwell (30 devotionals, fall theme), Shine (30 devotionals, winter/Christmas theme, suggested read during Advent), Renew (40 devotionals, for Lent), Grow (30 devotionals, summer theme). Each day's devotion is based on a word, and the author quotes a verse containing that word. She then related a story and talked about the verse. Each devotion ended with a paragraph written as if God is speaking to the reader about what was covered in the devotion. Overall, I'd recommend this devotional 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Temple and the Tabernacle by J. Daniel Hays

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The Temple and the Tabernacle
by J. Daniel Hays


ISBN-13: 9780801016202
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Baker Books
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
At various points in Israel's history, God dwelt in specific, significant places, most notably in the tabernacle and the temple. These structures, meticulously planned, extravagantly furnished, and regularly frequented by the devout, were more than just places of worship and sacrifice. They were pictures of God's relationship with his chosen people and of the atoning work that would be done by the Messiah. To understand the tabernacle and the temple, then, is to understand how we are brought into God's family through the sacrifice of his only Son, Jesus.

Visually stunning and theologically rich, this full-color resource brings together the latest scholarship and archeological discoveries to bring God's dwelling places alive for modern believers. It places these important structures in their historical and theological contexts, connects them with the overall biblical story, and shows how they bring meaning and depth to the faith of Christians today.


My Review:
The Temple and the Tabernacle examines what the tabernacle and temples looked like, their purpose, and their theological significance. The author started by looking at the purpose of a temple and how the Garden of Eden fulfilled that role. He then looked at how the ark and tabernacle were built, their function, and some of their symbolic aspects. He contrasted this with how Solomon went about building the temple and what it looked like. I found this contrast enlightening as I'd never stopped to think about how different Solomon's Temple was from the tabernacle.

The author also discussed God's departure from the temple (Ezekiel 8-11), the rebuilding of the temple, Herod's additions to temple area, and the future temple (Ezekiel 40, Rev. 21-22). We get a detailed description of what the temple looked like at various times based on descriptions in the Bible and from other sources. The author generally avoided speculation and stuck to the symbolism pointed out in the Bible itself. However, he did speculate about what the lamp stand, for example, might have originally looked like.

Overall, I found this book very interesting and would recommend it to anyone interested in a detailed study of the tabernacle and the temples.


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, July 26, 2016

Me Too by Jon Weece

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Me Too:
Experience the God Who Understands
by Jon Weece


ISBN-13: 9781400206926
Trade Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Your life is filled with pressure and pain and heartache and disappointment. So was His. Christianity does not require you to smile through your pain, much less praise God for tormenting you. God doesn’t enjoy your suffering. But he does understand it—and he knows exactly how to fix it.

That’s what Me Too is all about: A God who turned the ugliness of the cross into a spectacle of eternal beauty. An all-powerful Lord who will do the same with the pain of this world. An eternal Father who specializes in wiping away tears and putting you back together again. If you’ll allow him.


My Review:
Me Too looked at how Jesus understands our suffering. The author covered a wide variety of topics: vulnerability, praying, fear, loving your enemy, hospitality, grace, forgiveness, suicide, abortion, second chances, and more. Each chapter felt self-contained rather than building on each other, through the theme of Jesus understanding our suffering and being the answer that we're looking for is found in each.

The author looked to the Bible and Jesus' example of how he dealt with various issues. He also used stories from modern life. The writing was casual, so it's easy to read and understand. The author used a very encouraging and compassionate tone and came from a "me, too" view of struggles. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.


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.