Monday, August 14, 2017

A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem by Ben Witherington III

book cover
A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem
by Ben Witherington III


ISBN-13: 9780830851737
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Released: Aug. 14, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
It’s A.D. 70. Amid smoke, clamor, and terror, Jerusalem is falling to the Romans, its temple being destroyed. As Jews and Christians try to escape the city, we travel with some of them through an imagined week of flight and faith. In this narrative retelling of events in the ancient church, New Testament scholar Ben Witherington leads us behind the veil of centuries to see and experience the historical and social realities of the epochal event of the fall of Jerusalem.


My Review:
A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem is a narrative retelling mixing nonfiction about the Fall of Jerusalem with fiction about what happened to various Christ followers. The first two or three days focused on what happened in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 when the Romans finally broke into the city. Then the story shifted focus to the scattering of the Christ followers, their plans for the future, and things that had happened to them between A.D. 30 and A.D. 70.

The fictional parts were largely speculative. For example, as Levi (Matthew) flees Jerusalem, he meets other Christ followers, collects stories from Christ's life, then returns to Galilee to finally give up tax collecting and start work on his gospel. Mary, Martha, and Joanna flee to Pella, where Mary Magdalene has been living. Titus, Josephus, and some other people (some purely fictional) also have brief parts.

As the narrative unfolded, various historical and cultural elements were mentioned. The author provided sidebars that gave further information on these topics--things like slaves, taxes, villas, and coins. The author used modern wording and phrasing, so it's an easy read. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book, though I liked A Week in the Life of Corinth better.


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, August 8, 2017

Fear Less, Pray More by Janet Ramsdell Rockey

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Fear Less, Pray More
by Janet Ramsdell Rockey


ISBN-13: 9781683221852
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
This devotional guide features 180 readings around the themes of fear and courage. Inspired by this promise from God's Word: "Be strong. Take courage. . .because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG), You can live courageously every single day—whether you fear the unknown, aging, rejection, losing a loved one, being alone, or something more.


My Review:
Fear Less, Pray More is a devotional about "taking courage." Each of the 180 devotions took about a minute to read and looked at a different fear or situation. Because each fear was dealt with so briefly, the author couldn't go very deep. She mainly just admonished the reader--to trust God or find comfort in God's word or even to look at the situation as an opportunity to tell others about Jesus.

Each devotion started with a Bible verse that contained the word relating to that day's fear. The author told a story that happen to her or someone she knows, then wrapped up with why we shouldn't be afraid along with a short prayer. So, for example, we're told how she was afraid of her writing being criticized, but she benefited from it. So we shouldn't be afraid because we benefit from criticism.

The verse for the day (if read in context) often had little to do with the author's entry for that day, or it was a stretch to make it fit. Sometimes, though, she did take the verse in context and even looked at the events surrounding it rather than focusing on her own life.

From the title, I thought the devotions were going to be about how prayer can reduce our fears, but instead the overall theme was that we should take courage because God is with us. Frankly, though, after reading 180 different ways that life can be scary, I'm feeling more unsettled than comforted. I wish the focus had been more on our mighty, loving God and less on our fears.


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, August 3, 2017

Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations by Jimmy Scroggins, Steve Wright

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Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations
by Jimmy Scroggins,
Steve Wright,
Bennett Leslee


ISBN-13: 9781462747849
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: B&H Books
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
We live in a broken world. And the gospel is how God puts broken people back together again. Once we repent and believe in Jesus, God’s Spirit helps us recover and pursue His design. God is the one who created the world and every human being in it.

Authors Jimmy Scroggins and Steve Wright outline a reproducible method of sharing the gospel that has been tested in the real world. Turning Everyday Conversations Into Gospel Conversations equips believers to use the innovative "3 Circles," a user-friendly evangelistic tool for a new generation. The 3 Circles work, and this book will train you and your church members to use it. It doesn’t matter if you have been a Christian for decades or days, you can learn to do what God asks us to do—to make His appeal to others through us (2 Cor. 5:20). This short training manual will empower and inspire you to turn everyday conversations into gospel conversations.


My Review:
Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations is a book about how to transition everyday conversations into a simple discussion about the gospel and about the 3 circles method of explaining the gospel. This method requires some practice if you want to become comfortable with it, but it's simple to use. It can be used by children to seniors and by new to long-time Christians. All you need is something to write with and write on.

The authors explained why they chose this method, how to transition conversations into the gospel, and how the 3 circles method works. You can use your own wording, but they gave examples of what you might say and do. One strength of this method is that it can be used by new believers to talk with their non-believing friends to explain the gospel. 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Pierced and Embraced by Kelli Worrall

book cover
Pierced and Embraced
by Kelli Worrall


ISBN-13: 9780802416315
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Women today long to experience the same sort of life-changing love that Jesus lavished on His followers 2000 years ago. They still want to be seen and known and valued and set free. The author looks at seven encounters that Jesus had with women in the Gospels to show how His love can be just as powerful in our lives today. It mixes attentive Scriptural engagement with contemporary research and personal narrative.


My Review:
Pierced and Embraced is part memoir and part Bible study. The author started by summarizing a favorite story where a woman tries to get rid of a bull which is meant to symbolizes Christ. When the woman finally orders the bull killed, the bull gores her. Then the author talked about a very painful and upsetting period in her life when she felt that Jesus had "pierced" her. In later chapters, the author further described her hardest, most painful times. She focused on her angry response to these events, though they ultimately did draw her closer to Christ.

But most of the book recounted encounters that Jesus had with women in the Gospels, along with some background information (like you'd find in a good study Bible). She then took a theme from each encounter and wrote on that topic. So we're told what the Gospels relate about Mary (Jesus' mother), then the author talked about our calling. For the Samaritan woman at the well, she talked about labels and the lies we believe. For the woman with the problem of bleeding, we learn about recognizing our need for Christ. For the woman caught in adultery, she talked about forgiveness. For Mary and Martha, she talked about God's timing. For the woman with the alabaster jar, she talked about worship and how we should use our resources to serve Christ. And for Mary Magdalene, she talked about the role of women in church.


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.