Thursday, April 19, 2012

Be Joyful by Warren W. Wiersebe

book cover

Be Joyful:
Even When Things Go Wrong, You Can Have Joy
by Warren W. Wiersebe

ISBN-13: 9780896937390
Trade Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Released: October 1, 1976

Source: Borrowed from ymr church library.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Discover the Secret! Jesus said: "These things I have spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11). But perhaps you aren't exactly overflowing with joy. If you could stand a little more joy--or even a lot more!--then Dr. Warren Wiersbe has a message for you. In this book he:
  • Unlocks the treasures of the Apostle Paul's "joy epistle" to the Philippians
  • Pinpoints the joy-stealers
  • Shows why you don't need to worry
  • Outlines the secret of contentment
Author Wiersbe says: "If you master . . . Philippians, then you should enjoy a happy Christian life!" This book, then, could be a turning point for you.

My Review:
Be Joyful is a Bible study, but it reads more like a Christian Living book or commentary on Philippians. This older version of the book has the study questions for each chapter at the back of the book, but the newer version puts them at the end of the chapter they're for.

The book was easy to read and understand, and it drew out some great points from the Bible text. Each chapter covered a chunk of Philippians that covered a similar theme, but you need to read the Scripture from your own Bible as the verses weren't provided in the actual text of the study. It simply assumed you read the verses that were being talked about.

I think this is a great book for any Christian to read. It made some important points that new Christians should hear and older Christians probably could use hearing again. 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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bringing Jesus to the Desert by Bradley Nassif

book cover

Bringing Jesus to the Desert
by Bradley Nassif

ISBN-13: 9780310318309
Trade Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: March 6, 2012

Source: eGalley from publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Through the third to sixth centuries, great Christian men and women colonized the deserts of Palestine, Syria and Egypt, shaping the church through their examples of faith and devotion. History now knows them as the Desert Fathers and Mothers and their lives display an unswerving commitment to the love of Christ. Bradley Nassif surveys the lives of Anthony of Egypt, Pachomius, Melania and others, Nassif demonstrates how the wilderness experiences chronicled in Scripture guided the practice of Christian faith in biblical lands.

My Review:
Bringing Jesus to the Desert talked about prominent men and women from the third to sixth centuries who lived in the deserts of Palestine, Syria, and Egypt with the hope that doing so would allow them to grow closer in likeness to Christ. The book was full of color pictures of the desert, monasteries, paintings of saints, and more.

The author started by mentioning places in the Bible where people lived in the desert and how it impacted them, and then he moved into a description of the early monastic movement. He described what drew people to the monk lifestyle in early centuries, what they believed, and what their goals were in going to deserted places and living in certain ways (such as a hermit, in a communal monastery, and even on a pillar).

He then described the lives of several monks, their teachings, how their experiences in the desert helps us better understand Biblical narratives & teachings, how their lives and teachings influenced early Christianity, and what we can learn from them. He covered the lives of Anthony of Egypt (chapter 2), Makarios of Egypt (chapter 3), Pachomius (chapter 4), Melania the Younger (chapter 5), John the Little, Moses the Ethiopian, and Simeon the Stylite (chapter 6).

I found this brief overview of these people's lives interesting, and it made me curious to learn more about them. I gained some insights about the early monastic movement and what they believed. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in learning more about early church history.

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, April 2, 2012

Finding the Lost Images of God by Timothy S. Laniak

book cover

Finding the Lost Images of God
by Timothy S. Laniak

ISBN-13: 9780310324744
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: March 2012

Source: eGalley from publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from
The theme of God's relationship with his chosen people is expressed and explained in numerous ancient word pictures throughout the pages of Scripture. Without an accurate grasp of the historical and social contexts that originally housed these images, however, modern eyes and ears can gloss over these profound biblical revelations and fail to hear their timeless teaching.

Even worse, readers can wrongly understand what such images communicate about God and about the people of God, misusing the Bible by imposing modern assumptions upon it. Timothy S. Laniak provides the necessary background for accurately understanding the Bible's images of God and of his people, tracing seven image pairs from Genesis and Exodus through their climax in Revelation.

This complementary approach reveals a rich and multifaceted relationship between God and the people he loves and calls into his service. Finding the Lost Images of God draws on archaeology, ancient texts, anthropology and personal narratives to bring deeper understanding of the Bible's imagery to students, pastors, lay leaders and other Bible teachers.

My Review:
Finding the Lost Images of God is a brief survey of the Bible looking for passages where certain imagery is used to describe God. The book is a quick, easy read. It's full of very nice color pictures of models, artifacts, and paintings to illustrate what the author was referring to. However, the text failed to deliver many insights into the Bible, and most of those seemed obvious to me from studying the Bible itself or otherwise seemed pretty basic.

Part of the problem was that the author often stated things without pulling everything together for the reader--especially in chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 3. I was often left thinking, "Okay, I guess that's interesting. what? This hasn't deepened my understanding of God or corrected any misunderstanding I had." I also didn't always agree with the author's statements since a few of his ideas were highly speculative.

Throughout the book, the author also tended to state "the ancients viewed this thing this way" without explaining how he came to that conclusion. When he did refer to a specific ancient text, the correlation between the Bible and the ancient texts often seemed so loose (based on the vague information he gave) that I'm not sure how he could so strongly state his conclusions.

Basically, I feel that other cultural Bible background books (including those in this series) are better written and give more insight into the Bible and about God than this one due to more focus on the actual cultural background information and ability to clearly explain their points. This book came across to me more as a quick survey of where this imagery is used in the Bible rather than a Bible cultural background book.

Chapter One was about God as an architect. It explained some architectural terms and compared different passages that contained architectural terms.

Chapter Two was about God as a potter. It described some about the potter's trade and compared the different passages that contained potter terms. It also discussed the trade of idol making.

Chapter Three was about God as a gardener. It described a bit about the unpredictability of a good harvest, terraced farming, and grape vines, and it pointed out places where garden and agricultural themes are mentioned in the Bible.

Chapter Four was about God as king. It had some very nice insights based on cultural background information.

Chapter Five was about God as a warrior. It pointed out several passages in the Bible where God fought for Israel and the author described why he thought God required his people to do certain things. He also made some interesting observations about some subtle military imagery in the gospels and pointed out military imagery in the rest of the New Testament.

Chapter Six was about God as a shepherd. It described some aspects of a shepherd's job that are referred to in the Bible and pointed out verses that refer to God as a shepherd.

Chapter Seven was about God as a father. It described cultural background details about the father, firstborn son, and brother imagery in the Bible.

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.