Monday, January 28, 2013

Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

book cover
Words That Hurt, Words That Heal
by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

ISBN-13: 9780688163501
Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Released: August 19, 1998

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Words That Hurt, Words That Heal focuses on the words we use in public and in private, revealing their tremendous power to shape relationships. Rabbi Telushkin explains the harm in spreading gossip, rumors, or others' secrets, and how unfair anger, excessive criticism, or lying undermines true communication. By sensitizing us to subtleties of speech we may never have considered before, he shows us how to turn every exchange into an opportunity.

My Review:
Words That Hurt, Words That Heal is an ethical living book based on the teachings of Jewish rabbis (which are based on the Jewish Bible). It not only looked at what the rabbis taught, but why they taught it. The author gave examples of people whose lives were ruined or built up by words. This powerfully underscored the point being made.

The book discussed how words are powerful, how we speak about others (gossip, true but harmful comments, etc.) and how we speak to others (anger, fear, criticism, accepting rebukes, etc.) can effect relationships and lives, how words can heal, and how to apply what we've learned.

I thought this book was very thought-provoking and that the author had a good grasp of human nature--why we gossip, etc., and that people aren't going to be able to change habits overnight. 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.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop. Including Twitter entries, we had 16 entries. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

@msakma (Karen Arrowood)
who won The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee

Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of this book at your favorite bookstore or perhaps at your library.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Listening to the Language of the Bible by Lois Tverberg

book cover
Listening to the Language
of the Bible:
by Lois Tverberg
with Bruce Okkema

ISBN-13: 9780974948201
Trade Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: En-Gedi Resource Center
Released: 2004, 2006

Source: Bought through Also available at a good price from En-Gedi Resource Center.

Book Description from Publisher Website:
Listening to the Language of the Bible is a guide for discovering the richness of the Scriptures in their Hebraic setting. From seemingly odd phrases, it shares important insights from Hebrew and Jewish culture that clarify reading and deepen Bible study. It also looks at the powerful sayings of Jesus in light of the Jewish culture of his time. The book contains more than 60 brief, illustrated devotional articles that unpack the meaning of a biblical word or phrase for our lives. It is intended both for personal reflection or group discussion.

My Review:
Listening to the Language of the Bible is a Bible study that can be used as a devotional. There are 61 chapters that are each 2 pages long. Each chapter focused on a different Hebrew word that doesn't translate easily into English due to cultural differences or that can be better understood with some background context.

There were different sections that focused on different types of things: Hebrew words that have a wider or slightly different meaning than we get from the English word, a different cultural way of at looking at things, Jewish word imagery and figures of speech, family relationships, Jewish prayer and Jesus' prayers, and what the Jews expected from their Messiah.

Lois Tverberg took some of these ideas and made them into a longer, more detailed book (Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus). If you found that book interesting, then you'll probably also enjoy this one despite some overlap in the information. I'd also recommend this book for use as an interesting and insightful devotional.

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 Amazon's Look Inside.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

As a part of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for the following book:

book coverThe Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee. You can read an excerpt here.

We can build our self-worth on our ability to please others or on the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

When you have finished reading this book, you will know how to apply the words of Christ, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free," to the most basic areas of your life: your goals, your motives, and your sense of self-worth.. You will learn how to get off the performance treadmill and discover why personal success, status, beauty, and wealth do not bring lasting happiness and why the man or woman who lives only for the love and attention of another is never satisfied. You will learn how to be intense and ambitious about the right things--Christ and His cause--and how to be free to enjoy His love. (This book can be used as a small group study.)

This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @ChristFocus. Enter me in the giveaway for THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE by Robert S. McGee."


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement.

This giveaway ends on January 24, 2013 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on January 25, 2013 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

The blogs participating in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Trusting the Shepherd by Haddon W. Robinson

book cover
Trusting the Shepherd:
Insights from Psalm 23
by Haddon W. Robinson

ISBN-13: 9781572930704
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Discovery House Publishers
Released: June 1, 2002

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
A devotional study of Psalm 23, a psalm that offers hope in a complex world. The Lord of Psalm 23 is the only one who can walk us safely through this world and into eternity.

My Review:
Trusting the Shepherd is a devotional study of Psalm 23 that is 13 sections/chapters long. Each short devotional (about 6 pages long) gave background information to the verse to help us understand how the original audience would have understood the words and then tied that into our walk with God today. The author pointed out some things that I've found to be very true but I don't hear talked about by preachers or in books, and I appreciated that. I'd highly recommend this devotional.

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, January 7, 2013

In The Steps of Jesus by Peter Walker

book cover
In The Steps of Jesus:
An Illustrated Guide to the Places of the Holy Land
by Peter Walker

ISBN-13: 9780310276470
Hardcover: 214 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: September 25, 2007

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Trace the footsteps of Jesus through the land where he lived and ministered and you'll gain new insights into his teachings and deepened your understanding of Jesus himself. Using the gospel of Luke as its road map, this book:

  • Follows the chronology of Jesus' life as it builds to its climax in Jerusalem
  • Fires your imagination with full-color photos
  • Covers all of the named sites that Jesus visited in the Gospels
  • Explains historical backgrounds, geography, and archaeology
  • Provides numerous maps, diagrams, and timelines
  • Describes the different locations as they are today

My Review:
In The Steps of Jesus is partly a commentary and partly a travel guide to Israel. The author used Luke as an outline for which places to discuss in which order. Each location had its own chapter, and he started the chapter with a quote from the New Testament about an event that happened at that location. He then gave a short description of the site and told what Old Testament events also happened at that location to give some insights into the cultural heritage of the site. He then described the sites that a modern tourist might be interested in that related to the Bible or early church history.

Based on the online descriptions of this book, I expected a lot of descriptions and full-color pictures of what the landscape and places would have looked like when Jesus walked the land. While there were a few pictures like this, most were of modern tourist spots including those that look nothing like what was originally there. Some pictures didn't have captions. In addition to the pictures, there were some maps and charts of key dates for things that happened in that area.

I liked the author's (brief) descriptions of what the place looked like if you were standing there. He also gave some background information, but a lot of that was very speculative, especially in the beginning chapters. At least he usually pointed out that it wasn't a "known fact" or if other opinions existed. I didn't agree with much of his speculation, and some of it even seemed contradictory to previous statements. For example, he said that Jesus' birth would have been full of shame (in other people's view) since Mary wasn't even properly wed, yet later he said these exact same people would "foster and guard any royal claimant growing up in their midst" (meaning Jesus).

The locations covered: Bethlehem, Nazareth, the river Jordan, the Judean Desert, Galilee and its villages, Samaria, Caesarea Philippi, Jericho, Bethany, the Mount of Olives, the Temple, Jerusalem, Golgotha and the tomb, and Emmaus.

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.