Monday, April 25, 2016

Habits of Grace by David Mathis

book cover
Habits of Grace
by David Mathis

ISBN-13: 9781433550478
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books
Released: Feb. 29, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God through Bible reading, speaking to him in prayer, and joining together with his people as the church. Though seemingly normal and routine, the everyday "habits of grace" we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow--including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.

A complementary study guide for individual and group study is also available.

My Review:
Habits of Grace covers the basic habits for spiritual growth and is mainly intended for young adults and new Christians. The intent is to help people understand and do these basic practices even if you have a busy schedule. The author quoted Scripture to support his statements and remained Christ-focused throughout. The ultimate point was not to accomplish a spiritual discipline but to know God more and enjoy Him.

The three basic habits are reading the Bible, praying, and fellowship with other Christians. The first part talked about studying the Bible, pondering what you've read, letting it affect your life, and memorizing key verses. The second part talked about the purpose of prayer, praying in private and in a group, journaling, fasting, and taking time for solitude to pursue Christ (with quiet times or retreats). The third section talked about biblical fellowship, corporate worship, listening to preaching, baptism, the Lord's Supper, listening to others, and accepting rebukes. At the end, he also talked about how we use our time and money.

Overall, I think he accomplished his aim with this book, and I'd recommend it to new Christians or to Christians who have never learned these basics.

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, April 17, 2016

A Hope and A Future by Jonathan Bernis

book cover
A Hope and A Future
by Jonathan Bernis

ISBN-13: 9781629986548
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Charisma House
Released: April 5, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Through Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Bernis’ compelling teaching, Christians will see how God can deliver them out of the trials and tribulations of life, and help them to fulfill their ultimate destiny while on this earth. Readers will learn how to fulfill their destiny and find their future, the real meaning of the Lord’s prosperity promise, how to live in confident expectancy for your future, how hope distinguishes the believer from the unbeliever, and more.

My Review:
A Hope and A Future is a study of Jeremiah 29:11. The first half of the book looked at finding and following God's calling for your life (even when you feel like a mess). He also looked at the full, true meaning of shalom ("prosper you"), evil ("and not to harm"), hope, and future. The second half of the book looked at seeking first his kingdom, seeing yourself through God's eyes, obedience to God, God's timing, and following Jesus at all times.

The author frequently quoted Scripture and gave examples using people in the Bible, like Joseph and Moses. He also told stories of modern people to illustrate God's timing, calling, and such. Sometimes the teaching was on cliche level, like "God will never give you more than you can bear," but other times he dug deeper. Overall, he focused on some pretty basic principles which may be helpful to a new or casual Christian who feels like God would never use 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.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Visual Theology by Tim Challies & Josh Byers

book cover
Visual Theology
by Tim Challies
& Josh Byers

ISBN-13: 9780310520436
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: April 19, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through

Book Description, Modified from BookLook:
The rise and stunning popularity of the Internet infographic has given us a new way in which to convey data, concepts and ideas. But the visual portrayal of truth is not a novel idea. Indeed, God himself used visuals to teach truth to his people.

As teachers and lovers of sound theology, Challies and Byers have a deep desire to convey the concepts and principles of systematic theology in a fresh, beautiful and informative way. In this book, they have made the deepest truths of the Bible accessible in a way that can be seen and understood by a visual generation.

My Review:
Visual Theology is a basic theology book with some infographics to reinforce the ideas described in the text. The concepts were described in clear, simple terms, so don't let the word "theology" turn you off. The authors used effective analogies combined with verses from Scripture to explain some basic Christian concepts. While aimed at adults, I think this would also be an awesome book to use with teenagers to give them a firm foundation.

The overall idea of the book is how truly understanding what Christ did for us will impact how we view ourselves, our priorities, and how we act. The authors looked at how we grow in our relationships with other humans and how this is similar to how we grow in our relationship with Christ. They looked at the Bible, the purpose of prayer, and the value of knowing doctrine so you can discern what is truth and what isn't.

They provided one of the best explanations I've read on how to effectively turn from sin and pursue what is right. They got at the root of the problem and focused on God and why sin is worth turning away from. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book, especially to new adult Christians and teenagers.

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, April 4, 2016

Searching for Jesus by Robert J. Hutchinson

book cover
Searching for Jesus
by Robert J. Hutchinson

ISBN-13: 9780718018306
Hardback: 352 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
For more than a century, Bible scholars and university researchers have been systematically dismissing what ordinary Christians believed about Jesus of Nazareth. But what if the most recent Biblical scholarship actually affirmed the New Testament? What if Jesus was not a Zealot revolutionary, or a Greek Cynic philosopher, or a proto-feminist Gnostic, but precisely what he claimed to be? Searching for Jesus shows how the latest scholarship has moved closer to agreeing with orthodox Christian belief.

My Review:
Searching for Jesus is a look at what secular and skeptical scholars are currently saying about the "historical Jesus." The underlying assumption was that the New Testament was written purely by men with political agendas. The author surveyed what skeptics have proposed about Jesus in the past, some modern archeological findings and arguments that have changed these positions, and their latest proposals. At the end, the author concluded that the Gospels and Acts "could be much closer to what actually happened than...we ever realized" (from page 265).

The new evidence wasn't new to me and I don't agree with the underlying assumptions, so I didn't find this book interesting or inspiring. I'd only recommend it to people who've read Jesus Seminar or similar pronouncements who want to see how opinions have changed over the last few years.

The book covered questions like: Were the gospels written by eyewitnesses? What was the "historical Jesus" really trying to achieve? Can we even know what the authors originally wrote? What did first century Jews expect of a messiah (and is the suffering messiah a Christian invention)? What are current Jewish views about Jesus? What about the "lost gospels"? Was Jesus a political revolutionary? Did Jesus plan, fake, or survive his crucifixion? Was the resurrection a hoax, hallucination, or what? Was the idea of a God-man in first century Jewish thought or was that a later pagan addition?

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.