Friday, January 28, 2011

Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere

Lioness Arising- Wake Up and Change Your World by Lisa Bevere, is an empowering motivational book which is sure to help women tap into their inner strength for the greater good.  The author ties in the symbolism of the power and might of a lioness with key biblical verses. In true motivational speaker fashion, Bevere's book is sure to encourage its readers.  Through the use of personal anecdotes and biblical verses- the author pinpoints common misconceptions of women, and challanges the sterotypical views of women, portraying the dangers of outdated views which only serve to diminish the power and roles of women.

There is only one concern with the book.  On the surface, this metaphor, of the lioness, is very effective.  Yet the origins of this private vision are somewhat questionable.  The image of the lioness and its symbolism is taken from a vision that the author had within a dream.  She attaches supernatural/  spiritual significance to her dream.  In my opinion, the metaphor of the lioness need not be based on a dream to be inspiring and empowering.  In fact, the suggestion that it is possibly a divine or supernatural vision through a dream adds an element of question.  As a Blogger for Water Brook publishers I recieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review and the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh

The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh, ia an uplifting spiritual self help book, that addresses and offers biblical comfort for the real life circumstances and the unmet physical and emotional needs that many readers face.  Intoday's world we are faced with the frustrations of everyday life: lonliness, fear, financial uncertainty, and materialism, to name a few.  Walsh systematucally covers ten common emotion and issues, and expresses the biblical solution to unmet human needs and wants.  Regardless of our circumstances- whether mundane or traumatic, we can all depend on God's promises to strengthen us.  We can depends on God's promises with unquestionable assurance- and there is vast biblical evidence to porve this is true as indicated in the text of Walsh's book. 

Walsh draws on her own expreiences and anecdotes, to share with the reader, how God has followed through with his promises made in his word, the bible when it pertains to fulfilling our needs and helping us through troubles. Drawing on the bible: both stories from the old and new testaments, as well as specific biblical verses, Walsh illustrates how God is always present and always aware of our needs and of our desires to see his promises fulfilled. This book is sure to offer biblical comfort and hope for those going through difficult times in their lives.  This empowering book does not offer solutions to make one's problems or needs simply go away, but rather it offrers insight into how God works, thinks and acts.  This book isn't too theologically indepth and is written in simple language that can be appreciated by any reader- which is important, because in today's time pressed world, people are seeking solutions and help and may not have the patience or education required for indepth Christian authors such as Chesterton, C.S. Lewis or Spurgeon. 

This perfect is perfectly written, and I feel that it would be just the thing needed to uplift any reader who is discouraged or in pain.  In the end, is a bible study for those readers who wish to have a more indepth biblical study into the issues raised in the book.  As a blogger for booksneeze, I recieved this book for the purposes of writing this review.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Chasm by Randy Alcorn

Having had readone of the best apologetics books on God and the purpose of evil and suffering-  If God is Good, by Randy Alcorn, I was curious to read the allegorical fiction piece, The Chasm, also by the same author.  In the former book, it is clear that Alcorn has deep insight into biblical truths, and effectively delivers his biblical based message.  Considering that he has proved himself as an effective apologist, I anticipated that any fictional piece of writing would be based on biblical principals, as well. 

The Chasm is obviously an allegory for the story of salvation: sin, temptation, faith, free will and eternal salvation.  Basically is everything is covered here in symbolic or allegorical form.  The characters, places, objects and even the emotions have a symbolic counterpart to actual bible based principals and truths.  The city of Charis is spiritually significant as well as Joshua, and every other element of the story.  Perhaps for those readers who like liked the spiritual symbolism of the Narnia series, this story will be enjoyable as well.  The hero of the story, goes on a quest to sek out truth and deliverance and is faced with the demons of his past, but also a series of choices as well- one of which is the delusion and allure of false religions-whereas just as in this world, many percieve various religions and believes as just one of many ways to attaining truth.  Modern and real life misconceptions are brought to life in a palatable, allegorical form , that may perhaps speak out to the secular and non religious reader as well as Christians.  Issues of justice, and injustice, human imperfection and sin are  addressed.  In fact, briefly, some of Alcorns philosophies and truths about injustice and suffering as well as its purpose are  woven into this story.  Even for those readers who do not neccessarily enjoy the symbolism of this story or the allegorical nature if this piece of work, will appreciate the biblical insights of wisdom.  Although it is obvious to any bible reader this allegory is based on Christian truths, this book may be an effective outreach method for those non Christian readers who are not religious- yet conscientious of spiritualism and philosophy and self introspection.
Within the text are simple child-like black and white illustrations- remeniscent of  cartoon or comic book art.  The end of this story includes some study questions which may shed light onto the specifics of the symbolism for those readers unfamiliar with the bible. As a blogger for Multnomah books I recieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Possession by Rene Gutteridge

The Christian suspense fiction novel, Possession: Pay Now- or Lose Everythinh by Rene Gutteridge- features well developed characters, and an important underlying moral message about the importance of faith rather than depedance on materialism.  Common themes are explored and addressed such as marriage, materialsim and modern society in general.  Any reader- secular and religious alike- can related to the themes of this suspense novel.  Ironially, the television watching young son, of the story's hero, detective Vance Graegan, came to his belief in Jesus Christ through watching a television preacher. Dispelling commonly held myths, in this book, unexpectedly, the faith of the young eight year old boy, Connor, plays a critical role in  the story. in this twist, what society portrays as weak and insignificant, is what is most important, spiritually.  Not only is this story entertaining, more significantly, it touches the reader spiritually in portraying that what modern society places the most value on, is in fact insognifiant in the larger picture. 

In general, I find novels such as Rene Gutteridge's suspense thriller, an effective outreach methos, tapping into those untapped readers of mystery and suspense novels.  This book is the perfect blend or transition of a mystery novel and a faith based message that is sure to appeal to any reader interested in the ever popular crime novel/ mystery genre.  As a blogger for Tyndale books, I recieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster

The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against The Resurrection of tthe Christ by Charles Foster, is a welcome addition to the genre of literature that defends the biblical belief in the resurrection of Jesus.  The biggest distinction of this book is that it thorougly covers the arguments for and against the resurrection. The objective nature of this book, may present a stumbling block for some readers whose faith in Christianity is lukewarm,  Perhaps for certain indivduals whose faith in the resurrection is shakey or for those who are adamant in their atheism- they may find themselves swayed by the arguments against the resurrection.  It is ironic, that a major downside is that the author in painstaking detail presents the evidence for BOTH sides of the argument, which perhaps may result in some weaker minded Christians in losing their faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

While it is not the first time, an attorney has taken it upon himself to cover the case for the resurrection of Jesus in a book, Foster's book is unique in the sense that he believes the evidence presented should not be faith based. He states in the preface, "I shudder to think of the sort of faith that rests on such certanties.......You can only make  'beyond reasonable doubt' assertions if faith has dictaed the course of the trial. And a trial like that is no trial at all..... Faith has absolutely no part to play in the inquiry itself". He refers to himself as an "intellectual prostitute" preface xi.  In otherwords, he takes pride in his objectivity, stating that he is better at arguing points that he either does not believe in or has no personal stake in.  Hence, being the devil's advocate, he blieves his stategy makes his arguments more powerful than that of a Christian who seeks to defend the resurrection based on faith.

The book is presented as a logical argument remeniscent to those arguments of Aristotle and Socrates.  Firstly, the main documents/ evidence is presented before each specific argument,  for example,this includes the books of the bible as well as other ancient written works and sources such as Tacitus, Seutonius and Josephus. This scholarly examination and scuitiny is applied to the examination of other works, even modern works such as the infamous Davinci Code. Without going into the author's conclusions and spoiling the experience for the reader- the book covers arguments and addresses the issues for the death, burial, the empty tomb, post resurrection appearances, early church beliefs as well as the well known infamous shroud of Tourin.  Each section has its own dedicated chapter presenting arguments for and against.  A black and white photograph insert is included in the book as well.  The arguments are presented as "x" vs "y", whereas one represents the case against the resurrection and the other represents the advocate for the resurrection of Jesus.

Regardless of what you believe- whether you are a staunch athiest, or a born again believer, the debate on the validity of the resurrection is important and should not be dismissed. This book will appeal to the secular and educated reader as well as the theologen, alike. One word of caution, for those with a weak faith in the bible, this book may present questionable doubts.  For staunch muslims and conspiracy theorists, this book will provide fuel for their conspiracy theories as well. As a blogger for booksneeze, I recieved a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review,  This book makes an excellent reference book, and is a book that merits serious consideration when making a decision on the case for the resurrection.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bridges on the Journey by Gigli Busa, Ruth Fobes, Judy Miller and Vollie Sanders

Bridges on the Journey: A Woman's Journey of Discipleship- Choosing an Intimate Relationship with Jesus by Gigli Busa, Ruth Fobes, Judy Miller and Vollie Sanders, is a perfect beginner bible study to introduce a person to the bible and the gospel message.  At first glance, this spiral bound study guid appears to be pretty indepth and technical, but upon further study, the reader will find a simple, basic introduction to the bible, as well as the gospel message.  Specifically, this book is intended for women, considering the context of this study is intended for a small women's study group.  Nevertheless, this bible study could be adapted for individual use as well.  This book is actually the first in a series or trilogy of related study guides- but it is suitable as a stand alone study as well.

There are additional helpful guides included in this study guide.  On page 27 there is a diagram of the Old Testament books and the New Testament books with brief exlplanations offered as well.  For example, the individual books of teh bible are grouped into categories such as history, poetry, prophets, gospels and letters- which serve in aiding the reader in becoming more familiar with the bible.  There is also an illustration- often used in outreach pamphlets and tracts, depicting the cross of Jesus as the bridge between mankind and God on page 19.  There are six pregressive sections leading to pregressive groth in bible knowledge.  Included are study questions and space for readers to answer the open ended questions.  Included in the end of this guide are leader guidlines in the appendix as well as a convienient handy chart to list bible study friends.  Also included are detachable book marks.  As a blogger for Navpress publishers I recieved this book for the purposes of writing a review and the opinions expressed are my own. 

Some thoughts on hypocricy

As a blogger, I find myself reading and writing about many noble spiritual minded books about the bible and faith.  These books that I have reviewed are frequently are indepth studies into the bible and also how other writers interpret the bible as well.  My fear, however is not only being perceived as a hypocrite, but actually being a hypocrite- by what authority do I have to be writing on matters of faith, theology and the bible? As Paul said to the early believers, many gentiles and non belivers blaspheme the gospel because of the percieved hypocrisy of many of the preachers and Christians. There is a conflict with how I live my life, and my actions, with what I know is the right thing to do. I do not presume to be an authority or a teacher on these subjects.
One thing to keep in mind is the biblical definitions of holiness and faith  perhaps contrast widely with the beliefs of society.  The word- holiness- itself, brings to mind many stereotypical ideas into the common mind, such as the hypocritical holiness of the pharisees in Jesus' day or the modern day, self- righteous hyporcite that is all too common in today's society. Or perhaps, an image of a stern, nun in a black habit, or a peacful, draped monk, engaged in meditation may come to mind. The bible, dispells the popular misconceptions of what society percieves holiness to mean, and brings to life the God's  meaning of holiness. Holiness is  not an unattainable attribute, but rather something that each of us, as believers, are called to pursue. And we can not merit salvation by our good works.  If we could merit salvation oursleves then Christ's death on the cross is meaningless.  If we claim to be perfect and without sin, then we accuse God of being a liar.  In a parable that Jesus told, the sinful tax collector, humbled and remorseful was justified before the Lord, rather than the self righteous religious leader- who otherwise was seen by the community to be a pillar of faith and a respectable man of the community.  But this is not a license to continue to sin.  As believers we are new creatures and are called to put to death our old ways and old selves.  Hopefully I can remain detached from the world around me and  God will keep me from temptations to sin- that are all to frequent in this depraved and degraded society.

The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

The Practice of Godliness: Small Group Curriculum by Jerry Bridges is a companion book to the Pursuit of Holiness, also by the same author.  Nevertheless, this compainion study guide may be used as a stand alone study for those who have not read Bridges' Pursuit of Holiness.  Although intended for small group study use or bible study, this book is perfectly suitable for individual use as well.  Along with the text, there is plenty of space for free writing on the margins under "notes and observations" on each page.  Additionally, there are structured study questions as well, which are based in the themes of The Pursuit of Holiness.  The last chapter includes advice for group leaders who choose to host a bible study group.
The Pursuit of Holiness, of which this guide is based, and the study guide, The Practice of Godliness, is an indepth study into the biblical definition of the expression, holiness and Godliness. The words- holiness and Godliness- in of themselves, bring to mind many stereotypical ideas into the common mind, such as the hypocritical holiness of the pharisees in Jesus' day or the modern day, self- righteous hyporcite that is all too common in today's society. Or perhaps, an image of a stern, nun in a black habit, or a peacful, draped monk, engaged in meditation may come to mind. This book dispells the popular misconceptions of what society percieves holiness to mean, and brings to life the biblical and practical meaning of holiness. Deeply based on biblical scripture, this book is a study into what the bible describes as holiness, showing the reader that it is not an unattainable attribute, but rather something that each of us, as believers, are called to pursue.This study guide/ book is direct and to the point with very little extraneous detail. For anyone who has the desire and the attention span to spend some thoughtful time, into studying what the bible really has to say on the subject of holiness and Godliness, this is the right study  for you. As a blogger for Navpress, I recieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blind Hope by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher

Blind Hope: An Unwanted Dog & the Woman SHe Rescued by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher, published by Multinomah publishers, is a real life inspirational story of faith and  a woman's bond with her beloved dog.  The author's writing style is reminiscent of that of motivational speaker, in which she speaks personally to the reader. From page one, her writing talent is obvious- such as her command of the written language, and poetic description.  These traits are rare in modern writing.  Many real life stories are often written with the same enthusiasm as a newspaper article- but this is not the case here!

 Basically the bond between Laurie and her canine companion, mirrors that of a very close human relationship or friendship.  It isn't neccessarily the animal- human relationship, that is the focus of the story but rather the significance of the trust, and love that develops, coupled with faith in God.  This book is sure to appeal to any animal friendly person or dog enthusiast.   In fact, I believe this book is a great outreach tool for any animal lover or troubled person in need of encouragement.  One thing to keep in mind, the strong fondness of animals expressed in  this book most likely will be understood by pet owners themselves.  The author states on page 4, "In matters of life, dogs just get it.  Sevi has taught me volumes more than I could ever hope to teach her.  When it comes to qualities like respect, forgivenes, obedience and expressing emotions like love, joy, and peace, my dog operates on a level I can only hope to obtain." Considering the fact that this author obviously is not the anti social, psycopathic type of personality and therefore probably high on the list of people capable of empathy, optimism, and kindness, this statement apparently  reflects a very high opinion of dogs, specifically her do of which an enthusiastic dog owner will have little trouble relating.  Black and white photos are included within the text of the story for illustrative purposes.  In the end of the book, the gospel message is clear so that no reader will have completed the book without first hand having heard the message of Salvation through Jesus.  As a blogger for WaterBrook Multnomah, I revieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Unto the Hills By Billy Graham

Unto the Hills, published by Thomas Nelson, written by the respected author Billy Graham,  is a daily devotional book- containing one devotional for each day of the year. A well known public speaker, Billy Graham, who is a  trusted and inspired authority on the bible,  is also well known for his inspirational books.  Each daily devotion is based on a biblical passage.  Graham starts the devotional with a piece of personal insight or anecdote based on his real life experience.  He speaks out to the reader.  This devotional is not just a rigid book of theology, rather it brings to life relevant biblical passages for today's reader- which is appropriate for a daily devotional book.  This book is analagous to hearing a short sermon each and every day, although it is not intended to replace the need to actually attend church.  His analogies are relevant as well as easy to understand.  For example psalm 51:10 for January 1,  discusses forgivess, and graham uses the analogy the forgiveness of sin with  a chalk board being wiped clean.  This timely message is perfect for new year's day.  This book is not haphazardly put together, rather, Graham used his wisom and insight to put together a relevant as well as easy to understand devotional.   Other timely topics include raising children, worrying, work, angels, adversity- there is quite a mix of topics which will appeal to most any reader.  I reccomend this book for anyone who wishes to integrate a piece of biblical insight into their lives each day.  As a blogger for booksneeze I recieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review.