Thursday, August 27, 2015

Through a Man's Eyes by Shaunti Feldhahn & Craig Gross

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

I am going to start off with a fact: most men are visual creatures. I think I just heard a "duh" from my audience. While most would agree with that many women do not have an understanding of what that means.

In her book Through a Man's Eyes, Shaunti Feldhahn's goal (with help from Craig Gross) is to help women understand what that means and by doing so, deepen the relationship with her spouse and any male children she may have.

While this book is written for women, I found myself internally proclaiming, "Finally, a woman is trying to explain how God created us."

God made men visual for a reason and Feldhahn explains to her female audience that the men in her life are not weird or pigs; they are men. They struggle with temptations and thoughts and must bring those temptations to God and pray for strength to fight them off.

This yet another book of Feldhahn's that I HIGHLY recommend for any woman, married or single, as a guide on how to love men as visual beings and encourage them to fight the temptation to turn God's design into disaster. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

America the Strong by Bill Bennett

*I received this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

America the Strong is a book about what the next generation of Americans must consider for America to remain a strong nation. By using the acronym F.L.I.N.T. which stands for:

-Free Enterprise
-Limited Government
-Individual Liberty
-National Defense
-Traditional Values

Each section discusses various subject within the five major topics. I found each topic to very engaging and intellectually stimulating. The arguments were well presented and easy to understand. What was also present was a logical extension of some bad ideas taken to their conclusion.

I highly recommend this book for anyone entering the political science and would encourage all others to read this if you must take a general education course on government or something akin to it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Foundation Study Bible (NKJV)

I enjoy using study Bibles. There is something about reading Scripture and having learned men explain difficult passages that really deepens my desire to read God's Word.

The NKJV Foundation Study Bible is a nice study Bible for personal study. It is not too heavy and the typeface makes for an easy read. Also the study helps are located nicely at the bottom for less distracting reading of the main text.

While this Bible is not a robust study Bible, it does a nice job of delivering a Bible for study that is easier to carry and still maintains a lot of the helps of heavier study Bibles.

*I received this Bible from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

God Speaks by Dr. Craig Evans

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Worthy Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

God Speaks.

If God were to speak to you in an audible voice, what would He say?

While audible communication is something that God has done, He also speaks to us through His Holy Word: The Bible.

In his book, God Speaks, Dr. Craig Evans gives an overview of the Bible, its major elements, and also gives instruction on how to make sure one is reading The Bible properly.

What I also appreciated were the sections on questions about the Bible. Dr. Evans gives evidences for why we can trust the Bible. He also gives aid on how to make sure that the reader of the Bible knows what he/she is reading. By doing both of these things, Dr. Evans lays the foundation for trusting the Bible and studying it properly.

This is a nice resource to have. It is a little light on theology but has some great helps for deepening a person's theology to know and love the God of whom they read.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stronger by Clayton King

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for my honest review.

How does God make someone stronger? By using weakness.

II Corinthians 12:9a reads, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (ESV)

Clayton King tells of how God used some very difficult times in his life to show forth His power. In moments of weakness and humility God moved in his life and gave him strength when King needed it the most.

This book explores what it is to suffer and be brought low and how God intervenes in such moments. This is not a feel-good book but rather draws the reader to focus on God and call out to Him when you are at your least.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Doing Good Better by Dr. William MacAskill

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gotham Books in exchange for my honest review.

Doing good for others.

There is a sense of joy when we help others. Seeing someone who needs aid and then coming to their aid is one of the things that make us human.

We should not enjoy seeing others suffer so there is part of us that would like to alleviate that suffering. In Doing Good Better, Dr. MacAskill points to this altruistic sensation as a way to make a difference.

Yet, some go about attempting to make a difference but do so poorly. They may give to a charity that spends much more on overhead and compensation than it does for the cause it promotes. Other charities are effective at using their funds but promote a cause that is very ineffective at solving the observed problem.

Dr. MacAskill goes into some detail on how to accurately determine which causes are effective and which causes are not. He shows that often times people will select a charity based on a "watchdog" rating but fail to seek further information on the charity. A rating is not bad but it only rates on certain criteria, most often financial distribution.

For example, let us say that a charity might give 90% of its charitable donations to help dental problems in a third-world country and not to compensation for management. That is a very financially proper means of operating. However, what if 90% of the donations are going to dental problems that arise due to poor water conditions? If the water condition improved, the dental problems would lessen.

If the example given, Dr. MacAskill's analysis would not give that charity a great rating because they could have a greater impact were the charity to look deeper; the effectiveness is not as powerful as it could be. While my example is quite simple, hopefully the point is made.

Thus, this book really challenges the reader to seek means of making a difference that effectively makes a difference. Some of the text may be hard to read in terms of its message but it is a message worth reading.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The One: Experience Jesus by Carlos Darby & Friends

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.

This is a visual devotional and though-provoking book. Instead of Bible passages and thought, this book combines thought with sight. By having a thought with a picture, the message that is intended to be conveyed takes on a more deep and powerful impact.

I found the images to add a layer of reality to them that a typed story lacks. I also found that the images brought about an effect that is relational. I could empathize with the stories, feel their thoughts; hear their agony.

From these stories, the book gets personal and ask questions of the reader. There is nothing theological but rather simple questions are asked to allow the images and text to take root in someone's life.

The goal is to experience Jesus. The images hint at Him; the words tell of Him. The choice, however, is yours to make: do you want to know Him?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

"Marriage is to make us more holy than happy."

While that sounds rather religious and Puritan in sound, Gary Thomas' book Sacred Marriage shows how marriage can make us more like God.

Marriage teaches us to love sacrificially, to humble ourselves, to extend forgiveness, to strive towards a mutual goal (teamwork building), and build character to new a few benefits.

Many go into marriage thinking it will make them happy on some level. Thomas wants couples to enter marriage thinking of how God can use their marriage to honor Him. With that mindset, seeking to serve my spouse is mirroring what Jesus did for us: served us by dying sacrificially.

Would that more marriage partners serve each other by sacrificing. Were that so, divorce may not have gained the ground that it has.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Boundless by Bryan Bishop

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for my honest review.

When I think of Jesus I tend to think of worshiping him as an American. I sing to Him with an American style of song, I pray to Him with an American style of prayer, and I read my Bible through the eyes of an American.

Yet, all across the globe people are worshiping and finding Jesus in a non-American way. Some even continue to practice some of the traditions that their heritage has passed down to them.

Is this Biblical?

In his book, Boundless, Bryan Bishop explores how other cultures have found Jesus, worship Him in their own way, and then ponders where or not such an expression of faith is proper.

Muslims fasting for Ramadan, Hindus chanting and burning incense, and Buddhists meditating are a few of the examples that Bishop gives of those who found Jesus but still maintain some of their religious heritage.

A paraphrase of what one person said is that they see the truth in other religions, how it was twisted, and how they found Jesus by straightening out the twists. Some pointed to Paul quoting a poem about Zeus to introduce the true God to the Greeks at Mars Hill. If Paul used the present culture to point to God, why can't we?

I must admit that I was not sure how to handle this book at first but after completing my read I see the value. One takeaway is that I should research other religions so that I may connect with other faiths. By this connection, Jesus may be introduced. That is what truly matters and how sinners become "boundless" to sin.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

At Any Cost by Mike & Hayley Jones

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Mike & Hayley Jones were a typical American family. A family of four they were asked by God to adopt children from Sierre Leone; eight of them.

Read about the struggles of adopting eight children, adapting their lives in the United States, and their passion for seeing their family thrive.

I really appreciated the honesty and candor of this book. It was inspiring as the Jones struggled to bring all eight children home, answered objections to their passion, and how they sought God through it all.

Skinny Life by Crystal Dwyer Hansen

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Worthy Publishing in exchange for this honest review.

Weight loss.

For some that evokes the seemingly insurmountable task of trying to get in shape.

Cutting calories, hitting the gym, weighing in daily. No sweets, no fun; no life. Who wants to live like that?

Crystal Dwyer Hansen understands and has written a book about such matters.

Skinny Life gets to the heart of the weight issues so many people face: your mind and its accompanying thoughts. Hansen teaches that you must first change your mind before the body begins to change. She does this by ending each chapter with an affirmation. Each affirmation puts positive thoughts into the mind with the intent that the body will follow. 

This does not mean that her readers can eat whatever they want. On the contrary, Hansen gives some examples of food that aids the mind and helps create mental optimization. From there the body begins to do what it was created to do: efficiently use food.

I am on a "get in better shape" phase of my life right now. This book really puts things into perspective and challenged me to live my life rather than endure it. That is what Skinny Life hopes to convey and Hansen has done it well.