Monday, January 25, 2010

Tea With Hezbollah by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis

Carl and Ted were in a cafe three years ago when Carl wondered what our nations "enemies" thought of Jesus' teaching to love your enemies. It took a year to talk Ted into the trip, a year to plan the trip and a year to write the book. With the influence of a wealthy Saudi they traveled to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria.
As Dekker notes, this is not a book about Middle Eastern politics; it's a book about learning to love embittered enemies.
Through interviews and conversations they found out what others thought of the term "Christian." They found what Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Samaritans have in common. While they all worship the God of Abraham, none practice the teachings of Jesus (yes, including Christians).
This book has good insight into the heart of the common Muslim and what he thinks about life and Americans. This book is definitely worth the read.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Free Book by Brian Tome

Tome, pastor of 12,000 person Crossroads Church, it tired of rules, like having to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. His book gets off to a roaring start as Tome rants against the regulations of religion. But he quickly settles down for the long ride of discipleship.
Tome wants you to live in Christ's freedom. But that freedom isn't cheap. Becoming free is a process and is hard work. One has to work through fear, forgiveness and strongholds.
Tome starts out making freedom in Christ sound so good, so reachable, almost easy. But then reality sets in. "The bottom line is that if you want the full experience of God's freedom, you have to be willing to put forth the effort to work through the hard times and persevere until you reach your reward. It's a full on process that demands whole-hearted devotion to change in one particular area at a time." (P. 142)
Tome may have used a catchy title but it is the same old story. The Christian life takes commitment and discipleship. Getting to freedom in Christ is hard work.
If you are new to the Christian faith, great, grab this book. If you have been in Bible studies or discipleship groups you won't find anything new here.
This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Chan calls for total commitment to Christ. "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven." (83-84)
Chan wants his readers to understand, "Jesus' call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd." (85) In this era when the definition of "Christian" is often loose and encompassing, Chan reigns in the term to a biblical understanding.
Read this book and give your heart a checkup. Be challenged to love Christ wholeheartedly.
Chan's challenge: Each person has a choice to make. You can give God your leftovers or you can serve and love God with all you are. Do you want to play it safe or do you want to plunge into devotion to Christ? The crux of the matter is how you will answer God's question: "What did you do with what I gave you?"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

When one is raised in a Christian home there generally comes the time when the claims of Christianity must be investigated to make the faith one’s own. Harris shares his own investigation of and commitment to theology that is true (orthodox).
Harris glimpsed the beauty of theology and was discipled by C. J. Mahahey. He found that studying theology enhanced his relationship with Jesus. “We can’t know [Jesus] and relate to him in the right way without doctrine.” Harris’ purpose in writing and his hope for the reader is, “…that you’ll catch a glimpse of how good and beautiful the old paths of orthodoxy are, how firm and trustworthy the solid rock of sound doctrine can be for your life.”
The reader is encouraged to make use of the knowledge gained, letting it lead us to an ever growing desire to love the Lord and to think and act as He desires.
Harris’ book is a very readable introduction to systematic theology for this generation. While not exhaustive, it is a good launching pad for further study in orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I highly recommend it.
This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn

If you are a woman working in an office or profession where there are a number of males, you need to read this book! Women have invaded the workplace but are often at a disadvantage because they are missing valuable information about men. Women need insights into the world of men in the business world.
Feldhahn has combined insights from the 1,500 men interview for her earlier book with an additional 1,500 men interviewed for this book. She has identified several truths from her research and has formed hypotheses as to how men think and feel in specific areas. She then tested her hypotheses.
Some of her finding will not surprise the reader: “If you want a man to remember your presentation points, do not show cleavage!” Some may be surprising, as areas in which men experience insecurity.
Feldhahn found that most men want women to succeed and are frustrated when women act in a way that ignores how men perceive the workplace. The insights in this book will help women move toward success.
Feldhahn is clear that the answer is not for women to act like men. The answer is to know the rules and to relax and be who you are. Don’t forget the bottom line: honor God in all you do.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Finding Purpose Beyond Your Pain by Meier and Henderson

God uses everything, even pain, to bring about good things in our lives. We will never have a pain free life this side of heaven. Rather than avoiding pain, we can see it as our ally, pointing us to Christ.
The authors look at seven areas in our lives that cause pain: injustice, rejection, loneliness, loss, discipline, failure and death. The writing on each section stands alone so one could read the particular areas of most interest and not miss important truths. At the end of each chapter is a list of the principles offered in the chapter as well as questions for personal reflection.
We miss seeing the purpose of the pain because we focus on the pain rather than God and His faithfulness to us. The authors remind the readers that true healing of pain will be found in one's relationship to Christ. Christ is the key to victory as only He has the power to heal our pain.
This is a great book for people facing "everyday" psychological pain. For serious pain I would suggest a Christian counselor.

This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The One-Day Way by Chantel Hobbs

Chantel lost 200 pounds and has made a living from it. She is a personal trainer, has written two books, been on TV, and has a web site and a video series. She is one more voice in a huge market (pun intended).
Is Chantel’s book different enough from others that one should read it? Yes and no. The encouraging aspect of the book is Chantel’s insistence that each day be lived on its own. The reader is encouraged to succeed on that day. One is not to worry about yesterday or try to anticipate tomorrow. Think about one success for the day, such as, “Today I will not eat potato chips.” Celebrate your success that day and make another success goal the next day. Don’t think about long term plans. Enjoy the celebration of one successful day.
The disappointing part of the book is that it is the same old “diet and exercise” routine. Chantel has developed her own food and exercise plan but it is like so many others that I found nothing unique with that part of the book.
Chantel does say that faith is very much an element of her program. Her emphasis is faith, food, and fitness.
As with any “diet” book, it comes down to the bottom line: you must be at the point where you are willing to make a commitment. If you are not ready to change your life, even for one day, don’t bother with the book. If, however, you are ready to make a commitment for just one day this book will be an encouragement. After you have had the thrill of the success of one day, you will know you are on your way to a reconstructed life.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrookMultnomah Publishing Group.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs

I love the bugman novels. This one might be the best yet.
Nick Polchak is a great character. As a forensic entomologist, he is asked to help investigate the murder of the husband of a woman with whom he once worked. He is his usual quirky self as he works on the mystery.
The dialogue is good and the wit is outstanding. And, amazingly, it seems like Nick might be in love. But there are two women chasing him. To whom will he propose?
Even though this is not the first of the bugman novels, if you have not read one yet, it would be a fun one with which to start!