Monday, February 22, 2010

Faithful Heart by Al Lacy

This is the second in the Angel of Mercy series featuring Breanna Baylor and John Stranger. I had not read the first in the series and therefore was lost for a few pages at the very beginning. Lacy did do a good job of filling me in as to what had happened in the first book as this one progressed.
The reader learns a great deal about the shell shock that some experienced after the Civil War. The reader is also caught up in the struggles a wife has when she has committed herself to a marriage yet is seeing her husband hurt her children and herself.
This book is very Christian. The characters are so Christian it makes me wonder if people of that era were like they have been portrayed in this novel. Lacy is sure to have the salvation message at least once in each novel and this one is no exception.
This book and series would be well suited for older readers (as in elderly) who like westerns. Younger readers would find this book too unrealistic.

This book was provided for review by The WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn

Gunn was a prolific author of books for teens when she came out with her first novel for adults in 1995.
Jessica was entering Glenbrook, looking forward to her first teaching job, when she has an accident. A handsome fire fighter rescues her and a troubled relationship ensues.
Jessica has a secret she wants to hide from the people of Glenbrook so she assumes a different last name. The name change causes problems with her records and the principal. Turmoil follows yet it all works out in the end.
That this was Gunn's first novel written for adults is evident, I think. Jessica shows a lack of maturity usually seen in teens and not an Oxford graduate. That she could use a different last name and still think the school board and other administrators would not cause trouble is a juvenile thought. And the "secret" Jessica is hiding, when it is revealed, is disappointing.
All that said, I did enjoy the book. Jessica must attempt reconciliation with her father to set things right. Jessica must face her own spirituality and her need for Christ. Both of those parts of the story were well done. This might be a good story for an older teen but may seem frivolous to an older Christian.

This book was provided for review by The WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

Sayers, a minister in Australia, found that attempts to reshape the church in the west have not been effective because the people inside the churches are suffering from an identity crisis. They seem filled with insecurity about who they were and what difference their faith makes in their lives.
The early church knew their identity was rooted in Christ. Sayers calls that the "vertical self." Now identity seems to be adopted from the culture surrounding us. That is the "horizontal self." People attend church like they watch movies, with a sense of detachment and entertainment. Church becomes another social self to put on and take off as the surroundings demand.
We need to understand how we moved from basing our identities in our God-given image to simply adopting identities from the culture. Sayers does an excellent job of explaining the development of the horizontal self. We now see an emphasis on "self" at the expense of the soul (self is the soul minus the spiritual).
Sayers notes, "We must change and move toward our true selves." He admits, "This, however, is a lot easier said than done." The weakness of Sayers' book is that he ends with many admonitions to change, but no practical ideas as to how that will happen.
At the very end he suggests that "if you are to journey toward your true self, you will need people to keep you accountable." I agree. Use the study guide at the end of the book as part of a group discussion. Then continue on with the group in some form of discipleship to continue on to your true vertical self.

This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Let God Talk To You by Becky Tirabassi

Tirabassi has heard God talk to her and it has changed her life. She says God wants to talk to you because He loves you. He wants to speak to you in a variety of ways including the Bible, the Holy Spirit and through other people.
Tirabassi has been spending an hour a day in prayer and listening, for several decades. She gives examples of how God has talked to her and what she has done to place her self in a position to hear from Him. She gives the reader several idea on how to have daily God talks, including journal writing, drawing, writing poetry, etc.
Tirabassi suggests that it takes desire, discipline and design in order to have the relationship with God where daily conversation happens. She walks the reader through the process and makes it within the reach of anyone willing to take the time and make the commitment.
I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lost in the Middle by Paul David Tripp

Midlife is that time when we realize that many of the dreams we had are just not going to be fulfilled. We realize we have lived so far below God's standard and have disappointed Him in so many ways. We see the evidence of the weakness of our body as it ages.
What is to be the reaction of the Christian to the experience of midlife?
Tripp suggests that midlife is a time of God's grace. The experiences of God's grace during this time may see us lose our precious possessions or our prized accomplishments. We may lose our most valued relationships. There is a purpose in all these results of God's grace.
"Midlife is about the glorious riches of God's grace that call me in my lostness to find something better." (P. 347)
A great book for those in the experience of midlife. It will help identify the true goal of you life in God.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner

Turner wanted to be the Michael Jackson of Christian music. Music played an important role as he grew up. "Good music changes me," he says, "shocks me, makes me feel uncomfortable, and drives me to think and hope and believe differently." In autobiographical style, Turner takes the reader on an irreverent romp through church, college and music.
He grew up in a very conservative Independent Fundamental Baptist church. The stories he tells make you shake your head and laugh. Turner was not to listen to Sandi Patty or Michael W. Smith because each had recorded songs without the word “Jesus” in them.
I suppose just about everyone could find something offensive in this book. Turner is ruthless. No hypocrisy is free from ridicule.
While not becoming a famous Christian artist, Turner did work in the music industry for years, including time as the editor of CCM magazine. Christian singers try to copy popular secular artists, he notes, and generally seem to be about four years behind what’s popular in the secular market. There is occasionally an original Christian artist but most a copycats.
Throughout his storytelling, Turner makes the reader think. What makes something “Christian”? When is a song “Christian”? How much of our Christian life is “fake”? What is a “real” Christian?
If you can’t endure criticism, skip this book. But if you want an honest look at the “Christian” scene, this book is for you.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

For information on buying this book:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury

Brad and Laura are soon to be married. Their romance seems to be a fairy tale. But Brad has a secret from the past and it is tearing him apart. He wants to go back and set things right with his childhood sweetheart. Will his trip re-awaken his old feelings? Will his love for Laura survive?
Kingsbury has tackled the hard subject of the regrets that follow an abortion, even after a decade. The story line also deals with love, forgiveness and trust.
Kingsbury has written another captivating and spiritually enlightening story about a difficult subject.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts

This third edition of a book that has been around for over fifteen years is a Bible teacher’s dream. It contains reproducible maps and charts for nonprofit and noncommercial use. There are colorful charts showing each biblical book at a glance. There are timelines of the biblical events, maps clarifying locations, genealogy diagrams and other topical charts and informational diagrams.
The book contains additional material on the author of each book, when the book was written and the book’s themes and literary structure.
A pastor or Bible teacher will be pleased with the numbers of useful tools in this book as well as the excellent quality of the material. The only thing missing is a CD-ROM so the material could be used for a power point presentation.
At under $20 retail, this is a resource every Bible teacher will want.
This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Love and War by John & Stasi Eldredge

Is a good marriage a fantasy? Are the marriage vows a dream?
John and Staci believe the marriage vows can be kept. It is hard,they say, but it is worth it.
They speak from experience as their marriage has been on the brink of divorce twice. Yet they just celebrated their 25th anniversary.
They admit that the reality of married life is hard, for everyone. Each spouse brings brokenness to the marriage. Spiritual warfare is a reality as Satan wants to destroy the marriage. God uses marriage to get to each spouse's issues.
John and Stasi remind us that marriage is part of God's love story and is meant to be a picture of God's love for us. Marriage is worth the effort. The best thing for your marriage is for each to have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.
This is a great book on how to work on every aspect of your marriage from a couple who know what they are talking about.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
For your options to purchase this book:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz

Using Abraham as an example, Lotz shows the difference a relationship with God can make on a practical, day-to-day basis. Lessons from his life include God's calling, waiting, trusting in God's promises and not running ahead of God's plan and what to do when you've made mistakes.
One of the lessons from Abraham is recognizing God's call. But the lesson may not be as clear as Lotz implies. She lists the four "runway lights" that need to line up to know God's will (p. 115). One of these is the counsel of mature, godly people. Yet, Lotz admits that when she felt the call to teach the Bible publicly, her parents and husband opposed her (p. 26). She had three children age five and under at the time. She also notes later in the book that she "...discovered that so often our friends or family members want to protect. ... And therefore, sometimes they don't give us wise counsel." (p. 195)
Confusion about recognizing God's call notwithstanding, Lotz's book is a very good study on Abraham's life and is full of life lessons for the Christian.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah

Back in the 1990s angels were talked about everywhere. Books on angels flourished and there was even a TV series about them. Where does one go to get the truth about angels?
Jeremiah reminds us that we must not fashion angels to our liking. The Bible, not human imagination, is to be our guide. He investigates what the Bible says to clear up misconceptions about angels that are still popular today.
Jeremiah speaks from the wisdom he has gained from his many years in ministry. His study covers the nature of angels, their appearance, and their mission.
The aim of this book is not merely to learn about angels but to learn about God as well. Through the study of angels the reader learns more about God and what it means to worship Him.
This book is a great resource for anyone interested in the truth about angels.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

To find out more about this book: