Friday, September 12, 2014

Good Bible, But . . .

I was really torn about how to rate this Bible, the NIV First Century Study Bible.  As one who loves history, I relished the opportunity to gain additional nuggets of information that helps form the entire picture of the Bible.  This adds to the richness of God's Word.  I believe this was accomplished through short articles and small pictures describing scripture.

The Study Notes and Word Studies were good aids as well.  There were Study Helps in the back of the Bible, including 15 maps, a nice concordance, a glossary and more.  There were articles within the scripture and a feature called "Day in the Life" which gave nice information.

Overall, there are a great many helps.  What I didn't like was the newer NIV.  I still like the 1984 NIV as the best version.  I could live with this version though.

One additional area I did not like was some of the editorial comments that are made within the Study Notes.  In Genesis 4:1, Kent Dobson alludes to the fact that even though the Bible says Adam and Eve made love, and had Abel; "ancient interpreters believed Eve slept with a serpent of a fallen angels."  He does not attempt to refute, but leaves it hanging as a possible reality.  I would hope Dobson is not giving credence to this interpretation.

That is one example which can disturb the mature Christian, but also lead the newer Christ follower to question what is true according the Word.  I am sure there are other instances, but did not read the entire Bible. 

The Bible font is good and readable with many aids, but because of the comments made in the Study Guide I question whether this Bible should be given more than 3 stars.  I would state, be careful with what you accept others to say as the truth, since there is only One source of truth.

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLookBloggers®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Must Read!!

This was an incredibly powerful book.  It was one I didn't read all at once.  I read this book in small chunks, as Eugene Cho had so much which was so profound to write about.  In his book, Overrated, Cho asked the question, "Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?" 

What a great question he asks.  It gets right to the heart of the matter. 

Cho does not pull any punches.  This book is not for the weak of mind and spirit.  He wants us to care about social justice, and do something about it, not just throw in a few coins and feel good about ourselves.  he wants us to stop talking about changing the world, and actually become the change we want to see.

Cho writes from his heart and experience.  You will certainly be challenged by this book and should never be the same person again.  I would highly recommend this book for individuals and for group study.

I received this book from David C. Cook Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Mind Blowing Puzzles!

This was an amazing book, and as amazing as it was, it was just as frustrating.  The book, Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind is a new book from Marbles: The Brain Store of fun, unusual puzzles that are mind altering.  The book is divided up into 5 sections of puzzles with 5 levels of difficulty in each section ~

visual perception
word skills
critical thinking

These puzzles will definitely test you and stretch your mind and most likely your frustration level.  If you enjoy challenging puzzles, or no someone who does, then this book is a must purchase.

I did appreciate the fact that there were answers in the back of the book, which helped when I was struggling, and I struggled a lot.  This was great brain food, but my brain overate and at times was hurting.

Overall, this is a fun and challenging book for the puzzle lover!!

"I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this unabiased review."

Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Amazing Story of Transformation

I was not sure what to expect when I requested this book.  But this was an amazing story.  Son of Hamas is the story of one man’s journey from a fierce hate to a love for all of humanity.   This was a book which, once you start reading, you won’t want to put down.  The author includes a great many points regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which was interesting, and was part history lesson and part of the story as well.

For the writer, Mossab, his heart was transformed by the Bible.  This is a story about repentance and renewal in a man’s life.  As a result of his life being changed, other lives have been changed and saved as well.  It had to take great courage for Mossab to write this book, and speak against the culture and ethos he was raised in. 

This is an excellent book!  I highly recommend it for all who want to read about the Israel / Palestine conflict and some of the inner workings of it, along with it being a very personal story about a man’s journey to finding true life.

I received this book from Tyndale Press in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Excellent Book about Faith and Football

I really enjoyed reading Kirk Cousins book, Game Changer: Faith, Football and Finding Your Way.  This was an enjoyable book about a young man with a great deal of class and character.  It's a book I will have my sons read so they can understand the journey some take in life to make it where they've dreamed of.

You can sense the humility in Kirk's writing.  This was a personal book and because of that I was able to know Kirk better.  This was a story about his faith leading him on his journey even in picking a college.  I was sad he didn't choose my college, but he prayed for God's peace.  That's so great to hear from a high school senior. 

He told great stories, of faith and football and told them in a way which helped the reader identify with him.  Overall, this was an excellent, easy to read and hard to put down book.

I would recommend it for all young men and their dads to read together.  Kirk also includes a transcript of a speech he gave at the Big 10 Banquet his senior year.  I have included a link to that speech as well.  Click on the link below.

 Kirk Cousins speech at the Big 10 Banquet

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Be Weary No More

In her book, Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the bondage of to-do lists, steps and bad advice, Elyse Fitzpatrick has written an easy to read, relaxing and refreshing book about the absurd expectations women are expected to meet.

As a man, I thought it would be interesting to read this book to better understand what the world demands, and Christians demand of women.  I found this book enlightening and entertaining.  Fitzpatrick was able to weave stories into her themes which were humorous, but have a significant point.

Within each chapter she has shaded areas called "Bad Advice Women Receive" and a section "The Good News."  There are other highlighted areas and questions at the end of every chapter to help the reader reflect on their journey. 

This book would be a good book study for a women's group or for a woman to read this individually.  This book should help free women from some of the grandiose expectations that have been placed before them.

The author asked us to post the following ~

I have a daughter, two daughters-in-law,and two granddaughters, and if there is anything I want them to know, it is this:

There is good news for you. You don’t need to learn secret steps, try harder and harder, wear yourself out in
an attempt to be beautiful, snag Mr. Perfect, or raise perfect children. You are already welcomed, loved,
forgiven, and completely okay. You can laugh and rest and resist all the ways the world lies to you and tells
you you’re not good enough. And you can love God because He has already loved you. You can be free to
fail, to rest, to love, to be weak, to grow, and to know that everything is already given to you in Him.

I know that women (and men) have been overwhelmed by to-do lists, steps, and bad advice since the beginning of time. Even five hundred years ago, Martin Luther didn’t need to read his Facebook friends’ posts about their having fun without him to realize that there was something wanting in his life. He was aware of his inability to obey God’s law from the heart, and he knew he didn’t have his own self-approval, let alone God’s. But I do think there is something a little more desperate, more frenetic about our present wilderness.
There are so many messages being broadcast at us from every direction about “How to be perfect in 149 simple steps” or “How your life will become a self-inflicted Armageddon if you don’t follow these rules.”
As a woman who loves Christ, the gospel, her family, her church, and her country, I’m standing up to scream, “Stop this madness! Be done with the fluff, the bricks, and the despair-breeding, anxiety-multiplying self-righteousness!  

It’s time to trust in Christ—and Christ alone! He has already done it all. Everything you need has already been given to you.” Or in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:1011).

Instead of freeing me to love and serve Christ and my family, all this “good advice” loaded me down with guilt and shame over my ongoing sin and piled on more and more wearisome rules. The very thing I was taking as an antidote for my failure was making me more and more ill. Instead of finding freedom, I was a slave to self-justification.  And judging from what I’ve heard from other women, I don’t think I’m the only one who has ingested this poisonous brew.

The problem comes when women (and men) haven’t learned how to differentiate between law and gospel—when we don’t understand how the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign is meant to impact us. When we don’t see the connection between the righteous life Jesus lived and our standing before a holy God, we are setting ourselves up for bondage. Many women don’t understand
the freedom that has been purchased for us, and we often get tangled up in legalism or moralism. We don’t know what it would look like for obedience to be motivated by gratitude.

I believe there are specific instructions in Scripture regarding gender roles, including those in Genesis 2–3, Proverbs 31, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3. I believe that these truths remain valid for today and that we ignore them to our great harm. But I also believe that much of what has been dished out to women under the guise of “biblical gender roles” has failed us in at least two ways. It has gone way beyond Scripture’s bounds, while at the same time closing off much of the Bible’s message of comfort and hope. In
these ways, much of this teaching resembles Jesus’ description of the Pharisees’, for it gathers unnecessarily heavy burdens and lays them on women’s shoulders (see Matthew 23:4).  Meanwhile, those who teach these things effectively “shut the kingdom of heaven in [their] faces” (verse 13).

When we define gender roles too narrowly, overemphasizing a limited number of texts while completely ignoring the breadth of Scripture— when we try to make Scripture say more than it actually does or tell any segment of people that only certain parts of the Scripture concern them (whether we intentionally communicate this message or not)— we do so to the detriment of women and men, and to the detriment of the church and its mission in the world.

and soul crushing to tell a woman that the only worthwhile activity she can do is to birth children and serve a husband and a family. This mind-set also creates an idol out of the family structure, making success as a homemaker/mother the most important vocation in a woman’s life. And although this is a high calling, it should not trump our first and foremost calling: to believe in Christ.

In response to the evils of radical feminism, which shamed women who didn’t work outside the home, the radical femininity movement has shamed Christian women who work outside the home (for a variety of reasons) or who are not married or who have been divorced. Many Christian women have been taught that motherhood is not only their highest calling but also that it is the only calling they should aspire
to. It seems a little like the drunk man who falls off his horse on one side and climbs back into the saddle, only to fall off on the other.

Taken from Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick copyright © 2014. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

I received this book from Tyndale Press in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 22, 2014


I was looking for a different type of book to read, and I certainly found it when I read Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia.

Tom Kizzia is an Alaskan writer who became acquainted with this strange family.  Because he had a cabin near theirs, he was given greater access to the inner workings of this family than any other person.  Even then, there was much that Mr. Kizzia didn't know about the man called Papa Pilgrim.

On the surface, they looked like an old fashioned hillbilly type family.  However, Papa had many dark secrets, and beneath his exterior was a vicious man. 

This was an interesting story, fascinating, yet a very troubling and sad story.  There was almost too much detail about the family, but it was still interesting.  This family was controlled by Papa Pilgrim who used his Christianity to control and scare his family.  They moved to Alaska in a sense to hide out from the world, but they found trouble because of the father.

There was nothing really Christian about Papa Pilgrim in the way he abused his family and tried to strong arm anyone who would disagree with him. 

This was a well written book.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Blogging for Books

Excellent BIble with Devotion

This is a wonderful devotional and Bible in one.  The NIV Streams in the Desert Bible is packed with powerful words from God and from author L.B. Cowman.  I have read through the deovtional Streams in the Desert many years ago, and will do so again as I read through the Bible.

About the author of the devotion, it is written ~ L. B. Cowman worked as a pioneer missionary with her husband in Japan and China from 1901 to 1917, during which time they helped found the Oriental Missionary Society.  When Mr. Cowman's poor health forced the couple to return to the United States, Mrs. Cowman turned her attention to caring for her husband until his death six years later.  Out of Mrs. Cowman's experiences and heartbreak came her first book, Streams in the Desert, followed by its companion Springs in the Valley.  During the next twenty-five years, Mrs. Cowman inspired several nationwide Scripture distribution campaigns and wrote seven more books.

There are 365 devotions scattered throughout the Bible.  Each devotion has a “go to” line at the bottom of the page, so you can easily locate the next day’s reading. In addition, in the back of the Bible is a listing of devotion by subject.  This way you can find a certain topic you would like to read about.
Overall, this is an excellent devotion, which is in the NIV Bible.

Zondervan Publishers, through Harper Collins had provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, in exchange for an unbiased review through BookLook Bloggers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Powerful True Story

Echoes of an Angel: The Miraculous True Story was written by Aquanetta Gordon, the mother of the subject of this book.  This is powerful, true story about a young boy named Ben Underwood, who lost both of his eyes when he was two years old to a rare disease called bilateral retinoblastoma.  This is the story of his journey of living life despite his blindness and other physical issues, until his death. 

It is a story about a mother’s will to help her son never lose the will to live, to embrace life, even when it was not easy.  It’s also the story of a mother who struggled with faith in God, but ultimately grew in her faith.  While the mother did some things I did not agree with the basis of the story, which is true, is powerful and inspiring. 

To picture Ben riding his bike and jumping over ramps and so cool!  Ben didn’t live like a person who was blind; that is where I give so much credit to his mother and to Ben’s will to live a normal life.  He played with friends and even played video games.

Echoes of an Angel was a wonderful reminder of putting our faith in God and watching what He can do! The book contains pictures and a Discussion Guide.

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stand in the Gap

Reading  In the Gap: What Happens When God's People Stand Strong, by Wilfredo De Jesus was a challenging book.  The purpose of this book was to identify the ordinary people who do extraordinary things to make a difference in the world.  De Jesus defines a gap, as ‘something which represents a place of weakness, vulnerability and danger.’

We often times see this when looking around the world.  De Jesus shares many stories about these ordinary men and women who saw ‘a gap’ and sought to transform the gap into something which would be strong and powerful. 

This is an encouraging, yet challenging book to read.  As we read the book we should be reading with our eyes open to our own communities and where the ‘gaps’ are so we can get ready to make a difference.

De Jesus includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which can be used for personal reflection or group discussion.  It has a self-evaluation tool at the back of the book to help you determine “where God is already at work in your life … and where He may need to do a little more to sharpen and shape you.  Finally, it includes useful suggestions for how to use the book in small groups and classes.  There is also a Bible Study series to go along with the book.

I recommend this book to people who are not comfortable and want to learn more about how they can make a difference in the world.

I received this book at no cost as a digital download through Net Galley.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Thanks also to Assemblies of God and Influence Resources publishers.