Thursday, December 12, 2013

Samson: A Savior Will Rise

This book really hit home for me. My father lived on the polish boarder during WWII and my uncle was taken away to a concentration camp at the age of 16 to be worked and tortured to death. I’ve heard the stories, but never so detailed, never so graphic. The truth is the details and graphic descriptions, I think, are essential to try and capture the true horrors of the holocaust. Simply hearing and understanding history is one thing, but in reading Samson, the details and graphic descriptions of the horrors and struggles that prisoners faced allowed me to be transported into the time and place. It was as if I was one of the prisoners looking on to the events of Samson’s life.

I could feel the characters, I went through the emotions, my stomach would twist and my eyes would get watery. I cheered Samson on, I felt as though I knew him. This book is drama at its finest, but it’s not just drama – it’s reality, which is just incredibly difficult to comprehend.

Although this book is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for children, it is a riveting, fantastic representation of the horrors that occurred just a few decades ago. The characters helped strengthen my theology and the author helped deepen my understanding of history. I come away with a greater appreciation for all those that spoke up and fought back against the face of evil.

Thank you to booksneeze for blessing me with a copy of this book.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Spiritual World of the Hobbit

I love Tolkien’s work, love The Hobbit and love LOTR. I am also a passionate Christ follower and so couldn't wait to see the connection between the two. I found The Spiritual World of the Hobbit to be a beautiful guide to the masterful story. Having finished reading The Silmarillion and The Hobbit just days before embarking into this book I was curious to how James S. Bell would weave the spiritual world into The Hobbit. The Silmarillion made the spiritual world obvious, it was hard to miss the connection and similarities between J.R.R. Tolkien’s Iluvatar and the God of the Bible; however I found it rather difficult to see the spiritual connections in The Hobbit. That’s where this book opened up my eyes to the themes and relations I wouldn't have otherwise seen or guessed.

Reading The Silmarillion was hard work! It was a complex book, but without it the reader will miss much of the spiritual context of The Hobbit. James S. Bell does a fabulous job filling in the reader about the character backgrounds, how they were created, where they came from, and what their purpose was in Middle-earth. To anyone that has not read The Silmarillion, this book will fill in many of the missing pieces of The Hobbit and LOTR and provide a depth of understanding to the rich story.

As for the spiritual aspect, I was thoroughly pleased how James S. Bell weaved the spiritual into the mythical. Bell did not use allegory to explain the spiritual, as J.R.R. Tolkien never intended to use allegory, but instead displayed a beautiful parallel between Tolkien’s work and the Bible.

Any LOTR lover will love this book. Thank you to Bethany House publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to review. May God bless you as you enjoy this book.

Friday, November 29, 2013

This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God

Waterbrook MultnomahApr 23, 2009, 192 pages

I was hesitant before picking up this book; I was hesitant because I didn’t imagine I would find anything new between the pages. With a subtitle like ‘Practicing the presence of the kingdom of God’ I thought I knew where Rick McKinley was headed but I thought wrong. I was pleasantly surprised at a fresh look on the Kingdom of God and how our lives here on Earth are intertwined. Simple to read but so deep in meaning. 

Rick McKinley splits the book into 3 parts: Discovering the kingdom, Re-visioning life in the kingdom, and practicing the presence of the kingdom. All 3 parts allow you to discover and probe deeper into what is the kingdom and how do we practice kingdom living here on Earth?

In all honesty practically every time before I picked up the book to read I had been worn out from the days activities. I wasn't in the mood to read, and often, even in a bad mood. But something within the pages of this book lifted my spirits. Every time I found myself spiritually refreshed, encouraged, and motivated. 

I encourage all to read this book. You may be like me and find much comfort and healing within the pages, but you’ll also walk away with a new perspective on God’s kingdom and our purpose here on this Earth.
Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for blessing me with this book in exchange for this review. God bless.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of your Life

ZondervanOct 8, 2013 - 224 pages
I know my way around books dealing on dating, I’ve read countless. I myself am single at the moment but am no stranger to dating. Having been in many different relationships I can honestly say that if I were to follow the advice of Debra Fileta from her book True Love Date I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy in the past.

Her advice is sound, biblical, and logical. She splits her book into four parts: the first is dating inward. In dating inward she makes it clear that you need to discover yourself before you begin looking for others and lays out an outline how you can do so. The second part is dating outward. After discovering yourself do you know what you’re looking for in others? Do you know the differences between what you want and what you need? And do you know what constitutes a healthy relationship? In this part you will truly discover the right way to date. The third part is dating upward. Here Debra connects our earthly relationships and our relationship with God. The two cannot be disconnected and when we supplement or neglect our spiritual life to only focus on our earthly relationships we will never be happy and satisfied. Finally the fourth part is entitled ask a counselor, and here Debra answers some of the typical and most asked questions when it comes to dating.

I highly encourage and recommend this book for any age; honestly I can’t imagine a person who is single not coming away wiser and better equipped to face the dating world upon reading this book.
Thank you to Zondervan for blessing me with a copy of this book.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Closed Door

I once heard somebody say that God had closed a door on an opportunity they had hoped for. But I’ve always wondered if, when we want to do something that we know is right and good, God places that desire deep in our hearts because He wants it for us and it honors Him. Maybe there are times when we think a door has been closed and, instead of misinterpreting the circumstances, God wants us to kick it down. Or perhaps just sit outside of it long enough until somebody tells us we can come in.
- Bob Goff

Whirlpool Galaxy

This top picture (taken by NASA’s Voyager Telescope) is the Whirlpool galaxy, located about 31 million light years away. This galaxy alone display’s God’s granduer, encompasing over 300 billion stars, what a beauty, it is considered the gem of the universe.
The picture next to it is also taken by the Voyager, and it is actually the core of the Whirlpool galaxy. Look like something to you? Can we really look at this an say this was an accident? God displays his love for us throughout the whole universe. What an AWEsome God we serve!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Real Men Don't Text - A New Approach To Dating

Let me introduce myself: I’m a 20 something year old single male who can totally resonate with Ruthie’s experiences in this book (one of the authors of this book). Having failed time and time again with finding the right girl for myself I have decided to try this new approach to dating and so far it’s been awesome.

Not everything in this book is new and original advice, but all of it is sound advice. I love relationship/ dating books because after choosing Christ as savior what other decision is as important as finding the right mate, or something discussed in this book, being the right mate.
I mentioned that not all the material in this book is original but nonetheless they still do provide new and intriguing advice as well as give a fresh look on old advice you might have heard or read elsewhere.

When I first got the book I was unaware that the book is meant for a female audience, however, I found that it really doesn’t matter; the advice goes beyond gender roles. Furthermore this book could be that much more helpful to males for it teaches how to behave with girls and gives males an edge by knowing/ understanding what girls might expect from us.

Overall, having read many relationship advice books I can’t really think of what the Dean’s have left out or missed. Applying their advice I have more confidence in myself, I put more trust in God, I feel less pressured and less time constricted to jump into relationships. I now have better friendships rather than wrecked relationships and feel like I am making wiser decisions over all. I encourage all to read it, and maybe not everything will be applicable to you, some parts weren’t to me, but I am sure you will come away wiser and come away blessed.
Thank you to Tyndale for blessing me with a copy in return for this review.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

With His Stripes We Are Healed

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”
- Desire of Ages


In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.
 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Christians In The World

It’s not the ship in the water but the water in the ship that sinks it. So it’s not the Christian in the world but the world in the Christian that constitutes the danger.
 – J. Wilbur Chapman

What We Often Forget

If you attempt to talk with a dying man about sports or business, he is no longer interested. He now sees other things as more important. People who are dying recognize what we often forget, that we are standing on the brink of another world. 
– William Law

Our Main Business

Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord. 
– J. I. Packer

Isaiah 41:10

Deuteronomy 31:6

Monday, September 16, 2013

NIV Integrated Study Bible - A New Chronological Approach For Exploring Scripture

Let me start out by cutting to the chase, this is a phenomenal bible. Even if you already own 20+ different bibles (like I do), chances are this bible will be like none other you’ve owned or read.

Every year I enjoy reading the bible cover-to-cover, and this year I wanted to try a new approach, reading the bible in chronological order. I began using a plan that told me what to read and when. The plan I was using wasn’t bad but I had to continuously flip pages from one book to the next within each days reading. Then one day I found out about the release of this bible, I couldn’t get it into my hands fast enough. When it finally arrived, it totally exceeded my expectations.

Why am I so happy with it, and how did it exceed expectations?

For starters I did not have a bible that was actually written in chronological order, I had plans within my bibles that told me where to flip to next if I wanted to read chronologically, but I haven’t owned a bible written in this fashion before. For example: Genesis is the first book, but Job (not Exodus) follows Genesis; Psalms that were written by Moses are inserted in their proper places within the Pentateuch, and of course all chapters are labeled so the reader is never confused about what they are reading and from what part of the bible.

Simple convenience may not be enough for someone to be convinced they need this bible if all they wanted to do is to read in chronological order, but that’s not all there is to it. Although this bible does a fabulous job in its order and layout it goes even one step further by inserting parallel verses which are related. It’s hard to convey this feature without giving examples. The first example is what you might expect: the parallel listing of the Gospel stories. Another completely random example is Genesis 25 and 1 Chronicles 1:32-33; in the Genesis passage it lists the decedents of Keturah and parallel to it is 1 Chron 1:32:33 which also lists Keturah’s decedents. This is a fabulous way to compare the verses in the bible and seeing the cohesion between the books and authors. These parallels are all throughout the bible.

One other feature I really love is the sectional chronology charts. These charts tell you the date of events in the bible, what worldly events correspond to the biblical, and what kingdoms existed when. Finally, there is a timeline on every page that always reminds the reader where they are in history.

I absolutely love this bible and all the features within it. I can’t think of a thing I’d do differently if I were the author. I want to thank Zondervan for providing me with this incredible bible for my honest review, and I very highly recommend everyone to try “a new approach for exploring scripture” using this bible.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Simple and Clean NIV Bible

This is a neat little bible that I thought had a good concept. It’s not a study bible, in fact there is no commentary at all,  no introduction to books or any sort of extra input apart from the insertion of some of today’s most well known worship songs. I was hoping that the songs would be found near the verses at inspired them but unfortunately they were dispersed at random throughout the bible.

As one who loves worship music, owning over 500 CD’s and 1000’s of MP3s I thought this bible would be a perfect match for me. But the reality is that although it’s a neat concept, having the lyrics within the pages of the bible and a short reflection on the song by the song writers, it didn’t really help in integrating the bible with worship any more than what I had already come to know.

It was nice to learn a little bit more about the songs that I so frequently sing, but it isn’t necessary to buy this bible just for that. It’s a great idea of having the cords for the top 20 worship songs in the back, but again it’s not necessary to buy this bible just for that. At the very end of the bible there are also 5 interesting pages going over what is worship, the history of worship music, celebrating worship music, and going beyond the music.

Overall it’s your ordinary NIV bible, simple and clean with a small exception of the songs. I look foreword to using this bible during my church worship, but I have to say if you already own an NIV bible then maybe don’t get this bible because you won’t likely miss out on much but rather get a another translation altogether and experience something new.
Thank you to Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this bible for my honest review of it.