Friday, December 12, 2014

Books from my potential 2014 reading list

I love to make lists, particularly lists of books to read. The trouble with it is that I usually don't end up sticking to the list as I'm more of a mood-reader. And then there's the review books that grab my attention. :-) As far as my potential 2014 reading list, I actually did get several of them read this year.

On my 2014 potential reading list - and did get read.
Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane
The Bible in 90 Days
Slave by John MacArthur
A Biblical Theology of Missions by George Peters
Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem (twice)
I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler
The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer
Church History: A Crash Course for the Curious by C. Catherwood
The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer
Turning Points by Mark Noll
Following the Master by Michael Wilkins
Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt
Missions in the Third Millenium by Stan Guthrie
Friendships: Avoiding the Ones that Hurt, Finding the Ones that Heal by Jeff Wickwire
The Body Dynamic by John MacArthur
The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
Deliver Us from Evil by Ravi Zacharias

On my 2014 potential reading list - but didn't get read.
Escape from Reason by Francis Schaeffer
He Is There and He Is Not Silent by Schaeffer
Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley
Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

I will likely move a couple of these to my potential 2015 reading list.

Friday, December 5, 2014

God Has Spoken by Gerald Bray


God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology
by Gerald L. Bray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The aim of this book is to make the history of Christian theology comprehensible to nonspecialists while at the same time providing a useful resource for those who want to take the subject further."
I think the author's aim was accomplished. The reading is easy to follow and not bogged down yet it is comprehensive and detailed.
This is an interesting read. A history of theology and how it developed throughout church history, this was a much more detailed picture than anything I've read up to this point. Most histories of theology or church history jump into the early church fathers and the councils without going into a lot of detail about the early church. In this book, the author gives detailed information on the relationship between the early Christians and the Jewish faith. Comparing how much they had in common and how the early Christians used the same Scriptures as the Jewish people in their new faith, it shows how similar they were and the heritage that the Jews gave to Christianity. Part One details the connections between Christianity and Judaism and details some of the same beliefs they held, such as monotheism and God creating the world.
Parts Two and Three then go into great detail regarding God the Father. Parts Four and Five address the person of Christ as the Son and His work. Parts Six and Seven are regarding the Holy Spirit. This book is an extensive look at the development of theology since the dawn of Christianity. Originally it wasn't called theology but rather doctrine or teachings.
If you are interested in the history of theology and how it developed from the beginning of Christianity until now, this book is the book!

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hit List by Brian Hedges

Hit List: Taking Aim at the Seven Deadly SinsHit List: Taking Aim at the Seven Deadly Sins by Brian G. Hedges
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 7 Deadly Sins
Though these are not necessarily addressed as such in the Bible, the list of the 7 deadly sins has been around for many years. What makes these sins considered so deadly is that generally they are at the root of many other sins. Wrath or anger leads to bitterness, revenge or other sins. Lust leads to sexual immorality and pride leads to selfishness, while gluttony produces ingratitude or discontent. Most of us struggle with at least one of these sins in our lives.
This book takes a look at each of these sins, giving examples of how they are manifested in our lives and then giving steps of how we can overcome them. The 7 deadly sins are listed as pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust. In a quick overview, the author tackles each sin and goes beyond our initial idea of what the sin is and describes in further detail how we may fall into this sin without realizing it. For example, often people associate gluttony with over-eating. But gluttony can also be making food our idol or using it to fill an emptiness in our lives rather than turning to God.
A quick read and a convicting one - challenging the Christian to address these sins. A practical book for any believer to help in our daily struggle against the sin in our lives.

"Seeing sin more clearly as the foolish and fatal attempt to find satisfaction apart from God should provoke both sorrow and hope in our hearts."
"This is a helpful working definition of pride. Pride is thinking much about one's self and much of one's self."
"Is not the most effective way of bridling my delight in being made much of, to focus on making much of God?"
"The great secret to humility is not to focus on yourself at all, but to fill your mind and heart with the glory of God revealed in the sin-conquering death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
"sloth is characterized by carelessness, unwillingness to act, half-hearted effort, and becoming easily discouraged by any possible difficulty."
"Gluttony is the prioritization of our bodily appetites over spiritual reality. Gluttony is a worship disorder."

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher Cruciform Press in exchange for my review.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler

Dead RingerDead Ringer by Allen Wyler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I don't read as much fiction these days, I do enjoy a good medical thriller now and then. This one was fast-paced and suspenseful and eerily realistic! The idea of a black market for body parts and cadavers is likely true and makes you think about how many people die as a result of it.
I rated this book 3 1/2 stars. It would have been 4 stars but I felt that the swearing was more excessive than it needed to be. Other than that, it was a great read, drawing the reader into the world of a neurosurgeon whose life is upended when at a medical conference the cadaver's head being used looks just like his best friend! When he returns home and discovers his friend is missing, he is pulled into the missing persons world where he connects with a cop looking for a missing prostitute. From there the black market of body parts is revealed.
If you like suspense and medical thrillers, you will enjoy this look into the dark side of a mortuary.

*I received a copy of this ebook free from the publisher Astor + Blue in exchange for my review.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Exploring Christian Theology, Vol. One: Revelation, Scripture, and the Triune God

Exploring Christian Theology, Volume I: Revelation, Scripture, and the Triune GodExploring Christian Theology, Volume I: Revelation, Scripture, and the Triune God by Michael J. Svigel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a very down-to-earth, accessible, easy-to-read volume on the doctrines of Scripture and the Trinity. Many people are put off by the idea of theology and think it is primarily for scholars and theologians. But everyone has a theology whether they realize it or not. And our theology or view of who God is, affects our daily lives. This book puts theology in an understandable format, making it easy to grasp for the average person. What we believe is our theology and good theology is needed to live a life in accordance with God's Word.
After a brief overview of the Christian story in 4 acts, this book is divided into 2 sections: Revelation and Scripture, and The Trinity. Each part then breaks down the doctrine in the following sections:

  • High Altitude Survey 
  • Passages to Master - a look at key passages that explore this particular doctrine
  • In Retrospect - what did the past teach regarding this doctrine? A look at church history
  • Facts to Never Forget - key truths regarding this doctrine
  • Dangers to Avoid - some of the heresies that have arisen in the past from this doctrine
  • Principles to Put into Practice - how is this doctrine practical for my daily life?
  • Voices from the Past and Present - key church fathers, theologians and others' quotes regarding this doctrine
  • Shelf Space - further recommending reading to dive further into this subject

Each section is well-written and concise. For those looking for a beginning-level curriculum for small group or Sunday School classes, this volume would make an excellent choice to go through together to better understand and grasp the doctrine of Scripture and the Trinity.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Bethany House in exchange for my review.


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Company We Keep by Jonathan Holmes


The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship
by Jonathan Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a fast-paced world of technology, friendships easily become surface and superficial. But God has called us as Christians for something more as the body of Christ. In this book, the author takes a look at biblical friendships: what they are, what they aren't and traits to develop to become a biblical friend.
"Truly biblical friendship is embodied in the Trinity, empowered by Jesus Christ, and intended as a spiritual discipline among God's people for the purpose of glorifying him."
Biblical friendship is intended to be a testimony to other Christians and to be a witness to the outside world of the love of Christ. Some of the traits needed to develop this type of friendship are constancy, candor, carefulness and counsel. These types of friendship take time to build and must be continued on through the good and the bad, helping each other in time of need. Transparency is needed, yet carefulness to guard the others' private concerns. Counsel is seen throughout Proverbs as being a characteristic of biblical friendship. Traits to guard against that will destroy a biblical friendship are hurtful speech, such as gossip or slander, anger and jealousy.
Biblical friendships take time and must be more than just the online status quo that is so prevalent among friendships today. This book is a needed reminder of what true friendship looks like in a day and age when often friends are treated as one more project or program in our lives.

*I was sent a copy of this book free from the publisher Cruciform Press in exchange for my review.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Discipleship and the Church

I've been thinking a lot lately about what the purpose for the church is. Why does the church exist? What is it supposed to accomplish? And along those lines, what exactly is discipleship? How does that look in someone's life?
Matthew 28:19-20 is often referred to as the Great Commission. It is Jesus giving His disciples the command to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them. I look at this as being the purpose behind why as Christians we remain on this earth after our salvation, rather than immediately being caught up to heaven. Our salvation isn't the end but rather the beginning of our relationship with God, where we become disciples of Jesus, learners of who He is and how He lived. We then take what we learn, teach it to others that they also would become disciples of Jesus.
While the church may have many reasons for existing, I think its primary purpose is to make disciples. So what is discipleship? A disciple is a learner, a follower. A disciple of Jesus is one who follows Jesus and learns from Him. The church needs to teach who Jesus is, so that His disciples may learn more about Him and how to better follow Him. There's a lot more involved in discipleship but the short answer is following Jesus, obeying His commands.