Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
May 4th, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » Books, Worth Reading
When I was asked to review Tracy Elliott’s book, “Unbroken”, I wasn’t all that enthused… it just didn’t sound like anything I’d usually read, and I really wasn’t all that sure I was interested. Biographies just generally aren’t for me.
After finishing it in just one evening (yes, that’s a record for me with these reviews… but then again, I’m here in D.C. by myself), I must say that I’m glad I was given the opportunity.
Why, you ask?
Well… to be honest, there were a lot of things that the book lacked. It wasn’t all that eloquently written… it wasn’t full of deep theological truths… it wasn’t even all that deep in its subject matter. But what it did have… what it was? Well, that’s what makes it worth your time.
“Unbroken” is the deeply personal account of Tracy Elliott’s life… a life most of us can’t begin to imagine. From innocent child with loving parents to sexually abused orphan… from growing, God-loving teenager to drug-addicted, alcoholic stripper… from excited newlywed bride to depressed wife and mother… from rehab to redemption. What can you say? Tracy’s life is one of tremendous changes… tremendous pain and tremendous joy… with one constant.
Tracy’s story is a testament to the love and faithfulness of God. When we come to Him… we’re His forever. He never lets go… never gives up on us… He’s always there when we’re ready to return to Him.
It’s a message all of us need to hear and take to heart.
Now I’ll admit, I didn’t agree with some of the things Tracy shared in the book… she attributed as direction from God some things which seem wholly contrary to Scripture. But her life’s story isn’t diminished by these things… God’s grace and love still shines through in an undeniable manner.
“Unbroken” may not be the kind of book you’d normally read, but it’s one worth checking out nonetheless.
May 3rd, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in » Books, Worth Reading
A while back, John Shore asked me to review his latest book… I’m OK — You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Unbelievers And Why We Should Stop. As easy as it was to read (I could have let myself read it in one setting)… somehow it took me over a month to actually get around to finishing it. That’s certainly not the fault of the book!
“I’m Okay — You’re Not” was an awesome read… I enjoyed every bit of it. And it even made me think! I really can’t say enough good things about it.
So you’ve got an idea what you’re getting into when you read it (and I do mean when… it’s a must read!), John’s book is quite controversial amongst evangelical Christians. Why? He basically proposes that evangelism, as we know it here in the States, really needs to stop. Sounds heretical, doesn’t it? The Great Commission… on the back burner?
Yeah. It does sound heretical. But if you read the book, you’ll likely agree with him (at least to some extent).
How so? John’s premise is that the Great Commandment (to love our neighbor as ourselves in case you’ve forgotten) takes precedence over the Great Commission. When we evangelize the lost, most times our message is not one of love… it’s, as John’s title suggests, “I’m okay [because of my relationship with Christ]… you’re not [because you're going to hell without Jesus].” When we share the gospel with a “Normie” (as John refers to your stereotypical lost person), the message often sounds like one of superiority and arrogance. We almost instantly build a wall between us and them that prohibits any real relationship to develop.
John proposes a somewhat radical alternative… just love people, as they are. Get to know them… develop a real relationship… don’t see them as just another person to convert… another “notch on your belt”. Chances are, if you do that (love them, that is), you’ll eventually get the chance to share your faith with them… they’re bound to ask at some point. At that point, share with love, and don’t insult what they hold oh so dear in the process. Just don’t let loving them simply be an end to a means.
Again, I have to emphasize that this is a great book, and I really think it would be an excellent text to use for a Sunday School class or small group. The chapters are all relatively short, very thought-provoking, and extremely easy to read (John’s writings are very entertaining!). What makes this book even more special, though? At the end of each chapter, John includes several “Ouch!” statements (messages written by nonbelievers, intended specifically for Christians) followed up by some questions to reflect upon. Both are guaranteed to provoke some awesome discussion… if that’s all that were in the book, it would be worth reading.
All in all, this book is phenomenal… even if I don’t agree with everything he has to say 100%. If I had to rate it, it would get six stars (on a five-star scale).
Anyway, be sure to get a copy of I’m OK — You’re Not. You’ll be glad you did.
A couple weeks back, I received a couple of Randy Alcorn books to read and review. Having three kids, it was pretty exciting to me to be receiving these books… they’re directed toward kids. I’d like to say that Jeffrey, Jenna, and Allison were a great help in reviewing these, but unfortunately, they’re all a bit too young to really have a firm grasp on the topics Randy writes about. Perhaps my review of the first of these, “Wait Until Then”, suffers a bit from not really having a good kids’ perspective.
Anyway, “Wait Until Then” is the story of a boy and his grandfather, and their shared love of baseball. The boy suffers from spina bifida, and he longs to walk and run and play baseball, as other kids do. The grandfather, a former major league ballplayer, is dying of cancer. Through their common love of baseball, the boy learns from his grandfather about the future joys of heaven… of freedom from pain and suffering… of having redeemed bodies we may be able to use to play baseball… of seeing loved ones who have already passed on to be with Jesus… and of knowing that all of this is available through a faith relationship with Jesus.
All of the above is great… there’s a lot of weighty topics included, which should make for some good teaching opportunities for parents (ties in nicely with the companion book, “Heaven for Kids”, don’t you think?). And the illustrations? ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL work from Doron Ben-Ami.
However, I hate to say it, but the book just doesn’t fare as well as I would have hoped. To me, it felt much less like a story and more like a theology lesson for kids. Not that theology is a bad thing, of course, but it would seem to me that Randy could have done a better job leading us to points rather than simply having the characters state the facts. And the ending? Well… to avoid spoiling it, let’s just say I really didn’t care for it.
All said, I have to just give the book a so-so rating. I’d definitely recommend that you look over it in your favorite Christian bookstore before buying.
March 8th, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » Books, My Life / Family
Almost two months ago, I received an invitation to review Patty Kirk’s book, “Confessions of an Amateur Believer”. When I accepted the invitation and received the book, I thought this would be a piece of cake… two weeks, tops. After a blazing start, reading the first few chapters in a couple nights… I hit a wall of conflicting priorities, and the book review dropped toward the bottom of my nightly to-do list.
Now, some might consider this experience and conclude that the problem must have resided with the book, but I must tell you… that’s about as far from the truth as one can get.
To be completely honest, I was captivated by Ms. Kirk’s intensely personal writings. Her life experience, as communicated in her book, was something I could relate to… as a former Catholic… as one who simply stopped believing in God for a portion of my life… as one who wrestled with God before coming back(?) to faith… as one who still wrestles with how faith plays out in life… as one who eventually discovered the peace and rest that is enabled by truly trusting Christ. Simply put… it’s powerfully written.
Be aware, however, that this book certainly isn’t perfect. It’s a bit hard to follow at times… being somewhat random as it’s basically a collection of journal-like devotions grouped according to four phases of Ms. Kirk’s faith journey: “Meeting God”, “Struggling”, “Progress”, and “Rest”. But there’s an important message that continually shines through… a message that, as far as I’m concerned, makes this a very good read. That message, as put by Ms. Kirk, is this:
… it is all right to doubt — that to doubt is to seek, and to seek is to hope, and to hope urgently, insistently, with certainty, is to have all the faith we need in order to survive whatever lies ahead.
Basically? It’s alright to be an amateur believer.
Here’s the deal. If you’re one that’s been a believer for as long as you can remember… one that’s always been in church, always believed in God, never really struggled with your faith… this is a must read for insight into the lives of those for whom faith has not come easily. If, on the other hand, you’d count yourself with Patty Kirk as an amateur believer… you’ll almost undoubtedly find something here with which you’ll relate.
All said from this amateur book reviewer? It makes my recommended reading list!
August 14th, 2006 | 3 Comments | Posted in » Books, Just For Fun...
Well, peer pressure strikes again! Dorcas Hawker has tagged me in the ongoing “Book Tag” game circulating through the blog world.
Anyway, here are my responses. As a reminder, rules state that “the Bible” cannot be amongst the answers.
1. One book that changed your life: “Chasing Daylight”, by Erwin McManus. A great read, and a good message about making the most out of every moment in living for Christ.
2. One book that youâ€™ve read more than once: “The Stand” (complete and uncut edition), by Stephen King. It was 1168 pages, but somehow I found plenty of time to read it three or four times during summers when I was a kid!
3. One book Iâ€™d want on a desert island: “How to Build a Satellite Phone with a Built-in Emergency Rescue Beacon from Coconuts, Palm Leaves, and Other Items Found on a Desert Island” by Angus MacGyver (okay, so I made that up).
4. One book that made me laugh: “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”, by Mo Willems. Yes, I’ve got kids, and yes, I really do laugh when I read this book.
5. One book that made me cry: Micah’s gonna think I’m nuts (considering these are ones he wish were never written), but several books in the “Left Behind” series did that to me. There’s just something about reading about people giving their lives for Christ. Foxes Book of Martyrs probably would have an even more powerful effect on me, given that it’s actually real.
6. One book that you wish you had written: oh, why not… “The Purpose Driven Life”. Who wouldn’t like to have a #1 best-seller that has had a positive impact on thousands of lives?
7. One book you wish had never been written: tough one… how about the Koran?
8. One book that you are currently reading: sadly, I’m not reading one now. All of them are in the “meaning to read” pile.
9. One book that youâ€™ve been meaning to read: “The Radical Reformission”, by Mark Driscoll.
As for the next victims? Well… I think I’ll be nice and spare others the pain.