Thursday, March 30, 2017

Christian Nonfiction Review: God Among Sages by Kenneth Richard Samples

"God Among Sages" gives a Christian overview of Jesus, Buddha, Confucius and Muhammed, with some interesting interludes on the Trinity, church history, and religious pluralism.

Personally, I would have preferred author Kenneth Richard Samples start with an overview of the Bible's trustworthy and perfect nature, as much of what Samples writes depends on a belief in the Bible as the Word of God, or at the very least a reliable historical document. Much of what Samples does write on the subject can be found in more extensive, easy-to-read books out there. I've read several of them myself, and therefore did not find much of anything new in "God Among Sages."

I did, however, take the time to write down some of the charts Samples provided on parallels between Yahweh and Jesus and on Jesus' self-attributed divinity and humanity. I also found Samples' thoughts on pluralism informative, especially his refutation of the Elephant Analogy.

As for the author's comparisons of Christianity to the major world religions, Samples did have some great points on how to converse with those belonging to these religions. And his look at the founders or major leaders of the faiths serve as a good beginning point for any Christian looking to defend his or her faith. I am surprised that Samples chose not to include some of the religions derivative of Christianity and more common in the United States such as Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses. But maybe he's saving that for another book.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review: "Speaking of Homosexuality"

"Speaking of Homosexuality" by Joe Dallas is probably the most expansive book I have yet read on the Christian perspective on the LGBT issue - so much so that I would love to read an expanded edition with more real-life examples (Dallas himself was once a "gay Christian") and in-depth discussion. As it is, the book provides succinct, organized and detailed arguments and counter-arguments. After spending a few chapters on the context and people of the conversation, Dallas covers everything from the "born that way" question to the same sex marriage controversy and several chapters' worth of what the Biblical view entails. Dallas makes a strong effort to explain the liberal viewpoint, including quotes from leaders of that movement. And while he maintains the traditionalist position, he builds bridges between opposing sides. Each chapter includes a bullet-point summary of his points - and there are many (enough that I have up on underlining and decided to keep the entire book for future reference).

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Review: Essential Worship by Greg Scheer

In the first third of "Essential Worship," Greg Scheer makes some excellent points in defining worship and its part in God's plan. However, as the "handbook" progresses, Scheer gets caught up in obvious, minute details such as how to consider incorporating dance and the arts into a service and the best setup of chairs and stage space - topics which could be interesting in a philosophical and ideological realm, but not so much in technical descriptions (easy, but boring to read). The author's own reformed theology, while not bothersome to me, was also an obvious influence throughout. The book is certainly written with a worship pastor or worship student in mind, but the first half of the book is worth reading if you are trying to get a stronger perspective on biblical worship, and Scheer is very good about providing both recommendations for additional resources and about including diagrams and illustrations.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free. All opinions are my own.

Devotional Review: Remember and Return

In "Remember and Return," John MacArthur lays out who Christ is, what He does for us, and how we should respond. The devotional is basically a plan of salvation for those who are not Christians and a "rekindling" of love for God for believers. It's nothing you haven't read before, but it's written with eloquence, and the topics are foundational to the Christian faith. This is the kind of devotional I can get behind. It's more than a page. It includes references to multiple Bible verses, their context, and their original Greek meanings. It is deep and thoughtful. And for those who actually like traditional devotionals, it still includes a daily verse and challenge.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Review: NKJV, Journal the Word Bible, Large Print

The NKJV, Journal the Word Bible, Large Print features lines in the margins for journaling. Do not be fooled by the sample image, though. The image features an example of "coloring-book" journaling, but any illustrations will have to be made by yourself. The large print could also be a a bit larger. But the hard cover is beautiful (and looks just like the picture) and good quality (it will last). I'm also grateful to have this in the NKJV. I have a similar journal Bible that is NIV, which is not my favorite version since the latest update to the translation.

*Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I received this book for free.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Restoring Christmas

Novellas usually have little character development due to lack of space, but I love them anyway - especially Christmas novellas. But "Restoring Christmas" is a nice surprise. Author Cynthia Ruchti gives readers that home-grown warmth and detailed character backgrounds. The romantic leads, Alexis and Gabe, both have dark pasts that enable them to connect as he films and she designs for a home restoration project. The landowner, Elsie, also grows on readers as we learn small bits of her family history. There were a few small details that bothered me about the book, however. At the start, Gabe is the one more sensitive to Elsie's feelings, but about half way through he trades places with Alexis in that regard. There were also a few moments when I had trouble connecting the dots or following what was happening. Still, "Restoring Christmas" is a lovely story about putting others first and moving past material desires during the holidays. Ruchti also includes subtle, but strong Christian themes.

*I received this book for free. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: First Words of Jesus

"First Words of Jesus" is a refreshing overview of the nativity story and its connection to Jesus' final days on earth. Author Stu Epperson, Jr. does tend to be a bit repetitive, and some of his points are a stretch, but perhaps that is the radio host in him coming out. I did appreciate Epperson's use of Scripture, old hymns, and lesser known facts, but all the extras seemed like a bit much. Each chapter begins with a few quotes and ends with a few pages of relevant verses and dull discussion questions. Epperson organizes the book based on Jesus' questions to his parents when they find him at the temple. Basically, Epperson connects Joseph, Mary and the rest to the need to seek Christ and then focuses the end of his book on Jesus' mission. Epperson offers several subtle opportunities for the unbelieving reader to accept Christ. To be honest, I did not get much out of this book, but I believe it to be a good Christmas read and perhaps a good choice as a gift for someone interested in learning about the Christian perspective on Christmas.

*All opinions are my own. I received this book for free.