Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: Understanding the Faith Study Bible

Christianity Today provides a new and original study Bible with "Understanding the Faith," at least in concept, anyway. This study Bible includes quotes from various Christian leaders, historic insights, everyday faith lessons, explanations of essential doctrines, and even sections that summarize different views on non-essential doctrines. It's this last group of inserts that disappointed me. The comparison bits are few in number and completely skip over the gifts of the spirit. Another side note does address the differing views, but only very briefly and without any conviction. I also notice one bit that quoted from a teacher I consider unreliable, Rick Warren. The rest of the sections are interesting and worthwhile, although the book introductions are short and to the point. The Bible's layout is easy enough on the eyes and the hardcover book has a nice feel. Overall, this is a great Bible for reminders of essentials of the faith, but it is not an extensive study Bible.

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

Nonfiction Review: Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer

You have to admire A.W. Tozer for his articulate praise and wonder of God. In "Delighting in God," we have a beautiful love letter to God as creator, judge, and giver of mercy. Tozer recognizes there is a lack of respect and response in the modern church and writes to clarify what we can know about God and how that should dictate our relationship with Him. It is a much more philosophical book than it is theological, as it does lack Scripture references. I also found Tozer's encouragement toward a real experience of God confusing, given all the Charismatic and non-Charismatic factions existent today. Still, any Christian should appreciate Tozer's premise that "it is simply not enough to know about God. We must know God in increasing levels of intimacy that lift us above all reason and into adoration and praise and worship." "Delighting in God" is an easy, but deep read, and it is a great starting point for exploring where you are at in your faith and where you should be. Personally, I found it a great intro as I move on to my next book about worship by John MacArthur.

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

Review: The Christmas Story in 40 Days

"The Christmas Story in 40 Days" by Chris Loehmer Kincaid is one of those devotional books written for people who like positive, practical, every-day applications. I did not personally care for the two page devotions, which feature a selection of Scripture followed by a short "explanation" (if you can call it that) and space for notes. Kincaid's "insights" do not spend much time looking at the actual verses, but rather stretch passages to mean something for modern day Christians. And as positive or possibly true some of those insights might be, they do seem like quite a stretch from the source material.

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

Christian Fiction Review: Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

"Until the Dawn" was my first Elizabeth Camden novel, and I do believe I have a new favorite author. Camden does a lovely job of developing a story and a relationship without any of that nonsense immediate attraction. Heroine Sophie and love interest Quentin clash at first in both religion and outlook. As Sophie's optimism and strong faith begin to bring Quentin out of his depression, Sophie also looks back at past relationships and learns that marriage is a partnership. The leading lady has had her share of tragedy, and Camden references a time when Sophie spent a week crying her heart out and years looking for counseling from her pastor. But we mostly see the outgoing, positive side of Sophie who sets a great example in her composed answer to conflict. It was very interesting to read how various events and conversations led Quentin out of his atheistic point of view. Both Sophie and Quentin have a strong regard for science, but Sophie also believes in something more, as evidenced by the "blessed" land Quentin's family owns. Here is where the actual plot comes into play. Quentin's grandfather wants to tear down the historic estate Sophie has grown fond of as a sort of grounds cook and care taker. The intertwining relationships feel very natural and well-built. The entire book is written and planned out well. I could not put it down.

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Nonfiction Review: What We Believe by R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul divides the Apostles' Creed into sections to be considered throughout his book "What We Believe." Sproul's Calvinism leanings are hinted at and he has a tendency to go off topic, but readers will find gems of information - and occasional semantics - here, in addition to confirmations of what most Christians will hopefully already know and believe.

Sproul addresses a general lack of biblical content in modern Christianity. Faith and the mind can work together, he writes - although how science and faith are compatible is never full considered. We do get some useful information on the reliability of the Bible, with a focus on eyewitness declarations. Sproul also devotes chapters to the Trinity, as well as creation and miracles.

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