Wednesday, October 4, 2017

ANYONE CAN TALK THE TALK . . .BUT CAN YOU WALK THE WALK? FIND OUT in WALK IT OUT by Tricia Goyer!

"The just shall live by faith . . ." and this is ONE snapshot of what that looks like in the 21st Century.

What ought not to surprise you is that this is what it looked like when Billy Graham was filling football stadiums during his evangelistic crusades.

This is what it looked like when John and Charles Wesley were used by God to start The Great Awakening.

Believe it or not, this is what it looked like when Saul of Tarsus was struck down on the road to Damascus, transformed into the Apostle Paul, and became the greatest missionary the world has ever seen.

While the names and faces have changed, the times and circumstances have radically altered as the world turned, the principles remain the same, and are captured in one verse of Scripture:
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

So many people stop short of that final step.  In her autobiographical work, WALK IT OUT, author Tricia Goyer shows us what that final step looks like.  As Tricia explains, "I've learned that God's good plans are not always easy, or neat, but when we step out in obedience we never walk alone."


COUNSELING UNDER THE CROSS by Martin Luther

I have a confession to make.  I’m not German.  I’m not Lutheran.  I’m not even Reformed in my theology.

I’m a Baptist pastor, have been since 1991.  I’m fundamental in my theological perspective . . . but not mad about it.

And I absolutely love this book!  Bob Kellemen has taken the time and energy, the blood, sweat and tears necessary, to make Martin Luther not only readable, but enjoyable.  And liveable.  Not an easy task in the contemporary historical / cultural context.

Exploring rich theological terms which Martin Luther himself found crucial for his salvation and, later, for his ministry, author Bob Kellemen writes as only one who comprehends the subject matter is able.  He has taken difficult theological concepts and “dumbed it down” for the rest of us, without sacrificing any of the significance.

Drawing on letters, conversations, sermons and anecdotes in Martin Luther’s life, COUNSELING UNDER THE CROSS shares the heart and soul of this Father of the Reformation as he ministers the gospel in a cross-shaped  approach to pastoral care—sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding. These four counseling concepts serve as compass points  as one discovers how Martin Luther took this historic approach and infused it with the gospel—demonstrating the rich relevance of the gospel for daily life.


5 stars for a foundational primer for Biblical counseling

COUNSELING UNDER THE CROSS:
HOW MARTIN LUTER APPLIED THE GOSPEL TO DAILY LIFE
Bob Kellemen
ISBN 978-1-945270-22-2 (eBook)
Christian Living / Spiritual Growth
NewGrowth Press
$19.97  paperback

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

KNOW THE WORD . . . SPEAK THE WORD . . . LIVE THE WORD! IT'S POSSIBLE!

Many people start the new year with the best of intentions.  We call these "New Years Resolutions."  And along with the list of "going on a diet,"  "losing weight," and "getting into shape by exercising regularly," some would add, "This is the year.  This is the year that I'm going to FINALLY read my Bible through."

Ahhhhh . . . the best laid plans of mice and men!  Wouldn't it be nice to have a game plan?  Better yet, wouldn't it be nice to have some help?  I mean . . . where does one start?

I highly recommend getting the KNOW THE WORD Study Bible.  The statement on the cover is not just advertising hype:  "GAIN A GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLE:"

Book by book.  Verse by Verse.  Topic by Topic.  Now, why does that sound familiar?  
" For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"  Isaiah 28:10 (KJV) 

The KNOW THE WORD STUDY BIBLE adopts that very methodology.  Whether you are wanting to do a complete book study, a topical study of major Bible themes, or a verse by verse study, this is the study Bible that you will find yourself reaching for again and again.

Attractive features include:  textual notes and explanations, summaries of each book, STUDY THE BOOK highlights, tables of ancient monies, weights and measures and their modern equivalent, a more than adequate concordance, and of course a nice collection of maps.  I always look for maps in a study Bible!

However you choose to use the KNOW THE WORD STUDY BIBLE, you will find yourself so engaged with the Scriptures that you won't even realize, "Oh!  I'm reading the Bible!"  Bible study will no longer be a chore, or an item on your "to-do" list.  It will be the life-changing adventure that God intended it to be.  As a bi-vocational pastor, this is one of my "go-to" references for sermon preparation as well as for devotional reading.

The KNOW THE WORD STUDY BIBLE comes in the KJV and the NKJV translations, hardback with beautifully designed jackets, imitation leather, and genuine leather options.  The words of Jesus appear in red, and the two-color interior page design and thoughtful layout of the text and notes keeps the reader engaged.

5 stars for a Study Bible that lives up to its name.

KNOW THE WORD STUDY BIBLE
Thomas Nelson Publishers
ISBN 978-0-7180-9160-6
Bibles / KJV / Study
$39.99 cloth over board hardcover

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

SPIRITUAL WISDOM FOR A HAPPIER LIFE by Mark W. Baker, PhD

To be honest, I have never really thought about my emotions, until I received this book for review.  My emotions, my feelings, were just "the way I'm feeling right now."  The notion that they can be understood . . .directed . . . put to work in one's life in such a way that they do not so much dictate your everyday life so much as they enhance your daily walk . . . enrich your relationships, and bring balance and focus to whatever you are doing at "the moment," is completely foreign to me . . . and completely refreshing.

What can I say?  I'm a guy!  Guy's don't usually engage in the "emotional."  Maybe it's time I learned.

In SPIRITUAL WISDOM FOR A HAPPIER LIFE, author Mark W. Baker, a clinical psychologist and author of JESUS - THE GREATEST THERAPIST WHO EVER LIVED, lays before us what the practitioners of psychology have generally accepted as the eight key emotions that human beings experience. 

Combining spiritual insights from scripture, 25 years of experience as a clinical psychologist, and candid revelations from actual cases, Dr. Baker plumbs the depths of pain, guilt, anger, anxiety, sorrow, fear, joy and love.  He writes in a clear, practical style, avoiding both technical jargon and over-simplification.

If (like me) you've never considered your emotions, or how they can be put to positive use in your everyday life, you may need to read the chapters over a few times until the light comes on.  Once the lights come on, they stay on, and illuminate possibilities of a happier life that you never dreamed of.

5 stars for a thoughtful approach to human emotions

SPIRITUAL WISDOM FOR A HAPPIER LIFE
Mark W. Baker, PhD
Christian Living / Emotional Health
ISBN  978-0-8007-2882-3
Revell Publishing
$16.99 US  softcover

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Where Does One Find Justice In THE RULE OF LAW?

Show-time under the big top.  SEAL Team Six has just taken center stage.  For good or for ill, the lives of an American Journalist and the son of the Saudi royal family rested in the hands of one of the most capable Special Forces Units currently under arms.  Expertly trained, incredibly equipped, this should have been a walk in the park.

Of course, one can never forget the most-oft quoted proverb of the SEAL Team community:  “The only good day was yesterday.”  And with bad – bogus? – intel, the “walk in the park” becomes a bloody fight for survival. In the aftermath, hard questions are being asked, and no one seems to be able to provide the answers.

Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?

Who was ultimately responsible for the spectacular failure of SEAL Team Six?

Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.

Equal justice under law.

It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?

Randy Singer has written what can only be called an epic tour de force of legal and military suspense.  His writing is tight, his plot lines are engaging, and the action rarely allows for the reader to take a ragged breath.

My only criticism is simply this; the book is just too long!  At 473 pages, and with a cast of 40 characters to keep track of (there is a CAST OF CHARACTERS at the beginning of the book), one is reminded of Abbot and Costello’s infamous radio program, WHO’S ON FIRST?  Perhaps the CAST OF CHARACTERS at the front of the book should be detachable? 

If you have the necessary patience and stamina, as well as the time and inclination, Randy Singer produces a fictional story that reads like yesterday’s headlines in terms of authenticity.  Along the way, the author forces the reader to really think through what we have always naively accepted as THE RULE OF LAW.


4 stars for an excellent book that requires a lot from the reader

RULE OF LAW
Randy Singer
military suspense
ISBN 1-4960-41815-8
Tyndale House
473 pages
$26.99

Bowers Is Back! EVERY DEADLY KISS by Steven James

When I found out that Steven James was publishing yet another BOWER’S FILES suspense, EVERY DEADLY KISS, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Finding out that I had actually MISSED one (EVERY CROOKED PATH) completed the job.  Because while the titles stand alone, they are the continuing saga of an investigator who views crime scenes very differently.  Which explains his success. 

It also explains why no one seems to like Very Special Agent Patrick Bowers.  The other agents can’t understand him.  The women in his life can’t explain him.  And the criminals . . . well, they just keep winding up behind bars.  The ones that survive.

In EVERY DEADLY KISS, Agent Bowers inextricably manages to bring all the actors together on one stage.  He’s called in to work a case of bioterrorism of a particularly ruthless nature by his ex-lover, only to find out that the case is linked to his own history with a known terrorist . . . as well as to his former lover.

Yikes.

Enough teasers.  Get the book!  See if you can match wits with Very Special Agent Patrick Bowers!


5 stars for another suspense-driven ride for your life by Steven James!

EVERY DEADLY KISS (The Bowers Files)
Steven James
Mystery / Suspense / Technothriller
ISBN:  978-1-101-99157-2
Berkley Books
$9.99 U.S.

WHAT ARE THIRD WORLD CHURCHES DOING SO RIGHT, THAT WE ARE DOING SO WRONG?

Every now and then a book comes along that defies reviews.  Or at least makes them extremely challenging.  LESSONS FROM THE EAST:  Finding The Future Of Western Christianity In The Global Church is just one such book.  And I apologize, at the start, for my tardiness in getting this review out.

You see, I started on this book several months ago.  And I couldn’t get into it.  And I picked it up and started it again, and it just wasn’t working.  Well, you know what they say – “third time’s the charm,” right?

Wrong.  I think this is the fifth time I’ve picked up this book.  And I read a quote that I hadn’t seen before . . .and I realized how very important this book actually is to the church in North America.  So . . .I’ve begun it, and this time I’m going to be working it through, because I see so many churches in the pages of these books struggling with the issues Bob Roberts, Jr. addresses.

Oh . . . the quote? 
“In my lifetime the United States has shifted from being the most prolific nation in the world in sending missionaries to being the third most unreached nation in the world.  When I first became a pastor, I didn't realize that I'd become a missionary by staying in America instead of leaving America for a distant land.”
Bob Roberts, Jr.

Something to think about, the next time you pass a church.

5 stars for an extremely challenging, extremely timely book

LESSONS FROM THE EAST:
FINDING THE FUTURE OF WESTERN CHRISTIANITY IN THE GLOBAL CHURCH
Bob Roberts, Jr.
Religion / Christianity / Missionary – Evangelism
ISBN  976-0-7814-1376-3
David C. Cook
$16.99 U.S.