Tag Archives: Book Review

I just finished "Things We Couldn't Say"  by Diet Eman, published in 1999.

The book, "Things We Couldn't Say" is simultaneously hopeful and fearful; the author can lament the situation while resting in the love of God.

Diet Eman and her fiance, Hein Sietsma, watched from the beginning on Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, wondering, "what is starting here?" to  "what can we do?" to "what *SHOULD* we do?"

Diet Eman is in the company of Corrie Ten Boom - in fact, at one point they were in the same prison camp.  If anything, Eman was more involved in the Resistance Network than Ten Boom was.

Why did she do what she did?

As a Reformed Christian, Eman's philosophy of the resistance was based in her faith in God and that faith spurred her into action.  At her most exhausted and in her moments of deepest fear, it was God that carried her.

She wrote: 

When I opened the book [the Bible] that night at the end of February 1945, it said, "Being exhausted, yet keeping up the pursuit" (Judges 8:4). Even after what I had said of wanting out, even after that humiliation, the physical exhaustion, the deep despair I felt, those words were my new marching orders. The next morning, I swung my rucksack over my shoulders and was off again.

 Most authors put the "why I wrote this book" at the beginning. 

 The author puts her reasons for writing in the postscript - she wanted to forget. When Corrie Ten Boom come to the town Eman was living in (Grand Rapids, MI) Eman began being convicted that 

...every time I opened the Bible something like "Tell the great things I have done" stared me in the face. Then a pastor who knew that I had been in the same prison as Corrie asked me to speak to his church. I wanted to scream, "No, I want to forget," but I didn't dare. So I went, but it was very difficult.  (Diet Eman;James Schaap. Things We Couldn't Say (Kindle Locations 3502-3504). Kindle Edition.)

Friends and family began to encourage her to write her story as a sort of therapy. She needed to write and the world needed to know.

All those years between WWII and when she told the story, she kept her diaries and letters and those of her fiance, Hein.  She shares those notes and fills in the blanks with her memories.

We read along as Diet goes from an innocent child, to a young woman in love with a young man, and then she becomes a confused Dutch woman unsure of what to do in the face of an invading force and then she launches into the Resistance.

Diet spent months in a Nazi prison camp, where she wrote:

And also, I forget to see that this all happens with God's permission. I keep on staring at the injustice which our country and people are suffering, but I forget that you bring your trials on this earth because you deem this necessary, otherwise it would not have happened. (location 412)

 Why does it matter?

As I write this review, I'm listening to the radio.  I am writing with the memory of last Wednesday, when a mob of people stormed the Capital Building. The President has been banned from a couple of social media platforms and an entire social media network (Parler) has been removed from app stores and has had their website taken down by their ISP.  Senator Ronis in "facebook jail" for unknown reasons.  

Reports of people who were merely present at the protest - on the fringes, *NOT* part of the mob who stormed the gates - being turned in by grandchildren and getting fired from their jobs.  For peaceful assembly!

Diet wrote:

What will this year bring us? Peace? Liberty? Reunion? Lord, you know it already! This time last year, when we were all together, we would never have thought that all this would happen! But you knew it. And we still have to give you thanks, for in some way this is necessary for the big plan you have for this world.

The Biden Administration is about to begin. I watch who is being "cancelled", who is being fired, and who is being silenced.

 My husband posted:"When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar. You're only telling the world that you fear what he might say."- George R.R. Martin

This book is a "must read"

 The book has a tragic story, but the way that's it's written catches at the heart.  Going back and forth from Hein to Diet, reading their diaries and letters, one can see how each person reacts to an event (the queen of the Netherlands escaping to England)

Reading the book, while watching our own current events unfold is unsettling.

Read it...think on it...and (I think) be prepared to ponder where your own "line in the sand" will be.

About Deacon King Kong

James McBride wrote “Deacon King Kong” in third-person narration, hopping back and forth between characters.  Set in 1960’s New York City, the story begins with an act that makes so sense. The story ends about the same...making no sense.

As the book goes on, you do get the feel of the back story – living in Black New York City. You see the business of dealing or using drugs, getting “stuck” in this life with no way out. 

When I reached the halfway point in the book, I realized that I kept picking it up for no other reason other than I had committed to read it in a “reading challenge.”  After finishing the story, I still cannot discern the main message.  I can pick out several possibilities, but only one that has any sort of closure.

About the story

The basic story begins as the main character (Sportcoat) shoots a drug dealer and sets off a comical series of mishaps that ricochet throughout the book.  From undercover cops, to mob bosses, to drug distributors, to preacher’s wives…they all interact in some interesting and improbably ways.

This book received an astonishing number of outstanding reviews – including Oprah and Barack Obama. This does not leave me with much confidence in their tastes in books.  But so many recommendations leave me wondering if I wandered off into the twilight zone.

I read enough fiction books that keep me reading to find out where the characters end up and what their lives look like.  “Deacon King Kong” had so little character development that I had little or no interest in them.  What does Sportcoat like?  Other than King Kong (homemade adult beverage) I’m not sure what he wants.

Not Recommended

I did find that they book requires so little brain energy that if a reader wants “cotton candy for the brain” (not very filling with no nutritional value) – Deacon King Kong might fit those taste buds.

James McBride has written a number of other books (I have not read any of them so I can’t compare) and I don’t think I will read more of his works. 

Nor would I recommend Deacon King Kong. There’s just not enough character or plot development, no closure on the big story lines and too few interesting plots.

I recently started, read, and finished “Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs Are Entering The Church Through Contemplative Prayer” by Warren B. Smith, who wrote the book because he's so concerned about so many Christians reading (and falling into) “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.

The unusual use of language by the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling was also disturbing. It seemed to run the gamut from “everyday Joe” language to strange word choice, unwarranted flattery, worldly clichés, repetitive phrases, disparaging comments, and not-so-subtle mockery. All in all, Jesus Calling seemed to be an obvious attempt by our spiritual Adversary to get an even further foothold inside the Christian church. While I was surprised that Sarah Young’s devotional had become such a huge best-seller in the Christian marketplace, I was not completely surprised. Deceptive occult/ New Age teachings are swallowing up much of what calls itself Christian these days. In this book , I have done my best to raise some of my questions and concerns. I am sure my conclusions will upset a great many people who are devoted to Jesus Calling. Obviously, what you do with these conclusions is completely up to you. But I couldn’t imagine not bringing what I discovered to your attention. Hopefully, you will consider what I have presented here.(1)

Another Jesus Calling” is “quote-heavy,” drawing from a variety of sources, comparing “Jesus Calling” to New Age sources, as well as “God Calling,” in order to show how New Age beliefs, terminology, and practices have crept into mainstream Christianity.

Smith is uniquely qualified to speak to these comparisons, coming, as he did, out of the New Age movement. Armed with this knowledge, he spots and points out to his readers how the “jesus” of “Jesus Calling” pulls Young's followers toward a false Jesus.

In the prologue, Smith reminds us that Jesus said, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before." (Matthew 24: 24-25) With this warning in mind, we can work through “Another Jesus Calling” with a discerning eye, comparing and contrasting Young's jesus with the Jesus of the Bible.

I had previously worked through a bit of “Jesus Calling” and left it knowing that something was wrong there. The jesus of that book was not the Jesus of the Bible, but I had written it off to the longing voice in Young's head. Reading “Another Jesus Calling” makes it clear that it's much, much worse.

It would be a mistake to condemn “Jesus Calling” because Young uses terminology similar (okay, identical) to New Age writers. But many of these terms are very specific: visualization, co-creation, channeling...Smith spots these and more.

As I finished “Another Jesus Calling” I wanted to reach those who “like” “Jesus Calling” and tell them to follow the real Jesus, not the fake jesus of Sarah Young.

You should read “Another Jesus Calling” if you've read “Jesus Calling” (in any of its forms) and felt a little “off.” You should read it if you've contemplated giving “Jesus Calling” to anybody you like.”You should read this book (with an open and discerning eye) if you want to read (or have read0) “Jesus Calling.” You should read this book if you have a friend who wants you to read “Jesus Calling.”

Another Jesus Calling” is a warning bell that is well written, well researched, well qualified to tell us of the problems of (generally) false teachers and (specifically) “Jesus Calling.”

What it all comes down to is this: Do we have a love of the truth or do we just experience what we want to experience and hear what we want to hear? Ultimate truth is not found in channeled messages, “new” revelations, or “new” truth. Ultimate truth— God’s truth and nothing but God’s truth— is explicitly, authoritatively, genuinely, and most amazingly found in the pages of God’s inspired Holy Word.(1)

 

  1. Smith, Warren B. (2013-11-19). Another Jesus Calling (Kindle Locations 216-225). Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  2. Smith, Warren B. (2013-11-19). Another Jesus Calling (Kindle Locations 2100-2102). Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Kindle Edition.

 

 

"The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" by Lorraine Boettner

For a beginner to Reformed theology, this book will give the basics of TULIP in an accessible way. If you are firmly already in the "ANTI-" camp, don't bother reading the book, you'll hate it. But if you want to learn about the theology, with an open mind, this is a great place to start.

This book begins at the beginning. Boettner teaches in this book that all of "TULIP" stands or falls together and starts with the "T" - total depravity.

For Boettner, the sovereignty of God is something to be glorified, not hated. We deserve nothing from God, and the idea that He saves some at all is a testament to goodness.

Each segment is supported with Scripture, and explained thoroughly.

There is a little bit of "here's where the other side is wrong" - and sometimes in not very graceful language - but even those are framed in "here's why from Scripture"

I read the Amazon reviews and there were a few of "one-star" reviews. ALL of these were not based on the writing of the book, but on their disagreement with Calvinism.

Every so often I start a book that just doesn't seem like it's worth finishing...So once a month I'm planning on posting a "not a review" for those "zero star" books...

First up...

JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy

at 28% done, I decided to call it a day. the book is listed at a "bargain price" and is written by a pilot who flew with the "movers and shakers" of the war. It communicates a lot of information, but in a way that is not all that readable.

I did take away a renewed understanding of the futility of the Viet Nam war, and I guess it's a good thing that we look at ALL war with the same cynical eye.

(Edit: okay, I'm working at it again...)

[relatedratings=null]This year I read through "God Is In the Manger" for Advent.

Book Description:

These forty stirring devotions will guide and inspire readers as they move thematically through the weeks of Advent and Christmas, from waiting and mystery to redemption, incarnation, and joy. Supplemented by an informative introduction, short excerpts from Bonhoeffer's letters, and passages from Bonhoeffer's Christmas sermons, these daily reflections are timeless and moving reminders of the true meaning of Christmas. Now repackaged in a beautiful hardback edition, it makes the perfect holiday gift.

For me, reading the words of Bohnhoeffer, many of them from prison, reminded me of that different time. We have felt for a while that the USA is on the verge of some version of that "different time" and the words of encouragement from prison resonated.

Each day there was a devotional, a few words from Bohnhoeffer, and a Scripture passage.

I would do this one again, and will buy a couple over the year so that I'll have some to give away.

Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots by J. C. Ryle. It's $.99 and the best buck I've spent in a while.

I have a loosely structured reading plan that includes very recent "Christian living" books and (at the same time) less recent, or even very old writings. I have benefitted a lot from going back in time, to a less "cluttered" written landscape.

A book on holiness, written more than a century ago, brings a clarity to the purpose of holiness. We've forgotten what holiness means, much less the role that holiness should play in our lives.

In the introduction, D. M. Lloyd-Jones (Westminster Chapel) wrote

The characteristics of Bishop Ryle's method and style are obvious. He is pre-eminently and always scriptural and expository. He never starts with a theory into which he tries to fit various scriptures. He always starts with the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invariably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine. It is strong and virile and entirely free from the sentimentality that is often described as "devotional."

The Bishop had drunk deeply from the wells of the great classical Puritan writers of the seventeenth century. Indeed, it would be but accurate to say that his books are a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.

The Puritans had so much to say! If Ryle boiled it down, that's great.

And in a Christian reading landscape that is full of "fluff," the "anti-devotional" writing is a welcome dive into the deep. I read devotionals and have found depth and peace and instruction - but rarely. You cannot find depth in a five minute swim.

Ryle says that a wrong view of holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption; in order to have a correct view of holiness, you have to have a correct view of sin.

This quote is one that I need to keep around and blog about later:

Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.

Also...Don't EVER be ashamed of holiness. Not in front of the world, not in front of other Christians.

and, on spiritual warfare:

Let us remember that if we would fight successfully we must put on the whole armour of God, and never lay it aside till we die. Not a single piece of the armour can be dispensed with.

We can never forget that we need the WHOLE of the armor...

anyway...I'm going through the kindle book, looking at the highlights and they remind me of thoughts I had about the book...

If you are so inclined, click through the link and buy the book...

2 Comments

[relatedratings=null]"If God is Good, Why Do We Hurt?"

Because I'm hurting this was not only a good book to read, it was a hard book to read. I don't like this paint and (even though the doctors believe it's an injury and not an ongoing thing) I'm ready to be done.

Let God show me quickly what He wants me to learn and just get it over with.

Then again...

Whenever we’re tempted to think God has messed up our nice world by interjecting evil and suffering into it, let’s remember that in fact we messed up God’s perfect world by interjecting evil and suffering. Then he suffered evil by our hands so that we could forever be delivered from evil and suffering and death. Rather than blaming or resenting God, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude that because of his work of grace on the cross, our suffering need not be eternal, but only temporary.

I am called to see this pain as a reminder how much He suffered for me.

And he will deliver you through your present suffering, though not always from it. In fact, the Bible assures believers, “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29). Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33, ESV). Suffering—whether from persecution, accidents, or illnesses—shouldn’t surprise us. God has promised it. And when it comes, people should lose their faith in false doctrine, not in God.

But even now, as you face suffering, God will give you joyful foretastes of living in his presence. That’s his promise as well, and also his instruction: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12–13).

If I take away nothing more than that from this book, it will be well read.

I read a couple of other books on suffering, this one has had more "meat" than the others...

"Not So Easily Washed Away"

the book says that the story is true, but it reads like made-up erotica...but maybe not. The teller of the story swings from anger to desperation, from threats to pleas.

A lot of it sounds as if it cannot be. The parts before she comes to American...maybe. There are many reports that come out of Arab parts of the world that make this story ring true.

The part where she is here? I hope these things cannot happen, but I know that they do.

The book is not well written, the writing is shallow and the characters unreal. There is a second book, but I most likely will not read it.

4 Comments

I think this is one I'll go through here (spiritual discipline, perhaps?)

As I was reading this book, the first part seemed like it is full of "white guilt" - expanding the sin of racism to all white people in the USA by virtue of the color of their skin.

After that, Piper explores individual sins on both sides of the issue - "both" because the reality is (at this point, anyway) the big divide seems greatest between African-Americans and Americans of European descent.  There is plenty of sin to go around.

When Piper gets into the meat of the topic - WHY it is a sin and why it matters, this is an excellent book.  I also broadened to topic to include "favoritism" (not just the race kind) and it became more excellent.

by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation, (Rev. 5:9)

From chapter 6 on, the book is steeped in the Gospel.  We are all created in the image of God - to practice favoritism in any way strikes at the image.

I'm giving this 4 stars (also working on a star system... 😉