Tag Archives: book reviews


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In Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas tells Bonhoeffer’s story with passion and theological sophistication, often challenging revisionist accounts that make Bonhoeffer out to be a ‘humanist’ or ethicist for whom religious doctrine was easily disposable. . . . His was a radical obedience to God, a frame of mind widely viewed today with fear and loathing, even among the faithful. In Bonhoeffer, Mr. Metaxas reminds us that there are forms of religion— respectable, domesticated, timid— that may end up doing the devil’s work for him.” ~~~Wall Street Journal

This book is long, but worth it and Metaxas did his research well. He uses letters, sermons, notes and the words of Bonhoeffer to allow him (Bonhoeffer) to tell his own story.

Most people will find the book accessible and easy to read in most places, although in many places, it's difficult emotionally to process.

"Bonhoeffer” sets out to make Bonhoeffer’s life known. I've read critics who say that Metaxas only portrayed his subject in the most positive light – maybe so. But the nuts and bolts of Bonhoeffer's life was positive and if you want to know how he lived and why he died...read this.

I have not read much Bonhoeffer, and have never read a biography. This book made me sit back and ponder many things. - Would I stand firm in the face of adversity? Would I stand firm in the face of somebody else's adversity? Do I live, and would I die, in such a way that “Christ is honored in my body, whether by life or by death?”

I enjoyed the book, and I realize that faith and politics have always intersected, and persecution is always with us – whether “we” are the ones persecuted, or whether we watch another group. The book makes you think; read it book if you want to understand Bonhoeffer and the times and politics in which he lived.

I finished "Fierce Women" (by Kimberly Wagner) this past week and was really encouraged to learn from my own past behavior (in my first marriage.)  When a marriage breaks down, there is rarely an "innocent" party - even if it's a bad reaction to a bad situation.

Women (welcome to the human race) have an insecurity (as most human beings) and feel a need to be in control.

Written from a Complementarian viewpoint, Wagner writes from the painful spot of a woman who has been there, done that - and who, as a couple, brought their marriage from a painful union, to a joyful communion.

Teaching that women have a different role in a marriage than their husbands have, the point of the book is to help women recognize that role, how to step out of trying to fill their husband's shoes, and how to gracefully and joyfully submit to the will of God in marriage.

Whether or not you realize it, you are in a battle, and God has placed strengths within you to be used in powerful ways. When you enter the marriage relationship, you are entering the sacred metaphor God designed to explain Himself to a watching world. Marriage is the great mystery, the glorious platform God created to display His love relationship with His bride. This is why marriage is a flashpoint for Satan’s attacks; he seeks to destroy the beauty and effectiveness of God’s model. In light of this, we must strive for the Great Story to be lived out in our marriages.

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(1)

Wagner uses examples from her own life, as well as examples from women that she knows or has known, to show how women can use their strength to either help or hurt their marriages.

Being a Complementarian does not exclude a woman to having a pastoral tone to other women, and Wagner excels.  Her "I've done this, don't follow me down that path" plea a wonderful tone to a world of women who are at once frustrated with the state of their marriage, and frustrated with the way they are dealing with it.

With these women as her audience, Wagner is uniquely qualified because she HAS been there.

My "book review template" asks at this point: What does the book promise? What is the problem the book promises to solve?

In the author's words:

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(2)
.

And yes, the book delivers.

As a woman who will be entering a marriage covenant in a few months, with Christ at the center, and Complementarianism as the framework, "Fierce Women" is a playbook of how to relate to your husband in a way that is fitting for a woman who loves Christ.

What does "respect" look like?  Submission?  Do I need to be a "doormat?"

This matters because Satan wants nothing more than to strike at the soul of marriage.  If marriage reflects Christ and His bride, turning those roles upside down in a marriage leaves us with a distorted view of Christ and His church.  How should the church submit to Christ - wives should be able to reflect that.

I really like this book.  I printed out a couple of things and put them in my planner.  If you have a power struggle in your marriage and want to be part of the solution, read this book.

If you want to be a Biblically submissive wife, read this book.

If you want to build your husband up, instead of tearing him down, read this book.

I've read a lot of books on how to be a submissive wife.  This book is, at the end of the day, not how to make yourself more submissive, but how to build your husband up, to better help him to be the husband God wants him to be.

~~~

(1)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (pp. 10-12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (p. 12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

I recently read through “Tough Topics” by Sam Storms, who wrote the book in order to answer some of the basic, but hard questions believers ask.

That is my aim in this book: to articulate good theology in order to put worried minds at rest. All of us are familiar with the sorts of problems and questions and doctrinal conundrums that plague the human mind and agitate the human heart, questions like the one lingering in the thinking of Lucy: Will God ever flood the entire earth again?

In my experience these nearly forty years of Christian ministry, I’ve seen countless people worried and angry and fearful and just plain confused when it comes to some of the more perplexing issues that life poses and the Bible provokes,

The book flows easily, and addresses some of the topics that can torment a believer, like “what happens when my baby dies” and “will I enjoy heaven if my loved one goes to hell?”

The book promises to addresses these topics and more, offering to help remove doubt that Christianity could leave us in “limbo” about things that can weigh on our minds. Very shortly after I finished the book, a pastor friend came to me and asked, “what would you tell somebody who had a baby that died?” I answered “I have a book for you...” (he never gave it back...which is why I have a kindle version and -another- paper copy)

Believers struggle with these questions. When I was considering the “reformed” question, I had dinner with a seminary student. One of the first questions I asked was “what about babies who die?” That man did not have an answer that satisfied.

This book offers a primer on the questions we might not want to have asked...

I liked this book and will keep a couple of copies on hand to loan. I will, however, make a note to those I loan it to that Storms is a continuationist, and there are chapters on the “charismatic gifts” that make that clear. I may not agree with him on those chapters, but he does make his view clear in a consistent and lets his readers know how he came to those conclusions;  a good thing.

Bottom line is that this is a good book. I didn't rock my world, but it's a great reference tool, and primer for “tough topics.”

Worship by the Book” was written by Mark Ashton, Kent Hughes, and Timothy Keller and edited by D.A.Carson.

 

'What is at stake is authenticity. . . . Sooner or later Christians tire of public meetings that are profoundly inauthentic, regardless of how well (or poorly) arranged, directed, performed. We long to meet, corporately, with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due.'---D. A. Carson

 

Each of the authors bring a different perspective of worship to the book, offering a variety of emphasis; their years of ministry give this book a unique insight of corporate worship.

 

“Worship by the Book” primarily aims at pastor, seminary students, and other church leaders and offers a theology of worship that comes from Scripture and points directly at Christ.

 

As more and more Christians seek deeper worship and begin to turn their backs on anemic worship services and Sunday morning concerts that invite the audience to sing along, “Worship by the Book” brings us back to the purpose (and object) of corporate worship.

 

This book sets itself apart from other “theology of worship” books because of the variety of backgrounds of the authors. One brings liturgy to the table, another a more modern method. But they all point to Jesus.

 

Consistently, the book illustrates a method of worship, along with an explanation about why it points to Jesus.

 

I'm not a pastor, worship leader or seminary student. But for years I longed for deep and meaningful worship. This book helped me to identify why the congregation I'm currently in makes my soul, along with my mouth sing!

The most profound, yet supremely simple concept:  Q) what is the most important instrument of worship? A) The congregation.

And the verdict is: Read this book if you lead worship, if you oversee somebody who leads worship, if you sit under a worship leader. Read this book if you want to know why worship works, or why it doesn't.

 

Buy this book for your worship leaders and pastors. It would make a great gift, especially if it came with a note that said, “this book explains why I love the way our church worships.”

Opening Statement and "what's the point?"

include title, author, and a quote from the author about the purpose of the book.

What is the tone of the book?

What makes this author uniquely qualified to write this book?  Who is his audience?

What is the purpose of the book?

What does the book promise? What is the problem the book promises to solve?

What does the author say?

two or three paragraphs - does the book do what it promised to do?  why or why not?  If not, why not?

Why does it matter?

Before I wrap up the review, I want to help people understand what sets this book apart and what makes it unique. This is often the most important part of the review.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? -What is your overall impression?

Reviews are, by their very nature, subjective. An author of a review cannot entirely remove himself from it.

And the verdict is:

Challies says:

At 10MillionWords I’ve gotten into the habit of closing each review with “Verdict: Read it if…”

Adapted from GoodReads and Challies

 

Just to keep them all in one spot...

I've also added a plug-in for a star system!  (plug-ins for my website are sort of like apps for my iThings.)  The site for the "Review Rating" is here.

ZERO stars - I didn't even finish the book

  1. stars - reserved for books to stay away from.  May be well written, but full of error
  2. stars - mediocre bad (this is different than what the plug-in writer uses)
  3. stars - mediocre good
  4. stars - good book; I learned a lot (non-fiction) or enjoyed it very much (fiction)
  5. stars - what a good book!  I learned so much and will apply it to my life in a very real and meaningful way.
  6. stars - this book rocked my world and changed my life forever.

1/6/2015 - Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

4/5/2014 - Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer

4/01/2014 - Another Jesus Calling by Warren B. Smith

3/29/2014 - Tough Topics by Sam Storms

3/20/2014 - Worship by the Book

6/23/2013 - The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

10/16/2011 - Rules for Radical Conservatives

1/9/2008 - My Name is Jorge (On Both Sides of the River)

9/23/2006 - Papal Sin

 

I've come to the conclusion that every conservative should know Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" inside out.  And be ready to name the tactics (whether liberals know they're using them or not) when confronted with them.

"Rules for Radical Conservatives" takes those rules, turns them around and gives conservatives hope for taking our country back from the liberal elite (leadership) who want to wreck it.

It's written from the viewpoint of a conservative, what the rules are and why they will work.

Know them, use them.

It's one that will stay on the front page of the kindle app.

Poems in English and Spanish by Jane Medina.

A very nice book with poems (either side by side or one after the other) in English and Spanish.

Grade 3-7-A collection of 27 insightful poems that limn the migrant experience from the point of view of a grade school child from Mexico. Jorge doesn't want to be called George. He thinks the name sounds strange. "What an ugly sound!/Like a sneeze!" His struggles to fit in result in a friendship with a boy named Tim; a tentative coming to terms with American society; and some degree of sadness when, upon his grandmother's death, his family must cross the river again. The poems, and the accurate English translations, are well laid out on the page and neatly complemented by primitive-looking scratchboard illustrations. While not as sprightly as Francisco X. Alarc-n's Laughing Tomatoes/Jitomates Risue-os (Children's Book Press) or as deeply moving and celebratory as Alma Flor Ada's Gathering the Sun (Lothrop, both 1997), this book does carry significant emotional poignancy. An excellent choice to pair with Francisco Jim?nez's La Mariposa (Houghton, 1998), it depicts the sometimes painful experience of adjusting to a new language and a new culture.  (School Library Journal)

I really liked this book - one of the poems is called "The Busy Street"

I'm holding Mimi's hand very tight, again...

As tight was I held it when we crossed the river to come here...

I was so afraid...

Another book I would recommend, it tells of having to try to "make the grade" in a new school, with a new language, when you are used to being the "smart kid".