Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: "Go: Returning Discipleship to the Front Lines of Faith"

I have to be up front and let you know I received this book free from Tyndale for the purpose of reading and reviewing it.

Discipleship is something that should be fairly straightforward. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples." Going never seems to be the issue, it's in the making of disciples where we get tripped up. What does it mean to "make disciples"? What does a disciple look like? How do we go about it? Do I need training in order to do it the right way? Who determines the right way and the not-so-right way? Is anyone else doing this and how can I tell if they are? Preston Sprinkle answers many similar questions in his book Go: Returning Discipleship to the Front Lines of Faith

Using the compiled data from a recent Barna Group study commissioned by The Navigators, Preston Sprinkle tackles the problem of missing and/or weak disciples within the church. According to the data the church universal is not making disciples and is instead producing congregations with weak faith, a lack of commitment, and astounding Bible illiteracy. This book seeks to provide answers geared toward changing the statistics through practical solutions and relevant disciple-making tactics.

Overall it was an easy read with lots and lots of statistical evidence confirming what many suspected about the state of the church. I can certainly appreciate the work done by the Barna Group and found it eye-opening. However, the book felt more like a promo for the report than a biblical analysis and solution for "fixing" the problem. It was jam-packed with great information, but I came away wanting something with more "meat" to it. All in all, it is worth the read.

You can check out the first chapter by clicking HERE.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: 365 Pocket Morning Prayers

My daily quiet time consists almost exclusively of reading the Bible and spending time in prayer. I admit I am not big on adding other books to this routine mainly because they often focus on things about the Bible, general opinions, or self. I simply want the Word of God because in it is the power of life. I received a complimentary copy of this little book, "365 Pocket Morning Prayers" from Tyndale Publishing and was pleasantly surprised.

Each day has a simple prayer that focuses on a specific topic or issue. They may range from personal struggles to people. Included with the prayer is a short Bible passage that supports the theme of each prayer. I would never recommend this little book as a replacement for reading the Bible on a daily basis, but it can be a helpful supplement. Where the Bible is the main course for breakfast this book can be a vitamin to go with it.

You can view a sample chapter at this LINK.

Review: "Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal"

Let me start by saying I am not someone who journals or colors on a regular basis (in fact, not much at all). However, I received a copy of "Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Journal" free from Tyndale Publishing for the purpose of reviewing it. The book has thick, brightly illustrated covers and heavier stock paper to make easier the task of writing and coloring in it. Aesthetically it is very appealing.

I thumbed through the pages, reading the prayers for each day and found them to light-hearted and simple yet guiding the heart toward gratitude. It is refreshing to find something that points to the Lord and serves as a daily reminder of all He has done for us. So many of these kinds of books are more self-centered than God-centered. This one, all though light and airy, points to Him.

Personally, I would not purchase this book for myself. It is more suitable for my teenage daughters than me. It would make a good gift book, but doesn't seem to be made for the serious journaler.

Downloadable samplers and sharable coloring pages can be found at Tyndale's Inspire Creativity board on Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Game Review: The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance

In today's world, electronic devices are a fixture in our lives. Gaming has moved from being anchored to the family tv in the den to a rectangle of plastic and glass anywhere a cell or wi-fi signal exists. The mobility of games has increased their accessibility and drained more time from already busy lives. As a dad I try to strike a balance with my kids when it comes to video games. My wife and I monitor what they play and set limits on how long they can go at it. The majority of games are mindless or mindless with violence/crudeness/crassness/etc. I was glad to receive the opportunity to play and review "The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance" from Tyndale House Publishing and Scarlet City Studios.

I'll be honest, when I first played the game I thought it was kind of clunky in that there were no instructions on how to play the game. After several minutes I was able to figure it out and endeavored to get as far as I could on my own before calling in the two sons. I knew the game was designed to teach and bring the biblical narrative to life, but I must admit I did not readily see it in the time I played the game.

Enter the boys. They are eleven and sixteen and, needless to say, have out mastered me in the realm of video games. My youngest enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the "hows" of playing the game, while his brother didn't seem to be phased by the lack of instructions. They both excelled in the game, completing the missions and advancing as far as they could during the trial period they had access to it. As a game they found it engaging, challenging and yet fun.

The best part came when they began to explain to me how the game (as far as they were able to play it) was an allegory of the biblical account of Abraham and his son Isaac. It excited them to be able to "play out" biblical truth in a video game. It excited me to know that the time spent playing the game wasn't wasted, but actually reinforced what they already knew of the bible. It seemed to help them think through the events found in the bible.

I, and my sons, recommend "The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance" for the following reasons: it is clean, challenging and fun as a game; it reinforces what my kids have already learned from reading the bible. Please watch the trailer below to find out more.

You can also check out the YouVersion reading plan by clicking this LINK and be sure to "like" the Aetherlight Facebook page by going HERE.

I received a free three day trial of this game for the purpose of review.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Book Review: God & Churchill

I received this book from Tyndale Publishing free for review purposes.

Winston Churchill is perhaps one of the most popular figures in recent world history. Countless biographies have been written about him and many other histories of WW2 hold him as a central figure. His performance as a leader of men under some of the most difficult circumstances in history has also spawned numerous books on leadership, some having explored the spiritual side of this great man. This book, "God & Churchill" by Johnathan Sandys takes the exploration of Churchill's Christianity a step further than others.

Sandys begins with a young Churchill chronicling the influence of his parents and governess. He tells of experiences he had as a young soldier, a military leader and then Prime Minister. Each story serves as a stepping stone in Churchill's life that drew him closer to God. These anecdotes reveal a man who understood from an early age his destiny as a leader during dark days of his beloved Britain. It was a challenge he embraced and felt prepared by God for.

The book is an interesting read if for no other reason than to catch a glimpse into this great man's thinking and understanding the influences that prepared him. It isn't obvious to me that Churchill was a Christian, but there is clear evidence he recognized the God of the Bible and believed Him to be the orchestrator of his life. This book helps to fill in some of the gaps of history and is recommended for those who enjoy reading about such men and times as Churchill and WW2.

You can read the first chapter HERE.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: Agents of Babylon by David Jeremiah

Daniel is one of the most often misunderstood books of the Bible. The visions Daniel receives and recounts are often bizarre and difficult to grasp. It is also a key piece to understanding and interpretation end times prophecies found in other OT books as well as the NT book of Revelation. To the casual Bible student grasping the fullness of the book of Daniel can be daunting. Even among scholars there is debate.

Dr. Jeremiah's book is an attempt to make the book of Daniel more accessible to the average reader. He combines creative prose, retelling the story, with careful exposition to give its meaning. It is part novel and part commentary and it works. I have been a student of Scripture for years and found this book useful. It isn't overly in-depth, but provides a solid start for understanding Daniel, especially for those who are new students of the Bible.

I received this book free from Tyndale Publishing for review purposes.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: "Visits to Heaven and Back: Are They Real?" by Mark Hitchcock

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of review.

The afterlife is a subject most of the world is interested in. It transcends religion, economics, politics, and ethnicity. People are driven by curiosity in what happens after we die and there are countless books available that feed the hunger. They contain story after story of visits to heaven and hell without sparing details. So many of the details are contradictory from one tale to another. Which ones are accurate and which aren't? Can we know what is true? Where is truth about heaven and the afterlife found? These are all valid questions that have equally valid answers. Unfortunately, most of the stories of visitations to the afterlife do not tell the truth.

Mark Hitchcock fairly examines the "heaven" books, comparing and contrasting their details and ideas about heaven (and hell). In his examination there are numerous discrepancies discovered and must be accounted for. The author doesn't build a case based upon human experience, but takes the reader to the Bible. It does reveal the reality of a world beyond this one we live in and provides some details of what it is like. Mr. Hitchcock uses the Bible as a source book for details on the place called Hell and shares with the reader the warnings about it. 

I will recommend this book to those who are curious as well as those who have jumped headlong into the "heaven" book phenomenon. It is written in a clear manner that is easily understood. The afterlife is a matter of eternity and we should rely solely upon the one book that can give us the truth about Heaven and Hell.

You can read the first chapter by clicking on this LINK.