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This Week's Book Review 04-08-2024

      Book Review: 

In this book Lucado uses Roman 4; 20 “He plunged into the promise and came up strong”. And then expands on 14 promises of God showing how a life built on them provides an unshakeable hope for the believer. The book is very readable practical and makes a life based on Gods hope doable and desirable. 5 Stars
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This Week's Book Review 04-01-2024

      Book Review: 
E. Stanley Jones was an American Methodist missionary in India whose life passion was to follow and serve Jesus Christ and convey the wonder and efficacy of His death, resurrection, and exaltation as King of kings and Lord of Lords. He said, “The love of God invades me, the peace of God pervades me, the will of God persuades me, and I am wholly His”. Jones’ heart and model need to be rediscovered today. His reflections, in the Sayings of E Stanley Jones, have added depth and joy to my spiritual journey this past Holy Week.
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This Week's Book Review 03-20-2024

      Book Review:
Neil Anderson wrote his book Bondage Breaker to help Christians appropriate the Biblical truths of their identity in Christ. He says, “You now reside “in Christ.”, who has all authority. In order to resist the devil, you first need to understand and appropriate your identity, position and authority; freedom in Christ is your inheritance as a Christian. There is no need for Christians to defeat the devil. Christ has already accomplished that. We just need to believe it. God has done all He needs to do for us to live a victorious life.”
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This Week's Book Review 03-18-2024

Book Review:
Philip Keller’s sets his realistic, yet very poetic description of the life of a Christian in the context of the stories of his own transformation, wonder and healing at the sea edge where he spent many years walking with His Lord.  He likens the surging breakers and endless tides and scourging of the waves to the” mills of God”  (p.144) which God uses to cleanse our lives; he carries the readers with him in exultant worship in the beauty of creation and praise to His Creator God; he finds “ inspiration in the soaring flight of a gull or the exquisite shape of a shell or the song of the surf” (p. 152) and then compares that to God’s work in believers’ souls.
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This Week's Book Review 03-06-2024

Book Review:
 Neil Anderson wrote his book "Victory Over Darkness" to help Christians realize the power of their identity in Christ, exactly as the subtitle of the book says, amid all the helpful resources he provides his extensive scriptural lists, if carefully studied provide an extensive course in New Testament identity for Christians. This book should be a primer in every Christian discipleship program.

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This Week's Book Review 02-20-2024

Book Review:
There is one skill that lies at the heart of any healthy person, family, school, community organization or society: the ability to see someone deeply and make them feel seen – to accurately know another person, to let them feel valued, heard, and understood. Artificial intelligence is going to do many things for us in the decades ahead, and replace humans at many tasks, but one thing it will never be able to do is to create person-to-person connections. If you want to thrive in the age of AI, you better become exceptionally good at connecting with others”
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This Week's Book Review 02-12-2024

Book Review:
Laurie Short has written a 5 star book on the power of re-framing. She provides four perspectives people can use in understanding their life, the work of God, and the role of other people in helping them grow into full maturity as God purposes.

 
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This Week's Book Review 02-05-2024

      Book Review:
Van Loom starts off her book with Ps.84: “Blessed are those who set their hearts on pilgrimage” and develops her thesis around the journey motif.  She talks about people as “spiritual wanderers, tourists, settlers or pilgrims” (p.145). However, she focuses primarily on the issues of exile in people’s wandering. She describes the School of the Desert as God’s purpose to turn His people’s hearts toward Him, using Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as a teaching resource. Weaves Bunyan’s analogy with the Scriptural studies of Israel’s wanderings in exile, maintaining that the emotions of being an “uprooted plant” with strong desires to settle in contentment and security drew the people away from God and into idol worship.      
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This Week's Book Review 01-22-2024

Book Review:
Stacey Morgan is a bold, risk-taking, independent woman who, “when tough times come, stands up, shrugs off the weight of unnecessary burdens. . .turns into the wind, and goes to fly a kite.” pg.146. She is an adventurer who challenges her readers to live “a life of grit and spunk.”  She says “God wants a people unafraid to jump into the deep end of life, fueled by his bold love and tenacious faith.

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This Week's Book Review 01-16-2024

Book Review:
 We are all broken but God still loves us. This is true, but I desired more. I wanted Jesus to live his life through me. I didn’t want an improved life. I wanted a transformed life. I found myself settling for small improvements instead of radial transformation. Why was the fruit in my Church and in my life so inconsistent? Was there something lacking? The details of God’s design of the human brain and its role in forming character would answer the mysteries that had plagued me for thirty years.

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This Week's Book Review 01-01-2024

Book Review:

 

We grieve because we have loved. But grief is not love. . .Grief parades itself as love. But it hurts. It crushes. It does not promote the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal.5:22-23).  It turns even the most hopeful ones of us into the hopeless. No, I say that grief is not love. The good news is that because grief is not love, it means it will not last forever. Because the Bible says that one day God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

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This Week's Book Review 12-11-2024

Book Review:

There are five core elements to heart-focused discipleship. . .freedom, identity, Spirit, heart-focused community, and mission… Freedom – as Christians we need to get unclogged from the baggage and bondage in our lives; some people also need help with spiritual warfare issues. Identity – Understanding who we are in Christ and seeing the unique heart values God has given each of us is the foundation on which a deeper walk is built.

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This Week's Book Review 11-27-2023

Book Review:

Christianity may be like  fire dependent trees. Sometimes we need some old things to burn down before we can have new growth. We don't always realize that some of what we cherish is just the wood, hay and stubble of dead religion that we would be better off without.
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This Week's Book Review 11-21-2023

Book Review:
Extraordinary Hearing

"What if you could hear God speaking? What difference would that make in your life? I mean receiving a message from God as a though in your mind... The listening I am pursuing, the hearing I have in mind, refers to receiving internal guidance rom God, the leading of the Holy Spirit deep within us. Such hearing used to be limited to a few prophets, gifted with the Spirit. But now all of us who follow Jesus have access to that same Spirit. Hearing God is not only a possibility but also a necessity if we want to serve him well."-Greg Pruett

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       Book Review:
Thom Rainer wants all Christians to be Great Commission Christians – i.e. “a Great Commission Christian is someone who seeks to communicate the Good News of Christ  to a world that does not know him.” (Thom Rainer, Pray and Go, Tyndale Momentum, 2023,p.13). To that end he wrote his new book Pray and Go in the format of  thirty days of a Great Commission focus so his readers “will become an instrument of outreach and ministry for God in new and powerful ways.
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This Week's Book Review 11-7-2023

Book Review:
Extraordinary Hearing

"What if you could hear God speaking? What difference would that make in your life? I mean receiving a message from God as a though in your mind... The listening I am pursuing, the hearing I have in mind, refers to receiving internal guidance rom God, the leading of the Holy Spirit deep within us. Such hearing used to be limited to a few prophets, gifted with the Spirit. But now all of us who follow Jesus have access to that same Spirit. Hearing God is not only a possibility but also a necessity if we want to serve him well."-Greg Pruett

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Book Review:

"What if you could hear God speaking? What difference would that make in your life? I mean receiving a message from God as a though in your mind... The listening I am pursuing, the hearing I have in mind, refers to receiving internal guidance rom God, the leading of the Holy Spirit deep within us. Such hearing used to be limited to a few prophets, gifted with the Spirit. But now all of us who follow Jesus have access to that same Spirit. Hearing God is not only a possibility but also a necessity if we want to serve him well."-Greg Pruett

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This Week's Book Review 10-31-2023

Book Review:
Research in neuropsychology in the last few decades has uncovered amazing insights into the function and plasticity of the brain.  Kernion’s book on Spiritual Practices for the Brain (2020) is a welcome addition to the other resources available on brain health.  Kernion combines key religious texts with pertinent brain research in an approach that is both practical and academically sound.  She describes how the practices of meditation, gratitude, compassion and service, empathy, enjoying nature, engaging creativity, allowing leisure and play and nurturing community strengthen the brain, improve working memory, and slow down the factors that are usually a normal part of aging.

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This Week's Book Review 10-31-2023

Book Review:

Todd Billings, in The End of the Christian Life, has written a poignant book about the pain and suffering of dying from an historical, philosophical, and personal framework – he himself is currently dying from inoperable cancer.  Billings is a Christian and a philosopher. As a result, his musings alternate from the theology and abstractions of two views of death, thoughts about the afterlife and Sheol, our western death-defying culture, and views about the cosmic final judgment to those people hanging between life and death as he is in this world.

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This Week's Book Review 10-16-2023

Book Review:

 

Russell Moore is an “accidental exile” (Russell Moore, Losing our Religion,  Sentinel Publishing,2023,  p.11) from the Southern Baptist Denomination primarily because he refused to join his white male southern baptist colleagues in endorsing Donald Trump as the presidential candidate in 2016, continued to speak out against Trump’s bankruptcy of moral character, and also refused to endorse the cover-ups of officials within the de nominal hierarchy for their sexual exploits. Because he did not “play the game” (p.7) in maintaining the party line, he was subject to intense pressure  - he called it ‘heresy trials’(p.6)-  to conform to the views of the leadership and intense interrogations into his own loyalty, moral character and “divisive influence” in the denomination.
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This Week's Book Review 9-24-23

    Book Review:
Brain processing that leads to identity and character change begins in the love and attachment regions. Even the motivation to change is birthed by love and attachment. The brain is wired to change character directly from the love and attachment end of the brain. These in turn are hardwired to grow from joy. Joy-based character change always moves us in the direction of being more like the One we love.
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This Week's Book Review 9-24-23

         Book Review:
To all my heady, academic colleagues and all those pastoral types who suffer alongside their people, we all need a strong dose of Sandra Boynton books.  Boynton has an imagination that simply roars with the creativity of God.  She is primarily a children’s author and her simple texts have messages of love and kindness that provide children with a solid moral, ethical base.  But her messages can also transform our adult society.  Her illustrations bring a simple, profound delight to those who hear and read her books to others.
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This Week's Book Review  9-24-23

   Book Review:
 
Karmic Christianity is a Christianized temptation to diagnose all the consequences of the curses in this life with remedies of doing more or doing better in order to secure fruitfulness, inner peace, life-giving relationships, physical health, financial stability, and an overall sense that God finally approves of your efforts now”
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This Week's Book Review   9-24-23

    Book Review:

In The Joy of the Gospel Pope Francis calls the global church back to “become excited by the mission of communicating life to others” (Pope Francis the Joy of the Gospel, The Dynamic Catholic Institute, 2014, p.13). . .for “the missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity” (p.19).. He says, “the great danger in the world today, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures and a blunted conscience.

 

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This Week's Book Review  9-21-23

     Book Review:
Dr. Timothy’s Jenning’s book on The Aging Brain comes out of his own years of work with the aging patients in his practice, and his appreciation of the value inherent in elderly people. He says “beautiful old people are works of art.”( Timothy Jennings, The Aging Brain, Baker Books 2018, p.12)  But he sounds a clarion call for prevention of the “normal” onset of dementia and Alzheimer in one’s elder years. He says, “Aging – the slow decline in vitality and ability – is impacted by the choices we make in life. . .Any factor that increases inflammation and oxidative stress accelerates aging while actions that are anti-inflammatory (like exercise, proper foods, mental stimulation, adequate sleep, avoidance of drugs, alcohol and artificial sweeteners and soft drinks) slow aging.

 

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This Week's Book Review  7-7-23

     Book Review:

 

Women at Halftime is an absorbing, helpful overview of many of the issues women face over age 50, when the normal aspects of the first half of their life no longer apply. The byline is A Guide to reigniting Dreams and Finding Renewed Joy and Purpose in Your Next Season.   The material is anecdotal from the many women who have been mentoring at the HalfTime Institute, combined with practical ways to implement steps forward in the second half of their life.
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This Week's Book Review  6-16-23

     Book Review:
Somehow Widow to Widow found its way to my bookcase and I read it this week, probably because I was in a sad lonely period in my own grief as a widow. The book is in the genre of practical home-spun advice, nicely laced with occasional humor. It does not contain profound spiritual, nor emotional truths. But there are helpful common-sense insights throughout. Each short chapter basically stands alone so it is adaptable to selective reading on the topics which interest you. Read those and then apply the practical suggestions which are relevant to you.

 

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This Week's Book Review   5-29-23

     Book Review:
Thom Rainer has spent decades researching the factors that have caused North American churches to either close or reverse a downward spiral and become revitalized. His insights are alternatively discouraging or uplifting, depending on each church’s trajectory.  From a negative perspective he notes that “20 churches are closing their doors every single day…the number of churches near death has grown from 35 thousand to 66 thousand in 10 years”.

 

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This Week's Book Review   5-15-23

 

      Book Review:
Paul Borthwick’s 2020 book Mission 3:16 is one of the best books available that describes God’s heart for all the world’s people. John 3:16 is arguably one of the best-known verses in the Bible, so, cleverly, Borthwick starts with the familiar as he challenges people with its ultimate truths.  He devotes each chapter to explaining the meaning of each word in that verse. Because of his vast global experience, and clear writing style, the result is a very readable, practical guide on how a Christian can live out God’s intent as John 3;16 describes it.

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This Week's Book Review   3-28-23
     Book Review:
McWilliams makes a clear case for the God-given power to challenge hijacked emotions or change our thoughts and not be shamed into the idea that anxious thoughts are  a sign of our unfaithfulness, they are a product of a broken world, [but] ”each of us can affect how long certain thoughts hold our attention.” ((Restore my soul , Re imaging self-Care for a Sustainable Life, Janice McWilliams, Nav Press, 2022, p. 34) In the book she helps readers recognize their unhelpful thoughts and learn to listen for  and know the voice of Jesus 43  and practice “cognitive diffusion’( pp. 59-60) which reshapes the neural pathways in our brain (p.65)

 

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This Week's Book Review   3-13-23
      Book Review:

 

The Power of Gratitude is printed as a workbook, where readers can actively record their responses to Blyth’s material chapter by chapter.  Her material is also enhanced by colorful graphics. Her goal is to help readers re-frame their “Eeyore” mindset of gloom, doubt and negativity to a positive, lifestyle fueled by a gratitude-based mindset.
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This Week's Book Review   3-1-23
     Book Review:

Walter Wangerin’s book Letters from the Land of Cancer is a powerful testimony of a man during his 2+ year “adventure” (p.25) with  pain wracked, breath-defying terminal lung cancer.  Through the honest, vulnerable letters to friends he wrote throughout his experience, one glimpses a man who was full of life,  full of faith, and deeply appreciative of his family, his friends and every living thing in nature. 

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This Week's Book Review    2-17-23
     Book Review:

Beyond the Darkness by Clarissa Moll is a distinctly Christian book on grieving. The author lost her husband in the midst of his purpose-driven, fruitful midlife. She acknowledges that his fatal accident on the hiking trail “has left deep scars on the landscape of my life” .. and talks frankly about her “sorrowing body, her wounded spirit and her parched soul”  as grief is now her constant companion. But she adds, “I can assure you that the companionship of a Savior who bears scars in the thing grieving people need more than anything else.”

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This Week's Book Review    2-6-23
     Book Review:
The title of Hodges’ and Leonard’s book Grieving with Hope accurately describes why this book brings an important perspective to all those coping with the devastation of loss. The authors do not whitewash the darkness of grief; nor do they accept the contemporary disparagement of hope and loss as simple wishful, magical thinking.

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This Week's Book Review    10-27-22
     Book Review:
Van Gelder’s book The Essence of the Church contains broad overviews of church history, evolving church ecclesiology, and organizational structures that have shaped the church since Pentecost. He writes from a mission logical framework with a clear kingdom agenda: “The basic idea of the kingdom is that God in Jesus powerfully entered human history with a reign that reestablished life on the basis of redemptive power (p.75). “The church. . .has a distinct calling – to demonstrate the reality of God’s redemptive power in the world.

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    10-18-22
     Book Review:
In [an] effort to defeat all Christians, Satan uses three major approaches—as an accuser, a liar, and a destroyer… what Satan does with believers is to keep reminding them of their sins and failures after they have already been confessed to God and God has cleansed them. Satan makes the wrong assumption that those sins remain to disqualify Christians of their right to be in God’s presence. But Satan’s theology is faulty. When we become a Christian, God exchanges our sins for Christ’s righteousness. It is being clothed in Christ’s righteousness that enables us to be confidently in God’s presence…

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    10-15-22
     Book Review:
How marvelous to discover a recent version of the Bible that is faithful to the overall storyline in the Scriptures but set forth in language and illustrations that make is simple enough for everyone from children to those of other religions and non-English-speaking cultures to comprehend.  Sally Lloyd Jones and illustrator Jago have created a delightful paraphrase of the entire Bible called the Jesus Storybook Bible.  It is told as an interactive story to children, addressing them with questions or statements to invite their participation as readers. 

 

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    09-28-22
     Book Review:
Reading the Bible Around the World brings a needed global Biblical perspective to how the Bible is interpreted from a variety of different contexts.  “This multilayered approach has liberated bible readings from a certain theological and interpretational myopia” (p. 100). Such an approach meets the contemporary challenge of our world which is no longer monolithic and needs to be freed from the bondage to Eurocentric “prescribed” interpretations of scripture.

 

 

 

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    09-21-22
     Book Review:
David Gregory’s book Dinner with a Perfect Stranger was recommended to me by one of my book review recipients.  I’m very glad! Gregory has written one of the most refreshing, contemporary apologetic books I can remember! It is laced with humor as he describes the dinner a young millennial seeker in today’s America has with the resurrected Jesus in David’s hometown.  The dialogue is fresh and creative; the questions David asks as he grapples with whether this “perfect stranger” is really Jesus, and Jesus’ own answers are true to the issues new-agers have today.

 

 

 

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    09-14-22
     Book Review:
When I became a Christian as a college student, I was disciplined through an Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship staff member.  She introduced me to the Bible, which I did not believe at the time. But encouraged me to study it inductively not deductively. I wasn’t to bring assumptions of what a text should say or I wanted it to say. I was to see what the text said on its own – what the author was trying to convey, what the meaning might be from the author’s point of view or for other readers and what it might mean for me. A simple framework to probe deeply into Biblical texts: What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me?

 

 

 

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    09-05-22
     Book Review:
Pastor J.D. Peabody discovered a few years ago that he had a classic case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: “I found my mind suddenly bombarded by a barrage of disturbing ideas and images that sent me into a tailspin. My mind raised the alarm at these thoughts that felt threatening and unstoppable, even when their only real power lay in my fear of them.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    08-30-22
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It has long been an intent of this reviewer to love God with all my mind as well as my heart, soul and strength. Having resonated with luminaries like Mark Noll in his The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, I eagerly picked up James Sire’s classic Habits of the Mind. Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling. However, I must admit that Sire’s lengthy descriptions of John Henry Newman’s theology seemed dry and a bit pedantic.  I discovered as I continued on in the book, though, that Sire had many very significant things to say about the intellectual life as a Christian calling.  As an author, apologist and senior editor of InterVarsity Press for over 30 years he has applied his keen intellect to how good thinking can work into positive action for the sake of others.  I give the book a 5 star rating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Week's Book Review    08-27-22
     Book Review:
Historical fiction is a fascinating literary art form. By using his sanctified imagination, known Biblical text, and historical research, Ben Witherington III offers readers a credible account of Priscilla, the apostle Paul’s colleague. Through the retelling of her story, Witherington describes the early years and persecution of the first century church, the relationship of its leaders to one another, and a view of first century Roman through the eyes of tent-maker Priscilla and her husband, Aquilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Week's Book Review

Book Review:
Waiting on God

Waiting on God when times are unpredictable and stressful is a Christian discipline. Murray's book comes from the depth of a man who lived trusting God.

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