- In 1953 Dr. Henrietta Mears published her well-known handbook, What the Bible is All About. Over the yesrs the book has been republished and edited using different translations. This book follows in that tradition, but rather than being aimed at laymen and Sunday School teachers, this book is aimed toward Sunday School teachers and Preachers. That being said, the book goes a bit deeper and stresses teaching and preaching points rather than skimming each book of the Bible. Rather than choosing to cover the entire Bible in 52 weeks, it suggests teaching and preaching outlines based on the text. For example, rather than devoting one week to Mark’s gospel, this book suggests dividing the Mark into “nearly fifty preaching and teaching passages”. Each Biblical book’s review is assigned to a single author - though some authors have been assigned multiple books. With a single exception, all the individual authors have earned PhDs from reputable schools. The single exception is a PhD graduate student at Wheaton Graduate School. Having said that, none of the authors were previously known to this reviewer. They do, however, currently hold positions at well-known institutions (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, etc.). Each book includes a brief introduction and then a paragraph or two on each preaching passage. Each preaching passage includes a sentence describing the passage’s “subject”, “complement”, “exegetical idea”, and “homiletical idea”. Each book’s entry concludes with three or four suggested resources that the reader may wish to consult for further study. I was disappointed that the entries did not include any suggested application points for each passage. Though, for most preachers and teachers, the books are divided into too many teaching portions, the book will be one that many will want to keep handy for ideas and general planning. I give the book 4-stars. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
- I picked up this book hoping to do a quick scan of the book before writing my review. I, instead, ended up reading this 80 page monograph and being pleasantly surprised. The book consists of two chapters, the first details the difference between pastoral counseling and traditional secular counseling. The second chapter outlines the unique elements that Christian counseling has to offer to broken people. As a seminary graduate, I wished I had access to this content as I took my pastoral counseling course; as a pastor, I would have liked to have had this book available to help shape my thoughts as I interacted with my congregants; this book would have been helpful as I completed my Masters in Counseling at a state university (with two committed Christians on the faculty). Even now, 25 years after completing my education, I am glad to have access to this material for reference and review. The author has drawn from saints across the ages: Gregory the Great, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis, Thomas C. Oden, Richard Baxter, Sally Lloyd-Jones, et al. He is also not afraid from using help from more secular counselors when appropriate (e.g. Freud, Satir, and Ellis). The book concludes with an extensive bibliography and scripture index - both of which add value to the book. I would think every pastor, every Christian counselor, and every believer involved in helping others would find encouraging material in this small book. Even the introduction, written by a friend of the author, contains valuable thoughts. I give the book five stars. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
- Baker Books offers a Biblical introduction that focuses more on the scripture’s setting and history than the individual books. It covers the books in by type (i.e. history, writings. Prophesy, etc.), particularly as it moves through the Old Testament. The authors spend more time on individual books within the NT canon. The coverage is broad, giving minimal explanation for the positions taken when discussing issues which are still open for debate. For example, when discussing the origin of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the authors write: "We are uncertain of the exact dates or location of Paul’s imprisonment, though many scholars theorize that Paul corresponded with the Philippians while jailed in Ephesus between 56 and 58 CE. This theory accounts for the numerous trips that Epaphroditus and the Philippians made while providing assistance to Paul (2:19–30), given that a journey from Philippi to Ephesus would take significantly less time than journeys from either Rome or Caesarea, where we know Paul spent time in prison (Acts 23–25; 28)" The inclusion of a Scripture Index and a General Index should add value to the work though these indexes seemed to be missing from the Advanced Readers Copy I received from the publisher. The book is a good Biblical introduction for a lay audience or an undergraduate course in Biblical Introduction. I would have a difficult time recommending it for a seminary or graduate level course. It has a place in the church library though I think there are better choices for the pastor’s personal library. For this reason I give the book 4 stars. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.
- A well-written description of anger and its impact on the human condition. After reading this 200+ page book I don’t know whether to classify it as a theology of anger, a counseling textbook (an ancillary text), or a self-help book - and in fact it is all three. As a theology text, the book explores how anger is defined and expressed by both God and man. As a counseling textbook it will prepare the helping professional to address the causes and repercussions of unaddressed anger. As a self-help book, the book allows the reader to address their own concerns and to move forward in their life. The book also includes a number of helpful appendices: 1. A Checklist for Our Anger - to help evaluate where and how we need help to understand the reader’s personal struggle with anger. 2. A Devotional Response to Our Anger - guiding the believer in his response before God as they address anger in their lives. 3. General Index 4. Scripture Index These last two were not available for review in the Advanced Reader’s Copy I received. The book is not difficult reading and is rooted in scripture. It has a place on both the pastor’s shelf and in the church library’s. I give the book 5-stars. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.
- I am not a theologian, but I sometimes play one on Sunday mornings. Nevertheless, it was a privilege to read and review this 160-page monograph. Dr. Swain (PhD., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) presents a classic reformed doctrine of the Trinity. With the exception of those who followed the Trinitarian Controversy of 2016, there will be little to argue within this small book. The book reads as if it were taken from the chapters of a systematic theology text discussing the Trinity. As stated in the introduction, the author desired to address the issues raised by Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware surrounding the relationship of the Father to Son, and the Father and the Son to Holy Spirit. Though these issues are addressed, they are done so in a manner that elevates three members of the Godhead, not diminishing the role or relationship between the three persons of the Trinity. He addresses the issues addressed in 2016 in the same way he addresses Arianism and Subordination addressed in the first millennium of the church’s history. This reviewer was encouraged to reread Grudem’s Trinitarian theology as he read Swain’s work. Because the Trinity is wrapped in the mystery that is God, I am not as bothered by the teaching of Grudem as long as it is balanced against the classical teaching of the church. Standing alone, Grudem, et al., could raise red flags in our understanding of our Triune God. Note, Grudem is republishing his systematic theology even as I am writing this - I will be looking forward to his thoughts in 2020 following the discussions of 2016. With a fifty-year-old seminary education, the book was a great refresher on an important doctrine. The book is well documented, both from the scriptures and from writers representing the church’s thought and teaching during its 2000-year history. Though the ARC which I was provided for the review, did not contain them, the completed volume will contain both a general index and a scripture index which will add value to the finished book. For the reader wishing to review their basic theology or as an ancillary text for a theology class in Bible College or seminary, this book will have a key place. _____________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
- Norman Webber had just received s new, and unwanted, birthday gift - a metal detector. He was surprised when, on his first day out, he discovered a large diamond ring. His wife was extremely happy with the discovery until he pointed out that it was attached to the finger of a dead woman. Thus begins Dead End. The book is a faith-based, emotional, and romantic, thriller starring protagonists FBI Special Agent Kaely Quinn and FBI Special Agent Noah Hunter, first introduced in Nancy Mehl’s Mind Games and Fire Storm. Both Quinn and Hunter are based out of the St. Louis, MO, FBI Field Office, and were surprised to receive a call for help from Des Moines, IA, normally served by the Omaha, NE, FBI Field Office. First thinking it was a mistake, before finding there were very valid reasons for their involvement, they would be assigned to assist for a month in the case under the jurisdiction of the Des Moines, IA, Police Department. The book held the reader’s attention as it wrapped together elements of an old case whose perpetrator is serving a life sentence in prison and a new case begun with the discovery of the diamond ring by Norman Webber. The reader will watch Quinn and Hunter as they seek to discover the new UNSUB and listen to the UNSUB’s twisted mind as he seeks to lead them astray. The climax is a mixed blessing as it ties together some threads seen in all three novels, but it also leaves some plot holes that the reader hopes might be answered in a fourth book. Alas, there is no hint that a fourth book is in the works. The book deserves a place in the church library as well in the public library. Readers enjoying books from this genre will have a difficult time putting the book down. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
- This text is the first in a series urging the reader to do theology, rather than to just study it. This book consists of a series of essays focused on various topics discussed in most theology textbooks. The book does not claim to be a comprehensive systematic theology text, but it centers more on the practical issues of theology. As the publisher writes in their introduction, “Each chapter looks at 1 of 5 crucial components for constructing good theology: revelation from God, tradition from the past, worship, wisdom, and experience of brokenness, with case studies illustrating how doctrine is developed from each of these important sources.” I found the first chapter of interest. The author takes what might be termed a general understanding of inerrancy, in that the scriptures teach no errors. This stands in against what I might call a particular understanding of inerrancy: “the words found in the original autographs are the very words God intended.” Because we have no original autographs of scripture, it may be said that the more practical understanding of inerrancy may more closely align with the general understanding suggested by the author. This dichotomy will need to be explored further. I see no hints as to the topics to be covered in future volumes. The finished book will contain both a “General Index” and a “Scripture Index” - though these were not included in the Advanced Readers Copy sent to me for review, so I cannot comment as to their completeness. The book is not designed for general reading, but as a scholarly text. As a textbook, it would be helpful for each chapter to include a series of five or six questions designed for further thought or study - either for general consideration or formal response. Certainly, a good teacher could develop these for himself or herself; but for the independent learner, these additions could be helpful. ______________ As a matter of honesty, the author of this book, Graham A. Cole, is Dean of my alma mater - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. However, he had no connection with the school at the time I attended or with me in the years since. This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
- David Rawlings writes fiction that is as revealing as it is fictional. On the surface, the book is about a man, one David Whiteley, whose family, whose job, and whose reputation, stand on a precipice - one that will crumble beneath his feet if something does not change. Beginning with the death of his grandfather and the unexpected camera left to him at his grandfather’s death, life begins to unravel. But this camera is special. The resulting pictures have exceptional clarity, and they often reveal more truth than the photographer is planning for. Ultimately the question becomes, what will the photographer respond to that truth. And that is the question that David faces as he retrieves his prints from Simon, the owner of the camera shop around the corner from his work as a mental health counselor. The author has the very nice ability to ask both David Whiteley and the reader to answer the same two questions: Are we willing to have the truth revealed; and how will we respond to the truth. The answers do not come easily and the cost of difficult truths is often less than the cost of hiding that truth. David Whiteley finds The Camera Never Lies. Are we willing to look at our lives with the same clarity? ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
- Deputy U.S. Marshal Taylor Mills, assigned to the WITSEC detail in Portland, OR, must work with FBI Agent Sean Nichols, assigned to the RED (“Rapid Emergency Deployment”) team from Seattle, WA, to identify and apprehend a hacker using the alias of Phantom. Phantom’s crime - hacking the WITSEC database containing the names of thousands of individuals being offered protection by the U.S. Marshals Service. Phantom’s first target appeared to be Dustee and Dianne, twin sisters. Dustee had a nasty habit of not following the WITSEC rules designed to protect their charges, and now the twin’s lives were in danger. Solving the clues would take the technical IT and forensic skills of both the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI’s RED team. The plot has enough twists and turns to keep most readers of faith-based romantic thrillers happy and engaged. The romantic component was a bit more than what this reader usually likes, but the book still is easily a 5-star read. This book could easily find a home in many reader’s personal libraries, a local public library, or the church library. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.