Saturday, February 27, 2010

Book Review

Drops Like Stars
by Rob Bell
2009, Zondervan

This is a very unique book--as is the author. There really is no need for the book to be so large (and so expensive I may add) except for creativity, uniqueness and its ability to stand out among all other books that are not this large.

It is a quick read, but a very good read on suffering, mostly. It also includes thoughts on the meaning of life along with exhortations to live and enjoy each day to the fullest.

Anyone who has suffered loss (isn't that most of us) will relate to the comments on suffering from someone who has "been there", who understands, who empathizes. And we (even Christians) need to admit that we don't have all the answers.

Suffering unites--all humanity relates--even Jesus suffered. Is the cross God's way of saying, "I know how you feel"?

Suffering also simplifies: "it compels us to eliminate the unnecessary, the trivial, the superficial".

Bell encourages us not to ask the "why" questions, but to ask "what now"? We can use our times of suffering to begin a journey to deeper communion with God.

Reviewed by Diane Busch

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Releases

Matthew's Story (The Jesus Chronicles)
Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
HaperCollins, February 2010
The new novel in the Jesus Chronicles, the bestselling series from the authors of the Left Behind novels. Levi was studying to be a priest, but when an unspeakable tragedy befalls his family, he turns his back on his faith and decides to pursue riches and luxury instead. He becomes a tax collector, disappointing his family and reviled by Jews and Romans alike. And although he is a success, his chosen trade does not bring him contentment. When he hears about Jesus, the man who some are saying is the prophesied Messiah, he begins a quest that leads him to question his very existence. As he follows Jesus and records His words and deeds, Levi is shaken to the core and transformed. Renamed "Matthew" by Jesus-literally "gift from God"-he is called to give up his work and his worldly possessions and claims Jesus as his Lord. Matthew's Story is a novel that brings to life the most unlikely of apostles-a sinner-turned-saint-and his time with the Lord. Thrilling and uplifting, Matthew's Story shows how the true Messiah changed the life of one man, and forever altered the course of history.

The NIV Case for Christ Study Bible
Lee Strobel
Zondervan, February 2010
Have you ever heard Scripture's truths but wondered where to find those truths in the Scriptures? Or have you ever wondered where to find evidence for belief in God in the Bible? You're not alone. Millions of people have asked these same questions, including Lee Strobel -- an atheist who engaged in a thorough search for the truth to decide for himself if Jesus was who he claimed to be. Drawn from Lee's own experiences as a former atheist and featuring his journalistic style from his days as an investigative reporter with the Chicago Tribune, the notes and articles throughout The Case for Christ Study Bible are designed to motivate you to investigate the Bible's claims for yourself. Whether you are a Christian seeking encouragement in your faith and knowledge about who God is or a seeker or skeptic searching for answers, you will benefit from Lee's own extensive search for the truth. Some of the excellent study notes found in this Bible include: The Case for Christ Articles: Over 220 The Case for Christ notes explore Jesus' claims and deity and demonstrate that he is the Messiah. The Case for the Bible Notes: More than 170 The Case for the Bible notes explore the character of the Bible and the extra-biblical evidence that corroborates Scripture as well as explain apparent contradictions within the Bible. The Case for a Creator Notes: Seventy-five The Case for a Creator notes highlight the wonders of creation and demonstrate how the scientific evidence points to one all-powerful Creator. The Case for Faith Articles: One hundred The Case for Faith articles address questions such as, 'How can there be a God that would allow so much pain and suffering?' and, 'Doesn't science prove that the world was created by chance?' The Verdict Notes: Twenty The Verdict notes provide testimonies from scholars and other Christians who have examined the evidence, discovered the reality of Jesus, and put their faith in him. Book Introductions: Sixty-six Book Introductions offer a short overview of each book. Lee Strobel, with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School, was the award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and a spiritual skeptic until 1981.

A New Kind of Christianity
Brian McLaren
HarperOne, February 2010
What will the faith look like in the next 500 years? In this much anticipated book, McLaren examines 10 questions facing today's believers---including the nature of the church's authority, God's identity, the way we think of other faiths, and our understanding of the varieties of churches---to help you consider what will happen next. 256 pages, hardcover from HarperOne.

VeggieTales: Pistachio DVD
Big Idea Productions, February 2010
Once upon a time in the small Italian town of Bologna-Salami, there lived a lonely toymaker named Gelato and his assistant Cricket. Gelato had no children he could call his own, so one day he decided to carve a little boy out of wood. Imagine Gelato s surprise when he learned that this little toy boy could walk ... and talk ... and definitely had a mind of his own! Will Pistachio learn that obeying the wisdom of a loving father will help him find what he really needs and could be the key to saving his whole family from becoming fish food? Find out in this all new VeggieTales adventure with a lesson about the importance of family and listening to your parents.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Release

The Life of Jesus
Woodrow Kroll
Baker Books, January 2010
Now you can read the biblical account of Jesus's life and teachings in chronological order with accounts taken directly from Scripture. The Life of Jesus combines the four Gospel accounts into one complete, cohesive narrative. Sidebars illuminate important background information to ground the story within the context of first-century Palestine. It also includes lists of the parables of Jesus, the radical ideas of Jesus, the promises of Jesus, and encounters with Jesus during his ministry. Biographies of each Gospel writer, a map of the main places of Jesus's life and ministry, and a timeline of Jesus's life make this book ideal for studying the life of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Releases

So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us
Beth Moore
Tyndale, January 2010
Prolific Bible teacher and women's ministry leader Moore (Get Out of That Pit) moves away from her characteristic dead-on expositions of scriptural principles in her newest; the topic is insecurity, and the content, she admits, is close to an autobiography. Moore, always transparent with her own personal struggles, is refreshingly so throughout this text. Readers will be chortling in laughter one moment and sucking air the next as Moore exposes the many faces of female insecurity. The author names and claims each one, then defuses every bit of power these nonsensical inner voices possess by countering their lies with God's truth. Women, no matter what their age, battle against advertising's siren call for unattainable physical perfection; the habit of making a man's love the ultimate validation; and the worldly definition of success as money, power, and status. Moore uses personal essays, women's true confessions, expressive prayers, and lots of commonsense suggestions to jar women out of their insecure rut. Readers will delve into this work and find themselves comfortably uncomfortable, and this is a very good thing.

Don't Quit in the Pit
Danette Crawford
Whitaker House, January 2010
Power to Change Your Life! Have you ever been in the destructive pits; of life-abuse, rejection, divorce, or financial hardship? Danette Crawford has been there and knows exactly how painful these situations can be-and how God can turn any situation around. With great empathy, candor, and scriptural teaching, she shares how you, too, can:
Overcome rejection and betrayal.
Learn to trust God in all things.
Extend forgiveness and receive healing.
Survive-and even thrive-in times of financial stress.
Eradicate bitterness and unforgiveness.
Experience God's favor.
God did it for Danette. He will do it for you, too!

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God
Sheila Walsh
Thomas Nelson, January 2010
Delivering a big message with strong biblical insights and heartening personal stories, author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh shows women the life-changing power of trusting in God. Most Christian women live with a deep sense that they can't seem to get things right, that if only they could be a little better, life would straighten out. Through her own personal hardships, Sheila Walsh has learned that the Christian life is not about getting things right or back to "normal." She writes, "Christ comes not to get us out of our difficulties but to live in us through them." She wants to show women that God has a stunningly beautiful moment of redemption for them that leads to a lifetime of peace and joy. In this eye-opening message for women, she presents a moving look at her own story as she dives into the lives of Bible characters, drawing out lessons from their trials that women can use immediately to establish a deep, life-altering trust in the Father.

Tonight CD
Toby Mac
Forefront Records, January 2010
TobyMac's new record TONIGHT is the highly anticipated follow up to the best-selling album Portable Sounds. Continuing Toby's unique ability to blend musical influences TONIGHT has an amazing mix of rock, pop, urban and hip hop sounds and styles. It features the smash hit single "City On Our Knees"

The Berenstain Bears Discover God's Creation
Stan & Jan Berenstain
Zondervan, January 2010
God’s creation, we have found, has a better picture and better sound. And worlds of wonder all around! Thanks, Lord, for this world we’ve found! Mama Bear pulls the plug on TV and the Bear cubs are upset! What are they going to do now? All it takes is a peek outside for Brother and Sister to see that God has given them a beautiful world that is far more fun than the TV screen.