Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review

Life Application Study Bible Devotional : Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus : the Gospels
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Reviewed by Diane Busch

We are very enthusiastic about this New Living Translation study Bible devotional by Tyndale House.  Because it is based on the 4 gospels, we expected it to start with Matthew 1 and end with John 21, but were delighted by the interesting chronological layout.  Each week has a theme in the life of Jesus, starting with "Jesus' Coming Is Announced" and ending with "Jesus Gives Final Instructions".  For each week there are 6 daily readings, which include "Reading the Word" - scripture passages intertwined from all the gospels, "Setting the Scene" - background and explanation of the passages, "Getting Personal" - some great discussion or reflection questions, and ending with "Talking to God" - which is sometimes a prayer to pray and other times is a prayer prompt of how to pray about that day's topic.

Also, very helpful, are the two indexes in the back.  The Topical Index, allows one to look up a topic of interest and find which week and day there is a devotional study on that topic.  The Scripture Index, enables one to look up a scripture passage and find which week and day there is a devotional study on that passage.

We highly recommend you purchase this devotional to begin the new year in January.  Or even better, get it in time to begin reading in mid December, so that you will be on the second week of devotions, titled "Jesus is Born", during the week of Christmas.

A copy of this books was given by Tyndale House for the purpose  of writing this review.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Releases

Beautiful Outlaw
John Eldredge
FaithWords, September 2011
In BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW, John Eldredge removes the religious varnish to help readers discover stunning new insights into the humanity of Jesus. He was accused of breaking the law, keeping bad company, heavy drinking. Of being the devil himself. He was so compelling and dangerous they had to kill him. But others loved him passsionately. He had a sense of humor. His generosity was scandalous. His anger made enemies tremble. He'd say the most outrageous things. He was definitely not the Jesus of the stained glass.
In the author's winsome, narrative approach, he breaks Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, just as he set masculinity free in his book, Wild at Heart. By uncovering the real Jesus, readers are welcomed into the rich emotional life of Christ. All of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst like fireworks with color and brilliance because of his humanity. Eldredge goes on to show readers how they can experience this Jesus in their lives every day. This book will quicken readers' worship, and deepen their intimacy with Jesus.

God's Story, Your Story
Max Lucado
Zondervan, September 2011
We all long for meaning, to know that our lives have a purpose beyond what we see in the day to day. However, life can sometimes seem like a disconnected string of events. One day you're celebrating the birth of a child, the next you're mourning the passing of a grandparent. Is there a throughline to the ups and downs of life? Using the structure of the New Testament as a guide in God's Story Your Story, Max Lucado weaves together Biblical and personal stories that will help you find your place in the larger story of God's work in the world.

The Love & Respect Experience
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Thomas Nelson, September 2011
Pursue the deep level of intimacy you and your spouse desire with this life-changing devotional based on Eggerichs's best-selling marital guide! Effective, flexible, and "husband-friendly," 52 stories and reflections help you stop the crazy cycle of conflict, initiate energizing change, and enjoy renewed passion so you can reap the benefits of marriage as God intended. 320 pages, dark tan imitation leather from Nelson.

I Never Thought I'd See the Day! Culture at the Crossroads
Dr. David Jeremiah
FaithWords, September 2011
Is Western civilization in an accelerating decline? And if it continues will it eventually weaken and cause us to come to the end of cultured civilization as we now know it? "Yes," says David Jeremiah, and in his book, I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SEE THE DAY! he details numerous signs of this cultural decay including: America held hostage by Iran, marriage becoming obsolete, America turning its back on Israel, and atheist attack on religion. Can this downward spiral be reversed? Yes, but only if one person at a time returns to God with our heart, our manner of life, our dedication to genuine worship of God, in serving God by helping others, in our giving, and in prayer.

This Time Around CD
Heather Williams
Provident, September 2011
Heather Williams walked through the desert of abuse, homelessness, poverty, and the loss of a child before she drank deeply from the oasis of faith. In her debut release, she tells her story of redemption in soaring vocals and sonic melodies. Includes "Hallelujah," "God Is Still God," "Breathe Again," "Holes," "Beautiful Thing," and the title track.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Review

Erasing Hell : What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up
by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle
David C. Cook, 2011

Reviewed by Diane Busch

Having read the controversial "Love Wins: a Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" by Rob Bell, earlier this year, (and generally liking it, although having difficulties with parts of it), I felt compelled to read "Erasing Hell" to get another Christian author's perspective on these topics and to get scriptural backing for various views on hell.  (See my earlier review of Bell's book on this blog.)  I am grateful to Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, and also to all the other authors, who this year jumped right in to research scripture and write about this hot button topic of hell.

I like the spirit in which "Erasing Hell" is written.  The authors were not out to bash Rob Bell, but to delve into scripture and really wrestle to find some answers to questions like: Is hell real?  Why did God make hell?  What is hell like?  Who goes to hell?  What did Jesus do to save us from hell? What can we do to not go to hell?

The problem is that we don't like to talk about Hell because it is awful, terrible and ugly.  We would rather talk about God's love, heaven, and all the happy stuff.  But we can't bury the parts of the Bible or the things that God said that we don't like.  We have to take all of it.  God is love, but he also is just.  God made heaven, but he also made hell.  What do we do with the things of God that we don't like?  We can't pick and choose what we like about God.  God is God.  God is Creator.  God is Almighty.  God is Holy.  God is just.  God hates sin.  God punishes those who do not put their faith in His son Jesus.  At the end of the day we have to choose whether we can love and honor and obey and serve a God who made Hell.

Jesus talked a lot about Hell, mostly to warn people about it.  This was a loving thing to do.  Jesus didn't speak about Hell just so we could study, debate, and write books about it.  He did it so we would live holy lives and not go to Hell.  Our belief in Hell should rescue our complacent hearts from passivity.

God has the right to do whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3).  God is perfect and right in all He does.  God invented justice and knows what unbelievers deserve.  God is free to do whatever he wants...wrath, power, glory, mercy, etc.  We must let God be God.  He alone decides how he will deal with people.  Does the Potter have the right to do whatever He wants with the clay?  Yes.  Can the clay say to the Potter, "you messed up; let me show you a better way to mold me?"  No.

Isaiah 55:8-9 - "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord.  "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Book Review

In the Company of Others
(A Father Tim novel)
by Jan Karon
Viking, Oct. 2010

Reviewed by Diane Busch

If you have read any books in the Mitford series by Jan Karon, then you already know and love Father Tim.  If you are new to these delightful books, you can jump right in with this book and not feel like you have missed anything.  (Although, I am sure that when you are finished, you will want to go back and read the other Mitford and Father Tim books.)

This delightful book takes place in Ireland.  Father Tim Kavanagh, the beloved retired Episcopal priest and his wife, Cynthia, are on vacation at a Bed & Breakfast Inn in County Sligo.  Before long there is a mystery to solve.  Father Tim has daily adventures and Cynthia is laid up with an injured ankle.  They both are reading a journal from the bookshelves of the inn to learn about the history.  The food, the people, the history, and the character of Ireland are women through each page.  I found myself smiling every day as I immersed myself in the story.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Releases

Living Beyond Your Feelings
Joyce Meyer
FaithWords, September 2011
In Living Beyond Your Feelings Joyce Meyer turns her focus to feelings. Through blending the wisdom of the Bible with the latest psychological research, and flavored with her own straight-forward style, she provides a comprehensive guide to the range of emotions that people feel every day, and how to manage them.

The Sky is Not Falling
Charles Colson
Worthy Publishing, September 2011
From controversial wars and political power struggles to reality shows and celebrity scandals, it seems the world has gone mad! But Colson's astute insights restore balance and sanity. Encouraging you to abide in God's love, he reveals the truth behind today's pressing political and social issues so you can live fearlessly in a godless culture.

The Scroll
Grant Jeffrey & Alton Gansky
WaterBrook Press,  September 2011
One last dig.  One final descent into the twisted tunnels of ancient Jerusalem.  Will the truth be fund among the treasures that lie beneath the holy city? Dr. David Chambers, leading archaeologist, has spent his professional career uncovering the facts in the artifacts. His work sets the standard for biblical research in the Holy Land. But surrounded by the evidence, David has sunk into an abyss of doubt. A painful experience with a seemingly unresponsive God has left him without hope. The Old Testament scriptures that used to fill his mind with wonder now drive him to frustration. His unanswered questions have ripped him from both his academic pursuits and the love of his life, his fiancĂ©, Amber.An old friend and mentor reaches out to David, enticing him with the riches described in the enigmatic Copper Scroll. Losing ground with his peers, his love, and his faith, David Chambers has a choice to make. Will he undertake one final dig to unlock a secret that could alter the course of history? Do the mysteries of the Old Testament hold the key to the political turmoil of the Middle East?In a world where faith has been eclipsed by the allure of doubt, The Scroll offers a different journey: a gripping adventure to find truth worth dying for.

Get In, I'm Driving CD
Ginny Owens
EMI, September 2011
The first collection of new songs from the three time Dove award winning singer/songwriter in over six years. This looks to be her strongest project, yet! Owens continues to bridge the gap between Christian Contemporary Music and mainstream audiences. Get In I'm Driving delivers a unique array of catchy Pop songs with strong R&B, jazz, and soul overtones, while staying lyrically consistent to her profound and inspirational style.

You Are Love CD
Darlene Zschech
Ino Records, August 2011
Proclaiming God's unwavering love, Darlene's music encourages a hurting world---and you---to rest in his arms and accept his gift! Includes "Love Is Saving Me," "We Are Your People," "I Will Wait," "Beautiful," "Hope for Humanity," "Faithful," "Cry of the Broken," "Face to Face," the title track, and the radio single "Under Grace."