Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Gospel of Jesus Christ - A Study in Mark (book review)

The book The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Whosoever Will Come After Me by Russell M. Stendal, is a study done on the Gospel of Mark. In this powerful book the reader will find many unexpected things. As I began reading it, I was expecting the author to expound on each verse (which he does) and give a commentary (which he also does). I wasn't expecting anything more. I assumed it would be the equivalent of one of my seminary studies but as I read, I found so much more. The author makes a point of giving key truths, Biblical history, Greek word studies, tips on righteous living, and an introduction to many Jewish customs. I learned so many new and exciting things as I read.

Mr. Stendal's writing is descriptive and easy to read. The reader will find he/she is being transported back in time. An example of the writer's ability to do this can be found in Chapter 8 of the book. This title is called "Thou Art the Christ" and focuses on Mark chapter 8. You may have heard about the blind man who had his sight restored by Jesus. This man had been blind from birth. He had heard about Jesus healing others and he wanted to be healed. His desire to regain his sight led him to walk forward with courage to approach Jesus. Jesus did not turn him away but took him by the hand, led him out of town, spat in his eyes and healed him. As you read the account offered by Mr. Stendal, you'll gain a new perspective. Let me share an overview from one of Mr. Stendal's chapters, Mark 8: Mr. Stendal quotes the verses from Mark chapter 8. He begins in verse 22 and for this account, goes on to verse 26. Mr. Stendal gives background information on the city of Bethsaida. As he sets the scene, he says: "Bethsaida was a religious city whose inhabitants were not interested in giving God the glory for what Jesus was saying and doing..." Then he goes on to describe the healing event. "Jesus personally took him by the hand and led him out of the city in order to restore his sight, which he did in two stages. Unconventional as always, Jesus began by spitting into the man's eyes. That is hardly the sort of medical therapy that any of us would volunteer for, and among the Jews in particular, this was a great offense, as it was considered to render unclean the person who had been spat on. Even viewed from a spiritual perspective, it could be a very traumatic experience for any self-righteous religious person if Jesus were to 'spit in their eye' and demonstrate that their entire world view is unclean. The blind man, however felt nothing but gratitude, for after that first touch from Jesus, his vision began to return and he saw men who walked as trees." Mr. Stendal goes on to share relevant facts for today, "When Jesus first opens the eyes of those who are spiritually blind, the same thing tends to happen, inasmuch as the first reaction of many is to elevate man (to see men as tall as trees) and look up to those who are gifted and in ministry. It took a second touch from the Master to complete the healing to the point where the man was whole and could see everyone, far away and clearly. So, too, with fully recovering our spiritual sight."

The clear and concise writings of Mr. Stendal will provide an enjoyable and informative experience for the reader. His analytical thinking process provides the reader with definitive answers to questions they may have as they try to read and understand the book of Mark. At the end of each chapter, the author offers up prayer for the reader.

I found this book to be delightful. It was filled with so much information, I felt like I needed to read it a second time to glean more. Mr. Stendal's exposition of the chapters found in the book of Mark are well done and it is evident he has done much research to provide his text.

I would like to thank Aneko Press for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book. I would like to give it a 5 star recommendation. I was not encouraged to give a positive review but it is my honor to do so. For those wishing to increase their biblical knowledge, this book is a must. You may purchase the book by visiting Aneko's website. If you'd like to download the free Ebook for Kindle, click here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sarah's Journey of Faith, Volume 3 - a book review

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the book, Sarah's Journey of Faith, From the Dark Clouds of China To the Blue Skies of America, Volume 3 by Sarah Liu. I knew before I even started to read this book that it would be special to me. China has had a soft place in my heart since 2005 when I traveled there for the very first time as a short term missionary. I had never been out of the country but knew God was calling me to be obedient to Him. My team of missionaries went to China under the guise of teaching English as a Second Language. That was the best way to get our Visas approved so we could enter the country. I went through specialized training so I could teach English but knew in my heart that wasn't the main purpose for my journey.

When I entered the country, I was astounded. In the airport, there were armed guards at every corner. In full uniform, they looked very ominous. Our sponsors warned us to remember we were entering a Communist country. We would need to abide by the Chinese government rules and regulations at all times. There was a feeling of being constantly watched as we proceeded through the airport and it had us on pins and needles.

After checking in to our hotel and meeting with our sponsors, we were able to connect with high school and college age students. They were interested in learning English but knew we were missionaries. We had many opportunities to share Christ with them and I didn't realize the real danger until one afternoon when I stepped out into the common area to meet with a young Chinese girl. I had my Bible under my arm and was ready to sit down and talk to her about how much Jesus loved her. There were guards surrounding the courtyard and they were moving toward me. My sponsor must have felt something was amiss. I was dumbfounded when he quickly approached me, took my Bible, and whispered, " You can't have this out in the open." At that moment, I was fearful. The reality that I could have been imprisoned slapped me in the face. Later that day, when our team reassembled to pray, the sponsor explained how dangerous my mistake had been. I could have jeopardized the entire team's work. God's hand was on me because He prompted the sponsor to come over to me and help at the very moment I needed it. I was humbled and grateful.

As I read the book, Sarah's Journey of Faith, I felt like I was back in China. As Sarah shared her story of being smuggled out of China, I clearly understood the danger. Her faith and bravery were so apparent as she trusted others to help her in dire circumstances. God's providential hand was upon her at every turn and when complete strangers stepped up to aid her, Sarah's faith was strengthened.

Despite being tortured and beaten, Sarah remained steadfast in her beliefs. During one particular instance of torture, Sarah said she felt like giving up. She silently prayed, "Lord, take my life, I can't endure this anymore." Sarah says, "In that case, God gave me a vision of Jesus on the cross, suffering for me. Enduring all that wrath of man, for me. In my darkest moment, Christ became my noonday sun in all its brilliance for me. I saw perfectly clearly what I was to do. I repented for wanting Jesus without the cross. In torture and in pain, I took up the cross and was taken to the edge of the abyss, and He was there!" Her statement, wanting Jesus without the cross, was so powerful. How many times do we long for Jesus but forget the immense amount of suffering He endured on our behalf?

Sarah also talked about the underground churches in China. When I was there, I was able to see some of these churches. They were well hidden and our sponsor explained we could not go closer for fear of jeopardizing the lives of the believers who worshiped there. Understanding their willingness to worship despite the possibility of torture, imprisonment, or death was heart wrenching and made me realize how very blessed we are to live in a country where we can worship freely.

Sarah's Journey of Faith, Volume 3, is a continuation of her testimony woven into 3 devotional books. As each chapter shares a little of her journey from China to America, she shares a verse of Scripture and provides some provoking questions to help the reader journal and reflect.

This book is a true story of sacrifice, faith, hope, and love. It will touch readers in a profound way. I recommend it especially for those interested in missions to Communist countries.

In closing, I want to mention one more instance of Sarah's book that struck me personally. Sarah shared the following, "At 9:30 a.m. on August 2, 2005, while two American tourists were preparing to have Christian fellowship with 41 Chinese House church pastors and believers in Zaoyang City, Hubei Province, approximately 30 Chinese plain clothed police officers rushed into the house. The same day, the 41 Chinese pastors and believers from evangelical South China Church were taken to No. 2 Zaoyang Prison." This incident happened exactly one month after I left China. I had been in the city of Xiamen on the Fujian Province, Zaoyang City was only a day away. The dangers there are very real and even today Christians in China are persecuted. Please remember to pray for those willing to risk their lives to take the gospel overseas. Chinese people need to learn about Christ's love and Sarah is just one of those who risked her live to obey Christ at any cost.

I would like to thank Aneko Press for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I was not encouraged to give a positive review although it is my honor to do so.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to Study the Bible by Dwight L. Moody (a review)

Dwight L. Moody is a well known name among Christians. This gentle man was born in Massachusetts in 1837. He was one of nine children. At the age of four, his father died. At the age of seventeen, he left home to become a shoe salesman. The following year, Moody was introduced to Christ by his Sunday school teacher and was saved. He continued to sell shoes and was making a comfortable living but felt the call to follow God. Leaving his job, he stepped into full time ministry. Although he was never ordained, he was a powerful evangelist.

How to Study the Bible is one of the Christian classics. Aneko Press has taken on the task of updated the original work which was entitled Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study. The updated version is easy to read and maintains the integrity of the original book.

The reader of this book will find evidence of Dwight L. Moody's love for God's Word. Throughout, Mr. Moody emphasizes the importance of understanding, studying, and treasuring God's magnificent gift to us, the Holy Bible.

Some of the chapters included in the book are as follows:

  • No true life without the Bible
  • The Word of God Is True
  • Don't Neglect the Old Testament
  • Take Time and Study
  • Look and Learn; Read and Remember
  • Take God at His Word
  • And more...
The author gives so much wisdom in this little book. I loved reading his perspectives and would like to share some of his wisdom and practical advice here through his direct quotes:
1. "The more you love Scriptures, the stronger your faith will be."
2. "If we feed on the Word of God, it will be easy to speak to others about the Word of God; and not only that, but we will also be growing in grace the entire time, and others will notice the change in our walk and conversation."  
3. "There is no book that will draw people in like the Bible."
4. "We must study the Bible thoroughly and hunt through it, as it were, for some great truth." 
5. "The quicker you learn to feed yourself, the better." 
6. "The best law for Bible study is the law of perseverance." 
7. "Read the Bible itself; do not spend all your time on commentaries and helps." 
8. "Every child of God ought to be like a soldier and always hold himself in readiness."
9. "Get ful lof Scripture, and then you can't help but say it."
10. Remember, it is the Holy Spirit and not you who does the converting and who gives new life."

How to Study the Bible is an excellent reference filled with powerful information. This book would be a wonderful addition to the library of old and new Christians alike. After reading How to Study the Bible, a reader would be well equipped to dig into God's Word and understand it better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave me new insight on better ways to study. I would like to thank Aneko Press for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not encouraged to give a positive review, but it is my pleasure to do so.

If you'd like your own copy of How to Study the Bible, click here

Monday, July 31, 2017

I'll Push You - a book review

I love reading true adventure stories so when I was given an opportunity to review the book, I'll Push You by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, I couldn't wait to start reading. The story begins with Justin explaining his health issues that began not long after a motor vehicle accident he suffered in 1991. He began to notice weakness in his foot and leg. After many visits to doctors and several incorrect diagnoses, he finally receives the information he's needed. He is diagnosed with Multifocal Acquired Motor Axonopathy, also called by the acronym "MAMA." This disease is similar to ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a muscle wasting disease that renders its victims physically debilitated.

After Justin receives his diagnosis, he contacts his long time friend, Patrick Gray. Patrick and Justin have known each other since birth and have remained good friends throughout the years. Justin shares a dream with Patrick and asks for his help. Justin longs to travel the Camino De Santiago, a network of routes across Spain and Europe which all lead to Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest of Spain. Justin wants to accomplish this goal as a way to prove to himself that he can overcome his physical limitations. Patrick finally agrees to accompany Justin and tells him "I'll push you." As Patrick makes that commitment, he has no idea what lies ahead.

Justin and Patrick begin planning their trip and realize they face insurmountable odds. They have no equipment, no finances, and neither of them know how to take a wheelchair over rugged terrain. They begin to pray and God answers in ways they could never fathom. A local company agrees to purchase the specialized wheelchair Justin needs, friends and strangers donate money to buy the equipment, and God sends a team to help document the journey.

As Justin and Patrick begin their journey they begin to see that God wants them to learn more about themselves and about Him along the way. Traveling over rocky paths, through dense mud and other obstacles, Justin and Patrick forge a deeper friendship with each other and a deeper faith in God. Patrick thought he was going on this journey to help his friend reach a lifelong goal but he never expected to receive the spiritual insight God allowed him to experience.

This book touched my heart in so many ways. In 1991, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident which left me in a wheelchair for a year and a half. As I was praying for the crushed bones in my leg to heal, I had to learn how to maneuver day to day life without use of my legs. I could personally relate to Justin as I read the physical challenges he faced. It was at that time in my life, God used my trial to draw me closer to Him so I wasn't surprised when Justin shared incidents in his own life where God had done the same thing. In reading about Justin and Patrick's devotion to one another, I was reminded of a several verses in the Bible, "A friend loveth at all times," and "Greater love hath no man than he who lays down his life for his friends." Those verses speak to the type friendship Justin and Patrick shared, a very rare and valuable one.

I think you'll enjoy this book and I highly recommend it. It's easy to read and well written. The first hand accounts given by Justin and Patrick help the reader grasp the differences in their personalities and discover more about their faith.

I'd like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not encouraged to give a positive review.

If you'd like to purchase the book on Amazon, click here.

If you'd like to purchase the book on Christianbook.com, click here.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

At the Heart of the White Rose - A Book Review

At the Heart of the White Rose is a compilation of letters and diary entries shared between a brother and sister during the infamous reign of Adolf Hitler. Hans and Sophie Scholl, born in Germany, are young people on a mission. Together, they participate in a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany called the White Rose. This group is compiled of students and a led by a professor at the University of Munich. The book, edited by Inge Jens, shares their remarkable story.

As I began reading the book, I became intrigued. I've always enjoyed learning about historical events especially those that pertained to the Holocaust and the time of Hitler's regime. As Hans and Sophie's perspectives are shared, I was able to look inside their lives and understand what it must have been like to experience the things they did at that time.

I enjoyed getting to know Hans through his deep and very personal writings. It was evident he was a seeker of truth and longed to understand the great mysteries of life. Although he was a college student, he was also drafted into military service. As he began his medical career, his letters and journal entries reveal his deep desire to help others, his love for his country, and his hatred of what the Nazis are doing in his world.

Sophie is a teenage dreamer. Seeing the world through her eyes was vastly different from her brother's viewpoint. She seems to be caught up in the reality of the here and now instead of focusing on the future. Her letters and journal entries revolve around friends and events typical of most teenagers.

The book includes, among the letters and journal entries, historical news and events. It was helpful to have this information either before or after an entry to help put the writing in perspective. I found this information interesting and informative.

Readers will enjoy this book because Hans and Sophie are today's vain and flighty youth. These are two very intelligent people with hearts set on helping thwart the enemy.  Through their efforts, they manage to form a vital resistance movement among their peers. Although they were both martyred for their efforts, they impacted many lives and will be remembered for their stand against horrendous evil.

Thank you to Plough Publishing for giving me the opportunity to review this book. It was a pleasure to read and I give it my personal recommendation.

If you'd like to purchase the book, please click here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray (a book review)

Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray is one of the most profound little books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. In this revised and updated copy, Aneko press presents a must have for every library.

Andrew Murray is a well-known evangelist and author. His books have impacted lives for generations. His book is filled with profound truths for every believer. The title of the book is also the key point in how Christians are to live in subjection to Christ. Murray tells us that in order for us to receive all God has for us, we must completely surrender ourselves to Him. As we surrender, God will work out our surrender in our lives. We must yield every part of our being to the Lordship of Christ. God accomplishes our surrender for us by the power of His Holy Spirit which indwells believers. After our complete surrender is established by the power of God, He accepts our surrender, develops it, and maintains it.

The author compares our complete surrender to a passage in the Holy Bible found in John 15:5, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you shall bear much fruit, for without Me, you can do nothing.” The job of the vine is to provide sustenance to the branch. The branch's job is to abide in the vine, relying on it for everything it needs. So, too, is the life of the believer. As we learn to live in total dependence on Christ, He works in and through us according to His good will and pleasure.

Absolute Surrender contains step by step instructions on how a believer can learn to surrender completely to Jesus Christ. Andrew Murray says, “The condition of God’s blessing is absolute surrender of all into His hands.” He also says, “God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.” To receive God’s very best blessings, doesn’t total surrender seem a small price to pay?

I hope you’ll take the time to purchase and read this powerful book. It will have a great impact on your life, I promise. It certainly did on mine.

Thank you, Aneko Press, for giving me the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book. I am pleased to give it a 5 star rating! I was not encouraged to give a positive review but it is my pleasure to do so.

To purchase your copy of Absolute Surrender, click here

You may also be interested in reading the free Ebook. If so, click here

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Peace in the Face of Cancer - a book review

Peace in the Face of Cancer by Lynn Eib, is a beautiful little book filled with the promise of hope for those walking through the valley of cancer. I received a review copy from Tyndale House Publishers and was excited to read it. Since I'm a breast cancer survivor, the title intrigued me. I was not disappointed. 

The author, Lynn Eib, begins the book with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou. The quote says "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do it with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." What a great sentiment and oh, how it spoke to me as I am in the process of learning to thrive after a cancer diagnosis. 

As a cancer survivor Ms. Eib takes time to share personal issues in her book. She candidly discusses her thoughts and fears but encourages the reader to rely on faith to combat those fears. She also shares personal stories from her life and includes the stories of others who've experienced cancer. I enjoyed reading all of them and found her book to be uplifting and even humorous at times. 

Peace in the Face of Cancer is an excellent book. It speaks not only to those who are going through or have gone through cancer, but it also makes sure to provide comfort for those who've been given a diagnosis of being incurable. I found Ms. Eib's writing style casual and comfortable. Her book is easy to read and very enjoyable. 

It's my pleasure to give a big thumb's up to Ms. Eib for a job well done on writing this beautiful book. It would be my first recommendation for anyone recently diagnosed with cancer and would be a wonderful reference for those who've already traveled that road. The title of the book is accurate. Ms. Eib did inspire peace in her book by providing biblical truths, heartfelt words, and personal experience. 

I'd like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not encouraged to write a positive review but I am happy to provide that on this work. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What DO THE AMISH BELIEVE? The Doctrine of the Plain People Compared to Scripture - A book review

I was excited to receive a copy of What Do the Amish Believe? from Aneko Press. I've always had an interest in learning about the Amish and Mennonite cultures and this book promised to give me a clear understanding. What I didn't expect was a better understanding of Scripture. I've been a Christian for 52 years. I also have two seminary degrees, but as I read the book, I learned a few things!

One of the things I learned was about the history of the Amish culture. I hadn't studied that before and was intrigued to learn of the origin of the religion. Reading about the extensive persecutions during the time of the early years of the Amish faith saddened me but made me realize a dedicated faith comes with consequences.

I liked how the book presented various topics and then gave the Amish perspective on each. After the Amish beliefs were shared, a biblical view was given. As I read each viewpoint, I realized there wasn't a lot of difference between the beliefs of the Amish and the beliefs of my faith, Christianity. I wasn't surprised to learn the Amish peoples were more focused on works but their religion seemed to have solid doctrine that was biblically based and that put my mind at ease.  Included at the end of each chapter, a prayer was included. These prayers were powerful and filled with desires that all followers of Christ should utter.

Topics covered in the book included:

  1. God
  2. Jesus Christ
  3. The Holy Spirit
  4. The Bible
  5. The Church
  6. Angels, Demons and Satan
  7. Humanity
  8. Sin and Salvation
  9. The End Times
I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand the Amish culture but it would also be beneficial to those wanting to understand more about Christian doctrine. A clear and concise presentation of Scripture gives the reader understanding of the Bible in ways they may have never learned. 

I'd like to thank Aneko Press for allowing the opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not encouraged to give a positive review, however it is my pleasure to do so. 

This book will be released on July 1, 2017. To purchase your copy of What Do the Amish Believe click here. You may also read a PDF version of the Ebook at the same site. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Life for Christ - Dwight L. Moody (a book review)

In the first chapter of his book, A Life for Christ, What the Normal Christian Life Should Look Like, Pastor Moody gives us a short description of the biblical event of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I was touched by a statement Dwight L. Moody made in the first chapter. He says, " But the Lord wants His children to learn this lesson: They have something to do towards raising the spiritually dead. The disciples not only had to take away the stone, but after Christ raised Lazarus they were told to also loose him and let him go." I've read the story of Jesus raising Lazarus many times in my life and I've never thought about the point Pastor Moody brought up. Jesus could have immediately rolled the stone away and called Lazarus forth, but instead, he asked the disciples to move the stone. He wanted them to take an active part in the process. Dwight L. Moody wants us to realize we not only have an active part to play in reaching others for Christ, but we have a responsibility.

Throughout the book, Mr. Moody explains our obligations as followers of Christ. All Christians should desire the lost to be rescued and brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In order to reach the lost for Christ, believers need to be willing to make every effort using whatever means possible to accomplish this goal. He admonishes us not to get caught up in doing things the way they've always been done. He encourages us to reach out in faith and allow God to work through us. According to Dr. Moody, "God must prepare the ground and He must give the increase."

A Life for Christ is filled with truths a seasoned believer already knows and many of us take for granted such as:

We are to operate out of love.
We are to want to see everyone come to a saving knowledge of Christ.
We should always be willing to share the gospel.
We should esteem ourselves lowly and have a humble spirit.

But in addition to these truths, Mr. Moody wants the normal Christian to understand more fully our role as believers. He says, "If we want to be wise in winning souls and to be vessels for the Master's use, we must get rid of the accursed spirit of self-seeking." He intimates our motives must be right and our motives should only stem from a heart filled with love.

This book is a must read for all Christians. Dr. Moody is a well known and respected man of God. He is wise and has much to teach those of us who are fearful of partaking in the soul winning aspect of Christianity. I recommend this book highly and know it will bless those who read it.

Thank you to Aneko Press for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book. I was not encouraged to give a favorable review but it is my pleasure to do so.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My People, the Amish (a book review)

I've always loved learning about different religions and their beliefs, but the Amish people have fascinated me. Their simple lifestyle is appealing on so many levels but I had no idea how restrictive that lifestyle could be until I read My People, the Amish.

I already knew a good deal about the Amish, or so I thought. I'd watched several shows on television about them, the most recent being Leaving Amish. But none of the shows shared much detail about everyday living and all the church ordained regulations, so I had much to learn.

As I began reading the true story of Joe Keim, My People, the Amish, I felt sorry for him. Growing up in the Old Order Amish community, Joe lived by a strict set of rules. The rules set forth by his church mandated the length of his hair, the color of his clothes, where he could go, what he could do, and how he should live his life. Joe often felt like he couldn't live up to all the expectations set before him and rightly so. Not only did the church expect perfection, Joe's Father did as well.

Joe shared how he longed for encouragement and affirmation from his father and how disappointed he was that he never received it. His father didn't show any physical affection toward Joe and never offered loving sentiments to his son. This was typical of the Amish community, says Joe Keim, "I don't remember ever getting a hug from Dad or hearing him tell me that he loved me, but that's not uncommon in the Amish community. Most Amish people don't show affection. It's just the way it was. In fact, the word love isn't in the Pennsylvania Dutch vocabulary - the closest word for love is like." It's no wonder, when Amish children reach teenage years and are allowed to go through the ritual of Rumspringa, they test the waters and begin to break some of their Amish rules.

Joe Keim shared every aspect of his life in My People, the Amish. He talked candidly about his childhood, his teenage years, dating, leaving the Amish community for a time, and how he finally found God. The challenges he faced involved disappointing not only his family but his church, but Joe knew there was more to a life filled with strict guidelines and tradition. He felt God drawing him and he wanted to answer the call.

After accepting Christ as his Savior, Joe wanted to give back to the Amish people whom he dearly loved. He founded a ministry called MAP, Mission to Amish People. His goal in forming this ministry with his wife, Esther, was to share the love of Christ with the Amish people and to help them understand the truth of the gospel.

I enjoyed this book. It was refreshing to read about Joe's story and learn how difficult it is for an Amish person to completely walk away from his order. The book is filled with courage and hope. I would like to thank Aneko Press for allowing me to review this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

If you'd like to read more about Joe Keim and his story, you can pre-purchase the book here. The release date for the book is June 1, 2017.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Jesus Came to Save Sinners - Charles H. Spurgeon (a review)

Charles H. Spurgeon was among the greatest preachers of all time. His words of wisdom and his godly example are well known around the world. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, England's best-known Baptist minister, was born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, Essex and spent his childhood and early teenage years in Stambourne, Colchester, and Newmarket. In 1856 he married Susannah Thompson; their only children, twin sons Thomas and Charles, were born on September 20, 1857. Spurgeon had no formal education beyond Newmarket Academy, but he was very well-read in Puritan theology, natural history, Latin and Victorian literature. Although he held no college degree, this did not deter him from a remarkable preaching career which he began at the young age of 15. Spurgeon's preaching was both enormously popular and highly controversial.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon has always been one of my favorite authors. When I was given the opportunity to review one of his works, I was excited. I've always loved the depth of Spurgeon's writings and how they always point the reader toward a more meaningful relationship with Christ. Jesus Came to Save Sinners certainly did not disappoint in those areas.

Aneko Press has taken Spurgeon's original Christian classic book, Jesus Came to Save Sinners, and has updated it for today's readers. The book is so well written. It's easy to read and understand. I really enjoyed Spurgeon's way of writing this book as if it were a personal conversation from one friend to another. The book is written for both Christians and non Christians alike. It gives a beautiful and clear picture of God's grace, love, mercy, forgiveness and acceptance. Subjects covered in the book include:
  • Justification
  • Grace
  • Salvation
  • Faith
  • Regeneration
  • Repentance
  • Forgiveness
  • Deliverance from Sin
  • Living the Christian Life
To give you an example of how simply Spurgeon expounds on each topic, I'll share an excerpt of his thoughts on the concept of justification. He says, "According to our natural reliance on works for salvation, we tend to always talk about our own goodness and our own worthiness. We stubbornly hold to the idea that there must be something good in us for God to take notice of us. But this is a deception, and God sees through all deceptions. He knows that there is no goodness whatsoever in us. He says that there is no one righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10) and He knows all our righteousness's [are] as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, the Lord Jesus didn't come into the world looking for those who were good and righteous, but to grant these virtues to people in need of them. He comes no because we are just, but to make us so, for He is the One that justifies the ungodly...With perfect justice, He has set up a system by which He can treat the guilty as if they lived free from offense all their life. In this way, He can treat them as if they are totally free from sin. He justifies the ungodly." He also says, "The salvation of God is for those who don't deserve it and have no way to make themselves ready or good enough for it. This may sound odd, but it is a reasonable statement because the only ones who need justifying are those who have no justification of their own. That includes all of us. For only the perfectly righteous would have no need of justifying." So you can see by the way he writes, Spurgeon wants to make sure the reader completely understands what he is sharing with them. He also uses personal examples from his own life to help the reader know the writings in the book not only apply to others but to himself as well.

I can't give enough praise to this book! If I could, I'd had out copies of it to everyone I meet. It is so powerful and simple but explains the truth of God's plan to redeem us so well. Spurgeon incorporates the "Roman Road" concept of salvation in Jesus Came to Save Sinners and his explanations of each Scripture will sweetly point the reader to Christ.

I would like to thank Aneko Press for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not encouraged to give a positive review although it was my pleasure to do so. Please read Jesus Came to Save Sinners! It will bless you and I'm sure you'll also want to pass a copy on to someone you know.

You can purchase a paperback copy of the book here.
If you prefer an ebook copy at no charge, please click here.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Escape Routes by Johann Christoph Arnold (a review)

Wisdom is gained by life experience and the aged often have profound pieces of advice to share with those of the younger generation; often, however, the young are too busy to stop and listen or even heed the advice of the older and wiser around them. Johann Christoph Arnold was different. He did stop to listen to the advice offer by a much older and wiser woman. Her name was Maureen and she shared this sage advice when the author mentioned his desire to write a book about heaven and hell:

"A book on heaven and hell? I just don't know. I'm not sure it's a good use of one's time - to worry about the afterlife, and where you'll go when you die. It's probably unhealthy. There's plenty to do right now, here on earth. You can find joy in the present, real joy, through serving others - by helping them or easing their load. You can also look out just for yourself, though if you do you will always be grumpy. You will never be satisfied. maybe that's hell...Now, I suppose if I were concerned about the afterlife I would have something more to tell you, but I haven't."

After hearing her perspective, Arnold began his book. He felt all of us have some form of hell in our lives and with that hell, there also comes a kind of happiness or a glimpse of heaven, too. As a pastor for over 40 years, Johann Christoph Arnold heard many stories of sadness along with stories of joy. Each of those stories contained a deep searching heart longing for a place of belonging and love. Many of the tales revolved around loneliness. As Arnold gathered information for his book, he found many people today also suffer from extreme loneliness. Even in the midst of community, there can be an unsatisfied need for purpose and belonging. Arnold blames some of those feelings on social media and the false sense of community it offers. He says, " The rise of the Internet has not, as some hoped, ended our isolation. True, people use social media to interact with others daily, even hourly. Yet when it comes to building relationship between people, these social technologies may actually reduce social involvement and psychological well being, in the words of one scientific study. It's common sense. The time we spend online cuts down on the time we could devote to a spouse, a child, or a coworker who might be sitting right next to us. Even the best virtual exchange is disembodied and cannot possibly replace face to face interaction with flesh and blood friends."  Mr. Arnold says "loneliness is so hazardous that people who are physically healthy but isolated are twice as likely to die during a given decade as those who live surrounded by others."

Escape Routes is a book about how we live our lives and the questions each of us have about our future. Arnold shares stories from different types of people in his book. The common thread between all of them is they want and need to feel like they belong and are valued. Arnold doesn't spend time in his book on preaching the message of salvation, instead he wants the reader to understand how disconnected we call can feel in today's world.

The book causes the reader to consider his own mortality. Do we truly understand the meaning of suffering? Can it be beneficial to helping us understand the importance of focusing on being present in the moment? The most important question of all is will we choose to love?

I found the book to be thought provoking and I enjoyed reading about the lives of others. Some of their stories did not end well but not all lives do end well. Mr. Arnold did a good job of expressing how others cope when they feel unloved. He poised many questions to his readers throughout the book about life here on this Earth and about life after we leave this place.

Readers interested in sociology or humanities would enjoy this book. It is written well and is a quick read. I would have liked to have see Mr. Arnold present the plan of salvation in his book or at least quote Scriptures from the Bible offering his readers hope. I felt it was his responsibility, as a Christian, to point people to Christ. He did quote many famous authors in the book and did speak often about love, but did not put as much emphasis on Christ's love as I thought he should have done.

I was given a copy of Escape Routes by Plough Publishing in exchange for my honest review. I was not encouraged to give a positive review although it is my pleasure to do so. I would like to thank Plough Publishing for my review copy.

If you're interested in purchasing the book, you may do so here.

About the author: Born in Great Britain in 1940 to German refugees, Arnold spent his boyhood years in South America, where his parents found asylum during the war; he immigrated to the United States in 1955. He and his wife, Verena, have eight children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Arnold is the Senior Pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities.


Monday, March 6, 2017

A Life for God, A Rabbi's Analysis of Life, the Cross, and Eternity

Reading a Biblical perspective written by a Jewish author was very enlightening for me. As I read Rabbi Greg Hershberg's book, I felt I'd received a secret key to unlock some of the deep mysteries of the Bible. The more I read about Jewish history, customs, and word meanings, the more the Bible came alive for me and I realized, even after having been a Christian for 50 years, there were things I did not completely understand about God's Word. Scripture became alive and fresh as indicated by this verse: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Rabbi Greg Hershberg, is a Messianic Jew. Messianic Jews are Jewish people who believe and have accepted Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) of Nazareth as the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures. These people do not stop being Jewish, but they continue to remain strong in their Jewish faith. Many Messianic Jews refer to themselves as “completed Jews,” since they believe their faith in the God of Israel has been “completed” or fulfilled in Yeshua (Jesus).

A Life for God is Rabbi Hershberg's written effort to help both Jews and Christians alike come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He presents an abundant amount of information gleaned from the Torah and from the Bible. He covers topics such as Eternal Life, Covenants, Offerings, the Crucifixion, the Greatest Commandment, and Gematria (Biblical symbolism of numbers).

Rabbi Hershberg writes his book well. It is easy to understand and filled with Scripture references. Not only did Hershberg take time to include specific Scriptures to illuminate topics, he also included history from Jewish manners and customs. The Greek and Hebrew word studies Rabbi Hershberg included were relevant and helped me gain a better understanding of Scripture. As I read each chapter in the book, I learned something I'd never known before. For instance, in the chapter entitled, "A Sacrifice, Living and Set Apart for God," Rabbi Hershberg is explaining details of the crucifixion. He describes the various types of wounds Christ endured before and on the cross. He tells about the Roman custom of breaking the legs of those crucified. This was usually done to hasten death so the bodies could be removed before sundown but in Jesus' case, his legs were not broken. Rabbi Hershberg states this was because they noticed he was already dead but more than that, it was to fulfill Scripture, Psalm 34:20, "He protects all his bones; not one of them gets broken." Next Rabbi Hershberg speaks about the wound Jesus suffered from the spear tip of the Roman when his side was pierced. Blood and water gushed out. I always wondered why water poured forth and I understood after reading the Rabbi's explanation - "By thrusting his spear into the side of Yeshua, the soldier actually fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah. And from this wound, blood and water flowed, blood for the forgiveness of sin and water for the washing away of the guilt of our sin. If we recall the brazen altar and laver, we realize that Yeshua fulfilled that requirement for approaching the father. The blood was shed at the altar, and the guilt washed away at the laver, just as the blood and water flowed from Yeshua's side. He laid down His own life as a voluntary act. The incised wound was one of the last prophecies to be fulfilled while Yeshua was on earth."

A Life for God fills the reader with hope. If a devout Jewish Rabbi can understand and accept the truths of the Bible and share his understandings in such a clear and concise way, anyone who reads this book should be able to receive the message of salvation. For the skeptic, Hershberg presents practical evidence. For the Christian, Hershberg presents rich history stepped in Jewish tradition. For the Jew, Hershberg presents the gospel with tenderness and compassion but also with power and truth.

I enjoyed this book immensely. I have always wanted to learn and understand more about the Jewish life and Rabbi Hershberg helped me do that. I'm thankful he took time to include information about the Jewish faith and their history in this book.  I feel I have a better understanding of the Bible and a clearer picture of what life was like for Jesus as a Jewish man.

I was given a copy of the book, A Life for God, in exchange for my honest review. I would like to thank Aneko Press for the opportunity to read this book and I would like to recommend it to others interested in learning more about the Messianic Jewish movement and about how we should live for God.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen (a book review)

Henri Nouwen is considered one of the great spiritual writers of our day. A teacher at Harvard, Yale, and Notre Dame, Nouwen is well versed in many subjects but theology is among his first loves. As a Catholic priest and follower of Christ, Henri Nouwen felt compelled to share his beliefs on how to live a better life while on this Earth and did a beautiful job in this book.

Upon meeting journalist, Fred Bratman, Henri Nouwen discovered a deep desire to help Bratman understand what it meant to live a life as God's beloved. During an interview, while Nouwen was teaching at Yale, Bratman was sent to do a profile on Nouwen. As they talked, Henri asked if the journalist liked his job and was surprised to find Bratman did not. He was only doing the job because it was his job. When the interview was complete, they began to talk about more important thing in life and Nouwen felt a deep compassion for Bratman. He says in his book, "What was happening between us seemed to me quite similar to what happened when Jesus looked steadily at the rich young man and was filled with love for him." Mark 10:21. Beneath Bratman's heart of cynicism and sarcasm, Nouwen sensed a beautiful heart - one that longed to give, create, and live a fruitful life. The more he listened, the more he wanted to help. Thus began his teachings on how to live the life of the beloved.

The book is written as a very personal letter to a dear friend. In it, Nouwen takes time to explain in depth exactly what it means to be beloved, how he knows we are considered to be beloved, and why we should live as beloved children of God.

I found the book to be very inspiring. I especially enjoyed the chapter entitled "Broken." The profound truths in this chapter spoke to me personally. Nouwen stated, "Perhaps the simplest beginning would be to say that our brokenness reveals something about who we are. Our sufferings and pains are not simply bothersome interruptions of our lives; rather, they touch us in our uniqueness and our most intimate individuality". He also said, "Our brokenness is always lived and experienced as highly personal, intimate and unique. I am deeply convinced that each human being suffers in a way no other human being suffers."

If you're searching for insightful truths written in a caring and compassionate way, this book is for you. It is well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Jubilee Bible - From the Scriptures of the Reformation

The Jubilee Bible is a unique translation of the Holy Bible taken from the Scriptures of the Reformation. Translators from the original texts in Hebrew and Greek into Spanish were made by Casiodoro De Reina, Cipriano de Valera, Francisco de Enzinas, and Juan Perez de Pineda, godly men of the reformation period. Russell Stendal, a missionary to Columbia, then translated their work from Spanish to English. He painstakingly compared this translation to that of English translator William Tyndale and also compared it word for word with the text of the authorized version of the King James Bible. Stendal's intention was to return the translations to the closest possible version of the original received text (Textus Receptus).
Editor Russell Stendal

The Jubilee Bible is written so the reader does not need to depend on theological dictionaries or reference materials. The Jubilee Bible is the only translation we know of that has each unique Hebrew word matched and mated with a unique English word so that the usage (number of occurrences and number of verses where the word occurs) sets forth a meaningful number pattern and a complete definition of what God means by each word.

This Bible is a bound in a leatherette tan material. It is embossed with a lovely tree design on the front cover along with the title. The Bible includes a ribbon marker, a listing of both Old and New Testament books, a dictionary of Proper Names, and translator's notes. The paper used is lightweight and the font is small at 10 points. Text is tight and margins are very small. There is no gold gilding to the pages and the words of Jesus are not written in red.

As the owner of many versions of the Holy Bible, I compare the Jubilee Bible most closely to my King James Bible. I did notice, in most of my other Bibles, each verse begins with a capital letter. This is not so in the Jubilee Bible because of the attention to grammar. There are some words added in italics by the translator for clarification.

I would like to give an example of text in various translations for comparison's sake. I have chosen John 15 verse 6:

Jubilee Bible: He who does not abide in me shall be cast forth as an unsound branch and shall wither, and they are gathered and cast into the fire and are burned. 

Authorized King James Version: If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Amplified Bible: If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

I found it interesting the word used to describe the branch in the Jubilee Bible was "unsound." In Hebrew, the word indicates infirmity, sickness or disease. I'd never thought of the branch as being diseased until I read the Jubilee version and this helped me gain a deeper insight into the verse. 

The Jubilee Bible is appealing to me because of the similarity to the King James Version of the Bible I grew up on, but for those unfamiliar with the text of the King James, the use of Old English might prove difficult to read or understand. 

Overall, I would give this Bible an A. It is well made and the translation is sound. I would have liked to have seen better paper used for the pages and a more defined transition between books of the Bible but those are my own personal preferences. 

Thank you, Aneko Press Publishers, for allowing me the chance to read and review this lovely Bible. It was my pleasure to do so. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and I was not encouraged to give a positive review.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Surprised by Faith by Dr. Don Bierle

Since I've been a Christian, I've always been interested in Apologetics, the art of defending the Christian faith. The Scripture, found in 1 Peter 3:15, ..."Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..." prompted me to have that interest. It also prompted me to not only understand why I believe what I believe, but to be willing and ready to share it with others. I feel like it's a great responsibility and I don't take it lightly. 

When I received a copy of the newly updated book, Surprised by Faith, by Dr. Don Bierle, I was excited to learn this was a book on Apologetics. The subtitle for the book explains well, Dr. Bierle's quest to uncover proof that would defend his faith: "A skeptic discovers more to life than what we can see, touch, and measure."

As a college student, Don Bierle, began to search for answers. During his undergraduate and graduate studies, he became cynical about faith and religion. He felt faith was not based on truth but rather on personal preference and opinion. He linked faith with emotion and suspected it was an illusion that offered a type of security blanket to the believer. He viewed religion as being a crutch for the weak. But as he surmised these views, Don still had questions. Like many others, he wanted to know what his purpose was in life. He wanted to understand why he was on planet Earth. He wondered what significance and value his life held. There were more questions than there were answers and Bierle wanted his questions to be answered. 

As he began to research, Dr. Bierle started with the basic question of wondering about God's existence. Was He real and if He was really real, how could he know for certain? Bierle detemined for God to exist, he needed tangible proof. He wanted to see, feel, and touch him and the only way to do that would be to have physical evidence of His existence. 

Don studied world religions. He compared their likes and their differences. He studied many books and religious leaders. The Christian claim that Jesus was God intrigued him. He also learned Christianity claimed God made Himself available to be known in the natural world of reason and evidence. In order to test this claim, written records of the existence of Jesus would need to be produced. Reliable and trustworthy records from the first century must exist and not only that, there must be a scientific method of gathering facts and the evidence must be reviewed objectively. 

The jumping off point for Bierle's research began with the statement "Is the Bible True?" In his book, Dr. Bierle compared Biblical text against ancient historical documents for accuracy. His research revealed ancient manuscripts recorded by eyewitnesses attested to the fact that Jesus did exist and the Bible was actually true. Not only did Bierle research documents, he studied historical artifacts found in Israel and in the surrounding regions. Dr. Bierle said in his book, "Based on the very methods which literary and historical scholars use today, the only reasonable and logical conclusion I can draw is that the Bible is the most reliable book of antiquity." Archaeological discoveries confirmed writings found in the New Testament and proved they were historically reliable. 

Questions presented in Surprised by Faith include: 

Why Am I Here?
Is the Bible True?
Is Jesus Really God?
Can Faith Be Reasonable?
Where Am I?
How Can I Know God?

The book presents factual evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ as a human being on Earth. Dr. Bierle takes a scientific approach to prove each piece of information he gathered. Like a lawyer presenting evidence for an important case, Dr. Don Bierle thoroughly researched and uncovered evidence to provide even an Atheist with enough information to win the case for faith. 

I found the book interesting and well written. I enjoyed learning about historical artifacts and how they fit into Biblical history. My own personal faith was reaffirmed as I read Dr. Bierle's book. This book is an important tool to help both unbelievers and believers understand answers to basic questions we all have about our faith. 

I was given this copy of Surprised by Faith by Aneko Press in exchange for my review. I would like to thank them for the opportunity to provide my honest opinion without being persuaded to give a positive review. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Death of Christian Thought by Michael D. LeMay

Humanism. What is it and how do we fight against it? In the powerful book by Michael D. LeMay, humanism is not only clearly defined but explained in great detail.

Humanism, as described in LeMay's book, The Death of Christian Thought, is "An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and good news of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems." Humanism is not only dangerous, it is deadly.

Mr. LeMay states, in the first paragraph of his book, "America is in a crisis. The greatest nation in the history of the world, founded upon the wisdom of Judeo-Christian principle, is on the verge of total economic and social collapse as our leaders and people have abandoned God and His Word." As I read these statements, I had to shake my head in agreement. Having lived on this Earth for nearly 60 years, I've seen evidence of secular humanism increase in our country year after year. LeMay says, "Ove the past one hundred years, an enemy has infiltrated the hearts and minds of American leaders and people, convincing us we know better than God how we should live in and govern our nation." He is right. Satan is a live and well on planet Earth.

When I first received this book to review, I didn't think I would enjoy reading it. I hadn't studied much about humanism and wasn't particularly looking forward to learning about it but the more I read, the more intrigued I became. I found, through Mr. LeMay's ability to give a prophetic outlook on the state of our nation, I was unable to put the book down. It was eye opening to read the ways Satan has infiltrated our government, our schools and most importantly our churches. I found myself saddened by the profound truth contained in The Death of Christian Thought. Mr. LeMay says, "...the enemy that is slowly infiltrating our nation and churches hopes we are so preoccupied with our daily activities that we have not noticed how he is dismantling our nation and the Christian church. Many are begin systematically conditioned to reject truth and embrace deception with grave eternal consequences." LeMay's book not only explains the dangers of humanism, it also presents a true picture of salvation - how to be secure in your faith and how to share it with others.

I enjoyed the writing style Mr. LeMay used in his book. It was easy to read and understand. Each chapter contained an objective which was clearly defined. Personal examples and biblical principles were also given in each chapter. At the end of each chapter, a summary was included. I also enjoyed Mr. LeMay's use of Greek and Hebrew word meanings. As he presented scripture to substantiate truths presented, he made sure to expound on these truths by providing Greek or Hebrew words that would help the reader truly understand the meaning of the scripture with a deeper insight.

It's scary to think the world we live in today is so easily deceived and humanism is so widely accepted but Mr. LeMay helps the reader see this is exactly what's happening. For those who love the Lord, Mr. LeMay's book, The Death of Christian Thought, will prick hearts and prompt them to pray for our country as never before.

I would like to thank Aneko Press for allowing me the chance to review this book in exchange for my honest review. I enjoyed reading it and feel like this is a must read for all believers.

For a short video clip by the author and to purchase your copy of Mr. LeMay's book, click here.

The Soul Winner by Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born June 19, 1834 in England and was considered to be the "Prince of Preachers" although he had no formal theological training. He was a dedicated servant of God and preached until he died at the age of 57. His preaching style has inspired many pastors all over the world. He remains a respected and influential source of inspiration and study among today's pastors.

Contained in this updated version of Spurgeon's original book, The Soul Winner, are compilations of college lectures and church sermons. The tasks of winning souls was extremely important to Charles Spurgeon and he says, "Soul winning is the most important concern of the Christian minister. In fact, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer." His book is not only a practical handbook for ministers giving specific instructions on the process of winning souls, but it is also a step by step guide for believers to lead others to Christ.

I was impressed, as I read the book, by Spurgeon's heart for the lost. It was important for Spurgeon to not only make converts for the church, but to make sure those he ministered to completely understood and grasped the concept of what it meant to be saved. He stressed the importance of making sure the convert not only had a head knowledge of Christ, but a heart knowledge. One of the most important aspects Spurgeon stressed was the fact that the Holy Spirit is the one who does the work. Believers can present the truth but the Holy Spirit is the one who does the wooing and drawing of the lost soul.

The Soul Winner is designed to help the minister or lay person understand the foundational truths to soul winning. There are chapters on sin, holiness of character, how to encourage people to win souls, and the cost of being a soul winner among others. I was impressed with Spurgeon's ability to clearly and concisely present step by step instructions on understanding every aspect of soul winning. As I read the book, I not only gained a better understanding of how to reach others for Christ, I also gained a better understanding of my own salvation experience. 

I especially appreciated the chapter entitled Obstacles in Our path as We Seek to Win Souls for Christ. It was helpful to understand some of the deterrents facing believers as they pursue the lost. Some of the obstacles mentioned by Spurgeon include unbelief, delay, carnal security, despair, love of sin, self righteousness and worldliness. Spurgeon explains each of these in detail and presents methods to overcome each obstacle. 

The responsibility and desire to win souls should be on the heart of every believer. The Soul Winner presents clear evidence of this fact. I felt inspired after reading the book and made a commitment to focus more on leading others to Christ in the future. 

The Soul Winner is a small but very powerful book. I think it should be included in every Christian pastor's library and used often as a vital resource for soul winning. The information contained in this book is valuable and filled with truth. 

I would like to thank Aneko Press for affording me the opportunity to review this book. The knowledge I gleaned from it was very worthwhile.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of The Soul Winner, you may do so here.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Holy War (Updated version) by John Bunyan

Almost every Christian I know is familiar with John Bunyan and his famous book, Pilgrim's Progress, but not many are familiar with another of his works, The Holy War. The original version of this book was published in 1682. It contained prim and proper English wording commonly used at that time. Since this presented some difficulty for today's readers, Aneko Press has carefully updated the text to aid in clarifying meaning making this challenging book relevant for today.

The book is 427 pages long and includes bonus content about the life of John Bunyan written by William Brock. A helpful glossary of names is also included at the back of the book.

The Holy War is a beautifully written allegory which takes place in the town of Mansoul. Key characters in the story are aptly named by Mr. Bunyan according to their traits or roles. I found the story quite enjoyable and felt myself becoming part of the tale as I read it. The well thought out details provided a great visual for the reader.

The story line is familiar to Christians, as Mr. Bunyan brings the spiritual realm of light and dark to life. The great battle, The Holy War, that ensues is not only between Diabolus (the evil foe) and Shaddai (the Great Prince of Peace) but between confused and conflicted townsfolk who must learn where to place their allegiance.

As I read the book, I found myself empathizing with the characters. I could easily slip into some of the roles and take on their feelings. For example, as the Prince is speaking to the people of Mansoul, in Chapter fourteen, he says, "Are you the men who permitted yourselves to be corrupted and defiled by that abominable one, Diabolus?" They answered and said, "We did more than permit it, Lord. We chose it with our own free will." The conversation continues and as the Prince (Shaddai) allows the townspeople to think about their actions, he presents them with another question, "What punishment do you think you deserve at My hand for these and other high and mighty sins of yours?" They answer, "We deserve both death and the grave, Lord." This powerful conversation caused me to see myself before the Lord answering the same questions.

Throughout the book, key scriptures are inserted to allow the reader a more complete understanding of previously presented text. I found each scripture to be perfectly accurate and appropriately placed. Scriptures used were taken from the Jubilee Bible (published by Life Sentence Publishing). These verses contain both Hebrew and Greek word meanings in translation.

The Holy War is a powerful book. In a nutshell, the people of Mansoul fall prey to the treachery, lies, and deceit of the evil Diabolus (the symbolic Satanic figure). They allow him to rule over them and find he isn't quite what they thought. Mansoul has and always did belong to Shaddai, the glorious prince, (the symbolic figure of Jesus Christ). When he comes to redeem Mansoul, they don't readily see this is the best choice to make. They've come to enjoy their free will and have fallen prey to all the lusts of their darkened hearts. In a last ditch effort to hold tightly to Mansoul, Diabolus asks Shaddai to grant him half the town but is refused. He continues pleading asking for smaller and smaller portions and then even asks for permission to work outside the town. Shaddai lays claim to what is his and sets the prisoners free. In the great and mighty war, the realm of light and dark clash repeatedly until finally victory is won.

I enjoyed this book very much and will keep it in my library in hopes my children and grandchildren will take time to read it one day. I'm thankful Aneko Press felt it was worthwhile to update this version of John Bunyan's original work. I think this will make it more appealing to a wider audience of readers.

I'd like to thank Aneko Press for allowing the opportunity to review this book. I was not encouraged to give a positive review.

If you'd like to preorder the book, click here.

The Beautiful Garden of Eden by Gary Bower

I was so excited when my copy of the Beautiful Garden of Eden arrive in the mail. I'd been waiting to review this book for several reasons - first and foremost, I love children's books, especially Christian children's books and secondly, because I have 8 grandchildren and I'm always looking for good books to recommend to their parents. This book did not disappoint.

The Beautiful Garden of Eden was written by Gary Bower and illustrated by Barbara Chotiner. The story, if you haven't already figured it out, is based on the biblical account of Adam and Eve found in the book of Genesis of the Holy Bible. The author uses sing song rhymes to tell the story similar to the ones found in the story, The House That Jack Built. By using repetitive verses, Gary Bower helps children remember key story components.

I found this book well written and beautifully illustrated. I think the best audience for this children's book would be for those aged 8 through 12 years but generally speaking, children of all ages would enjoy it. Some of the wording might not be easily understood by younger children. Examples of some of the words that might need a little more explanation by parents to the younger listeners include: upheaval, comely, calamitous, deceive, woefully, wayward and others.

The story follows scripture well and is written in such a way that young listeners can retain and repeat most of the information. The author did a good job of conveying key biblical truths in an enjoyable manner.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful. Adam and Eve are displayed with a youthful appearance. The serpent in the story is presented in a nonthreatening illustration with tongue outstretched. There are no facial expressions to indicate the snake is evil other than Eve's slight smirk as she is pictured holding the apple in her hand.

On the last page of the book, the author has prompted readers to look to Genesis chapters 1 through 3 for the complete version of the story. I thought this was a very thoughtful addition to the book. At the bottom of the back page, the author also includes a verse of scripture from Galatians chapter 3 verse 13 which says, "Christ has rescued us from the curse." This verse was a beautiful way of conveying hope to the reader.

This book is part of the Faith that God Built series.  It is 32 pages long. The book is published by Tyndale House Publishers. I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this lovely book. I was not encouraged to give a good review but I'm honored to do so.

You can watch a cute video clip of children reading part of the book here.
To purchase the book on Amazon, click here.
To visit Gary Bowers' website, click here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Addicts at the Cross by Larry Skrant (book review)

Addicts at the Cross is a Christian 9 step program written by Larry Skrant. Mr. Skrant is very familiar with the problem of addiction. He was convicted and served three prison sentences as a result of his addictive lifestyle. During his third stay in prison, his life was dramatically changed when he received a letter from one of his young daughters. The child had written to ask if her Daddy still remembered her. Mr. Skrant was heartbroken and felt no child should have to ask if her father remembered her. In the book's introduction, Larry Skrant said, "The Lord used that letter to convict me of my sins. In my prison cell, I fell to my knees and called on His name. At that moment, I was saved and spiritually set free. Several years later, I would be set free again. Fourteen years before my anticipated release date, I was physically set free as I walked out of prison with a new heart and a new message."

After turning his life over to Christ, Mr. Skrant founded Changed Lives Ministries and found himself being presented with opportunities to preach all over the world. He had a deep desire to help those suffering from addiction and wanted to provide a Christ centered program for them to follow. Using the Alcoholics Anonymous program as a model, along with the program set forth by Alcoholics for Christ, Larry Skrant developed the Addicts at the Cross program. His program, a 9 step Christian program dealt with the root problems of addiction from a biblical point of view. It allowed addicts an opportunity of learning how to live free from addictions by centering their lives around Christ.

One of the main goals of the program is to help the addict understand their complete identity in Christ. After understanding who they are and how Christ loves them, these men and women find old habits and desires changing. As they work through the 9 steps, the addicts are equipped with the vital tools necessary for living an abundant life.

The Addicts at the Cross 9 Step Program contains a very unique guide and workbook. Each of the 9 steps is covered in detail by using clear and concise explanations. Notes are provided that expound on covered topics and practical examples are included. Scripture references and verses are provided in the King James translation of the Holy Bible.

The 9 steps covered in the program and a brief synopsis of each are:

  1. Admit - I admit my life is not my own and is beyond my ability to manage or control. 
  2. Believe - I believe that the God I need to restore my life and make me whole is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ. 
  3. Decide - I have decided to turn from things of the past and ask Jesus to be manager of my life.
  4. Search - I have made an honest search and inventory of myself.
  5. Acknowledge - I acknowledge my inventory to be true and seek to eliminate that which is not God's will for my life. 
  6. Change - I am willing to change and allow God to change me. 
  7. Ask - I ask God to forgive me and to change me through His Holy Spirit. 
  8. Restore - I have made a list of people my actions have affected and have asked how I can make things right. 
  9. Pursue - Daily, I seek to know and live out God's will, plan and purpose for my life. 
The book is designed to be an interactive workbook. There are spacious areas in the side margins of the book for making notations. Also included is a detailed list of terms and definitions. There are word studies based on information from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to help the reader understand the Fruit of the Spirit. A basic Bible exercise is also included in the back of the book. This handy exercise can be used in meetings to help those without a biblical background. 

I found Addicts at the Cross to well designed. Each step is explained in great detail and builds upon the next. The workbook is designed with step by step instructions that give the facilitator an easy to follow guide. 

Mr. Skrant did an excellent job of providing a sound Christ centered program. I'm sure many will be blessed by the contents of this book. 

I would like to thank Aneko Press for providing me with a copy of Addicts at the Cross in exchange for my review. I was in no way encouraged to provide a positive review.  This book will be released March 1, 2017 and is available for pre-order here




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Agape's Children Freed from the Streets by Darla Calhoun - a review

African has had a little piece of my heart since my youngest daughter traveled there several years ago with a short term mission team. She came back filled with exuberance and a new found love for serving Christ after working with Ugandan children. As I began Darla Calhoun's story, I could almost hear her excitement and trepidation as I remembered back to my daughter's trip and how we were all so caught up in helping her prepare to go out into the world to share the love of Christ with others. When she came back from her trip, one of the African words she shared with us was Muzungu. It is the word Africans use when referring to a white person. It is not a derogatory term but a generalization. My daughter was honored to have been called Muzungu because she feels it connected her in a small way to the children of Africa. Darla Calhoun, in her book, Agape's Children Freed from the Streets, found herself also being called Muzungu when she arrived in Africa.

In the early 90's, as Darla Calhoun was working as a camp nurse, she was asked what she planned to do with the rest of her life. A fellow volunteer invited her to attend a fundraising event for Mission: Moving Mountains. Darla agreed to attend assuming she would learn a little about the organization but was surprised when they offered to let her become part of their mission team. Mission: Moving Mountains was headed to Kisumu, Kenya to provide community development and could use someone with Darla's background in nursing. She had also worked with African children in the past on a trip to Uganda. Darla felt the draw to go but needed to spend time in prayer and to talk with her family about the offer.

After winning approval from her family, Ms. Calhoun accepted the offer and traveled to Kenya. She was expected to learn the local language of the Luo people within a time frame of six months. It was a daunting task but she immersed herself in the culture and began to pick up words here and there. As she began to practice the language, she would often try to talk with the local street children. They thought she was quite funny but readily accepted her as a non threatening Muzungu friend.

The longer Darla interacted with the children the more concerned she became with their health and safety. She learned, by talking with an older African boy, that most of the street children had either been abandoned or had to learn to live on the streets in order to escape an unsavory home life. Darla befriended the children and soon came to know them by name. She made a point to learn their stories and do what she could to help them. Darla's heart was so touched by their stories she knew she had to do more. She felt a strong desire to find a way to help get them off the street. Darla began to pray and ask God to help her get some of the children off the street. As she prayed, God began to answer and honored her obedience with great blessing.

Agape's Children Freed from the Streets is a beautiful story of inspiration. It tells how one determined person with a love of Christ can make a difference in the world. The book is filled with vastly different stories. Some stories are joyful and others extremely sad, but all are honest accounts of what Darla experienced while interacting with the precious boys of Africa. It tells of challenges she faced as she worked to help them break away from bad habits like stealing, sniffing glue, and begging. It tells of difficult medical challenges and even death but at the center of it all, hope remained the core of Darla's ministry.

The book is over 300 pages long but is a very quick read. The author writes with compassion and heart. I think this book would be of interest to anyone seeking to learn more about overseas missions in general but in particular to those interested in learning more about necessary work in Africa.

Agape's Children Ministries is still going strong today. Their work has helped over two thousand children move from a life of poverty on the streets into a better, more productive lifestyle.

I was provided a review copy of this book by Aneko Press in exchange for my honest opinion. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it highly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Kingdom Family Devotional 52 Weeks of Growing Together by Tony Evans (a review)

Dr. Tony Evans is one of the most respected evangelical leaders in our country today. His godly wisdom permeates everything he says and does. His ability to share theological truth in easy to understand illustrations helps readers grasp concepts and learn to apply them to their daily lives.

Dr. Tony Evans, along with Jonathan Evans, chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys, have worked to compile a unique bible study tool for families. This devotional book is filled with relevant themes to cover the span of one year. This valuable tool is written with families in mind and allows for flexibility. Each devotional can be changed to meet the needs of younger children or be enhanced to reach older youth.

In the introduction to the book, the authors suggest parents use the devotional at meal time. They feel it important to have a "concentrated time for the family to focus on God and one another..." and say it is "critical if we're going to overcome the secular, godless influence that are engulfing our children and drawing them away from the faith." It is suggested parents begin the devotional time with prayer and end by allowing the children to join in the prayer. Each devotional gives clear instruction on content and offers suggestions to help the children understand the covered theme. Scripture readings, games, activities, service projects, and other unique learning methods make this a fun family event.

I was impressed by the attention to detail the authors included in this book. Not only did they make sure each topic was well researched and covered, but they took time to make the book interactive for children of all ages. Instead of children becoming bored or inattentive during a family devotional time, I think this book will help children be eager to learn and absorb biblical truths.

Some of the themes covered in the Kingdom Family Devotional 52 Weeks of Growing Together are:

  • Spiritual Warfare
  • Giving
  • Forgiveness
  • Righteousness
  • Trails
  • Servanthood
  • Perseverance
  • Purity 
  • Humility
  • Courteous Speech
  • Identity
Each weekly theme is divided into five daily sections that reemphasize the concept presented for that week. This method of learning will help drive home with great accuracy a complete understanding so the children will master the concepts instead of just lightly touching on each subject. 

I enjoyed how the authors used games as a learning tool. For instance, in one of the weekly readings on Spiritual Warfare, the authors compare it to laser tag. Here is an excerpt from that reading: "In laser tag, invisible bullets fly all over the room. your job isn't' to run from the lasers but to recognize how is hooting them. If a shooter has on a vest that's the same color as yours, you know those invisible bullets aren't directed at you. But if someone wearing a different color vest is shooting at you, you can expect to feel the hit as a physical vibration. Spiritual warfare is a lot like laser tag. There are two teams at war: God's team and Satan's team. God is shooting grace, mercy, love and life our direction. But Satan is shooting anger, depression, guilt, shame, and death. We can't see these bullets coming because both teams are invisible. Yet event though we can't see them, we can definitely feel when we've been hit." 

The Kingdom Family Devotional, 52 Weeks of Growing Together, is a well made, well thought out family devotional. It can be used over and over again and will bless those who use it in their family gatherings. 

I would highly recommend this book to parents seeking to impart godly wisdom and advice to their children. This is one of the best family devotionals I have ever read. 

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this book for them in exchange for my honest review. I was not encouraged to give a positive review although it is my pleasure to do so. 

You may purchase the book here