Category Archives: Books

Book Review: No Matter the Cost

No Matter the Cost, by Vance Brown (with John Blase) is a book written for men—more specifically, for those in the “Men’s Movement.”

Vance Brown is Chairman and CEO of Band of Brothers ministry. The book is intended to be a rallying cry for men who are discouraged. He calls men to be one of those referred to in John’s Revelation who “defeated [the accuser] through the blood of the Lamb…. They were willing to die for Christ.”

Brown challenges men: “Will you be one of the saints used by God to finally defeat evil?”

The largest part of this book is a blow-by-blow, phrase-by-phrase discussion of the Lord’s Prayer, sometimes called the Model Prayer. It is illustrated throughout by “brother’s stories”. These are definitely war stories, stories of men on the front lines, dealing with evil in their own lives and with death and suffering.

Brown refers often to a poem by John Eldredge, “Wild at Heart.” In this poem, Eldredge pictures a broken man who “prayed for an army of angels to come and heal him…but God decided instead to send him friends, men who also know broke.” As he tells these stories of broken men, he also tells of “men who also know broke” who fight alongside of them. He quotes Eldredge, “Don’t even think of going into battle alone.”

Brown sees the Lord’s Prayer as a trail map—or even a manual of arms—for the battle ahead. He pictures the disciples asking Jesus, “Teach us to pray”, and “what if Jesus essentially said, All right, this is what following me looks like; this is what becoming a part of the Last Battle is all about.

The dominant metaphor of the book is warfare. Brown sees Christians as involved in a great and final battle. But this isn’t your standard “church militant” call to seek out evil and destroy it. In the end, Brown sees Man’s role as defensive: “Put on the whole armor of God… that you may be able to stand your groundStand Firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

Brown closes the book with another Bible story, the prodigal son. He tells us that at the end of the battle, we can come home; Home to a mansion with many rooms, where there is joy. This isn’t a battle without hope, but a battle made possible by our hope. We can rejoice, like Paul, knowing that what has happened will turn out for our deliverance (Philippians 4:19). We can rejoice, knowing that through God’s power, we are more than conquerors, and we will be welcomed home.

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers

http://www.librarything.com/work/12340902/reviews/84259285

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Book Review: ROUTE 66: A Crash Course in Navigating Life with the Bible by Krish Kandiah

Most people settle for reading the Bible in a year. Seems like every Bible-related website has a plan. So how do you go one better on that?

Krish Kandiah’s “crash course in navigating life with the Bible” has an 8-week plan, complete with study guide, discussion questions and prompts for a “travel journal.”

Route 66 uses travel/car metaphors to guide the reader through the Bible. The original Route 66 is the famous “main street of America,” the historic highway from Detroit to Los Angeles, John Steinbeck’s “Mother Road.” The metaphor is useful for a journey that the author hopes will be life-changing.

Route 66 is a book on hermeneutics, for people who have never heard of hermaneutics, and probably don’t care. For students of the Bible, the easiest explanation is that it is a light version of Fee and Stewart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.

That’s not to say it’s unworthy. It’s written for a different audience. An audience who may have little or no previous exposure to the Bible, who are curious enough about it to take on an 8-week challenge to discover what it’s all about.

In 8 weeks, there are discussions of 8 Biblical genres, and how to read them and make sense of them. There’s a brief reading for each day of each week, focusing on specific aspects of the genre in question. Each reading has questions to be responded to in a “travel journal,” and each week ends with a suggested small group study.

As one might expect in such a book, difficult questions get a mention and a nod, but hardly enough discussion. For example, in the reading on Leviticus, Kandiah suggests that there are three different kinds of laws: [obsolete] Civil Laws, [obsolete] Ceremonial Laws, and [eternal] Moral Laws. “In practice,” he says, “the laws don’t always fit neatly into each category… The Old Testament itself gives no hint of any such distinctions.” He then invites readers to use these categories to categorize the laws in Leviticus chapter 19. Too neat, too quick, and hardly fair to the reader, especially a novice in Bible studies.

Of course, it’s not intended to be a theological treatise, rather a “crash course.” Any author attempting to introduce the subject matter of the Bible in less than 200 pages is bound to gloss over a few things. The idea is to get people reading the Bible and contemplating it. If they get past the first hurdle (actually reading it), they presumably have more time to contemplate more difficult questions at their own leisure.

I described this book as “Fee and Stuart light” to one of my friends, and he asked whether Kandiah takes a higher view (than Fee and Stuart did) of the Old Testament. Given the limitations of a brief introduction, Kandiah seems always to explain the Old Testament in terms of Jesus Christ. Some things point to Christ; others pre-figure Christ; others are fulfilled by Christ. It is perhaps simplistic, but it is a starting place.

As a Sunday-school teacher, I find the book intriguing. As I read it, I tried to imagine how I would deal with a class who met once a week to discuss the material, as suggested. I’m not sure whether Kandiah has given me too much material, or too little. Certainly I will be using this little book as a resource; and perhaps I will try an 8 week crash course.

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.   ( )

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Book Review: Bittersweet–one of the best books I’ve read this year

My female friends tell me that I’m “man enough” to read a “Chick” book and live to talk about it. That’s a good thing, because reading Bittersweet is like peeking into a girlfriend’s diary. This collection of essays is sort of a literary version of a chick flick.

It deals with heartbreak, rejection and renewal. Shauna Niequist writes about her own experiences, drawing you into her emotions, and hopefully, lifting you to a better place as she struggles and learns.
Of course, the experiences she describes–losing a job; losing a child; moving; enjoying friends for friendship’s sake–are universal, but Niequist deals with them from an unapologetically feminine perspective. She shares “thoughts on change, grace and learning the hard way” in a way that keeps me wanting to peek into her diary for one more chapter.

Niequist points out, in many ways, that life is worth living, even when life in the here and now is horrible, or frightening. When we learn to embrace the bitter, we also find the sweet; and the sweet is sublime.

You can see more about Bittersweet at http://zndr.vn/dl4aEt

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. ( )

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Book Review: First-Time Landlord by Janet Portman et al

 

This is a good basic book on renting a single-family home. It is well-organized, with references to more specialized books and online resources. It would be handy for anyone who is thinking of purchasing a home to rent, or who has a home that they want/need to rent.
The sub-title is a bit misleading. Many of the examples and equations provided have more to do with multi-unit properties. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as an investore dealing in single-family homes, I know that I deal with quite different issues than an apartment owner. If the book really specialized in the single-family home market, it might be better to stick with examples in that market, or highlight multi-family investment properties as a contrast.
Throughout the book, there are “USA Today Snapshots.” I would have expected them to have some relationship to the text. Sometimes they do. In a section on pets, there is a graphic about pet owners.
More often, they don’t; they seem to be thrown in at random. In a section on relationships with investment partners, there’s a graphic about spouses who lie about finances. In a section on financing, there’s a graphic about joining a business association. Such slap-dash choices suggest that the editors made a decision that a certain percentage of the page had to be graphics, and then the layout artist filled in the spots with whatever was available.
I’m going to keep the book around as a reference work. It looks like a useful tool for a small-time investor.

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. ( )

First-Time Landlord: Your Guide to Renting out a Single-Family Home (USA Today/Nolo Series) by Janet Portman,  Marcia Stewart, Michael Molinski NOLO (2009), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 336 pages

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Book Review: The Liberating Truth-How Jesus Empowers Women by Danielle Strickland

The Liberating Truth
How Jesus Empowers Women

By Danielle Strickland

This book challenged me, but not quite in the way I expected.

I expected to be challenged theologically, and philosophically. I find rather that I am challenged to treat the book and the author with compassion. It doesn’t live up to its promise.

I understand that in a very Biblical sense, every injustice is an injustice against all. The prophets of the Old Testament challenged their entire society to deal with injustice. They understood that the society was sick because they allowed injustice, even if they didn’t participate in it. Strickland takes that notion to another level. All injustices [against women] are equal, so forbidding women to preach is the same as selling them as sex slaves or forcing them to wear a burqa. I think Strickland confuses “disagrees with Strickland” with “injustice.”

She writes well. This book is easy to read, yet the author keeps taking short cuts in logic that make it difficult to keep reading. Normally an author builds a good argument, and then refers back to that argument. Strickland makes offhand references to arguments that she will build later in the book.

She also makes arguments based on a flawed understanding of the culture and society of the ancient near east. Her image of male/female relationships in ancient Greece is not supported by historical research and anthropology. Her arguments about Paul’s statement to Timothy, “I do not allow women to teach men….” are made questionable by her dependence on questionable scholarship.

Thus, I am disappointed in this book. I expected to be challenged to seriously examine her theological arguments, and I find that although she writes well, she writes unconvincingly.

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. (  )

The Liberating Truth: How Jesus Empowers Women by Danielle Strickland, Foreward by Vicky Beeching (Foreword), Monarch Books (2011), Paperback, 160 pages

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