This is going to be a shorter review since it's Saturday, it's non-fiction, and it was just amazing so I don't have any nits t...moreSource: B-day present :)
This is going to be a shorter review since it's Saturday, it's non-fiction, and it was just amazing so I don't have any nits to pick. My very good friend gifted this to me for my birthday since she knows what a reader I am but that I don't really read a lot of non-fiction. Claiborne is one of her favorite authors and I'm excited to have been introduced to him.
Favorite Quote: "I have pledged allegiance to a King who loved evildoers so much he died for them...teaching us that there is something worth dying for but nothing worth killing for." (pg 365)
Trying to decide where exactly to start is quite difficult as the book covers a lot of ground following Claiborne's life as a Christian, from his inauthentic conversion as a youth, accepting something he didn't fully understand and tracing his adult life searching for that authentic faith and disturbing his comfortable lifestyle for something Christlike. It's a history but it's also a calling to work and an inspiration for where to go. The overwhelming impression I have is of the fire in Shane as he reaches out to us, very personally, trying to shake us up especially good for me as I had become somewhat complacent in the waning days of 2012. Additionally I found his writing style just very smooth and engaging even when it made me uncomfortable, either because I knew he was calling me out in a way I needed to be challenged or because I didn't entirely agree with him.
The other theme I would like to touch on is the seeming contradiction in the subtitle "an ordinary radical." How do those seemingly opposite words fit together in Claiborne's vision? Well he traces the word "radical" back to its origins in "root" and sees it as utterly fitting that his lifestyle is now more in line with that of those in the early church. If it seems odd to contemporary Western Christians, then that's more a reflection of the culture in which we immerse ourselves; it would seem typical to disciples in the early church. There are lots of other educational passages in this book and all together it was an excellent read and very jolting.(less)
I was interested in this book because of its subtitle: "Thriving Through Your 20s in a Decade of Drama." I am in my twenties and have found some areas...moreI was interested in this book because of its subtitle: "Thriving Through Your 20s in a Decade of Drama." I am in my twenties and have found some areas of life difficult, in particular negotiating the job area, which is the very first chapter. So I figured this book would be pretty applicable.
Chapters aim to cover every aspect from work as mentioned above to relationships, money issues, and spiritual maturity over the course of ten chapters. Martin broke down each chapter into five sections, using these three guiding images: "Worshiping at the Throne of the King", "Waiting at the Throne of the King" and "Finding Focus on the King." These are images we can as we aim to conquer the stress points in our lives. Each chapter has multiple journal questions to work through but my personal favorite part was how Martin shared a different name of God with us and how that name has give her inspiration through stressful parts of her life.
Many of the points were familiar to me, which is good as I obviously need to hear some of these things again. One immediate application for me was when earlier this week I was looking at my closet and hating all my clothes. I caught myself and shook my head to literally shake those thoughts out of my head. Instead I reflected on how lucky I am to have so many choices, closed my eyes, and then picked the first short-sleeves shirt I saw. Another application for me was waking up every morning this week and thinking how lucky I am to get to go to work instead of groaning about getting up. This was something my pastor had preached about earlier this year and I'm happy to have had it repeated because I need to hear these things multiple times to make sure they really sink in and change me.
I did struggle a bit with the beginning of each chapter as Martin shared three case studies; in many of the chapters, I didn't relate to any of the case studies and since they were a jumping-off point, I felt my entry into that section was a bit stymied. But I loved the career section and found that one to be very helpful.
Besides the book chapters, there are also summary pages, additional discussion questions, and online videos at Martin's blog if you're looking for more information about this book. I think this would be a helpful read for many Christian women in their twenties.(less)
Grace has long been a topic of fascination to me. "Amazing Grace" is my favorite song and I am so grateful to receive grace from God. Of course, that...moreGrace has long been a topic of fascination to me. "Amazing Grace" is my favorite song and I am so grateful to receive grace from God. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm good at extending grace to others...
I really liked this book and how it delved into some of the most famous stories of the Bible. Stanley presents them anew, embroidering and expanding on how the participants might have been feeling when they went through their trials and their triumphs. No matter how badly they failed at the task set before them by God, that did not disqualify them from receiving grace nor did it stop God from following the great promises He made. Stanley looks at figures from both the Old as well as the New Testament. I thought that was especially good because of the not uncommon view that the merciless Old Testament God is so different from the loving New Testament God. Stanley squares them as most definitely being the same! He also has a clever little chapter bridging the two different sections of the Bible and preparing the reader for another perspective.
Beyond the usual suspects like Abraham and David, I was especially thrilled to see a look at the woman at the well from John 4, which I have a special fondness for due to a conference I attended. She's probably my favorite personage in the Bible (after Jesus of course) and I always devour any writings relating to her.
Another aspect I appreciated was the emphasis on how grace cannot be earned; otherwise it is not grace! I still struggle with this, thinking if I read my Bible for an hour one day, it will make me more worthy of God as well as other wrong-headed thinking. I know I can't change my thinking overnight but I will continue to cling to this truth as I amend my behavior.(less)
Source: Received a free copy through Amazon's Vine program.
I realized I kind of made a mistake in requesting this book once I started reading it. Not...moreSource: Received a free copy through Amazon's Vine program.
I realized I kind of made a mistake in requesting this book once I started reading it. Not because it wasn't good, well-written, interesting, engaging. But because I wanted to be reading it with a book club and taking part in a discussion. I also wanted to add the many suggested books to my already massive to-be read list.
This is a tiny book but a really excellent one that packs a punch. There are sixteen chapters answering the questions posed on the cover that are answered in clear language; Thoennes also includes end of chapter discussion questions and extensive additional reference suggestions. I found this book filled with good stuff.
My favorite chapter was probably the one about the Trinity, an idea which I've struggled with since I prepared for my baptism. It's so hard for me to wrap my mind around but the description and questions posed within have already helped me. As I continue to mull and pray about the Trinity, I feel that I will gain more understanding about the Trinity and thus about God.
Overall: A good, deep, biblical read; recommended especially for people just starting to study the Christian faith.(less)
King Solomon by Philip Graham Ryken Crossway, 2011 200 pages Non-fiction; Inspirational 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free e-galley via Netgalley in exchang...moreKing Solomon by Philip Graham Ryken Crossway, 2011 200 pages Non-fiction; Inspirational 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free e-galley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a close reading of the story of Solomon, an incredibly blessed king of Israel who squandered his blessing through his pursuit of money, sex, and power. Ryken compares this to modern pursuits as well as how Jesus followed part of Solomon's example without falling into the same traps. This surprised me as I thought it was just about Solomon but every chapter connected his story to the story of Jesus, encouraging the reader to examine her faith in the light of how Solomon was tempted and failed.
I sort of knew Solomon's story but there were many details that were pointed out to me again as Ryken carefully goes over instances of Solomon's life. Yes, he was very wise and in many ways a good king. But just like all of us humans, he was able to be swayed by money, sex, and power, which ultimately corrupted his kingdom. Instead he ought to have devoted all of his time and energies to God.
I really liked Ryken's insistence on how becoming Christian is not one step of saying that you are a Christian but is instead a day by day, moment by moment decision to accept Jesus and do His will. I think that's something that we all struggle with (I know I do!) and is thus a very universal statement.
Although I liked this book, I did not love it and that is why it receives a 4 rather than a 5.(less)
The Waiting Place by Eileen Button Thomas Nelson, 2011 229 pages Non-fiction; Essays; Inspirational 4.5/5 stars
Source: Received a free copy from Booksneez...moreThe Waiting Place by Eileen Button Thomas Nelson, 2011 229 pages Non-fiction; Essays; Inspirational 4.5/5 stars
Source: Received a free copy from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.
Expectation: I hoped for a companionable writing style and I got that in spades as Button drew me into her life. I got that in spades.
I wanted to read this as I am currently in my own waiting place; trying to figure out what I should do now that I'm graduated, submitting loads of job applications and hearing nothing in return, feeling like I should be out on my own instead of living with my parents has been really tough for me.
Thus while not every essay was as powerful for me (I sympathize with Button's worries over her youngest son's health but I haven't had children yet and can't quite grasp the experience), the overall message of the stories rang true for me. Some left me teary-eyed; some left me smiling in recognition; but all left me wanting more of Button's writing. Immediately she engaged me and drew me into her life with her family and Christ.
I had expected more to read more about her relationship with Jesus but that is not the focus as she looks at the people in her life and especially her relationship with her pastor husband and his commitments to his mistress, The Church. But she does see some higher power involved: as the back says, "To wait is human. To find life in the waiting place, divine."
I will definitely keep this book to reread over the years as I mature and learn firsthand some of the insights that Button shared about marriage, children, and adulthood. (less)
The Story of the Bible by Larry Stone Thomas Nelson, 2010 96 pages Non-fiction 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free copy for review via booksneeze in exchange...moreThe Story of the Bible by Larry Stone Thomas Nelson, 2010 96 pages Non-fiction 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free copy for review via booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.
I chose to review this book because it had pretty pictures, simple as that. The inside and back cover showcases a colorful timeline covering the history of the Bible, from Abraham to today. Inside the pictures include photographs as well as beautiful Renaissance artwork and other art. There are also pull-out pages which show pages from some of the elaborately decorated Bibles of olden times, such as the Codex Vaticanus.
The history shared is about how Bibles were made and distributed. I learned about the oldest copies we think we have and about different agendas when translating and sharing. It actually ends with information about the JESUS film, a filmed adaptation of the book of Luke which apparently about 225 million people have seen worldwide. Some of the information was repeated several times, which annoyed me but most of it was well-written and new.
Overall: A beautiful book with information on the production of Bibles throughout history. (less)
Women of the Bible by Carol Smith, Rachael Phillips, and Ellyn Sanna Barbour, 2011 267 pages Non-fiction; Christian; Reference 4/5 stars
Source: Received a...moreWomen of the Bible by Carol Smith, Rachael Phillips, and Ellyn Sanna Barbour, 2011 267 pages Non-fiction; Christian; Reference 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free review copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't entirely sure what this book would be like based on the brief description online. It seems like it is part of a series and that it is supposed to be very accessible, which it definitely is.
I was disappointed because my own expectations were looking for a more in-depth scholarly approach. Instead the book does just what is outlined on the cover touching on the minutiae of how women in the Bible might have lived their lives. Some things we know: the economic status of women, their chores, expectations about children and family while some aspects we aren't sure about. At best we're piecing together information about women who lived millennia ago but whose concerns then mirror ours now.
Family, friendship, religion, survival, and love are among the similarities between then and now. Connections are drawn and nice pictures illustrate almost every page. I especially appreciated the gorgeous artwork, mainly from Renaissance it seemed. I did not know most of those pictures and they were fascinating to see.
Also included is a list of every woman in the Bible whether or not she has a name. The more prominent women such as Eve, Sarah, and Mary receive multiple mentions and more space devoted to them.
Layout: I don't usually talk about layout because in most of the ebooks I've read, it hasn't mattered. But this one had a fantastic layout, probably the closest to the actual book as can get. It made me so glad that I have a nook color! One fault was that it didn't have chapter links like many ebooks that I've read so navigating wasn't as smooth as it could be.
Overall: Interesting reference and perspective.
Cover: I like the woman and the colors but I don't like the other pictures. (less)
The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster Thomas Nelson, 2010 262 pages Non-fiction; Christian Read for ebook and British Books Challenges 4/5 stars
Source: Recei...moreThe Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster Thomas Nelson, 2010 262 pages Non-fiction; Christian Read for ebook and British Books Challenges 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free egalley from Thomas Nelson via booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.
I hope I can review this book well because I am a very amateur scholar of Christianity. Additionally I am a Christian so arguments against the resurrection do not sway me although I was very interested to read what the specific arguments were against.
Each chapter is divided into two parts as X argues against the resurrection and Y follows up with a rebuttal in favor of the resurrection. Foster is a barrister in England and thought that this method would serve as a chance for X and Y to interact fairly.
The chapters trace the full resurrection sequence: death, burial, empty tomb, and post-resurrection appearances. Each calmly argues his position, which is one of the best parts. I feel like if you watched a debate between a diehard atheist and a true believer, it could get virulent but as a book, it was more low-key and I had time to digest and consult the footnotes.
I was very interested to see the points against the resurrection because as a believer, it's not something I really consider. Some of the arguments seemed ridiculous to me, ideas that were conspiracy theories and were complicated unlike the simplest solution (to me) of Jesus died, was resurrected, and then ascended to heaven. The story is simple because it's true.
Overall: A well-written exploration of the resurrection: for and against the rising of Jesus Christ. Recommended for the curious non-believer and believer alike.
Cover: I don't think this cover would encourage me to read this book as I don't really like the black and white with the yellow box on the front. (less)
Heretics by Jonathan Wright Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011 302 pages Non-fiction; Christian 4.5/5 stars
Source: Received a free e-ARC via Netgalley in exc...moreHeretics by Jonathan Wright Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011 302 pages Non-fiction; Christian 4.5/5 stars
Source: Received a free e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I chose to read this in order to learn more about heresy within the Christian faith. Almost from the beginning, "heresy" blossomed. I put that in quotes because there was disagreement about almost everything within Christianity. Was Jesus God or man or somewhere in between? How did one worship God? These and other questions pushed toward the solidification of an orthodox interpretation in a reciprocal relationship.
Then the entire setup changed as a relationship between church and state, beginning with Emperor Constantine, emerged. This increased the stakes for enshrining an orthodoxy as well as the stakes for heretics, who were increasingly exposed to tortures. Then came the Reformation and America's creation until we reach the modern period with our notions of religious pluralism and the consequence that the word heretic has somewhat lost its punch. People are called heretics in circumstances that are unlikely to have them lose their lives.
Overall, very interesting and scholarly and worth savoring slowly over a period of time.
Cover: I like the fire but it's not very eye-catching.(less)