Browse Category: English

Review – The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies

Book description

When it comes to the realm of biblical studies, students of the Bible are often overwhelmed, both with the sheer volume of information and with all of the unfamiliar terms, concepts, and topics. Like any other field of study, the serious study of the Bible has developed a specialized vocabulary. The key terms in this important field are defined in The Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies. It provides clear, concise, and accurate definitions to help students of the Bible make sense of the specialized language of biblical studies.

Review

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies is a dictionary with a clear purpose, according to the authors, they wanted to share useful definitions for Bible students using their own experience as the main source, although they want it to be accesible for everyone.

The dictionary does not only include word definitions like “Nephilim” but also concept definitions such as

dominical saying

From the Latin dominus, meaning “lord” or “master”, a saying or teaching attributed to Jesus Christ. p. 64

The size of The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies makes it great, not only as an academic study but also as a pocket book you can take with you and read wherever you go. Because of the short definitions and explanations its a great learning tool you can carry in your backpack or purse.

Conclusion

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies it’s a great place to start to someone that may feel intimidated by those big and complicated dictionaries out there. If it’s only for the sake of learning or understanding something better this will make a great choice.

Rating:

I received this book from BakerBooks in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus

Book description

When you come to the end of your days, you will not measure your life based on success and failures. All of those will eventually blur together into a single memory called “life.”

What will give you solace is a life with nothing left undone. One that’s been lived with relentless ambition, a heart on fire, and with no regrets.

On the other hand, what will haunt you until your final breath is who you could have been but never became and what you could have done but never did.

The Last Arrow is your roadmap to a life that defies odds and alters destinies. Discover the attributes of those who break the gravitational pull of mediocrity as cultural pioneer and thought leader Erwin McManus examines the characteristics of individuals who risked everything for a life they could only imagine. Imagine living the life you were convinced was only a dream.

We all begin this life with a quiver full of arrows.

Now the choice is yours. Will you cling to your arrows or risk them all, opting to live until you have nothing left to give?

Time is short. Pick up The Last Arrow and begin the greatest quest of your life.

Review

Having read a lot of good comments about McManus’ last book, I wanted to read this one for myself, so I didn’t hesitate when it became available on of the review program I’m part of.

The Last Arrow is about moving on from our past, from the things trying to hold us back and start living. But living according to the plan God has for us.

It’s an inspirational reading that will shake you and make you to start living a meaningful life.

Rating: 

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Review – Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Book description

Where are you guys? Text me back. That’s the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.

Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Review

Goodbye days is a novel that starts slow with a story that gets weirder through the first chapters. A circle of friends that through an accident becomes just one of them.

This is a slow paced story, Zentner wants you to get the feeling that you’re there, and there’s not only enough descriptions about surroundings to make you feel that, but also the emotional environment that encapsulates the inner thoughts of the protagonist.

Conclusion

Not a story for everyone. If you like contemporary novels, then Goodbye Days is for you.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Review – The Essential Guide to Healing by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark

Book description

The Bible is full of accounts of miraculous healing. And God is moving as amazingly today as he was back then. Thousands are being healed all over the world–and his children are part of it. For the first time, premier renewal leaders Bill Johnson and Randy Clark team up to equip Christians to minister healing. Grounded from start to finish in Scripture, Johnson and Clark lay out the rich theological and historical foundation for healing in the church today.
Full of inspiring stories, this book offers practical, proven, step-by-step guidance to ministering healing, including how to — understand the authority of the believer in healing — create an atmosphere of faith — receive words of knowledge — implement the five-step model of healing prayer The ministry of healing is not reserved for a select few. God’s miraculous healing is part of the Good News–and every believer can become a conduit for his healing power.

First impressions

I’ve read a couple of books by Bill Johnson and it’s worth to say that he’s a great teacher. This is my second time reading Randy Clark and I think I just discovered another great teacher to follow.

Review

I bought this book a year ago, and after reading two chapters I dropped it and it stayed on my bookshelf for an entire year, until I knew I had to finish it someday. I’m not sure why I left this unfinished but I’m grateful I re-discovered it.

The book opens with testimonies from both authors and how were their experiences on healing in their personal lives and ministries. After this introduction Randy takes a couple of chapters to not only explain the importance and relevance of healing today but also to give a theology on healing for those who are a bit skeptical about the gifts of the Spirit being active and available today.

The middle of the book belongs to Johnson, who shares personal experiences about healing and the personal attitude as believers that we should have if we want to experience and get hold of the supernatural in our lives and churches. When reading Johnson’s part I felt challenged to look and ask for more and I thinks this is the intention, to don’t settle for less than the “normal” in the Spirit.

Finally, Randy takes the reins again to share a 5 step “model” (he says he doesn’t like that word) of prayer for healing, giving practical insight about the authority and power we have as believers.

Conclusion

I recommend this book to everyone. There’s no really a “type” of reader for this book, If you are a Christian, then you need to read this book. It’s practical, inspiring and a contains deep truths to be lived by every believer.

Rating:

Review – Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Book description

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

Read the complete description here.

First impresions

When I knew that Blake Crouch was the mind behind Wayward Pines I knew I had to read Black Matter. I thought it’d have that mystery and intelligence just like the TV show (at least the first season) and I was not wrong. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Review

It wasn’t easy when I wanted to start reading Black Matter, actually it took me some effort to get along with the pace. The story starts giving you a detailed background about a couple of characters, Jason and his family among them, and then about some places and events as well . The best thing is that the action arrives just in time and then the pages start turning by themselves.

Dark Matter stretches the possibilities about the Schrödinger’s cat experiment and Quantum superposition, we’re introduced to Jason’s life, just as he experiences it and lives it. Jason it’s a scientist that put aside many of his dreams in order to search for a normal life with a family. We get a plot twist soon enough and then everything Jason knew to be true becomes a lie or you could say it becomes a half-truth.

The first part of the book focuses on the struggles Jason faces to understand what’s happening, which in the long term involves mental and physical suffering. In his fight to find the truth, he’ll be involved with people and places that have been part of his past but with a very different present. Yes, I know it sounds crazy… and it is.

The second half of the book is charges with action and adventure. It’s here when it’s almost impossible to put the book down. You’ll encounter places and landscapes that could belong to a futurist setting but also some that you could find a post-apocalyptic book. Then you’ll also find some situations that may give you a headache.

Conclusion

Dark Matter was among the finalists as the best book in the science fiction category in the last Goodreads awards and though it didn’t win, it’s definitely a very recommended reading for those looking for a good science fiction book with unexpected but creative plot twists.

Rating:

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Review – Shaken by Tim Tebow

Book description

Who are you when life is steady?
Who are you when storms come?

Most of us have been on the receiving end of rejection, a broken dream, or heartbreak. And while this is not an easy space to go through, when we are grounded in the truth, we can endure the tough times.
In this powerful book, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow passionately shares glimpses of his journey staying grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism, and intense media scrutiny. Following an exceptional college football career with the Florida Gators and a promising playoff run with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He was released after one season.
In Shaken, Tebow talks about what he’s learned along the way, building confidence in his identity in God, not the world. This moving book also features practical wisdom from Scripture and insights gained from others who have impacted Tebow in life-changing ways.

Though traveling hard roads is not easy, it’s always worth it!

Your Circumstances do not Define You,
Your Identity Does.

First impresions

I knew about Tim Tebow through Facebook, as many contacts started to share his participation on the Home Free TV show, I’m not a sport guy. Shortly after I was offered to join to his book release campaign and it seemed a good opportunity to know more about Tebow so I joined and yes, I am late.

My review

The good thing about Shaken is that it’s written from experience. Tebow shares his ups and downs through his life in the football world and is honest in the way he experienced each season during the past years.

Shaken offers practical examples of the struggles each one of us can live in the real life and how our foundation in God is the difference between living in victory or defeat. Sharing from his younger days, from biblical stories and from testimonies he has encountered while doing social work Tebow encourages and exhorts to stand for the right things and make a difference where we live and in our sphere of influence.

The book is written in a very simple language which makes it easy to understand. Actually I don’t get the need for the future Young Reader’s Edition to exist, the book is short compared to your average christian book and Tebow is really good at communicating practical truths with practical examples.

Conclusion

I’d recommend Shaken mainly to those who are familiar with Tebow and know what to expect from his writings and then I’d recommend it to those who want, or maybe need, a good dose of encouragement and hope.

Rating:

I received this book from WaterBrook & Multnomah in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Review – The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

theshack

Book description

Mackenzie Allen Phillips’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note–apparently from God–inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.

First impressions

I read The Shack six or seven years ago for the first time. Shortly after I found several reviews pointing how theologically inaccurate the story was and somehow I thought maybe I’ve missed something. I wanted to give the book a new chance and decided to read it again. Also there’s a movie adaptation coming up, and wanted to refresh the story in my mind.

Review

There are two ways you can read (and review) The Shack: as a mere work of fiction and inspiration or as a theology work about God and suffering.

In the former, you have an amazing and emotional story that empathizes with almost every living soul on Earth. There’s something in Mack’s suffering that clicks with our personal daily struggles, making us part of the quest to find an answer and if possible, a solution. Then there’s the mystery behind the character (as in, the person) of God. How is He like? what does someone like God look like?  Is there a God? Does He care about us? The Shack responds some of these questions with a lot of creative freedom.

All this ingredients produce an exciting page turner, at least for those familiar or interested in these topics. There’s one issue that needs to be addressed and so the plot it’s clear from the very beginning making The Shack a fast reading.

In the later, you have an interesting view on God, the Trinity, the work of Jesus and its implications on humanity, and many other theological subjects you can think of (seminary, prayer, church, forgiveness, religions). The author (or should I say the author using God’s voice) didn’t just limited his views on the matters related to the story, but he also used The Shack as a way to express his disagreement with many practices and doctrines of Christianity unrelated to the story, but definitely a priority to Young.

This is where things could be confusing to some people. I had friends that would say something like: “It’s like Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit would say in The Shack…” giving a book the same value as The Book, maybe not out of rebellion, but out of ignorance of what the Bible says about God.

Conclusion

On the same note I hope my review is not confusing to some of you. I really liked reading The Shack for the second time, but encountered some theological issues that can by skipped if reading with a mentality of a casual reader. I’d recommend to read this book in the same manner you would read Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Rating:

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Becoming a Disciple Making Church by Neil T. Anderson

makingadisciple

Book description

Life-Changing Discipleship Can Be the Expectation, Not the Exception

As leaders, we want the people in our churches to become spiritually mature disciples of Christ, but so many remain stuck in struggles and sins. Personal and spiritual conflicts are holding them back from the true freedom that can be found in Christ alone.

Neil Anderson has been walking individuals through this journey for over a quarter century, but now he wants to teach pastors and church leaders how to do this for their own churches. As the culmination of his life’s work, Becoming a Disciple-Making Church shows you how to help your people resolve conflicts–from difficult marriages to unrepentant sin to church disputes–through genuine repentance and faith in God. Rather than giving up or simply referring people to counselors outside the church, embrace the fact that God through His Word has answers to problems of the heart and mind. And in this ministry of reconciliation, true discipleship will happen.

First impressions

Neil T. Anderson is the author of Victory Over the Darkness a really well known book among Christians, that I haven’t read. That was the reason I wanted to check Becoming a Disciple Making Church, which is a really good introduction to Anderson’s work.

Content

This is not an original work, in the sense of being new material. It’s a collection of different chapters from different books in the context of building a leadership capable of building disciples using the principles in each section.

It’s not that the book it’s not good for this reason, on the contrary, there’s a lot of subjects of interest for everyone and the best thing is that you can put them into practice right away. Some examples are, How to overcome:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sexual strongholds

Each chapter explains the meaning of each concept and its psychological and biblical background. Finally it gives you the tools necessary to deal with each issue using biblical principles.

Conclusion

Reading Becoming a Disciple Making Church it’s a good start if you want to get familiar with Neil T. Anderson or with his work. It’s a really worth reading.

Rating:

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.