Hell, Rob Bell, And What Happens When People Die

Hell, Rob Bell, And What Happens When People Die

By Bobby Conway
Published by Multnomah Books

Hell, Rob Bell, And What Happens When People Die discusses from a Biblical standpoint the issues and resulting controversy surrounding the book Love Wins by pastor and speaker Rob Bell.  The author, Bobby Conway, pointedly, systematically and boldly dissects Bell’s arguments and leaves the reader with a solid Biblical understanding of how and why Bell’s views oppose what is clearly taught in scripture. At the end of each chapter, Conway provides helpful links to find more information online through his ministry called the One Minute Apologist.

I was immediately interested in reading this book as I personally remember that Saturday afternoon, stumbling upon the Twitter feed of a well-known Christian author and speaker declaring “Farewell, Rob Bell” and wondering something along the lines of “what in the world is that about?”  After doing a bit of digging online, I discovered the internet reactions were to a new book release by Bell titled Love Wins.  Being familiar with Bell mostly through his Nooma series of video teaching clips, I was a little surprised, but mostly disappointed at what I found.  

Bell, a modern, trendy type of mega-church leader/preacher is what some might refer to as “edgy”.  His Nooma series of video teachings had even been shown in my home church at our more contemporary service.  Bell’s style is more focused as to attract a younger, more “hip” crowd than the traditional “church” crowd. Trendy can be a catalyst to sharing the gospel with some who might not otherwise entertain the idea of “church.” And as with any method or program, the gospel that is shared must remain based on the truth of tried and true methods agreeing with Biblical counsel. Conway points out where Bell’s teaching in Love Wins falls short of conveying the Truth and instead offers, as Conway puts it, a “false hope.”

Overall, Conway does a great job of clearly but lovingly addressing Bell’s views without watering down Biblical Truth or tearing down Bell’s character.

Recommend? Yes.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, through the Blogging For Books book review program, for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Every Single Woman’s Battle

Every Single Woman’s Battle
Guarding Your Heart and Mind Against Sexual and Emotional Compromise

By Shannon Ethridge
Published by WaterBrook Press

Dig-In or Re-Shelve?  Grab your Bible and Dig-In!

Written in workbook style, Every Single Woman’s Battle can serve as a stand-alone study guide, but is intended as a wonderful study companion to Ethridge’s earlier book Every Woman’s Battle.  In this study-guide Ethridge focuses on women’s emotional vulnerability and how to guard our hearts and minds against temptation. Comprised of eight chapters, Every Single Woman’s Battle is efficiently designed to be used in a small-group setting, discussing one chapter per week for eight weeks, or even spreading the content out over a twelve week study. Ethridge suggests that the accountability of a small group is ideal to successfully deal with the sensitive but difficult issues addressed in the book and guide.

Each chapter opens with a brief discussion of the chapter’s topic, most including excerpts from the books Every Woman’s Battle as well as Every Man’s Battle.  Following this introduction, four sections with suggested bible verses for memorization and in-depth questions are included as: Planting Good Seeds (Personally Seeking God’s Truth), Weeding Out Deception (Recognizing The Truth), Harvesting Fulfillment (Applying The Truth), and Growing Together (Sharing The Truth In small-Group Discussion).

Recommend? Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, through the Blogging For Books book review program, for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Water’s Edge

Water’s Edge

By Robert Whitlow
Published by Thomas Nelson

Water’s Edge is only the second book I have read by established author and practicing attorney Robert Whitlow.  In keeping with Whitlow’s intriguing fictional style, Water’s Edge does not disappoint.

The storyline revolves around Tom Crane, a successful young attorney on his way to quickly making partner in a large, prestigious Atlanta law firm.  Crane, a second-generation attorney, is also facing the task of closing down his recently deceased father’s small-town law practice in his hometown of Bethel, Georgia.  However, after an unexpected series of events, Tom finds himself not only unemployed, but in the midst of unraveling mysterious secrets as he wraps up his father’s business.  Coming back to Bethel also brings Crane to face his own past losses and discover a future of hope.

Water’s Edge is very well written and amazingly intriguing novel.  From a Christian evangelical standpoint, biblical content and truth are presented. However, there are a few references questioning one character’s prayers as “mystic” that are not sufficiently resolved.  Other Biblical references are in place in many instances and point the reader to discover for themselves the Truth through God’s Word.

Recommend?  Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

Don’t Check Your Brains At The Door

Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door

By Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler
Published by Thomas Nelson

A great little book that could be titled “Apologetics for Teens.”

In Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door well established Christian authors Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler have compiled forty-two concise chapters grouped into six general topics dealing with common myths of the Christian faith.  These six areas include Myths About: God, Jesus, The Bible, The Resurrection, Religion and Christianity, and Life and Happiness.  Many chapters are addressed as story format which grab the reader’s attention and relate the idea very well, especially since this book is geared toward teens. Each chapter ends with a brief section called “Brain Food” to encourage the reader to dig into the Bible to study the ideas a bit more in-depth.

Since my husband is a youth pastor, I am familiar with many questions that today’s younger generation ask relating to faith.  I enjoyed reading this book from that perspective. In fact, each chapter is specific, direct and relevant enough to be useful as a short lesson for youth gatherings.  Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door will make a great addition to any collection.

Recommend? Absolutely! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To view a preview of this book click here.

Life Support

Life Support

By Robert Whitlow
Published by Thomas Nelson

Life support is the first book I have read by Robert Whitlow.  It provides a wonderful introduction to the author’s work.

The storyline involves Baxter Richardson, a recently married young man who has survived a fall from a cliff and is currently dependent upon life support. A legal and emotional battle soon results between Baxter’s wife and his father over whether life support should be maintained or terminated, bringing attorney Alexia Lindale into the picture.  Many factors, both pure and evil, affect both sides. As additional information is revealed throughout the book, the reader is caught up in the emotional swings of the characters and their stories.

The novel is very well written and amazingly intriguing.  However, from a Christian evangelical standpoint, a bit lacking in biblical content and truth. Being promoted by a publisher of primarily Christian material, I expected this book to point to the basics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (which is central to Christianity).  However it falls short.  This is not for lack of references to God or acknowledging credit of His working in the characters’ lives. This shortfall is in failing to present the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ alone as revealed through the Gospels of the Bible.  Specifically, the only place in the story at where salvation is hinted is described as an experience alone, basing the believer’s “change of heart” on feelings alone and not necessarily on knowledge of the truth.   Since this is the first in a series of books entitled The Santee Series, I hold out hope for more basic biblical Christian truths to be brought out in later books.

From a literary standpoint, I felt the content of the story includes a few unnecessary details.  Though the characters personalities and lives are developed extremely well, physical settings are described in almost exhausting detail.

Recommend?  Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

Rumors Of God

Rumors Of God
Experience the Kind of Faith You´ve Only Heard About

By Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson 
Published by Thomas Nelson

Rumors of God addresses the longing of many Christians to live life as promised and described in scripture.  For many Christians, the life we are living is mediocre at best  We read of promises of abundant life In scripture, but what does it require on our part?  What does it take to live sold-out to Jesus?

Authors Whitehead and Tyson take a look at specific, critical areas in the Christian faith including generosity, love, grace, freedom, commitment, community, justice and hope.  They present a fresh perspective on the practical living out of these biblical principles based on scripture.  A final chapter wraps up the relevancy of these areas in our society and country today. 

Rumors of God deals with familiar topics to most Christians who have walked in the faith for some time. Though there are a few new spins on the ideas expressed, this is basically another motivational, inspirational book.  The positive is that it was a quick read, and I did highlight a few quotable passages.

Recommend? If you have some time on your hands, yes.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To view a preview of this book click here.

Thunder Dog

Thunder Dog
The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero

By Michael Hingson with Susy Flory 
Published by Thomas Nelson

Thunder Dog is an amazing story of not only survival and courage, but of trust, love and relationship.  It is more than the story of Michel Hingson’s escape from the collapsing World Trade Center towers on the fateful day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  That story alone would most certainly be worth reading.  But add to that, the knowledge that Michael has been blind from birth, and the story develops multiple dimensions. 

The book opens with the circumstances surrounding Michael’s premature birth and resulting blindness.  Continuing through his years growing up in a supportive family who allowed Michael to take risks to live as mainstream as possible, we not only marvel at Michael’s courage on 9/11, but how his whole life has portrayed this same courage.  The fact that he was working as a successful businessman in the towers is a story in itself.

Thunder Dog is written at a casual pace, alternating between events taking place as Michael makes his way down the numerous flights of stairs, and relevant events throughout his life that have in some way prepared him to survive that day.  The reader gets a picture of what the life of a blind person can look like.  Focusing on what he is capable of, as opposed to the limitations.

Recommend? Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To view a preview of this book click here.

Treasuring Emma

Treasuring Emma
By Kathleen Fuller
Published by Thomas Nelson

Treasuring Emma is the latest installment in the Middlefield Family Novels by author Kathleen Fuller, set in the Amish community of Middleford.  This close-knit community has recently suffered a series of losses and changes.  Specifically, Emma Shetler is facing some life-changing decisions.  Having been rejected by Adam Otto, the only man she has ever loved, Emma has now buried  her mother after a battle with cancer. With no income, no marital prospects, medical bills coming in, and her grandmother to care for, young Emma is unsure what her future holds.   To add to Emma’s troubles, her sister Clara, herself disillusioned with her own marriage and family, begins to push Emma to consider building a family business that will require Emma to make changes she is not ready to make. When Adam returns to Middlefield for a visit, Emma is more confused than ever.  Now Emma, Clara, and Adam, must each find their own peace with God in order to discover and follow His will for their lives.

Treasuring Emma is not only the first book I have read by author Kathleen Fuller, but also the first Amish setting novel I have read.  I have to say I enjoyed the book. It is a quick-reading but intriguing love story that kept my interest all the way to the end. 
Since the book begins with a “glossary” of Amish terms, I should have expected their frequent usage, which is exactly the case.  Though these terms helped to saturate  the reader in the Amish life, I also found their usage a bit distracting to the storyline itself.  All-in-all, it is a delightful read.

Recommend? Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To view a preview of this book click here.

The Blessing

The Blessing
Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance

By John Trent & Gary Smalley
Published by Thomas Nelson

In 1986 authors Gary Smalley and John Trent first published their best-selling book entitled The Blessing. In 2011, Trent has now revised and updated The Blessing. I originally read The Blessing a few years ago and was introduced to the concept of the importance of receiving and giving something they call “the blessing” particularly within a family. I enjoyed re-reading this book with a my own fresh perspective, as a parent now myself.

The authors list five elements essential to “The Blessing”. These five elements consist of:
1. Meaningful and appropriate touch
2. A spoken message
3. Attaching high value to the one being blessed
4. Picturing a special future for him or her
5. An active commitment to fulfill the blessing

These elements, as well as the idea of “the blessing”, are based in Biblical scripture. The authors are careful and intentional to point the reader back to scriptural examples and principles to support their writing.

Recommend? Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To view a preview of this book click here.