Thursday, July 20, 2017

Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio

Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants by Louie Giglio is a a strong addition to the library of any believer in Christ. Using the story of David and Goliath, Giglio shows how the major giants we all face in life must be defeated because of Christ's work on the cross. Addressing issues such as fear, comfort, and addiction, Giglio shows how these giants are already dead, but still must fall from the power they hold in our lives.

Giglio communicates clearly and precisely. His writing style is very understandable and has an easy flow to it. In Goliath Must Fall, Giglio shares a few new insights into the story of David and Goliath. These "twists" on the story illustrate how the believer has the power of Christ over every giant in his/her life. Christ killed these giants on the cross, but just like a snake head that has been cut off, they can still be deadly. That is why the emphasis in the title is the word must. Though the giants are dead, they can still be deadly, which is why decisions must still be made and work done to allow a believer victory over whatever giant threatens his/her life.

Anyone struggling with the particular giants addressed in this book would benefit from reading it, though I'd recommend it to anyone interested in reading "Christian Living" books. It has a great perspective on the story of David and Goliath that will benefit any believer in Jesus Christ.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook 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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene H. Peterson

As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation On the Ways of God Formed By the Words of God by Eugene H. Peterson is a collection of sermons preached by Peterson over the twenty-nine years he was pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. The sermons are grouped into seven sections of seven sermons, with each group headed by a different figure from the Bible who plays prominently in the section of scripture each sermon is taken from.

Peterson's writings are always filled with rich insights about scripture. The most notable insights in this book are the parallels between the old and new testaments that he points out. In multiple sermons in each section, he draws a parallel that, to me at least, was previously unclear, and once pointed out, adds a new level of richness to those particular scriptures.

Each sermon takes up about six or seven pages. There isn't really a flow to this book since each sermon is self-contained. That can make reading it somewhat frustrating to read unless one approaches it with the right mindset. However, the insights gained and the depths of scripture opened up far outweigh any frustrations. I'd recommend As Kingfishers Catch Fire to anyone interested in the Bible.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest 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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

An Outlaw and A Lady by Jessi Colter

An Outlaw and A Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life with Waylon, and the Faith that Brought Me Home by Jessi Colter tells the story of musician/songwriter Jessi Colter and her life with Waylon Jennings. One of the main focuses of this book is the story of Jessi's journey of faith.

Born Mirriam Johnson, Colter's early life was a simple one in the Arizona desert. The daughter of a miner and minister, Colter's life revolved around music from the beginning. She often sang hymns during her mother's revivals. She was encouraged by her family, specifically two of her older siblings. It was through them that she met her first husband who introduced her to the professional side of music. It wasn't until after her first marriage ended and she started a relationship with Waylon Jennings that her professional career gained traction. It was also during this time that she returned to the faith of her childhood. This is what sustained her during the turbulence that being in Waylon's life caused.

Colter's writing style is easy to read and flows really well. Her story is engaging and easy to relate to even though it involves larger than life figures such as Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. The simple but always exciting story of God's redemptive grace is evident in the life of Colter and those around her. Anyone interested in autobiographies, personal stories of redemption, or one of the greats of country music will enjoy An Outlaw and A Lady.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook 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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple examines the modern chief of staff and how every presidency since Nixon's has been shaped by the position. Good or bad, the chiefs of staff have been one of the most influential factors in the legacy of each presidency in the modern era.

Whipple uses mainly primary source material to tell the magnificent tale of the modern chief of staff. He conducted numerous interviews with the chiefs as well as two former presidents. He also had access to previously unpublished material granted him by the individuals involved. How a chief shapes the presidency is the overall theme of this book and the thread that ties each individual story together.

It is the chief of staff's job to protect the president's time. How well he does that plays a significant role in the president's success. He is also to manage the staff and stop anyone trying to go around the proper channels, or trying to execute plans that are just bad ideas such as the Watergate break-in, or the Iran-Contra affair. The chief has to be able to be 100% honest with the president and manage many strong personalities at once.

Whipple tells the story of each chief both from their perspective as well as those who worked with them. At the end of each chapter, I was left wanting to know more about these men and their relationships, as there is only enough space to discuss the high (or very low) points of each chief's time in office. The Gatekeepers is very readable and easy to understand, even for someone who isn't familiar with politics. Part biography, part modern American history, The Gatekeepers is a great read for anyone interested in either.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest 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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Dawn of Christianity by Robert J. Hutchinson


The Dawn of Christianity: How God Used Simple Fishermen, Soldiers, and Prostitutes to Transform the World by Robert J. Hutchinson uses biblical and extra-biblical sources to historically trace the beginning of "the Jesus movement." Hutchinson starts from a bit before the birth of Jesus and goes through the Jerusalem council.

Each chapter is short and deals with one particular person or event in the formation of Christianity. The writing flows well and is easy to read and understand. There are numerous helpful end notes at the back of the book that provide either sources or more detail, some of which is very interesting.

There isn't really anything new in this book, but it does serve as a great introduction to an important topic for both believers and skeptics. It is organized and informative without going so deep into any one particular topic or scholarly controversy that someone new to the topic would become bogged down. Overall, I recommend The Dawn of Christianity to anyone interested in how Christianity was formed and took root.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook 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

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Inkblots by Damion Searls


The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls is part biography, part history of one of the most famous psychological tests of all times. By examining both the history of the Rorschach test, as well as the life of it's creator, Searls provides a comprehensive look at how the test has both shaped, and been shaped by, culture and popular thought.

Hermann Rorschach was one of the most interesting figures of his time. Peers with men such as Freud, Jung, and Bleuler, Rorschach was able to take the best from all of them, and add thoughts of his own without getting stuck in any one box or school of thought. His open mindedness as well as his not only willingness but desire to see as other's see allowed him to begin to tap into the potential of the human mind. He somewhat stumbled upon what would become his most famous and lasting contribution to his field. Once he realized the great potential of his inkblot "experiment" (as he called it), he spent the rest of his life refining and improving it. If Rorschach had had more time, the potential for what his test could have accomplished is unlimited.

The test itself has weathered far more storms than its creator could have ever imagined. One of the most interesting aspects of Searls examination of the test is how it was shaped not only by trained psychologists, but also by things such as the standardization of medicine in America and the wars between interpretation and hard data. The beauty and simplicity of the test continues to be lost and rediscovered as it is forced into roles it was never created to fill and then reemerges once again to reclaim itself.

Searls' combination of Rorschach's biography and history of his inkblot test provides a thorough and comprehensive look for the layman. There are some parts that are a bit technical, but they are necessary to explain various controversies and interpretations. Overall, The Inkblots is engaging and easy to read both in its pace and clarity. I'd recommend The Inkblots to anyone interested in psychology, the Rorschach test itself, or simply how things are shaped by forces beyond their creator's control or imagination.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest 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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reclaiming Hope by Michael Wear

Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America by Michael Wear tells the story of one young staffer in the Obama White House. Discussing both personal experience and policy, Wear attempts to put faith and politics, and their relationship to one another, in proper perspective.

Wear worked for both Obama presidential campaigns and worked as a staffer in The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during Obama's first term. Wear briefly describes his life before entering the political sphere, before moving on to chronologically discussing events he was involved with in the first campaign and term of the Obama administration. He then covers key policies involving faith and the faith community including abortion and same sex marriage. He then moves on to his involvement in the second presidential campaign and then ends with a broad discussion of how politics and faith can work together.

As a whole, the tone of Reclaiming Hope toward President Obama and his administration is even handed. The first half is almost all positive and almost has a feel of there being no room for criticism, but the second half addresses controversy and legitimate criticism, giving the book as a whole balance. The discussion about faith and politics is constructive and beneficial for any person of faith in America. Recognizing that ultimate hope lies with God, His people still have to engage with the structures of power here on earth. Wear seems to have managed that balance well in his own life, and has made a career of helping others do so as well.

Overall, I'd recommend Reclaiming Hope by Michael Wear to those interested in the faith of President Obama, and/or anyone interested in the intersection of faith and politics in America.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest 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