Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher is a personal reflection of Communion. Part of The Ancient Practices Series, which examines seven ancient practices of the Christian faith, The Sacred Meal examines how central communion is to both the church as a whole, as well as the spiritual journey of the individual believer. Though each tradition handles Communion differently, and even calls it different things - Communion, the Eucharist, the Lord's Supper - it is one of the most ancient and central sacraments of the church.

The Sacred Meal evoked conflicting emotions within me. On one hand, as one who comes from a tradition that does the Lord's Supper infrequently, it was both encouraging and convicting to read the journey of someone who takes the Eucharist as seriously, and who has woven the practice so deeply into one's personal spiritual life as Gallagher has. The weight of the practice, and the fact that it is a practice in her life and not just a "once every quarter" event resonates within me.

At the same time, some of the theological leaps Gallagher makes were a bit hard to swallow. Its safe to say that her personal theology is much more open than, and to the left of, what is considered a biblical worldview. It was hard to tell whether Gallagher believes in the divinity of Christ, or merely reveres him as someone somewhere between God and a great teacher. Seeing as how Communion is so closely tied to who Christ is and His sacrifice on the cross, it was hard to reconcile her beliefs about Christ, and the weight with which she approaches the Eucharist.

While it would have probably been beneficial to have a bit more history and concrete examples of the various beliefs about and practices of Communion throughout the Church, Gallagher's personal story is good for all to hear, if for nothing more than a jumping off point for a conversation about Communion - which would be beneficial for all. Anyone who is interested in the Lord's Supper, or anyone who would like to expand the conversation about it, should read this book.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze 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, November 29, 2010

On This Day in Christian History by Robert J. Morgan

On This Day in Christian History by Robert J. Morgan, is a devotional chronicling, in the words of its tag line, "365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes." Each day of the year has about a 3/4 of the page long story about a person in Christian history who was born, died, or did something significant on that day. There is also a Bible verse at the bottom of each page that goes along with the story. In the preface, the author states his purpose in compiling these stories is twofold. He hopes to both chronicle parts of Christian history that it might not be lost forever, as well as use stories from the past to instruct and encourage fellow believers in the present.

Overall, this book is a nice collection of stories, covering all of Christian history. There doesn't seem to any bias toward one time in history over another, or any kind of bias toward one view of doctrines over others. On This Day in Christian History serves as a nice introduction to the vast number of people on whose shoulders modern day Christians stand. While not covering anything in depth, it does provide a helpful starting point for anyone who'd like to study certain people or events more closely. There is an index of topics, though an index of people, events, or periods of time would be more helpful considering the subject. I would recommend this to the casual student of Christian history, or someone looking for examples of other's devotion to encourage their own.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze 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, October 27, 2010

Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright

Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright can be summed up in its tag line: "The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East." Wright discusses how the decision of one man - Abraham - to not trust God spread and multiplied into the crisis that is the Middle East. According to Wright, the fierce and unending fighting among the peoples who inhabit the Middle East are inevitable in light of biblical history, and will not end until Christ returns. He fleshes these ideas out in Seeds of Turmoil.

Based on the title and description, I was initially excited to read this book. As a Christian and a history buff I thought it'd be both interesting and informative. In was informative, but only on the most basic level. Seeds of Turmoil would be a good primer for people who have little to no knowledge of the Middle East and the people who inhabit it, or an understanding of the origins of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. While presented in a logical manner, the information given seemed to be repeated many times throughout the book. The author's obvious bias for Israel was almost overwhelming at times. In a topic such as this, it's natural to have a bias for one side or the other; however, when attempting to address the matter factually, the bias shouldn't take over as it did in this book.

Wright's handling of the Scripture used throughout is true to the Word, though some of his interpretations and extrapolations of interactions between people that weren't recorded are somewhat iffy. Nothing that causes a serious doctrine issue, but more poetic license than one would expect in a book like this.

Overall, there may be certain people I recommend this book to, but they would be few and far between. It's pretty fluffy and there are better works on the topic.

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge

Those who know me know that I am a big fan of anything written by John Eldredge and his wife Stasi and/or that comes out of Ransomed Heart Ministries, their ministry. The first book of theirs I read, Wild at Heart, remains one of the top five most influential books in my life, though if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Waking the Dead. That is why when I had a chance to receive a copy of their newest book, Love & War, for free if I simply reviewed it on my blog, I was beyond thrilled.

Love & War's (L&W) tag line is "finding the marriage you've dreamed of." Those familiar with the work of Ransomed Heart and the Eldredge's will find familiar themes throughout L&W, placed this time in the context of marriage. The main theme of L&W is that marriage is an epic love story set in the middle of war; there is an enemy, but it is not each other. It encourages couples to rediscover what they once wanted out of marriage, and to fight for one another and alongside one another for the greatest marriage possible. The core of the book can be summed up by a quote from page 38 which says, "We are created to love and be loved. And there is no greater context, no better opportunity to really love someone and to be loved by them throughout an entire lifetime than you will find in marriage. Of course it is dangerous as well - the two always go together. There is no greater place for damage, too, because there is no greater place for glory. God uses marriage to bring us the possibility of the deepest joys in life; Satan tries to use it for destruction."

By pointing out the centrality of marriage in God's plan, both for humanity as a whole and for most individuals, the Eldredge's help their readers to grasp the significance of marriage in the overall narrative. L&W is full of personal stories and examples. The points made and advice given are not just theoretical tips; they come from hard won experience, and the Eldredge's give their readers an up close and intimate - sometimes embarrassingly so - look how they arrived at these conclusions to prove it. Their honesty helps tear down the facade we so often want others to see and take an honest look at ourselves.

Even as a single person, I found this book very encouraging. The story told throughout L&W is centered around marriage, but almost everything in it can be applied in other relationships on some level. As part of a generation plagued by divorce in our own lives and that of our families, it was refreshing to get a glimpse into a marriage that has had its ebbs and flows over the years - even walking to the brink of divorce at times - but in the end is as rich and fulfilling as its ever been because each party is willing to fight for the other, and for the greater glory of God.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dad's Bible - The Father's Plan Notes by Robert Wolgemuth


Dad's Bible - The Father's Plan with notes by Robert Wolgemuth is part of Thomas Nelson’s Life Stages Bible Series. Written in the New Century Version translation, Dad’s Bible is chock full of special content. At the back there are several pages on which to take notes and a topical index, both of which can be found in most specialty bibles today; however, that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the features included in Dad’s Bible. Also included in the back is an index several pages long called “Questions and Answers” that has a large variety of spiritual questions fathers may be asked by their children and answers including and based on Scripture. On top of contextual introductions to each book of the Bible, Dad’s Bible also has scattered throughout the text of Scripture six different features to aid fathers in raising their children in the way God has asked them to. These include Walking in Authority, Godly Character, Passing It On, Dads in the Bible, Building Your Children, and Insights.

Overall, Dad’s Bible is very easy to use. The extra features designed to help fathers raise Godly children are both relatable and Scripturally accurate. While I am not a father myself, the counsel given seems as though it would be very encouraging to fathers as well as useful in guiding them in the way they should go. Aesthetically, Dad’s Bible is very pleasing. It is durably bound and both the typeface and colors used throughout are both masculine and pleasing to the eye. While the NCV might not be my particular translation of choice, I would still recommend Dad’s Bible to fathers as a useful tool for both their own spiritual development and that of their children.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze 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 6, 2010

Obstacles Welcome by Ralph de la Vega





Obstacles Welcome chronicles Ralph de la Vega's journey from Cuban immigrant to the president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. He uses six "pivotal points" from his career to share lessons he's learned about turning obstacles into advantages both in the business world and in life. De la Vega gives advice on important skills such as effective communication, how to be an effective leader, creating and maintaining a guiding vision, and learning from both obstacles and mistakes. His overall theme is that anyone can succeed in life, if only he/she maintains discipline, focus and a positive outlook.

Overall, I found Obstacles Welcome extremely hard to get through. I devour books, and this one took me over four months to finish because I just did not want to pick it up and trudge through it. The content was full of clich├ęs and stated and restated way too many times. There was too much unneeded elaboration and not enough personal examples; the personal examples that were included were vague and did not provide the sense of reality to back up the principles given. There is good content in Obstacles Welcome; however, it just is not enough for a book. A pamphlet or a two hour lecture would be more than enough to cover the unique content in the book. The most positive thing I can say is that the "Takeaway Messages" at the end of each chapter were an effective part of the book.

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

Welcome

Hello!

Since I devour books on a regular occasion, I decided to start a blog reviewing those I have something substantive (or at least resembling substantive) to say about. Non-fiction and fiction of all genres will make an appearance at some point. If you've read a book I review, join the conversation and share your thoughts. If there is a particular book you'd like to me read and review, let me know that as well. Happy reading!

Semper Fi,
Nicole