Monday, November 19, 2012

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack is the story of how God uses seemingly random and disconnected events as He weaves beautiful stories of redemption among His people. It is the tale of two stories that eventually become one. One of those stories involves the incredible survival of three Mexican fishermen after nine months adrift at sea; the other is about a successful man brought down by the pressure of trying to do life on his own.

Kissack was a fabulously wealthy and successful part of the television industry. He rose quickly to the top and had everything he thought he wanted. Eventually the emptiness of his life ate away at his soul, and Kissack spiraled into addiction, separation from his wife and children, and suicidal behavior. Jesús, Lucio, and Salvador are three Mexican fisherman who got lost at sea and spent over nine months drifting across the Pacific Ocean. Using alternating chapters, Kissack describes the rise and fall of his life, and the story of the fishermen from the beginning of their trip through their rescue and return to Mexico. The two stories become one when during his time of rehabilitation, Kissack hears the story of the fishermen and realizes that they hold the key to what he is searching for.

The Fourth Fisherman is an easy and fascinating read. Kissack seamlessly weaves the two stories together in an easy to read fashion. Many people will be able to relate to the difficulty faced in both stories. The truth of the sufficiency of God in both stories comes through in a powerful way. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in a good story, reading about the fullness of Christ in people's lives, or even just an easy read.

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books 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

A Year with G.K. Chesterton, edited by Kevin Belmonte

A Year with G.K. Chesterton: 365 of Wisdom, Wit, and Wonder is a collection of excerpts from Chesterton's writings edited by Kevin Belmonte. Each day there is a Bible verse and at least one excerpt, usually less than a page in length, from one of Chesterton's many published works. On many days there are notes about important events from Chesterton's life or dates of publication for his writings.

Chesterton was a fascinating man and prolific author. I'm not very familiar with much of his work, but many of the authors who have shaped my thinking the most cite him and his works as an inspiration in their lives. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to read and review this book, I jumped on it. As far as its quality as a devotional, the entry lengths are just about right for a small taste of Chesterton each morning. This isn't a devotional with a certain theme or to help one accomplish something. Instead, each day offers a glimpse into Chesterton's mind through his writings.

The design and layout of A Year with G.K. Chesterton is aesthetically pleasing. It has very clean and simple lines and font. The appendix of supplemental readings at the back with special entries for "the main festival days of the church" is a nice extra feature. The entries are selected from over fifty publications of Chesterton's work, and vary in nature from poetry, to literary review.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Chesterton; the samples of his work provided will help one decide if one wants to read more of him or not. This book is also obviously great for anyone who is already a fan of Chesterton. Also, anyone who is simply a fan of good writing will enjoy this selection of samples from one of the greatest literary minds of his time.

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 3, 2012

Rudy: My Story by Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger



Rudy: My Story by Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger chronicles the life story of a man many people are familiar with – the title character from the 1993 hit film Rudy. Moving beyond the dramatized, Hollywood version of his story, Rudy retells exactly what happened that brought him from a kid who “wasn’t college material” to a student and football player at the prestigious Notre Dame University. He then continues the story past where the movie ended and details his journey in getting his story made into a movie that became a nation-wide hit. The overall message of Rudy’s story seems to be that persistence and dreaming big will allow one to go anywhere, or do anything one can set one’s mind to.

Overall, Rudy reads like one continuous motivational speech. The enthusiasm and passion that carried Rudy through all the amazing events in his life oozes off of every page. One can’t help but get excited and caught up in the drama of Rudy’s story. While his perseverance and passion for what he believes he was called to do is something to both be admired and emulated, it also leaves me with a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. I consider Rudy to have an exceptional story; however, I’ve seen too many other examples of people who have both perseverance and passion to spare, and still don’t end up living their wildest dreams. For a book from Thomas Nelson, I would’ve expected a bit more mention of following God’s will while pursuing one’s life dreams.  While Rudy mentions God a few times, the overall message seems more like a pep talk than a recommendation to follow God’s plan for one’s life. God is gracious and loving and often gives us the desires of our heart; however, this only happens when we’re pursuing Him and His desires for us become our desires.

Despite the unexpected lack of mention of God, Rudy is still a powerful story worth reading and sharing. Americans love an underdog, and Rudy has one of the most compelling underdog stories of all time.

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, September 5, 2012

From the Library of C.S. Lewis Compiled by James Stuart Bell

From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey, is an amazing collection of selections from the works and authors that most influenced Lewis. Compiled by James Stuart Bell, this collection includes works on eighteen different topics including God's love, humility, suffering, sin and temptation, and fantasy and imagination. Authors included range from as ancient as Anicius Boethius, to as contemporary as Lewis' wife Joy Davidman; they vary in fame from the relatively unknown Walter Hilton to the immensely popular G.K. Chesterton. Selections include works that inspired Lewis creatively, such as pieces of Wordsworth's poetry, to works that influenced him theologically such as St. Augustine's Confession.

The organization of this impressive collection is very helpful to the reader. All selections are grouped in chapters that have one specific topic. Being able to go to a particular topic and see who influenced Lewis in this area is very convenient. Another great feature of this book are the notes included about each author at the end of each selection. The author's dates of birth and death are provided so that the reader knows when he/she lived. A brief description of the author's most important work or role in church history is given to provide more context. The most fascinating notes are those that mention specific thoughts Lewis had about the authors. For example, in the notes about George MacDonald, it says that, "MacDonald had a profound influence on on C.S. Lewis. Lewis said that MacDonald's Phantastes 'baptized my imagination'" (8). Another example of this personalization is included in the notes about G.K. Chesterton. It states that, "C.S. Lewis says, in Surprised by Joy, that Chesterton's Christian apologetics had a marked impact on him, and Lewis' own apologetic work owes a debt to Chesterton" (36).

This book is an excellent resource for anyone who is a fan of C.S. Lewis; beyond that, it is an impressive collection of selections from works that have influenced the church throughout the ages, on topics that are vitally important to the church. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in an overview of these topics.

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books 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, August 20, 2012

Empty Promises by Pete Wilson

Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You're Believing by Pete Wilson is an exceptional look at the idols that often fill Christian's lives. Wilson defines idols as "look[ing] to something that does not have God’s power to give me what only God has the power and authority to give" (page 5). He establishes the importance of examining these idols by pointing out that, "Idolatry isn’t simply a sin. It’s what is fundamentally wrong with the human heart”(page 9).

Wilson spends a chapter examining: achievement, approval, power, money, religion, beauty, and dreams. While keeping the consistent theme of God being the only one who can truly fulfill, he deconstructs each common idol and shows why each idol can only offer empty promises. He does this using scripture, anecdotes from his own life, as well as from the lives of those he’s counseled as a pastor.

This book was both encouraging and convicting to read. Identifying the idols in one's life is the first step in combating them. Wilson offers helpful questions in a majority of the chapters that if answered honestly will help the reader identify and deal with various idols in his/her life. Wilson does a good job of both offering practical advice as well as continually going back to Christ as the ultimate fulfillment in the life of the believer. I'd recommend Empty Promises to anyone interested in identifying and dealing with those things in his/her life which may be offering him/her false hope. 

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, August 13, 2012

Unlocking Your Family Patterns by Dr. Henry Cloud, et al.

Unlocking Your Family Patterns by Drs. Henry Cloud, John Townsend, Earl Henslin, and Dave Carder is a useful introduction in how harmful patterns are passed on through generations, and how these trends can be stopped. The authors' combined years of experience in working with thousands of families adds a realism that lends credibility and clarity to the principles and ideas that each chapter is based on. The authors take turns writing each chapter which allows the reader to experience the topic from complimentary, yet different, points of view.

The most unique and best aspect of Unlocking Your Family Patterns that distinguishes it from other family counseling books, is the fact that each chapter includes a biblical family that illustrates the chapter's main focus. The examples help the reader understand what could be abstract concepts without such clear examples. It is always dangerous to take a modern day concept and impose it on scripture; however, the patterns discussed have existed as long as families have, and the authors are careful to start with the scripture and show how what the text says illustrates the pattern being spoken of, not the other way around.

After giving examples from both scripture and his own counseling experience, each author gives steps that can be taken to break each pattern and find healing. Questions are included at the end of each chapter to help the reader examine that chapter's particular pattern in more depth in his/her own life and family.

Overall, Unlocking Family Patterns has a logical flow and is very easy to understand. The authors are able to communicate what could be complex psychological thoughts in a clear and concise manner. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in how one's family's past affects today, as well as those interested in breaking those patterns and finding healing.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Moody Publishers Blogger Review 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, June 5, 2012

In the Land of Blue Burqas

In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord (which is a protective pseudonym) is a description of McCord's five years spent living in and ministering to the women of Afghanistan. Mainly through sharing anecdotes of her time there, the author shares many simple yet profound truths she learned about Jesus, being a follower of Christ, Islam, and the Afghanistan culture.

The author's humble and teachable spirit struck me in the first few pages and is one of the most prominent aspects of this book. The cultural adaptations she made in order to fit into her community and not offend those she was working with are impressive, as were the lengths she went to in order to understand both the religious and cultural lenses through which the people of her community saw life. McCord's accounts of different conversations she had with both the men and women in her area of Afghanistan were informative on two levels. The most obvious is that it provides a small window of insight into both the cultural and religious aspects of a country with which America is heavily involved in, though most of us have little to no understanding of its history or its people.

The less obvious is how the things McCord did and they way she approached things allowed her to have open and honest conversations with her neighbors about important topics which had the potential to be divisive, yet were simply instructive.  Her account was an encouragement and challenge to me about how I interact with those around me, especially those with whom I may have very little in common. The hope of Jesus Christ transcends every barrier humanity has created; McCord is a great example of how His followers can help knock those barriers down in constructive and healing ways.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Afghan culture, living in a different culture, or learning how to better connect with others.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Moody Publishers Blogger Review 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 17, 2012

Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale

Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale is a collection of stores about Muslims around the world giving their lives to Jesus. Trousdale is the Director of International Ministries for CityTeam International. It is through this position that he has access to amazing stories of entire mosques and sometimes entire communities surrendering their lives to Christ. Using a simple model of discipleship based on Jesus and taken straight from the Bible, the events Trousdale's teams have witnessed everywhere from the African bush to cities in some of the most hostile countries truly are miraculous.

The format of the book is very appealing. Trousdale mixes first hand accounts of Muslims who have given their lives to Christ with the simple principles and strategies behind how his teams operate. Almost every principle has a story that goes along with it. While the principles and strategies are important, it is the stories that grabbed my attention and blew me away. The things that Christ does when we get out of the way are often beyond description. I appreciate that Trousdale does not lessen the power of each story with a lot of commentary; each story has power and impact on its own, and he lets them stand that way.

This book was interesting and and one of the most encouraging I've read in a long time, and I have no specific interest in foreign missions. Anyone who is interested in hearing about Christ moving among thousands of people will find Miraculous Movements an enjoyable read, as will anyone interested in living as Jesus did. Its in the simplicity of His life that change occurred; we don't need complicated programs and events to show Christ to people. The main thing I took away from this book is that the best discipleship happens as we go, and community is a key aspect of that. My favorite quote comes from page 183 and says, "Many of us are not conditioned to trust that the Word and the Spirit are really 'enough' without trained professional Christians in every new community of faith. Trust that God's Word and the Holy Spirit are enough for people seeking to know and obey God." Like a lot of this book, this statement was both convicting and encouraging. I would recommend Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale to any follower of Christ.

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, April 3, 2012

When Work & Family Collide by Andy Stanley

Previously released as Choosing to Cheat, Andy Stanley's When Work & Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family is a great little resource for every person to keep handy. Stanley clearly lays out the problems of balancing work and family, establishes clear principles that should determine how one handles these struggles, and offers clear steps to help one give one's best where it belongs - to one's family.

Stanley's books are like his sermons - clear, concise, and engaging. When Work & Family Collide is no exception. One of the great things about this particular book is that it is a quick and easy read; this aspect should be particularly appealing to those who already feel overwhelmed, and are seeking guidance about balancing responsibilities in one's life. Stanley's examples from his own life as well as those he has counseled, helped me connect with the principles he lays out. While Stanley never compromises on the importance of the principles presented, neither does he pretend that taking the steps to implement them in one's life are simple. His acknowledgment of the struggles gives him credibility; the fact that he has personally gone through them as well as watched many others in his life do so gives the reader hope and encouragement that he/she can do the same.

Overall, it is worth the time of anyone who struggles to any degree with balancing one's work and family responsibilities to read When Work & Family Collide. Andy Stanley is one of the most effective communicators in the church today, in part because his own obedience in the areas he addresses allows him to connect with people in what seems like a personal way. Though not always easy to follow or implement, his advice is biblical, clear, and simple.

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books 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

Friday, March 30, 2012

We Have A Winner!

Congrats to my friend Nicole for being the winner of my first ever book giveaway!


Hopefully I'll be able to do this more often, so make sure you check back for new posts.


Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Illusion by Frank Peretti

Magic has always been somewhat fascinating to me. As a child I went through a phase where I was going to be a magician. I got a little magic kit, a marked deck of cards, and a book that was going to explain it all. Reality quickly set in, and I realized that, like many things, I was more interested in the results than in the hard work it took to get them. It was the wonder of the illusion I was seeking, not the arduous process of creating said illusion. Thankfully, reading Illusion by Frank Peretti was not an arduous task, but a delightful one. The bonus was that it was full of moments that caused wonder, just as watching a magician at work does.

Illusion is about magician couple Dane and Mandy Collins. Mandy is killed in a terrible car accident, leaving Dane to face retirement without her. He moves to the ranch they planned to buy and discovers something startling in his new little town - there is a 19 year old new magician who looks just like Mandy did forty years ago. At the same time, Mandy finds her 19 year old self transported from 1970 to 2010; not only that, but she can move herself and other objects through time and space. Illusion tells the story of Dane and Mandy as they both try to find their places in new worlds, how they're lives intersect, and what is behind all the chaos.

As usual, Peretti has written a novel that pulls the reader into a grand adventure. In every Peretti novel, there is just enough of everyday life to make you think you have some kind of handle on the situation, while at the same time having just enough super natural to ensure you really don't. The use of change of perspective, sometimes quite rapidly, adds to the suspense, especially as the story unfolds and picks up speed. I found myself having to purposely slow down and actually read what was on each page; I wanted to find out what happened next so badly I found myself rushing and missing the richness of the narrative.

Overall, Illusion is an engaging journey whether one is interested in magic or not. Peretti never fails to weave a tale full of adventure, danger, mystery, hope, and reconciliation. It is nice to have Peretti back doing what he does best – telling a story that entertains, informs, and encourages.

I received this book free from Handlebar Marketing. 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, March 27, 2012

First Book Giveaway!

I have some exciting news for you, my few, yet faithful readers.

I am pleased to offer my very first book giveaway! The kind folks who handle publicity for Frank Peretti sent me not one, but two copies of his newest book, The Illusion. One was for me to read and review, and one was to give away to one of you.


It's been years since Peretti has released anything new, and trust me, it was worth the wait. I just finished it, and you can read my review here in the next day or so.

Until then, leave a comment about your favorite Frank Peretti book. I will pick one lucky reader to receive a copy.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice by David Teems

Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice by David Teems is a loose biography of William Tyndale. Tyndale was an Englisher Reformer who created and published the first English translation of the New Testament; he also did parts of the Old Testament. Though he lived during the time of the split between England and the Catholic church, his insistence on the importance of having scripture available in the common tongue, and his belief in faith being the only means of salvation, were his downfall. He was strangled then burned at the stake on October 6, 1536, after an imprisonment of about eighteen months.

Teems' Tyndale is a poorly written, unorganized biography. In fact, its difficult for me to categorize it as a biography, as there is so much conjecture and superfluous material, that the amount of actual information about Tyndale could be printed on just a few pages. The main thrust seems to be trying make the reader understand how important Tyndale was to the creation of the modern English language, as well as a great reformer and man of faith. This is a worthy task, as Tyndale does not receive his due in this area. When it comes to this aspect of studying Tyndale's life, Teems is successful. The appendix with the list of words Tyndale is, or should be, credited with creating is a handy reference. Teems successfully makes the point that Shakespeare is given a lot of the credit that actually belongs to Tyndale.

When it comes to an actual coherent description of Tyndale's life however, Teems fails. He switches from examining Tyndale as an artist/writer, to looking at his theology, to discussing the lives and motives of various other people that may or may not be directly related to Tyndale's story; this makes it difficult to follow any of it. I understand that information about Tyndale is somewhat hard to find, and what is available is often buried in myth; however, stating what is known and putting forth what is commonly accepted, and participating in pure speculation and conjecture about Tyndale's thoughts, feelings, and circumstances are two entirely different things. It is the latter that Teems often engages in, to the point of frustration for one interested in the facts.

Overall, Tyndale was a difficult book to finish. It is bloated, boring, written in a circular fashion, and not at all what I was expecting, since it is presented as a biography. Someone who is studying the beginning of modern English, and the impact Tyndale had on it, may find some parts helpful. Other than that, I wouldn't recommend anyone suffer through Teems' version of Tyndale's life.
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, February 23, 2012

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Drinking a fine, aged wine. Hearing one of Chopin's sonatas played by a world class pianist. Seeing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in person. Smelling your favorite home cooked meal cooking on mom's stove after a long time away. These experiences can leave us with a sense of well-being, satisfaction, accomplishment, and sometimes as if we've experienced a small slice of something not quite of this world. Reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas left me with this kind of feeling.

Putting aside the content for a minute, Metaxas' use of the English language in this book is masterful. As someone who enjoys words and the power of language, I was consistently impressed, inspired, and honestly sometimes in awe of the elegance and power of Metaxas' prose. For example, while giving background information on Germany and the German church that shaped Bonhoeffer, Metaxas writes:
"Luther's influence cannot be overestimated. His translation of the Bible into German was cataclysmic. Like a medieval Paul Bunyan, Luther in a single blow shattered the edifice of European Catholicism and in the bargain created the modern German language, which in turn effectively created the German people. Christendom was cleft in twain, and out of the earth beside it sprang the Deutsche Volk" (p. 20).
Writing like this inspires me. It is a pleasure to read something of significance in both subject and style.

From a biographical standpoint, Bonhoeffer is on par with greats such as John Adams by David McCullough or The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Everyone is shaped by his/her environment to varying degrees, therefore any good biography will include information not just about the subject, but about the people and events that helped shape him/her as well. There is a fine line between giving too much information and too little; it is also sometimes difficult to filter through the vast amounts of information and present only those people/events of importance. Metaxas walks this line perfectly throughout most of Bonhoeffer. The early family history is a little heavy, but every other area is given just enough attention to better appreciate Bonhoeffer's life.

Bonhoeffer was shaped by his family and world events more than the average person; without being raised in such an extraordinary family and intellectually rich and diverse environment, Bonhoeffer would never have been able to walk the tight rope he walked so effectively in many areas. His incredibly nuanced thinking allowed him to maintain positions many found untenable. This was not due to clever mental gymnastics in order to justify whatever it was he wanted; instead, it was an ability to understand and consider ever conceivable side of an issue in such an effective way that his reasoning was always intellectually sound. In truth, though he was quite capable of such mental exercises, his view of the life and duty of a Christian would never allow him to go such a route. In a letter to a brother-in-law he once wrote,
"If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands" (p. 137).
Metaxas helps the reader understand how such nuanced, yet at the same time disciplined, thinking was possible for Bonhoeffer, with his thorough description of the environment that shaped Bonhoeffer growing up. The description of his environment, and the environment itself, is so rich that after reading the first few chapters, the reader almost feels as though he/she has visited the house in Berlin's Grunewald district that was always full of music, people, culture, and intellectually stimulating discussion.

There is enough written in Bonhoeffer about the German people, their history, and psyche that those who are interested in Germany or the German people as a whole from WWI to WWII will also find Bonhoeffer an enjoyable read. History goes to the victor; because of this, many Americans have at least a slightly negative view of all Germans from this era, as if they all knew of and supported everything Hitler was doing. The truth is, many Germans were opposed to and actively fought against Hitler from the beginning; many millions more joined as the atrocities grew and the truth became known. Even the majority of the regular German soldiers fought in support of, and out of loyalty to, the German fatherland, not Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The Nazi party and the German people are not indistinguishable, and Metaxas makes this very clear in Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer will also be of interest to those interested in Christian theology, specifically that of the 20th century. Almost on accident, Bonhoeffer became of the most influential Christian theologians of the 20th century. His writings, some of which were published after his death, are considered classics in the theological cannon, especially Discipleship and Life Together. Life Together, Bonhoeffer's thoughts on Christian community, continues to be one of the definitive works on the subject.

Metaxas shows that one reason Bonhoeffer's theological thought is so influential, is because it was grounded in the practice of daily life. Though Bonhoeffer was brilliant and seemed almost destined to a life of academia, he purposely chose to become a pastor instead. Not only did Bonhoeffer view living in Christian community as an integral part of Christian life, but as Metaxas says,
"He had theologically redefined the Christian life as something active, not reactive. It had nothing to do with avoiding sin or with merely talking or teaching or believing theological notions or principles or rules or tenets. It had everything to do with living one's whole life in obedience to God's call through action" (p. 446).
All of this action was based on a very conservative theological outlook. In a letter to one of his brothers-in-law, Bonhoeffer wrote,
"I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer. One cannot simply read the bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself " (p. 136).
Of learning to read the Bible this way, he goes on to say, "I know that without this I could not live properly any longer" (p. 137).

This devotion to and grounding in God's Word is one of the things that made him a committed pastor even to the very end of his life. Hugh Falconer, a fellow prisoner of war during the last few months of Bonhoeffer's life, wrote a letter to one of Bonhoeffer's brothers-in-law in October 1945 and stated that, "[Bonhoeffer] was very happy during the whole time I knew him, and did a great deal to keep some of the weaker brethren from depression and anxiety." Bonhoeffer never missed an opportunity to encourage those around him. He was a true shepherd to whatever flock he happened to have around him at the time. His friendship was devoted, sincere, and life long. He wrote thousands of letters to friends and family throughout his life, most of which included something encouraging and often spiritually uplifting.

Much has been made of Bonhoeffer's death and the fact he was hanged for his part in the plot to assassinate Hitler mere days before his final location was liberated by Allied troops. Bonhoeffer himself was not disturbed by the thought of death. For him, death was the beginning of life. His view on the death of a Christian was made known in a letter he wrote to several of his former seminary students, early in the war. After mentioning the death of one of their fellow students on the front lines, Bonhoeffer wrote,
"Only in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ has death been drawn into God's power, and it must now serve God's own aims. It is not some fatalistic surrender but rather a living faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, that is able to cope profoundly with death" (p. 384).
It was this confidence in the face of death that bolstered him as his participated in activities that he knew could lead to his death at any moment.

Overall, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy is easily in my top five books ever read. It holds appeal for those interested in biography, history, theology, WWII, or anyone who simply enjoys a great read. At times, Bonhoeffer was hard to read because of the weight of both the content and how it was presented. Bonhoeffer was a brilliant man with a multi-faceted personality and nuanced thought life. His contributions to his world and his effort to better the world that came after him are substantial; reading his words and about his life should be done with a measure of seriousness and respect. Bonhoeffer is not a book to be skimmed and quickly put away, but instead one that deserves a careful reading and thoughtful response. Not only Bonhoeffer's life, but the treatment Eric Metaxas gives it has earned at least that much.