Posts Tagged ‘book review’

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In it Jenkins goes back and forth between a first century Jerusalem and modern day life to craft a pretty cohesive thriller. We start in a Roman prison. The Apostle Paul is in his last imprisonment before his impending death. Luke is going back and forth between helping him and treating victims of a great fire in Rome, a fire ostensibly started by the Emperor Nero but blamed on the Christians as a way to crush the movement. Paul is requesting his parchments, which contain his memoir, his life story. In modern day, seminary professor Augie Knox gets pulled into a case of intrigue trying to find that memoir, which was stolen during an archaeological dig.

The juxtaposition of chapters is part of what makes this a great story. There are two concurrent storylines that each keep those pages turning. The Pauline memoir is fleshed out scripture which while taking liberties to fill in the story do not seem to take away from the biblical narrative. If I had one complaint about this book, and it is a small one, I would have liked to see the final struggle in the modern day storyline expanded upon a bit more. The conclusion comes a little too easily, but again that is a small complaint, and over all I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Jenkins leaves the story a little open ended, leaving the possibility of a sequel on the table. That is a book I would love to read.

I read this Bible Study Book as part of my year-long study on the book of Acts. I’ve been reading a commentary by a Pentecostal Missiologist, a great book that told the book as a story set in our modern day and now this book by one of the great (decidedly, and contrastingly not pentecostal) Bible teachers of our day, John MacArthur. The diversity of these views has allowed me to see the book from a lot of different angles, which has been really helpful. I enjoyed this little book thoroughly. It divides the book of Acts into sections and after giving an overview of the section, plunges right into the text itself, giving insights as you read along. These insights are really helpful. Each chapter also has some really thought provoking questions at the end. My only regret with my purchase of this book was that I bought the Kindle version, making it a little clunky to answer the study-guide questions. I have no doubt I will return to this book for more intensive study before my “year of Acts” is out.

I am doing a study on the book of Acts and using what I am learning for a year of Bible Studies at my church and it has been eye opening. In the process of this study, I am always looking for supplemental materials to help my teaching. It was in this search that I stumbled upon Into the Fray. What a great book. Author Matt Mikalatos is a missionary and it is clear he is passionate about this book.

His approach is unique. He attempts (quite successfully) to bring the stories from Acts to the twenty-first century, as if they were happening right now. This really brings a fresh perspective on the text. It is clear, he is a great story teller. He manages to bring the text to the modern day without sacrificing truth or meaning. He doesn’t just tell the story, through a unique layout technique, he “brackets” the story and then tells the story behind the story, explaining what was happening from the Bible itself. These teachings are theologically sound and very biblical.

I think my favorite chapter is The Storytellers. In this chapter Mikalatos shows Luke telling his story, of how the physician becomes a disciple. It’s a departure from the rest of the book but it sets up a wonderful explanation on how to tell your story, i.e. share your testimony. This chapter is pure gold for all those nervous evangelists who want to share their faith but aren’t quite sure how. This chapter has made me reexamine how I share my own story and the other things I do in my presentations with AMOKArts.

At the end of the book, Mikalatos adds a really nice study guide with questions from each chapter, making Into the Fray a great tool for use in a Bible study on the book of Acts. As a resource, Into the Fray would work well from middle school ministry through adult.

If I had any complaint about this book it’s that it’s too short. I would love to see him recreate this book almost in commentary style telling all the stories rather than just the highlights. This takes away nothing from the excellence of this book. Rather it is a suggestion for another project for Mr. Mikalatos. I really loved this book.

One of the perks of being a blogger is sometimes people send you free books to review. That was the case with this book. When I saw the topic, I knew I had to check it out. As a pastor, this is one of the hardest things to explain to people. We tend treat God like all the human people we have had in our lives. While we are created in God’s image, we have to remember He is perfect and we are not. I bring this up because one of the objections people seem to have to coming to faith is it seems to be that it’s too easy. Kuhn does a masterful job of laying this out. He finds 52 different things that become true of us when we receive Christ. Using engaging stories, biblical, personal and even a few pop culture examples, He lays out all the things God has done for us through Jesus. Each chapter is short and to the point and this book is really well written and from the heart.

This would be a great book to give to a new believer or someone who is on the fence. It would also be great for someone who is struggling with knowing or believing they’re forgiven or wrestling with the meaning of grace in their life. My lone recommendation that might be seen as slightly contrary is that you read the book before you give it away, to make sure it lines up with your doctrine. I found the book to be solid in the vast majority of Kuhn’s points, but his wording on a few of the chapters might require a little explanation, especially to a new believer. No book on this topic will ever be perfect, (except the Bible) but this one comes pretty close. Kuhn goes out of his way to craft a book that is helpful and extremely encouraging. I could see this book being used well as a daily devotional, but I found it so engaging that I read it in about three days. He’s done a good job here.

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Anyone who has read my blog ( would know this is a book that is right up my alley, using creativity in ministry and as such, this book surely does not disappoint. While this book is great for creatives, there is another group that could probably use this book even more and that is people who do not believe they are creative. Dedmon tears down so many of the walls people build around their own creativity. I have always believed myself to be a creative and truthfully this book even felt liberating to me.

There is a wealth of information here from someone who is at the forefront of creative ministry and everyone could be blessed by reading it. I think at the ore of the message of this book is the idea that creativity is a gift from God that can, and must be used, in a multitude of ways to the glory of God and for His Kingdom. You were born to create. If you don’t believe that, you need to read this book and if you do believe it, read it anyway, it will spur you on to even greater love and good deeds.

The Little Things is another moment of brilliance from Andy Andrews. This man may be my favorite writer and this book does not disappoint. Most books in this genre tell us to look at the big picture. Andrews focuses on small things that make a big difference. Small choice that yield amazing results. His chapter on offense and tolerance alone was worth the price of the book. Working through true stories from his personal experiences as well as other great people throughout history, Andrews weaves a compelling book that will no doubt do some real good in this world. This is a man who describes himself as a noticer and taking to heart the things that he notices could yield serious results in your life. I could not recommend this book any higher. It is a must read for anyone breathing or at least anyone who wants to lead a blessed and fruitful life.

I think most of us have had days where God feels distant. I am also a firm believer in that old saying that says when God feels far away, it’s not Him who moved, so I was more than a little intrigued when this was offered for review from FaithWords. I have had these times here and there, usually in the midst of busyness and some of the disappointments that have happened all the years. I decided to request the book.

First off let me say I wasn’t sure I would like the book. While the overriding theme was one I knew hit home, I also knew there would be difficulties. First of all, it’s a devotional style book. I don’t usually do devotionals. I don’t have a problem with devotionals, but my usual devotional reading is straight from the Scriptures so this would be a stretch. Secondly, I knew I would not have 40 days to devote to this reading. I usually try to post my reviews within two weeks of receiving a review copy. The most telling reason I thought I might struggle was because of how little I have in common with the author. She is a young woman, I am an old(er man). She is a fairly new parent, my kids are grown and I’m a fairly new grandparent, so we’re at vastly different stages of life, lastly while we are both Christian, her Anglican faith tradition is far different than mine. Even with all these differences (I’m probably nowhere near her target market), I have to say, I really enjoyed this book.

The idea behind Attend, is pretty well summed up in the sub-title of the book: Forty Soul Stretches Toward God. You’ve no doubt at one time or another asked someone to pay attention. That’s what it means to attend and Davis-Werezak approach here is to help us give God our attention through a series of 40 disciplines and practices designed to redirect our focus. While many of these are obvious, she takes them beyond surface level and helps the reader to go deep. As you read this book, it becomes really clear that these “stretches” were born out of a real-life struggle to come into a stronger, better relationship with God. Her faith perspective and frequent references to the Book of Common Prayers, really intrigued me and made me think perhaps there is something to a more contemplative approach to faith and devotion.

This book was a strong effort that I really enjoyed. I think I am going to keep this on on my shelf for a slower time when I can do the “stretches” day by day. It’s clear this book could help a lot of people in this world where a million things are constantly competing for our attention. This is a well-written book that I really recommend.