review

Review: Make Your Marriage Stronger

5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Marriage Stronger
by Ron Garwood

You can have a better marriage, and there’s some things you can do to secure that better marriage. In this little book – less than 100 pages! – Ron Garwood guides the reader through some simple steps you can take to strengthen your marriage.

First off: There is nothing wrong with this book. All the information is gospel-based and solidly presented. The advice is good advice, and I stand behind it. If you’ve never read anything about how to strengthen a marriage, this is a good place to begin.

That said… maybe I’ve read too many books about marriage, but this was both way too shallow and way too deep for the length of the book. (more…)

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Review: Elijah

Elijah: Fiery Prophet
by James A. Aderman

Elijah served when a wicked king and queen suppressed worship of the one true God. Because of their evil, God shut the sky for three and a half years. Elijah struggled with depression as well, even asking God to kill him. And yet this prophet was used by God to share his Word in dramatic ways. This book takes the reader through the life of Elijah, seeing how he both received grace from God, and shared that grace with others around him.

Elijah is one of my favorite prophets to read about. I find his struggles with God and his own depression so incredibly relatable. I was looking forward to reading this little book that gives him a story-based biography. Unfortunately, some unique choices in the writing made it a hard read for me. (more…)

Review: It’s Not Too Late

It’s Not Too Late: The Essential Part You Play in Shaping Your Teen’s Faith
by Dan Dupee

So, your kid’s a teenager now. I guess that means your job leading them to faith is done, since they don’t listen to you anyway. Might as well hand them over to a youth minister. And if your kid’s in college? Well, expect them to sow some wild oats, and don’t expect them to ever show up in church. It’s just that time of their life.

Except… don’t.

In It’s Not Too Late, Dan Dupee puts out seven myths of bringing emerging adults to faith and keeping them there. He presents the myths and shows why each is false, using statistics, personal anecdotes from his position as a chairman for a national campus ministry, and lots of Scripture. He then shows how parents can use their influence to help their children continue walking with Christ.

Short review: Buy this book. Read it. Even if you don’t have a teenager or your children are grown, this book will be useful to you. Dupee points out that when infants are baptized, the entire congregation is asked if they will support the parents. That means every teen that has been baptized is part of every member’s responsibility to encourage. (more…)

Review: Plan B

Plan B
by Pete Wilson

What happens when God doesn’t show up the way you thought he should? What happens when your life falls apart and you need to go with “Plan B”? In the aptly-titled Plan B, Pete Wilson walks through several people in the Bible that had to go with Plan B and what happened with them. He then applies these lessons to our lives today. In the end, he points that we can trust God, because he knows what he’s doing.

Like many books I’ve read, this one really frustrated me.

At first, I thought that I was going to end up simply throwing it out. He paints King David as someone who turned his back on God often. For instance, when he runs from Saul fairly early in his life, Wilson writes, “He turns his back on God and he tries to take things into his own hands” (16). He also bluntly uses the theology of glory: “See, God is teaching his people: I have so much power, and I want to manifest it in your life. But if you want to see my power, you have to take the risk. You have to take the step. You have to take the spiritual risk of trusting me first” (44). (more…)

Review: Pastoral Care under the Cross

Pastor Care under the Cross: God in the Midst of Suffering – Revised Edition
by Richard C. Eyer

Where is God when people suffer? God suffers with them on the cross. In this excellent book, Richard Eyer guides pastors with multiple practical applications. He begins by laying out the theology of the cross, and then in subsequent chapters applies that theology to various suffering groups: the elderly, the dying, the mourning, the depressed, and others. In the end, he always points to Jesus as showing that God is with the sufferer.

I love Eyer’s definition of pastoral care: “Pastor care consists not in removing someone’s suffering but in helping the sufferer learn to interpret his or her sufferings in the light of the cross” (21). So much of our culture focuses on taking away suffering of any kind, even saying that life isn’t worth living if it’s going to involve suffering. Eyer reminds us that Christians have a different outlook. The point of life isn’t escaping suffering; it’s Jesus. “The goal of pastoral care is not necessarily to remove a person’s discomfort, but to help the sufferer use the discomfort for growth in faith and love of God” (71). (more…)

Review: Out of a Far Country

Out of a Far Country
by Christopher Yuan & Angela Yuan

On May 15, 1993, Christopher Yuan came out of the closet to his parents. His mother gave him an ultimatum: Take that back or get out. He chose to leave. Finally free of his parents, Chris flung himself into his new family who supported his homosexuality. His mother, though, turned suicidal. Through the following years, both hit rock bottom, and God brings them to himself. This is their autobiographical story.

First off, this book is about 95% solid. It is a true story, and neither Chris nor Angela hold anything back about their struggles.

In one telling part, Angela, who had been an atheist, makes a startling realization: “A person’s attempt to prove his righteousness was the very thing that kept him from understanding God’s love for him” (31). Angela realizes that she’s a sinner, and she doesn’t have to hide that. She ends up walking around in a joyful daze muttering, “I’m a sinner! I’m a sinner!” Later on, she makes a great connection: “We’re all sinners, and knowing that helped me stop worrying about what other people thought” (72). If you want a book that shows the implications of Law and Gospel in a modern-day context, this book is great. (more…)

Sex & the New You (Girls ages 12-14)

Sex & the New You (Girls ages 12-14)
Original text by Richard Bimler

Girls have questions about their changing bodies and what lies in store for them. In Sex & the New You, girls and their parents can find good information about basic sex education, getting them ready for current and future changes.

Like the boy’s edition of this book and the editions aimed at those just a little younger, this book is basically pretty good. It presents solid information and has good, Bible-based discussion on topics such as sexting, STD’s, and pornography, while keeping it pretty age appropriate. I have little to complain about. (more…)

Review: Heartbeat!

Heartbeat!
By Stephen J. Carter

Do you long to live with passion for God’s Word? You know you’re supposed to, and you understand that the Good News that Jesus is your Savior is overwhelming, but something just doesn’t connect? In this book, Stephen Carter looks at the examples of those who live with passion for God’s Word, examines what lies in the way of our living with passion, the importance of confession, how to discover the Word of Christ, how to dwell in that Word deeply, and how to live out that passion in the world. Carter himself explains his goal: “God’s heart beats through His Church, gathered around His Word and Sacraments. His heart beats in you through Baptism as you immerse yourself in the Word of Christ. Consequently, your heart will beat with God’s passion for the world as you praise him, serve others, and bear witness to your faith in Christ daily and throughout your life” (22)

When I started this book, I quickly became very worried I was wasting my time. First off, Carter is fine with his theology. I didn’t notice him saying anything wrong at all. He’s very Gospel-centered, for which I am grateful. However, the first fifty pages are supposed to be examples of people who live with passion, which will show us why living with passion for God’s Word isn’t just some good ideal, but something we want to pursue.

Except… after reading those fifty pages, I was frankly bored. (more…)

Review: Appreciate Science and Love the Bible

5 Things You Can Do to Appreciate Science and Love the Bible
by Charles St. Onge

Science and the Bible don’t seem to play nice, do they? If you love the Bible, do you need to give up science? Do you need to be suspicious of anyone with an engineering degree? Do you need to check your brain at the door? Thankfully, no! This little book (about 90 pages) tackles what science and the Bible have to do with each other in an engaging and Scripture-filled way.

Short review: Yes. You need this book in your library. (more…)

Review: David

David: Israel’s Shepherd King
by John C. Ibisch

David is seventeen years old. He’s finally free to watch the sheep on his own. He practices with his sling and asks, “Where do I fit in? What’s God’s plan for my life?” He takes up his lyre and begins singing. And so begins John Ibisch’s summary of King David’s life, a summary that focuses on David’s faith-life and how that affects his actions and path to kingship.

This is another of the God’s People series that I’ve reviewed before, and like the others, this slim book does a stellar job connecting the narrative of David’s life with Law and Gospel. (more…)