I have been given the opportunity to do some reviews on some books from a few different publishers. Some of them do not quite fit into the focus I have for Living Infuzion, but obviously have some good information. Here are some of my perspectives on some pretty good books! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Unstuck by Arnie Cole & Michael Ross
Review by Jason Rivers

This book is like a text book for people that know there is a problem in their walk with God, and they don’t quite know how to fix it.  Do you ever get that feeling, like you were going along well with God and something happens, or doesn’t have, and then you just feel stuck?  It’s like you jumped into a big bowl of honey and no matter what you do you can’t get out.  I know I have been there.  Somehow, by the grace of God, I got going again.

This book goes through some very practical things you can do to try to dislodge yourself from the honey (my analogy, not theirs).  It is written with two voices, and when it is one of the authors or the other they identify themselves so you can hear both of their stories.

As with most text books, sometimes the blatantly obvious is suggested, but when you see it defined it just makes sense, and you can take it and apply it. 

My caution with this kind of book is that it might be almost too practical, even formulaic.  It is not the formula that works, but the relationship with God.  Two people can read the Bible, and one can grow to hate God more, while the other can find him there waiting for them.  Many of the issues involved here are ones that must be done with the open heart of the believer.

I really love this book, and I intend to go back and look at it with more detail, but whet your appetite, here are some of the things that “Unstuck” suggests:

The book has these inserted paragraphs labelled “commitment” which is something that you are the reader should commit to do.  One of the first ones in the book is about how we need to stop passively reading the Bible and engage with it.  Having a Bible or knowing about the Bible is one thing, but having a relationship of faith and trust with the God of the Bible is quite another thing.

It has these “encouraging nudges” that are a portion of Scripture that you can practically apply to your life.  It also has some recent research that it shares throughout the book to reinforce whatever point is being presented with something from current culture.

Lastly, the book is set up like a devotional.  Issues of faith are rarely solved quickly, so this takes some time to go through and address many potential issues.

Definitely get this book!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Most Misused Verses in the Bible

Book by Eric J. Bargerhuff
Review By Jason Rivers

I love books like this.  This kind of book really reminds us there is a proper way to understand and examine the Scriptures.  The premise of the book is that there are some really great verses out there that people grab because on their own they sound amazing, but when read within the passage they can mean something entirely different.  If I could summarize this book in a word, it would be context, context, CONTEXT!

I was pleased to see that I understood what most of the passages meant, but it was some of the Old Testament passages that I was a bit surprised by.  Jeremiah 29:11 is a great verse, for example, but when you read it in the chapter, and apply some historical context, it may not be as universal in application as it has been used by many in the church.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is another one of my favourite ones, but again it was written into a specific time in history, for a certain situation.  It is interesting to see how a verse like that can be pulled out.  I have heard sermons that just focused on that verse.  I have seen prayer meetings start at 7:14 to mimic this verse’s address, but have never been shown the context it was written in, nor have I thought it important enough to take the time to look myself… Until now.

Another issue that Bargerhuff raises is the quoting of verses incorrectly.  Much of the meaning can be lost to misquoting.  “Money is the root of all evil” is one example.  “God will not give you more than you can handle” is another one.  Both of these verses have some really good exegesis in the book.

This is a really good book.  I am not sure that I agree with all of the conclusions that the author comes to, it sure has made me want to dig more into scripture.  As one that teaches young people, I only want to teach them what is true based on what the Bible says….and means!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, May 18, 2012

1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ By Jonathan Falwell

Really?  Was it just about a thousand days?  How could such a short period in human history have generated such impact and such change to culture?  But that is all it was.  A thousand days.

Jonathan Falwell breaks down the life of Jesus into some major points for discussion, but then he does one of the things that I think a lot of people for get to do.  He applies the things that can be learned to the modern life, and therefore makes it relevant to us today.
He touches on the power of people choosing to follow Jesus with everything in them.  He touches on the way life is easy sometimes, but how it is in the storms that we learn to trust in Jesus.  He addresses Hypocrisy and the power it has to trap people in blindness.  Chapter 13 goes through the prayer of Christ in the Garden, and how he prays for his followers… Very powerful. 

His second-last chapter is called “Seven Messages From the Cross” where the author discusses the statements Jesus makes from the cross that show forgiveness beyond what should be possible, incredible love, and caring and ultimate commitment.  A very powerful section, to be sure.

It culminates, of course, in what he calls the “Loudest Sermon Ever”, where Falwell outlines what the cross and the resurrection means to us to us as Christians today.

The book also contains a leader’s guide at the end of the book with questions and focused scripture references and would make a good group study for those interested in applying the Bible to their lives.

A complimentary copy of the book has been provided by Booksneeze for my honest review.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Empty Promises By Pete Wilson

I love books like this.  As a long-time Christian, sometimes I can feel like I am in pretty good shape, but then a book like this comes along and I see parts of me in it.  The premise of the book is to deal with the lies that people either tell themselves, or are told by other people.  The point is that they are lies.  They are distortions of who God is, and who we are in Christ.

In this culture there are lots of different sources of influence, and many off them lead people off into the bushes and off the path that God has set out for us.  They trap and distract us from the person we are to be in Jesus.

One of the ways that Pete Wilson addresses the lies we face is that he sets them in the frame of them being an idol in our lives.  Idols do not have to be carved out hunks of stone.  Idols are the things in our lives that we use to try to fill the place that God should fill.  When we use those other things, they may fulfill for a short time, but in the end they are always going to be come up short.

Another section defines some traps that people fall into when they overemphasize achievement in their lives.  People can begin to try to define who they are by what they do, and what they have accomplished, and Wilson shows how that can be dangerous when you contrast it who you are based on Scripture.

He uses several portions of Scripture to illustrate his points, and that is the key.  This book is very practical and relevant to today.  Pick up your copy of this book and take your time and use it with Scripture to do some self-searching.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked my God and my Soul - By Jennie Allen

Wow!  I loved this book!  I love books that challenge me in my faith and are raw and honest with what Christians think and believe and this one did a very good job.  I have been posting quotations from the book as Facebook statuses for a few days now, and have had some good feedback from the people that commented on it.

This book is out to really challenge those of us that profess to follow Jesus in the comfortable North American culture.  Jennie Allen is very open with how she felt, and some of the questions that she asked in her own time of examining what she really believed.... about what her faith actually meant.

I just did a teaching based on the passage near the beginning where Ms. Allen is in class and asking what things truly contribute to the success of a person moving in their faith.  She lists off all the things off that you would expect.  Bible study, prayer, worship, all that stuff.  Her professor contributes confession of sin and activity in the church community.  But here was the really challenging part.  First, there have been people that read the Bible, or go to church, or pray but never get to know Jesus.  The professor puts out this idea.  The only thing that works with faith in Jesus 100% of the time is risk... trust in the unseen God, and truly believing what he says in his Word (the Bible), but then living that out to the full.

It was a very challenging thought.  I really did a lot of thinking and examining of my own life.  I highly recommend this book!  It is all about full surrender to God... scary, but needed for a strong walk!

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.   Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Need You Now - Beth Wiseman

"When big-city life threatens the safety of one of their children, Brad and Darlene Henderson move with their three teenagers from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas.  Adjusting to small-town life is difficult for the kids, especially fifteen-year-old Grace who is coping in a dangerous way.  Married life hasn't always been bliss, but their strong faith has carried Brad and Darlene through the difficult times. When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises.  While working with special needs children at her new job, the widowed father of one of the students starts paying more attention to Darlene than is appropriate. Problem is, she feels like someone is listening to her for the first time in a long time.  If Darlene ever needed God . . . it's now."

This is my first book by Beth Wiseman and I am blown away.  She successfully tackles some very tough issues like cutting by a teenage girl and the small little things that can lead someone down a path of infidelity in a marriage.  Too often in Christian fiction issues like these are avoided, or wrapped up in a quick little package by a prayer that makes it all go away.  Beth does an excellent job with focusing on the need to rely on God in these situations; but also shows the struggles that can happen as one tries to change their life around.  As someone who works with teens, the subject of Grace and her cutting to cope was a very relevant one.  Even the most put together teen has their own struggles and we need to be aware of the pressures that are on our young people.  Brad and Darlene's struggles in a marriage are very real.  It is a perfect example of how marriage is something that should never be taken for granted.  Even what may seem like the strongest marriage can fall apart if not worked on and centered around God.  The reminder to have God center in every aspect of our lives was a much needed one.  Too often we take God for granted and forget about Him until things go bad, then blame Him for it.  I highly recommend this book for everyone. 

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson via the B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.