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!

Friday, August 3, 2012

7 Truths That Changed the World – By Kenneth Richard Samples

I saw this one, and I was reminded of a book I read several years ago called “7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave”, and I thought this sounded like a similar kind of book, so I requested it.  I got the book in the mail and then read the sub-title: Discovering Christianity’s Most Dangerous Ideas.  Very Intriguing!

This is a book about defense of the Bible, but more importantly how 7 key ideas of the Christian faith have impacted our culture and how they continue to impact our culture.  As someone that has been into apologetics for a long time, I saw some similarities to books I have read in the past, but Samples takes the ideas of common use, and then adds new insight into them based on objections coming out of the current culture.  One example is the Lord, Liar or Lunatic argument made famous by some of the greats.  Samples takes this argument and provides some other options to list, and then (of course) refutes the objection.

Some of his “Dangerous Ideas” are:
·         Not all dead men stay dead - where he addresses the importance of the resurrection of Christ.
·         God walked on earth - where he looks at the implications of Jesus being fully God and fully human.
·         A fine-tuned Cosmos with a beginning – where he looks at the idea of the creation of an intelligent God.

He also addresses some of the ideas of atheism, moral right and wrong, how people are different in creation, and (probably the most common objection I have run into), and why is there suffering in the world?

Because of its well-structured layers, this book is excellent for the beginning apologist, or a person with doubts in their faith, but it is also a good reference for the Christian used to dealing in these topics.

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

Miracles - A Book by Tim Stafford

“Miracles” By Tim Stafford is an in depth, journalistic analysis of the idea of miracles.  Tim Stafford is a journalist, so he takes things with the natural skepticism that comes with that occupation.  He leads with a story of a young man that he knows, that has had a healing take place that appears to have no explanation except that it is a miracle from God.  The author goes through a few of these anecdotes from different places.  He notes some who have gone to be prayed for, but have not been healed.  He notes some that have been disappointed by the way they were prayed for in a healing service, only to be discouraged when they are declared healed for the crowd, but are not healed.  He notes some of the claims from some ministries of healings, but that there is no way to follow up with some of the stories.

Stafford also digs into the Bible and goes through some analysis of miracles from the Old Testament, and some from the life of Jesus, and then some from the book of Acts.  He notes how there is a point in the book of Acts where there are no more miracles described, but he also notes that some who would say the gifts are not for today, that the Bible says that when we see face to face the risen Lord for ourselves, that THEN the gifts will pass away.

One of the points noted in the book is that there are miracles in the Bible, and there are miracles claimed to have happened today.  What about all of the stuff that went on between the Bible and today?  Were there still Christians living all through history?  What can we learn from them?  In this section he goes on to try to help with being a bit of a skeptic when it comes to history.  There are several miracles mentioned all throughout church history, but can the testimony be supported by other sources?  Or is this just something that is the stuff of legends?

As someone that grew up in the Pentecostal tradition, it was interesting to see this issue from the perspective of someone familiar with the charismatic/Pentecostal church, but that is more of a person looking into denomination, and that has occasionally participated in the services.  I found his observations interesting.  He takes it from the Pentecostal movement at its roots at Azusa Street, to the Pentecostal movement across America, to the Pentecostal movement as it is across the world.  Very interesting section.

He closes out the book examining some questions about science and miracles how the two are compatible.

When evaluating miracles, he notes, that it is not just the Christian faith that claims to have miracles either, so those should not be the end all and be all of where God is.  The real focus must remain on Jesus Christ, and his work at the cross.

This was a very thoughtful read.  I recommend it.

"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

There’s Hope for Your Church – By Gary L. McIntosh

With all of the ‘adjustments’ to the economy in both the US and Canada, and also with the subtle to aggressive attacks on the church a LOT of ministries are shifting and changing and even failing.  Gary McIntosh has a book of ways that those in ministry can perform a health check on their ministry, and if they find areas where there is a deficiency, they can evaluate them, and have some strategies as to how to move forward. 

McIntosh uses some case studies from churches he has worked with, and some of the situations are very tough ones…. Desperate.  He discusses the issues, and the things that came out as a result of investigating, and some of the things that were done to solve the issues.

He discusses some issues in leadership, and the styles of people, and even the weaknesses of some leaders.  Some of the case studies involve pastors being hired as a last resort before a church closes.  Does that new pastor commit to lead through the tough, or does he too leave?

McIntosh puts tremendous focus on letting God lead the church, and for those called to lead it, to seek God’s direction for it.   The church is supernatural, and has to be in that power to move forward.

He talks about the morale of people in a failing ministry.  He addresses some of the people issues.  He speaks about the resistance to change that can come, but he also helps with some of the practical ways of keeping going, as well as finding breakthrough.

It’s sad that a book like this has to be written, but the sad truth is that there are ministries that need help like this, and it is also good that this book was written for them.

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families

It is encouraging to see so many books coming out about this topic, or maybe as a young father of three, I just find them all.  “Father Hunger” by Douglas Wilson is a fresh look at this topic, using modern research to show how the Bible was right about how the family unit should work from the beginning.

This book touches on all the major issues going against the role of the father in the family, and over the years there has been a huge attack on the father from culture…. Maybe that is linked to how people perceive their father, and how that usually links to how they see their heavenly father. 

Wilson addresses, the absent father, what masculinity should look like and the twisted view of how it DOES look in culture.  He touches on atheism and the links to how aggressive atheism can be linked to anger with God based on relationship with the earthly father.  He addresses the role of leader in the home, poverty and crime and their impact on others.

The most disturbing section, I think, is the number of men in churches being on a decline, and in MANY cases, just falling off the chart.  This is such a disturbing trend, and one that real men would change if they truly, TRULY understood accountability for their actions, and the role they have been given as fathers.

This is a great book on the topic, and one that I highly recommend to fathers of all ages that want what God wants for their house.  Step up men, and be the father you are called to be.

This book was provided to me by Booksneeze for my review.  I am free to give an honest opinion in this review.