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Friday, December 31, 2010

Gray Matter by David Levy, MD with Joel Kilpatrick

This book is an inpiring account of how a highly specialized surgeon began praying with his patients. This was unheard of in the medical community, and the author shares his concerns of what others would think if they knew he prayed with his patients. The author is open and honest as he shares the struggles he encountered in his decision to pray with patients and the outcomes of his decisions to pray with his patients.

The author is authentic as he does not pull any punches with his spiritual journey to know Jesus and praying with patients. The author is brutally honest with his concerns, mistakes, and struggle to pray with his patients as he feared what others would think, especially those in the medical profession. Would he ruin his reputation? Would his patients begin to doubt his abilities, if he asked to pray with them? The author put his career on the line when he began praying with patients. Why? Why risk so much? The author literally takes you through the power of prayer. Yet, the author goes even further. The author ultimately focuses on the spiritual health as well as the physical health of his patients. Again, something unheard of in the medical community. The author's courage is truly inspiring.

In addition to the author's journey in praying with patients, the book also reads as a suspense novel. The author provides true accounts of dangerous brain surgeries, as a neurosurgeon, and describes the stress of complications and not knowing if the patient will be the same afterwards. Will the patient have a stroke, lose precious memories, or even die? Or, will the surgery be a complete success? Facsinating accounts of the intricate nature of brain surgery balances the book, making it highly readable.

I highly recommend this book. Not only is it a good read, but also for inspiration to truly live your life for God. What happened when someone truly lays everything down for God?

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On This Day in Christian History by Robert J. Morgan

This book is a daily reader full of inspiring true stories. A verse from the Bible is included to meditate on. The book is all about Saints, martyrs and heroes and each day gives a glimpse into Christian history.

The book is not only laid out by dates, but has a topical index. The topical index is a great help when looking for a particular subject. The topical index not only includes inspirational topics, but practical topics as well, such as Parenting or Time Management.

Each day has a short reading, which can leave you wanting more information. In that respect, it's a great book to begin research on many topics in Christian history. This book is highly useful and easy to read.

I would recommend this book for anyone looking for encouragement to pastors seeking material to preach from. I think it is a great resource for daily inspiration, as well as a starting point for research and sermons. The topical index makes the book even more valuable and helpful.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi with Dick Patrick

A detailed autobiography of one of America's best long distance runners. Meb describes his life from early childhood, when he lived in Eritrea (a country that was at war with Ethiopia) and his journey to the United States, as a young boy who did not speak English. Meb details the dedication and hard work he spent growing up in the United States, learning English and always concerned with doing his best in academics. While in school, Meb encountered running as a sport and he chronicles his ups and downs in his career as a runner. Throughout Meb's autobiography, he describes how important God has been in his life. To get the most out of this inspiring autobiography, the author included discussion questions for each chapter and includes questions for the reader to reflect on his/her own life.

This book is very inspiring as it demonstrates the determination to continue in the midst of hardships and difficulties. Meb has been quoted as stating, "I am often at my best when things look the worst". While reading, I was truly inspired as I thought of myself in his situations and felt I would not have had the strength to keep trying. The book also demonstrates that you do not need to be number one to be successful. After many difficulties with injuries and illnesses over years, Meb did finish number one in the 2009 ING New York City Marathon. This was not only an accomplishment for Meb, but also for the United States as it had been many years since an American won the ING New York City Marathon (Meb had become a citizen of the United States).

Meb truly demonstrates dedication, commitment and hard work. Describing the demanding training and his determination to overcome injuries, one can see the importance of the title of the book, "Run to Overcome". Each chapter ends with training tips, as well as tips to overcome difficult situations and circumstances. I would not hesitate to recommend this book.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

Meb will be competing in this year's ING New York City Marathon, on November 7, 2010

Note: Tyndale will be giving away one signed book per day from Nov. 1, 2010 –
Mar. 31, 2011. There will be monthly grand prize winners that will receive a signed copy of the book, other free Tyndale titles, as well as Sony and PowerBar products.
For more information on Run to Overcome and details of the contest go to

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

This book details the many instances of grace that God had given to people in the Bible. The author does an excellent job conveying the different aspects of grace and what grace truly means. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, the author examines people whom God extended grace - people who didn't even deserve grace. Throughout the book, the author explains how grace is not something God gives based on what we do, but is God's gift to us. The author does an excellent job explaining how and why grace does not reflect the extent of sin in our lives, but is truly an unearned gift from God.

This book was very enlightening for me. I have felt that the God of the Old Testament was different than the God of the New Testament. This book showed me that God of the Old Testament was indeed the same God of the New Testament. The author did an excellent job demonstrating that God showed so much undeserved mercy and grace in the Old Testament. There was so much destruction in the Old Testament when God got mad at His people that it can be difficult to see the true nature of God. Our God is and has always been a God that affords us grace. Through the author's discussions of the many incidents that God extended His grace, you will come to realize that God is the same today, yesterday and forever!

I highly recommend this book. There is no doubt that everyone will walk away with a greater understanding of God and His merciful grace. This book is so enlightening, I plan to read it again and again. The author's discussions include background on the characters of the Bible that is not revealed in the Bible. This also makes this book a true gem.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra

This book is similar to a devotional, except its focus is to encourage and inspire you. It contains the writings of many well known Christians who relied on Scripture during difficult times. This book is divided into easy to read and short passages by date, such as September 24. The subtitle accurately describes this book, "365 days of Inspiration and Wisdom for your Spiritual Journey". The book also provides insight to many topics, such as the depth of God's love and the difficulties of truly laying down your life to follow God. Each daily reading also includes a short prayer and a quote from the Bible.

Overall, I like it. The writings from well known Christians are helpful and encouraging. It, however, could be more useful if a topical index was included. It is difficult to find a particular daily reading that addresses a current struggle you face. While each daily reading is titled, the title does not fully describe the nature of the reading. For example, February 23, is titled "A Short Visit Here" and April 20, is titled "Into the Sunshine". Titles like these do not convey what the daily reading is about.

Although it does not have a topical index, I would still recommend it. Each day is new day with a daily reading that not only provides a source of encouragement, but gives insight into Scripture that can be enlightening. You may find yourself reflecting upon Scriptures in a different light, which could take your Bible study to a new level.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bleeder by John Desjarlais

This a a fictional mystery involving Stigmata and the death of a priest who was able to heal. Was the priest really able to heal? Did the priest really have Stigmata? Was the priest's death a miracle or murder? These are all mysteries and each have unexpected twists and keeps the reader glued to the book.

This book is page turner. The plot does not get boring. In fact, a new twist develops when you least expect it, making it suspenseful. The author's style of writing and his development of characters also kept my interest. The author is able to come full circle in unraveling a complex mystery that is solved by the main character, who was falsely suspected of murdering the priest. It was tempting to turn to the end to see who "did it"! It is highly entertaining and kept some mysteries open for your own thought and interpretation.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries - there is more to it than the who done it of a murder. It keeps you thinking long after about intriguing mysteries in the book that are not solved. For the author to leave some mysteries unsolved, makes the book very unique and thought provoking. This sets it apart from most mystery novels.

Sophia Institute Press sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Art of Being a Good Friend by Hugh Black

This is a book about realizing and cultivating true friendships. It's impressively thorough, meaning it's not just fluff. It describes various types of "friendships" - from acquaintance, other types of relationships to true friendship. It offers much insight into such topics as cultivating friendships and using discernment when choosing friends. In today's age of "friendship" this book demonstrates the benefits of true friendship and examines how to be a true friend. It distinguishes between one-sided friendships, using people, what can ruin friendships, and the limitations of friendship.

I really like the book. It does warn about being cynical about the possibility of true friendship, which is another way I can benefit from this book. One of my pet peeves is facebook and "friends". I do not take the word "friend" lightly and you cannot convince me that someone has over five hundred friends on facebook. The majority of these five hundred friends most likely are not true friends. (How can you even cultivate and maintain over five hundred true friendships?!).

That is why this book is so valuable in today's age. This book delves deep into the concept of true friendships and, in my opinion, facebook just serves to erode the concept of friendship. Maybe, this is part of being cynical, but with facebook being the huge social network it is, what are people really learning about friendship? I have to also note, this book was written well before facebook came into existence. I wonder what the author would say about facebook.

Sophia Institute Press sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seeds of Turmoil The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East by Bryant Wright

This book presents a compelling argument that traces the the current crises in the Middle East back to Abraham of the Bible (Old Testament). From Abraham and Sarah's sin, that was meant to "help God" by allowing Sarah's servant, Hagar, to bear Abraham's first son to the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham that Sarah will bear him a son: Ishmael and Isaac; Jacob and Esau; the "birth" of the chosen people, Israel; Israel's struggles and becoming a nation; Israel's loss of its nation (and the Jews were scattered among other nations); Israel's becoming of a nation again in 1948; Israel's wars with the Muslim nations since 1948; coupled with the explanations of the beginning and rise of Christianity and Islam.

The author makes a very insightful and compelling biblical and historical account for the current Middle Eastern Crises. I wasn't sure if I'd like this book, as I assumed it would be based on bible prophesies that are hard to understand. This book is not about bible prophesy, though some is cited and is easily verified with the Bible. This book is fascinating. I read the book practically nonstop, it was so hard to put down. Everything, including Islam, can be traced back to Abraham.

I highly recommend this book. It well thought, thorough and includes a time line of events. It may seem far fetched, but the author describes a biblical, historical and chronological account of events that makes it hard to deny a strong correlation with the present Middle East.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Decline & Fall of the Catholic Church in America, by David Carlin

This book is a historical account of the sociological trend of the Catholic Church in America from pre 1960 to 2003, when the book was published. It is a thorough study that can be summed up as how the factors of Vatican II, the end of the Catholic "ghetto" (or, the end of the US Catholic Church's separation from outside influences, such as Protestantism and culture) and the cultural revolution of the 1960's and early 70's led to the great decline in the Catholic Church in America. Actually, the author is so thorough, he explains the factors the influenced the identity of America before it became a nation through the emergence of secularism. Going from Christan to Judeo-Christian to what is now (not specifically identified), but is most certainly non-Christian.

Although it is a sociological study, it is easy to read and for me, it was hard to put down. Even more, it seems to parallel what is going on in mainstream Protestant Churches that is leading to the decline of Christianity as a whole. The author demonstrates what happens when churches try to become ecumenical, which results in a loss of particular beliefs and compromise that washes away Christianity. This is also the result of identifying denominations and accepting all denominations as equal. The Catholic Church cannot survive when it accepts denominations that are in complete opposition or in any degree of opposition to their beliefs as being equal. It's a recipe for disaster and results in loss of membership as well as the loss of true Catholics - those that firmly believe and practice all aspects of Catholicism.

The author even covers the sex scandals - this is truly a thorough and eye opening book on the decline and fall of Catholicism in America. Trying not to end on a negative note, the author suggests how the Catholic Church in America can recover and become a great church again. This part of the book is also an enlightening eye opener.

Easy to read and well written. I highly recommend this book to Catholics as well and Protestants. We all can learn important lessons from this book.

Sophia Institute Press sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saint Francis by Robert West

Saint Francis by Robert West is a biography of Saint Francis, which begins from his youth through his conversion, devotion to living the Gospels, to his death. During the time in the middle ages where the Church was plagued with corruption, Francis became a fully devout follower of Jesus. Taking a vow of poverty and intensely working on his prayer life, Francis attracted many followers. Francis went from a wild and seemingly ungodly youth to become an example of Christ. It is evident that God had plans for Francis that became apparent in visions or dreams that Francis had.

The book is interesting and it certainly made me want to work on my prayer life. Francis grew to have such a connection with God, it was more than simply prayer. It was enlightening as I didn't know much about St. Francis and I now can see how he became the Patron Saint of animals. Francis believed all creatures revealed God's love, and it can be argued that Francis furthered Jesus's command to love one another to include all of God's creations.

It is also evident that no matter how sinful a person has been, no one is ever too sinful to change and live a life for God - that God can intervene and use you for His purposes. The immediate years before Francis died of illness truly show miraculous signs of God. I won't give it away, but I was astonished of the proof that God physically revealed on Francis that Francis indeed was devoted to God and living by the example of Jesus. It is impossible to deny that Francis was fulfilling God's will.

I don't know who the target audience of the book is, but it felt like it may have been geared to those in high school. No matter what your age is, it is certainly worth reading and I am certain it will inspire.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Burning Down The Shack by James B. De Young

Finally, a book that provides proof of the unbiblical statements and ideas of the popular book, "The Shack", by William P. Young. It is utterly frightening how many people, including pastors, have been deceived by "The Shack". The god of "The Shack" is NOT the God of the Bible. People who claim that "The Shack" brought them closer to God are being misdirected and decieved into believing in a false god.

"Burning Down the Shack" compares the concepts and ideas of "The Shack" with the Bible. The author provides references to the Bible so you can you can verify every false idea and statement. "Burning Down the Shack" is not confrontational - it is simply an analysis that is backed by the Bible. It is a must read for everyone who has read "The Shack".

While "The Shack" is a fictional work, it is clearly not being regarded as fiction. MANY people claim "The Shack" brought them closer to God, and this demonstrates "The Shack" is not simply being read as fiction. Quite honestly, even as a fictional book, "The Shack" is offensive to God, the Bible, and Christianity. I cannot stress enough that "Burning Down the Shack" is a must read book. The first few pages alone provides plenty of evidence of the many unbiblical statements, concepts and ideas that "The Shack" contains.

The author, James B. De Young, is professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary, Portland, OR, where he has taught for thirty-four years.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bonhoeffer Paster, Martyr, Prohpet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

This is a very inspirational biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a serious, committed Christian, Pastor and Theologian. The book describes Bonhoeffer's complete life. The reader will receive a clear idea of the influences that brought Bonhoeffer to Theology and his battle against Hitler and the Nazis.

Bonhoeffer demonstrates what it is like to want to do the will of God at any cost; and to do it without regard for yourself. Bonhoeffer literally laid down his life so he could gain life, by strictly following the will of God. Moreover, Bonhoeffer demonstrates true commitment to God without fear or hesitation - even just before his execution for participating in the conspiracy to triumph over Hitler and the Nazis.

I was very impressed with the book because it covered Hitler, his rise to an evil dictator and the despicable/evil actions Hitler committed. It not only described Bonhoeffer's life, but demonstrated how being committed to doing God's will is and should be fearless. Bonhoeffer was not concerned with what others thought and stood up for what he thought was right and Christlike, whether it was against the Nazis or the the church in Germany. The book also details his research in the theological field, such as to answer questions on what it really means to be a Christian.

Highly enlightening and flows well. Easy to read and hard to put down!

Monday, July 19, 2010

"same kind of different As me" by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

"same kind of different as me" is an incredible true story where God united two different people to serve Him in the same ministry who are of completely different social and economic status, as well as race and completely different childhood and adulthood backgrounds - even coming from different states - one in Louisiana who ends up "relocating" to Texas in later adulthood. One is a high status White male (Ron Hall); the other is, in the his words, "becoming homeless was a step up for me" (Denver Moore, Black). They also became very close friends. It is apparent that God used Ron Hall's wife as His instrument to bring them together and together they have made a huge difference for the homeless.

This book is one of the most inspiring books demonstrating that God's people are not separated by race and status, etc. We can all come together to make the world a better place. Also, in the meantime, improving the lives of others. This book clearly illustrates race, status, and other factors do not create boundaries for those who are committed to God.

The book further illustrates that things happen according to God's timing, not ours. It demonstrates the problems people can have trying to befriend those of a different status, etc. In the end, it demonstrates it's not only possible to get beyond these problems, but God has a plan and can use people -not just individuals- to serve Him and help others in a BIG way!

This a book that is hard to put down. It is thorough with each author telling his story from childhood - all the way to how they met and beyond. It is incredible and I am the better for reading it. I highly recommend this book to everyone. To make a bigger difference in the world for God, we must cross barriers of race, status, even denominations. We are all God's people and that's all the matters.

I give it 5 stars. Read it and be moved. Be moved to take action and get involved in God's work.

P.S The title of this book is explained in the last chapter. It's thought provoking.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 9, 2010

"The Shack"

"The Shack" by William P. Young is a fictional work that requires a great deal of discernment. After reading many reviews claiming this book brought them closer to God, I decided to read it. It is deplorable. It is an attack on Christianity.

"The Shack" while fiction, is sadly being read as nonfiction. Hardly anything can be further from the truth of the Bible. "The Shack" has "God" proclaiming the basics of Christianity as irrelevant and wrong. For example, "The Shack" claims that Jesus is the best way to the Father. According to the Bible and Christian beliefs, Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father. To claim Jesus is the best way (there are other ways) makes Jesus's death on the cross insignificant and trivial. After what Jesus suffered and endured - the torture, pain, humiliation and DEATH on the cross - to claim Jesus is the best way to the Father is unbiblical, unchristian and shameful.

"The Shack" claims "God" does not punish sin because sin is a punishment in of itself. "The Shack" implies there is no hell. "The Shack" demeans the awe and powers of God. In the Bible, people who encountered God immediately realized the greatness and awe of God. "The Shack" has its main character interacting with "God" as if God is just a buddy whom you can feel free to use foul language. Respect and awe for God is simply not illustrated in "The Shack". "The Shack" further attacks the greatness and power of God by claiming God cannot forgive someone who sinned against another until the person that he/she harmed has forgiven him/her. In other words, God does not have the power to forgive someone without human intervention. How far from the truth! - God is almighty powerful and does not need the help of mankind to fulfill His promises of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.

Readers who claim "The Shack" brought them closer to God need to re-examine "The Shack" and the Bible. The god of "The Shack" is NOT the God of the Bible. It deeply saddens me to see how many have been deceived by "The Shack". Even churches and pastors have fallen prey to "The Shack". Satan has surely found a stronghold.

I had an debate with a pastor who was using "The Shack" as a way to show that someone so far from God can be reconciled with God. Yet, the god of "The Shack" is NOT the God of the Bible. Those who wish to study such a topic should turn to the Bible itself and discuss the Apostle Paul's life. In the Bible, you have a person who persecuted Christians and Jesus revealed Himself and asked, "why are you persecuting me?" This person in the Bible becomes such a disciple of God as to establish Churches and he wrote much of the New Testament.

Don't be deceived by "The Shack". Seek out a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the Bible and prayer! It is absolutely impossible for "The Shack" to bring people closer to God.

"The Shack" claims Jesus is the best way to the Father. No, Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father. That element alone is in significant conflict with the Bible and Christian beliefs. It is unbiblical and should raise a red flag as to the ungodliness and evils of "The Shack".