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Posts tagged review

Aug 27
In her memoir Call of a Coward, author Marcia Moston allows readers to glimpse a genuinely vulnerable period in her faith life as she reluctantly answers the call to travel as a missionary with her husband to Guatemala.  Moston places a hold on personal goals and plans to accept this adventure; something like Jonah, but without the whale.
Moston shares stories of difficult travel, cultural differences, and navigating doubts surrounding her self-seeking views and desires.  At core this is a memoir of one person’s struggle to make her will match more closely with the will of her God.  In that, I dare wager, it is a story every Christian will find relatable. 

In her memoir Call of a Coward, author Marcia Moston allows readers to glimpse a genuinely vulnerable period in her faith life as she reluctantly answers the call to travel as a missionary with her husband to Guatemala.  Moston places a hold on personal goals and plans to accept this adventure; something like Jonah, but without the whale.

Moston shares stories of difficult travel, cultural differences, and navigating doubts surrounding her self-seeking views and desires.  At core this is a memoir of one person’s struggle to make her will match more closely with the will of her God.  In that, I dare wager, it is a story every Christian will find relatable. 


Aug 22

Sometimes we don’t even have the strength to look for it… but the cross will find us, and we will prove that the hottest place will be transformed into a fertile garden. – Mondays With My Old Pastor, Navajo, pg. XXVI

Mondays With My Old Pastor, by Jose Luis Navajo, is the story of a journey and how God can use the people in our lives to help guide us along those desperate crooked paths and difficult patches.  Navajo shares the teachings instilled in him during weekly discussions with a pastor from his youth.  Navajo, all grown up and now a pastor himself, seeks guidance during a time of what he and his doctor calls “burnout.”  Through this difficult time, with the aid of his old friend and mentor, the author finds more wisdom, wealth, and love than he could have hoped for during such a low and confusing period of life. 
Written in lyrical prose and displaying a timeless wisdom and humanity reminiscent of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, Mondays With My Old Pastor unfolds a story of struggle, seeking and encountering the Teacher. 

Sometimes we don’t even have the strength to look for it… but the cross will find us, and we will prove that the hottest place will be transformed into a fertile garden. – Mondays With My Old Pastor, Navajo, pg. XXVI

Mondays With My Old Pastor, by Jose Luis Navajo, is the story of a journey and how God can use the people in our lives to help guide us along those desperate crooked paths and difficult patches.  Navajo shares the teachings instilled in him during weekly discussions with a pastor from his youth.  Navajo, all grown up and now a pastor himself, seeks guidance during a time of what he and his doctor calls “burnout.”  Through this difficult time, with the aid of his old friend and mentor, the author finds more wisdom, wealth, and love than he could have hoped for during such a low and confusing period of life. 

Written in lyrical prose and displaying a timeless wisdom and humanity reminiscent of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, Mondays With My Old Pastor unfolds a story of struggle, seeking and encountering the Teacher. 


Aug 6
In Constantly Craving author Marilyn Meberg tackles an issue so predominant in our modern society: the curse of always wanting, seeking, hungering for more and how this ceaseless drive can bring us to a place of always feeling shorted. 
Meberg, trained in psychology, explains that craving is rooted in childhood and can be a driving force for positive ends, but can also grow beyond our control pushing us to a place of never being satiated and always feeling unhappy.  
For such a worthy topic, this book falls short.  I found it to be too simplistic and too laden with the author’s personal anecdotes.   The text was just too flimsy for such a deep topic.  

In Constantly Craving author Marilyn Meberg tackles an issue so predominant in our modern society: the curse of always wanting, seeking, hungering for more and how this ceaseless drive can bring us to a place of always feeling shorted. 

Meberg, trained in psychology, explains that craving is rooted in childhood and can be a driving force for positive ends, but can also grow beyond our control pushing us to a place of never being satiated and always feeling unhappy.  

For such a worthy topic, this book falls short.  I found it to be too simplistic and too laden with the author’s personal anecdotes.   The text was just too flimsy for such a deep topic.  


Feb 14
Jared Herd’s book More Lost Than Found presents the authors attempt to delve into issues of his past when he “found” Jesus at a young age, but then vividly recalls “losing” him later on. This churchy language of finding Jesus may sound goofy and seem debatable, but theological questions of what it means to be truly “saved” are not exactly the basis of Herd’s book. More like he questions why so many young people, raised within the church, are leaving and how one can lose something that should be as all encompassing and joy filled as salvation. Why, he seems to ask, would such a gift be rejected?
Herd attempts to examine the message of the Gospel as found in Christian tradition and the Bible and how that message is being shared or lost in our communication with young people growing up in modernity. 
More Lost Than Found attempts to help young people in the midst of forming conclusions during a turbulent time in early life when questions, doubts, and analysis are a natural part of development. Herd is especially successful in offering aid to the young seeker, but not being pushy about a message, a glorious gift really, that does not need forced.

Jared Herd’s book More Lost Than Found presents the authors attempt to delve into issues of his past when he “found” Jesus at a young age, but then vividly recalls “losing” him later on. This churchy language of finding Jesus may sound goofy and seem debatable, but theological questions of what it means to be truly “saved” are not exactly the basis of Herd’s book. More like he questions why so many young people, raised within the church, are leaving and how one can lose something that should be as all encompassing and joy filled as salvation. Why, he seems to ask, would such a gift be rejected?

Herd attempts to examine the message of the Gospel as found in Christian tradition and the Bible and how that message is being shared or lost in our communication with young people growing up in modernity.

More Lost Than Found attempts to help young people in the midst of forming conclusions during a turbulent time in early life when questions, doubts, and analysis are a natural part of development. Herd is especially successful in offering aid to the young seeker, but not being pushy about a message, a glorious gift really, that does not need forced.


Sep 6
A book with a beginning that grabs the attention of the reader, dragging them in, is a wonderful thing.  A book that manages to hold that reader captivated throughout is beyond wonderful.
Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber begins with a surprising bit of truth shared by her professor.  This bit of truth is a sampling, an introduction, a foreshadowing of the many truths exposed by this epic memoir.

“‘The truth is in the paradox, Miss Drake.  Anything not done in submission to God, anything not done to the glory of God, is doomed to failure, frailty, and futility’…
Dr. Deveaux stopped and looked at me hard.  He leaned in and whispered, ‘The rest is all bullshit, Miss Drake.  It’s as simple as that.  Your purpose here in life is to discern the real thing from the bullshit, and then to choose the non-bullshit.  Think of the opportunity that God has given you to study as the means by which to attain your own personal bullshit detector.’” – Surprised By Oxford, Weber, page 3

Please do not mistake my use of words like “epic” as romantic exaggeration.  I recognize the subjectiveness of my opinion, but I thoroughly loved this book.  It is an inspiring coming-of-age conversion story filled with wisdom, grace, and humanity.

A book with a beginning that grabs the attention of the reader, dragging them in, is a wonderful thing.  A book that manages to hold that reader captivated throughout is beyond wonderful.

Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber begins with a surprising bit of truth shared by her professor.  This bit of truth is a sampling, an introduction, a foreshadowing of the many truths exposed by this epic memoir.

“‘The truth is in the paradox, Miss Drake.  Anything not done in submission to God, anything not done to the glory of God, is doomed to failure, frailty, and futility’…

Dr. Deveaux stopped and looked at me hard.  He leaned in and whispered, ‘The rest is all bullshit, Miss Drake.  It’s as simple as that.  Your purpose here in life is to discern the real thing from the bullshit, and then to choose the non-bullshit.  Think of the opportunity that God has given you to study as the means by which to attain your own personal bullshit detector.’” – Surprised By Oxford, Weber, page 3

Please do not mistake my use of words like “epic” as romantic exaggeration.  I recognize the subjectiveness of my opinion, but I thoroughly loved this book.  It is an inspiring coming-of-age conversion story filled with wisdom, grace, and humanity.


Aug 12
Most followers of Christ would assert that they seek to be a blessing in the lives of others.  We want to offer positive influence, to build up rather than tear down, but this takes so much work.
In The Blessing Dr. John Trent and Gary Smalley bridge Christian values with modern psychology to examine the way in which contemporary relationships can be fortified by principles found in the gospels.  The Blessing focuses a great deal on familial relationships, especially parent/child, but offers guidance that will strengthen any relationship because the focus is not on the external act, but the inner motivation that shapes our actions.

Most followers of Christ would assert that they seek to be a blessing in the lives of others.  We want to offer positive influence, to build up rather than tear down, but this takes so much work.

In The Blessing Dr. John Trent and Gary Smalley bridge Christian values with modern psychology to examine the way in which contemporary relationships can be fortified by principles found in the gospels.  The Blessing focuses a great deal on familial relationships, especially parent/child, but offers guidance that will strengthen any relationship because the focus is not on the external act, but the inner motivation that shapes our actions.


May 31
Unleashed by Erwin Raphael McManus offers a biographical narrative of spiritual seeking alongside powerful theological and philosophical ponderance…  in only 146 pages.  

"This is the barbarian way: to give your heart to the only One who can make you fully alive.  To love Him with simplicity and intensity.  To unleash the untamed faith within.  To be consumed by the presence of a passionate and compassionate God.  To go where He sends you, no matter the cost.” – Unleashed, McManus, back cover

This is the story of a seeker desiring to be fearless in Christ.  This is the story of a parent as McManus recounts all he learned by watching his bold and faithful daughter doing dangerous things for God.   This is a story of the complexity in answering the simple call of “Come, follow Me.”

"A quick survey of the modern church would lead you to believe His invitation was ‘Come, and listen,’ and His closing mandate would be summarized in the one word ‘No!’  The tribe of Jesus, above all people, should rightly carry the banner, ‘Forward.’” – Unleashed, McManus, p. 5

Welcome to the way of the barbarian; McManus’ handbook to radically following Christ in pure exhilaration. 

Unleashed by Erwin Raphael McManus offers a biographical narrative of spiritual seeking alongside powerful theological and philosophical ponderance…  in only 146 pages. 

"This is the barbarian way: to give your heart to the only One who can make you fully alive.  To love Him with simplicity and intensity.  To unleash the untamed faith within.  To be consumed by the presence of a passionate and compassionate God.  To go where He sends you, no matter the cost.” – Unleashed, McManus, back cover

This is the story of a seeker desiring to be fearless in Christ.  This is the story of a parent as McManus recounts all he learned by watching his bold and faithful daughter doing dangerous things for God.   This is a story of the complexity in answering the simple call of “Come, follow Me.”

"A quick survey of the modern church would lead you to believe His invitation was ‘Come, and listen,’ and His closing mandate would be summarized in the one word ‘No!’  The tribe of Jesus, above all people, should rightly carry the banner, ‘Forward.’” – Unleashed, McManus, p. 5

Welcome to the way of the barbarian; McManus’ handbook to radically following Christ in pure exhilaration. 


May 16

Love Wins

There has been a great deal of controversy following the publication of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins.  From my take, Bell is not actually claiming there is no hell, only that one does not need to believe in hell to be a Christian and make it into heaven.

The best chapter of the book, in my humble opinion, is toward the end and entitled “The Good News is Better than That”.

"Inquisitions, persecutions, trials, book burnings, blacklisting – when religious people become violent, it is because they have been shaped by their God, who is violent.  We see this destructive shaping alive and well in the toxic, venomous nature of certain discussions and debates on the Internet.  For some, the highest form of allegiance to their God is to attack, defame, and slander others who don’t articulate matters of faith as they do.” - Love Wins, Bell, p.183

I can see why Bell’s message is an affront to those very people who have willfully misunderstood his book and vocally defamed it.  It should probably not surprise me (though it does) that love is such a divisive message.