Friday, March 4, 2011

Always True: God's 5 Promises When Life is Hard

In his latest book, “Always True,” James MacDonald presents God’s five promises that Christians can hold on to during life’s most trying times. These are five basic biblical truths that helped MacDonald through his own personal battle. As MacDonald puts it, “…when life was hardest, I needed more than just lessons – I needed life support. I needed God’s promises.”

This book is divided into five chapters discussing the five promises. Before each chapter is a section called “Theology of a Promise” which explains more about the biblical perspective of a promise, particularly God’s promise, in this case. At the end of each chapter is a prayer; “Take to Heart” section which can be used as a personal devotional material or a group study guide; and a memory scripture verse.

What I really like about this book is that it is easy to read, practical and down to earth. It is written in simple layman’s term and does not contain heavy doctrinal jargon that is hard to understand, except maybe for the word “theology.” This word as used in this book, according to Merriam Webster simply means “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially: the study of God and of God's relation to the world.”1

The five promises as presented here are based on sound biblical doctrine pointing the reader towards faith in Jesus Christ. It also talks about assurance of God’s love and His offer of solution to problems common to man such as fear, hopelessness, despair, etc.

Always True is highly recommended to all whose hope is faltering, who like most of us needs a solid ground where he can stand. This book will lead us to trust in God – the ultimate Promiser and keeper of His promise.

     1Theology - -

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity by Jennie Bishop

Layout Design by John Silvery
Illustrated by Preston McDaniels

This is a short story for young girls ages 7-13. It is about a young princess who was given by her parents, the king and queen, one very special gift from God - a kiss. When the princess became a young lady and was ready to give the kiss away, suitors came in droves. Through her parents’ wise counsel and by her innate wisdom, the princess chose the man who was worthy of her kiss.

Book Review
I recommend this book to parents who want to teach their kids about love, relationship and purity. Young children (preschoolers) may not get the lesson the book is trying to convey at first and they usually just take the story as it is. But I would still recommend this to parents of preschoolers to teach them life lessons in a way that young minds can understand such as obedience to God and parents.
When kids become more aware and start asking questions, this is a great book to start teaching them about carefully choosing the person they will love in the future and about keeping themselves pure until the day of marriage.
Although I do not find the illustration very appealing to kids, it is good enough to portray the characters in the story. Or maybe it's just me. Pictures say more than words can describe. I don't mean to look down upon the illustrator's style.  I am fond of reading children's books, probably more than my 3-year old daughter. The pictures in this book just look a bit "shadowy" and "sketchy." The illustrations that I usually see in children's books are light, bright and fun.
The author intended this book for girls but boys can also gain insight from it. Bishop wrote another book for boys “The Squire and the Scroll.” It teaches about courage and guarding the heart from temptation. I will do a book review on it once I get a copy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell: A Review

A Book Review submitted by Shannon Christman

I disagreed with less than I expected in Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis. I’ve heard a lot about the bad theology of writers who fall under the “emergent church” label, but I’ve seen as much bad theology in the works of some “mainstream” Christian writers, and presented with more arrogance, than what I see in Bell’s book.

Velvet Elvis was full of thought-provoking ideas, some of which I’ve never heard in my thirty-plus years in the church and some I’ve heard a lot lately. I really enjoyed the sections about ancient Jewish language and traditions, which explained some Bible passages that always seemed odd to me and added dimensions to some other passages. (For example, the woman who wanted to touch Jesus’ clothes to be healed was declaring her belief that He was the Messiah, who was to come “with healing in his wings,” because “wings” was the same word as the one that described the edges of the prayer shawl Jesus would have worn.)

Bell flirts with some unorthodox beliefs, such as universalism, and suggests that the virgin birth might not be essential to the truth of the gospel. (I disagree, but that’s a debate for a different day.) His main message, though, is one with which I am starting to agree more and more: Christians should live in such a way that we are known for our love and service, not for the things we are against.

What did bother me about Velvet Elvis – and maybe it’s because I work as a copy editor – was Bell’s disregard for the rules of grammar. Even after I got used to the abundant sentence fragments, I had to stop and reread several sentences because poor punctuation or the wrong words for the context made me misunderstand them at first. (For example, one woman found that “Jesus had suffered far worse than her,” a grammatical construction that suggests the woman was so annoying that putting up with her might have been worse than death on the cross.) I’m surprised that a writer who cares enough about words to object to using “Christian” as an adjective and referring to the contents of the Bible as “data” would fail to see that violations of the standard rules of grammar and style can carry unintended meanings.