NIV New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (Jack Hayford ed.)

Note: This is a free review copy.

For this review I read the book of Lamentations. Many of you are probably familiar with the NKJV version of this great Bible. Now it’s available in the new 2011 NIV. Yay! Although writing reviews takes some time my curiosity just overwrote my tendency to save time. So every book starts with a book introduction. I believe they are detailed as they should be but save you from filling your head with empty and useless intellectual knowledge. This is a longer study Bible and this means that there are verse-by-verse study notes. This is true for almost every verse. I read the notes and they were great overall. Of course some sounded superfluous or a little repetitive but the Bible itself is often repetitive too (which is not a bad thing!). Truth in action writings are about practical living and they are placed at the end of each book although you may navigate to them from the relevant verses. I really loved those ones they seems concise and useful. There are more than 550 words defined and when that word occurs you may navigate to the “word wealth” with a click. That’s really great and improves understanding although reading the exact same paragraph for the third time in an hour can become repetitive. Lastly, there are kingdom dynamics which are basically principles or laws of the kingdom of God. The one I read was great I hope the others are just the same! : )

It’s a highly recommended purchase; I doubt that you will be disappointed.

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NIV Life Journey Bible (ebook)

Note: This is a free review copy.

This is a study Bible with the comments/aids of Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s in the new 2011 NIV translation. This is relatively short for a study Bible; its extra features are the following:
• 300 insights
• Excerpts from Cloud and Townsend’s previously published material
• 40 profiles of biblical figures
• 66 book introductions
• Key growth principles in each book of the Bible
• 20 essays and longer articles about topics such as growth, grief, relationships, etc.
There are no cross-references but there are Bible-reading plans towards the end of the book.

For this review I read 1 John. I was surprised that the book introduction was so short and that the insights were short as well. What was more intriguing is the total lack of cross-references for a study Bible. The way I see it is this: If you have read most of the works of the authors then this is just repetition in another form while if you only read a few of their books and would like to read more and at the same time being able to judge it next to the Bible then it’s a great purchase. I liked the notes as they were fine just nothing revolutionary. The Bible-reading plans in the back are great in my opinion. Also if you don’t know the authors then it would be a great introduction to their works. Recommended.

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Bruce Olson – Bruchko

Note: This is not a free review copy.

This is a rather well known book with a quite well now author which is about his life and especially his time spent with some of Latin-Americas wildest tribes, his captivity among guerillas, etc. It’s not a full autobiography but focuses on the more important events. He basically took off into the unknown without any help/support and any appropriate knowledge/skills and yet because it was a God given vision God never failed him though he truly went through much.

I loved the book. True, there were some cases where I just couldn’t understand Bruce’s choices and I’m sure I would have chosen otherwise yet in my estimation he did pretty well. It’s really a page-turner and it’s rather exciting and all the more since it’s a true story and not a work of fiction. Without even noticing I learned a lot and was changed for the better. It’s been at since 2 years since I’ve read it and as far as I can remember it was very moving at certain times. I highly recommend this book to you as it will not only inspire you but encourage your faith to soar higher or be restored should you be somewhat backslidden.

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Owen Strachan – Risky Gospel: Abandon Fear and Build Something Awesome

Note: This is a free review copy.

In this book Owen writes about how our Christianity should work like according to him. I thought (I guess mostly from the title) that this book was about bold evangelism but I was wrong. It’s about everything or mostly everything. Family, church, evangelism, public witness, identity, the atonement, etc.

Generally speaking I liked the book. It had some great points and we could say that it was an okay summary of the Christian life. The teaching is flawed on many points though. Owen says that we Christians are righteous then a few sentences (sometimes pages) later that we (Christians) are still sinners. This pattern repeats itself throughout his book (about 5-10 times at least). I assume that he believes that we are called righteous but are not made righteous. That’s what the devil would want you to believe. Actual quote [talking of Christians]: ‘We are not perfectly righteous.’ Yes we are. 2 Cor. 5:21. What part of this is so hard to understand? Also there are other flaws such as; actual quote: ‘For those called to it, marriage is and should be a goal’. It should never be a goal; the reason why so many mess up marriage is making it a goal… Overall this book is fine for the mature Christian who is fully able to discriminate between the wheat and the chaff by exercising his/her spiritual senses. Definitely not recommended to new Christians as it will destroy their faith on some points and fill them with not so easily noticeable false teaching.

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Ephesians 2: A 30-Day Devotional

This is my book so obviously I wouldn’t venture into reviewing it. You may find a review and the book if you click on the image below though. 🙂

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Richard L. Mabry – Stress Test

Note: This is not a free review copy.

I got this book without reading the book bio or at least I don’t remember reading it. It proved a good choice, though accidental, since its first 40-50 pages were much more exciting this way. Now I know that I should read reviews instead of plot introduction to decide whether I should get a book. To keep you from literally any huge spoilers I can say that the book is about a surgeon who gets in deep trouble.

This book is a mystery, suspense, medical and legal thriller. I put these into order according their importance. I loved the book very much. It had so many twists and turns and it really aroused my interest. To say that it was exciting would be an understatement. I read it in less than a week which is an unlikely feat for me at any time, but especially since I was a full-time intern and had edit/proofread my thesis for university. Also in this one people eventually got closer to Christ and changed as the story unfolded. As a non-native English speaker I had to use the dictionary quite a few times for the medical expressions and some slang or words that I’ve just never heard. I should like you to know that some things I figured out long before the ending but even with that it was really great. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes any of the genres that I’ve listed earlier. Truly get this one!

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Tim Walk – The Youth Pastor’s Manifesto

Note: This is not a free review copy.

This book is for youth ministry leaders and/or youth pastors. It’s a relatively short read (about a 100 pages) which is its biggest advantage. It talks about how to do youth ministry and it also encourages you. The encouragement is its beast party really; it will surely strengthen you in your call and renew your to a certain extent if you are tired. The teaching is so-so. Programs? Seriously? Since when did programs take the place of preaching the gospel and after that demonstrating (proving) it by signs and wonders (healing the sick, expelling demons, etc.)? Since never. The author also argues that most kids/teens go to a camp/meeting primarily because of their peers and not to hear to word of God or to worship Him. While that may be true (and sad that it is), the author tells you to kind of accept that and to take this into notice as you prepare your programs, preaching etc. and eventually forge this factor into your advantage. Six to ten year olds prophesy, expel demons, heal the sick (medically verified many times) etc. This should be the norm. I’m sorry but if your kids/teens come primarily because of their relationships with their peers you should make sure they come primarily for Jesus and not forge this into some kind of advantage… (I wonder how can you forge something totally bad into an advantage though?) Aside from these (and many other false teaching) this book has some great teaching too but unfortunately provides no fresh revelation meaning you could get this from most books written to youth leaders/pastors.

Therefore I would recommend it to the mature Christian. One who is able to spiritually discern everything. Young or not mature Christians really shouldn’t read this as they might not be able to discriminate the wheat from the chaff (the latter which rears its ugly head fairly often is this book. :()

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Traci Tyne Hilton – Good, Clean, Murder: A Plain Jane Mystery, Book 1 (audiobook)

Note: This is not a free review copy.

This was my introduction to Christian fiction. In the book a young lady named Jane comes upon the death of two of her clients and from then the story slowly turns into the let’s-solve-the-murder thing. Jane goes through various character changes and a number of other things happen to her. I really wouldn’t want to give away too much if you want to read it. 🙂

I liked the book. Some of my expectations went unfulfilled, but that doesn’t mean my story would’ve been better. If you know that you expect a mystery with a little romance than you will be fine. I guess I was looking out for something more grandiose, something more epic. It’s a light read, it won’t keep you on the edge of your seat, but you will enjoy it.

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Reggie Anderson – 30 Daily Appointments with Heaven (ebook)

Note: This is not a free review copy but a free purchase.

Back in the days I didn’t have a huge appreciation for devotionals, the reason being that it’s hard to expound scripture in-depth in only a few minutes. But that assumption of mine was partially proved wrong so now I read devotionals every day. This one is about heaven and the afterlife. The author shares mostly his own stories of how he experienced heaven. There is really everything all the way from the good to the bad stuff. At the end of each reading there is a prayer which you should pray.

I liked the book. It provides encouragement and helps you to focus on heaven. It’s important to look forward to our heavenly home and when we do, it’s much easier to live the Christian life. I really liked the stories/testimonies as they were very honest. There were some minor points though which were flawed – maybe they just weren’t communicated/expressed well. Overall I highly recommend this devotional!

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Steven James – Story: Recapture the Mystery

Note: This is not a free review copy; I got this from my own money.

Steven James writes in conversational style and with poetry and thought-provoking mechanisms about creation, the fall, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and a variety of other topics. The chapters are relatively short and even if you are busy you could easily read 2-3 every day. I guess what he really aims at is to get you thinking and thus change you. The emphasis of this book is not so much on theology or teaching.

I liked the book. As a Bible teacher it’s hard for me not to view everything (and literally everything) from a theological/teaching point of view. If you manage to understand that this book’s goal isn’t to give you some teaching, or some “what-to-do” or “how-to-do” then you will have a wonderful time reading it. I really liked the poetry and the thought-provoking parts. Sometimes those can change you more than a teaching and they certainly did change me (positively).

I highly recommend this book to believers and unbelievers alike.

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