Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Not About Me - Book Review

Synopsis: Pop culture and psychobabble tell us to make ourselves the center of the universe in order to be happy. Churches have communicated the false idea that God exists to give us all that we selfishly want. In this book, Max Lucado reminds us that it's not about us, it's all about God. It is through this shift in thinking that we can truly live an unburdened, happy life.

Review: I intially selected this little book because I thought it was a new Max Lucado book. Turns out it is a title I was unfamiliar with. Either way, I'm glad I requested it. This book is a great reminder from the title to the last page, that this life is not about us. Our lives are supposed to be about reflecting God's glory. Lucado repeatedly uses Scripture to make his points about how we are supposed to live our lives. We should be like Moses in Exodus 33, asking God to show us His glory. We should want God Himself more than the things of God. Lucado also consistently talks about God's character and characteristics, writing about His strength, His love, and His power. God has all the characteristics (and always has) and chooses to share them with us. According to Lucado (using Scripture as back-up), we as Christians are to reflect God's glory like a mirror. I love this imagery. This idea is so simple yet so profound.

While this book doesn't really reveal any great new theology, it's a great reminder of how we should live our lives. What I like about this book is the way Lucado imparts his wisdom without sounding preachy. When talking about habits/behaviors that prevent us from reflecting God's glory, Lucado uses himself for the examples. Overall I'm glad I requested this little book. I'm going to add it to my bookshelf so I can pull it out and re-read it from time to time.

Thomas Nelson Publishers gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bloodlines - Book Review

Note: This book does not come out until September 30th. You can pre-order it at your favorite online bookseller.

This is without a doubt one of the strongest books I've ever read. I'll say upfront that I will be purchasing a copy as soon as it is available! John Piper begins with somewhat of an autobiographical chapter, detailing is younger, racist days. He is very transparent about how he used to speak to and act towards and think about blacks. He openly states that the gospel changed his heart. After that opening, he begins to delve into the gospel and discusses point by point how the gospel message and really the whole of Scripture shatter any notion that one race is superior to the other. Piper repeatedly uses Scripture to draw parallels between how God views us and how we should view others.

While this is a book chock full of Scripture, it isn't just a biblical tome on race. Piper uses the last portion of the book to provide practical advice to people on how to address racism in their lives (and churches) and how to work to end segregation in our churches. Church members everywhere should be able to take Piper's suggestions, combine them with the Scripture presented and develop a plan to fit their church's unique situation.

Because of my situation at work as part of an undoing racism initiative and my current church's entire design, this book resonated with me on many levels. I was convicted of some of my own thought patterns and am prayerfully working through what those mean. I cannot wait until my hard copy comes and I am able to delve deeper into the spiritual truths presented in Bloodlines. If you've ever wondered about race/racism adn how to address it as a Christ-follower, this book will be an excellent tool.

I received a galley proof of Bloodlines from in exchange for my review of this book.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Never the Bride - Book Review

Synopsis: Since she was just a little girl, Jessie Stone dreamed up hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled the romantic ideas in her journal with her treasured purple pen, and fantasized about wedding dresses and falling in love. She’s been a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waved numerous couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember.

But shopping for one key component of these countless proposals hasn't been quite as productive–a future husband. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her. The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing. And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories.

So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that the Almighty has a better plan than one she’s already cooked up in her journals? Can she turn over her pen and trust someone else to craft a love story beyond her wildest dreams?

Review: This book has an interesting storyline to say the least. In some ways it reminds me of "The Shack" with God taking on human form and interacting with Jessie. Even more than a week after finishing it, I'm not 100% sure of my opinion. As a book, it was okay - it was a slow-starting book but I kept with it. There were times that Jessie annoyed the mess out of me and had she been a friend of mine, we would have had words. After a while, the storyline picked up and I got to the point I really wanted to see where the book was going. As a fiction book, it served the purpose I want a book to, it entertained.

From a theological standpoint, I'm much more conflicted. While I know it is fiction, there were some comments God's character made that are completely outside His character. Several times, God appeared to be humored by the distress Jessie was feeling. I just don't see God being amused by the hurt of His children. There were parts of this novel that God used to convict me of some erroneous thought patterns in my own life so it's not all bad. But, like "The Shack", this book needs to be read by more mature Christians who can separate the fictional version of God with the Scriptural version. Overall, it was a decent book but I won't be quick to recommend it to others.

Waterbrook Multnomah gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.