Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Greek For Life - A Review

Greek for Life cover.jpg

A Review

The authors have created a “coach in a box” for the student of NT Greek. The book is not designed to teach Greek, but to, as the sub-title says, provide “Strategies for
Learning, Retaining, and Reviving New Testament Greek”.

The book is not written as a study book of Greek vocabulary or grammar. Rather it discusses a set of 8 general principles that can be used to enhance and retain the Greek a student has learned. The chapter titles sum up those principles.

  1. Keep the End in Sight   
  2. Go to the Ant, You Sluggard   
  3. Review, Review, Review   
  4. Use Your Memory Effectively   
  5. Use Greek Daily   
  6. Use Resources Wisely   
  7. Don’t Waste Your Breaks   
  8. How to Get It Back   

As one reads, the reader feels like he or she is working with a coach. The hints and principles are practical and will assist the student as he moves through his or her study of the Greek and prepares for life long Bible Study using the Greek text. I could wish that I had such a book or coach during my three-semester sequence of Greek.

I also wish I might have had a similar coach as I studied Pascal, Data Structures, and Database Development, later in my career. Thus, two comments seem appropriate. First, the same principles apply to the study of any topic - from History to Mathematics to Chemistry to Physics. Second, given the first comment, a publisher might take the time to share this material with other authors to create parallel books in other disciplines.  The examples given throughout the book are derived from a multi-semester course in New Testament Greek, but could easily be adapted for use with other disciplines.

This book needs to be assigned reading for every Greek student the summer before they begin their study of NT Greek. The book should sit on the coffee table in every Greek professor’s office - easily accessible for a referral to students as needed.

In summary, this book will not teach you Greek, but it will prepare you to learn Greek.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bones To Pick - A Review

Bones To Pick

bones to Pick cover.png

Linda Lovely

A Review

Brie Hooker is a vegan, not a vegetarian, a vegan. And she has just inherited her family's goat (from which they got meat and cheese) and chicken (meat and eggs) farm. All of which are verboten to the vegan appetite. And that does not include the newest member of the family, Tammy, a Vietnamese potbellied pig. And as the reader moves from chapter one to chapter two, we find that Tammy has opened a barrel of worms - except the worms were gone and now all we had were human bones.  

Now to find the killer - the victim had probably been killed forty years or so in the past.  Even then, he was not well liked. Any number of people could have involved in the murder forty years ago, but now there were questions to be addressed in the present.

We get to meet the people of Ardon County, South Carolina. There seems to be as much love in this county as there was between the Hatfields and McCoys a bit further to the northwest. Families are convinced that they have been defrauded, others are accused of stealing land, and the legal paperwork is covered with forged signatures that might make any check writer proud.

Like most of the cozy mysteries coming from Henery Press, the story combines suspense, humor, and a smattering of romance (hey, Brie is being courted by two great, but very different guys). What is there not to like. To quote the last sentence in the book, “Holy ham hocks. Life [on the farm] was going to be interesting.”
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Pastoral Theology - A Review


A Review

What disappointments me about this book is that it goes astray from most books with a similar title. What excites me about this book is that it goes astray from most books with a similar title.

When I think of a pastoral theology text, I think of a book that discusses the work of being a pastor - how to care for people and how to lead a church.  This book is not so much the “how”, but the theological (i.e. Biblical) foundations for the “how”. Too often we disconnect our theology from our behavior - Akin and Pace have attempted to bring these two aspects of our lives as pastors together in a readable and understandable monograph designed for the pastor or pastoral student. The book does cover some of the practical concerns (i.e. the “how”) of being a pastor, but this is not its focus. Rather the book is designed to allow the student (whether in school or out of school) to explore what scripture says about our role as pastors.

This book is a must read for pastors of all flavors. We may not agree with all that is said, but we do need to grapple with its contents. I would also like to see this book adopted as an ancillary text for the pastoral student - whether in college or seminary. Though aimed, perhaps, more toward the seminary student; the book will be of value all those seeking to serve the local church.  Because of this, the book also belongs in the Christian college (particularly those offering a pastoral studies track) and seminary library.  
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Missed Mission of the Great Commission - A Review

The Missed Mission of
The Great Commission

eberly Great Commission.jpg
George Eberly

A Review

A week ago I found myself in trouble. A Facebook acquaintance (he was not even a Facebook friend at the time) asked how to go about marketing a book he had written. Being a book reviewer, I suggested getting book reviews. Now, George Eberly is not dumb, so he reminds me that I am the only book reviewer that he knows and asks me, “Would you like to review my book?” Oops! I barely know George. I know even less about the book. How am I supposed to know if I “would like to review” his book? Now, I am also not dumb, so I reply, “I don’t know if I would like to, but I would be willing to give it a shot.” I did remind George that according to one source, I only review 85% of the books I receive for review. This is considered a reasonable response rate (80% is the suggested minimum). I also reminded him that I do not give good reviews to all the books I receive - I have given books anywhere from 1-star (once or twice wishing I could give 0-stars, but that is not allowed) to 5-star ratings. The IRS does not allow me to accept a free book for review unless I am allowed to review it unconditionally - George Eberly was going to have to take a chance. And he did.

It was two to three hours later that I received an electronic version of George Eberly’s book. I was careful as I first looked at the book - after all, an unknown book from an unknown author could be very good, disappointing, or just plain offensive. I had no need to be afraid of The Missed Mission of The Great Commission. I began to read - within an hour I had read the Introduction and the first two chapters. I was ready to answer George’s original question, “Would you like to read my book?”  In a personal note, I replied, “George - I can now answer your question. I have read the intro and the first two chapters of the book, and I want to read AND review it!  What I have read so far is well-written and attention grabbing. Thank you for sharing and I will be looking forward to finishing it.”  A week later, after spending time reading and preparing last week’s sermon, here is my review.

George Eberly has written a book that presents a paradigm for growing mature disciples within the church - whether we are discussing the local church, the global church, or the many para-church ministries of the Christian Church. The book allows the believer to move from evangelism, to conversion, to discipleship, to servanthood. The author has done this by providing a Biblical foundation that is well-documented, and practical (especially chapter 10). Much of what he has written is illustrated by anecdotes from his own ministry and the ministry of others.

My only concern with the book is a sense that the author thinks that the paradigm he is presenting is expected of every church. Alarm bells go off in my head when there is any type of expectation that every believer, that every Christian ministry, every church, is to have the same experience and practice. Though the author does leave room for individualization, I am left with the feeling that he thinks every church (however you define that) should fit this mold. The author does not strike this attitude hard or often, but it does creep into his narrative. Hence, I see this as a weakness, not a failure, of the book.

Having said that, I am convinced that pastors, pastoral candidates, and local church and denominational leaders, should take the time to read this book. The concepts are important for the healthy growth of the church. There is both truth and practical help that can easily be fit into multiple levels of ministry within the church. Both professional pastors and the lay leadership of the local church will be challenged to help grow believers who will be ready to serve the current generation of believers and the next.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the author for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Whole Bible Story - A Review

The Whole Bible Story

Whole Bible Story Cover.jpg

William H. Marty

A Review
The story, not the text, of scripture, is the focus of this book. The story is well-written and will assist the student to understand the events which provide the foundation upon which the Sacred Scriptures are built. The writing is terse, but clear. Presented as a history book rather than scripture, the story is easy to read and follow. This new edition of the text is supplemented with an assortment of images - both black and white and color images.  Here is a sample of the text from Genesis 1:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In its original state the earth was empty and dark. Like a bird watching over its young, the Spirit of God hovered over the watery surface of the earth. God created light on day one. On day two, he placed the sky between the earth and the heavens. He made land and vegetation on the third day, and on the fourth day, he put the stars, the sun, and the moon in place. On day five, God filled the sky with birds and the oceans with creatures of the sea. God created animals on the sixth day, and finally, last but not least, he made humankind in his image. (This means they were like God in certain ways.) God enriched their lives by providing them food to eat and giving them responsibility for the rest of creation. When God finished his work, he saw that everything he had made was perfect. There was absolutely no defect in his creation. He rested on the seventh day and set it apart as a day to rest and to remember that God is the creator of the universe.

The author’s stated purpose is, “that it will motivate people to read the Bible.” My major concern with the book is that it does not refer the reader back to the scriptures. Each chapter begins with a summary of the “Main Characters” and the “Settings” of the events detailed in that chapter - but no reference to the scriptures from which the story is being told. This is true for text found at the opening of chapters, footnotes, sidebars, or in an index.  

For the lay person, college student, or seminary student, this book would provide a useful tool to review the story of scripture; however, the lacking scripture references do reduce its value. This could be corrected with an online index or prepared insert to be downloaded by the reader.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What Does Consent Really Mean? - A Review

What Does Consent Really Mean?

What Does Consent Really Mean - cover.jpg

Pete Wallis, Joseph Wilkins, Thalia Wallis

A Review

Note this book is not aimed at a Christian audience per se. Christians may be, some will be, offended by the topics covered here.  However, it may open doors for communication for parents, friends, and classrooms.

The authors provide a guide toward understanding what many mean by “Consent” in today’s secular culture. They take no stand on the ethical, moral, or faith based decisions involved in giving consent, only on how to recognize and accept consent or the lack thereof.  Same gender issues are addressed, but not strongly - almost as afterthoughts.

Though the reader is given ideas on how to recognize consent, little is said how to respond when consent is not granted. In other words, nothing specific is said about what “No” really means. Another missing topic is the use of alcohol or drugs to limit inhibitions. This topic rises to the service, not as the result of a date rape drug being administered; but as a current criminal case makes it way through the California court system when a guy was seduced by an inebriated girl of similar age. The courts ruled that he was not guilty - a legal decision, not a moral one.

Finally, no mention is made of the issue of consent within a marriage or other established relationship - it is as if the issue of consent only must be addressed by those still dating.

The book provides a beginning point for discussions, it opens the door for conversation; but suggestions need to be made to discuss the missing elements of consent, not covered directly by the authors.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.