Who’s Got Your Back

This is a book which is to help reshape the idea of biblical manhood. The typical stereotype of the macho, self-sufficient man is not the image portrayed in the Bible, and as such it has caused many men to struggle throughout their lifetime.

Honestly, I do not see a large number of men I know being willing to sit and read this book. Most of the men I know read very little. This book, while it contains much valuable insight and helps attract attention to the issues with which men contend, has been a challenge even for me to read. It is not a difficult read, containing valuable insights and information. The problem for me is it seems rather sterile, almost clinical in its presentation.

I do not think this is a bad book, or poorly written. I wish I could give it a glowing review and say it is the best book ever written concerning this important topic, but I like to read and this book just has not captured my attention. As a group read where guys could get together and talk about it, it would be a good resource.

Unfortunately, I don’t see many men picking it up and reading it on their own, which is ironically the entire point of the book in the first place. Life is not meant to be lived in isolation, it is intended that we live in community.

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Random God Sightings

I was recently asked to review this book, and when I read the description about it, I found it an intriguing concept so I am reading it now.

The author, Kelly Hanes, has compiled 26 short stories of incidents where she describes the event and her interpretation of how she experienced the presence of God through each encounter.

The book is designed to be read one story per day, to help the reader begin to sense God’s presence around them in the mundane situations of life. Some stories are more profoundly moving than others, but the goal of each story is to help the reader see God’s presence when it would normally be overlooked. There are not any huge revelations present, but the authors recounting of the incident and her inspiration by any given event helps the reader to see clearly what the author intends the reader to see.

I tried to share a story or two with my wife, by re-telling the substance of the story, only to find that my re-telling pales in comparison to the author’s telling. As I read the stories, I am emotionally drawn in, just as the author intends. I finish the story, then have to let it soak in, trying to determine if the author’s recounting is really the presence of God, or something else. With each story, I find myself longing to have such and encounter in the real world hoping to experience the sentiment shared by the author.

In my opinion, this author is truly gifted in her ability to move the reader’s spirit in the direction she intends and plants seeds of hope with every story she shares that we can experience the presence of God in our daily lives if we allow ourselves to see beyond the mere physicality of our world.

The book is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Random-God-Sightings-Kelly-Hanes/dp/1633372650

A Spiral into Marvelous Light

This is a novel I was asked to review. A brief synopsis of the work needs to be shared before I go further. A famous conservative, evangelist and political activist dies and a liberal newspaper report is tasked with writing an article encompassing the life and death of the evangelist.

I was a teenager in the 1980’s, so much of the material in this novel really seems to be more biographical than fictional. At many points, I felt as if I was remembering vague memories of what I saw happen throughout the 80’s and 90’s. When I reached the end of the book, I read the author’s endnote regarding his inspiration for the evangelist, and it became quite clear that I had heard similar stories unfold during those years. Growing up in a conservative midwest small-town, I  clearly understood much of what the reporter in the story discovers.

I don’t want to give away any of the details of the book, so I don’t want to address specific plot points. I will say the author does a nice job of writing, be it biographical or fictional. The story is well-told and moves pretty quickly. In the end, the newspaper reporters story is written and the response by his editor is spot-on in my opinion.

I would love to expound on the editor’s conclusion, but it would be unfair to the author to do so without the background story being understood, so I will not delve into that any further. I believe this book would be good for both liberal and conservative readers to read in its entirety if for no other reason than to reach the editor’s conclusion. Don’t cheat and read the end first though just to see what about what I am referring. Readers will do themselves a great disservice to know the ending without reading about the journey.

 

Devotions from the Beach

This is a very pretty devotional book. It is full of wonderful color pictures from areas near beaches and related images from a variety of locations. There are 100 devotions which draw inspiration from the images, and a verse of Scripture. This is one volume from a series of devotionals published by Thomas Nelson. Each volume focuses on a different location, and the devotions are all in the same vein.

Aside from the differences in pictures, these volumes are pretty similar. The type of devotions are consistent, and while they are not offensive or unsound, they are pretty light as far as they go. A brief scripture, a nice picture and a devotional thought tying the two other components together. For the water lover or devotional collector, this would be a nice gift. If you want to give a devotional as a gift, this series would offer you nice options if you are not looking for Scriptural depth as these are only one page each.

I received a copy of this book for free from BookLook Bloggers for review purposes. The review did not have to be positive.

NIV Starting Place Study Bible

Study Bibles have a great advantage over other types of Bibles in that they have a broad base of information available to the reader rather than a narrow or specialized focus. A devotional Bible frequently does not give a lot of cultural context or historical data. A reference Bible does not have a lot of study material typically, it has a system of interconnecting verses throughout the Bible. A study Bible on the other hand can contain any number of features, depending on the goal of the publisher.

The Starting Place Study Bible is an amalgamation of five other study Bibles and the Essential Bible Companion. The five different study Bibles included are the Quest, Foundation, Archaeological, Student and Rock Solid Faith study Bibles. The benefit of this combination is a broad platform of information is interwoven into the NIV text of the Bible. One of my favorite features is the “Context Notes” feature. These are insets throughout the Bible. They are presented in a folder format presentation. The types of folders are People, Lands & Rulers, Culture & History, Archaeology, Ancient Texts & Artifacts and Reliability. The type of information included with the note is designated by which folder tab is highlighted.

There are study notes throughout the Bible as well, and tables spread through the text of things such as the Messianic Psalms and a Harmony of the Gospels. There are maps through the Bible, reading plans, subject index, etc. A wide variety of material is included. While the study aides do not go as far in depth as the individual study Bibles they are drawn from, they do a fantastic job of drawing the most useful information from the individual works and combining to make this study aid heavy study Bible.

I received a free copy of this from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review. The review did not have to be positive. All thoughts are my own.

Maxwell Study Bible, Hardcover

It is always interesting when multiple versions of a Bible are released. As I do not have the previous versions, I cannot speak as to what the differences might be, thus my review will be of the content of this version alone. That being said, there are quite a few extra helps included in this version. Biographical profiles of leadership, book introductions, and notes on mentoring and influence are all included within the NIV text found in this Bible.

John Maxwell is a widely know author and speaker on the topic of leadership. Throughout this Bible, the writing of Maxwell are interwoven with the text, highlighting examples and principles of leadership through utilization of the Biblical text. Additionally, there are summaries of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader and the applicable Scripture pertaining to these laws and qualities. Lastly there are several articles on being a leader included in the end-materials of this bible.

As one can see, there are many features included in this Bible. However, for all of its additional material, there are some basic items missing. There are no maps contained within the Bible, nor is there any kind of concordance or dictionary. Pretty basic stuff in even the most inexpensive Bibles, and these items could have been added without much effort. There are a few textual footnotes included with the Bible text, but no real cross-referencing. Lastly, there are no study notes of any type of Biblical information beyond those highlighting the leadership materials included.

All in all, if you are looking for a specialized Bible for a leader in your life, this would be a good option. If you are looking for a good, all-purpose study Bible, this is not the one you want. It is pretty one-dimensional in it intent and purpose, becoming a Biblically sound leader. Knowing that is the purpose, I believe it hits that mark very well. I also believe this is a highly specialized Bible with that singular purpose in mind and is not applicable for much study beyond that focus.

I received a copy of this Bible for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review. The review did not have to be positive. All thoughts are my own.

Maxwell Leadership Bible 3rd Edition

It is always interesting when multiple versions of a Bible are released. As I do not have the previous versions, I cannot speak as to what the differences might be, thus my review will be of the content of this version alone. That being said, there are quite a few extra helps included in this version. Biographical profiles of leadership, book introductions, and notes on mentoring and influence are all included within the NIV text found in this Bible.

John Maxwell is a widely know author and speaker on the topic of leadership. Throughout this Bible, the writing of Maxwell are interwoven with the text, highlighting examples and principles of leadership through utilization of the Biblical text. Additionally, there are summaries of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader and the applicable Scripture pertaining to these laws and qualities. Lastly there are several articles on being a leader included in the end-materials of this bible.

As one can see, there are many features included in this Bible. However, for all of its additional material, there are some basic items missing. There are no maps contained within the Bible, nor is there any kind of concordance or dictionary. Pretty basic stuff in even the most inexpensive Bibles, and these items could have been added without much effort. There are a few textual footnotes included with the Bible text, but no real cross-referencing. Lastly, there are no study notes of any type of Biblical information beyond those highlighting the leadership materials included.

All in all, if you are looking for a specialized Bible for a leader in your life, this would be a good option. If you are looking for a good, all-purpose study Bible, this is not the one you want. It is pretty one-dimensional in it intent and purpose, becoming a Biblically sound leader. Knowing that is the purpose, I believe it hits that mark very well. I also believe this is a highly specialized Bible with that singular purpose in mind and is not applicable for much study beyond that focus.

I received a copy of this Bible for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review. The review did not have to be positive. All thoughts are my own.