newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Category: Books

Review: “Run the Mile You’re In”

This is a review of the book Run the Mile You’re In by Ryan Hall.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up Run the Mile You’re In. Based on the description of the book, I wasn’t sure whether to expect a book of insights like Peter Sagal’s The Incomplete Book of Running -part memoir, part book of insights on how to be a good runner; or, a book more like Shaken by Tim Tebow, which is really more of a “here’s how I put things in order” and life/sports is the framework the author uses. If you’re looking for a book on principles to keep in mind for running, stick with Sagal. But if you’re looking for a book of short memoir-anecdotes on faith and making improvements, go with Ryan Hall’s book.

Run the Mile You’re In is divided into 26 chapters, equal to the number of miles in a marathon. In each chapter, Hall shares experiences from his time as a runner (high school, college, and at the professional Olympic level) and lessons he learned along the way. The topics he meditates on in this book range from the importance of having a vision to remembering your identity, and that anything can be worship to moving through the different seasons of life. Each chapter is relatively short, so at approximately seven pages each, this book could serve as a devotional component to a morning Bible reading plan.

I was disappointed in a way, as I was hoping that running advice would play a bigger part in Run the Mile You’re In, instead of it being a backdrop for life lessons, but I’ll survive. In the end, the book is an enjoyable read and I did not find it to be a waste of time. I doubt you will, either.

I received my copy of this book for free through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

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Review: The Maxwell Leadership Bible, NIV

This is a review of the Maxwell Leadership Bible- NIV 3rd edition.

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About a year ago, I had the opportunity to review the updated third edition of the Maxwell Leadership Bible. The edition I reviewed was the NKJV translation. I was impressed with the way they editors had updated the color scheme, some of the language in the notes was tweaked, and new articles and resources were added. I still stand by my thoughts. This third edition, which uses the 2011 NIV translation update, has the same updated content. Rereading and reviewing it again reaffirms my initial impressions.

But I like this one better. First, from a design and mechanics aspect, I like this NIV version better. The burgundy leather gives it a weighty, authoritative appearance. From the outside, it just has a different look from the hardcover edition. It seems well-suited to appear on a desk, or on the bookshelf behind the desk.

The leather cover and sewn binding make its use in reading more convenient than the hardcover too. The leather-cover edition lays flat, whether set on a tabletop or on the readers lap. Even when reading the articles at the end, the pages don’t flip closed. The pages are the same paper as the hardcover, but the softer leather cover makes flipping through pages easier and more convenient, too.

When the updated NIV was released in 2011, I was not a fan. Since then, I have warmed up to it. I will go a step further to say that for the Maxwell Leadership Bible, the NIV seems like a more suitable translation to use. The flow of the wording in the text of the Bible in the NIV seems better matched for John C. Maxwell’s teaching style and the choice of wording used in the articles and features. The NKJV preserves its updated, but-still-formal wording, which is fine. I love the NKJV and have a profound appreciation for it. But the “writing style” of the NIV matches better with Maxwell’s writing style. The two complement each other for a leadership/spiritual growth resource such as this.

If you have the choice between the NKJV hardcover or the NIV leatherbound Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd ed., I recommend choosing the NIV. There are many benefits in this one, and not just the reading contents. It’s a comfortable, enjoyable read that will challenge you in many ways as you grow in leadership.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are the reviewer’s.

 

Review: “The Lotus and the Rose”

This is a review of the book The Lotus and the Rose by Lama Tsomo and Rev. Matthew Fox.

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I approached The Lotus and the Rose knowing a little bit about Rev. Fox and quite a bit about Christianity. I know nothing about pretty much nothing about Buddhism, and less than that about Lama Tsomo. After going through this book, I am not sure whether that is a benefit or a detriment to my comprehension of the material in the book.

The concept for The Lotus and the Rose is pretty straightforward. Friends religious spiritualists Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo -Christian and Buddhist, respectively- sat down for a series of conversations in different contexts and settings. The transcripts of their dialogues were collected, arranged by theme, and published as one volume. What jumped out about me, what I appreciated about this book, was how each of the two, Fox and Tsomo, overflow with love for their beliefs and for each other. Their mutual respect and friendship as well as their deep expertise appears evident in the words they speak. The topics they cover are vast, from meditation to transcendence, from spirituality to science, there are few stones Tsomo and Fox do not unturn.

Some of what they discuss does get pretty dense, and if the reader knows little to nothing about either Christianity or Buddhism -as is the case with me and the latter- it can be relatively easy for the eyes to glaze over and the reader to zone out. Especially since I was not familiar with the vocabulary of Buddhism, it was hard for me to follow Tsomo at times. Be prepared for that.

Overall, The Lotus and the Rose is a conversation between two people who model how to learn from each other. That is something that our society needs right now, and if there is one bright spot -regardless of the things either Fox or Tsomo says that I disagree with- in this book, I would say it is that. Prepare for information, insight, and things that make you think. If you feel like your brain is starting to check out, pause, and reengage later. This is not one you want to read passively. Read it with a critical eye prepared to question any and everything on the page.

I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for publishing a review of it it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

Review: “Call Down Lightning”

This is a review of the book Call Down Lightning by Wallace Henley.

In evangelical circles, the topic of revival comes up now and then. It seems to be on Henley’s mind, too. Tracing the historic revival in Wales in 1904, Henley lays out an outline for how revival can happen, and along the way points out how the United States could be setting itself up for religious revival now. Call Down Lightning is informative and interesting, but I felt that it was just okay.

Henley presents a work that is part historical research, party present-day commentary, part biography, and part revival sermon. Henley spends a lot of the book focusing on Evan Roberts, one of the catalysts for the Welsh revivals -Henley does give others credit in a chapter in the later half of the book. Throughout, Henley uses lightning as an analogy to revival, and brings in interesting facts about the natural phenomenon to connect his points.

I picked up this book not knowing anything about the Welsh revival. That was what drew me to the book; I wanted to know a little bit more about church world history. In this short volume, there is plenty of it. It started to feel a little repetitive by the end, though. I felt the book was kind of slow until about Chapter 11. So be prepared to slough through Call Down Lightning. There were times where I found myself having the thought, “I know this guy is passionate about revival happening again; I just wish his writing made me believe it more often.”

Call Down Lightning is an all right read. Be prepared for fun, exciting moments. Also be prepared for a little boredom and wondering when the next chapter starts. But in the end, be prepared to get something out of it.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would; a review of “The Theft of America’s Soul”

This is a review of The Theft of America’s Soul by Phil Robertson.

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I read Phil Robertson’s previous book, Happy, Happy, Happy! during the zenith of the Duck Dynasty craze. That book was okay. Fast forward five years after his second book, UnPHILtered (which I did not read), and now comes The Theft of America’s Soul. Curious to see what Robertson might have to say after the excitement of the Duck Dynasty frenzy has settled, I picked up the book. I read it in under two days; I could have read it in one day but life happens.

Woven together as a book that is one part memoir, one commentary on current events, and one part evangelical Christian apologetics, The Theft of America’s Soul fills in some of the holes in Phil Robertson’s life created in Robertson’s previous two books. But those gaps in Robertson’s story that he fills in are only the starting point, as he uses them as a Bible-centered springboard to critique what he sees as faults in the prevailing mindset of mainstream America. He calls out a need for Christian conviction and taking a stand for truth, as well as the need to stand for morality and unity. Robertson references the race riots in Ferguson, MO, the Harvey Weinstein debacle, the Las Vegas and Texas church shootings, among other events in our very recent U.S. history. But when he discusses them, it does not feel forced or contrived, but easy and conversational, the way Robertson’s tone is throughout the book.

The Theft for America’s Soul does have some parts where the pace seems to slow down. Chapter 6 on virtue, 8 on unity, and 9 on faith in the workplace feel a little repetitive at points. That might simply be because Robertson wants to make sure that his readers haven’t missed the points he is trying to emphasize. But if you’re like me, you catch them the first time.

On the whole, The Theft of America’s Soul is a respectable read. If you are a person of faith, you will undoubtedly feel encouraged and maybe even inspired. If you are not, this book will help you perhaps better understand a person who the media -and maybe even Phil himself- has painted as a backwoods “river rat.” In either case, the potential reader is bound to get something out of this book.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to give it a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

Review: Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd ed.

This is a review of the Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd Edition published by Thomas Nelson.

I am a lifelong student of the Bible, and also an individual who serves in various leadership functions in the church I attend and the school where I teach. One of the easiest ways I have found to develop personally as a leader and Christian is to read books on leadership and books on faith. The Maxwell Leadership Bible is an exceptional blending of the two book types. John C. Maxwell is a noted leader who has spent his entire life teaching leadership principles from a foundation of the Bible. Just reading the notes and articles included in this Bible is enough to know that Maxwell knows his stuff.

The edition that I have uses the New King James Version text as its foundation (Full disclosure: I really like the NKJV!). Then, throughout the text are mixed in short biographies on people of the Bible and who they demonstrate (positively or negatively) leadership traits. Also, the text includes short articles, one-page readings, and margin-inserts connected to leadership principles, as well as to the 21 Qualities of Leaders and the 21 Laws of Leadership, for which John Maxwell is known. There are an impressive amount of additional articles and leadership resources int he back of the Maxwell Leadership Bible, as well as sorted indices for where one can find features on the 21 Qualities and 21 Laws.

I like study Bibles. I like them when the supplementary materials do not distract the reader from the page. The Maxwell Leadership Bible does a good job in its layout to help prevent the reader from feeling distracted or overwhelmed. This edition also takes advantage of the Thomas Nelson Comfort Print font. That’s actually the only big noticeable difference for me between the previous edition and this one. That and the color scheme of the pages. But those two things, though small, make a surprisingly big, positive difference.

Paraphrased, John C. Maxwell writes that no matter what a person does, he or she is a leader in some capacity. The Maxwell Leadership Bible is a quality resource for anyone who identifies with the truth in that statement.

I received my copy of the Maxwell Leadership Bible for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

I reviewed a Bible designed for little girls.

This is a review of the International Children’s Bible- Sparkle and Change edition from Tommy Nelson. 

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I appreciate the beauty of the language in the King James Version, the scholarship behind the New American Standard Version, and the accessibility of the English Standard Version of the Bible. I started regularly reading a Bible well after the age where I might have benefited from a children’s Bible. For the last two months, I have used the International Children’s Bible as a part of my morning reading and looking at this from the perspective of a teacher and parent, I have been impressed with what is in this edition and its usefulness.

The way that this translation simplifies language so that young people (and even those new to the Bible as adults) is something that readers will appreciate. Consider the way that this familiar passage is presented: “The Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need” (Psalm 23:1). I pick this passage because another thing this version of the Bible does is put potentially unfamiliar words in a bold font so that the reader can know to turn to a glossary in the back of the Bible that explains that word, like “shepherd.” It also has important passages highlighted to jump out to new readers, like Psalm 23:1, for example.

While this translation does not edit out “sensitive” passages, it presents them in manner that might be easier with guidance for readers to understand, like the example of the Levite and his concubine in Judges 19-20. Instead of using the word “concubine,” the ICB uses the term “slave woman,” which is explained in the glossary that the word “concubine” and the word is described in simple terms.

This Bible is thoughtfully layed out. There are explanatory segments throughout this Bible to help new readers to understand what they are reading. Young kids, new readers, and those looking for “the simple idea” will gain a lot from this. While I am not a girl, the sequins and color scheme are bound to delight little girls- my daughter seems to enjoy it.

For a young girl who is a new reader, the International Children’s Bible: Sparkle and Change edition is a perfect choice. Even as an adult, I have been using this as part of my study time especially as a way to approach the Psalms and Old Testament from a new perspective. All around, it is a solid choice.

I received my copy of this Bible for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine solely.

Review: “A Morning and Evening Prayerbook”

This is a review of A Morning and Evening Prayerbook which is edited by Jeanie and David Gushee.

A prayer book? What in the world would an Evangelical ever want with a prayer book? Well, a lot actually. This reviewer is an Assemblies of God minister who wishes the Assemblies included more of a liturgical aspect in its services. A Morning and Evening Prayerbook, edited by Jeanie and David Gushee, is a great tool for the individual who wants to incorporate a component of liturgical prayer to his or her life in a way that is easy and simple to do.

To start with, I find A Morning and Evening Prayerbook to be more logistically useful than a book like The Book of Common Prayer. One of the big reasons is that every church holiday that the High Church celebrates, all the feasts, saints’ days, etc. is included in it. A…Prayerbook keeps the church calendar simple and focuses on the holy days around Easter (Ash Wednesday-Pentecost) and the Advent season. It also provides an index for the years 2019-2023 of when those dates fall. From there, A…Prayerbook functions like a daily devotional reader; there is no skipping from one index of readings to another section, back to an appendix of other prayer readings, and back and forth. This prayerbook starts on January 1 and the reader can move forward through the days, marking where he/she is pausing in the book in case the holiday readings are on a different day so he/she can go back to them. It is very usable in that regard.

Another thing I appreciate about A…Prayerbook is the breadth and variety of prayer sources and authors. Some of the prayers come from liturgical sources like the Catholic Book of Prayers and The Book of Common Prayer. But other writers whose words are included are individuals such as Karl Barth, George Fox, Kierkegaard, and others who one would not necessarily assume would be included in a “liturgical” prayer book. The images included throughout the book provide an additional layer to the effectiveness of contemplation to the book.

As a tool, A Morning and Evening Prayerbook is an easy way to incorporate prayer rhythm into daily devotions, using it as a starting point for conversational prayer. At worst, the user of this book is exposed to a broad amount of Church history, and at best uses that exposure as a way to join an eternal conversation in the Church. You will not be dissatisfied with this book.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review of the book. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are my own.

REVIEW: NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible

This is a review of the Ancient-Modern Bible published by Thomas Nelson.

The concept of the Ancient-Modern Bible is a unique one. Take the text of the New King James Version and print it on a page with really wide margins. Instead of printing study notes in the margins however, provide soundbites of commentary related to the passages from individuals who over the past two millenia have influenced Christian thought. In its essence, this is the basic idea of the Ancient-Modern Bible.

General editor Jeremy Buoma and the team that compiled all of the readings did an extensive and thorough job. Everyone from Origen to N.T. Wright and (almost) all of those in between are included as commentators in the margins of this Bible. Also, scattered throughout the pages of this Bible are one-page biographers of the “contributors” to the commentaries of the Bible. These short histories are a quick, useful way to get an introduction to many of the key thinkers of the Church. The back of the Bible includes a series of articles on different doctrinal themes that have been cornerstones of the church. After that is a section on some of the creeds, an Advent/Lent reading calendar, and a section of printed color pages on some of the significant pieces of Church art. This Bible does contain an extensive amount of information and material to give the reader a broad, though not deep range of Christian history.

As much as I enjoy the content of this Bible -I am using the Advent reading calendar this year- I feel like it tries to be way more than it needs to be. It is as if the editing team tried to stretch this Bible so thin with so much stuff that it ends up not being as impactful as it could be. I appreciate the passages from people of the Church in the margins. I feel the biographies are helpful. After that, however, I feel like a lot of the supplementary material throughout this Bible is unnecessary. Unless one really wants to look at the Church art, that part could have been left out. Also, as fascinating as the essays are, I am not sure whether they needed to be included either. Further, a lot is crammed into each page, but I wonder if part of that is accomplished by the fact that font can seem a little on the small side.

In the end, the Ancient-Modern Bible is okay. I got the most out of the fact that it is in a readable translation with a broad range of writers incorporated in the margin commentaries. The rest of the stuff, you can take it or leave it.

I received my copy of this Bible for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

Review: “I Declare War” by Levi Lusko

This is a review of the book I Declare War by Levi Lusko.

Alright, so what’s I Declare War about? Put simply, this book is a four-part battle plan against idolatry in its many forms. This is a topic many pastors and authors have addressed, but it seems like each one who does has something new or a new way to say the same thing so that it does not seem trite and a retreading of the same ground. I Declare War is no exception on this. While the topic of dealing with idolatry is as old as idolatry itself, Lusko’s book is a practical one which the reader will find worth picking up.

The premise of the book is simple: through addressing our thoughts, words, actions, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit for help, anyone is able to overcome all the stuff that is holding him or her back, idolatry. But what makes this book poignant and worth the read is everything Lusko brings to the page to accomplish his thesis. He provides a strong foundation of Scripture, personal anecdotes and practical application tips, as well as 21st Century pre-millenial snark to keep the book moving and put a new light on what can feel like “the same old stuff.”

One neat thing about the book is a playing card motif that is present throughout the book. In the book, once in a while a picture of an ace of spades (the ace of spades is explained at the end) appears on a full page by itself with a quote from either the previous page or one that is relevant to the chapter’s subject. Those alone are a valuable piece on their own. I found Lusko’s “Analyze, Extrapolate, Prioritize, and Navigate” matrix to be perhaps the most helpful thing.

In the end, read I Declare War or don’t. If you do, there is guaranteed to be content of worth for you found in its pages.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.