Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Blog for Books @ WaterBrook/Multnomah

Perhaps you did not notice, but some of my reviews are in exchange for books. One of the programs I participate in is the "Blogging for Books" offer from WaterBrook/Multnomah Press. It's really kind of simple--request a book that your interested in (has to be one of the ones that's "available" from Multnomah--they're listed, it's easy). You can choose from electronic or traditional books as you prefer. They get the book to you, you read it, then you review it. Typically, you post your review on your blog and one of the major on-line outlets (B&N, Amazon, you get the idea), then list it on the B4B site. After that, you're eligible to order another book. Just click on the banner to sign up.

[Secret special for Preachers--you don't have to have a blog, check the "church" section of the site out for details.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Warriors in Hiding: the Surprising People God Chooses and Uses – Doug Munton

©2008 Xulon Press (

Doug Munton serves as the senior pastor of First BaptistChurch in O’Fallon, Illinois. He is also currently serving as the president of the Illinois Baptist State Association. He wants God’s people to know that God wants them to be a part of His on-going work—even if they don’t know it or want to be a part of it.

Basing his study in the story of Gideon, Munton teaches readers how God knows more about them than they may possibly know themselves. Because of this God “Chooses Surprising Kinds of People,” “Stretches (them) in Surprising Ways,” and “Allows (them) to Make Surprising Choices.” Are you afraid to serve God? So was Gideon, and God chose him. Are you doubtful about how you can be used? So was Gideon, and God used him. Are you unprepared to launch a ministry? So was Gideon, and God blessed him anyway.

With that backdrop, the author uses a variety of life-experience stories, ministry-related illustrations, and amusing anecdotes to develop an inspirational book. You’ll even enjoy the golf story twice if you watch carefully.

This book is a reminder that even when I feel inadequate, unprepared or afraid, God can and will use me. And you can be assured that He will find and choose you as well, if you will but let Him. Four out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 26, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dug Down Deep – Joshua Harris

© 2010, 2011 Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs

Joshua Harris is probably still best known for his ground-breaking relationship book IKissed Dating Goodbye. Now, several years and a mountain of growth later, he’s no longer in the conference-speaker circuit, but is senior pastor of Covenant LifeChurch in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Even so, he is still writing books, and today we can be glad of this fact.

In Dug Down Deep, Harris deals with some very heavy issues with a very delicate hand. Systematic Theology. Just the thought, the mere mention, of the study causes eyelids to droop and even the most spiritual among us to stifle yawns. Harris takes the ho-hum out of theology. He makes the study of doctrine, theology (the study of God), soterriology, ecclessiology, and all the other big –ology words that throw Christians for a loop, accessible.

The author doesn’t neglect the big words that make us cringe, but he defines them and helps the reader to better understand them. Overall, I’d say that he treats all the big issues—the Trinity, the Deity and Humanity of Christ, the background and reason for the church, among others—rather well. Certainly he’s not as thorough as Grudem and Erickson, but that’s his point. He’s not writing for the seminary student but for the Christian who wants to learn more about faith—to dig deeper. He addresses subjects such as God, Christ, the Bible, Salvation, and the Church. Mid-book he gets bogged down with the topic of grace which requires the reader to read a little of the mind of the writer, or already have a handle on what that topic means. Other than that the book is solid and helpful for the Christian in the pew. It’s also a great read for seminary-types like me.
The newly released paperback version includes not only the notes and suggested further reading, but discussion guide questions to help the reader to think more deeply about what he has read (whether used in individual study or in a group). Four out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 21, 2011

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission – Ronnie Floyd

© 2011 Thomas Nelson, Nashville

Ronnie Floyd is the long-time pastor of Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas. Aside from that, what makes him qualified to write a book outlining the practical application of the Great Commission? You ask. In 2009 and 2010 he led a team charged with studying the Great Commission and recommending to the Southern Baptist Convention churches the best ways that we as a convention of churches could address and implement the last command of Christ in a practical and lasting way. Consequently, this year-long intimacy with the Commission opened the eyes of a pastor who wholeheartedly supported the concept of the Great Commission to the need for the modern church to practice that Commission effectively and daily.

The book begins at the historical point of how the early church began by carrying out the command as a natural outgrowth of their encounter with Christ. As history played itself out in and around the church, somewhere and somehow the church fell asleep. Now, Floyd says, is the time for the church to wake up and be about what we are called to be: witnesses to the entire world, making disciples of all nations.

Our Last Great Hope is filled with excellent examples from a variety of sources that teach us why and how we can wake up to the Great Commission—or more appropriately why and how we can awaken the Great Commission within the church.

I found the text both encouraging and inspiring. I think, if you are a Christ follower, you will too. This is not a simple “how to” book teaching us a step by step process in fulfilling the Commission. Instead it is a mirror into which Christians can gaze to see if their life is a life dedicated to and characterized by Great Commission living. In order for the church to be actively involved in pursuing the Great Commission Floyd suggest that we start with ourselves—do we know the Master who issued the commission, and are we living for Him? Then he moves to how the individual Christian is a part of a family, a community, and yes even a church that must be about reaching a lost and dying world.

This involvement requires not only resolve to do it, but also funds to do it. Even more, it fills us with the expectation of God to do what He can and will do, when we step out to do what He has commanded us to do—which is far more than we could and would do under our own strength. Certainly, pastors should read this book. Beyond that, all Christians should read this book—not as a substitute for the Commission itself (which we find when we study the Bible) but as a wake up call to re-acquaint ourselves with the job that Christ has given us.

Four and one-half out of five stars.

—Benjamin Potter, August 10, 2011

[Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 – Richard Paul Evans

© 2011, Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink, New York

Richard Paul Evans burst on the publishing scene in 1995 when an alert executive at Simon & Schuster noticed his self-published Christmas story The Christmas Box. I’ve read many of his successful stories including the trilogy that came out of the original Christmas story, others of his romantic fiction (some better than others) and several of his children’s book which are dedicated to the Christmas Box House that benefits children. Now he is turning his pen to the new arena that is luring many successful authors (like John Grisham)—Young Adult fiction.

I like YA fiction for a variety of reasons: It reads quickly (authors go out of their way to use readable language); and speaking of language, most YA stories are free of vulgarity and innuendo (which forces the author to use a vocabulary filled with clean language); most of these works have a little romantic tension even though the graphic details are left out (and I really enjoy stories that are free of material that cues my internal censor).

The Prisoner of Cell25 introduces an anticipated collection of works about the Electorclan—a group of children who through some quirk of fate were born with abilities that can be traced back to electricity. Some call this small group of children “electric children”. Several of the children have been tracked down and abducted by the evil, maniacal genius Dr. Hatch whose invention caused the accident in the first place. Hatch is backed by a consortium of people who are trying to duplicate the events that created the electric children in order to conquer the world.

Michael Vey and his friend Taylor Ridley are the last two of the electric children to be found. Hatch gets Taylor back to his compound and tries to turn her into one of his servants as he has done with many of the other children including Taylor’s twin sister Tara (who Taylor has never heard of). His efforts are in vain when he asks the girl to hurt strangers as a proof of her loyalty.

There is much to be enjoyed in this first Michael Vey story. Most readers will look forward to the second story in the series which promises to follow the Electroclan as they help Michael search for his mother and answers to questions about his past.

Even so, there are a few distractions that may crop up. There is an uncanny resemblance to other Science Fiction/Fantasy mainstays that already have the hearts of SciFi fans. Specifically, Evans seems to be drawing heavily on story lines from the X-men and Heroes franchises. Even so, there are enough new items to overlook the resemblance.

That said, I’m looking forward to the next installment. 4 out of 5 reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 2, 2011

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