Sunday, May 24, 2009

Veiled Freedom by J.M. Windle

Excellent! Riveting! Great writing! Suspense! Well all these words would do a great job in succintly telling about a book I just read published by Tyndale and written by J.M. Windle titled Veiled Freedom. I had never heard of the author but am glad that I gave this book the chance it deserved, because if I hadn't I would have missed out on an excellent book.
The book takes us to Kabul in 2001 after American forces have 'freed' Afghanistan from the Taliban. We have no idea just how much the Afghan people are still in prison though by their new, corrupt government. Eight years pass as Special Forces veteran, Steve Wilson, returns as a security chief. Aboard the same plane to Afghanistan is relief worker, Amy Mallory, who wants to change the entire world. Imagine the challenges she faces being a young, single, Christian woman in Afghanistan but love can conquer all. This is not a romance between a male and female but a romance between a woman's greater love for a country in need, a love for her Savior and their love in return.
The first two chapters were slow moving but I am so glad that I kept going because after I hit chapter 3 it was hard to put down! The historical accurance of this book will have you feeling as if you are really standing in the streets of Afghanistan, feeling the stuffiness in the burqas, the dirt that you breathe in. The fast past doesn't detract from the story, in fact adding to it, as I can't imagine anything going at a slow rate in Afghanistan. I felt like I shared in Amy Mallory's decisions and how to come to grips of not being able to save the world. I too one time have been idealistic in wanting to change the world and it's a rude awakening when you realize all too well it's a job that no one can do, but One.
I would ask you to please check out this book, you can find a way to purchase it through Tyndale and see if you enjoy it as much as I did. I will say that the day I began reading this book I recieved word that my cousin and his unit will be deployed to Afghanistan, he is more than likely already there, so to say reading this book hit home somewhat is an understatement. Being a veteran and coming from a long line of veterans, it makes me proud.

Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions by James A. Beverly

Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions by James A. Beverly is a voluminous tome that takes time to digest but is an excellent source of well researched material on religions of the world. Mr. Beverly does admit that he is not all knowing and any negative opinions are not done in malice or in any hating of any individual or religion.

In the Introduction Mr. Beverly ten things that he feels are a Christian way to respond to different religions that are not Christian and outlining the basics of the Christian Faith. He also gives ten tests for truth in religion:

  1. The God Test
  2. The Christological Test
  3. The Biblical Test
  4. The Love Test
  5. The Spirit Test
  6. The Freedom Test
  7. The Psychological Test
  8. The Social/Political Test
  9. The Prophetic Test
  10. The Rational Test

I won't go into much detail about each test, suffice to say this provides a good starting ground in determining wether a religion is truly Christian grounded in the Truth. He also describes cults and what constitutes a cult - sometimes the lines are not so clearly drawn in regards to some.

The religions discussed in this book are Baha'i, Branch Davidians, Buddhism, Christian Science, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, Judaism, Mormonism, The New Age, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Satanism, Sikhism, Unification Church and Witchcraft. Within each religion such as Protestantism there are subdivisions discussed like Adventism, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Baptists, Charismatics, Church of Christ, Emergent Church, Florida Outpouring, Fundamentalism, Kansas City Prophets, Seventh-Day Adventist, Methodists and other denomations within the Protestantism belief system.

Within each is given time lines of that particular religion, websites for further research and learning and other recommended reading. The full colored pictures are accompanied with short descriptions of the picture of the place or person the picture is of. The pictures are a wondeful addition to a book that would feel extra large without them. There are four appendices as well which provide more information:

  1. Religions as Family Traditions
  2. Taoism and Taoism Chart
  3. Introduction to Brainwashing and Deprogramming
  4. Resources on World and New Religions.

This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys theology, study of other religions or just to know why other religions think the way they do. While I am sure this is not all encompassing, as religions constantly shift and change the information contained in this book will enable the Christian to see other religions and understand even if not in agreement with them. I do suggest young children not see this book as there other dieties and images dealing with Satanism which could be scary to some children.

You can find out how to purchase this book by visiting Thomas Nelson's product page.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Classic Bible Storybook by Kenneth N. Taylor

The Classic Bible Storybook by Kenneth N. Taylor and published by Tyndale is a hard covered book with more than 120 stories from the Bible. The beautiful illustrations one finds in this storybook are done by Richard and Franci Hook. Kenneth Taylor was a dad to 10 children and wanted his children to be able to understand Biblical truths and sought to find a way to make that a reality. He has written many other books for children and is also responsible for what later became the New Living Translation of the Bible.

This storybook of Bible stories has beautiful illustrations done both in color and black and white. The drawings are realistic in nature and add the ability for children to feel connected to the Biblical characters they read about. The illustrations will impress even the oldest of adults down the youngest of children - I know my husband and I were impressed as was my youngest who is 2! The care taken by the illustrators really can be felt to come through the pages as you read the stories.

There are 68 Old Testament Bible stories and 53 New Testament Bible stories. Each story gives the Scripture that relates back to the Bible as well as one or two illustrations to go along with that story. The stories are engaging, as all Bible stories should be, and are simple enough the young will understand but detailed enough that the older children will not be bored by simplistic language. Following each story are comprehension questions that the parent can go over with their child(ren) to ensure a good understanding of the Bible story they were just read. The questions can have simple answers for the young child but also give a chance for an older child to give more detailed answers as they grow in the Word.

Overall, this is a wonderful children's storybook full of Truth and Wisdom and will enable children to grasp Biblical truths on their level until they can move on to a regular Bible for more intense study. My oldest enjoys pulling this off the shelf and reading and answering the questions by herself. This could also be used for family devotions or to teach Biblical history for the homeschooling family. There are so many ways to use this Classic Bible Storybook and your family will enjoy it and as well as it's made it could very well became a treasured family heirloom.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The American Patriot's Bible NKJV

The American Patriot's Bible is a wonderful, hard back New King James Version of the Bible. This Bible is "The Word of God and the Shaping of America". Thomas Nelson has put out a Bible that is great reading neither taking away or adding to Scripture.

In the front of the Bible are beautiful, full color pages for a marriage record between a man and wife, areas for the husband's family and the wife's family, children, grandchildren, church records, family history, ancestor's of interest, map of the United States of America, the fifty states and dates when they became a state, military and public service and deaths of family members.

Also in the front are The Seven Principles of the Judeo-Christian Ethic:
  • Principle 1: The Dignity of Human Life (all human life not just the born but the pre-born and elderly, everyone)
  • Principle 2: The Traditional Monogamous Family
  • Principle 3: A National Work Ethic
  • Principle 4: The Right to a God-Centered Education
  • Principle 5: The Abrahamic Covenant
  • Principle 6: Common Decency
  • Principle 7: Our Personal Accountability to God

This Bible is NOT saying that Jesus is only for Americans. This Bible is NOT saying that God's Word is only for Americans. In fact this Bible states that the Bible is for everyone who will receive it. What makes this Bible nice is that it includes American HIStory within His Word to drive home facts. While some things I did learn in my mediocre public school education - there were gaping holes when it came to things like why the Pilgrims really came to America or the fact that our founding fathers were in fact Christians although there were some deists as well. This could very well be written for the British, Africans, Indians, any nationality that wants to incorporate their nations history with God's written Word.

I will say I don't think that every Christian is called to vote. While this Bible has a full page of quotes on why American Christians should vote there also seems to be an unwritten understanding that Christians who don't vote aren't doing their duty to God and country. I beg to disagree. While I do vote, I haven't been convicted by God to not vote, but if I ever do it wouldn't be the end of the world. Not voting doesn't mean you don't care about your country, those who don't vote can do other things to direct how laws are made without getting involved in politics - like praying.

The other aspect of this Bible is the picture of Obama in it. He is quoted saying how change has come to America. I don't believe a picture of our current President belongs in a Bible although I know the editor and publisher were making a point about equality for the races, but I think it could have been done in a better way. I must add as well, I don't think that God is behind wars. men start wars and then seek God's guidance, rarely have I seen or heard of a war started with a man first seeking God's will. I mean no disrespect to anyone in the Armed Forces (I myself am a Navy veteran) and while God can be with those serving I hesitate to say that He supports the act of war.

Overall, The American Patriot's Bible, is a great Bible for those desiring to add a little more history to the readings of Scripture. You can view a YouTube video about this new Bible published by Thomas Nelson. I would say give it a chance and take a look at it, you may be genuinely surprised.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Love is A Verb by Gary Chapman

"Love is A Verb" is a book of stories "of what happens when love comes alive". Love has to be alive to bring forth fruit and this book definitely proves that.

Several authors comprise this book of stories about love and living love. It may be the lady who choose to love her husband when she just wanted to run away. The husband who learns to love his wife more when she develops Alzhiemer's Disease. The neighbor lady who 'adopts' a lonely next door girl. A woman adopting children no one else wanted even after raising her own three children.

"Love is A Verb" was a fast read but one that will not leave your memory so fast. Mr. Chapman offers tidbits at the end of each story that may show you just how to live that love that Jesus embodied so well. The short stories may well open your eyes and have you love that unlovable neighbor, the spouse that is chronically ill, the child that never listens and goes the way of the prodigal son. Whatever is going on this book may just show you the value of loving those who we deem unlovable. If we shed our preconcieved notions of who deserves our love then we can fully embrace everyong in love and treat them even if they may not really be deserving of love - like the abusive ex husband.

Gary Chapman has put together a book that is a gem and can make one really think about how they are treating others around them. Even if you aren't a Christian, loving others can make this world a better place to be and maybe the person you showed love to will show love to someone else! You can visit Bethany House to purchase "Love is A Verb".

What Does the Bible Say About That? by Carolyn Larsen

Children often wonder what the Bible says about certain topics wether it's something as mundane as math class or something as serious as abortion, children will wonder. Crossway and Carolyn Larsen have put out a great book that can help children (recommended for ages 8 to 12) understand what the Bible says on topics that concern their lives.
There are 300 topics included in "What Does the Bible Say About That?", that range from animals to laziness, clothes to drug abuse and others like dieting, dancing, sex, tattoos and other topics. Mrs. Larsen writes the book in a friendly, familiar style that talks to children instead of at them or down on them. The easy reading style is accompanied by cute cartoons that drive home important points about the topic.
Each topic begins with a question: "What does the Bible say about....?" and then addresses what the Bible says. I didn't find anything that would be controversial or un-Biblical in regards to what the Bible would say about any of these topics. The next part is a few Scripture on what the Bible does say on that topic, the version of the Bible used and quoted is the English Standard Version. Time to face the facts is the next section, it gives guidance that the child can use to direct what they should or shouldn't do according to what the Bible says. Lastly, there is a section that gives the child something to do to on that day to reinforce what they learned from reading.
This book isn't too take away the parent's authority but can serve as a way to open dialouge between parent and child on topics that otherwise may be hard to discuss or for the parent to know what to say. My daughter, who is 7, really enjoyed reading the sections I allowed her to and she says she always wants to keep this book - which is fine by me.
I will say that there were a few sections that I used some non-permanent glue and paper to cover over since I don't feel that children are ready for some of these things at the age this book is geared for, such as boys, dating, drinking, drug abuse, puberty and sex. These are things that while they will eventually have to know about but at the tender, innocent age of 8 to 12 they don't need the information even though it is Biblically based - I read those sections. Although I will say if the child is in a public or private school there may be a need for them to read these sections and discuss them with their parents. As a homeschool family these issues haven't and won't arise for awhile.
Overall this book is a great and well worth it read. The child can easily read it by themselves or read it together with a parent for a devotional. I would recommend this book to the family that isn't sure what they should say regarding certain topics that will come up during the growing up years.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Tides of Truth Book 2 (Higher Hope) by Robert Whitlow

Tami Taylor is a law clerk during the summer and there is something that differentiates her from the other clerks and attorneys. I wasn't sure at first when I first started reading this book but am so glad that I continued on with it.
Tami comes from a family who values their Christian faith, through the way they dress, act, talk, work and school - their faith in God comes through loud and clear. This shows in Tami's work at the law firm especially when the lines between God and the law can become blurred.
Tami is put to work on a case that proves to hit close to home when the firm is hired to a libel case against a female preacher. Some fear that Tami's beliefs will be the firm's downfall. I won't say what happens so I don't spoil the read for you, but it wasn't what I thought was going to happen! I love twists and turns in plots that keep me guessing and keep me alert.
There is romance in the form of courtship! It's great to see an author taking this old fashioned way of finding a spouse and making it so it is a good thing and not a horrible, fuddy duddy frame of mind. While Tami's fellow law clerk alludes to less than moral standards with her boyfriend, nothing is said in detail. Also fellow homeschoolers will enjoy reading this because there is something about Tami's and the man she is courting lives that will surprise you especially when it's a topic that is usually made fun of or put down.
This is a great read and very enjoyable. I would suggest that you visit Thomas Nelson and purchase a copy of this book for yourself to see just how enjoyable Mr. Whitlow's books are.

Brides of Gallatin County Books 1 and 2

I had the chance to read books 1 and 2 in the Brides of Gallatin county series by Tracie Peterson. The first one is "A Promise to Last Forever" and the second one is "A Love to Last Forever". These book are an great read and keep you in it's grips until you read the last page of the book.

A "Promise to Believe In" introduces the readers to the Gallatin sisters who also happen to live in Gallatin County in the wilds of Montana in the late 1800's. They have lived most of their lives without a mom, who died in childbirth while trying to birth her fourth child. Their father takes them and moves constantly without ever finding stability until moving to Gallatin County where he owns and operates (with his three daughters) the Gallatin House, where people traveling the stage can stop for a meal and rest.

"A Promise to Believe In" focuses on the character, Gwen, who was widowed right after her wedding. Her husband's brother comes calling to find his brother and see where a secret is hidden. Of course there is romance but there is nothing risque or un Christian about there behavior. There is discussion about the brothel in town and how the sisters can help the prostitutes but again besides mention of one of the sister's penchant for dime novels and her mind wandering once, nothing is said that would make this book unreadable to the Christian.

Book 2: "A Love to Last Forever", focuses on sister, Beth. She is the one who read the dime novels. I was shocked to learn what dime novels really were and I won't go into that here. Beth lives her life trying to measure up to her dime novel stories and when she realizes her life and real life is nothing like what is in the books makes her cherish the Bible all the more. She too evenutally finds love in a imperfect but godly man.

The two main issues I have about the books are the fact of the dime novels, it seems as if it does bother the older sister but no one makes any move to Beth she can't read them and why she shouldn't read them. From what I understand dime novels were often times trashy reads and would sully the mind and make it impure. The second issue is that of dresses, the other sister, Lacy (whose story is to come) is more tom boy and sees nothing wrong in wearing pants or split skirts. She feels being feminine and wearing dresses as being weak and terrible. Women through out time have been able to work, tend house, children, gardens, mine, ride horses, ride bicycles all in dresses.

I will say overall the books are very well written and you really feel like you are in the Gallatin House and seeing what goes on in the three sister's lives. I would recommend these books to those who are strong in their faith and convictions. They were fast, enjoyable reads and I would read them over again - if I had the time :)

You can find the information to purchase the books here: A Promise to Believe In
and here: A Love to Last Forever

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A contest!

come over to Tina's blog and check out her giveaway of three books:

Dear Mom

Mama's Got a Fake I.D.

Enduring Justice