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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz

This is a fascinating look at people's lives in a neighborhood in Shanghai. Rob Schmitz, a journalist who lives in the Shanghai neighborhood, tells the stories of people whose lives intersect
his own. The author relates each individual's story and past history to help the reader better understand the Chinese people and their culture.

 Even though this book is non-fiction, it reads like a novel and is an engaging read. I enjoyed the honest accounts of the people he talks about and gained a much better understanding of China and its people.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about China. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Scatter by Andrew Scott

Too often when we think of missionaries, we think of individuals who raise support and work full time in missions or ministries. What if we change our thinking about that and realize that every Christian is called into fulltime ministry wherever they work. The church need Christian professionals in the business world, sports, art and medicine to name a few areas. The world needs Christians to live out their faith in their chosen professions and make an impact for Christ in their business places and overseas making differences in countries where the need is great to improve their economy and communities. 

Andrew Scott explains how to determine your spiritual gifts, heart or passion, abilities, personality and experiences in finding your purpose and calling. He uses the biblical examples of Abraham, Joseph and Daniel who were "scattered" and fulfilled God's purpose for them in making a difference in places foreign to them. He also shares some present day examples of people who have "scattered" and are making a difference where they are located. This concept is applicable to all who desire to serve God in their workplace whether it be here or overseas. 

There are questions at the end of each chapter making it useful to use in a small group setting for discussion.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors by Josh Chetwynd

Sports metaphors are widely used in our every day language. Josh Chetwynd does a great job of tracking down the origins of such widely used phrases such as "hitting it out of the ballpark," "down for the count," and "on the bubble" to name a few. These idiomatic words and phrases are used to signify something other than their obvious meaning. With the popularity of sports, it is easy to see how these phrases are so commonly used to convey something other than how they were originally intended.

Well written and researched, the book looks at phrases from both team sports and individual sports. A great reference book and facts from this book would be great conversation starters. Makes for entertaining reading.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Distant God by Chris Nye

Every relationship goes through some ups and down and it is no different with our relationship with God. There are times when we can sense God's presence with us and other times when He feels far away. Chris Nye does a great job of discussing this issue in a practical way. He talks about adjusting our expectations of God as well as examining our own hearts to see where we are at. He has divided the book into three helpful sections: Measuring the Distance: Closing the Distance and Going the Distance.

One quote by Rich Mullins spoke to me, "Closeness to God isn't about feelings; closeness to God is about obedience."  This book is both thought provoking and challenging and I highly recommend it.
I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper

Shalom is the "very good" in the gospel. The author discusses shalom in the context of being at peace with ourselves and with one another. She discusses the first three chapters of Genesis in the context of our relationship to God, to each other and to creation itself. These relationships created by God are connected all together. Topics explored in the book include Shalom with God, Shalom with self, Shalom between genders, Shalom and creation, Shalom and broken families, Shalom and race, Shalom between nations, Shalom and witnessing peace and Shalom in life and death.

Lisa Sharon Harper challenges the reader to live out the Gospel in such a way to bring Shalom to our lives and the lives of those around us and in the world filled with brokenness and chaos. For the only way to live is to follow the way God set forth through the person of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. That is the very good gospel.   

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

After Acts by Bryan Lifin

Ever wondered what happened to the apostles after the book of Acts in the New Testament? We always want to find out what happened and how things turned out. This book is a historical look at the lives of the New Testament church leaders and tries to fill in those gaps.

The lives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Mary, Thomas, James and the other apostles are examined based on documentation and historical traditions. What is especially helpful is that at the end of each chapter there is a report card. The report card grades the evidence presented according to its accuracy.

This book is an excellent introduction to the history of the early church. I highly recommend this book for all who have an interest in church history.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.   

Monday, May 2, 2016

Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers

In this information book, Mark Sayers examines the history of the culture and the church and traces the path the church has gone down. The  account of the changes in the church after World War II helps to illustrate how the church got to where it is today, The return of Gnosticism (the gospel of self) and the idea that individualism is more important than a commitment to a community is not only present in our culture today but in the church as well.

The idea that spirituality is good but that organized religion is bad points to our culture as not only post-God, but post-church. This is shown as the industries of entertainment, technology and consumerism grow while other less glamorous and vital institutions which require commitment and responsibility fade and fall. Among those institutions is the church. These institutions are vital to not only pass on information but values as well.

The challenge for the church today is to live out the Gospel and invest in people's lives so the church may run deep. As in the early church may we invest in a few to change many.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Together at the Table by Hilary Manton Lodge

Managing a restaurant, dealing with a mother's death, the end of one romance and beginning of another and a mystery from the past are all included in this book which is the third in the "Two Blue Doors" series. Juliette is managing a brand new restaurant with the help of her brother. Her mother has just passed away from ovarian cancer. She has ended a long distance romance with Neil. Neil is an immunologist in Memphis while Juliette's work and family are in Portland, Oregon. The distance between them seemed to be to much to overcome. Between her hectic restaurant schedule and a new relationship with fellow co-worker, Adrian, Juliette's life becomes more complicated. As Juliette deals with the grief in her life, she continues to look into questions about her grandmother and her life during World War II which is the mystery from the past.

Cooking and food is very much a part of the book and there are recipes interspersed throughout the book. Culinary enthusiasts will enjoy that part of the book. If you did not read the first two books, the part about the questions of Juliette's grandmother's life in France during World War II might be hard to understand. The rest of the plot of the book is engaging enough, but it may be difficult to g
et into the book if you have not read the first two books in the series.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.