Book Review: Moments Til Midnight

Studying the life of St. Paul is a special joy for me.  Perhaps it is because I can identify with him in some small way.  I am nowhere near the evangelist or leader he was, but I did persecute the church of God at one point.  Reading his story of redemption is one that inspires me to be a better Christian.  In his second letter to Timothy we read his last letter to his protégé.  What were those hours like?  In his book Moments Til Midnight, author Brent Crowe seeks to answer those questions.

To be clear this book is a work of fiction with scripture woven in.  The author seeks to reconstruct what he thinks the last 12 hours of Paul’s life were like.  Topics from grace, friendship , leadership, and conversion are discussed.  It is really unique and stands out from other books about Paul.  It is a different take on Paul, and quite frankly, one that is a breath of fresh air.  This is not a historical work, but it is one that the reader will learn from.   On a scale of one to five stars I give it a solid four.

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge from B&H in exchange for an honest review].

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Book Review of The Case For Christ: Daily Moment of Truth

Jesus said that we must love him with all of our minds, heart, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:37).  There are many devotionals out there that focus on loving Jesus with heart and soul, but very few address loving him with our minds.  The Case For Christ: Daily Moment of Truth by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg is one that fills the void, and does so very effectively.

I have little doubt that you have either read other work by Lee Strobel, or seen the popular film The Case For Christ.  This devotional follows a similar format, and examines why we are here.  It does so in very general terms at first then moves into more advanced apologetics content.  Each apologetics devotional is only around two pages long.  As a result, topics are only discussed very briefly.  It would behoove the ready to look into longer works that go into detail regarding these more complex subject.  The book is 360 pages long and includes subjects such as science meeting scripture, reincarnation, the divinity of Christ, and historical evidences for the faith.  There is very little uncovered, and wets the appetite of these subjects.

This book is good if you are wanting a brief 5-6 minute overview of scripture and apologetics content.  IF you are looking for an in depth explanation about the proofs of the resurrection this is not the book, and this is not the intent or design of the book.  It is meant to strengthen one’s faith with basic apologetics that will assist in one defending Christianity.  With that is does a pretty good job.  4/5 stars.

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: The Beauty of the Mass

One of the things I had trouble with during my journey to the Catholic Church was what went on at Mass.  I can’t begin to tell you how frustrated I would get as everyone sat and kneeled while I was left wondering what was going on.  As I started to understand the theology behind the Mass, I started to see a whole other issue entirely.  I started to notice how some who have been immersed their whole lives have no idea about the beauty and majesty that they are partaking in.

In his book The Beauty of the Mass:  Exploring the Central Act of Worship author Charles S. Johnston takes an in depth look at the Mass.  The book is brilliantly laid out and describes exactly what is happening with every aspect of Mass.  From the initial sign of the cross, to the final blessing, and everything in between the author lays out the reasons why we do what we do.  Even ore importantly, at least to me, is that the Biblical basis is given for it.  There is so much scripture in the Mass!  As if having all the scriptural backup wasn’t enough, the author strengthens his research using church documents and writing from the early church fathers.

Would I recommend that you check out this book?  Absolutely!  It is solid and is good for those who are coming into the church because it gives a great explanation of the Mass.  It is also good of those of us who have been around and I’m sure you will discover something that you didn’t know.  The book is well written and is written in a style that everyone will be able to understand it.  Check it out!

Please visit the author’s website at Nowthatimcatholic.com to learn more about his work.

You purchase the book here.

[Note:  This book was provided by the author free of charge in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: All The Pope’s Men

All The Pope’s Men was an interesting book.  When I started reading it I was expecting more of a theological expose of how the Vatican works, but to my surprise this was not the case.  This was not a bad thing, but a very good thing.  It allowed me to step back and see the church in a whole new light.  As Catholics we see the Vatican as this holy place, which it is, but it is so much more.  It is literally a country of its own, and it has diplomatic relations with other countries.  I think that is one of the reasons for the book’s popularity.  It gives detailed insight into the different aspects and offices that comprise the Vatican.  I found it particularly fascinating that the various offices of the Vatican are totally autonomous from each other.  They each have their own separate leadership.  In the pages about the Roman Curia Allen wrote about how one office was comprised of two people who spoke two different languages.  This was done so they would not develop a favoritism toward each other.

Another reason for the book’s popularity is that it is not a theological treatise or a church history book about the importance of the Vatican.  Allen strives and succeeds in my opinion, between the roll of the Holy See and its relationship with the rest of the world.  A third reason for the books popularity is that it acts as a myth buster about popular conspiracy theories about the Vatican.  I recommended this book to a non-Catholic friend for those pages alone.  They are filled with sources that can be easily obtained.  Allen’s views on the American and Vatican perspectives is also interesting, and if you look closely you can see them play out pretty regularly.  In America we want things done the way we want yesterday (immediately).  The Vatican doesn’t work that way.  It is a 2,000 year old Institution that moves slowly.  It isn’t because it doesn’t care, but because it is concerned with Catholics worldwide not just in Los Angeles, CA.  Because of that there are times where relations between the two seem strained, but overall relations are good.  Overall I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

You can check the book out here.

Book Review: A Call To Mercy

She had untold influence in her community, the church, and the world.  She gave up worldly comforts to comfort those who had nothing.  The book A Call to Mercy documents the life of Mother Teresa.  There have been many books published about this wonderful woman, but this one is different.  This one is testimonials from those closest to her, and a lot of the book is in her own words.

Though she is known best for her work in Calcutta, the book includes her work from around the world.  No matter where she was she sought to serve.  One such story is when she was honored with the Nobel Peace prize in Oslo.  It is customary to have a large banquet, but she had a glass of water and asked that the banquet be cancelled and the food given to those in need.  There are many such stories in the book that will challenge every reader to live out the words of Christ in Matthew 25:40.  That passage of scripture states, “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The book is arranged in a way to correspond with the works of mercy.  At the end of each chapter are passages of scripture for reflection, and a prayer to assist the reader in implanting what was read.  The book is humbling and is one that will change your outlook on those around you.  We encounter those who are hungry, hurting, and just need someone to show them love and mercy on a daily basis.  This book will challenge one to assist however they can.

[I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars

I love the title of this book.  How many of us couldn’t use a nap and a million dollars?  The title is witty, but the subtitle is telling.  The full title of this book is I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars:  Biblical Alternatives to Stressed Out Living.  The title of the book intrigued me.  After all how many of us are not dealing with stress?  We live in a world that is moving a million miles per minute, and we are being pulled in a thousand different directions.  We have stressors such as relationships, finances, family life, and even church life.

The book itself is written with women in mind, and the author is quick to disclose this.  The author does get a bit stereotypical when it comes to how men handle stress.  After all, we all don’t go around hitting the wall when we are angry.  To be fair, some of us do.  I have also witnessed some women do the same.  With that being said, that is really the only negative I see with the book.  The author is witty, and has a very relatable writing style.  Every chapter has a common stressor, and every chapter offers reflection and biblical insight.

Overall I give it 4 out of five stars

[Note:  This book was received free of charge from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: The Apologetics Study Bible (CSB)

Apologetics is a topic within Christian theology that many try to avoid, but it is all something that we are called to in one way or another.  We get this mandate directly from 1 Peter 3:15 which states, “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you”.  The Apologetics Study Bible is a great tool to help all of us answer questions on the Christian faith.

The study Bible is published by B&H and utilizes the new translation known as the Christian Standard Bible.  It is not the purpose of this article to critique the CSB, but I have done so in a previous post which you can read here.

The apologetics portion of the Bible consists of several articles that are spread throughout the book.  There is no shortage of articles as the book contains topics such as “What does the Bible teach about angels”, “What does the Bible say about Euthanasia?”, and “What are the three laws of logic?”  The book is evangelical in nature, and the articles are written by some leading apologists such as Dr. Gary Habermas, Norman Geisler, and Ravi Zacharias.  Overall the book is good for anyone that wants a down to basics view on basic Christian doctrine.  Highly recommended just for the articles alone.

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge from B&H publishing in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: Transforming Grace

Grace is an unmerited gift from God.  As Ephesians 2:8 says, “It is by grace that we have been saved through faith”.  However, it seems that we forget about this gift from time to time and set out to do things on our own.  We try to measure up to God’s standard, and forget about the grace that is needed to get us to that standard.  This is the topic of the book Transforming Grace by author Jerry Bridges.  Jerry is well known Christian writer and has written numerous book.  He has also served on the staff of The Navigators before passing to his eternal reward in 2016.

Grace is transformational.  God shows us the mercy and love that only He can give, and the kicker is that it is a free gift.  This does not mean that God doesn’t have rules that he want us to live by.  God isn’t saying that as Christians we can live any way we please, but we do have a tendency to create  rules that add more of a burden.  On page 135 the author writes, “We still practice this today.  We build fences to keep ourselves from committing certain sins.  Soon these fences-instead of the sins they were designed to guard against-become the issue.  We elevate our rules to the level of God’s Commandments”.

The book itself contains thirteen chapters that discuss grace and discipleship.  It also contains four discussion chapters to help the reader understand this great gift from God.  This is a good entry level book on the topic as the language is simple, and the analogies are relatable.  I learned a lot and so will you.

[Note.  This book was received free of Charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

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