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.]

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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.]

Book Review: NICNT The Letter to Philemon

One of my favorite books of the New Testament is the short letter of the Apostle Paul to Philemon.  Coming in at just over 250 words the letter is short, but full of power.  Never read it?  I encourage you to as it is a constant reminder on how to treat our fellow man.  In this commentary, author Scot McKnight, provides excellent insights into this underrated book.

The letter itself deals with the topic of slavery as Paul is writing to Philemon on behalf of Philemon’s slave Oneisimus.  McKnight gives an excellent account of slavery in ancient Rome, and in doing so he calls to mind the church’s job of reconciliation.  On page five he writes, “Reconciled people become agents of reconciliation”.  With this in mind McKnight calls Philemon to a new relationship as siblings in Christ with his runaway slave.

Intermingled in the commentary the author provides various essays and takes aim at the very real problem of slavery in the 21st century.  These essays alone are worth the cost of the book.  The message of Philemon applies to the modern travesty as well, and the church needs to be a place of reconciliation and justice.

Overall this commentary was very well written and researched.  It is a fairly short book and is only 114 pages long, but those pages are power packed.  This is an excellent resource for any serious student of the scriptures.  I highly recommend it!

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

 

Book Review: Paul and His Team

No matter what capacity you have in life you have heard of leadership.  Leadership is something that influences every aspect of our life.  Whether it be work, home, church, or a volunteer activity leadership is something we are involved in.  Leadership involves providing a clear vision, the ability to share the vision, and giving the tools needed for one to succeed.

When we think of Biblical figures there are many leaders, but the Apostle Paul emerges as a leader par excellance.  When he established churches he gave the tools needed, he followed up, provided guidance, and dealt with some very difficult situations (the situation in Corinth comes to mind).  In his new book Paul and His Team:  What the Early Church Can Teach Us About Leadership and Influence, author Ryan Lokkesome evaluates the leadership of the Apostle Paul and helps us apply it to out lives today.

This is not a scholarly textbook, but is written for the average person in the pew.  The author breaks down the lessons that Paul provided then in easy to understand terms.  Not only that, but he provides real world guidance on how to apply the skills that Paul taught.  In describing Paul’s leadership ability the author writes, “We will see qualities like humility, self-sacrifice, and radical grace at work.  This stands in stark contrast to much of the leadership culture today, which often has a strident, boastful tone to it-even in Christian circles” (page 19).

Overall this book is a good one on leadership and gives some decent insights.  I rate it a 4/5.

[Note.  This book was provides free of charge from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: A History of the Church in 100 Objects

Whether we like it or not, history is something that has an impact on all of our lives.  We hopefully learn from it, honor those who came before us, and treasure mementos from the past that have significant meaning for us.   In his new book A History of the Church in 100 Objects author and church historian Mike Aquilina looks at 100 objects in Church history and assembles a story of us.  A story of Christ’s church.

The author was assisted by his daughter Grace and looks at items such the Silver Star in Bethlehem, a catacomb painting, Saint Patrick’s bell, and new items such as newspaper headlines.  The book is broken up into the following seven groups:  The Church of the Apostles and Martyrs, The Church and the Empire, the Dark Ages, The Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, The Age of Revolutions, and the Global Village.  The author did this because most people tend to look at history as eras.  Each object has a story and meaning behind it.  Each chapter is fairly short, only two to three pages, but packed with data.

Church history is our story.  It is our story and the items presented in this work are like family heirlooms.  The items have a story that speak of our Christian ancestors and about their faith.  As the author states, “So when Christians tell our story, we don’t just write it in books.  We preserve the memory in memorials, monuments, and museums.  We build grand basilicas to house tiny relics” (page 3).

I am a student of church history (that was my major at Liberty University), and am excited to recommend this book.  The pictures are colorful and the writing is relatable.  Mr.  Aquilina has a writing style that is easy to comprehend and makes the subject come alive.  Highly recommended!

[Note:  This book was received free of charge from Ave Maria Press in exchange for an honest review.]

 

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