Greek for Everyone {A Baker Books Review}

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I love spending time in Bible study, and increasingly, I have had an interest in determining Greek words and meaning.  I have been spending a lot of time with apps such as Blue Letter Bible, and I have been using a concordance and an expository dictionary pretty heavily as I read the New Testament.  However, I would like to understand Greek and how to use Greek to do word studies, so when I received the opportunity to review Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application, I was hopeful that this would help my understanding of New Testament Greek.

This book starts with the basics.  The Koine alphabet was introduced. We are taught levels of meaning, parts of speech, and levels of meaning.  As they are explained, Thornhill uses actual examples from the Bible to explain how this affects interpretation.

Once the basics of grammar are explained, Thornhill then provides several big picture chapters of take aways for interpretation. He compares English translations. He discusses contexts. He explains the right and wrong way to do word studies.  Then, he pulls things all together and discusses how grammar and context should affect our interpretation of the New Testament.

I found this to be an interesting study, and one that I will probably refer back to often. It has enhanced my awareness of how vital it is to understand the actual context and parts of speech in translation. It also has helped me to understand more about how the translations that I use for study are affected by layers of interpretation.  It makes for interesting and helpful reading.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Experiencing God Through His Names {A LitFuse Publicity Group Review}

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Names are powerful. In some cultures, people even are given a secret name that they are not to reveal to others. When we pick names for our children, we often go through baby name books, looking for the names that we think will best fit the little person we are welcoming into our families.  There’s also no denying that, as we read through the Bible, we find that God is referred to by many titles and names in the text. A careful reader will find that each name that God is referred to by helps us to see a different attribute and personality trait that God has.  I love to collect and meditate on God’s names. So, when I received the opportunity to review Experiencing God Through His Names, I was excited by the idea of spending time with some of God’s titles and names and reflecting on them.

This book is a 31 day devotional.  Each day contains a different name or title that God is referred to in the scripture, such as Father, Adonai, El Bethel, etc. Most devotionals span approximately two to three pages of text, containing devotional thoughts, Biblical examples and verses and occasional quotes from theologians. Following the devotional is a daily prayer, praying for qualities and a relationship with God that is based on the name of the day.

I enjoyed this book and I found it to be a good entry place into some devotional thoughts on God’s names. I would have loved to have had some additional daily scriptures to look up and some reflection questions to journal through.  That would have added a lot to the value of the book for me as a devotional.  However, these were nice little snippets of devotional thought and nice starters for prayer, so I’m pleased to have it to use devotionally.  This is a devotional that could be easily repeated and I think it would mean different things to you each time that you would go through this study of God’s names.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

What is Reformed Theology? {A Baker Books Review}

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A couple of years ago, I heard a visiting speaker at our church say that our pastor was fighting against a “tide of reformed theology” that was rising in our churches.  I puzzled over that statement a lot because I realized that I didn’t even know what reformed theology was!  Although I have vaguely heard phrases such as “the 5 solas” or “TULIP,” I have never been really sure what the big deal was, but I have been very curious. So, when I received an opportunity to review a new edition of R.C. Sproul’s classic What is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics, I jumped at the opportunity to understand reformed theology just a little better.

This is book is written by R.C. Sproul to clear up some misconceptions.  Apparently, there are many people like me who have heard buzz words and phrases (in either a negative or positive way), but have never had a true understanding of that they mean.  So, in this book, Sprout walks through the foundations of Reformed doctrine. In the first half of the book, he explains how Reformed belief is centered on God’s, based on God’s word, and committed to faith in Jesus Christ. Then, in the second half, Sprout explains the five points of Reformed theology that I had come to know as TULIP.

The writing in this book is clear.  It is informative.  His arguments and descriptions are based in scripture.  He appeals to church fathers and historical theologians in his discussions.  It is really a delightful book to read. I have not been won over to reformed theology, and I do have areas of disagreement with Sproul.  However, that does not change the fact that this is a good well-reasoned book, and a great explanation of what Reformed theology is all about.  I also found myself (as a Christian) reassured that the reformed theologians and I are not so far apart that there are not many areas in which we agree.  If you’re looking for a book to explain reformed theology, this is one that I highly recommend.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Leading KidMin {A Moody Press Review}

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My husband is a children’s ministry coordinator. I have worked in children’s ministry in various capacities, but never been the head of a children’s ministry.  So, as a good wife, when I received the opportunity to review Leading KidMin: How to Drive Real Change in Children’s Ministry, I thought it would be an excellent book for me to read and share my gleanings with my husband.

The authors of this book have written this book to help children’s leaders to transform their ministry.  However, the plan for transforming children’s ministry is to transform the leadership first.  It’s an inside-out approach to working with children and to creating a children’s ministry that changes lives.  The issues that this book deals with include: (1) Leading from a secure identity. (2) Facing challenges with courage. (3) Identifying and leveraging “aha” moments. (4) Building partnerships with senior leaders and (5) Finding your leadership voice.

There are a lot of great ideas in this book, and many of them really come down to having perspective on your ministry.  As a children’s minister, you are a part of a whole. What your ministries have to do is to be a part of the composite vision that your senior pastor and other staff have of the church.  In other words, a thriving children’s ministry comes from being aligned with the goals of the church.  This book is filled with ideas to help children’s ministers study their pastors, communicate with church staff and still allowing for those “Aha!” moments where the children’s ministry can change the direction of children’s lives.

This book also shows survey results from surveys of children’s ministers, and those can help you determine how your ministry compares to those around you. Another thing that I really enjoyed about the book is that it discusses how many children’s minsters are reactive and jump on the next trend as they see it. Instead, Cimo and Markins propose that children’s ministers would be better off seeing how the newest trend lines up with their church’s vision. Then, the newest trend can be adapted to the reality of what your church wants it to be.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Marked in Ink {A Blogging for Books Review}

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My daughter likes coloring books. I like to occasionally color big and bold patterns, and even though I’ve never had a tattoo, I love different aspects of tattoo art. So, when I received the opportunity to review Marked in Ink: A Tattoo Coloring Book, I was looking forward to getting out the colored pencils and markers and diving in.

The book has big, beautiful, full page patterns.  There are sugar skulls, mermaids, owls, swords and cats. There are even random patterns, dream catchers, and flowers. Some have large open spaces. Others are very intricate with many details.

The book is printed on single sides of sheets, and the sheets are perforated, making taking a page out and coloring easy and fun. The paper is very thick and would accept most media for coloring, painting and drawing on. That makes this book a fun one to color through. My daughter and I are having a fun time sharing it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Me Too {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

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Sometimes I see a book on the review list, and I go ahead and request it, even though I’m not personally excited by it.  I don’t expect much of these books, but usually the cover or the back copy appeals to me, so I request it from the list. I’m telling you this to be transparent, and to let you know that I really wasn’t expecting much when I requested Me Too: Experience the God Who Understands.

In this book, Jon Weece discusses how we don’t always have to smile when we have pain in our life. We don’t always have to feel like praising God when bad things happen. He tells us that one of the reasons we lack connection with other people is because we refuse to be vulnerable. (Can I get an amen here?)

He talks about Jesus. He talks about slowing down to see what is broken in ourselves and in others. He discusses depression, abortion, legalism and heaven. The book is loosely organized, but many times reads like a free riff.  There’s a mingling of scripture, stories, personal experiences, quotes and lovely discussion.

The result is a beautiful book. It’s touching. It’s convicting.  When I read the chapters on suicide and abortion, I was in a public setting, trying not to do the ugly cry. Reading about death and the grace with which other Christians responded to it, touched me to the core. I wasn’t expecting much of this book, but found it to be a beautiful book and worthy of spending some time with.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Marry Wisely, Marry Well {A Christ Focused Reviews Review}

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Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately.  It’s not just that I’m celebrating fifteen years with my Hubby this year. It’s also that my oldest child turned eleven in March. I suddenly realize that he’s half grown, and he’s not far away from having feelings for girls, and I realize that in a few short years, he (and my other three) will be at the age to begin contemplating marriage.  I wonder how I will counsel them and what I will do as they being to choose their marriage partners. So, when I received the opportunity to review Marry Wisely, Marry Well, I thought it could be a great resource to me in helping to prepare my children (and the children I teach) for marriage.

Ernie Baker has a testimony of a long and fruitful marriage, and he desires to help others do the same by helping them to prepare for marriage and to build their marriages on the right foundation.  In this spirit, he divides his book into three sections.

In the first section, he begins by discussing wisdom and Christ as our foundation of wisdom.  He discusses growing wiser about attraction by considering our idols along with our attractions. He explains that many marriages fail or do not flourish because they’re not built on the right foundation. He explains God’s design for marriage using the foundational scriptures in Genesis 1 & 2.

In the second section, he explains the first floor of marital preparation.  The chapters deal with wise living during your single years. (Love this chapter because of the new insight I took into I Corinthians 7!)  He also discusses the relationship skills and character traits required in the marital relationship. He writes about how to know when you’re ready for marriage using six qualities for women from Proverbs 31 and a composite view of scripture for the Biblical man. These are to be used for self-evaluation as well as spousal evaluation.  He discusses one of the ultimate questions of marrying people.  “How will I know the right person?”  He also discusses different methods of finding a spouse and evaluates each of them in light of scripture.

The final section of the book is a simple chapter devoted to the result of building wisely and explains what it means to have a marriage that glorifies God.

I truly thought that this was an excellent book to help you or your child evaluate where they are in the spectrum of being prepared for relationships. There are many questions at the end of the chapter, including questions for evaluating a future spouse by.  I also liked that this was a book about working on yourself, on your own readiness, and that the ultimate message of the book is that, if your satisfaction is not in Christ, you won’t find the satisfaction that you’re looking for in the marital relationship. That is a big message that I think young people need to hear over and over again. So many people are just waiting for the right person to “complete” them, and I think hearing that this is an unrealistic expectation is the best thing they can hear.

I love the evaluation of dating, courtship, online dating, and other spouse finding methods in relation to scripture. As a parent, it can be difficult to find the right Biblical mix for your teenagers without being overly legalistic. I like that Baker cuts through some of the arguments for and against each method by evaluating where it is adding to or taking away from scripture.  I found this section very helpful.

All in all, I found this book to be a very helpful addition to our library, and it is one that I will refer to often as we continue into the years in which my children will begin to evaluate marriage and the relationships that they wish to have in the romantic sphere of life.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.