Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Feasting on the Word is a lectionary commentary that offers questions and considerations on the four lectionary texts for a given Sunday. The Worship Companion offers liturgical resources, mainly prayers, based on those weekly readings.

All the resources are very well written and composed. I appreciated the depth of the writing and that the prayers move through a service from beginning to end. I especially liked the call to confession and invitation to offering. Typically when I introduce those parts of the service I simply name them. But I think linking those moments in the service with the Scripture would make them even more meaningful.

There are two additions that show an attention to seeing worship as more than what happens for one hour on Sunday: Questions for Reflection and Household Prayers for the morning and evening. These two additions offer simple ways to involve worshipers who are not a part of a worship planning. I also think these additions would be helpful for intentional communities or house churches who want to involve the lectionary into their worship.

There are a couple things to watch if you’re planning to use this resource. Because different denominations follow slightly different lectionaries, especially when it comes to picking Old Testament readings, you may find that some of the prayers don’t fit what you’re reading. Also, each element is tied to only one passage. This helps keeps the prayers focused but also means if you do not read all four passages that certain prayers may not fit your service.

Feasting on the Word Worship Companions are an excellent resource for any church looking to expand the use of Scripture during their worship service.


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Entering into a relationship is one of the most beautiful and most maddening things a person can do. When we find that person we can’t imagine living without, who captures our heart and imagination, they are often the same person who can frustrate us more than anyone else in the world. So we make a commitment to that person. When the reality stops living up to the fantasy, what happens next?


Adam Hamilton’s newest book, Love to Stay, tackles the question of marriage and how to make it last. Love to Stay weaves together data from a Church of the Resurrection survey, specific stories from couples, and Hamilton’s observances about his own marriage and his experience as a pastor officiating weddings and counseling couples. The results is a very accessible read that balances broad generalizations with specific personal vignettes.

At the end of each chapter there are suggested activities for couples, a prayer to pray together, and an adapted activity for singles. Adam Hamilton is very good at linking faith with practicality and this book is no exception. I especially appreciated the suggestions for singles since marriage books often either ignore singles altogether or offers very limited and cliched advice.


I received a complimentary copy of Love to Stay from Abingdon Press for review purposes.

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I review books for Thomas Nelson over at BookSneeze.com and I cannot tell you how excited I was to see Red Letter Revolution as an option.  Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne both live out their faith and I was curious to see what their discussions together would look like.  The book does not disappoint.

Red Letter Revolution is styled as a number of discussions between Tony and Shane on various topics facing Christians, ranging from church history and Islam to homosexuality and politics.  The title comes from the old publishing technique of printing Bibles with the words of Jesus in red.  Their hope is to inspire Christians around the world to take these words seriously and consider what it means to live them out in their daily lives.

I really enjoyed the discussion style of the book, as it allowed both men to share their personal stories or reflections in their own voice.  The book changes font styles between the two, which also helped me “hear” their voices as I read.  I thought they did an excellent job of addressing a number of real, relevant issues in our world without ever feeling heavy-handed that you had to agree with everything they said.

If you’re curious about this idea, go check out http://www.redletterchristians.org to read what others are saying about how those “red letters” shape their lives.

Where will the red letters take you?

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I recently read Why Men Hate Going to Church as part of Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program.

The author, David Murrow is not clergy but lay, which makes for an interesting book as it is very pragmatic.  However, he still grounds several of his larger ideas in the Bible, which I appreciated.

As I read this book, there were several ideas I initially disagreed with.  At first I wanted to ignore them. After all I’m a guy and I’m in church, so they must not be accurate.  But the more I read, the more I realized that was a bad impulse.  I grew up in the church.  Church is comfortable to me.  And sometimes I think “But that’s how we’ve always done it” about things that aren’t sacred and could change.  So I’m grateful to this book for opening my eyes to some of my blind spots.

Having church be accessible to men is a good thing, but I’m wary of making it the “silver bullet” that will turn a church around.  Worship should be accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, age, race, or anything else.  Worship is about God and God is not picky about who worships.  So should we remove barriers to men?  Absolutely.  And we should remove barriers to women, kids, young people, old people, etc.

Bottom line: Do I think this book overstates its case?  Maybe a bit.  But Murrow has seen these ideas work.  And so if he gets excited about the possibilities of church renewal, then I want to get excited right along with him.

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Your Money God’s Way deals with the questions of financial stewardship, debt, and savings.  As these issues have become major concerns for our society, then they in turn become major concerns for our churches.  There’s no magic to attending church that protects you from financial concerns.  Sometimes money worries can even be exacerbated by the church when Christians buy into certain horrible myths and thought processes about money.  Rev. Amie Streater looks to correct these “counterfeit claims” by replacing them with “timeless truths.”


The book is very strong on practical advice.  Rev. Streater introduces some of various pitfalls in which people find themselves and then offers simple, concrete steps on how to start working your way out.  The church talks a lot about tithing and stewardship.  This book suggests ways to live it.


The only potential negative I would offer is you should be sure to know Rev Streater’s target audience before reading.  The people she sees are in situations of financial distress.  While there are some good tips for those simply looking for budgeting advice, most of her rhetoric is focused on those individuals who find themselves in deep debt.  So if that’s not where you find yourself, you may find this book less helpful.


I rate Your Money God’s Way 4.5 out of 5 stars.


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reviewing books as part of the BookSneeze program through Thomas Nelson Publishers (http://booksneeze.com/).

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Review of “Tithing”

Money has long been on the “do not discuss” list for dinner conversation.  This makes the topic of tithing, the spiritual practice of giving resources back to God, a tricky topic indeed.  How should we then address and understand this discipline?

Douglas LeBlanc’s Tithing is not a theological treatise on the spiritual discipline.  Rather, LeBlanc shows his journalism roots by interviewing several tithers about their experiences.  This approach offers the reader an opportunity to see the discipline from a number of different perspectives.  Hopefully LeBlanc has made the book more accessible to readers of various faith traditions rather than arguing from his own.  From Episcopal churches and Christian non-profit organizations, to Seventh Day Adventists and a Jewish rabbi, LeBlanc covers a number of viewpoints.

Tithing does a fair job of explaining our need to give.  However, I believe readers should hear a note of caution about the benefits of tithing to the tither.  There are numerous spiritual benefits for generosity and giving.  However, the book suggests that tithers also reap economic benefits.  Believing that giving to God ensures one’s own financial security is a misunderstanding of why people should give.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reviewing books as part of the BookSneeze program through Thomas Nelson Publishers (http://booksneeze.com/).

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I should offer two disclaimers here.  First, I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book reviews bloggers program.  For more information, visit BookSneeze.  Second, I actually have never watched Lost.  I’ve heard bits about the show from friends who follow it closely but this book was my first real exposure to the characters and basic ideas.

Oceanic Flight 815.  The island.  John Locke.  Jack Shepherd.  Ben Linus.  The Others.  The television show Lost has quickly become a global phenomenon.  Perhaps most impressive is how the writers weave together numerous philosophical, scientific, and ethical strands.  With such attention to detail, it comes as no surprise that Lost has attracted religious dialogue.  Christ Seay addresses the show from a theological perspective in The Gospel According to Lost.

Fans of Lost will be pleased to know that Seay does not spoil anything for the final season.  Instead, Seay looks for the theological echoes within the lives of the characters.  He often finds them in their narratives, as they grow and develop over the course of the show.  Sometimes the revelations of their flashback scenes show how much they have matured even before the crash.

Unfortunately, many of Seay’s examples are fairly surface-level.  He does not tend to delve deeper into the characters.  For example, he considers the implications of various names among the “Losties.”  While not insignificant, his insights are hardly ground-breaking to the committed fan.  Furthermore, Seay shows a tendency to rely too heavily on particular scriptural themes.  While several characters may all share particular motifs, I would have preferred to see Seay develop different ideas rather than continuing to return to the same ones.

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