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Category Archives: Books

Helpful information on the challenges of aging

Book Review: The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind, by Timothy R. Jennings, MD

Growing older is inevitable. Being 63 years old and recovering from a broken hip/leg, I’m well acquainted with that fact. I’m not recovering as quickly as I did in my 20’s. While I can deal with the physical challenges, I’m more concerned about the mental troubles that are associated with aging. Can I avoid dementia which my step-father wrestled with in his later years?

Dr. Timothy Jennings believes that the answer to that question is “Yes.” It is possible to maintain a sharp mind, vitality, and independence as we age. In his latest book, The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind, he shares ideas that can be implemented each day to avoid disease, promote vitality, and prevent dementia and late-onset Alzheimer’s.

The first half of the book is more technical and includes up-to-date scientific research on aging. The second half of the book is more practical and includes easy to implement ideas and actions. In Part 1, the author discusses the problems of aging, how healthy brains are developed in the womb and our early years, the impact of our ancestors, and what role our genes play in the equation. In Part 2, the author explores elements that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle and brain health including obesity, sugar, oxidation, tobacco, and substance abuse. In Part 3, the author discusses the activities that contribute to a healthier lifestyle and brain health including exercise, sleep, rest and vacations, beliefs about God, mental stress, and love. In Part 4, the author discusses Alzheimer’s, the role of vitamins and supplements, and how to reduce other risk factors. He also includes a chapter on how to care for a loved one with dementia.

Each chapter contains “Learning Points” which summarize the chapter into bullet points. There is also a section called “Action Plan” which gives simple, practical ways to implement the concepts.

The book is helpful and informative, but you have to be willing to wade through the medical jargon to understand and benefit from the ideas.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2018 in Aging, Books

 

Confusing mix of history and magic

Book Review: Fawkes: A Novel, by Nadine Brandes

Fawkes: A Novel, is a confusing mix of history and magic. It is a piece of historical fiction based on the Gunpowder Plot involving Guy Fawkes and the failed attempt to assassinate King James of England in 1605.

The main character is the drama is Thomas Fawkes, the son of Guy Fawkes. However, Thomas is turning to stone. The only way to be cured of the Stone Plague is to join his father and the conspirators who are plotting to assassinate the king.

While the author uses many of the actual characters involved in the Gunpowder Plot, she transformed the other details into fanciful ideas. Instead of Catholics plotting to assassinate a Protestant King, it is Keepers versus Igniters, both of which wear masks which focus their magical color powers. Instead of the Black Plague ravaging Europe, it is the Stone Plague, which following its name, turns people into stone.

Part of the book, the magical use of color powers, reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series of books. While creative, the book didn’t feel that original. Rather than draw me in and carry me along, this was a book I had to push myself to keep reading.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Books

 

Honest questions about our struggle to trust God

Book Review: When God’s Ways Make No Sense, by Dr. Larry Crabb

How often do we soften Scripture to make it more pleasing? Are we more interested in a comfortable life than a Christian life? Have we not heard the call to radical discipleship? Have we reduced it to an easier call to follow?

These are among the many questions Dr. Larry Crabb wrestles with in his latest book, When God’s Ways Make No Sense. Using the stories of Jonah, Saul (before he became Paul), and Habakkuk, Dr. Crabb explains that we typically resort to one of three options when life is hard and we don’t receive the answers we want from God.

When God’s thoughts and ways make no sense to us, we Christians are confronted with three options.

  1. Resist and Run. Determine to follow God when we like the direction He leads. But when we don’t, when His thoughts and ways seem to be taking us away from the life we want for ourselves, then we feel justified in resisting His input and running off to do whatever better fits our ideas of a good way to live. Like Jonah. This option is illustrated in the life of a prophet who was enraged at God’s plan.
  2. Distort and Deny. Arrange our understanding both of how God thinks about our lives and of how He lovingly moves into them so that it matches our perception of how a loving God should think and move. Deny Scripture that contradicts what we want to believe about God. Revise our theology of God’s good news into principles for living that make obedience to God comfortable—comfortable obedience that we assume will bring satisfying blessings into our lives. Like Saul. Before he became Paul, he distorted the Old Testament’s message into what he wanted it to say and denied the value of passages that contradicted his distortion.
  3. Tremble and Trust. Sit under the Bible. Hear whatever God is saying. When we realize that God’s way of running the world and guiding our lives makes no sense, tremble. Tremble before a God whose thoughts and ways are far above our thoughts and ways about what the truly good life is and how to live it. Feel our confusion. Own our doubts. Embrace our fears. Face our disappointment. Experience our anguish.

Then trust. Trust the Judge of the earth to do right, to always advance purpose we will one day gladly agree were good. Accept that no one can fully unravel the mystery of prayer. Choose to live by faith in God’s goodness, to deny authority to what our dim eyes can see. With the eyes of faith, gaze on the unfolding story of God that with the eyes of sight we may not recognize as a story of love. Humble ourselves. Confess our pride. We think we know more than we do.

Tremble before the incomprehensible God and trust that He is good. Trust that His love is committed to our growing awareness of the deepest and happiest well-being that’s available to us now, that His love will lead us into an eternity where we will know every delight we were created to enjoy. Gaze on the cross. Remember Christ’s death. Nowhere is the love of the incomprehensible God more fully and clearly displayed.

But always remember: tastes now, the full banquet later. Tremble before what our eyes can see and our hearts can feel. Trust in what our faith can believe, that the longed-for satisfaction of our deepest thirst lies ahead. Like Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s story illustrates what it looks like to respond well when God’s ways make no sense.

Part 1 of the book lays out the stories of Jonah, Saul, and Habakkuk. Part 2 explores the concept of trembling and how it is the gateway to trust. Part 3 explains the necessity of trusting in God’s unthwarted sovereignty. Part 4 offers three parables of what a modern-day Jonah, Saul, and Habakkuk look like now.

The book is thoroughly biblical, challenging, and thought provoking. You may not agree with everything the author says or his concept of God’s sovereignty, but the book will cause you to reexamine your view of God. Well worth the read.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2018 in Books, Quotes, Scripture, Theology

 

Be the hero of your story

Book Review: Murder at the Flamingo: A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery, by Rachel McMillan

Everyone wants to be the hero of their own story. Everyone wants to land in the middle of the adventure. Those sentiments are shared by the two main characters in Rachel McMillan’s latest offering, Murder at the Flamingo: A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery. Set in 1937 Boston, it tells the story of an unlikely pair thrown together trying to solve a mystery.

Hamish DeLuca struggles with an anxiety, panic disorder. Trained as a lawyer, he struggles with stuttering and anxiety during his first real court appearance. He finds his solace in identifying with Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Feeling that his family is ashamed of him, he runs away from his home in Toronto and heads for Boston where his cousin is a nightclub owner.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren is heir to a New Haven Connecticut fortune. Feeling trapped by family expectations, she leaves home determined to make it in the big city, just like her favorite heroines in the movies.

Reggie begins working in Boston for Hamish’s cousin, Luca Valari, who is working to open a nightclub, The Flamingo. There, she meets Hamish. When a corpse is found on the club’s opening night, Hamish and Reggie work together to solve the crime.

While there is no Christian content or themes in the book, it is simply an entertaining story. It is well written and captivating. The author pulls you into the story and you find yourself traveling along with the characters and rooting for them to come out ahead. Having been in Boston on a number of occasions, I could easily picture the setting albeit in a different era. The book is a fun, easy, enjoyable read. Based on the title, it is the first book in a new series by the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2018 in Books

 

The healing power of forgiveness

Book Review: When Through Deep Waters: A Novel, by Rachelle Dekker

Is it possible to break free of the crippling power of guilt? Especially when that guilt is starting to drive you insane? These questions lie at the heart of Rachelle Dekker’s powerful new novel, When Through Deep Waters.

The book tells the story of Alicen McCaffrey, a woman who has it all—a beautiful home, a successful husband, an adorable child. In the space of an afternoon, she loses everything. And she feels the weight of blaming herself for the tragedy. She accompanies an old childhood friend back to Red Lodge, Montana, where they spent summers together as kids. As her guilt seeps in, Alicen begins to her voices, see mysterious figures, and starts to wonder if she is losing her mind.

Part of the message of the book is the tension between guilt and forgiveness.

 “There are always two choices,” Jane said. “Fear and love. Two voices: the Spirit and the accuser. Grace and condemnation.”

Can Alicen find the path to grace and be released from her guilt? Read the book and find out.

The book includes 10 Discussion Questions in the back. It encourages the reader to take the concepts deeper and apply them personally. It would be helpful for a book club who wanted to read and discuss the plot and principles.

The book is well written. It pulls you into the story and doesn’t let go until the end.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2018 in Books

 

It’s time to act like a man

Book Review: Dangerous Good: The Coming Revolution of Men Who Care, by Kenny Luck

“How can it be that there are hundreds of millions of ‘Christian me’ and yet Jesus’ church is virtually indistinguishable from the larger culture when it comes to delivering God’s justice?”

For author Kenny Luck, the answer is a no brainer. Men have lost their spine. The author wants to help men regain their manhood by following the example of Jesus.

Jesus Christ entered a broken-male culture not unlike the ones that foster so much pain today. He promptly started breaking the rules. He was dangerous with his goodness. He had a spine. He spoke with the Samaritan woman. He had a spine. He told the disciples to let the children come. He had a spine. He defended the woman caught in adultery and stood between her and stones. He had a spine. The touched the physically unacceptable. He had a spine. He touched the ethnically unacceptable. He had a spine. He associated with the morally unacceptable. He had a spine.

The author explains the title of the book in the introduction. He quotes Luke 4:18-19 which itself is a quote from Isaiah 61:1-3.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

Jesus announced to His community that He had been weaponized by the Spirit of God to be dangerous with goodness. He would start crossing cultural lines and breaking the rules of broken-male culture whenever God’s will or God’s Word called for it.

Jesus’ proclamation is ground zero of the dangerous good movement. Male culture changes over time and across cultures, but the core of it is constant: It has always been broken, just as it’s always been male. Men, enticed away or wandering off from the identity given to them by God, seek a secure identity in non-gods, which then gradually take over their expression of their masculinity, which causes others to suffer.

But the same Spirit that came upon Christ, and came out of Him in words and dangerously good actions, is now at work in you.

Rather than settling for what comes easy or natural, the author wants to challenge men to rise up and be dangerous with goodness. The book deals with the concepts of identity, morality, community, dignity, legacy, relevancy, ferocity, visibility, fervency, and bravery. The author combines biblical teaching, personal illustrations, historical examples, and current events in presenting his concepts. The book will help men rediscover who and what God has called them to be.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2018 in Books, Men, Quotes

 

Leading Change on a Larger Scale

Book Review: Leading Major Change in Your Ministry, by Jeff Iorg

Jeff Iorg knows a thing or two about change. He was used as

a change agent, leading major changes in four ministry settings: relocating an established church (Missouri); starting a new church and building its campus (Oregon); revisioning a convention, including constructing new facilities (Pacific Northwest); and relocating, reorganizing, and rebranding a seminary (Gateway).

From those experiences, the author developed several principles on leading change.

The first section of the book outlines foundational concepts to leading major change. The second section explains a six-fold model for leading major change. Throughout the book, the examples and illustrations are from real-life ministry challenges in both local churches and large organizations—not armchair quarterbacking. While theories about leading major change are interesting, practical insight about how to actually do it is more helpful

While the book is interesting, I had a difficult relating to his examples. His experience is on a much larger scale than my own. While the principles are true, the reader will have to work hard to translate and apply them to their own level of experience.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program http://www.bhbloggers.com/. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2018 in Books, Leadership, Quotes