Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Praying the Names of God - A Review

Praying the Names of God
Praying The Names of God.jpg
LeAnne Blackmore

A Review

A devotional for the prayer life - that pretty much sums up the nature of this book.

The author does not so much focus on how to pray, but providing suggested prayers for 200 of the most well-known names of God.  I am in the midst of a sermon series on “The Names of God”; last week (the third in our series) our focus was on El Shaddai. It so happens that this is the first listing/prayer in the book. Here is a typical entry:

Praying the Names of God.jpg

As indicated above, the entries are both devotional and focused on prayer. I like that the prayers are conversational - where the author not only submits his prayers, but also supplies appropriate answers. The various entries are not scholarly, but they will allow the reader to draw near to God as he or she moves through the book. The names (and prayers) are sorted using the common ACTS mneumonic:

A - Prayers of Adoration
C - Prayers of Confession
T - Prayers of Thanksgiving
S - Prayers of Supplication

In addition, a complete Bibical index is included as an appendix. I would also like to see an alphabetical index (alas, this is missing from many simiar books) which would allow the reader to search by the actual names reference throughout the text.

The book can be used as a resource during sermon preparation, as I am using it; or as a part of the reader’s daily devotional life; or, of course both.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New King James Study Bible - A Review

New King James
Study Bible
NKJV Study Bible.jpg
Dr. Earl D. Radmacher
General Editor
Dr. Ronald B. Allen
Old Testament Editor
Dr. H. Wayne House
New Testament Editor

A Review

Because the NKJV Study Bible has now been out for a number of years and has been reviewed by others, my purpose in writing this review is not to review the contents of the NKJV Study Bible. If I did, it would be a five star review. My purpose of writing this review is to examine the Turquoise and Navy covered edition provided for review.

When first given the opportunity to review this edition of the NKJV Study Bible I was concerned, given the small size of the Bible. I was pleasantly surprised that the text (even footnotes) is very readable, and the images are sharp. I suspect, but cannot prove, that the text might be difficult to read in low light, but this is not the case in normal lighting. The text may be difficult to use a highlighter on (the paper is a bit thin). I have gotten into the practice of using Crayola Twistables as my main highlighter for Bibles (hey, crayon does not bleed through), but the highlight may be too big for the text used in the Bible.

The Bible is the complete NKJV Study Bible (2nd Edition) - all 2100+ pages of it. The concordance and maps are paged separately and consists of another 200 pages. It is the right size to fit in a briefcase or backpack to use when away from my larger library. A number of months ago I went looking for just such a Bible. At the time I settled on a slightly larger version of a Catholic Bible - the Personal Size NKJV Study Bible would have served as an excellent choice, if it had been available at the time. I honestly do not know which I would have chosen given the choice - the list price of the Catholic study Bible is half that of the version being reviewed. This Bible would serve as a helpful addition to my collection of study Bibles except I already owned a hardback version of the original NKJV Study Bible and the paperback version of the full-color 2nd edition. The major drawback of this version is the lack of colors to complement the text.  Notes and cross references are provided with a tan background, maps embedded in the text are black and white.

If you are looking for a relative low cost study Bible for your use or as a gift (note there is a dedication page included just inside the front cover), this compact size but complete study Bible may serve the purpose.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Lethal Lifestyles - A Review

Lethal Lifestyles
Lethal Lifestyles.jpg
LynDee Walker

A Review

Newspaper Reporter, amateur sleuth Nichelle (aka Nicey) Clark is up to her neck in wine barrels. Sadly, so was Mitch Burke - only he was over his head in wine and very dead. And it gets worse, his body was found on the eve of the rehearsal dinner. It was going to be a strange wedding, at the very least and without Nicey’s help, there might not be a wedding at all.

The book was a fun-filled, cozy mystery. I just never figured out why it took me six weeks to get through a book that would normally have taken me 6 to 8 days to finish. It might have been the vacation (actually two) that my wife and I took in the midst of reading it; it might have been longer than it seemed as I worked my way through the Kindle book I was provided for review; or it may have just been a bit more boring that it seemed as I read it. And it may have been a combination of all three.  

Appropriate for the average cozy mystery reader or the public library - I hope others enjoy it as much as I did.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

NKJV Word Study Bible

NKJV Word Study Bible.jpg

A Review

Not quite a study Bible, but more than a devotional Bible, this version belongs in the church library and on the layman’s desk.

The major feature of this book gives it its name - 1700 short and brief descriptions of key Hebrew and Greek words that will help the reader better understand the meaning of scripture. The major drawback is that the descriptions are all too brief to be of use to the preacher or scholar without further study in more formal sources (i.e. Bible Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, etc.).

NKJV Study Bible.jpg

Though the provided word studies are too brief, the accompanying indexes do give significant value to the work.

  1. English Word Index
  2. Scripture Passage Index
  3. Strong Number Index for both Hebrew and Greek Words
  4. Concordance (typical to that found in most study Bibles)

Also included, throughout the text, are cross-references pointing to a scripture reference where a word study can be found (see “create” and “male” in the image above). What is missing from the basic definitions provided are descriptions of antonyms and synonyms that might help justify the use of one word over another, or a comparison of Hebrew and Greek words used to express similar ideas or which are tied together by their parallel use in the Septuagint. The inclusion of these three pieces would provide a more complete study Bible and one more helpful to the pastor and scholar.  
Bottom line: Thomas Nelson has made a great first start to what could become an extremely useful Study Bible. With the contributions of a few additional scholars and a willingness to allot more editorial space to the definitions, this could become a wonderful reference book. For now, it has not quite reached that level.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own. I actually had pre-ordered a copy of this book prior to receiving notice that I was going to be allowed to review the book. I retained one copy. I passed the second copy to my pastor for either his own use or to pass onto a lay member of the church in need of a Study Bible.

Knowing God By Name - A Review

Knowing God By Name.jpg

A Review

I have been aware of David Wilkerson since my earliest days as a believer.  His The Sword and the Switchblade, both the book and the movie, were part of my early journey into Christian reading outside of the Scriptures. As I was preparing a sermon series on The Names of God, I was excited to stumble upon this book and gladly added it to my library; expecting it to contribute to my sermon preparation over the next few weeks.

I was disappointed. Rather than being a discussion of the names of God, it serves as a platform for the author to discuss themes of interest to him. The names of God are only secondary to the primary themes developed in the book - not irrelevant, but supplementary to the concept hinted at in the book's title.

The book is well-written and interesting in its own right, but it is not the book that was expected given its title. Let me give one example - I am in the midst of preparing a message on “Immanuel”. The chapter devoted to this name is actually focused on the theme of spiritual warfare. That “God is with us” (the meaning of Immanuel) is certainly relevant to the topic, it has not become the focus of the chapter.

For the reader, church, or library, looking for a book by David Wilkerson, this book will fill the bill. If the reader is looking for an in depth examination on some of or all of the Names of God, this book misses the point.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Catching Heat - A Review

Catching Heat

Catching Heat.jpg

Janice Cantore

A Review

A well-written mystery that depends too heavily on the previous book in the series, Catching Heat is a mystery in it's own right that also continues the story of the deaths of Detective Abby Hart's parents. A story that began in earlier books in a series starting in May 2015.

That is the biggest problem with these books - the secondary story with each book depends on facts and events disclosed in earlier books. As I suggested in earlier reviews for the books from this series, get all three and read them in sequence.

The primary story is involved and quickly draws the reader into its world. I would not want to be the criminal in Detective Hart's and her cold case team's sight. I could not run fast enough or far enough to escape their grasp. They are great cops when working independently; but when working as a team, they will get their target.

With it's hint of faith, the book will appeal to the Christian reader. Written by a former cop with experience in the field, the story has the realism needed to attract an even broader audience. Though no suggestion is made, it would be fun to find more books in the Cold Case Justice series.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Murder in G Major - A Review

Murder in G Major.jpg

A Review

Gethsemane is a lost soul. She has lost her job, her fiance had a mistress, and the ghost in her current home is convinced that he was not guilty of his wife’s murder or of his own suicide. Too make matters worse, she had six weeks to turn St. Brennan’s all male, middle school, orchestra into a championship team that must win the 75th Annual All-County School Orchestra Competition - an award they had not won since the inaugural competition - if the school was to get the grant they needed to rebuild their music performance hall and Gethsemane Brown was to keep her job.

Though my description of the story above may sound convoluted, the author has done a very competent job of weaving the various threads into an enjoyable story that is neither boring nor simplistic. Additional murders accumulate like a rock collector gathers rocks.  And, like in any well-written cozy mystery, the problems are all resolved.

Except, as the final page is read, the reader is left unsure if Gethsemane Brown will keep her current job, we do not know what has happened to the friendly ghost that occupied her home, and what can we say about Frank, the math teacher, and Inspector O’Reilly, the local cold case squad?   

As a maestra with talent, whose career seemed to about take off, Gethsemane Brown is ready for the big time. When she finds that the boyfriend who recruited her to conduct a major orchestra is already committed to his mistress, she finds herself stuck - stuck in a small, Irish, boys, school - for which she is neither trained or equipped. But with the help of “Irish”, the ghost, she begins to move forward, both as she builds relationships with her students and as she solves the mystery surrounding the deaths of her ghost and his wife.

A great Halloween read, Murder in G Major will fill some the space between labor day and Thanksgiving (USA), which may also introduce the reader some unknown (at least to him or her) classical music that might make a great play list on Pandora. And after reading the current book, the reader will be wanting more and more of Gethsemane Brown and the kooky townspeople of Dunmullach, Ireland.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.