Thursday, October 27, 2011

Technology For Beginning Readers

From Typewriters to Text Messages


Jennifer Boothroyd

[ISBN: 978-0761378389]

I am sitting here with very conflicted feelings about this book. At first, I felt that a book aimed at 1st graders about communications and the Internet was a bit premature. Then I remembered a news item that appeared earlier this week saying that 52% of kids younger than eight are using some kind of mobile device - a smart phone or a tablet - on a daily basis.

With that knowledge, Jennifer Boothroyd book make sense. To the average teen, the books contents would seem strange - full of well known information; but to the 1st grader who is just learning about the role that phones, computers, and communication in his or her world, the book will begin to provide a larger perspective to their quickly developing world.

My only concern is that the vocabulary may be a bit beyond that of a 1st grader - the age group toward which the book seems to be aimed.

Though not designed for the grandparent or even the parent, the book would help a young child begin to become an understanding user of modern technology.

This review is based on an electronic copy

of the book provided by the publisher

for the purpose of creating this review.

Jacob T. Marley : A Review

It was twenty years ago that I last read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in its entirity. At that time I thought it might be fun to rewrite the story as a case study in Recovery. I did not do it However, R. William Bennett’s Jacob T. Marley has created a wonderful rewrite of Dickens’ classic story.

Dickens tells us the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bennett tells us the story of Jacob T. Marley. It is a touching story - with bits of horror and of grace. I would not call it a “tear jerker”; but as I read, I did find tears coming to my eyes. Marley had to carry the chains of his greed as he revisited his past decisions - and saw the consequences of all that preceded his own death.

As the author creatively interweaves the lives of the Marley and Scrooge families, we not only see the great sadness created by their decisions, but we see the grace which each man was capable of showing, given the chance.

This review was based on an electronic copy
of the book provided by the publisher
for the purpose of creating this review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It Couldnt Just Happen : A Review

It Couldn’t Just Happen


Lawrence O. Richards

The author has used a gentle touch to introduce theology to children - though as an adult I also found it very readable and challenging. It is the book that can be read as a daily devotional, be read as review of how God’s creative work in this wonderful world, or sit on the coffee table to attract the attention of curious visitors.

Lawrence Richards has brought his lifetime of work in children’s ministry to bear with the colors, the chosen text, the concepts covered, to make the book attractive to children or young teens. The questions that are raised in the classroom are addressed - probably not sufficiently to respond to a teacher’s objections, but certainly to assist the inquisitive child to look further into how God creation came to be.

Grandparent, parent, or child - this book is recommended as a place to begin an exploration of God’s creation.

This review is based on an electronic copy of the text

provided by the publisher for the purpose of

creating this review.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Accused : A Review



Janice Cantore

When an experienced cop writes a police thriller, the result is awesome - at least in this case. Though I cannot speak to the for the authenticity of the action - but it did hold my attention.

When Carley Edwards is pulled off patrol, even after being cleared of the shooting, she cannot but wonder why. At the same time, other questions continue to pop to the surface - the integrity of her fellow officers, a successful mayor is murdered, her mother’s home is firebombed - it does not make any sense.

And in the midst of all this confusion Carley’s faith, or rather the lack of it, is challenged.

Altogether it makes for a readable book that I could not put down - holding my interest as the best police drama on TV or at the theater can do. And when I got to the end of the book, I found I wanted more. And there will be more as Accused is the first in the “Pacific Coast Justice Series” being written by this author.

Throughout the book, Carley is encouraged to examine her faith. Finally, she is challenged to ask God to reveal himself. What does she have to lose - if He does not exist, then nothing has changed; and if He does, she would find her world turned upside down. In the course of the book she does exactly that - and her life is turned upside down.

Janice Cantore has done a good job of blending the drama of the police force, the diversity of life, and mystery of faith into an exciting and engaging novel - which should appeal to men and women from all walks of life.

This review is based on a free copy of the book
provided by the publisher
for the purpose of creating this review.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pastor's Handbook : A Review

Pastor's Handbook
John Bisago

The last time I read a rewritten classic, I was sorely disappointed. Happily, this was not the case as I read John Bisago's Pastor's Handbook.

I also found myself surprised at the style of the book – I expected to see sample worship service, sample prayers, sample sermon outlines. I found these – but I found so much more. The book is laid out as a series of devotionals – each about 2-1/2 pages in length. Each “devotional” is rooted in scripture, but it is also practical.

Beginning with a series of short devotionals (i.e. essays) on the nature and the origin of the church, the book moves on to more practical matters. The section headings provide a survey of the topics covered:

Part 1: The Church
Part 2: The Pastor as God's Man
Part 3: The Pastor as Spiritual Leader
Part 4: The Pastor as Organizational Leader
Part 5: The Pastor as Preacher
Part 6: Worship Services
Part 7: Programs and Ministries
Part 8: The Church Staff
Part 9: The Church Finances
Part 10: Facilities and Operations
Part 11: Other Important Matters
Part 12: Issues/Taking a Position

A closer look at the table of contents will provide a more detailed look at the subjects covered.

Though the author is now a retired pastor, he does not speak for the graying church. He recognizes the need for the church to be more than it was it was – it will reach out to speak to people from various cultures and different generations.

Though I come from the Wesleyan Church, I found John Bisago's book interesting, helpful and encouraging. Pastors and leaders from across the ecclesiastical spectrum would be assisted in reaching their world for Christ as they take the time to study the 400 pages of the Pastor's Handbook.

I was glad to have the opportunity to read this book

This review is based on an electronic copy of the book provided
without cost by the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Going Deep : A Review

Going Deep


Gordon MacDonald

(ISBN: 0785226087)

I was dubious as I began to read this book. I had not read its predessor (Who Stole My Church), so had no idea what I was about to discover. But when I found that the book was a first-person, fictional, devotional, it seemed on the surface to be a flawed concept.

I was wrong. The book was an easy read - yet full of theological and practical insight as an experienced pastor is challenged, first by God and then by his church, to redefine his ministry. Rather than being the church’s CEO, he was to become its CTO - the Chief Training Officer. Rather than running the business of the church, he was to become the main discipler within the church.

It took time to understand what God would want - but with the advice of a high school principle, his wife, and the local Reformed Rabbi, he gradually understood what God would expect of him - we then watch him fulfill those expectations.

The book itself is a daily, weekly, or periodic look (using a undated calendar) at how Pastor MacDonald (remember, it is fiction) changes his ministry. Practicality is mixed with principles as the author takes us through two years of his life as he changes his job description - and he does a good job of doing so.

This review is based on a free copy of the book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.

Confirmation : A Review



Ralph Reed

(ISBN: 1433669248)

Confirmation has a good premise, but it has a difficult time getting it done. Some may enjoy this version of Washington politics as usual, I did not. If this is an accurate picture of the people (though fictionalized) involved at all levels of the 21st century political scene, then we really need to throw out all the politicians and rebuild our government.

Beginning with a very strange election to the office of the President of the United States, Independent Robert Long must deal a cast of characters that supported him during the election, as well as those from the Republican and Democratic party. Along with the politicos that define Long’s administration, he must also respond to his Clair’s, his wife’s, alcoholism.

Though the President does get his way, in the end, most of those whose lives are touched by the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice will find their reputation hurt, their families damaged, and a sad lacking of God’s grace.

This review is based on an Advanced Readers Copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of completing this review.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Expanded Bible : A Review

Expanded Bible

Thomas Nelson Publishers

I have mixed emotions when I see a new edition of the Bible being published. I collect various Study Bibles – the combined knowledge in them allows me to understand some of the wealth of study that has preceded me. But a new edition of the Bible is one more tool that I have will want to study and examine.

Given the opportunity by the publisher to review an electronic copy of a new edition prior to publicatin was an exciting prospect. The best comparison I can make for the Expanded Bible is the Amplified Bible. But there are three advantages of the Expanded Bible over the Amplified Bible:

  1. The Amplified Bible (as currently published) was created in 2001, making the Expanded Bible 10 years newer.

  2. The additions to the Amplified Bible are clearly marked as their purpose

  3. Wide margins for making personal notes as one reads the Bible

Notations are marked using a code that will allow the reader to recognize different types of comments:

  • Simple “Expansions” showing alternate meanings of the original Hebrew or Greek words

  • “Alternate” meanings that may change the sense of the sentence in which they are found.

  • “Literal” meanings of the underlying text

  • “Traditional” readings (i.e. KJV) of the text that many readers may be more familiar with but are not used in the current translation.

  • “Historical, cultural, theological,” etc. comments designed to help the reader “better understand a verse or passage”

  • Cross references to parallel passages

Each type of note is clearly indicated in line with the text – in lieu of traditional footnotes. Though the comments are clearly marked, they occasionally become confused the actual text of scripture. The font of the notes is slightly lighter (i.e. less bold) than the text of the scripture, but it would have been nice if they had been printed in an alternate color as well (e.g. blue).

Other than this one concern, I am looking forward to adding this Bible to my library in November 2011 when it is published and would recommend that others do so as well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Digital Disciple : A Review

Digital Disciple – A Review

by Adam Thomas

Much of my career was spent responding to the role of technology within the church. Adam Thomas' book has attempted to do just that. He recognizes that “the Tech” both provides opportunities to bring people together – people we may never have met except for the technology we have chosen to use. The relationships developed with the Tech are real, they are limited.

“The Tech” also will put up a wall between those same people. Though efforts have been made to incorporate more than two senses into the connections we make, we will be limited to using only 40% of the senses God has given to us when we use the Tech as our communication medium.

Ultimately, the author argues, relationships have to be intentional. Whether they are relationships with people or with God, we need to work at building them. If the relationships are going to be real and deep we must move beyond the limitations placed by the Tech upon those relationships. And that takes work – hard work.

This review is based on an electronic copy of the book
provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating an unbiased review.