Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Evidence That Demands A Verdict - A Review

Evidence That Demands A Verdict.cover.jpg

A Review

Let me begin with a bit of truth in advertising. I was an invited member of the original Launch Team for the newest version of “Evidence That Demands A Verdict”. In return for being a part of the Launch Team, I received an e-book version of ‘Evidence” and a tee-shirt promoting the book. However, the e-book was flawed. By design, the pre-publication version that we were sent included a large watermark in the middle of each page, making it very difficult to read (at least for this reader). In spite of being a part of the Launch Team, I decided it would be unfair to review a book I could not fairly read.  Two months later I found (using my normal review book resources) an opportunity to receive and review a hard copy of the book. This review is based on both the original “Launch Team” version which I received last June and the hard copy I received earlier this month.


I remember receiving the original version of “Evidence” as a junior or senior in college. I devoured it. As a new believer, I wanted to know and understand as much as possible about this faith to which I belonged. Later, after graduating from seminary, I discovered a new version and purchased it. I remember trying to become as excited about it as I had the original - it was not to be. I do not if it was further education, my personal faith journey (which took an unneeded bounce during those years), the fact that I had changed the immediate direction of my career (from pastoral ministry to Computer Science college professor), or the book itself which caused the loss of interest; but I had lost interest.

The year is now 2017 and the third (or is fourth?) edition of this classic book is being published. The newest version is not one I would not want to sit down and devour (though I know there are some readers who have done that), but I would not want to miss having the newest edition on my shelf. Rather being aimed for the newly converted college student, this new book is aimed for the college or seminary classroom or for the desk and shelf of the pastor or scholar. For many, not sitting in a classroom, it will become a reference book, rather than late night reading. But it is a reference book that many (or most) believers will want on their shelves.

At just under 800 pages, the book addressed most of the issues attacked by modern critics of the Christian faith. Whether it be philosophy, religions, history, or science (plus more) the reader will be challenged to examine evidence for the Christian faith. Whether a believer, skeptic, or atheist, the critical reader will need to respond to the author’s arguments. The book is thoroughly referenced with in-text notes and a Bibliography providing complete details of each resource quoted or used in the book. The only missing element, for most students of the scripture, is a set of sources allowing followup to the many topics discussed in the book. It will become the responsibility of the pastor, the teacher, or the individual reader to provide access to additional resources on topics of interest.  It is this missing element that prevents this reviewer from giving the book a 5-star review.

The book is not general reading - it is aimed at the scholar. Few (are there any?) diagrams can be found within the covers, though charts are present as needed which will help the reader to process the evidence presented.
This review is based on free paper and electronic copies provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mathematics the Truth

Mathematics the Truth

Mathematics The Truth cover.jpg

Malcolm Cameron

A Review
An interesting book that begins with an error on its cover makes this reader doubt the usefulness of the book. First of all, the error - the author’s name, as best I can tell, is spelled wrong. Now, this does not define the entire book, but does make one want to read it carefully.

I did find the book of interest. It is written to a beginning master’s level mathematician. It might be handled by a well-equipped calculus student with a bit of exposure to differential equations, ultimately the focus seems to be helping the student jumping into his final years of training to see the parallels between mathematics and the physical world. The author firmly that this connection to the physical world should become the real motivation for studying mathematics:

Currently mathematics is taught like Latin, without motivation, restricted to the period from Euclid in the BC to the Renaissance. Those few proceeding to university mathematics and mathematical physics are re-educated without the benefit of previous orientation while the rest are abandoned to popularisations. This is not right …

The author attempts to weave mathematics with these physical concepts that either underlay or that are supported by the mathematical truths. The book, obviously, does not a cover entire field of math or physics, but enough parallels are drawn to aid the student or teacher to take these initial thoughts further.

I do wish the book included a bit more documentation, allowing the student to continue his or own self-study of the topics presented. Too much material is presented as “common knowledge” that might be so to the fully trained mathematician, but not to the student making progress through the field. That being said, the book is readable - provided the student has a basic understanding of the mathematics. However, once the reader reaches the point where his mathematics training has progressed, a set of good math texts will be needed to fill in some of the gaps.

Physicists and mathematicians would do well to find ways to add this book to their courses as a supplementary text. Those already in the field will find the book to be of help understanding the contribution each has made to their respective fields.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Crisis Shot - A Review

Crisis Shot

Crisis Shot Cover.jpg

Janice Cantore

A Review

Tess O’Rourke had shot a 14-year-old boy. The review board had cleared her, but the community was not so sure. When the opportunity came to move from Long Beach, CA, to Rogue’s Hollow, OR, with some trepidation, she took it. It was a promotion in name (from Detective to Chief), if not in pay.  She was leary of the job; alas, there were those in the community who were leary of her. But it was her new job and she was determined to do it to the best of her ability.

There were those on the force who wondered if she was ready for the change from big city cop to the small town Rogue’s Hollow. The City Council vote was a narrow victory. But the bigger problem was the increase in vandalism and murders (this was brand new) to hit the community with her arrival. Mayor Dixon had started supporting her, now he was not so sure. There were members of the force that had started questioning her, but gained confidence in her ability to lead as she tackled the problems that kept presenting themselves during those first days on her new beat. Pastor Oliver never seemed to doubt her ability - but his wife had been tossed into the river and left to die. Tilly was a drug addict and she did not know who to trust. She knew something, but could she be trusted to remember it and to tell the truth. And then Steve Logan, a county sheriff, was upping the anty for Tess.

Janice Cantore has written an interesting story that covers the lives of people living in two states. It will easily hold the attention of the lover of police procedurals and of cozy mysteries. Weaving in a hint of romance and a longing for faith, the story is a great first book in a new series from an accomplished author. I will be looking forward to the next book in this series.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

KJV Know the Word Study Bible - A Review


A Review

This book represents a Study Bible that does not seem to know what it wants to communicate. Providing three tracks for study (Book by Book, Verse by Verse, and Topic by Topic), it never seems to really accomplish any of these with any sort of consistent vision. Tools are provided for each track, but none of them provide the depth this review would expect from a really good Study Bible. I would have preferred to have the editors pursue one of these tracks with more depth and consistency.  

Let me use the Topic-by-Topic track as an example. The Bible tackles 21 different topics (only 21? - for a true Study Bible, this seems weak) providing five notes on each topic. There are three exceptions. The discussion on “God the Son” provides seven notes, the discussions on “Sanctification” and “God’s Will” each provide six notes each. The notes are laid out in such a way that the reader can follow the “trail” forward to the next note, but without any reference to the previous note or the beginning of the thread, he or she is forced to refer to the index in order to follow the topic from beginning to end. Each note provides a look at one verse dealing with the topic, allowing the reader little room to more deeply explore the given topic. Cross references are either from the translators of the NKJV or from the verse by verse study notes - nothing specifically designed to help with further topical studies.  

Sadly, the indexing is minimal. The topic index, mentioned earlier, is designed to point the reader to the five, six, or seven, notes on each of the 21 topics. There are no indexes focusing on the Book by Book studies or the Verse by Verse studies. The appendices consist of tables of “Monies, Weights, and Measures,” a typical Bible Concordance, and a typical set of Bible Maps. None of these appear to be designed specifically to augment this Study Bible.

This Bible would serve as a great gift for a new believer, or for the high school graduate beginning their own study of scripture. The notes that are provided, are useful, but not sufficient for deeper study. Thus, this Bible would be of lesser value to the seminary student or pastor with access to other tools, Bibles, and resources, to supplement his or her study.
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.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ax To Grind - A Review


A Review

Kenni Lowey, the sheriff, Finn, her deputy, and Duke (her dog), were determined to find out who was killing the assistants to Beryle Stone, the most famous resident of Cottonwood, KY. The tell-all that Ms. Stone was rumored to have written was not supposed to be a mystery, but it became one for the people of Cottonwood, KY.

Kenni had one other “deputy”, one she could not openly discuss, one which only she and Duke could see - Poppa, the ghost of her granddad or father (the story never quite made that clear). He would occasionally gather clues or check out possible situations before Kenni could walk into a trap. Poppa also brought a bit of humor into the story.

Overall, the story was interesting and held this reader’s interest. It was only as the story came to an end that it became a  bit difficult to separate the good guys and gals from the bad.
This was not the world’s best cozy mystery, but it played the part well, none-the-less. I was glad that I was able to read it and will look for more from the author in the series.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Holy Bible Christian Standard Bible: Reader’s Bible - A Review

Holy Bible
Christian Standard Bible
Reader’s Bible

A Review

This volume is one of the simplest Bibles I have seen. It is simply the text of scripture. The beginning of each book is clearly marked; however, chapters are not numbered, but are noted with the use of a blue-highlighted letter of the first word of every chapter. This is true even when it would make sense to do so (i.e. the Psalms). Verses are not delimited in any way. No footnotes are included, not even translator’s notes. The reader will need to obtain a traditional edition of the CSB for these details. Margins are not extremely large, leaving little room for notes - this is probably my major complaint with the text.

This leaves the reader feeling as if a great deal is omitted. Yet, it allows the reader to tackle the Bible much more like the original readers did. I say “much more”, because, though chapter divisions are present, they are not marked - and no verse breaks exist. The text is clean and crisp against a white background. Reading is easy - not hampered with extra marks, superscripts, subscripts, or footnotes.  It is the kind of text I would like to have handy for a first read of scripture - details can be filled in with other Study Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, etc.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Friday, September 15, 2017

All Saints - A Review

A Review

If you have seen the movie, you will want to read the book to get the rest of the story. If you have not seen the movie, you will want to read the book to get the whole story.

The movie was a moving experience, but the book provides so much more detail that the reader quickly realizes that the story is much more important than that found on the big screen. Rev. Michael Spurlock is appointed to a dead end church in Smyrna, TN. The church had gone through a very difficult church split and had a mortgage that far exceeded the remaining congregation's ability to care for themselves. The decision had been made by the local church and the denominational representatives to sell the property and move to a smaller location that could be had for the cost of rent while they began the rebuilding of the church.

God had other ideas.

Into their midst walked a small group of refugees - sent to check out the local Episcopal Church. On the surface, it would appear that the refugees would bring more drain on the resources of the church than they could possibly add. But, to quote myself, "God had other ideas."

What happened was the transformation of lives - both the American church members who stayed with the church and the Karenese refugees that joined them in worship. But the transformed lives did not stop there - it would include, over time, members of the Smyrna community, both its general population and its officials (police, government, etc.). Pastor Spurlock, the church, and the Karen would need to learn to trust God if the church was going to survive.  Throughout the story we see unexpected answers to prayer - from the heavens, in the form of needed rain; people, who brought skills at the right time; and equipment, like the "1000 gallon water tank with a pump mounted on a trailer."  

The story introduces us to the pain that the church felt when Rev. Spurlock chose after four years to take a position in New York, but the reader also celebrates with the church as they realized that God had sent the next pastor that they needed on their spiritual journey.

At one level, All Saints is the story of a church. But it is also the story of changed lives - lives unexpectedly touched by the Grace of God.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.