Book Reviews

One Perfect Life
by John MacArthur

Who is Jesus? A lifetime of studying the Bible, teaching, and writing have infused John MacArthur's book, One Perfect Life, with an authoritative answer to that question. Beginning in the book of Genesis, MacArthur gleans all references to Jesus from the Old Testament text. He continues by compiling the four gospels in one harmonious chronological account and finishes with additional references to Jesus found in the remainder of the New Testament. The result is a wondrous and very readable story; a story of Jesus; Creator, Redeemer, Friend and Judge.
The format of the book has the top half of each page contain the unfolding story of Jesus while the lower half of each page contains the corresponding commentary taken from MacArthur's  previous work, The MacArthur Study Bible, now also arranged chronologically.
His purpose in writing this book was not to take the place of the accounts found in the Bible, but rather as an aid to study. The Bible is itself a story of Jesus, written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”(John 20:31) I recommend One Perfect Life as a fresh, very readable story, augmented by an equally fresh and readable commentary; a sort of Everything I Wanted To Know About Jesus, But Was Afraid To Ask.
A great gift book and a great addition to any library.

Intentional Parenting 
by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan

Intentional Parenting: what a wonderful title and what a necessary focus. It is so easy to glide or even ricochet through life on auto pilot. Reading a reminder of the value of intentional living was refreshing. This book was written specifically to parents but it contains many principles that would apply to relationships in general. The focus is on the parent as the title suggests. It is not a catalogue of potential pitfalls encountered by parents, but rather is a guide to maturing as a person with the goal of more effective parenting in view. The book is divided into twelve chapters, with three co-authors each providing four. Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan are all child and family counselors with seventy-five years of combined experience. It certainly shows. Their genuine love of people of all ages as well as their passion for healthy families showed on every page. They were instructive without being preachy. The book is filled with examples and stories and has such a hopeful tone. Intentional Parenting is a quick read but contains a wealth of helpful insights. A good choice for any parent.

When Your Parent Becomes Your Child by Ken Abraham

When Your Parent Becomes Your Child was a book that didn't live up to its title. It was not a self help book, or even a book of practical suggestions as the title implied. Instead, it was an overly detailed account of one man’s experience; one man’s relationship with his elderly mother and her transition from health and independence to dementia and dependence. It failed however at being universal in application. There were no kernels of truth to seize upon; no practical suggestions or advice hard won. Instead, it seemed to contain more than its share of misplaced pity, much of it, self pity.  The author has written a long list of books and it is hard to know for sure why he chose to write this volume. I was disappointed in it as I’m sure others who are also walking the path of caring for an elderly parent with dementia may be. It failed utterly in either helping or encouraging and wasn’t even able to redeem itself by being entertaining. This is not a book I can recommend.

A Year With G. K. Chesterton has acquainted me with an author I had only a distant idea of before. I knew I wanted to get to know him, as his quotes had delighted me for years. I was not disappointed. As the title implies, A Year With G.K. Chesterton is a book of daily readings to last the whole year long, but I was unable to put it down. His writing isn’t always easy to understand, and would be best enjoyed by reading and pondering a page at a time. I’m not a philosopher and it will likely take me a year to figure out what he’s saying at times, but I have found his words filling my thoughts, surrounding me and encouraging me. Single statements have felt like a thunderclap of revelation. His faith was strong and winsome, and what a way with words!

"Everyone on this earth should believe, amid whatever madness or moral failure, that his life and temperament have some object on the earth. Every one on the earth should believe that he has something to give to the world which cannot otherwise be given. Every one should, for the good of men and the saving of his own soul, believe that it is possible, even if we are the enemies of the human race, to be the friends of God."

An unexpected gift was the knowledge gained of other great authors, like Dickens and C.S. Lewis. I also found quotes selected from various works of Chesterton have made me determined to track them down as well.

If you are already acquainted with the writing of Chesterton you will love this book. If you are looking for something substantial, something thoughtful and perhaps, something life altering, this could be a book for you to consider. It is not an easy read, but it is worth the effort.

Grace by Max Lucado

Max Lucado has an ability to encourage, and then to go beyond cheer leading to influence and inspire. Humour is disarming and honesty is powerful, but it is more than these elements that make Grace such a profound book. The grace of God is so amazing, so liberating that to read of it is to get a glimpse of God Himself; A God who is winsome and patient and loving, always seeking relationship with us. The book is NOT a self help book, but is exactly the opposite. It clearly presents the gift freely offered by God to any who will accept it; The gift of grace, of forgiveness and relationship with God Himself. I found Grace an exciting book to read, a joyous book. Some of the stories shared were heavy, and apart from the grace of God, would be heartbreaking. They were such vivid reminders that we all live together in a broken world. That God does see and care. That He gives meaning and hope.That He alone is the source of peace. I literally could not put the book down and found my self cheering at the conclusion of each chapter. There is a reader’s guide at the end of the book that encourages additional study and thought. Reading Grace was a gift. I very highly recommend it.

Same Kind Of Different As Me

Authors, Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Collaborator, Lynn Vincent

A collaboration, a story told in the voice of two very different men. Men whose very meeting changes the life of the other in profound ways and of the woman whose unconditional and selfless love ties them together. Same Kind of Different As Me is not an easy story to read. It speaks of the dark and bitter existance that many struggle to survive. It includes details of the lives of the three main characters, that I would rather never have known and yet they do show very common failings, very universal temptations and recognizable snares. It is at times a mirror, exposing selfish apathy for what it truly is, cruelty. It is infused with a faith that cannot be overlooked as it has the human fingerprints of failure and pain about it and yet the mercy and kindness of God is ever evident. It is a very raw and at times brutal tale, yet founded on hope, the hope of God's unconditional Love. Death and suffering are graphically revealed in all of their ugliness but the purpose and meaning in our lives, is not excluded from the telling. This is a story that is both univeral and personal in it's message. Not an easy story to read, but a moving book. 

Birdsong by Don Stap ( hard cover, love that, and large print, really love that )

I stumbled upon a great book this spring. Birdsong by Don Stap was completely captivating. Questioning why birds sing and how they learn their songs, has led him on extensive field research. The book, in turn, becomes a tribute to Don Kroodsma, a scientist and storyteller. Unconventional and brilliant, his passion for birds illuminates the pages of this very inspiring work. I am looking forward to reading his book as well, The Singing Life of Birds.


Why You Say It

I've just finished reading Why You Say It, by Webb Garrison. This is a book that takes commonly used expressions like, "keep a stiff upper lip," and gives their origin and meaning.
I like the table of contents that divide more than 600 words or phrases into 19 easy to find categories. The author also uses each one in a sentence and explains the meaning of it as well as it's origin. This would make it an excellent choice for students or those new to the English language. Because our English language has borrowed from so many other languages, I wish these "originals" had been included. I also found that because I was familiar with most of the expressions, I enjoyed the story about how we've come to say them but found the additional information abit superfluous.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”