Friday, July 31, 2015

Exploring Christian Theology - Vol. II (Creation, Fall, and Salvation)

Nathan D. Holsteen & Michael J. Svigel
General Editors
Bethany House Publishers

I hope you won't be intimidated by the title of this book because you don't have to be a Bible scholar to enjoy it. Holsteen & Svigel have done a good job in making sure it is simple and easy to understand, even for laypersons (and I am one). I knew I was going to love reading the book as soon as I opened it to the Contents pages. Yes, I can get excited just reading a table of contents.

One benefit I received from reading Exploring Christian Theology was that it provoked me to search further and study more. There are two parts to the book with extensive lists of other books recommended for further study at the end of each part. The recommended books are rated beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The rating at least helps so you won't spend your money on something too difficult or not suited to you. But, there's always the library to explore. The bibliographies are good too, as well as a nice glossary of terms for readers not familiar with Christian doctrines. (See also Vol. 1 & Vol. 3) 

You will also read about the different views on various Christian doctrines. There are major themes summarized, charts and graphs (which I love), scripture verses to memorize, and practical applications. But there is so much more.  In the chapter titled "Facts To Never Forget" there are six given.  All six are important, but I want to share a couple sentences from Fact #2-All humans are created in God's image and have inherent dignity:
".....all people have inherent dignity and worth as image-bearing creatures of God. No matter what gender, no matter what age, no matter what race, no matter what economic level--every human being is singularly significant. And no other worldview can genuinely affirm human equality."  It's shameful to admit, but that fact is often the most forgotten by many Christians.

I've studied and taught Bible studies for over 45 years and I still learned a wealth of information from this book that was new to me. We never stop learning. So, go ahead. Don't be afraid to indulge in Exploring Christian Theolgy-Volume Two. It's now on my shelf for everyday use and I hope it'll soon be on yours!

* I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a public review.

Monday, June 29, 2015


By Jacqueline Suskin

   What do you like? Sports? Exercise? Birds? Do you like to get up early or sleep in?  Stop and think about some of the things you like, then jot them down. Do it every day. Go Ahead & Like It is about making lists of things you like. You can do this anytime and anywhere. Use a napkin, a paper bag, or whatever is at hand. A notebook would be best.
   Oh sure, you can go on Facebook and click "like" on any number of things. At the end of the day, do your eyes and mind compute all those clicks?  Writing out your own personal likes can be much more enjoyable and possibly therapeutic. It should help you to explore your inner depths (mind and soul) so you can be more aware of:
>  your surroundings
>  your friends & family
>  your community
>  your job
>  your everyday life
   And, by making lists, you will learn more about yourself and what inspires you. (I might add what Suskin's book is not: it's not about keeping a "thankful" journal or a "blessings" notebook.)
   This book is only 71 pages, but it contains many ways you can use your lists. You could send a card or letter to someone special and enclose a list of all the things you like about that person. Another use is to save all of your lists as they will refresh the present with what moved you in the past. A list of likes could be used for a party game. Have each party guest jot down 5 to 10 things that they like and not put their names on it. Let each person pick a list and see if he/she can guess who it belongs to.  
   Maybe, if those who read Go Ahead & Like It put into practice some of its suggestions, we can have less negative stuff and more positive stuff going on.     
   Because this book is so short it reminds me of a picture book, not for children, but for adults. It contains many charming photographs and illustrations. Enough said. I'm adding this to one of my book lists because I like it!
Photographs by Shelby Duncan                Illustrations by Erielle Laniewski   
My rating:  4 stars 
** I received this book from Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Q&A a Day - 5 Year Journal

                               365 Questions*5 Years*1,825 Answers
   Let me tell you that I absolutely LOVE this little book! It's on my list of favorite things--journaling. I have kept a journal since around 1978 and still have every one. A book like this could have helped me out a lot over the years. I'm so happy I have it now. 
   Each day has 4 lines on which to write stuff down. Each day also has one question. That question will be there for next year, and for the following 3 years. Let me give you an example: For February 17th, at the top of the page is the question. You are asked, "If you could change something about today, what would it be?"  Below that you would write the year, 20--, and then use the 4 lines for your answer. Next year, on February 17th, you will answer that question again. But you will no doubt have a different answer as our lives can change so fast.
   Another example is May 3rd. The question is, "If you could have a superpower just for today, what would it be?"  Next year on May 3rd you will probably want a different superpower and you'll write about that. A couple of other questions are, "What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?" and "How do you feel about your body?"
   With 365 questions you will be exercising your brain every day. And, the questions are far from being silly. They are meaningful and personal. If you find some questions that require a bit more space for your answers, you can do what I do.  I have a small notebook that I keep with this book so if I really want to expound on my answer for the day, I just write the date in the notebook and write all my additional comments there.
   I don't want to forget to mention that Q&A a Day is a great gift idea too.
Published by Potter Style, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
   **I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Matter of Heart

 By Tracie Peterson                                                               

   I've been a fan of Tracie Peterson books ever since I read her debut novel many years ago. A Matter of Heart, set in late 1800's Texas, is a good read, full of intrigue, romance, and drama. The faith message is woven in seamlessly but is not intrusive. I'm sure readers will like the main characters too.
   Jessica Atherton, a lovely young woman, is at a point where she wants to make changes in her life so she can be a better person. She is also feeling left out of the circle of her now married friends, some already with children. Jessica doesn't even have any prospects for marriage. Then, all of a sudden there are two! First is Austin Todd. Austin is a Texas Ranger cattle inspector and retired Secret Service Agent. He is a good-looking man with a kind heart. He is a private person and something from his past is haunting him. Right away Jessica is drawn to him and he is drawn to her. Then a handsome young lawyer comes to town and sweeps Jessica off her feet. His name is Harrison Gable.
   A Matter of Heart had somewhat of a slow start for me. Also, it was difficult to keep track of all the minor characters. In addition, I wish Jessica and the man she chose could've gotten together much sooner. Nevertheless, readers should enjoy this book. I give it 3 Stars

**I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a public review.