Monthly Archives: December 2014

My Battle Against Hitler

My-Battle-Against-Hitler-1-e1415648051484

Do you like history? Do you enjoy reading about World War II? Does behind the scene firsthand experience of historical events interest you? Have you ever wondered what was going on inside the heads of German nationals as Adolf Hitler was coming to power on his path to taking over Germany?

My Battle Against Hitler will be an interesting read for you. This book is firsthand experience of a German college professor named Dietrich Von Hildebrand who, interestingly enough actually wound up as one of Hitler’s top targets once he came to power. Mr. Von Hildebrand was a college professor who was very outspoken against the rise of Nazism. My Battle is basically outtakes from Dietrich’s personal “anti-Nazi papers edited by Austrian historian Ernst Wenisch” (p. 18). Also included within the text are notes from the same editor.

Of all the books I have reviewed, this has probably been the one I have enjoyed the least. This is not due to the book being boring or not interesting. It is more due to the fact I am not a huge history buff. While I do enjoy hearing and understanding what happened in the past, this book just did not hold my attention as others have. There are some interesting parts to the book such as the part of his escape to Vienna and how he made it out at just the right moment or he would have been killed by the gestapo. But this part comes at the end. Everything before this part serves simply as background to what lead up to him being targeted by Hitler. Also included in the book are some of his writings against the Nazi ideology and these were interesting to glance over.

Overall, this book was not one of my favorites to read. As I said, I am not a huge history fanatic so my review is heavily influenced by this. If you really enjoy history, this book might be intriguing to you and something worth purchasing for your library. However, if you do not identify yourself as a history buff, then let this book pass and just watch the History Channel.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

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Want a great marriage?

From this day forward

From This Day Forward is a simple but effective book on how to have a lasting marriage. Many Christians like to point their fingers at the gays and homosexuals saying they are ruining marriage. However, they are not ruining it. Who is ruining marriage then? Those heterosexuals who fail to live up to the commitments they made at the altar. Love is tossed around as a simple feeling or emotion. While it can be that, love is a choice and a commitment. I once heard it said “You do not fall in love, you fall in holes.” This is definitely something I have come to see in my own marriage. I did not fall in love with my wife, I chose to love her. Yes we had all those great feelings and emotions that all couples experience on their journey towards marriage but we also came to the conclusion that love is more than those butterflies in our stomachs, it is a choice, and it is a choice we made to love each other.

Unfortunately, many “Christians” are falling for the world’s idea of love over God’s. What this means is the church has been infiltrated with the wrong idea of love. Marriages are crumbling within the church just like it is outside of the church. Divorce is mentioned more often than it should be within the church. It is even seen as a way out if your spouse fails in some area or another. Instead of sticking through thick and thin, divorce is seen as an escape route. Craig and Amy address this in From This Day Forward.

This book does not break any new ground and or share any amazing new secret or wisdom to a happy marriage, but it is written in a practical and encouraging way to challenge couples that even though hard times can and will come, it is still possible to have a happy marriage. In the book, they address five commitments couples, whether married, dating or engaged, should make to fail proof your marriage. The five commitments are 1-Seek God, 2-Fight Fair, 3-Have Fun, 4-Stay Pure, and 5-Never Give Up. As you notice, these commitments are not rocket science and you have probably heard them mentioned before, but married couples would do well to actually commit to remember and practice them. If this were to happen within the church, I could almost guarantee that the church would be a happier and more welcoming place. Can you imagine a community coming together often who were practicing these five commitments? Wow. It would be amazing to see this happen. Imagine a church where married couples only spoke positively about their spouse to other people? Imagine a church where couples spoke of how they loved each other? Imagine if even the jesting and joking among married couples were to cease? Younger people would get a better idea of what marriage is supposed to be about. When we first star dating someone, we do not even think about joking on them like married couples do after marriage. And when we get engaged we do not suddenly begin to talk negatively about them, even to other people. But it seems after being married for so many years, it becomes natural for couples to begin talking and joking about each other to other people. Who is hurt in these jests? Those younger people hearing us talk about marriage in this manner. If this is what happens when someone gets married, then why should I get married? I would just rather date someone so we can stay in love. That is what we are simply telling younger people when we act this way.

In these five commitments, a foundation is laid for a strong marriage. But it takes commitment and choosing to live according to these commitments. This has to be a daily choice for both spouses to make towards each other and to remember constantly, even in the heat of the moment when a fight or argument seems imminent. Marriage takes work, but Craig and Amy in this book lay these five commitments as foundations for any marriage. Let me share with you a couple quotes from the book that stood out to me:

“Become the kind of person you would like to marry…I will seek the One while I prepare for my two” (p. 28).

“Imagine how hard it must be to divorce someone you’re genuinely seeking God with. What are the odds that God’s direction to you is going to be, ‘Yeah, you should just split up’? Not likely” (p. 42).

“All couple fight, but healthy couples fight fair” (p. 53).

“One of the best ways you and your spouse can become slow to anger is by communicating regularly and honestly when you’re not facing conflict…work on your marriage during non-conflict times” (p. 61).

“When you’re married, fun is not a luxury; it’s a requirement…Without romance, without adventure – without fun – marriage is reduced to a simple business arrangement” (p. 85).

“We decided that our marriage will be as good as we decide it will be” (p. 141).

That last quote I feel sums up the main theme going through this book: if you want to have a great marriage, decide to make it great. Most things of great substance in someone’s life do not happen as an accident, it happens as a result of making choices. So if you want to have a great marriage, decide to make it great. Do not wait to see if it happens because if you wait, it will pass you by and you will miss out on years of fun as a married couple.

From This Day Forward is a great book and one I will use in the future when counseling and talking with couples getting married as well as couples already married. I also recommend singles read it as well. This book will go right up there with another book I reviewed called True Love Dates. So if you are dating and expecting to get married, engaged, or already married, pick this book up and read through it with your spouse and practice what it teaches. Choose to have a great marriage.

In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.


The Unbelievable Gospel

Unbelievable Gospel

 

Are you fearful of sharing your faith? Does striking up conversations regarding faith cause your palms to sweat and your head to spin? Do you find it hard to know when and where to bring up your relationship with Jesus in conversation or how to even try to transition? Or do you maybe wonder why it seems people are not open to the gospel message as much as it seems people used to be? If you answer yes to any of those questions, you are not alone. Many Christians would be right there with you, including myself, even as a youth pastor. The Unbelievable Gospel is the book for you.

Having never heard of Jonathan Dodson before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the insight and wisdom shared within this book is helpful as well as challenging for the individual seeking to learn how to truly engage the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jonathan, the founding pastor of City Life Church in Austin, TX, blends in personal stories to help people learn from what he himself has experienced.

One of the main themes woven throughout this book is that we as Christians need to have a way to share what we believe that helps other people see that it is in fact worth believing themselves. A point Jonathan argues is that many people do not see the gospel as something worth believing and thus when Christians try to share the gospel with them, they are not interested. This can be due to many various things going on in their lives but in many situations, it comes down to Christians not presenting the gospel in an attractive or believable fashion. Thus, Mr. Dodson wrote The Unbelievable Gospel to “show us how to communicate and embody a gospel that is believable, personal, and culturally engaging” (Back cover). How does he do this?

The book is divided into 3 sections: Defeaters, Re-evangelization, and metaphors. Defeaters is all about the things that pull at us and keep us from sharing the gospel. Re-Evangelization helps the reader recover the Gospel and “remind us of the need to continually communicate the eternal gospel in new ways to various cultures and people” (p. 100). Lastly, metaphors is the practical part of the book “filled with examples of how to share a believable gospel” (p. 142). Metaphors is where Jonathan simply started sharing story after story in hope of “stimulating our missional imagination” to help us see it is not difficult to share the gospel in a believable way, it just takes us being willing to listen to culture and the people around us to find ways into their lives. Mostly gone are the days where we simply just asked people to come to church or an evangelistic meeting with us; today, people want to hear and see the gospel lived out before their eyes. When people see authentic faith lived before them, it gives us more of a voice with them but we also have to be mindful of the people we are sharing with and be listening for ways to engage people in a way that is personal. We cannot simply use gospel presentations anymore.

Let me share a couple quotes with you:

“Surprisingly, it isn’t all that hard for someone to mistake clear gospel preaching with moral, religious teaching…This is why gospel preaching and teaching, as good as they are, are not enough. We need everyday evangelists, people who are willing to rub shoulders with those outside the church, hang out at their parties, take them to lunch, and ask enough loving questions to surface true beliefs. It takes time, conversations, and patience for people to get grace, to get it down into their hearts.” (p. 62)

“We desperately need to set apart Jesus as Lord in our hearts, not what others think as Lord. This is where deep security is found.” (p. 95)

“People need to know why Jesus is worthy of their faith.” (p. 143)

“An evangelizing church is a praying church. The church that evangelizes has to pray because it knows evangelism is ineffective apart from the powerful work of the Spirit, who responds both to our prayers and to God’s will.” (p. 203)

Are you looking for some renewed energy and motivation for sharing your faith? Has your approach to share the gospel kind of gotten stale? The Unbelievable Gospel will give you energy and ideas for how to share with people what we as Christians believe is the most important aspect of our lives. I am going to be looking for ways to use this book with my church youth group. I would also love to see a church curriculum come out of this book as I believe it would personally help the people in the church where I currently serve. The gospel is life changing and life giving and as followers of Christ, it is our mission to be sharing it with people we come in contact with. This book will help encourage you to engage the world.

In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.


Should Christians defend Same-Sex Marriage?

Samesex marriage

 

Same-sex marriage has been the topic you use to stir up controversy for years now. Political parties have been divided and businesses sued all due to how this topic drew a proverbial line in the sand daring people to stay on the opposite side and not support the movement. Today, if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and fear-monger. All you have to do to see that is look at how the Duggar family has been attacked recently as well as Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. It is either support us or else. How did this country get to this place? How did we arrive at this point in history? Is there any chance for recovery from it? Is there any chance for the Biblical perspective on marriage to stand strong again?

Is homosexuality a sin? Is God really ok with people who practice homosexuality? Should Christians support marriage between homosexuals? How should Christians and churches respond? In the name of the “new tolerance” Christians are being shut up and people are trying to change what the Bible says to defend their lifestyles. So how should we as Christians respond? So what is or should be our response?

That is where this book comes in. Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet do an excellent job at covering the topic of same-sex marriage in-depth. This book helps people understand this: “Same-sex marriage is here. It went from unthinkable to legal at a dizzying pace. The question is: Now what?” (Front cover) This topic matters, especially to followers of Christ who want to stand with the Bible and its truth. There is a battle that will continue to be fought and for Christians, it is imperative that we know what we believe, know why we believe it and know how to defend it.

Throughout this book there is never a harsh word written towards anyone who labels themselves a homosexual or gay. You will not find it. There is no fear-mongering or trying to get people to see gay people, as unequal or unworthy of human rights. You will not find any hatred. This book is written in a loving but truth seeking manner. Same-Sex Marriage is about helping Christians learn to live “fully engaged in the world.” (Back cover) If we want to move forward and defend the Biblical definition of marriage, we need to understand a few things. We need to understand how the homosexual movement got us to this place, we need to be willing as the church to learn from the past and then we need to be able to look forward to the future and use what little voice we have left in the public square to stand for truth. If we truly want to engage the world around us as Christians should, then we need to be able to “balance humility, conviction, truth and hope.” (Back Cover)

Let me share 5 meaningful and powerful quotes from the book with you:

“A strong marriage culture brings stability to the lives of the individuals who are involved and to the entire community.” (p. 49)

“Unfettered freedom is destructive. Marriage brings incredible freedom, but only when properly understood.” (p. 127)

“Regardless of our words, reality hasn’t changed: sex still makes babies, society still needs babies, and babies still deserve a mom and a dad. We need a word for the unique relationship that best manages those things in a society. Expanding marriage to same-sex couples leaves us without one.” (p. 58)

“A culture in which sex is cheap is a culture in which people are devalued.” (p. 125)

“The most important question is not ‘What are we going to do about same-sex marriage?’ It is ‘What are we going to do about marriage?’

Go pick up a copy and read it with your family, teach it in your church and use it as a way to engage the world around you. We as Christians cannot come at this by attacking the other people. We must be willing to have conversations with people, engage them. That will open the door for us to speak truth.

Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this book from Baker Books in return for a review of the book.