Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Review: Shigeru Miyamoto - The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

My son and I have been gamers since he was very small. It all started with Mario 64. From there The Legend of Zelda was a given.

My reviews are normally of Christian books, but when I saw a book on the History of Zelda, I had to take a look.

This book is a somewhat chronological history of the Zelda universe. Because the games were mostly created for the game-play itself, the creators focused more on the gaming aspect than the story. That is why there are many twists in the story line of the Zelda series.

Fans have wanted a timeline for a while  and the creators of the series have tried their best to provide one. 

The book has four parts. The first shows the making of Skyward Sword and how it was conceived. Then the timeline (History of Hyrule), Third is a list of main characters and how they have changed through the years and last but not least, a comic. 

This book is packed full of pictures - hundreds of them. There is a lot of information. The comic was a great addition.

I enjoyed reading it and give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

* I received this book free of charge from Diamond Book Distributors, Dark Horse Books, and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Josh McDowell - The Bible Handbook of Difficult Verses

I have always loved reading books on bible difficulties. They actually strengthen my faith and help me in my daily discussions about the gospel.

Josh McDowell is the quintessential apologist. He has written dozens of books defending the faith. This one looked very promising and it did not disappoint.

Josh and Sean take us through the bible touching on each major verse that has been used to discredit Christianity. It is very readable but does not oversimplify. He touches on every thing from science to the Biblical inerrancy.

He answered the obvious questions like, "Where did Cain get his wife" to "was the flood universal". His writing is so convincing that you want to study more on each topic that was considered. If you or someone you know has question about the Bible in general or even a specific verse, this is the book to turn to.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book free of charge from Harvest House Publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Scott Petty - Predestination

This small book was a surprise. Through the years, I have probably read a dozen books on predestination, Some were good and some were terrible. This book will be in my top 5.

It is simply written, but very good at explaining a difficult subject. Many people get angry when discussing the subject of Predestination. They see it as unfair. Instead of a cruel and terrible thing, it should be looked on as beautiful.

God is God. If He isn't in control, then who is? Us? That would be scary. I heard someone say that if a mosquito can do something that is against God's control, it would have more power than God. By default that would make it God.

The definition of God means "One who is all powerful". Without His sustaining power, we would not even be alive.

Petty's book takes us through some very hard questions.

Does God control the future?
Does God choose who will be saved?
Is it fair if God choose one over another for salvation?
And many more...

Petty not only talks about our salvation, he shows how God is involved in all our lives. We can take comfort when we have problems, because we know God is in control. He works all things for the good of those who are called.

Does this not do away with freewill?

This is also discussed. We do not have absolute freedom, but compatibilist freedom. We make choices and God is sovereign at the same time. We may not understand it, but God is even in control of our discussions, but not in a way that he is the author of our sin. It is a mystery (like the trinity). We will never understand this side of heaven.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in the subject of Predestination. It makes predestination accessible to the person who has never tackled the subject.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book, free of charge, from Matthias Media and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: Anthony J. Carter - Blood Work

"Without blood there is no remission of sins"

Today, many mainline Churches have practically removed the word "blood" from their literature. It seems an embarrassment to them. But why remove the very object that brings us salvation?

Anthony J. Carter's book on the blood of Christ and it's meaning is a breath of fresh air. He takes us through the accomplishments of Christs' blood.

Just as the blood of Abel cried out for justice, the Blood of Christ calls out for redemption and forgiveness of sins.

Subjects include:

Purchased by the blood
Propitiation by the blood
Justified by the blood
Redeemed by the blood
And much more.

This book is easy to read, but it gives you such a sense of awe at what God accomplished for us. To think that the Master of the Universe came down to become man, shed His blood to save a wretched sinner like me. If I had lived at the time of Jesus, I would probably have been one of those who yelled, "Crucify Him!"

It melts the heart to think that Christ loved me when I least deserved it. The wrath that was due for my sin was placed on the Son of God. The enmity that was between me and the Father was removed.

I have been justified. He has taken my sin upon Himself and He has now imputed His righteousness to my account. Wow, what a great deal! The Sovereign King has provided His son as a sacrifice in my stead. It all happened because of the BLOOD.

I highly recommend this book to all. It is a wonderful read.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars. If I could give it more I would!

I received this book free of charge from Reformed Trust Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Book Review: Michael Horton - Pilgrim Theology

Over the years I have read a half dozen books by Michael Horton. He is an excellent writer. My favorite will always be, "Putting Amazing Back into Grace". When I saw this book, I really wanted to give it a try.

Horton is one of those guys who can write at a level that even a High School kid can understand, but other times he is so over my head, I am left drooling like Patrick from Spongebob. This is not quite one of those books, but I did feel at times I am missing out on something. Because there are some assumptions, it leaves you felling as if you walked into the middle of a movie.

This is not because of any inherent fault in Horton or his book. I see it as my own gaps in understanding. This book is not a hard read per say, but it does push you to study the subjects farther. I will now need to pick up his Systematic Theology to dig even deeper into the subjects he introduces here.

Pilgrim Theology is a Systematic Theology for layman. Horton takes each major subject of biblical doctrine and explains it in somewhat easy terms. Even though it is written for layman, it does get a little deeper than that. This is a good thing. What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. We sometimes need a push.

I enjoyed this book and feel it deserves a wide reading. The chapters on salvation are worth the price of the book itself.

I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

* I received this book free of charge from Zondervan and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Iain M. Duguid - Is Jesus in the Old Testament

Is the Old Testament relevant today? Are we not to look to the New Testament for our doctrine? These are the answers Duguid will bring us in this small book.

Most people use the Old Testament for moral stories to teach us how to live. Sermons like, "Do you have a Goliath in your life?" or "Do you have financial walls that need to be torn down?" Most of these are good subjects for a sermon, but we are using the wrong text of scripture.

The Old testament is about the coming of the Messiah Jesus. Jesus said more than one time that the OT scriptures were about him. We are not to allegorize every story or see Christ in every object, but the whole Bible concerns His coming to earth to pay the penalty for sin.

Duguid shows us how we are to find Christ in the OT. We are to read the scriptures in the same way they were written. The writer conveyed a message and it is our job to interpret it in the light of what he meant. We are not to read it to find a scripture to help for us in our everyday life, if that is not the original intent. There are verses written specifically to teach us how to live. We do not have to allegorize a story to come up with the same thing.

The was a short but very good book. I would love to see a larger volume on the same subject. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the relationship between the Testaments.

I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book free of charge from P & R Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: J.D. Greear - Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

I really enjoyed this book. I believe the title will probably throw a lot of people but I totally understand where he is coming from.

Many of us who grew up in church remember getting saved every week. Even if we knew we were saved, we just wanted to be sure.That experience is what this book is all about.

What is assurance of salvation?How can we have it?What is repentance?

These and many other questions are answered in this small but informative book.

Greear starts the book showing us what salvation is and how Jesus was a substitute for our sin. If we do not start here, the rest is useless. Salvation is from God. He accomplished it all. We can not add anything to the cross. We are to rest in what Christ accomplished.

From there he spends the rest of the book explaining what repentance is and is not. Repentance is a changing of direction. Belief and repentance go hand in hand. We can not truly have one without the other.

He then moves to show that just because God calls us to good works does not mean we can be perfect in this life. We are to strive to be as godly as we can.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book, free of charge, from B&H Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Review: Simonetta Carr - Renee of France have read a good amount of church history and honestly, to my shame, I had never heard of Renee of France.

I am always excited to learn of new people I had never read of before.

Spoiler Alert!!! The rest of this review contains a summary of the book.

Renee was a French princess and Italian duchess who corresponded with John Calvin during the reformation. She was torn between the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformed faith. Many considered her as the first prominent French noblewoman to profess Calvinism. Reformation supporters took refuge with her.

Calvin often wrote her concerning compromise. Some had convinced her that compromise was best so that those within her sphere of influence would not be offended. Calvin told her that Christian liberty should not be an excuse for breaking God's commands.

She was not only a duchess, but also a wife, mother and friend. She hosted a large library that consisted of Reformed books and treaties.

During the persecution of Protestants, she tried to convince her husband not to prosecute them, but was unsuccessful. She took into her house many who were under persecution from the Roman Catholic Church. Her husband brought in an inquisitor to try and change his wife’s convictions toward reformation doctrine. He even imprisoned her, trying to force her to once again accept Rome. He removed all her friends and her books.

Finally she capitulated and returned to Rome. She went to Mass and confession once again. She tended to fluctuate back and forth. For the rest of her life. Calvin tried to encourage her to stand with the gospel.

The book ends with a discussion of Calvin’s doctrinal views on Rome and the letters he wrote to Renee.

This book was a very good read. It is written almost like a novel and keeps you interested till the very end. I highly recommend it.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book, free of charge, from EP Publishing and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Check out a great interview with the author.

Book Review: Mark G. Johnston - Our Creed

Why are creeds important?

"No creed but Christ" Over the years that is a phrase I have heard during more than one sermon.

Many tend to view creeds as "head" knowledge and not "heart" knowledge. Some would say, "Why spend so much time arguing about doctrine that isn't important, when God just wants us to worship Him?"

My answer? Christ said we should worship him in "spirit and in TRUTH"? Truth should be BOTH head knowledge and heart knowledge. Wisdom is knowledge(truth) in action.

If I have the knowledge that a “stop sign” means that I should STOP, but I do not have the wisdom to STOP, someone gets hurt. But if I don’t even know what the “stop sign” means, I am even worst off and have no business driving at all.

Both knowledge and wisdom are essential. Action without knowledge is dangerous. Try performing the action of heart surgery without the knowledge from medical school.

OK, let us relate this to God. Without knowledge of who God is, how can we worship Him? If we do not know who it is we worship, are we really worshiping the true God or just a figment of our own imagination?

With that said, this book is a study of the Apostles Creed. It is a study to show us who God is and what He has done. It is short but consists of some great teaching. Mark G. Johnston takes us phrase by phrase through the creed in a series of chapters that would be great for Sunday school or Bible study. At the end of each chapter there are questions for discussion.

I wished 27 years ago, as a new Christian, my church would have taken me through a study like this. They were worried about getting me saved but I was to fend for myself when it came to doctrine.

Paul said we are to study to show ourselves approved. He also said that God gave teachers for the building up of the Church. If God gave teachers to us, He means for us to learn from them.

In a world where information is at our finger tips, the Church is void of it’s own history and teachings. I remember a person who had been in church for years asking me – “Do you mean to tell me that Jesus is really God? I have never heard that before” We need more Biblical knowledge and Johnston fills that gap with this excellent book.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book, free of charge, from P&R Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: R. C. Sproul - God's Love is another excellent book by R.C. Sproul. This was a reread for me. Years ago, this title was published as "Loved by God". I enjoyed it then and did the same this time.

R.C. has such a gift for taking deep theological truths and explaining them to the average layperson. This book is no exception.

"God's Love" is just that, a book about the love of God. He delves into some fascinating questions.

Does God love us with an unconditional love?
What does it mean that God loves Jacob, but hates Esau?
What do the 3 Greek words for "love" mean?
How does God's love fit with His other attributes, like His holiness and justice?

He answers these questions and many, many more.

It is a medium sized book at 256 pages, but is packed with some great doctrinal teaching. It answers many questions concerning God’s sovereignty and love.

The last 3rd of the book is a verse by verse exposition of 1 Corinthians 13 – the “Love chapter” This alone is worth the price of the book.

I don't know if I would consider this work in the same caliber as Sproul's "Holiness of God" or "Chosen by God", but it is a great title and worth being read twice.

I highly recommend this book and any other work by R.C. Sproul.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book, free of charge, from David C Cook and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.