Saturday, June 24, 2017

Israel - God's Heart by Ron Gafni and Kathleen Barrett

Book description:

A captivating pictorial of the Holy Land and a scriptural journey through God's redemptive story.

Many of us only dream of traveling to the Holy Land. Very few, like Israel's top aerial photographer, Ron Gofni, soar above the craggy mountains ranges of Masada, the salty Dead Sea, and the iconic locations where Jesus walked. Israel - God's Heart - Landscapes and Legacy beautifully captures the ancient landscapes of this great nation, as well as presents the legacy of God's redemption plan for the world.

As you slowly turn the pages, you will find unexpected vantage points, such as the Tower of David surrounded by city lights and fast-paced cars and a hot air balloon floating over a field of cotton. From a bird's eye view, you will also experience a vibrant, bustling, modern Israel. Biblical references and thoughtful narrative by author Kathleen Barrett intertwines with awe-inspiring photography to bring you to the Holy Land time and time again.

My review:

  I have never visited Israel, though I would love to do some day. I have only seen it through photography, and this book has some of the best photography of Israel I have seen, As the front of the book indicates, there is a lot of aerial photography in the book, though not all of the photos were taken from the air. There are a lot that were not. There are photos of familiar places such as Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, along with several others I am not familiar with, photos of animals, etc. There are photos of historical buildings and places, along with modern places and buildings.

  Along with the photos are explanations of what the photos are of, sometimes with a more detailed description.

 I enjoyed looking through this book, reading the photo comments, and getting a view of Israel from above. The authors did a great job of putting this book together, and it would make a great coffee table book.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the authors:

Israel's top aerial photographer, Ron Gafni, brings his vast experience and personal perspective
through the lens of a proud Israeli citizen. His work has been featured in National Geographic, and his company,, provides books from its "Israel From Above" collection to the Israeli Government, Army, and Air Force, as well as to large corporations in Israel.

Co-author Kathleen Barrett, a Florida resident and former pre-school teacher, shares her thoughtful point of view in Israel - God's Heart from a personal, 40-year walk of Christian faith and study. She has also authored a children's devotional and numerous articles on a variety of topics from missions outreach to political events. Her more personal and reflective work has been featured in a number of collections.

To sample the book digitally, click here.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Artifacts of Conspiracy by Dony Jay

Reagan Rainey was eleven years old when CIA men came to his house and broke the news that his father was dead. And so for the past twenty years, he and his family believed just that. But when a Russian spy named Moses suddenly comes forward and teases a tightly held secret from the past, Rainey’s world is turned upside down.

As part of the ensuing internal CIA investigation, Rainey—Delta Force special operator turned CIA operations officer—is dispatched to Great Britain to find out what really happened to his father and why. After narrowly escaping gunmen in England and an ambush in Spain, Rainey mounts his own operation that will lead readers through the spy-rich streets of Vienna and Prague and to the doorstep of Moscow. And leave Rainey staring face to face with a killer.

In his most daunting mission to date, Rainey will do whatever it takes to discover the truth. For his country, his family and himself. A truth that will challenge the very fiber of his faith and just might shake America to its core.

My review:

  A while back,  a favorite author of mine was recommending a new book by a new author. The book sounded really good, and I trust this author, so I bought that book and devoured it. The book was Warrior Spy by Dony Jay. The warrior spy is a Christian former military guy who now works for a secret branch of the CIA. The book was truly awesome, no exaggerations. It so impressed me that I did a review of it on my blog, even though it was not a book given to me to review.... I bought it.

 And now, the sequel is out, and again I am posting a review of a book I purchased. The author has come up with the perfect hero in Regan Rainey, a man dedicated completely to God and his country, in that order.

 This novel hits home for Rainey, and uncovers a plot and treason at the highest levels of the government. The book takes the reader all over the map: Germany, Spain, England, and more. It has all the pulse pounding suspense and more of the first book, and brings back a lot of the same characters from the first book. This is a masterpiece of Christian fiction, and I was so into the book that I read it in one day, which is a high compliment to the book. I loved the climax of  the book, what I was hoping would happen, and was moved to tears by it.

 I am more careful in my language than some, so I was bothered by the use of "pissed off" in a Christian novel, and would rather it not be in there. There was also a couple of crude references made between guys that female readers may find offensive, and maybe not. Other than that, I have no complaints about the book except it is now finished and leaving me hoping for a sequel. This is definitely a book and series I would recommend, especially for guys.

 I recommend reading the first book in the series, Warrior Spy.

About the author:

Dony Jay is a graduate of York College of PA, with a B.S. degree in criminal justice. He serves as a detective for a suburban police department in Pennsylvania. When he's not reading or writing, Dony loves spending time with his family, staying fit and cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles. Above all, he is a follower of Jesus Christ. According to Dony, the tenets of a rich & rewarding life include faith, family and freedom. In that order. He resides in south-central Pennsylvania.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Layman Looks At the Lord's Prayer

Book description:

A fresh look at a famous prayer 

“There is inherent in this prayer all the strength and compassion of our Father in heaven. There moves through it a beauty and a serenity which no mortal man can fully explain. It reassures our hearts, strengthens our resolve, and leads us into personal contact with God, our Father.” 

In this moving book by “an ordinary man and a child of God,” Phillip Keller takes each phrase of the Lord's Prayer one-by-one, unfolding it in wonderful detail and sharing insights he’s gained and experiences he’s enjoyed.

Next to Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the most universally beloved passage in Scripture. It has been repeated millions of times by countless individuals for nearly 20 centuries. Yet, in spite of so much use and familiarity it has never lost its luster. A Layman’s Look at the Lord’s Prayer presents that luster in a fresh way to help you rediscover its incredible power. 

My review:

  I am very familiar with this author's book "A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23." Although this book has been out for several years, I am not familiar with it. When this new printing of it came up for review, I decided to review it, as I like reading about the Lord's Prayer.

 Keller assigns a different chapter to each phrase in the prayer, coming in at 12 chapters. I like his writing style, and he brought out some thoughts I had never read or considered before. He doesn't belabor the points he makes, yet does a thorough job of getting them across. The book totals 157 pages, which shows he does manage to say a lot about this short little prayer.

 I found the whole book interesting and helpful, but especially enjoyed and appreciated the chapter "Thy Will Be Done." Keller brought out some great points about God's will, and it was something I needed to read.

 This was an interesting and fresh look at this prayer we have read and prayed over and over, and I definitely recommend it.

I was given a copy of  this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

W. Phillip Keller (1920-1997) wrote more than thirty-five books on Christian subjects, including his most popular book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 The son of missionary parents in Kenya, Keller grow up in Africa before becoming a world citizen as a photographer, agronomist, and author. His books have over two million copies in print.

A Layman Looks at The Lord's Prayer is available from Moody Publishing.

Thanks to Moody for the review copy.

The Most Misused Stories In the Bible by Eric Bargerhuff

Book description:

Are you sure you know what your favorite Bible stories mean?

A surprising number of popular Bible stories are commonly misused or misunderstood, even by well-intentioned Christians. In this book, Eric J. Bargerhuff helps you sort through modern-day distortions of these well-known stories and grasp their meaning and purpose for us today. See with fresh eyes the life-changing truths in stories such as: 

David and Goliath
Jonah and the Big Fish
The Woman Caught in Adultery
Zacchaeus, the tax collector
Gideon and His Fleece
Judas, the Betrayer

Filled with fascinating historical and scriptural insights, this concise yet thorough book will help you learn how to read and apply all of God's Word more faithfully.

My review:

  This is one of those books where I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with the author. Not every instance he labels as a misuse of a story was one I agreed with, but I did find myself agreeing with him on other misuses of a story.

 The book is well written, well researched, and is an interesting and fun read. I enjoyed the author's retelling of these well known Bible stories and also enjoyed his insights into them. I did think he made a bigger deal of some of the so-called misuses of some of the stories, but I still enjoyed those sections.

  If nothing else, this is a book that makes you look at some Bible stories in a different light and see some things in them you never noticed before. It is definitely worth reading.

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Eric J. Bargerhuff, PhD, teaches in the Bible and Theology department and directs the Honors Program at Trinity College of Florida. He served in pastoral ministry for more than twenty years in churches in Ohio, Illinois, and Florida. He received his doctorate in biblical and systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Eric's passion is to write systematic and practical theology for the purposes of spiritual growth and reform in the church. He is a member of the Center for Pastor Theologians (CPT) and the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS).

Eric is the author of The Most Misused Verses in the Bible and The Most Misused Stories in the Bible. He also wrote Love that Rescues: God's Fatherly Love in the Practice of Church Discipline, which explores the grace and fatherly love of God that should be embodied in a church's efforts to restore a brother or sister in Christ who has gone astray. Eric and his family live in Trinity, Florida.

The Most Misused Stories In the Bible is available from Bethany House Publishing.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted

Book description: 

Helping the Same-Sex Attracted Faithfully Follow Jesus

As Christians seek to be biblically faithful on the issue of homosexuality, two fundamental questions come to mind: How can a person with same-sex attraction faithfully follow Jesus in his or her sexuality? And how can we support and encourage them in this?

With compassion and wisdom--on a topic rife with misunderstanding and hurt--author and pastor Ron Citlau will help you think deeply and clearly about every option the Bible offers, and what it clearly does not. Having personally dealt with same-sex attraction, walked with others still struggling, and pastored those with gay loved ones, he thoroughly examines all of the available options--heterosexual marriage, singleness, celibacy, and more--and considers them in light of the Scriptures.

With clarity and grace, he helps you discover the remarkable gifts God provides to the Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction and desires to faithfully follow Jesus. Here is a message of hope and practical, loving guidance for those who are same-sex attracted--and those who love them. 

My review:

  There are a lot of books on the Christian market about homosexuality/same-sex attraction. I have read a lot of them, and feel this is one of the better ones out there.

 The title of the book is "Hope for  the Same-sex attracted, and that is what the author does. Often in discussions about this issue, the person dealing with SSA gets lost in the discussion. I can attest personally that it is a very difficult thing to deal with, but this author gets it and has put onto paper not just how others can help people with SSA, but shows that there is indeed hope for we who deal personally with SSA.

 The first part of the book deals with the obstacles we face. The second section deals with the gifts we have that can be of help to us. The third section is final thoughts with a message for church leaders, and a last word of hope for the same-sex attracted.

 This is an interesting and helpful book not just for the same-sex attracted, but also for those wanting to better understand the issue and be a help to those dealing with it. I highly recommend it,

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Ron Citlau graduated from the University of California, Riverside and Western Theological Seminary. He has served in ministry positions in Southern California and Kansas City. He is the pastor of Calvary Church in Orland Park, Illinois, part of the Reformed Church in America.

Ron struggled with same-sex attraction his whole life and has worked with and walked alongside many others who have struggled with sexual brokenness, as well as equipping pastoral leaders to serve those dealing with sexual sin. He also worked with Andrew Comiskey, producing curriculum on sexual healing now used by Desert Stream Ministries in hundreds of churches throughout the country. When he isn't working, he loves to be with his wife, Amy, and their four boys: Jack, Sawyer, Eli, and Crosby.

Twitter @citlau


Hope For the Same-Sex Attracted is available from Bethany House Publishers.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Driver Confessional by David L Winters

Book description:

Driver Confessional tells the story of Antonio, a ride-share driver who winds through the streets of
Washington, D.C. in search of his next fare to support his young family and pay law school expenses. His easy manner and Italian good looks lead passengers to disclose a bit more than they intended. On a particularly dark evening, his sedan pulls up in front of a posh Washington restaurant.

On her way to a midnight meeting in a Senate office building, a mysterious woman and her confession plunge Antonio and his police detective brother into international espionage, the Russian mob and corporate excess. Clues add up to danger and car chases pile up on ethical dilemmas.

My review:

  I enjoy reading new authors, and especially new suspense authors. This book wasn't as long as most of the ones I read, coming in at just 207 pages, but the author packed a lot into those 207 pages. I liked the plot, the idea of a Buber (Uber) driver conversing with his riders was a neat idea to go with. I liked the characters - especially the main one,  the suspense, and drama that came through on nearly every page.

 On the downside, I found some of the writing a bit amateurish, but  not bad enough that it turned me off. Winters did a great job of spinning a tail of suspense that kept my attention. I enjoyed the book a lot, and am looking forward to the promised sequel.

 Driver Confessional may not be as professionally written as books from the bigger Christian publishing companies, but it is still a book worth reading and was suspenseful enough to make me happy.

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

David L. Winters is an award-willing author, humorist and speaker. His first book, Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace won the Silver Illumination Award from
the Jenkins Group.

Driver Confessional is available from Carpenter's Son Publishing.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman

Book description:

You don't need to memorize evangelical formulas or answers. You just have to be willing to ask.

There was something different about the way Jesus communicated with the lost: He didn't force answers upon people, He asked questions. So why don't we?

Following Christ's lead, Randy Newman has been using a questioning style of evangelism for decades. In this provocative book, he provides practical insights to help Christians engage others in meaningful spiritual conversations. He challenges us to examine how we think about people, their questions, and our crucial message.

This second edition includes a new preface reflecting on the popularity of this perennial best seller and what its success has taught Newman about the effectiveness of this extraordinary method.

My review:

  This book intrigued me when I read the blurb about it in the review opportunity. I don't read and review enough non-fiction titles, so I decided to review it. I found the book as interesting as it sounded in the description.

 If you pay attention while reading the Gospels, Jesus asked a lot of questions. When people asked Him questions, He often replied back with a question of His own. This often showed the motive and reasons behind the person's question.

 The author does a great job of showing how we Christians today can apply this same method to our evangelizing and also in dealing with tough questions from others. He covers such topics as why are Christians so intolerant, why are Christians so homophobic, why does God allow so much pain and suffering, and other such questions. He also spends some time on why questions are better than answers. 

 The book is an interesting, engaging, and helpful read. I have never thought about using this method of evangelizing and of dealing with tough questions, but I am definitely intrigued by the idea of it after reading this book. The author did a great job of getting his ideas across in an interesting way, and I feel this is a book that will be helpful to many Christians.

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

From Randy's website: "I want to pursue the integral (whole, unified, tied-together) nature of things. I see connections between ideas, common ground between people, and overlap where others see conflict. I see God’s fingerprints in all areas of life, not just the so-called religious ones.

I’ve had the privilege of serving in ministry on college campuses, at the Pentagon, in churches, and in various academic settings. My writing has opened doors to teach the Bible and to train people in communicating their faith in dialogical and respectful ways.

Some major influences in my life have been (in no particular order) C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, D. A. Carson, Tim Keller, Ralph Winter, George Elden Ladd, Dallas Willard, John Stott, George Marsden, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Antonin Dvorak, Abraham Joshua Heshel, Claude Monet, and the Marx Brothers. My highest priorities are loving God, advancing His kingdom, and loving my family.

You could say that some other big deals in my life are theology, Judaism, academia, literature, music, beauty, and laughter."

Questioning Evangelism is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.