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Book 'em Benj-O



I love to read. I do it for business and for pleasure. Here you will be able to enjoy my views about the books I read. You are welcome to read and comment on the books or the comments that I make about the books.



Updated: 2017-11-04T10:40:17.946-06:00

 



I Will – Thom S. Rainer

2017-11-04T10:40:18.015-06:00

©2015  B&H Publishing Group, NashvilleThom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Since taking that position, Rainer has made a point of developing books that are helpful to the local church leader and the local church memberbe better at church. Books like Simple Church (co-written with Eric Geiger), I Am a Church Member, and Autopsy of a Deceased Church [all published by B & H]. This book is no exception.In the same vein of Church Member and Autopsy, I Will is a small volume that reads well and gives sound advice on how church members can be the best church members they can be. Whereas I Am a Church Memberdeals with the actions of a church member who makes a difference, I Will addresses the attitudes that lead church members into joyous church membership. Within its pages, Rainer dispenses advice on removing selfish “I want” attitudes and replacing them with outward focused “I will” ones.Rainer takes a page from his son’s book on financial decisions (Art Rainer, The Money Challenge, reviewed here) by introducing his topic with a fictional story that could be anybody’s story—it could be your story if you are finding yourself burdened by church. Perhaps the answer is not jumping ship on the church where you are, but adjusting your attitude. Here are the nine traits that the author identifies in an “outwardly focused Christian”:Moving from an “I Am” to an “I Will” attitude – finding biblical solutions to attitudinal issues.Worshiping with others – stop trying to go it alone.Growing with others – get into a small group where people know, love, and encourage spiritual growth.Serving – instead of expecting others to serve me.Going – taking the love of God with me everywhere.Generous giving – everything belongs to God anyway.Perseverance – don’t drop out of church because it gets difficult or I don’t get my way.Avoiding “Churchianity” – playing at church instead of being the church.Making a difference – look for ways to advance the Kingdom of God.In a culture where cafeteria-style Christianity and church attendance has become the norm, it is time for church members (and all Christians) to develop an attitude adjustment that leads us to looking outside our own shell of contentment in order to strengthen the church and obey her Master.This little volume may not have the impact of I Am a Church Member, but it certainly hits the mark as a genuine partner work. I give Rainer four out of five reading glasses here.—Benjamin Potter, November 4, 2017[...]



Leading Through Change – Barney Wells, Martin Giese, Ron Klassen

2017-10-24T09:12:11.323-06:00

©2005  ChurchSmart Resources, St. Charles, ILSome wag once said that the only person who wants change is a baby with a dirty diaper. And I once heard a comedian indicate that that person may have questions about wanting change with the statement, “Leave it alone. It’s my mess. I made it; and I want to keep it.” However, change is inevitable if we want to exhibit life.We see how change shows life if we watch the rose bush we planted last spring. We want to see growth, buds, flowers, and even the falling of the flowers. We want to see the plant go dormant for a season so that it can come back to growth, buds, and flowers again in the spring. In church life, change must happen if the church is to exist to see the next generation become a part of our congregation. The principle is that the church must change or die. This is true not only for the church in the urban or suburban setting where the community is changing around them, but it also applies to the rural or small town church where the community itself seems to be drying up. If we are to exist—to continue to be effective in our communities—we must see where change is necessary, and make change.With this in mind, I would like to recommend the book Leading through Change to pastors and leaders in country, rural, and small town setings. With shelves of books on leadership, church growth, and change for the good of the church in bookstores today it is difficulty to choose the one that fits for you. This book addresses the need for change, but more importantly it gives advice (not cookie-cutter process) on how to approach change that will remove lifelessness and add life to the local Town and Country church.Section one of the book sets the foundation explaining the need for change, indicating the difference between change that works in the suburbs (which is addressed by most of the volumes on change available) and what will be helpful to bring about necessary changes in a rural setting. Section two develops some of the key ideas about change that will help the leader of a small-town our country church breathe new life into a church that needs to reach new people.The authors, representing over 100 years of ministry (most if not all of which is in the small town or rural setting), develop nine steps (some “spiritual” some “cultural”) to approaching change in the church. A basic idea is not to force change, but to “lead throughchange” (as implied by the book’s title) by adapting to the change that is going on around you in your community. This is an invaluable book for the pastor of the rural church. It includes encouragement (reminding the pastor/reader that just because some statisticians are bemoaning the decline in membership of churches as a sign of death without taking into account that some specifically rural communities are experiencing decline in population), and some practical helps about having a vibrant ministry in a culture that once was but is no longer the “preferred” culture of our society. Country living is still a viable option.Here are some of the plusses about the book: It is short. Pastors (many who are bi-vocational) don’t have as much time to read the 300-400 page textbooks available on church growth and health. It is written by men who are part of the culture to whom they are writing, including real-life examples of what worked (and did not work) in their own ministries. And it is practically biblically based. We can see the Bible foundation for the actions taken as a church ministers in the midst of change, and the practical application of that Scripture.One more bit of advice concerning leading through change. If you get a copy, start by reading page 77. This will give a good picture of leading change and leading through change in the small town and country church. It will also give you a good snapshot of what is to come as you return to page one and read the entire book. For the small church, country church, rural church pastor, this is a must read and will be a positive resource through[...]



Convicted – Jameel McGee & Andrew Collins (with Mark Tabb)

2017-09-20T17:28:30.435-06:00

©2017  Waterbrook Press, New YorkThe caveat on the cover of this book reads: “A Crooked Cop, an Innocent Man, and an Unlikely Journey of Forgiveness and Friendship.” When I saw the title and the cover of the book, I was intrigued. Since I usually turn to mysteries or suspense novels (with a western thrown in for good measure) for my leisure reading, and concentrate on mostly ministerial books as a general rule for work, I find that the “True Crime” genre rarely catches my attention. But this one looked like it might be worth a minute or two.I received the book in the mail about two days before leaving the country on a personal trip that wouldn’t allow time to read (even on the plane—which I don’t read well on planes anyway). So, I socked it away with the hope of getting into it upon my return. I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction to the book. From the first page of the prologue (don’t skip the opening “Author’s Note” for background, but the story doesn’t start until the prologue) I was hooked. I almost wished that I hadn’t read the descriptor on the cover, though, because from the very outset my reader’s mind was set against the cop (one of the book’s voices). The story is exactly as advertised: an innocent man gets caught in the cross-hairs of a policeman doing whatever he can to put criminals away—which includes fudging with the truth to a certain extent. After all, in the neighborhood where he works, most of these people are drug users or dealers anyway, right? Within these pages you will read the sad state of corruption that plagues police departments (and is, one must say the exception rather than the rule). The outcome of the story is that once the cop (Collins) was caught in his web of deception, he had to come clean with details of all the arrests he had made that had been compromised by corrupt practices. All of which were overturned. Meaning that a lot of guilty criminals went free because one dirty cop wanted to cut a corner or two—in the service of justice.At the same time the story is about a man just about to embark on a promising future (especially coming from the neighborhood in which he lived), who gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, by the wrong policeman, with the wrong friend. It is a case of mistaken identity, misused power, and misplaced trust. And the result is a three-year federal incarceration for an innocent man.The final outcome of the story is not such a depressing thing though. With all of the ill-will, all of the bad blood, and all of the system abuse, Convicted is the story of how God uses unusual circumstances to bring sinners into relationship with Him. Even more, it is the story of how two men who start out as mortal enemies—and according to all conventional wisdom should remain so until they reach the grave (maybe at each other’s hand)—become friends through forgiveness only available through Christ and knowing Him.I heartily recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It has action, suspense, and an unusually unexpected happy ending. It’s in stores or online today. And read this 5-reading glass treasure about forgiveness.—Benjamin Potter September 20, 2017[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.][...]



Choosing to SEE – Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn

2017-09-12T11:34:59.285-06:00

©2010 Revell, Grand RapidsMaybe you haven’t heard of Mary Beth Chapman, but if you have listened to music (especially that with a Christian message) you may well be acquainted with her husband, Steven. She is the one who wrote this story. He states in the Foreward to the book, “For many years I’ve been known as ‘the writer’ of the Steven Curtis/Mary Beth Chapman duo. And while I’ve been known to pen a song or two, and maybe even a book (with a whole lot of help, believe me!), here’s the real, honest to goodness truth: Mary Beth Chapman is a way better writer than Steven Curtis . . .” Whether you agree with the famous husband or not, the book is well worth your read on a variety of levels.Several years ago (shortly after it was published), my wife picked up this book with the intention to read. It was written and subsequently published not too many months after the tragedy that spurred the writing invaded the Chapman household, so we knew it would contain some heart-breaking, tear-producing passages (note: you will want to bring a case or two of facial tissue with you when you embark on this reading—you have been warned). So, the book sat unread on our shelves. Fast forward to 2017. We decided to clear out our bookshelves for the purpose of selling off some of the books (we have a mountain) to help fund, of all things, our adoption process. While clearing the shelves, I came across, and dusted off this book. I decided to keep and read it—a decision that I both love and regret. I love because it is book that speaks to the very core of your being, challenging and healing you at the same time. Regret because it is a book that touches you to the core of your being, coaxing even the hard-heartest of us to weep tears (don’t tell your manly side).Here’s the low-down on this book: in the very opening pages the author recounts a tragedy of loss that no one should ever go through. I’ll not repeat the story, although many who are reading this review would remember the horrifying accident that has colored the lives of the Chapman family from that day to this (and onward).The book is not about tragedy and grief though. It is a book about hope. Within the pages the author gives some biographical background that gives insight into her life and her life with Steven Curtis Chapman, award-winning musical artist. Her writing is engaging, funny, real, and touching. You won’t want to put the book down, even though you have to get another box of tissues.I picked up the book, because I wanted to read it as we raised money and waited for the call to travel to Vietnam to meet and bring home our little girl. That call came in the midst of the reading and (because of the amount of crying I was doing) I decided to put it down until after the journey ended. The tears I shed during the reading were not sympathy or even empathy tears for what happened in the Chapmans’ lives. No, reading of their struggles in the journey of life and their hope found at the end of long, dark tunnels brought to the surface of my own heart struggles, pain, as well as laughter and joy that had been a part of my own story. My story is not her story, but her story evokes mine. I don’t know whether that means she’s the great writer Steven claims her to be, her emotional roller-coaster is one that all of us can relate to on some sort of level, or I am just a sentimental sap. What I do know is that you will want to read this book for the stories of triumph, the stories of forgiveness, the stories of adoption, and the stories of heartbreak. Bring those tissues with you, but cry away, the tears will be cleansing. I know they were for me.BTW, if you stop reading before the end (for adoption travel, or life-happening, or whatever reason) you will still be glad that you picked up this book. It has the full complement of 5 reading glasses from this reader.—Benjamin Potter, September 12, 2017[...]



The Hum of Angels – Scot McKnight

2017-07-26T16:34:52.270-06:00


©2017  Waterbrook Press, New York



I had heard of McKnight. He blogs at Jesus Creed. And he is a well-respected author, speaker, and professor at Northern Seminary near Chicago. It had been suggested to me that I might do well to read some of his work. So when he authored a book on such a fascinating topic as angels, I decided to give him a try.



I must be perfectly honest, beyond the fact that both McKnight and I believe that angels exist and are active agents in the world, I really struggled with this book. Throughout the pages, I couldn’t decide whether he was advocating an argument that angels were creatures and the agents of God, or that they were (as God’s agents) God Himself.



Perhaps it is that McKnight writes on a headier level than I comprehend, or maybe I’m actually onto the fact that the writing just isn’t compelling. At any rate, I found this (though a truly fascinating topic) to be an utterly put-down-able book. Sometimes I found, as I was trying to detect the “hum of angels” (an analogy touched off by the author’s fascination with humming birds), that the buzz was just putting me to sleep.



I’d like to give the book a positive rating, but then I’d be forced to read it again—and stay awake. Just two reading glasses for this book.





—Benjamin Potter July 26, 2017



[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]





NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible

2017-06-27T15:26:26.183-06:00

©2017 Zondervan, Grand RapidsA Study Bible. For Kids. What a neat idea! I know that my children, raised in a Christian home, coming to know Christ as Savior at an early age, and now growing up in a society that no longer values the Bible as much as it did, say 40 years ago when I was a kid, and I have been looking for something that might be a good study tool for them as they come to a place where learning more about the Bible, its lives and times. Perhaps this new offering from the Zondervan publishing group might fit the ticket.As a book for reference and study use, I would give the publishers fairly high marks for the physical construction of this Bible. It is a hardcover with pretty sturdy binding that includes a built-in place ribbon for marking one’s place when he/she puts the volume down. I can also say that the cover and the contents (“over 700 images inside!” boasts a colorful sticker on the front cover) are vibrant and eye-catching. While the pages aren’t the delicate and precious onion-skin type pages you might find in a high-end, leather-bound copy of the Scriptures, they are thin enough to keep the nearly 2000-page book from being unwieldy. I think that it would be good to look at what this Bible claims about itself to help in assessing its usability for kids.First of all as a Bible for kids. The question that comes to mind is, what age and reading level constitutes a “kid”? I would want to settle into the 9 – 12 age range (give or take a year or two), which would place the reader in the 4th – 6th grade reading level. Going with the NIV for the text of the book could be argued as a less than stellar decision because of the eighth-grade (estimate) reading level of that version. When you want to reach kids with a study resource, it might be better to use a more readable translation (although going with the third-grade level NIrV might be going a bit too shallow) when Americans often tend to top-out at the sixth-grade level. The book also says right up front that it is “visual” and announces (albeit with a sticker) the presence of “over 700 images”. I did not take the time to count the images, but the book is packed with them. Some are photographs that illustrate the portion of the Scripture that they accompany. Other images are artists’ renderings. All of these are okay, and seem to be of really good quality, but the images that caught my eye are the charts, graphs, and visuals that give a thumbprint explanation of such things as the difference between the Jewish months/calendar and our modern understanding of the year. From time to time a margin will be dedicated to the “Life Line” of one of the biblical characters (such as Jacob, Moses, or Herod the Great). Apart from the pictures scattered throughout the pages, what makes this a “study Bible”? Nearly every margin contains some quick and simple commentary on the Scriptures of that page. These comments are rarely more than a simple paragraph, but help in the understanding of the ways and words of the Bible. Also, each book of the Bible is preceded by a full-page background of the book: Who wrote it? Why was it written? What are the major themes? And so on, to help the reader get a better understanding of the book they are reading. At the back of this volume are a table of weights and measures to aid in comparing biblical amounts to modern equivalents, some obligatory maps (the Exodus, Paul’s missionary journeys, and the like), and a couple of indices to help find the “infographics” and maps scattered throughout the text. What’s missing is even a simple concordance to aid the reader in finding the passage(s) he/she wants to study.Overall, I think this is an excellent effort to put “dig deeper” Scriptures into the hands of boys and girls. I would recommend it for children ages 10-13 (around 4th – 6th grade). At a cover price of $32.99 (US) it would be a good investment in the [...]



Hello Stars – Alena Pitts (with Wynter Pitts)

2017-06-22T09:26:11.902-06:00

©2017  Zonderkids, Grand RapidsThe author of this book is a young (very young) actress/model who got her start in the recent film War Room. She teams up with her mother to pen this book about a young girl who literally falls into an acting role. In some respects, Hello Stars is fairly easy to categorize—it’s a book by a twelve-year-old girl writing about an eleven-year-old girl and what can happen if life takes a turn. Choosing to abide by the writer’s motto, “write what you know,” Alena tells a story that could be very similar to her own. Is it any wonder that the book is targeted to preteen girls? It is a book that brings faith to the forefront in both family and workplace settings. Even with all of this right up front, the book itself categorizes itself in a laundry list of titles: it is part of the “faithGirlz” books developed by Zondervan’s Zonderkids division; it proclaims on the cover that it is the first in the “Lena in the Spotlight” series (which advertises book 2, Day Dreams and Movie Screens, is available in bookstores and online). So, choose a category and settle in for a nice story.The story, told from the voice of 11-year-old Lena Daniels, brings the reader into the heart and mind of a preteen girl. She has her special friends at school, she loves her family, and she would just die to meet her favorite singer, Mallory. When she prays that her video greeting to Mallory will win her an opportunity to spend time with the singer, she is convinced that it’s a flop. And then the call comes that Lena has been chosen to star opposite Mallory in an upcoming movie based on faith.The book is a good read and will appeal to its target audience for a variety of reasons. It speaks in a voice that is familiar to them, it addresses topics and dreams that most (if not every) preteen girl is concerned with, and it bears a positive message about faith and God.As with any book of this nature, and especially first outings for an author, the story does have some drawbacks. It will have limited appeal even among young female readers because it has a tendency to “preach” a lot. Not that the sermons are bad, but it may find its way only into the hands of girls of faith. The tone and message of the book will help this limited audience to grow in faith (just as the main character does), but if the desire is to reach an audience outside the Christian community, the authors and the publisher will find an uphill battle.All in all, I’d have to give the book 4 out of 5 reading glasses for a really fun summer adventure offered by a first-time author. I did find myself enjoying the family I met in the pages of Hello Stars (almost to the point of checking out book 2) even if I’m not a preteen girl (I am the father of one, though).—Benjamin Potter, June 22, 2017(I received this book from the publisher for the express purposes of this review.)[...]



Not All Roads Lead to Heaven – Robert Jeffress

2017-06-13T13:22:50.749-06:00

©2016 Baker Books, Grand RapidsWhen I was a high school student I was part of the team. I did not play football, basketball, or baseball, but I was on the team—the speech and debate team. I will readily admit that I was neither exceptionally nor remotely gifted in the art of debate. In fact, at tournaments, I begged our debate coach to let me just participate in the speech events that I enjoyed. But alas, she always made me partner up with my buddy and lug our cases of cases and evidence into the debate room where we would participate in two to three rounds of debates usually being eliminated early. As you can see, dear reader, I have not decided to make apologetics my life ambition. I’m just not going to go out of my way to get into a theological debate with someone. Even so, there are times when I find myself in a situation that requires me to bring an answer for my faith—and often the questions are difficult. What is a Christian to do when it comes time to stand up for faith? That’s where it helps to familiarize oneself with people who have a gift for defending the faith.That is where Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of FirstBaptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and his recent book come in handy. Dr. Jeffress is no stranger to defending Christianity. He has been interviewed on countless occasions where faith matters arise. He has found himself on the debate stage with noted opponents to the Christian faith and shown well. And so he has written Not All Roads Lead to Heaven to help the average Christian understand and defend the doctrine of exclusivity (that Jesus Christ is the one and only doorway into eternal life).Jeffress address some of the most often voiced objections to and questions about the claim of Christianity that Christ is the only answer to questions about salvation. He bases his answers to these tough questions in Scripture (both Old and New Testaments) and weaves his way through the maze of logic that has tripped many a Christ-follower. Some of the loudest objections [exclusivity is intolerant; what about someone who’s never heard about Jesus? What about little children?] with care, understanding, and a better response than the typical defensive sarcasm that touches the lips of many Christians. The author reminds the reader of a couple of important notes that should be remembered whenever we encounter someone who wants to question our faith: We are dealing with God and His ways, and God’s desire is to see as many people come to salvation as possible. If we are to find salvation, we must do it on the terms of the Author of salvation, though, and not what seems like a good idea at the time.This book is a short, readable guide to answering questions that a Christian might have about how inclusive the gospel message is; a resource to approaching non-believers (both friends and acquaintances) who might take issue with the exclusive claims of Christianity; and a study to acquaint the believer with a stronger foundation as to how to approach the doctrine of salvation—after all, it is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (and only Jesus Christ).I give this book 4.5 out of 5 reading glasses as at times it gets a little weighty, although Dr. Jeffress does an excellent job of keeping the complexity of the issue simple most of the time.—Benjamin Potter, June 13, 2017[...]



The Money Challenge – Art Rainer

2017-06-10T17:44:37.516-06:00

©2017  B&H Publishing Group, NashvilleAccording to the blurb on the back of the book, Art Rainer is the “vice president for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University and an MBA from the University of Kentucky.” What makes me want to read what Art has to write is more that he is the son of Thom Rainer, and I expect that what he has to say will be well-thought out and succinct. In relation to his degrees and position, I think that perhaps his subject matter is right down the alley of his education. That subject matter: money.More than money, though this little 150-page book is about applying God’s design to your money in order to help you become a stronger follower of Jesus. It’s a book about the Christian’s use of the resources entrusted to him/her by the Maker and Master of his/her life. If you think that this is just another in a room full of already written, tried, and tested tomes about the subject of money management (or even stewardship) you’d miss the mark. Rainer seems to be more interested in helping Christians be better Christians than simply help Christians be richer Christians. If you are interested in simply a stewardship or money-handling, pick up a book from Ron Blue or Dave Ramsey or the late Larry Burkett (all good Christian money management experts). Some of the money management principles they espouse are either used or expanded on here. So, what is it that Rainer is offering? I would personally label it discipleship. The springboard he uses to launch into Bible-based, full-out discipleship is one that is dearest to the heart of many Americans—the pocketbook.The thirty days of discovery (part of the book’s subtitle) are woven into the three aspects of living the Christian life that turn money woes into money management and general living into genuine Christianity: give generously, save wisely, live appropriately. People, Rainer states, are designed to be generous. And through our generosity we find happiness. The reason we save is to be generous. The reason we get out of debt is to be generous. The reason we buy a house is to be generous (in the long run). Rainer also asserts that “living appropriately” is based in the idea of living within one’s means—not trying to keep up with the Joneses (whoever they may be) nor having the latest gadget.What might draw the reader to this book as opposed to other money management books? Its brevity is a big plus. Rainer says as much in 150 pages as many gurus take 300 to disseminate. I also enjoyed the fictional example woven throughout the book, bringing a personality to both the person needing help and the mentor who presented her with the challenges (it never hurts to have an It’s a Wonderful Lifeallusion).I would recommend this little book to Christians (both new and old), especially those who are struggling with financial matters. As with many books, producers may be interested in churches and small groups using this as a curriculum for small group study. I think it will have its best application as a one-to-one discipleship tool. In fact, I am making plans to use it to disciple my children as they reach the age of 14-17, as a tool for both discipleship and money management learning. It will be an invaluable tool for Christians desiring to find God’s design for them (and their money).Five out of five reading glasses from me. For more information about the book, listen to this interview between Thom and Art Rainer (the publisher and author of the book). [#TheMoneyChallenge from @artrainer and @bhpub is available NOW at your favorite bookselling outlet.]—Benjamin Potter June 10, 2017[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from B&H Publishing Group for this review.][...]



Life After – Katie Ganshert

2017-06-02T18:29:36.082-06:00

©2017  Waterbrook Press, New YorkLife happens. That is the thread running through this fast-paced romance by Christy Award-Winning Katie Ganshert. I can attest to the fact that life happens as I sit down to write this review (three months late). May I whine just a bit? I started reading the book and was well on my way to finishing it when I slipped on the ice and broke my dominant wrist. So much for typing up the review when I finished reading the book. Then, as does for all ministry types like me, life happened some more. Things got busy at church, things got busy with the busy family, and then a major funeral happened. And so, here I am, three months later, and I have a little more thought into the book than I normally do. (Excuses over, now on to the review.) Not being familiar with Ganshert’s work, and desirous to see how my review would turn out, I checked out a copy of an Amish Christmas romance that was written with the contribution of Ganshert and others (Amish Christmas North Star, WaterBrook, 2015). What I found there (in Katie’s story from the book) was a moving story with well-developed, likable characters to push the story along. Consequently, I began to look forward with a little less trepidation to examining the latest book from this author unknown to me, in a genre normally not read by me.Set in Chicago, the story starts off with a BANG when, well, life happens. On an icy, snowy day, a commuter train derails destroying lives and homes all over the city. Only one passenger survived. The book follows her story, as Autumn Manning comes to grips with her role in the “Tragedy on the Tracks” as the event is labeled in the media. While all her friends and family are trying to figure out why she is not happy, does not feel fortunate, that she didn’t die in the accident, Autumn is filled with regret, remorse, and guilt spurred on by the continually lingering question Why? All the while struggling with a lingering amnesia that her doctors and psychiatrists are hoping to help her move past.In ensuing pages, Autumn finds her life entangled with the lives of the families of those who died in the tragedy, including Paul Elliot and his daughters. Originally thinking that his wife is the lone survivor, Elliot arrives at the hospital to find a stranger in his wife’s bed.Ganshert develops the main characters well, but some of the supporting parts are played by people we just don’t want to like, even when we want to like them. Perhaps it is the role they play (Autumn’s former boyfriend who shows back up to help with a memorial that Autumn finds herself not only entangled in but in charge of, for instance—you’ll need to read the book to get the whole story, otherwise I’d have to spoiler alert you).The story has everything that a romance reader is looking for: likable characters, plot twists, semi-steamy love scenes, emotional conflict, and perfect resolution (the right guy gets the right girl and all is well in the end). For someone who rarely reads romances, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll give Life After 4 out of 5 reading glasses.—Benjamin Potter August 31, 2012[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.][...]



Coming Soon from Katie Ganshert

2017-01-17T21:12:20.049-06:00

Author Katie Ganshert has a new book coming soon. If you're a fan, or interested in exploring exciting new authors, take a gander at the spectacular pre-release package below.


And stay tuned here for more news about Life After.





A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve – Mother Teresa (ed. By Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC)

2017-01-11T14:24:38.352-06:00

©2016 Image, New YorkOn the occasion of her canonization in the Catholic Church, this collection of sayings, instructions, and speech excerpts from the late founder of the Order of Missionaries of Charity is both inspiring and challenging. The volume was designed and released to coincide with her canonization.Few people would deny the inspiration that Mother Teresa was (and is) to people of faith, even some of us who are not Catholic. The collection of her wisdom and her instruction to the Order is a beaming snapshot of who this revered nun was. Included with the collection are sisters’ recollections of Mother Teresa in not only her teaching but in her living out of that teaching personally.I must say that tackling this book is a mammoth task because it is a collection rather than a memoir. It is not a biography, but at the same time it is. Collected here are teachings that amount to the things by which this saintly woman would want to be remembered. The lessons that she taught are collected and edited into categories that explain the demonstrative faith that made her the leader that she was and allow people of faith to remember her for the saint that she is. The editor begins with sayings, instruction, and memories on the teaching “Feed the Hungry” and includes chapters on visiting the sick and imprisoned and bearing wrongs patiently.I would not advise reading the book like an essay or even a textbook. However, it is an excellent reference to keep handy when needing an example of living faith in real time, which is what Mother Teresa did and encouraged others to do.My recommendation of this book is for those who would like to see more into the life and work of this newly canonized saint, for those who are looking for some inspiring examples of faith in daily living, and for those who want to know more about what one who is the hands and feet of Jesus Christ looks like. I do not recommend this volume for those looking for an escape, a little light reading, or even a pat on the spiritual back for being good. Because of the limited audience appeal of this book and the heavy content within I rate this book at an even 3 reading glasses (for the faith community, it’s a 4.5, and for the Roman Catholic readers out there, I’d raise it up to a 5 and proclaim it required reading).—Benjamin Potter January 11, 2017[This book was provided free of charge by the publisher for purposes of this review. The opinions are my own.][...]



NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

2017-01-11T11:25:16.861-06:00

©2015 Zondervan, Grand RapidsThis is the first opportunity that I have had to review a new edition of a Bible. While I will not be reviewing the text of the Scripture, I would like to make a few observations about this special edition of the NIV Translation. I personally like the New International Version for reading and preaching because of its smooth flow of the English language. I was disappointed a few years ago when publishers re-vamped the text with a version that was a bit more politically savvy than the original NIV. That being said, I would like to turn my attention to the characteristics that make this edition unique among Bibles.This particular edition is designed with two goals in mind: (1) to appeal to an audience of girls in the pre-teen years and throughout the teenage years, and (2) to provide journaling space so that readers can “make this beautiful book [their] own.” Aesthetically, the vibrant colors of the cover with pastels and pinks would seem to appeal to a number of girls in the target age group. The cover itself is sturdy cardboard that should last for several years and abide daily use since the Bible is designed to be a tool worthwhile for a girl’s daily devotion time. And it comes equipped with an attached silk place marker as well as a handy elastic strap to keep the book closed when not in use.The text of the scripture is printed on about 2/3 of the page leaving ample space for notes, ideas, and responses that grab the heart of the reader while they are engaging with the Bible. The other third of the page is lined to aid in the reader’s response. I asked my 15- and 10-year-old daughters to examine the Bible and give me their thoughts, after all they are both in the target group for this edition. Both of them were impressed by the journaling margins designed into the book suggesting that this would make the Bible a good tool to use in daily devotions.One drawback with the journaling design in my opinion is the paper used for the pages. While the publisher did not use the delicate onion-skin paper that is found in many gift Bibles and high-end, leather-bound editions, the paper is relatively thin to be used for the purpose of note-taking and high-lighting. I fear a great deal of bleed-through might occur for readers with a heavy writing hand like myself. I will grant that the weight of the paper is good to keep the volume from having to be divided into two or three books in order to include the entire text of the Scriptures.One other exception that my older daughter noted as a disappointment was the lack of study helps such as a short, general concordance and maps, although there is a “Weights & Measures” conversion chart included in the rear end papers. Overall this is a useful, attractive copy of the Bible that would be a fine gift Bible for the pre-teen or teenaged girl in your life. I give it four out of five reading glasses.—Benjamin Potter January 11, 2017[This book was provided free of charge by the publisher for purposes of this review. The opinions are my own.][...]



Survivors Will Be Shot Again by Bill Crider

2016-10-03T21:26:23.092-06:00

©2016 Minotaur Books, New YorkBlacklin County Texas is finally settling in to the quiet Mayberry-like existence that it should enjoy, so Sheriff Dan Rhodes has decided to take a long overdue day off. But when a would-be thief descends on the same convenience store Rhodes has entered to end his hiatus from drinking Dr Pepper, days off vanish from his mind.It's just as well, because a crime ring has been operating on the outskirts of the county. Billy Bacon, who’s been the victim of thieves on his property over and over again, has called in another incident on his place. This time, the sheriff finds not only an empty space where Billy’s heirloom saddle should be, but also the body of Bacon’s neighbor, Melvin Hunt.As usual, readers are treated to the squad-room banter of Hack and Lawton, even though Hack is convinced that the high sheriff intentionally keeps his dispatcher “out of the loop.” There is also high adventure as Rhodes heroically wrestles a “prehistoric turtle” and rids Clearview of the scourge of illegal marijuana patches.We have another fast and fun story played out on the stage of Blacklin County Texas. Rhodes and his cohorts earn another 5 reading glasses for their efforts.--Benjamin Potter, October 3, 2016[...]



Between the Living and the Dead by Bill Crider

2016-10-03T20:52:13.711-06:00

©2015 Minotaur Books, New York [Note to the reader: I received and read this book several months ago, and now that I have finished the next in the series, I thought I should go ahead and post a quick note about this good Dan Rhodes story.] Seepy Benton, professor at Clearview College, trained member of Blacklin County’s “Citizen’s Patrol”, and part-time live music for a local restaurant has a new job interest—he’s a ghost hunter. And so is born another headache for county sheriff Dan Rhodes. As is his fashion, award-winning author Bill Crider, weaves a story filled with ghosts, guns, and intrigue. Throw in some trademark comic relief and mystery lovers have another good evening’s read. Crider is known for his wit and attachment to clichéd phrases, and constantly files them away to surface in one of his mystery novels. As I read the description of Dan Rhodes subduing a run-away bull in the Walmart parking lot, I fairly laughed out loud to see that the good sheriff “took the bull by the horns.” And I wondered how long Crider had been waiting to fit that one into a story. Again filled with our favorite characters, Sheriff Dan Rhodes fans will not want to miss this edition of crime and punishment in Blacklin County Texas. This one will be fun at Halloween time with its haunted house, reference to ghosts and hat tips to the Ghostbuster movie franchise. Dan Rhodes gets another 5 reading glasses, if for no other reason than he “ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” —Benjamin Potter, October 3, 2016 [...]



Win a Galley

2016-09-24T10:55:56.470-06:00

Actually, I'm just posting this to increase my  chances. If you don't enter, I have a greater chance to win.

http://bit.ly/2ds0Pky



Saffire – Sigmund Brouwer

2016-09-13T09:18:40.999-06:00

©2016  WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs“A Novel.” That is the descriptor listed beneath the title on the cover of this fascinating book. I have been reading selected Sigmund Brouwer books for a couple of decades now. Most of them fall into the category of “novel” which indicates that they are fictional stories, and that the main thrust of the story is to, well, tell a good story. I think that’s why I enjoy reading Brouwer’s fiction. He writes for audiences at a variety of stages in their reading, and goes out of his way to inspire young people to both read and write, often focusing his seminars on school-aged boys who find it difficult to “get into reading.” May his tribe increase.Yes, Saffire is a work of fiction. Yes, it is a good story, well-told. But it is so much more than a good story. Like all good historical fiction, this book becomes a time portal through which the reader can be transported to anywhere in history and become a part of the events described.Saffire actually defies genre-fication—it is hard-pressed to be squeezed into a mold created by the publishing companies for marketing purposes. A surface glance at this novel could very easily place it in the category of romance because of the attraction-tension that runs throughout the story. The back-story of lost love for the hero that finds its replacement in the beauty and fire of one of the developing characters (Rachel Sandoval). There is a tip of the hat to the western story moseying through the pages as Jim Holt constantly remembers his days with the Buffalo Bill Wild West show, and concerns himself greatly with the location and condition of his cowboy hat. Mystery and intrigue lace the pages as Holt constantly asks questions on behalf of the orphaned child for whom the book is named.Ultimately, though, Saffirefinds a comfortable resting place in the seat occupied by historical fiction. The narrative intertwined with the historical setting and events that are the construction of the Panama Canal will hold the reader’s attention. Brouwer, as is his custom, is able to take a moment in history that is simply a mundane paragraph to most, and turn it into the exotic, exquisite exploration that fascinated those who lived there or watched from the window of newspapers around the world when it was happening.This is a most enjoyable read which draws a portrait of the politics, mechanics, and theatrics of the Panama Canal Zone as a perfect setting for the story. I highly recommend this book to people interested in the building of the Canal, in the art of intrigue, in the history of the Canal Zone and the country of Panama, or even in the orchestration of bull fighting. I give Christy-winning author Brouwer five reading glasses for this latest novel.—Benjamin Potter, September 13, 2016[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.][...]



Prince Noah and the School Pirates – Silke Schnee

2016-08-06T15:22:55.485-06:00


© 2016 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New York

You may recall when we were introduced to Prince Noah in the story The Prince Who Was Just Himself. He is back—along with his brothers (princes Luke and Jonah) and this time the boys are off to school.

In the fairy tale kingdom where they live, school is different than the school that we know. School is on a ship—the boys on one, the girls on another, the children with eye patches went to school on another ship, those with only one leg on another, and there was even a special ship for the children who didn’t learn so fast.

Adventure begins when all the ships are blown into pirate waters by a terrible storm. All the children are captured and taken to an island where they are imprisoned in a tower. The children all work together using the things they have learned on their separate ships to escape and return home to their families.

This endearing story encourages us to work together to solve problems and remember that everyone is important, even those of us who may be just a little different.

The author has teamed up again with illustrator Heike Sistig to give us another book that highlights the wonder of children who are “just themselves.” Having a child with Coffin-Lowry Syndrome, I find Schnee’s treatment of her own son with Down Syndrome delightful. Especially endearing is her description of her own Prince Noah as “blessed with an extra chromosome.”

Families with special needs children should get a copy of this book. And every school library should invest in a copy of this delightful tale—even if they are in a building and not on sailing ship. (5 reading glasses)

Benjamin Potter, August 6, 2016

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.]



Renovate: Changing Who You Are By Loving Where You Are – Léonce B. Crump, Jr.

2016-08-06T14:23:46.451-06:00

©2016  Multnomah Books, Colorado SpringsI like recommendations, sometimes. I especially like it when people take the time to notice where I’ve enjoyed something and make recommendations based on that. (Note of warning: on-line sites like Facebook and Amazon.com don’t really take the time to note your preferences, they just make recommendations based on volume activity.) Anyway, someone noticed that I gave a positive (maybe even glowing) review of David Platt’s Radical, and so this book was recommended to me.The author, lead pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta, is a former professional athlete who loves his town and his calling.Like any book that approaches the norm from an angle, this book is liable to challenge your traditions as well as get your feathers ruffled because Crump forces us to ask the questions that no one wants to ask—or be asked. The book has some drawbacks. The author’s love for Atlanta because of first a calling to that great city and followed by his intentional planting of himself there is evident in the amount of time spent in the first half of the book describing the history (good and bad) of the city of Atlanta. It is laudable for the church planter whose calling is to plant in Atlanta to love Atlanta. The take away for others is to fall in love with your place of calling. However, the first chapters, in the guise of supporting a sense of call to place, become an effort to convince all readers that Atlanta is the place (and the only place to serve). With a bent toward overselling his city, Crump almost loses his audience from his actual message—God not only calls to vocation, he calls to place as well.Another distraction in the book is the intermission included in the middle of the manuscript. The record of the interview between the author and several of his colleagues who are part of his church planting effort does not flow with the rest of the book. If its inclusion was mandatory (on either the part of the author, the editor, or the publisher) for the book to see the printing press, it would be better served as an appendix located at the end of the book. Perhaps the production team felt that (even though it distracted from the message of the book) it might have missed a few readers’ eyes as an appendix, and centrally placing this section would earn it more readers, it still seemed to be less a part of the book and more a piece of the research for the book, and draws a giant question mark as to its inclusion (especially as an interruption).I am disinclined to totally pan the book though. In a day and a vocational path that trends toward itinerance, Crump calls for longevity. He suggests that perhaps when the minister is answering the call from God to be part of church leadership, that the minister should consider not only the what but the where of that call. According to Thom Rainer, the average tenure of a pastor in a local church still hovers at just under three years (up from when I began my ministry when preachers were staying an average of 18 months). With research also claiming that most effective ministry is done after the 5-year mark, it would behoove ministers to actually plant themselves. The challenge is for those called to vocational ministry to stop looking for their next position the moment the moving truck drives away from the parsonage of their current place of service. Instead, study your place and the people there. Learn how to become one of them, and make your life about your place of calling. (Again this is addressing a God-calling that is often short-circuited by short-sig[...]



Don't Wait for the Obit

2016-07-25T08:02:12.743-06:00


(image)
Bill & Judy Crider

For some reason we always seem to wait until obituary time to write the glowing report of our friends. This time, I don't think I'll wait for the obit to say the good.

I first met Bill Crider when he was Dr. Crider teaching American Lit. at Howard Payne University. I enjoyed his teaching style so much that I took him for a J-term version of English 201 (I think it was 5 papers in 3 weeks - the one year there was snow on the ground in Brownwood, TX). During the American Lit class I stopped by and asked if he as my English professor would look over a short story I'd written. He took it and a couple of days later he gave it back with some advice about the characters and a fairly generous assessment of the story itself. He was right about the need for character adjustment, but I think he was over-generous with the story itself--I still haven't re-worked it into anything worth sharing.

Fast forward about 15 years and I found a book with Bill Crider as the author. On a hunch, I bought the book, looked up his addressed, and inquired if he had been my English teacher. He was, and our friendship became more than student/teacher. He has become a friend, mentor, and all-around encourager. He's read a couple of my stories since and has always been more than friendly in his critique.

I've become attached to his writing (I've even indulged in some of the darker stuff that appeared under the name Jack Maclane) and always enjoy looking for the newest Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery.



This mild-mannered friend of all has a talent not only for writing, but for music (especially if you like barbershop) and for being a great encourager. Thanks for being my friend, Dr. Crider.

I'm saying all this, and trying to join the cloud of voices bringing laud to a man who deserves it, because Bill has recently run up against a dire diagnosis of aggressive carcinoma. So while I'm not going to wait for the obit to tell what a powerful encouragement, influence, and friend Bill has been to me, I am going to take this moment to send thoughts and prayers out for him and this battle he's found himself in. Godspeed, Dr. Crider, and beat this thing. I know you've got another story (or 10) to tell.



The Prince Who Was Just Himself – Silke Schnee

2015-09-02T07:59:57.621-06:00

© 2015 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New YorkChildren’s books sometimes seem to be a dime a dozen. Often authors of children’s books rise up out of almost every corner of the market. Celebrities are the newest joiners into the competitive market of Children’s reading material—often gaining sales for their celebrity instead the quality of the book. So when I receive a book designed for children I look for several indicators that the book will be appropriate for and appealing to children, as well as enjoyable for parents to read to and with their children.A big factor in children’s literature appeal is the accompanying artwork. In this selection, illustrator Heike Sistig uses vibrant colors, simple shapes, and touching scenery to convey the story being told by the author. If one must find a drawback or flaw with the illustrations it would be in the occasional overpowering backgrounds of the full-page illustrations. But they don’t distract from the pictorial re-telling of the story for the child-reader to associate with the tale.Another major concern in children’s writing is the story itself. Is it appropriate for young minds? Does it appeal to the child’s senses? Are the sentences short and concise enough to engage the child in the story? Schnee does it all. This story—the story of a third prince born into a royal family (the new prince being noticeably different from the other people of the kingdom)—has lots of adventure and appeal. For an added bonus, the story is a lesson for everyone in the family as well as the kingdom. Without giving too much away, this book gives parents of all types of children an opportunity to talk about how one child can be different, but that can be okay. The author’s personal experience (making the tale almost autobiographical) brings the story to life. She surely was able to use the story to help her sons adjust to their new brother. And now the world (thanks in part to excellent translation by Erna Albertz) can do so as well.If you, or someone you know has a child who is “a little different” you will want to make this delightful book a part of your library. Read it with your child. Let your child read it with you. Let the world know that your child can be happy “just being himself.” (5 reading glasses)—Benjamin Potter, September 2, 2015[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.][...]



Memories, Musings, and Mischief – Jo Ann M. Cross

2015-04-17T21:19:02.748-06:00

©2015  48HrBooks (www.48HrBooks.com)When one is well into his fifties, it is often difficult to remember those long past days spent day-dreaming on the third row of Mrs. Cross’ Trigonometry and Analytical Geometry (Trig’n’Analyt) class—yes when he should be listening and learning all about tangents, sines, and cosines. The same must be true for Mrs. Cross when she retires. Who would ever expect the purveyor of all knowledge mathematical would be a great story-teller, too? But here you have it. Jo Ann Cross has penned in her retirement the book that all retirees plan to write. Her subject matter? Not math, but her stories—the stories she heard from parents and grandparents as she grew up in a rural east Texas community, the stories about her own experience, stories that span the funny to the tragic. And she does so quite successfully, too.In an attempt to preserve some of the stories of her ancestry that have been passed down orally from generation to generation, and to offer a glimpse of community life from east Texas for a larger audience, Cross has developed what she calls “short stories” but is mostly a collection of memoir-type essays that bring all aspects of life into crisp focus.The author’s talent is evident in superb moments of personification. Many of the stories hinging on her own experience rely heavily on her dry, but ever present sense of humor. The one story that deals with math and her father’s ability to teach the difficult concepts so that the smallest child can understand brought me back to that third row seat in Mrs. Cross’ Trig’n’Analyt class. I recall plainly the day when I kept asking “why” and “how” and Mrs. Cross smiled at the whole class and said, “Don’t try to understand it, just know that it works, and do it.” That advice saved my bacon in the only upper level math I would ever take.Included in the smiles and jests are a couple of very touching stories. Of particular interest are “Pa-Pa’s Funeral” which deals more with race relations in early 20th century east Texas than the funeral itself, and “Samuel and Sarah” chronicling the author’s ancestral move from the deep South to deep east Texas in the mid-19th century. The latter of these two stories bearing a heavy L’Amour-esque flavor in relating the history of the move.This little collection will have appeal to a variety of audiences—friends and family of the author will certainly enjoy the book, Mrs. Cross’ former colleagues and students (yes, I am one) will find the peek into the real-ness of Jo Ann Cross very fun and refreshing, readers who like the historical and the hysterical will both be extremely entertained, and like me, people with roots in places like Brinker, Texas (mine would be Cason) will be transported to those thrilling days of yesteryear to relive their own amusing moments. Thanks for the trip down several memories’ lanes Mrs. Cross. And thanks also for being real during all those years you took your place at the front of a Mesquite High School classroom. Well-written and entertaining, Jo Ann Cross’ “Collection of Short Stories” deserves every bit of the five reading glasses that this reviewer awards it. —Benjamin Potter April 17, 2015[...]



Easter Stories – Miriam LeBlanc, compiler

2015-03-27T19:20:10.323-06:00

© 2015 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New YorkWith Easter just around the corner, I welcomed the chance to read a collection of inspirational stories set in, on, or around Easter for review. Thanks to the publishers at Plough for providing one. You can visit them here: http://www.plough.com/en/ebooks/e/easter-stories.This collection of stories, with a couple of poems thrown in for good measure, is designed to be inspiring for those who follow the Christ of Easter. The selections included here are often inspirational as promised. Specifically heartfelt is the legend of Russian martyr, Vasily Osipovich Rakhov (born ca. 1861) as creatively told in “The Case of Rachoff”, making this reader want to dig a little deeper into the life of this wanderer who lived a life dedicated to Jesus and Jesus alone. Included are both old and new stories. Some of the classics include selections by Leo Tolstoy (“Two Old Men”), C.S. Lewis (“The Death of the Lizard” from The Great Divorce), and Anton Chekhov (“The Student”). These tales are inspiring if not actually familiar. Newer selections, such as “The King and Death” by Ger Koopman seem to be written specifically for this collection. This latter story was an excellent one with a bit of a slowdown for an ending.I chose to read this book as part of my morning devotions as there are only about thirty selections (reading one entry per day). This worked well for me, but I found some of the selections to be longer than my 15-20 minute devotional time would allow. Other readers may prefer to read the anthology like any other that they would pick up, selecting only one or two selections a year at Easter time. This book is filled with stories from distant lands like Germany and Russia, that center on the miraculous nature of the Easter season, and is worth your time to read. Included are brand new wood-cutting artworks by artist Lisa Toth which expertly introduce each story. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to add a new element to their Easter celebration. (four out of five reading glasses)—Benjamin Potter, March 27, 2015[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.][...]



Rasmus and the Vagabond – Astrid Lindgren

2015-03-16T09:30:25.825-06:00

© 2015 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New York Astrid Lindgren is the Swedish author whose Pippi Longstocking books (and films featuring the redheaded child of strength and ingenuity) have captured children’s hearts all over the world, first released this tale of an orphan wanting a home and his vagabond friend in Sweden in 1956. Life in the Vaesterhaga Orphanage was a drudgery for nine-year-old Rasmus. Digging potatoes and pulling nettles was not the life he desired. Like many a nine-year-old boy, he wanted to play and climb trees, and enjoy life. The only fond memory he had related to the time he had an ear-ache and the directress of the orphanage (the stern, unyielding Miss Hawk) had held him comfortingly for but a moment.When a rich grocer and his wife come to adopt a child, everything goes wrong for Rasmus from the moment he begins to clean up for the visit. It really didn’t matter. Parents wanted girls with curls, not boys with straight hair. And so Rasmus decided to run away.On his first morning out of the orphanage, Rasmus met and befriended Oscar—a tramp extraordinaire, who played his accordion and sang for food or money as he traveled far and wide over God’s green earth. No longer lonely on his journey, Rasmus began to learn of life from his new friend, “Paradise Oscar, God’s best friend.” What follows is an adventurous journey filled with crime, intrigue, happiness and sadness as Oscar tries to help Rasmus find the perfect parents who would adopt him—a rich, handsome couple who want a boy with straight hair and not a girl with curls.They meet with gangsters and sheriffs, with maids and rich ladies. And eventually Rasmus finds the perfect home—but you’ll have to read the book to find out about it.I like the tenor of this children’s book because it reads like a children’s book ought to. It is filled with lessons on honesty and honor, happiness and struggle, with some fun along the way. This book will please readers of all ages and will leave the reader with a satisfied feeling that life can be good and right. I give Rasmus and the Vagabond five out of five reading glasses.—Benjamin Potter, March 16, 2015[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.][...]



Discipleship – J. Heinrich Arnold

2014-12-29T12:28:29.813-06:00

© 2011 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New York Living through the middle of the 20th century (1913-1982) J. Heinrich Arnold discovered a deep and lasting faith that guided his every step. In this volume we have a collection of his writings (drawn together by his children and friends) that bears reading by every follower of Christ.This leader of a Christian community (without formal theological education) walked deeper in the word than most of the men and women considered great heroes of the faith today. First of all, I must admit that the book is not an easy read for several reasons. Arnold‘s writings are collected piece by piece making the book more a collection of sayings that a “read-through-me” volume. In this respect the book does not have flow. On the other hand this makes Discipleship: Living for Christ in the Daily Grind a perfect reference volume. The writings are collected under general to specific headings. Want to read about “Faith”? Look under the heading. “Communion”? It’s there too. The other main reason for the difficulty in navigating this book is the depth at which Arnold hits the reader’s spirit. This is not a book to pick up if you want no-challenge, feel-good fluff. It is however, the perfect read for the Christian wanting to be more like Christ (which is after all, the ultimate goal of becoming a Christian in the first place).Arnold tackles man in his sin nature and his salvation. He writes readily about the nature and community of the church. I would give this book 4 out of 5 reading glasses and join greats like Mother Teresa and Elisabeth Elliot in recommending the book to any Christian. —Benjamin Potter, December 29, 2014[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.][...]