Son of Hamas, a review

Son of Hamas is a true story about Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the founders of Hamas. In his tale, Mosab tells what it was like growing up in Israel as a Palestinian and how he began to view the conflict between Israel and Palestine differently. He had hated the Israelites for the majority of his childhood but some chance happenings in his life altered how viewed the violence and ideologies behind Hamas, PLO, Israel etc. In fact, Mosab became an undercover agent and details many of his missions.

I really liked this book. It was not well written, but the fact that the events were true and many of the accounts were dangerous made up for the lack of writing skills. Had this been a fiction book, I probably would not have finished it. Please note the author is writing from his own point of view, but I think he does give some great insight into the conflict and even more an appropriate response for Christians to consider. I had read a book by Ted Dekker, Tea with Hezbollah, which deals with the same things from a different approach, so if you like Son of Hamas then I recommend Tea with Hezbollah as well and vice versa. Both of these books, I think, give a truer Christian response than the current climate gives. 4 out of 5 stars.

See my review of Tea with Hezbollah, click here.

I was provided this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review.

Immanuel’s Veins, a review

I was given an Advanced copy to read and write an endorsement for the book, Immanuel’s Veins. This is what I turned in.

I really enjoyed Immanuel’s Vein’s by Ted Dekker. I read the entire book in two days, which is unusually fast for me. I was captivated to find out how this story of love and redemption, and small dose of betrayal, would end. While the book sounded like a Dekker book it was also completely new. Dekker, unlike any other fiction author I have read, can take a theme and magnify it through story and IV only expounds upon this. I highly recommend this to any fiction lover.

–Travis Clarke, 25, Waco,  George W. Truett Seminary Student

(I have been told my endorsement is in the front of the book in a slightly edited form, for length I guess maybe some tone.)

***Possible spoilers included here on out.*** I obviously left in the positive aspects of the book for my endorsement and fully stand behind them, though there were one or two hiccups in my opinion, but not enough for me to not write a positive endorsement. So let me explain my endorsement in full and add a little about the minor hiccups.

As all his other books, the theme is the driving force of the story and not necessarily the story itself, which is why I can read his books and not think he has already done this, FBI type guy falls for the girl.

For the sounding like a Dekker but being new, deals with the fact that this is Dekker’s first first person book. I do not read many first person fiction stories so this was new for me, I read Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee a little later. I struggle a little with this part, mostly I think from my lack of reading these type books. However, I was able to work through that, and think that is more of a personal thing than a knock against the book. Again I found the theme to be the driving force and kept me in the story.

Hiccup: As the last book for Thomas Nelson, Ted I think wanted to wrap up any open doors he created in his large arching Circle trilogy connecting stories (i.e. The Circle series, and Books of History series). So in this book he does, by explaining the consequence of Alucard entering “our world” from the circle series. A careful reader will realize that Alucard is just Dracula spelled backwards and is Dekker’s explanation of vampires and works. However I think with the Twilight saga and True Blood the vampire angle is over flooded and need not a Christian spin. I spent a good portion of the book hoping this was not what was being alluded to, but it was. I can live with it, and if it were not for the other vampire stories floating around now, it would have been perfectly fine. Again, Dekker’s take on vampires is great I just worry about how it will play out with the other stories also being popular.

So overall I really liked this book and thus gave it a positive endorsement. As one can see I gave it four stars, took one away for the story not being as original as I would like. But again the theme is more important in Dekker’s books than the story itself.

1&2 Thessalonians/Philemon Life Application Bible Study, a review

1&2 Thessalonians/Philemon Life Application Bible Study provides its readers with the NLT translation of the books with the Life Application, notes included, and then follows all 3 books with the study for each book. In total there are 13 lessons, 7 for 1 Thessalonians, 4 for 2 Thessalonians, and 2 for Philemon.

I like the newer translation of the NLT, which this study includes, but still prefer a more literal translation such as NRSV or ESV. The notes are good and the charts included aren’t bad either. The studies for the books, however, are lacking depth. The study does not stretch the reader at all. Most of the questions are the real simple and only skim the surface of the books. All of the questions are “safe” and do not allow the reader to dig deeper into what Paul is trying to say to the church at Thessalonica or to Philemon. I do not recommend this study for even new Christians as the engagement level is too low to be worth while. A good study will challenge its readers to dig deeper into the material.

I received this study free for review from Tyndale.

Psalms, Life Change Series review

Psalms, in the Life Change Series by NavPress, is Bible study for individuals and can be used in a group setting as well. This study takes several Psalms per lesson, grouped by similar themes, and asks soul searching question to help the reader think about their own life in light of the Psalm’s teaching. In the margins, the study suggests more ways to interact with the Psalms in different settings.

This study for what I can tell, as I did not do all of it but sampled several lessons for this review, is not the most in depth scripturally but I am also a seminary student. I think for the average church goer this study is asking more than they normally are willing to give, which is good. The reader needs to engage more throughly with their own life’s in light of the Psalms. The Psalms are great for doing some soul searching. I would like to comment though that the way this study is conducted will not work well with over parts of scripture though, so do not try them there, but work great for the Psalms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saint Francis, a review

Saint Francis by Robert West is a short biography on Francis in the Christian Encounter series. This biography stretches from is young life as a merchant’s son to his canonization as a Saint after his death. Francis is best known for his stance on poverty, not in a political sense but as a way of life, as in he choose possessionless.

Dr. West does not give an in depth accounting of Francis’ theology or the greater impact Francis had. However, he does give a great introductory biography of Francis. If you are looking for an in depth study of Francis I suggest you look else where, but if you want to know a little bit a about Francis before going into an in depth study or you only want an overview this is a good book. I also recommend Chasing Francis by Cron, it also goes into Francis’ life but in the form of a fictional novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Chasing Francis, a review

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron is a fictional account of a pastor taking a pilgrimage to discover the true life, life of Saint Francis of Assisi. Chase Falson is the main character, who at the beginning of this story has a melt down one Sunday morning at his church he founded some years back. The church is unsure how to progress so Chase takes some time off and visits his uncle in Italy who happens to be a Franciscan priest. It is during this trip that Chase discovers Francis and decides how he will progress but will the church take him back?

This story was quite simple, though there are some twists. Despite the twists the story overall, is lacking. However, the discovery of Saint Francis is quite detailed and well told. I enjoyed learning the history of Francis and the parts of his theology/philosophy. The story unfortunately had huge jumps, and the timeline was hard to follow. As a fan of history I enjoyed the historical portions but thought the fictional story could have been much more developed. I do like how it ended though. I would recommend this book to history and theology lovers but not to fiction lovers. If Ian Morgan Cron writes another book of this nature I would try it, hoping he develops the fictional parts a little more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Jesus You Can’t Ignore, a review

John MacArthur decided modern Christianity has become too nice and has lost the passion and zeal that Jesus had. MacArthur spends the book explaining how Jesus was confrontational with the Pharisees and Scribes. He uses a harmonization of the gospels to show how Jesus made the first move in this confrontation. Ultimately, MacArthur preposes that we, as Christians, cannot sugar coat the truth.

I agree with MacArthur’s overarching idea but found he included too much speculation and failed to make solid connections between the then and now. MacArthur in the prologue decries how some Christians, including most evangelicals, are too nice to Islam with interfaith dialogues. However, the rest of the book describes Jesus only interacting with fellow Jewish leaders and not interacting with the Roman religion. MacArthur, also, fails to discuss the historical culture compared to the culture today and if this could explain some of Jesus’ actions being so confrontational. I know not much later Paul preached/debated out in the open on his travels as it was cultural to do so. I think he had historical schizophrenia while writing this book, he had some great research in this book but failed to apply it across the whole book. So while MacArthur is right, we should proclaim the truth and not accept heresy to enter the church, we should still be cordial with other faiths which he fails to mention or distinguish.

So I agree, we cannot ignore this aspect of Jesus, but we can and probably should ignore this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tea with Hezbollah, a review

Tea with Hezbollah by Dekker and Medearis is a bold book. They plan to travel to the Middle East and speak with many people Americans would call terrorists, or at least the bad guys and sit down with them and ask them simple, nonpolitical questions. The key question being, Jesus taught to love your enemies how do you understand this? Now you may ask aren’t most of these people Muslim that they will be speaking with, yes, but Muslims believe Jesus, Isa, was a prophet and follow his teachings just as they do Moses, Abraham, and Muhammed.

This best part about these questions are that Dekker and Medearis do not try to interpret the answers but give the transcript of the interview. They leave the interpretation up to the reader. Dekker does provide a narrative of their travels and what leads up to each of their interviews. Also included is the story of a girl named Nicole which is quite intriguing.

I have to say this book definitely help changed my mind about the people who live in the Middle East and I was already quite sympathetic to all sides. Although I think some of the interviewees answered quite carefully and tried to make political statements, I found the answers great and liked Dekker asked many of them what makes them laugh and when was the last time they cried.

The book did a great job of showing these people we so quickly try to dehumanize through calling them terrorists are indeed quite human and not much different than us. I highly recommend this reading not only for Christians but for all Americans as I think we as a whole tend to dehumanize many people from the area.

I wrote this review of my own undertaking and was not provided this book for review.

The Witness, a review

I enjoyed reading The Witness by Josh McDowell. The story was fairly intriguing. My one complaint would be, who is the attended audience? If this book is written for non-believing adults then they will mostly likely be turned away about the God talk in beginning portion of the book. And if it is for believing adults then the need to include a straight forward gospel message is pointless. However, if this book is geared toward teens then maybe these are fine to include. I have read several Christian novels that have a gospel message without including the direct gospel message which I believe is better if the book is to reach the masses. Despite that one minor thing, I thought the action scenes were well written and the character’s mostly made realistic choices. I recommend this book for teens in Christian homes over adults.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for a review.

The Road, a review

The Road by McCarthy is a book of travel. The man and his boy live in a post-apocalyptic world. This book details their travels with a few instances of flashbacks.

This a very interesting read, since there are no chapters or quotations, though there is speech. The book functioned as a splice of life story, think Napoleon Dynamite or Fried Green Tomatoes (the movies). I liked not knowing where the story was going or if I was still in the current story or a flashback. Warning if you like straightforward, linear storyteller this may not be a book for you.

Spoiler:

****This is no nice and neat ending, again splice of life story. However there is a sort of conclusion, at least for one character, if you catch my drift.****

I did not receive this book for review, nor was I asked to review this book. This review was of my own undertaking.