Book Review – Max on Life by Max Lucado

April 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Max on Life, the latest work from best-selling Christian author Max Lucado, is rather different from his normal books because instead of being basically a collection of stories, it’s a collection of answers. 171 of them to be precise.

Over the years Lucado has received letters asking all manner of questions, and while some of them have been answered in earlier books, the best of them, plus some previously unanswered questions, are included in this latest offering. Answers and insights to your most important questions claims the dust jacket.

Questions (and their answers) are grouped into seven different categories – Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-Nots, and Hereafter. Each question is answered using a Biblical reference or two within a page, or in rare cases a page and a half. It’s all very neat and a great idea – all the questions you ever wanted to ask about God, life, death, heaven, marriage, money and so on answered in a couple of hundred words.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work.

There’s an old saying that a text without a context is a pretext. In other words, you can rip a verse from the Bible out of its original context and in so doing more or less make it mean whatever you want it to. And while I don’t think that Lucado intends to deliberately mislead or distort the true meaning of scripture, there were times when I felt a particular Bible translation or paraphrase was used simply because it was the only interpretation whose wording justified his answer.

Some of the questions asked are very deep, and while I applaud Lucado for not dodging the difficult questions, I do wonder whether trying to provide an answer in a page or so is really such a good idea. Some questions require pages, chapters or even a book to be answered – I did feel that some of the answers provided were rather contrived, or at least came across that way.

And there are some questions that we simply can’t answer, they are beyond our understanding. There is nothing wrong in my opinion in saying ‘I don’t know, the Bible doesn’t give a clear answer.’

My criticisms only apply to less than 10% of the answers, although I would urge the reader in all cases to read the quoted scriptures in context in their own Bible. There really is no substitute to getting the word of God from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Overall, I enjoyed Max on Life, but no surprise there as I am a big fan of his books. I just wish he hadn’t tried to provide all the answers. He can’t.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program called Book Sneeze. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review – The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

April 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Final Summit, the latest offering from author Andy Andrews. On the one hand Mr Andrews is a Christian author, and his publisher Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher, while on the other hand there was much to suggest that this would be some kind of self help book. So I guess I was expecting a Christian self help book of some description.

Unfortunately I was to be disappointed.

The basic premise of the book is that the main character of the book, David Ponder, is taken by the Archangel Gabriel to meet with and lead a group of people known as travelers (taken from Psalm 39) in order that they might save humanity by answering in two words the question, “What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?”

The travelers were all famous people from our history including the likes of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Albert Einstein, Anne Frank and King David amongst others. The exception was a gentleman I had never heard of by the name of Eric Erickson, who was credited with playing a major role in our victory over Hitler in world war two. I must admit that I was a little surprised to see what I thought was a fictitious character inserted into the plot until I read in the author’s note that Erickson wasn’t a fictitious character at all, his story and contribution were all true.

Gabriel told the travelers they were to be given five chances to get the correct answer and, while it came as no surprise that their first attempts were incorrect, what did surprise me that the suggested answers to the question had no spiritual basis whatsoever. I was expecting answers like “obey God” but got answers like “restore hope” instead.

I think the biggest surprise was reserved for what was deemed to be the correct answer, which I could only describe as, well let’s call it ‘shallow’ and leave it at that.

In summary I would have to say that purely as a piece of fiction The Final Summit was an easy enough light read, and to be fair to the author it is well written, but as a serious piece of Christian literature it was sadly lacking in any real Christian content.

I was provided with a free review copy of the book by the publisher Thomas Nelson and I would have to say I am glad I didn’t actually pay for it. I would best summarize it as ‘not my cup of tea.’

Book Review – The Treasure of God’s Word

March 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

The Treasury of Gods WordThe Treasure of God’s word is a beautifully produced gift book that celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible which was published for the first time in 1611.

The pages of the book have a parchment look about them and are gold edged, while the cover is of imitation leather, which gives the book a look and feel of a much more expensive book than it actually is.

Inside the pages are a selection of verses from the King James Bible sorted into over 40 topical categories including such topics as God’s Love, God’s Mercy, Our Salvation and the Power of prayer. Interspersed between the categories are various short articles on the history of the King James – or Authorised Version as it is also known – Bible.

My only disappointment with the book is with the articles, they are not only short but also in short supply. For some reason I was expecting the book to contain rather more substance on the history of this version of the Bible, especially given the fact that there is a 400 year history to draw on.

That aside, I would have to say that this would make an excellent gift for anyone who appreciates the beauty of the language of the King James.

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program called Book Sneeze (www.booksneeze.com) 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Book Review – Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

January 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Outlive Your Life by Max LucadoI’ve always been a firm believer that it’s not what you say as a Christian but rather what you do that is of greater importance. Why else would Christ urge us in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”?

In the preface to Max Lucado’s latest work “Outlive Your Life: You were Made To Make A Difference” Lucado tells the story of how, when a ship’s captain asked to be shown where Father Benjamin lives, he was shown a clinic, some fish farms and a chapel. Expressing his surprise on being told that Father Benjamin was dead, he was told that he had been shown where – despite his death – he lives.

During his life, Father Benjamin had made a difference in people’s lives, and in the pages of Outlive Your Life, Lucado invites you, too, to make a difference.

Writing in his usual laid back easy to follow style, Lucado tells the stories of ordinary people being used by God to change the world. He realistically accepts that no one can do everything – but everyone can do something.

Each of the twelve chapters of Outlive Your Life begins with a passage from the book of Acts, followed by a story, a second passage of scripture and a concluding prayer.

The stories are of what Max calls regular folks doing what they can to help someone else. Early in the opening pages of the book we meet people like Joe and Liz who make doll-sized wardrobes for premature babies. Nine year old Caleb who raised enough money to drill two water wells in El Salvador. Stockbroker Nicholas Winton who saved 669 Jewish children from the ravages of Hitler’s death camps.

Outlive Your Life is a call to action, a call as Denver Moore (Same Kind Of Different As Me) puts it to move from Bible studies to Bible doins.

I am a huge fan of everything of Lucado’s that I have read and I highly recommend Outlive Your Life.

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program called Book Sneeze (www.booksneeze.com) 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Coping With Loneliness at Christmas

November 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

Some of life’s circumstances can overwhelm us and cause us pain during this season of festivity. Here are some suggestions for positive ways to cope.
by Rusty Wright

Tis the season to be … gloomy?

Feeling low this Christmas season? You’re not alone. Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many lonely people are crying or dying on the inside. Maybe you’re one of them. I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of 20 years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare. As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio. Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing.

No fun.

Blue Christmas

Romantic estrangement, family strife, and bereavement can make your holidays dismal. One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Blue Christmas.” A lonely crooner mourns heartbreaking lost love. Performers from The Beach Boys to Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, and Jon Bon Jovi have recorded it.
(more…)