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David’s #2 Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

bonhoeffer-pastor-martyr-spyI know that I don’t write reviews very often, despite reading constantly. I’m going to continue to try harder at that, so lay off Mark. Anyway, “Bonhoeffer” is easily my top book of the year. Metaxas’ book offers it all; an in depth history of World War II Germany, adventure, excitement, and romance. More than that though, it tells the very real story of the life and struggles of a great Christian hero interwoven with an abundance of convicting and inspiring theology. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a true man of God, who desired His will in all things and was unyieldingly committed to the Truth. He should be an inspiration for us all!

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David’s #1 A Voice In The Wind By Francine Rivers

voice-in-the-windNormally I don’t read books that are made u……. um, fiction, but occasionally I make an exception. It takes Ms. Rivers the first 100 pages or so to start developing the plot. I probably would have bedside tabled it but the sweet young lady that gave me the book warned me that it took a while to get good. So be forewarned. This is the story of a barbaric, Germanic warrior turned gladiator, a wealthy Roman citizen, his young, selfish, reckless sister, and how God uses a Jewish Christian slave girl to change their lives. It has a little something for everyone. History, Romance, and a healthy dose of Braveheart and Gladiator-esq violence woven into an entertaining, God centered story that makes you want to serve Him with more devotion and love Him with your whole being.

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JRF’s #29 – Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker

I usually don’t take book recommendations from radio talk show hosts, but when Dave Ramsey recommended Dr. Meg Meeker’s book – Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters – I thought, “Hey, I’m a father.  I want to be a better father and I want my daughter to be ‘strong’” so I gave it a shot.

Overall I am glad that I did.  Meeker lays out substantial evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that the love, presence, wisdom, and discipline of fathers (or lack thereof) has an immense influence on their daughters.  She carefully and scientifically looks at many of the widespread problems that today’s girls face – anorexia, sexualization, STDs, depression, abusive relationships…etc – and encourages dads that they, and only they, have a unique position and power to protect their daughters from these threats to their health and happiness.  She then offers some practical tips for fathers to help them make the most of their position of influence.

I do have a few criticisms however.  While it was nice to see that medical and social science affirms the truth of what the Word of God has been proclaiming for millennia –  namely that fathers have a unique responsibility and privilege of protecting, leading, and loving their family  - I fear that such a pragmatic approach robs fathers of their greatest ally and weapon in the fight for their daughters wellbeing…the Gospel.  This fear is illustrated by the fact that Meeker, a professing Christian, writes an entire chapter in which she illustrates the importance teaching your daughter to have a strong faith, but fails to take a stand on whether it matters or not what faith you are committed to and if that faith corresponds to Truth.  She portrays faith, including her own, as merely a means of meeting our felt needs. She goes as far as to say when referring to the importance of teaching your daughter about God, ” Forgiveness, mercy, and a fresh start are things every one of us deserves.  So, please, give them to your daughter.  These will give her hope for the future.  If you have a better way to give your daughter hope, go for it.  But I don’t know any other way.  And I have yet to come across anyone who does.” (190)  This kind of human-centered pragmatism neither brings glory to God or ultimate joy and salvation to sinners.  At best this philosophy is a placebo for sick souls.

I am glad I read this book.  There were many helpful practical portions that I will return to.  Often my thinking and praying were stimulated by Dr. Meeker’s thoughtful research and passionate advice.  But perhaps the greatest conviction that I will carry away from reading this book is the reaffirmation that the Word of God is exceedingly sufficient when it comes to answering the most basic questions about the nature of the human heart, our most basic and pressing need, how to live a fruitful, joyful, and wise life, our purpose for existing and in Whom we find ultimate freedom and fulfillment.  A Christ-centered life will produce truly strong fathers and strong daughters for our strength will not come from a moral code, healthy choices, or a good education, but from the risen Lord of all creation Himself.

 

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David’s #5 – The Pilgrimage By Paulo Coelho

The potential adventure in this book caught my attention. Surprise, surprise, the Camino De Santiago, the trail to St. James Cathedral in Spain is attractive to me and has made it on my bucket list. Could a protestant guy go on a? So when I received this book as a gift I was excited and had high expectations. It is the story of Paulo’s journey along the Camino in search of his sword and the small sect of Catholicism filled with mysticism and magic known as RAM, that he intends to join. I’ll admit, the tale of the journey to find his sword, signifying the completion of his training and the entrance into the brotherhood coupled with self discovery was engaging. Paulo’s simple and real writing style drew me into the story and along the trail with him and his guide. The instruction by his guide, and realizations made by Paulo are filled with Biblical principals from Agape to selfless servitude. Unfortunately, they miss the point. So close and with such potential, they miss the mark and their focus is turned inward, in typical humanistic fashion. Instead of a realization of Christ as Savior and our fallen nature and need for redemption, the main character placed his false belief in the power within instead of placing his hope in the truth.

Paulo Coelho is a skilled story teller but in this case I think he would have been better off sticking to the mere details of the pilgrimage adventure.

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David’s #4: Magic By G.K Chesterton

Should we believe in science or the spiritual(God)?  Religion or rational thinking?  Can they co-exist.  Is evil real and powerful or is it all illusion?  If something can possibly be explained naturally does that guarantee that it did not occur supernaturally?  Gilbert Keith Chesterton, a great Christian philosopher and writer, penned only a few plays.  His dark comedy, “Magic” is a commentary on how different people view these topics and various possible answers.  It is a witty, short, and easy to read, which is good, because you might need to read it twice.

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