Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

grace notes

Philip Yancey has been writing for three decades.  That experience and understanding is apparent anytime you read his work.  He has a beautiful knack of viewing life and ordering it on paper.  Yancey’s insight, imagination, and gentle faith are refreshing to any reader.

He is transparent on being wounded by the church, sifting through faith issues, harboring doubts, and other struggles in his Christian journey.  Through it all, this earnest pilgrim finds his way back and strengthens his faith and reliance in God.  I appreciate his honest desire to seek the Lord.  The words of his journey and stumbles on the path now provide encouragement to other believers who need a solid footing in Jesus.

Grace Notes, Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim is a compilation of Yancey’s total work.  The pages are drawn from his twenty plus books and numerous articles. They capture inspiring and provoking images for any believer.  This book is ideal for daily devotions or starting a new spiritual discipline.  The readings will correspond to particular days and themes on the calendar.  Some readings will follow the church calendar for Christmas, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost, but keep in mind that the days will vary from year to year.

Take time to discover the Grace Notes of Philip Yancey.  You will appreciate the experienced writing, spiritual depth, and brotherly encouragement that he provides.


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I ran across this book when I got back from my second deployment.  I either missed it on the shelf or was too consumed with seminary assignments, but we found each other at the right time.  The message and lessons inside are vital to any “strong man” in our world.

Samson is an Old Testament Bible character who gets little attention in the stories or sermons of today.  Samson is also greatly ignored in print.  Most Christians think of him as “the guy who fooled around with Delilah” or “the strong dude with long hair.” After reading The Samson Syndrome, I am convinced that needs to change. Samson has a great deal to teach the modern believer and the men of every generation.

The author, Mark Atteberry, does a great job of detailing why strong, powerful, and smart men so commonly fail.  History is filled with heartbreaking stories of talented men who disgraced themselves by falling into sin.  Abraham and King David quickly come to my mind.  News headlines of yesterday and today all tell the same story. Prince Charles, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Brad Pitt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse James, Tiger Woods, and General David Petraeus all thought they were sneaky enough to cross a moral boundary and not get caught.  Each of us can name an additional dozen men of good reputation who have suffered a moral failure and public disgrace.

Celebrities and public figures are not the only ones who stumble.  All of us do. Soldiers, church deacons, farmers, mechanics, accountants, you name it, we all falter.  That’s why every man stands to benefit from the story of Samson.

The Samson Syndrome focuses on a set of twelve areas that contributed to his “erratic behavior, his spiritual decline, and ultimately, his failure as a deliverer of God’s people.”  These twelve tendencies are common to men of strength no matter the generation.  They represent the unique challenges that we all face.  The author does a magnificent job of showing how strong men tend to disregard boundaries, struggle with lust, ignore good advice, break rules, have big egos, struggle with intimacy, and often lose sight of the big picture.  You may not contend with all of Samson’s tendencies in your life, but no man can escape their influence.

This is a great book for veterans.  Many come back from a deployment and feel like Superman.  They often express how, “the enemy shot at me and I survived the worst they could throw at me.  Nothing can take me down.”  While many may feel invincible when they return home from war, they quickly get into trouble at home, try to out drink each other, or get into motorcycle wrecks.  That mentality of strong men who feel like they can get away with something is pretty common in today’s military.  Know that this book speaks your language and addresses the life you live.

It is time that we rediscover the story of Samson.  Find time to walk the dusty roads of Israel with our long-haired friend. Hear his tale, think about his life, and reflect on the similarities you encounter.  His example will help you to find your own weak spots in life and develop suggestions on how to overcome them through the lens of Scripture.

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What is it about the Civil War that continues to hold our fascination?  Why does this uniquely American conflict still carry such sway and emotion in our nation?  Tony Horwitz sets out to answer these questions and entertain his readers along the way. I believe that both tasks are accomplished in tremendous fashion.

The Civil War is remembered for many different reasons.  It fractured our Republic.    It divided families.  It produced an estimated 618,000 to 700,000 casualties.  It ended slavery.  And lest we forget, it preserved the Union.

Horwitz shows that the Civil War still rages in quirky and compelling ways.  No subject is off-limits for what is destined to become another classic on the Civil War shelf.  Horwitz discusses perspectives on the rebel flag; Stone Mountain; Union and Confederate reenactors; military tactics, equipment, and technology during the war; race relations then and now; the loss of historic battlefields; Nathan Bedford Forrest; unique organizations like the Sons, Daughters, and Children of the Confederacy; and even Jewish soldiers who fought for the South.  His great adventure takes you on a ten-state travelogue that is truly inspiring and informative.

As a veteran, his book gave me a greater awareness of combat and Army life from that era.  These soldiers had low survival rates and primitive conditions.  A small wound could easily cause tragedy.  Battlefields were littered with wounded soldiers who may not receive medical care for days and in some cases a week after being injured.  The battle space could be so distant, that medics may not arrive in time.  Later in the war, soldiers would write a final letter home and pin it on their uniform as they lay bleeding on the battlefield.

The book also made me consider how Union and Confederate veterans struggled with both their collective and individual homecomings after the war.  The feelings and emotions that OIF and OEF veterans experience today can’t be that distant from what they endured.

The ten-state journey and excellent humor made me turn the pages.  Each chapter was a delight and made me hungry for more.  The book is well written and is highly relevant for anyone.  You don’t need a history degree or a combat badge to enjoy this trek along the South.  Horwitz will keep you entertained and open your eyes to issues that still demand our attention.

I guarantee that you will enjoy his blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism.

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I want to share some veteran resources that continue to strengthen both soldier and spouse.

The Combat Trauma Healing Manual is a great book for individual reading or a small group setting.  The author, Chris Adsit, brings out Christ-centered solutions for combat trauma.  He is practical and telling in his approach. While many authors may simplify PTSD solutions to coping strategies, changing behaviors, and cognitive therapy, Adsit shares that more is available.  God wants to bring about restoration, stability, and healing.

I feel that this book is written with an attitude of gratefulness for veterans and a desire to bring peace to military homes.  It gives an appropriate spiritual approach that veterans need to hear.

This is the companion book for military spouses.  It is written with the same amount of care and concern.  Each time that a warrior comes home, the time and type of reunion is different.  One constant is the spiritual comfort that God can provide to military families.

PTSD will complicate how couples reintegrate at home, but military spouses will find stories, suggestions, and learn how to deal with new situations.  The book is also wrapped with advice from the medical and counseling community that is extremely helpful.  The personal stories and recommendations make this book worthwhile for both veterans and spouses.

You can find both books and additional information at http://www.militaryministry.org/.

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