Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of the Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell, USMC with David Harrell

Review: Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of the Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis
Edgar Harrell, USMC with David Harrell
Bethany House Publishers
2005, 2014

I was a little hesitant about this book at first, but after the first few pages I could not put it down.  It is the story of the USS Indianapolis as told by one of the survivors of its sinking.  Harrell relates his experiences in simple, convincing detail.  His description of training and life on the ship revealed the same experiences found in several other firsthand accounts lending authenticity early on to this story.

As he continues certain questions arise as to the conduct of the war and the level of secrecy that was maintained by the leadership at the highest levels.  And finally as the Indianapolis is sent out without escort or knowledge of the danger they could and did encounter the reader begins to understand the repercussions of policies in place at the time.  The ship is sunk by a submarine, the crew left to fend for themselves without any action to question the fate of the ship when it did not arrive as expected. 

After his return stateside he and others set about the task of clearing their captain’s name after he had born the weight of guilt for the disaster.  Yes, according to this book, the government was definitely culpable in a cover up to keep the populace from knowing the extent of the event and the lack of response.  The survivors did finally succeed in their efforts, years later and only after the captain had endured the shame and hate spewed at him.

But that is not the total point of this story.  Harrell’s reason for telling this is much deeper and totally related to the God that he believed remained in control of this situation the entire time.  In the final chapter Harrell comes to grips with the need of forgiveness---even toward the commander of the submarine that ordered the attack on his ship. 

I do recommend this book fully.  If you have ever wondered how somebody got through a really tough time in their life, this one will give you lots of insight as to the part God played and the part the person played. 

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg

Review: Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You
John Ortberg

I had read some of Ortberg’s works before and decided to take a look at this one.  He has a way of taking some really heavy topics and making them much more accessible to folks.  This one is no different as far as his approach to the idea of soul keeping---that’s keeping as in tending, caring for.  Areas he covered can help identify some of the maladies typically found today like accepting personal responsibility, substituting busyness for substance, how to find genuine rest, and, of particular interest to me, how to deal with those arid times in our lives.  All this is good stuff, definitely worth the read and some thought.

The problem I had with this book was his meandering between what was just mentioned and honoring a person who was very important in his life—Dallas Willard.  I am in no way objecting to his honoring this man, but mixing that with what seemed to be his primary focus—soul keeping blurred both efforts for me.  Yes, give Willard credit for being a fine mentor for years and years, but maybe in a separate area?  Anyway, I found it distracting.  Other readers may not.  It did encourage me revisit some of Willard’s writings though.  

Overall, this latest from Ortberg is due your consideration and especially the first chapter in section III, Dark Night of the Soul.  For that I will recommend this book.  

I received this book from the publisher via BookLook in return for this review.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: Extreme Prayer: The Impossible Prayers God Promises to Answer by Greg Pruett

Review: Extreme Prayer: The Impossible Prayers God Promises to Answer
Greg Pruett
Tyndale Momentum

From the back cover---“Drawing on Scripture, Greg Pruett show how to intentionally tap into Jesus’ open-ended promises about prayer in a way that achieves maximum Kingdom support.”   That’s what I want.  Tap in and receive.  But wait---that isn’t exactly what it says.  The author’s whole point is that Jesus meant what He said with those open-ended promises if we will do things Jesus’ way.  

Pruett learned extreme prayer by practicing it out of necessity.  He and his family lived in West Africa for a number of years as Bible translators for language groups that had no access to the Bible in their native languages.  The extreme part gets real very quickly in that sort of setting.  As he tells of their experiences he also leads the reader through the transformation to the practice of extreme prayer which---spoiler alert! ---is the sort of prayer that most of us would call real prayer, persistent prayer, or as Pruett calls it in one chapter, shameless prayer.

This book challenges and encourages the reader.   My favorite line is “As resources go, prayer outperformed anything I’ve seen.” (58). He is talking about the nuts and bolts operation of an organization.  Yes, it even works in that setting, and he has lots of stories to back up that conclusion.  So this isn’t just a theory book, it has very practical applications, real world stuff, throughout the narrative.

This book is worth your time and money.  I recommend it to you.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.