Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible: Experience New Growth and Transformation in Your Spiritual Walk

This NIV Bible version contains notes written by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Arterburn hosts a Christian counseling program and Stoop is a licensed clinical psychologist and appears as a co-host on the Arterburn program from time to time.  Together the publisher has compiled several helpful features for the reader follow in seeking spiritual renewal.  My comments will address those items only and leave the Biblical text commentary to the experts.  

The introductory section suggests starting with the Spiritual Keys Devotional Reading Plan (xv) which, to me, resembles a twelve step approach that use seven stages rather than the usual number.  Each Key provides two weeks of devotionals prompted by an accompanying Bible reading. The reading that follows is noted and leads to the next.  Both the Old and New Testaments are considered within each of the seven keys.  A serious reader can benefit from following this track.  That is not the only approach offered in this Bible.  There are character profiles interspersed throughout the text which are listed in a helpful index.  The index also includes an abbreviated list of readings that pertain to spiritual disciplines and a subject index with Biblical references that are related to each of the subjects.  Overall, this Bible provides those seeking spiritual renewal several options to use.  I found the recommended Spiritual Keys plan the most helpful.  The others were more of an overview or introduction in my view.  I would also recommend discussing your renewal progress with your pastor or other trusted person rather than attempting this alone.    

I received a hardbound copy for this review.  The dust jacket is attractive, and the book lays flat when it is opened or held.  The pages are substantial enough for marking, although highlighting markers can bleed through a little, or did for me anyway.   

Overall I can recommend this version to most readers.  Why only most?  Because some will prefer another translation. The notes in this Bible can be used with other translations though, in my opinion.  So pull up your preferred version alongside this one and use this one for its notes.  

Two other things need to be mentioned.  This Bible has an older edition that is available as well from an online site.  I do not know if any changes have been made to this one.  There is also an ebook version available which I did not view.  

This book was provided by the publisher to me in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to the Least of These by David Z. Nowell

Review: Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to the Least of These
David Z. Nowell
Bethany House

Like the back cover says this book is for those that sense there is something missing in their faith.  Nowell has put forth a challenge that needs serious consideration and if the reader chooses to act some serious work.  His delivery is strong, direct, and heart felt.  So buckle up if you intend to read this book. 

Through several stories and some commentary related to those stories Nowell makes the case—in my paraphrase—that most of us just don’t get it.  He makes a distinction between believers and followers, and does it well.  No, there should not be those two groups, but in practice there is and it is well passed the time to fix that issue according to Nowell.  His stories and examples show why and how that can be done.  One phrase he used that still resonates in my mind is going beyond good intentions to intentionality.  He explains the difference so I will not spoil what I consider an important point.  He also discusses what he calls the end game.  That fits in with intentionality as it calls the reader to look at the long range effects of actions.  Fixing a problem in the short term is wonderful, but that’s just the start.

So what is dirty faith?  It’s the messy kind that gets personal and close.  A faith like the one Jesus models when He walked this earth.  Hence the distinction between follower and believer that Nowell identifies. 

I do recommend this book.  It is intense and you will be challenged.  On the other side though, you may just begin to see in a new way.  One that will accept the role of “bringing the love of Christ to the least of these.”

This book was provided for me by the publisher in return for a review.