Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Today’s Moment of Truth: Devotions to Deepen Your Faith in Christ by Lee Strobel and Mike Mittelberg



Review: Today’s Moment of Truth: Devotions to Deepen Your Faith in Christ
Lee Strobel and Mike Mittelberg
Zondervan
2016

Today's Moment of Truth: Devotions to Deepen Your Faith in ChristStrobel and Mittleberg have written a devotional different from most I’ve seen.  That in itself is welcome news to some of us.  They don’t tell you what to think, but help you to think.  
Each day starts with a short Scripture verse or passage followed by some discussion related to that verse that illustrates an application in a person’s life.  That’s pretty standard form for devotional writing, but let me show you how this is different.  The devotional reading, I have before me at the moment carries the title Is it wrong to be right? (168).  The verse comes from John 8, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  Have you discovered where he’s going with it yet?  The first paragraph opens with this.  “You Christians act like you’re right and everyone else is wrong.” (168).  The Truth for Today closing that finishes each day’s reading says, “As Christians, we should be confident in truth, but humble in spirit.” (169).  In between, they traverse the distance between knowing the truth and presenting it to others. 

Other devotionals look at secular opinions related to historical or scientific ability.  Some address the veracity of the resurrection, the Trinity, whether Jesus is God, works versus faith, the really hard stuff of life, just to mention a few of the topics.  There’s a set of endnotes that the reader could use to discover further reading for himself and there’s also a page listing other volumes for further reading.
 
Zondervan has produced a very attractive hard bound book and even included a ribbon marker.  It’s a lay flat binding which I really like in a book like this.  Nice to see something than a trade paper type edition.  Check this one out.  I didn’t like it at first because it was different, but now I find it more helpful because it is different.  I do recommend this one to you.

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

 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Oil Painting Essentials: Mastering portraits, figures, still lifes, and interiors by Gregg Kreutz



Review: Oil Painting Essentials: Mastering portraits, figures, still lifes, and interiors
Gregg Kreutz
Watson-Guptill Publications 
2016

Yes, I go for any bit of help I can find to improve my skills.  Well, improve my attempts at oil painting anyway.  This is not a beginner book, but one for someone who has worked with the medium a bit and has wondered what is it that just makes someone else’s work work and their own not work.  His first eye opener for me was this.  “…the skill of oil painting is not time dependent. It’s insight dependent.” (2)  He had just debunked the paint one a day for a long time and you will arrive theory.  He is not saying that isn’t important just that it takes more.  That is the launch point for this book.  
Product Details 
Kreutz walks the reader through some basic concept and process essentials with examples (Loved the how not to paint a shadow!)  After that he offers lots of good reminders or even new information depending on where the reader is with his oil painting experience in the different genres mentioned in the subtitle.  In these portions of the book he shows how the concept and application he had discussed works within the different areas.  I really appreciated the show and tell aspects.  He provides plenty of examples to illustrate his points.  For those that wish to paint in a style other than the one the author shows for illustrations, I suspect the information is still valid, but maybe with some variation for your own style preference.  I know that in reference to an abstract sort of thing I did some of the comments pertaining to light would have improved the end product. 

Kreutz closes with a this thought.  “Developing as an oil painter, then, requires perseverance, sensitivity, intelligence, compassion, flexibility, and the ability to see the whole instead of the parts.  It’s a lifelong journey, and I don’t’ believe a real artist ever ‘arrives’.” (246)   Hope I can remember that the next time I paint and the time after that. 

I do recommend this book.

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




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: The Power of Together: Discover the Christian Life You’ve Been Missing by Jim Putnam



Review: The Power of Together: Discover the Christian Life You’ve Been Missing
Jim Putnam
2016
Baker Books

I wish I had gotten an e-version of this book instead of the print version.  Why?  To see how many hits I would get on the word relationship.  This book delves into that topic from several angles attempting to encourage the reader to become more involved in forming genuine relationships.  Those of us that are older may remember the word friendship.  The real sort, not the sort established on social media with the touch of an icon.   That’s what Putnam feels is missing in the Christian life.  That’s what he spends 245 pages trying to explain, illustrate, model, or extol.  He has diagnosed a major deficiency in current life for many inside and outside the church.  
The Power of Together: Discover the Christian Life You've Been Missing 
So what is the solution to the problem?  Happily, he offers some suggestions that should be obvious by the time he gets to the end of his book.  “We must develop, maintain, and champion close relationships with other believers---It’s the means to maturity and it’s maturity itself.” (227)  After listing some of the usual objections that start with “Yeah, but…”  he writes this.  “I’m not asking you to change your church.  I’m only asking you to change one person---yourself.” (228).  By this point in the book the reader has an idea what he means by that, so it’s no surprise ending.  Nor is it the quick fix most of us would’ve liked to hear.  

The book makes several good arguments, but for me the author and his editors belabored the point to the point of exhaustion.  By the end of it I had learned to cringe every time I saw the word relationship or any of its related forms.  And to be honest I think there’s another term that covers what this book is about, but isn’t as trendy---love.  The biblical version that Jesus modeled.  

This book just didn’t make the grade for me, but I guess for some that want to be in a relationship it would be a place to start. 

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