Molina by Bengie Molina–A Review

Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty by Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan (Simon and Schuster, 2015), 255 pages.

 An autobiography of Bengie Molina, the oldest son of Pai and Mai. Their home was a small town in Puerto Rico. The family produced three sons (Bengie, Jose, and Yadier) who were major league catchers who each won two World Series championships. The book honors his father, Pai, for coaching them to learn the game, and his mother, Mai, who managed the home.

Pai was a talented baseball player and an effective trainer of ball players. He taught one skill at a time. He taught respect for everyone involved in the game. He never became a major league player and near the end of the book Benji reveals the reason.

 

Bengie writes “My baptism and communion were pretty much the extent of my church experience. My parents weren’t even married in a church. Church weddings cost too much. As a child, on the few occasions I found myself in the Vega Alta church, I didn’t feel that God would live in such a place. The door was thick and heavy, and when it closed behind me, I imagined being sealed inside an enormous crypt, cut off from everything alive.”

I was disappointed Pai practiced and taught his boys that baseball was his religion. I also found it disappointing that Benji began a relationship with another woman while he was still married.

I enjoyed the many stories about the Molina family and baseball. I have followed Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals since 2004. While the book has little about Yadier, I was glad to learn about the Molina family and the culture of their community.

If These Walls Could Talk: St. Louis Cardinals, Stan McNeal–A Review

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If These Walls Could Talk: St. Louis Cardinals, Stories from the St. Louis Cardinals Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box, Stan McNeal (Triumph Books, 2015), 217 pages.

McNeal records personal stories and information about Cardinals in the 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011 seasons and some Cardinal legends. In these four seasons, the Cardinals averaged 99 wins per season including winning a World Series, two National League pennants, and reaching four National League Championship Series. The Cardinals transitioned from Hall of Fame manager, Tony La Russia to Mike Matheny and lost the future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, yet they continued their winning ways. The closing chapter features stories about Cardinal greats, including Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, and Stan Musial.

Cardinal fans who followed the Cardinals during this “Golden Age” in their history will enjoy this book. It is a great book to read when you have only a few minutes since the stories are only two or three pages. The book helps the reader see the players as persons, not just baseball celebrities. The readable style of writing makes If These Walls Could Talk and enjoyable book to read.

Rise and Walk by Dennis Byrd–A Review

Rise and Walk: the Dennis Byrd Story

Rise and Walk: The Trial & Triumph of Dennis Byrd by Dennis Byrd with Michael D’Orso (HarperCollins/Zondervan, 1993), 258 pages.

On November 29, 1992, Byrd, a 6’5”, 270-pound defensive lineman for the New York Jets, in an attempt to sack the Kansas City quarterback collided with his 280-pound teammate. The collision shattered Byrd’s neck and paralyzed him from the neck down. The book describes in graphic detail the physical and emotional devastation he experienced and the excruciating route to his goal of walking again. After his seven-hour surgery, he was told that he may never walk again. In a few months, he defied all predictions and reasonable hopes and began walking again.

Through this experience, he kept his faith in God, as he did throughout his life. He credits the role played by his wife, family, friends, doctors, therapists, the general public, his Jets teammates, the help and encouragement of Leon Hess the Jets owner. He gives credit to God’s love and miracles and human faith and love.

Byrd recounts his upbringing in poverty in Oklahoma and his love of football, his experience of playing for Tulsa University and the New York Jets.

His determination and discipline motivated and inspired me. For months, I experienced chronic pain and inability to walk due to issues with my lumbar spine and resulting sciatica pain. I experienced nothing so severe as Byrd, but after surgery, rehab and home health I am getting closer to my goal of walking.

The Payne Stewart Story by Larry Guest–A Review

The Payne Stewart Story, by Larry Guest (Woodford Press, Stark Books, 2000) 201 pages.

The book begins with the story of Payne Stewart’s death. He, with five others, were flying in a Learjet 35 at about 35,000 feet altitude (or above) when the plane completely lost its oxygen. The passengers were immediately frozen to death. The unguided plane continued its flight crashing in a South Dakota field. The chapter on the crash is chilling, riveting, and intensely dramatic. The testimonies at his memorial service influenced thousands as it was carried on CNN.

His father coached Payne in golf until his death. From his earliest days, Payne had what they called a “silky swing.” In his early years on the Tour, he was cocky, arrogant, and insensitive to others. The author said, “There was a time when he would have made the top-ten of the least liked guys on the Tour.”

Payne Steward underwent a spiritual and personal conversion that changed his attitude and life. He became a “kinder, gentler, more caring fellow” thus turning “from an ugly duckling to a lovable goose.” Some disliked his flamboyant snickers and swagger, yet his persistence, improved attitude, and his brilliant play won them over. He won three major championships. His and his wife’s (Tracey) generosity was demonstrated by a gift of half a million dollars to the First Orlando Foundation which would help children.

The author quotes freely from the observations and testimony of his fellow golfers on the Tour, his coaches, his friends, and his family. This helps one gain a more realistic picture of who Payne Stewart was.

Aim High by Dave Johnson–A Review

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Aim High: An Olympic Decathlete’s Inspiring Story, by Dave Johnson with Verne Becker (Zondervan, 1994), 233 pages.

Dave Johnson is a two-time Decathlon Olympian and current World Record holder for the second day events of the decathlon. He won the decathlon Bronze Medal in tine 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games while competing with a broken foot.

He was made famous by the “Dan vs. Dave” Reebok ads of 1991-1993. This opened doors for other commercials and gave a platform for his to speak to youth from a viewpoint as a positive role model.

After he retired from his Olympic career in 1997, he has served in coaching and education.

In Aim High, Mr. Johnson describes how his parents were not home much, and he wanted to find his identity and be someone. He became a troublemaker. He said, “I did not want anyone else telling me who I should be or what I should do. I didn’t want anyone controlling me. When someone put any kind of restriction me, I immediately did the opposite. Laws and authority figures by definition set limits, so I sought to defy anyone those limits.” This is a definition of a sinful person apart from God. He became a leader of a gang of guys who vandalized, drank, stole beer (at one period of months over $5,000 worth), they broke into houses and stole things, and even harmed others.

When his family move, a change came into his life. Christian teammates and coaches helped him come to know Christ. His faith enabled him to face difficulties in his decathlon experiences and in life, for example when they lost a child. As the expected Gold Medal winner in the Barcelona Olympics, unknown to the crowd he participated with a broken foot. With the encouragement of his coaches, he fought to the end. He said, “You know the Olympics is not really about winning gold medals; It’s about that phrase in the Olympic creed: ‘Not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

Two things stand out in the book to me. One is the evil possible when a person acts selfishly being his or her own god. The second is the wonderful transition that can come in a person’s life who surrenders their life to Christ.

Touchdown Alexander, by Shaun Alexander–A Review


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Touchdown Alexander:

My Story of Faith, Football, and Pursuing the Dream,

by Shaun Alexander

Faith, obedience, ability, persistence enable Shawn Alexander to follow and attain his dream on the playing field and in life. Alexander with Cecil Murphey (Heritage House, 2006). 224 pages

 The story of a Christian young man who came from a small town in Kentucky, raised by a single mom, excelled in football at the University of Alabama, pro football MVP in 2005 as a running back with the Seattle Seahawks, speaker for Christ throughout the world, having led thousands to accept Christ, family man, and generous supporter and trainer of young men helping them on their way to maturity.

This delightful book brings inspiration, encouragement, and hope. Shaun Alexander followed this rule in his life “no alcohol, no drugs, and no sex before marriage.” quoted this wise saying “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

After losing a Super Bowl game, he wrote, “Circumstances don’t change a person’s joy. . We can’t let happiness or sadness control us. There are bad things that happen throughout the world. But I can keep the joy inside because joy is a gift from God. If I’m determined to be joyful, nothing will take that away.”

 

The Allure of Gentleness by Dallas Willard–A Review

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 The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus by Dallas Willard (HarperOne, 2015), 187 pages.

Based on talks and lectures on apologetics given by the renowned professor and author and edited by his daughter after his death. “Dallas Willard not only assures us of the truth and reasonableness of the Christian faith, but also explores why reason and logic are not enough to explain Jesus’s message, we must also be like Jesus, characterized by love, humility, and gentleness.” (inside the book cover)

Willard explained the nature of apologetics. “A biblical apologetic is the best use of our natural faculties of thought in submission to the Holy Spirit to remove doubts and problems that hinder a trustful, energetic participation in a life of personal relationship with God.. . . Now, this goes all the way from believing in God to believing the right things about God.” (page 39) “The ultimate apologetic is the life of the individual who is living out of the resources of the kingdom of God.” (page 143).

His closing comment on apologetics is as follows:

“We must help others all the way through this process in a way that goes beyond traditional apologetics—presenting arguments responding to presuppose objections. We must adopt a teaching posture that presupposed inquiry to arrive at knowledge and the will to communicate, a posture of joint discovery and of understanding together. These are natural and essential parts of living in community with others. So maintain a teaching posture as you go, and work with those around you in the gentle manner of Jesus. If you do, it will indeed be a service to all to carry out the work of apologetics.” (page 170)

As I read the book, I liked his emphasis on gentleness and joint discovery of understanding. I found interesting his discussion of reason, the myth of the big band, the myth of cosmic evolution, and the problem of evil and suffering. I had a hard time following his discussion of God speaking to us. I found his Renovation of the Heart very helpful.

God’s Word of Truth–New Book to be Published in Russian

God’s Word of Truth:  Believing, Understanding, and Responding to the Word of God,  H. Lynn Gardner

I have written a new book entitled God’s Word of Truth: Believing, Understanding, and Responding to God’s Word. When I was planning this book, I thought of what my Bible college experience taught me about the Bible. I learned why I can believe it to be the Word of God. I also learned principles for interpreting the Bible so I can do my best to understand the author’s intended meaning in any text. I also learned to take God’s Word seriously in my personal life and in the church. In this book I have stated basic information about believing, understanding, and responding to the Bible, the Word of God.

Plans for publication in English are indefinite at this time. I shared my plan for the book with Sergei Golovin three years ago. Since then he has encouraged me to finish the project so it could be translated into Russian. I have sent the files with the manuscript to him and he has sent them for translation.

The following is a statement by Sergei about the book:

Being deeply rooted in the God’s word, books by Dr. Lynn Gardner in Russian translation became very effective instruments for spreading the teaching of Christ in post-communist context of former Soviet Union countries. Those nations were deprived of the biblical truth for several generations and comprehension of it is pretty fragmented and incomplete quite often. Shortage of proper Apologetics often results in superficial and easy shakable beliefs; shortage of Exegetics produces unclear understanding of the Scripture; shortage of guidance in its application to one’s life restrains growth in Christ.

That is why I was very glad to find out several years ago about the book, God’s Word of Truth, Dr. Gardner was planning to write with an integral approach to all three aspects of learning the Bible: why, how and what for. Now, when the book is complete, with great joy and praises to the Lord we are starting its translation into Russian for the greater glory of the Kingdom!

Sergei Golovin, Ph.D., D.Min. Christian Center for Science and Apologetics founder and president (Ukraine)
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God’s Word of Truth:

 

Believing, Understanding, and

Responding to the Word of God

 

 

 

H. Lynn Gardner

 

 

 

 

I have written a new book entitled God’s Word of Truth: Believing, Understanding, and Responding to God’s Word. When I was planning this book, I thought of what my Bible college experience taught me about the Bible. I learned why I can believe it to be the Word of God. I also learned principles for interpreting the Bible so I can do my best to understand the author’s intended meaning in any text. I also learned to take God’s Word seriously in my personal life and in the church. In this book I have stated basic information about believing, understanding, and responding to the Bible, the Word of God.

 

Plans for publication in English are indefinite at this time. I shared my plan for the book with Sergei Golovin three years ago. Since then he has encouraged me to finish the project so it could be translated into Russian. I have sent the files with the manuscript to him and he has sent them for translation.

 

The following is a statement by Sergei about the book:

 

Being deeply rooted in the God’s word, books by Dr. Lynn Gardner in Russian translation became very effective instruments for spreading the teaching of Christ in post-communist context of former Soviet Union countries. Those nations were deprived of the biblical truth for several generations and comprehension of it is pretty fragmented and incomplete quite often. Shortage of proper Apologetics often results superficial and easy shakable beliefs, shortage of Exegetics produces unclear understanding of the Scripture, shortage of guidance in its application to one’s life restrains growth in Christ. That is why I was very glad to find out several years ago about the book God’s Word of Truth Dr. Gardner was planning to write with an integral approach to all three aspects of learning the Bible: why, how and what for. Now, when the book is complete, with great joy and praises to the Lord we are starting its translation into Russian for the greater glory of the Kingdom!
Sergei Golovin, Ph.D., D.Min. Christian Center for Science and Apologetics founder and president (Ukraine)
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America the Beautiful by Ben and Candy Carson–A Review

America the Beautiful: Recovering What Made This Nation Great, Ben and Candy Carson (Zondervan, 2012), 195 pages.

What is America becoming and how can we regain what made America great in the first place? Dr. Carson reviews the past gleaning insights to help us chart a better course for the future.

Here the reader will find the Carsons’ basic values and beliefs that they believe the founders put in place. They state where we have gone astray and what we can do about it. The book states what is good about America.

America the Beautiful would be a good resource to find out what Dr. Carson believes about our nation’s origin, capitalism, socialism, war, health care, liberty and justice, trust in God, and many other topics.

Dr. Ben Carson is an independent and courageous thinker who knows our history, approaches problems in a deliberate common sense way, and is strongly committed to the Constitution and the way the founders set up our country to operate.

One Nation by Ben Carson and Candy Carson

One Nation, Ben Carson and Candy Carson (Sentinel, 2014) 211 pages.

Before Dr. Carson announced his candidacy for the presidency, he wrote One Nation. It functions as a platform for his presidential bid.

The subtitle is What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future. He gives his analysis of the economic, social, moral, and political decline of America. He states how he believes the American people can save our country. He presents his common sense approach to problem solving.

He deals with political correctness, elitism, ignorance, bigotry, bullying, dependence, disrespect, compromise, wisdom, vision, morality, courage, and other topics.

For those evaluating Ben Carson as a potential president, this book is a good source to learn his basic values and beliefs. For those who think his knowledge is limited to medicine, this book shows the breadth of his knowledge.

Dr. Carson appeals for Americans to courageously defend their rights guaranteed by the Constitution.