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.

Where Are the Miracles by Dr. Garland Bare

 

Where Are the Miracles: Experiences and Testimony of a Doctor on the Mission Field (LifeChange Media,. 2015).

Dr. Bare details experiences in his life and the lives of others that he cannot explain by natural processes. At one time he believed miracles were limited to Bible times, but undeniable experiences changed his mind. He tells of experiences in his life and in his missionary and medical work beginning in Thailand which convinced him that God intervenes in today’s world. Readers who question miracles occurring today are asked to consider his eye-witness report. All are encouraged to stand in awe at our powerful God.

Where Are the Miracles gives eye-witness testimony to experiences which he believes demonstrate the supernatural hand of God. He does not try to force the reader to agree with him but asks the readers to consider the evidence and make up their minds.

Reader’s Comments:

“It is a wonderful book. It brought back many memories as well as teaching me many things beyond my child’s awareness at the time. I am so glad Dad has written it!”

Corinne Wilson, daughter of Garland and Dorothy Bare

“Along with the medical evidence for miracles presented in the book, the conversion of people like Saeng Pua provides more evidence of a different kind.”

Al Juve, Missionary in Japan

“Dr. Bare has done a great job of recounting his experiences in a way that glorifies God.”

Rhonda Juve, Missionary in Japan

“The story of what God has done through Dr. Garland Bare is filled with excitement and adventure. You will be inspired to believe with Dr. Bare that God doesn’t just open doors, He also knocks down walls. This book by Dr. Bare has inspired me to be a better follower of Christ. I believe it will also do the same for you.”

Boyce Mouton, Minister

The book can be ordered from Dr. Garland Bare, Friendship Circle, Joplin, MO 64801. The cost of the book is $10.00, postpaid.

Gray Matter–A Review

 

Gray Matter: A neurosurgeon discovers the power of prayer . . . one patient at a time (Tyndale House Publishers, 2011) by David I. Levy and Joel Kilpatrick.

A neurosurgeon tells the story of the responses he received as he began praying with patients before surgery. This practice resulted in many spiritual benefits for his patients and the doctor.  It helped him relate to his patients on a personal level. Believing that bitterness can be a roadblock to healing, he helps many of his patients overcome bitterness through forgiveness.

Readers of the book will gain a greater insight and appreciation into the mind, heart, and skill of this neurosurgeon. Much can be learned about the delicate and exacting work of neurosurgery.

Dr. Levy reveals his overwhelming grief and sadness when his surgery did not go as planned. He concludes his book with these words:

“Neurosurgery, like life itself, is full of surprises. No surgeon, not even the most highly trained, can save a life alone. During this dramatic procedure I am reminded that the outcomes of procedures, and of our very lives, are ultimately in God’s hands. He wants to be involved in the details of everything we do, no matter our position or profession. My practice ad my life have been transformed because I have learned to pray with my patients. In the beginning the risk seemed high, but it was meager compared to the gain. I have learned firsthand that, as radiant sunlight melts away fog. God infuses life-giving hope into the darkest circumstances. If we look for him, we will find him, and the journey will be amazing.”

Crazy Busy–A Review

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Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem, Kevin DeYoung (Crossway, 2013).

DeYoung writes as a fellow struggler who is seeking to bring his busyness under better control. He says, “I hope you’ll find a few ways to tackle your schedule, several suggestions for reclaiming your sanity, and a lot of encouragement to remember your soul.”

He identifies three dangers to avoid.

  1. Busyness can ruin our joy.
  2. Busyness can rob our hearts.
  3. Busyness can cover up the rot in our souls.

He discusses seven diagnoses to consider.

  1. You are beset with many manifestations of pride.
  2. You are trying to do what God does not expect you to do.
  3. You can’t serve others without setting priorities.
  4. You need to stop freaking out about your kids.
  5. You are letting the screen strangle your soul.
  6. You better rest yourself before you wreck yourself
  7. You suffer more because you don’t expect to suffer at all.

He concludes with one thing we must do to overcome crazy busyness.

Regularly make time for the Word of God and prayer. This will help us avoid living a life “with more craziness than we want because we have less Jesus than we need.”

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DeYoung openly shares his struggles with busyness and some ideas that have been helpful to him. Reading this 118-page book seems more like a face-to-face chat than an essay.

In response to the overcommitted and stressed-out he offers not time management tips but rather commonsense insights. The book is for those too busy to read it, those slaves to their digital devices, those guilty of over-programming their children, those who take no time to rest, and to those exhausted at trying to please and control others. Restoring order in one’s life requires perspective, priorities, and discipline.

I found Chapter 7 “From Deep to Deep” dealing with a digital addiction to be especially perceptive. While the digital age has many values, it also has some threats: addiction, diversion from spiritual focus, and a loss of privacy when millions can intrude into your life most any time. DeYoung gives some suggestions for making your digital devices your servant rather than your master.

Crazy Busy was chosen as the 2014 Christian Book of the Year by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Read it. You’ll like it!

J.I. Packer, Finishing Our Course with Joy–A Review

J. I. Packer, Finishing Our Course with Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014). 100 pages

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Summary:

Packer divides older folk into the “younger olds” (65-75), the “medium olds” (76-85), and the “oldest olds” (85 plus). Our secular society views retirement as a time to “Relax. Slow down. Take it easy. Amuse yourself. Do only what you enjoy. . . . Practice self-indulgence.” (page 27). Packer rejects this view.

As we grow older, we face limitations, but we want to live to God’s glory and grow old gracefully in service to God and others. The Bible views aging as a time of increasing wisdom, discernment, and encouragement. “So far as our bodily health allows, we should aim to be found running the last lap of the race of our life, as we would say, flat out.” (21-22).

Packer rejects the view that our bodies keep us from the fullness of life. As we age our bodies limit what our souls would like to do. But it is wrong to think that our personal self (our soul) would be freer and happier separated from the body. God gave us bodies to live in for “experience, expression, and happiness.” Even though our bodies wear out, our zeal for serving God should not decline.

After serving Christ in our younger years, we must not withdraw from serving our Lord. “Spiritual gifts and ministry skills” do not “wither with age” rather ‘they atrophy with disuse.” (64). Seniors can continue learning, leading, and growing spiritually. We should “cultivate the maximum zeal for the closing phase of our earthly lives.” (72). Zeal is “priority, passion and effort in pursuing God’s cause.” (74).

Our zeal is fed by our hope of “an eternal enjoyment of God’s glory and beauty in ways that we cannot at present begin to conceive.” (1 Peter 1:3-9; 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10). After we die, a new body awaits us. This hope is an invigorating and refreshing force as we age.

Seniors can offer service through opportunity, maturity, humility, and intensity. The “powers of the body, memory, creativity grow less. So their conscious focus on the hope of glory should grow sharper, and their meditation on it grow more joyful and sustained.” (96). Instead of retreating from service, seniors should welcome further service as extended health allows.

Comment:

Packer, who includes himself in the oldest olds, challenges seniors to use their older age as a time of learning, leading, and service. He encourages them to continue to glorify God and finish their lives with joy. This easy-to-read book is a light of inspiration and encouragement in a time with its share of dark clouds of disappointments and discouragements.

The Matheny Manifesto

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 The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old School Views on Success in Sports and Life by Mike Matheny with Jerry Jenkins (New York: Crown Archetype, 2015).

Summary:

After his major league career as a catcher, Mike Matheny was asked to coach youth baseball. He wrote a five-page letter explaining to parents when he expected from them and the players if he accepted. The youth would be taught to play the game right and with respect and class. Emphasis would be on character rather than winning. The parents were to agree not to coach from the stands or yell at the players or the umpires. The letter went viral and became known as the Matheny Manifesto.

Matheny saw the problem in youth sports was parents and coaches who made the game more about their ego than about the players learning to play the game the right way.

Parents signed on to this approach that emphasized service, teamwork, discipline, excellence, responsibility, and leadership with biblical truth as the moral compass. Matheny admired and was influenced by John Wooden and his principles for coaching and life.

Matheny lists and explains eight keys to success.

  1. Leadership: The Coach Is Always Right—Even When He’s Wrong
  2. Confidence: Let the Catcher Call the Game
  3. Teamwork: Don’t’ Think Less of Yourself, Think of Yourself Less
  4. Faith: Stand Your Ground
  5. Class: Respect the Ump—Even If He’s Blind
  6. Character: Stay in Your Lane
  7. Toughness: Nothing Worth Doing Right Is Easy
  8. Humility: Seek Help When You Need It, Express Thanks When You Get It

These principles proved successful in youth baseball, and they are proving successful in the major leagues as Matheny is now in his fourth year as coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Comment:

Mike Matheny has earned the respect and trust of those who know him. In his life and managing, he is consistent with his principles. He does not let his fierce competitive spirit deter him from respecting the game and playing the game right way and with class.

The book blends biography and coaching philosophy. He illustrates his approach to the game with experiences from his life and others who have influenced him.

Many will benefit from reading this book: coaches, parents, players, and anyone who wants to be a success in life.

In his original letter to parents, Matheny clearly states the role Christianity plays in his life. “My Christian faith guides my life, and while I have never been one to force it down someone’s throat, I also think it’s cowardly and hypocritical to shy away from what I believe. . . . when the opportunity presents itself, I will be honest about what I believe.”           (p. 14-15).