Monday, October 20, 2014

Book review: Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary: New and Enhanced Edition
General Editor: Ronald F. Youngblood
Thomas Nelson, 2014
English, 1280 pgs

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary is the most comprehensive and up-to-date Bible dictionary available. With a fresh new look and updated photographs, this new and enhanced edition is a wealth of basic study information with more than 7,000 entries plus more than 500 full-color photographs, maps, and pronunciation guides.
Features include:
  • Cross-references to major translations
  • More than 7,000 up-to-date entries
  • More than 500 full-color photographs and maps
  • Enlarged type size for easier reading
  • Visual Survey of the Bible from The Open Bible
About the Editor and Contributors
Ronald F. Youngblood is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew Emeritus, Bethel Seminary San Diego.
F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) was Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester in England.
R.K. Harrison (1920-1993) was Professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.

This is a well done new edition of the Bible Dictionary. It has been revised using the most current and up to date findings in the field of Biblical research, archaeology and language study. The photos are larger and more abundant than in the previous edition (which I borrowed from the church library for comparison). The type is a little larger and easier to read. But what I like the best from this new edition is the outline and study guides for the books of the Bible. There are charts and diagrams and maps to help in understanding. There is Bible referencing within the articles for those who wish to study a subject further (or like me, get on a tangent...). For instance, in the article on Jesus, there are scriptures noted through it to guide you back to the Bible for the prophesies and life stories which are mentioned in the article.

The writing is clear and understandable, yet at the same time informative and authoritative. It is obvious much care has gone into the updating of the information by the team of editors. It tells you in the introduction that there are cross-references within the articles to point you to another article that will help in the understanding. I've been searching for examples and haven't found as many as I thought there would be. However, you can find articles on virtually every name, place, tribe and doctrine so if you see something as you're reading that you would like more information on, it is probably in there.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial book-selling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: A Matter of Heart

A Matter of Heart (Lone Star Brides 3)
By Tracie Peterson
Bethany House, 2014
English, 320 pgs

Texas born and raised Jessica Atherton is a wealthy young woman whose heart was broken when the man she intended to marry wedded another. But her world is upended when two new men come into her life, and both manage to stir her heart.

Harrison Gable is a successful young lawyer with ambitions that match Jessica's dreams. His warm, attentive manner and thoughtful gifts make her feel special.

Austin Todd, a former Secret Service agent, enjoys working now as a Texas Ranger cattle inspector. But after learning of forged gold certificates and missing printing plates, he's drawn back into the world of intrigue and agrees to help solve the case. Jessica is drawn to his kind nature and the unspoken pain she sees in his eyes.

If Jessica follows her heart, where will it lead?

This is the third book in the Lone Star Brides series by Tracie Peterson. The book wraps up many lingering story lines from books 1 and 2 (when Marty went to Colorado and when Alice and Robert marry) while giving a spotlight to Jessica, who was a minor character in book 2.

I was really satisfied with the story wrap ups as well as the new story line. I didn't care too much for Jessica at the beginning of the book but she ends up working on being a better person and there is a lot of discussion on how God helps us become better people and how we can't really change on our own.

There was a lot more "church" in this book than the other two and I was actually pleased about it. It didn't get preachy but it was truthful and stuck to the lessons found in the Bible.

Now that the series is over, I feel satisfied with all three. There are no lingering "what happened" questions and I found that I really liked all the characters.

I sure do wish there had been a recipe for those cinnamon rolls....

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial book-selling website. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: Messy, Beautiful Love

Messy, Beautiful Love
By Darlene Schacht
Thomas Nelson, 2014
English, 240 pgs

Love gets messy.

Financial problems, sickness, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse . . . trials will inevitably come along to threaten your marriage. No matter how long you've been married or how strong your relationship is, sooner or later you are going to have a mess to clean up.

Messy Beautiful Love is about cleaning up messes God's way, exchanging our ideas for his, and being prepared for both the best and the worst that marriage has to offer.

Perhaps you've picked up this book because your marriage is messy already-now is the time to make a change. If your marriage is tidy, thank God-there is no better time to prepare for the future.

Married life is never straightforward or simple for long. But the reality is this: when you surrender your relationship to God; when you lay your marriage at his feet; when you finally cede control; then and only then will you experience the blessing of marriage as he intended-this is the blessing of obedience.

Messy Beautiful Love is an invitation to that obedience. An invitation to surrender. The cynical world says marriages don't last. God knows better. Tune out the world and tune in to him. When you do that, a beautiful marriage is not only possible-it's inevitable. That's something to be excited about.

About the Author
Darlene Schacht is the original founder of Christian Women Online Magazine and The Internet CafĂ© Devotions and writes the popular blog Time-Warp Wife. She is coauthor of Candace Cameron Bure’s New York Time’s best-selling book, Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness. Darlene has been married to Michael Schacht for more than 25 years. They have four children.

This is one of the better "relationship" books I've read in a long time. I appreciate that the author is very frank and honest about her relationship issues in the past and how real she is in sharing about how her life and marriage were impacted and restored.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling in a marriage, anyone who is about to be married, anyone who is in a happy marriage....anyone who wants to discover what God wants in a marriage and wants to build a lasting relationship based on God's word.

My only criticism is that the author uses New King James Version of the Bible for most of her quotes and that made it a little hard to read, in my opinion. And that is only because I'm just not used to the language in that particular translation. 

The book has 15 chapters which, at one a day, makes it really easy to read in a short time. However, I think you should take your time with it. Study the Scriptures she discusses and really give time to the end of chapter challenges.

So much of this book is now seen as "counter-culture" in that it emphasizes that the man is the head of the family, being patient and compassionate, communicate lovingly and being content and virtuous in your marriage and life. However, this is exactly how things were meant to be. God made rules and boundaries for a reason. The aren't out of malice. They're out of love and wanting the best for His people.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial book-selling website. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.