The Ministry of Healing (Non-Fiction) ★★★☆☆

ministryofhealing (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Ministry of Healing
Series: ———
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 355
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

White reiterates how Jesus’ ministry was as much physical healing as it was a forgiving of sins. She then talks to physicians and nurses about how they should ministering to both soul and body in their duties. Finally, she goes over various healthful habits that the laity can do on their own to help keep themselves healthy, thus ensuring that they are able to reach out to non-Christians.

 

My Thoughts:

Most of my issues with this book are the same exact ones that I had with The Great Controversy. So no need to re-hash them all. With just a couple of exceptions. Those I will add right now.

White claims that cheese is completely unfit for human consumption. My guess is because the process of creating cheese is pretty much letting milk rot. Be that as it may, I vehemently disagree. I’ll agree that cheese can be unhealthy in terms of fat and cholesterol, but completely unfit for consumption? I don’t think so! I would give up beef before I give up cheese (and to be honest, I really don’t eat red meat any more. Turkeys and chickens for me). The second issue is her saying that pickles aren’t to be eaten either. I’m not nearly as big a proponent of pickles as I am cheese, but I regularly eat a small jar of Vlasic kosher dill spears every week. For me, they are a great way to get salt back into my system from the physical labor I do all day and get some yummy crunch. They serve a purpose and I am not just eating them for the taste (even though I do like the taste of dill pickles a lot).

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With that out of the way, I’ll talk some about what I do agree with. Just like in my Quote Post earlier this month, White directly addresses Appetite. All aspects of a Christian’s life is to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. A loss of self-control, which is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, shows that you aren’t as mature as God wants you to be in your Christian Growth. And a deliberate loss of control is a spurning of what God offers you. Overeating is a small thing in and of itself, but the consequences of a life of overeating lead to what we see in America today (obesity numbers ballooning up and causing all sorts of health issues) AND it shows that Christ is not in control of your life, your Appetite is. Gluttony isn’t something we hear preached about from the pulpit any more, but considering the typical American lifestyle, I think it should be. White wrote this back in 1905 and it is just as appropriate today as then, if not more so.

Alcohol. I am a teetotaler, someone who abstains from alcohol completely. I was brought up this way and nothing I’ve seen in in other’s lives, even Christians, makes me think that another option is open to me. White was part of the Temperance Movement of her times, which had a big hand in passing Prohibition back in the 20’s. Where White and I part ways is that she categorically condemns alcohol. That goes beyond what the Bible says. The Bibles tells Christians to NEVER get drunk but it does not forbid alcohol. However, the amount of people who can walk that line is small and from my own anecdotal evidence, should not be used to justify drinking at all. I don’t think Christians should drink. The negatives of alcohol far outweigh the positives and I have seen too many lives destroyed, or seen the collateral damage from such a self-destruction. It is like having a lion on the end of a chain attached to your wrist.

Finally, White goes over the importance of proper dress (both for modesty and health), fresh air, exercise and proper ventilation in any living quarters. A lot of the specifics are kind of like “well yeah…” to anyone who lives today, but it just goes to show how far ahead of her time White was. I also found that most of these things I was already doing, as I work outdoors at a physically laborious job.

To end this, I would re-title this something along the lines of “Aunt Ellen’s Big Book of Homilies”. Bits and pieces of wisdom but not something you should create any theology from.

★★★☆☆

 

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The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions ★★★★☆

919259332f66a3c596f31577077444341587343This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions
Series: ———-
Author: David Berlinski
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 258
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The title really does sum this up. Written as a foil to Dawkin’s The God Delusion, Berlinski, a non-practicing Jew, shows just how shaky the ground is, philosophically AND scientifically, that many out-spoken atheists stand on.

Using humor, sarcasm and other rather ham handed approaches, Berlinski pokes the High Priests of Scyenze and lets the hot air out of them, much like a balloon. He doesn’t approach things form an angle of “They are wrong and I’m right” but more of a “their attitude is untenable given their arrogant, boasting statements about Faith and Religion”.

 

My Thoughts:

I had a hard time with this. Even while I agreed with much of what Berlinski wrote, I am not a fan of the style he uses, ie, poking the bear with a stick. The problem is, people like Hawkings, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc, NEED to be poked. They are arrogant, proud, boastful and self-centered and all of their might and effort is put forth proving that God doesn’t exist just so that they don’t have to kneel before Him. Reading this was like getting a splinter removed with a needle. It was necessary and good but you don’t like the process.

I was high lighting sentences left and right on my kindle but I don’t care enough to type them all out. Honestly, I don’t know if I was the target audience for this or not. Berlinski is an Evolutionist but realizes that the pat “We Have All the Answers” attitude put out by the scientific community as a whole is a bunch of bologna. He pokes and pokes and shows that no, they don’t have all the answers. In fact, some of the contortions they must go through make the planetary epicycles of Ptolemy look positively straight!

The biggest thing I got was that most of the people he mentions by name are arrogant blowhards and that Pride shapes how they think and how they approach existence itself. Pride is what led to Satan’s fall from grace and Berlinski shows how Pride is still blinding people today, even people of great intellect.

Recommended as a Counter Cultural Argument against the monolithic religion of our day, Scyenze.

★★★★☆

 

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O Jerusalem! ★★★★½

ohjerusalem (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: O Jerusalem!
Series: ———-
Author: Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 745
Format: Paperback Edition

 

Synopsis:

A brief history of the events leading up to Britain’s departure from the Holy Land in 1948 and the war for survival that Israel then fought against 5 Arab countries.

Taken from newspapers, private journal entries, interviews, government documents, Collins and Lapierre weave a narrative of courage, horror, bravery, cowardice, ingenuity and turn what could have been a dry recounting by the numbers of the birth of a modern nation into something that had a face of its peoples.

 

My Thoughts:

My, my, what a good start to my first dedicated foray into non-fiction. I’d read this back in 2000 and just remembered that I’d really enjoyed it then. I thoroughly enjoyed it again.

I also enjoyed reading about events from both sides, both Israeli and Arab. Getting accounts from both sides allowed the authors to delve a lot deeper and to make connections that wouldn’t be possible without that knowledge. They also don’t fall into the trap of worshiping one side and demonizing the other.

That being said, they also don’t pull any punches. The Moslem Brotherhood is shown for the terrorist group it is. Anyone who watched the events of the Arab Spring in Egypt a couple of years ago will know their name. They’re as “moderate” as Hillary Clinton and President Obama. The authors also show how a splinter group of the Israeli military (the Stern Gang I think?) tried to pull a coup and caused the official army to have to fire on its own people, WHILE THE WAR WAS GOING ON.

It is amazing how politics played such a huge part. For all that the Arab leaders were talking publicly about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, privately they were dead set against such a war. But they wouldn’t keep their mouths shut and their people were ignorant savages and when you get that kind of combination, well, you get war.

There were very few footnotes or anything, but at the end of the book were almost 30 pages of sources and each chapter had its own little heading showing what sources were used to substantiate the chapter. Made me feel much better and that the authors weren’t pulling rabbits out of hats.

★★★★½

 

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Best Friends for Life ★★★★☆

bestfriendsforlife (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Best Friends for Life
Series: ———-
Author: Michael & Judy Phillips
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The Phillips tell 4 different true stories (with particulars changed for anonymity’s sake) about young couples they knew and how they proceeded through their dating, into marriage and how those marriages turned out.

The Phillips are convinced that “dating” has such an abysmal track record when it comes to marriages that last after dating that they want to explore other avenues. Their suggestion? Marry your best friend. Basically, make being friends with the opposite gender a higher priority than romance and really know what you want in a spouse instead of letting it all hang on hormones and feelings.

What does God, through the Bible, say about what is important in a marriage? The Phillips use very few specific Bible verses but count on their audience already having a decent grasp of Scripture. They are writing for someone who already wants what is best according to God’s will and is searching that out.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this originally back in 2000. At the time, I had graduated from Bibleschool. Mrs B was still in highschool and we hadn’t a glimmer of the others’ existence. I was mad to marry and was reading all the advice books I could get my hands on. I wasn’t going to be an “old” man like my dad when he got married. For the record, he was married at 28. I ended up being 30. Ironic isn’t it? So I figured if I could get all that advice then Mrs Right would fall into my lap and whammo, we’d have the perfect married life because obviously we’d have BOTH read all kinds of these books and know exactly what to do and what things to NOT do.

The funny thing is, I actually was friends with Mrs B long before we ever were romantically involved. I met her on Xanga, a blogging site (not sure how much traction it still has any more). She’d written a post about going to a medieval wedding and ended her post with “Have a good Sabbath”. I asked her what she meant by “Sabbath” as I was a Saturday Sabbath keeper and it turned out she was a 7th Day Adventist so she kept Saturday as well. We were friends for a couple of years online but figured we’d never meet. She was in California, I was on the East Coast. I didn’t like to travel and she had nothing to draw her to the East. But then a friend of mine, who I’d gone to Bibleschool with, decided he was going to get married. In California. He was in the Navy and would soon be shipping out in a Sub (subbing out?) and I didn’t know when I’d see him next so a group of us all went to California. I informed Miss Librarian and invited her as my plus one. Her brother, Sir Grumpsalot, came with her to chaperone and my friends were at the wedding, so it was safe all around. After the wedding that night, I asked her if I could court her. I called her mother that week and a year later we were engaged and 6 months after that we were married. Now, 10 years later, we’re STILL happily married.

Now, when I read this book back in 2000, I couldn’t have predicted this set of circumstances. In fact, I didn’t WANT those set of circumstances. I wanted somebody else. She has since gotten married to a wonderful christian man, has a family and is a bedrock of Faith for her family. But she wouldn’t have been right for me nor me for her. It took God to bring the correct Mrs Right into my life. That is what this book is about more than anything. It isn’t a hard and fast set of rules that the Phillips promise will bring you the right spouse. But they give solid advice about involving your parents, your friends, and most of all, not letting your hormones and feelings be in control. They are right.

They also give several examples of how people have changed what they’ve suggested to work for their particular set of circumstances. Some of the things they suggest simply weren’t viable for Mrs B and I, such as having family time with each other’s families while we were courting. The Phillips are very open that what they are suggesting isn’t the end and be all but they do strongly advise young people and their parents to put much more effort into the whole process than just “Oh, we’re in love”.

Reading this again, for our 10th Wedding Anniversary, it is uncanny how much God drew us both down this path in our relationship with each other. I for one am thankful for that. Our marriage is strong, we are happy and content with each other and while our lives together haven’t been what we’ve expected (Mrs B was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in ’10), our foundation of friendship has taken us through the times of hospitalization, lack of work, etc.

The book is a bit dated in regards to things they call out in American Culture, ie, what they considered a cliff is only a mere step compared to the moral cliff America has chosen to step off of now. It was eye opening and a good indicator of just how fast our country has gone down the path of immorality.

But ultimately, God Himself is in charge. He has taken responsibility through Jesus Christ and one day He will return and make it right again. I want to be ready for that and I hope you will be too.

★★★★☆

 

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Play the Man ★★★★☆

playtheman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Play the Man
Series: ———-
Author: Mark Batterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Synopsis taken from the book:

“Somewhere along the way, our culture lost its definition of manhood, leaving generations of men and men-to-be confused about their roles, responsibilities, relationships, and the reason God made them men. It’s into this ‘no man’s land’ that New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson declares his mantra for manhood: play the man. In this inspiring call to something greater, he helps men understand what it means to be a man of God by unveiling seven virtues of manhood. Mark shares inspiring stories of manhood, including the true story of the hero and martyr Polycarp, who first heard the voice from heaven say, ‘Play the man.’ Mark couples those stories with practical ideas about how to disciple the next generation of men. This is more than a book; it’s a movement of men who will settle for nothing less than fulfilling their highest calling to be the man and the father God has destined them to be. Play the man. Make the man.”

 

My Thoughts:

I read this book over the course of July for our men’s group at church. One of the reasons there were so many “man” posts in July.

It started out a bit rough. I felt like it was an updated version of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and I didn’t find that particular book at all helpful. But once Batterson got into the 7 Virtues of Manhood, things turned around.

The specific 7 Virtues didn’t really enter into the equation. I was more encouraged in how Batterson showed that being a Man of God was something purposeful, something you had to set your mind to. It was goal oriented and something that will last for your whole life. Just because I’ve done X, Y and Z in the past doesn’t mean I get to slack off and coast later on. A Godly Man is always striving after God and since God is Infinite, our striving will never end. Some days I might have found that thought discouraging, but not during this book. It reminded me of just how great our God is and how much He loves us.

Batterson also goes into Jesus as Man a little bit and that was good too. Too often I think of Jesus as a superman just gliding through His life, snapping His fingers and making everything work. It was good to be reminded that He had to learn to read, that He pooped His diapers (or whatever the equivalent was in 4BC) and that He had hormones too. And yet through it all, He was Perfect.

The final thing that really made this work for me was that Batterson isn’t trying to change the whole culture with some “7 Virtues” program. He doesn’t say that this book will change the whole nation if only we all follow it. He presents it as something that each man must do on his own and must pass on to his sons. He makes being a Godly Man that individuals responsibility. He looks at the building blocks. If the foundations are solid, you can then build a good house. He also practices what he preaches with his kids and I found that immensely encouraging as well.

★★★★☆

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Mere Christianity ★★★★★

merechristianity (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Mere Christianity
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Theological Non-Fiction
Pages: 190
Format: Massmarket paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Lewis turns some radio lectures/talks into book format in which he talks about Christianity and humanity on very basic levels and very broad terms. It really does come across as someone trying to have a casual conversation about an important subject and it feels like Lewis gets the balance of casual and importance just right.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this completely because of my reaction to Toll the Hounds. I needed a good anti-dote to Erikson’s horrific existentialism and his debasement of Redemption. If any one could help, strengthen and encourage me in my Christian faith, Lewis is the man to do it.

I deliberately didn’t take notes and actually tried to read through this as fast as I could, kind of like chugging some medicine. Not because it tasted bad, but I knew if I stopped to taste it, I’d start eating it drop by drop to get the full taste and I needed a large dose of medicine NOW. It worked well. No man is sufficient to himself and we ALL need help and encouragement along life’s way.

This was not a heady and deep look into the various thoughts of Christian doctrine and how this church and that church have come to the conclusions they have, etc, etc. This was very much like Lewis having a conversation with you and much like any good conversation, if you aren’t ready for it or don’t want it, then it won’t work for you no matter how good it is. So I certainly wouldn’t just blanket recommend this to everyone. If you don’t know anything about Christianity and want to learn something without committing yourself or getting dragged into theological depths you simply aren’t even aware of, this is the book for you. If you are a Christian who needs some reminders and some encouragement, this is the book for you.

I COULD have taken notes. Pages of them. But that might just be me and how I deal with non-fiction. I go into a gear where I feel like I need to write a book report whenever I read non-fiction. However, I did underline one phrase that really stood out to me:

For mere improvement is no redemption, though redemption always improves people…”

Attaboy Lewis!!!

I am giving this a conditional “best book of the year” tag. Conditional because I don’t read enough non-fiction for there to be enough to truly choose from. Also, I really don’t like comparing escapist fare (no matter how enjoyable) with a serious book like this. Comparing them would mean they are equal and they aren’t and I don’t ever want to get into the mindset where they are.

★★★★★

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How to Survive and Thrive! In Church ★★★★☆

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: How to Survive and Thrive! In Church
Series: ——
Author: Doug Batchelor & Karen Lifshay
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 128
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Batchelor, a 7th Day Adventist pastor and author, writes this little book on how to survive various types of churches but also how to contribute and make your church a better place.

There are 16 chapters, each focusing either on a particular type of church [dead, big, little, divided, etc] or on a particular problem in church [scandal, gossip, doctrinal doubts, etc] and the final chapter entitled “Not Just Surviving – Succeeding!”

 

My Thoughts:

This is not a comprehensive help book. I read this in one sitting, one evening. It is a lightly humorous book meant to highlight some of the common problems in any and all churches and what you, as an individual, can do.

Basically, Batchelor boils it down to “don’t give up”. Like I said, I read this in one sitting and it was like a nice bottle of gatorade on a hot day while working hard. It’s not a meal but it refreshes you and allows you to keep going until it IS meal time. Batchelor also stresses personal responsibility in your spiritual life. You have to read your Bible and pray if you want to stay connected to God. Going to church once a week to get “fed” isn’t going to cut it.

Batchelor is unabashedly 7th Day Adventist and while this could be used for almost any denomination, it is aimed at SDA’ers. Many of his quotes are from the writings of Ellen White. If that would be a problem for you, then I would not recommend this book.

Anyone who goes to church could benefit from reading this book. Treat it like the word of encouragement it is and not as a theological treatise and you will be well served.

I do wish that there had been an “Interested In More…” epilogue. Could have pointed to some specific, deeper, more relevant books on particular topics. That would have been a nice springboard.

★★★★☆

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