Literature

Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit by Jim Cymbala

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By Jim Cymbala

Looking for a book to read one day, on Christianbook.com, I happened to see Spirit Rising was on special. I thought: “Oh neat, a book on the Holy Spirit. I’ve always wanted to learn more about that.” (since in most Christian circles the talk is usually about Jesus or God, but not on the Holy Spirit.) I ordered it, because I wanted to learn more on a subject I admit I’m not as experienced in as I probably should be. When I received this book, I thought an endorsement from Francis Chan was especially interesting so I began reading Jim Cymbala’s book.

Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit is a book, which as you probably are able to imagine it is, about the Holy Spirit. Jim opens the book on expressing a thought which I expressed earlier in this review: various Christian circles neither understand nor talk enough about the role of The Holy Spirit and that needs to change. The meat of the focus for Mr. Cymbala’s book is The Holy Spirit, his church in Brooklyn, and testimonies from a few of his own parishioners. Does Jim speak of The Holy Spirit in a heretical way? And how insightful is Mr. Cymbala’s book concerning The Holy Spirit? Spirit Rising does a good job getting started on helping a Christian become more in tune with The Holy Spirit, but it is a light dusting of the surface readers are craving.

I am glad Mr. Cymbala did not promote anything heretical within his book, because the very phrase: “Tapping into the power of The Holy Spirit” is a risky phrase some might misinterpret as a piece of lingo from the heretical Immergant Church movement. I also appreciate the testimonies his parishioners gave for Spirit Rising, because some are very inspiring to read. My favorite testimony to read was concerning the woman immigrant from Latin America; though at times sad the ending is encouraging. Though these things are good, I also felt there could have been more to this book, because there were some unanswered questions… The book seems primarily focused more on trying to convince you into agreeing The Holy Spirit is a neglected teaching and ought to be further pursued through the example of his church in New York, rather THAN actually teaching you things about The Holy Spirit itself… Though I learned some things while reading Mr. Cymbala’s book, I was a little disappointed that time was more spent on talking about Brooklyn Tabernacle than The Holy Spirit itself…

Book Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within By Dr. Gregory Jantz

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By Dr. Gregory Jantz

Fear is an emotion I’ve dealt with much of my life. The fears and struggles have changed throughout time, but the overall feelings resulted by each fear and struggle has remained with the exact same effect. I am not afraid to admit I am an imperfect person, in fact this is one of the reasons why I love Jesus as I do, but I also have recognized as of late it is something which has held me back in life. Not too long after a conversation with my wife, I ran into Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book: Battles Men Face, which I hoped would give some clarity to what I’ve felt for a long time…

Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within is a self-help book, targeted for men, which guides the reader with both Christian theology and clinical psychology. Dr. Jantz examines The What, The Why, and The How of various issues Men face. He also guides men with patient testimonies, scriptural passages, and even personal experiences in order for readers to understand and relate to what’s going on within their hearts. Battles Men Face is a book which reveals many thoughts readers might have never thought about as specifically as they might think, and it is also a book which asks the reader some tough yet essential questions…

Though not every man has every problem Dr. Jantz describes, he writes about the inner struggle exactly how it is; at least within my heart. Partially thanks to Dr. Jantz’s book, I realize I have even more growing up to do but what I learned from his book is a good start on my journey. It was eye-opening for me to see a glimpse of why I struggle with the issues I do, and how I should respond to those issues from now on… Based on my personal experience reading Battles Men Face, I’m confident not only was this a very good book for me as a man, but also for any man who wants to be honest enough with themselves. The only complaint I have about Dr. Jantz’ book is every time, I remember, he sources scripture he uses The Message translation; I feel there are better translations out there than the MSG. Otherwise I did not see anything promoted by Dr. Jantz which is contrary to what scripture says. It’s great to see there is a Christian out there who isn’t just trying to help people with their issues, but is also trying to lead them to Jesus Christ; the most important thing a man and woman can do to respond to their inner struggles. I recommend this book highly, and I am encouraged to check out some of his other books as well.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The Resolution by Stephen, Alex Kendrick, and Randy Alcorn.

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by Stephen, Alex Kendrick, and Randy Alcorn.

Becoming a real man and practicing Biblical manhood are topics which I’ve blogged about and have read multiple book titles concerning within recent times. If you have been paying attention to my previous work, yes this will be the third book I’ve read which addresses the question “what makes a man, a real man?”. However, I originally started reading this due to my appreciation for the movie Courageous, and me being curious about what they actually had to say about manhood came later. Then I also realized that one of the authors for The Resolution was Randy Alcorn; yup this is also my third Randy Alcorn book too!

The Resolution is as I previewed, a book about being a man in a Biblical sense. This goes over a variety of topics like how to treat a lady, how to treat your children, the importance of teaching your children about Jesus Christ, the great need for you to be a prayer warrior, why it’s important to work hard, the importance of integrity, and other topics. This book goes over various verses and parables which are designed to inspire the reader to pursue Biblical manhood and to flee from what the popular, unsaved, cultural idea is for being a man. But the big question one must ask is… are the ideas which each author present throughout the book correct and let alone are they even possible? The Resolution, prior to actually reading the book itself, sounded pretty cool; keep in mind this was after watching Courageous.

I thought it was so cool that I actually bought the plaque from my local Christian bookstore and had my Pastor along with a Bible Study buddy co-sign it. After completing the book, I am glad I signed the Resolution because this is an extraordinary book which ought to be beneficial for all men; at least the ones who take it seriously. Are there some ideas which in extreme application equate to legalism? Yes, but frankly all theological books have that danger for the reader thanks to our sinful flesh. Even though the other two books on manhood I read earlier were good, there was something about The Resolution which was an even stronger eye opener. The way the authors presented this book was full of scriptural references, deep descriptive language for readers to imagine, ideas and questions which most men can relate to, and the lack of a need to heavily rely upon personal anecdotes or gimmick scenes from the movie. Certain chapters really hit me hard, and actually have inspired me to look at life differently. I am glad to have read this and if you’re a guy (whether young or old) reading this review right now I strongly advise you to read this too. I now take Joshua 24:15 much more seriously now, and for my need to become the man God wants me to be.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

P.S. Here is a picture of my signed Resolution Plaque which currently hangs in my study:

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn

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By Jonathan Cahn

While surfing the web, I hear of movies and books every once in a while. On WorldNetDaily’s website in particular I heard about this “must read” which happened to also be a New York Times best-selling book. I like reading books when I have the time, and because of the many great things I had heard about the book I couldn’t resist finding a copy of The Harbinger. In particular, what made me especially curious about this book by Jonathan Cahn were the numerous amount of people who said “Even though the story is fiction, what is described in the book is true and could actually happen in the future…”

The Harbinger is a fictional story about three characters: Nouriel, Ana, and “The Prophet”. Nouriel is telling Ana, a publicist, about his encounters with a man who claims to be a Prophet from God. This Prophet tells Nouriel throughout their encounters, the United States of America has similarities to ancient Israel, and has been susceptible to God’s warning and will be judged less it repents of its ways. Isaiah 9:10 is cited often throughout this story, but what is also cited are things said and done within recent years which have great similarities to things said and done by ancient Israel back during the Prophet Isaiah’s lifetime… I found the similarities surprisingly shocking, and this book certainly does give the reader legitimate reasons to be cautious about the fate of our world and our own lives; it’s important we all repent especially our nations’ leaders.

However, there are two things which Jonathan Cahn forgot to consider when writing this story: 1) The Book of Revelation and 2) The Alternative Media’s Message. I don’t want to get too complicated in this review, I’ll save some of those thoughts for my YouTube Channel later, but what Jonathan Cahn preaches in his book is iffy in that while everything he says is accurate, the application for it isn’t necessarily completely accurate. When it comes to the type of theology applied, it’s definitely not worth ignoring but it’s also not necessarily going to be in the exact image as it’s being perceived. It’s like you happen to see through a neighbor’s window a gun hanging on the wall and someone nearby tells you “that man who lives there is dangerous”. Yes the person has a gun, but that doesn’t mean that any person who has a gun is a bad person. Jonathan Cahn does provide information and sources for his story which is great, but you have to be very careful with how you interpret everything based on the info; what Jesus said in Matthew 24 is especially worth considering. All in all this is a good book with a decent storyline, though I wouldn’t call it “suspense” like the book considers itself since it’s not really the type of book which will keep you on the edge of your seat…

Book Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes

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By Kent and Barbara Hughes

Family is a word and concept talked about a lot in our society, but the idea of Family isn’t something people necessarily put enough practice or importance into as often as they should. Now I am desiring become a father in the near future, and because of that desire I want to prepare myself for that role in multiple ways. I picked up this book at my local Christian bookstore, because I want to learn how to be a great Dad, when the time comes, and I need any advice/suggestions to be ones which will glorify God. I wanted to see if the Hughes Family had some great, biblically based tips for readers like me.

Disciplines of a Godly Family is a sequel/expansion to Disciplines of a Godly Man, which was written by Kent Hughes, and Disciplines of a Godly Woman, which was written by Barbara Hughes. Together they share various details and suggestions on building/maintaining a great family. Some of the ideas they share are ones which they personally practiced together as a family, and others are ideas which they feel they should have used more often or used more effectively. The tips and advice shared within this book range from vacations, manners, discipline, food, education, character, Holidays, bonding activities, and many other important topics.

Obviously, Disciplines of a Godly Family did not address EVERYTHING, but what I did read was very good. It’s no surprise that some of the stuff The Hughes talk about are worth tweaking, but like they say in the book ” each family is unique“. Although certain details are going to be limited due to income or physical ability, much of the suggestions and advice I believe are reachable goals. I especially like how they emphasize the importance of reading; it is a dying trait in our society… (unless it’s a book which has recently become a movie) I like how they admit that no family is perfect, and that they don’t expect the reader to practice everything they talk about, because it shows honesty and consideration; they certainly had some hard times too and let readers know they will too. After reading Disciplines of a Godly Family not only do I plan to read this a second time, this time a loud with the wife, but also heavily encourage you to buy this today if you’re also desiring to start a family soon.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey

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published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

This particular subject really hits hard in a personal way. I struggled with lust since I was a teen, and at times it still haunts me… As this lust was apart of my life I would grow to despise it mentally, though certainly enjoy it physically; this was even before I became a Christian. When I got saved, I ESPECIALLY knew dabbling in lust and pornography was wrong, and through various  efforts sought to turn away from it. For a time I had heard about this book, but for some reason I never picked it up until recently. I wanted to read this, because I heard so many good things about it. I also wanted to read this, because of my personal encounter with sexual sin; where at times I’d win and lose battles against it…

Every Man’s Battle is a book which touches on just that, a sin which every man ought to be battling: Lust. Fred and others expose not only how ugly sexual sin is for single and married men, but also for children, fathers, and even pastors and youth leaders too. This goes deep and even a little graphic into some of the thoughts/experiences men have andor are capable of having. Since Fred and others are speaking of an enemy worth fighting against, they also give readers a battle strategy too.

Some reading bits of Every Man’s Battle might say: “There is no way some of these anecdotes are real” , but as a man who has struggled with sexual sin I can testify what they wrote is easily relatable. Indeed I have had moments where lust has plagued my thoughts, but Fred and the others expanded this issue further than I expected. I strongly agree with most of what they say in this book, and feel if one pursues the game plan they set for the reader most will be able to overcome this monster.  I like the strong use of scripture, since God needs to be man’s greatest ally in this fight, and I also liked the workbook included too. Of course, one thing I questioned was when they said slow dancing was a form of foreplay; I say this depending on what they define as “slow dancing”. Otherwise I feel this is an essential book!

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The Magic Man in the Sky by Pastor Carl Gallups

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by Pastor Carl Gallups

I don’t remember when I first found out about Pastor Carl Gallups or the PPSimmons YouTube Ministry, but since I did I’ve been a fan; I’ve even had the privilege of interviewing him personally several times. When he told me about a book he was in the process of writing I was further intrigued. Now some might say: “Well what makes your review trustworthy then?” and in short my answer to that is: “look at my record.” I love reading Christian books and watching Christian movies, but I’m not afraid to say when someone does a poor job; Randy Alcorn is one example. (Good review, bad review) The question you’re probably wondering at this point is of course: “do you think Carl did a bad job with this book project?”

The Magic Man in the Sky is a book which questions the idea of evolution being “settled science”, and also questions the sometimes unspoken accusation that only uneducated fools would question evolution’s validity. Pastor Gallups’ intent for this project is to show evolution is not settled science. He goes over some of the things Atheists/Agnostics profess as the truth is actually false, not just because of Biblical scripture he sources but also because of various/proven scientific facts. The Magic man in the Sky addresses inaccuracies and inconsistencies within the theory of Evolution, and it also is a book which desires to encourage Christians not to question their faith just because they are attacked for it.

The Magic Man in the Sky, is a book which is exactly as the tag line says: “Effectively Defending the Christian Faith.” As someone who has been verbally attacked for my faith in God, I can definitely say this is a beneficial book for all Christian readers. This book’s school of thought reminds me of the detailed works from people like Answers in Genesis, who profess the Word of God as truth while also providing scientific facts to back up their claims. This is not the “miracle” book which will make all deniers of God say “I’m wrong”, but it is certainly a book which ought to be essential for any Christian’s library; after all the only real miracle book is The Bible. This is well thought out and well researched.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.