Wednesday, April 25, 2018

God's Book of Proverbs: Biblical Wisdom Arranged by Topic



This book complies and sorts the wisdom of the whole book of Proverbs by topic. So you can look up wisdom on Anger, Conflict, Deception, the Heart, Money, Laziness…etc.  The version I have is a beautifully bound hardcover.  With an elegant design using shades of tan. The inside is very nice and elegant as well.

I really like the emphasis, in the introduction to this compilation, though wisdom is an excellent thing to have, on it's own it will not bring you happiness and salvation.  "King Solomon, the man  responsible for most of the sayings in this book, was considered the wisest man in history…..Even so, Solomon disregarded some of the wisdom God gave him…"  We need more than just knowledge of the right, we need the right Person to make us holy and put His law in our hearts. 

What I didn't quite get in the intro, though, was the statement that "The entire message of the Bible, including this book of Proverbs, is summarized like this:….(after quoting John 3:16)…By turning from our sin and trusting in Jesus, the one who became wisdom from God for us, we can know true wisdom now and be assured of living in God's presence forever."  I don't think that someone would get that message from just reading the book of Proverbs….  The book of Proverbs turns us to God but doesn't directly tell us that we cannot follow its wisdom without Christ.  But perhaps I'm just being too nit-picky here.

Anyway, this is a really handy book to have. Feeling lonely and as if you don't have enough friends? Turn to the Friendship section, in it you will find that "One with many friends may be harmed but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother." Feeling rather proud of yourself today? In the section on pride you will be reminded that "Pride comes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall."

This book would make a great graduation present!

Many thanks to the folks at B&H Bloggers for sending me a free review copy of this book!  My review did not have to be favorable. 

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
*****

This book may be purchased at Amazon.com and Christianbook.com
*Note I don't see the hardcover neutral color version that I have online anywhere in hardcover (or perhaps they haven't updated the picture yet?).  They only seem to have it as an ebook right now.  They do have a dark brown hardcover version though. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Lies Women Believe - Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth




Lies Women Believe by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth is a book that goes through various lies that women believe about reality and counters them.  Dealing specifically with many of the lies women believe about God, themselves, sin, priorities, sexuality, marriage, children, emotions and circumstances, this book is designed as a gentle, but firm exhortation to wake women up to see the truth.

I get the impression that many of the women's writings of today cater to women's excuses, unbelief and overall selfishness. We don't need to build up our self-love, "the truth is that we do love ourselves", we need to learn to deny ourselves.  "Our most common malady is not having a low view [of] ourselves, but having a low view of God."

I also loved how the author pointed out that the thought, "I can't help the way I am" because of - fill in the blank-,  is a lie.  She uses Eve as an example: it was not Eve's circumstances that accounted for her miserable condition, it was not that she had had a difficult childhood, been unloved,  abused by her husband, had uncontrollable emotional issues, physical ailments or any of the many excuses women nowadays love to turn too.  No, Eve had a great beginning in life, she was never physically or verbally abused and was in great physical and emotional shape.  And yet she still sinned.  

There were some things I didn't like, however.  For instance, there was some stuff in the "Sexuality" chapter that I was uncomfortable with, I skipped over stuff, and I didn't think the fictional 'Eve's diary' part was very edifying in that particular chapter either (there are some things I just don't need to imagine in my head).  I know that most (probably all) of the advice and counsel is good but I simply didn't think that it needed to be dealt with that thoroughly. 

Also, I didn't agree or see the sense of why she thinks that it is okay for Christians to turn to drugs to help with depression.  It just seems to contradict what she said earlier, about the bad habit people have of turning to movies, alcohol or fun activities to change their bad emotions into happy ones rather than turning to God and His Word first.  I mean, for a Christian, what if there were pills to deal with, not only depression, but lust, anger, pride and fear? Would taking a pill for stopping lust be "killing sin"? Or just sedating it?  I thought that the weapons of our warfare are "not carnal" (2 Corinthians 10:4).  What if a disaster or something happens and those pills are no longer made or we lost access to them? Would we have built up any spiritual muscle for the fight against those emotions?  Or will they manifest themselves stronger than ever because we didn't kill them daily we merely rendered them unconscious so that we didn't have to fight them?  As Wolgemuth says, "When we find ourselves suffering under the weight of negative emotions like anger, anxiety, bitterness, despair, hatred or condemnation, we must learn to look toward God's Truth, keeping our minds stayed on Him rather than simply trying to escape or swap out negative emotions with a feel-good substitute. "   I would add depression to that list.

But overall I thought that the book was very good. Wolgemuth counters the lies with Biblical truth very well, and gives a lot of good counsel.  Here are some more of the concepts that I really liked that are based in the truth:

When people think that you're not normal, they're right! You're not normal, you are a New Creation! You are a saint, not a sinner.

Wives are not their husband's mothers, and they should not act as though they are the Holy Spirit in their husband's lives.

We are not saved by our feelings, our feelings are not facts.  We look to how what God says is true, not to our feelings to figure out reality.

And lastly, the truth may not change your circumstances, but that's okay, it will change you. God is primarily making us holy, not 'happy' - this side of eternity.

Many thanks to the folks at Moody Publishers Newsroom for sending me a free review copy of this book! My review did not have to be favorable.

My rating 4 out of 5 Stars

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com




Friday, April 13, 2018

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies - Tremper Lognman III & Mark L. Strauss





The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies is a dictionary that seeks to provide definitions and explanations for words that you will find in many books and articles that delve into the study of the text of the Bible.  It gives definitions and brief overviews of places, scholarly terminology, prominent people whose works are mentioned in theological books.

It was pretty interesting to just sit and read through a lot of the information in the book, to learn a lot of new things and even to glean some extra helpful information about events, people and places that I already knew a few things about.  If I came across something that I've already become acquainted with I felt sort of reluctant to read those parts, thinking something along the lines of, "this is just a dictionary, what more could it tell me about that?" But I was surprised at some of the extra information I gleaned.  For example,  I have done a bit of reading on the "Counsel of Jamnia" but I did not particularly notice before that the book of Ezekiel was one of the books whose canonicity was debated by the Jews.  Or if I had noticed, I don't remember understanding why it's validity was up for debate.  The dictionary explains that it was because in the vision given to Ezekiel of the alter it is depicted as having steps which was something contrary to Mosaic law. Interesting!

 At least  one bit of information I came across was quite shocking.  I was extremely surprised, when I came to the summary of who Gerhard Kittel was (editor of The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament), to find that he had had strong Anti-Semitic viewpoints and supported the Nazis during World War II!

 There is some, in my opinion, pretty useless information in this dictionary, mainly the detailed information about various pagan 'gods' , their 'story' and the attributes attributed to them.  They don't actually have any attributes, so why mention them in detail? And I also didn't like how they mentioned how so many scholars think that The Biblical writers drew inspiration from myths and attributes of other gods, without countering that  viewpoint.  I guess I can sort of see how that could come in handy for someone who wanted to know which authors not to read, but I wish they would have countered them in the notes, instead of letting them stand.

  All I need to know that it is a pagan god and therefore not a god at all.  The Bible doesn’t focus its attack on the mythological attributes of the false gods, rather it deals with the facts.  It points out their ACTUAL attributes of deafness, blindness, dumbness, irresponsiveness and utter lack of existence at all.

Another thing I didn't like , and   was surprised at, was the dogmatism in certain places, like where they state that "The Sumerians invented writing for the first time in human history sometime in the thirty-first century BC."  Oh, really? How do we know that Noah didn't know how to write already and taught it to his descendants? How do we know for sure that people didn't know how to write before the flood?

I was also surprised that they don't list Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley and the like in this dictionary.  That just seemed a little weird, as their works are still pretty popular.

Don't get me wrong, things like the above don't take away from the usefulness of this book.  They do have a lot of information, and,  when dealing with 'grey areas', for the most part the editors of this dictionary seem to use phrases along the lines of "it is believed"  or "some scholars think" when the facts are not certain. And they do give some quick criticisms to a few of the obviously erroneous viewpoints. 

Overall I think that this still  a pretty handy dictionary, for just about anyone.  If you read any linguistic commentaries on the Scripture, or even just a regular commentary, it would be handy to have. 

Many thanks to the folks at Baker Books Bloggers for sending me a free review copy of this book!  -  My review did not have to be favorable.

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com