Review: Understanding Genesis

Nahum M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis: The Heritage of Biblical Israel, Schoken Books (New York), 1966. I first heard about the Jewish scholar, Nahum Sarna, on our trip to Israel last year. Our guide, Ray Vander Laan, referenced his work repeatedly and recommended that we read his books. After receiving Understanding Genesis (as well as Exploring Exodus) for Christmas,…

Review: My Bright Abyss

Though labeled as a memoir, Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer is not chronological jaunt through his life. Instead, as the subtitle indicates, it is a series of loosely connected meditations. He explores themes such as life, joy, faith, love, and Christ’s presence as well as death, suffering, disbelief, meaninglessness, and…

Review: Rejoicing in Lament

J. Todd Billings, Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer & Life in Christ. Brazos Press, 2015. It is a rare book that can hover between the academic and the personal in a way that enriches both realms. After he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma at age 39, J. Todd Billings’ life took a surprising…

Review: A Taste of Torah

           Keren Hannah Pryor. A Taste of Torah: A Devotional Study Through the Five Books of Moses. Center for Judaic-Christan Studies, 2008. Since before the time of Jesus, it has been the practice of observant Jews to read the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, every year. This practice…

Review: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

Jerry L. Walls, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: A Protestant View of the Cosmic Drama. Brazos Press, 2015. Interest in heaven, hell, and the afterlife have seen a dramatic increase in recent years. Myriads of books, movies, and articles have been published reporting both sensational experiences and profound skepticism. Yet what this resurgence has often lacked…

Review – Population: 485

Michael Perry. Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time. Harper Perennial, 2007. A little over a year and a half ago, my wife and I moved from a medium sized city to a small town in rural Iowa. Even before we stepped foot in the state, I received an email inviting…

Review: A Voice in the Wind

Francine Rivers. A Voice In The Wind. Tyndale House Publishers, 1993. I generally avoid any book categorized as ‘Christian fiction.’ In the past few decades, a lot of bad writing has tried to gain a market by slapping the label ‘Christian’ on the front of it. The ugly triad of boring characters, simplistic plots, and…

Review: Accompany Them With Singing

One of the inevitabilities of Christian ministry is the Christian funeral. Many ministers find presiding over funerals to be both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. However, with the ever pressing demand of Sunday services, the death of a saint does not often allow for thorough analysis of the meaning and purpose of a Christian funeral.…

Review: Toughest People To Love

            The American church has awoken to the need to invest in its leaders. Christian leadership development has become its own cottage industry with accompanying books, conferences, and celebrities. I drank deeply from this movement. I bought the books, took furious notes as I listened to speakers tell me the 3 (or 5 or 7)…

Review: Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins

I’ve always been interested in the lives and spirituality of monks, so when Dennis Okholm’s Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks (Brazos, 2014) came across my desk, I dove right in. Through exploring the works of Evagrius of Pontus, John Cassian, and Gregory I on the seven deadly sins, Okholm believes…