United States of Jihad

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Peter Bergen has created a highly informational book for those interested in the growing threat of terrorism. Fact-based with lots of details as to the incidents occurring on the homeland. A lot of research seems to have been placed into this book.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of United States of Jihad in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Failure: The Back Door To Success

No one likes to fail.

Failure can be painful, and it can leave a person wondering, “Whats next?”

Erwin Lutzer’s book Failure: The Back Door To Success proposes a positive spin, claiming that failure can actually help you get to the success you want.
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Or at least that’s what the cover would have you think. After all, more than 100,00 readers can’t be wrong.

A better title for this book would be Failure: Don’t Let It Happen to You or Failure: How It Can Ruin Your Life. Why so negative? A few examples from the book: a couple decides to become missionaries, and they move to a foreign land. Things don’t work out, and they return home. They’re embarrassed to explain why, so they tell their friends a different story to cover up the “failure” that they are no longer missionaries. Or, a Christian woman marries a non-believer, and she has to work like crazy to make her marriage work. She resigns herself to wondering what might have been – could she have been a missionary had she not gotten pregnant before being forced to marry this guy she’s now stuck with? (What is it with this author and missionaries?) This woman can’t stand her husband, but she has to love him.

If you’re expecting a Christian version of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this book isn’t it. I disagree with what seems to be the author’s belief that most human failure results from sin. Yes, much of it does, but just because a career objective does not work out as hoped for, does not mean that it HAD to be the result of sin. Perhaps God had something better in mind, or circumstances changed…. we are human, and our knowledge is finite.

Another major lacking point of this book is how it focuses on failure – it’s very negative – and it lacks the knowledge of how to get from the failure to success.  Information on “the back door to success” is what it’s missing. That positive aspect is lacking. This book focuses on sin so much that it overspiritualizes –  it overlooks the fact that sometimes failure happens even when people are following God with all their hearts.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Courage for the Unknown Season

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What’s next? How can I get through the changing seasons of life? Life no doubt often holds changes in store that we don’t like, can’t anticipate, or have trouble navigating.

Courage for the Unknown Season by Jan Silvious promises to provide confidence and hope for those who want to arm themselves through the choppy waters of life changes. Unlike Miriam Neff’s book Where Do I Go From Here?, there’s something about Courage for the Unknown Season that makes it a book that should be more targeted towards those in the latter part of their lives. It’s rare that I would say this about any book, but Silvious’ book just doesn’t reach well to people at all life stages. Even more, when I started reading it, I was staring a major life challenge in the eye. The book didn’t make me feel better, and it didn’t offer me any hope. When major life challenges happen, optimism, for some of us, isn’t the best route – we need to grieve first and then move on.

Some people, no doubt, are going to majorly benefit from this book. I just was not one of them.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Your Money Map by Howard Dayton [Book Review]

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Have you ever felt lost when it comes to your money?

It can be easy to feel clueless on what to do, where to turn to, and who to listen to for advice. When it comes to bills, savings, and investing, it can feel overwhelming. Lots of people say they want to be rich, but many just don’t know where to start when it comes to the goal of getting out of debt. Howard Dayton’s book, Your Money Map, doesn’t claim to make you rich, but it does provide a strategy for financial freedom.

If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsey’s “baby steps” method of getting out of debt, it’s easy to compare the two. But I have to say I recommend Dayton’s Your Money Map more. This book, this teacher, and this method are more approachable, accessible, and compassionate. Your Money Map uses the tale (fictional or real, who knows) of the married couple Matt and Jennifer who meet author Howard Dayton and his wife. The Daytons share with Matt and Jennifer their progress towards financial freedom, and in each “destination” towards financial freedom, they share their struggles, goals, and how they conquered problems that popped up. In the book, the Daytons act as mentors and friends for this young couple. They give honest advice but they refrain from judging the young couple from any mistakes they may have made or any lack of knowledge they didn’t act on.

I’ve read several books on personal finance, and books in general have to be very special to earn a permanent spot on my bookshelf. I just don’t have the room to keep all the books I read. Your Money Map by Howard Dayton gets kudos for several reasons. Unlike other books on personal finance, it is general enough to apply to people in many different life circumstances: whether you’re married or single, whether you have kids or don’t have kids, whether you have lots of debt or a little, you’ll probably get something out of this book. You would have to be very advanced in your journey towards financial freedom to get nothing out of this book, in which case, you probably wouldn’t be reading it anyway. I would highly recommend Your Money Map to anyone interested in empowering themselves towards their best financial destiny.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

 

Book Review: a Biblicist View of Law and Gospel

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Law and Gospel. Are they two separate things, or do they work together?

That is the question that Lester Stephenson aims to answer in his book, A Biblicist View of Law and Gospel. He uses Matthew 5:17-18 as the basis:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (KJV)

Stephenson points to examples in the Old Testament that link to the New Testament. But this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

There is a growing movement of Christians who would describe themselves as “Torah-observant” or who are learning about and putting a growing emphasis on the Old Testament. An online search can show examples of this – women who are covering their heads, men who won’t cut their beards, both genders who are Christians but who are celebrating the Jewish holidays and eating kosher only. And they are Christians. All this because they’ve searched the Bible and believe this is Biblical.

The answer to which traditions we should uphold and which the gospel frees us from… those are things I hoped this book would answer, but it doesn’t. I don’t think the author had those questions in mind. Over and over “the law” is mentioned, but he never really stops to say “This is what the law is”. There is a chapter that explains the 10 Commandments, and he also mentions “The Mosaic Law”, so I think it would strengthen the book if some explanation of what “The Law” is would have been placed in the front of the book, rather than leaving the Commandments towards the end.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Ambassador International, in exchange for my honest review.

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