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Another Good, Accessible Introduction to Biblical Interpretation

A Review of For the Love of God’s Word by Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson
When Kostenberger and Patterson’s work Invitation to Biblical Interpretation was published, it was quickly hailed as the new standard work in the field of biblical interpretation. In this new work, the authors have taken the original material and condensed it with a more popular readership in mind. By removing some of the more technical language and cutting out pages of extra material, the authors have created something that has not often been done in Christian training. A seminary can use Invitation to Biblical Interpretation with young pastors, and then those same pastors can go to their churches and teach their people biblical interpretation using the condensed version. For the Love of God’s Word is what it claims to be. The authors and editors have done a wonderful job of paring down material and reading through the book with an eye for understanding from a lay-level.
The book is broken down into fifteen chapters, containing the hermeneutical triad. First, the history of the text is to be considered. Only one chapter is spent on this. Second, the literature of the text must be considered. Within literature, the student is taught about the canon, genres, and understanding the actual language of the text itself. Finally, the authors turn to theology. Two chapters are taken to address this area. A helpful glossary of terms is contained in the back. Is there any other area in which more grounding is needed in our churches than basic hermeneutics? I believe this work with be a great asset to the church for many years to come.

I would give it five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another Strong Addition to the Handbooks for OT Exegesis Series

A Review of Interpreting The Prophetic Books by Gary V. Smith

I have been blessed, encouraged, and enriched by the new Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series put out by Kregel Academic. The latest installment is on the Prophetic Books and is written by Gary Smith. Smith is Professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society.
indexSmith begins the book by addressing the nature of prophetic literature itself. This is helpful and accessible to the beginning student as well as the seasoned pastor. For those who have always had the misconception that prophecy always dealt with the future, this section is a must. Smith also deals nicely with the “poetry of prophecy,” addressing figures of speech, imagery, symbolism and the like in prophecy. From there he addresses major themes in each of the prophets. This is helpful, as very few people actually take the time to read through each of the prophetic books thoroughly, making note of their various themes and emphases. It’s not all just “repent or face judgment.” Smith gives a nice overview of each book that can serve as a guide for reading and understanding each book better. This section also contains helpful chronological information (who prophesied during what king’s reign, and when exactly was that?). The next two sections deal with interpreting the prophets and dealing with specific interpretive issues that each prophet presents. This leads directly into the last two sections dealing with how to best preach and apply these texts. This is much needed input for a portion of the Bible that I fear is too often either ignored or misappropriated.
Gary Smith has written a very accessible and challenging book. For anyone who better seeks to understand the prophetic books of the Bible, especially for preaching or teaching, this book is a great place to begin your study.

I would give it five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tim Hawkins wrote a book?

Book Review: Diary of a Jackwagon by Tim Hawkins with John Driver


We are huge Tim Hawkins fans here at our house.  But in case you don’t know, Tim is a comedian who finds the funny in anything from Chick-fil-a to homeschooling.  He is a Christian, so much of his content is not only clean but particularly directed at those things familiar to Christians.  However his youtube fans are by no means limited to just Christians.  One of the things he does best is hilarious music videos.


Having seen every Tim Hawkins DVD and 1 live show, I looked forward to reading his book.  I have to admit though, I had no idea what to expect.  But after reading the book I would say it is like Tim Hawkins  — extended edition.  He  expands on much of his funniest stuff.  There may have been a few places of completely new material, but it was rare.


If you have never seen any of Tim Hawkins stuff, then I would not start with this book.  You really have to see and hear him yourself before you understand why he is even funny.  I don’t think you can get that just from reading a book.


For me, I enjoyed laughing through this book, and the Norman Rockwellesque cover was a nice touch.


5 out of 5 stars


I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson as part of the Booklook program for bloggers in exchange for a fair and honest review.



Walk in love

eph 5.2 picI just finished a personal study on the book of Ephesians and this is kind of a theme verse that I am taking away from it. I have learned several things that are worth sharing.

  • Christ’s love for me is amazing.
  • I want to love others like that.  Not just the people who are nice to me, but truly love people.
  • Prayer is more than just bringing a list of needs to God.  He wants a relationship and that takes time to develop.

I am so glad that I don’t have to just be on a treadmill of working harder.  I can’t do it on my own.  Jesus Christ will give me the strength that I need to live the Christian life.  He will continue to make Himself known to me through His Word.  I don’t understand how that all works but I hope to keep learning as I continue on my journey of faith.


Karen signature




Very Interesting Period Detective Novel…

A Review of Direct Hit: The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow
What was it like to live in England during World War II? I have no idea. What was it like to be a police detective in England during the worst days of World War II? Again, no clue. But this is where author Mike Hollow takes his readers. If you think solving murders is tough today, try doing it without forensics, computers, and with the daily threat of falling bombs. This is the job given to Detective John Jago. The novel really is fascinating, written during a period of world history that most Americans cannot relate to. We have never faced nightly air raids. Hollow takes the reader right into that world and does a nice job of moving along a murder mystery while also keeping the historical setting intact. John Jago is a likeable and believable character. He lived through the misery of World War I, so he carries his own share of challenges, but while a little flawed, he does his job with integrity and tenacity. The storyline moves along well, and the mystery unravels at a decent pace. Some of the characters do not develop tremendously well, and the period English can be a little tough to follow at times, but overall this is a story worth reading if you enjoy mysteries. A good read with some minor flaws (or room for the author to grow?).
4 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Very Interesting Historical Drama

A review of Day of Atonement by David A. deSilva
Most Christians know very little about the intertestamental period. What happened between Malachi and Matthew? I mean, we know about the Greeks and the Romans, but little more. David deSilva tells one story from that time period in his novel, Day of Atonement. The story gives the history of Jerusalem leading up the Maccabean Revolt. The Jews are under the thumb of the Greeks, and many struggle to see how their national identity and faith tie in with the government that they live under. The Greek culture is appealing, and many young Jews are drawn away from their traditional beliefs. But traditional Jews will not surrender the religious and cultural battle so easily. Tension builds as faith and convictions are tested.
The author clearly understands the time period about which he writes, which contributes a great deal to the historical quality of the book. I know I have been at times left with the impression that Israel was faithful to Yahweh during this time and that all oppression was from the outside. DeSilva does a nice job of showing the complexities of the time. The characters are well developed, and the author does a nice job of bringing out the reprehensible portions of Greek culture in order to set them apart from what God expects from His people without being explicit or tasteless. There are scenes that border on the sensual (though nothing even close to explicit is described), and there are some rather graphic violent moments in the book. For these reasons I would give caution to younger readers. Otherwise, the book gives some good insight into Judaism not too long before Christ would make His appearance.

I would give Day of Atonement four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Brave Queen Esther

Adventure Bible: Brave Queen Esther, I Can Read level 2 book with pictures by David Miles

We have a new reader in our house, so I love finding books that help him gain confidence in reading and teach him Bible stories at the same time.  If you have seen the Adventure Bible, then you will be familiar with the kind of beautiful illustrations that you will find in this short rendition of the story of Esther.  This is a level 2 I Can746669_1_ftc Read book which, in case you didn’t know, is a “high interest story for developing readers” according to the description on the back of the book.

Is this story 100% accurate and true to the Bible? Well, I would say that is is a condensed version of Esther, for sure. So whereas Esther invites the king to a meal in her quarters twice before making her request to save the Jews, in this book it only occurs once. Overall I found the story to be a wonderful, albeit simplified version of the story of Esther. I am so glad to find Bible stories in the “I Can Read” section, and I hope to see more like these in the future.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook blogging program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

New Devotional

Book Review: Heaven, Hell, and Life After Death by Kay Arthur, Bob & Diane Vereen

I have worked through several of these devotionals before and I particularly like the emphasis on studying Scripture.  There is not a lot of commentary from the authors.  Just the Word of God, with some focused questions to answer pertaining to what you have just read.  And if you know anything about Kay Arthur, then you have probably heard about he inductive Bible study methods she employs.  She will have you picking apart each verse by circling, underlining, and doodling in all sorts of ways in the passage you are studying.


This short book i425607_1_ftcs broken up into 6 weeks or 6 chapters to study the topic of Heaven, Hell, and Life after Death.  I will list the chapter titles below because that is probably the best way to give a good idea of the content of the book.

1. Why do we have to die?

2. Can we live again after death?

3. What can we know about resurrection?

4. What comes after death for the believer?

5. What comes after death for the unrepentant?

6. What can we know for certain about heaven?

I found this study to be very basic and probably my least favorite of the studies in this series that I have done.  Sometimes there were questions that seemed pointless.  You would need to take this into account when deciding what kind of group would benefit from this study.


3 out of 5 stars


I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Press as part of the Blogging for books program in exchange for a fair and honest review.



An interesting, but somewhat unsatisfying read…

A Review of Detained by Don Brown
I enjoy Don Brown’s work, and he has put together some good books over the last few years. In Detained, Brown begins the Navy JAG Series, and it shows some promise. The first book in the series deals with a couple of Lebanese nationals (a father and son) who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when an American ambassador is killed. Fast forward over a decade, and the son is in the US Navy, and his proud (and pro-American) father is coming to the US for a visit. Before either of them fully understands what is happening, they are both arrested by the TSA, whisked off to Guantanamo Bay, and are accused of perpetrating the attack against the US ambassador years before.


The book has both strengths and weaknesses. As always, Brown writes a good story. The plot moves along, and there are several subplots to keep the reader’s mind active and engaged. The emotional terror of being falsely accused of a crime against the US is brought out, and the faith of the two Lebanese men is strongly portrayed. However, the storyline gets a little farfetched at times, and the treatment of the men by TSA versus CIA, FBI, or military is almost caricatured. Maybe this was intended by the author, but is lends a rather unrealistic atmosphere to parts of the story. Overall, it was a good read, just not one of Brown’s best works.

4 out of 5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the booklook blogging program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Bible Dominoes

Review: Bible Dominoes game


Our children are mostly too young to play any games but occasionally we come across one that works with their short attention span.  Bible dominoes is one of those games.  The 28 thick cardboard type dominoes are not small like dominoes you may be familiar with.  Instead these dominoes are about the size of a cell phone with bright pictures and numbers on them.  The box describes the game as being for 281550oages 3 and up, and the game can be played with 2 to 4 players.


A “storybook” is included which is basically a pamphlet with a few short Bible stories in it.  Despite the name, there is not much about this game that will instruct your child about the Bible.  I would call it Bible-themed.  In general, the game is basically ok.


4 out of 5 stars


I received this game for free from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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