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Books reviewed from an Ahava Baptist perspective!


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Ahava Baptist Reviews

Titles

  • A Life God Rewards: Why Everything You Do Today Matters Forever, by Bruce Wilkinson NEW
  • Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir, by Susan E. Isaacs
  • Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, by Thomas Sowell NEW
  • Billy: The Untold Story of a Young Billy Graham and the Test of Faith that Almost Changed Everything, by William Paul McKay, Ken Abraham
  • Bushido: The Soul of Japan, by Inazo Nitobe
  • Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  • Called Out Of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, by Anne Rice
  • China's Book of Martyrs: A Record of Heroic Martyrdoms and Marvelous Deliverances of Chinese Christians During the Summer of 1900, by Luella Miner
  • Church Music: Sense and Nonsense, by Danny M. Sweatt
  • Culture Warrior, by Bill O'Reilly
  • Decision Points, by George W. Bush
  • Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by Condoleezza Rice
  • Floating Off The Page: The Best Stories from the Wall Street Journal's "Middle Column", edited by Ken Wells
  • Found: God's Will (Find the Direction and Purpose God Wants for Your Life), by John MacArthur Jr.
  • God in Three Persons, by E. Calvin Beisner
  • God's Plan For Israel: A Study of Romans 9-11, by Steven Kreloff
  • Going Rogue: An American Life, by Sarah Palin
  • Happy Trails: The Story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
  • Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman
  • Jerusalem to Rome: Studies in the Book of Acts, by Homer A. Kent, Jr.
  • John Calvin: His Life And Influence, by Robert Reymond
  • Knowing God, by J.I.Packer
  • Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education, by Larry P. Arnn
  • No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight, by Tom DeLay, Stephen Mansfield
  • Quiet Strength, by Tony Dungy NEW
  • Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt
  • Sergeant York and His People, by Samuel K. Cowan
  • Spurgeon: Heir of the Puritans, by Ernest W. Bacon
  • Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, by Wayne Grudem
  • Sword of the Wild Rose, by Ruth Carmichael Ellinger
  • That Printer of Udell's, by Harold Bell Wright
  • The Abolition of Man, by C.S.Lewis
  • The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter, by Jason Kersten
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
  • The Coming Economic Armageddon: What Bible Prophecy Warns about the New Global Economy, by David Jeremiah
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude Preached and Explained, by Martin Luther
  • The Hand of God in the Sudan: More Demonstrations of Divine Power in the Sudan, by Albert D. Helser
  • The Huguenot Galley-Slave: Being the Autobiography of a French Protestant Condemned to the Galleys for the Sake of His Religion, by Jean Marteilhe
  • The Hymns of Martin Luther Set to Their Original Melodies, by Leonard Woolsey Bacon
  • The Making Of George Groton, by Bruce Barton
  • The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice, by Robin Williams
  • The Reagan Persuasion: Charm, Inspire, and Deliver a Winning Message, by James Humes
  • The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why It Must Continue, by Robert Reymond
  • The Road to Serfdom, by F.A.Hayek
  • Role of a Lifetime: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Significant Living, by James Brown
  • The Roots of Obama's Rage, by Dinesh D'Souza
  • The Scottish Chiefs, by Jane Porter
  • The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, by John MacArthur
  • The Twelfth Imam, by Joel C. Rosenberg
  • Tortured for Christ, 30th Anniversary Edition, by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand
  • Triumph: Life after the Cult -- A Survivor's Lessons, by Carolyn Jessop
  • Tulip: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture, by Duane Edward Spence
  • Twenty Years Among The Colporteurs, by Rev. Charles Peabody
  • Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer
  • Up From Slavery: An Autobiography, by Booker T. Washington
  • Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? - Rediscovering The Doctrines That Shook the World, by James Montgomery Boice

  • Knowing God

    by J.I.Packer

    A book that should be read by every believer. Young and old alike will benefit immensely from its pages. Warm and practical, yet full of truth and wisdom.

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    Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine

    by Wayne Grudem

    "Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is a fair-minded, thorough text in systematic theology- the best I have seen in recent years in terms of convient organization, clarity, and a willingness to tackle the most salient issues of the day. This is an admirable blending of the scholarly and the devotional elements seldom achieved in academic books."

    Paige Patterson, Southeastern Baptist Seminary

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    Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? - Rediscovering The Doctrines That Shook the World

    by James Montgomery Boice

    A wonderful book that reminds us of the foundations that hold on to us. From the book:

    "Without these five confessional statements -

    Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and glory to God alone -

    - we do not have a true church, and certainly not one that will survive for very long. For how can any church be a true and faithful church if it does not stand for Scripture alone, is not committed to a biblical gospel, and does not exist for God's glory? A church without these convictions has ceased to be a true church, whatever else it may be."

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    Found: God's Will (Find the Direction and Purpose God Wants for Your Life)

    by John MacArthur Jr.

    Dr. MacArthur shows the simple means of discovering God's will for your life.

    His last chapter ties the whole matter up in such a neat package that it is hard to believe that any of us spend much time wondering whether or not we are in the perfect will of God.

    A good resource for born-again Christians at all stages of their walk.

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    John Calvin: His Life And Influence

    by Robert Reymond

    Dr. Reymond's lectures on the life of John Calvin at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2002 form the basis of this readable and compelling history of the great Reformer.

    God's provision of various teachers and circumstances in Calvin's life prepare him for the singular contributions that he made to Protestant theology and practice.

    Calvin's insistence upon the separation of church and state affected the founding of the United States where nearly 2/3 of all people in 1776 were from areas in Europe where his teaching was predominant. This, simply, is an excellent book.

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    Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education

    by Larry P. Arnn

    In 1844, while American liberty was still new, Hillsdale College was founded. Then, as now, the college was challenged by governmental interference.

    During the last thirty years, its leaders have consistently affirmed their right not to classify students by irrelevant factors such as race or sex but only by ability. Governmental regulators have insisted that Hillsdale enjoys no such rights and threaten their freedom periodically.

    Current President Larry Arnn discusses the College's decision not to accept any government funding because of the loss of liberty such funding entails. Hillsdale College remembers and retains the sweet taste of liberty in an increasingly bland 'multiculturally diverse' world.

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    Tulip: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture

    by Duane Edward Spencer

    Dr. Spencer admits to once having been an adherent of Arminianism having found Jesus in a Methodist church. He describes his subsequent departure from the Methodist pastorate following a careful study of Scripture.

    His love for people on both sides of the issue is evident.

    His is one of the better explanations of Calvinism, thoroughly documented, with proof texts supporting both views in five tables at the end of the little book. Highly instructive and still easy to read.

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    The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception

    by John MacArthur

    Modernism ruined most mainstream denominations during the twentieth century and yet, post-modernism poses an even greater threat to evangelical churches today.

    Truth, as presented in Scripture, is truth. MacArthur uses the tiny book of Jude to show that the truth of the Bible is worthy of our study and vigorous defense.

    Written primarily to preachers, this book provides evidence of the slipperiness of the teachings of the emergent church by quoting its leaders extensively. A book well worth reading for anyone serious about defending Christianity.

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    That Printer of Udell's

    by Harold Bell Wright

    This little novel by Harold Bell Wright had a profound effect upon the life of the adolescent Ronald Reagan and served to form many of his basic beliefs in the Christian faith.

    The noble hero, battered by unsympathetic and uncaring Christians, comes to Christ in spite of hypocritical followers of Christ.

    As upbeat as many of the young peoples' novels of its day, and yet with a truly Christian worldview, this book led young Reagan to seek out baptism in his mother's church. Excellent read.

    (Download book from Google)
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    Up From Slavery: An Autobiography

    by Booker T. Washington

    Washington's autobiography takes him from slavery to freedom, from poverty to riches, from illiteracy to an honorary degree from Harvard, from no social standing to relationships with Presidents and Queens.

    His skillful use of metaphor at the Atlanta Exposition is one of the best explanations of how races and sections can find peace and prosperity together.

    His references to individuals who were well-known when he wrote his book but forgotten today will make you want to keep Google handy while you read.

    (Download book from Google)
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    The Scottish Chiefs

    by Jane Porter

    The 1862 revision of Jane Porter's classic on the life of Sir William Wallace tells the tale of Braveheart a little differently than the movie portrayal.

    Deprived of the wife of his youth and their unborn child , Wallace defended Scotland at a time when so-called high born folks were so interested in the accumulation of wealth and power, that they sacrificed their country to a usurper.

    Wallace was the hero of the age but as the hero of this book, a little too good to be believed. Still, a read good enough to launch a thousand cults.

    The theology is wrong but some religious groups are now using this book as a text for character building. Read with caution.

    (Download book from Google)
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    Happy Trails: The Story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

    by Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Carlton Stowers

    Roy Rogers and Dale Evans tell their life stories with the help of life-long fan, Carlton Stowers. Both the King of the Cowboys and the Queen of the West suffered defeats before enjoying world-wide acclaim.

    Interestingly, first Dale, then Roy were led to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ under the ministry of Jack MacArthur, father to the famed Dr. John MacArthur.

    Written in the first person by both Roy and Dale with Mr. Stowers sharing the background, this is a very enjoyable book to read.


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    No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight

    by Tom DeLay, Stephen Mansfield

    Tom DeLay tells his own story about his life and how he became a Congressman. He tells the sad story of how political opponents attacked him through the courts since they couldn't win against him with the voters.

    Three episodes in his life color his thinking: 1. Being held captive by Fidel Castro's thugs in Havana during a stopover on a flight home from Venezuela in 1959 showed him the face of tyranny. 2. Being enthralled as a young man by Barry Goldwater's speech to the 1964 Republican National Convention confirmed him as a lifelong conservative. 3. Becoming a born-again Christian after his first term in Washington changed his life and view of the world completely.

    His five suggestions for how conservative Republicans can positively affect our Country are worthy of serious study. A surprisingly good book.


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    The Abolition of Man

    by C. S. Lewis

    C.S.Lewis reviewed a couple of lines from a textbook suggested for English schools and concluded that the thought process behind them would lead, ultimately, to the complete loss of the ability to think critically.

    We must, as a civilization, agree upon foundational truth such as the existence of good and evil and what constitutes each. If such foundational truths are ever considered simply opinions of different people (a good description of post-modernism), the ability to think is fatally diminished. If every value judgment is subject to personal evaluation, people are reduced to items to manipulate. Or, in his words, 'A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.'

    People without consensus about truth are pressed into useful modes by their masters. Lewis compared proper educational systems as being 'old birds teaching young birds to fly'. But his description of where the lack of first principles would lead is amazingly prescient, '...the man-moulders of an omnicompetent state and and irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.' Truly a kind of change we can all hope to avoid.


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    God's Plan For Israel

    by Steven Kreloff

    Pastor Kreloff, a Christian and a Jew, discusses the writings of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, specifically what God has in store for Israel in Chapters 9, 10 and 11.

    He answers questions like, "Will Jews go to heaven?" in a loving and humble way without falling into the rhetorical traps set by such questions.

    On the matter of God's sovereignty in election, Kreloff shows how the remnant of Israel, 7,000 families, refused to bend the knee to Baal during the reigns of King Ahab and his lovely wife Jezebel. To that remnant belongs the promises. Idolators only got what they deserved.


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    The Huguenot Galley-Slave: Being the Autobiography of a French Protestant Condemned to the Galleys for the Sake of His Religion

    by Jean Marteilhe

    Jean Marteilhe was only fourteen when he was apprehended trying to leave France following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had maintained religious freedom in France for ninety years. As a follower of the Reformed faith, he was sentenced to life as a galley slave.

    Although galley slaves were normally released after receiving battle injuries, and although Marteilhe suffered three major wounds fighting for France, since he was Reformed and would not recant, he was not released.

    Finally, after peace with England and through the intercession of Queen Anne of England with the French monarch, many of the galley slaves held solely for their religious convictions, were released. Their brethren languished under their masters for another two years before their release was secured. The author plainly describes the various characters with whom he interacted during his captivity, some very bad, others very good.

    (Download book from Google)
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    Sergeant York and His People

    by Samuel K. Cowan

    Sam Cowan wrote this profile of Sergeant Alvin York soon after the hero of the Argonne returned to his home following World War I. York, of course, had single-handedly caused the surrender of a battalion of Imperial German machine-gunners during his service as a Corporal in the 82nd Infantry Division.

    The book tells about the history of the York and Pyle families in the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky, the religious upbringing that York brought to his Army service and his refusal to accept monetary reward for his heroism.

    He accepted no gifts of value, except for the farm that the people of Kentucky gave him in gratitude and love. After all, he needed someplace to call home with the young wife he took right after his return home. York's calls for any further gifts to be sent to a foundation he created to help build local schools seems quaint in a day when education is considered a right to be granted by the government. Good book for young and old.

    (Download from Project Gutenberg)
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    Tortured for Christ, 30th Anniversary Edition

    by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

    Lutheran Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was persecuted for his faith in Jesus Christ by the Nazi occupiers of Romania but in his words, "The Nazi terror was great, but only a taste of what was to come under the Communists."

    After fourteen years of torture and privation for sharing Christ with others, he was released from Communist prisons and allowed, after payment of a huge ransom, to leave his home country. He wrote this book in only three days as soon as he was free.

    Pastor Wurmbrand cautions Christians to love their oppressors and to witness to them no matter what. He cites many examples of guards and torturers becoming brothers and sisters in the Lord after seeing the loving response of Christians. Pictures added for this edition show Pastor and Mrs. Wurmbrand in 1990 as free people in free lands visiting Moscow as well as their native Romania following the complete failure of Communism.

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    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

    by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

    William Kamkwamba was fourteen years old when famine came to his small town in Malawi, a small country in Africa. When his father couldn't afford to send him to school, he visited a library and started reading about electricity. When he learned that a generator and a motor have the same parts, he attached the motor from a cassette player to a small pinwheel and discovered that he could power a small radio with the wind.

    He then realized that with enough electricity, he could provide lights at night without buying expensive kerosene, and more importantly, provide water to provide for a second crop each year to prevent famine. He built his wind generator from scrap and eventually accomplished both aims.

    Bryan Mealer helps William tell his story in the first person. William tells the story of famine in a way only a victim can remember. His insights into the vanity of spiritism show wisdom beyond his years. His understanding of how his corrupt government caused and lengthened the famine is keen. Eye-opening book. William's TED lecture is also worth seeing.

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    Bushido: The Soul of Japan

    by Inazo Nitobe

    Inazo Nitobe was challenged when European friends asked him whether Japan had religious training for its youth, and challenged Japanese morality when he replied in the negative. This book, penned originally in 1899 and reissued dozens of times in many languages ever since, explained how Bushido provided the moral basis for Japanese of all social strata.

    Nitobe's perspective is that of a Christian concerned for the people of his country. For example, he shows that the Bushido discipline of self-restraint explains the absence of more frequent revivals in the Christian churches of Japan. "It is truly jarring to Japanese ears to hear the most sacred words, the most secret heart experiences, thrown out to promiscuous audiences...To give in so many articulate words one's inmost thoughts and feelings - notably the religious - is taken among us as an unmistakable sign that they are neither very profound nor very sincere."

    He foresaw, with the industrialization and Westernization of Japan, the ultimate replacement of Bushido with something else. He hoped that it would be supplanted by the true worship of Jesus Christ, seeing Materialism as the great competitor of Christianity. "Missionaries claim that Christianity is a new religion, whereas, to my mind, it is an 'old, old story' which if presented in intelligible words,--that is to say, if expressed in the vocabulary familiar in the moral development of a people--will find easy lodgment in their hearts, irrespective of race or nationality."

    Sounds like the present day exhortations to preach the Gospel to people where they live, not where we want them to be. Enlightening book!

    (Download book from Google)
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    The Road to Serfdom

    by F.A.Hayek

    F.A.Hayek wrote his little essay during the early years of World War II to warn the world about the dangers of governmental planning and control. His observations were keen at the time and prescient at this time.

    As government helps the citizenry muddle through one crisis after another, one truth becomes evident. Government is always stronger at the end of the cycle and citizens are much weaker. The road of governmental control of the many by the few leads to serfdom.

    When the government begins silencing critics, its demanding that citizens give up ordinary freedoms will follow quickly. Strongmen, beholden to an even stronger boss, are given extraordinary powers to control decisions previously entrusted to citizens. Our present day government by so-called czars is described in detail in this tiny book. Worth finding a copy.

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    The Reagan Persuasion: Charm, Inspire, and Deliver a Winning Message

    by James Humes

    Professor James C. Humes wrote speeches for world leaders for years. Ronald Reagan was one of those leaders. Fifteen of Reagan's consistent practices as the Great Communicator are discussed in this book and illustrated with historic and very entertaining anecdotes.

    Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt are studied also because both men were very influential in Reagan's crafting his own public persona. With chapter titles like "The Take-Away Zinger" illustrated by quotes like "Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root" which encouraged millions behind the iron curtain to shake off the shackles of communism, this is a very readable book.

    Be warned: Instances where Ronald Reagan communicated, eg. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall", when presented in context as they are here, will either remind you or convince you of his greatness.

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    China's Book of Martyrs: A Record of Heroic Martyrdoms and Marvelous Deliverances of Chinese Christians During the Summer of 1900

    by Luella Miner

    In 1903, Luella Miner published this record of the Boxer uprising in China during the summer of 1900 when thousands of Christian missionaries and Chinese converts to Christianity were literally butchered for their faith in Jesus Christ.

    Relying largely upon first person accounts of survivors, the stories of godly heroism, sacrifice, and Christian love grace the pages of this book. The stories include those of weaker brethren who succumbed to the Boxers' demands that they renounce their Christian faith. God used this as a tool for winnowing from His church in China the chaff of unbelief. The church that emerged from the difficulty was stronger than when it began.

    Some stories dramatically demonstrate a spirit of forgiveness that can be explained only by the love of Christ. In one instance, in the days following the murder of his daughter by a particular Boxer, a Christian father refused to name the murderer in the hope of someday leading him to the Savior. A good book for anyone wanting to understand how faith in Christ changes lives.

    (Download book from Google)
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    The Hymns of Martin Luther Set to Their Original Melodies

    by Leonard Woolsey Bacon

    Reformer Martin Luther was not only a theologian but a musician and lyricist. Leonard Woolsey Bacon presents several English translations of Luther's hymns in appropriate meter for singing with the original music in this excellent Project Gutenberg etext. The German texts are also included, as well as a copy of Luther's Small Catechism as translated by Robert E. Smith.

    For musicians and others interested in Christian music, this little volume includes songs to the Holy Trinity and an especially touching ballad of two Protestant martyrs who were burned for their faith in Christ.

    Luther is always worth study and this particular study is made immensely more enjoyable when done beside a browser opened to www.SmallChurchMusic.com, an Australian website featuring written music and sound files for many of the songs in this book...in English, of course.

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    Twenty Years Among The Colporteurs

    by Rev. Charles Peabody

    Right at the conclusion of the War Between the States, Rev. Charles Peabody of St. Louis wrote this book about his experiences with colporteurs, itinerant book salesmen, working for the American Tract Society in the new states and territories of the United States.

    Stories in this little book include the account of a German-born colporteur who worked so diligently that people took up a collection to provide him with a home. His fishy similes of people as mudsuckers, eels or pike is as funny as it is perceptive.

    The author confesses that he was discouraged when someone told him that he was less evangelical because he was successful at selling his books. Then he met a German family in Indiana who possessed a book printed in Wittenberg in 1532. He saw that the print was still clear and legible. It was Martin Luther's 'Justification by Faith Alone' and the book was preaching the old monk's sermons three thousand miles away and three hundred years after his death. The family gave him the book and thereafter he was happy to be selling such books.

    (Download book from Google)
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    Spurgeon: Heir of the Puritans

    by Ernest W. Bacon

    Ernest Bacon's biography of Charles Haddon Spurgeon acquaints the reader with a loving overview of the life of the 'Prince of Preachers' that includes many excerpts from his sermons and correspondence. Spurgeon never misused his pulpit by preaching a social gospel, but he founded a Pastors' School and an orphanage, thereby putting his beliefs into action.

    Of special note are the chapter headings of quotes from Puritan divines that are appropriate to the life of Spurgeon. The chapter outlining his various doctrinal positions is graced with his writings and is worthy of serious study by itself.

    The sad chapter concerning the 'Downgrade Controversy' and its effect upon British churches shows how venal and petty liberal theologians can become. It also demonstrates how a Christian leader can and should respond to attacks upon God and His Word. A small but useful book.

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    Call of the Wild

    by Jack London

    Jack London really got into the head of a dog. The story opens with Buck, a civilized city dweller in California being kidnapped and sold as a sled dog for a series of masters in the Yukon.

    Some masters were good, some bad. Buck's story presents a dog's eye view of them all as well as how various types of treatment affected different animals. When his last and best master is killed, Buck takes his revenge and answers the call of the wild to run with his brethren, the wolves.

    The tale is must reading for all boys, young and old, as long as they are warned about the evolutionary teaching London included.

    (Download from Project Gutenberg)
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    Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession

    by Anne Rice

    Popular author Anne Rice has written many books about many subjects having a spiritual dimension, so a book by her describing her return to Christianity after many years as a professing atheist sounded like a good read. It wasn't.

    The author, born in New Orleans, came of age in the Roman Catholic Church before Vatican II and its subsequent reforms. She left Catholicism behind when she went to college, married her high school sweetheart, proclaimed her atheism and eventually became a successful writer of gothic novels and pornography.

    When, as a successful and wealthy author, she returned to New Orleans and was not shunned as apostate by her Catholic family and clergy, she began contributing financially to a Catholic seminary and collecting religious relics from around the world and building a museum to house the collection.

    By the end of this tedious book, published in 2008, we discover that while calling herself Catholic, she rejects many essential Catholic teachings including those concerning homosexuality, female clergy and abortion. My Catholic friends would tell me that she is, therefore, not Catholic since she is setting herself up with the god-like role of determining truth. In 2010 she agreed by publicly disassociating herself from the Catholic church. This book is useful for the contrasts between pre- and post-Vatican II reforms but little else.

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    Going Rogue: An American Life

    by Sarah Palin

    Sarah Palin, arguably one of America's most remarkable and effective governors, became the target of hostile media and political attention when she accepted John McCain's invitation to run for the office of Vice President of the United States in 2008.

    This book discusses many of the decisions and events that have since been used to demonize the Governor and her family. From the Couric interview to Troopergate, Palin offers simple and understandable explanations. Her voice is that of a reasonable person who is remarkably like folks we know. Her family's story is familiarly American.

    Palin's final paragraph invites readers to invite God to take over their lives, "...then see what He will do and how He will get you through." She sees His leading in her life and this book tells that story well. Surprisingly good book.

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    The Twelfth Imam

    by Joel C. Rosenberg

    Joel Rosenberg's novel teaches much about the eschatology of Shiite Islam and the profound implications those teachings hold for political stability in the region and the world.

    Set primarily in Iran, the book follows the American chase for information concerning rumored nuclear weapons-making capabilities. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the desire for nuclear war centers around a messianic character known as the Twelfth Imam, who appears at different times to throw around a few miracles for the benefit of the gullible, a group which unfortunately includes the leaders of Iran.

    The Christian Gospel is presented clearly in this book as well as quotations from the Bible made appropriately and within proper context.

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    The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude Preached and Explained

    by Martin Luther

    In 1524, Martin Luther published this book of sermons in German. In 1859, E.H.Gilette published this English translation of an original copy he found on a dusty shelf at Union Theological Seminary. These essays are pure Luther as his local congregation heard him. They are not deep theological treatises which would have been published in Latin for scholars.

    Luther, not surprisingly, disagrees with the Catholic church on many points, saying, for example, 'We could well endure it that those should call themselves priests whom the bishops and the Pope consecrate, and let them call themselves as they will, only see to it that they do not call themselves priests of God, for they cannot quote a word from Scripture in proof of it.'

    He argues that although some people preach that Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for salvation, they then nullify what they are saying by demanding various works of the law. They make the Gospel ineffective by their addition of required acts. This book's five hundred year old sermons are as relevant today as when the old monk himself preached them in Wittemberg. Well worth the download in any of several formats.

    (Download from Project Gutenberg)
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    Decision Points

    by George W. Bush

    President George W. Bush describes many of the decisions he made over the years and what inputs he received before making them. It adds enormously to our understanding of the man and his presidency. His broad view is that several Presidents who left office while unpopular (Truman, Reagan) were treated very well by history.

    At several critical junctures, Bush relied upon his faith in Jesus Christ to guide his decision-making. He describes his time of coming to understanding about his need for a relationship with Christ during a family discussion with evangelist Billy Graham. His subsequent life seems to display regeneration.

    He also plainly credits his decision to forswear the use of alcohol as preceding all of his most important career accomplishments. In the excellent audio version, the reader sounds like the President and makes the experience of listening quite enjoyable. One warning: Mr. Bush uses profanity more often than he should. Other than that, he has produced an excellent, compelling story.

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    Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir

    by Susan E. Isaacs

    Susan E. Isaacs was told that her relationship with God was like a marriage. Upon that premise, she decided to seek marriage counseling with Him. This book tells the story of that counseling and its result.

    Reared in a Lutheran church in the Midwest, she had developed pictures of God that were bogus. God the Father was distant and aloof. Jesus was nice, like the ever-present Sunday School picture of Him. To her credit, when she was shown how she had corruptly attributed images of her own creation to the Almighty, she sought a divorce from those images and stopped blaming God for not giving her everything she wanted in life. Eventually, she found what she sees as a proper relationship to God.

    This book is valuable for chronicling a literate person's journey through various fashionable religious systems over several decades. The story is marred by foul language and irreverence that often detracts from its impact. Authenticity never requires crudity.

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    The Hand of God in the Sudan: More Demonstrations of Divine Power in the Sudan

    by Albert D. Helser

    Albert Helser penned this account of the missionary efforts of the Sudan Interior Mission in 1946. At that time, leprosy and blindness were the dominant physical difficulties the people of central Africa faced. Missionaries with SIM, often young nurses, dedicated their lives to serving patients in these two groups, people who were often social outcasts because of their infirmities.

    Lepers were cleansed and healed. The blind were taught to read Braille. All were presented with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Souls were saved. This little book shares some of the stories.

    It is good to be reminded of a time when Moslem civic leaders would welcome the building of Christian missions even with the stipulation that the mission churches would be open to all who wanted to attend. Encouraging read. Borrowed from OpenLibrary.org and read electronically.

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    The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice

    by Robin Williams

    Designer Robin Williams has crafted a series of text books showing non-graphics design folks the basics of making design elements work for them. The second edition of this 'design and typographic principles for the visual novice' is very useful for acquainting readers with rudiments.

    The four principles of Proximity, Alignment, Repetition and Contrast are discussed. Examples are given and short quizzes (since it is a text book) are included.

    The section titled 'Designing with Type' categorizes type faces into six general styles that are useful for making appropriate typographic decisions. A useful little book that will help many people.

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    Culture Warrior

    by Bill O'Reilly

    Bill O'Reilly's 2006 warnings about the secular progressive movement and its dangers to American freedoms seem quaint today. Many of the very things that he predicted have already appeared.

    One of the big fights at the time was over whether 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays' was a proper greeting. He applauded the conservative Christians who made the argument that regular folks were going to celebrate Christmas in December and merchants who tried to marginalize the holiday were going to lose their business. He wishes that his beloved Catholic church would show the same moral clarity from the pulpit.

    The book is filled with specific examples of progressives holding everyone but themselves to impossible standards. Instances demonstrating the progressives' corruption of the educational and judicial systems in this country will make reasonable people cry. Some of the players mentioned have held high office of late and are more destructive today than when the book was written.

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    The Roots of Obama's Rage

    by Dinesh D'Souza

    Dinesh D'Souza puts forth an interesting theory that seems to explain many of President Obama's more interesting decisions. D'Souza posits that the President is living out the virulent anti-colonial prejudices of his Kenyan father.

    Although young Barack Obama only met his father on one occasion, he idolized the Harvard-educated economist Barack Obama, Sr. and adopted his worldview completely. Hence, when the President returns a bust of Winston Churchill to the British, he is only demonstrating a deep-seated hatred of the man his father considered the imperial enemy of Kenyan nationalism. When he encourages oil production for Brazil while denying the same to the United States, he is only transferring wealth to a people his father would consider long oppressed by European colonial powers. When he apologizes to Arab leaders, he is only saying what his father would have loved to hear from the British.

    This book goes a long way toward explaining nearly all of Mr. Obama's seemingly foolish executive decisions. Refreshingly, D'Souza includes his own gratefulness for British colonization of India, his birthplace, reasoning that the problems we see in former colonies in Africa comes from too little European influence, not too much.

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    Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

    by Condoleezza Rice

    Condoleezza Rice has achieved extraordinary levels of achievement and attributes her success to the standards held and sacrifices made by several generations of her loving family. Her description of her parents includes, "...they raised their little girl in Jim Crow Birmingham to believe that even if she couldn't have a hamburger at the Woolworth's lunch counter, she could be the President of the United States." A wonderful legacy, indeed.

    The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Dr. Rice learned hymnody as part of music lessons she took from her maternal grandmother at age three. When her piano lessons took her skill beyond the reach of the toy organ at home, she demanded her parents supply her with a real piano. They agreed that when she could play 'What A Friend We Have In Jesus' perfectly, they would supply the piano. The next day she went to her grandmother's as usual and sat at the piano for eight hours, hating to even break for lunch. She played the hymn perfectly for her parents that evening and by the end of the week she had a brand-new Wurlitzer spinet piano.

    Her accounts of her dealings with various groups while she was Provost of Stanford University prove her to be a clearheaded administrator fully worthy of the trust of presidents. A very good book.

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    Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

    by Jon Krakauer

    Agnostic Jon Krakauer spent three years researching the history and current teachings of various branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). His history starts with church founder Joseph Smith's gathering his community of adherents, continues with church organizer Brigham Young's moving the group to Utah, explains church president Wilford Woodruff's famous 1890 agreement with the United States to ban polygamy in the church while encouraging and continuing the practice himself, to the present leadership's excommunication of Mormon historians who teach church history accurately.

    This is a warts-and-all description of a religion that relies heavily upon divine revelation to people. Consequently, as different people have claimed divine revelation, they have led church members out of the main Mormon church to form smaller factions. These groups usually insist upon polygamy as an article of faith and claim that they, and they alone, are the guardians of the true faith given to them by Joseph Smith.

    Leaders have often commanded murder in the name of their god. The story of the murder of a young wife and mother in the 1980's is told by her killers themselves. Also, Elizabeth Smart's abduction and rape at the hands of a man convinced that he had a divine mission to take seven wives is described. Disturbing account of a religion that would very much like to be seen as mainstream Christian but is decidedly not.

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    Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

    by David Platt

    David Platt is now pastor of a large church in Alabama. His experience in losing everything he owned in Hurricane Katrina helped him to see the futility of collecting things. He says that they were able to retrieve some Christmas ornaments from the attic of their New Orleans home. Everything else was lost.

    His mission journeys around the world have convinced him that we Americans have got the wrong idea about what it means to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to commit ourselves to prayer, to investing in those in need, to expand our evangelistic horizons to include people in all parts of the world, to Bible reading and to activity in a local church.

    His approach is New Testament and conservative. Radical is the word he uses to describe first century Christianity. Asking rich men to give everything to the poor is counter-intuitive but instructive. Pastor Platt has given a road map to Christians who want to live out their Christianity like the Bible commands. If he uses a repetitive, rhetorical approach of questioning to pound his points home, he can be forgiven. Good book.

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    Role of a Lifetime: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Significant Living

    by James Brown

    James Brown, no - not that one. James Brown, the CBS sportscaster, tells his story with writer Nathan Whitaker. Born to a middle-class family that insisted upon educations for all its children, Brown grew up during the years that changed relationships between blacks and whites in America. He was blessed to attend high school and learn basketball from the legendary Coach Wootten in Washington, DC.

    Given his choice of several colleges to attend on athletic scholarships, Brown chose, with his parents' strong approval, Harvard University. Cut from professional basketball early in the process, Brown harbored a deep desire for an NBA career. A wise manager allowed him a leave of absence to try, knowing that it would either be, or not. Realizing at last that he could be a professional bench warmer for his career, or he could continue to succeed in business, he chose the business career.

    Various circumstances led to his becoming an excellent sports broadcaster. Throughout his story, Brown shows how his faith in Jesus Christ informed his decision making. A good testimony from a man who, late in life, became a husband and is now using his own notoriety to spread the Gospel.

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    The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

    by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Cancer physician and researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee published this book, subtitled 'A Biography of Cancer' in 2010. He covers nearly five thousand years of the history of the disease.

    His story dates back to 2,500 B.C. and the teachings of royal Egyptian physician, Imhotep, who carefully recorded forty-eight different medical conditions and their various therapies. The forty-fifth condition starts with a detailed description of a patient with cancer in his breast. The therapy for the condition described was simple; 'There is none.'

    Understanding deeply the hopelessness that has characterized cancer patients ever since, Dr. Mukherjee enlivens his story with accounts of seemingly miraculous cures that have given current patients reasons to hope for a cure. As researchers and physicians are, at long last, working together toward the goal of eliminating this scourge, readers are given a current look at the state of the struggle. Today, even when a cure for a particular cancer may not be available, treatments are available that give patients one of God's greatest gifts. Time.

    A good book written in small, bite size chunks.

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    Jerusalem to Rome: Studies in the Book of Acts

    by Homer A. Kent, Jr.

    Dr. Homer A. Kent, Jr. taught New Testament and Greek at Grace Theological Seminary and Grace College in Winona Lake, IN for some fifty years. He is in his element when discussing The Acts of the Apostles.

    Luke's second book gives us an up close and personal look at the earliest days of Christ's church. This book explains many of Acts' difficult passages in plain language. When original languages are discussed, explanatory footnotes let non-theologians in on everything. Relevant pictures, many of them the author's own, put the reader into the middle of the action.

    Although Dr. Kent's scholarship takes a back seat to no-one's, this book is perfectly understandable and useful to unlettered readers. A very good tool for serious Bible study.

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    The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why It Must Continue

    by Robert Reymond

    Reformed scholar Dr. Robert Reymond carefully compares the various differences between Reformed and Roman Catholic theology in this very instructive work. His conclusion, as indicated by the subtitle 'Why It Must Continue,' is that the conflicts are deep and unbridgeable. Further, that efforts toward evangelistic co-operation with Rome, so popular of late, are misguided and wrong from both perspectives.

    Drawing upon the history and writings of churchmen of all ages, Dr. Reymond shows the growth of error that resulted in Trent and how that error has only broadened in the centuries since. He respectfully examines the writings of Church Fathers and compares them with Holy Scripture. Where divines or councils deviate from the Written Word of God, their positions are in error.

    The differences between our communions are substantial and cannot be glossed over without doing violence to doctrine on both sides. Originally taught as Sunday School lessons, this little book is worthy of careful and prayerful study by people on both sides of the issue.

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    The Making Of George Groton

    by Bruce Barton

    Bruce Barton of BBDO Advertising fame wrote several books that equated proper business activity with Christianity. His 'The Man Nobody Knows' is his classic work about the life of Jesus Christ.

    This novel chronicles the introduction to the business world of a young man who finds worldly success early in his career, shows his gradual abandonment of values he had learned as a child, his loss of temporal success and his eventually finding fulfillment in the values of his youth.

    A well-told tale by a master wordsmith, this little book teaches moral lessons by showing how little compromises lead to large errors. And that redemption is found at the point of repentance. A fun read, especially if you have been to New York and can visualize the places mentioned.

    (Download book from Google)
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    Floating Off The Page: The Best Stories from the Wall Street Journal's "Middle Column"

    Edited by Ken Wells

    The A-hed: The Wall Street Journal's magical center-column page one article is the best place in the world to study excellent writing. The nut graph, a writer's succinct argument for reading his piece, is practically demonstrated in A-hed articles.

    Long-time Journal editor Ken Wells collected sixty-seven of the best A-hed's into this one little book. Stories boast titles that include, 'But Will the Klingons Understand Deuteronomy?', 'The Offal Truth', 'Roasted Porcupine and Basil, With a Hint of Tire Mark' and 'The Waning Days of Mr. Coke.'

    Especially poignant is 1989's 'The Struggles of Otter 76', a recounting of how one wild animal was profoundly affected by the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez. Each article is a gem making this a very valuable collection.

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    Triumph: Life After the Cult -- A Survivor's Lessons

    by Carolyn Jessop

    Carolyn Jessop was thirty-two years younger than her husband Merril Jessop. On her wedding day, she joined three other women who were already married to Mr. Jessop, a high-ranking leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). FLDS, the polygamous cult that rivals the Taliban in its abuse of women, is currently under the prophetic headship of convicted accomplice-to-rape Warren Jeffs.

    As she saw more and more instances of her own children being abused by so-called 'Sister Wives', Mrs. Jessop escaped the cult with her eight children and nothing else in 2003. She established a new life for herself by writing 'Escape', a book describing her journey.

    In 2008, when the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas was raided by officials working on an anonymous tip to prevent an underage forced marriage, Carolyn Jessop shared her knowledge of the cult in an attempt to help others break free. When the children were returned to the cult compound, outsiders were surprised to see mothers greet returning children with handshakes instead of embraces. Mrs. Jessop explains that children were discouraged from bonding with their mothers and mothers were chastised for seeking the interests of their own children. Such activity would have betrayed punishable pride.

    This book is a useful look at cultic mind control and religious exploitation. It is not a Christian testimony but a story of survival against great odds. Mrs. Jessop attributes much of the hideous manipulation of FLDS men, women and children to home schooling and condemns the practice. By the end of the book she is involved in a loving relationship with a man. Such a relationship had been forbidden to her as an adherent of the FLDS.

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    Sword of the Wild Rose

    by Ruth Carmichael Ellinger

    Ruth Carmichael Ellinger thoroughly researched her Scottish American ancestry while crafting this historical novel set in the frontier territories of North America in the years preceding the Revolutionary War.

    The story revolves around the broadsword-wielding Derick Davidson who lands in Boston after escaping British authorities in his native Scotland. He befriends Daniel Morgan, a militia commander from Virginia who helps him escape the British again. In Virginia, Morgan introduces him to his neighbors and their teenaged daughter, Kearan. She will figure prominently in his life.

    Over the course of several years, Derick becomes a skilled rifleman and is asked to help the Patriots in their coming conflict with England. He refuses, citing Scotland's failure to defeat the armies of Great Britain over several centuries. He comes to know God's forgiveness for crimes in his past and eventually joins the American Patriots.

    God's love, providence and forgiveness are all important elements of this prequel to the Wild Rose Series of well researched and touchingly presented historical novels.

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    The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter

    by Jason Kersten

    Jason Kerston takes us into the life of a young man in Chicago who initially learned the art of counterfeiting from an old timer. The old man's methods and advice served his young pupil well until the time the old man disappeared.

    The novice returned to the hidden location where his teacher had taught him and took up the trade on his own. However, the youngster couldn't quite master the intricacies of the new currency the U.S. government had just issued. He combined what the old man had taught with cutting edge technology such as computers and a stolen state-of-the-art Ryobi printer to create almost undetectable counterfeit currency.

    His downfall came when he looked up the father who had abandoned him at an early age, and confided in him. Ultimately, that relationship compromised the master counterfeiter's carefully created security system and brought the entire enterprise down.

    An interesting study of dysfunctional relationships and the roles they play in criminal behavior.

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    Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

    by Janet Reitman

    Janet Reitman has done the world a service by telling the story of Scientology, the 'religion' founded by L.Ron Hubbard (LRH) and expanded since his death under the leadership of David Miscavige.

    Her extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, including those directly involved in various triumphs and scandals over the years give the story an authenticity a more parochial approach from either side would not. True believers remain true to their beliefs.

    Of special interest is the story of Lisa McPherson, the Scientologist who died in Clearwater, Florida at the Flag Land Base (old Ft. Harrison Hotel) after checking herself out of a local hospital.

    David Miscavige planned in detail the utilization of Tom Cruise as an evangelist, ingratiated himself with the star and even served as best man at his wedding to Katie Holmes. It was only fair since he had orchestrated Cruise's breakup with Nicole Kidman.

    The treatment of the belief system in Reitman's book is sympathetic. The treatment of the business practices is not. Scientology is not a pretty thing at all.

    This group has become more important to us since the opening of the Plant City Life Improvement Center downtown. Warn your family and friends.

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    Billy: The Untold Story of a Young Billy Graham and the Test of Faith that Almost Changed Everything

    by William Paul McKay, Ken Abraham

    This is an unauthorized story about the early years of Evangelist Billy Graham's ministry. The narrative is ostensibly told in 2001 by his dying friend, Charles (Chuck) Templeton, a Canadian evangelist who preached with Billy Graham in the forties, only to lose his faith, eventually declaring himself agnostic.

    After Templeton had suffered his loss of his faith, he challenged Graham to prove the Bible was true and if weren't, to repudiate his ministry. Graham met the challenge on his knees and obviously prevailed.

    Although there is a lot of admitted literary license taken in this account, including descriptions of Peretti-style devils and demons, the story encourages believers to meet challenges to their faith head-on.

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    The Coming Economic Armageddon: What Bible Prophecy Warns about the New Global Economy

    by David Jeremiah

    Dr. David Jeremiah, Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, CA shares insights about the current world economic challenges and where they will lead. All of this was foretold in Scripture.

    Although Christians will not share in the horrors of the Tribulation, the events leading up to that time will affect everyone on earth. We are better off knowing how God is allowing this or that difficulty as part of His plan for His people.

    In short, he tells Christians not to worry about the future but to plan for it. The last chapter, titled "Keep Your Head in the Game and Your Hope in God" says it all. A book well worth reading and sharing.

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    God in Three Persons

    by E. Calvin Beisner

    The myth that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was invented in the fourth century is thoroughly debunked in this excellent little book by E. Calvin Beisner of Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

    Biblical understanding of the nature and relationships of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are codified in the Nicene Creed but were understood by true Christians from the time of Christ. Such understanding was not invented but was given language in Nicea and Alexandria.

    An excellent tool to counter the claims made by well-meaning but misinformed visitors on your doorstep whose belief systems are not new, but were found heretical during the first four centuries after Christ.

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    Church Music: Sense and Nonsense

    by Danny M. Sweatt

    Danny Sweatt called it correctly in this 1981 book on church music. The chapter titled "Does the Music Agree with the Words?" argues clearly against the notion that music is amoral. "The way a text is expressed is as important as the text itself. If the music has a message, and it does, it should be the same as the text."

    He further calls for balance in church music by introducing congregations to more than the same handful of hymns each week and exposing people to music that emphasizes soul-winning, Bible study, the deeper life, prayer, and missions. He observes that some churches emphasize one of these themes to the near exclusion of all others.

    He also warns against the danger of examining new music through the filter of "Do I like it?" instead of whether or not it is godly and appropriate.

    The final chapter warns musicians: "There is no useful service apart from God's blessing. Without the power of God, the most carefully prepared musician becomes but 'sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.'" Good little book.

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    Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy

    by Thomas Sowell

    Thomas Sowell has always been able to make understandable the 'dismal science' of economics. His discussion of rent controls and how they contribute to the problem of homelessness in New York and other cities that have imposed them, is disturbing. When he adds facts about the number of homeless and the number of unoccupied dwellings, the point is very well made.

    He shows how minimum wage laws, enacted to help the poor, actually are directly responsible for the increase in unemployment that inevitably follows their implementation. How unintended consequences always follow governmental intrusion into the free market, no matter how noble or seemingly necessary the intrusion.

    This book should be read by anyone seeking to understand why things are happening the way they are happening and why there is hope for the future.

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    A Life God Rewards: Why Everything You Do Today Matters Forever

    by Bruce Wilkinson

    Bruce Wilkinson, author of 'The Prayer of Jabez,' argues that everything a believer does on earth impacts his life for eternity. He calls this the Law of the Unbreakable Link: Your choices on earth have direct consequences on your life in eternity.

    He further divides this into two sets of consequences: 1. Our eternal destination is the consequence of what we believe on earth, and 2. Our eternal compensation is the consequence of how we behave on earth.

    He posits that various groups will emphasize one of these concepts at the expense of the other, but that biblical balance requires us to consider both as very important. Citing many of the instances where Jesus discussed eternal rewards, the author makes his case with clarity and brevity.

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    Quiet Strength

    by Tony Dungy

    Super Bowl Champion NFL Coach Tony Dungy wrote this right after his Indianapolis team won the big game. His faith in Jesus Christ is well known around the world.

    His quiet ways caused him to warn his players that if he was angry he would speak in the same normal quiet voice he normally used, but that if he was really angry, he would reduce it to a whisper. Further, that if they needed yelling to play their best, he would help them find another team where they could succeed.

    He discusses his abrupt firing from his coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and how thankful he is to the team owners for allowing him to become the NFL's first black head coach. His was a remarkably Christian response to a bad call by management. He also deals with his son's suicide by showing gratitude to the Lord for allowing him the time he had. A good read, even for a neutral on football.

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