Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

Every year I hear the Christmas story.  Over time, it's easy to assume that we know all there is to know and we can start to tune out the message.  That's why I like to read material that allows me to view the events in a fresh way.  The Women of Christmas highlights the stories of Elizabeth and Mary (which are often told), and the story of Anna (less frequently taught about).  The scriptures written about these women are printed verse by verse, intermixed with Liz's thoughts and commentary.

As in many of her books, Liz Curtis Higgs writes in a conversational style.  It almost seems as if she is sitting next to you telling the story herself!  I also like the way that she incorporates wording from different versions of the Bible and identifies them in the text.  The reader can see how the verses are worded, and learn background information to help them understand and relate these stories to their lives.  Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna show us that if we have a willing spirit He can use us, no matter how young or old we are.

There is also a study guide included at the back of the book.  Each chapter has a scriptural focus and three major points of discussion to get a small group started.

I enjoyed reading about these women in a different way.  I suggest reading this book in December to help you focus on the events surrounding Jesus's birth and the meaning of the Christmas season.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald Johnson

I have read a few books on apologetics and normally find them over my head.  This is the easiest to read book on the subject that I have found to date.  The author is also unique in his approach.  First, let me tell you what this book is not.  It is not a book full of specific questions that skeptics ask followed by responses.  It is also not so bogged down with outside sources and details that a PhD is required to make sense of the text!  The author explains that there are dozens of good apologetics resources available that offer good arguments in support of Christianity.  This book is aimed at helping someone use the data in those resources effectively and naturally in conversation.

One major theme that I noticed was to continually be looking at the big picture and not get stuck in an argument over little details.  The author helps paint a picture of the Christian worldview and explains some of the major themes foundational to the faith.  Readers are encouraged to really listen and seek out the skeptics idea of the world and then introduce the Christian worldview to compare and see which makes more sense.  Some of the author's insights were very new to me and I liked the way many of his points were worded.

The only thing I didn't feel this book delivered on was the "easy-to-follow guide".  I was expecting some kind of flow chart that would guide you through a conversation.  However, I can understand that conversations can be so varied and take so many turns that this would be nearly impossible.  What this book does do is equip the reader with understanding so he/she will be able to better explain the Christian worldview and have an answer to some of the common doubts and questions skeptics have about Christianity.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.