Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heaven Is for Real- An Honest Review

This review may be a little...different. It has taken me a while, because after reading this book, I sat back and thought about it. What do I say, and more importantly, what do I believe?

Summary: This book is intended as a true account of a boy who visited heaven, as told by his father and a co-writer, Lynn Vincent.

Writing and Theme: The book is largely written as an account of Colton Burpo, who claims his spirit left his body and went to heaven while he was in a serious operation at the hospital. Over time, he tells of his experiences in heaven with Jesus and other people from history.
I would rather that the father had been the only author, as since this is to be a true account, it is a crucial point to this book's integrity. As there is a co-author, it's hard to tell if she "spiced things up". The work itself is fairly well written, and keeps your attention.

Theological and Topical Points: This is where it gets hard. First, I'll look at it from the skeptical point of view.
Does God really let people see heaven? To be honest, I don't know. In the Bible there are accounts of people going to heaven without physically dying, but they never returned.
In this age and nation, we need to consider other elements. Please don't take offense, but these questions unfortunately have to be asked. Is the boy a pathological liar? Is the father a pathological liar? Is he using his son to be published? Is he using his son to gain fame? Did he omit details and/or explanations for this said miracle, making it to appear in favor of a miracle and in turn, Christianity? How much profit will this book bring the Burpos and their ministry?
I know, it sounds awful, but with all the stories and scams that fly around nowadays, these questions must be asked.
Now from a different point of view, this book is quite inspirational. It provides encouragement and comfort for us, and in that respect, I would recommend reading it. I enjoyed the whole book, and only after did I start to ask questions. But whether this book is true or not, it is a beautiful story. I am not telling you to take it as truth, but maybe view it as a possible miracle. To be sure, it should encourage your faith, and make you search deeper as to how strong your faith is.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Way Home- An Honest Review

Summary: 'The Way Home' is a movie based upon a true story of a young boy's disappearance and the affect upon his family.

Storyline: Being a true story, I found it interesting. It had a nice ending, and I would recommend it as a family movie. However, true story though it be, the ending was quite cheesy. It's nice that it actually happened, but as a story, it's not that great.

Elements and Effects: The way the movie was shot was ok, but it definitely could have been better. Some scenes were too long, and though the cover says the main couple's marriage is "strained", it sure didn't look like it. Maybe a couple moments in the beginning, but definitely not tense.
Viewers should clearly understand that this movie has a strong recurring Christian theme, present throughout the entire film. While some Christian films can pull this off quite well, some movies come off as preachy. This one tows the line, so just use your judgment.

Acting: The actors were all pretty good for their roles. Some viewers may recognize Enos Straight from 'The Dukes of Hazzard'. Emotions were genuine in most main characters, but again, they needed to rework that "strain" the couple had, because it just wasn't believable.
All in all, a good film, and I'm grading it according to the Christian film genre. It's quite safe for family time- no swearing, nudity, violence, etc. Definitely one for family night where everyone can watch.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead- An Honest Review

Two negative reviews in a row is rather discouraging, and I apologize. Please understand that no matter how scathing this review, I am not attacking the author in any way. I'm not attacking anything, simply writing about my observations and opinions of this book. Opinions are just that, opinions. Check out this book for yourself if you want to form your own.

  • Summary: 'The Skin Map' is the first fictional novel in the new 'Bright Empires' series. Kit Livingstone finds himself caught up in a life-threatening adventure involving his missing great-grandfather and a lost map of pathways to other times, and other worlds.
  • Storyline and Characters: The story was a very imaginative idea. I like a bit of originality in a book, and that is hard to find nowadays. I must admit, most of the characters that mattered to the story, annoyed me. Kit, the main character, was quite the paper cut out, with about three different emotions: shock, worry, and virtually no emotion, as well as having three strains of thought: worry, complaining, and stupidity. As you can see, we did not get along. Cosimo was rather like an over-done steak, this case being, an over-done stuffy British man. His conversation consists of "Old boy", "Old chap", "Dear boy", "Young man", and the like. No other characters really stood out to me at all. In fact, I've forgotten most of them by now.
  • Writing Style: This is truly where it all came down to it. I hate to say it, but the writing itself struck me as...immature. I'm sorry. I kept plowing through the book, telling myself it would get better, but it didn't. In regard to Cosimo's language, the rest of the novel was just as bad, or worse. Descriptions popped in at the worst possible times, with the most awful and ludicrous comparisons. Kit and Cosimo stop to admire the sky- in a life-threatening chase. Kit muses on an old poem while gazing at the beauty. A couple lines later, they are running again. What?! These recurring scenes are jarring and break up the story. Certain words and descriptions are used too often and far too close together, such as the depiction of Cosimo- 'the old man'. Perhaps the worst part of the book for writing quality is this example (you really do need to see for yourself,)
' "Stay right where you are!" shouted one of the men behind them.
"You know what we want," came the voice beyond the flashlight.
"Give it to us," added the voice at the end of the chained cat.
"You can walk free- you and your little friend there. No harm done." '

Now I'm not a great writer, but I know when something needs a re-write. This book does.
  • All in all, this book was boring, and that was disappointing due to the fact that the idea was a good idea. It could have been better. The language made it difficult for me to complete, and I found myself putting it off and picking up something better. I've not read this author's numerous other works, but if they are anything like this one, I won't.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Jesus You Can't Ignore, by John MacArthur- An Honest Review

I did want to give this work a higher mark. I like John MacArthur, but I don't give someone a 5-star simply because I like them. If someone turns out a product they expect you to buy, be it a product of creativity or no, I expect the highest quality for my money.

Summary: 'The Jesus You Can't Ignore' by John MacArthur is intended to be a rebuttal and a stand against Ecumenical Evangelism, Evangelical Post-Modernism, and is a look at the confrontational side of Jesus that tends to be hidden, down-played, or completely denied in our modern churches today.

Theological and Topical Points: I was looking forward to this book, simply because I believe Jesus isn't portrayed as He fully was. Mr. MacArthur makes this point repeatedly, but his most powerful argument was in his introduction, instead of in the rest of the book. There are challenges, if you will, throughout the chapters, but these were far less than convicting, much less inspiring.
The gist of his argument against Ecumenical Evangelism is that Jesus was confrontational, even angry against hypocrisy, false teaching, etc. This needed to be said, and he makes some Biblical statements.

Writing Style and Product: Now we come to it. I do understand what Mr. MacArthur was trying to say, and what he was trying to accomplish with this published work. That said, I have to give this a 3 star, not because he was wrong, but to be utterly honest, because he was boring. It took me a while to finish this book and write this review simply because I was not interested in finishing it, even though I agreed with what he said. Much if the real "meaty" parts of the book were bogged down with complicated explanations, Biblical historical places, names, references, customs, and on the list goes. On, and on. Some of them had relevance, most didn't, and they sabotaged this work. Mr. MacArthur did the exact thing he was preaching against, polite reasoning. He was proving his points not Biblically, but with Biblical knowledge of Jewish customs and such. Many people I know would not read this book, simply because they are simple people and believe the Bible, well, simply. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that these "extras" drowned out everything else and took place of many powerful thoughts he could have communicated, as was clear in his introduction.

All in all, I wouldn't buy this book. It was helpful in certain areas, but I expected much of it to be more like his introduction: many more statements instead of a history lesson.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beyond Opinion, by Ravi Zacharias- An Honest Review

'Beyond Opinion' by Ravi Zacharias is a book intended to equip Christians to face the intellectual challenges of this age, both with their minds and their lives. It covers a wide scope of topics, ranging from Islam to Atheism.

Writing Style and Product: I thought the book itself was of fair quality. Though the cover may deceive some, the book isn't totally written by Ravi Zacharias himself (though he does contribute more than others,) but many chapters are written by members of his organization RZIM, each author specializing in said chapters. I thought I would not like reading so many different opinions at one time, but it flowed well, and the authors stood together as a unit. Each author was mature, professional, and skilled in talking about their subjects. Very well written.

Topics and Reactions: I would have to say that this book does not delve deeply into each belief system, but provides an overhead of the subjects today. It covers a variety of world views, and is not intended for the debate ring, but for the average christian who will face these general questions from an average non-christian.
This work did make me interested in many of the issues it addressed, such as Islam, Atheism, etc. and I will further my research to books specifying in these issues. It also peaked my interest in post-modernism, which I had not heard of up until this point.

Conclusion: Ravi Zacharias wrote about two christian points of view on apologetics: intellectual debate, and refusing to debate. He stressed that there needs to be a balance between these two extremes: living our faith so fully in Christ that others cannot deny it, and being ready to give an answer to those who ask. This is a message we all need to hear, myself included, as I was of the belief that "You may win the argument, but lose the soul". We do need a balance, and I would encourage any one to read this book to better understand apologetics, and to learn answers to those questions we avoid.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Billy Graham: His Life and Influence by David Aikiman; An Honest Review

Ok, this is to let you all know that I am reviewing this as a biography in itself, NOT an article saying I'm supporting or criticizing Billy Graham's beliefs, teachings, and etc. You can get that everywhere else. This is a book review, ok people?

  • Summary: 'Billy Graham: His Life and Influence' is intended to be a full biography of world-known evangelist Billy Graham, up to the current date of 2010.

  • Writing Style and Product: The writing style of the author was quite enjoyable. I'm not a biography fan, but Mr. Aikam is definitely not boring, and I was kept interested throughout the book. He covers Billy Graham's life from birth till the present; going over major changes, controversies, influences, and etc. You name it, it's here. It was quite thorough, yet not bogged down with useless details. I've always wanted to know more about Mr. Graham, and this was the perfect book to read. The product itself (softcover) is nicely made, fair quality.
  • Reading Experience: As I said, I did enjoy reading this book. However, the reason I could not give it 5 stars was because though he may not have meant to, the author did come off as slightly biased. I say slightly, for I could tell he was trying not to, and in most of this work, he wasn't. Be that as it may, there were a few parts I read where I felt him biased in favor of Mr. Graham in spite of controversial situations; such as the Billy Graham/Bob Jones issue, and his relationships with certain past presidents of the United States.

All in all, this biography is quite good, and I would recommend it to others who want to learn more about Bill Graham, or want some clarity on the controversy surrounding him.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rooms- An Honest Review

Summary: 'Rooms' is a fiction novel by James Rubart, and tells the story of a man who has fled from his past, his God, and himself. What he doesn't know, is that God doesn't give up that easily. Through a set of mysterious and bizarre circumstances, Micah is brought back to face what he thought he buried, and to find freedom. Note: Though this book is a work of fiction, the author intends it to be a sort of devotional as well, teaching readers his beliefs on christianity. Christian and non-christian readers should take this into consideration.

Writing Style and Reading Experience: In the beginning, the way the author described certain characters annoyed me. A woman the looked like Oprah? Come on. But it didn't really matter, so I kept reading. Descriptions like this litter the book, as well as titles of various movies, books, American food chains and stores, etc. I didn't like the advertising, but it wasn't that bad as the story soon distracted me from it. As for the story itself- I could not put this book down. Dishes and the kitchen floor have suffered because of this. It was unique and refreshing, a real breath of new air. I loved it. Micah was real and I could relate to him in many ways. Some characters, like Julie, did fall flat, so I didn't feel much emotion for her.

Theological Disputes and Observations: Readers should know that this is a christian fiction novel, and it gives you a heavy dosage. Also, the author is quite clearly a charismatic, so parents and others may want to consider that before buying or borrowing. One part did bother me greatly: In a scene where Jesus sees all the movies Micah has watched, after it is through, He picks up a copy of 'Braveheart' and tosses it to Micah saying 'This is a good one.' I think this is highly presumptuous of the author, since many christians would not agree, not to mention the Bible. Also, it's blatant advertising. There was no need for it whatsoever. Many christians may differ from the theology taught here, so I would advise them to check into it. It's not your standard stuff, and I'm still trying to work it out, as the author walks a fine line.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Am Hutterite, by Mary Ann Kirkby- An Honest Review

  • Summary: 'I Am Hutterite' is intended to be the story of a woman's past growing up in a Hutterite colony, as well as dealing with the tragic loss of leaving it and adjusting to the outside world.

  • Writing Style and Reading Experience: Mary Ann Kirkby is an excellent wielder of pen. I thoroughly enjoyed her story, and could hear her voice between the lines.
    The story itself is one worth sharing; I was completely captivated by the events and the life represented. Mrs. Kirkby is a wonderful author- her words made me laugh, and even cry. I felt I was truly by her side while her childhood unfolded.
  • Insights and Facts: This book is written from the perspective of growing up in a Hutterite colony, a religious sect very much like the Amish in that it's way of life is very closed off from the outside world. This work offers us a magical, rare peep inside the Hutterite lifestyle, and I loved it. Much of the way of living is revealed here that you would not learn anywhere else. It was so fascinating, that I will definitely pass this book on to family and friends, knowing they'll enjoy it.
  • Point Of View: Religious sects such as the Hutterites, Amish, etc. are very often criticized and called out as cults. While this may or may not be true, Mrs. Kirkby gives her point of view, and it is one of bitter-sweet memories. The politics in the group, bias, and tragedy are also enveloped in the close ties of family, friendship, and love.
Ultimately, Mary Ann comes out with her freedom, but with a cherished past that she embraces. It is an amazing journey, and I highly recommend you come along.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wild At Heart by John Eldredge, An Honest Review

Ok, gear up, because this is going to be a bumpy review.
After reading 'Wild At Heart', I was a left with many mixed feelings. I think I somewhat grasped the message the author was trying to send, but I had to read this book twice in order to get it. That's how hidden and confusing it was.
Summary: 'Wild At Heart' is a devotional book for men intending on revealing their true heart, in essence, what is at the core of every man, how God made them.

Theological Issues and Disputes: A main dispute I had with this book is how it criticizes what Mr. Eldredge calls "The Really Nice Guy". He puts the "nice guy" down constantly, insisting all men are to be assertive, pushy, forceful, etc. While I do agree that there is a time and a place for men act like men, standing for what is right, being strong, courageous, etc. this does not mean that a man is supposed to be forceful and "manly" when it comes to a little old lady needing help to cross the street. There are many, many scriptures that describe men being humble, meek, and kind, yet Mr. Eldredge almost scorns these Bible passages and instead makes his point with a few scriptures taken entirely out of context. This is not christian, nor professional. I don't want Mr. Eldredge's belief system, making the Bible fit it. I want the Bible, all of it. If you are going to take the Bible and try to make it fit your ideas, that's wrong.
Another issue I had was his "follow your heart" philosophy. The Bible clearly states in numerous places that you are not to follow your heart, you are to trust your heart to God. There is a huge difference!
I do agree with some of what Mr. Eldredge was teaching. Men today aren't very "manly", in my opinion. I'm not bashing men, but I think every time they've tried to say something, they've been shushed, so to speak. That many christian men don't stand up for what's right is a sad fact. That many christian men are criticized unjustly for simply acting like men in their created nature is another true message he wrote about here. However he did not distinguish the fine line between men's fallen nature and their created nature, which I felt to be so vital to this book. Yes, men are to be wild in a sense, but this author disregards the clear example of the greatest man of all- Jesus. Yes, Jesus did get angry, He was forceful, but those times were few and far between. It wasn't His constant presence. What drew people to Jesus was His mercy, His love, His compassion, and His forgiveness. If He dwelt in His fleshly passions of anger, condemnation, and wildness, then He would not have been a perfect man. I felt too much of the wild man was taught, without a balance, which Christ had, which all men, and even women, are to have as well.

Writing Style and Product: The product was very well made in itself. The writing style actually turned me off of reading this book for a while, which is why this review was a little delayed. Though I liked how Mr. Eldredge is personal and very open, on nearly every page he references some movie to illustrated a supposed 'biblical' point. Not wise. Many of these movies were inappropriate, as in, not the type of movies many christians would watch. I felt he should have backed up his views with more scripture instead of numerous movie references and quotes. It distracted greatly from his message and reading the book itself. I don't know if he was getting paid for all this advertising or not.

All in all, I understand the point of this book. Men need to be men, not the media portrayed image of men, or mousy men, but real, strong men. A great point, but this book needs a huge rewrite so to make it more clear to the general audience.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Essentials for Life by Marcia Ford, and Honest Review

Summary: 'Essentials for Life' is intended to be a devotional on the basics of Christianity, the fundamentals of the faith if you will, and is meant to help you figure out what you truly believe on these issues.

Theological and Faith Issues: Personally, I mostly agreed with everything in this book. The author was rather neutral on denominations, instead sticking to the Bible and comparing that with what she taught. There was nothing wild or off-base, maybe a few minor things I disagreed with, but nothing huge.

Writing Style and Message: The cover states that this book discusses and reviews major beliefs of the Christian faith, and it does that, in a way. One problem in tackling such a challenge is that, as the author states, it is immensely vast. This book was simply too short to address all these issues correctly, giving them a two page overview instead. What you'll learn when reading this devotional is that these issues exist, and that they are important, but you won't learn how to really defend them, which is something I was hoping for. Each chapter basically tells you to learn more about the belief discussed. There are a few pointers at the end, but not enough for a christian to become grounded on. Though this isn't that great with the shortness of it, it is a good devotional. You just need to read other books, or better yet, the Bible, to really get a grip on the standards the author writes about.
As for her style, I liked it. Friendly, and easy to understand, it gives the book an advantage in that many types of people can read it and learn.

Product Make: The pages are glossy and not boring. I had an issue with the cover though, as the flap simply won't stay shut, but flips out. I don't know why that is.

All in all, this is a pretty good devotional. I'll give it four stars, but I would say there are better out there.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Christian Encounters: John Bunyan by Kevin Belmonte; An Honest Review

Summary: 'John Buyan' is a biography about, namely- John Bunyan, the author of the timeless classic 'The Pilgrim's Progress'.

Product and Format: I would let you know that this is a very small book, as well as quite short. I had expected it to be bigger, so I was a little disappointed in it's size. Chapter lengths are 3-5 pages long.

Writing Style and Message: I enjoyed the writing style of this book is it's easy-to-read, as well as understand. It's almost as if it was written as a story, and I like a biography like that once in a while.
It gave an over-all view of Bunyan's life from birth to death, though not going into many specifics. I think this biography is perfect for junior high school age; it gives enough information, yet would still hold their attention. New-comers to the life and works of Bunyan would enjoy this work if they were just interested in some of his background and general knowledge of his life. I would recommend a more detailed biography to readers acquainted with Bunyan- there is nothing new here.
As far as I know the information in this book is fairly accurate, and is good for a small study.
'John Bunyan' would be a nice book to recommend to younger readers, or to assign to students. Adults might find it too short, as I did. Though I enjoyed reading it, I wouldn't buy it myself, as the price is fairly steep for so short a book.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God by Sheila Walsh- An Honest Review

'Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God' is intended as a devotional and Bible study for women, and it's main point is how to trust God in diverse situations. The book includes an in-depth companion study for personal devotions and study groups.

Writing Style and and Product Description: The author, Sheila Walsh, writes in a very personal, heart-felt way which was easy to understand and relate to. She was real, and didn't use cliches or self-righteous comments. She was understanding as well as transparent- which I happen to believe as vital to a good devotional book. The product I received is a hardcover, beautifully made, of average thickness, with comfortable grip and hold.

Theological Elements and Teachings: In her book, Sheila Walsh delves into the immense struggle of trusting God in a dangerous world. She covers different situations with real-life examples from the Bible such as Tabitha, Paul, David, Mary and Martha, etc. Her questions and conclusions spoke true within me, and I related a lot to many situations. Topics such as: why someone is afraid, how they can overcome the fear through Jesus, and trusting God when it seems like He isn't there are covered in a beautiful, liberating way.
Also included is a Devotional/Bible Study, which I found most helpful. Study groups are able to use this, as well as someone in their devotional time. Sheila Walsh has taught me a lot through this book, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her works.

All in all, this is one of those rare devotionals to keep on the "re-read" shelf. It helped me grow closer to the Lord, and showed me a lot of issues in me that I need to give to God, and not only that, it showed me how. If you struggle with fearing life, fearing others' opinions, etc. read this book. You will be set free.
Highly recommended.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Nelson's Complete Book of Biblical Maps and Charts- An Honest Review

  • Summary: 'Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts' is intended as a study aid for someone interested in knowing more about the Bible, and delving deeper into it's message. Complete with colour maps on nearly every other page, and an over-view of every book of the Bible, this product does just that, and more.
  • Writing Style and Product Overview: The over-all style of this Study Aid was quite versatile, making it easy to use when just browsing, and also informative and helpful with intentional Bible study. Nelson's provides colour maps, photos, descriptive paragraphs, as well as numerous charts covering each book of the Bible, all in order. Background on the author of every book is included, as well as available information on the date the book was written, and etc. Journeys of well-known people through-out the Bible are documented and mapped. The book that I received is a soft-cover, and though a good size, is not uncomfortable to hold and it's not too heavy.
  • Information Included and Application: I found all the information very useful, as well as interesting. I've always had a harder time reading through the books of the prophets; Nelson's gave me the clarity I've been looking for, and I loved reading about the background of the books, as well as their authors. There is also a lengthy section on the Pentateuch, which included charts and explanations of the feasts, traditions, and observances Isreal practiced in the days of Moses. Thorough details on the Gospels and the life of Christ was probably the best part of this entire work, and gave deeper insight into the parables Christ taught.
  • Summing Up: In closing, I would give this product above and beyond 5 stars. It's so versatile that it can reach a wide span of ages; pastors, college students, teens and even children ages 10-12. It gave a helpful overview of the Bible and dug deeper into it's past. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl- An Honest Review

  • Summary: 'Face of Betrayal' is an intended thriller about 3 women who are best friends; Cassidy- a news reporter, Nichole- and FBI Agent, and Allison- a prosecutor. Together they solve crimes, the current one a missing girl from Washington, DC who has vanished without a trace.
  • Writing Style and Prose: The author does have a talent for writing, and can keep the reader interested enough to wonder what will happen next. She also has the flair for the mystery in her, which is a special talent in itself; she keeps the reader guessing with numerous suspects.
  • Contradictions: An event that happens numerous times in the story is that the FBI agent- Nichole, gives her news reporter pal Cassidy confidential details about the case with the promise that Cassidy will not leak it to the press. This is unbelievable, bordering on ridiculous. An FBI agent would never give out any case information without express permission, much less to a reporter. I thought the author should have done her research a little better. Another issue is that, like stated above, the relationship between a prosecutor, news reporter, and an FBI Agent. This "Triple Threat" relationship could not exist in reality, and is again, entirely unbelievable. I must confess that the name made me laugh- it sounds not at all threatening, almost something a high-school kid would make up.
  • Theological and Moral Disputes:
>Alcohol Consumption: Parents should know that this novel sheds positive light on alcohol consumption and social drinking. The author incorporates it numerous times, and I felt that the story would have been much better without it.
> Pre-marital Sexual Relations: This was a huge disappointment for me. I expected more out of a Christian company and a "conservative" author. Sexual scenes are described in detail, as well as the promoting of sexual relations, and the acceptance of sexual relations as a minor. This was completely needless and added nothing whatsoever to the story. I was shocked at how inappropriate this book was, and I think the publishers should look over their stories more carefully since they claim to be christian. I will not recommend this to anyone, and am not keeping my copy of this book. There are a few sentences that mention God in here but anyone who writes a cheap Harlequin Romance novel can do the same thing. This book was a disappointment; not moral, not conservative, and most definitely not christian.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where Is God- by Dr. John Townsend, A Review

Summary: In 'Where Is God', Dr. Townsend tries to address the issue stated in the title, the question people ask when times get tough, when a loved one dies, etc. Where is God in all of this?

Theological Elements and Disputes: The reader should know that Dr. Townsend is a certified psychiatrist, and as such inserts his beliefs as well as his faith in this book. I found this rather confusing, as there is much psychiatric help that is contradictory to faith in Jesus Christ. A lot of his chapters were "mushy gushy", feel-good type of things, making the reader feel that he had no responsibility, no obligations, and that God did not allow the consequences of sin. Dr. Townsend states that God "is not an angry God", a directly contradicting statement to what the Bible says. God does get angry over certain things; to say that He never does is a dangerously misleading statement. 'Where is God' also gives the illusion that when bad things happen, God did not cause them to happen. This can be taken the wrong way when in certain cases, the trouble in a person's life are simply the consequences of their own sin, i.e: A man has an affair, which leads to marriage troubles, maybe even AIDS. To say that God is suffering with him and that God is with him, though this man is unrepentant, is a false teaching.

Theological Agreements and Encouragement: Throughout the book, Dr. Townsend describes the love of God very well, and teaches that in unexplained, tragic events, God is still there guiding us. He also says that God still does perform miracles and does provide and protect, though we don't always know why He does what He does.

Writing Style and Product: I enjoyed this book immensely in that it felt very personal, as if I was talking to Dr. Townsend myself. He came off as friendly, warm, and loving, not self righteous. He speaks in terms everyone can understand. The book itself is well made.

All in all, much of this book was encouraging, reassuring readers of the closeness of God, and His care. However, because of the issues I stated above, I would be careful to check everything from it with the Bible first, just to make sure everything lines up.