I plan to keep book info and reviews on this page. It may change over time. We'll see where it goes.

Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice by David Teems

David Teems does a masterful job of bringing history to life. I have read biographies of Tyndale that were much like reading a textbook. But Teems does a great job of giving just the right amount of detail. He is open about what is known and what is speculation and weighs in on his opinions. I found it very engaging. It was one of those books you do not want to put down.

To understand the life of Tyndale, you need to understand the world in which he lived. Context rules - in life as in most literature, and Teems defines the context by carrying you back to the early 1500s. The time was just on the cusp of enlightenment. The Protestant Reformation was beginning to take form in men like Luther and Calvin. And Tyndale stepped in to give the common Englishman (even the ploughboy) the ability to read God's word for himself. Since the Church adhered to the Latin translation from the early 300s, it remained locked away to all but the elite by Tyndale's time.

To realize how much he gave to the common Englishman, here is what was available before his translation:
"In principio creavit Deus coelum et terram. Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebrae erant super faciem abyssi, et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas. Dixitque Deus: Fiat lux! et fact est lux."  Latin Vulgate
"In the bigynnyng God made of nouyt heuene and erthe. Forsothe the erthe was idel and voide, and derknessis weren on the face of depthe; and the Spiryt of the Lord was borun on the watris. And God seide, Liyt be maad, and liyt was maad."  John Wycliffe Bible 1395 (translated from the Latin Vulgate)
And here is Tyndale's version translated from the Hebrew:
"In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the deep, and the spirit of God moved upon the water. Then God said: Let there be light and there was light." William Tyndale Old Testament
Tyndale had a God-given ability with languages. Teems says, "the only explanation for William Tyndale is a spiritual one." His mastery of eight languages and the ability to translate from Greek and Hebrew into a beautiful English was unknown before him. At the time, English was considered an ugly, common language (funny since the same was said of common Greek in which most of the NT is written). Much of the beauty of the English language itself can be attributed to Tyndale (he is noted for introducing thousands of words into the English language). It has been said, "without Tyndale, no Shakespeare."

By giving the common man access to the Bible, he gave them a realization about God they had never known before:
"Tyndale's English gave the Englishman a new way to speak to God directly, without mediation, and in a language he understood. God was suddenly closer. This change in perception would demand a new way to worship."

I love that - "God was suddenly closer." What more could you ask for? It especially speaks to me as we are going overseas in order to support Bible translation. The need to have access to the scriptures in a language you can understand is critical. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12) It can transform through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to men like Tyndale (who was burned as a heretic for his work), we have it in our language. Does anyone else deserve less?

"Christ should not be hidden. He should not be hoarded or disguised, counterfeited or left unheard."

"The translations [into the mother tongue or heart language] bring you "the speaking, healing, dying, rising Christ himself, and thus they render him so fully present that you would see less if you gazed upon him with your very eyes."  Desiderius Erasmus (Introduction to Greek New Testament)
Until all have the ability to see Christ as if he were standing right in front of them...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear

JD Greear wants to get the church back to the core message - the Gospel. The gospel is not a decision made for Christ which I then attempt to live out through rules and regulations. Rather, it is the intense love and desire for Jesus I have as a result of what He did for me. Obviously the gospel is not new, but he brings a fresh look at the urgency of getting back to the main message of Christianity. It is a good "compilation" of what I am picking up from several evangelical leaders at the moment.

A large part of the book details what he has called "The Gospel Prayer" - a four part prayer that he has prayed much of his life. It is designed to focus on the daily need to "preach the gospel to myself."

"In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.
Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.
As You have been to me so I will be to others.
As I pray, I'll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection."

I like the prayer. It does a good job of taking the focus off me and putting it on God which is key to living a gospel-saturated life.

He had a chapter on money. Much of it good, but I took issue with his attempt to justify having much wealth. In fact, he seems to even contradict himself at times in that attempt. For example, he says, "you don't have to melt down all your luxury metal into war-time bullets," but then turns around and says "We are in a battle, and the casualties are real. We must awaken from the American dream to gospel reality."

So which is it?

And while he lays out his reasons for not living with a battle mentality but living a gospel reality (extravagant generosity along with humble appreciation for God's good gifts), I just came away from the whole argument feeling like he was trying to justify why it was ok to have stuff. Where Radical opened my eyes to the need around the world and the Holy Spirit says, "Do you really need all that stuff?" Gospel says, "All that stuff is fine. It is a gift from God. And that large nest egg is fine too (big enough to take care of your grandchildren)." The problem is, the only examples I read/hear about "having" always come from the Old Testament (Greear quotes Proverbs). Because no one wants to live like the examples in the New Testament. Sell your stuff. Give it to the Apostles. No one has any need because all are living in community. We're all telling everyone we meet about this Jesus and we stand around looking at the sky expecting it to split wide open on His return any moment. So instead we look back to the OT and say, "Solomon built wealth and he was uber smart. So we should too."

But to look at those OT examples and say that God desires for me to be wealthy is to ignore the beauty of the Gospel - Christ is all-satisfying. What more do we need? Or as John Piper would say:

"The health, wealth, and prosperity 'gospel' swallows up the beauty of Christ in the beauty of his gifts and turns the gifts into idols. The world is not impressed when Christians get rich and say thanks to God. They are impressed when God is so satisfying that we give our riches away for Christ's sake and count it gain."

If you say the Gospel is not revolutionary enough to sever my hearts desire for more and more, then it is not the Gospel I have come to know.

That minor issue aside, it really is a great book and I would definitely recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

Highly recommended. Kisses from Katie is as God-centered, and God-focused as anything I have read lately. She "gets it" because she is living it. God is enough. Her life is hid in Christ. Her day surrendered to whatever God brings in her path. Her joy, to show others the love of Christ. It has hands and feet and arms and feeds and cares and gets messy. Every day.

She went to Uganda as a teenager and was changed. Upon graduating from high school she talked her parents into letting her go back to Uganda on the promise that she would come home after one year and go to college. She came back, but it was no longer "home." Uganda had filled her heart. The girls she had adopted. The community she helped by feeding, providing for schooling and basic medical care. So she went back and is there today. She runs Amazima Ministries which means "Truth."

I have no doubt she is poured out at the end of every day. The demands are overwhelming. Her resources limited. But her faith is in God. Her trust is in His provision. And her joy is in showing others the grace given her through Jesus Christ.

I love reading books like this because there is only one explanation for how a person can be so radically changed - God. No one walks away from comfort for hardship, safety for danger, health for disease, unless something else is compelling them. This book and her life are saturated with God.

Get it. Read it. Be changed.


Close Enough to Hear God Breathe  by Greg Paul

The premise of the book is that reading scripture should be like laying your head on God's chest. You are close enough to hear Him breathing. And that is what drew me to this book. I love scripture. I love to study it. Think on it. Listen to God speaking to my heart. Apply it and seek ways to live a life of obedience to it. But this book was more a grouping of stories about the author's life than scripture. I wanted more meat. I guess I am ruined by John Piper. To me, a book about the Bible should contain more than a verse reference at the start of a chapter.

Paul breaks the book into four parts which correspond to Creation, The Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. I have heard the first three before, but he treats the restoration of all creation in a new heaven and earth as Consummation. He is using the word the way you are thinking and it was in my opinion, over the line. He even goes so far as to describe it as erotica. Maybe I didn't "get it," or maybe it is an attempt to be controversial to sell books. I don't know. Either way, I disagree.

I wanted to like this book based on the title and the description. But it ended up being too much fluff and not enough about how great God is and how we can delight in Him through His written revelation. I would not recommend this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255


Day of War   by Cliff Graham

This is the first book in the Lion of War Series. I don't normally read a lot of fiction, but this book intrigued me. I am glad it did. It is based on the life of David and the author does a fantastic job fleshing out the events that only get a couple chapters in the Bible. There are so many references to actual people and events, I had to keep reminding myself this is a work of fiction and must be treated as such. That being said, I was hooked immediately. Much of the book revolves around battles between the various peoples of that day, so there is quite a bit of violence. In the words of the author:

"This book is extremely violent. However, it's no more violent than Scripture itself-just more violent than many previous novels based on Scripture."

Think Braveheart, only a couple thousand years earlier - and no Scotsmen. The book goes as far as the death of Saul and Jonathan. Highly recommended and I personally can't wait for the rest of the series. Publisher - Zondervan.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255


Surprised by Oxford   by Carolyn Weber

I chose this book because I wanted to read the author’s conversion from agnostic to the Christian faith during her time at Oxford. The entire memoir (440 pages in paperback) takes place over her first year at Oxford, so needless to say, there is a lot of detail. Maybe more than I wanted to know, really. But I can say that I felt at times like I was at Oxford through her vivid descriptions. She is obviously a very intelligent and well read woman and her multitude of quotes throughout the book are very rich and appropriate. Overall, I enjoyed the book. I especially liked the story of her baptism. Very beautiful and moving.

My favorite quote (about telling others of her conversion): “I would give my life for you to have this truth. To be amazed by His grace, healed by it, and have your life renewed in Him. To live and to die assured in this comfort and joy. Our tears wiped away and all set right. Forever.”

Sums it up pretty well.

I will also mention, there is some questionable language on pages 3 and 4 of the paperback.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255