Archives For *Brief Reviews*


Reflecting on Where We are Headed.


Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck
Jon Acuff

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2015
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Reviewed by Becca Nelson 


“Ever feel like you don’t know exactly what to do with your life?  Know who else feels that way? Everyone.” (238)


I suppose it’s convenient that I chose to review Jon Acuff’s book, Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck when I was right smack-dab in the middle of my own career do-over.  Though it hasn’t been an easy experience, it has allowed me some rare insight into the message of this book.  It has allowed me not only to ask “Is it good advice?”  but also, “Does it work?”


If you’ve ever been bored out of your mind just thinking about reading anything from the Career section at Barnes and Noble, I would still recommend giving this one a try.  Jon Acuff has a talent for making what could be a dry subject area easy to read and understand.  The entire book is structured around the metaphor of having a “Career Savings Account”.  By making deposits into your CSA, you will be able to withstand any kind of career change, be it voluntary or involuntary.  This makes for a book full of digestible, if somewhat formulaic advice.

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The Challenge of Juxtaposing Two Complex Subjects.

A Brief Review of 

The Scalpel and the Cross: A Theology of Surgery
(Ordinary Theology Series)

Gene Green

Paperback: Zondervan, 2015
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Reviewed by David P. Clark, M.D.


Gene L. Green in his new monograph, The Scalpel and the Cross: A Theology of Surgery, attempts to understand the particular work of surgery using the lens of theology. This book is a contribution to the Zondervan’s Ordinary Theology Series. Dr. Green was spurred to write this short book by the occasion of his aortic valve replacement surgery.

Dr. Green, a teacher of New Testament at Wheaton College and graduate school, attempts to use the lens of orthodox protestant theology to interpret and explicate the modern practice of surgery— a commendable and daunting goal. As a writer and surgeon, I can attest to the need and necessity for more serious thinking and clear writing concerning modern medicine.

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Knowing Fear

A review of

A Fresh Look at Fear: Encountering Jesus in our Weakness
Dan Baumann

Paperback: YWAM Publishing, 2015
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Reviewed by Hillary Jo Foreman


Like most children, I was afraid of many things while growing up. I was afraid of spiders, the Boogey Man and, of course, the dark. The majority of children outgrow superficial fears such as these, replacing them with more matured versions. I, too, allowed my fears of monsters in the closet to transform into real life fears of finances and failure. I have been in the church all my life so Christian fears also bloomed. Am I following God’s will? Why doesn’t he speak to me? What happens if people judge me?

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A World of Grays

A Review of 

Carry On: A Novel
Rainbow Rowell

Hardback: St. Martins Griffin, 2015.
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Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger Smith

I tried to read this novel slowly and savor the mystery and mounting tension, the “they will, but when” of the potential romance at its core. Continue Reading…


Comfort to the Wounded

A Review of

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
Brant Hansen   

Paperback: W Publishing Group, 2015
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Reviewed by Katherine Hiegel

There’s no such thing as righteous anger, according to Brent Hansen.

Really? Was this, I wondered, another trite “feel-good-because-love-wins” book? I’ll admit it: I started out skeptical. As a matter of fact, I found myself feeling a little indignant by Unoffendable’s entire premise. I recognized the irony of that, so I decided to go into the book with an open (albeit discerning) mind. And my findings were surprising.

Ultimately, Hansen builds a plausible and compelling case by using Scripture and, especially, the example of Jesus as his guides.

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A People in Exile?

A Review of 

The Church in Exile: Live in Hope after Christendom
Lee Beach

Paperback: IVP Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Ben Simpson



The 2015 season of HBO’s Hard Knocks featured the NFL’s Houston Texans. During an episode, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, a man of enormous size, strolled into the Texans’ locker room wearing only a pair of cutoff overalls, boots, and a cowboy hat. His teammates noticed, and laughed. Why? Wilfork’s appearance was remarkable, garnering immediate attention. Wilfork’s message, “Make sure we compete today. It’s all about competing.”


The claim that the church of today is in exile, particularly in the North American context, has an effect like Wilfork’s choice of wardrobe. Lee Beach has made just such a claim. The Church in Exile: Living in Hope After Christendom (IVPAcademic, 2015) argues that those in North America now exist in a post-Christian world, and faithfulness to Christ must now take on a new shape. Beach is a member of the faculty at McMaster Divinity College, a pastor, and Canadian resident, offering lessons learned in his context which he believes will increasingly apply to those ministering in the United States.

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A Window into Baptist life

A Review of

Baptists in America: A History
Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2015
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Reviewed by Theron St. John

Geroge Santayana is credited with saying, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In other words, learning from history is not simply recollecting what has happened in the past; learning from history also gives consideration to the present and future. This pertains to not only American history or history of civilizations, but it involves church history, specifically Baptist history. Indeed Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins have compiled such a work, Baptists in America: A History. They understand the importance of history for the church. In the book, they take the reader on a tour, sharing how Baptists were outsiders who became insiders to only become outsiders again. Their work on Baptist history in American can be summarized as extensive within the Baptist denomination and faithful to the events in the history of the denomination.

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The Source of all Genius
and all Music and all Poetry

Review of

The Small Books of Bach
David Wright

Paperback: Wipf and Stock, 2014
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Reviewed by Gina Dalfonzo


If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, perhaps the fear of Bach is the beginning of a true love and appreciation of music. The word “fear” may be even more appropriate here than in the original biblical context. I can’t speak for the professional musician, but the amateur musician like myself approaches Johann Sebastian Bach with a sense of awe bordering on—or rather, crossing the border into—profound intimidation.

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Allowing Grace to Move us Forward
A Review of 

Seeking Surrender: How My Friendship with a Trappist Monk Taught Me to Trust and Embrace Life
Colette Lafia

Paperback: Sorin Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Paul D. Gregory
Our lives are filled with numerous starts and stops, ups and downs and thrilling and devastating experiences. For most of us, the view from the summit is sublime and easy to negotiate. However, how do we handle the disappointment and loss that invariably arrive at our doorsteps? Some are able to quickly adept on their own, while others spend days, months and yes, sometimes years, learning how to survive the valleys. For many of us, the challenges life throws at us can be overwhelming, shattering our beliefs in friendships, family, as well as God.  Colette Lafia’s book entitled Seeking Surrender: How My Friendship with a Trappist Monk Taught Me to Trust and Embrace Life beautifully tackles these issues.
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Work and its Discontents

A Review of 

Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure
Nancy Nordenson

Paperback: Kalos Press, 2015
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Reviewed by David Clark
Nancy Nordenson’s most recent book, Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure, contains a collection of elegant lyric essays. Nordenson’s brooding but engaging meditations explore the character of faithful work through an exposition of numerous disquieting questions, questions that fail to admit to easy answers. Author and critic John Berger once compared the successful essay to an outstanding drawing. “The artist attempts to render what is before him by imagining what is behind, drawing what can’t be seen.” Finding Livelihood seeks to understand what is “behind” the human task of earning one’s daily bread.

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