Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: There Could be a Blessing

     Worthy Publishing allowed me to review a complimentary copy of John Hagee's latest work, The Power of the Prophetic Blessing: An Astonishing Revelation for a New Generation. In The Power of the Prophetic Blessing Hagee sets out to share with the reader the blessings they may be missing out on from God due to a lack of spiritual ignorance. What is the Prophetic Blessing? It is the proclaiming of God's Word over a fellow believer. These blessings can be in the form of faith, growth, healing, prosperity and beyond. God wants to bless every follower according to their faith and belief therein.
     The  word prosperity put my mind on guard as I am completely opposed to the "prosperity gospel." Hagee quickly abated my fears as he dug into the Bible laying out the groundwork for the Prophetic Blessing. Pastor Hagee defines the Prophetic Blessing, gives a lengthy historical account of the blessings upon Israel and then, finally, gets to the pragmatics. Frankly, I was a little lost from the beginning as he was discerning the Priestly Blessing, Numbers 6:22-27, from the Prophetic Blessing. It was not necessarily because it did not make sense, but it all seemed a bit blurred. It could be I just needed a concrete definition a little sooner and the following content would have followed more cogently.
     I did enjoy some of the presented history and value of Israel to Christians. Hagee does expound their cause and purpose as God's chosen people. He eventually looks at the Beatitudes in the New Testament asserting God's blessings are intended for His people in all times. The chapter containing the Beatitudes was my favorite by far as it brought Jesus' earthly life into the picture.  By the last third of the book Hagee then shows how to give the blessings and to receive them. Abraham did not receive his blessing with disobedience brewing in his heart neither should we.
     The Power of the Prophetic Blessing left me ambiguous and uneasy. There were aspects I enjoyed and I rather give an outstanding review than a mediocre review. I realize John Hagee puts his heart into his work as any author does. However, I found this book in many ways just that, mediocre. I would have preferred a more extensive section on the application of the Prophetic Blessing. With that said, in every book I read I try to find the very best of it and apply it to my life and/or thought process. So, it isn't entirely impossible that I have gained something from this volume. Maybe it is in ways yet unseen. Who knows I may just reread it to find another glimmer of His light someday. It very well could be in this case that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To every reader (and author), to each his own.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Faith Found

     BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing recently sent  a complimentary copy of The Searchers in exchange for a book review. Joseph Loconte leads the reader into the heart of two disciples' journey in The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt. The journey begins at  a sort of crossroads, so to speak. Only days before were these followers upbeat waiting in great anticipation to be liberated from Roman rule.  Yet, these two followers of Jesus are on the road to Emmaus distraught as they have just lost their leader at Golgotha. It is here Jesus meets them incognito and later reveals the depths of His grace.
      Everyone upon this earth is almost wired to search for something, sometimes anything that will fill that longing. The world's luxuries are often sought to fill the void, though the fills are temporary. Loconte peers into the void these travellers must have felt and engages those pressing questions and doubts that plague many people at some point in their spiritual lives. He plays the devil's advocate, yet always allows God's goodness to prevail. Along the way, the author brings ancient history full circle and envelops the reader into the story as well. At the end of this road, the travellers found their fill in faith in the One, as can the reader.
     It was in the historical accounts, both ancient and modern, that really enraptured me. This is where Loconte, an associate professor of history, pens his true genius. There are tons of books out there that help define God's grace and infinite love for His creatures, but not all can hold the history buff's attention. I absolutely enjoyed reading the fascinating accounts of D-Day, World War II and Communism. That alone makes The Searchers unique. Sometimes I wondered where Loconte was going with such an account and yet every time he managed to tie it together into a cohesive narrative.
     In a little under 200 pages The Searchers will display God's grace, help the reader overcome or at least work through doubts and possibly, enlighten them with historical facts. Loconte has an easy-to-read, engaging style to his pen that will draw you in quickly. He mentions his Italian heritage and the ease of meaningful conversation at the dinner table growing up. I think that ease of meaningful conversation has been well extended to his work here. This is definitely a volume to peruse at your table.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: A Book with Class

     Crown Publishing recently furbished a complementary copy of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray in exchange for an honest book review. Murray takes a look using statistics at what has become of new upper class and the new lower class. It is not our imaginations that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; I am not referring just to economics. The new class divisions are shaping American culture without a shadow of a doubt. The striking polarity between the new upper class and new lower class is blatantly clear and increasingly further apart.
     Before the 1960s class distinction was not a matter of life. Sure there were classes, but the lifestyle of those classes was not nearly so different as in modern times. Unless you were part of the old wealth, your next door neighbor though they may have earned a more handsome annual salary was not going to live a life that different from yours. So, why the change? What has been the catalyst to widening polarity? According to Murray, the upper new class has been born out of four factors: demand for brain power, wealth, the college sorting machine and homogamy- think "like attracts like" and then they breed.
     The new lower class is suffering as more children are born out of wedlock, raised in single-parent homes and live in areas where the collapse of the American way of life is most predominantly seen. Murray then goes onto show how at the heart of the American way lies marriage, industriousness, honesty and religiosity. With a plethora of charts and graphs the readers will find the numbers disheartening and unfortunately a fairly clear picture of what is occurring in America will emerge. In the last part of Coming Apart he surmises what our future may hold as a nation.
     Let me point out that the title Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 may be a tad misleading. It is not a racist or biased look at the American population. However, Murray looks at the statistics of the white population, as they are used as the reference point in other studies that compare white rates to those of other people groups. Later, he does add in other ethnicities and the numbers are startlingly almost identical in the charts.
     From the very first page Murray had my attention. Every chapter stood alone as interesting and readable, piquing my curiosity and stimulating many questions. It is a rather long book in the sense that you cannot and should not gloss over the pages quickly. All  300-plus pages are chock full of information that is necessary to digest the gist of the book. With that said, my review certainly cannot do this volume justice. I realized there is a certain dichotomy we live with every day, though in our own bubbles it is easy and may be best to overlook it. Coming Apart points out the dichotomy and dissects it into understandable bits. Coming Apart is a book that can open your eyes to the divergence of the American population so that you may have a better understanding of what is happening in your own country and community at large.

Purchase your own copy of Coming Apart from Amazon.