Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Review::Johann Sebastian Bach,

Johann Sebastian Bach
from the Series: Christian Encounters
By Rick Marschall
Thomas Nelson

As a Christian who happens to be a musician, it is always interesting to learn more about the Christian lives of composers and artists. However, as the author, Rick Marschall says, "It is not necessary to be a learned musician, nor a Bible scholar, to discover the man Bach, the servant of God, in these pages."

The book begins with a snapshot of the world at the time of Bach's childhood and his early career. He grew up in " The Age of Enlightenment," when the world was just beginning to open itself to other cultures and ideas., in an effort to gain knowledge and advance society.

Bach's career develops and grows as he matures. He became the choirmaster at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. There, it was his job to compose music for the year, with regard to the church calendar. From these compositions, we have many of the master works of J.S. Bach.

As a family man, Bach was extremely proud of all his children. Several accounts show his house as being a place bustling with children, students, and music. Several of his children grew up and established musical careers of their own.

More than any of his musical accomplishments, Bach believed himself to be a man called by God. All of the work and the composing he did was for the glory of God, as he wrote Soli Deo Gloria on many of his compositions.

For a wonderful, concise history of the faith and work of J.S. Bach, please give this a read!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: The Part-Time Vegan

The Part-Time Vegan

by Cherise Grifoni

Copyright 2011
F+W Media, Inc.

The Part Time Vegan lives up to its subtitle: "put the fun in flexitarian." Grifoni makes vegan cooking easy, fun and accessible. She shares a good dose of sarcasm along the way, making the directions for each recipe entertaining to follow. The recipes don't include lists of difficult to pronounce ingredients, or foods that are impossible to find in a normal grocery store.

Before you head to the kitchen, the book starts with what Grifoni calls a "Totally Not Boring Intro" and a chapter entitled "Veganism 101." Read these few pages, and you are well on your way to eating vegan. Or to eating vegan part time. Or just occasionally. Or maybe only once or twice. No guilt here!

The book contains 201 recipes, organized by the type of food on which it is based. Each recipe is labeled with protein, fiber, quick, and/or flex. The ones labeled protein or fiber are high in protein or fiber. Quite obviously. The ones labeled quick are quick and easy. Again, quite
obviously. The ones labeled flex are easily adapted by substituting non-vegan ingredients into the recipe.

The final chapter includes recipes organized into dinner plans. Each contains a recipe for an appetizer, and entree, and a dessert. Need a complete dinner menu all in one place? This is the chapter for you!

The Part Time Vegan is exactly what Grifoni promises in the intro: "A no-nonsense, quick-witted guide to veganism." It's a pleasure to cook from, as well as a pleasure to read.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: What's He Really Thinking?

What's He Really Thinking
by Paula Rinehart

copyright 2009
Thomas Nelson Book Publishers

The subtitle of this book says it all: How to be relational genius with the man in your life. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, this book will set you on your way. This is not a book just for married women, or even just for dating women. This is a book for any woman who has a brother, father, uncle, co-worker, or friend. This book is about human relationships at their core, and the misunderstandings that could be avoided if we understood our gender differences on a deeper level.

The book is divided into two portions: Understanding the Man you Love, and Loving the Man you Understand. In the first section, counselor Paula Rinehart breaks down what it is that men do, what makes them hurt, and how they grow. She compares men and women, pointing out our sameness, but also our inherent difference. And, between the two, the reasons that we complement each other so perfectly.

The second section is devoted to us women. In this section, Rinehart addresses expectations, respect, conflict, getting through, and intimacy. She not only gives clear and helpful how-tos, but also explains the psychological and Biblical reasons behind each.

This book is, as the back of will tell you, a Field Guide to the Male Psyche. Not only is it fascinating and interesting, but it is practical and helpful. A must read for any woman!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: The Gospel According to Jesus

The Gospel According to Jesus
by Chris Seay

Copyright 2010
Thomas Nelson Book Publishers

Chris Seay is a pastor and a church planter who presents a book that teaches the gospel message in a contemporary manner. He posits that Christians today are missing something, that we are off the mark of the truth of the gospel. He presents survey data that shows that many Christians don't have a proper understanding of what true righteousness is. With our flawed understanding of righteousness, he suggests, we cannot truly understand the gospel according to Jesus.

And so the book unfolds, looking at what the gospel truly is and how it should impact our lives. The book includes written prayers to aid the reader with meditation and application of the material. In addition, after each chapter, there are interviews with other pastors and authors offering their perspectives and experiences.

After reading this book, I was pleased with the straightforward nature of Seay's writing. I appreciated his presentation of the gospel, but recognize that this is something that's been done before (i.e. C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity). Therefore, it is not a book that will turn the heads of theologians. However, this would be a great book to remind the stagnant or lukewarm Christian of the truth of their faith. This would be a great book for the contemporary seeker. Many thanks to Seay for his heart for the church and for calling us to examine the gospel with fresh eyes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

same kind of different as me

By Ron Hall and Denver Moore
With Lynn Vincent

Copyright 2006
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Same Kind of Different as Me tells the story of two men: an older, black, homeless man and a wealthy, white art dealer. Denver Moore is a vagabond who made his was to Fort Worth, Texas several years ago, leaving a life of modern day slavery, sharecropping, and crime back in Louisiana. Ron Hall is a wealthy, international art dealer who drives a Rolls and wears Armani. They are brought together by Ron's wife, who has a heart for the homeless in their area, and isn't content to stand by and do nothing.

Themes such as love, commitment, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, and dedication are all addressed in this amazing true story. Along with it, though, are stories of pain, heartbreak, and turmoil. It is a testament to the faith of one woman who brought together two unlikely men in a unique friendship. A friendship that not only would survive the tumultuous waves of life, but that would make huge strides in changing the world.

Above just being an inspiring story, this book is a challenge to those of us who live comfortable lives. A calling to those of us who wake up, drive to work, and come home to dinner and a sitcom. It is a call to stand up and do something for humanity. It is a challenge to change lives, and in the process, maybe reform our own.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We've moved!

Well. I've moved. Let's not make this too big of a deal. Check out Balance and Blueberries. Add me to your blog roll. We'll see where this all ends up. It should be a good time!


We have a map and a plan!

A week from today, Erica and I are headed off into the Smokies to hike 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail. We now have a map! Isn't it pretty?

For the past couple of months, we've been researching and making lists long-distance, in an attempt to figure out this backpacking thing. A week away from departure day, and I think we're ready. Think. Hope. Pray.

Last night we ironed out start/finish details. We're going to start on the northeast end at Davenport Gap and finish on the southwest end at Fontana Dam. We'll meet at Fontana Dam, leave a car, pick up our backcountry permits, and drive to Davenport Gap to start our hike. Then, we walk for 7 days, and end up on the south end. We drive to pick up the other car, and then have to head home, to fall headlong into the busyness of summer jobs, having conquered the wilds of the Smoky Mountains. Or something like that.