New Books

Beautiful Ruin – Available Now!

“Beautiful Ruin” is the latest book of essays from Author Chris Canuel. In this companion to his book “Ruminations” Canuel continues to reflect on the journey of faith. Life isn’t always easy, in fact most days it is hard. Still, Chris believes life is always beautiful as God works out his purposes in the lives of his people. This amazing truth is easy to forget as life seems to overwhelm us. This is why it is so important for us to pause and reflect on the beauty of what God is doing in the midst of all of our circumstances.

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Book Review-Winter Light

I loved this book. Beautiful writing, frightening honesty. A pleasant read, but uncomfortable as well, as I identify so closely with all that the author is saying. This is one of those books that I read and think, “Man, I could have written this book.” But the truth is that I probably would never have written this book. It is much too painful to be this honest.

‘Winter Light’ is the journal of Bruce Ray Smith as he seeks and explores humility and what it means to be humble. It is his reflections on his own pride and sinfulness…It is his journey of repentance and surrender and failure. Who of us cannot identify with that in our own lives, especially as it relates to pride? Most times we probably don’t even realize that pride is at the heart of our sin…It is the driving force and the root of our sin. Bruce Ray Smith places his heart upon the page in this book…many times as I read, I felt as if my heart were there with his. I have a feeling it may take me a while to recover from this read…but I plan to return to it often.

**Full Disclosure**
I received a free copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible-Review

Part of my reason for wanting to get my hands on this Bible was the fact that I was unfamiliar with Max Lucado’s work and theology. Obviously anyone who is a Christian, and has been one for any length of time has heard of Lucado, but I had never read any of his work. Being as many of the notes, and study helps in this Bible draw on his past writings I figured this would be a great way to introduce myself to him, his work, and his theology as he interacts with Scripture.

My first observation would be that to call this a “Study Bible” is a stretch. I think the publishers would have been much more accurate, to refer to this Bible as a “Devotional Bible” rather than a “Study Bible”. Typically a Study Bible will deal with difficulties in the text, and address doctrinal issues, and all in all go a bit deeper theologically speaking. I simply didn’t see that in my reading of this work. That is not to say there weren’t some good observations brought out by Lucado and his writing, and I did find myself saying, “Amen” on more than one occasion, but I simply don’t feel that calling this a “Study Bible” is accurate. It would be much truer, and even beneficial to potential readers to call it what it is, and that is a “Devotional Bible” and I could see how for some, this Bible would be great for that purpose.

As a devotional tool, for those who are fans of Lucado, I know this would be great for them. There are some “helpful” tools and features of this Bible that are beneficial. One, there is a 30 day Study for new believers. For someone just entering into their faith, and even for some who may have allowed their faith to stagnate, I could see how this could help light a fire as they explore some of the depths of God’s word, and how it applies to their lives. I also especially like the “Christ Through the Bible” feature which helps give readers a glimpse into the “big picture” of Scripture, as it relates to God’s plan of redemption through Christ. There is also a topical index for devotions as well as a two year devotional reading plan. Again, for fans of Lucado and his work, I believe they would really enjoy the “Life Lessons” Bible and even gain benefits from it.

As I said though, one of my reasons for wanting to read through this Bible was so that I could get a feel for Lucado’s theology. I appreciate his talent as a writer, and story telling. I personally feel at times though he takes too many liberties with the text and inserts his own opinions into what may or may not have been happening in an effort to make the story more appealing, or attractive to the reader, or to perhaps evoke some sort of emotion from the reader. In my opinion, this is not needed. While I appreciate his desire to communicate the beauty of God’s word to his readers…God is perfectly capable of doing that. However, I concede this may just be a personal preference.

My biggest issue with Lucado’s theology, and this bible as a whole is that it is a theology that is extremely individualistic and man centered. Yes Christ did die for me, yes God’s plan of redemption is for me, but it is not primarily about me. The overarching theme of Scripture, and the story of redemption is not primarily about man, but it is about God and His glory. I think Lucado tends to reduce God, and place Him at the mercy of man. This I believe is a dangerous thing. God is not at the mercy of man, but instead man is completely at the mercy of God. Not only in our coming to faith, but even in our living out our faith. This does not seem to be communicated in Lucado’s writings and notes in this Bible.

All of that being said, I would not recommend this Bible. Again, as I said, if you are a fan of Lucado, then you will love this Bible. If you have an elevated view of man and a diminished view of God, you will love this Bible. I just think that is a dangerous view to hold, and I would suggest other, more theologically sound Study Bibles. As I said, in my opinion, this Bible is really more of a “Devotional Bible” rather than a “Study Bible” in the truest since. There are much better options out there to really explore the depths of God’s word.

Still, I appreciate Lucado’s desire to see people living out their faith, and I commend him for attempting to set their hearts afire for God. I just wish he had a bigger view of God, and were bit more theologically sound. I appreciate his passion for God and His people, and in spite of my opinions of this Bible, I believe God can and will use it for many. I just cannot and would not recommend it.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. 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  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”**