Book review: Twelve Hidden Heroes (OT) Book 2
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Twelve Hidden Heroes (OT) Book 2 More People in the Bible Who Did Brave Things for God Publisher: Day One Publications Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Now that my older children are ages 6 and 5, I have been on the lookout for “chapter books” that deal with biblical and theological themes. Two excellent resources I have turned to for assistance include The Book Tree and Honey for a Child’s Heart. They are very different guides and complimentary of one another. However, you won’t find Rebecca Parkinson’s Hidden Heroes series in either one – her books are too recently published. In the past few weeks my children and I have enjoyed Parkinson’s narrative renditions of the smaller figures found in Scripture: the hidden heroes of salvation history. Parkinson narrates the experiences and emotions of lesser scriptural figures with verve and vigour, suitable for a young audience – although I can imagine someone who doesn’t read very often benefiting from reading this book as well. Named figures such as Eliezer, Hur, Bezalel, Mephibosheth, Barzillai, Obadiah the steward, Jehosheba, Meshach and Baruch are some of the featured characters, as well as unnamed figures including the widow of Zarephath…

Book review: Mighty Judgment
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Mighty Judgment How the Supreme Court of Canada Runs Your Life Publisher: Allen Lane Canada Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Of course, if you are not Canadian, the Supreme Court of Canada will not “run your life” – see the subtitle of the book currently under review – unless you break the law in Canada and your case goes all the way to the Supreme Court. Mighty Judgment: How the Supreme Court of Canada Rules Your Life by Philip Slayton is, nonetheless, an interesting case study regarding the extent to which nine unelected magistrates can affect daily life for more than 34 million people in northernmost North America. Actually, less than nine magistrates can affect daily life in Canada. Slayton reports that one former Supreme Court justice was fond of flashing five fingers of one hand to send the message that only five judges were needed for a majority ruling. Interestingly, Slayton – a former lawyer, Supreme Court law clerk, and dean of a Canadian law school – does not believe the problem lies the bare majority rules policy. He and I do not see eye-to-eye on that point…but that’s a topic for another paragraph. Some…

Book review: Bonhoeffer
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy Publisher: Thomas Nelson Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes On the morning of April 9, 1945, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at Flossenburg concentration camp. The camp doctor, H. Fischer-Hullstrung, later remembered: [Just before the execution] I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer kneeling on the floor, praying fervently to God…so certain that God heard his prayer…I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God. Others testified that, up to his last day, the 39 year-old Bonhoeffer remained cheerful. He knew what he had to do, was reconciled to God’s will, and was able to climb the steps to the gallows “brave and composed.” Who was this man who died so bravely’who Hitler himself, from his bunker beneath Berlin just three weeks before his suicide, ordered to be “destroyed?” He is the subject of best-selling author Eric Metaxas’ new biography: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Shortly after his conversion in 1988, Metaxas read Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship and learned the story of the young man who, “because of his Christian faith stood up to the Nazis and ultimately gave his life.” From then on, he was…

Book review: The Prophet and His Message
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Prophet and His Message Reading Old Testament Prophecy Today Publisher: P&R Publishing Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes It is really too bad that Christians tend to be so bad at reading the Old Testament properly. There are some who view it, especially the prophets, as some kind of code book which will give us a very clear outline of how things will turn out in our world today. There are others who think this way of reading the prophets is misguided – rightly so – but this leads them to simply flip right past these valuable books because they really don’t know what to do with them. Michael Williams, a professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary, recognised the loss that this causes to the church, and has written a great little book, The Prophet and his Message: Reading Old Testament Prophecy Today, to introduce who the prophets were, and how studying them can benefit the church today. Williams does not survey each prophetic book, but rather outlines what a prophet is and does. The book is split up into 6 chapters where Williams outlines: What a prophet is not What a prophet is…

Book review: When Life Is Hard
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

When Life Is Hard Publisher: Moody Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Greg Laurie, in his foreword to the book, notes that according to the Barna Group, the number one question people want to ask God is, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?” James MacDonald skillfully, relevantly, and biblically tackles this gnawing question in When Life Is Hard. Equally important, he speaks personally’out of his own spiritual struggle to face suffering face-to-face with God. In his Introduction, Pastor MacDonald shares a litany of personal, family, and ministry tragedies that seem Job-like in proportion. For MacDonald, the Psalmist’s cry became his own, “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ ” (Psalm 42:3). In response, MacDonald preached a series of six sermons that became When Life Is Hard. Perhaps this personal struggle to grapple with God is the reason why this is the rare book derived from a sermon series that is well worth reading. Truth for Life No one reading a book about suffering, even a book reviewer, does so simply as an academic exercise. Knowing this, Dr. MacDonald implants…

Book review: In a Heartbeat
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

In a Heartbeat Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes First came the best-selling book, then the Oscar-nominated movie. The Blind Side recounts Michael Oher’s journey from wandering the streets of Memphis, Tennessee, to standing on the Baltimore Ravens’ sideline. If you’re familiar with the story, then you already know how Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy almost drove past Michael without stopping that cold November morning. But that is only half of this remarkable story. Compared to our real lives…the book and movie were just sketches,” Leigh Anne writes in the Tuohy’s new book with Sally Jenkins, In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving. In a Heartbeat reveals more personal details from the lives of Sean and Leigh Anne: their family histories, childhoods, how they met and married, and how loving Michael completely changed their lives. Also featured are Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and the three Tuohy children, who offer their personal reflections on the events behind the story. The Tuohys reveal some of the struggles associated with adoption, transracial adoption specifically. Another interesting inclusion is the Tuohys’ development of their philosophy of giving and…

Book review: Secure Daughters, Confident Sons
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity Publisher: Multnomah Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Glenn T. Stanton unapologetically believes that males and females are different, and that the difference isn’t just a result of social conditioning. Little boys are different from little girls just like their daddies are different from their mothers. Their interests are different, their needs are different, even their brains are different. Stanton’s book itself is evidence. If we were to remove his name along with all of the references to his being male, there wouldn’t be a doubt that a man wrote the book. What lady would write a section on the benefits of throwing and catching babies, after all? Stanton makes it clear that “different doesn’t mean inferior”: Different means different’think unique if that helps’and many of these female and male differences show us how important, vital, and necessary both male and female are for society and the family. Each has essential qualities, strengths as well as weaknesses, that the other doesn’t have. And to back that up, he gives equal space to raising boys and raising girls; they even get their own…

Book review: Tokens of Grace
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Tokens of Grace Cape Breton’s Open-air Communion Tradition Publisher: Cape Breton University Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Compared to the history of our neighbour/neighbor to the south, the history of Canada is not quite as explosive. Even so, a lifetime of study could not exhaust the social, political, and economic events and upheavals seen and experienced north of the 49th parallel. Then there is the religious history of the nation, of which Canadian church history is a subset. In her 2006 book Tokens of Grace: Cape Breton’s Open-air Communion Tradition, history professor Laurie Stanley-Blackwell focuses in upon the rise and demise of Cape Breton’s annual Gaelic tradition of outdoor mass communion. In all probability, the book will not prove overly rewarding for those unable to summon up a modicum of interest in the niche historical topics of Gaelic culture, church history in Canada, linguistic history in Canada, or the sociological phenomena of groupthink and/or individualism. However, Tokens of Grace should adequately engross any reader even remotely interested in any one or more of those areas. Author Stanley-Blackwell writes in an evocative style and knows just how much detail to include ‘ or leave out ‘…