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Israel Under Fire by John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung

John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung come together to create “Israel Under Fire: The Prophetic Chain of Events That Threatens the Middle East,” a book that promises to explain the Biblical predictions concerning the current events in Israel, how what happens in Israel affects the rest of the world, and answers the age old question, “Will there ever be peace in the Middle East.” To come to these answers Ankerberg and DeYoung interview – on location in Israel and the Middle East – many of the policy makers and experts who would be close to the situation, such as, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel and Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of the Knesset in Israel.

Ankerberg and DeYoung are less authors than interviewers for much of the book (and interviewees, as I will explain.) The authors claim that the book will answer questions and give a Biblical basis for the current events in Israel. To accomplish these goals the authors provide a brief history how the modern state of Israel came to be and what exactly is currently happening in Israel. On these points, I found that the authors were successful. Unfortunately, this was only one part of the book.

In the second part of the book, the authors interview current world leaders and here is where I feel the book goes awry. I had two issues here. First, the authors advertise on the back cover that they interview Adnan Husseini, Yasser Arafat’s cousin and Palestinian Authority spokesman. While, it is true, it is a little misleading as he is one of three world leaders advertised yet he appears in only one very short section with only a couple of questions, while the others leaders, Jewish pundits exclusively, are interviewed extensively. This is far from balanced coverage.

Second, the authors didn’t just interview pundits they agreed with – they also interviewed each other. I understand that the authors may be experts in a field but their opinions should be bolstered by other expert’s opinions, statistics, reports and the like. Author’s opinions should not be proved by their own opinions. The issue of lack of documentation and proof isn’t just relegated to their opinions in interviews. Unfortunately, the authors take comments and opinions from pundits they agree with for granted, moving right past controversial quotes that cry out for data that reinforces the opinion. The only reference in the book to an outside source (other than the Bible) is on page 156 (of 174).

In the third section of the book, the authors attempt to tie current events with Biblical prophecy. I would expect that anyone, after reading this book, even someone who has no experience with Biblical prophecy or current events, would be able to walk away understanding the “prophetic chain of events that threaten the Middle East.” What I found in this section, though, was confusion. To explain a complicated book like Revelation, I would expect we would start at the beginning and work our way through the (purported) time line from start to finish. I would expect that current events would be tied in to the timeline to show how the events fit into the puzzle. I would expect that the authors would show how these events work together to fulfill prophecy. Unfortunately, Ankerberg and DeYoung did not make a convincing connection for me.

While I did find the first section of the book interesting, this book left me unsatisfied in my search for connections between current events and Biblical prophecy. Revelation itself is already difficult to understand and I found the authors didn’t accomplish their goal of making it accessible and understood by the reader.

As much as I would have liked to, I cannot recommend this book to anyone but Bible prophecy buffs.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

Focus on the Family and Tyndale take C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, a series of imaginative and insightful letters from a senior demon, the title character Screwtape, to his novice nephew Wormwood, and add over four hours of audio by an accomplished cast of actors, like Andy Serkis, Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies as Screwtape, and 10 original songs written for this production all in 5.1 surround sound. The Collectors Edition comes with 4 CDs and 1 DVD in a tri-fold case with original artwork with a slipcover. All 10 original songs are included in their entirety on disc four. Disc 5 includes behind the scenes featurettes.

Anyone familiar with the original book by Lewis will instantly recognize his witty and timely message; nothing is lost in the translation. The actors play their part just right – not too over the top and certainly not blandly. The original score hits just the right creepy note. The benefits of the 5.1 surround sound can not be over-stated.

The packaging is well done and gives the impression of worth even though the set only costs about $27 on Amazon.com
. ($39.99 MSRP.)

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this well done audio dramatization of Lewis’ excellent book. So many times the publishers don’t put in the effort on audio books and we end up with a lame soundtrack read by a boring voice actor. Not so with The Screwtape Letters. I highly recommend it to you.

For more information visit the official site.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Search to Belong by Joseph R. Myers

I think I have a new rule. Never buy a book from someone who describes themselves as any of the following: thinker, multipreneur, interventionist or futurist. This new rule has nothing to do with whether or not I enjoyed this book. It’s based more on the fact that even now I really dislike seeing these terms on the cover of the book. I dislike people making up new words that they take seriously! What about titles that are – well should be – prerequisites of writing a book? “Oh, you’re a thinker? Well, I better buy your book!” Glad that’s finally off my chest!

The Search to Belong by “futurist” Joseph R. Myers is “a practical guide for pastors and church leaders who struggle building community that values belonging over believing” according to the back title. Sarcasm aside, Meyers does bring some helpful information to the reader that does what he promises.

Myers does a very good job of explaining his opinions about the four types of belonging (public, social, personal, and intimate.) I was impressed by his argument that it’s OK for people in the church to stay in the public or social spaces; we don’t need to, and shouldn’t try to, push people towards intimacy.

While reading the book I couldn’t help but compare my own church, Springhouse Worship & Arts Center, with the principles that Myers was commenting on. Did Springhouse push people towards uncomfortable belonging spaces? Does Springhouse have a “front porch?”

My main complaint with the book was how dry it was. There were parts that weren’t interesting and were a challenge to get through. It picks up by the end and I do believe it is worthwhile to read.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Called to Worship by Vernon M. Whaley

Called to Worship: the Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call by Vernon M. Whaley is billed as answering the question “Is how we worship Biblical?” by moving methodically through the Bible to examine how others have responded historically. While I was very excited to get a copy of this book and after slogging through the first half of the book it (for the most part) lived up to my expectations. The book reads like a survey of the Old and New Testaments with Whaley’s Principles of Worship (summaries at the end of each chapter,) connecting the Biblical stories to the Principles that he wants the readers to take away. These Principles do a good job of reminding the reader the worship is how we act in response to interaction with God.

The only complaint I have with the book is that I felt that Whaley sometimes forced the Biblical story to fit his Principle and many times the text didn’t support his conclusions. (See ch. 10 Elijah for the most obvious example.)

While Whaley doesn’t specifically list out or call out the ways we should or should not worship, readers leave with an excellent overview of how believers have historically worshiped through the Bible.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Expanded Bible

Recently, I got my hands on The Expanded Bible, New Testament, a new edition of the New Century Version that promised to incorporate the best of both the Formal and Functional Equivalence schools of interpretation in one volume. Coincidentally, I also needed to utilize a Bible for a youth curriculum I was writing for an upcoming weekend event at church. Recognizing that there are no “coincidences,” I opened the Expanded Bible to 1 John and read.

What I found was a version of the Bible that any teacher should love! Incorporated into the text, not as footnotes, which can be missed, are literal, alternative and traditional translations for words and phrases, giving the reader a fuller understanding of the text. Commentary is also incorporated. Unlike some Bibles, though, the Expanded Bible doesn’t overwhelm readers with opinions choosing instead to give the options for how to interpret passages to its readers.

At $29.99, the Bible is costly for a New Testament only version. But it’s thick pages, hard bound design give it a weighty, sturdy feel, which does seem to justify a slightly higher retail price point.

I highly recommend the Expanded Bible for all teachers and students of the Word. It’s an excellent addition to any library.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Faith of My Fathers by Chris Seay

I read Faith of My Fathers because of the interesting premise of three generations of pastors sharing, via dialogue, diverse opinions on topics of relevance to today’s culture. While it was interesting at times and an easy read there wasn’t as much insight to be gained as promised.

The book is mostly Seay’s opinion, and he has the final word, on relevant topics with quips from the other members of his family. When there were disagreements the grandfather tended to quit talking and the father seemed to cave a lot to the tag team of Seay and his brother along with Donald Miller, making a guest appearance.

The book didn’t live up to its promise or potential. Ultimately, an interesting but shallow look at a family and how they deal with each other.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Jesus Freaks (Voice of the Martyrs)

I love testimonies. I love listening to people I know – people I trust wont lie or mislead me – telling me about how God has worked in their lives and how God has come through for them. Testimonies build faith and hope. I was really looking forward to reading this book for that reason. I wanted to hear the testimonies of Christians in horrific situations refusing to recant or exchange their savior for the empty promises of the world.

Reading about situations that I can’t even imagine and how characters in the book respond was inspirational! The problem is that since this book suggests that the stories are real I was expecting authentication.

When I watch religious TV (rarely) I see people who claim miracles. I hear preachers saying that their ministry healed a bazillion people this year alone! I see people jumping around on stage and the “healer” saying that they couldn’t walk previously. My first thought is always, “show me the proof.” If these “healers” heal so many people wouldn’t there be some kind of evidence? Wouldn’t there be documentation of the before and after of each of these “healed” people showing miraculous change?

I’m not saying that I can’t believe in miracles. What I am saying is that I want to be discerning in who I trust and what I believe.

This book, unfortunately, ended up like the TV healers to me. So many of these stories were far fetched, had only first names or even no names, were about people and situations decades ago and seemed to have no way of knowing what was written was true. I remember stories that were written about a person who was in jail who had no way to communicate to those outside yet somehow the authors of this book were able to know the inner thoughts of the soon-to-be-martyred Christian. The authors also knew what the jailers said and did. How? Where is the evidence that this isn’t just an inspiring work of fiction?

Situations like the above example aren’t the exception in this book. Unfortunately, instead of testimonies from people we can trust with information we can verify what we get from this book is simply nothing more than stories.

If I am going to spend my time reading Christian fiction, I could go with Ted Dekker or Janette Oke or Francine Rivers (depending on genre preferences) and get a better story that also includes Christians in situations that give opportunity to prove out their faith.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Gospel According to Science Fiction by Gabriel McKee

Gabriel McKee sets out to explore how science fiction views theological issues, such as the nature of God, creation, souls, sin, and the afterlife, through how these have been portrayed in science fiction novels, television and film. Through the book the author uses his depth of science fiction knowledge to illustrate the connections that he has found between science fiction and religion. McKee uses illustrations from mainstream science fiction, like Battlestar Galactica (2003), Star Trek, Star Wars, the Matrix and the Twilight Zone, as well as science fiction that hardcore students of the genre will appreciate, like, Bova, Bradbury, Dick, Herbert, Heinlein, Silverberg and Vonnegut.

From the moment that I started reading McKee had me hooked. Admittedly, I am a big science fiction fan. Not just film either. My good friend Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, and science fiction author and reviewer, made certain of this by providing a gift of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964, which opened my eyes to the progress that science fiction has made through the years and also to the way that science fiction speaks to the zeitgeist.

Today, we are inundated by science fiction focused on the end of the world because we are worried about it. I am convinced that a student of history could read the science fiction of the day and get a better understanding of the concerns of the generation that they study than by using university history texts.

In the same way that science fiction is focused on the same things that all people are, it is only natural that we find science fiction to be preoccupied with religion. What more important question can there be than, “Is there a God?” Followed closely behind by, “If so what or who is it?” These are the starting points of any human’s quest to find purpose. “Why am I here?” “How do I live?” or even, “Am I real?”

McKee’s book is an enjoyable lesson in the history of science fiction that deals with religion. Fans of science fiction and people of faith will undoubtably enjoy this book immensly as I did.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.