Category Archives: Religion

Surprised by Hope by Wright

My daughter was reading this in a NT college class so I read along with her. This is Wright’s attempt to refocus Christians on the resurrection that happens at the point of salvation, here and now, instead of a future hope in an otherworldly heaven.

Surprised by Hope
Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the of the Church

by N.T. Wright
HarperOne
February 2008

I found the book to be both challenging as well as explanatory. Challenging in the sense that we can work towards bringing the Kingdom here without going full Social Gospel, which I think can become a works oriented, and sometimes idolatrous, gospel. We can find a balance between God does the changing/ fixing and we were created for good works. It’s a balance that I haven’t solved, but I’m convinced I should be doing a better job living the Kingdom now.

It was also explanatory in the sense that I have, seemingly apart from Christianity, come to believe that the escapism of the modern western church is wrong and that I feel strongly that certain injustices should be addressed. I believe that mistreatment of creation (environment) and animals (factory farms) is wrong, that the enslavement of people literally and through debt or poverty is wrong, and that the wrongs we see around us aren’t just supposed to make us upset or tut-tut, but should spur us to action. Feeling that way but being raised in a Western church didn’t mix and didn’t give me a justification for these feelings being Biblically based calls to action and definitely not connected to resurrection or the Kingdom. Wright connected the dots for me.

I recommend this book highly.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Abolition of Man by Lewis

This very short collection of lectures is a fascinating look at a mid last century argument against, what I believe we now call, postmodernism.

The Abolition of Man
by C.S. Lewis
1943

Lewis argues most vigorously against the attack on reason that a couple authors of a school text make, knowingly or not. The idea that sets Lewis off is a seeming rejection of objective reality; that things are objectively true regardless of our opinions. He carefully makes his argument without referring to Christianity or any religion at all, but falls back on what he calls the Tao or – and Lewis readers will recognize this one – natural law.

This argument is a winning one, but unfortunately we see that nearly 80 years later society has embraced it. Postmodernism and relativism rule academia and culture. “My truth” and “your truth” are accepted even though they don’t exist, objectively. “That’s how you see it” or “That’s your opinion” have not only been shown to be as destructive as Lewis anticipated but lead to exactly where he warns us: the death, or abolition, of all objective knowledge.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Great Divorce by Lewis

I’ve read this classic before and revisiting this quick read is definitely worth it.

The Great Divorce
By C.S. Lewis
1945

For those that don’t know, the whole story is a dream that the main character has of waking up in Hell in a line for a bus that is taking a trip to Heaven. In Heaven we observe several miserable visitors as they are wooed and pleaded with to join citizens of Heaven (that they knew in life).

The story is very reminiscent of Lewis’ Screwtape Letters in that we aren’t supposed to take this as a true theology of Heaven and Hell, but instead we are to see the character and decisions we make in choosing Hell over Heaven. While Screwtape takes the point of view of a tempter of vice, this book takes the point of view of the sinner choosing vice. So long as we see this book from that perspective and not an attempt at theology of Heaven – or an attempt to paint Lewis as a Universalist – this is a great book.

Insightful as always and cutting for those of us who still struggle to choose Joy instead of Self. With the reminder ever so often.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Blessed are the Misfits by Hanson

I don’t often listen to the radio but I’m always excited when Brant comes on. He speaks clearly and with love. He knows the Bible well and, I think, has a good grasp of God as well. So I was excited to read his new book. It wasn’t a let down.

Blessed are the Misfits
by Brant Hanson
Thomas Nelson
November 2017

This book is about how those of us who are introverted, different, odd, and even those of us who may have a syndrome like Brant’s Aspergers, can find a place in the largest of big tents in God’s kingdom.

I found a lot to relate to and a release on certain aspects of my faith that just wasn’t like everyone else’s, and that I subconsciously blamed on myself. I must not be seeking God enough. That’s why I didn’t feel his presence at church this week. It’s good to know I’m not the only one. Definitely worth the read.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Paul Behaving Badly by Richards and O’Brien

A book that asks the question, is the Apostle Paul a racist, chauvinist jerk?

Paul Behaving Badly
by Richards and O’Brien
IVP
November 2016

I found it to be an excellent resource on questions and topics that come up frequently in discussion about Christianity, like, the role of women, homosexuality, and Paul’s sometimes aggressive arrogance. Each section digs into the claims to make the case against Paul and then domains the truth about him using historical criticism and exegesis.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible

This isn’t just a study Bible for kids!

NIV Kid’s Visual Study Bible
Zondervan
June 2017

The only thing that sets this Bible apart from other study Bibles for adults is that the cover says this is for kids. This has study notes, pictures, maps, explanations and descriptions just like what you would find in your adult or teen study Bible. Everything is easy to understand and at a reading level that older children can comprehend. (My 10 year old was able to read the notes with no issues.)

Normally, I don’t like seeing a ton of new versions of the same study Bibles, but in this case I think this is one that stands apart for how comprehensive it is with the notes and visual aspects. I already had a couple of study Bibles for my two young sons, but this one will preplace those as the go to version.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

Befriend by Sauls

Befriend will challenge and encourage us to examine our hearts when it comes to moving towards “other” with the same love Jesus has towards us. Saul’s honesty and vulnerability makes it easy to swallow and stomach the hard truths we ignore when it comes to our prejudices towards “others” that don’t fit in to our norms. Very good book that I highly recommend.


Victoria Mason is a married, stay-at-home mom of six who loves learning, reading and studying God.

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood by Humphrey

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. They have complicated, detailed designs that help calm and focus and ultimately reduce stress. Coupling this with a daily devotional sends like a great idea. But it isn’t done well at all.

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood
Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom
by Sarah Humphrey
Abingdon Press
August 2016

See the included picture for example of how this utterly fails at being a coloring book. This is a random picture that is very representative of what can be found. The drawings are sparse and uninteresting. They are all hearts and flowers with very little detail and no difference between pages. There is a ton of open space. Nothing that makes the artist do fine designs or focus on the miniscule details.

The cover design is more detailed than almost every page inside the book.

I’m very disappointed.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps by Guthrie

Timely advice, unfortunately.

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)
By Nancy Guthrie
Crossway
September 2016

I read this book a couple months after my father died and about the time that my wife’s grandmother died. I wasn’t sure how to respond and whether or not how I felt about how others responded to me was normal or not. This book answered those questions.

Guthrie does a great job of explaining why we should or shouldn’t say something or anything. Each section has details on why she is making the case for the response she recommends in certain situations and then she does an admirable job of sharing her own story of loss to bring the message home. While that would be the end of it in most books, Guthrie goes a step further and includes actual quotes from others who went through grieving and what worked for them and what didn’t. I found these parts the most eye opening. Some of the quotes seem reasonable but the way they came across to a hurting person was surprising and enlightening. They also served as a warning. I don’t want to make those mistakes when I’m speaking to friends about losses.

The only place I felt this book fell short was in the redundancy. I felt that after the first few chapters a lot of what Guthrie said was already said. I got the point early on and then felt it became repetitive to the point that I ended up skipping through the mid to end part, reading the examples but skimming the author’s content. This could have probably been an even shorter book that it was. Whatever the case, the beginning is worth the price of admission.

I used specific tactics learned here with my wife and also with a friend who lost his mother. They worked. They understood how much I cared and really opened up about their loss. This book will help you gain very effective was of communicating.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Cartmell

8SimpleToolsForRaisingGreatKids_3DWe all know how to be great parents, right? That’s why our kids are coming out perfectly and they never have any trouble. Oh, wait…

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids
by Dr. Todd Cartmell
Moody Publishers
January 2015

The title says 8 tools, but in reality the author includes 40 tools in 8 categories. Each of the 40 small chapters is about 3 pages long, many starting with an anecdote from counseling children or his own life and including simple ideas for overcoming the challenge.

In fact, my favorite parts of this book were the stories from his counseling. Listening to children say things that no parent would ever want to hear of themselves is motivating and convicting. Nearly every chapter I found something I should do better.

For that reason and others I highly recommend this ready to read and digest book.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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