Category Archives: Christian Living

Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

Joshua Harris takes the well known, but not well understood, parable of the builder (who builds his home on the sand vs the builder who builds his home on the rock under the sand) and applies it in a rich and insightful way to our understanding of Christian doctrine and theology. Dug Down Deep calls the reader to a deeper understanding of Christianity; to the why not just the what of our belief. It is a call to a firm foundation that will lead to a revived love for and appreciation of God. Each of the chapters in the book, after the first couple which serve to introduce us to the topic, go into greater depth on a specific orthodox theology, explaining why it matters and how we apply that knowledge to our walk with Christ.

In reading this book I found a balance between head knowledge and its affect on heart. Too many times I have seen someone go to the extreme on either side. I’ve seen people go too far to knowledge side where they know so much about God but they may not actually know God, and I’ve seen the opposite where people experience God but have no idea what their experiences mean. This book is a great resource for those in your life (including yourself) that fit into one of those categories.

Highly recommended.

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.

Primal by Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson through his book Primal is calling for a reformation. Starting from the viewpoint that believes that Christianity is not what it is supposed to be, Batterson works through what he believes the most raw, purest form of Christianity should look like. Primal exegetes Mark 30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your Strength” by redefining what those characteristics should look like to modern readers. The result is a call to renewed compassion, wonder, curiosity and energy. Each of the four sections of Primal go in depth into each of these redefined – or properly defined – characteristics and calls the reader to become what Jesus was asking us to be.

Even though I consider myself to be well read and well versed in the so-called “It” pastors of my generation, I had never heard of Batterson till Primal until Multnomah sent me this book as a review copy. If his previous books are as convicting as this one then I count that a huge loss on my part! Primal is amazing. By far the best book of 2009. The combination of calls to compassion and energy with curiosity and wonder hit home for me in a way that other books didn’t. Bell’s book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, from last year, for instance, is a call to a reformed Christianity that is concerned about renewed compassion in the church, but is lacking Primal’s calls for curiosity and wonder at God’s creation. Batterson message fits with other authors I enjoy, like Bell, Miller and Driscoll but goes deeper than I’ve experienced before. I cannot recommend this enough.


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.

Fool-Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvious

Jan Silvious is a good friend and co-host with Kay Arthur with Precept’s Ministry. She’s an accomplished speaker and author. With credentials like this one would think she wouldn’t be published as a gift / budget book, but she is with Fool-Proofing Your Life. Priced at $6.99 (suggested) the book sports colorful if generic artwork on the cover and paper one step better than newspaper quality. If Silvious isn’t a name you recognize it is entirely likely that this book would be overlooked by most buyers. And that is the shame of it.

Fool-Proofing Your Life deals with something we all deal with in our over-medicated, over-indulgent culture: crazy people. I’m not talking about certifiably crazy, I’m talking about the people in our lives who drive us crazy with their actions. Or as the author and the Bible call them, “fools.”

Each of the three Parts, Is there a fool in your life?, Relating to your fool, and Wising up, include sub-sections like Think About It, where pointed questions guide the reader in the right direction through self discovery, Go to God About It and Go to the Bible About It, which both move the reader through prayer and scripture to come through the section with a Biblical view of how to deal with their reaction to the fools in their lives. Chapter 5 alone is worth the (small) price of the book with its’ succint definitions of the types of fools the reader may encounter and how to deal with them.

Well written and full of wisdom this book may not look like much but is hard to pass up at this price point.


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.

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.