Book Reviews

Overcoming Adversity by Carl Garrigus: Book Review

Overcoming Adversity The Book of James

(Photo Credit: CrossLink Publishing)

In Overcoming Adversity: Life Lessons from the Book of James, Dr. Carl Garrigus demonstrates how the Book of James can be employed to aid people in rising above life’s challenges. For Garrigus, who holds doctoral degrees in History and Theology, defeating adversity requires a stronger relationship with Christ and an increasingly maturing faith in Him. A false relationship with Jesus will leave one powerless to combating the trials life presents, and a person may struggle with these trials for many years, years without joy and peace. Garrigus teaches the reader how to establish and maintain an authentic and effective relationship with Christ, one that leads to pure gratitude for such a relationship.

Garrigus emphasizes the significance of responding to God’s call to perform good works, which strengthens their ability to experience victory over the adversities they face. Instead of viewing trying circumstances through a negative lens, the scholar exhorts readers to use these circumstances as opportunities to perfect one’s faith.

As a believer, one has to recognize he or she is not seeking victory; he or she is operating from victory. This is a biblical reality for believers I wish the author would have explicitly stated. To experience such victory, one does not need to “reengage” with God as Garrigus posits; he or she simply needs to believe what God said: Christ leads us to triumph in all phenomena we encounter. “Reengage” seems to communicate that believers need to do something, perform some work, some work of the flesh, to earn their victory. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Jesus has already made our victory available to us through the finished work of the Cross.

To his credit, though, the scholar does explain that believers have God available to aid them in developing a constantly maturing and effective faith. Dr. Garrigus provides a powerful word of wisdom: “When a trial comes, don’t turn away from God but toward Him” (p. 13).This statement would be even stronger by instructing readers to remain focused on God and never “turn away from” Him. If he would’ve made this point, then there wouldn’t be a need to advocate for his readers to “reengage.”

Overall, this is a worthwhile read that can help many believers, especially those struggling with their faith, to rely on God for their strength to conquer adversities. I very much appreciate how Dr. Garrigus articulates such confidence in the efficacy of a true and engaging relationship with God. Each chapter of this short book (fifty-five pages total) ends with “Five Questions for Exploration,” affording readers opportunities to plumb nuances of ideas communicated.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to assist with this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Never Give Up by John Mason: Book Review

Never Give Up by John Mason

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

John Mason’s Never Give Up: You’re Stronger Than You Think offers readers 52 powerful “nuggets,” motivation keys, to encourage them to choose faith in what’s possible over toxic unbelief. Mason, a minister, inspirational speaker, and best-selling author of many books, including You Can Do It—If Others Say You Can’t and You Can Be Your Best—Starting Today, desires for people to remain committed to their dreams. The author contends that people fail to tap the perseverance that lies within them.

Mason’s principal inspiration for penning this book is those on the verge of surrendering their dreams. He desires for them to regain their commitment to their dreams and to pursue those dreams with passion. As I reflect on the millions of people living in poverty, I wonder how many of those individuals stopped believing in their dreams, how many stopped believing in themselves before falling prey to poverty.

The author notes that everyone has been blessed with certain abilities, and those abilities can propel them to success. Unfortunately, too many people compare their abilities with those of others, leading them often to feeling inadequate, an inadequacy that emerges because they’re too busy concentrating on what they don’t have instead of cherishing what they do have.

For Mason, when a person receives God’s salvation, He places purpose, His purpose, on the inside of him or her: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). The author states that one of the most vital points in this verse is “the fact that God doesn’t quit. Therefore, we can have great confidence that He will complete the good work He has begun in us” (p. 15). When we place our confidence in God’s confidence about us, then fear doesn’t have an opportunity to disrupt our belief in what God declares we can accomplish.  

I teach my students about the value of a question, and I was pleased to see Mason share a similar value and enthusiasm for inquiry. People often rush to arrive at an answer without investing the necessary time to pose the right question.  

Even if a person is not deeply spiritual or is an atheist, this book still offers significant value. Mason’s book serves as a constant reminder that believing in yourself is essential to executing any task and achieving your heart’s greatest desires.

I strongly recommend everyone to purchase and read this book. It’s one of those works you can treat as a devotional, one you can use as daily motivation to overcome challenges the day may present.

Revell Books provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

All In For Him by Gwen Thielges: Book Review

 

Gwen Thielges

(Photo Credit: Gwen Thielges)

In All In For Him: Twenty-One Devotions For College Athletes, Gwen Thielges offers college student-athletes a 21-day devotional that empowers them to combine strong athletic preparation and performance with robust spiritual practice and commitment. For Thielges, any athlete, including a college student-athlete, cannot become a complete athlete without building and buttressing his or her spiritual life and foundation. Intending this book to inspire college athletes to develop a closer relationship with Christ and use their platform to display His glory, the author wants these athletes to maximize the potential of their platform to spread Christ’s message and win souls for Him. This book aims to help college student-athletes practice daily gratitude for the opportunity Jesus has given them to perform athletically and be a part of an athletic team.

Athletes, at any level, will find the “Day 1” devotion quite useful: begin the season with a prayer for God’s favor.  The “Day 3” devotion calls for them to abandon negative thinking and discourse and refuse to surround themselves with negativity in any form. On “Day 7,” Thielges makes an important point for college student-athletes to pray for their coaches. As any athlete knows, and the author highlights, a coach is a critical dimension of any team’s success, for if the team is to experience success, it will need a coach who employs principle and discipline.

In a postmodern epoch where many college student-athletes demonstrate such egregious selfishness, “Day 8” provides a sobering reminder of their need to commit themselves to humility and place their confidence in Christ. If athletes, as “Day 10” explains, walk in humility and in the confidence of God, they will serve as role models for their community, nation, and world. Living a humble life, one where confidence in God is at the center of the athlete’s life, he or she will have a proper understanding of how to conduct himself or herself when using social media, as revealed in “Day 12” and “Day 13.”  

Thielges encourages college student-athletes to win with grace. When one considers how nasty, how vicious college sports have increasingly become, her words are timely, calling these athletes, specifically Christian athletes, to serve as an example of what grace looks like in athletic competition. For the author, when athletes win with grace, it’s not about belittling their opponents but more about thanking God for the opportunity to perform successfully and more about showing gratitude for the spirited competition their opponents gave them.

As a coach and scholar who focuses on student-athletes, I am happy to see this book published. For this book to reach its maximum value, it must reach the hands of as many college student-athletes as possible. The publisher and/or author needs to send a copy of this book to college athletic departments across the nation. While this will cost some money to do, I’m confident that this will be a profitable investment, leading to a significant increase in sales, and more importantly, strengthening the lives of college student-athletes.  

To have an interest in purchasing and reading this book, one, most likely, will need to an authentic investment in student-athletes, especially college student-athletes, for its written to and for them. Having said that, though, I would recommend that coaches, athletic administrators, higher education administrators, advisors, mentors, and tutors of college student-athletes, parents of current and future college student-athletes, and serious college sports fans read this book. By reading this book, one gains a stronger understanding of what college student-athletes need, the challenges they face, and how to maximize their impact on and off the field.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Victorious Living through Heaven’s Great Hope by Victor Morgan: A Brief Book Review

Heaven's Great Hope

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In Victorious Living through Heaven’s Great Hope: A Divine Revelation of Hope Granted for Overcoming in Challenging Times, Victor Morgan offers readers a scriptural treatment of hope. For the author, closely engaging the biblical notion of hope is necessary during these precarious times. According to Morgan, those who will experience success during these times will embrace and apply hope in every area of their lives. Dr. Morgan declares that hope is God’s gift to humans, allowing them to find wholeness even in seemingly impossible conditions. While this book does not intend to provide the reader with an exhaustive understanding of biblical hope, the reader comes away from a reading of this work with some valuable knowledge about hope.

The writing could have been much better. Lower tiered seminaries or theological schools like Interdenominational Theological Center and Zoe University aren’t known for the most rigorous research and writing standards/expectations, however. Also, at times, the writer makes statements that need to benefit from scriptural support. When Dr. Morgan cites verses, he gives a fairly decent explanation of them and how they relate to the “divine revelation of hope” he intends to divulge.

The greatest strength of the book lies in the inspiration it furnishes about the hope we have in Jesus. This book will motivate you to do a careful and comprehensive study of biblical hope.

Although Dr. Morgan’s work has its problems, it’s a worthwhile read. The author demonstrates a strong understanding of biblical hope and passes it along to the reader. In media and politics we hear and read much about “hope,” often a deeply confused idea of hope; this scholar, however, imparts an informed, scriptural-based rendering of hope.

I recommend this book.

Book Crash supplied a copy of Dr. Morgan’s book to help facilitate this honest review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible: A Short Review

The TouchPoint Bob Santos

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible, Bob Santos offers an understanding of how a close engagement with the bible allows the Believer to experience authentic encounters with God. The author explains that a serious commitment to the Word of God will cure hardened hearts. Also, Santos gives the reader a fundamental overview of the bible. This work strives to make the bible clearer for all readers. In fact, the author devotes an entire chapter, “Understanding the Bible,” to aiding Believers in gaining deeper revelations about God’s Word.

Too many pastors and preachers lack a real knowledge of the Word of God. Instead of making strong investments in receiving proper knowledge about it, they harmfully substitute biblical truths with their own, subjective advice. Living in this evil and dangerous world, one cannot afford to miss constant encounters with God available through reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God.

Without question, I highly recommend this book. The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible promises to buttress one’s relationship with God. Contrary to many apostolic and pentecostal churches’ teachings, a God-encounter emerges from reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God and not from simply shouting, dancing, and speaking in tongues.

In exchange for a fair assessment, Book Crash supplied me with a copy of this book to pen this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Between Pain & Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering: A Brief Review

Between Pain and Grace

(Photo Credit: Design Corps)

In Pain & Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering, Gerald W. Peterman and Andrew J. Schmutzer offer a thorough and astute assessment of Scripture’s treatment of pain and grace.  Although many readers, especially those who are not advanced bible students or theologians, will find Peterman and Schmutzer’s assertion that God experiences suffering unsettling, their argument on this topic is worthwhile to consider. For those of us who understand the realities of anger, the scholars’ view of anger as a type of suffering may be satisfying.  They discuss mental health and sexual abuse in the context of suffering. What one will discover from this text is his or her faith in what grace has made available will lead him or her to triumph over pain and suffering.

Unlike most books concentrating on pain and suffering that relate them in such generic ways, this work concatenates biblical truths and evidence with clinical research about pain and suffering. I found this book to demonstrate how powerful the grace of Christ is in helping believers to overcome the challenges and problems they experience. As Peterman and Schmutzer explain, pain and suffering are unavoidable in this life. How we elect to confront them will determine our outcomes, however. After reading this book, many readers are likely to increase their faith and trust in Christ’s ability to enable them to rise above pain and suffering.

I highly recommend this book. In a nation and world where elevating violence and hate can seem unbearable, Peterman and Schmutzer remind us that the Finished Work of the Cross has already conquered the pain and suffering we face. It is our job to partake of the grace Jesus has extended to defeat pain and suffering.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

American Woman’s Bible, NKJV: A Short Review

American Woman's Bible

Photo Credit: BookLook Bloggers

The American Woman’s Bible: Women, Godly Virtues, and the Making of America (New King James Version) contains the Word of God translated in language much more accessible than the King James Version, and this particular edition of the bible includes inspiring American women’s history throughout to complement particular books and chapters of the bible. It also contains a helpful concordance.

 
This edition of the bible offers a pleasant reading experience: colored-print, illustrations, various biographies of key women in American history, and more. Most readers will learn some critical phenomena about American history—all while immersing themselves in God’s Word. Durability will never become an issue with this book; it’s well-crafted. With an excellent typeface and print in general, this bible is likely to become the primary bible one reads. Guys shouldn’t think this is a bible simply for women—it’s a bible for everyone.

 
Although this is an excellent bible, it would have been even better if it supplied the reader with study helps. A bible does not have to be a study bible to provide the reader with study helps. I still highly recommend purchasing and reading this bible.

 
In exchange for my honest review, BookLook Bloggers furnished me with a copy of this bible.

 
Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison