Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our Man in Charleston (Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South)

This beautifully bound book will take you back to early Charleston, when the city, according to this author, was anything but beautiful: it was hot, dirty, disease-ridden, and reeking with the stench of slavery, and Robert Bunch called it "home" as he worked tirelessly to bring an end to one of the greatest evils ever known. 

I am ashamed to admit it, but I still don't know the truth of the origins of the Civil War. Was slavery really the root cause? According to this book, it was, and the attitudes and practices of the day were even more despicable than I knew.

I must admit that this book wasn't exactly what I had expected. I found it a little exhausting to read because there were so many names, places, and dates that I couldn't keep up. I felt like I was cramming for a history exam! Still, I did learn much about a critical time in our nation's history. As "mentally stretching" as it was to read, I felt myself drawn to it again and again. A more intellectual reader might enjoy it a lot more than I did. *sheepish smirk*  

4 out of 5 stars.

Available at

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living With Faith in a Hostile World

Charles "Chuck" Colson was no superhero. No saint. But he was a born again believer, dedicated and willing to work to spread the gospel to people who are forgotten. He saw a need, and worked to meet it as the founder of both Prison Fellowship International and Angel Tree.

I remember hearing Chuck Colson's Breakpoint several times, and I had, of course, heard about the Watergate Scandal and Colson's involvement, but I knew very little, nothing, actually, about the man. Owen Strachan gives a snapshot of Chuck Colson and his faith that made me truly appreciate this man and his work. 

The Colson Way offers to "show Christians a way of living a public faith with conviction and generosity toward all." And it delivers. It's an easy read and one that I plan to reference again and again. The emphasis on being a witness in our culture, being effective and relative, is a message that is sorely needed and all too rare these days. 

I was inspired by this book, and I highly recommend it. 

5 out of 5 stars.  

Book Description
A leading young theologian and public intellectual shows how the life and legacy of Chuck Colson can equip Christians to live a bold and loving faith in the public square.
During his life, Chuck Colson was the preeminent evangelical in American public life. He dedicated himself to public witness in the mold of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, creating and leading efforts such as Prison Fellowship, Angel Tree, Breakpoint, and the Centurions program. He worked tirelessly on behalf of humanity because he believed that all people needed help to flourish. He knew the importance of working practically to advance truth and justice in public. And he knew that to be courageous-and to speak and act courageously in line with Scripture-was by definition to be loving.
Chuck Colson's life reveals there is no division between truth and love, between embracing biblical guidance and loving our neighbor. The Colson Way uses the legacy and wisdom of Colson to show Christians a way of living in a public square increasingly hostile to evangelical conviction.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Bridge Builder: The Life And Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein GIVEAWAY!

I've always believed that the Bible teaches that the Jews are God's chosen people, and that Israel is their promised homeland. I've always been taught that we are to stand with Israel; to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.... " (Psalm 122:6;  When I read of how Israel came to be, and the miraculous birth of that tiny nation and hear of the miraculous way that it has survived, I feel deep emotion. However, I blush to admit that I know very little about Jewish beliefs and way of life. I did already know that Christians and Jews don't exactly see eye to eye, and that the name of Jesus is taboo, but that's pretty much the extent of my "knowledge".

The Bridge Builder is a fascinating read about one man who is attempting to bring about a mutual understanding between Christians and evangelicals. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein is described as a complex, hard working man whose desire to better the lives of his people is his consuming passion. As an evangelical, obviously I don't agree with the rabbi's religious views, but I do appreciate what he has done and is doing, and I hope that his efforts continue to bear much fruit. 

The bridge builder included eye opening details about historical events, as well as insights into how Jews view Christians, and especially the way they feel about efforts to evangelize. I still feel pretty clueless about the Jewish beliefs and views, but reading this book increased my desire to learn more. 

A quote I found particularly enlightening:

"The question is how Christians ought to {witness}; whether they'll bang us over the head with the gospel (as was done with catastrophic results over the centuries) or sensitively present this ' good news' and then let God and the Holy Spirit bring about whatever change God will." p. 103

The Bridge Builder gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. 

Enter to Win!
One of my readers will win a copy of this book! To enter, simply leave a comment here or under the giveaway post on my Facebook page. That's it! :) 

Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and Goodwill Ambassador for the State of Israel, Rabbi Eckstein has devoted more than 35 years to building bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews and broad support for the State of Israel.  He is recognized as the world's leading Jewish authority on evangelical Christians.  Rabbi Eckstein received Orthodox Rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University in New York.  He holds master's degrees from Yeshiva University and Columbia University, where he also completed studies for his doctorate.  Rabbi Eckstein has served on the faculties of Columbia University, Chicago Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Seminary.  He currently serves on the executive committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.  

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to promote understanding between Jews and Christians and build broad support for Israel and other shared concerns.  Their ministry's vision is that Jews and Christians will reverse their 2,000-year history of discord and replace it with a relationship marked by dialogue, respect, and cooperation.  Among the many things they do as an organization, they also create materials for teaching about the significance of connecting Israel and Christianity through such resources as A Woman of Valor: Celebrating The Proverbs 31 Women In Our Lives, A Man Of Faith: Reflections On Godly Leadership From The Ancient Shepherds Of Israel (both devotionals by Rabbi Eckstein), and Seven Fruits of Israel: Recipes And Devotions From The Holy Land (by Yael Eckstein).

About the book and the author:
Hardcover; 272 pages

Zev Chafets is the bestselling author of fourteen books of fiction, media criticism, and social and political commentary.  He has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and is a former columnist for the New York Daily News

Thanks to FlyBy Promotions for my copy of The Bridge Builder, and for the giveaway copy.   

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”