On This Day in Christian History (A Review)

I like history.  I really like Christian History.  Just take one glance around my office and you will notice that most of the books on my shelves were written by dead guys (actually they wrote the books and then they died).  You might also notice a long shelve filled with biographies and still another shelf filled with volumes of Church history.  You will also notice a magazine stack of Christian History Magazines.  I’m a history guy.  I’m a Christian history guy.

So when On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes came up for review, I jumped at the chance to review it.  And it didn’t disappoint.  There are so many things that I like about this book and  it is hard to summarize in just a few words, so let me say this… it’s the perfect gift for a guy like me.  I can also see it being a great read for someone who is interested in getting a glimps at the people and events of Christian history.

The stories are generally inspiring.  There is a scripture verse at the bottom of the page that brings relevance and meaning to the previously read story.  There is a fascinating topic index in the back of the book allowing readers to look up stories according to topic. Over all it does a great job at achieving its purpose (a bite sized reading of what happened in Christian history on a particular day) in a way that encourages readers to stay engaged in the book.  I dare you to just read one day’s history when you get the book.

I  highly recommend On This Day in Christian History to anyone interested in Christian history.  To beginners its an easy read, small commitment book that will give you a broad spectrum view of Christian History.  To well educated history nerds like myself it will allow you to pull out of a narrowed genre of Church history (I find myself often in the Reformation and the Puritan Eras)  to appreciate a broader scope of history in a way that doesn’t take a lot of time.  Plus, everyone wants to know what happened in Christian history on your birthday.   The retail price is $12.99 (paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $9.35. I really like this book and at under $10 it makes a great dirty Santa gift when you are getting together with history nerds… unfortunately, we are a rare breed.  I gave it five stars.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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.”

    Review: “The White Horse King” by Benjamin Merkle

    The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great
    by Benjamin Merkle is an amazing book filled with great detail about the awe inspiring life of Alfred the Great.  Alfred was the fifth son of AEthelwulf  king of Wessex (AD 839 – 858) and by all accounts was unlikely to ever assume the throne.  Yet, through a series of unfortunate events aided by the viking raids on the Southern kingdoms of what is now called Britan, Alfred found himself wearing his father’s crown and tasked with finding a way to forge peace and prosperity for his people in the midst of viking rampage.  Alfred was eventually not only successful in repelling the viking onslaught but was able to initiate several military, cultural, and societal reforms that have set the baseline for Western civilization.

    Admittedly I did not know much about Alfred the great before I picked up this book, I was just looking for an inspiring and challenging biography.  I found that and so much more in this book.  I was greatly blessed to glean several leadership and life lessons from how this noble Anglo-Saxon and decidedly Christian king handled adverse situations, dealt with his enemies, inspired a literary revolution, and raised the quality of leadership in his kingdom.

    This is one of the best and most inspiring historical biographies I have read to date.   The White Horse King is an amazing book. The retail price is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available at places like Amazon.com for $11.24. I gave it five stars (and would have given it more if I could).

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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.”

    Here are some other book reviews:

    Review: Five Who Changed the World

    A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet a few gentlemen from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I was looking down the road a few years and trying to figure out what doctoral work would look like.  In the process of conversation the representatives of Southeastern were able to share with me in great detail about the seminary and their president, Daniel Akin, and offered me a copy of his book, “Five Who Changed the World.”

    Finally last week I had the opportunity to read through the book.  While I am greatly familiar with Christian biographies (I’ve been reading them since I was 16 and helped found and sponsored the Christian Heritage Conference that we held in Mobile for several years), I was blessed to read Akin’s book.  Originally each chapter was a missions message delivered in the chapel at Southeastern.

    These five messages now written down and combined in book form are challenging and motivating.  Though these messages do not contain a great amount of biographical detail they are very motivational and challenging.  I was blessed to be drawn to the heart of worshiping God through mission.  Each chapter details the life of a missionary (William Carey, Adoniram and Ann Judson, Bill Wallace, Lottie Moon, and Jim Elliot) combined with a passage of Scripture that each missionary illustrated throughout their life.

    You can find the book in hard cover on Amazon.com for $15.  You can find our more about Daniel Akin and resources he has written and produced here.  The original sermons that have been recorded in print in this book can also be found free of charge here on his site.

    I highly recommend this brief book to anyone interested in understanding Christian mission.  It is a quick read and highly motivational (I was drawn to tears over and over again).  I give it 5 stars.

    3 books that have profoundly influenced my life

    I have to be honest about two things. First, I should state that I was influenced by the authors, not just the books themselves. I have since read many books by many of these men and enjoy the conversation I have with each one. Second, with the exception of John Piper, the authors on this list are dead. God has used them in a mighty way past the years he has given them on this earth. I am thankful that though they are dead, they still speak.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/2677422743/

    1. Desiring GodJohn Piper

    I first read this book while still in school at the University of Mobile and it opened up a world for me to begin to understand God in a way that I had never understood him before.  I was amazed to discover that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”  I don’t think any other single person (short of my parents) has had the level of impact on my thinking.  I was blessed to hear a sermon by Dr. Piper a little later that year entitled “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain.”  (you can listen to the same sermon for free here.) I have never been the same.

    2. Pilgrim’s ProgressJohn Bunyan

    I read pilgrims progress when I was a child at a small Christian School in Montana.  I have since read and reread it in several different modern English versions.  It was through John Bunyan that I was introduced to the rich application of the scriptures.  I have never read another book that so completely described the Christian journey.  I think this is the book I have shared most often with others. It was once a theme for a Disciple Now and a Christian Heritage Conference Its an easy read, but spiritually challenging.

    3. How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleDale Carnegie

    I picked up the 1936 edition of this book and read it when I was 16 years old.  A speech teacher had told me about it and I set out to read it.  It profoundly shaped the way I communicate and made me a different person.  Dale Carnegie taught me to take a genuine interest and really care about people.

    What about you?  What books or people have greatly influenced your life?

    5 Reasons to Read (Non-fiction)

    I like to read.  I really like to read.  I really like to read non-fiction.  Granted there are many people in this world who are more excellent readers and read quite a lot more than I do on a regular basis (I try to average 1 book every other week).  So when I was asked why I read so  much I was kind of shocked (I’ve heard of people who will read a book a day).  First that someone would not know of good reasons to read and second that they thought I read a lot of books (truthfully I consider myself  a slow reader).  So I decided I would post a few reasons to read non-fiction.  These are just a few of the many benefits of reading.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/austinevan/1225274637/

    1.  Reading engages the mind of a person in thought in ways that other types of media do not.  Reading is a long conversation with the author of the book.  Thoughts, ideas, illustrations, and stories are all presented in such a way as to provoke the reader to profound thought on a variety of subjects from the simplicity of beauty to the depth of our understanding of physics.

    2. Reading provides clarity. Writing is the most referenced form of communication.  What is written can easily be referenced and referred back to.  Readers can highlight and underline passages.  Words can be looked up and examined.  Troubling thoughts find themselves explained in the context of the larger work.

    3. Reading is reader paced. Not everyone reads at the same pace.  Those who read and comprehend faster can enjoy gaining information at their own personal pace.  Likewise slower readers are not hurried through material.

    4. Reading is an act of humility. When one submits to read a non-fiction book for the sake of gaining information on a project or concept the reader is admitting that he/she can gain from the insight of others.  This is an act of humility.

    5. Reading is prudent. You can read anywhere.  Reading is a good use of time when waiting in line or for a lunch appointment to show up.  Before the great inventions of Tivo and DVR much of my reading was done while the compercials were showing.

    Are you a reader?

    Why do you read or not read?

    What books have had the most profound influence on your life? (I’ll share my top 5 in the next post)

    Short Post: Christian Heritage Conference

    heritage-conference-2007 So we are on the verge of another great Disciple Now and I started to think about all of the great events that I have had a privilege to be a part of in the past.  God has really blessed me to be a part of some cool things!  Disciple Now’s, Hunger for the Harvest, Camps, Christian Heritage Conference, etc.

    Next to Disciple Now the most amazing events I have ever helped put together were the Christian Heritage Conferences.  We would pray over a theme, set up a team of helpers, develop a registrations strategy, line up a top notch speaker, get the word out, set up a bookstore, and all on a shoe string budget.  It was amazing!

    Christian Heritage Conference

    Though I cannot speak for the reason others were inspired, my inspiration came from a well spring of two sources.

    One: The rappid movement in our day to redefine “church.” In the struggle to go back to Acts 2 many have missed the blessings that the church fathers in the first few centuries have handed to us as a guide to understanding and interpreting the scriptures (mainly the Rule of Faith).  In that many have also completely abandoned church history in order to become a “pure” church like the one in the New Testament.  (Which one? Corinth, Ephesus, Pyrgumum, Colasae?)  I figured that if we were to take our people down such a road that they should not do so with complete ignorance of what God has done through out history with faithful men and women so that we might be able to face the new gnosticism that such a forgetfulness will soon employ.  In short: if we do not learn from the past we are doomed to repeat its error and find ourselves facing the same obstacles that have already once been overcome.

    Two: John Piper’s lectures in  Christian Biography.  I had to make a 16 hour ride home to Missouri one year while in college and was blessed to be able to listen to over 16 hours straight of the lives and times of great men that God had used to bring glory to his name throughout history. I understood then why history (for good or for ill) contributes to who we are today.

    From these two wells of inspiration and a great friend and partner in ministry (Kyle Claunch).  The Christian Heritage Conference was born to popularize an education of Church history for the benefit of the whole church.

    Like all things it morphed and changed over the years.  We covered a variety of historical figures and had a variety of Top notch Speakers.  We learned to advertise outside of our local areas and expand our vision beyond college students.   We contacted home-school associations, history and theology departments at local colleges and history clubs at local high schools.    We also contacted pastors in the surrounding associations.  We began to hold registrations so we could pull more people in earlier in the next years event.