Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review - Heaven How I got Here: The Story of the Thief on The Cross by Colin S Smith

would classify this book as creative nonfiction. As such, anyone thinking they are sitting down to a good novel, will be disappointed.  A good novel communicates truth by showing it to us.  Creative nonfiction is telling something, rather than showing something, using a fictional story. Lee Gutkind, a pioneer in creative nonfiction says “Ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction.”   I think this fairly sums up what Colin Smith accomplished in this book.

The Gospel is what Colin Smith lays out very clearly and nicely by imagining what the thief on the cross might have been thinking as he, along with Jesus was crucified. It is told from the vantage point of the thief, now happily in heaven, describing his life and thoughts while being crucified.
This book functions well to help one find words to explain the Gospel. It would help one who is struggling with how to share one’s faith; one’s experience of being ‘born again’.  It is also a good read for someone who does not understand the active and passive obedience of Christ. The thief on the cross explains both aspects of this in a very personal way.

I struggled through the first part of the book mostly because I was expecting a different genre, but I sang through the last half of this very quick read. It is 95 pages, large print, and worth taking the time to read it.

I received this book for free from Christian Focus Publications via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review – Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression by Zack Erswine.

Pastor and author Zack Eswine never fails to make me feel human again.  He writes in such a gentle and empathetic way, he manages to pour oil on my brokenness and supplies a companion through the dark days felt by those familiar with suffering.

In this book, Eswine artfully describes Spurgeon’s experience with depression and how he ministered both to himself and to those under his care. Surprisingly, the approach Spurgeon took toward understanding and treating depression is quite in line with today’s understanding and treatment recommended by both pastoral and secular experts today. In Spurgeon’s time and our time, there is a recognition that both physical and certain patterns of thinking contribute to depression. Treatment may involve both the wise use of medicine and pastoral care
The book is divided into three parts with four chapters for each part. In each of these three parts Eswine describes Spurgeon’s experience and counsel. Part one helps us to understand depression. He describes the condition and it’s causes. In part two we learn what helps and what doesn’t help those with depression. In part three are the helps that Spurgeon himself used and he discusses the difficult issue of suicide. Eswines sensitivity to those who suffer from depression is reflected in leaving the benefits of sorrow to the last chapter.

I’ve read several books on depression, but this one is the most helpful. It is the first book I will recommend to anyone who suffers from depression or is close to one who does.