Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review - The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience by Jeremy Pierre

This is one of those rare books that skillfully combines theological insight while providing very clear helps in self-discovery and in counseling others. It has helped me listen a whole lot better, allowing me to frame better questions that help counselees understand themselves better and resolve inner conflict.

The book is organized into three sections. The first lays out how the heart responds to life with the interplay between the cognitive, affective and volitional components of the heart. The second section explores what the heart dynamically responds to (God, self, others and circumstances).  The third section lays out a counseling methodology. This third section is also quite useful for interpersonal ministry of the Word.

In the first section the author gives a definition of what the bible means by the word “heart” and lays out implications for our understanding of the unity of the mind, will and emotions in our responses to life. He covers the heart as corrupted, redeemed and explores how the heart is affected by external conditions.

The second section has a very helpful chapter titled “Self and Identity” where he carefully explains how beliefs, values and commitments get absorbed into the center of our identity and how this gets directed either to self-glory or to the glory of God.

Everything is pulled together in the third section where there is practical help in four areas: listening that helps us hear where people’s hearts are, reflecting or helping people to understand their heart responses, relating to Jesus as the author and finisher of their faith and renewing or calling people to new responses from faith.

This book has helped me to see more clearly the nature and causes of inner conflict that I often experience due to conscience and the dynamic interplay between what I know, what I actually love (tainted by sin) and what I want to do because of circumstances or desire to please others. Because this is often complicated, the framework and the suggested questions in the third section helped me sort out the reasons for my response in certain troubling situations and thereby helped me to pursue the right remedy for a more Godly response.

At times the book seemed to be repetitive and a little confusing. One example is the use of different terms for the functional areas first defined as cognitive, affective and volitional. Sometimes the author refers to these as thought-desire-choice, mind-emotions-will, cognitive-affectional-volitional or as verbs think-feel-value.

This book is a worthy addition to the library of experienced counselors, Stephen Ministers or anyone who desires to help people live more Godly lives.

I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Book Review – A Bird, a Girl and a Rescue by J. A. Myhre Illustrated by Acacia Masso

This second book in the Rwendigo Tales adventure series for kids and young adults is also a “cannot put down” read for adults. It includes adventure, suspense, and character development with parallels to redemption. Like the first in the series (A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest), it takes place in East Africa.

The series author is a medical doctor who serves with Serge.  She wrote these tales as Christmas presents for her four children so they could enjoy reading stories with familiar settings.

The plot is based on real events in Africa that made national news, so I had no trouble identifying with the story. The use of animals that talk brings a measure of fantasy that brought memories back to me of my own fleets of imagination in my childhood when I had an imaginary rabbit as a friend who talked to me.

As the story progresses we see the main character develop courage, learn the value of forgiveness and experience the forging of a surprising friendships. The story is realistic, portraying evil as well as good. This book is listed for ages 8-12, but I would make it 8-adult.