Book Reviews

This page contains reviews on books related to devotions posted on the main page of my blog. These books are also located in the Lighthouse Library at Third Reformed Church.


Titles Reviewed on this page:

  • Time Peace, Living Here and Now With a Timeless God by Ellen Vaughn
  • A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald
  • The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith


A review on The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith

This book is the first in The Apprentice Series, which along with two other books form a “curriculum for Christlikeness.” The aim of this first book is to help people discover the God Jesus revealed.

Each of the nine chapters deals with false concepts and the true one, namely, the narrative of Jesus. Each chapter also contains a soul-training exercise to help imbed the narrative of Jesus more deeply into our minds, bodies, and souls. These exercises are not meant to make you more religious or impress God. They are meant to help the reader see and understand the world as Jesus did. At the end of the chapter there is a page that highlights the main ideas in the chapter. Throughout each chapter are questions that can be used for individual reflection or fro group discussion (p. 14).

Chapter 2 was meaningful to me as a reader because James Bryan Smith wrote about the man born blind from John 9. This chapter was meaningful to me because it shifted my narrative of God from seeing him as an angry judge to a Father who is good and compassionate all the time.

James Bryan Smith has a writing style that is easy to read. He does well communicating truth in a light conversational way.


A review on Time Peace, Living Here and Now with a Timeless God by Ellen Vaughn

This book seeks to understand how we as humans limited and confined in time, can live in a relationship with God. He is big; we are small. He is transcendent and dwells in eternity. We are mortal and live on Earth. This book explores what it truly means to experience an unchanging and immovable God in the common events that comprise our everyday lives.

This book  is organized into four sections. The first section, Experiencing Time, introduces questions about our existence as creatures preoccupied with the here and now. This first section supports the belief that God is real and interacting with us in the common events of life. The chapters in this section explain how to accept the passage of time and come to terms with the fact that we age. People die. Times change. Peace comes from finding meaningful ways to connect with God. These connections are found in creation, in the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Old and New Testaments, and in understanding God’s love for us.

The second section, Managing Time, explores the various methods and instruments used in keeping time. This section moves from the technical, mechanical means of keeping time to a wider and deeper understanding of how our lives fit into the whole overarching plan of eternity.

The third section, Re-Viewing Time: A new paradigm, explores the scientific study of time. Ellen draws upon Einstein’s theories about relativity. She explains in detail how time speeds up or slows down depending on the rate of travel of an object through space. Object experience two kinds of motion–movement through space, and movement through time.

The fourth section, Enjoying Time, creates a picture of how to live in the belief that all time belongs to God. This section ends with a powerful story about a group of missionaries in Vietnam who understood the lesson in Psalm 90 to count our days.

This book is written with a light, humorous style that is enjoyable and memorable. Ellen Vaughn is a wonderful storyteller and has the talent of taking an ordinary, everyday happening and turning it into a charming link to an important lesson.


A book review on “A Resilient Life” by Gordon MacDonald

This book is mainly about character. A resilient life, as Gordon MacDonald defines it, is an intentional life–a life lived with direction, focus, and discipline. Gordon draws on his high schools years as a track athlete to make his points throughout the book. In the introduction, he describes his coach, Marvin Goldberg, who was both hero and visionary for Gordon. This coach, through his tailored workouts for each team member, built into his team stamina, speed, strategy, and the necessary abilities for a victorious finish.

Gordon applies these qualities to his spiritual life. The remainder of the book is his personal testimony of what it has meant for him, as a pastor and author, to lead a resilient life. The chapters visit the topics of quitting, aimlessness, Christian character, giftedness, generosity, sense of calling, and the importance of healthy relationships.

This is a valuable book for anyone–man or woman, old or young, educated, or not–who wants to live a serious life that is going to count for something. The principles that Gordon talks about in this book will serve well in the difficult hours of decision or confusion and help the reader rise to a new level in their spiritual journey.