Free Audiobook – Adopted for Life

While ChristianAudio.com has given away some great audiobooks over the past couple of years, I am more excited about this month’s free audiobook than any of the others.  From now until February 28, 2011 you can get Russell D. Moore’s book Adopted for Life in audiobook absolutely free.  This book, in my opinion, is perhaps THE best book on adoption I’ve ever read (and I’ve read quite a few!).  Moore covers both physical adoption (having adopted two sons himself) and spiritual adoption (our adoption in Christ).  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  If you’re thinking about adoption, read this book. If you MIGHT be thinking about adoption, read this book. If you’ve ever adopted, read this book. If you want to know more about adoption, read this book.  Here is the book description from ChristianAudio.

The gospel of Jesus Christ—the good news that through Jesus we have been adopted as sons and daughters into God’s family—means that Christians ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans in North America and around the world.

Moore does not shy away from this call in Adopted for Life, a popular-level, practical manifesto for Christians to adopt children and to help equip other Christian families to do the same. He shows that adoption is not just about couples who want children—or who want more children. It is about an entire culture within the church, a culture that sees adoption as part of the Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself.

 

Book Review – Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People

I have always enjoyed listening to the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.  Unfortunately, the extent of my knowledge of Handel’s entire classic piece has been very limited.  I can’t recall having ever listened to the entire work, much less having known anything about its background.  I’ve enjoyed listening to Calvin Stapert’s book, Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People in which Stapert takes us through a brief biographical sketch of Handel’s history.  Stapert also includes a history of the “oratorio” (a term that up until I read this book was completely unknown to me) style of music and how Handel introduced – or rather invented – the English oratorio.  Stapert goes over each piece of Messiah touching on several theological points including the anticipation of the Messiah and the culmination of redemption in Christ.

In listening to this book, I learned quite a number of things.  One was how the style of the oratorio differed from operas and what effect this had on the Messiah.  I found it interesting that the oratorio style of music did not even exist in England before Handel “due to Puritan opposition during a critical time in opera’s development elsewhere” – interesting because we see similar oppositional mentalities to various musical types and genres in some Christian circles even today.  Handel recognized the merit of music as art, but also wanted to do more than entertain.  As Stapert puts it “It does not reject entertainment as the goal.  It rejects it as the only goal.”

Perhaps the best part of the book was Stapert’s walking the reader through the story of redemption, progressing through Scripture’s recognition of a need of a Messiah, the anticipation of the Messiah’s coming, his arrival, his death and resurrection, and the promise of his return.  The notes on how the musical styles and variations underscored the lyrics of each piece was also very interesting.

While the book itself was very interesting, the narrator (James Adams) of the audio book from Christianaudio made me feel like I was in some kind of music literature class taught by a professor who deemed himself just above the task.  While Adams’ narration is perfectly pronounced, with dramatic pauses and inflections at just the right places, it holds none of the “Comfort” of Handel’s work, but felt rather cold and distant.  I didn’t hear the literary voice of the author in the reading so much as the art museum dryness of the narrator’s own voice.

Although the audio version from Christianaudio contains a few selections from Handel’s Messiah, the selections are comparatively few.  I found it much more helpful to find and listen to the entire work, pausing the audiobook after each section to listen to the piece just discussed and then proceed with the next.  I would recommend purchasing the actual book along with a full album of Handel’s Messiah instead of sitting through the droning of Adams’ narration.

(Thanks to Christianaudio for providing a free review copy of the audio version of this book.)

Free Audiobook of the Month

ChristianAudio’s free audiobook for the month of January is Jerry Bridge’s classic, The Pursuit of Holiness.

“Be holy, for I am holy,” commands God to His people. But holiness is something that is often missed in the Christian’s daily life. According to Jerry Bridges, that’s because we’re not exactly sure what our part in holiness is. In The Pursuit of Holiness, he helps us see clearly just what we should rely on God to do-and what we should accept responsibility for ourselves. Whether you’re continuing your pursuit of holiness or just beginning, the principles and guidelines in The Pursuit of Holiness will challenge you to obey God’s command of holiness. (from the christianaudio website)

Free Audiobook for December

ChristianAudio’s free audiobook for this month is Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People by Calvin R. Stapert.  According to the website,

Handel’s oratorio Messiah is a phenomenon with no parallel in music history. No other work of music has been so popular for so long. Yet familiarity can sometimes breed contempt — and also misunderstanding.

This book by music expert Calvin Stapert will greatly increase understanding and appreciation of Handel’s majestic Messiah, whether readers are old friends of this remarkable work or have only just discovered its magnificence.

Stapert provides fascinating historical background, tracing not only Messiah’s unlikely inception but also its amazing reception throughout history. The bulk of the book offers scene-by-scene musical and theological commentary on the whole work, focusing on the way Handel’s music beautifully interprets and illuminates the biblical text.

For anyone seeking to appreciate Handel’s Messiah more, this informed yet accessible guide is the book to have and read.

I’ve been listening to this book this week and so far have enjoyed it.  As an added bonus, the audiobook also includes selections from Handel’s Messiah. Get your free downloand at ChristianAudio.com

Enjoy!

Free Audiobook – Spiritual Leadership

This month’s free audiobook from Christianaudio is J. Oswald Saunders’ classic Spiritual Leadership, read by Grover Gardner.  Here is what Christianaudio has to say about the book:

Many books have been written concerning leadership. Some have been classics and withstood the test of time. Fewer combine Biblical wisdom and clarity with humility and servant leadership; Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders is one of those books. Required reading for many in leadership courses & positions, this classic book details the practices and hearts of some of the greatest leaders who ever lived. Sanders uses primary examples in Scripture (Moses, Nehemiah, Paul) and also some of the most important leaders of the last 200 years, such as C.H. Spurgeon and David Livingstone.

With more than 500,000 in print, Spiritual Leadership has proven itself a timeless classic in teaching the principles of leadership. J. Oswald Sanders presents and illustrates those principles through biographies of eminent men of God – men such as Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, David Livingstone, and Charles Spurgeon.

Christianity needs a powerful voice in today’s world. Such a voice can come only from strong leaders guided by God and devoted to Christ. Spiritual Leadership will encourage you to place your talents and powers at His disposal so you can become a leader used for His glory.

Use coupon code SEP2010 when checking out.

Free books!

Here are several opportunities to get some great free books during the month of July.

Christianaudio.com gives away a free audio book each month and this month’s book is A.W. Tozer’s classic The Pursuit of God.  Summary of the book from christianaudio: “During a train trip from Chicago to Texas in the late 1940’s, A.W. Tozer began to write The Pursuit Of God. He wrote all night, the words coming to him as fast as he could put them down. When the train pulled into McAllen, the rough draft was done. Although written in such a remarkably short period of time, Tozer’s passionate classic offers not only a deeper understanding of Biblical Truth, but a personal encounter with the very Source of that Truth.”  Enter coupon code JUL2010 when checking out.

Next up, Crossway (who is in my opinion one of the best Christian book publishers) is giving away the Kindle version of Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gospel? In his review, James MacDonald says “Greg Gilbert contends that the current evangelical understanding of the gospel is lost in a fog of confusion. He burns away that fog by shining fresh light on an old subject. Gilbert writes in a clear, concise, and colloquial style that will especially appeal to young adults. What Is the Gospel? will sharpen your thinking about the gospel, etching it more deeply on your heart so you can share the good news of Jesus Christ with boldness. It will leave you pondering the extent to which the gospel has impacted your own life. It will cause you to cry out with thankfulness to God for what Christ has accomplished.”   If you don’t have a Kindle, not to worry.  Amazon has the free Kindle for PC application that is just as good (although not quite as portable).

Finally, don’t forget that each Friday during the month of July, I’ll be giving away a new book.  There’s still time to enter the drawing for this week’s book, Woody Holton’s biography Abigail Adams.  Check out the link for more details.

Happy reading!

Book Review – Imaginary Jesus

Imaginary Jesus is a helter-skelter, “not-quite-fiction” ride through the imagination of Matt Mikalatos as he attempts to humorously point out how we in 21st century American evangelicalism often create our own ideas of what or who Jesus is.  From “King James Jesus,” “Magic 8-ball Jesus” and “Testosterone Jesus” to “Free Will Jesus,” “New Age Jesus” and “Meticulous Jesus,” Mikalatos paints an absurdly funny narrative of someone trying to find out just who the REAL Jesus is.  Accompanied by the Apostle Peter and a talking donkey (who I’m convinced is included only so King James Jesus can hurl the threat “Thine ass is mine!”), Mikalatos’ journey gets personal in a few places where he talks about his own struggles of faith and his questions to the many Jesuses about his goodness and power.

Imaginary Jesus is one of those books that makes you laugh, makes you think and often makes you wonder “Where in the world is this going?”  I laughed quite frequently at Mikalatos’ many variations of “Jesus.”  The word pictures he creates will draw you into the story and make you feel like you are a part of the action.  The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that is perhaps its one major downfall.  There are some serious questions of the goodness of God and faith in Jesus that are raised, but they are surrounded by the high-speed chase scenes (Mikalatos chasing fake Jesuses then fake Jesuses chasing Mikalatos), hijinx and silliness.  When his experience with the real Jesus finally comes into view and offers answers, I got a feeling of mental whiplash at the sudden change in tone, only to reverse back to the silliness later.

In my experience, I’ve found that, in general, authors should not read their own books.   While they might be great authors, they make lousy readers.  Matt Mikalatos is one author who certainly does not fit into that generalization.  He narrates the audio version of his book available from ChristianAudio (who provided me a copy of this book to review – thanks!) and shows that he has the ability not only to be a good story writer but also an excellent story teller.

Overall, Imaginary Jesus is more of a diversionary read than anything else, but it’s definitely a fun read.