The Bare Bones Bible Facts: A Quick Reference to People, Places & Things by Jim George (Harvest House)
As a librarian, I’m drawn to reference books. But as a librarian, I have strong opinions about what makes a reference book good.
Tables of contents, indexes, maps and other illustrative material rank high on the list. The Bare Bones Bible Facts by Jim George has an outstanding table of contents, along with appropriate maps, such as Paul’s missionary journeys, and helpful charts like kings of Israel and Judah. Entries range from Aaron to Zion and include more than people, places and things—music and languages for example. Scripture and “See” references to other topics add richness to the items.
However, I prefer reference books to be objective. Jim George’s volume doesn’t meet that criterion. He adds life lessons related to many of the 150 or so entries. Instead of an index, the book closes with “A One-Year Daily Bible Reading Plan.”
If you’re looking for explanations of Bible subjects that include personal applications and devotional thoughts, buy George’s The Bare Bones Bible Facts. If you want a more traditional Bible dictionary or encyclopedia, try something else.
Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas
It’s Taken Years to Get This Old by Karen O’Connor (Harvest House)
Karen O’Connor has taken experiences from men and women and fashioned humorous stories about “senior moments.” She wraps stories around subjects seniors can relate to, like “Lookin’ Purdy,” “Creative Communicatin’,” “Missing Parts,” “Gettin’ Forgetful,” “Good Ol’ Days” and others.
You will laugh at tales such as “telling the tooth” when Uncle Henry had to use the bathroom. There was a flushing sound, a giant sneeze and a muffled yell. He sneezed when he flushed the toilet and his false teeth went down the drain. Uncle Henry responded: “I can’t see well enough to watch television or read a book. I can’t hear. … I need a walker. … And now my teeth are gone. I think I am checking out.” Each story has a reflection from Scripture and a prayer.
Any reader, young or old, will enjoy the tales. Those of us who are more advanced in years will relate well and identify with the author. It will cause the elder readers to remember our journey in getting this old!
Enjoy a lighthearted book.
Leo Smith, executive director
Texas Baptist Men
Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends by Mark A. Yarhouse (Bethany House)
The church community needs greater understanding of homosexuality and how to minister relationally to people who are struggling with it.
Psychologist Yarhouse writes that rather than accepting the “gay script” that is usually offered in our society, it would be more helpful to understand homosexuality through “a three-tier distinction:” (1) same-sex attraction, (2) homosexual orientation and (3) gay identity. Many, especially youth, who are identifying themselves as “gay” are searching for words and thoughts to describe attractions they are feeling but may not live a lifestyle of “gay identity.”
Yarhouse says a homosexual who wants to change can indeed change, but those ministering need to understand “change” may mean many things, including chaste living. In only a small percentage of cases have people completely changed to heterosexuality.
Perhaps the most important theme of the book: People struggling with homosexuality must find their primary identity in Christ before any sin or need. Isn’t this true for us all?
Greg Bowman, minister to students
First Baptist Church