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Robert R. Hostetler "Bob Hostetler" RSS Feed (Hamilton, OH USA)
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The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community
The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community
by Tony Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.48
79 used & new from $0.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Rewarding, January 3, 2014
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Tony Jones calls the Didache the most important book you've never heard of.

In his book, The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community, he relates how the Didache (DID-uh-kay) was discovered and what it says about how the earliest Christians lived and tried to apply the teachings of Jesus and his apostles to their lives. It is a fascinating study, and one that not only challenged some of my assumptions and priorities, but also shed new light on numerous passages of Scripture for me.

An introductory chapter ("The Most Important Book You've Never Heard Of") and the translation of the complete text of the Didache (a mere 2,190 words in the original Greek) are followed by five short, easy-to-read chapters: "The Didache Community--Then and Now," "There Are Two Ways," "Sex, Money, and Other Means of Getting Along," "Living Together in Community," and "The End is Nigh." I found especially interesting the Didache's tone, as Jones puts it, of "centrist pragmatism," an approach that could benefit the twenty-first century church. In any case, the message of the Didache (which was considered for inclusion in the canon of Scripture, but rejected) and The Teaching of the Twelve has provoked thought and--I hope--prompted some changes in me.


Monday Morning Motivators Spirit Boosters for Stressed Believers
Monday Morning Motivators Spirit Boosters for Stressed Believers
by David E. Cedervall
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.19
14 used & new from $2.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For More Than Mondays, December 27, 2013
David Cedervall's Monday Morning Motivators would be more aptly titled Every Morning Motivators, as they are as suitable for daily digestion as for weekly reading.

A writer and editor of long and varied experience, Cedervall draws from every imaginable source to encourage and uplift the reader. He quotes Emily Dickinson and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He uses poetry and prose, humor and history, to get his points across--always with good effect.

One of my favorite readings compares the pruning Jesus talks about in John 15 with the work of a bonsai artist: "Are you a bonsai believer? Are cuts, limitations, and 'boxing-in' experiences creating attractive beauty in your witness? Is something happening inside that is cleansing and refining your faith in a way that will result in fruitfulness on the outside?"

The 150 "Monday Morning Motivators" of Cedervall's book offers exactly what the subtitle promises: Spirit boosters for stressed believers.


The Other Side of the Tapestry
The Other Side of the Tapestry

4.0 out of 5 stars A Rich and Varied Weaving, October 25, 2013
You might think that a book relating one woman's experiences of disappointment, depression, disease, pain, and deep, deep loss would be a drag. But Maureen Longnecker's book, The Other Side of the Tapestry (Choosing to Trust God When Life Hurts) is an engrossing and encouraging book.

The author's honesty and faithfulness through repeated physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges will give hope and healing to any reader. Since there seems to be no hardship Maureen and her family didn't face--and endure--her book can also provide a light in darkness and a map out of discouragement.

The book's chapter titles indicate the uplifting tone and hard-won optimism with which she approaches her theme:
1. Dropping Into a Black Hole
2. Coming Up from the Bottom
3. Admitting That We Hurt
4. Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness
5. Learning to Trust
6. Guarding Our Hearts
7. Choosing to Trust
8. Keeping Our Eyes on Him
9. Dealing With Culture Shock
10. Allowing a Wall to Go Up
11. Losing a Dream in Grenada
12. Settling Into a Routine
13. Losing Hope
14. Grieving a Suicide
15. Adjusting to the Void
16. Spiraling Downward
17. Trying to Get Help
18. Fearing and Hearing the Worst
19. Grieving Another Suicide
20. Experiencing God's Loving Faithfulness
21. Seeing the Other Side of the Tapestry.

Anyone who is hurt or needs healing or is looking for reasons to hope will find much to identify with in Maureen's encouragements and much to help in The Other Side of the Tapestry.


Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.00
63 used & new from $12.23

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, Profane, and More, September 16, 2013
Profound. Profane.

Honest. Humble. Hilarious. Hopeful.

Raw. Revealing.

Insightful. Beautiful.

Nadia Bolz-Weber's book, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, is all of those things.

The title comes from the insulting term sometimes used by critics to refer to female preachers and pastors. The book, from the very first word, is (in the publisher's words) a "messy, beautiful, prayer-and-profanity laden narrative about an unconventional life of faith."

Don't touch it if you're easily offended. Don't open it if you have trouble finding God in unexpected places. Don't read it if you are unwilling to be challenged, stretched, and blessed to hear God's Word and see him work in new ways, with head-tilting (and sometimes head-spinning) results.

On the other hand, those may be the very reasons you should read this book, maybe even devour it, as I did. You may experience in its pages, as I did, "the redeeming, destabilizing love of a surprising God." You may laugh, as I did, at the author's knack for honesty and clarity, shown in such statements as, "I'm a lousy Christian, and I hope that's good enough since our call to be compassionate has to include ourselves, too." And you may even cry, as I sometimes did, at the beauty and grace in her stories of House for All Sinners and Saints, the church she started in 2008.

It is a wonderful book that I was preparing to pass on to others from the moment I started reading it.


Plastic Donuts: Giving That Delights the Heart of the Father
Plastic Donuts: Giving That Delights the Heart of the Father
by Jeff Anderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $8.99
60 used & new from $2.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Short And Sweet, August 21, 2013
It is a strange title, but the meaning of Plastic Donuts becomes clear early in the first chapter as author Jeff Anderson tells of the plastic donut his toddler daughter presented to him--and the joy she experienced when he made much of her gift. Her joy brought him joy.

That, Anderson says, is how God wants us to give. And what we inwardly long to experience, though few people ever do.

Plastic Donuts (Giving That Delights the Heart of the Father) is a short book that is long on life-changing blessing. It offers a fresh perspective on "acceptable gifts." He doesn't get tangled up in rules and regulations, tithes and offerings, blessings and curses, sowing and reaping, and so on. He sheds new light on many Bible passages, however, and on some of our basic assumptions about giving (for example, he says the standard sentiment that "it's the heart that counts" is just wrong when it comes to giving).

Plastic Donuts may not answer all your questions about giving (as I said, it's a short book), but it will probably answer most. And, most importantly, it will give you answers that can change your heart and life, as they change how and why and what you give.


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Short And Sweet, August 20, 2013
It is a strange title, but the meaning of Plastic Donuts becomes clear early in the first chapter as author Jeff Anderson tells of the plastic donut his toddler daughter presented to him--and the joy she experienced when he made much of her gift. Her joy brought him joy.

That, Anderson says, is how God wants us to give. And what we inwardly long to experience, though few people ever do.

Plastic Donuts (Giving That Delights the Heart of the Father) is a short book that is long on life-changing blessing. It offers a fresh perspective on "acceptable gifts." He doesn't get tangled up in rules and regulations, tithes and offerings, blessings and curses, sowing and reaping, and so on. He sheds new light on many Bible passages, however, and on some of our basic assumptions about giving (for example, he says the standard sentiment that "it's the heart that counts" is just wrong when it comes to giving).

Plastic Donuts may not answer all your questions about giving (as I said, it's a short book), but it will probably answer most. And, most importantly, it will give you answers that can change your heart and life, as they change how and why and what you give.


The Mercy Prayer: The One Prayer Jesus Always Answers
The Mercy Prayer: The One Prayer Jesus Always Answers
by Robert Gelinas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.38
79 used & new from $0.25

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book About Mercy, August 13, 2013
It is more often called "The Jesus Prayer."

"Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner." Or, simply, "Lord, have mercy."

Author and pastor Robert Gelinas calls it the most common prayer in the Bible and "the one prayer Jesus always answers."

Interested as I am in prayer--and rewarded some years ago by the reading of the classic, The Way of a Pilgrim, the anonymous tale of a nineteenth-century Russian peasant's quest for the secret of constant prayer (in which the Jesus prayer is central)--I eagerly anticipated The Mercy Prayer, a new volume from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

In eight accessible chapters, Gelinas explores the subject of God's mercy as the foundation of The Mercy Prayer, offering a readable and practical guide not so much for praying (as I expected), but for receiving the mercy we all need and letting it flow from us into the lives of others.


Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible's Ultimate Mysteries
Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible's Ultimate Mysteries
by Len Bailey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.38
100 used & new from $0.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wish I Had Thought Of It, July 15, 2013
My first reaction to the recent book, Sherlock Holmes and The Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles The Bible's Ultimate Mysteries by Len Bailey was, "I wish I had thought of that!" As a writer, amateur Sherlockian--and a pretty big fan of the Bible--I couldn't help being more than a little miffed that someone else had this idea, and executed it so well.

I got over my pique, however, and obtained and read it with great relish.

The "Needle's Eye" of the title refers to a time machine which allows Holmes and Watson (and, in one story, Mrs. Hudson!) to travel back in time to investigate ten Bible mysteries. I was impressed that Bailey mostly captured the flavor and style of the Conan-Doyle stories, and though I wouldn't call any of their investigations "ultimate" mysteries, they were nonetheless interesting and entertaining. The questions they tackle:

Why did Ahithophel hang himself?
What did Jesus write in the dirt in the episode of the woman caught in adultery?
Why did Jesus make the apparent error of citing Zechariah son of Berechiah as having been murdered between the temple and the altar, when the Bible the description fits Zechariah son of Jehoiada?
When the Bible says, after Jesus' temptation, that the Devil "left him until a more opportune time," what did it mean?
Why did Paul start his Macedonian ministry in Philippi?
Why did David choose five smooth stones to fight Goliath?
Why did Jesus delay when he heard his friend Lazarus was gravely ill?
Why is Jehoiachin's name included in Jesus' genealogy when the prophet had said his heirs would be cut off from the throne of David?
Why was Jesus said to have come "in the fulness of time"?
Why did the Israelites march around Jericho one time for six days, but seven times on the last day?

As can be expected, some were more convincing than others and some were highly speculative--especially for the world's first and greatest consulting detective. My personal favorites were the chapters on the raising of Lazarus and the woman caught in adultery (though neither fully carried my judgment). The chapter on David's five smooth stones was predictable, and the fact that several chapters departed not only from Watson's first-person narrative but also from his point-of-view was quite irksome to this fan of the Conan-Doyle oeuvre.

Still, The Needle's Eye is an admirable accomplishment--and one which also offers a helpful study guide as part of the package.


From the Garden to the City
From the Garden to the City
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Helpful, June 26, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
John Dyer has written an entertaining, thoughtful, and tremendously helpful book in From the Garden to the City (The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology). His expert understanding of technology (he is a web developer who has built tools for Apple, Microsoft, Harley Davidson, and the U.S. Department of Defense) and his insightful Bible exposition (he is also a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary) shine through in this book. Perhaps most impressively, he manages to discuss technology, philosophy, history, and theology in a thoroughly and constantly engaging way.

I loved the relatable way he defined technology, and then pointed out its use in Biblical descriptions of the Garden of Eden and the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus (and restoration of Peter) by the Sea of Galilee. I highlighted whole sections of the book, which I rarely do, and transcribed many of his lines, such as, "Sinfulness is amplified all the more when we attach something as powerful as the internet to our hearts" and "Our task as believers is to work against the tendencies built into our devices, and to in effect become a predator of the media in the ecosystem of our lives." Man, those two statements (which appear back-to-back in the book) are worth the price of the book. As well as the statement in the next-to-last chapter that, "We must continually attempt to view technology through the lens of the story of God and his people, with the resurrected Christ at the beginning, middle, and end of that story. It is his life, work, and promises that should inform our value system, shape the way we see the world, and transform the way we live in it."

Dyer's book has already helped me to begin doing that, better and more consciously. I hope it does so for many, many others--particularly pastors and church leaders.

For more information (and to read sample chapters from the book), visit http://fromthegardentothecity.com.


The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.82
141 used & new from $0.85

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Invitation and a Resource, June 12, 2013
I'm embarrassed that it took me this long, but I recently finished The Jesus Creed, by Scot McKnight. The 2004 book was the 2005 recipient of Christianity Today's Book Award, and deservedly so.

McKnight, the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park College (Chicago), thoroughly and captivatingly presents the Jesus Creed (the Shema of Deuteronomy 6 plus Jesus' added priority of loving your neighbor as yourself) as the heart of what it means to follow Jesus and experience his kingdom. He divides the book into five sections:

1. The Jesus Creed ("a spiritually formed person loves God by following Jesus and loves others")
2. Stories of the Jesus Creed ("a spiritually formed person embraces the stories of others who love Jesus")
3. The Society of the Jesus Creed ("a spiritually formed person lives out kingdom values")
4. Living the Jesus Creed ("a spiritually formed person loves Jesus")
5. Jesus and the Jesus Creed ("a spiritually formed person participates in the life of Jesus")

I loved the book as a whole, but especially found the first few chapters compelling (due, I am sure, to my high degree of interest in the Jewish roots and background of Jesus' life and teaching, which figure repeatedly in the early chapters). I loved his wide choice of sources. I loved his sense of humor and his knack for story-telling. I agree with John Ortberg, who wrote in the foreword, "The Jesus Creed is both an invitation and a resource to put your spirit into [God's] hands, to dine at the Master's table." I found it so.


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