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Content by Amy VG
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Reviews Written by
Amy VG (Southern Ontario)
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Renovation Of The Heart In Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation
Renovation Of The Heart In Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation
by Jan Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.99
22 used & new from CDN$ 5.04

5.0 out of 5 stars great little guide to Willard's book, Aug. 19 2015
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This was worth every penny! The book is broken down into small chapters, with one or two pages of explanation of a concept from Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart and then exercises to apply the concept in daily life. I found he first half of the book was ok, the second half was AMAZING. The author's exercises on how to apply Willard's ideas were concrete and doable in every day life. Some of the exercises were challenging, but that's the point, to grow and mature as Christians. I found the author's ability to convey clearly and simply Willard's complicated (to me) concepts to be such a blessing. And the author's ability to then take those concepts and then to apply them to daily living was simply brilliant and exactly what I was looking for. What I also found refreshing was she stuck to Biblical truth, and didn't add to it with alternative practices. This book, in my humble opinion, was solid Biblically. And what amazed me was how much you could tell the author truly tries to live as Jesus Christ has asked us to live. Such an inspiration.

Walking with God: A Journey Through the Bible
Walking with God: A Journey Through the Bible
by Tim Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.99
14 used & new from CDN$ 25.47

5.0 out of 5 stars amazing guide to Scripture, Aug. 12 2015
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I read this book slowly, while reading the Bible and going through The Great Adventure: A Journey Through the Bible DVD series. This book is a great addition to the program, as the book adds much more depth.
Jeff Cavins presents many meaningful connections in the OT and NT that I would not have ever noticed on my own. I find the OT to be very hard to understand, and Jeff Cavins' detailed communication of it has opened my eyes to a deeper, richer understanding of my faith.
Wonderful book on it's own, or with the DVD series. If you are a new or seasoned Christian who has not had the opportunity to delve into Scripture, I highly recommend this amazing guide.

Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.99
66 used & new from CDN$ 7.68

5.0 out of 5 stars fresh and light, Aug. 8 2015
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
What a breath of fresh air! I have been trying to finish some heavy theological books (mainly Catholic) which I am noticing have been causing me some confusion and brain freeze. As I read these theological books I often wonder "where do they (the authors of these theological books) come up with this stuff?? Now I completely understand these wonderful theological giants are smart and I am not, but I think heaviness and confusion does not help me practice my faith in a open hearted way.
Now this little gem of CS Lewis is clear and light and insightful. He summarizes the Christian faith beautifully. He is funny. He is to the point. Even the fourth part, where he tackles Christian theology, is simple and clear and understandable. This book helps with inspiring faith and living it and loving it.

Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity
Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity
by David W. Bercot
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.42
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.06

5.0 out of 5 stars great starting point, Aug. 8 2015
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I devoured this book in less than 48 hrs. It's a quick and enjoyable read. And I have found it a good starting point for Christians who would like to research further into what the early Christians believed and how they acted. Very inspiring. I feel like over the 2000yrs we've confused our understanding of Christianity a bit. This book brings you down to the basics. Everything Jesus teaching is all in the New Testament, but we often come to read the NT with our preconceived notions of our faith and how to live it. The author is clear and to the point. And I think he presents the info fairly unbiasedly. My aim is to now read the early Christian writings for myself. Through Scroll Publishing you are able to purchase the the entire set of pre-nicene Christian writers put together by Oxford in the 1800s for $120. This is the set the author recommends. However, another reviewer gave a link to the writings that are available on-line for free: http://newadvent.org/fathers/

All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man That Matters
All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man That Matters
by Molly Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.38
13 used & new from CDN$ 13.23

5.0 out of 5 stars helpful and age specific, July 31 2015
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My 12 yr old son loves this book. He found the advice really helpful and age specific. Good format, easy to read, lots of great advice to live a moral life, and to act like a gentleman.

Awakening Call
Awakening Call
by James Finley
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 5.88

5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST advice for contemplative prayer, July 31 2015
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This review is from: Awakening Call (Paperback)
This book was a bit difficult to read as every sentence is poetically rich with details. So I needed to re-read many parts of it, to understand. But it is so worth it if the reader practices Christian contemplative prayer and wants to deepen their experience with God. It's so hard to describe how much value this little book contains. The last chapter, the Purification of the Senses, is worth the book alone . The author is able to weave the use, the function, the meaning, and the hows of contemplative together in poetic language. He quotes Thomas Merton, the Cloud of Unknowing, and St. John of the Cross. The author uses language the reader can picture and learn from, from experience rather than head knowledge. This is definitely one book that I will be reading over and over again. Just to note, for the beginner, I think another book may be more helpful for setting up the basics. This book is for those would be like to fine tune their current practice (the author’s practice is very simple, so I found the main point for me is to simplify my practice, allow the Holy Spirit to lead).

It is too bad this book is out of print. I bought my copy for very cheap used off amazon marketplace.

Sadhana
Sadhana
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars not really Christian..., July 16 2015
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This review is from: Sadhana (Kindle Edition)
I don't know...I am not sure I can recommend this book for Christians. I have come back to my Christian faith two years ago after leaving it in my early 20s, having grown up Catholic. Since 2006, I have meditated: first, Vipassana and then I had an experience at a retreat which led me back to Christianity, where I have practiced contemplative prayer. Both vipassana and contemplative prayer are similar, but they also have important differences. In Sadhana, Anthony writes about "emptiness" and "darkness" as good things to achieve, and he recommends to "empty the mind of all content". But in contemplative prayer, and from my limited experience, a Christian doesn't empty the mind or find "emptiness" but the mind becomes full, with a lightness and a "suchness". Never a trance, always more of being in the present moment, watching thoughts. Some of his awareness exercises are definitely helpful, but not his language. And I would worry people would not learn the wonderful benefits of abiding with Christ, but would simply find some "peacefulness", as the author promotes, if doing these exercises. While peacefulness is wonderful, without God it is not. I googled him, and there is a vatican document where Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (to be Pope Benedict 16) warns against studying Anthony de Mello's work.

This is the document:
NOTIFICATION

CONCERNING THE WRITINGS OF
FATHER ANTHONY DE MELLO, SJ

The Indian Jesuit priest, Father Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) is well known due to his numerous publications which, translated into various languages, have been widely circulated in many countries of the world, though not all of these texts were authorized by him for publication. His works, which almost always take the form of brief stories, contain some valid elements of oriental wisdom. These can be helpful in achieving self-mastery, in breaking the bonds and feelings that keep us from being free, and in approaching with serenity the various vicissitudes of life. Especially in his early writings, Father de Mello, while revealing the influence of Buddhist and Taoist spiritual currents, remained within the lines of Christian spirituality. In these books, he treats the different kinds of prayer: petition, intercession and praise, as well as contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Christ, etc.

But already in certain passages in these early works and to a greater degree in his later publications, one notices a progressive distancing from the essential contents of the Christian faith. In place of the revelation which has come in the person of Jesus Christ, he substitutes an intuition of God without form or image, to the point of speaking of God as a pure void. To see God it is enough to look directly at the world. Nothing can be said about God; the only knowing is unknowing. To pose the question of his existence is already nonsense. This radical apophaticism leads even to a denial that the Bible contains valid statements about God. The words of Scripture are indications which serve only to lead a person to silence. In other passages, the judgment on sacred religious texts, not excluding the Bible, becomes even more severe: they are said to prevent people from following their own common sense and cause them to become obtuse and cruel. Religions, including Christianity, are one of the major obstacles to the discovery of truth. This truth, however, is never defined by the author in its precise contents. For him, to think that the God of one's own religion is the only one is simply fanaticism. "God" is considered as a cosmic reality, vague and omnipresent; the personal nature of God is ignored and in practice denied.

Father de Mello demonstrates an appreciation for Jesus, of whom he declares himself to be a "disciple." But he considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is "awake" and fully free, while others are not. Jesus is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that all people are children of God. In addition, the author's statements on the final destiny of man give rise to perplexity. At one point, he speaks of a "dissolving" into the impersonal God, as salt dissolves in water. On various occasions, the question of destiny after death is declared to be irrelevant; only the present life should be of interest. With respect to this life, since evil is simply ignorance, there are no objective rules of morality. Good and evil are simply mental evaluations imposed upon reality.

Consistent with what has been presented, one can understand how, according to the author, any belief or profession of faith whether in God or in Christ cannot but impede one's personal access to truth. The Church, making the word of God in Holy Scripture into an idol, has ended up banishing God from the temple. She has consequently lost the authority to teach in the name of Christ.

With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Notification, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 24, 1998, the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.

Gospel of Matthew, The
Gospel of Matthew, The
by Edward Sri
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 28.99
30 used & new from CDN$ 14.78

4.0 out of 5 stars a bit simplistic, June 28 2015
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This review is from: Gospel of Matthew, The (Paperback)
I don't know...I would love to give this five stars, but I think four is fair. I felt that the author offered simplistic explanations after each gospel passage. The author basically repeated in his own words what the gospel just said, rarely was any new insight given. But given that, I think this book would be good for beginners (maybe that was the author's target market?), or for those who do not want to get too "heavy" into Scripture. All in all, I enjoyed the light read into Scriptures, and I did learn from it, and the author did apply the Scripture to Catholic doctrine, which was helpful.

Soul Keeping: Caring For The Most Important Part Of You
Soul Keeping: Caring For The Most Important Part Of You
by John Ortberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.67
22 used & new from CDN$ 6.64

5.0 out of 5 stars I thought that perhaps this book - though incredibly entertaining - might be a waste of my time, June 16 2015
When I was reading the first couple of chapters (most of Part 1), I thought that perhaps this book - though incredibly entertaining - might be a waste of my time. John Ortberg's writing style is easy to comprehend and humorous, however, I thought maybe this book would be all fluff. So I put it down for awhile. Recently, I picked it up again and began to continue to read where I left off. I am glad I did. I read the rest in a couple of days. This book touched me deeply. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about John's experiences with Dallas and Dallas' incredible wisdom. One of Dallas Willard's quotes in the book that stood out for me was "you must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God". So true, so beautifully said. Also, this book did not contain fluff. There were many times in the book where I felt remorse as I came face to face with some of the typical things I do that can lead me away from God and wound my soul. It was also a comfort, that I discovered most people struggle with the same sins I do. Part 2: What the Soul Needs is definitely the meatiness part of the book, and it's really important for the soul. The soul needs to be with God. Part 3: The Soul Restored was so moving, I cried at certain parts.

Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation
Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation
by Martin Laird
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 15.87
36 used & new from CDN$ 13.80

5.0 out of 5 stars can deepen anyone's practice, from beginner to advanced, June 6 2015
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There are numerous intelligently thorough reviews for this little gem on here. I don't think I have really anything new to add. I homeschool three children, I have two young dogs, and a chatty husband. So I know I need more silence. From my limited experience, it's in the silence that I nourish my relationship with God. Contemplative prayer is just one way a Christian can find that silence. The wonderful news is there are many ways to grow your relationship with God: vocal prayer, mental prayer, imaginative prayer (Ignatius), reading Scripture (Lectio Divina), as well as, contemplative (meditation in silence) prayer. But with all of those, I notice, it's during the quiet times of prayer when your conversation with God deepens. Martin Laird's little guide goes through the process of contemplative prayer: the prayer word, body position, distractions, etc. But what I found the most helpful was reading the second half of the book, where Laird gives guidance on practicing with afflictions, dealing with the wounds of sin, temptations, definitions on humility, and looking at our failures as focal points of growth.

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