Book Review: The Year of Living Like Jesus

Written by Ed Dobson
Reviewed by J. Renee Archer –

Ed Dobson committed to living as Jesus did for an entire year. His goal was to do what Jesus the person would have done, not necessarily what Jesus the Messiah would have done. Dobson’s plan was to live in accordance with the Jewish way of life as opposed to healing the sick and blind. A journal tracked his days, progress and struggles.

This book intrigued me from the moment I read the title. I expected a life changing story not only on the author’s part but for myself, as well. It seems to me that a commitment such as this would alter a person’s life in a major way. A highly spiritual experience is what I anticipated. As it turns out, the book was very different then my pre-reading notion. My life was not permanently changed and, as far as I can tell, Dobson’s life wasn’t either.

The Year of Living Like Jesus was interesting reading, especially the first half of the book. In this section the writing is in journal form and more detailed daily living. The second half was more traditional non-fiction writing. I enjoyed the first half more due to the style.

A major theme of the book is Jewish living and tradition. The word Jesus in the title of the book could easily be replaced with Jews and accurately represent the book. Since I knew nothing about the Jewish culture I found the book educational in that regard. Dobson ate Kosher, observed Shabbat (Sabbath) and other Jewish services. The author also adopted prayer customs of several other religions which didn’t make sense to me because it seemed counter to his commitment. (I’m certain Jesus did not pray the rosary.) There were times when he focused too much on living as a Jew. It almost trivialized Jesus’ life. Dobson was so caught up in making sure he followed the Jewish Law that it kept him from drawing closer to God. At the end of the year I didn’t get the impression that he was a stronger Christian or had a deeper relationship with Christ. That was a disappointment.

Dobson set a lofty goal and made a major commitment that took much perseverance to follow through with. I give him credit for sticking with the project for a whole year. I hope it was more of a spiritual experience than I perceived from his writing. And I thank him for teaching me about a culture I have not personally experienced.

Book Review: Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible

Written by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi
Reviewed by J Renee Archer –

Storylines is exactly what it says it is—a map to understanding the Bible. I realize that seems obvious since that is the title of the book but, often the title and content do not match up as seamlessly as they do in this non-fiction title. Croft and Pilavachi make it clear as to what to expect out of their book and that is, in fact, what the reader gets from the text.

The intended audience for Storylines is teens and young adults and the authors present the material in a fresh, modern style that attracts this target audience. Writing in an informal manner draws the reader in and the current aspect of the writing makes the book relevant.

Reading the Bible can be overwhelming and discouraging for young people. The Bible is very long and can be difficult to apply to life. Storylines is the perfect resource for understanding how the Bible fits together as a whole while enjoying the various stories within the whole. Even for those who have read the Bible completely, Croft and Pilavachi provide insight that will expand any reader’s previous perceptions of the Bible.

Two of the best sections in Storylines are the appendixes. Appendix A, The Bible in 20 Pages, is an excellent, and much needed, addition to the book and could not be any better done. I was pleased with how well this section was written. Everything you would expect in such a summary was included and appropriately mentioned. The author recommendation to read this appendix prior to beginning the book was most beneficial and fitting.

Appendix B, The What, Why and How of the Bible, was a suitable conclusion for Storylines. Croft and Pilavachi leave the reader with practical methods for reading and studying the Bible. They complete the task and leave the reader satisfied. Readers are presented with an overview of the Bible, they learn how the Bible fits together as one story and then finish with straight forward techniques to make Bible reading enjoyable and meaningful.

I recommend Storylines and can say, without hesitation, it is the best non-fiction book I have read this year. Storylines is a good tool for young Christians, both young in age and young in their faith journey. Pastors, teachers and youth leaders would also find this book useful as they attempt to engage young Christians in Bible study. Reading how all parts of the Bible connect to each other and point us to Christ is something every person can gain from.

I received a complimentary copy of Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible from B & B Media Group, Inc. in exchange for a review written for The Christian Pulse.

J Renee Archer is an avid reader and enjoys telling others about the great books she reads. She, her husband and 3-year old son live in a 100-year old home in a rural community. J Renee enjoys gardening, playing and teaching piano and creating memories with the two men in her life. You can read more reviews at J Renee’s blog:

Book Review: Higher Hope

Written by Robert Whitlow –
Reviewed by J Renee Archer –

Higher Hope is the second novel in the Tides of Truth Series by Robert Whitlow. This book picks up precisely where Deeper Water leaves off. The transition between books is more like beginning a new chapter than a new book. Tammy is in the middle of her summer clerking position at a law firm in Savannah. Read more

Book Review: Deeper Water

Written by Robert Whitlow –
Review by J Renee Archer –

Deeper Water, by Robert Whitlow, is the first novel in the Tides of Truth Series. Whitlow fuses the legal world with the moral world effortlessly in this book about a law student who works as a summer clerk at a top law office in Savannah. Read more

Book Review: Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio

Written by Diamond Rio with Tom Roland –
Reviewed by J Renee Archer –

Beautiful Mess is a beautifully written story about the messy history of the band, Diamond Rio. Tom Roland assists the Country band in telling the details of their 20 years (and counting) together plus, indulges the reader with the personal story of each band member. This biography turns celebrities into average people who have ups and downs just like the rest of us. Read more

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