Sunday, March 31, 2013

Crucifying Morality.







Crucifying Morality by R. W. Glenn certainly points out my shortcomings in Life and and in Faith, in a good way. He defines the fundamental character of the Christian Faith as being conscious of your utter dependence on God. I thought my success was entirely of my own doing, taking care of my physical body, working hard, living within my means, checking in with God by occasional prayer, reading the Bible, listening to Ravi Zacharias, Voddie Baucham, Alistair Begg etc. I owe much more to the Creator than I thought.
Only when we are reduced to nothing in our own works and righteousness do we fully trust and worship the Lord Christ.

Chapter six just cut me to the quick when R. W. Glenn addresses Charity. We do 'charity' in a clean and distant fashion. We give after our needs are met: surplus money, clothes etc. Guilty.
This book defines charity as merciful, risky love, something God gives to us. There is no one in need of more charity than me.

I need to read this book again and learn some more, painful though it be.

I received this book from Cross Focused Review.
~Kirk 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ring of Secrets.


"After checking over her shoulder to be sure no one watched, Winter stole down the dark, narrow steps and into the forgotten cellar that had been a mass of cobwebs when they first discovered it a year ago. 
Now it smelled of citrus and wax, and the lamp she lit glowed rich and warm upon scavenged, scarred tables and once broken chairs. The shelves Freeman had built for her already held a variety of homemade invisible ink. 
Lemon juice dilute was her top choice, because of its fragrance and because it developed under heat more quickly than the others. She had also tried the onion juice as well as the honey water..... "  From Ring of Secrets,  chapter five. 



"When I decided to explore the world of America's first spy ring, I had the expected visions of cloaks and daggers, grand adventure and suspense. Invisible ink and drop locations, cover stories and daring men....

I instead learned about the reality of a group of people determined to do what they could...getting little thanks and no money for their efforts. America's first spies were just people. Untrained, common people who wanted to do the right thing, who rose to the challenge. And who went through each day afraid their next letter to Washington would be their last."  This is what Roseanna White writes in her authors note at the end of Ring of Secrets. {I truly would recommend that you read the authors note first, as what Roseanna says there is fascinating and sets the stage for her book.} 

"I love little more than redefining history through fictional characters who interact with historical figures, which is what I did in this story."  


I did not discover the author's note until I was done the book, so I had not read these words. However, Roseanna White succeeded in her goal for this novel because this is what I had written for my review: 

Ring of Secrets is a tapestry woven from the stories of true historical people and fictional characters who are crafted so carefully you think they could have lived in New York in 1779. The writing in Ring of Secrets places you there in the story quite well, sweeping you inside a time of secrets and questions, where loyalties are tested. 

I will be keeping an eye out for the second volume of this series, and perhaps I will have the chance to review it as well for Harvest House.   




Back on Murder.



Roland March just wants to be back on murder, away from these ridiculous special assignments that his superiors are giving him left and right. Well, they call them special assignments, he calls it farming him out. They don't want him around any more and he can feel it. He knows he isn't doing the top notch homicide work he used to, and the reputation he had earned and then lost is haunting him. He wishes he had never agreed to let his biggest case become the subject of a true crime novel, a novel about him at his best, and now everyone is seeing Roland March at his worst.
He used to be the top homicide detective on Houston PD, now he is the "suicide cop" and works the hated "cars for criminals" detail.
And it is September. Roland has not had a good September for seven years. Not since the tragedy happened.
This September is worse than ever. His wife Charlotte is distant and dealing with the past by putting herself in a near coma with her sleeping pills, and Roland doesn't know how to help her. To add insult to injury, he has a weird tenant named Tommy living in his garage apartment. Tommy, who throws parties at all hours and leaves beer bottles around the back yard, making Charlotte miserable. But hey, Tommy's dad pays the rent every month!

When Roland responds to a house of dead bodies, he finds the up and coming HPD stars like Lorenz want to take the lead in the case. However, Neither Lorenz or any of the others notice a key piece of evidence. Roland does. This evidence is shouting that there was another body in the room, and the shooters took the body with them.
Roland March will be allowed Back On Murder, as long as he lets Lorenz lead.
Roland sets out to find the body and the shooters, uncover the motive and solve this strange case. Lorenz does not believe those are leads worth pursuing. That isn't going to stop Roland.
Before Roland can do some of his outside the lines detective work, he has to finish up one last "cars for criminals" detail.
When Roland corners two men in the hallway as they try to sneak out (apparently realizing that they aren't here to win a hybrid car) one of them turns himself in as a police informant. He has no outstanding warrants, and so Roland lets him go.

Now, back to murder, he thinks. But not quite. It turns out that Roland has a lot more "special assignments" to complete for this case to be solved.

As in every good mystery, it is an unlikely group who becomes the heroes and the people you suspect are not the suspects.

Prepare to grow attached to the characters as you storm apartment buildings with them, and dive for cover and return fire when the shooting starts. Be ready to cheer when unexpected people do heroic things, and to be left shocked and saddened by the way the case ends.

I downloaded this book free from Christianbook.com free ebooks page. There are two sequels, Pattern of Wounds and Nothing to Hide.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

What a Son Needs From His Mom.

   

Cheri Fuller's new book is a mom-to-mom talk about the unique joys and challenges that come when you are raising sons.
"Sons are just so different!" A new mom might say, "I don't know how to raise a boy!"
What Cheri might say to moms: Don't Panic! Son's are going to be different from daughters because God designed and defined masculinity to be different from femininity. And second- your son needs his Mom!

Moms can nurture their son's faith, teach them the precepts of God, and share the Gospel with them, as we are commanded in Deuteronomy 6.

Moms can be their son's confidante, and his source of wisdom, as King Lemuel's mother was in Proverbs 31.

Moms can raise sons who will love their future wives and children even better because of the love they were given.

Moms can raise adventurous, brave, faithful, true sons, who become strong, Godly men.

Moms can help their sons grow up to be warriors for God's Kingdom, Men After God's Own Heart.

And this book offers wisdom for the journey.

Cheri Fuller spoke to hundreds of Moms and Sons and included their thoughts in this book. The thoughts of these moms will prove a comfort and encouragement to a new mother who worries that she just won't understand her boy, and won't be able to help him grow up into a man. The sons who are quoted explain what their mothers did that helped form and shape them, and their answers too will be a comfort, because what impacted them most deeply were the things that every mom can give. Her Love. Her Godly Wisdom. Her Encouragement.

These sons were given:
God's Word and His Gospel,
Love from their Mom,
Godly discipline,
Forgiveness and grace,
A listening ear,
Praise for their efforts,
Encouragement to press on
Help when they needed it.
These sons were given work to do,
Problems to solve,
Situations to resolve,
and they learned responsibility and skills as they grew. Their moms discipled their sons, they helped them in their schooling, in their work, in their relationships with family and friends.


Cheri writes about understanding your son's unique personality, connecting and communicating with him through the years, understanding how he learns, and developing his character by giving him lots of good books. Isn't that a novel idea, pun intended? Books like Tolkien, the Ralph Moody Series, G. A. Henty and Ballantyne will build courage and character indeed. You live the adventure in the book, and then when your own comes you are ready.
{Also, from what I can tell, a few of those Vision Forum swords that bruise your knuckles when they hit you are much appreciated by sons.}


What a Son Needs from His Mom contains encouragement and counsel for all of those areas. With Cheri's own experience as a mom of two sons, the many insights from moms and sons she talked to, and with wisdom from people like Edith Schaeffer, this book provides a lot of reminders about how much sons need their moms, and a lot of help for the mom of sons.



This brings me to one of the things that stood out strongest to me: the need for a mom to put aside her fears as she raised her son. Lots of things boys need to do are scary for the moms to watch!

In Cheri's book, we read about a son who began a horse training business. He worked hard, and his customers were satisfied. Until one horse came that refused all his efforts. This son sat with his mom on the trampoline in the back yard, all but crying, convinced he had failed and needed to send all the horses back. His mom let him talk himself out. I am sure she was praying for him the whole time. She told him to ask God for help, and then she told him she thought he could train this horse, and then she tried help him figure out some ideas. With renewed confidence, and the knowledge that his mom was behind him, this son tried again and again until he trained that horse and took a check to the bank. The boy will never forget that night when his mom encouraged and prayed for him.

I can imagine how scary this must have been for this mom. She is letting her son wrangle horses- animals that can be dangerous- and he is good at it and earning money while doing it. Now he is having trouble, and is tempted to give up. Imagine the fear that she must have fought to give him courage! I know I would have been afraid of all those things.

Think of the mom who lets her son learn to fire guns, to shoot straight, whose son goes deer hunting and guts the deer once he has killed it.
He has learned how to feed his family, how to use guns right and how to do hard work well. And if he cuts the deer up once he takes it to be registered, and if he makes hamburger and wraps the meat to freeze and then cooks some of it for dinner, we have even more skills!

This stood out to me, because raising sons to be Godly men sure sounds interesting, if a little nerve wracking at times!

I received What a Son Needs From His Mom from Bethany House to review.


High-Impact Medieval Long Sword Set (2 Training Swords)  

The Boy and The Ocean. God Is Love.




The Boy and The Ocean by Max Lucado is a lavishly illustrated story of a little boy and his mother and father who explain God's Love for Him by using the metaphor of the ocean and the mountains to show how big and everlasting God's Love is.

The little boy goes with his mother to the beach. Big, blue waves crash over the sand. White foam curls up the beach. Sand pipers run over the wet sand, and the salt breeze blows over everything. He and his mother wade in the ocean, holding hands.
The Little Boy cannot ever see the end of the ocean.
The Ocean is like God's Love, his Mom explains.
Its always There.
Its always Big.
God's Love never ends.
God's Love is Special.
And that night, the little boy dreams of luscious oceans, with colored fish and pirate wrecks and turtles swimming over his head as he sleeps amid the bright corals.




In the morning, the little boy looks out into a sunlit world and sees the mountains.
He and his father hike up to mountain trail holding hands.
They hike and they hike.
They pick bouquets of wildflowers in the meadow.
They sit in a green valley and watch the white, puffy clouds.
They walk by sparkling streams.
The Boy cannot ever see the end of the Mountains.
God's Love is Like the Mountains, His Dad explains.
Its always there.
Its always Big.
God's Love Never Ends.
God's Love is Special.
And the little boy dreams of the mountains.
He dreams of his puppy running in the meadow.
He dreams of sitting with his Dad looking out over a great valley.



He dreams of the sky and the white clouds and the streams.
He dreams of flying with his puppy on the back of an eagle over the mountain, rushing through the cool air, never seeing the end of the mountains.

The next day, the boy and his parents play on the beach and hike up the mountain trail.
When the day comes to an end, the little boy and his mom and dad lay on a blanket and look up at the sky.
The Sky is very Big.
The little boy cannot count all the stars.
He holds his mom and dad's hands and looks up at the sky full of stars.
"God's Love is like the Night Sky," he says.
"It is always there.
Its always big.
It never ends.
God's Love is Special."

And the Little Boy had begun to understand God's Love.




This is a lapful of a book, with illustrations that fill the spread pages. The paintings are luscious and bring this book to life, and gentle text from Max Lucado that reminds us all just how big God's Love is. Grab a little one, and this book, put the little on your lap and spread the book wide, and start reading The Boy and The Ocean. I will be gladly adding this book to my children's library. I received this book free from Crossway Publishing to review.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy, Holy, Holy,



I really can't review this book the way it deserves to be reviewed, except to tell anyone who might read this: If you want your mind and heart to be stirred to worship our God, read Holy, Holy, Holy. 
This book opens the treasure chest of Scripture and presents God's Word, filling us afresh with the wonder and terror of God's Holiness. Seeing a glimpse of God's Holiness causes us to Worship Him, shows us our sinfulness, and amazes us as we think of the Cross. 

 A look at pure holiness left Isaiah undone, and he cried "Woe unto me, for I am a man of unclean lips," and the Presence of Jesus made Peter see his own sinfulness, and he begged the Lord to depart from him. 

Holiness is something that the human mind doesn't understand.

And yet, when you become a Christian you live in the Presence of Holiness. The Holy Spirit Indwells you, The Holy Son redeems you, and we are allowed to pray to God the Father as Jesus does, calling Him our Holy Father. We are even called a Holy people, chosen by the Lord, The Holy One, Our Father!  

If you read this book, you will bow your head in worship. 

This book has ten chapters,

"I am The LORD" The Only God

"Hallowed be Your Name" The Holiness of the Father.

"The Holy One of God" The Holiness of Jesus.

"The Breath of the Almighty" The Holiness of The Spirit.

"Cosmic Treason" Sin and The Holiness of God. 

"A Holy Nation" The Churches High Calling. 

"Wounded for Our Transgressions" The Holiness of God and The Cross.

"You shall be Holy" The Necessity of Sanctification. 

"Train Up a Child" Walking Together with the Holy God. 


"A Consuming Fire" Holiness, Wrath and Justice.


Every chapter is passionate and articulate, written by gifted preachers glorifying the God who gave them the gift. 

 Holy Holy Holy is written by Alistair Begg, Thabiti Anyabwile, R. C. Sproul and R. C. Sproul Jr, Stephen Lawson, Derek W. H. Thomas, Sinclair Ferguson, D. A Carson, and W. Robert Godfrey. This book introduced me to several of these men whose writings my family had not read before. 
I am excited about reading other books by all of these men. They addressed Holiness in a way that brings you to worship our Holy God. 

 I am grateful to Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Trust for sending me this book to review. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Talon. Combat Tracking Dog.





 I chose this book because it was military fiction- and I have loved books about the military since reading Flag Of Our Fathers and Flyboys, two awesome true-story books of heroism. This book is also a mystery, and I love mystery- where did Austin Courtland go after the explosion in the building? Who is this man, Dane Markoski? Can Dane and Aspen Courtland and Austin's combat tacking dog Talon find him in Africa, or will the people who captured Austin claim their lives? Or...will Austin? Has he turned against them? Is Dane the target of Austin's hatred, and why?

Aspen, Austin's twin, was a very interesting character...strong, but with a soft feminine side. She was at her best when she was allowing others to protect her. And Dane wanted to protect her, and would give his life for her. As he grew to love her, protecting Aspen became his aim.
Dane's life story that is slowly revealed is haunting, and you want for him to know that he can be a new creature in Christ. This man who is drawn to churches can be forgiven and freed from his memories.

I will be looking forward to finding out what happens to Candyman and Timbrel- they are perfect for each other- although Timbrel doesn't think so! I hope they are in book three, which I intend to read if I get the chance. I really liked the character of Candyman and his friend Watterboy: Confident, brave, quick thinking, heavily armed and dangerous, these two are the men you want watching your back. {Not to mention that Candyman is hilarious. He was making me laugh almost every time he appeared. I love that kind of humor. Will the next book maybe be about him?} Timbrel is a character I think would make a book of her own. She needs someone to make her laugh-like Candyman.

There were snipers and spies in this book, military action that made me want to read more. This could make my favorites list!

I received this book from Netgalley to review. I will be looking for book three!






Monday, March 25, 2013

God's Favorite Place on Earth

 

God's Favorite Place on Earth is a small, beautifully written book that tells the story of Jesus from the perspective of Lazarus.

Lazarus and his family, Mary, Martha and their father Simon the leper* lived in Bethany, a humble, quiet village whose name means the House of Figs. It was this village that Jesus went to again and again, and it was this family who opened their home to Him.
Scripture says He loved this family.
Jesus healed Simon of leprosy, and raised Lazarus from the dead.
He accepted Mary as a worshipper and encouraged her heart of adoration, and He gently chided Martha to come and rest in His presence.
It was in Bethany that Jesus ate with His disciples six days before the crucifixion, and it was at that supper that Mary broke the alabaster jar and poured her spikenard perfume over Him.
The scent of her love-gift filled the house, and lingered around the Lord as He hung on the Cross.
And it was Bethany that He returned to before He ascended.
The Mountain of Olives in Bethany was the spot Jesus ascended from, the last place His feet touched the ground before He went up into Heaven.
Truly, we have reasons to believe this village was God's Favorite Place on Earth.

Frank Viola's book tells this story with freshness and detail, pulling you into the life of Lazarus, his family, and their time with Jesus. The writing is reverent and lovely, perfect for devotional reading leading up to Easter. This book allows you to come close to the family in Bethany, and listen to the Teacher whom they loved.
Drawing the story from Scripture and weaving in quotes from Christian writers like Nouwen and Spurgeon, God's Favorite Place on Earth adds richly to our understanding of Jesus' life.

I highly recommend God's Favorite Place on Earth. I was given this book by David C Cook Publishing for my honest review.

*Frank Viola has come to the conclusion that Simon the Leper was most likely the father of Mary, Lazarus and Martha. I agree that this is reasonable. I will think of this from now on whenever I read the story about the family of Bethany.

God's Favorite Place on Earth.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Avenged. Pacific Coast Justice Series.



I was not a reader of mysteries. Not until I met the phenomenal Ollie Chandler Series by Randy Alcorn. Deadline, Dominion and Deception opened up a new kind of books for me, and I have been looking for another mystery series ever since. In God's Providential timing, I joined Netgalley this month and Tyndale was offering  Avenged by Janice Cantore. This book is the third book in The Pacific Coast Justice series, which follow the life of police officer Carly Edwards and her husband Nick. A series with a title like that sounds so good...and it is.

After putting away a man who murdered his wife, Theresa Burke, who was the mayor of Las Playas, Carly is considering moving to detectives division. She loves patrol and her partner Joe is a brother to her, but maybe it is time for a change.
Then comes the night Carly finds herself and Joe responding to the sounds of gun shots, and discover three young gangsters shot in the head. Only one of them is alive.

When Joe is injured during a foot pursuit of a gang leader, military weapons taken from an Army base where a reservist was killed are found in the gang leaders stolen car. The gang leader insists he didn't buy the weapons. They were given to him by a man who says he just wants to even the score after the three shootings.

Nick, Carly's husband, is now working in gang division after recovering from a shooting that left him wounded around a year before.
When he is caught in the middle of a gang-style drive-by shooting in which his partner Mickey is wounded, Nick thinks this is not all gang war as it seems. Someone is behind this. Who wants to start a gang war, and why? The Army base where the guns were stolen from lost explosives in the same theft, enough explosives to blow quite a big crater out of their city.
Who wants that much explosive? Is it "Oceans First," a radical environmentalist group that has created a tent city in Las Playas to hamper construction?

To Carly it seems there is one place that stays the same, Half Baked and Almost Grounded, the local coffeeshop where Ned and Ericka work. Until Ned's brother arrives, fresh out of a ten year sentence and covered with prison tattoos, showing evidence of some serious prison weight training.
He is Trouble with a capital T, and he threatens that one day he is going to hold all the cards.
When Londy, a reformed gang member and employee at Half Baked disappears and is left bound to a newly made bomb in the back of a van in Carly and Nick's driveway, they know that someone with murderous plans is watching them.

Carly is a strong and feminine character. In book three she has remarried Nick, whom she had divorced after he had an affair. As Christians now they have committed to a godly marriage and partnership. Carly insists in trying to leave Nick out of her troubles, fearing that she will hurt him by "distracting" him from his work- and distraction in police work might be fatal. This was a line from one of my favorite scenes: "When we were married the first time, it was my life and your life and we both did a lot of lone ranger stuff. But now I thought we were a team- a partnership- and here you want to shut me out of what's hurting you."
I love their relationship- very realistic, with him wanting to protect her and her admiring him so much as he works the job he loves. I also appreciate Nick's desire to start a family, something that neither one wanted before they were saved. I can picture Carly being a good mother to children. She has a softness and a strength to her.

This book picks up to a quick pace and has a good bit of intensity. There are plot twists in it that I could not imagine untangling in one book...and this book is 378 pages long, giving us time for things to develop.
I read Avenged without reading either Accused or Abducted, and that only made me want to read the first and second books more! I am looking forward to reading books one and two, and I see a preview in the back of this book for Janice Cantore's next book....which I hope I will have the pleasure of reviewing! I can honestly say- I loved this book, including the adventure of reading it aloud to eager family who was listening!

As G. K. Chesterton said, "The detective story at its best allows the full range of human motivation, from hatred and greed to a desire for redemption, to play out in limitless ways. Moreover, given the universality of human emotion, the settings for a good detective story can be just as varied, from country houses to urban offices."

"Both the crimes and the confessions can be as catastrophic as lightning. Indeed, The Ideal Detective Story might do some good if it brought men back to understand that the world is not all curves, but that there are some things that are as jagged as the lightning-flash or as straight as the sword." 

Makes me want to write a detective novel. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bound Together.


I began Bound Together one afternoon and found myself fascinated by this thought provoking book.
Bound Together explores the Principle of the Rope, the truth that we are bound together in surprising ways. I had never though about this before.  Once I read a little of this book I saw that this truth was foundational to the world and my life. The very next morning we were talking about innocent women and children being killed in wars. The thought flooded my mind "It is the principle of the rope. When a nation goes to war, all the people are bound together."
Then, later, I was watching a family member shoveling snow. "I hope they don't get hurt," I thought, "I will be hurting with them." Why? Because we are Bound Together. If they are sad it affects me, if I sin it affects them. This is obvious. However the rope extends and binds us together even more powerfully than just these examples.

Every Human is Bound Together by the Original Rope- our sinfulness as Children of Adam.
All humanity is Bound Together as Sinners needing Redemption before a Holy God. This rope ties every single person together, causing much pain. We see the bonds of the sin rope every day. A child whose father leaves or whose father was a drunkard suffers the pain of choices he did not make. A woman whose husband commits adultery and divorces her suffers the pain, because they were One Flesh in marriage and his choices cut them apart.
A woman raising children in a city poisoned by gang wars who loses a child to a drive-by shooting suffers the torment of not being able to protect them from the choices of the other citizens. We understand the truth of being bound together in pain and sin.

Because the sins of the parents truly do pour pain on their children, Chris Brauns takes time to carefully look at what this means. He examines the passage in Ezekiel, about the fathers eating sour grapes and the children's teeth being set on edge. If we are bound to others sinful choices, are we unable to get free of them ever? Are we even responsible for our own actions? A careful examination of Scripture reveals that God can restore Your life, despite the fact that you will forever live with the effects of their choices, God can make you a new creation, able to make different choices.

The fact that the scars some people have been given may never fade leaves us asking: In all of this, where is the Hope?

If we are Bound Together in this sinful world, how will we live? If every sinful choice made cuts painfully into us, how will we survive?
The hope comes because there is another Rope. A Stronger Rope. The one that binds all Christians eternally Together in the Body of Christ. God has rescued us by the Stronger Rope, the Gospel. This Rope binds us to The King.

Bound Together explains that the Principle of the Rope is at the Heart of the Gospel.
"The reality of solidarity makes possible the good news of our union with God. Because of the principle of the rope, we can be united to Christ. All the blessings and benefits that He has merited by His righteous life, atoning death, victorious resurrection and glorious ascension to heaven are now ours through the Grace of God. Ultimately, it is our Union with Christ that makes possible the greatest miracle of all- our inclusion into the very life of God, the inner relationships of the Trinity. Counted in the Son, Adopted by the Father, and indwelt by the Spirit, we experience the fulness of Love because of our solidarity with Jesus. The principle of the Rope makes this good news true for me and you." 
Yes it does.

And this Rope Binds us Together for Joy. Bound Together explains that when Paul speaks of having Joy amid the persecutions and trials in his life, he almost always speaks of having Joy with other believers. It is in Union with Christ and In His Body that there is Godly Joy. The Old Testament resounds with this truth- Psalm 133 "How sweet it is when brothers live in unity!" Chris Brauns explains that this unity is referred to as dew from the mountains and being anointed on the head with precious oil. "The point is that if we are unified, then we will be blessed and refreshed by God- We will be ful of joy."

We are Bound Together as Families. We are Bound Together in Marriage. We are Bound Together as Nations and Cultures.

We are Bound together as Sinners. We are Bound Together as Saints.

The ropes that bind us might hurt sometimes, but it is the Principle of the Rope that binds us into the Body of Christ, into all loving relationships.



I received Bound Together by Chris Brauns from Cross Focused Reviews. 


Tyndale Rewards. Free Books and Free Bibles!


 Tyndale Rewards is a program that allows you to earn a lot of points very quickly, for filling out surveys and signing up for an email devotional, and you use those points to earn books! There are Bibles, devotionals, and books like The Witness by Josh McDowell, a wonderful apologist who weaves apologetics into fiction.   You can Sign Up Here! If you use the code in the box, you get 25 points and I get 10!
Tyndale Rewards - Christian Fiction and Nonfiction

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lean on Jesus and Feast on His Perfect Love.

 

What can I say about a book this good? A book whose first pages were so true that I thought "Dannah knows me!"  That is what happened with Get Lost. By page three I was underlining and saying "That is the truth. It is."
And I kept thinking this over and over... Dannah gets what is in my head and heart!

Get Lost begins with this statement:

 "This is a book about God....
 ....and guys.....
....and how we get them mixed up.
Oh, do we ever."

  Haven't we all.
 Have you ever sought the love of a guy over the Love of God? And have you still been empty when the relationship was over?

We have a Violent Craving for love...and two ways we can try to fill it. We can chase the love of men, or lean on Jesus and eat from His banquet table of Perfect Love. "The only way to overcome the Craving is to be completely consumed by the fire of God's Agape Love."

The title of this book comes from a delightful and theologically true quote: A Girl Should Be So Lost in God that a Man has to Seek Him to find Her. 

Get Lost is about that...about satisfying the craving for love by getting lost in God's wide, deep Love. As I read, I though to myself, "Isn't it odd? God invites us to feast upon His love, and instead we go to great lengths to try to get from a man what God promised to give us!"

The point is that God is the only source of True Love.  Until we have everything in proper perspective, grounded, rooted, established in God's Love, we won't be able to love anyone else. And loving others is what we are called to do.... loving them with a pure love that seeks their godliness and well being, not a selfish love that tries to own them. Once we are steeped in the love of God, we can pour it out on those around us and we can invite them to take part in the Love Feast God has spread before us.
{My favorite chapter was chapter sixteen... The story that begins this chapter broke my heart. Read. It.}

Getting Lost in God's Love and Finding True Love....two concepts that cannot ever be separated.  Like a painter filling a canvas, Dannah illustrates these two concepts in full color in Get Lost.
We see the Glory of God's Perfect Love and the Beauty of Holy Love that flows from two hearts full of God's Love.

I underlined concepts and paragraphs throughout this book- and I am just on my first read through! Get Lost will be a book I revisit multiple times, a book that I will press into the hands of my Christian sisters with a "You need this book. Enough said."

I am very grateful to Mrs. Gresh and Waterbrook Publishing for sending me this book.






Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I have decided to follow Jesus!

 

 I Have Decided to Follow JESUS!



 These words and this beautiful song are what Mrs. Janet Parshall has often used to introduce stories of the persecuted Church. I will borrow from her.
She uses these words to introduce their stories because it is usually easy for us in America to say I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, and it is much harder for a person in a place like Iran to say these words. It requires the very indwelling Presence of Christ that He promised to give His followers.

     The moment I began reading Captive in Iran I was drawn into the true story of Marziyeh and Maryam, two young Iranian women imprisoned for claiming the name of Christ.
Their story is told so well you can feel as much of it as is possible to feel through the printed page.

    Listen to how there story begins. "Marziyeh and I had shared this simple apartment north of central Tehran for the past year. I was a quiet flat on a hill, with a fireplace in the living room, white walls, dark red curtains, and modern furniture covered with bold, dark orange fabric and big, poofy pillows. The windows in the two bedrooms looked out onto the beautiful Darkeh Mountains, a popular destination for mountain climbers. From the balcony off the kitchen, we could see the street below and the severe, high walls of the nearby Evin Prison."

    It was in the shadow of Evin's walls that Maryam and Marziyeh passed out more than twenty thousand New Testaments, never leaving home without ten or fifteen New Testaments in a backpack. They answered every question about Christ that they were asked. They told the glorious truth of the Gospel to all comers, and this truth fed hungry hearts and made dry souls into well watered gardens.
They broke the law of Iran every time they evangelized or promoted Christ as Savior.
Prison and Death were a looming reality, as solid and real as Evin's walls.
However, nothing would silence these young women as they proclaimed the name of their LORD.

Fellow Christians asked these young women Aren't you afraid of being sent to prison? Of being raped? Of being tortured? And Marziyeh answered, "If God let these things happen to us, it would be to fulfill His will in a way I could not understand. It is a mystery, but I will always trust the LORD."

On March Fifth 2009,  two young men from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and one woman came to the door of Maryam and Marziyeh's apartment and searched the place with no warrant, discovering the Bibles and Christian CDs.

These women were taken away into Vozara Detention Center, and eventually to Evin Prison, where every day is a death sentence.

Life as a prisoner in Evin is hard and horrible. Only God can sustain you through time in Evin. The homosexuality, the rampant lesbian attacks on prisoners, the rape, the beatings, the sickness with no cure given. The games played with your mind to try to convince you to give in to them.


Truly, the darkness is deep in Evin. Thousands of women are in Evin on false charges, or bearing the sentence for a corrupt son or father or husband. For women who are released, there is often nothing to go home to.
And yet this book is an awesome story of the mercy of God, and the way He worked through the lives of Maryam and Marziyeh inside Evin prison.
The Gospel of Salvation was explained right within Evin, to prisoners and to guards. Maryam and Marziyeh were writing God is Love and Christ is the Savior onto the walls in the prison, hoping that women who came after them would find these messages. More than that, they were writing the Gospel on the hearts of fellow prisoners, and the Love of Christ was being spread through Evin. They showed love to meth addicts and women accused of murder. They showed love to prostitues and to the little children who were born in the prison. God was with Maryam and Marziyeh, for His own Glory. There were miracles, of God working in the hearts of people who came to Christ.


Listen to Maryam and Marziyeh speak of seeing the sky from the prison.
"To look at the sky from behind the high walls of a prison is like a stone weight on the heart. Sometimes, feeling the wind on our faces, we imagined we were the birds we saw flying so gracefully above, floating and free. We looked through the only window in the hallway at the one hill we could see in the distance and wondered what it would feel to run barefoot along the ridge. Shirin asked, 'Do you think God is looking at us? Do you think He can see us at all?'
'Yes,' Maryam said, 'I think He can see us.'.... It is the universal lament of prisoners everywhere: seeing only a little square of sky reminds them of their isolation from the world and makes them long for more."  


Now is the time to read Captive in Iran, because as this is being typed, there are many Christians within Evin's walls, undergoing beatings, torture, and non-existent medical care. One of those is Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen and a Christian Pastor. He has been sentenced to eight years in Evin, and every day there is a death sentence.
 As a Christian man, his treatment will be brutal. Maryam and Marziyeh tell the story of Shirin, a political prisoner who was beaten on the head so many times during interrogations that she could not see anymore, and she would begin to bleed from her nose from the trauma to her head. We must life this man up in daily prayer. Please sign the petition to save him at SaveSaeed.org


I am very grateful to Tyndale for sending me a copy of this book, and to Maryam and Marziyeh for writing their story and exposing the darkness of Christian persecution and for reminding us that the Light of Christ shines brighter in deep darkness.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Disciples are made, not Born.

Disciples Are Made, Not BornDisciples are Made, not Born  is a book I would love to place in the hands of all young men today.
This book strikes me as being perfect for young men. And why should this surprise me, that a book on discipleship seems like it is made for young men?
It was young men that Jesus chose to be the first disciples.
 Walter Henrichsen clearly had a heart for ministering to young men, and many of his stories in this book involve discipling and evangelizing with young men on college campuses and in military barracks.

What they all needed was an older, Godly man who would pour his life into them, teaching and training them for Christ. And then they would do the same, multiplying and making disciples of all nations, beginning with a single young man.
Studying Disciples are Made, Not Born would make young men more serious about being disciples, and more enthused about making disciples.

   The call to Christ is the call to discipleship, and discipleship is part of the carving process that forms us into the image of Christ. When we look back at what we were, and at what we are now, and forward to what we hope to be, we see that discipleship is in the middle.
   God places the hammer and carving chisel in the hands of the men and women who make disciples. God makes their work effective as they tirelessly place the chisel and strike with the hammer in just the right way, skills they learned as they were discipled themselves.
I loved reading just how personal and careful discipleship is. Walter tells of the man who led him to Christ, and discipled him. He writes about eating at this man's house, being part of his family, being able to call him and talk to him. Discipleship is a sacrifice for the one mentoring. It is the kernel of wheat dying so it can multiply. There have been stories about a single kernel of wheat. When it is planted, and dies, another stalk spouts up, and by tending the stalk carefully and letting it mature, a wheat field can be nurtured from a single kernel. Dying and multiplying, over and over, producing a harvest. Such it is with Discipleship.

I am grateful to David C Cook Publishing for sending me this book to review.

Disciples are made not born. First Chapter excerpt.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven.

   A Time for every Purpose Under Heaven.
   One woman's trip to Africa: My Story.
    by Chris Loehmer Kincaid.

   This is the story of Chris Kincaid's trip to Africa, as a missionary. She encounters poverty- but joy and gratitude springs from the hearts of the people.

She encounters disease: men who rape and spread AIDS to their victims. And yet she meets lovely young girls who have hope that their lives can be different.

She encounters children in a an orphanage with a small library, children who soak up education and grab the missionaries by the hands insisting on reading to them!

All Christian books should leave us with a desire for the Gospel to go out. This one does.
I recommend this book to one with a heart for missions, and a love for Africa.


Listen to this quote from Chris about what she found in Africa. "I pulled out Val's Bible and was guided to open to Ecclesiastes 3. Every line from that chapter of the Bible reminded me of something we had witnessed so far on our trip. For every thing there is a season, A time for every purpose under Heaven.  We had witnessed birth and death, healing and killing, even sowing and the gathering of stones. We had laughed and cried, mourned and danced. And just the day before, we watched a young Kenyan harvesting crops in the garden, pulling up what had been planted months before, gathering food for himself and his family. 
Why again had I doubted myself? God sent me to Africa during this season of my life for a very good reason, for His reason. 
And in time, I would discover that reason. 
I serve an amazing God."

Yes. I received this book from Bookcrash and the author to review. Thank you! 

Christ Centered Biblical Counseling.

    This book is a necessity for every Christian, Pastors especially but not exclusively. We all need to study counseling. I knew from the introduction that this was going to be an excellent book.  John Piper's beginning chapter "The Glory of God: The goal of Biblical Counseling" was pure gold. Dr. Piper defines Christ centered counseling for us and sets a high standard that the rest of this 480 page book maintains. "Biblical counseling is the God-centered, Bible-saturated, emotionally-in-touch use of language to help people become God-besotted, Christ-exalting, joyfully self-forgetting lovers of people." Pure Gold.

Listen to a sampling from the rest of this volume: "Our role as biblical counselors is to remind broken people of the Gospel script. We're soldiers in a battle standing back to back as spiritual friends speaking God's truth in Love. We provide grace narratives with discernment, using the weapon of truth to take down enemy lies and take captive enemy plans."  

"It doesn't matter if we have helped people feel better emotionally or improved some aspect of their situation if they are no closer to Christ when the process is concluded." 

"(What our counselees need) is to be formed into the image of Jesus. He needs to learn to abide in Christ so that the life of the Savior flows through and empowers everything he thinks, says, and does. He needs all kinds of things, but fundamentally, he needs to learn what it means to walk in a life giving relationship with Jesus." 

"Dependence must be on the Divine relationship, not on any human one. As a counselor, you must demonstrate this explicitly by your dependence upon the LORD. Let the people you counsel hear frequently of your dependence upon the Lord for wisdom and your confidence that He alone grants it out of His abundant generosity."  

"Biblical counselors serve others well by leading them to the throne room."

"(Counseling) Should reflect the price paid by Christ, God's work in building a Holy temple, and an awareness of the Holy Spirit's presence for, with, and in this counselee."

We must love those we counsel with "An awareness of the unity shared between family members in God's household-which of course should reflect the unity of the Trinity."

"As a Biblical counselor, how do you view your counselees? A well rounded approach is to consider each believer a Sinner, Sufferer and Saint." 

"We join them in acknowledging with candor that life is bad. We listen to their earthly story. We enter deeply and personally into the reality that the world is fallen and it often falls on us..."

"Sustaining says, 'Its normal to hurt.' Healing says 'Its possible to hope.' Sustaining provides empathetic permission to grieve. Healing offers encouragement to grow. Sustaining faces the fact that life is bad. Healing reminds people that God is good. Sustaining listens to the earthly story. Healing listens together to God's eternal, heavenly story...We should listen with both ears: One to our friend's temporal stories of hurt, and the other to our Father's heavenly stories of hope. Biblical counseling resides in both worlds." 

All of authors who gave of their wisdom for this volume are respected pastors and/or counselors, and there is so much truth to chew on in this book.
 Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling is a book is well worth reading. I am so grateful to Harvest House for sending me this book to review. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Reason's For Belief.

      Reason's for Belief by Dr. Norman Geisler and Mrs. Tunnicliffe is a book I am very blessed to own.
 Dr. Geisler starts this book with the most critical of questions, "Why are you a Christian?" This is the question we most need to know how to answer. 
All apologetics will come into play as we answer this question. And this is a question we are all being asked often, in many different ways. "So, do you believe that, about the Bible? Why?" "How do you know that Jesus really died...and rose from the dead?" 
     Reason's for Belief is dedicated to helping us form a defense for Christianity in our own minds and then give this defense to others, as 1 Peter 3:15 commands. 
The words we use, "evidence" "Truth" and "give a defense"  are courtroom terms...and the claims of Christ are on trial. 
    This book moves logically through ten questions. Evidence is presented, facts are evaluated. As we investigate, God's Fingerprints are found to be all over both the Universe and Holy Scripture, and they match the fingerprints of his Son, Jesus of Nazareth. 

   In this book, we explore the difference between anti-theism, deism, pantheism, and Theism, and then the differences between the three major Theistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. 
    We learn about the reliability of the New Testament, and the preservation of these eyewitness accounts. 
    Then we look into the words and life of Jesus- did this Man claim plainly to be God? Yes. And...was He? Yes. The answer is Yes. 
    There are wonderful charts in this book that illustrate ideas for us. One of my favorites was If God Came, What Would We Expect? This chart compared what we would expect with what we found in Jesus Christ. 
We would expect God to come into this world differently. He did. Jesus was born of a Virgin. 
We would expect Him to have power over disease and death. Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. 
We would expect Him to have eternal, lasting influence. Jesus has changed the world. Splitting Time itself into BC and AD, offering Salvation to men.
We look at The Cross, and we see a Man who truly died. He did not swoon or faint. He bled and wept and gasped and died. And He was wrapped in linen cloths laid in the Tomb. 
And then we read about the Resurrection. Testified to by the Scriptures, and Proclaimed by the men who saw the Living Lord, the Resurrection happened in a space time moment in History and was carefully recorded in New Testament documents. We can believe it. 
And Believing in the One who was resurrected, we can be Saved. 
There is a fine chart that compares the Life of Jesus with the Life of other religious leaders. Jesus is the Sinless Man, the Man who healed and restored with His miracles, the Man who fulfilled specific prophecy, and the Man who died and Lives again. 
He is God in Flesh, and the Only Way to Heaven and fellowship with God. 

   The end of this book helps us write out our defense of Christianity and practice presenting it, testifying before a curious world what reasons we have for belief. 

    So why I am I Christian? I am a Christian because God is, and He is not silent. He created us, and we know it. We live in an incredibly designed world that reduces men to gasps of wonder and whispers of prayer when they view a human baby and a whirl of the Milky Way. 
The DNA you are living with right now is the information this God wrote to design your life and body. You are, as C S Lewis said, a Vast and Complex Universe of Wonder.  
And you are not just a body, awesome as it is. As Mr. Lewis said, You are a Soul, You have a Body. You know God made you, you know you will answer to Him. You live with a moral code in you that He programmed. 
God is Holy, Perfect in Righteousness, Creator of a perfect world where His Good Will was done. 
We rebelled and now seek darkness instead of Light. 
We have fallen into sin, beginning with Adam and Eve.
We live now in a cursed, painful, broken world of rebels against a Holy God. 
That is not the last word, however. 
Through His Son, who came to earth and died on the Cross, bearing our sins in His body, and rising from the grave alive, we can be forgiven of our sins and born again into the family of God. Scripture is our witness of these things and is the Word of God. Jesus is a Real Man, not an idea or a system, a Living Man more real than I am. And someday the world will be restored and the Knowledge of the Glory of God will cover the earth like the waters cover the sea. 

I will be leaving a wide margin on what I just wrote, because LORD willing I will grow in wisdom and knowledge and find clearer ways of expressing these truths. I am grateful to Mrs. Tunnicliffe and Dr. Geisler for stimulating this discussion. The recommended sites in the appendix include Hugh Ross's Old Earth website, which I do not endorse. 
I am a stalwart YEC. 

I received this book from Bethany House. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Noise. By Pooh Bear.

  From Pooh Bear's House - a lovely site!

                                                                                                           
        

NOISE BY POOH

Oh, the Butterflies are flying,
Now the winter days are dying,
And the primroses are trying
To be seen.
And the turtle-doves are cooing,
And the woods are up and doing,
For the violets are blue-ing
In the green.

Oh, the honey-bees are gumming
On their little wings, and humming
That the summer, which is coming,
Will be fun.
And the cows are almost cooing,
And the turtle-doves are mooing,
Which is why a Pooh is Pooing
In the sun.

For the spring is really springing,
You can see the skylark singing,
And the blue-bells, which are ringing,
Can be heard.
And the cuckoo isn't cooing,
But he's cucking and he's cooing,
And a Pooh is simply pooing
Like a bird.






Monday, March 11, 2013

Grand Weaver


   Dr. Ravi Zacharias' ministry is new to myself and my family. We are now reading his Grand Weaver. This man's voice and reasoning and writing are superb.

   The Grand Weaver begins with a question that makes my heart leap just thinking about it. "Would anyone deny that they would really like to see some periodic 'visitation' from God?....And who among us would not like to know His plan?"

    Ravi carefully examines the evidence and outlines his words with Scripture and where exactly things are substantiated in the Bible.

    God wants us to succeed but along the way in this world there will be failure. There is a plan, there is a Weaver. This book wants us to search for the Weaver with all our hearts, for this life is not of our own doing. Think of your own birth, certainly not a date and time of your own choosing.

     Dr. Zacharias is a man whose humility and graciousness have reminded us that apologetics is a matter of the heart as well as of the mind.
      Dr. Zacharias writes with reverence about his Savior and  Holy Scripture. He writes with kindness toward his fellow humans. He writes with strength about what Scripture says and what it means to us. Both gentle humor and keen wit come into this book in the proper places, the humor always teaching us something.We love to watch his lectures on Youtube and we have been greatly blessed by his books. If you have never read anything from Dr. Zacharias, you should. I was very blessed to receive The Grand Weaver from Zondervan to review. I am pleased to have a copy of the Grand Weaver on my family's book shelf.






Saturday, March 9, 2013

God's Good Design.

     God's Good Design is published by Matthais Media, a company I am quickly associating with quality, Gospel focused literature. This is no exception. 

     God's Good Design is a very apt title for a book on Biblical Womanhood, because the ultimate thing to keep in mind as we study is that it is God's own Good design to make both masculinity and femininity. 

    This book is a clear call to look deep into each passage that speaks of womanhood and what it means. It is time to blow the obscuring dust of feminism off the pages of our Bible and read these verses again, in context. Our guide is Claire Smith, who has a PhD in the New Testament and a BTh, MA in Theology. 

   Claire looks at seven passages of Scripture, six from the New Testament and Proverbs 31, as well as returning us to Genesis as Paul did time after time, reminding us that God's Good Design began in Eden. (It is wonderful to see a defense for male headship prior to the fall!) She examines each verse, sometimes each word, and the whole context is understood as we study. 

     Today, many want to treat these passages as if they are too obscure to understand... as if either the egalitarian or the complementarian view might be supported by Scripture, and as if we can choose whichever we are comfortable with and feel satisfied. However, something amazing about Scripture is that while there are mysteries we may never fully grasp this side of glory, what we need to know now is incredibly straightforward. Scripture's claims are often plain even to the unbeliever. Claire tells several stories in this book about new Christians and unbelievers, who were shown a  passage such as 1 Timothy 2, on women being "silent" in Churches. These people read the passage and then trusted what it plainly said as what it "really meant." They had no doubt that it meant what it said. There is no clever redefinition of words by a brand new Christian who is given a Bible. The reason we have scholars working so hard to redefine a term like "head" is because "head" means... head. When we say "Mr. Moss is the head of the planning board"... we mean the authority, the man in headship. We never mean that Bill Moss is the source of the planning board! It is time to return to sensible not suspicious hermeneutics. 

    And at the heart of it all is the truth that relationships between men and women give us a snapshot of God's own relationship within the Godhead, and of the love between Christ and the Church. What God says about authority and order in relationships cannot ever be dismissed as "strange cultural baggage," rather this needs to be accepted as a way to show our world God's Glory and His Gospel. 

God's Good Design by Claire Smith will join my apologetics and Biblical Womanhood shelf.  I am blessed to have received this book from Cross Focused Reviews.    

Friday, March 8, 2013

Romance of Grace.

The Romance of Grace by Jim McNeely

 Romance of Grace teaches many important truths, some of them being things I had never considered deeply before. These are three things I was amazed at...

~We can do nothing on our own. And, I can earn nothing from God on my own. All I am blessed with is a gift, unmerited, undeserved from the hand of my Father.

~We are obsessed by morality, not transformation.

~Desire is not eliminated when one becomes a Christian, it is redeemed.


Romance of Grace was startling... and then it began making real sense. This is a book that reminds us of what is so Amazing about Grace. Grace was revolutionary when it was first preached...have we lost it now? Lets read this book and remember.

 1.     I was reading along, and there is a section on the great commandment to Love God with all our Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind. Mr. McNeely tells us we can't do it- we just can't love God this way. At first I said "How can that be? We are commanded to!" And then I read further and thought...It is true. I can't love God this way! I don't! If it was up to me to get to God then I would be lost. I can't love Him perfectly and consistently. I can't keep this command.
And that made me think- well, then I really can't do anything!
And that is The Point. I can't do anything.
Isn't that the idea of Grace- that we can't reach God, God reaches us? We can't Love God, He Loves us?
Isn't this what John says, Not that we Loved Him but that He first Loved us?
Why should I object to the idea that I am wholly at God's mercy and in desperate need of His grace even to love Him? Grace meets us when we are reduced to nothing, doesn't it? And then Grace gives us so much more than we can ever imagine. I knew that all I receive from God was pure unmerited favor...but it amazes my heart to hear it again in Romance of Grace. 

"The community of the redeemed is a community of those who are given a huge abundance of undeserved gifts. Heaven is the place for those who receive scandalously unmerited riches in lavish abundance. The citizens of Heaven will become accustomed to receiving lavish gifts and riches that they never earned..."  

2.   Grace is transformation, Christ's life for our death, not more mere morality. As C. S. Lewis said, God makes new men, not better old men. Applying morality is like applying make up to a dead body, whereas Grace gives life to the dead. Christians need not be afraid of preaching strong Grace. Grace produces new men. The dedication in this book says it all..."Most people encouraged me not to go too far with the idea of Grace, he challenges me to go further and deeper into Grace."
As Tullian Tchividjian says, this Grace will frighten you and free you, startle you and save you.

3.     And the third, fascinating point that really stood out-  Desire is not removed, it is redeemed by God.
     Mr. McNeely uses this example. When you ask a woman how she is, and she says she is being "good", she means morally good. She means she is restraining herself from what she wants.
If you saw her eating a chocolate sundae later and asked how it was, she would say "It is Good!" To her, what is right to do is not a delightful thing to do and she thinks all the delightful things are on the forbidden side of the fence. There is a split in her two definitions of Good. Aesthetic Good, pleasurable good, delightful delicious good, and right, Moral good.
The split began in Eden, when Eve stopped seeing what God wanted her to do as the delightful thing to to...she began seeing something else as "good-desirable."
That is where the war of desire begins. We now call that temptation, the war of the flesh between what we want and what God wants for us.
    What is God's answer for this? "Imagine that God intends to restore us- to heal this terrible wound, this gaping division in our inner souls. Imagine that He wants to remove this need...to constantly go against what we want and to do what we do not want...Imagine that God wants to refashion us somehow so that our real desire does not run against what is right. What, eventually, would this healing, this obedience from the heart look like? What kind of world would the kingdom of God look like if it really did come down to earth? It would look like Grace!" 
 Only Grace can transform us to want what He wants for us again... to call His will Good. And that is the transformation God intends to wrought.

And what will we find in Grace? What are we invited into?
"We are invited into a world where it is no longer we who live but Christ...we are forgiven so that the barriers to the entrance into this world are removed so that we may come boldly into this throne of Grace...this is the world to which we are invited because we are greatly loved. In all of the universe no other but the Church is named as His Bride, the angels and the very universe itself longs to see the revelation of Christ's exquisite and beautiful Bride, and this is what we are."

 The holy joy of strong Grace! That is what this book preaches.
I received Romance of Grace from the author through Cross Focused Reviews.

Therefore Now, Mr. McNeely's website.





Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Home Run.






    When I first heard about the Home Run movie (and book!) I knew right who I wanted to give it to. I have a sports fan in my family who is also a movie fan and has had trouble with all the issues dealt with in this book. A story might be the way to reach them. Film is a great blessing to Christians, to be able to use a powerful medium to give the Gospel message in a way that stays with viewers for a long time.

    Home Run is the story of an out of control alcoholic who vowed he would never be like his father- and is. 

    Cory's life was tormented by his father when he was young. He lived in fear and tried to protect his little brother Clay from their father's rage. 

    Cory met a sweet girl in high-school, and left her with a baby boy. He went to play baseball, and she married a soldier who adopted her son as his own. Cory went to the big leagues and Emma's soldier went to Afghanistan and died. Emma's son Tyler mourned the loss of the good man who had taken care of them...and Tyler never knew he had a father who had left him ten years before. 
    
   Cory Brand is now famous... and drinking and medicating himself heavily. 
    When Cory attacks an umpire and hits an honorary batboy in the nose, he is suspended for eight weeks. For PR reasons he is told he is going to coach the boy's little league and attend a Celebrate Recovery Group. 

   The batboy turns out to be Carlos Brand, his nephew, newly adopted by Cory's brother and his wife Karen. They had brought Carlos to the field to meet his uncle. 
Cory finds himself in the middle of the family he had left behind...his brother who continues to forgive him, Karen who "just doesn't understand what it is like to have a hard life", and Carlos who thinks Cory is a hero. 

    The other family he left is here in this town too. Emma and Tyler.  

    Home Run is an exploration of the healing process from alcoholism in a man and his family. 

    In every movie that is made into a book, each one will have its strengths. 
I always wanted a book when I really enjoyed the movie, because the book can be re-read slowly, and usually has more depth. Ultimately, I think that a well written book can capture more emotion than a movie, although a movie's visuals can get right into the brain, so to speak. The movie often captures the emotion in a much shorter period of time, while books need to set the stage with words. I can see how both the film and the book Home Run will move people. This novelization is written with flash backs to show you Cory's youth, and has several story lines going at once:

     Emma, who knows that the things Cory did that were supposedly "fun" when he was young were setting the stage for what is just plain old sin now- drunkenness and sexual immorality. Emma wants nothing to do with the immature and shiftless man in front of her, who is trying to be charming. There was nothing innocent or admirable in him then, and I was glad to see restraint from Emma until he changed his behavior.  (The idea of someone less than Godly weaseling or worming their way back into your heart is thankfully unBiblical. As is the "Good Girl can't help but be attracted to the Bad Boy" myth.) 


   Tyler, the son who breaks his mother's heart because he looks like his father.
   Tyler, the boy who has always loved baseball, and who has a treasured box of baseball cards given to him by the old man who used to mow their lawn. Tyler who loves his Coach Cory. (My personal favorite scene when Cory was trying to come back into Tyler's life was when he brought him a puppy--and Emma sent it back home with him.) 

    And Cory himself. Spoiled by his money, thinking he can fix everything from DUI's to car accidents to suspensions by telling his agent to just pay it off. Of course, the things he can't pay off are the ones most broken: His son, His past, and Emma. 
    He undeniably carries a great deal of pain from his father, but needs to accept responsibility for his own choices. His incessant justification of his sinful actions is keeping him trapped, and his insistance that no one understands in patently false. (This is a lesson his sister in law Karen teaches him, in an unforgettable manner.) 
    He lives in the netherworld of knowing that the God his Mom talked to is there, and yet not wanting to acknowledge his guilt before Him and ask Him for help. It is a men's group that leads him to His Savior. The group is Celebrate Recovery, where men speak honestly of their sins and God's Grace that changed their lives and now sustains them. 

   When Cory has men who care, whom he can call in a struggle against temptation, the pieces are coming together for his life to heal. And when his life heals, several other lives will be knit together and a multitude of prayers will be answered. 

    I think this book and movie will do what stories have the power to do- show viewers that 
there is hope for people with these temptations and addictions. The ministry of Celebrate Recovery is a very commendable ministry. 

I received this book from Cook Publishing to review.