Monday, May 7, 2018

I'd Like You More If You Were More Like Me by John Ortberg

Doesn't everyone have this feeling at least once in every relationship? Yes we enjoy the differences but we secretly want things to be our way.

John Ortberg has written a terrific book about dealing with our intimacy issues. And we're not necessarily talking about that kind of intimacy.

This books is used to answer a number of what if questions. And they all fit inside 14 sharply written chapters.

I enjoyed reading through the idea of if relationships with flesh and blood people are so difficult, why do we think a relationship with an invisible God would be any less difficult?

I enjoy Ortberg's writing style. It is very comfortable and well informed.

You'll learn to avoid relationship pitfalls, how to make God an active part of your everyday life, and how to recognized connection points.

This is a good book to read on relationships.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Tyndale Publishing.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The 49th Mystic by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker returns to the world of The Circle series he created fifteen-some years ago.

In The 49th Mystic we find a girl named Rachelle, same name as Ted's daughter - I feel kinda bad for his other children left out, who will become this titled character.

Just like in the novels Black, Red, White, and Green, two worlds are accessed through dreams. While there are cameos of familiar Circle characters, Ted has said that this book along with its sequel are stand-alone novels.

Rachelle lives in a secluded community that abides by the Law of God under the guidance of the community leader. God has rules and followers of God must live by those rules.

Then the villain shows up, calls into question their way of life and the community is thrown into chaos. If this was your first time reading a Dekker book, you'd wonder if this was actually the hero because you'd swear there was some truth mixed in with what he's saying.

If you have read Dekker's Books of History Chronicles, this book will feel very familiar. You have the dreaming of two worlds through books and blood, you have the villain showing up in a town and creating havok with the townspeople where one young person is to figure it all out and put a stop to it.

You have the questions of "what is real and what is fabricated?"

It all feels very familiar.

Ted has said that this is the culmination of everything he has written. I can go with that, sure. But as I was reading through The 49th Mystic, I kept thinking, "this is like Showdown", "this part is like Sinner", "this is like that part in The Priest's Graveyard", "this part is like Skin".

Rachelle now has quests in both worlds. What happens in one directly affects what happens in the other. The stakes are high and the consequences are dire.

There are a number of shocking deaths.

It is clear by now that Ted has had a spiritual experience that he wants to share with as many people as he possibly can. I have discovered, when novelists have a similar experience, their books are preachy than plot.

There is a character in Other Earth who is a kind of sage for Rachelle. He is used to preach Ted's new philosophy of our relationship with God. There are pages and pages of him preaching this new way of thinking to Rachelle (and us). I don't remember Dekker's writing anything like this until his A.D. 30 & 33 books.

I really enjoy Ted Dekker books. I have every novel that he's written. Here lately, I've not been able to connect or enjoy them as I once used to.

So it must just be me because these newer books are impacting a great number of readers.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Revell Publishing.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Walking as Jesus Walked by Dann Spader

This is a good teaching resource for a classroom or small group.

The questions are not at all cliched Sunday School stereotypes. It causes you to dig deep into what you understand and believe.

The pages are thicker than normal so you can write in them, the spaces available in the answer sections are adequate to write out your thoughts.

This is a good workbook for anyone interested in exploring the discipleship process of following Jesus and using the Bible as the launching point as well as the support.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How Healing Works by Wayne Jonas MD

Do you need all those medications?

Dr Jonas write a book that does not feel as dry and you'd think it should be.

Clearly he isn't talking about thinking your way out of cancer or some serious illness. He is simply reminding readers how their bodies are designed to work when it comes to health and restoration.

I think it's safe to say the United States loves her pills. We love taking them and prescribing them and using them. This book explains there might be a better way than taking a pill for every little thing. And I have to repeat - little thing.

Don't read this book and assume you will cure yourself of some debilitating disease in a week's time. This isn't that kind of book at all.

This is a book reminding you of the important of rest and eliminating stress and eating right and he throws in some creative ways at getting the point across.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Lorena Jones Books.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP by Terry Heaton

Terry Heaton was a producer for The 700 Club back in it's heyday. He was a mix of media and faith and things were going great, until they weren't.

This book is his personal reflection and reasoning behind the rise the Religious Right and Pat Robertson's role in it with his show.

From the get-go, you understand that Heaton is no longer on the Robertson bandwagon. He was uncomfortable with some of the ethical/political activities beginning with Robertson's entry into presidential politics.

He was let go from his position and it certainly left an impression.

This book is a fun read if you like to read behind-the-scenes types of books. You will get an eyefull of information about The 700 Club program, the personalities behind it all and how things broke down.

Heaton despises the Religious Right and, with it, the Republican party. His reasons for hating these organizations is valid in how he presents what they were all about.

What I'm not sure I can agree on is what happens all the time - everyone who identifies as an evangelical Christian is stereotyped by the likes of Pat Robertson. I don't think every evangelical holds the same beliefs as him or the evangelical cartoons we see in the media.

I'm not a fan of lumping everyone under one status. Unless I'm totally off base and the evangelical movement has left me behind?

It's easy to make fun of someone like Pat Robertson and this book will provide plenty of additional fodder to use.

With his venom aimed at some of the Robertson family put aside, some of Heaton's thoughts are quite articulate when it comes to new media and how it has gotten in the habit of failing the viewer.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by OR Books.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The God-Shaped Heart by Timothy Jennings, MD

Psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Jennings wants to help Christians better understand this love that God has for us. It is a word that is often used vainly, and in Jennings opinion, needs to be connected with how much of the world understands laws.

What if we could mature out of our current understanding of rules. Dr Jennings calls them the seven levels of moral decision making.

1) Reward and Punishment
2) Marketplace Exchange
3)Social Conformity
4) Law and Order
5) Love for Others
6) Principle-based Living
7) Understanding friend of God

Jennings believes most people live around the 3-5 range most of their lives. Some can reach higher and a few stick to the lower numbers. The desire is to reach level seven.

Dr. Jennings often comes back to these levels as he explains certain ideas that have been confused or misunderstood by Christians.

I like a lot of what I read in this book. There was some great food for thought and challenging concepts that I wound up pondering and chewing on. But there are other times when his conclusions got me a little riled up.

He goes after the death of Jesus on the cross and the purpose of that pretty heavily. He challenges that belief of God demanding payment for sin. He challenges quite a lot of what most mainline Christians have held on to for their doctrine and beliefs.

He dives into how Christians should treat one another including those who identify as homosexual. It was refreshing to read a point of view that was hate-filled (for either position).

I really enjoyed how calming and enjoyable his writing style was. It felt like I was reading a deep book but it was not at all boring. If nothing else, this book gave me so much to consider and challenge by way of my own beliefs about God, Jesus, Sin, and humanity.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Baker Books.

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

I knew nothing about this book except for the blurbs saying how good it was. The fact that one reviewer used Alfred Hitchcock's name grabbed my attention.

That being said, this book is nothing like an Alfred Hitchcock film. Review words that are thrown around to describe this book are: noirish, very funny, scintillating, and thought-provoking.

It is possible that I don't know the definition of them, but I did not find this story to be any of those words.

A young lady get hired to be the nanny. The mother who hired the nanny is a narcissist. However, the nanny has some artistic quirks of her own and by the end of the book, it all comes crashing down.

How far will you take art for the sake of artistic experience/experiment?

When you throw around a name like Hitchcock, you'd expect some fine twists and unexpected developments. In this book, everything follows a straight path. Once you are introduced to everyone in this book's cast, you know what's going to happen. You know the nanny is going to make a horrible decision regarding the mother's older son. You know that mother is going to make bad decision after bad decision.

Maybe this is reflective of how people truly behave. Maybe Edan Lepucki has that inside track to what's going on in the high life in California.

I did not enjoy this book. The copy I received came with a reader's guide. Perhaps this book was designed to be a book club read?

It wasn't for me.