Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Killers, Spies, & Missionaries

Spitzer Hafen by Randall Fanklin

Don’t let the “Christian fiction for thinkers” tagline make you think that you have to be particularly cerebral to understand this book.  Although, I did have to look up “ad hoc” because I had no idea what it meant.  Done for a particular purpose is the meaning, by the way.  Spitzer Hafen is a really enjoyable story.  The premise of the story is two radio “missionaries” preach the Gospel over the airwaves.  An apostate preacher in charge of the eChurch of the Whatever (eCOW) sees the missionaries as a threat to his own anti-Biblical teaching and wants the missionaries out of business.  Enter a couple of hired assassins and a Cold War spy to destroy and protect, respectively.

There were a few things about the way the book is set up that kind of threw me off, but they don’t take away from the story at all.  The first third, maybe even half of the book is dedicated to setting up the rest of the story, which makes sense, of course.  However, there are many characters that need backstories, so it was kind of like reading four different books at the same time.  Just when everything started to converge, bam!, we get another character who needs a backstory while the main story is put on hold.  The only thing I really didn’t like was the main villain in the story.  Somehow I got a cartoonish picture of her in my mind, think Natasha of Boris and Natasha, and could not shake that image throughout the story.  At least not until the very end.  But overall, I really enjoyed the time I spent reading this story.

This book was provided free of charge by the BookCrash program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Journey of a Lifetime

Journey To Christmas DVD Bible Study    

This is a faith-based, reality, maybe more documentary, small group discussion series--a pretty ambitious undertaking.  This set of four videos follows a group of five people from various backgrounds, each with their own set of spiritual struggles.  They follow the path of the Nativity from the Bible, starting in Nazareth and ending in Bethlehem, learning the customs and life style of those living during the time of Christ’s birth.  They hit all the major tourist landmarks along the way.

Being a history junkie, this sort of thing appeals to me greatly.  There is a lot of background information all throughout each of the four sessions.  I watched the first two right away and would have watched all four in one sitting if I had the time.  The human drama of the participants was an added layer to what otherwise would have been an historical documentary.  I found it interesting to see if these holy sites would build faith in the group or would they be taken back by the extreme tourist traps the sites have become.

This series is set up as four small group lessons that I believe would be perfect for a home study where you bring in people who might not want to go to church.  There are discussion materials you can print out to help facilitate a talk amongst your group.  I don’t know if the videos themselves would inspire people to faith, but that is where we come in and lead our friends and neighbors in a thoughtful discussion of what happened 2000 years ago.

This DVD was provided free of charge by the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.

Great Book for Your Little Warrior

His Mighty Warrior, A Treasure Map from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd
 I have been reading His Mighty Warrior with my five and three year old sons for the past couple of weeks.  My five year old definitely responds more to the lessons than his younger brother does.  However, they both ask for me to read this to them when they get up in the morning—a good sign for a children’s book.  My older son will periodically ask, “Who are we, Mommy?”  When I tell him he is a mighty warrior for God, his face lights up!

 This is a devotion book for boys, with the companion for girls being His Little Princess.  Each devotion consists of a letter from God to the boy.  Writing from God’s perspective to the children is challenging, I’m sure, but I have not read anything in this book that I would object to.  It appears to be Biblically sound.  Each letter is followed by the Scripture passage the “letter” was based on and also a prayer.  To read an excerpt from the book click here:  http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601420343&view=excerpt

I think this is a great book for boys who are about six to ten years old.  The pictures are nice and go along with the “treasure map” portion of the title more so than the “warrior” part.  I just have to keep reminding my boys that the boys in the pictures are boys camping on an island looking for treasure, not pirates!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What God Wants for You from His Perspective

The Abundant Life Day Book by Nancy Guthrie

“The Abundant Life Day Book contains a year’s worth of daily reminders of what it means to live in the abundance of God’s blessing through Christ.”--from Tyndale’s synopsis of this book.  I believe Nancy Guthrie has done a good job of accomplishing this.  The book is set up in the typical daily devotional way; Scripture, lesson, prayer.  However, the “lesson” portion of the reading is set up, not as an instructor teaching you a lesson, but as God personally speaking a word to you.
This premise can be tricky to do because you do not want to overstep your bounds and have people think this really is God speaking to them with authority.  The author states in the Introduction, “…while I have taken great liberty in writing these blessings as if they are God speaking to you, the only aspect of each day’s blessing that has the authority of God is the Word of God quoted at the top of each page.”  Through the passages I have read so far I have not found anything that is objectionable.  Quite the opposite, this book helps you think about what God has in mind for you.  It does a very good job reminding us that God is for us, not against us!
The book was provided free of charge by Tyndale House Publisher in exchange for an honest review.