Saturday, 2 December 2017

What Characterizes Biblical Community?

Is it just me, or do we all desire community and making a difference, but we just can’t get connected in it?  It seems some are giving up on community and believing they don't need it. Are we convincing ourselves that we don’t need community because we truly believe that, or have we just given up on the idea that community can truly exist?

A few common reasons I've seen for giving up on community would be out of fear of being hurt, fear of being judged, fear of it being unfruitful. I'm sure everybody would be able to come up with their own list of reasons.

What does the Bible say about community? Theologians have addressed this question in the past. Francis Chan is notable for leaving the ‘institutional’ church and trying to answer this question biblically. The values he came up with were: family, mission, training, and gathering.

Could it be that the structure and nuances of community are not the big deal? And that the focus should be on Christ no matter what? And love no matter what.

Perhaps where and what isn’t such a big deal. One group of people may gather in a house church. Another group may gather in a church building. One person might be introverted (that’s me!). Another person might be extroverted.

But regardless; let us love and respect one another, and keep Christ at the center of it all.
I don’t have all the answers, but God does.

Let’s dig in His Word and love and encourage one another no matter what.

We will fail and fall many times. Let us not focus on that. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Him. Let us seek and pursue Him in every moment.

All glory to God.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Should I Give Up On Writing?

I don't know about you, but there are times where I feel like my writing isn't helping anybody. There and times that I feel I should just give up on the dream of having an impact on people's lives by writing fiction.

Sometimes I feel like fiction and story are merely entertainment; and that I should purge and eradicate them from my life. "I've got to dig in and get serious," I'll say. And by serious, I seem to mean that I have to take away my imagination and creativity. Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel like your writing is just a vain pursuit, and that the world doesn't benefit from you sharing your talents and voice? I know I have.

But, isn't it true that Jesus taught with story? Doesn't story make us want to go out into the world and make a difference? Doesn't story make us love God more? It does for me.

At this moment, I believe that many Christians are believing the lie that unless what they're doing is a "ministry" activity with other people; it's worthless. Many talented people are believing that their time spent alone creating is selfish. That's unfortunate.

My chief aim in all I do is to know God more, and to help others in their relationship with Him. That's my aim in writing. I mean for it to be my aim in every moment of life.

I'm not going to give up on writing. And I hope you don't either.

Thanks for reading. God bless you.



Tuesday, 28 November 2017

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

I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me, written by author and Pastor John Ortberg, is a book that takes a look at having greater intimacy with God and with other people.

This is the first book written by John Ortberg that I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He is very personal and humorous in his writing, and makes his points very clearly.

This book takes an honest and practical look at intimacy. So many good points were made, that I wish he had a chart at the end of the book summing up his main points, calls to action, etc.

If you have any questions about getting closer to God and to other people, I’d certainly recommend this book to you.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. The review was my honest opinion. No compensation was received.*

About the author:
John Ortberg is the senior pastor at Menlo Church. John’s teaching centers around how faith in Christ can impact our everyday lives with God. He has written books on spiritual formation including, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Who is This Man?, The Me I Want To Be, Soul Keeping, All The Places To Go, and most recently I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me. John teaches around the world at conferences and churches.

If you'd like; feel free to learn more about John on his website: http://www.johnortberg.com/

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Genius of One by Greg Holder



The Genius of One, written by author and Pastor Greg Holder, is a book that looks at the biblical design of community, while offering leadership and guidance on how this community can be a reality for each of us.

I had never heard of Greg Holder before reading this book, but immediately enjoyed his writing style. He teaches clearly using interesting illustrations that connect with the reader, he’s personal and humorous, and the book flows well and makes sense.

The book is balanced. He doesn’t suggest community is following strict guidelines or that it has to look a specific way. He realizes we are all gifted and wired uniquely. Everybody that reads this book will come away with applications unique and personal to them.

I would recommend this book to anybody that wants to see greater unity and intimacy in the church, among Christians, and in the world as a whole.

It’s a great book that really does apply to everybody. Even if you don’t agree with every single thing he says, it’s a great conversation starter that offers hope that healing, reconciliation, and community are all possible. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to read it.


*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. The review was my honest opinion. No compensation was received.*

About the author:
Greg is passionate about the local church and how God designed us to thrive in healthy community.  His leadership and influence has taken him around the globe, helping communities, churches, pastors and leaders work towards spiritual, relational, and physical health.

Feel free to learn more about Greg on his website

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Quest for Celestia by Steven James

Quest for Celestia is a fascinating and highly motivating book. The book is a re-imagining of The Pilgrims’ Progress by John Bunyan, and thus an allegory of the Christian life.

The story is a compelling one taking place in a unique setting with plenty of surprises along the way. It’s a journey filled with high stakes action, humor, healthy romance, and lessons for all ages.

Though the story stands on its own, it’s a million times deeper with the allegory.

The first time I read the book, I will admit that I made the mistake of focusing too much on the allegory. I was so focused on trying to find the meaning of every scene, that I actually missed who the the allegorical representation of Christ was. I see how other readers could make the same mistake I made, and that’s why I included my experience in the review.

My advice on how to read this book is the advice of Leland Ryken. To quote him; “We will fare just fine with Bunyan’s allegorical story if we read it as a travel story and adventure story first, and then allow the theological and moral level to emerge as an extra source of enjoyment and edification.”

Despite my mix-up, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book my first time through, and much more on my second time. It was deeper and more clear the second time for me.

This is a book I will continue to read in the years to come. There are truths and principles in this book to review and come back to.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of young adult fiction, fantasy, and to Christians of any age.

About the author:
Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book THE BISHOP their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game.” And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

If you want to learn more about Steven, feel free to check out his website: http://www.stevenjames.net/







Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Little Bunny's Own Storybook by Margaret Welwood

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Little Rabbit enjoys going to the library with his mom and dad daily, where he picks out an exciting new book to read. But what is he to do when the library is closed? Be ready to be encouraged to create your own storybook!

Little Bunny’s Own Storybook is a fun children’s book with lessons for the whole family. The drawings are charming and delightful, and the story is very cute and encouraging. All who read will be inspired to get their creative juices flowing.

It’s a lively and entertaining book that young kids will enjoy reading over and over. They will be motivated to use their imagination, have fun, and create something they’re proud of.

I enjoyed this book, and am sure many others also will.

*I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. No compensation was received.*

About the author:
An avid reader as a child, Margaret began her writing career by writing and editing adult non-fiction. Now, inspired by her imaginative grandchildren, she is writing picture books for children.

You can learn more about Margaret by visiting the following links:
Personal website
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

Monday, 1 May 2017

Marie and Mr. Bee by Margaret Welwood

Marie and Mr. Bee
Marie is a little girl enjoying life in her cabin in the woods. She has many forest friends, and enjoys playing with them after she has completed her housework. But one day, Mr. Bee, an uninvited visitor, tells her to neglect her work. What should Marie do?

Marie and Mr. Bee is a well written and beautifully illustrated book for children. The story flows well, and you care for the characters right from the moment you start reading. Marie’s animal friends are adorable, and the setting is sure to excite all who read.

This story is full of lessons for all ages. I believe you could read this book over and over, and find a new lesson, and something more to discuss, each time.

It truly is such a cute story, and children are sure to love it.

*I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. No compensation was received.*

About the author:
An avid reader as a child, Margaret began her writing career by writing and editing adult non-fiction. Now, inspired by her imaginative grandchildren, she is writing picture books for children.

You can learn more about Margaret by visiting the following links:
Personal website
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

Friday, 28 April 2017

Scissortown by Margaret Welwood

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Welcome to Scissortown! A place where everything is neat and tidy, and all is going well. But look out, the Slicers and Dicers are on the way and ready to cause some trouble! How will the citizens of Scissortown respond?

Scissortown is a wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated book for children. This story will keep children engaged right from the first page to the last. The pictures are nice, the writing flows well, there are lessons for all ages, and it was also quite funny.

I enjoyed the book, and am sure many others also will.

*I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. No compensation was received.*

About the author:
An avid reader as a child, Margaret began her writing career by writing and editing adult non-fiction. Now, inspired by her imaginative grandchildren, she is writing picture books for children.

You can learn more about Margaret by visiting the following links:
Personal website
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown


Synopsis:
Growing up, Adam Brown started his life like many American boys. He loved taking risks, pursuing adventures, and playing football for his high school team. But when he died on March 17, 2010 in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan, he had become a man who served his country with excellence as an elite warrior and leader. Fearless by Eric Blehm is a tribute to the life and legacy of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown.

As a young man, Adam always tried to honor his family, but there was a time when it seemed that his life might take a downward turn. Lacking purpose after high school, Adam fell in with the wrong crowd and became addicted to drugs, landing himself in jail. Taking the wake-up call to turn his life around, Adam began to search for meaning. He found it in giving his life to Jesus Christ, finding the love of his life, Kelly, and in the dream to become a Navy SEAL.

Adam's determination and hard work propelled him to reach higher and higher until his dream of becoming a Navy Seal was realized. Even after reaching his goal, Adam was always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous assignments. His final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice, and the devoted family man and soldier was killed in action. Fearless is an unforgettable tale of a true American hero--a man of courage and daring who gave his all in service to his country.          CBD product description

Review:
This was a terrific book I genuinely enjoyed. Adam’s story is very well told, and you get an honest look into his life and struggles. You also get to see what an impact he had on the people around him. He’s someone you relate to and root for.

The book wasn’t preachy, but had a lot of lessons that jump out at you as you read. Just a few of the things that stood out to me were how hard Adam worked, how he cared for his wife, and what a fun dad he was.

I’d highly recommend this book to fathers and young adults. A father may want to read through the book first before giving it to their son, as an honest look is taken at drug addiction. It’s not too graphic, but it is honest.

It was amazing being able to read Adam’s story, and I’m so thankful I got the opportunity.

5 out of 5 stars

Author:
Eric Blehm is a bestselling and award-winning author of nonfiction books.
In 2006, Eric Blehm won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for The Last Season (HarperCollins)a gripping account of the disappearance of legendary National Park Service ranger Randy Morgenson; The Last Season was also named by Outside magazine as one of the ten “greatest adventure biographies ever written” in 2009. Eric Blehm’s next book, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Only Thing Worth Dying For (HarperCollins, 2010), was hailed by former congressman Charlie Wilson, of Charlie Wilson’s War, as a “must read” among books about the current war in Afghanistan.

In 1999, Eric Blehm became the first journalist to accompany and keep pace with an elite Army Ranger unit on a training mission. His access into the Special Operations community and reportage set an important milestone for American war journalism two years before reporters began to gain widespread embedded status with the U.S. military in the War Against Terror. Blehm’s immersion with the Rangers is what led him to the previously untold story of an elite team of eleven Green Berets who operated in the hinterland of Taliban-held Afghanistan just weeks after 9/11 (The Only Thing Worth Dying For), as well as to his current book: FEARLESS (Waterbrook/Multnomah; Random House). On sale in May 2012, Fearless is the heartrending and inspiring story of Naval Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Adam Brown, who overcame tremendous odds in his rise to the top tier of the U.S. military: SEAL Team SIX.

Eric Blehm is the founder of Molly the Owl Books, the independent publishing company behind Molly the Owl—his popular nonfiction children’s book about a barn owl and her family—which won the 2011 Nautilus Award and the 2011 San Diego Book Award. Currently, he is working on his next nonfiction book, which takes place during the Cold War era.
Blehm lives in Southern California with his wife and children.


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Without Warning by Joel Rosenberg


Without Warning is the third book book in a series of political thrillers by author Joel Rosenberg.

The novel set-up sees J.B. Collins, a New York Times foreign correspondent, disagreeing with the US president’s tactics in the fight against ISIS. There is already much conflict within the Middle East, and danger looms inside America. J.B. sees the only solution to this conflict as an all-out manhunt for the leader of ISIS; Abu Kahlif. But will the president listen to Collins or act before it’s too late?

I had been quite excited to read this book, but found it took a while for me to connect with the characters. I believe a lot of this had to do with not having read the first 2 books of the series. I never felt a genuine connection with the characters until much later in the book. The first 2 books set the framework for this one, and you will get a lot more out of this book by having read the first 2. (The Third Target and The First Hostage.)

I still did enjoy parts of this book, particularly watching J.B. Collins’ character development. It took me a while to connect with Collins’ character, but the further I got into the novel, the more I cheered for him. 

The book had a lot of details and exposition, as well as many different characters. This will suit some readers and turn others off. In the same way, there is a lot of politics, which will suit some readers and turn others off. Regardless, those who enjoy political thrillers will likely enjoy this book. I would still recommend reading the first 2 books of this series before picking this one up.

All in all, there were some nice moments to this book with some good lessons. Much value was placed on family, and the integration of faith was also quite powerful. At the end of the day, I can say I’m thankful I got to read this book. Fans of political thrillers will surely enjoy it.


*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. The review was my honest opinion. No compensation was received.*

Joel C. Rosenberg (www.joelrosenberg.com) is a New York Times bestselling author of 12 novels and five nonfiction books, with more than 3 million copies sold.

He has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including ABC's Nightline, CNN, CNN Headline News, C-SPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, The History Channel, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Sean Hannity Show, and The Glenn Beck Show. His articles and columns have been published by National Review,FoxNews.com, CNN.com, the Jerusalem Post, World magazine, and the Washington Times, among others. He has been profiled by the New York Times, the Washington Times, and the Jerusalem Post.

Joel has spoken to audiences and met with religious and government leaders all across the U.S. and Canada and around the world, including Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the UAE, Turkey, Afghanistan, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, India, South Korea, and the Philippines. He has also addressed audiences at the White House and the Pentagon, addressed members of Congress on Capitol Hill, members of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, and a conference held at the European Union Parliament in Brussels.

He is the founder and chairman of The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com), a nonprofit educational and charitable organization he and his wife launched in 2006 to mobilize Christians to "bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3."

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert

“Maybe It’s You,” is a romantic suspense novel, and the third book in the Crisis Team series by author Candace Calvert. I have not read the previous 2 books, but can say that I enjoyed this one very much.

Sloane Ferrell is an ER nurse, and is seeking to have a fresh start in life with her new job and name in Los Angeles. Anonymity is of utmost importance to Sloane, and she does whatever she can to keep people at a safe distance; and more importantly: to keep her past as far away as possible.

Each time I sat down to read this novel; I was always excited to see what would happen. The characters are likeable, there’s plenty of conflict, lots of tension, an honest romance, and many twists and turns that’ll keep you reading.

The story took a lot of time to set-up and perhaps didn’t have the major payoff ending I anticipated, but there were plenty of lessons and takeaways from reading; particularly on God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.

I enjoyed this novel and know that many others will as well.


Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse and author of the Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team series. Her medical dramas offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, Candace makes her home in northern California. Please visit her website at www.candacecalvert.com.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. The review was my honest opinion. No compensation was received.*