Monster

monsterOn a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give this one a 3. But, don’t let that keep you from reading this book! Monster (by A. Lee Martinez) mixes humor, fantasy and fiction all together to create a reality where magic is real but going extinct. Dionysus Monster, the main character of the book, is a monster catcher. Much like a dog catcher, he is called in to catch monsters on the loose. Anything from Yeti to Hydra are his domain. Problem is, he is pretty mediocre at his job and well at his life in general. Once he meets Judy though, things begin to change. Under attack constantly from Judy’s subconscious, Monster must deal with rogue monsters bent on getting him. Judy does not know she is doing this to Monster and no one is even sure how she is doing it. I’ll let you read the rest of the book to keep from spoiling it for you…

Suffice to say, this is a book about growth. It is lame in several areas. The dialogue could use help and the plot is sketchy. But beneath all that, is the story of Monster’s growth from being mediocre and self absorbed to becoming admirable and involved in life.

The most memorable quote from the book for me was “Being a good person is more than just not being a bad person”. Simple yet good advice.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy and fun read, this is your book. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

The Gospel as Center

gospel-as-centerWhat is the center of your life? Is it family, your job, your sports team, money, possessions? There are so many things that vie for our allegiance. And more than that, not only our allegiance, but our ownership. I once heard someone say, “Whatever we own, owns us”. That is true in so many aspects.

A book I received quite a while back has been slowly helping me re-center on what is the core of my whole life. This book is titled, “The Gospel as Center”. It is a collaboration of essays by a great set of minds and thinkers in the evangelical (and overall reformed) world. This book builds a theological foundation on what is essentially the core of all aspects of theology, the Gospel. One thing I enjoyed most about this book was seeing the way the different writers tackled each subject. I love when great minds come together and tackle a project with a mission of proclaiming the Gospel.

This book may be a little technical and academic in some areas. Therefore, its readership may not reach a big audience, but it probably deserve to be read and read slowly by all of us that are constantly battling relativism in ministry and mainstream life.

Readership will most likely be those involved in full time ministry or para-ministry leadership.

The Lost Art of Reading

8518218Obviously I like reading. No wait, love is a better word. Give me a library over a sports game any day of the week. Half Price Bookstores are fatal to my bank account. And my kids usually shout, “We are not going to a bookstore today!” whenever we go out somewhere together.

Reading takes up a lot of my spare time. It is vitally important to me. I will read most anything at anytime anywhere. We recently packed stuff up for a move and I had quite a few big boxes of books, like 10 or 12!

Unfortunately, reading has fallen on hard times. Internet, TV, game systems, etc. have taken away reading’s stronghold in most everyone’s life. That is why I love books like “The Lost Art of Reading by David Ulin.

Ulin shares with the reader why reading is essential. Imagination, cognition and relationship skills are all wrapped up in reading and reading well. One main assertion of this book is that we need to disengage from electronic media and return to the lost art of reading. In fact, Ulin describes reading as a revolutionary act against our culture and its demands.

This is a small book both physically and length wise. It comes in at 150 pages. Ulin is a book critic for the Los Angeles Times. Take some time to read this important work of why reading is so important. You’ll learn that reading is its own reward.

Other thoughts:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R291AEX0Y15PKN/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1570616701

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2RC63ELPB81IV/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1570616701

“The Heavens: Intimate Moments with Your Majestic God”

9781404189997I can still remember my first telescope. It was one of those cheap Wal-mart type ones that you can buy for like $30. Basically, it was a glorified binocular. I’m not sure how much of space I saw but that dinky little telescope changed my life. From the moment I stared into the lens and saw the moon, I was hooked on stargazing.

Space always has something new to reveal. So often we limit space to our little corner of the milky way, but with each new day some new planet or star or celestial object is being uncovered. It reminds me of two things. 1. How infinitely small I am. 2. How infinitely great and glorious God is.

In “The Heavens”, Kevin Hartnett shares a similar mindset. Each day and devotion reveals to the reader something remarkable about outer space. How does this get you closer to God? It reminds you that God is the creator and has everything under control. Beautiful photography along with a great book layout make this a daily devotional you wont want to miss out on.

In our all too busy and hectic lives, it is nice to find something that can give you a moment’s rest and meditation. Buy this book and begin praising our majestic God.

Other resources:

http://www.ccmmagazine.com/article/the-heavens-intimate-moments-with-your-majestic-god/

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3NRNTVFA8FPO3/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1404189998

“The Fight”

UBB-TheFightbyLukeWordleyBoxing intrigues me. To me, fighting has always been something I’ve shied away from. I’m definitely not one of those guys who tries to prove himself by being tough or getting into fights. I am a trained blackbelt but even that has never made me crave fighting. In fact, it taught me just the opposite; the very harshness, danger and consequences of using our bodies as weapons.

With that being said though, boxing is a sport of focus. You must learn your opponent and anticipate his next move and yours at the same time. Split second decision making is not only required, it is imperative. In Luke Wordley’s newest book, “The Fight”, the reader sees the positive impact boxing can have on a life.

Sam Pennington is an angry kid who has lost everything. A dead father, a drunk mother and the harshness of moving into public housing has led Sam to his breaking point. It is at this breaking point that he comes to a crossroads. After a particularly brutal fight, Sam is introduced to Jerry Ambrose, a boxing trainer. Jerry takes Sam under his wing and Sam begins to discover a hidden talent and passion for boxing.

The story is redemptive in nature and deals with the core of what happens to our lives when our emotions rule us. It is also a coming of age story for Sam. This is a longer book at 380 pages but the story keeps your attention and drives home some important messages.

All of us has demons and skeletons that resurface from time to time and we all must learn how to deal with them or we will be ruled by them. We all have a “fight” we must engage in. How will yours turn out?

Other “Fight” thoughts:

http://christianbookshopsblog.org.uk/2012/02/25/a-novel-to-fight-over-introducing-luke-wordley-and-the-fight/

https://jimkane.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/my-review-of-luke-wordleys-the-fight/

Raised? :Finding Jesus by Doubting the Ressurection

raisedReadability: Novice/Beginner

I admit it, I struggle with the resurrection. There I said it. What isn’t there to struggle with though. A man beaten to a pulp, flesh torn from His body, the horrific loss of blood, the agony of hands and feet being nailed to two large beams of wood and then being hung naked to die an agonizing death of suffocation by the very weight of His own body. That is not the hard part. As horrible as that is, it is believable. The unbelievable (and the miraculous) come when we take into account what happened after the crucifixion.

According to the Bible, Jesus was dead for 3 days and then rose back to life. And not just a so-so life in need of extreme medical attention, but rather a glorious life. A life that was and still is unmatched in all of human history.

This is where the unbelief comes in. Is it really believable and reasonable for us to believe in a resurrected Jesus Christ. Or, was this a story that got out of hand and grew and expanded into something more than it really is?

In their concise yet impactful book, “Raised?”, Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson help the reader tackle this question. A unique aspect of this book, is that the authors encourage doubt. They promote doubt as a vehicle to belief. Supporting the claim that the resurrected Jesus of the Gospels is audacious, they say that being a doubter puts us in good company. Many of the strongest believers began as hard core doubters. A main point of the book is that Christ welcomes and encourages our doubt so that He may use it to prove who He is to us.

This is a good book for a beginner apologist. It is small enough not to be overwhelming and much of the language is more conversational than academic. The authors are both pastors and therefore write from that perspective. This will be an excellent resource for pastors & church leaders to give to seekers, new Christians and long time believers. All will benefit and hopefully be led to a deeper relationship with the resurrected Christ.

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Other thoughts on this book:

http://keepingthemainthing.blogspot.com/2014/03/book-review-raised-by-jonathan-dodson.html

http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2014/04/16/raised-dodson-watson/

 

 

 

A Child Called “It”

60748Have you ever read a book and stepped back and thought about how incredibly blessed you are or were? I recently read a book that made me do just that. The name of this book is “A Child Called It” by Dave Pelzer.

The book chronicles the life of Dave as a young boy in a happy family that slowly descends into a time of intense physical, emotional and spiritual abuse. The spiral begins with his mother slowly becoming an alcoholic. With each drink, she sinks deeper and deeper into a dark hole that expresses itself as brutally beating, starving and torturing the author.

Dave tells many stories of the abuse he underwent, but underlying it all is an inspirational story of a young boy that still believes in the power of love and hope. In the end, after many, many years of abuse, Dave escapes in part due to concerned and involved teachers and school counselors.

Here are some additional resources and reviews on the book:

Positive Review here

Negative Review here