Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Book Review: A More Christlike God by Brad Jersak

About the book: What is God like? A punishing judge? A doting grandfather? A deadbeat dad? A vengeful warrior?

Believers and atheists alike typically carry and finally reject the toxic images of God in their own hearts and minds. Even the Christian gospel has repeatedly lapsed into a vision of God where the wrathful King must be appeased by his victim Son. How do such good cop/bad cop distortions of the divine arise and come to dominate churches and cultures?

Whether our notions of 'god' are personal projections or inherited traditions, author and theologian Brad Jersak proposes a radical reassessment, arguing for A More Christlike God: a More Beautiful Gospel. If Christ is "the image of the invisible God, the radiance of God's glory and exact representation of God's likeness," what if we conceived of God as completely Christlike---the perfect Incarnation of self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering love? What if God has always been and forever will be cruciform (cross-shaped) in his character and actions?

A More Christlike God suggests that such a God would be very good news indeed---a God who Jesus "unwrathed" from dead religion, a Love that is always toward us, and a Grace that pours into this suffering world through willing, human partners.
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1JHG9yp

My Thoughts:  It took me awhile to get through this book, and I'm still pondering parts of it.  I appreciated a lot of Jersak's thoughts, but many of his points left me unsettled, uneasy, and frankly, unconvinced.

Jersak's assertion that we can know everything there is to know about God from the life of Jesus is, in itself, suspect.  Yes, Jesus is the perfect representation of God, but not everything He said or did is recorded in the gospels.  If that was all we needed to know, why do have the epistles, or the entire OT for that matter?  God has revealed himself in the entire Bible, not just select books.

In order to dewrath God, Jersak does two things.  First he interprets wrath to be passive - the natural consequences of our sin is it's own punishment.  To a certain extent, this is very true, but leaves many questions unanswered.  Second, he interprets all mention of God's active wrath as either misunderstood, figurative, or ironic.  He does not give satisfactory explanations to the portions of scripture he tries to tackle, and seems to simply take a scissor to other passages from both the OT and the NT, including even the words and actions of Jesus.  (Jesus clearing out the temple strikes me as wrathful, for example).  At time he implies that the writers of the OT were misinterpreting things or confused - which is impossible, since all scripture is God-breathed.  And, at times, seems to take a snide tone when he talks about anyone disagreeing with his obvious conclusions.

I agree that no matter what we do God is always turned toward us, continuing to offer us grace.  I disagree with him though, that the offer never ends.  He doesn't outrightly say it, but it is implied that he believes eventually everyone is saved and no one is in hell.

I agree that who God actually is, is independant of who we think He is.

Yet, at the same time, I think he has tried to put God in a box, and He doesn't quite fit.

I would not recommend this book.  Instead, I would highly recommend one called The Most Encouraging Book on Hell Ever

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Book Review: Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

About the book:  Can she forgive the hurting man who costs her the role she loves?

After her father's death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren't supposed to have such roles, so it's only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper---even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He's secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation---the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He's not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who's angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he's in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope...and possibly love?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1eN4pC8

My Thoughts: I loved this book!

Believable characters, likeable but not perfect; action; romance; suspense; and intriguing storyline; while delving into topics such as addiction, independence vs dependence on God, forgiveness, war, injury, death, loss, and more - this book had a lot going for it.  Combined with Hedlund's excellent writing ability and style, as well as her ability to weave in spiritual themes without sounding preachy, this made for a great read.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Book Review: Fatal Trauma by Richard L Mabry

About the book:
Fatal Trauma (Abingdon Press, May 2015)

A gunman who has nothing to lose faces a doctor who could lose it all to prove his innocence.

When Dr. Mark Baker and Nurse Kelly Atkinson are held at the mercy of a dangerous gunman, the lives of every emergency room patient are at stake. At the end of the evening three men are dead. One of them is a police officer who couldn't be saved despite Mark's best efforts. The other two are members of the feared Zeta drug cartel.

Though the standoff is over, the killing is not, because when the drug cartel loses its members, revenge is not far behind. Facing an adversary whose desires are dark and efforts are ruthless, Mark finds himself under suspicion as a killer, yet still a potential victim. When he turns to his high school sweetheart, attorney Gwen Woodruff, for help, Kelly helplessly looks on, as she hides her own feelings for the good doctor.

At the height of the conflict, three questions remain: Who is the shooter? Who will the next victim be? And can Mark prove his innocence before the gun turns on him?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1AIM9U5

My Thoughts:  After reading and reviewing a previous book by Mabry, I was excited to read his latest medical suspense novel.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure if my expectations were too high, based on how much I loved his previous work, but this one didn't quite measure up in the same way.

The storyline started off with a bang and I was hooked at the beginning, but it didn't seem to resonate with me in quite the same way.  I'm not sure exactly what it was - the characters didn't quite have the same depth or maybe I felt them a bit harder to relate with.   It was still a great read, and I would still recommend it - I think my expectations were just too high.  I will still not hesitate to read his next book!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Book Review: Who's the New Kid? by Heidi Bond

About the book:
Who's the New Kid? shows readers how Heidi helped her daughter lose weight without the aid of fad diets, medication, or surgery and how other parents can do the same with their kids.

At nine years old, Breanna Bond weighed a whopping 186 pounds. Just walking up the stairs to her room was a challenge. Her legs chafed to the point of bleeding from rubbing against each other, and her school days were filled with taunts of "Hey, Fatty!" Breanna's mom, Heidi, was devastated and wondered, How can I get my daughter healthy again?

In just over a year, Heidi's plan worked! Breanna dropped 40 percent of her body weight and was transformed from a morbidly obese child who spent her days in front of the TV eating chips and chocolate to a vibrant, healthy, energetic little girl.

Filled with helpful diagnostic tools, easy-to-make recipes, eye-opening nutritional information, fun exercise ideas, and practical tips and advice, Who's the New Kid? will not only show parents how to help their kids lose weight naturally but also introduce them to simple, yet effective lifestyle changes that will benefit the entire family.

Purchase a copy:

My Thoughts:  I found the first part of the book to be slow going.  It seemed to cover the same ground over and over, and while I understand that it helped to get across their continual frustration and lack of progress, it dragged a bit too much.  I did, however, appreciate Heidi's honesty about her own responsibility in her daughter's weight gain, and that her own selfishness played a huge part in delaying the weight loss process.

I enjoyed the book a lot more once they started focusing on what finally began to work. I commend Heidi for fully committing to this weight loss journey with her daughter and walking (literally!) through it with her every step of the way.  I think this book would be a huge encouragement to anyone dealing with childhood obesity.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Join Odyssey Adventure Club for a Summer Challenge and Movie Ticket Giveaway

Take the plungebanner banner 

Summer . . . a time that kids pine for during the school year and parents may anticipate with something akin to dread. Fearing refrains of “I’m bored” or hours spent on the couch playing video games can make moms and dads nervous about the long, hot months stretching before their family. Focus on the Family’s Odyssey Adventure Club offers an answer, encouraging parents and kids to embrace faith and fun with the Take the Plunge Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine’s Summer Challenge.

Take the Plunge

The Take the Plunge challenge features:
  • Master Mind Monday — commit God’s Word to memory
  • Ways to Play Wednesday — spend active time with your family
  • Faith Sharing Friday — share God’s love with others
The Take the Plunge challenge helps families memorize at least five verses, engage in five activities together and share their faith with five people before the school doors swing open again. Those who sign up will receive an 11-week plan with suggested verses to memorize, activity ideas (such as visiting a war memorial) and ways to witness (such as passing out popsicles at the park with an invitation to your church), making this challenge the perfect tool for parents who want summer to be a time of spiritual and social stimulation for their kids.

"Research tells us that the more senses we involve when teaching children a principle, the more likely it is to stick,” Plugged In editor and Adventures in Odyssey podcast host Bob Smithouser says. “Bible memorization by itself is great, but it becomes even more powerful when put into action. Know it. Share it. Live it.”

Families who sign up to take part in the challenge at www.whitsend.org/summer will have access to weekly verses to memorize, ideas for family fun and suggestions for service projects that allow a family to share their faith. Additionally, anyone who signs up to participate in the Take the Plunge challenge will receive a free scene from the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, as well as a free story from the book Strange Journey Back.

A Bonus Contest

From June 1–5, tell us in 30 words or less how you are going to take the plunge to deepen your faith this summer for a chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to the theatrical release of Beyond The Mask June 5th weekend and free access to the Odyssey Adventure Club all summer long (June, July, August—total $85 prize value)!

Send your entry to contests@whitsend.org. Two winners will be chosen to win each day June 1-5 and announced on the Adventures in Odyssey Facebook Page.

Entries will be chosen based on creativity and writing skill. Rules are available at whitsend.org.


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