Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Fire Prophet

Jerel Law makes a huge improvement over his first book in the second book of his "Son of Angels" series, "Fire Prophet." "Spirit Fighter" was just as addicting, but Law's writing style and story arc skills have improved, making for a young adult book even more difficult to put down.

Mind you, there are still doctrinal liberties taken that some may not like - angelic tongues, prophets, and Christian gifts all make appearances in the book, which follows young Jonah Stone and his two siblings as they meet other kids their age with the same quarterling (part-angel) powers as them. When Abbadon (Satan) and his demons decide to murder all the quarterlings and their nephilim parents, it's up to Jonah and his friends to follow Elohim's leading and defeat the dark forces. Along the way, the children also go to angel school and later must save a kidnapped prophet.

The engaging story had this reader through the book in just two days. It's an easy read, but it's also a great story. And it comes with encouraging spiritual bits that are great for kids, displaying the power of prayer and reliance on God.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review of it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I found myself extremely challenged by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo's "Red Letter Christians." There were a lot of holes in the authors' logic, but their concepts of grace, missions and treatment of fellow human beings shaped my own views into more solid concepts, and, in the least, made me think.

Here's the thing, conservative Christians probably will go on the defensive and refuse to get anything from this book, while liberals will only nod their heads in agreement, but those in between, like myself, will find the book interesting, take the author's concepts on their own without considering the authors' backgrounds, and think.

Mind you, those concepts are not fully developed, nor do they provide easy to understand applications for the average Christian who can't go out and perform acts of civil disobedience every day or go overseas to train someone in a trade. A lot of the book is impractical. And a lot of the book seems to contradict itself.

But I'll say it again, the pieces are still there and are worth considering. So, despite the fact that I disagree with much of the book, I highly recommend it.

*I received this book for free from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review of it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: A Shot of Faith to the Head

In"A Shot of Faith to the Head," Mitch Stokes attempts to give Christians philosophical support for their faith. Do not expect evidence.

Many of Stokes' points deal with evidentialism, atheism, agnosticism, evolution and more. Most of his book is philosophical. Although Stokes pulls from many writers, scientists and philosophers of history, his book is mainly just ideas - philosophy - logic - reason.

It's enough to get the reader thinking, and it will help many feel stronger about their faith, but Stokes' points don't always line up, and they aren't always easy to follow. Overall, it's a good read, but the further you get into the book, the more you question Stokes' points.

I recommend the book for anyone looking to build their own faith, but don't expect to be able to easily use Stokes' points in conversation or debate. Although Stokes does provide helpful summary "For Your Arsenal" points at the end of each chapter.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Fantasy Fallacy - A Response to 50 Shades of Grey

I had the privilege of hearing Shannon Ethridge speak at Biola University before I graduated. The humble and loving woman poured out her heart to us college students, revealing much of her darkest moments and God's grace in pulling her out of a life stuck in the gutter. While Shannon's new book, "The Fantasy Fallacy," does not go into the same details (which I'm told are in her other books), it deals with the taboo topic of sex and fantasy - and, as a response the "50 Shades of Grey" phenomenon, it works very well.

But don't expect a rant against the immoral plot elements of the popular novel series. "Grey" only gets two or three mentions in "Fantasy Fallacy." Instead, Shannon explores the reasons why we as humans seem to enjoy reading books like these and why we indulge in our fantasies. Anyone who has read, is considering reading, or has friends who have read the "50 Shades" series will be able to have ideas for discussion after reading "Fantasy Fallacy." You don't have to have sexual struggles to get something out of the book. With plenty of examples and just enough Scripture in hand, Shannon pull the reader in and challenges you to look at why you are the way you are. Sure, there's plenty to explore here about society's reasons for sex and fantasy, but Shannon's talent is in giving us plenty to think about and giving us free space to discuss and learn about the taboo topics hardly ever discussed at church.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

*Disclaimer: I was given this book in exchange for my honest review of it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: You're Stronger Than You Think by Dr. Les Parrott

Dr. Les Parrott has some great material on moving forward in life. There's no question, "You're Stronger Than You Think You Are" is a motivational, inspirational book. But how strong the book, itself is, how lasting and effective its advice is, that's questionable. It's only practical if you're a hard worker willing to step outside your comfort zone. Parrott will make you think, but it's up to you to go beyond thinking and apply - and that's the hardest step of all, which, as Parrott writes, will take boldness and courage, not to mention faith and trust in God.

Parrott's book hinges on three premises: 1) "In our minds we find power when we clear our heads... and when we think expectantly." 2) "In our hearts we find power when we own our weakness ... and when we feel connected." And 3) "In our souls we find power when we surrender our egos ... and when we take bold risks."

Personally, I took a lot away from Parrott's book, especially the last third of it. I've written notes down in my journal along with personal applications, but there's no telling whether I'll have the strength, discipline, or memory to memorize and apply the lessons. A few things I did take away:

1) Stop worrying and be content. Over thinking doesn't always help.
2) Faith emboldens us with confidence.
3) God works with mud as a potter. That means he meets us in our weaknesses and mold us when we are willing to be malleable.
4) Inaction only breeds doubt and fear. Sometimes risk is needed for our dreams to come true.
5) We need to empty ourselves of the burden of needing to get our own way. That includes our dreams. There is freedom in looking at the big picture and trusting God's plan.
6) We have learned helplessness and need to relearn proactive learned optimism.

While Parrott makes a few points that don't gel well with me, the majority of his advice is solid and worth considering. I highly recommend this book.

**Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


John Cusick's Surfing For God has two flaws: 1) It's written for men, and 2) Cusick's focus on examining the heart, while necessary and insightful, leaves out the intellectual means required to examine the heart and thus caters to more emotional Christians. That said, the more you read of Cusick's book, the more you'll learn and begin to think about your own identity and your reasons for your actions.

Cusick goes into clear and understandable detail about how the brain functions regarding addictions, encouraging readers to rewire their brains and deal with the issues and genuine desires behind addictions. When you do, Cusick writes, the Holy Spirit within you will begin to transform you.

Some of Cusick's most profound material reminds the reader that transformation is an ongoing process, that what we really want is not what our addictions make us think, and that God loves us no matter what. The book makes a wonderful read for anyone dealing with addiction, and, yes, even females will take a lot away from the book. It's an interesting ready that will encourage those struggling to find confidence and to trust in their salvation because of their sins.

**Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review of it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: Quit Going to Church by Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler's "Quit Going to Church" isn't so much about what's wrong with modern churches as it is about what's wrong with the way modern Christians live their lives. Hostetler starts by explaining that we need to stop attending church in a routine manner and start being the church in our actions and hearts. The rest of his book deals with how exactly we can do that.

Hostetler's chapters focus on:
  • Quitting prayer and making a habit of keeping company with God
  • Quitting reading the Bible and using the Bible to relate to God
  • Ending the sharing of your faith and starting the sharing of your life
  • Spending less time focusing on the ten percent tithe and more time realizing that everything you have belongs to God
  • Discontinuing in heartless volunteer jobs and using your gifts for God's glory
  • Putting a stop to judgment of the poor and instead spending time with the poor
  • Stopping niceties and being real instead
  • Quitting fellowship activities and starting parties
  • Giving up on being good and instead dwelling in God's presence
  • Denying enjoyment of worship and focusing your worship on God's happiness
  • Quitting our worries about doing God's will and instead taking risks
Hostetler provides insights that aren't necessarily mind-blowing, but that are enough to inspire Christians to action. Although I had a few objections to some of his thoughts. Hostetler's comments on the need for worship to focus less on styling that pleases us and more on God are truthful, but his insistence that all worship should be joyful (implication - charismatic) ignores the fact that there are different times appropriate for different kinds of worship, and that some people are more reflective in their worship. And Just because someone does not display outer joy does not mean they do not have inner joy. 

As I read Hostetler's writing, I worried that the book would take on an "everyone needs to be a missionary" attitude. Hostetler makes it clear that we all have different gifts to be used for God's glory in different ways, but in certain chapters his suggestions seem to go against this by implying that every Christian should do dramatic things like spending more time with the homeless. I'm pretty sure that Hostetler did not mean to convey that extreme an idea, but there was enough to intimidate me, whose gifts seem to be more in words than in action. 

So, overall, I found this book surprising and inspiring, but it was not without its quirks.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Searchers by Joseph Laconte

Joseph Laconte's "The Searcher" is full of interesting information that would likely provide wonderful insights if only it had more room - perhaps if each chapter received its own book. Laconte's background and expertise as a history professor shows, as he includes numerous historical and cultural stories for context. Unfortunately, those stories and Laconte's explanations have little to do with the one story his book claims to be all about, that of the Road to Emmaus, which is found in Luke 24.

Laconte uses pieces of the Emmaus story to launch into specific topics that actually don't shed any light on the Luke 24 passage. For example, Laconte uses the travelers' mention of the Pharisees' actions to discuss the various evils that have been committed in Christ's name, such as the Spanish Inquisition. Another chapter uses the travelers' story (which tells of the women being greeted by angels at Jesus' grave) to discuss our modern perceptions of angels and what angels really are like. Laconte provides lots of interesting information, but only toward the end of his book does her really, finally spend a good amount of time talking about the actual Emmaus story and what readers can learn from it.

"The Searchers" contains plenty of interesting tidbits of information, but leaves readers "searching" for insights on the Luke 24 Road to Emmaus story - an element of Laconte's book that is surprisingly missing.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review of it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: The Devil is in the Details by Tony Kessinger

Confession time. I received Tony Kessinger's "The Devil is in the Details" for review about two years ago. I never reviewed it. Having now read it - devour might be a better term - I wish I had read it sooner. Despite a few, very small flaws and lack of clarity in certain parts (which are naturally complicated), Kessinger provides a surprising, informative book that is about more than just evil and sin.

Kessinger starts with describing the basic history of evil presented in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament and passages regarding Satan's fall. Here, he presents interesting facts that add to the Biblical account and retells the Biblical story without becoming boring. Kessinger then moves on to discussing Satan and his demons with more specific regard to what they are capable of, as well as how that works with God's omnipotence, leadership and position (the highest possible) - using Job's predicament as an example. This discussion of Satan naturally leads to explanation of the end times, which is where Kessinger sometimes confuses. 

Toward the end of his book, Kessinger spends a good amount of space discussing some of the false and confusing teachings out there. This is perhaps the most interesting part of the book, but also the most controversial part of the book - especially when he brings up Arminian beliefs versus Calvinism. Overall, this section of the book stands firm, offering thought-provoking and challenging arguments. But this is also the section where Kessinger names Joyce Meyers and Joel Osteen as preachers of the prosperity gospel, and I can see where he gets that from, but I do not think Meyers and Osteen are as extreme as the clearly false prosperity gospel Kessinger presents. 

Kessinger also names Peter Kreeft as a believer of religious pluralsim, referring to one particular chapter in a book of Kreeft's that talks about an out of body experience Kreeft claims to have had. I don't know about the out of body experience, but I do know that Kessinger gives no context to his quick accusation - no context of the book the chapter he refers to is from and no context of Kreeft's other works. And Kessinger's description of religious pluralism is one similar enough to his description of universalism to confuse and cause the reader to draw the wrong conclusions about Kreeft. I actually had Kreeft as a professor my freshman year at The King's College, and I never got the impression that he believed in universalism or any kind of religious pluralism that lead to universalism, nor do I believe TKC would hire a professor who believed such things. I did email TKC about it, and this was their response:
Thanks for taking the time to write us and share your concern. Before taking Kessinger at his word, you might consider listening to this short talk given by Peter Kreeft called "Ecumenicism Without Compromise." In it, Kreeft states that ecumenicism cannot include compromise on beliefs.
Therefore, I am not convinced of Kessinger's statements on Kreeft. Those statements are very short, however, and the general principle behind them - that universalism is wrong and does not agree with Jesus or the Bible - still stands.

"The Devil is in the Details" seems in part like a mini "Systematic Theology" (anyone who attends a Christian college will know what I'm talking about here), give or take a few items. The book does not seem cohesive overall, but it makes a great textbook, and I would love to see Kessinger expand it into something as extensive as "Systematic Theology." Meanwhile, this book will go on my bookshelf as a book to be reread in the future in order to commit more of it to memory.

Review: God Forsaken by Dinesh D'Souza

Dinesh D'Souza presents an incredible amount of evidence in his book "God Forsaken" with the goal of disproving the atheist's argument that a loving God is not compatible with the God in the Bible or the world full of evils that we live in. In fact, D'Souza does such a good job of presenting the various arguments against Christianity and God that, until he begins to refute them with just as much articulation and persuasion, you almost begin to believe that he is an atheist. But then again, he does hang out a lot with atheists, and he debates with them often.

D'Souza presents a clear and scientifically supported argument for the fine-tuned universe, a universe in which human beings could not exist at all (or exist with free will) without the perceived moral and natural (disasters) evil in the world. In addition to this, he explains pieces of the Bible that are easily misunderstood and shows how the Christian God can be both loving and allow evil to exist. I will not go into detail summarizing his arguments here. There are long, but they are extremely convincing.

My one problem with D'Souza's book is that he talks about evolution in his discussion of the fine-tuned universe, and he clearly believes in evolution - maybe even the big bang (which he also references a few times). The way he presents evolution in his book makes sense, and it does not conflict with the Biblical account. But it does leave me with questions. He explains how death could exist before man (such as with the dinosaurs), but not how that is compatible with the perfect world of the Garden of Eden. He talks about the evolution of man, of consciousness and intelligence, but never points out how that works with what is presented in the Bible - how man could be unique and made in God's image if he evolves in the same way as all the other creatures out there, albeit a bit more conscious, moral and intelligent. It's great to see how even the atheist's scientific arguments of Darwinism can actually work with the Bible and not against it, but I wanted more from D'Souza on this topic. Maybe there wasn't enough room for it in this book, but it left me hanging and I hope he expands on it more in another book.

Another thought: While the evidence seems to point to the world we live in as necessary for our existence, clearly the Bible indicates that originally those evils did not exist in the Garden of Eden before the fall. So if God created a world free of moral evil and crimes of nature then, why can't we live in such a world now? At least when it comes to crimes of nature (Moral evil is easily explained by the fall.). Was the Garden of Eden then on a different planet? I'm not saying the fall could not have affected the way the world operates, but why did the fall compel the universe to work in this way with no other way possible for human beings to live? When did the necessary laws for human beings to exist and for our fine-tuned universe to exist change? I'm quite certain there's an explanation there, but D'Souza does not give it.

That said, I could not put this book down. I gobbled it up. D'Souza writes with such clarity, he easily persuades. A person would have to be blind, ignorant and hard hearted to not take something away from this book. I highly recommend it. And there are plenty of gems to be found in it that I have not mentioned here.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Anything by Jennie Allen

Once I delved into Jennie Allen's "Anything" and understood what the book was about, my skeptical nature kicked in, expecting yet another book emphasizing missions and evangelism to an extreme degree. But Allen's writing moved me in a surprising way. While her content is not as explicit on the everyday applications of giving up everything to God, it has just enough to ward off my criticisms.

Allen still encourages readers to give everything and anything to God, but she does it in a way that does not push - a way that seems to imply we can give control to God, obey Him, go through the hard times of life with His help, and still make it out happy - and perhaps even do all this without getting involved in missions. My only complaint is that she could have explored things more from the perspective of the average Christian. Allen is a writer, speaker and pastor's wife, so evangelism seems to come naturally to her. I wanted to know how I could use my talents for God without becoming an evangelist.

I'll defend my faith when called upon and I'll live my faith out but I do not feel called to missions or evangelism. I found answers in Allen's book, but only because I was really looking for them. The more I read, the more my soul stirred. And while I'm no missionary, I found myself inspired to consider what it means to give anything to God. I desire God's will for my life, and highly recommend Jennie Allen's "Anything" to anyone with the same desire.

*Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: Spirit Fighter

To create a young adult fantasy novel with the Bible as inspiration requires a lot of stretching of facts and imagination. Jerel Law's "Spirit Fighter" does just that, taking a verse in the Old Testament and using it to ask what would happen if, once again, fallen angels had children with humans.

Jonah Stone's mother is the result of one such union, making him and his two siblings quarterlings - part angel. Just as Jonah begins to discover the truth about his heritage and as his angel powers begin to develop, fallen angels kidnap his mother and Elohim sends his angels to give Jonah and his sister on a mission to save her. On their journey, the two learn more about trusting in God as they meet and fight various dark creatures.

The situations Law comes up with and the humanization of certain angel characters do come across as a bit of stretch, Biblically. But they make for an entertaining story that, although not as well-written as other young adult books, is hard to put down - plus it comes with plenty of reminders of God's power and presence.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Despite its spiritualistic sounding name (like something out of Buddhism or Hinduism), "Discovering Your Spiritual Center" by David Teems promised a sound Christian look into Psalm 119 and the Christian devotional life. How sound Teems' writing is, I cannot attest to, for I got absolutely nothing out of his book. I tried. I read it cover to cover. And strangely enough, it was a relaxing read - relaxing enough to keep me going in hope of improved content. But I never found anything worthwhile.

Teems spends the majority of his book talking about his own personal experience. That would be fine if it had any application, but Teems has a hard time staying on topic. His organization is poor and his topics are not executed in an engaging way. By the time I reached the actual devotionals based on Psalm 119 (found in the last third of the book), I was relieved to find some real content. But here, too, Teems' organization leads him off the straight path and into zig zag territory. He begins to provide insights on the alphabet behind Psalm 119, but his explanations there don't last long enough to provide anything that sticks. Teems attempts to give small bits of information to make readers think about each individual part of Psalm 119. His main aim is to get the reader into the habit of reading God's Word out loud and considering it word by word at the same time. In that much, he does somewhat succeed, but his own thoughts on the passages are so out of order and unorganized, I had a difficult time making any conclusions.

At best, I can recommend that any person read the latter half of Teems' book with the use of it as a devotional in mind. That alone is not worth the price of the book, however. Teems would have been much better off skipping all of his personal stories and expanding on the specific insights on Psalm 119. Or he could have made a coffee table devotional out of the devotions that make up the end of his book.

*Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Our Favorite Sins

Todd Hunter's "Our Favorite Sins" has the right idea. For the most part, Hunter's insights are thought-provoking and inspiring. Many of his chapter start with specific examples of sins, only to veer away from the topic at hand to discuss sin in a more general sense. This lack of organization would annoy if it weren't for the strength of the rest of his writing.

I found it difficult to put down the book as Hunter found more and more ways to explain his main point - that our evil desires come from within and must be reordered if we are to deal with and quit our sins. Hunter uses the example of Joseph, whose desires were reordered in such a way that he was able to think of God first when Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce him. He refused her.

Hunter says that we can refuse sin, too, if we reorder our desires. Hunter's suggestions, which he gives in the last quarter of the book, clearly show his Anglican background, however. While reading and memorizing prayers, listening to Scripture at church and participating in communion are all good things, Hunter seems to place their importance over that of the Bible itself, of reading the Bible for oneself. And his insistence that these "spiritual disciplines" be done on a regular daily basis morning, day and night would likely have most Christians overwhelmed.

I understand the importance of making certain things regular parts of our lives in order to grow spiritually and stay strong, but Hunter never addresses the possibility that those things can be taken too far - to the point of creating a works-based faith. He never really seems to get to the heart of solution, either. His insights on our sinful desires are wonderful, but there is so much more to be said and done beyond the few spiritual disciplines Hunter focuses on. I know this from personal experience.

So, if you can read the beginning of Hunter's book by itself, or read the whole book with what I've written in mind, you'll be able to take a lot away from this book. Just be careful.

*This book was given to Poorhouse Dad for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: A Year With Jesus

A Year With Jesus by R.P. Nettelhorst has its pros and cons as a devotional book. The concept is great. Each page contains a daily devotional with a Scripture passage from one of the four Gospel books. This format makes for a great and encouraging way to read through the majority of those books (albeit out of order).

Nettelhorst uses various translations and interpretations, though, which for me was a major setback. I prefer solid versions of the Bible - not loose interpretations like the Message, and Nettelhorst does not use very many versions that I would consider solid.

As for the devotionals, themselves, the majority of them are insightful and interesting. They're not very meaty - they don't use much back up in historical facts - and they aren't super deep, new and thought-provoking, but for the small space they're afforded they aren't all bad. I just think there are better devotionals out there that use that space to a better advantage. To tell the truth, I didn't like Nettelhorst's devotionals at all, at first, but I recently began reading them again and they didn't seem as poorly written and lacking in content the second time around. Still, not all of Nettelhorst's conclusions follow from the text used, and many of Nettelhorst's conclusions, suggestions and applications seem shallow and stretched thin.

A Year With Jesus could be a lot better. But it might be worth a try for you. Personally, I prefer devotionals that really stick with you and make you think. But if you prefer simple, short devotionals, this might be the book for you.

2/4 Stars.

I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review of it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg

I was pleasantly surprised by Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg. Recent books by Women of Faith authors have left me wanting more - more Scripture, more depth. But unlike the title of this book, Constantly Craving did not leave me craving more. Meberg does not use a lot of Scripture, but her insights as a counselor and Christ follower are priceless.

I devoured this wonderful book about the things in life that leave us craving more - love, friendship, meaning, contentment, happiness, purpose, etc. It wasn't your typical book about cravings. No focus on addictions. Rather, Meberg gives deep insights for the doubts and cravings that plague us. Even the typical parts about finding fulfillment in God and craving the perfect home God has created for us for the future - those parts were well written and interesting. I will be going back to this book again. It will take several readings to really engrain the lessons and ideas in this book into my head as full out take-aways, but it will be worth it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Stuck by Jennie Allen — A DVD Based Bible Study

A DVD based Bible study by Jennie Allen, "Stuck" aims to help Christian women get out of the broken, angry, discontented, fearful, overwhelming and sad situations that make them feel stuck — to help women focus on God instead of their circumstances.

Each study chapter (there are 7 of them) is around 15-20 pages long and includes verses to study, reflective questions, and challenging activities on top of Allen's written reflections. The chapters are long, but the DVD clips never exceed 8 minutes. For leaders, there are also several question cards per chapter for group discussion.

Going through this study on my own, I didn't care much for the discussion cards. One of the things I dislike about Bible studies is all the questions. For me, group discussion based on the content of the study, itself, most often comes shallow and without effect. Having external questions might help a bit with this, but I think I would prefer more natural conversations centering around the week's Scripture passages. I also have a hard time with many of the questions asked in these kinds of studies because sometimes I just can't come up with answers. "Stuck" was a bit refreshing in that aspect. I was able to get something out of most of the question (but I skipped the parts that asked you to draw pictures representing various things).

As far as the DVD goes, Allen is very natural and open as she speaks, but the sessions are so short, you don't really get much out of them. But you have to watch them to fully understand the pictures that accompany each chapter in the study book.

The content of the study is simple — stuff many of us have heard before or already know — but will be refreshing and eye-opening for those who are going through or who are stuck in the deep, hard situations.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Win a FREE Copy of Tony Dungy's Devotional Book "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge"

Tyndale has given me a certificate for a free copy of Tony Dungy's devotional book "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge" to give away to one lucky person. 

There are three ways to enter (one entry per method allowed, liking Harmony Wheeler on Facebook will count for two entries):

  1. "Like" Harmony Wheeler on Facebook (worth two entries)
  2. Comment on a post on this blog (worth one entry)
  3. Comment on and mention this contest (worth one entry)
I will draw a random name on Wednesday, February 15. The winner will receive a free copy of "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge."

Review: The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy

Win a Free Copy of This Book (See Next Post, or Click Here to Learn How)

I'm no football or sports fan. The only parts of the Super Bowl I like are the commercials. But coach Tony Dungy, who has led a winning team at the Super Bowl, finally gave me something more to enjoy about sports: spiritual and practical daily applications. No, I'm not running around with a ball all day every day. Rather, Dungy's "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge" (co-written with Nathan Whitaker) uses principles and stories from the sports world (and from outside the sports world, as well) to help readers understand basic Scriptural principles, values and morals for living life for Christ.

Dungy's sports stories and metaphors will appeal to a male audience — there are a lot of devotionals out there for women, but not enough for men — but it's also easy to read and manages to keep away from anything that might scare away female readers. Each daily devotional includes a Scripture passage, a few paragraphs on a topic, and a one or two sentence "Uncommon Key" that sums up the day's message. Each day is dedicated to one of seven general topics, which include Core, Family, Friends, Potential, Mission, Influence, and Faith. Each devotional also takes up a full page. Personally, I get more out of short devotionals that are easy to recall throughout the day, but longer devotions like those Dungy writes can be just as effective when properly used.

As the book's introduction says, you must really settle down with each devotional and dedicate a good amount of time to thinking about what it says in order to get something out of it. Such is the case with any devotional, and although Dungy's devotionals are sometimes repetitious and don't always line up whatever of the seven topics they've been assigned, "Uncommon" presents some real gems for readers.

Win a Free Copy of This Book (See Next Post, or Click Here to Learn How)

More information on "Uncommon Life"
List Price:
Trim Size:
6 x 9 
October 2011 

Strengthen the core of your life and faith on a year-long journey with beloved Super Bowl–winning former head coach Tony Dungy! The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge contains 365 reflections from the #1 New York Times bestselling author on living an “uncommon life” of integrity, honoring your family and friends, creating a life of real significance and impact, and walking with the Lord. This year, step up to the challenge—and dare to be uncommon every day.

* I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review of it.

Review: Why Men Hate Going to Church

I picked up David Murrow's updated and revised edition of "Why Men Hate Going to Church" with much enthusiasm and hope. As one who has trouble with finding a good church or just plain finding motivation to go to church, I was hoping to find something to relate to in this book. The book ended up pointing out that my feminine qualities are more predominant than I thought, which leads me to wish there was a book entitled "Why Conservative Introverts Hate Going to Church."

That said, I did gain a lot of insight into men through this book. Murrow's premise revolves around the fact that male values are completely different from female values and that the church focuses more on those feminine values. Worship and church-speak, for example can focus on the "relationship" and on loving God, which Murrow says leaves many men with the wrong idea of "I can't love God. That would be homosexual." That specific reference is a small part of Murrow's book, so don't be offended by it.

Murrow states that men in general (that is, men who do not possess more feminine values and characteristics, not to say that those men who are more feminine are not still men) like action and need to be given positions of leadership and active ways to serve, such as repairing buildings, as well as more visual ways to learn. Women do not mind more manly attributes, but men see feminine attributes in the church as wimpy.

While some of Murrow's thoughts are confusing or contradictory (especially when it comes to what worship in the church should be like), overall, he provides plenty of Biblical support and interesting, proven successful ideas for mentoring men spiritually and keeping them involved in church.

4/5 Stars

* I received a free copy of this book from Book Sneeze for my honest review of it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Soundtrack Review: The Adventures of TinTin

This is the first of many coming reviews of movie scores and soundtracks. The reviews will be short and to the point, but, hopefully, helpful.

The Adventures of TinTin by John Williams

I'm rating this on what I heard in the actual film because I did not like the music enough to buy the score.

This is the most disappointing John Williams score ever written. I love John Williams. He usually creates such beautiful, lush themes, even for adventure films like Indiana Jones. In my opinion, Indiana Jones and Star Wars suffered from clashing tones that were appropriate for action scenes in the films but not too pleasant to listen to. The main themes that were so catchy and wonderful saved the music to those films, however. But that did not happen with TinTin. There are themes in TinTin, but they are lost in the incidental music, which also has a ton of clashing tones. The music works for the film, but is boring to listen to (and kind of gives me a headache).