Thursday, December 31, 2009

“Make Love, Make War: Now Is the Time to Worship” by Brian Doerksen

Living a Life of Radical Worship


Award-winning songwriter, Brian Doerksen, shares insights behind some of the most beloved songs of our time as he provokes readers to love and war.


Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX–What is true worship? It can elevate us into the presence of God, renew and refresh our spirits, and offer the deepest expression of love for our Savior. Yet worship can also be a call to arms, a battle cry, a salvo in an ancient spiritual war that continues today. In his first book, Make love, Make War: Now Is the Time to Worship (David C Cook, August 2009), award-winning songwriter Brian Doerksen challenges Christians to make their lives an offering of radical worship.


An acclaimed songwriter, recording artist, author, conference speaker, and pastor, Doerksen believes God is calling us to love and to battle–to spread peace and wage spiritual warfare. ” Each is essential to our daily spiritual walk,” writes Doerksen. “We do this through how we live, how we serve Him and how we protect and fight for what matters most. One of the ways I make love and war is through music.”


In his first book, Brian shares the powerful stories behind some of the most influential worship songs of our time, including “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship”, “Refiner’s Fire”, and “Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing)”. Brian’s hope and prayer is that the stories surrounding these songs and the truths they sing will awaken your heart to ‘Make Love & War’ for the glory of God! While offering special tips for aspiring songwriters, he also reveals rich truths and insights about the nature of God and His calling for us.


Doerksen believes “we know love and war are at the heart of everything inside us, and everything going on all around us. We sense that there is nothing that Satan hates more than the worship of Yahweh by those who are faithful to the Lamb. He spends more than a little energy convincing us that there really is not a war going on, and that the sum total of our lives’ calling is to be nice. But God is provoking us to rise up and fight. The war He calls us to make is always for the sake of love.”


Author Bio

Briand Doerksen has always had a passion for expressing worship through music. He is an award-winning songwriter of some of today’s songs of worship. He has also just completed co-writing a musical (a 7 year process!) with Christopher Greco (a playwright based in Boston) based on Luke 15 called Prodigal God, ‘a tale of 2 sons and one wastefully extravagant father’. It’s the story of the prodigal son and his father seen through the eyes of the elder brother. The musical features more than 20 new songs written or co-written by Brian. The recording of the music will be released 2010.

He and his family (wife of 25 years Joyce, and 6 children) live in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.


My Review

Make Love, Make War has been one of the most enriching books I’ve read in a very long time. I learned much about the heart of this man, his devotion to God and family, his intimate and intense love for God and the His Church (The Bride), and his musical works. He has a specific purpose for writing each and every song. The reasons may surprise you. I know I delighted in them.

Although I have no background in music, Brian’s life history behind his songs have been an inspiration to me. To top it off, you get some thoroughly in-depth teachings about who God is, little nuggets of truth throughout the book. He also shares song-writing tips to aspiring musicians and current worship leaders.

This is one book everyone should have on their shelf to read. It will give you a greater insight into the words of the songs and inspire you to respond in love and/or war.


I received this book free from The B & B Media Group, Inc., for the express purpose of reading and reviewing this book. I do this for the express purpose of encouraging others to read great books. My thanks to B & B for the privilege of doing so.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"A Soldier's Devotion" by Cheryl Wyatt (blogblast)


http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=4fe5176b32&view=att&th=125e057d55eea98a&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_g3uavk9o0&zw

A Soldier’s Devotion by Cheryl Wyatt

(Steeple Hill Love Inspired)

ISBN-0373875754) is IN STORES NOW.


About the Book
U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Vince Reardon was headed to a lifesaving mission. Until a too-pretty lawyer crashed her fancy car into his motorcycle—sidelining him for two weeks. Vince can barely accept Valentina Russo’s heartfelt apologies. Ever since his brother was wrongly convicted—and killed in prison—Vince has lost respect for lawyers. But wait—is that Val volunteering at his refuge for underprivileged kids? If Vince isn’t careful, this lady of the law might just earn his respect and his heart.


About the Author
Born Valentines Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin’s Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers and she is a Reviewers Choice Award nominee. http://www.facebook.com/l/5c31e;www.CherylWyatt.com


Excerpt

This is the second-worst day of my life.

U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper Vince Reardon lay pressed to wet asphalt. Rain pelted his face.

The woman who’d seconds ago smashed her sizzling-red sedan into his chrome-and-black-lacquered motorcycle hovered in his periphery. Smoky eyes bulged with worry from a trepid face that begged him not to be mad. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry.”

“I can’t look at you, or I’ll erupt.” Vince pushed a groan through gritted teeth and tried like mad to distract himself from blowtorch-caliber pain searing through the palms of his hands, left arm and outer left leg. “Saw you on your cell phone seconds before you hit my bike.”

Correction. The custom, one-of-a-kind masterpiece on wheels that his late brother hand-built weeks before his death.

Once again the woman murmured soft words, rested a shaky palm on Vince’s shoulder. And prayed. He tried not to flinch away from her. Wanted to yell at her to leave him alone. Wanted to scream out in pain. Alone.

He clenched his eyes to shut out the pity on the strained faces of bystanders who’d come to his aid. More specifically, he wanted to shut her out.

But the truth was her presence and her prayers soothed. Besides, it wasn’t like he could get away from her.

“Lord, help him be okay. Please don’t let anything be broken.”

Vince found her face and lashed a hard look at her remorseful one. “I’m not one for religion, lady.” He beamed visual warning flares. Tried not to get his gaze snagged by eyes that were heavily lined and radiantly luminous. Or the stylish pixie cut that caused jagged angles of hair to hug prominent cheekbones.

Anything to distract from discomfort.

Other than desert-sand-colored swaths streaking through dark brown hair, giving her a youngish, trendy look, she smacked of “career woman.” She wore sleek high-end shoes with some seriously dangerous skyscraper heels and a conservative charcoal business suit which could not camouflage her curves.

He wouldn’t be so perturbed if she weren’t so glaringly pretty.

French-manicured nails rested once again on his shoulder.

No ring.

And just why would he care, other than to feel scolded for noticing her curviness, if she were married? The fact that her barren finger hitched his eyes a little too long on her hand drew a second frustrated sigh.

He might be down, but he wasn’t dead. The gal was stunning.

“You need to get out of the intersection. Least till the cops get here,” Vince ground out.

He didn’t want both of them to be in danger of getting reamed by oncoming traffic should some other driver pull her gig and forget to pay attention. He brought his hands up to carefully remove his helmet.

“I’m not leaving you,” came her soft but firm reply.

She helped him take his helmet off. Turned it over, gasped then set it aside. Her bugged-wide eyes closed and her lips moved in frenzy. Something about thank you.

Against his wishes and his will, she prayed.

That it brought the slightest measure of peace angered him more than anything. He clamped his lips to keep from cursing. Sure, she’d smashed his bike, but he didn’t want to disrespect a lady.

Even if she had just destroyed his most prized possession.

And ruined his chance to join his team on the type of mission that came few and far between. An allied pilot shot down and in need of rapid-reaction rescue on hostile soil.

Vince not being at the chopper when it was ready to lift could cost that pilot his life.

Shivers claimed him. Adrenaline OD. Had to be.

Once his team figured out crucial minutes too late that he wasn’t coming, they would have to pull his weight plus manage their own.

Way dangerous.

Especially since they all had specific jobs they were trained to do during a rescue. There’d be no time to replace him.

Nothing rapid-reaction about him writhing here in the middle of a rain-driven road, wishing like crazy this irksome brunette hadn’t been driving under the influence of distraction.

Water soaked his back, seeping cold to his bones. A rock dug into his skin below his shoulder. He tried to reposition without moving his neck.

Pain streaked across his shoulder blade. Numbness trickled down his arms and tingled fingers on his left hand. A frustrated sound scraped its way up his throat again but he clamped his lips against it. Despite the early-April cold, sweat broke out over his upper lip. He puffed out breaths but the pain didn’t relent this time.

He was sure he was fine, but as a military paramedic, he knew enough to be still and quiet just the same. A killer headache was building at the base of his skull and he knew better than to move until someone slapped a C-collar on him.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you until too late.” Words wobbled from unsteady lips. Hand remaining on his shoulder, she leaned forward, blocking rain from thrashing his face. She continued her prayers.

“You’re getting soaked.” Crazy lady. Her hair was dripping. Her expensive soft suede suit was probably ruined. She didn’t act like she cared. In fact, the deceptively calm body posture he could tell she fought to maintain looked ready to crumble. Like she was nearing her breaking point.

Rain-mingled tears hovering on long lashes threatened to fall. She blinked rapidly. “Help will be here soon.”

Who was she trying to convince? Him? Or herself?

And how could her voice be soothing and grating at the same time? No matter about his bones. His main concern was his bike.

“How’s my ride?”

Her eyes startled open. “What?”

He clenched his teeth. She was probably some rich chick who didn’t understand one stinking mutilated syllable of street lingo. “My chopper. Bike. Motorcycle. Thing with two wheels that goes down the road. How is it?”

That she didn’t answer and only scanned the area around them with ever-widening eyes revved his headache through the roof of his skull.

Incensed, he released the pent-up groan.

“I am sooo sorry. The ambulance will be here soon.”

The urge to laugh hit him full force from nowhere. “For me or the bike?”

A startled look stole over her face before she averted her gaze. “Both, I think. This was all my fault. I—I’ll pay for it.”

Again, her words made him want to laugh. “The bike? Or my hospital and ambulance bills?”

“Both. Of course, both.” She looked like she could cry.

“The cycle—is it drivable?”

She bit her bottom lip until it turned white, then looked around like Refuge’s traumatized mayor after last year’s bridge collapse. “Um, I think not. It… It’s…pretty smashed.”

He tensed and wished she’d get her soft hand off his aching arm.

“How bad?” If this crazy lady broke the only tangible reminder remaining on earth of his late brother…he’d never forgive her. At her blank look, impatience mounted, twisting his shoulders into knots. “How. Bad. Is. It?” He enunciated the words like a phonics teacher with a mouthful of molten lava.

“Um… so-ome of the pieces broke off.” Her face blanched the more her eyes scanned their periphery and whatever carnage littered it. “Maybe even… well, all of the little ones.”

He didn’t doubt that since he’d felt tiny insignificant cosmetic pieces break off on impact. That wasn’t his main concern. “How’s the frame?”

“B-bent. Definitely, but not horribly. I—at least I don’t think so.” Her lips rolled inward as if her own words daunted her. Distress mounted in her eyes and tears finally trickled down her cheeks. She blinked furiously. “I—I’m not m-much of a motorcycle person.”

No kidding. For an instant, he almost felt sorrier for her than for himself.

Nah.

Her remorse probably only meant she feared he’d sue her.

Didn’t matter. She shouldn’t concern her pretty self with petty litigation. He’d be the last person to go near any sort of legal office. His family had a thing against lawyers. Far as Vince was concerned, they were the reason his brother…

Sirens whined closer, blared louder, derailing his train of thought, causing the throbbing in his head to expand.

Flashing emergency vehicle taillights reflected off the wet surface, giving eerie red hues to the watery seal-coat layer over asphalt smothered in oil and gasoline. Doors creaked open and slammed shut.

Several sets of black shoes hooded in blue scrub pants sloshed across the lot. Drizzle sprinkled Vince’s face as the woman divorced her hand from his shoulder and leaned back, allowing EMTs to access him.

Staying as still as possible, Vince issued himself a mental reprimand for instantly missing her fruity perfume, her lullaby voice, her presence and even her prayers.

Missing her. Just—her.

Anger welled in him that a complete stranger and her connection to the God he loathed brought comfort in this momentary nightmare. He needed to let team leader Joel Montgomery know why he was late. Tell him what was going on without compromising the mission or his teammates’ safety.

How to do this? What to say?

He wouldn’t be telling the truth—that he’d probably just fractured or dislocated something—that’s for sure. But trying to go injured could cause a new set of problems. No way would he be stupid enough to put his brothers in harm’s way. Even if it meant he had to lay down his angry pride and let this mission go on without him.

He looked at the woman—the very beautiful woman—who caused all this and felt like growling at her and howling at the moon all at the same time. Absurd. Musta hit his head harder than he thought. Err, his helmet rather.

Speaking of his helmet, Vince remembered how crazy-soft her hands felt as she’d helped him off with it.

“You still got that phone on you?” Vince asked her through clenched teeth.

“Yes. Who can I call for you?” Quaking hands fumbled in the pocket of her power suit. The one that hugged a figure any guy would be nuts not to notice. Even an injured one. He jerked away his gaze like the rip cord on a screaming parachute and ground his teeth. He wanted nothing whatsoever about her to be appealing.

He’d been headed to the drop-zone facility following an emergency page from Joel. But, on impact, his cell phone had bounced across the road and broken into particles.

Frustration surged. He became even more irked that he’d been placed in the position of having to use his assailant’s phone for help.

Vince refused to restrain the disapproval from his voice as he recited the number of Refuge’s DZ. The guys were probably convening there prior to being flown to their insertion point.

Without him.

Not only had this bad-driving woman risked his life, she’d rendered his team one man short.

Slender fingers punched the keypad. “It’s ringing.” She held the phone to his ear.

“Yeah, Chance? Lemme talk to Joel.” Vince huffed a breath. Ribs sore. Hurt to talk.

She must have sensed it because she moved the phone from his ear to hers. “Who am I talking to?” she asked Vince in a take-charge voice that he would have appreciated any other time.

The last thing he wanted was to feel anything remotely positive toward the enemy—who was, at the moment, namely her. And the terrorists who’d shot down the pilot he couldn’t go help save.

His anger hit boiling point again. And he let her know it with a lethal look. Didn’t faze or rattle her. Must be one mortar-tough chick.

“Ask for Montgomery. Tell him I’m in a fender bender and won’t make the lift.”

“Mr. Montgomery?” she said into the phone. “Yes, I’m here with… Excuse me a moment.” She covered the mouthpiece and leaned in to Vince. “What’s your name?”

“Reardon.”

“I’m here with… Reardon. I—he’s been in a substantial accident. On his bike, yes.” She swallowed. Hard. Okay, maybe not so tough.

Vince scowled at her for giving TMI but she ignored him just like she’d disobeyed the traffic signal that caused this wreck.

“Yes, he’s alert and coherent, but I think it hurts him to talk. The ambulance is on its way. Yes. Thank you. And I’m very sorry. Well, because I’m the one who caused the wreck.” Her lips trembled at the words and no doubt Joel was offering soothing words to her. Traitor.

Connor Stallings, a Refuge police officer, finished taking statements from witnesses and approached. He dipped his head toward the phone. “Is that Montgomery?”

“Yes.”

“Let me talk with him.” Stallings took the cell she handed him then he stepped out of Vince’s earshot.

Another raging hole burned through Vince. He hated to be coddled and babied. Most of all pitied. And Stallings’ face had been full of it when he’d initially rushed over to Vince upon arriving on the accident scene.

After talking with Vince’s leader and saying who knows what that could further worry them needlessly, Stallings knelt beside him. Compassionate eyes rested on Vince, which ticked him off even more. Anger surged like his headache. Did everyone have to feel sorry for him?

Vince clenched his jaw at the unwanted attention. He didn’t want anyone to see him weak or broken. He vehemently ignored the rubberneckers in cars and concerned bystanders in the periphery and focused on Officer Stallings.

“I guess I don’t have to ask how you’re doing, Sergeant Reardon.”

Vince eyed one of the few men he’d met who matched his six-foot-six stature and who sometimes skydived at Refuge Drop Zone. “I’ve been better.” He slashed a sharp look at the woman.

Although he was scraped up and in mind-blasting pain, his sense of pride and dignity were wounded above all.

Stallings’ blue-silver gaze cooled as it rested on the woman. “Were you the other driver?”

“Y-yes. I was at fault.” Her lips trembled.

Vince looked away, not wanting to soften toward her.

“That your car?” Stallings jotted notes.

She nodded.

“Name?”

“Val… Valentina Russo.” She spelled it out in breathless syllables. Something inside Vince tried to bend in mercy.

Until he conjured images of his brother’s face as he’d presented the bike to Vince on a prison-visitation weekend. The one prior to the riot that had taken his life. To make matters worse, his brother had been cleared posthumously of charges incurred by a six-man jury trial tainted by a money-hungry, truth-botching lawyer who cared more about retainer fees than ratting out false informants.

Vince hadn’t been able to free his brother or save his life, but he was determined to clear his brother’s name. Just as determined as his brother had been to work toward good behavior that had allowed him to do supervised shop work in order to finish the bike he’d started for Vince.

The very bike this senseless driver had just smashed to smithereens in a preventable accident.

Stallings scribbled on his clipboard then eyed the woman. “Where were you headed in such a hurry?”

“I was on my way to the courthouse near the square.”

“For?”

“Court. I’m an attorney.”

How could a horrid day have gotten worse?

Val brushed damp hair from her eyes and drew calming breaths as paramedics lifted the man she’d injured into the waiting ambulance. “I h-hope he’s going to be okay,” she murmured. And poor Aunt Elsie!

Val glanced at her watch then at her silent phone. Why hadn’t the ER doctor called back with word on Elsie’s condition?


This book can be purchased here.


Cheryl Wyatt www.cherylwyatt.com
15-author blog! www.seekerville.blogspot.com
Ready-Made Family, A Soldier’s Reunion, Soldier Daddy-ON SALE NOW
A Soldier’s Devotion-January 2010 SHLI
Steadfast Soldier-June 2010 SHLI

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reminder: Giveaway for "Set Apart" by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Set Apart

by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

A 6-week study of the Beatitudes

Set Apart is a 6-week interactive Bible study perfectly suited to either group or individual study. In this study, author Jennifer Kennedy Dean explores the Beatitudes. By bringing in the distinctively Jewish setting of Jesus’ inaugural sermon, Jennifer uncovers fresh nuances and overlooked undertones. Her distinctive communication style and approach to the Scripture is on full display in this challenging, encouraging , indispensable study.

Set Apart DVD

See my review in earlier posts.

I do have one free copy for a giveaway provided by New Hope Publishers. Please leave a comment to be included in the giveaway, to be decided on January 13. This giveaway is only open to the United States.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Grave Influence" by Brannon Howse as listed on Jan Markell's link below.

http://www.olivetreeviews.org/

Grave Influence

New book from Brannon Howse
Grave Influence: 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews That Rule America From the Grave
Enemies of the biblical worldview and our constitutional republic don’t want their agenda unveiled for the American people, and they don’t want us to train our children and grandchildren with a biblical worldview.
This book reveals the demonically-inspired connections between occultism and pagan spirituality, the apostate church, our educational establishment, and the government-corporate complex. Find the book at “Products” for $15 + $5 S/H. It is 340 pages hardbound.
Jan Markell has multiple other books on the link above. Please check it out. We NEED to teach our children a Biblical worldview.

Jan’s latest email:

Keep Clinging to Our Blessed Hope

By Jan Markell

www.olivetreeviews.org

December 28, 2009

Another year has passed and one wonders how the new year will play out.

I wrote two weeks ago that I believe the story of 2009 is the fact the world thought they had one man, a “messiah-like” guy who could make the world that was turning upside down set itself on a right course. While I am not in the forecasting business, expect to see more galloping globalism, a further rush to the one-world religion, an even greater “falling away” (II Thessalonians 2:3), an intensified yearning for a “global fix,” and a lot more that the Bible outlines.

Keep your eye on the “epicenter” — Israel. There is coming more conflict there than we can imagine. God will take care of Israel; it’s the nations that are coming against her — including America – that need to be forewarned. America now has new foreign policy that gives Muslims an advantage and that throws Israel under the bus. This combination is both foolish and deadly.

Clearly 2009 was the year when total “strong delusion” came over our nation’s leaders. Many Americans are even perplexed as to how to pray, for one cannot pray for policies that are anti-God. The perplexity of 2009 is how to deal with godlessness in leadership while clinging to the exhortations of the Bible. Right now, the two are irreconcilable.

The heartbreak of 2009 is the brick-by-brick dismantling of America by those in our midst who hate this shining beacon on a hill. No, God does not have a covenant with us like He does with Israel, but He has clearly blessed us abundantly. Another terror disaster was averted last week on a plane the evil ones planned to blow up in flight. That tells me God has not abandoned us as many other such attempts have been foiled this year as well. Many believe America is under judgment and that may be true. If so, things will get more difficult as perilous times are in overdrive. (II Timothy 3:1-9)

For a brilliant six-minute video presentation on the tide of our times, visit this link on my Web site.

One of the most stunning stories as it relates to Bible prophecy is the fact that oil has been found in Israel. This will give fuel — no pun intended — to the Gog/Magog invaders of Ezekiel 38-39.

Also, later in the week, my assistant, Heidi Swander, will look more carefully at the “birth pangs” we are now experiencing.

But to change America, our churches must be strong and sadly, that is the weak link. A nation is only as strong as believers and churches pray and praise. While many pastors hold to truth today, it would seem just as many have strayed into false doctrine leaving the sheep as “sheeple” and thus leaving America vulnerable. With “gospel lite” being preached in many places, the sheep don’t even know what to pray against and what to stand for. And there are too few “watchmen on the wall” (Ezekiel 33:6). As in Nazi Germany, pastors now have to watch what they say or face possible “hate crimes.” This is hardly a good scenario to help turn things around.

This year-end commentary is being sent to many who are “watchmen on the wall.” Keep it up. Always “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25 ). If you see a hurting Christian brother or sister — or an unbeliever who is particularly cast down — take time to give them a good word. It will make their day in these turbulent times. They may be jobless, out of money, and feel there is little that is positive right now. Remind them that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Thank you for encouraging this ministry in 2009. Thank you for not abandoning us in our truth-telling and speaking the inconvenient truth. We appreciate all who have participated both prayerfully and financially. Pray for our radio outreach and against the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that would shut down programs like “Understanding the Times.” That effort by the current administration has been on hold while they focus on health care and the further socialization of America.

The good news is that we know the last chapter of the book — the Bible. We know who wins. We have our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) which every believer can cling to. We know that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). We know our citizenship is not on earth but in Heaven. God has given each one of you an assignment for however many days, months, or years we have left before we reach the gates of Heaven. Since you are here on assignment, no Christian can say they are without a purpose, for God has one or more for you. Now is a very good time to figure out what it is and proceed with His marching orders.

We are in a war that will get hotter. One of the greatest contributions you can make to our turbulent times is to contend for the faith (Jude 3) no matter what it costs you.

In the meantime, remember Jesus’ words, “Behold, I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20).

As we exit another year and move into the new one, may Jesus, the “light of the world,” make your pathway clear.
Understanding the Times Radio: We are heading into our tenth year on air. We are live out of AM980 KKMS, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Saturday, 9 to 11 AM CST and Sunday, 12 to 2 PM CST. We air in these additional markets. For instructions on podcasting through iTunes, visit this link. You can always “listen live” at www.kkms.com as they have upgraded their audio-streaming.
All live weekend programming is posted to “Radio Archives” late Sunday. Our programming from December 26 is now posted there. Hear Dr. Mark Hitchcock and Eric Barger.
Note: Due to volume, we cannot respond to every e-mail but each one is read. To unsubscribe, scroll to the very bottom and click “SafeUnsubscribe.”


Awaiting His return,
Jan Markell
You may pass on these items or have people sign up on our Web site. We update Current Headlines twice a day, and you can access our radio programming from the last three years on Radio Archives. Also see the Web site for other options to catch the program, “Understanding the Times.” Please report e-mail address changes.
Please remember us prayerfully and financially. Donate on our Web site. (Gifts are tax-deductible with receipts sent out in mid-January.)
Olive Tree Ministries, Inc.
Box 1452
Maple Grove, MN 55311
763-493-3010 or 763-210-8291

This is not my review. It seemed important to list.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

From "Writers' Rest": Avatar-- a movie review by Molly Noble Bull

Avatar--a Movie Review

by Molly Noble Bull

www.mollynoblebull.com


The dictionary as well as Hindu mythology states that an Avatar is an incarnation of a god, and like most Christians, I call any God but the Lord a false god. I also pray in the name of God's only begotten son, Jesus.
Nevertheless, I saw Avatar in a movie theater recently but don’t have a lot of good things to say about it. Exotic settings, an interesting storyline and exciting special effects might cause some Christians to allow their children and teens to see the movie.
Regardless, Avatar is very much a film about what Bible believers would call “lying spirits” and false gods—with a hint of demonic possession thrown in for good measure. Cursing and bad language only make matters worse. The movie also has an anti-military message, and its “tree hugging green” theme is so clear even Albert Gore would be proud.
In the film, Jake Sully—a paralyzed ex marine, goes to the planet Pandora to help obtain certain minerals for Planet Earth. Once there, Jake is given a new body in a dark shade of science fiction blue in order to look like the natives, and he soon falls in love with a young native girl and finally switches sides.
According to the Bible, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. To me, the Lord is the only God there is, making the Hindu-like god of Pandora a false one. It bothered me that in the movie characters cursed my God while praying to Pandora’s false god.
So, should Christian parents allow their children to see this movie?
No.
However, if a Christian parent is willing to see the movie with the child, cursing and all, and then sit down and discuss the movie from a Christian perspective, perhaps it could be a good thing.
It is hard to explain Idolatry even to some adults. Avatar provides a perfect opportunity for adults and teens to discuss God’s Word, learn why cursing is a sin and what the worship of false gods really means.
I give Avatar three and a half stars for the special effects and cinematography. Zero for inspiration and content.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Set Apart" by Jennifer Kennedy Dean (review and giveaway)

Set Apart

by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

A 6-week study of the Beatitudes



Set Apart is a 6-week interactive Bible study perfectly suited to either group or individual study. In this study, author Jennifer Kennedy Dean explores the Beatitudes. By bringing in the distinctively Jewish setting of Jesus’ inaugural sermon, Jennifer uncovers fresh nuances and overlooked undertones. Her distinctive communication style and approach to the Scripture is on full display in this challenging, encouraging , indispensable study.


Set Apart DVD


My review: Jennifer Kennedy Dean has a keen style of writing word pictures that displays deep spiritual meanings to help you understand and picture the truths she is presenting. Her teaching is very indepth, personal and thorough.


She begins her study on the distinctive differences between Law and Grace, Old Testament and New Testament, which are the stepping stones to the balance of the teachings on the Beatitudes, which are thoroughly examined in the remainder of her book. Great for personal or group study!


My only ‘complaint’ would be that there are not enough study questions to make us dig out additional spiritual truths personally through cross-referencing, etc.


The study can be purchased here. She also has available a video series/leader’s kit at the same site for purchase.


I received a free copy of this study from Jonathan at New Hope Publishers for the express purpose of reviewing. I do this for the pleasure of encouraging others to read/study the books I review. My thanks to New Hope Publishers for this grand opportunity.


I do have one free copy for a giveaway provided by New Hope Publishers. Please leave a comment to be included in the giveaway, to be decided on January 13.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Shattered, Shaken and Stirred" by Gilbert Ahrens

In his candid new book, author Gilbert Ahrens shares with readers how he was able to reconnect with what matters most after experiencing loss and adversity

In the blink of an eye, life can change forever. Hopes and dreams of what we’ve envisioned our lives would be can disappear in a moment. Tragedy and heartache can instantly pierce the veil that once separated the world we knew and the one we could never have imagined. In his new book, Shattered, Shaken, and Stirred: Reconnecting with What Matters Most After Loss and Adversity, author Gilbert Ahrens recounts his own personal story of conflict, struggle, and suffering in an intimate letter to his young daughter. His story offers strength, suggestions, and encouragement to others who find themselves on the solitary journey of loss that-sooner or later-is the one thing that we all have in common.


On a beautifully clear, crisp autumn evening in 2002, while traveling outside Denver, Colorado, Gil’s car was hit head-on by a drunk driver traveling 95 miles per hour. Gil, his wife Kim, sister Margot, and three-week-old daughter Olivia had been going 60 miles per hour. The driver of the other car was only 18, and the passenger in his car was killed instantly. Gil’s family survived but just barely. Among many other serious injuries, the worst was that his wife, Kim, suffered a broken neck that paralyzed her-sentencing her to a wheelchair. Their baby daughter, however, emerged miraculously unscathed.


In a split second, the lives of this seemingly ordinary family were upended, disrupted, and derailed-just as they were beginning to learn the ropes of parenting a newborn. They were instantly transported to a new world of “survival”, which then over time transcended to the less dramatic but still unknown world of “coping.” But, in the wake of devastation and anguish is where recovery and, ultimately, redemption are found. In Shattered, Shaken, and Stirred, Gil explores and embraces the process of struggle, brokenness, and healing in a way that is honest, heartfelt, and yet at times, reassuringly humorous.


“Suffering has no purpose unless it draws us closer to God, which I think is why He allows it and created it in the first place,” writes Gil. ”It is very difficult to connect with God when we feel able, strong, and self-reliant. But it is often only in our weakness, need, and insufficiency that we allow ourselves to be open enough to let God in.”


In Shattered, Shaken, and Stirred, Gil tenderly encourages readers with an eternal truth he has learned through personal trial and affliction: When there is hardship, it is for a reason. “Any valuable tool or piece of equipment needs to be tested and pushed to its limits in the laboratory before it can be ready for service in the field. God is not testing us to see if we are worthy; He is preparing us for something greater than we can imagine. The key to everything-to surviving, coping with loss, adapting to changed realities, and managing to get by-is Faith, Hope, and Love; that is how we find and reconnect with joy.”



MY REVIEW: Gilbert Ahrens gives explicit insight into his, his wife’s and daughter’s world after a devastating car accident. He is mainly writing to his daughter, who was only a few weeks old at the time of the accident. He wanted her to know the circumstances, the setbacks, and the inner connection to a different world with the same God.


This book is a great resource that can help those who have gone through a major setback, as in this case, a car accident, giving insights on what things you will need to look at and change, how to manage your finances, work, long-term injury, insurance, etc.


The book shows the changes in perspectives of life, as to what is important, where we are with God, how to handle His answers that don’t fit into our time frame or idea. etc. It’s not comprehensive, but well thought out. I also find that it could fit other scenarios as well, i.e., major illness, financial ruin, foreclosure, natural disaster, etc.


The essential issue is reconnecting to your new life. It’s a book of hope and encouragement in God and man.


It’s also for those who have not gone through such an experience, to teach us ways to help people through a major catastrophe–the main reason for my reading the book. An informed friend can be a lifesaver in that person’s life. “God with skin on”!


Definitely a must-read for pastors to help the family connect with their spiritual needs as well.


Shattered, Shaken, and Stirred by Gilbert Ahrens

Positano Press/October 2009

ISBN: 978-0984289516/224 pages/softcover/$14.95 ISBN: 978-0984289509/224 pages/hardcover/$24.95

www.gilahrens.com


This book was provided by Tracy of the B & B Media Group for my review on the book. I write reviews to help others choose good Christian writing, fiction or non-fiction.

"Touching Wonder" by John Blase

Heard the Christmas Story a Few Too Many Times?

With his instant classic, Touching Wonder, author John Blase

breathes new life into the story of the Nativity

TOUCHING WONDER 3D COVER for printingDallas/Ft. Worth, TX—Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.


By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.


In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!


In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.


Author Bio: John Blase’s work includes Living the Questions and Living the Letters Bible-study series, the Worldviews reference book (TH1NK), Real Life Stuff for Couples, and The Message Children’s Bible. A former pastor, John currently edits by day and writes by night. He and his wife, Meredith, have three children and make their home in Colorado.


My review: John Blase describes the many characters in the reading of Jesus' birth and brings them to life in his narration. He extols their doubts, fears, concerns, excitement, apprehension, rage, and hope--from 'Speechless' Zachariah all the way to 'Jerusalem's Freedom' Anna, the prophetess. You won't want to miss the rich characters he describes in between.


What I like, in addition to his rendition of the story, are his personal prayers at the end of each character's portion. They bring the story into your own personal life to apply, as well as his own, challenging us all to make changes. It's not your ordinary 'Christmas Story' book!


I would appreciate the use of a different version of the Scriptures, but the book otherwise is a new, personal insight into Christmas.


A free copy was supplied by Audra of The B&B Media Group for me to review. I review books for the purpose of encouraging others to read good fiction and non-fiction Christian books. I do not receive any compensation other than the book.



Touching Wonders: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas

by John Blase.

David C. Cook

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6465-2/hardcover/128 pages $12.99

www.davidccook.com

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Field of Danger" by Ramona Richards

Although this book is cast as a Love-Inspired Suspense, I would categorize it as a Love-Inspired Thriller!


The danger is so intense, partly because Levon Rivers’ murder happened during broad daylight in open farmland next to a cornfield and partly because April Presley witnessed the murder first hand. Her hand-covered screams caught the killer’s attention, and as he chased her through the cornfield, a neighboring lady, Aunt Suke, came and rescued her.


During all the subsequent questionings by Sheriff Ray Taylor and others, she only remembers a blur of the person; it happened so fast, and she was concentrating on escaping the killer.


Daniel Rivers, a deputy sheriff, wants to know who killed his father, and he believes April remembers more than she’s saying, but only needs some extra prodding to bring out the memory.


The killer is stalking April surreptitiously, and they need to find the truth before the killer finds her. Even Daniel gets shot in the midst of all the chaos; a bullet that was meant for April. Daniel is the only one she trusts to keep her safe. Would their faith uphold them in the midst of such evil?


This was one book I could not put down til I found out who did it and why. It’s powerfully written with many plots and twists to keep you guessing and gripping your seat until the end! I grew up on a farm and always felt safe out in the field–until now!


I want to thank Ramona for a free copy of her book for review. I review books for the sole purpose of encouraging people to read good fiction.


Can be purchased here or here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Glo Bible Software giveaway

Cool Bible Software Giveaway (at Mimi's blog)


Mimi, at her Woven by Words blog, is giving away two copies of a Bible software that looks really interesting! It's called Glo. She has a review posted and options for entering her contest. You'll see me among those who've entered! :)

One of the features that looked most helpful to me is one called My Glo, where you can keep track of your Bible reading and even set up a plan for reading (setting goals). You're even allowed to have the copy on 3 computers, so this would be a great way to have a Bible on hand on the laptop and mini.

You can check out the Glo Bible at their site before entering the contest.
www.globible.com

To visit Mimi's blog for the review and contest, click here. And just to be totally honest about it, I should let you know I'm posting this link as an extra entry in the contest myself! :) Of course, I truly do think the program looks interesting and would probably blog about it anyway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Double Cross" by James David Jordan

Simon Mason, of Simon Mason World Ministries, had been murdered. Shortly thereafter, nearly a half million dollars was reported missing from the ministry. The question was who and why.


Taylor Pasbury, the daughter of a former Special Forces officer, had been hired to protect Simon for reasons unknown to Taylor, although she was highly qualified and owned her own security agency. Kacey Mason, Simon’s daughter, was in college and living with Taylor in Simon’s home.


On this foggy December day, Kacey and Taylor were on their way to question Elise Hovden, top assistant to Simon Mason, about the embezzled money and came upon her apparent suicide.


In the late afternoon of that same day, a woman showed up at Taylor and Kacey’s residence. The woman took out her camera and said to Taylor, “Smile, baby, I’m your mother.” That was her initial reunion after 20 years of silence from her mother, who abandoned her at age 9. The relationship was strange, to put it mildly. It brought turmoil to Taylor over her mother’s strange behaviors, abandonment, sudden reappearance, the truth about her past, and the death of her father as he protected her from being raped.


Taylor and her mother manage to get themselves entangled in the mystery of the embezzlement, and they find themselves mixed up in a twisted, fast-paced kidnapping.


This is a book of many twists to keep you guessing to the end. I enjoyed it tremendously.


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_d_M0Wy825-Y/SwyfjqGOa9I/AAAAAAAABxM/m0dFIYMPxjQ/s1600/James+David+Jordan.jpgJames David Jordan is an attorney in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX. He branched out and began to write novels, of which Double Cross is a follow-up to Forsaken.
www.jamesdavidjordan.com

An advanced readers copy was supplied by The B & B Media Group, Inc. for my review, which is my own personal opinion of the book. I receive no compensation. I review books for the pure pleasure of encouraging others to read good Christian books.