Thursday, October 13, 2016

CLOSER THAN CLOSE: CAN YOU EVER GET TOO CLOSE TO GOD?

We are told in John 15:9,
“As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9 (kjv)

Jesus promised in John 13:34 – 35,
34  a new commandment i give unto you, that ye love one another; as i have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:34-35

And in John 14:23, we are given hope that such a transformation is even possible:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
John 14:23

Like Abby (p. 130), all I want is a real, vibrant, closer than close relationship with my Heavenly Father (who  created me), my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (who redeemed me), and the Holy Spirit (who leads, guides, comforts, corrects, and empowers me.) 

Is that too much to ask?  Author Dave Hickman doesn’t seem to think so.  That’s why he wrote this book.

While the book could be considered short (only 177 pages), the ground it covers is extensive.  First Dave addresses the problem (the gap between creator and creation).  He then outlines what happened, and why.  And finally, he offers a workable solution to the dilemma at hand. and / or our Heavenly father.

The last section of the book contains an overview and brief explanation of the spiritual disciplines which were an integral part of the early church, and have been re-discovered by such authors as Dallas Willard (“The Spirit Of The Disciplines”) and Stephen Foster (“Celebrating The Disciplines.)  Far from being an end in and of themselves, the disciplines are given their proper place, and their proper emphasis.  The disciplines serve to “position” the believer in their relationship with God, so that he can do his best work in our lives.  The discussion of each discipline, while brief, is nonetheless thorough and amply illustrated through the experiences of the saints throughout the ages, on up to Dave Hickman’s personal testimonies.

5 stars for a short book that’s deep enough to drown in

CLOSER THAN CLOSE
Dave Hickman
ISBN 978-1-63146-408-9
Religion / Christian Life / Spiritual Growth
NavPress
177 pages, softcover
$14.99 U.S.




HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD? 101 QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD, THE WORLD, AND THE BIBLE

Written in short, warm devotional style, HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD (the title I will use throughout this review for the sake of brevity!) poses a question that may be on the mind of a skeptic, a brand-new believer, or perhaps an older saint who may need to re-visit a few “wells” along the way.  The author then provides a teaser.  It’s not a complete answer, because we are never going to get to the place where we “know it all,” anyhow.  Why do you think heaven is for all eternity?  Then there is a Bible passage for further consideration, tied to the discussion.

For that’s where it’s supposed to lead . . . a discussion.  I can readily see random strangers commenting on “that cute book” that you’re reading in the doctor’s office waiting room, in the park as your kids enjoy the playground, on that red-eye flight where no one seems to be sleeping anyhow.  And when that remark from the complete stranger lands on your side of the court . . . duh!  That’s God kicking doors in for you to tell others about him!  Go for it!

This hard-cover book is also delightfully illustrated throughout, has a ribbon marker to keep your place, and is small enough to fit into a purse or journal keeper, making it readily accessible. 

But don’t let the appearances fool you.  The questions have a way of sticking in your mind.  You might find yourself digging more into the Bible, and (gasp!) possibly growing in your faith because of the seed-thoughts that have been planted by this wonderful little book.  I know this from first-hand experience, and these books are in my “primary collection” of sermon resources, for that very reason.

5 stars for a fresh jump-start to a stalled faith

HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD?  101 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT GOD, THE WORLD, AND THE BIBLE
Carolyn Larsen
Amy Weeks, illustrator
ISBN 978-1-4964-1174-7
Religion / Christian Life / Inspirational
Tyndale Momentum
106 pages, hardcover w/ ribbon marker
$9.99 U.S.



CAN I REALLY KNOW JESUS? 101 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT JESUS, SALVATION, AND PRAYER

Written in short, warm devotional style, CAN I REALLY KNOW JESUS (the title I will use throughout this review for the sake of brevity!) poses a question that may be on the mind of a skeptic, a brand-new believer, or perhaps an older saint who may need to re-visit a few “wells” along the way.  We are never going to get to the place where we “know it all.”  Why do you think heaven is for all eternity?

This hard-cover book is also delightfully illustrated throughout, has a ribbon marker to keep your place, and is small enough to fit into a purse or journal keeper, making it readily accessible. 

But don’t let the appearances fool you.  The questions have a way of sticking in your mind.  You might find yourself digging more into the Bible, and (gasp!) possibly growing in your faith because of the seed-thoughts that have been planted by this wonderful little book.  I know this from first-hand experience, and these books are in my “primary collection” of sermon resources, for that very reason.

5 stars for a fresh jump-start to a stalled faith

CAN I REALLY KNOW JESUS:  101 QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS, SALVATION, AND PRAYER
Carolyn Larsen
Amy Weeks, illustrator
ISBN 978-1-4964-1175-4
Religion / Christian Life / Inspirational
Tyndale Momentum
106 pages, hardcover w/ ribbon marker
$9.99 U.S.



Monday, October 10, 2016

UNION WITH CHRIST, or How To Know And Enjoy God by Pastor Rankin Wilbourne

The very first question in the Westminster Chatechism is, "What is the chief end of man."  And the answer is two-fold:  "Man's chief end is to know God, and to enjoy him forever."

Pastor Rankin Wilbourne sends forth this book with that aim in mind.

If you use your imagination, as the author suggests from the very beginning of this very challenging book, your life will never be the same again.

Rankin Wilbourne, commercial banker turned pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles, California, recognizes the necessity of union with Christ.  In his own words, “As our understanding and appreciation of union with Christ has diminished, so too has our sense of what salvation means.  We may know what we have been saved from, but have we lost sight of what we have been saved for?

1 Corinthians 1:9 declares, “God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  And throughout scripture, we find example after example of individuals who recognized the necessity – and the joy – of this union. 

Taking readers gently by the hand, author and pastor Rankin Wilbourne explores four questions as he tries to close the gap between the Creator and His creation:  "Union With Christ:  What Is It, and Why Do We Need It?" "Where Did It Come From, and Where Did It Go?"  "What Problems Does It Solve?" and "Union With Christ Day By Day."

I’m writing this review, because the review is due today.  But my journey is not complete.  I haven’t finished the book.  While I have been a believer for over 30 years, have a B.A. and M.Div. in Pastoral Studies, and am called to minister the gospel, I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone speak about our union with Christ as Pastor Wilbourne does. 

He uses the illustration of the blind man from Bethsaida, who needed a second touch to completely cure his blindness.  That’s where I’m at with this book.  It’s long, 320 pages.  It’s challenging.  It’s not a coffee table book; it’s one that belongs in the “serious study” section of one’s library.  It’s not a devotional.  This is meat, and you are going to have to chew it. 

Having said that, when you consider the spiritual plight of our nation, it’s about time a few more Christians “grew up.”  The Apostle Paul lamented the fact that “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, because you are still fleshly." 1 Corinthians 3:2 – 3 (HCSB).

Please, purchase this book.  Purchase it for your church library; purchase it for your personal library.  Every believer needs to recognize the necessity of union with Christ.  And I haven’t come across a better introduction to the subject than this book by Pastor Rankin Wilbourne.


5 stars for a challenging read

UNION WITH CHRIST
Rankin Wilbourne
ISBN 978-1-4347-0938-7
Religion / Christian Life / Spiritual Growth
David C. Cook
320 pages, hardback with jacket
$19.99 U.S.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

VOICELESS Defending The Rights Of The Unborn via a New Movie Releasing In October

VOICELESS
AMERICAN HERO MOVIE, LLC
ARTAFFECTS ENTERTAINMENT
RATED PG-13 (For thematic material and some violence)

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Edmund Burke

Jesse is finding the truth of this statement first-hand.  Battling his own inner-demons, Jesse encounters a young, pregnant teen overcome with grief that, after an impulsive abortion, has her family blaming Jesse for more than just her final decision. Jesse’s wife Julia must come to terms with her own choices and decide if she can support her husband as opposition mounts against him.

‘Voiceless’ it is not a traditional theatrical run film. The producers are partnering with individuals, organizations, and movements to secure theater locations by guaranteeing ticket sales in order to have the film booked. Their prayer is that this movie will make it into EVERY American theater with a message that is needed, wanted, and timely.  The Supreme Court’s reversal of a Texas law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges and abortion facilities to meet basic health standards is a signal to the pro-life movement to push for social change in other ways, says Jason Jones, co-executive producer of the new pro-life film VOICELESS.

Jones, founder of Movie to Movement, a non-profit organization that uses the medium of motion pictures to engage audiences on the nature and dignity of the human person, is working with the VOICELESS film team to add 100 screens to the release of new pro-life film VOICELESS which debuts in theaters nationwide on October 7 and sees the recent court ruling as a major catalyst which will prompt pro-life organizations, churches and individuals to action.

I did my best viewing the movie via a link provided by the publicists of this film, but my system kept having to buffer the content, which made for a somewhat blotchy playback.  In premise, the arguments remain much the same as when the pro-life movement first began.  There is no new science, per se.  So really, the catalyst for this film lies chiefly in the recent court-rulings mentioned above.  And while I support the rights of the unborn children, and do not wish to harm the pro-life movement, my task was to review the movie.

While there were some moments of comic relief (chiefly at the beginning of the movie), for the most part what I saw were a series of contrived situations in which the hero (Jesse) is placed in crisis situations, is almost at the end of his rope (in one scene, almost literally) and then things work out.  The most realistic message seemed to be coming from his wife, who is refreshingly authentic in dealing with life issues that aren’t neatly tied up in boxes with ribbons on them.

Filmed (I’m led to believe) on location in Philadelphia, there is a distinctive lack of color.  It’s a very bleak film, dealing with a very disturbing reality.  But the intentions of the media group, to bring this film out in light of  the recent court rulings, is a blessing in and of itself.


4 out of 5 stars for a movie dealing with a topic that needs to be understood.

Friday, July 22, 2016

REMEMBERING DRESDEN, by Dan Walsh, is FREE! Check it out!

Hey folks, I always let my newsletter friends know when I'm offering a great book deal. My newest suspense novel (released May 1st), Remembering Dresden, is TOTALLY FREE on Kindle today and will be through Tuesday, July 26th.

I'm sure many of you have already gotten a copy. If so, could you please do me A BIG FAVOR and forward this email to your friends (especially fiction lovers)?

Here's a little bit about the book:


A young history professor. An old lakeside cabin. A decades-old cold case that traces back to a horrific event in WW2. -- Only out since May 1st, already received 90 Amazon reviews, avg 4.8 Stars (FREE on Kindle Unlimited).

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

FLASH POINT . . . The Next Stop In Thomas Locke's FAULT LINES Techno-Thriller Series - You Could Get A Free Copy!

FLASH POINT, book #2 in the Fault Lines techno-thriller series, releases August 2. Revell, publisher for Thomas Locke, is giving away 5 copies on Goodreads.

The first book in the Fault Lines series is Trial Run. Several of the characters from Trial Run make a reappearance in the sequel, but the author will introduce you to new key characters and plot twists in Flash Point. It would be helpful to read (or re-read) Trial Run before diving in to Flash Point.


Be on the lookout for more giveaways, a Q&A series about the book, and cool, shareable graphics in the coming weeks on Thomas Locke's blog and social channels.

Here's how to find & follow Thomas Locke:
Website - http://tlocke.com/
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Facebook Page (I'm most active on Facebook) - https://www.facebook.com/tlockebooks/
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