Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review of SOUL'S GATE by James L. Rubart

Soul’s Gate
James Rubart
ISBN 978-1-4016-8605-5
Fiction \ Christian\General
Thomas Nelson
400 pages
$15.99 U.S.

“Not afraid, for His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest.”
                                                                          Twila Paris

In James L. Rubart’s new book, Soul’s Gate, spiritual warfare has taken on dimensions of Biblical proportion.  Which is as it should be.  The quote in the fly-leaf of the book is one which Christians ought to take to heart: 

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors.”
                                                                                               C.S. Lewis

In Soul’s Gate, Rubart contemplates what it would look like if a person could travel inside the soul of another human being, and wage war on their behalf “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Reese Roth could tell you, speaking from first-hand experience.  That was his life, until tragedy struck  and seemingly ended his destiny.  But God is the God of the second chance, and Reese is being called upon to train four new warriors to carry on the work.  Teach them to see the spirit world.  Train them to enter the spirit world.  And survive.

Keep in mind . . . every war has TWO sides, and this is no exception.  While the warriors train and prepare to carry the fight to the enemy in a way that even Reese has yet to fathom, the enemy is not twiddling his thumbs.  He’s determined to stop these young warriors.  At any cost.

Soul's Gate was a real eye-opener for me, as it reminded me that we really are in a spiritual battle, and Satan takes no prisoners.  Fast-paced, grittily real, Soul's Gate has very engaging characters and a solid plot, as well as what I believe to be a sound spiritual foundation.

5 stars

About Soul's Gate: 
Book 1 in the Well Spring series.

"Every now and then we get a break from reality. A glimpse into the other world that is more real than the reality we live in 99 percent of our days. The Bible is about a world of demons and angels and great evil and even greater glory."
What if you could travel inside another person's soul? To battle for them. To be part of Jesus healing their deepest wounds. To help set them free to step boldly into their divinely designed future.
Thirty years ago that's exactly what Reece Roth did. Until tragedy shattered his life and ripped away his future.

Now God has drawn Reece out of the shadows to fulfill a prophecy spoken over him three decades ago. A prophecy about four warriors with the potential to change the world . . . if Reece will face his deepest regret and teach them what he has learned.

They gather at a secluded and mysterious ranch deep in the mountains of Colorado, where they will learn to see the spiritual world around them with stunning clarity-and how to step into the supernatural.

Their training is only the beginning. The four have a destiny to pursue a freedom even Reece doesn't fully fathom. But they have an enemy hell-bent on destroying them and he'll stop at nothing to keep them from their quest for true freedom and the coming battle of souls.
Link to buy the book:
Meet Jim:

James L. Rubart is a professional marketer, speaker, and writer. While being the owner of Barefoot Marketing certainly keeps him on his toes, his passion is writing fiction.

Rubart is an ECPA best-selling author who has been positively reviewed by both Publisher's Weekly and Romantic Times. His first novel,Rooms, won a Best Books 2011 award from USA Book News, as well as a Romantic Times Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award. His debut release was followed by Book of Days and The ChairSoul's Gate is Rubart's fourth release.

In addition to being an author, Rubart is also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer and semi-pro magician. With all of this, he says that he barely sleeps. Rubart lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest.

Find out more about Jim at  
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Review of PLACEBO by Steven James

Steven James
ISBN 978-0-8007-3425-1
Fiction \ Suspense
409 pages
$14.99 U.S.

Jevin Banks makes a living exposing people.  Bad people.  The hucksters, the charlatan’s, the grafters who make a living separating the fool from his money.  Along with a slightly seductive assistant, a typically paranoid pyrotechnics geek, and a stay-at-home mom who routinely assigns computer hacking projects as extra credit to her four children, Jevin’s latest assignment is to debunk a pharmaceutical firm’s contentions that mind-reading and extra-sensory perception are for real.  And maybe, Jevin will find the answers to the tragedy in his own life along the way.

This isn’t your typical Steven James novel.  You need to know that from the very beginning, because the very beginning is extremely disturbing.  It took me a couple of days to process the prologue to PLACEBO, before I could continue on with the book.

Once into the book, other differences showed themselves early on.  I was introduced to Steven James through the Patrick Bowers series, and avoiding the urge to make a comparison is difficult to do.  The “supporting cast” in the Bower’s series were more connected, more believable to the story line.  Patrick Bowers was more acceptable in his actions, due to his training and experience.  The plot lines in the Bower’s series were more authentic and true-to-life.  And the pace in the Bower’s series was much more pleasing.

To be honest, this latest Steven James novel was more along the lines of Clive Cussler.  The hero is slightly larger than life, and while allowances can be made for some of the action sequences, some situations are difficult to swallow at best.  There are some humorous moments, but it takes time to get to them, which in and of itself is a disappointment, as well.

2 stars

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review of RADICAL by David Platt

David Platt
Copyright 2010 David Platt
ISBN 978-1-60142-221-7
Christian Living
219 pages
$14.99 softcover

After a life-transforming trip to Asia, and a soul-searching journey through the gospels, author and pastor David Platt began asking a lot of questions in his book, Radical.

Thought-provoking questions like, “Do I believe that Jesus is worthy of sacrifice in our lives?”

Easy-to-answer questions like, “Was I going to believe Jesus?”

Tougher questions like, “Was I going to obey Jesus?”

Proclaimed (in the press, no less) “The youngest megachurch pastor in history,” Dr. Platt (David holds two undergraduate degrees and three advanced degrees, including a doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) found himself in a quandary.  The disparity between the soul-shocking sights, sounds and stories he experienced in Asia, and the multi-million dollar facilities, theater-style lighting, and cushioned chairs of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama was too great to fathom.  And the disparity between Pastor David Platt, (“the youngest megachurch pastor in history,” I remind you) and Jesus Christ ( in David’s own words, “the youngest minichurch pastor in history); well that, too, was too great to fathom.

David Platt has covenanted with God to answer all three of the previous questions in the affirmative, and challenged his flock to join him in this RADICAL departure from the usual way “church” is done in 21st Century America.  And his invitation is open to all who wish to accept it.

Jesus?  or The Great American Dream?  Which one is worthy of your time, your energy, your talents, your treasure . . . your life?  Are you having trouble with the question?  Let me put it in terms that I believe David Platt would appreciate . . . “What has America done for you lately?”

The conclusion that David Platt arrives at is both simple and profound:  this RADICAL Christianity that Jesus is calling us to is actually the normative Christianity that he has been preaching all along. 

Filled  with soul-stirring stories, humorous anecdotes, and down-to-earth doctrine from the Word of God, this book cannot help but transform the way you look at your relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, with the world, and with yourself.  You have been warned . . . this book is RADICAL!

Review of HIDE AND SEEK by Jeff Struecker with Alton Gansky

Hide And Seek
Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky
ISBN 976-1-4336-7142-6
369 pages
$14.99 U.S.

If you are a fan of action-packed, no-holds-barred military fiction, this is the book for you.  By the same token, if you are a fan of  Christian inspirational fiction where God is real and the situations are, too . . . this is the book for you.  Hey . . . if you enjoy READING, this is the book for you!

This is the second book that the authors have constructed around an Army Special Operations team that is blacker than black, and is now being led by Master Sergeant J.J.  “Boss” Bartley.  And while I have not read the first book {though I’m planning on acquiring it ASAP) I had no trouble getting into the book.  It stands alone, and the references to the previous book are clear enough without bogging down the story line.

The Kyrgzstan government is precariously positioned for either a triumphant future, or a devastating defeat.  Army trained Foreign Affairs Officer Amelia Lennon is seeking to help stabilize the regime through diplomatic negotiations with the newly elected president.  While following the lawyer daughter of the president, she thwarts an abduction attempt by those who are resistant to the new government, and finds herself struggling to survive in the war-torn landscape of Kyrgzstan. 

“Boss” and his spec ops team have been tasked with the responsibility of rescuing the two fleeing women.  In addition to the old team, two new members have been added.  And now the team has been ordered into battle with zero time for assimilation.  Unknown to the team, there are larger stakes at hand in this game of war and deception.

Written with a thorough understanding of what it takes to get the job done, you will roll with laughter at the give and take that goes on between the team members, and you will weep with sorrow at the situations they are forced to endure.  Grab some coffee, and a box of tissues, because you are not going to be able to put this book down until you’ve finished the journey, and you are not going to want to get up to get supplies! 

5 stars.

Review of Germ By Robert Liparulo

Robert Liparulo
Copyright 2006 by Robert Liparulo
ISBN 0-7852-6178-8
496 pages
$22.99 Jacketed Hardcover

Do we have a match?  That is the question that is on everyone’s mind, as they contemplate their fate.  In Germ, the deadly Ebola virus has taken on a new dimension, as bioterrorists have developed the genetic know-how to determine just who will develop a full-blown case of the deadly disease, and who will survive with a common cold.  And the determination is made with cold-blooded, 100 percent accuracy.

Julia Matheson is a specially-trained FBI investigator, attached to the Bio-Terrorism Unit of the Department of Homeland Security.  Her partner, Goodwin Donnelley, has been ruthlessly murdered by assassins working for a shadowy figure, after coming in contact with one of the “carriers” of the virus.  Now it is up to her to unravel the threads leading up to her partners murder, bring the deadly plot to an end, and the sinister masterminds to justice.  Before they manage to target her for murder . . . or worse.

While in seminary, I was told to “leave the tools in the woodshed,” and bring out the finished product.  Robert Liparulo has done exactly that in his novel, Germ.  From page one I was drawn into this masterfully crafted work of fiction.  Even when handling technically difficult material, the author manages to “show” rather than “tell,” thus keeping the reader fully informed, completely up-to-date, and thoroughly engrossed.  While the price may seem a bit steep, you won’t begrudge the expenditure of a single penny when you invest it in the purchase of this action-packed thriller.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Finding God When You Need Him Most
Chip Ingram
ISBN 978-0-8010-6812-6
Christian Living
Baker Books
209 pages
$14.99 U.S.

Chip Ingram, president and teaching pastor for Living On The Edge, reveals how you can meet God in the midst of your most difficult circumstances.  This is a topic near and dear to Chip’s heart, as he strives to spur Christians to a deeper, more authentic walk and talk with God.   Candidly coming to grips with some of life’s most challenging, discouraging, and humbling situations, and providing personal anecdotes to let you know that he, too, has “been there,” Chip opens up the Scriptures to find God’s answers for each particular encounter.  There are also Questions for Discussion and Reflection at the end of each chapter, so you can use this book as a study guide for small groups, as well as a personal devotional.  This book would make a great gift for a friend or loved one who may be facing some of life’s challenges.

5 stars

A Review of ILLUSION by Frank Peretti

Frank Peretti
ISBN 978-1-4391-9267-2
Fiction \ Christian\General
Howard Books
498 pages
$26.99 U.S.

What if all the bad things that happened to you . . . didn’t?  What if all the accidents, all the bad decisions, all the pain and suffering from diseases and cancers could just be – skipped over?

In a poignant story of love, life, and loss, Frank Peretti crafts yet another page-turner of a novel.  Dane and Mandy had the storybook romance; married at a young age, touring the world as a magician and beautiful assistant, taking the world by storm and loving every minute they shared together.  Then a motor vehicle accident took Mandy from him, and Dane struggled to start over again.

At a small coffee shop, Dane is mesmerized by the 19-year old beauty who is holding the audience spell-bound with her magic act.  She is performing illusions that even he can’t understand.  More disconcerting is the fact that her mannerisms, her quirks, her very persona is familiar . . . hauntingly so.  How could this be?

As Dane and his new protégé establish and begin to build a new professional relationship, the uneasiness grows.  As does the danger.  And for Dane, the climax will be more than he ever bargained for.

Frank Peretti does a thorough job at explaining otherwise complex theories while keeping the reader firmly hooked with his masterful prose and winsome storytelling. 

5 stars

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Review of A Heartbeat Away by Dr. Harry Kraus

A Heartbeat Away
Harry Kraus
ISBN 978-1-4347-0257-9
David C. Cook
370 pages
$14.99 U.S.

“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:”  Ezekiel 11:19 (KJV)

Following an opportunistic infection, Dr. Tori Taylor suddenly finds the roles reversed.  Now she is the patient, and the only thing that will save her life is a heart transplant.  Following a successful surgery, Tori looks forward to once again taking control of her life with the iron hand and indomitable will that has been her trademark and calling card for so long.  And while these traits have served her well, and made her something of a legend in the hospital community . . . it has not helped to win friends and influence people in a positive manner.

But Dr. Taylor’s tightly wound world is about to come unraveled.  Startlingly vivid nightmares wake her in a cold sweat.  Her eating habits have taken on a bizarre pattern.  She can sense the emotional and spiritual situations of those around her.  And why is she suddenly so emotionally out of control?  Research into the theory of cellular memory leads Tori to believe that the things she is experiencing were part and parcel of the life of her donor.  More disturbing, they seem to be leading her into exposing a drug ring, a dirty cop, and the ones responsible for the murder of the one who donated her new heart.

As her investigation probes deeper, those who want to silence her become more desperate, and her struggles for control of her life become increasingly futile.  Until she meets the only One who can truly calm the storm.

Those who write reviews will tell you, when their toes are held to the fire, that they don’t often read the entire book under review at the time.  Writing with the skill of a seasoned wordsmith, and the heart of one completely sold out to God, Harry Kraus has penned a novel which has earned the highest compliment I can offer:  I literally read every single word.  And for those who like to know more, Harry Kraus writes an afterword that takes you into his world, and reveals his passion for people, for surgery, and for the Lord.  It’s refreshing to meet one who is as open and genuine as Dr. Kraus, and I look forward to reviewing more of his books in the future.

5 Stars

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review of What Every Christian Ought To Know

What Every Christian Ought to Know

Author: Adrian Rogers with Steve Rogers
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
September 2012
ISBN 978-1-4336-7785-4
Genre: Religion \ Christian Life \ Spiritual Growth
Reviewed by: Steve Hilton

Adrian Rogers. Enough said. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers, former pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis, Tennessee, lived a life captivated by Christ and consumed with a passion for the Word of God and for grounding new believers into disciples and exhorting disciples to never stop growing. His life can be summed up in one word – integrity.

So when I received the opportunity to review WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW, I literally jumped at it. This book was previously published by Dr. Rogers, and this new edition includes an introduction from Steve Rogers (president of the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute) as well as discussion questions for personal reflection or group study. But the real draw for this reviewer is the bulk of the book. Written in a clear, passionate tone that trumpets a life time of walking with the Lord and studying the Word, WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW is a primer for those who claim the name of Jesus and want to live up to everything that that stands for. Taking the major doctrines, in a lucid yet devotional tone, Dr. Rogers explains clearly what God’s word has to say. WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW not only serves as a handbook for apologetics, it also reminds every believer of their “first love,” and encourages them to walk ever closer with The One who loved them first. 5 stars. 278 pages. $14.99.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Responsibilities and Resources

Found this in my devotional this morning:  "God is infinite, and when He pours Himself into us and into our abilities, we take on His capacity, not our capacity. When God pours Himself into the tasks that He calls us to do, there is no limit to how much He can multiply our efforts to accomplish His purposes." (Stanley, C. F. (2004). God's way day by day (279). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.) There are several passages that come immediately to mind, when I reflect on these words, but the one that sticks out is the Great commission;  "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.'"  Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV) 
     The emphasis always seems to be on our responsibility; "Go,"  "Teach," "Baptize," "Make Disciples."  We gravitate toward that verse because finally, WE are doing something; finally, WE are the center of attention.  The spotlight is on us.  And so we develop our programs, and ministries, and Bible studies, and small groups.  We pour all of our energy into getting them started, and sustaining them, completely ignoring the resources that are at our disposal.
     Jesus did, indeed, command us to do all of these things.  But the commandment is the center of the cookie; the filling of the Oreo to use a rather crude analogy.  In verse 18, Jesus told his disciples, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."  And in verse 20, Jesus promised his disciples, ". . . and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
     I want you to meditate on those provisions this morning, and throughout your day:  if Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has all power . . . and he has promised to be with US eternally - there should be no reason we should not be able to carry out the commandments he has given us.  And if we are not carrying out these commandments, the fault lies with us.  We are shirking our responsibilities, despite the provisions that have been made.

In Christian Love, "Doc" Hilton

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Review of "Walk With Me" by Annie Wald

Walk With Me
Annie Wald
ISBN 978-0-8024-0593-7
Fiction/General/Classic & Allegory
River North
288 pages
$15.99 U.S.

A new twist on an old classic, Annie Wald has innovatively re-written Pilgrim’s Progress for couples.  In doing so, she has managed to grasp the core essentials of what marriage is really all about, and provides sage advice on how one can successfully navigate the oft-times rocky terrain of married life.  For Annie, marriage is more than a one-day affair; it’s a daily walk in a sometimes cold and unfriendly world.  There are snares and pits that the married couple must avoid (or work their way out of).  There are also periods of rest, refreshment, relaxation, and a rekindling of the old flame.  Truth be told – if you are married to the same person that you said your vows to, whether that was 5 years ago or 50 – then there is something definitely wrong.  Mark Lowry stated it something like this:  “Life is birthdays, and bills; it’s good, and bad, and ugly; it’s new cars and skinned knees.  And Jesus came to give life . . . ABUNDANTLY!”  In this allegory, Annie invites you to take a walk with Peter and Celeste as they journey toward the King’s City.  You’ll find yourself rooting for them, weeping with them and rejoicing with them.  And you might even find yourself in this book, as well.

Inventive, imaginative, provocative, and compelling are just a few of the words I would use to describe Walk With Me.   One last adjective might suffice:  life-altering.  Read it as a couple, share it with your couple friends . . . but don’t ever forget the invitation to Walk With Me.

5 Stars

"The Room"

I'm not really sure of the copyright details, so I won't post this soul-searching gospel tract in my blog; instead I'll give you the website and you can check it out yourself.  A member of my local church showed it to me this past Lord's Day, and it hasn't stopped working in my head and in my heart.  I'm praying that it will also start working through my hands, and make a complete difference in the way I live my life.

The link is:, and the gospel tract is called "The Room."  That's all I'm going to say.  You need to check it out for yourself.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review of "Hidden In Dreams" by Davis Bunn

Hidden In Dreams
Davis Bunn
ISBN 978-1-4164-5672-5
Dreams \ Fiction \ Psychological Fiction
Howard Books
238 pages
$14.99 U.S.

Do yourself a favor.  The next time you receive a book by Davis Bunn, don’t look at the back jacket.  Instead, open the book to page one and begin reading.  Especially with this book, this is really the only way that you can “get” the point this amazing author is trying to communicate.  No preconceived notions . . . no spoilers . . . no peeking allowed.

Dr. Elena Burroughs is a clinical psychologist without a clinic, without a practice, without a clientele, and without a home.  Offered the newly created Chair of Psychology at a small Florida university, Elena seizes the opportunity to start over.  To retreat into a haven in which every aspect of her life was under her control.  Well, one can always dream . . .

Out of the blue, Elena is approached by Rachel Lamprey, the sister of her now-deceased best, and oldest, friend.  The pharmaceutical company that Rachel works for is preparing to release a new drug that will virtually eliminate ADHD. However, a test subject has suddenly begun having a dream.  A recurring dream.  A terrifying dream of future global financial ruin.  And he’s not the only one.  As a matter of fact, Elena has begun having the same dream.

Filled with a powerful compulsion to share her dream with whoever will listen, Elena is forced out of her comfort zone and assumes the mantle of spokesperson for the dreams.  And as the dreams increase in number, and come true in terrifying precision, the urgency to share becomes overwhelming as well.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how it ends!

As a sidenote, which I hope readers will understand this reviewer sees as the foundation of this book, Davis Bunn has captured and communicated for us, in Elena Burroughs, what has been referred to in Scripture as “the burden of the Lord.”  The prophets referred to in Scripture didn’t “sign up” for the job; they didn’t seek the position, and they rarely reaped any professional or monetary accolades for their work.  In point of fact, they were ridiculed, rejected, and removed from life in a wide variety of cruel and unusual practices.  Nonetheless, they remained true to their calling, and to their God, in a manner supremely worthy of emulation. 

The prophet Jeremiah put it this way:

“ O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, "Violence and plunder!" Because the word of the LORD was made to me A reproach and a derision daily.  Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.”
                                                                                                      Jeremiah 20:7-9 (NKJV)

Hidden In Dreams communicates this situation clearly, and challenges its readers to “take up the mantle,” and proclaim the message that God has given them.  Are you up to the challenge?

5 stars.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My First Blog . . . EVER!

Greetings to all in Blog-Land!  This is my first post, of a newly created blog.  When I say "first," I mean just that.  My first blog.  Ever.  So . . . good luck to ALL of us!