Friday, December 27, 2013

DAVID AND GOLIATH, BY MALCOM GLADWELL - YOU'RE SEEING IT ALL WRONG!

DAVID AND GOLIATH
Malcolm Gladwell
Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 978-0-316-20436-21
Sociology / Motivational
305 pages
$29.00 hardcover with jacket

I’ve never read a book by Malcolm Gladwell.  This is my first.  And as a pastor, I have to confess that I requested the book for review under the misguided notion that I was going to get a deeper insight into the story of David and Goliath.  Some new information that I might have been missing.  I thought it was a book on the Bible.

However, having agreed to review it (and it really is an interesting jacket cover, with a hole coming out of the paper showing where a stone had been hurled through it) I gave it a go.  And it took awhile to put my finger on the source of my disappointment.

Then it came to me.  This book has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible.  The very first “illustration,” and the namesake of the book, is an attempt at demythologizing of the story of David and Goliath.  Not that I consider the historical account of David and Goliath a myth.  But Gladwell obviously feels that the readers of Scripture have been misunderstanding the whole story from the get go.

Delving into the historical intricacies of Middle Eastern battle tactics, and drawing some rather unique conclusions as to the medical condition of Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell would have us believe that David was the absolutely best individual to go up against Goliath.  That courage, and faith in the God of Israel had nothing to do with the outcome.

As far as the author is concerned, our issues (like that of Goliath, apparently) are rooted in the whole idea of perspective.  We are looking at things in our lives in a wrong manner, and responding to those things in our lives based upon our wrong perspective.  If we would only recognize that black is white, and white is purple . . . that good is bad, and bad is better . . . we would be able to come to a more correct perspective, and make better decisions, and we would all be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.

Coming back to the story of David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell would probably tell me that my Sunday School teachers had it wrong all along.  Thank you for the disillusionment, Mr. Gladwell.  But, I think I’ll stick to the Bible.  If it were not such a mighty demonstration of the power of God acting on behalf of his chosen people, the story of David and Goliath would never have made it into print.  And your book would have to find another jumping off point.

2 stars for a smart looking, albeit extremely dangerous book


Thursday, November 14, 2013

RELIABLE TRUTH: The Validity Of The Bible In An Age Of Skepticism

Have you ever wanted to engage one of your favorite thinkers, writers, or speakers in an intimate, one-on-one conversation?  Grab your favorite beverage, a chair in your favorite corner, and open the pages of Reliable Truth.

Written by Richard E. Simmons III (no relation to the fitness fanatic, as far as I know!) Reliable Truth provides the reader with insights into the thought of authors such as Anne Rice and C.S. Lewis, philosophers such as Dallas Willard, Craig Blomberg, and Norman Geisler, and scholars from practically every field of knowledge.  And they are all shining the cumulative light of scholarship, faith, belief, and logic on one question:  is the Bible truly the inerrant, infallible, inspired and unique word of God?

The reader will be exposed to numerous ways in which this question has been approached throughout history.  And the most interesting principle I find expressed, over and over is this:  it doesn’t matter the approach, the more questions you ask of the Bible, and it’s relation to history, and geography, and nature, and archeology – the more valid the Bible is proven to be.

This is crucial, because while the just live by faith, it’s not a blind faith.  It’s a faith that has been placed squarely on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we only know about him . . . by reading the Bible.

Finished your refreshments?  Go get another cup.  We may be here awhile.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from The B & B Media Group.

5 stars for honest, open interaction over a polarizing subject.

Reliable Truth
Richard E. Simmons III
ISBN 978-1-939-35800-4
Christian / Inspirational
Union Hill Publishing
189 pages
$22.00 U.S.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

                                        CLASH OF THE TITLES 2013

LAURA HILTON'S AMISH FICTION, "AWAKENED LOVE," IS A FINALIST IN THE 2013 CLASH OF THE TITLES.  FOLLOW THE LINK TO VOTE FOR THIS LAUREL-AWARD WINNING AUTHOR.  VOTE TODAY!  VOTE NOW!  VOTE OFTEN!!!


Awakened Love                      

By Laura V. Hilton                           

He’s hiding from a cold-blooded killer; her Amish identity has been stripped away. Both must find a way to balance their hearts, their jobs, and their faith while risking their lives for another.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

STRAIT OF HORMUZ by Davis Bunn


Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but  woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
                       Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (KJV)

A lesson which Marc Royce and Kitra Korban must re-learn if they are to survive.

In this installment of the Marc Royce adventure series, the story which began with Lion of Babylon and continued in Rare Earth finds an emotional and spiritual conclusion. 

Marc, Kitra and a multinational, ethnically diverse cadre of supporters strive to match wits with a determined enemy adept at saboutage, subterfuge, and misdirecion.  Racing against time, struggling to overcome insurmountable odds, and battling the enemies both external and internal, the team draws courage and confidence from the most powerful force the world will ever experience:  intercessory prayer.

While written as suspense fiction, author Davis Bunn shines the light of faith on the meta-narrative; the story which lies beneath the story.  Timeless truths are skillfully woven throughout, reminding the reader of two spiritual principles that should be rehearsed before getting out of bed in the morning, or retiring to bed at the end of the day:
          1.   There is an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God who is still ruling the universe.
          2.   You are not He.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers.

5 stars for hours of arm-chair action and suspense pleasure.

STRAIT OF HORMUZ
Davis Bunn
ISBN 978-0-7642-1138-6
Fiction/Suspense
Bethany House
332 pages
$14.99 U.S.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

DON'T MISS THE BOAT! ENTER THE SWEEPSTAKES TODAY!


The series finale in author Davis Bunn's Marc Royce Adventures, Strait of Hormuz, releases Tuesday, November 5.  To celebrate the launch, Davis is hosting a sweepstakes on his Facebook page.

Grand Prize:  His & Hers luxury watches ($845 MSRP)

First Prize:  $150 Amazon Gift Card (just in time for your holiday shopping).

Entering is easy.  Click the link  http://woobox.com/ipi8wk  to go directly to the app. Input your name and email address . . . you're done!

Or go to Davis Bunn's Facebook page 
and you'll see signs and arrows that point to the app.
Increase your chances of winning by entering once per e-mail address per day through November 29 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. 
Get bonus entries by sharing the contest with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers (just follow the prompts on your screen after entering).
If you are not a Facebook user, you can enter via the Official Rules page. You'll see a form about halfway down that page where you can put in your name and email address.  Or you can send a blank email to straitsweeps@aweber.com
Winners will be announced  November 30, 2013 on Davis Bunn's blog. 
Enter often to win!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

YOU ARE THE AUTHOR! TRY YOUR HAND AT WRITING AWARD-WINNING SUSPENSE!

Davis Bunn is giving away all three books in his award-winning Marc Royce series. Click here to enter today's giveaway: http://on.fb.me/17JZhEt

 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS! LET YOUR IMAGINATION RUN WILD!

          THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES!!!  


VISIT DAVIS BUNN'S FACEBOOK PAGE, AND ENTER TO WIN THE ENTIRE MARC ROYCE ADVENTURE SERIES BY CHRISTY AWARD WINNING AUTHOR DAVIS BUNN.  FOLLOW THE LINK! 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

EMOTIONS: CONFRONT THE LIES, CONQUER WITH TRUTH by Dr. Charles F. Stanley

Writing with the concern of a counselor, the passion of a pastor, and the skill of a scribe, Dr. Charles Stanley presents EMOTIONS for your edification and inspiration; the subtitle clearly states the course of the book:  CONFRONT THE LIES, CONQUER WITH TRUTH.

And Dr. Stanley does just that.  Just to clear the air, I’m coming to this review with a HUGE bias – Dr. Stanley (though we’ve never met in person) has been one of my favorite writers and speakers for over two decades.  I was introduced to his messages by my mother-in-law, and was skeptical at first.  Because I was a fundamental Baptist (and MAD about!), and Dr. Stanley was affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.  I don’t need to say anything more on that score.  Either you catch my drift, or you don’t.

But about halfway through the first message, I turned to my mother-in-law and said, “he don’t preach like a Southern Baptist, do he!”  I was hooked, and I’ve broken spiritual bread with him on numerous occasions since that time.

From page one of EMOTIONS, Dr. Stanley places the emphasis squarely on the most crucial aspect of the topic:  a relationship with Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior and Lord.  Without that relationship in place, one is never going to be able to even open an honest discussion concerning ones emotions.

From there, Dr. Stanley takes one on a journey through the emotions of pain, fear, rejection, bitterness, guilt and despair.  He shares illustrations drawn from his own personal journey, as well as those of others.  While not exhaustive, this book is nevertheless complete, as Dr. Stanley does not just provide case studies; he provides Biblical principles that will never change, regardless of the particular circumstances one may be facing.

Thank you, Dr. Stanley, for the courage to tackle such a sensitive subject . . . and for shining God’s truth into the dark plans of our adversary.

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

5 stars for an inspiring book that draws one closer to God

EMOTIONS:  CONFRONT THE LIES, CONQUER WITH TRUTH
Charles F. Stanley
Howard Books
ISBN 978-1-4767-5206-8
Religion/Christian Life/Inspirational
290 pages
$24.99 hardcover with jacket

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Unlimited Suspense! Unlimited Intrigue! Unlimited Action! UNLIMITED . . . by Davis Bunn!

Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns.  At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create unlimited energy.


With his masterful style fully displayed, and his ability to apply a lesson on several levels, Davis Bunn once again invites you – no, drags you – into another life-altering saga. 

The world has always been searching for the unlimited – unlimited wealth, unlimited power, unlimited passion,  unlimited health.  But  they’ve been looking for the unlimited in all the wrong places.  While struggling to provide unlimited electricity to an orphanage in Mexico, Simon discovers the Source of the unlimited life. 

Riddled with twists and turns, this book demands your close attention.  Because everything is not what it seems to be, and danger, suspense, intrigue – and even romance – await you upon every turn of the page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

5 stars, for a compelling story with real world implications.

You could win a $50 Fandango gift card plus UNLIMITED, Davis Bunn's new suspense novel. Ten additional winners will receive a copy of UNLIMITED. Enter right now by clicking this link:http://woobox.com/mp5qew. You can enter once per email address per day. Rack up bonus entries by sharing the contest with your Facebook and Twitter friends! If you don’t have a Pinterest account, enter by filling out the form on the Official Rules page here http://bit.ly/15vTr8u
Unlimited
Davis Bunn
ISBN 978-1-4336-7940-7
Fiction/Christian/Suspense
B&H Publishing Group
304 pages
$14.99 U.S.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FLORIAN'S GATE by Davis Bunn

George Santayana declcared, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

But what happens when you cannot make peace with the past?

What happens when the past has such an iron grip, that it actually controls your present, and dictates your future?

Ask that question of Jeffrey, a former corporate suit, turned antiques dealer by a chance meeting with family he'd never known he had. A young man who has locked up his past, and thrown away the key.

Ask that question of Katya, the one woman Jeffrey desperately loves, and whose past refuses to allow her to love in return.

Ask that question of Viktor, Jeffrey's mentor in the ethereal, gritty world of antiquities acquisitions. A man whose life was defined by a number from an early age, and whose memories are the stuff of nightmares.

When American Jeffrey Sinclair starts a new life in London assisting in a high-end antique shop, he discovers that more than good salesmanship to wealthy customers is required. As Jeffrey learns the business and becomes more involved in searching out valuable pieces across Europe, he discovers that the source of the antiques is not the only secret Alexander is hiding.

Davis Bunn lifts the veil from a world that most of us have never even considered, even as he deals with those aspects of life that many have never come to terms with. His research is, as usual, meticulous. His lessons are, as usual, life-altering. You'll come to love Jeffrey, Katya, and Viktor as really good friends, as they each make peace with their past through the only means possible.

5 stars.

Florians Gate
Davis Bunn
ISBN 978-1-61970-066-6
Fiction/Christian/General
Hendrickson Publishers
341 pages
$13.95 U.S.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

MEMORY'S DOOR BY JAMES L. RUBART

In Soul’s Gate, spiritual warfare took on dimensions of Biblical proportion.  In Memory’s Door, the next step is taken.  And I wondered, as I wandered through this book – is James Rubart at times overcome by the truths which he is communicating?  Does he feel his soul being wrenched with the passion he infuses into his “works of fiction?”

I experienced, vicariously, the thrills of victory . . . and the agonies of defeat (pardon the clich├ęs) of the various members of Warriors Riding as they come to grips with the inevitable truth:  as powerful as their ministry is in the lives of others, they, too, stand in need of healing.  And forgiveness.  And yes, even confession of sin, and the grace and mercy which accompanies such confessions. 

                                                                                        James Rubart Talks About 
                                                                                      Memory's Door On YouTube

For the Temple is in need of healing; the Song is out of tune, the Leader has lost her way, and the Teacher must once again become the student in a school where the lessons come hard, and the final exam is Pass . . . or Fail.

And eternal souls hang in the balance.

James Rubart has once again crafted a work that will take you from page one to the end in such a way that you won’t even feel like you are reading a book.  There were times when I had to simply put the book down, and walk away, because what was being communicated was too difficult to face at the time.  But the book kept drawing me back, as all good ones will.

Thank you, James Rubart, for your passion . . . and for not pulling any punches.

5 Stars

Memory’s Door
James Rubart
ISBN 978-1-4016-8607-6
Fiction \ Christian\Suspense
Thomas Nelson
358 pages
$15.99 U.S.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TEMPTED, TESTED, TRUE reviewed by "Doc" Hilton


From the opening pages where one is introduced to the whole notion of temptation (for those still ignorant of its existence), TEMPTED, TESTED, TRUE shines the brilliant beam of consecrated intelligence and dedicated creativity into the deepest recesses of the enemy’s camp.  Unashamedly, the authors call sin, sin … and provide a time-tested blueprint for how it can be successfully defeated on a daily basis.

Arnie Cole (CEO of Back To The Bible) and Michael Ross (award-winning journalist and bestselling author) combine their insights and God-given talents once again to provide an indispensable resource for living the Christian life in a victorious manner.  We are told in Scripture to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  (James 4:7).  Cole and Ross have produced a handbook that shows you, step by step, just how that may be accomplished.  And I thank them for it.  If you are honest with yourself, you will recognize, as I have, how crucial it is to have such a work close at hand.  This isn’t a book to be read and shelved; it needs to be a constant ready reference.  Because our adversary never slumbers nor sleeps.

Tempted, Tested, True
Arnie Cole and Michael Ross
978-0-7642-1085-3
Christian Living / Spiritual Growth
Bethany House
254 pages
$14.99 U.S.
  

5 stars

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

PRICELESS STONES: 42 DAYS OF HEBREW PROMISES FOR KINGDOM LIVING

Billy Graham meets Norman Vincent Peal . . . in a good way!  Many times when reading scripture, we don’t take the time to figure out where the rubber meets the road.  We’re so busy with our own agendas (and I’m speaking for myself, as well) that we see Bible reading / Bible study as something to get through as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Priceless Stones forces the reader to slow down; to really contemplate the truths that are being communicated through the Hebrew words that are under consideration.  Author James Revoir tackles one word in each “chapter,” provides insight and analysis as to the importance of that word, and then invites the reader to respond to the Lord by means of Prayer, and by means of Dedication.

The Prayers and Dedications are written out, and demonstrate to the reader points of real-life application that can be put into practice immediately.  The Dedications, especially, are a breath of fresh air for the tired believer.  The ramifications of the word under consideration are fully realized, and the impact that it ought to have on the believer are practically spelled out.  Many times, they remind me of the Apostle Paul’s pedagogy; “On the basis of these truths, how should we then live?”

Following the Prayer and the Dedication, there are a number of Study Guide questions that would be excellent for small-group discussion

Whether for small-group Bible study, or personal devotions, Priceless Stones will bring the Hebrew language to life.  And you don’t have to know Hebrew to benefit from this excellent resource.

Priceless Stones:  42 Days Of Hebrew Promises For Kingdom Living
James Revoir
ISBN:  978-1-936746-37-8
Hebrew Language \ Christian Life
Crosslink Publishing
226 pages
$18.50 U.S.

5 stars

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What Every Christian NEEDS To Know About The Qur'an

What Every Christian NEEDS To Know About the Qur’an
James R. White
978-0-7842-0976-5
Comparative Religion
Bethany House
311 pages
$16.99 U.S.

The emphasis in the title was placed by the reviewer, because that is the emphasis the writer communicates in the preface of the book.  This is not an exhaustive compendium which will tell you everything you need to know about the Qur’an, in all of its minutiae of transmission, transliteration, textual criticism and emendations.

Nor is this a “How-To” book which will equip zealous followers of Christ with the necessary information to “go forth and convince the Muslims of the error of their ways, and bring them into the truth of salvation.”

James R. White is an accomplished debater of Muslim apologists, and in his own words notes: “I learned as a young person that the single best way to honor the truth and to show honor to those you seek to reach is to “hear them in their own language,” that is, to enter into their worldview and their theology.””

That is the main thrust of this book:  to honor the truth, and to show honor to those one seeks to reach.

If you are picking up this book for any other reason, you might as well put it back down.

But . . . if you are still holding this book, perhaps you are dedicated to the same goals the author espouses in his preface.  His heart is for the Muslim believer; his passion is for the truth; his concern is for the gospel of Christ.  He engages the central text of the Muslim religion honestly, openly and fairly.  And he does so with the example of the Apostle Paul in mind:

“To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.”                                                                         1 Corinthians 9:22

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

5 stars



Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Art Of The Follower by Dag Heward-Mills

I hate to be disrespectful to one that I have never met, but this book is about 140 pages too long; Part II (pages 37 through 167) provide some interesting insights into biblical narrative, but they are not about "using the lessons of Jesus to become the Follower God wants us to be," as advertised on the cover, and in the introduction. Thus, what I expected to be the "meat" of the book was merely an appetizer.

And the appetizer was not very satisfying, consisting of a series of "statements of the obvious" with elementary attempts at emphasis through changes in type-face rather than an exploration of a deep theme followed by a memorable, "take this with you" type of summary.

Perhaps this may be the intention of the author; the world stands in need of a primer for discipleship, because the world has refused to fall under the yoke of discipleship. Yet again, if that were the case, there are plenty of examples to draw from in Jesus' life without having to fall back on examples from other portions of scripture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The B&B Media Group, Inc., as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


The ART of the FOLLOWER
Dag Heward-Mills
978-1-78264-004-2
Christian Living / Discipleship
Carpenter’s Son Publishing
212 pages

$10.88 U.S.

2 Stars

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THROUGH THE FIRE by Shawn Grady


Writing about things that you know is one of the cardinal rules for those who wish to be seen in print.  Shawn Grady brings over a decade of service as a paramedic and firefighter to his debut novel, Through The Fire, and it shows on every page.  You may have never darkened the door of a firehouse in your life, but that will not be a hindrance.  Within 3 chapters, you will be in the “swing” of things as you join forces with Aidan O'Neill, a Reno firefighter, struggling with the loss of his father, who was also a Reno fireman. 

Someone is deliberately setting fires in and around Reno, and the signature is unlike anything anyone has seen before.  Aidan is determined to find the answers to his father’s death, and his investigation links that incident with the arsons that are occurring with increasing frequency and devastating results.  Aidan receives help from many quarters, and in the process he realizes that not all fires are bad.  The fire of faith enables one to endure, the fire of love enables one to overcome, and the fire of holiness burns to eliminate the impurities of a life not surrendered to God. 

I read this book in just three hours, because I could not put it down. 

5 stars

Through The Fire
Shawn Grady
ISBN 0764205951
Fiction \ Christian\General
Bethany House
336 pages
$13.99 U.S.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

THE QUEEN OF KATWE reviewed by "Doc" Hilton


If one is blissfully unaware of the many opportunitites, advantages, luxuries and conveniences that one has been blessed with simply by living in these United States of America . . . and one wishes to remain in that state of blissful ignorance . . . please do not read this book.  Tim Crothers pulls no punches, and he makes no apologies, as he recounts the way in which that elusive (to some, like this reviewer!) game of chess has transformed the life of one young girl from the slums of Kampala, Uganda.

Phiona Mutesi sleeps in a decrepit shack with her mother and three siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been out of school most of her life because her mother cannot afford it, so she is only now learning to read and write.  Phiona Mutesi is also one of the best chess players in the world. 

Phiona’s dream is to one day become a Grandmaster, the most elite title in chess.  But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday life in one of the world’s most unstable countries, a place where girls are taught to be mothers, not dreamers, and the threats of AIDS, kidnapping, and starvation loom over the people of Katwe.

Taking the nuances of chess as an outline, Tim Crothers chronicles the life of Phiona Mutesi from a 9-year old girl who could only see to the next sunrise to a 15-year old tournament champion in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team chess event.  You’ll learn lessons from Phiona herself as she shares how chess transformed not only her daily existence, but her entire philosophy of who she is, who she wants to be, and how she has the ability within her to get there.

This book is not for the squeamish, or the faint of heart.  A word to the wise is sufficient.

The Queen of Katwe
Tim Crothers
978-1-4516-5781-4
Non-fiction \ biography
Scribner
224 pages
$26.00 U.S.


5 stars

Sunday, April 28, 2013

AN UNHOLY COMMUNION: BOOK 3 of THE MONASTERY MURDERS



“The tower-top choir began, “Hail the day that sees Him rise . . . Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia / Reascends His native heaven, Alle. . .”

The final Alleluia never registered in Felicity’s ears.  It was extinguished by a much nearer shriek.  Her own.

The piercing scream tore a second time from her throat as she watched in horrifying slow motion a cassock-clad figure from the back of the choir catapault across the parapet and arc over the side of the tower.”

Felicity Howard, according to Inspector Nosterfield, is “making a habit of this.”  The “this” in question happens to be an association with murders, and the subsequent victims.  The corpse in question was a former ordinand of Magdalen College, a Deliverance Minister, and a former student of Father Antony.  He was also holding a strange emblem of a double-headed snake in his dead hand.  The police ignore the telling clue and dismiss the death as a suicide.  But Hwyl’s widow is convinced otherwise, and pleads for Felicity and Antony to help her uncover the truth. 

Matters grow murkier as Felicity and Antony, leading a youth pilgrimage through rural Wales, encounter the same sinister symbol as they travel.  Lurking figures follow them.  Then a body is found face-down in a well . . .

Having never read a book by Donna Fletcher Crow, I was very excited to get the opportunity to review what has turned out to be a page-turner and a half.  While the background is solidly rooted in the Catholic faith (hence The Monastery Murders), I feel the book has universal appeal.  There are Catholic offices practiced throughout the book, and the leader of the intrepid group of pilgrims is a Deliverance Minister of the Catholic Church.  Yet one is drawn into the story effortlessly, and soon becomes one of the pilgrims as well.  This is Book Three of The Monastery Murders series, and while references are made to the previous books, this book easily stands on its own.  The characters are refreshing, true to life, and true to themselves throughout the book.  The settings are vividly illustrated through the author’s exquisite command of the Queen’s English, and the pace never falters or runs away from the reader.  History, romance and murder . . . an unbeatable combination guaranteed to keep you up nights!

5 stars


An Unholy Communion: Book 3 of The Monastery Murders
Donna Fletcher Crow
978-1-78264-004-2
Fiction \ Christian\ Suspense
Lion Fiction
383 pages
£7.99 U.K.
$14.99 U.S.

Monday, April 15, 2013

STRESS TEST reviewed by "Doc" Hilton


Have you ever had one of those days?  Days where not only is nothing going right . . . but everything is going wrong, as well?  Meet Dr. Matt Newman.  He’s having one of those days.  Unfortunately for him, it just doesn't seem to end.

Someone wants him dead.  Someone wants him framed, convicted, and put away for life on murder charges.  Someone else has just booted him out of her life.  Matt just wants to get on with his life.  But even his own body won’t let him get away with that. 

On the plus side, Matt has a missionary brother who is interceding on his behalf, and a fiery, red-headed lawyer who chose her faith over the world. 

With the police convinced he’s a killer and the kidnappers still trying to finish what they started, finding the truth – and the faith to keep going – will be the toughest stress test Matt has ever endured.

Dr. Mabry is one of my favorite physicians . . . I mean authors.  Maybe, just maybe . . . I mean both!  He has the unique ability to take the world of medicine – the good, the bad and the ugly – and make it understandable to the man on the street.  Really understandable.  And he doesn't need three pages of confusing (sometimes terrifying) medicalese to do so.  In Stress Test, Dr. Mabry skillfully weaves together the story of – well, life.  Because life happens, and when it does, it’s not pretty.  But underlying Matt’s story is The Story that explains everything.  This book is one that will keep you up nights.  You won’t just want to find out “whodunit,”  you’ll want to find out why it all happened in the first place.  And the answers may very well keep you up for many nights afterward.

Stress Test
Richard L. Mabry, M.D.
ISBN 976-1-4016-8708-3
Fiction / Christian / Suspense
Thomas Nelson
312 pages
$15.99 U.S.


5 stars

Friday, March 29, 2013

10 Prayers You Can't Live Without: How To Talk To God About ANYTHING


10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without
Rick Hamlin
ISBN 978-0-8249-3218-3
Religion\Christian Life\Spiritual Growth
B&B Media Group,Inc.
246 pages
$14.99 U.S.


“When you hear a loved one’s voice on the phone, you can usually recognize them in a word or two.  Your voice is just as unique to God, and he is waiting, wanting to listen to you personally, about anything and everything.  Yet sometimes we can’t find the words to pray.”

I’ve never met Rick Hamlin.  Never even heard of him, before I received the book, 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without:  How To Talk To God About Anything for review.  But from the opening pages, I felt like I was visiting an old friend.  In a winsome, down to earth style Rick shares spiritual truths about that most difficult of spiritual exercises – prayer.  Illustrating the principles with personal anecdote that illuminate the message without taking over the spotlight, Mr. Hamlin writes with an easy familiarity concerning prayer.  Would that we were all as at home with prayer as Rick Hamlin. 

10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without has now become my devotional, because I want to learn how to talk to God better, and I think that this book is going to get me there.

5 stars

Landmarks:  Turning Points On Your Journey Toward God
Bill Delvaux
ISBN 978-1-4336-7922-3
Christian Life\Discipleship\Spiritual Life
B&H Publishing Group
190 pages
$14.99 U.S.


“The well-worn rut most of us live in is safe, comfortable . . . some would call it dead.  By contrast, coming alive requires a willingness to journey into the unknown.  Following Jesus is just such a path . . . there are risks involved, and there is no point A to point B map.  But there are landmarks . . .”

Sometimes the story gets in the way of the message.  Unfortunately, this is my experience with Landmarks:  Turning Points On Your Journey Toward God.  While author Bill Delvaux provides an interesting outline to consider, and a good visual aid ( “landmarks” while one is on a journey ) the principles that are considered in each chapter serve to jog his memory about “the time when I . . .” Upon further reflection, the subtitle might well have been, “Turning Points On MY Journey Toward God.”  I’m not biased against personal anecdote, providing it keeps its proper place; sort of a signal flare that guides the reader into a deeper spiritual truth.  But when the anecdote becomes the main point . . . I tend to lose interest.

I appreciate everything that Bill has gone through, and there are many “landmarks” that he and I have in common.  But, for me . . . the story got in the way of the message.

2 stars

Sunday, February 17, 2013

ORDAINED IRREVERENCE reviewed by Steve Hilton

ORDAINED IRREVERENCE

If you've ever been curious as to what goes on behind the scenes at larger churches across the United States, here's your invitation.  Follow Elmo Jenkins as he interns at the First Baptist Church, completing his final assignment before graduating seminary.  You'll laugh . . . no, you'll roar, as Elmo learns the finer points of visitation, counseling, and baptisms.  McMillan Moody pulls back the curtain and reveals "the code" of church-ese, communication, and church protocol.  Mr. Moody invites you to become a staff member, along with Elmo, and learn first-hand how to organize your day and a youth-group all-nighter in 15 minutes or less. And witness the most romantic marriage proposal you've ever seen.  Yes . . . I'm a man.  Yes . . . I cried.  I'm a seminary graduate and minister myself, and was once on staff ( I was Dunston ) at a larger church, and can vouch for the veracity of Mr. Moody's research.  As the British are fond of saying, Mr. Moody is "spot-on."  And since Mr. Moody is constantly stealing lines from the rich and famous, I'm going to take the same liberties:  Mr. Moody, "thanks for the memories."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review of THE HEART OF RELIGION by Lee, Poloma, and Post


Loosely based on the experiences of 5 people, and supported by sociological research from three experienced professionals, The Heart Of Religion lives up to its name.  It provides an excellent history and foundation for the transforming power of religion in our society.  Drawing on an extensive random survey of 1,200 men and women across the United States, Matthew Lee, Margaret Poloma, and Stephen Post here shed new light on how Americans wake up to the reality of divine love and how that transformative experience expresses itself in concrete acts of benevolence.

However, God is not interested in religion – he’s interested in a relationship.  Throughout the book the prevailing interest is in God’s love; not in God himself.  There is a sense that ANYONE can practice and dispense the love of God, regardless of their relationship with him.  God, and any relationship one has with him, plays second fiddle.  In its widest expression, the principles of this book could lead someone to the idea that God is irrelevant – all you need is love.

The dangers of such a message cannot be over-emphasized.  There are millions of souls languishing in hell for all eternity because of such a message.  Religion without a right relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of all that was, is, and ever shall be, can be summed up in one word – idolatry.  And Scripture is clear; “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”  Isaiah 42:8

The Heart Of Religion
Matthew T. Lee, Margaret M. Poloma, and Stephen G. Post
ISBN 978-0-19-993188-0
Love – Religious Aspects – Christianity \ Religion
Oxford University Press
301 pages
$29.95 U.S.

1 star

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review of THE RUNNER by A. Wayne Gill


Michael Knight, the son of a preacher man who was the son of a preacher man, received a vision for his life in a Manhattan hotel room.  And it had nothing to do with preaching.  Michael was called to be a warrior in an entirely different arena.  And God would not let him off the hook.

Weathering the storms of familial shock and disappointment, Michael makes the necessary steps to prepare himself for a lifelong war with evil in the courtrooms of the United States.  Along the way, he must count the cost of his decisions, which mount ever higher as his goal comes in sight.  And then there were deeper, darker issues which must be confronted as well.  Issues that require the services of a warrior.

This is the first in a 7-part series in the life of Michael Knight.  A deeply caring heart for God rests securely in the body of a young man who has feasted on competition his whole life.  And the reader of this series will be able to watch the transformation of God’s grace and the administration of God’s justice as the series progresses.  What a great combination! 

I highly recommend The Runner to readers who have a desire to truly see God at work in the life of a man wholly committed to Him.

5 stars

The Runner
A. Wayne Gill
ISBN 978-0- 9797856-1-0
Fiction \ Christian Suspense \ Legal Thriller
Iron Pillar Media Group
280
$8.45 U.S.


Review of WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEALING by Harold J. Sala


Is God still in the healing business?  That’s a question many people, maybe most people if we are honest with ourselves, find ourselves asking at various times throughout our brief span which we call “our life.”  That is also one of the questions that Harold J. Sala addresses in his book, What You Need To Know About Healing.  And thankfully, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” 

The author first addresses the issue of the extremes; some refuse to believe that God is still in the healing business because “God just doesn’t work that way in this dispensation.”  Others firmly believe that God’s will is that everyone be made whole.  If you are still broken, then obviously there is something wrong with your relationship with God.  In an effort to stop the wildly swinging pendulum, Mr. Sala investigates the theology of healing from a Scriptural point of view.  He looks at healing in the Old Testament, in the ministry of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of the apostles, and on into the current time frame.  Throughout the book, one note keeps tolling it’s message over and over:  God is sovereign!  God can and will do whatever he desires to do, and his character and attributes remain fully intact regardless of how we, in our finite understanding, see the outcomes.

Of course, healing is in the eyes of the beholder.  Our notions of healing, and how it is supposed to work, may differ widely from the way in which The Great Physician practices.  But you cannot deny His love, you cannot deny His compassion, you cannot deny His heart that breaks for each and every one of us.

Peppered throughout the book are real life accounts of miraculous healings that have taken place instantaneously; healings that have taken place over periods of time, and instances where healing, as we consider it, did not take place at all.  And yet through it all (to paraphrase theologian Francis Schaeffer) “God was there, and he was not silent.”

What You Need To Know About Healing is an informative, engrossing, transforming read, for those who have an ear to hear.  I highly recommend it.

5 stars

What You Need To Know About Healing
Harold J. Sala
ISBN 978-1-4336-7889-9
Spiritual Healing \ Healing \ Christian Life
B&H Publishing Group
230 pages
$14.99 U.S.

Monday, January 14, 2013

QUESTIONS OF LIFE by Nicky Gumbel


The Alpha Course – in book form.  That pretty much says it all. Nicky Gumbel shares his own personal journey from atheist, to agnostic, to acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Nicky is the pioneer of the Alpha Course, which ( in Nicky’s own words ) “is designed for nonchurchgoers, those seeking to find out more about Christianity, and those who have recently come to faith in Jesus Christ.”

Questions of Life contemplates 15 crucial questions that need answers if one is to be an authentic follower of Jesus.  Questions like:  “Is There More To Life Than This?”, “Why Did Jesus Die?”, and “How Can I Make The Most Of The Rest Of My Life?”  In this book, Nicky covers topics such as faith, prayer, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and the Church.  He also tackles some sticky questions such as “How Can I Be Filled With The Holy Spirit?”, and “Does God Heal Today?”  And he does so in a careful, candid, and clear manner, anticipating and responding to side questions that are sure to pop up. 

Questions of Life is a warm-hearted conversation from one believer to those who may be sitting on the fence, dipping a toe in the water, or taking the plunge into Christianity for the first time.  I’m reminded of an illustration that fits this book:  “Christianity is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”  Are you hungry?

5 stars

Questions Of Life
Nicky Gumbel978-1-934564-66-0
ISBN 1-5955-4037-7
Christian Life
Alpha International Press
213 pages