newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: March, 2018

Review: “A Call for Courage”

This is a review of the book A Call for Courage by Michael Anthony.

Before I begin this review, I need to acknowledge I am not a huge fan of ultra-conservative-politics-masquerading-as-Judeo-Christian-values books. If one is going to right a book about conservative politics, call it as such. If one is going to write a book on Judeo-Christian apologetics, be up front about it. As I was reading A Call for Courage, this hang-up kept me from really getting engaged with the text.

To boil down Michael Anthony’s thesis, one could summarize it like this: Christians need to be lovingly and unwaveringly firm in what they believe, and take every opportunity to take a stand, while being kind about it. And in encouraging his readers to do so, he models it, both in the anecdotes and examples he shares with the reader, as well as the tone he uses in presenting his ideas to his readers. This book is very thoughtful in its presentation of each area in which those who hold traditional Judeo-Christian values (he uses this phrase a lot) should not hesitate to take a stand. I agree with this notion, am always looking for a way to do so, and enjoyed that the end of each chapter provided a one-page summary of tangible suggestions for how one could put into practice what Anthony is writing about.

Where I get caught in this book is the flow. It feels like Anthony is on a roll, building momentum as he addresses a point of Christian ethics (and I almost start pumping my fist in excitement), and then he takes a hard right into politics land. I understand as an engaged citizen that one cannot realistically divorce morality and political legislation, but in a book whose subtitle is “Living with Power, Truth, and Love in an Age of Intolerance and Fear” would focus way more on the living and interacting with people, and less about the dangers of a liberal majority in Congress. But someone who enjoys a book that politely takes shots at those who don’t hold to a conservative agenda wouldn’t be bothered.

In the end, A Call for Courage was okay. I would maybe recommend it to friends of mine who engage their faith through politics. But a book like this is definitely not for everyone.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to publish a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

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A moment where you go, “Well…yeah…I guess so…”

I was watching a sermon from Micahn Carter on YouTube this weekend. He made a statement that a day later I am still rolling around in my head. After John the Baptist was executed, Jesus goes off by himself. In doing a play-by-play of the event, Carter makes a statement that the event was about something else. Something bigger.

“Jesus could have healed John if he wanted to. He could have taken John’s head and reattached it to his body.” And then he kept on speaking. But I was like…dang.

Carter goes on to talk about Jesus using this moment to teach something deeper in that we need to take time to grieve, or “break.” But all I could think about is how trippy it would have been to see Jesus reattach a head.

Just wanted to share.

The end of a thing.

Right now I am feeling satisfied.

In an earlier blog post, I alluded to the fact that one of the book-blog-review programs that I participate in was shutting down operations. This probably does not seem like a big deal to many people, but this is actually quite significant to me. Let me explain.

I first joined Blogging for Books on January 21, 2011, and I did so at the recommendation of my wife Sarah as a hobby to help occupy some of my time because less than three weeks earlier, I had been let go from a teaching job because of low enrollment numbers and I was depressed. That was seven years ago.

In seven years ago, my wife and I moved three hours away from where we were originally living. I became the co-president of a teacher’s union. We bought a house. We had a kid. We have cumulatively had seven pets now, and have owned four vehicles. I just finished the process of becoming an Assemblies of God credentialed minster. And through all the stuff, Blogging for Books was a hobby I continued to do.

In seven years, I have reviewed 49 (7 times 7) books in the Blogging for Books program. The last book I read and reviewed was The Seven-Mile Miracle. In the Bible, seven is the number of perfection, divine completeness. Tonight, as I crossed the finish line of the project that is Blogging for Books, I can feel like I have completed it. I will still be participating in the BookLook Bloggers program, but Blogging for Books will always hold a special place for me.

Here’s to you, and whatever you are working on, may you finish it well.

Going on a Journey: A review of Steven Furtick’s “Seven-Mile Miracle”

This is a review of Steven Furtick‘s book Seven-Mile Miracle.

On the surface, the premise of Steven Furtick’s book Seven-Mile Miracle seems pretty basic. Furtick, using the story of the walk to Emmaus as a backdrop (the journey is a seven-mile walk), takes each of the seven statements Jesus makes as recorded in the Gospels to create a “seven-mile” journey.

The themes for each of the seven “miles” are applicable to any Christian reader: forgiveness, salvation, relationship, abandonment, distress, triumph, and reunion. Where this book hits home is that Furtick first speaks about each them as it applies to newer believers, but by the end he has connected them back to how he has had to deal with them recently. And he is the lead pastor of a mega-church! This emphasizes how much the message of Seven-Mile Miracle is for all.

One thing that bummed me out a little bit was that Furtick’s dynamic teaching style which anyone who has attended an Elevation Church service, or watched an episode on TBN/Hillsong TV, would expect, does not quite come through on the page. The teaching is still solid, and the liner notes reflect how much Scripture Furtick uses in each chapter, and a lot of the humor and one-liners are there. They just don’t stick out as obviously. I would recommend listening to Furtick’s Seven-Mile Miracle sermon series on the Elevation Church podcast as you go through this book. I found that the two complement each other quite well (and the podcast of the sermons is a free addition!).

Overall, Seven-Mile Miracle is an easy read with an effect which will last much longer than the time it takes to read the book. I recommend this book for the material and the way it is presented.

I received my copy of this book for free as my last book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to publish a positive review. The opinions contained in this review are mine.

 

All quiet on the northeastern Indiana front.

My blogging volume has cut down drastically. The main driver behind it is that I have begun writing a book. Channeling my energy into planning and drafting has taken a lot of my creative juices and made me have to focus.

Another reason my blogging volume has been reduced is because I have been reading much more this year. I have been keeping a reading log, and so far I have finished twelve books this year (I have started reading, or read large excerpts of many more beyond the twelve, but I am only counting on this list the ones I have finished).

A third, though not quite so big, reason is that one of the two book-blog-review programs I have participated in for the last few years has ceased operations. So the amount of free books and obligatory reviews has cut down a bit.

That’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?

Review: Take a ride on the “Lullaby Road”

This is a review of the book Lullaby Road by James Anderson.

When I first read James Anderson’s novel The Never-Open Desert Diner, the first thing that caught my attention about the prose was not the characters or story line -they are both pretty straightforward as far as mystery novels go. What gripped me and kept me going was actually the setting. With a sparse landscape, Anderson manages to litter it with colorful characters and action that seems to make sense. Lullaby Road is more of the same.

The story line is a little bit different from last time, the crimes are different, most of the characters are different, but the fun still remains. Anderson’s narrative arc keeps the reader guessing throughout the novel (or at least pretending like he or she doesn’t know what is going to happen next). The final turn at the end of the novel is just clever enough that the reader feels rewarded for making it to the end of the novel.

Some might argue that Lullaby Road is just another mystery novel. I would disagree. The protagonist, Ben Jones, isn’t a detective. Sure, like the gumshoe, he has a sordid past. Sure there is a backstory (which I totally recommend catching up in Anderson’s first novel before reading this one). But in the end, what I enjoyed about the book is that it doesn’t have the feel of a crime detective novel. Read it and make your own decision.

I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

Why?

The most loaded question in the English language is probably, “Why?” Why, you ask? That’s the point.

-Seeking information.

-Seeking understanding.

-Questioning authority.

-Cause and effect.

Why?