Thursday, June 30, 2011

"The Little Red Book of Wisdom" by Mark DeMoss

As the title implies, this is a small book of advice for readers. Divided into two categories, DeMoss tackles both professional and personal issues. While the early chapters of this book are not overtly religious, this book published by Thomas Nelson starts to introduce some spirituality towards the end. Not surprisingly, the book of Proverbs is often cited. Given his PR (public relations) success, DeMoss mentions his highs and lows without the expected air of arrogance. Even if one is not in the professional sector, they can use the professional tips in any aspect of leadership. Some tips given have to do with integrity, listening, relationships, alcohol, career paths, and more. I won't spoil all of the advice, but I will say this is a nice little book.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

John Crowder Review

Let's start with "Mystical Union." First off, I know one should not judge books by their covers, but a red flag came up for me when I saw a picture of "Jesus" on the cover. From Deuteronomy 4, I know God does not like us to make images of Him. Anyway, I started going through the book to see how it was. From the get-go, Crowder proclaims to the reader that their theology will be flipped upside-down with his revolutionary new teaching--who's never read that before from preachers? Anyway, Crowder promotes the notion that Christians are sinless and that they mystically died with Christ on the Cross. Several verses are quoted, I'll give Him that, but when he tries to address notions of Matt 26:41 or Romans 7:15, he says those arguments are demonic and heretical. What better way to get Christians to stop thinking for themselves than to say their arguments belong in hell? Also, something he did, which I personally can not stand, is that he said some verses are only in specific contexts and that they were written to specific Jews and not the reader. With this nonsensical logic, people could say they don't have to obey the Ten Commandments because they weren't there at Mt. Sinai being addressed by Moses. On page 183, he also says "you are not saved by your love for God. you are saved by His love for you." What about Matt 23:37 and connecting Matt 7:21-23 with 1 Cor 8:3? Also, at points, this book feels like it preaches the "health and wealth" gospel. At one point, Crowder says his wife encountered an angel called Sovereignty. Who is sovereign besides God?! My goodness!

Given all of this, when I picked up "Seven Spirits Burning," I was a bit skeptical. After all, if Crowder was off on some things in his first book, will he be off in the second one? I tread very carefully when I read this one. In general, this book was more Scripturally sound than the first one. There were some insights into how the seven Spirits of God can relate to the seven wicks on the menorah and how Yahweh has seven marks in the Hebrew way of writing it out. Those were interesting facts. However, considering deep prophesy and Revelation, I didn't take Crowder as seriously. He spoke of angels frequently and even mentioned some apocrypha. He tries to make various connections to churches and people as Temples, which aren't horrendously blasphemous at all. However, given his first book, I was careful not to take any of his "prophetic" knowledge and insight too seriously. At points in the book, he writes of miraculous healing and being called a prophet and being willing to suffer for Christ, which I suppose is good to some degree. Overall, from Crowder's writing, I gather the main message is that the work on the Cross was fantastic and that God has big plans for us. That's great, but I think a simpler lesson is that our God wants our love like in Phil 1:14. These two books are semi-thick, and, if one has time to read, they should pick up their Bible and think things through for themselves.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Surviving Your Serengeti" by Stephan Swanepoel

A first glance at this book may make readers think they are holding a creative self-help book that uses animal comparisons. Well, that's true, but only up to a certain degree. While there are many life tips and business strategies implemented on the pages, this book does not read like a work of non-fiction. Rather, there is a story. At the end of certain chapters, there are short synopses of "tips" for the reader. However, besides those, the reader is immersed into the Serengeti as they follow travelers in Africa being led by a charismatic and sagacious leader who not only shows them exotic animals but what traits the animals possess that help make them successful. While the setting is in Africa, Swanepoel is careful not to point out any races, which is nice. The animal descriptions are not incredibly detailed, but they do the job. As for the literary style, the writing flows very well and is suitable for its genre; if the "tips" were omitted and the spacing were worked out, this could be more of a novella or longer short story. Even though this is published by Thomas Nelson, it is not overtly religious at all, which is a bit sad. Anyway, at the end of the book, Swanepoel provides a link to his website where one can take a quiz to see which animal they are most like. I am apparently a graceful giraffe.

"Double Take" by Melody Carlson

Just when I thought Carlson couldn't think of any more original book ideas, out comes this book. It's about a high school senior girl--no surprises there--that has an out of the ordinary situation. She is stressed out--again, not too unlikely--and meets a girl that looks almost exactly like her. Same hair color, same height, same complexion...different life. The city girl has worries about college, family life, boys, and other it-girl troubles. The Amish girl is bored to tears from her domestic life of homemaking. This double-take book will really hold young readers' attention as most do not know the in's and out's of Amish life. The grammar is excellent and graceful while not being too hard to understand. There are funny moments and serious ones. The actions are facetious without being too cliched. I won't spoil the ending, but I will say it is well worth the read. Enjoy!