Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent

There are many near-death-experience books out there about people who have gone to heaven. I've read some of them. What I tended to notice was that most wrote a lot of backstory. You know, their life story and what happened prior to their experience, leaving just a few snidbits of detail about heaven. This book also starts out with a lot of detail leading up to the little boy's illness that almost took his life away permanently from Earth. However, there is a lot of detail about heaven here. Written by the boy's father (with help from a literary co-author), this book is great. There is even a color section with photographs in the middle. What was fascinating was that the boy spoke of what stuff looked like in heaven, the throne of God, and the battle of Armageddon. I won't give away all the details, but I will say this is a quick read that will help solidify your faith about whether or not heaven is "for real."

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow

I am not going to lie. This book is highly academic and best read as a reference book. However, what few key points it makes really stick. This put a new set of ideas into my head. Murrow talks about how churches nowadays are feminine in their demeanor and style. They attract bookish, musical men who do not fit the persona of an overly "manly man." The guys that like sports more than pianos are slightly repulsed by all this "relationship with Jesus" talk and ooey-gooey theology. What really hit me is the comment where Murrow said too many preachers preach the Lamb and not the Lion.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After" by Craig Groeschel

If you've been checking out my book reviewing blog, you'll see I recently reviewed a great memoir about a possessed man who became a Christian ("Ascent from Darkness"). Anyway, as I began to read this book, I thought to myself--man, this guy's name and church sound really familiar. I later remembered that this author was the same pastor that the possessed man was sent to kill. Talk about coincidences. Wowza. Anyway, I was a bit skeptical about this book as many relationship books written by Christians tend to be great or terrible. This one falls in the great category. What I love is that the author emphasizes building your relationship with Jesus (the One) before you can even be ready for a mate (the Two). Bible is quoted from various parts of the Bible. I'm not just talking about some NT stuff that every seasoned Christian can quote. I mean meaningful verses that the average person would not know and even OT verses; I liked this. Also, the writing style is informative and straightforward while still being culturally relevant--which I found very funny at certain parts with quips. There is even a little discussion guide at the end. I did not go through all of it, but I can say that I think it would be great for couples reading this book together or even Christian book clubs, friends, or groups studying this book together. This book made me rethink the male and female roles that society has screwed up so much. I am an athletic "against-the-grain" gal who used to hate the word submission. Now, I don't think it is so bad. You may not know me personally, but let me tell you that--coming from me--that means a lot. Craig...kudos.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Ascent from Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior" by Michael Leehan

Everyone needs to read this book. This is the story of a satanic worshipper who became a child of God. Readers realize that no human is too far gone, and that the love of God knows no bounds and turns no one away--regardless of how bad they've been. However, what I daresay is of more importance is understanding real spiritual warfare.

I am glad Leehan is now a slave of Yeshua Messiah, but some of what he did in his possession is worth noting for us to learn from. He would purposely go to churches to start conflict; he would memorize Bible verses and try to mess people up with them; he would go to singles groups and look for venerable women to satisfy his lust; he would purposely try to break up marriages; he would burn pages of the Bible; he would go after those who seemed young both in age and in the faith; he would see spirits; he would hear demons; he communicated with the spiritual realm; he saw / felt hedges of protection around certain people; he could tell in Bible studies who was really seeking God and who was immature in faith; and the list goes on.

What is most striking is that the forces of darkness can indeed enter "Christian circles" and pretend to be Christian to manipulate others. I'm not saying one has to be calling every single sinful person possessed, but I do think us as Christians need to be more on our toes (Matt 10:16). Things like blood sacrifice, spiritual influence, voices, and so much more are told with horrifying clarity. The book even includes eye-witness accounts from people who back up Leehan's story.

Both before and after his conversion, Leehan comments about how little Christians know about the God they profess. Christians, please read your Bible and get to know your God. Church and devotionals are great, but God is bigger than the beatitudes and self-help lessons. Read a translation you understand and get to know what you are dealing with. Reading this book was hard, and when Leehan wrote of what God told Him, I started to cry. Some words on pg 211 include: "I created you. I chose you first. I will never leave you. You will never leave Me. You are in My hands; you are in My arms."

While I have not been as in deep or intensely lost as Leehan, I can identify with a lot of what he went through in terms of possession, the dark side, spirits, blood rituals, and more. Like Leehan, the love of Christ grabbed me by the collar and did not let go (look at Job 30:18 and verses around it). The forces of darkness are real, and don't you dare think for one moment that you don't have to understand them. I'm not saying to go read every occult book or obsess with all that research; the Bible has enough in it (2 Tim 2:15).

I personally feel a hedge of protection around me as I claim Zech 2:5 for the fire of glory around me. I heard God whisper He loves me (Rom 5:5) as I am flooded with God (Eph 3:19). Every day is a battle (Eph 6:12) but I stare at God (Heb 12:2). God protects His own, yes, but from the Book of Job, we see that God allows even the upright to be tested. It is my sincere hope that you will never have to see, hear, or come into contact with the dark forces of this world. However, I assure you they are real.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Night of the Living Dead Christian" by Matt Mikalatos

Now, I know we are not to judge a book by its cover, but, when I saw this, I just knew I had to know more. Upon hearing the premise of the book, I was intrigued--compare monsters to Christians in our various levels of hypocrisy. What I did not expect was such a vivid tale that captured my attention like it did. There is a real story where Christians encounter monsters and real transformation happens. Little problems in marriages and churches and theology pop up, but they are subtle. The real issue in the book is that it will cause readers to really look at themselves and see what monster they have become. I do not want to give away major plot events--if you read my blog, you see I rarely do. All I can say is that I took my sweet time with this book to savor it. As a book reviewer, I often skim books or put them down once there is something boring or wrong with it. That never happened with this book. At the end, I was even wishing for more. Luckily, there was some bonus material for readers. Read this book and realize the truth that being undead is harder than being dead and that only Christ can make you truly alive. Marvelous!

"What is he Thinking?" by Rebecca St. James

When I heard about this book, I really wanted to review it. After all, with all the plethora of relationship books out there, women still have questions in their minds. They biggest one is stamped on the cover of this one. What I love about this book is that James did not just put in a bunch of her advice or what she thinks guys think. No. She straight up asked guys from different ages and relationships statuses what they really thought. The questions had to do with girls, relationships, turnoffs, reactions, marriage, modesty, and so much more. From time to time, James quoted other relationship experts and some Bible verses. For the most part, a lot of this book makes sense. What girls will get out of this book more than the answer to the question on the cover is that there really are godly men out there looking to respect and honor women as the delicate flowers that they are.

God Girl Bible

While every possible "type" of Bible is geared towards a different audience, I love how the cover of this Bible is mostly plain yet girly with the only words being "God Girl Bible" on the bottom. There is no other nonsense written on the cover to distract, which is nice. This Bible comes in a nice box when you get it in the mail, and the hardcover binding seems pretty durable thus far. The Bible is not pocket-sized, but it is small enough to be read comfortably in bed. For those familiar with other "God Girl" books, they will know how pretty the pages are. From flowers to designs and prints, these pages are anything but plain white. There are little devotionals, explanations, definitions, and more in this book. GOD's Word Translation, which is implemented here, is pretty accurate while still being understandable. The concordance is wonderful. It lists emotions, topics, and so much more. This is an excellent Bible study tool for women of all ages.