Category Archives: Book Reviews

Stormbreaker: Alex Rider

Image you're 14 years old and you just lost your uncle in a car crash (your folks died when you were a baby). As you process the grief and shock of this newest death, you discover that everything you ever knew about your uncle was a lie.

Instead of being a banker, he was a MI-6 spy.

And his boss wants you, Alex, to complete your uncles mission as you can go where other agents can't – being 14 and all.

If you can image this, welcome to the world of Alex Rider.

I first stumbled upon this series by Anthony Horowitz (there are seven books with an eighth on the way) when Em brought home an auto CD (#4) from the library. Seeing that Em has a gift in picking good books, I decided to listen to it with her as we drove back and forth to the Valley.

It was captivating. Alex is a young James Bond – with lots of emotions, depth, and cool gadgets.

Digging in the series a bit more, we discovered that someone made a movie about the first book (Stormbreaker) – and, as luck held, our library owned a copy.

In a statement: it was sweet! A tad short for my taste (93 mins) – but, overall, very well done.

My advice would be to grab a book, an auto CD or a DVD of Alex Rider. It's good stuff. Laughing

A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett

Ah – the fun filled, wacky world of Terry Pratchett. It makes the day go smoother and faster. (not that the day actually walks or otherwise moves).

Yesterday I had to pleasure of spending half an hour browsing the local Library – which can be a bad thing if your name is Ardell and you have a love of books, CDs, DVDs and audio-books. It can also be a good thing if your name is Ardell and you… oh, you get the jest.

One of the treasure I walked away with was an audio-book by Terry Pratchett – as you might of guessed from the post title and the picture to the right.

Listening to the book brings out new pictures and characters as they jump across the sound waves into one’s mind. And being Discworld – the characters actually do jump from sound waves to brain waves.

Off to the sky with ye.

The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology

Heaven is receiving a new book.  In this case, I just received a copy of Adrio Konig’s “The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology”. This is a book I have been waiting to read ever since I heard Derek Morphew refer to it in his 2006 seminar on the Kingdom of God.

A bit about the author:

Adrio Konig is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. (note that this bio was written in 1989 when the book was written…I don’t know what he is doing now)[@more@]

Since I have not read the book yet (it may be a while as my homework is pilling up…), here is a brief review by Ray S. Anderson of Fuller Theological Seminary:

Konig is persuasive and provocative. His bilibical and historical approach to systematic theology stays close to the pulse beat of the divine heart which we encounter in the Christ for us, in us, and with us. Eschatology has to do not with the last things but with the person of Christ, who is the first and last One.

With this book Konig has pointed the way forward for a whole new generation of theological studies. This book combines critical dogmatic inquiry with careful exegetical work in the finest of the tradition in biblical theology. The result is a book on eschatology which is irenic in tone, relevant to contemporary issues, and surprising in its simplicity. This book will inspire pastors to preach once again with conviction on the eschatological themes essential to Christian life and faith. It might also put eschatology back once again into the theological curriculum.

With a review like that, I can hardly wait to read it!!  Cool

Muslims, Magic, and the Kingdom of God

I picked up an amazing book this last week while at the Missions Conference:  Muslims, Magic, and the Kingdom of God by Rick Love.

While I have not completed the book yet, I have read enough to recommend it to anyone interested in ministering to Muslims – or anyone outside of their cultural.

Dr. Love (yelp, he holds a D.Min and a Ph.D.) is the International Director of Frontiers (an organization dedicated to loving Muslims).

In this book, Dr. Love draws out the difference between formal Islam and folk Islam (read an excert here). Basically, to the majority of Muslims in the world, the formal religion of Islam answers all the ‘hard’ questions of heaven, hell and where we come from.[@more@]

But if they want their crops to grow good, find a job, or overcome a disease – they turn to the spiritual world around them (ie. the trees, ancestors, charms, etc). It is this folk Islam that really runs the show – not the formal religion.

This makes me wonder how many “Christians” are really folk Christians… They may confess a belief in Jesus, but when it comes down to the day-to-day struggles and happenings, how many people turn to charms, favorite prayers or rituals to gain God’s favor?

Formal Islam

  • Cognitive, Truth -oriented
  • Legalistic
  • Ultimate Issues of Life: Origins, heaven, hell, purpose
  • The Quran
  • Sacred Traditions
  • Institutional
  • Supplicative


Folk Islam

  • Heart-felt, Emotional
  • Mystical
  • Everyday Concerns: health, guidance, success, prosperity
  • Spiritual Revelation
  • Inspirational
  • Manipulative

Relationships

As I was reading “Doing Church” by Alexander Venter I came across a passage that made me stop and think:

“Doing” should really come from our sense of ‘being’ and ‘being’ should come from our relatedness – to the Creator of the universe for starters! The disciples were with Jesus, then He sent them out to preach (Mk 3:14). Paul teaches ‘being’ and then ‘doing’ through the body metaphor (1Cor 12:12). For example, a finger finds out who it is and what it does by virtue of where it is joined and to whom it belongs.

If I ‘hang in’ relationships long enough, and yield to those I connected with I will discover who I really am (not what I have decided I am). I will then be free to be my real self and will be empowered to fulfill what I stand for – through the relationships.

I have found very few people who have the faith for this, who take the time and trouble to entrust themselves to relationships long enough to allow themselves to reach their full potential in God. Church really is a community of birth, discovery, growth, equipping and empowerment – through the quality and longevity of our relationships.”

[@more@]The longer I know Him, the more I’m convinced that we draw near Him not by studying the Bible, attending church, listening to worship music or anything else. We draw near to Him by abiding in Him. Practically, at least in my experience, this means talking to Him drive down the road, as I work through out the day – asking Him for help when I lost a pencil or a bolt…. It’s the realization that He wants to have a relationship with us beyond the hour service on Sunday or the 15 minutes a day reading one’s Bible.

“If I ‘hang in’ relationships long enough, and yield to those I connected with I will discover who I really am (not what I have decided I am). I will then be free to be my real self and will be empowered to fulfill what I stand for – through the relationships. “

O’ how many times have I wanted to cut bait and run!  To go to a new town or job and start anew; to not have the baggage of yesterday hanging over me. Yet, it is through these very relationships that growth comes. (Granted, sometimes it does help to go to a new location before you ‘hang in’ a relationship!) Tongue out

Free Book: Leave It To Chance by Sherri Sand

A friend of mine is giving away a free book by Sherri Sand entitled Leave It To Chance. I have copied part of her book review below to give you a taste. If you want to win the book, all you have to do is leave a comment on her blog before June 3rd and you will be entered in the drawing. Laughing


 
Leave It To Chance by Sherri Sand
Review by A Little Bit of Sunlight

From the back cover:

Single mom of three, Sierra Montgomery is desperate to find a new job to keep from having to move back home and be smothered to death by her mother’s good intentions and overbearing love. So when Sierra inherits Chance, a quirky old gelding she doesn’t have a clue what to do with, she thinks her best bet may be to sell the horse to cover another month’s rent–a decision that devastates her children.

Enter Ross Morgan, a handsome landscaper who just happens to have an empty barn and fenced pasture… perfect for an old horse to live out his days as the pet of three wounded kids. Ross develops a soft spot for eldest child Braden…and he just might have one for Braden’s mother. But what he doesn’t have is time for distractions–he’s got a landscaping business to run and nursery plants to tend.

But there’s just one problem. Sierra’s terrified of horses and–thanks to her past–wary of attractive men. Yet seeing the way her angry son idolizes Ross and adores that old horse forces Sierra to confront her fears. Will she remain distrustful and self-reliant, or will she seek help from God and those who love her?

[@more@]Sands characterizations have drawn me in and kept me glued to the pages of this sweet/bittersweet romance. Sierra is faced with some of the worst things imaginable – trying to care for her children, no job, moving in with her mother and dealing with her worst nightmare – but through it all, I can see how God could use a similar story to show that He loves his children. The idea of forgiveness is evident throughout the novel.

It is an easy to read novel (its only taking me so long because of time constraints!), with just enough angst to feel real, but not depressing. I adore Sierra’s best friend who tries to witness to Sierra in her own flamboyant way!

I honestly cannot wait to see the rest of the journey!

Please visit Sherri’s website to learn more about this author!

Free Book Contest!

Leave a comment to be entered into a contest for a free copy of Leave It To Chance! Also, members of my (A Little Bit of Sunlight's) mailing list will earn a second chance at winning a copy, so leave a comment and join today!

Contest ends 6/3/07.

'Aliens Are My Brother'

The Vatican has announced that it’s ok to believe in aliens. In fact, Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, said that there may be “some aliens could even be free from original sin.”

Interesting statement.

This reminds me of a book I read a few years ago called Alone in the Universe? Aliens, the X-Files & God by David Wilkinson.

It was a great book that looked at everything from the possibility for extraterrestrial life, government conspiracy theories, scientific arguments for space travel, and claims that the Bible describes alien encounters. Wilkinson also talks about what would happen to the Bible and the Christian belief if aliens are discovered.[@more@]

The end result: it doesn’t really matter. If there are aliens out there, God made them and he has a plan for them.

Comic by ironychan of Get Medieval

The Kingdom of God and Primitive Christianity: A Book Review

This was an interesting book – to say the least. There was some great information in the first half where Albert Schweitzer focused on the Old Testament prophets. When he started focusing on the New Testament and Primitive Christianity (read early first century), he started getting off on a the whole critical search for a historical Jesus deal. The deal being that the Jesus of the Gospels is not the “real” Jesus, but a mixture of “real” information and “added” information. Schweitzer really liked Mark and Matthew – as they are the two oldest Gospel accounts – and, as such, focused his writings around those two books.

Summary:

It’s a good read – however, I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. As I mentioned above, Schweitzer gets pretty critical when dealing with the New Testament – especial the Gospels. The problem being that you really can’t throw out parts of the Bible as “false” just because you don’t like it or think that it’s not true. The Gospels, for the most part, when eye witness accounts. The writers wrote what they saw – who are we, two thousand years later, to say that they did not see what they said they saw?

Schweitzer falls prey to the modern logical mind of discounting anything supernatural… we must remember that God is not to be contained within our little box. He is much bigger – and we will never, ever fully understand Him on this side of the mirror. One day perhaps, but for now, we must learn to live with the mystery. [@more@]

Like:

Schweitzer does a great job at explaining the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament – especial in the pre-exilic prophets (Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah). As the book progresses through the prophets, Schweitzer brings in some of the beliefs and thoughts of the Iranian Religion around 650 to 600 BC. The main focus being on Zarathustra and on how his views on the Kingdom of God influenced the Jewish people.

At first, I was quite put off on the fact that Schweitzer was suggesting that Biblical prophets where influenced by non-Biblical religions and leaders. Then I stopped myself – is God limited to only what is recorded in the Bible? No. He is bigger then the Bible – most likely He was working in and through Zarathustra to show the world His glory.

Schweitzer also made me question the dating of the book of Daniel. While I’ve been through Bible school, I didn’t remember that the date that Daniel was written was questioned… but it is. The two main schools of thought place the Book of Daniel either during the time of Nebuchadnezzar (ie. 605 BC – 562 BC) or some time after Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the altar (176 BC).

Of course, if it was written in the second century BC, that means that Daniel didn’t write it. The later date would also cause the “prophecies” contained therein to be commentary instead of future visions. After thinking and praying about, I decided it really didn’t matter. The book still tells us about the Lord and His working in the world through different means. The Kingdom of Heaven still wins – either way.

I also enjoyed the way Schweitzer brought some of the writings of late Judaism – mainly Enoch and the Apocalypses of Ezra and Baruch. For years I have been meaning to read the Apocryphal – now I have a greater desire to do so. (G – I borrowed your old Oxford Bible with the Apocryphal….)

Dislike:

Schweitzer denies the physical resurrection of Jesus – claiming instead that what the apostle’s saw was only a vision. He disregards the Biblical passages of Jesus eating and drinking with the apostles and disciples saying that they were added later to help ‘prove’ the myth of Jesus’ physical resurrection.

In addition, Schweitzer also places an almost unhealthy stress on the humanness of Jesus. Part of this was a reaction to the times when he lived as most theologians in the late 1800 to early 1900’s focused on the divine part of Jesus. This stress comes to light in Schweitzer’s comments about how Jesus did not knew who he was – but instead considered himself nothing more then an man who was following God. This view leaves out the claims of Jesus to BE God – of course, Schweitzer would say that those passages where added later. You can see how Schweitzer went from one extreme to the other.

Small Footprint, Big Handprint – a book report

Every once in a while you come across a book that echos the cry of your heart – in a lot of ways, Tri Robinson's Small Footprint, Big Handprint: How to Live Simply and Love Extravagantly does just that. It puts words to the desire to go beyond the status quo of normal, everyday life – to go beyond our wildest dreams and change the world for the Kingdom of God. This may seem like a cliche – but it is truly the cry of my heart – one that will not shut up or be quieted.

Small Footprint, Big Handprint echos this cry and gives the Church a choice: simplify your life and live big for God or continue with the same old live that fades into nothing.

I, for one, choose to take on the challenge and change the world for the Glory of the Most High Lord.

Summary:

"For when I begin to live simply thus leaving a smaller footprint, I can begin to love extravagantly thus making a bigger handprint."

This quote sums up the entire book. If we really want to make a difference in the world for the Kingdom of Heaven, we must begin to simplify our life – getting out of debt, living simpler, and basically creating a smaller footprint. Once we have done this, we will have the resources (time, money, energy, etc) to pour into the work of the Kingdom. [@more@]

"Whenever God calls me to do something, I want to be able to do it immediately, free from excessive responsibility that prohibits me from following him fully. And when I'm living a simplified life, I'm more free to love others, demonstrating the power of the Gospel at its essence."

Through out the book, Tri provides actions points for people who want to try to simplify their lives. At the very end, he recaps everything in four steps to reformation:

  1. Consecration – a willful decision to commit oneself to God
  2. Transformation – this is an issue of the mind. It is the process of coming into a new worldview – the "Kingdom perspective"
  3. Sanctification – the process of which God makes us more like him. God renders our hearts "to see the world the way he sees it and gives us not only the desire to do something about it, but empowers our gifts and abilities to be effective".
  4. Reformation – we must be willing to let God re-form not only our individual lives, but also we must be willing to let God reform us on the corporate church level.

"A reformer is an agent of social change, a person who will never be satisfied with a complacent status quo society that's destined for destruction. A reformer is a fighter who as the heart of a Spirit-filled warrior. They are not overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair, but have received the call to place themselves on the very front lines of a world in crisis, seeing it as Kingdom opportunity. They have embraced the adventure. They are people who believe that God delights in doing extraordinary things with ordinary people – if they will have the faith to believe it and a willingness to step out."

Likes:

I love how Tri calls people to live boldly – to embrace the adventure of living for Christ:

"The adventure is not an organization; it's a philosophy…The adventure is simply embracing the idea that we can join a movement that is a spirit-inspired and change people's lives. Try as we may, we can't keep God under control. It's up to us to recognize what he is doing and join him in the great adventure that he is laying out for all his people who will willfully and joyfully follow."

Through out the book, Tri provides actions points for the reader to follow – both in a small group and as an individual. This is a rare jewel to find in a book.

Dislikes:

None.

Serve God Save The Planet – A book review

I have resolved to start writing book reviews on all the books that I read. Seeing that I tend to read a ton of books, I'm praying that I will be able to force myself pause after each one and type up something. =)

The first book on the block is Serve God Save The Planet by Matthew Sleeth.

Summary:

In keeping up with the title, the book show how taking care of the environment and serving God can (and should be) connected. It does this by showing the connection between areas that are usually disconnected:

  • Materialistic lifestyles
  • Abuse of natural resources
  • Rise of cancer and health problems
  • Poverty in third world countries

Through out the entire book, Dr. Sleeth continues to point the reader back to the One True God:

"For me to love God, I must love all people. This book has been about the works we can do to save the next generation. Some may say that I've shortchanged faith. The argument about good works and their relative merit to faith is as old as the book as Acts. The Bible settles this issue: There is no faith without works, and no works without faith. It is like arguing the merit of my left hand versus my right as I flatten a piece of clay between them. One hand may be stronger, but it is useless without its weaker half."

[@more@]Like:

The way Dr. Sleeth connects the dots between a cheap fast-food burger and the Central/South America farmers who are clear-cutting forests. The loss of forest in the Amazon is in turn helping to cause droughts in Africa, which drives poverty and death. Everything is connected…

I also enjoyed the way Dr. Sleeth calls for the Church to simplify their lives so they can do more the Kingdom of God. For example: he calls for people to get rid of their TVs and spend more time with their families. This is something everyone in the US needs to hear as the TV is becoming the next generation's baby sitter.

Dislike:

Sometimes Dr. Sleeth gets a little carried away in telling 'war' stories from his days as an ER doctor. While they are good stories, I didn't see how they fit into the topics being discussed. =/

Ranking (1-10 with 10 being excellent):  8.5

It's a quick and easy read with some great information.