March 31, 2016

Book Review: The Spirit in Football



The Spirit in Football, by Kathryn Nixon and Ana Boudreau demonstrates how Christian values, particularly the fruits of the Spirit, are easily infused into sporting activities…primarily football.  This children’s book is creatively written and illustrated by Nixon and Boudreau in a scrapbook style manner.

In the book, the authors share, “Just as our Heavenly Father hides the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ within our hearts, we have hidden God’s created fruit for you to seek throughout this book.”  It’s based on Galatians 5:22-23, and these scripture verses state: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

The Spirit in Football highlights each fruit of the Spirit with an additional scripture verse and how it can be applied towards playing football.  For example, kindness focuses on the following: “Even if I fumble the ball or make an incomplete pass, my teammates support me and treat me with kindness and respect,” along with the scripture verse of Ephesians 4:32.  Plus, this book includes a short introduction by Matt Hasselbeck, NFL quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.

Young children will most enjoy this book, but it’s also a great tool for parents and coaches to implement the fruits of the Spirit into football, and then possibly leading towards utilizing the fruits of the Spirit in daily activities.  With football as the primary theme, this book is geared more towards boys.  However, girls interested in sports, particularly football, will benefit from this book, too.  While any nationality might enjoy this book, it seems to be written for American children, since football is commonly known as an American sport and the American flag is prominently displayed on the front cover.

In addition to The Spirit in Football, Nixon and Boudreau have written and illustrated The Spirit in Baseball.  In a recent Question and Answer session by B and B Media Group, Nixon shared, “We would like to do a basketball and a soccer book,” which would expand their The Spirit in Sports series.


Note: I received this book from B and B Media, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Book Review: The Spirit in Baseball



The Spirit in Baseball, by Kathryn Nixon and Ana Boudreau demonstrates how Christian values, particularly the fruits of the Spirit, are easily infused into sporting activities…primarily baseball.  This children’s book is creatively written and illustrated by Nixon and Boudreau in a scrapbook style manner.

In the book, the authors share, “Just as our Heavenly Father hides the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ within our hearts, we have hidden God’s created fruit for you to seek throughout this book.”  It’s based on Galatians 5:22-23, and these scripture verses state: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

The Spirit in Baseball highlights each fruit of the Spirit with an additional scripture verse and how it can be applied towards playing baseball.  For example, patience focuses on the following: “I am patient and happy to wait until it is my turn to bat,” along with the scripture verse of Romans 8:25.  This book includes a note of encouragement written by Trot Nixon, who is a 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series champion, as well as author Kathryn Nixon’s husband.

Young children will most enjoy this book, but it’s also a great tool for parents and coaches to implement the fruits of the Spirit into baseball, and then possibly leading towards utilizing the fruits of the Spirit in daily activities.  With baseball as the primary theme, this book is geared more towards boys.  However, girls interested in sports, particularly baseball or even softball, will benefit from this book, too.  While any nationality might enjoy this book, it seems to be written for American children, even as indicated on the front cover with the American flag.  However, there is a Spanish translation of The Spirit in Baseball (El Espiritu en Beisbol), but I’ve not read/reviewed that book.

In addition to The Spirit in Baseball, Nixon and Boudreau have written and illustrated The Spirit in Football.  In a recent Question and Answer session by B and B Media Group, Nixon shared, “We would like to do a basketball and a soccer book,” which would expand their The Spirit in Sports series.

Note: I received this book from B and B Media, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Book Review: The Blackberry Bush


The Blackberry Bush, by David Housholder is a fictional story of two main characters, Josh and Kati, growing up in different countries, yet their family’s heritage still links them together.  According to page 175, “The Blackberry Bush is basically a story about Josh and Kati, both born the day the Berlin Wall falls in 1989, and their coming of age and understanding.”

The family tree, titled The Generations, is an extremely helpful tool, while reading this book, since the stories skip between several characters, locations, and time frames.  The various characters share their stories in different time periods and locations, while the book’s font changes with the stories, too.  Throughout the novel, readers will be introduced to the following characters: Josh, Kati, Angelo, Walter, Nellie, Harald, Adri, Linda, Konrad, Janine, Michael, etc.  All their stories are intertwined and eventually lead back to Kati and Josh.

After reading this novel, there are several sections in the back of the book, under the heading…Taking It Deeper.  These sections include the following: About the Book, Questions for Discussion, Interview with the Author, Your Backstory, and About the Author.  The Questions for Discussion section is divided into two levels, which are “great to work through alone; best in a group, book club, or classroom setting,” as indicated on page 117.

The Blackberry Bush is an intriguing, well-written story, and it’s worth reading.  Christian themes are loosely woven into the story, but it’s not written as a typical Christian novel.  This fictional book is geared towards most age groups (from young adults to older generations).


Note: I received this book from B and B Media, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 29, 2016

Book Review: Branded



Branded: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture, by Tim Sinclair discusses various ways of sharing Jesus with today’s modern society.  On page ten, Sinclair wrote, “I'm convinced that when it comes to showing and sharing Jesus to and with the world around us, it's critical that we recognize our own unique situations, talents, abilities—and then efficiently use them to reach people within our individual spheres of influence."

This well-written and intriguing book is a quick read (with less than 150 pages), yet it’s packed with information that it’s ultimately based on Christian values.  There are examples from the author’s own life, as well as various marketing and media sources.

Sinclair shared in the preface, on page ten, "Other than the boundaries and guidelines provided by the Bible, nothing else should create a game plan for us because there is no right way for everybody....  So I'm not going to give you one.  I'll set the backdrop, and let you take it from there."

The thirteen chapters are titled as the following:  
  • Caught Off Guard: Why Branded Was Written 
  • Putting Lipstick on a Pig: What Branding Jesus Is (and Isn't) 
  • Playing Monopoly by Yourself: What Branding Jesus Is Up Against 
  • I Wanted a Honda: How Branding Jesus Was 
  • The Culture Club: Why Branding Jesus Is Difficult 
  • The Product Isn't the Problem: Where Branding Jesus Has Gone Wrong 
  • Spiritual Cereality: Why Branding Jesus Is Necessary 
  • Death of a Salesman: Effectively Advertising Jesus 
  • Sweet Emotion: Honestly Sharing Jesus 
  • White Headphones: Passionately Following Jesus 
  • Not Every Artist Wears a Funny Hat: Relevantly Showing Jesus 
  • Just Do It: Successfully Representing Jesus 
  • What If? Radical Ways to Re-market Jesus

This book also includes these sections: Introduction: Pretending or Living?, Conclusion: The End of the Beginning, and Discussion Questions.  In the Discussion Questions section, there are scripture verses to “read or reference” and five questions to ponder for each chapter.

Branded is ideal for people involved and/or interested in marketing, yet still readable for all (from teenagers to older generations) who want to share their faith with today’s consumer culture.  However, this book is geared more towards Americans, due to the various references throughout Branded.


Note: I received this book from Litfuse Publicity, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 26, 2016

Book Review: Pressing Into Thin Places


Pressing Into Thin Places: Encouraging the Heart toward God, by Margaret Harrell Wills is a mixture of personal experiences and stories, poetry, scripture verses, and Biblical narratives.

On page eleven and twelve, Wills explains the meaning of thin places, by sharing that “in Celtic tradition, a ‘thin place’ is the place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent….  The phenomenon of a place where the physical and natural everyday world merges into a thin line is well rooted in biblical history, but it was the Celts who first gave the descriptive phrase ‘thin place’ to it.”

Pressing Into Thin Places is simply about experiencing God’s presence in daily life.  According to the Author’s Note on page XVII, “This book expresses the universal fears, trials, disappointments, and joys that we experience in our day-to-day journey and encourages the heart and mind toward God by pointing to the wisdom, hope, and faithfulness of the scriptures and Holy Spirit.”

There are twelve main sections, including Thin Places, No Other Stream, Tearing off the Mask, The Fall, Speaking in the Waves, A Listening Heart, Our Starting Place, The Way to Your Door, The Reality of Living, Beauty from Ashes, Rebirth, and Amen.

This interesting and encouraging book is geared towards adults of any age, particularly those who enjoy poetry.


Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 25, 2016

Book Review: Max on Life


Max on Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions, by Max Lucado is an excellent resource and worthwhile book to read.

Lucado complied 172 questions that he’s been asked over the years, as a pastor and writer, from various individuals.  With these 172 questions, he provides 172 answers, based on scripture.

In the introduction (titled Before We Begin…), Lucado wrote, “Pastors receive many letters.  Writers are asked many questions.  Being both a pastor and a writer, I’ve heard more than my share.  And they’ve shaped my thoughts.”  He continued to share, “This book collects some of those thoughts.  Many of these answers appeared initially in earlier books.  Others are only now pageworthy.  But all of them, I pray, will help you with your questions.”

There are seven main sections are titled: Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-Nots, and Hereafter.  Here are the main sections and the topics discussed:
  • Hope: God, Grace, and “Why am I here?”
  • Hurt: Conflicts, Calamities, and “Why me?”
  • Help: Prayer, Scripture, and “Why church?”
  • Him/Her: Sex, Romance, and ‘Any chance of a second chance?”
  • Home: Diapers, Disagreements, and “Any hope for prodigals?”
  • Haves/Have-Nots: Work, Money, and “Where’s the lifeline?”
  • Hereafter: Cemeteries, Heaven, Hell, and “Who goes where?”

Plus, there’s a five page bonus chapter, titled The Write Stuff, which is geared towards writers and inspiring authors.  For easy reference, this book also includes a topical index and scripture index.

Max on Life is an ideal book for anyone to read…from teenagers to young adults to older generations, as well as from dedicated Christians to new believers to those still searching for faith.  This book is highly recommended.


Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 22, 2016

Book Review: In Constant Prayer

 
With prayer as a high priority, I am always interested to read books focusing on prayer.  So, I was delighted to recently request to read the book, In Constant Prayer, by Robert Benson.

Unfortunately, this book was not what I expected.

With the title, In Constant Prayer, I was expecting the book to focus on how to continually incorporate prayer into daily life, based on scripture.  Instead, the main focus was on reading “the daily office” and other specific prayers, as well as highlighting Catholic prayer values.  Scripture is hinted, but not cited or fully referenced.  Instead saints are quoted throughout the book.  This particular book doesn’t encourage prayer life, instead this book hinders it.

After reading the first few pages and realizing the subject matter was questionable, I continued to read this book solely from a journalist perspective. Based on this book, I won’t continue reading books in The Ancient Practice Series.

Even though there are personal anecdotes from the author’s life and the book is mostly well-written from an English standpoint, I’m unable to recommend this book, due to the questionable content.  The concept of constant prayer is important, but it's simply not properly expressed in this book.


Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 19, 2016

Book Review: The Final Summit

 
As an experienced traveler in his younger years, David Ponder frequently reminisces about his unique travels throughout history.  Now, at an older age, David is summoned by Gabriel the Archangel to attend a unique summit conference.  Every traveler, from various time periods throughout history, attends this summit.  It is facilitated by Gabriel and led by David, who is currently the only traveler living on earth, as well as the only traveler considered to be a common man.

Since humanity is destroying itself, the summit conference is focused on answering a specific question to save mankind.  With an hourglass depicting the remaining time, David and the rest of the travelers must determine how to save mankind, by answering the question with only two words.

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity, by Andy Andrews, is an intriguing fictional book with hints of non-fiction (particularly history and religion) included throughout the story.  With faith-based values and a few Biblical characters, there is a hint of Christianity.  However, the majority of the book is a semi-fictionalized narrative of David Ponder searching for the answer to save mankind, along with the assistance of other travelers.

These other travelers include Winston Churchill, Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, King David, Joan of Arc, etc.  While some historical figures are simply mentioned by name, some of these travelers share historical events that occurred during their lives, personal anecdotes, and various lessons they learned.

In the author’s note, on page 225, Andrews wrote, “While conversations between the summit’s participants were obviously created, the background information about each character is, without exception, absolutely true.”  Thus, the historical backgrounds are based purely on historical facts and even a little dialogue is accurate.

On page 225, Andrews shared that he is “responsible for most of the words spoken by the historical characters.  A very few of those words, however, are direct quotes from that character that I merely placed in context of the discussion.”

This intriguing book also includes a Readers’ Guide at the back of the book with about three to six questions listed per chapter.

Since The Final Summit is a sequel to The Traveler’s Gift [which I haven't read, yet], it would be ideal to read these books in order.  However, it is not necessary to read The Traveler’s Gift beforehand, since this book nicely sums up the necessary information from the other book for the readers who simply start with this one.  This fiction book is perfect for those interested in history, but it’s readable by anyone…from teenagers to older generations.


Note: I received this book from Book Sneeze, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 12, 2016

Movie Review: The Grandfathers


The Grandfathers is a motion-graphics film that primarily depicts the life of Jesse Saint, son of Steve Saint and grandson of Nate Saint.

On January 8, 1965, five Christian missionaries were speared to death by a group of Waodani warriors, while they were trying to evangelize to the Waodani people. These five men were Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian.

After these men were killed, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint continued to share the Gospel message with the Waodani people, despite that their family members were killed by this same group of people. Later on, Nate Saint’s wife and their children (including Steve Saint) moved to the Ecuadorian jungle to live the Waodani tribe. Eventually, many of the Waodani people accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior…including some of the men who killed those five Christian missionaries.

After growing up in Ecuador, Steve moved to the United States. Later on, his family consisted of his wife (Ginny) and four teenage children (Shaun, Jamie, Jesse, and Stephanie). Then, in 1995, Steve decided to move back to the jungle with his family, even though he was the only one familiar with this type of lifestyle. So, the entire family moved from a comfortable life in Florida to the Ecuadorian jungle, where they lived among the Waodani tribe.

Before moving to the jungle, Jesse Saint struggled to understand and relate to his family heritage. Since he wasn’t raised in the jungle with the tribe, like his father, the tales about his father’s and grandfather’s lives seemed very distant to him…until his teenage years, when his family lived with the Waodani tribe. After he experienced life in the Ecuadorian jungle, Jesse started to understand his family history, as well as developed deep friendships with the Waodani tribe members.

The Grandfathers described the Saint family’s experience in the jungle and building relationships with the Waodani tribe members, particularly between Jesse and Mincaye. While living in the jungle as a teenager, Jesse became friends with Mincaye Enquedi, an older Waodani man, and Jesse even began to call him grandfather in the native Waodani language.

Later on, Jesse realized that his Grandfather Mincaye was actually one of the Waodani men who killed his biological grandfather, Nate Saint. However, his Waodani friends, particularly Mincaye, didn’t seem like the same people. Referring to Mincaye, Jesse said, “Even though it was the same man, same hands, it was a different heart.” Previously, spearing each other to death was a way of life for the Waodani tribe, and they were known as a very violent tribe.

Despite their historical background and cultural differences, the Saint family and Waodani tribe still became a family through the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. While the Saint family no longer lives in the jungle, they continue to visit and work with their Waodani friends.

As a motion-graphics film, The Grandfathers is intermixed with video clips, interviews, photos, narration, etc. With a running time of 54 minutes, this non-fiction film was written by Jim Hanon and Jillian Hanon, directed by Jim Hanon, and produced by Mart Green. The central characters include Jesse Saint, Steve Saint, and Mincaye Enquedi, as well some of the Waodani tribe members and more of the Saint family members. 

The Grandfathers is the third film in the trilogy, which includes the documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, and feature film, End of the Spear [and I highly recommend watching both of these movies, too].

This intriguing film is worth watching, particularly for those interested in missions or those wanting to have a glimpse into life in the jungle. While The Grandfathers is a family friendly film with a PG rating, due to “thematic material and violent content,” the recommended age would be teenagers and older. A movie trailer link is included below.

By the way, I’ve visited Ecuador! Although I’ve not traveled as deep into the jungle as this film depicts. Hope you enjoy watching The Grandfathers!


Note: I received this book from B and B Media, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 7, 2016

Book Review: Revise Us Again


Revise Us Again: Living from a Renewed Christian Script, by Frank Viola is a book that discusses the Christian lifestyle.  The author compares the Christian life to living a script and shares how to revise that script.

Revise Us Again focuses on what the Viola considers to be “ten specific areas where many of us are in need of revising,” according to pages 10 and 11.  He continues to write on page 11, “In much of this, I’m simply sharing some of the discoveries I’ve made in my own personal struggles and challenges as a follower of Jesus Christ.  So I hope you will find this book to be challenging, inspiring, and encouraging all at the same time.”

These ten specific areas are discussed in ten chapters: God’s Three-Fold Speaking (Revising the Lord’s Voice), The Lord Told Me (Revising Christianeze), Let Me Pray About It (Revising Christian Code Language), Spiritual Conversational Styles (Revising Our Semantics), What’s Wrong with Our Gospel (Revising Our Message), Captured by the Same Spirit You Oppose (Revising Our Attitudes), The God of Unseen Endings (Revising Our Spiritual Expectations), Stripping Down to Christ Alone (Revising the Holy Spirit’s Ministry), and Your Christ is Too Small (Revising Our Chief Pursuit), as well as a bonus chapter, the Afterword, titled The Three Gospels.

With a primary focus on the author’s personal experiences, there are scripture verses included throughout the book.  Even though most of the content is quite firmly based on Christian values, there are some parts that tend to allow the readers to interpret the author’s meaning.  This leads me to be unable to fully recommend this book, but it’s still worth reading.  While this book is readable by anyone, keep in mind that it’s geared more towards Christian readers.


Note: I received this book from B and B Media, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 4, 2016

Book Review: True Courage


From national disasters to local news and from family issues to personal struggles, there’s always a world overflowing with pain and sadness, which often leads to worry and distress.  Yet, there’s still hope!

True Courage: Emboldened by God in a Disheartening World, by Steve Farrar is a book that allows readers delve deep into the life of Daniel, while learning (or possibly reviewing, depending on the reader’s situation) how to confidently live in courage, despite the surrounding circumstances.

Daniel demonstrated having True Courage, by fearing God, trusting God, and understanding God’s control over everything.  This book demonstrates relying on the Lord for strength and peace, while understanding that everything is according to His plan, even if it doesn’t make sense on earth.  So, be encouraged to show True Courage.

According to page 12, “True Courage is the result of knowing God.  Only then can a man display strength and take action.  And he can do so with a heart that is calm, steady, and at rest—even in the worst of times.  That kind of man knows that even when days look their darkest, God has a good plan.”

Farrar shares examples from his personal life, stories of Daniel and others mentioned in the Bible, and descriptions of people throughout history.  With a deep concentration on scripture, this book primarily focuses on the first six chapters of Daniel.  After the introduction, Troubled Hearts and True Courage, there are eight chapters, which include the following: Courage to Stay the Course, Acts and Facts, Flummoxed and Flabbergasted, Gold Standard, Lock, Stock, and Barrel, The Hard Way, A Slight Thing, and In the Company of Lions.

As a part of the Bold Men of God series, this intelligently written, yet easy to comprehend book is geared toward men.  Even though True Courage is more relatable to men, it’s worth reading by women, as well.  With Father’s Day approaching soon (June 19, 2011), keep in mind that True Courage would be an ideal gift to give.


Note: I received this book from B and B Media, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

March 2, 2016

Book Review: The Titus Mandate


With a primarily focus on rescuing, protecting, and restoring Christian churches, The Titus Mandate, by Ted Bigelow is an interesting and thought-provoking book.  According to page five, “The Titus Mandate is a comprehensive plan for Christians and their churches that is holy and very simple to understand.”

This Titus Mandate is based on Titus 1:5, which states, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.”  On page five, Bigelow wrote, “This verse of Scripture and its implications are what this book is all about….  The Titus Mandate is a matter of spiritual life and death for Christian and churches today, even as it was on Crete.”

During ancient times (around 64 AD), Paul wrote a letter to Titus, which became the Biblical book of Titus.  This letter informed Titus how to organize and supervise the churches in Crete, and island located south of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea.  While this letter to Titus was written during ancient times, it is still relevant and applicable to today’s Christian churches.

In The Titus Mandate, there are fourteen chapters within four main parts, which are titled as Defining the Titus Mandate, Embracing the Titus Mandate, Defending the Titus Mandate, and Implementing the Titus Mandate.  Part one focuses on Titus 1:5, as well as the book of Titus.  These chapters include Rescuing Christians from Danger, Protecting Sheep from Sin, Restoring Your Authority in Your Church, and Appointing Elder Authority in Your Church.

Part two explains how The Titus Mandate applies to all churches.  These chapters include Replacing Disunity with Unity, Resting in the Safety of Counselors, Dismantling and Rebuilding, Testing for Godly Elders, and Merging and Planting Safe Churches.  Part three focuses on an in-depth Bible study, in relation to The Titus Mandate.  These chapters include The Age and Number of Crete’s Churches, Polity and Church History, Matthew to Acts, and Corinthians to Galatians.

Part four explains how to use The Titus Mandate in churches today, and the sole chapter is titled as Preparing for Elders.  Throughout the book, under the title of Why I Love Eldership, there are various quotes from individuals across the United States and around the world, sharing about their views of eldership.

The Titus Mandate is primarily geared towards adults, particularly church leaders and church members.  However, anyone interested in the benefit of implementing elders in the church would benefit from reading this book.


Note: I received this book from B and B Media, which is a program designed for bloggers to write book reviews in exchange for books, yet the opinions expressed in this review are my own.