Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Same Location Different Season: Winter

Can you see the curious horse through the trees?  He came down the hill to investigate.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review for A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

I don't normally read books for youth but the "Family that Reads" Blog ( made the book sound so appealing that I decided to get it (which I did for free through

This book is told with the right combination of interesting characters and humor. The chapters are short, sometimes only a page long which makes it easy to read “just one more chapter” till you're a third of the way through the book in one sitting.

Urban wrote the book through the eyes of Zoe, the heroine of Crooked Kind of Perfect. We read Zoe's thoughts that are written in the present tense in a streamline of consciousness.  Zoe, as if talking to herself rather than the reader, imagines being a concert pianist. She can see in her mind the beautiful experience it will be:  dressed in a long gown and tiara, the audience dressed up in gowns and tuxedos. She plays perfectly, the audience responds enthusiastically..sigh...

Except that when her dad goes out to buy a piano, he instead returns with the Perfectone D-60. This is an organ that has all sorts of buttons to push so you can play “Green Acres” with a Rhumba beat or “Forever in Blue Jeans” to a Salsa one.

We cannot really blame her dad because he, well, he has challenges. Zoe never reveals what his particular problem is, whether he's borderline autistic, has OCD, agoraphobia or what. We only come to understand that he can't leave the house or function independently. This requires that her mother work full time and pretty much all the time.

Through Zoe's eyes we meet her best friend Emily who soon is no longer her best friend because Emily has found a new best friend; her dad's limitations that cause him not only to buy an organ instead of a piano but also 432 rolls of toilet paper (which, on the plus side negates the need to buy any more toilet paper for the next several years), a flamboyant organ teacher, and Wheeler.

Wheeler is an interesting study. He lives with his dad because his mother is gone (we don't know why). He's rather anti-social but when Zoe loses her best friend, Wheeler, in an offhand kind of way, befriends her. In fact he develops the habit of staying at her house after school and develops a chummy relationship with her dad.

The interplay between all the characters, their individual personalities and the overriding plot where Zoe learns how to play and eventually compete on the organ makes for an interesting and enjoyable read.

A Crooked Kind of Perfect will make you laugh but also sympathize with the cruelties of adolescence that nevertheless still allow us to become the independent persons that we're created to be.

What I liked about the book in addition to its humor and storyline was that all the characters were believable and lacked the usual predictable formula.

The only negative is that all the songs that Zoe learns to play on the organ will probably only be appreciated by people my age, thereby reducing the humor element for younger readers. My teenage son didn't know any of the songs. However, that didn't diminish his enjoyment of the book as we read it out loud together.

If you buy the book, please do so through my link as it allows me to get a small percentage back. Thanks!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review for We Be Big: The Mostly True Story of how two kids from Calhoun County, Alabama became Rick and Bubba

We Be Big: The Mostly True Story of How Two Kids from Calhoun County, Alabama, Became Rick and Bubba

“We Be Big” is the story of two Alabama boys and how they came to be the highly successful “Rick and Bubba” radio show. Rick and Bubba recount in alternating chapters their childhood ambitions that led them to working on radio stations separately and finally to working together to become the famous, smart-alecky, southern drawling and -in their own words- “sexiest fat men” to ever grace a radio dial.

Bubba was a techno geek from an early age, discovering he could broadcast on radio when he readjusted a copper wire in a walkie talkie. Rick, on the other hand, hoped to follow in his football coaching father's footsteps. Rick did impress the college coaches with his outstanding performance in high school football but a strange set of “coincidences” led Rick out of a career in football and into one as a deejay on a radio station. One day Rick and Bubba would discover there was an Orchestrator of many such coincidences.

Bubba never swerved from his fascination with radio electronics and wound up as engineer at another radio station. They eventually got together, slowly weened music out of their program, started speaking with their actual country accents and primarily focused on talking to each other and the ever-increasing amount of callers that would provide colorful conversations for the show.

These two “country boys” relate how hard work, determination and Someone Else will help you succeed at using your God given talents. According to the book, most radio stations are run from an elite (or elitist) board of directors and marketing experts- all who mostly decided that two good ol' boys from northern Alabama weren't safe advertising draws. Their show moved around from one station to another until even the Big Boys had to admit that “The Rick and Bubba Show” was hugely popular.

The added ingredient to their success -and what partly made the “experts” consider their show risky- was the fact that both men are open about their faith in God. Rick candidly admits in his chapters that he didn't start out that way. He was like so many professing Christians in that he was a “cultural Christian”: went to Church, went through the motions, but there was no real commitment or any real difference in his lifestyle.

That gradually changed and Rick became a man, like Bubba, who wasn't ashamed or embarrassed to share his beliefs on the air. It also made the difference when dealing with the stressers that working in the entertainment industry can hand to you. Both men credit God for the many “coincidences” that occurred and led to their success.

This is a good book for anyone interested in a career in radio or who have listened to Rick and Bubba's show and would like to know more about their personal backgrounds, walk with God and how they came to be the two sexiest fat men alive.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze for my honest review.

Please buy this book through my link below so I can receive a small percentage of the price.  Thanks!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Opportunity to win books

Tyndale Publishing Co has requested that I post the following to my blog.  Hope you all sign up!
It’s always a pleasure when I get to reach out and share with you something exciting that we’re doing here at Tyndale. It’s even more exciting when I get to tell you about something AND give away a ton of Bibles.

Here’s the latest exciting thing:

In honor of Tyndale launching its new book club enewsletter we’re running a 30 day giveaway on our website. The Book Club Hub Newsletter will be an email newsletter geared towards people who are in or are running book clubs. It will feature suggestions, discussion guides and great ideas for your book clubs. You can see a preview by clicking here.

To enter the giveaway you just need to visit the contest page and click on the book you’d like to sign up to win. You can even go back and sign up for both books. Each day is a new giveaway so you can return to the site each day and try to win. Every few days the books change, so check back!

Here’s how you can help:

1. Visit the page and sign up to win one or both of the free books daily.

2. Post about this giveaway and about the Book Club Hub Newsletter on your blog.

3. Fill out this form with the address of your blog post.

4. Shake at least two people’s hands today and tell them about the contest.

The first 100 people to fill out this form will win a free copy of The Holy Bible Mosaic: NLT!

Please feel free to write me back if you have any questions, or follow me on twitter at

God bless!

Adam Sabados

Tyndale House Publishers

Digital Media Coordinator

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book review of The Real Kate Chopin by Lorraine Nye Eliot

Literary Blog Hop

This week's Literary Blog Hop question: Does the popularity of a novel predispose me to like or dislike it? Answer: The fame or popularity of a novel may motivate me to read it but I am particularly independant minded when it comes to what I like. I've never liked a book (or anything else for that matter) simply because it's fashionable to do so. I'm definitely an "upstream swimmer". Speaking of popularity, please enjoy my book review on an author who wasn't popular during her own lifetime but has since gained the fame her writing deserves.

Kate Chopin was one of the most polished writers to ever grace a page with the art of written expression. Her ability to create imagery and local color in such a way that allows the reader a delightful vicarious experience of bayous, 18th century Southern French culture and dialogue expressed by Cajun or French American tongues is in a class of its own.

She was also moral reprobate.

I admit that is not how Lorraine Nye Eliot describes Chopin. In her book The Real Kate Chopin, she uses the contemporary terms acceptable to today's modern feminist:

Kate Chopin is best known for her novel, The Awakening, the beautifully told story of a young woman's awakening to her own identity as a free and sexual being, which puts her in a tragic conflict with the expectations upon her as a woman, wife, and mother in the puritanical America of the 1890's.(From the back cover)

This theme runs throughout this thorough biography of Kate Chopin. Anyone interested in the life of this brilliant but controversial writer will enjoy reading Eliot's description of Chopin's childhood, family upbringing (strict Catholic), happy but unfortunately short-lived marriage (her husband died relatively young) and subsequent efforts to get her work published.

After the chronology of her life, the rest of the book delves primarily into Chopin's literary work, how it reveals her personal life and philosophies and how hard it was for her to get her work published. The main obstacle, according to Eliot, was that Victorian America was not ready for a woman to write about erotic, sensual subject matters. Frances Percher, a contemporary author wrote of Chopin's work:

One would fain beg the gods, in pure cowardice, for sleep unending rather than to know what an ugly, cruel, loathsome thing Passion is.....There is no fault to find with the telling of the story, there are no blemishes in its art, but it leaves one sick of human nature and so one feels-cui bono (to whose benefit)! (pg. 118)

Even Willa Cather “scolded Kate Chopin for 'devoting so exquisite and sensitive, well-governed a style to so trite and sordid a theme.'

Cather flays Chopin...for creating characters 'who demand more romance out of life than God put into it.' Their female characters 'expect the passion of love to fill and gratify every need of life, whereas nature only intended that it should meet one of many demands.” She concluded the review with the hope that next time 'Miss Chopin will devote that flexible iridescent style of hers to a better cause.'” (pg120.)

In point of fact, I agree with both Percher and Cather on Chopin's work as much as Eliot disagrees with them. She lauds Chopin's philosophy of “freedom from societal constraints” and loathing of “preaching moralists” who “oppress others with their sense of right and wrong.” Neither Eliot nor Chopin seem to view their own writing as preachy when propagating what they believe is right and wrong.

Chopin is indeed ahead of her time in believing that women who are not happy in their marriages should be free to divorce and marry someone else or simply take on as many lovers as they so choose. She was not ahead of her time when she failed to see the repercussions of such a philosophy that has scourged our society for the last fifty years. I worked several years in public school and saw first hand the price children pay when they grow up in single family homes or, as is increasingly the case, raised by their grandparents when their parents choose to embark on the “sexual emancipation” and abandonment of their children (as Chopin's heroine Edna does in “The Awakening”). The rise in emotionally disturbed children, angry, unstable children having to raise themselves because no one else feels obligated to do so daily breaks my heart.

Furthermore, as honestly as Eliot charts Chopin's life (and she does a great job of it, quoting several excerpts of letters and diaries) she fails to see, as Chopin failed to see, that her happiest years were when she was married. After her husband died and she decided to live out the lifestyle she wrote of in her books (she had numerous lovers) she developed severe depression. Of course Eliot would blame that on societal norms, but the fact is Chopin wasn't rejected by society even if her literature was. She had many friends (and lovers) and an active social life. Nothing fettered her from doing what she wanted. Nevertheless, the happiness she enjoyed as a child inside the frame of an intact, deeply religious family as well as the joy she experienced as a married woman eluded her during her own “years of emancipation.”

Personal commentary aside, if you are a lover of Chopin's literature and want to know more about one of America's most eloquent writer's life and career, Eliot's book is an excellent resource.

I received a complimentary copy of The Real Chopin as a member of the
Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

If you buy this book, please do so through my link so I can get a small percentage back, thanks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day!

What book must I read before I die?  Anything by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky!
Literary Blog Hop

In celebration of St. Patrick's day I am going to review one of my favorite genres of literature (as if I needed an excuse): Celtic folklore.

Finn McCoul:  The Legendary Irish Folk Hero by Brian Gleeson; illustrated by Peter de Seve

First is Finn McCoul. There are many varying stories about this legendary giant who supposedly helped make the Causeway between Ireland and Scotland but my favorite is a children's picture book that depicts Finn as loveable if a bit bumbling but, thanks to a clever wife, makes out all right in the end. This story, retold by Brian Gleeson and illustrated by Peter de Seve, is my favorite version. The illustrations are so dramatic and humorous. In this particular retelling, we have the origins of Finn- rejected by his father but saved by his grandmother who raises him in secret. He grows up to be a famous giant hero but he has one fear: an even bigger giant CuCullen. CuCullen has whipped every other giant except Finn. The reason for this being that Finn has the power to foresee the future when he chews on his thumb. This has enabled him to know when CuCullen was coming and escape.

Finally, Finn realizes there has to be a show down. He rushes home and laments his dilemma to his wife, the beautiful Oonagh. Oonagh calms Finn and tells him to leave everything to her. The rest of the story is how Oonagh, with Finn's cooperation, out wit the dreaded CuCullen in such a way that they never have to fear him again. I've read this story countless times to my music students and we've even put the story to music by inserting a simple poem refrain (created by the kids) to be sung at various intervals throughout the narration of the story.

The following books are a part of a huge collection of Celtic fairy tales and lore that I've accumulated over the years. Most of my books are out of print so I've only selected a few that might still be attainable.

Irish Fairy Tales and Legends by Una Leavy and Susan Field

I bought this book mainly for the beautiful illustrations that are rich in color and detail. A lot of gold, blue and red is used inspired, perhaps, by Medieval paintings. This book is a collection of ten stories including How Cuchulainn got His Name; The Magic Shoes; the Children of Lir, and The Giant's Causeway. Leavy gives background descriptions of each story in the back of the book and also a pronunciation guide since, frankly, none of the names sound like they are spelled.

Irish Fairy Tales by Jeremiah Curtin

This is a non illustrated collection that includes stories more about the supernatural and their dealings with ordinary folk rather than about legendary people. Stories include: John Connors and the Fairies; The Cattle Jobber of Awnascawil; The Midwife of Listowel; Daniel Crowley and the Ghosts, and Tom Connors and the Dead Girl -to name a few.

The Story of the Irish Race by Seumas MacManus

Seumas MacManus originally wrote this book, with the help of several Irish scholars in 1921. The book I have is a revised edition. MacManus gives a chronology of all the peoples who came to Ireland, conquered only to became absorbed by succeeding conquerors until we arrive at the Irish race as we know it today. I found this book particularly interesting for the descriptions of the different tribes and nations such as the Firbolg, Tuatha De Danaan, Milesians, Picts, of course, the Gallic tribes and later even the Danes who all contributed their culture and genes to the people of Eire.

This book also includes many famous legends and fairy tales as well as invasions of Britain ,stories about the Saints, Education and Irish Missionaries who went abroad. MacManus delves into customs and social mores of ancient Ireland and describes this history of Ireland from ancient times up to the 20th century. The book is written in a way that is fluid and interesting as if he were retelling a fairy tale even when he's recounting history.

Finally, I must leave you with a poem by one of my favorite Irish poets, William Butler Yeats.

Born in Dublin in 1865, Yeats grew up in the turbulent times of Irish resistance to English rule. As an adult he became actively involved in the struggle for Irish independence. His real contribution to Ireland, however, was his poetry which won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1923. He is Ireland's greatest poet and many believe that no other modern English or American poet can match his vision and versatility. (From the Introduction of William Butler Yeats: Selected Poems)

The following is one of his earlier poems:

The Fiddler of Dooney

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney

Folk dance like a wave of the sea,

My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,

My brother in Moharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:

They read in their books of prayer;

I read in my book of song

I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time,

To Peter sitting in state,

He will smile on the three old spirits,

But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,

Save by an evil chance,

And the merry love the fiddle

And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,

They will all come up to me,

With “Here is the fiddler of Dooney!”

And dance like a wave of the sea.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book review of The Blessing of Adversity by Barry C. Black

The Blessing of Adversity: Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's TroublesThe Blessing of Adversity: Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's Troubles by Barry C. Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Barry C. Black is the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. He grew up in inner city Baltimore but had a mother who used her welfare checks to put all five of her children in Christian boarding schools. This book is evidence of an excellent education. It is apparent from the book that not only is Mr. Black well-versed in the Bible but also knowledgeable in classical literature. His book is riddled with quotes of works by everyone from Plato to Shakespeare. Not only is he a prolific reader but he is a proficent writer. The Blessing of Adversity is written (without a co or ghost writer) in a lucid, well-organized and fluid manner that makes it easy to read and understand.

Black divides the book up into three sections. The first contains different strategies to dealing with hardship and troubles that come into our life. He uses many passages of scripture to support what he says. At the end of each chapter is a summary of the action plan outlined as a list of goals to accomplish.

In the second section Black discusses how to avoid trouble by not worrying but trusting God, running away from temptations and turning loss into gain. In the final section he details how to increase your faith and using the adversity that God has put into your life as an opportunity to become strong in Him.

Included are personal stories of how Mr. Black became a gang member, narrowly escaped a life of crime and prison to become a Navy Chaplain then the U.S. Senate chaplain. He also shares a few experiences from his work with different senators and other political leaders. I recommend this book for anyone who would like solid, scripturally based strategies for overcoming the odds of life and living a life that has joy and victory. The Blessing of Adversity is for someone who wants to say in the midst of affliction “I am blessed!”

This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing company in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand



All I can say is wow.

How do you describe such a book as Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand?
Louie Zamperini was the son of Italian immigrants who moved from the east coast to the west for the sake of their son's health. Louie repaid his parents by doing his utmost to be the most dreaded hood of his neighborhood. When he wasn't getting into fights, he was stealing from the neighbors. When he was doing neither of those he was playing pranks on everyone.

This might have led Louie straight to a juvenile detention center if his older brother Pete had not stepped in. Pete determined that Louie was going to be a runner. The first section of this book details how a two bit delinquint from a small town in Cailifornia made his way to the Olympics in Germany in 1936. He was the youngest runner there. He didn't win but he knew he had another chance in 1940.

Only he didn't.

WWII broke out and Louie found himself as a bombadier on a B-24. The second section of the book gives us an exciting description of Louie's life in the Army Air Corps. This section is fascinating for its detail of life as a soldier during the war if nothing else.

But there is something else.

Louie's plane crashed in the ocean. He and two others survived on a raft for a month and a half. I could hardly read this section it was so intense. When the men weren't being scorched by the heat and starved, they were trying to avoid being shot at by strafe shooters or attacked by sharks. Louie described feeling the backs of the sharks as they swam underneath the rafts.

Two sharks about eight feet long, were placidly circling the raft....Curious, he dropped a hand into the water and laid it lightly on a passing shark, feeling its back and dorsal fin as it slid beneath him. Beautiful, he thought.....

He was kneeling there, perched over the edge of the raft, when one of the sharks that he had touched leapt from the water at terrific speed, mouth wide open, lunging straight at his head....(pg. 160, 161)

You'll have to read the book to find out how that resolves. Hee, hee.

Finally, the raft makes it to an island and the two surviving men (one died on the raft) collapse in relief on the shore.

But not for long.

The island is occupied by Japanese soldiers. This next section is the most dreadful portion of the entire book. Louie now embarks on the darkest hours of his life. I'm sure he believed that he had descended into hell.

As I read these chapters of Louie's life as a POW and how he was mercilessly tormented by the Japanese guards I couldn't help but think of a children's book that is in school libraries. It's titled, One Thousand Paper Cranes. It's a story about a Japanese girl who develops Leukemia as a result of the Atomic bomb radiation from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's a very sad and touching story and also a very effective piece of propaganda calculated to make Americans feel that we were wrong to bomb Japan in WWII.

Well, I suggest all those people who have had their emotions manipulated by that book read Unbroken. You won't feel responsible for anyone in Japan getting cancer due to an act by America that effectively ended a war that had already left millions dead.

In its rampage over the east, Japan had brought atrocity and death on a scale that staggers the imagination.. Japan held some 132,000 POWs...of those, nearly 36,000 died, more than one in every four. More than 37% of American POWs died. By comparison only 1 percent held by Nazis and Italians died.

In accordance with the kill-all order, the Japanese massacred all 5,000 Korean captives on Tinian, all of the POWs on Ballale, Wake and Tarawa... they were evidently about to murder all the other POWs and civilian internees in their custody when the atomic bomb brought their empire crashing down. (pg. 314, 315)

Then the aftermath.

Hillenbrand, in the penultimate section of her book, writes in heart-rending detail the challenges the POWs faced in learning how to live a normal life back home after being treated like an animal for four years.

Well, it doesn't happen. No one goes back to normal. Normal is gone.

Louie deals with it by drinking heavily and being abusive. He falls in love and gets married but that doesn't make his nightmares go away.

But that's not the end of the story.

The last part of this book is, to me, the most powerful and most moving. I don't want to give it away, but once again, God shows how his transforming love changes despair to hope, hatred to love, and the desire for vengeance into the ability to forgive.

I highly recommend this book and NO publisher gave it to me for my honest review. I bought it myself and I recommend you do too.

For more reviews on WWII:
The Navajo Code Talkers
The Secret Holocaust Diaries
On Hitler's Mountain and In My Hands
The Whisperers

Post Script:  I wrote this blog before the terrible disaster occurred in Japan this last week.  Let's keep the Japanese in our prayers as they deal with this horrible catastrophe.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book review for Life in Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice

Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice

      Life in Spite of Me is a riveting account of one young girl's incredible journey from the jaws of death to another chance at life.

Kristen Anderson grew up your typical all-American kid. Her family attended traditional church. She considered herself a good person. As she was soon to find out, being a good person or attending church wasn't enough to help her withstand life's trials. The first strike against her (maybe the first two?) was that her father's family had a history of depression. Her grandmother suffered from it and her father suffered from it. As Kristen entered adolescence it soon became apparent that she, too, would be battling those “black demons” that sit on our shoulders and whisper futile thoughts into our ears. All it took were a few triggers. These triggers came in the form of the death of her grandmother and the death by suicide of a dear friend.

These two losses in her young life were were hard for Kristen to cope with. She couldn't stop brooding over them. Especially the suicide of her friend. Over and over she questioned, “Why did he do it?”

Then, one night at a party, Kristen found herself alone with an older man. Taking advantage of Kristen's youth and their solitude, he raped her. Not date rape. Not statutory rape. He forced himself on her like a thug in a back alley.

Kristen told no one about this. She blamed herself or tried to persuade herself that it was consensual. When this man later called her up and threatened her if she called the police, she shut down completely. Any feeling of self-worth or control over her life vanished. From that time forward Kristen's descent into black depression was complete.

Her family and friends saw things were wrong. They attributed it to defiance, rebelliousness, teenage angst, depression that needed medication. The psychiatrist, listened long enough to label and medicate her. When she glared at him in frustration, he called her a defiant brat who would end up working at McDonald's for the rest of her life.

So one night, on the way home from a party that her parents had forbidden her to go to, Kristen finally succumbed to the overwhelming sense of uselessness, guilt, and oppression. She wanted to release herself from a misery that wouldn't let her go.

In the distance she heard an approaching train.  She walked up to the nearby railroad, lay across the tracks and waited.

She lay there listening to all thirty-three freight train cars running over her body at fifty-five miles per hour. Afterward, she was still alive.

When she looked up, she could see her legs lying far away on the other side of the tracks.

I know. Pretty big introduction. But the most exciting part of the book just begins. Kristen then relates to the reader her hard, physical and spiritual trek up a steep mountain. A rough one that she had to, figuratively speaking, rock climb legless.

Bit by bit Kristen starts a new life. One without legs. Still battling depression, still medicated-only now she has to take drugs for physical as well as mental pain.

One day at church, a lady she didn't know or had seen before approached her. “You're lucky you're alive.” She said. “Otherwise you'd be in hell.”

Stunned, Kristen sought her family for reassurance. Oh no. They all quickly rallied. You'd have gone to heaven. You're a good person.

Was she?

The brief exchange with someone she had never seen before or since was the turning point for Kristen. The more she thought about it the more she wondered. This led to her truly surrendering her life to Jesus Christ and thus embarking on her new spiritual life.

I believe God works everything together for the good of those who love him.(pg136)

The rest of the book is Kristen's journey toward the one who saved her life on the train tracks. Not only did Kristen learn to forgive, she slowly learned to live life without anti-depressants or pain killers. Instead,she learned to live with joy, peace and a life that had meaning through the One who wanted all along to live with her and show her that He had a clear purpose for her life. She had to lose her legs before she started to truly live with, and for, Him.

This book is for those who battle depression, suicidal thoughts and need to know the One who loves them so much that He came to die so they could live.
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
If you buy the book through my blog, I get a small percentage back, thanks!

Please take the time to rank my review, thanks!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review of A. W. Tozer Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey

From the Library of A. W. Tozer: Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey

A.W. Tozer is considered one of the greatest pastors and evangelists from the first half of this century. Many of his sermons and personal writings have been published and have edified many a pastor and serious -minded Christian thinker ever since.

Surprisingly, Tozer lacked college and seminary training but became one of the most influential Christian educators of the twentieth century. How could this be? Well, if you read this book, containing selections of writers that Tozer read, you will see how extensive reading of substantial literature and studying the thoughts of great minds, is as good an education as can be acquired through any formal education.

In A. W. Tozer: Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey, the author, James Stuart Bell has comprised a collection of works by some 200 authors whose works were studied by Tozer and impacted his own ministry. In the introduction, Bell asks a rhetorical question: Why should you read the material in this book by some of the “most famous and influential minds in Church history?” His answer: “Because Tozer read them.”

In this book you will read excerpts “representing the pinnacle” of writings by St. Augustine, Thomas A kempes, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John Milton and D. L. Moody to name a few. At the back of the book is a short biography of each writer. Most excerpts are a page long, two at the most, but the material is so meaty and thought-provoking that the book should be read like a devotional, just one selection a day.

The book is also divided up into eight chapters that, according to Bell, each emphasize an important theme of Tozer's own life and writing. These sections include: Worship, Prayer, Prophetic Words, Reflections on the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Christian Doctrine and Living the Christian Life.

A couple of gems I found in the book were John Wesley's Covenant prayer and Martin Luther's small catechism on sin. It also includes a portion of the beautiful, “Paradise Lost” by John Milton.

In conclusion, this book is a valuable supplement to any Bible study and quiet time. If one wants to meditate on the thoughts of great spiritual thinkers that allowed a man such as Tozer to deepen his own spiritual walk with the Lord, this book is a good choice.
I received this book as a complimentary copy from Bethany Publishing House for my honest review.

Book Blogger Hop
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Review for Couples Who Pray by SQuire Rushnell and Louise DuArt

Couples Who Pray: The Most Intimate Act Between a Man and a Woman

Men- most of you will want to know that the most intimate act between a man and a woman will greatly enhance the frequency and ecstasy of lovemaking.

Women-most of you will want to know that the most intimate act will greatly expand meaningful communication with your partner almost overnight.

You may ask:

What do I have to do to get these results?

Invest of five minutes a day, minimum, praying with your partner. (From the introduction of Couples Who Pray)

That's how the book, “Couples Who Pray” by the husband and wife author team, SQuire Rushnell (Yes, that's how he spells his first name) and Louise DuArt begins. Rushnell and DuArt have prescribed a forty day commitment for couples to pray together for five minutes a day as a way to kick start a life time habit of praying together.

According to the authors, couples praying together is a rare and almost unheard of habit among most married people, even Christians. Even couples who pray on a regular basis as individuals don't normally pray together.

Rushnell and DuArt first address the men and drive home how their most important emotional needs (sex) will be met if they first develop the habit of praying with their wife. In the next chapter they discuss how the woman's most important emotional needs (communication) are met if she begins praying everyday with her husband. Each chapter includes survey results and testimonies of couples who share how they've maintained a healthy marriage or, in some cases, were able to snatch their marriage out of the “jaws of death,” so to speak, when the couple began praying together.

Rushnell and DuArt interview many couples who share their testimonies about how committing to daily joint prayer has kept them married. The book is filled with many personal stories from well-known couples in the celebrity world. The first chapter introduces us to these couples, Donna Summer and her husband Bruce Sudano, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, Patti and Gavin MacLeod (Captain of the Love Boat), Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton and his wife, Traci, to name a few. The book also includes some powerful and inspiring accounts of how some of these people came to know Jesus Christ through the patient, consistent  prayers of their spouse.

On the one hand, I would have liked a few more examples of ordinary people. Not being a celebrity or rich, there was a part of me that didn't quite relate to all the “huger than life” success stories. On the other hand, it was encouraging to see that there are couples in Hollywood who have succeeded in staying married and how prayer was an essential ingredient to the sustenance of their relationship.

After underlining the need for couples to pray, the book then proceeds to teach the reader how to pray. The structure of a prayer that the authors outline is basic and helpful: glorify God, give thanks, ask forgiveness and finally,present your petitions. It even includes a question and answer section in case some readers aren't sure what is or isn't acceptable to pray for.

One thing I really liked about the book is that it doesn't stop with prayer. After firmly establishing the value and need for prayer, Rushnell and DuArt discuss important factors that are part and parcel to a vibrant prayer life and a joyful, permanent marriage. The first is the opposition that each couple will face when they follow God. It may come in the forms of stressors at work, lonely co workers, or family members that think you've gone “religious,” but the real enemy of every marriage is the devil. I thought the authors made some well-supported points about porn addiction and how seductive and destructive it is.

The authors describe many real life scenarios that happened to couples that could have torn their marriage apart and how prayer saved it.

Nevertheless, prayer is not the only weapon against the enemy of your marriage. The next chapter is titled “Forgiveness Power”. This chapter talks about the need to forgive when your marriage partner sins against you and how prayer and forgiveness is the solution. There were a number of very interesting and encouraging stories about individuals who, in spite of what happened to them, through the supernatural power of God and praying to Him, they were able to forgive those who had grievously wronged them.

This chapter is followed by one about prayer and tithing and a concluding chapter listing six steps to a happy marriage.

The back of the book has a two questionnaires, one for each spouse, to fill out. There is also an online site for couples to record their results in order to contribute to national surveys. Rushnell and DuArt recommend using the online source because you will receive an ongoing system of support that will include weekly e-mails, short stories and other tips to encourage the praying couple. It also serves as a resource hub with video presentations and journals as well as other information such as links to marital support services.

All in all, I think that “Couples Who Pray” is a useful, enjoyable and interesting resource for couples who have not been praying together but want to know how to start doing so.

I received a complimentary copy of this book by BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.