Acts of the Apostles ★★★☆☆

actsoftheapostles (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title: Acts of the Apostles
Series: ———-
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 570
Words: 155K

 

Synopsis:

A commentary going over the book of Acts and the various Epistles by Peter, Paul and John.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, this is the final book of White’s that I’ll be reading. Not because of any real disagreement on Theology or anything important, but because I simply cannot stand her style of writing. It isn’t even near the level of having your foot cut off, but more of having that pebble in your shoe for the whole day. At some point I realized the irritation was outweighing the good I was getting. There isn’t a hard line of demarcation in the text between her thoughts and the Bible, as she incorporates Bibles verses into her text willy nilly. That doesn’t make studying very easy for me.

I’m including a quote that I felt was the best paragraph out of the whole book:

It is no part of Christ’s mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by his spirit, who seek to compel the conscience. Under a pretense of zeal for righteousness, men who are confederated with evil angels sometimes bring suffering upon their fellow men in order to convert them to their ideas of religion; but Christ is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love. He can admit no rival in the soul, nor accept of partial service; but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love.

I do want to make clear, so that it can’t be taken out of context, that not being compelled is very different from not being judged. God gives us Choice and He also has told us the outcomes of that choice. When you face God Himself at the Day of Judgment, your eternal fate will hinge on whether you’ve accepted Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God as your savior or not.

On a note that isn’t directly related to a review, I started reading my non-fiction differently. I was inspired by Matt who has what he calls his “weekend exclusive” reads. Since non-fiction is a different beast, I wanted to try a different approach. Instead of reading this straight through, I simply read this on Sabbath. So starting each Friday night until Saturday night, I would read non-fiction. My goal was to read 25% of the book each Sabbath. That had the effect of breaking up the book into managable chunks and made me more aware of keeping Sabbath. It also has the positive side effect of getting me to read more non-fiction (12-13 a year instead of 6 or 7).

★★★☆☆

 

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The Burning White (Lightbringer #5) ★★★★★

burningwhite (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Burning White
Series: Lightbringer #5
Author: Brent Weeks
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1325
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY

This book has several main Point of View characters. We follow Teia, Kip and the Mighty, Gavin Guile, Andross Guile and his daughter in law Karris the White and also Liv the Ferrilux. With each main viewpoint we also get stuff from minor characters.

Teia has been ordered by the Broken Eye to follow Gavin Guile (now a prisoner) onto a ship and kill him once he completes whatever task the Broken Eye has given him. The Order holds Teia’s father hostage and claims they will exchange his life for Gavin’s. Teia backs out at the last second and decides she will hunt the Order down. She contacts Karris but has a fit of the feelings because of something that Karris did so Teia goes it alone. This leads to her getting captured by her Order mentor, Murder Sharp, and being tortured for information. She tricks Murder into killing himself while he reveals just enough info for her to continue her hunt. She takes some poison and finds a wagon of wine that the entire Order is going to drink from and poisons every barrel, pretending to be the poison tester. Of course, she doesn’t know she is masquerading as the poison tester until after she poisons it all. Then she has to taste test the wine and take the poison herself. Which means when the sun rises the next day that the poison will interact with the light and kill her, along with every other Order member. She succeeds and in killing the Order foils a plot by them to open the city gates to the White King. She misses the Old Man of the Desert however. Kip does what he can to save her and succeeds. By the end of the book she is being re-integrated back into the Mighty.

Kip and the Mighty start out still in Blood Forest, where they have to decide whether to save the town they are currently in or to save another larger town that is a lynchpin in holding the current Satrapy together. If the White King gains either town, the entire Satrapy will fall to him. Tisis, his wife, figures out that Kip is being hemmed in not to prevent him from saving either town but from heading back to the Chromeria, where the White King is going to attack with all his forces and all 7 of the Banes. Kip takes on the mantle of the Lightbringer and takes the best of his forces back to the island of Jasper to fulfill a prophecy about the Lightbringer being on the Island to prevent a world wide disaster. He has also discovered, through a message from Liv, that the mirrors on Jasper are part of a network that are capable of killing the Banes. Kip and the Mighty get to the Island, delay the initial attack by the White King and bring some needed news to Andross Guile, who as the Promachos, is the military leader. Andross is still playing games with his grandson and Kip lets the title of Lightbringer go because he realizes he needs to focus on his people instead of his grandfather. Kip begins killing off the Bane by using the Mirror System but Zyman Guile, his insane half-brother, kills him and proclaims himself the Lightbringer and Prism and Emperor of the Chromeria. Kip’s last actions are to send a stream of White Luxin to some point in space. A wave of Black Luxin returns and turns everything darker than night and then Kip is brought back to life by Orholom’s intervention. He is out of the battle but has done enough to allow others to finish things up. At the end of the book he publicly proclaims Andross as the Lightbringer and he and Tisis will head back to Blood Forest to reign as Satraps, while still investigating more about what Orholom actually meant all the various luxins to do.

Gavin, who is really Dazen, is taken to an mythical Island where Orholam Himself supposedly used to meet with mortals. Grinwoody, the Old Man of the Desert and leader of the Broken Eye, tasks Gavin with ascending the tower on the island and destroying whatever he finds on top with a dagger of black luxin. Grinwoody holds the life of Karas and Kip in his hands as leverage. Gavin, now blind in one eye, crippled in one hand and completely color blind and unable to draft, does as he is bid. He meets up with a former rowing slave, coincidentally nicknamed Orholam for his self-righteous preaching. Gavin makes the journey to the top of the Tower, where he expects to find a nexus of magic (Grinwoody doesn’t believe that Orholam is real) and that by slicing it with the Blinding Knife that he will destroy all magic in the world. What he finds is Lucidonious, the First Lightbringer, who is now immortal and apparently evil. He fights Lucidonious and somehow banishes him back into the mirror world from which he came. The Orholam Himself appears. He is Real. He and Gavin have a long conversation and Gavin gets a lot off of his chest but also realizes just how bad a life he has led to that point. He pledges his life to Orholam and sends a wave of Black Luxin to the Chromeria to stop the White King and his Banes. It isn’t enough however and with his wounds he can’t do any more. Until a massive wave of White Luxin hits him and regenerates him. He then uses all the Black Luxin from the Tower and turns it into White Luxin. He then hitches a ride with Orholam and gets to the Island of Jasper in time to take part in the battle. By the end of the book he and Karris are re-united and Dazen (having given up all false pretenses) decides he is going to go into the color dungeon and kill some immortal Fallens.

Andross’s point of view begins with a split timeline. It starts many years ago when he is trying to court his wife. Even back then he thought he was the prophesied Lightbringer and he married his wife because of her scholarly knowledge and ability to read and interpret so many foreign prophecies. Each new chapter brings the timeline closer to the present and we see all the terrible things that Andross does to fulfill what he thinks the prophecy means, all the way up to killing his youngest son. We see how his obsession drives his wife away, his family away and how despicable a person he becomes. By the end of the book he begins to redeem himself and both Kip and Dazen are reaching out to him to prevent him from going down that path again. Of course, he proclaims himself the Lightbringer and the new Emperor of the Chromaeia and the new Prism. He is still a jackass.

Liv, Kip’s friend from the first book, now a godling herself, is under the thrall of one of the Fallen and doesn’t even realize it. She provides insight into what the White King is doing and his eventual goal to proclaim himself the God of gods and to become one of the Immortals himself. He obviously fails and is obliterated.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, just a warning. As you can tell by the synopsis, this is going to be a long review. I don’t know how long this section will be, but it will definitely NOT be my typical 3-5 paragraphs.

This final book in the Lightbringer series was released at the end of October and I was desperately hoping someone else would have written up a synopsis by now over at the wiki page. No such luck so I had to do it myself. I left out a lot of detail, even major detail because this book was just that big. My kindle page count was just over 1300 pages. That number comes from a character count (letters, not words) with X characters per page, not how many page clicks I had to do on my Oasis (which would change if I changed the font size). I sped through it though. I’d read 25% at one go and then go read another book just so I didn’t over do it. That formula worked out perfectly for keeping me interested but not burning out.

So lets start with the negative and potential negative. The only truly negative for me was that it had been long enough between books that I was lost at sea a couple of times. Weeks does provide a short synopsis of each of the previous books at the beginning and I read them. I’d have been even more lost without them. 5 books over nine years is just a lot to deal with. There were a couple of times that something was referred to that I had NO idea about simply because I’d forgotten about it from a previous book. The “potential” negative is the very long talk between Dazen and Orholom at the tower. I say “potential” because it wasn’t a negative for me at all (it probably was the best part) but I don’t know how other readers are going to react to a theological talk between an Omniscient God and a powerful but broken and hurting man.

I liked the almost continual revelations about the history of the Chromeria and the Lightbringers and the 1000 Worlds and the Immortals, etc. Just when I felt like I was getting my feet under me Weeks would bring in another wave and knock me right over. The revelations about Lucidonious was enough to really rock me.

The action was top-notch and was just as good, if not better, than anything that came before in the series. From the Mighty fighting against the corrupt Light Guard, to civilians fighting against the White King’s forces to Cruxer fighting against Ironfist to Teia and Murder Sharp’s fight, even down to the card game between Kip and Andross, it all had the proper amount of tension. All the scenes were what I wanted in my action. I was satisfied with them, completely.

The ending is a pretty happing ending too. The bad guys are defeated, the good guys win and even the despicable scum get a shot at redemption. I didn’t find it sappy or over the top or too much. I have to admit that I wished that Andross Guile had been killed. He was one of the major despicable scum and while it was in keeping with what Weeks was writing, I wanted to see Andross get some Justice from Orholam instead of mercy.

Speaking of Orholam, the reason this got a full 5 stars from me is because of the conversation between Orholam and Dazen. Weeks doesn’t shy away from having Dazen ask some of the hard questions, questions that I struggle with in real life. There were a couple of times during this part of the book where I just cried. I cried with relief knowing that other people ask the same questions and feel the same way I do, I cried because of the pain that causes such questions to even be asked and I cried because I’m sure that Weeks himself struggles with these issues. He couldn’t have written like he did if he hadn’t fought these things out. Weeks is obviously a Christian but much like CS Lewis and Narnia, he doesn’t shy away from exploring the “What If” in regards to theology and fantasy. He’s not quite as explicit as Lewis, as there is no Aslan/Christ figure, but Dazen and Kip definitely play out the Father/ Son role of God the Father and God the Son at the crucifixion. All of these reasons are also why I am giving this the “Best Book of the Year” tag. It has some stiff competition from the other books I gave this tag to this year, so we’ll see what book actually wins at Year’s End.

Overall, I enjoyed the series enough that I wasn’t crying “foul” over the 2 year wait between books. It did show me though that my semi-recent plan to only read completed series is the right way to go. Whatever Brent Weeks writes next I’ll be reading, but I won’t be reading it as it comes out. If you read the first book, I think whatever you feel about that will guide how you feel about the rest of the series.

★★★★★

 

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Honour Guard (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4) ★★★☆½

honourguard (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Honour Guard
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

From the Wiki and Me

The Ghosts are sent to the Shrineworld Hagia, religious capital of the Sabbat worlds and homeworld of the revered Saint Sabbat herself, to reclaim the holy world from the clutches of Pater Sin and his so-called Infardi. During their campaign to reclaim the Doctrinopolis – the planet’s central city – Gaunt, who has command of the ground forces, is forced into a trap set in one of the most holy structures in the city. A warp-beacon is activated in the process, and a Chaos fleet advances on Hagia to obliterate the Imperial forces.

With just eighteen days until the fleet (large enough to wipe out the liberation force even if the fleet were a quarter its current size) arrives, Gaunt is given one last chance to redeem himself by the arrogant and pompous Lord-General Lugo: recover the Saint’s remains and holy relics from the Shrinehold in the Sacred Hills for evacuation. The Ghosts are appointed as the honour guard of these relics, and together with units from the Pardus armoured regiments they form a convoy and journey into the mountains. However, much of Sin’s Infardi horde has pulled back into the hills; leaving the Ghosts with no choice but to fight the heretics while at the same time fighting the elements and navigating the unfamiliar terrain.

Several of the wounded, left back in the city, start hearing a voice telling them “Sabbat Martyr” in their heads. They band together and meet Gaunt at the shrine. Turns out they are all needed to activate a secret weapon left by Sabbat to protect her homeworld. The Psychic Weapon is activated and destroys every creature on the planet with the taint of Chaos. It also destroys the chaos beacon and scatters the approaching chaos fleet.

My Thoughts:

As long as you turn off your brain about the super psychic weapon (as in, why aren’t those things being studied and recreated now, instead of lying around for 6000 years), this was a lot of fun to read.

Abnett mixed things up by introducing a whole host of armoured tanks to complement the Ghosts and their being strictly infantry. Not a big mechanized tank fan though, so it didn’t do much for me. I did like that Abnett addresses how taking on new “Ghosts” affects them as a unit.

Gaunt is revealed to be a very religious man, with him venerating, if not worshipping, Saint Sabbat. Since there hasn’t been any of that to date, I wonder if I’ll see any more of it in later books. I highly doubt it however. It came across as more superstition than devotion though. I suspect most of that is because the religious side of Warhammer 40K is some paint on it, not something integral to it like a load bearing beam.

Gaunt gets in trouble with the over-General and while he succeeds at the end of the book, what happens politically wasn’t written about. I suspect that will play a big part in the beginning of the next book.

★★★☆½

 

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The Ministry of Healing (Non-Fiction) ★★★☆☆

ministryofhealing (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Ministry of Healing
Series: ———
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 355
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

White reiterates how Jesus’ ministry was as much physical healing as it was a forgiving of sins. She then talks to physicians and nurses about how they should ministering to both soul and body in their duties. Finally, she goes over various healthful habits that the laity can do on their own to help keep themselves healthy, thus ensuring that they are able to reach out to non-Christians.

 

My Thoughts:

Most of my issues with this book are the same exact ones that I had with The Great Controversy. So no need to re-hash them all. With just a couple of exceptions. Those I will add right now.

White claims that cheese is completely unfit for human consumption. My guess is because the process of creating cheese is pretty much letting milk rot. Be that as it may, I vehemently disagree. I’ll agree that cheese can be unhealthy in terms of fat and cholesterol, but completely unfit for consumption? I don’t think so! I would give up beef before I give up cheese (and to be honest, I really don’t eat red meat any more. Turkeys and chickens for me). The second issue is her saying that pickles aren’t to be eaten either. I’m not nearly as big a proponent of pickles as I am cheese, but I regularly eat a small jar of Vlasic kosher dill spears every week. For me, they are a great way to get salt back into my system from the physical labor I do all day and get some yummy crunch. They serve a purpose and I am not just eating them for the taste (even though I do like the taste of dill pickles a lot).

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With that out of the way, I’ll talk some about what I do agree with. Just like in my Quote Post earlier this month, White directly addresses Appetite. All aspects of a Christian’s life is to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. A loss of self-control, which is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, shows that you aren’t as mature as God wants you to be in your Christian Growth. And a deliberate loss of control is a spurning of what God offers you. Overeating is a small thing in and of itself, but the consequences of a life of overeating lead to what we see in America today (obesity numbers ballooning up and causing all sorts of health issues) AND it shows that Christ is not in control of your life, your Appetite is. Gluttony isn’t something we hear preached about from the pulpit any more, but considering the typical American lifestyle, I think it should be. White wrote this back in 1905 and it is just as appropriate today as then, if not more so.

Alcohol. I am a teetotaler, someone who abstains from alcohol completely. I was brought up this way and nothing I’ve seen in in other’s lives, even Christians, makes me think that another option is open to me. White was part of the Temperance Movement of her times, which had a big hand in passing Prohibition back in the 20’s. Where White and I part ways is that she categorically condemns alcohol. That goes beyond what the Bible says. The Bibles tells Christians to NEVER get drunk but it does not forbid alcohol. However, the amount of people who can walk that line is small and from my own anecdotal evidence, should not be used to justify drinking at all. I don’t think Christians should drink. The negatives of alcohol far outweigh the positives and I have seen too many lives destroyed, or seen the collateral damage from such a self-destruction. It is like having a lion on the end of a chain attached to your wrist.

Finally, White goes over the importance of proper dress (both for modesty and health), fresh air, exercise and proper ventilation in any living quarters. A lot of the specifics are kind of like “well yeah…” to anyone who lives today, but it just goes to show how far ahead of her time White was. I also found that most of these things I was already doing, as I work outdoors at a physically laborious job.

To end this, I would re-title this something along the lines of “Aunt Ellen’s Big Book of Homilies”. Bits and pieces of wisdom but not something you should create any theology from.

★★★☆☆

 

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The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane ★★★☆☆

savagetalesofsolomonkane (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
Series: ———-
Author: Robert Howard
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The collected works following the adventures of the Puritan Swordsman, Solomon Kane. From the deepest depths of Africa to the windswept shores of England, Solomon Kane follows wither the spirit leads. Avenging wrongs, rescuing maidens, defeating evil incarnate, Solomon Kane knows no fear, for he is God’s Avenging Sword against Evil.

 

My Thoughts:

Not as enjoyable as the Essential Conan collection I read last year. Part of that was that there just wasn’t nearly as much material for Solomon Kane as there was for Conan. Almost 1/3 of the stories in this book were fragments that Howard had started and then either set aside or just never finished. Thankfully each story that was a fragment had the word (fragment), like that, next to the story name. There were also 2 or 3 poems and I’m just not a poetry buff of any sort.

My biggest problem however, was that Kane was supposed to be a Puritan. While he dresses like one, not once does he act in any way that I recognized as a Godly man. He consorts with sorcerers, uses gifts of magic from a devil worshipper, thinks that men are nothing but higher animals and generally displays no reverence for God. He occasionally mouths a platitude or two about “faith” but what he said could just as easily have come from a Hindu, a Muslim or a Buddhist.

Now with all of that out of the way…

There were some fine pulp stories here. Encountering lost civilizations in the heart of Africa, fighting off a tribe of flying cannibal creatures, torching a city of zombie vampires, fighting a whole crew of pirates, Solomon Kane has the chops to keep you entertained. Everydayshouldbetuesday talked about Solomon Kane back in May and that peaked my interest.

I would recommend this if you enjoyed Howard’s Conan stories and wanted to try something different. However, if you haven’t read any Howard, don’t start with this.

★★★☆☆

 

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Anti-Man ★★★☆☆

anti-man (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Anti-Man
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror – Thriller
Pages: 142
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Scientists have created Sam, an android made up of unique flesh and capable of great feats. The problem is, Sam saves lives and the Earth is over populated with 9billion people. Not only can Sam save lives, he reveals that he is virtually immortal and can give immortality to humanity. This puts him up for first place in the “quick, let’s destroy this monstrous creation” contest. A scientist takes pity on Sam and runs off with him. They evade the authorities and Sam reveals that he is evolving and needs a place to hide.

They hide at some rich man’s vacation home and the scientist leads the authorities away to give Sam the time needed to evolve. The scientist is caught and when released, something that looks exactly like Sam tries to kill him. Sam claims to be god in the “new” flesh and that the Sam that tried to kill the scientist is a rogue part of him. Together, they kill the bad Sam and the scientist is converted to the “new” flesh and begins going around converting everyone he meets to allow mankind to fulfill their destiny.

 

My Thoughts:

This is going to get a bit theological, as Koontz unabashedly goes down that path and I have to take some serious exception to what is written.

The short version, I enjoyed this even though it has all “10” plot points in every other Koontz book. Considering this was written in 1970, and you can see the exact same things in the Odd Thomas books from the 2000’s, Koontz seems to have hit upon a fanbase that doesn’t mind complete recycling of ideas. Maybe he’s writing for those once a year readers? There are psychological aspects of doubt and horror that I found extremely well done and I wish Koontz had stuck to those.

Now we get into the longer version.

I’ve known that Koontz styles himself a Christian and writes at least semi-Christian ideas directly into his books. As a lure, a talking point, a place to begin conversations with others, I don’t mind when I disagree with what he’s writing. However, in this book he crosses some lines (which I suspect he backed away from so as not to be controversial in later years, hence the more veiled way of writing about it) when he has his character talk about God. Sam claims he is god but just a higher order being that could only come into our world because of the new flesh the scientists discovered and clothed the android in. The scientist claims to be “some kind of christian” but categorically denies that any religion is actually correct because God is “too big” to be contained by just one belief. This bothered me so much because it means that God is not actually God, that Jesus is not God and that the Bible is not the Word of God. Those 3 things are foundational to Christianity and to deny any of them places one in grave danger of heresy and unbelief.

God is not a created or evolved Being. He has always been and He always will be. One of the ways He describes Himself to us is “I AM” connoting that He is the End All and Be All of Everything. It might sound nice to describe a god as a higher order being, but it mis-represents who God says He actually is. It undercuts the truth of what God has spoken about Himself.

Jesus was fully man and fully God. That means that while on earth He ate food, his flesh was like ours and he pooped, peed and farted just like me (and I’m guessing you 😉 ). He also claimed from the beginning of His ministry that He was God. What Koontz writes would deny that Jesus could EVEN BE God as His flesh couldn’t take it. While what Koontz writes might be metaphor, it came across much more as deistic evolution amped up.

Finally, the idea of God being “too big” for one religion directly contradicts what the Bible itself says. The Bible states it is the Word of God, a revealing of Himself to us. While the idea of All Religions Lead To god sounds very kumbai ya, that is fuzzy feeling, new age thinking and isn’t what the Bible states. Once again, it undercuts the very underpinnings of Christianity.

With things like this, I can see why my parents never let me read Koontz as a teen. As a mature man who believes in Christ and knows WHY, this doesn’t cause me any doubt. I just find it troubling, as anyone finding a dead ant baked into their birthday cake would find that troubling. This book won’t cause me to stop reading Koontz but it has really put a damper on my enthusiasm for his veiled references to Christian ideas.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Happy Resurrection Day!

he-is-risen

 

““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

~Jesus, the Christ

 

Jesus, the Son of God, Himself puts paid to the idea of a multi-faith ecumenism that all religions lead to god.  Jesus is it, folks,  but the choice is up to you.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Merry Christmas!!!

christmas

Joy to the World:

♪Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.♪

♪Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.♪

♪No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.♪

♪He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.♪

 

I pray that Christ will find welcome in your hearts this Christmas.

bookstooge (Custom)

Best Friends for Life ★★★★☆

bestfriendsforlife (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Best Friends for Life
Series: ———-
Author: Michael & Judy Phillips
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The Phillips tell 4 different true stories (with particulars changed for anonymity’s sake) about young couples they knew and how they proceeded through their dating, into marriage and how those marriages turned out.

The Phillips are convinced that “dating” has such an abysmal track record when it comes to marriages that last after dating that they want to explore other avenues. Their suggestion? Marry your best friend. Basically, make being friends with the opposite gender a higher priority than romance and really know what you want in a spouse instead of letting it all hang on hormones and feelings.

What does God, through the Bible, say about what is important in a marriage? The Phillips use very few specific Bible verses but count on their audience already having a decent grasp of Scripture. They are writing for someone who already wants what is best according to God’s will and is searching that out.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this originally back in 2000. At the time, I had graduated from Bibleschool. Mrs B was still in highschool and we hadn’t a glimmer of the others’ existence. I was mad to marry and was reading all the advice books I could get my hands on. I wasn’t going to be an “old” man like my dad when he got married. For the record, he was married at 28. I ended up being 30. Ironic isn’t it? So I figured if I could get all that advice then Mrs Right would fall into my lap and whammo, we’d have the perfect married life because obviously we’d have BOTH read all kinds of these books and know exactly what to do and what things to NOT do.

The funny thing is, I actually was friends with Mrs B long before we ever were romantically involved. I met her on Xanga, a blogging site (not sure how much traction it still has any more). She’d written a post about going to a medieval wedding and ended her post with “Have a good Sabbath”. I asked her what she meant by “Sabbath” as I was a Saturday Sabbath keeper and it turned out she was a 7th Day Adventist so she kept Saturday as well. We were friends for a couple of years online but figured we’d never meet. She was in California, I was on the East Coast. I didn’t like to travel and she had nothing to draw her to the East. But then a friend of mine, who I’d gone to Bibleschool with, decided he was going to get married. In California. He was in the Navy and would soon be shipping out in a Sub (subbing out?) and I didn’t know when I’d see him next so a group of us all went to California. I informed Miss Librarian and invited her as my plus one. Her brother, Sir Grumpsalot, came with her to chaperone and my friends were at the wedding, so it was safe all around. After the wedding that night, I asked her if I could court her. I called her mother that week and a year later we were engaged and 6 months after that we were married. Now, 10 years later, we’re STILL happily married.

Now, when I read this book back in 2000, I couldn’t have predicted this set of circumstances. In fact, I didn’t WANT those set of circumstances. I wanted somebody else. She has since gotten married to a wonderful christian man, has a family and is a bedrock of Faith for her family. But she wouldn’t have been right for me nor me for her. It took God to bring the correct Mrs Right into my life. That is what this book is about more than anything. It isn’t a hard and fast set of rules that the Phillips promise will bring you the right spouse. But they give solid advice about involving your parents, your friends, and most of all, not letting your hormones and feelings be in control. They are right.

They also give several examples of how people have changed what they’ve suggested to work for their particular set of circumstances. Some of the things they suggest simply weren’t viable for Mrs B and I, such as having family time with each other’s families while we were courting. The Phillips are very open that what they are suggesting isn’t the end and be all but they do strongly advise young people and their parents to put much more effort into the whole process than just “Oh, we’re in love”.

Reading this again, for our 10th Wedding Anniversary, it is uncanny how much God drew us both down this path in our relationship with each other. I for one am thankful for that. Our marriage is strong, we are happy and content with each other and while our lives together haven’t been what we’ve expected (Mrs B was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in ’10), our foundation of friendship has taken us through the times of hospitalization, lack of work, etc.

The book is a bit dated in regards to things they call out in American Culture, ie, what they considered a cliff is only a mere step compared to the moral cliff America has chosen to step off of now. It was eye opening and a good indicator of just how fast our country has gone down the path of immorality.

But ultimately, God Himself is in charge. He has taken responsibility through Jesus Christ and one day He will return and make it right again. I want to be ready for that and I hope you will be too.

★★★★☆

 

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Play the Man ★★★★☆

playtheman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Play the Man
Series: ———-
Author: Mark Batterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Synopsis taken from the book:

“Somewhere along the way, our culture lost its definition of manhood, leaving generations of men and men-to-be confused about their roles, responsibilities, relationships, and the reason God made them men. It’s into this ‘no man’s land’ that New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson declares his mantra for manhood: play the man. In this inspiring call to something greater, he helps men understand what it means to be a man of God by unveiling seven virtues of manhood. Mark shares inspiring stories of manhood, including the true story of the hero and martyr Polycarp, who first heard the voice from heaven say, ‘Play the man.’ Mark couples those stories with practical ideas about how to disciple the next generation of men. This is more than a book; it’s a movement of men who will settle for nothing less than fulfilling their highest calling to be the man and the father God has destined them to be. Play the man. Make the man.”

 

My Thoughts:

I read this book over the course of July for our men’s group at church. One of the reasons there were so many “man” posts in July.

It started out a bit rough. I felt like it was an updated version of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and I didn’t find that particular book at all helpful. But once Batterson got into the 7 Virtues of Manhood, things turned around.

The specific 7 Virtues didn’t really enter into the equation. I was more encouraged in how Batterson showed that being a Man of God was something purposeful, something you had to set your mind to. It was goal oriented and something that will last for your whole life. Just because I’ve done X, Y and Z in the past doesn’t mean I get to slack off and coast later on. A Godly Man is always striving after God and since God is Infinite, our striving will never end. Some days I might have found that thought discouraging, but not during this book. It reminded me of just how great our God is and how much He loves us.

Batterson also goes into Jesus as Man a little bit and that was good too. Too often I think of Jesus as a superman just gliding through His life, snapping His fingers and making everything work. It was good to be reminded that He had to learn to read, that He pooped His diapers (or whatever the equivalent was in 4BC) and that He had hormones too. And yet through it all, He was Perfect.

The final thing that really made this work for me was that Batterson isn’t trying to change the whole culture with some “7 Virtues” program. He doesn’t say that this book will change the whole nation if only we all follow it. He presents it as something that each man must do on his own and must pass on to his sons. He makes being a Godly Man that individuals responsibility. He looks at the building blocks. If the foundations are solid, you can then build a good house. He also practices what he preaches with his kids and I found that immensely encouraging as well.

★★★★☆

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