Sunday, December 26, 2010

A God with a Wider Heart by John Daniel Kunnathu link for A God with a Wider Heart
In God with a Wider Heart, the author retells some well known Bible stories in dialog form and in modern language.

In his introduction, John Daniel Kunnathu explains that as a child he was taught that the Bible was historical fact, but as he grew older, he began to believe that they need to be understood metaphorically. He decided to tell the stories as he understands the bible stories now which contrasts from the way he viewed the stories growing up.

While I disagree with his view of some of the stories, they are beautifully written. However these stores are embellished and there is added dialog between characters that does not appear in the scriptures. One story that caused me concern was one in which the author believes that both thieves that were crucified with Christ went to heaven, but the unrepentant thief would just experience it as hell because he could not discern light and darkness.

I would recommend this only if you believe the Bible is mythology, which I do not.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer link for Mere Churchianity
In the first section, the author tries to explain why people are leaving the traditional church denominations. Unfortunately, the book takes on the tone of a rant. While the author gives a cursory criticism of all of the major denominations, he was especially hard on his own Evangelical churches. It reached the rant stage when he repeatedly criticized churches for not embracing the homosexual lifestyle and abortion. In the author's view, people are leaving traditional churches exclusively because of these social issues, and I think his view is misguided. There were also a few stories given as object lessons that were childish and the point was difficult to find.

While I didn't like the first part of the book, I thought the last three sections were rich with information and insight. The author explains with clarity that an individual can leave the church, but not necessarily leave behind their devotion to Jesus. In fact, sometimes they need to leave the church to find Jesus. My favorite chapter title is "It's a Bad Idea to be a Good Christian" where he explains the importance of a gospel without adjectives. In other words, true Grace.

Do you see Jesus in your church? If not, you may need to leave the church to maintain your integrity as a believer. I would recommend the book to those who have left or been driven out of the church. I also think those still in the church may be able to improve the vision of their church.

I received this book free of charge for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Cutting Edge by Darcia Helle link for The Cutting Edge

Skye Summers is not your ordinary hairstylist. What is so different? This hairstylist fantasizes about killing her clients. Skye takes the reader through her day with her regular clients and their problems, confessions and families.

The Cutting Edge is written with a combination of styles. There is a little of everything in this book - a serial killer mystery, humor, thriller and more. As the book starts, it is written in a sarcastic and humorous tone with the main character describing her regular customers and her dislike for them. It is at this point the story is borderline cozy, but then it takes on a darker tone. Later in the book the serial killer storyline takes over and it becomes more intense and gruesome, a little too gruesome for me.

The story wraps up in a very satisfying way and a little different than I expected. Even though it was a little too brutal for me, I enjoyed this unique storyline and this very special character.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Judgment Day by Wanda L. Dyson

Link to purchase Judgment Day 

Suzanne Kidwell is a cutthroat journalist for her weekly cable news show, Judgment Day. She will use any means possible to expose corruption, but her own methods of doing so are called into question. Suddenly the tables are turned and she must prove her own innocence in a murder.

Suzanne is a character you will love to hate. At first, you may even cheer when she is in trouble, but eventually she is forced to learn to be humble. Marcus and Alexandria are both good solid characters that provide a light romance (very light). I liked the character of Alexandria and the way she turned her back on her father’s wealth and business to take her own road.

There were some twists in the book including one that took place early into the book that took me by surprise. I would recommend this book for those who enjoy Christian fiction without obvious preaching.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Secret of the Shroud by Pamela Binnings Ewen

link to purchase Secret of the Shroud
Following a childhood tragedy and feeling abandoned by God, a bitter Archbishop Wesley Bright has led the Christian church in the wrong direction.  He is a charismatic leader preaching a gospel absent of absolute truth.  Everything he has sought to destroy is now challenged by a scrap of cloth.

I have never had an interest in the Shroud of Turin, but I have to admit after reading this book, I understand why so many people find it fascinating.  

I enjoyed each of the characters and their unique perspective to the story.  I especially liked the way the story blended three points in time, from the time of Christ, the 1950s, and the near future.  

The story starts with a shocking tragedy that scarred a child’s heart and filled him with guilt for life.  As shocking as the event was, a true similar incident happened in Chicago a few years ago. 

The author uses an impressive blend of scientific information and history so that the characters could bring this historical article to even the hardest of hearts. I really enjoyed Secret of the Shroud and would recommend it for those who like suspense/mystery novels with a moral storyline.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Link to purchase Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo 
This is an easy, quick read with a likeable child who purportedly visited heaven and spoke about what heaven is like.

The book is well written and there are some nice black and white photos of the family in the middle of the book. I decided to read this book because it was written by a pastor, and I thought it would be an account that would be an honest and thoughtful story.

Unfortunately, in order to believe this story your have to make some choices in what you want to believe. Either Colton visited heaven while still alive or he died on the table and the surgeon, anesthetist, and nurses didn’t notice. There was no mention by the doctors in talking with the parents or in medical records that Colton died on the surgical table. Also, there is a time problem. Colton talked about seeing God shoot power down to his dad while preaching. This means either Colton’s father was preaching while the child was in surgery (he was not) or there was some time traveling going on. His father explains this away by saying he was in “God’s time”.

The author’s strongest evidence is that the child talks about a deceased family member and a miscarriage his mother suffered, both of which he supposedly had no knowledge. I find it hard to believe that at no time was this child away from the parents and in the care of another family member who could have mentioned these events or even just overheard his parents talking about it. Other events mentioned by Colton sound more like Sunday School 101.

I really wanted to like this book because I am a believer, but I think this child’s parents are reading way too much into his precocious and creative behavior.
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