Saturday, January 18, 2020

Win Your War by Mark and Grace Driscoll

Many Christians ignore the reality of unseen spiritual beings. The Driscolls remind Christians angels and demons are real and spiritual warfare is a reality. They explore angles, what they are like and what they do. They also look at the existence of evil, the reality of spiritual warfare and the Christian's authority. They give biblical insight on a number of topics like pride, sickness and healing, forgiveness and specific spiritual battles, such as lies and coveting.

While I respect most of the Driscolls' teaching, there is one area where I feel they are entirely wrong: the critique of the trend to Reformed theology. Driscoll writes the trend toward Reformed theology is “in large part the world I would call the 'immature, hurt, and father wounded.' The trend toward Reformed theology is driven in large part by a generational father wound ...” (151) I feel this kind of rhetoric is uncalled for. Being a Reformed charismatic, I treasure the biblical nature of Reformed theology, as do many serious charismatic scholars, such as Sam Storms. Driscoll says this “father wound” leads to bitterness and the idea that the son can lead better than the father. (153) He says it may take the form of “a team member overtaking a leader in an organization.” (154) This makes me wonder if Driscoll's comments are from the wounds he suffered during his final time at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, when he was asked to resign.

Driscoll also says this father wound leads to a “prevalence of Son theology over Father theology... These sons with father wounds don't talk as much about God the Father as they do Jesus the Son.” (151) Imagine my surprise when I went to Driscolls' Scottsdale church web site and saw the bold slogan: “IT'S ALL ABOUT JESUS!” Later in his book, Driscoll writes, “Good doctrine stars with Jesus as your compass and cornerstone. ...once you get Jesus right, the rest falls into place.” (189)

I also found it interesting Driscoll says the “father wound” causes people to want to plant their own churches, rather than having older mentors in their midst. (159) It's interesting because that is what Driscoll has done, twice.

There is a great deal of good teaching in this book, especially for new Christians or Christians who have ignored the reality of spiritual warfare. The Driscolls generally teach from the Bible, adding their own experiences to illustrate the biblical principles. I advise to just skip the chapter on the father wound.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Mark and Grace Driscoll have been married and doing ministry together for over twenty-five years. They recently planted the Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was previously the pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He has a bachelor's degree in speech communication from the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University as well as a master's degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. You can find out more at https://markdriscoll.org/

Charisma, 272 pages.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Elevate by Robert Glazer

Glazer encourages us to build our capacity. He means not just doing more but doing more of the right things. He divides life into four areas and gives training and practical suggestions for growth in each of them

Spiritual capacity is about understanding who we are and knowing what we want most in life. He helps reveal core values and our core purpose, leading to the standards by which we live.

Intellectual capacity is about our ability to think, learn, plan, and execute. He writes about having a growth mindset, crafting goals, establishing routines and habits, and about reflective journaling.

Physical capacity is about our health and well-being. He writes about physical performance, sleep, and creating a healthy life.

Emotional capacity is about how we react to challenges, the state of our emotional mindset, and our relationships. He writes about how we manage the voice in our head, overcoming self-limiting beliefs, and having a positive attitude.

I liked this personal development book. There was nothing in it amazingly new, but I've read lots of books like this one. It is a good general reminder of the principles of personal growth. The strength of the book may well be the practical action steps and links to further encouraging material. Glazer reminds us the road to capacity building is a bumpy one. He has been working on it many years and has made mistakes along the way. I appreciate that we can learn from his experience.

My rating: 4.5 stars.

Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of global performance marketing agency Acceleration Partners. A serial entrepreneur, Glazer has a passion for helping individuals and organizations build their capacity to elevate. A regular columnist for Forbes and Entrepreneur, his writing reaches over five million people each year. He shares his insights and ideas via Friday Forward, a weekly inspirational newsletter. You can find out more at https://www.robertglazer.com/

Simple Truths, 168 pages.

Within Plain Sight by Bruce Robert Coffin

I liked this detective mystery novel. It has a good balance of character development and police procedure. The investigation into the murder is complex but John Byron, lead detective, methodically pursues the murderer. Coffin crafts Byron and his team members in a way so they come across as real people with real issues, like a pregnant wife who keeps having false labor. Coffin also creates a realistic police department with internal politics and strife.

The murder investigation is a difficult one. As Byron pursues leads, a number of suspects surface. Coffin added a few red herrings to keep us guessing. A strong part of the novel is Byron himself. We get into his head, such as his battle staying sober. Coffin provides just enough internal thinking before going back to intense action.

The setting, characters, and plot are all good. I do hope Coffin continues the series as I have come to enjoy the interplay of Byron and his team as they work diligently to solve the mystery.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Bruce Robert Coffin is a retired police detective sergeant and bestselling author of the Detective Byron Mysteries. He lives and writes in Maine. Photo: Amanda Huebner Photography

Witness Impulse, 432 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Dying to Meet Jesus by Randy Kay

Yes, Randy Kay died and met Jesus. But that experience is not the focus of the book. Rather, Kay's message is more about suffering and what believers are to make of it. This book, Kay writes, is about “finding joy through sadness by grasping trials instead of avoiding them. (45) How we respond to suffering in important. Suffering can be a bridge to spiritual awareness. It can provide a pathway to intimacy with God. He says, “...embrace your sadness as a vehicle to strip away the flesh, and make yourself empty, so you can be filled with God's presence.” (68)

Kay shares many of his experiences. Some experiences are glorious while others include tragedy. He encourages us to have deep fellowship with God, to be totally immersed in God's presence. He tells stories of how God used him in healing others, the visions he and others have had, and much more.

Yes, Kay does talk about his time with Jesus. It is in the context of adoration beyond words, feeling deeply loved, his excitement and awe. Yes, there were radiant, light emitting stones and glowing hills. Yes, there was life giving water, translucent rocks, and ten feet tall spirit beings. (167) Nonetheless, the emphasis of Kay's account is on the worship and praise and joy.

Kay notes that he was skeptical of such experiences until he had his own. There is so much more to this book than just his experience with Jesus. I really appreciate the emphasis on being in intimate relationship with God, with being rather than doing. (169) Whether you are skeptical of near death experiences or not, this book is well worth reading.

You can read an excerpt here.

Food for thought: “Regardless of any suffering, the profoundest truth I have learned is that nothing compares to being in the presence of Jesus. Absolutely nothing.” (171)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Randy Kay is CEO of PACEsetters and chairmen and CEO of TenorCorp. He has written for Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. His breakthrough research on thriving in life spans several decades, as he has uncovered practical ways to overcome trials. He lives in Carlsbad, California.

Chosen, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Messing With the Enemy by Clint Watts

I appreciate Watts' understanding of the use of social media for propaganda and other influence. I was not as interested in his personal accounts of his dialogue with terrorists as I was with information on Russia. I now understand how Russia became so much better than the U.S. at using all aspects of media.

A few surprising concepts for me. I was shocked how Putin's favorability among Americans recently doubled in two years. (175) I am amazed how propaganda can be targeted. (I am not sure I am going to “like” anything on Facebook any more.) What a disappointment to find, “America sucks at information warfare, absolutely sucks.” (189) America is not only lacking in a message that resonates but also in an effective way to deliver that message. (192) And unwitting Americans fall for Kremlin's message time after time. (193)

America was caught off guard by foreign experts in social media propaganda. It is scary to think of the little being done to correct that. Defense contracting has been less about getting the job done than getting money to certain people, such as former military and intelligence officers. (206) The billions of dollars spent by the U.S. is still not as effective as the adversaries low budget operations. (207) It is embarrassing. Watts argues that the Department of Homeland Security should notify the public of falsehoods and smears regarding domestic issues and the State Department should do the same about falsehoods related to U.S. foreign policy. (209) But they don't so we common citizens get duped.

I recommend this book. There is much to wade through to get to the good points, but it is worth it. Watts gives great techniques for testing social media posts for their truthfulness.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Clint Watts is a Robert A Fox Fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Program on the Middle East as well as a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University.

Harper, 304 pages.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Still by Jenny L Donnelly

Jesus called us to rest but how can we when life is crazy? Donnelly shares her experience of learning to rest in the midst of chaos.

Donnelly teaches in the context of story and experience. She shares much of her own story in the first part of the book, such as her parents' divorce, losing her virginity in college, unresolved trauma causing bouts of crying. Her suggestions for developing rest come from the experiences of her children, a late night television show, a picture her daughter drew, an experience on a flight, and more. Scripture is then applied to the lesson.

This is a good book for people who like teaching developed within the context pf personal experience. This senior citizen matured on books teaching straight from the Bible. This one, developed through experience, is probably better suited for young people or new Christians not very familiar with the Bible. Young mothers would especially identify with many of the stories Donnelly tells.

Her description of being in the “pocket” while spinning is certainly a wake up call to be fully in the Lord's presence. I was glad to see a helpful Appendix with practical ideas for developing that practice.

Donnelly knows how to obtain rest within a busy life. She and her husband have five children, she owns a business, and she is a minister. Her teaching is not mere theory. She has lived it. She provides practical ideas and exercises to develop a heart that rests in the Lord.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jenny L. Donnelly is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Her Voice Movement, a national community gathered for the equipping and empowering women to live in biblical truth. She is the cofounder, with her husband, of The Collective Church in Portland, Oregon, and also founded Tetelestai Ministries, developing biblical leaders. She and her husband live in Oregon with their five children.

Revell, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason


Eason has done a good job combining nefarious actions in Afghanistan with a murder investigation in the States. While the two separate story lines might be puzzling at the beginning, the connection becomes evident as the plot progresses. The connection comes through women who knew each other in Kabul, two of whom have returned home.

I like Eason's way of including several issues in the novel. An important one is post traumatic stress. Brooke had counseled American soldiers in Kabul. Barely surviving a bombing, she is now in private practice but still deals with memories and some residual effects of the trauma. Another issue is friendship. Brooke finds a friendship nearly destroyed when she misinterprets the actions of another. Faith in God's protection is an important element of the plot as is a budding romance.

There is plenty of action in this novel. It starts with danger in Afghanistan and Brooke nearly being killed. Yet her return to the States does not guarantee safety as she soon finds herself in serious danger.

I enjoyed the novel. Eason brings the many elements together well and provides readers with plenty of suspense. This book is the first in a new series and I'll be watching for the next one.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Lynette Eason is the author of several novels of suspense. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. You can find out more at www.lynetteeason.com. Photo credit: Mary Denman.

Revell, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Breaking Point Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

About the Book


Book:  Breaking Point
Author: Marji Laine
Genre: Psychological suspense, romance
Release Date: September, 2019

Can the mere rumor of treasure can change lives, destroy friendships… even kill?

Alynne Stone’s planned out and predictable life ended when she hurried to her mother’s side to support her during a family tragedy. So why would she now have a target on her back? Her father’s death had nothing to do with her, but suddenly she’s having these “accidents”? How can she stay and support her mom when someone is intent on eliminating her?

Police Lieutenant Jason Danvers believes her father was murdered. How, he can’t fathom, but he also can’t ignore the details that don’t add up. Attempts on Alynne’s life must be somehow connected. Still dealing with the pain of his own wife’s death, he can’t allow an innocent woman to die on his watch. Especially one as scintillating as Alynne Stone.

Even in a small town, things—and people—aren’t always who they appear to be.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this romantic suspense. The plot revolves around many issues, such as family relationships, loyalty and greed. The family had many secrets that were not revealed until near the end of the book. That made the behavior of some of the characters puzzling until all was known. Laine did a good job developing many of the characters, especially the irritating ones. I was a bit disappointed in Alynne, the heroine. She was a researcher for a legal practice, yet she naively accepted some people without even questioning their background or character. That did not seem consistent to me. I would have preferred a more savvy female lead, one more actively involved in solving the mystery, but that's just me.

The novel has a good message of Christian faith, especially about forgiving ones self for past sin. 

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author


Marji Laine has completed seventeen years of homeschooling, but with her publishing business, her various volunteer activities, and her large family, she will likely never live a life of leisure. And that suits her just fine! When she does find spare time, she enjoys watching sports and Hallmark movies and mysteries, loves having game night with her family and friends, and enjoys talking “shop” with other authors. You can usually find her in her favorite recliner, plucking away at her keyboard with her rescue fur-babies at her feet or at www.MarjiLaine.com.  

More from Marji


It Started with a Dream You know how just before you actually wake up, you sometimes have dreams that stay with you? I’ve recently chatted with a lady who had a dream about her husband and woke up mad at the man without realizing that her discontent was from a dream. Dreams are powerful, amplified thoughts that can move us to unexpected emotions and actions. Such was the case with me. My latest release, BREAKING POINT, actually stemmed from a dream. I had a scene in my sleep of a woman trapped on the roof of a beautiful, three-story, Victorian house, having crept out the window of one of the second floor gables. A storm whirled around her, slapping her brunette hair across her eyes and into her mouth. She was afraid of something. Then I saw the something… or rather the someone. A hand raised above the eave of the roof. A man’s gravelly voice, “I know you’re up here.” Lightning flashed revealing the top of his head as he climbed onto the window sill from which she had escaped. His left hand gripped the eave of the roof, likely holding onto the gingerbread d├ęcor that laced the edging. The woman had nowhere to go, no other place to hide. Thunder jarred the air and rumbled across the ground. The woman stiffened, but not from the explosive sound. The man’s eyes appeared over the rooftop. “There you are.” This was it. She had no hope of survival. After all she’d done to avoid this moment. He leaned to his left to pull his right hand over the edge of the roof. A murderous glint filled his dark eyes as a smile stretched his lips. The barrel of a gun appeared, cresting the roof. Then a loud crack split the night. Not thunder. The man’s smile disappeared as his mouth fell open and his eyes widened. He dropped the gun and grabbed at the surface of the shingles with both hands. The woman had climbed up the side of the gable up to the top of it. The surface didn’t offer a finger grip anywhere. The gingerbread must have broken, giving the man no handhold. With a prolonged yell, the man’s face and hands disappeared from view. A close lightning strike and the thunderous result covered the sound of the man hitting the ground below. This scene, from a dream, was where the story BREAKING POINT began. It was actually the very first novel I ever completed. However, after no less than five total rewrites where I changed every aspect of the story except the hero, heroine, and the setting – the beautiful Victorian house – that scene didn’t make it to the book at all. Maybe it will find itself in a new story someday!

Blog Stops

Betti Mace, January 13
Texas Book-aholic, January 14
janicesbookreviews, January 16
deb's Book Review, January 20
Artistic Nobody, January 21 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, January 22

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a Texas mug, Bluebonnet seeds, Bluebonnet room spray, and some specialty chocolate!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Life. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.