Saturday, December 31, 2016

Full by Asheritah Ciuciu

I have read a ton of books on dieting. I've even read a number that drew my attention to the spiritual aspect of being overweight. But I have never read a book that identifies the core issue with such clarity as this one. And I have never read a book that has offered such practical suggestions to help me with that spiritual issue.

Ciuciu is blunt. Food cravings are meant to turn us to God, not a diet book. We don't need another diet. We need the Holy Spirit. She lets us know that food will never satisfy us. We are to find our satisfaction in God. Looking for satisfaction elsewhere is idolatry, a spiritual war we are in. “Satan will use whatever tool he can to distract people from seeking satisfaction in God...”

I've heard that before but what impressed me here is that Ciuciu goes to great lengths to explain how to stir up a hunger for God. It takes time and work and includes prayer and action. We must be continually resetting our minds toward God. She shares her own experiences and struggles and that section alone is worth reading the book.

In addition to practical spiritual help, Ciuciu also gives practical help in taming the role of food in our lives. She writes about triggers, for example, and how they are designed to turn us to God.

This book is, by far, about finding our satisfaction in God. “Idolatry is … believing God is not enough and that I need something other than Him to be satisfied.” “If all our needs are met in God, if He becomes our satisfaction every morning...” we will not look for satisfaction in food.

This is a hard hitting book yet is filled with compassion and practical help. Ciuciu has added a Digest the Truth section after each chapter with questions for individual or group use. I highly recommend this book to anyone willing to face the spiritual reality about food obsession.

You can find out more about the book and read comments by others at

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Asheritah Ciuciu is an author, speaker and blogger. She was born in Athens and grew up as a missionary kid in Romania. She has an English degree from Cedarville University. She is married, has two children, and lives in northeast Ohio. You can find out more about her, follow her blog, and sign up for a free course at

Moody Publishers, 256 pages, This book releases January 3, 2017.

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

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp

I have just finished reading a devotional like no other. This book is not filled with sentimental sweetness. It contains hard hitting messages reminding me of the essential truths of my faith walk.

Tripp writes in the Introduction, “When amazing realities of the gospel quit commanding your attention, your awe, and your worship, other things in your life will capture your attention instead.” These 365 devotions drew me back to the amazing realities of the gospel.

He reminded me of the sin still within me and the daily grace of God offered to me. He reminded me of the mercies of God that come to me moment by moment. He reminded me of my need for a Savior and the amazing truth of salvation.

I was not so excited about the free verse entries Tripp has made, but those are few. In general, each devotion is a clear reminder of the nature of my salvation, the gift of God, and the sustaining gifts of grace and mercy. I'll be going through it again this coming year, it's that good.

I recommend this devotional to those who want a daily serious and stimulating insight into the Christian faith and walk.

You can't live to meet all your needs and live to serve Christ at the same time.”

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Paul David Tripp (DMin, Western Theological Seminary) is a bestselling author and president of Paul Tripp Ministries. He also serves as the executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas, and has taught at respected institutions worldwide. He and his wife live in Philadelphia and have four grown children. You can find out more at

Crossway, 384 pages.

Friday, December 30, 2016

In the Shadow of Denali by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

This historical romance is a good adventure into Alaska during the development of Denali National Park. Peterson and Woodhouse add a little suspense to the plot as well.

The romance revolves around Cassidy, whose father works as an outdoor guide at a hotel near Mt. McKinley, and Allan, a young man who arrives from Seattle to find out the truth about his father's death. Cassidy's father had been on the tragic climb that ended the life of Allan's father. There is definite tension as Allan is attracted to Cassidy yet cannot help but be suspicious of her father.

What I enjoyed more than the romance was the historical aspect of the novel. I've been to Denali National Park and it was interesting to read about this time period, when the railroad was just finished and the territory was seeing an increase in tourists. We get some insights as to what it took to run a quality hotel at the time and what it took to climb the tallest mountain in North America.

The authors have given us some good characters too. My favorites and the ones I think the best developed were actually secondary characters. The hotel chef is a woman who has had a hard life, losing her family to a recent influenza epidemic. Her pain comes out in her harsh personality but Cassidy is able to crack open that shell and find the real woman inside. I also really liked Thomas, a bumbling helper in the kitchen. How he becomes a confident young man is a good part of the story.

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy historical romance. You'll learn quite a bit about Denali and get to enjoy some delightful characters. There is even a little suspense to finish off the novel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning, best-selling author of over 100 books. She is a speaker at writer's conferences and women's conferences across the country. She lives in Montana, enjoying time with family, including her three grandchildren. You can find out more at
Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling and award-winning author of more than a dozen books. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their two children. You can find out more at

Bethany House Publishers, 320 pages.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Watch by Rick James

We don't know the day or hour of Christ's return. We are to remain awake and keep watch. (Mark 13:32-37)

James identifies sleep as a fitting metaphor for one “who has been quickened by God's Spirit but remains oblivious and unresponsive to spiritual reality...” We get distracted from our spiritual lives. Being awake, James says, is a matter of perspective and awareness.

James explores a number of aspects of being awake. There is discerning God's will, being alert to spiritual warfare, experiencing trials, realizing that the resurrected Christ lives within, awareness of the life to come, not being a hypocrite, and being ready to share the gospel.

I found this book to be a bit rambling and not as structured as I'd like. He tells lots of stories. Sometimes I wondered what the story had to do with the lesson he was teaching. I did enjoy learning about the brotherly origin of Adidas and Puma. And it was interesting to find out why dogs stick their heads out of car windows.

But there was a long section on memory to introduce us to the use of our senses to discern God's will. The connection? “Memory is a matter of bringing to bear all of the input from all of the senses.” He argues that we must also have a multisensory approach to discerning God's will. But did I really need to know how Joshua Foer remembers the order of a deck of cards or about memory palaces? Many of the stories with which he began each chapter just seemed irrelevant.

Perhaps this book is aimed at a younger crowd that loves reading stories about movies and contemporary people. James did give a few illustrations from godly people and I enjoyed those much more than the others.

I was not captivated by this book nor was I greatly encouraged to be awake and watchful. The topics seemed all over the place and there was just too much irrelevant information in the way of stories. I had a hard time following the trajectory of the book. Others may find this book inspiring, especially those who have not read much on living a fervent spiritual life.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Rick James has a long history in collegiate ministry and is publisher for Cru. A former ad-agency art director, he is a frequent conference speak and is the author of Jesus Without Religion and A Million Ways to Die. He and his wife live in West Chester, Pennsylvania and have three grown children. You can find out more and read his blog at

NavPress, 272 pages.

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lists to Love By For Busy Husbands and Lists to Love By for Busy Wives by Mark and Susan Merrill

Having a successful marriage is hard. What fascinated us in our potential spouse often is found irritating after marriage. Choices are made everyday that lead to improvement or decline in a marriage. How do we know what to do?

The Merrills have been working for twenty years on making marriages better. They have taken their combined experience and an analysis of comments on their posts and created lists. They have developed the format of lists because they can be readily used in our fast paced and complicated lives.

The lists are designed to help us manage our expectations, evaluate how we are doing (using God's standards), and give ways to improve our marriage. The Merrills have found that these areas are ones where people want help.

There are thirty lists so one could be reviewed each day for a month. Readers could also just go to a specific list, wanting to work on a specific area. There are “Taking the Next Step” sections at the end of each chapter containing evaluation questions and action suggestions.

What are on these lists? The first one contains truths, such as, marriage is hard work. The next one contains things to remember, like our marriage vows. Other lists remind us of the power of words, actions to stop doing, unfair expectations we might have of our spouse, what we should expect of our spouse, what we want to hear from our spouse, forgiveness, respectful treatment in public, and much more.

There are two books, one with lists for husbands and the other with lists for wives. The text of both books are generally the same. Each book is written from the view point of the spouse, however, and contains a few gender specific illustrations and issues. What wives would like to hear from their husbands is quite different from what husbands would like to hear from their wives. There is a chapter for husbands on pornography while the corresponding chapter for wives deals with hardening the heart. But the format of the books allow spouses to generally discuss each chapter together.

I like the way these books have been designed. I like the idea of doing a chapter a day for a month, then starting over again. The suggestions for evaluation and action at the end of each chapter are good. Some of the suggestions seem a little contrived, however. I'm not sure I'd appreciate a compliment I received from my spouse knowing it came verbatim from a book.

I recommend these books to couples wanting to tune up their marriage. The books would also make a good anniversary gift. While God is mentioned frequently in these books, there is no use of the Bible so these books would be good for all couples, not just Christians.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Mark Merrill is the founder and president of Family First, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people love their families well. He hosts The Family Minute, a nationally syndicated daily radio program. He also gives marriage and parenting wisdom through his blog and podcast at He is the author of All Pro Dad – Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids. He and his wife, Susan, live in Tampa, Florida, and have five children.
Susan Merrill is the director of content for Family First and oversees the content creation and digital marketing of all Family First platforms. She blogs at and is the author of The Passionate Mom – Dare to Parent in Today's World. She is married to Mark and is the mother of their five children.
You can find out more about their ministry at

FaithWords, 208 pages each.

I received complimentary copies of these books from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Monday, December 26, 2016

GodRunner by Will Hart

Hart shares his own stories of ministry and encourages us to let the Holy Spirit minister through us as well.

Becoming the man he is today was a process. Hart tells of his encounter with the Holy Spirit, his travels and the miraculous events he has experienced. He explains the anointing of the Holy Spirit and transferring it from one person to another. He encourages us to be obedient to the Holy Spirit's call. He reminds us that it will be outside of our comfort zone. God will provide what we need for the ministry. We are not to try to make sense of it. Just be a fearless risk-taker.

Hart's life is a great example for us. He has had no special educations, no formal training. He is just passionate about the things of the kingdom and has been used mightily by God. His example shows us that we do not have to be in some remote location to be used of God. If we are listening to the Spirit, we can be used by God in the local hardware store.

Hart is the COO of Iris Global, the ministry of Rolland and Heidi Baker. They chose him for that position because they saw his passion and tenacious spirit when it comes to things of God. You'll be encouraged by this book as you read how God has worked through Hart, knowing that God is ready to work through you too.

Food for thought: “You were created to be loved by Him. Therefore, you worship Him; you give love back to Him. Then you freely give it away to others. You keep His love flowing.” (122)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Will Hart has traveled in the jungles of the Congo and the streets of Thailand. He has ministered in conferences across the U.S. He always expects the Holy Spirit to show up in power. He traveled three years with Randy Clark and then moved, with his wife, to Mozambique to minister with the Bakers. After returning to the U.S., he ministered closely with Randy Clark's Global Awakening. In 2016, be became COO of Iris Global. He and his wife have three children and live in Glendale, California.

Whitaker House, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Getaway With God by Letitia Suk

We need to be spiritually recharged from time to time. We don't have to wait for that annual retreat the church offers. Suk encourages us to regularly plan our own times of spiritual restoration.

Suk tells her story of participating in retreats and gives excellent suggestions for crafting our own. She gives step by step suggestions on how to design and experience a personal spiritual retreat. She explains why we need them, where to go (out of the house), and how to prepare for it. She includes different kinds of retreats and what to do at them.

Suk has such a wide variety of ideas that this book could be used by anyone wanting to experience a personal retreat. She has suggestions for spiritual content, like character studies, Lectio Divina, goal setting, etc. She includes instructions on silence, food, creating schedules, seeking spiritual direction, and more. Her suggested plans cover retreats lasting one day to several days.

I appreciate Suk distinguishing the typical group retreat from the ones she suggests. Group retreats are often more about speakers and social interaction than having time alone with God. Her suggestions for personal retreats are more what I have had in mind for personal renewal. I like her suggestions of reviewing spiritual milestones, identifying stuck points, and looking to the future. She has included a number of questions to ask ourselves. They would also be good questions for an annual review of where we are in life.

I also like Suk encouraging readers to experience Sabbath, creating a rhythm of renewal. That could be a weekly time of spiritual restoration we can all experience. Suk also answers a number of questions readers might have about personal spiritual retreats.

This is a good book for people who have wanted to go on a spiritual retreat and did not know how to make it happen. With practical suggestions for getaways of different lengths and places, it is a great resource. Suk writes that she has “offered a buffet of ideas on how to get away with God.” (141) I agree. There are so many possibilities included in this book, every person desiring time away with God will find resources here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Letitia Suk is an author, speaker, personal retreat guide, and life coach, inviting women to follow an intentional life. Her previous works include Rhythms of Renewal. She regularly blogs at You can find out more at or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Kregel Publications, 160 pages. You can purchase a copy here.

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

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Reflections With God by Linda Seger

It is a hard time when people of faith are waiting for healing. Seger has had that experience and shares here insights she has gained. She was diagnosed with cervical dystonia, a movement disorder where the brain sends the wrong message to a muscle.

Seger decided not to go with the Botox shots every three months for the rest of her life. She tried alternatives but they did not work. Then she found a chiropractic neurologist who had had some success in treating people with this condition. It's been seven years and there has been some improvement. She's been doing two to four hours of therapy every day all those years. Then, in 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now she is working with diet and supplements to reduce the chance of recurrence.

Seger shares her spiritual thoughts from her journey to health. These are universal spiritual principles for people dealing with with an illness that may or may not be healed. Some lessons she learned include realizing that the most important thing was not her healing but whether she loved God. She also learned to surrender and that it was not the same as resignation. She found that her illness brought her to a greater understanding of God and caused her to expand her relationship with Him. She also gained insights into listening to God, being willing to allow the Holy Spirit to work in her alongside her own efforts at healing.

Conservative evangelical Christians may have difficulty with Seger's spiritual generalizations. Her aim is to make her insights available to people of all faiths. For example, when she suggests we need a person with wisdom to help us, she suggests it could be a religious figure such as Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed or a saint.

Seger has given us a thoughtful book on the spiritual aspects of waiting for healing. It is designed to be an encouragement to all people of faith.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Linda Seger is a seminary graduate with degrees in Theology and Drama. She is a member of Colorado Springs Friends Meeting (Quakers) and lives in the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs with her husband.

Clovercroft Publishing, 144 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review.

In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett

What a hoot! I remember watching Burnett's show and loving it. This book is a trip down memory lane. Her show ran for eleven wonderful seasons, 1967 to 1978.

Burnett reminds us what television was like back then. Everything was filmed in front of a live audience. None of this canned laughter back then. You had to be funny to get laughs! And funny they were. Burnett describes many of the sketches and they are as funny now as they were then. Because they were in front of a live audience, mistakes were made and they often had to ad lib to keep going.

We are privy to the people involved in the show as well as the guests. Burnett takes us behind the scenes and reveals many bloopers. For example, there was the time she was caught in a public restroom stall practicing one of her characters.

I was impressed with the fact that Burnett did all of her own stunts – and never broke a bone. She also let the writers write. She did not spend hours going over the sketches but let them do their job while she went home to her family. I was really surprised that she does not know how to read music and even more surprised that Bing Crosby didn't either.

I liked the book so much that when I found out Burnett narrated the audio edition I listened to it. I enjoyed both. The book has lots of pictures but the audio has some actual tape of interviews and I got to hear Burnett do her famous Tarzan yell.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to travel down memory lane and read about television in its hey day. I also recommend it to younger readers to gather some insight into what television was like for their parents or grandparents. If you've never seen Burnett, do a search for videos on line and treat yourself.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Carol Burnett has been an actor on Broadway, on television, and in the movies. She has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and the Kennedy Center Honors.

Crown, 320 pages.

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

War on Fear by John Morgan with Joel Balin

Morgan wrote this book to rile us up, to get us angry at the fear that robs us everyday.

He shares how he overcame the fears that that paralyzed him, confronting the fearful thoughts and replacing them with truth-based thought. He wrote Scripture passages and encouraging truths on index cards, sticky notes, etc. He placed them where he would have regular access to their messages.

He reminds us that we can train our minds to recognize fear thoughts and stop them before they rob us. We can strengthen our decision making process too. Being prepared for the mental battle is so very important in being obedient to God.

Morgan tells lots of stories, lots. He is a good story teller, giving us examples of opportunities missed and victories won. He has a great sense of humor that comes through too. Morgan is a George W. Bush impersonator and has lots of stories to tell.

I recommend this book to readers who are looking for teaching by example, through stories. Whether it is fear of people, of public speaking, of reaching out – whatever the fear, Morgan has good stories of encouragement included. There is a good presentation of the gospel too.

My rating: 4/5 stars

John Morgan is a George W. Bush impersonator, comedian, actor, and inspirational speaker. He was born and raised in Orlando, where he, his wife and their four sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren still live. You can find out more, follow him on social media, and watch videos at
Joel Balin is the author of The Spirit, Soul and Body of Worship. He has written for WORD and ZionSong music publishers and was part of the founding board of Third Day. He is currently associate pastor of Cobb Vineyard Church near Atlanta, Georgia.

Creation House, 140 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Spoken From the Heart: The Adventure Continues by Cheri Swalwell

Swalwell shares more of her continuing journey in this book of the Spoken From the Heart series. She invites us to learn from her struggles and God's answers during the adventure He chose for her family through the 36 devotions she includes.

She writes about facing loss of income, of changing her thinking from “I” to God, of looking for ways to bless others, and much more. She shares lessons about negative thinking (it insults God), listening to God and following what He instructs (even with some struggles), finding our calling and using the gifts God gives us, and more.

Many of the insights she shares come from sermons she has heard or articles she has read. She relates the truths to events in her life. Many of the devotions relate to her work situation, such as seeking the kind of job God wanted her to have and struggling in a new job.

This book is a good example of finding spiritual lessons in the events of life. Swalwell pays attention to what God is telling her through her life situation and that is a good lesson for all of us.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer. She writes regularly for the Book Fun Magazine and is a contributing author for the book 31 Devotions for Writers. You can follow her blog at

About 97 pages, you can buy a copy here.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How's Your Soul? by Judah Smith

This is a book about being OK on the inside, at the soul level. A healthy soul is essential to a healthy life. Even in times of difficulty, if our soul is healthy we will find the strength to make it through.

Your soul is healthiest,” Smith writes, “when it comes back frequently and wholeheartedly to God.” God created our soul and there are certain things we can do to make it healthy. We need rest, enjoying God and His creation. We need responsibility, a job. We need restraint, limits. And we need relationships, to not be alone.

Smith ties these ideas together to the anchor our soul needs, Jesus. We need to live in God's love, have our identity on Christ, and have a consistent walk with Him, no longer alone.

Smith has given us good way to check the health of our soul and to maintain our soul the way God has designed. Sometimes we don't like to think about our inner health. The “I'm fine,” comes out so fast. But if we want to have an effective Christian walk and witness, we must pay attention to the health of our soul. As Smith himself writes, “This book is only the beginning of a lifestyle of knowing [God].”

Smith has a quirky sense of humor that helps in the readability of this serious book. He tells lots of stories on himself. Some are quite personal. He talks a little more freely about sexual topics than this senior citizen is used to.

I recommend this book to those interested in maintaining a healthy inner being. That health will only be found in a relationship with Jesus. Reading this book will get the reader on the path to good soul health.

You can find out more about the book and the author and watch author interviews at

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Judah Smith is the lead pastor of the City Church in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Jesus is _____ and coauthor of I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook.

Thomas Nelson, 224 pages.

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Gospel According to Ruth by Kevin Foster

Foster had a personal revival in the fall of 2012. A few months later he was reading the Old Testament book of Ruth. God planted within him a fresh look at the book. Over the next year he gleaned spiritual insights from the book and recorded them here.

I am impressed with the lessons Foster has shared with us. I have read through the book of Ruth before and never realized there were so many lessons contained within it. There are 121 reading in this book, each one a good spiritual lesson from a part of Ruth's story.

Foster has done a good job of using the story of Ruth as an example of the message of the gospel. His devotions are generally based on a particular verse or two on the biblical story. On occasion Foster with add lessons related to the topic but not based on a particular verse.

Foster's book is a good example of how much spiritual truth is contained within the Bible, even when the passage is a narrative one.

You can read excerpts, find out more about the book and watch interviews with the author at

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kevin Foster is a Bible teacher who studied at the African Bible College in Liberia. He is also an award winning Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner. He is an active Bible study teacher and speaker. He lives in the United States with his wife and their four children.

Carpenter's Son Publishing, 288 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Evolution Scripture and Nature Say Yes! by Denise O. Lamoureux

Lamoureux has brought a very valuable addition to the creation evolution discussion. He calls for the end of the dichotomy of evolution or creation. We don't have to choose. We can have both.

He shares his own story of becoming an atheist after studying evolution. He later found that faith in a creator God is very possible while still maintaining belief in evolution. He has written this book to help students and others who struggle with their Christian faith when confronted with modern science.

He takes readers through the fossil evidence. “Every year there are thousands of new fossils found,” he writes, “and they always show up exactly where scientists expect them to be in the fossil record.” (455/2478) The evidence for evolution is overwhelming, he says.

Lamoureux is an evolutionary creationist. “God with only one creative act set up the laws of nature for everything in the entire world to self-assemble through evolution.” (571/2478) “Beginning with the Big Bang, God put in motion extremely well-designed natural processes which he used to self-assemble the entire world, including us.” (610/2478) “Evolutionary creationists believe the Creator ordains and sustains all natural processes in the world, including the evolutionary process.” (1465/2478)

He argues that the early chapters in Genesis are ones in which God accommodated humans “and allowed writers to use the science-of-the-day.” (706/2478) He proposes the Message-Incident Principle where Bible statements about nature are to be read through the understanding of ancients. Evolutionary creationists believe real historical events in Scripture begin roughly around Genesis 12 and Abraham. Jesus' statements, such as God creating male and female (Matt. 19:4) are also accommodations to the understanding of the day, Lamoureux claims.

Lamoureux is not a deist, however. He believes God miraculously works in the lives of men and women. It is possible to reject God intervening “in origins and operations of the world but then fully embrace personal miracles as well as the miracles of Jesus and his bodily resurrection from the grave.” (743/2478)

He points out that in light of Romans 1:21-23, it “is evident” that “human sinfulness leads to intellectual dysfunction.” (830/2478) “In other words, sin impacts our ability to think clearly and rationally.” (830/2478) Also, “...sinfulness twists our thought processes into believing falsehoods.” (837/2478) Unfortunately, he fails to explore how this might impair the work of scientists and the conclusions they draw.

Difficulties for Christians believing in evolution include man being created in the image of God and man falling into sin. Lamoureux brushes off these issues by writing that understanding how the Image of God and sinfulness arose in humanity is “ultimately a mystery and beyond our comprehension.” (1478/2478) Not understanding how it came about “has no impact whatsoever” on his belief that we bear the Image of God and are sinners. (1478/2478) The evolutionary issue of how humans became conscious and spiritual beings is one Lamoureux does not tackle, even though I think it is a very important problem.

While this book is a good addition to the discussion on evolution and creation, there is much that yet needs to be covered. One is the area of miracles. Lamoureux says “it is perfectly reasonable” to reject God working in nature in the development of animals and humans yet accept “personal divine action.” (1996/2478) We already saw where Lamoureux accepts personal miracles. But personal miracles are God working in nature, healing, calming the storm, etc. Why should we reject God working in nature in one area (origins) but accept His working in nature in other areas?

Another topic needing further discussion is creation initially being good but then being tainted by sin. Paul says in Romans 5:12 that sin entered by one man and death through sin. How do Christian evolutionists explain that? Paul continues his argument by relating the sin of the one man (Adam) to God's saving grace through the one man, Jesus. (Rom. 5:15) If Paul was wrong about Adam how do we know he was right about Jesus?

And what about when Jesus mentioned the days of Noah and said it will be like that when He returns? (Matt. 24:7) Christian evolutionists do not accept the story of Noah as history so what do we do with Jesus' statement? And what about Peter when he writes about the world being deluged? (2 Peter 3:6) Peter relates that event to the future coming of the Lord and the earth being destroyed by fire. If we think Peter did not get the flood right, how can we trust he gets the coming of the Lord right? And John mentions Cain in I John 3:12. If John wrongly believed Cain was a real person how can we trust the rest he writes?

There are parts of this book I really appreciate. I appreciate Lamoureux's proposal of a fruitful relationship between the Bible and God's work revealed in science. I appreciate his discussion of metaphysics and physics and how one must take a leap from physics to metaphysics and belief in design and a Designer. I think he does an excellent job in discussing when evolution has an end in mind (determined by God) or is blind, as atheists claim. He presents very good arguments discounting atheism.

But there are also issues that still need to be discussed. This book is a good beginning to the topic but may not satisfy all readers, as it did not satisfy me. There still needs to be a great deal more work done on the views of Christian evolutionists and how they maintain the integrity of the Bible as revealing spiritual truths.

I recommend this book to those interested in the creation evolution discussion. Lamoureux clearly identifies how making people choose between science and faith has been detrimental. Many will find within these pages reasons to believe God created through the evolutionary process. I also recommend this book to those who are willing to work through the ideas of Christian evolutionary thought and clear up some of the remaining questions regarding the integrity of the Bible.

And just one more thought, this one regarding the title of the book. The title indicates that Scriptures in some way inform readers that evolution occurred. Lamoureux does not show that in this book. The best that can be said is that Scriptures do not say evolution did not happen – if you look at it through the eyes of Christian evolutionary thought. I personally think the title is misleading.

Lamoureux teaches a class on science and faith at the University of Alberta. Readers interested in pursuing this topic can access that class at

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Denis O. Lamoureux is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph's College in the University of Alberta, the first tenure-track position in Canada dedicated to teaching and research on the relationship between scientific discovery and Christian faith. He is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution; I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution; and Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins. You can find out more at

Zondervan, 208 pages. (Instead of giving page numbers for quotes, I have given the location in my Kindle edition.)

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

Unplanned by Alana Terry

This is a good introduction to a new series from Terry. Kennedy is a university student when her pastor from years ago invites her to help in a newly established pregnancy care center. She agrees to cover the phone for a weekend. She receives a troubling call from a thirteen year old pregnant girl. The girl hangs up before Kennedy can adequately engage her. But it is God's plan that the lives of two would become entwined in a potentially deadly situation.

This is a novel that takes us into the personal story of a young teen who is in a dangerous situation and in need of help. It was interesting to see Kennedy deal with the disturbing call from the girl. And then the story quickly moved to a suspenseful situation where the lives of Kennedy and the teen are in danger.

Kennedy does quite a bit of thinking during the suspenseful scenes in the novel. That seemed a little out of place to me. Also, Kennedy is put in a very suspenseful situation. It seemed a little odd that she was included in this suspense as it actually dealt with the pregnant teen. It almost seemed like Kennedy was there at the design of the author, not as an essential aspect of the plot.

I also felt the support characters could have used some additional work. Kennedy's roommate was an odd character and her reactions were puzzling. I felt sort of the same with Kennedy's lab partner. And the youth pastor at the church kind of gave me the creeps.

In addition to the pregnant theme of the novel is the issue of cross cultural experiences. Kennedy had spent the previous ten years with her parents in China. It was very interesting to read of her reactions to church and worship in the U.S. compared to the house churches in China.

I recommend this novel to those who like a suspense filled novels that deal with hard issues, such as young teen pregnancy. Readers should be aware that there are some bloody scenes in the novel.

As of this writing, this novel is a free Kindle download you can get here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Alana Terry is a pastor's wife, homeschooling mom and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers' Favorite, and more. She and her family live in rural Alaska.

Firstfruits Publishing, 288 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Of Moose and Men by Torry Martin & Doug Peterson

Torry Martin is one crazy guy. This book is filled with his crazy adventures, mostly in Alaska and finally in his move to Tennessee.

Many of the Alaska adventures deal with wildlife. For example, there was a moose outside of his cabin. Martin decided to feed it carrots through the kitchen window. While he went back to the fridge to get more carrots, the moose stuck its head through the window and its antlers got stuck. In a panic, the moose ultimately pulled out the window, frame and all. The moose was seen running off with the window frame hung around its neck.

Martin became a Christian while in Alaska. He finds a spiritual lesson in every event and adds it to the end of each of his tales. He writes, “...I can even find a parable in bear guts.” (128)

Martin and his co-author have written stories for children. Martin for Focus on the Family and Peterson for Veggie Tales. It shows in this book in that the writing style is suitable for young people. While the events that happen are of interest to adults, sophisticated readers may find the prose a bit elemental.

This would be a good book for readers who like slap stick style humor. There are good spiritual lessons drawn from Martin's crazy experiences so this might be a book that could be given to a nonbeliever interested in the wilds of Alaska.

He is quite a comedian and you can find some of his routines online.

My rating: 4.5 stars.

Torry Martin is an award-winning actor, screenwriter, and comedian. He has written for Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey and has cowritten screenplays for several films.
Doug Peterson is the Gold Medallion-winning author of over 60 books, including 42 for the popular Veggie Tales series and 4 historical novels. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, where he also writes for the University of Illinois.

Harvest House Publishers, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review.