I have been given the opportunity to do some reviews on some books from a few different publishers. Some of them do not quite fit into the focus I have for Living Infuzion, but obviously have some good information. Here are some of my perspectives on some pretty good books! Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Heaven is Now – By Andrew Farley

The book is subtitled “Awakening your five spiritual senses to the wonders of grace” which sort of sets the tone for the book.  It is divided into the five senses as we understand them now, but then the author puts his spiritual spin on them.  It seems to me that the writer’s intent is to show not just that heaven is our great hope, but that God has given us some signs of it within our life right now.

For feel, he moves the reader towards the idea of grace, and out from under the law.  I got a bit uncomfortable with this section as it is something that I am seeing more in modern Christian writing.  It is this idea of being free and out from under the law, and FAR too often people take that to mean that suddenly they can do anything and that sin is irrelevant. 

One of the other things that each section has is a passage called Heaven Speaks.    There are some verses from scripture that are the basis for each section, but at the end of each section it is signed from Jesus.  I get what this author is trying to do, I just try to be really careful when someone is assigning their words to Jesus.

The book progresses through the other senses using different stories and illustrations to help awaken your spiritual senses.  It is an interesting concept, and in the end seeing the aspects of heaven here should point the reader towards their hope of heaven with Christ.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Prophet R.J. Larson

Prophet is the first book in the Books Of The Infinite series by R.J. Larson.  The story centers around a seventeen year old girl named Ela Roeh.  Ela is called by her Creator, the Infinite, to be his prophet.  She feels extremely inadequate and unsure of herself.  She's young, ill tempered, impetuous and never mind that a prophet of Parne has never been a girl.  But after feeling His presence she can't ever imagining going back to life as she knew it, so she accepts the sacred vinewood branch.  The Infinite then calls her to bring His word to a nation torn apart by a brutal war.  There she meets Kien, a young ambassador who will bring justice to his people no matter the cost.  Will Ela be able to fulfill her duty as the Infinite's prophet?

Ela's struggles with being good enough to be chosen by the Infinite are so transferable to every day life.  As Christians, we can often question how God can chose someone as frail and flawed as ourselves to be His witnesses to a dying world.  Like Ela, when we learn to lean on His strength and His presence, we can do anything that He asks of us.  I am not normally a reader of fantasy fiction, but once I got into it, I found that I had a hard time putting this book down.  I am eager to see where the story goes next for Ela & Kien.  I would recommend this book to any young adults who love fantasy fiction as well as adults too.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dallas and the Spitfire By Ted Gluck and Dallas Jahncke

“Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-con, and an Unlikely friendship” by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke is a book that came to me as I was looking into a kind of discipleship structure for men.  I really got a lot out of this book and highly recommend it to anyone that is looking to create disciples.

It describes the relationship that builds between two men Ted, a pastor, and Dallas, an ex-con and new Christian.  They connect over their interest in cars, and work together at restoring the Spitfire, and it all leads through to Bible college and developing the ex-con turned Christian into a strong, committed man of God.

The structure of the book, and the tone are very much a narrative, and an easy read.  It just goes through the story of where Dallas came from, and where he is headed.  It also tells the story of where Pastor Ted came from, and you can see that these men are total opposite.

Occasionally there are inserted sections written by Dallas that really shows how much God has done in his life.  He goes through some of the trials of being a young man with no parents, and his road through drugs and crime, and his time in prison.  All through the terrible part that he lived through had God’s hand on it, and he has had the chance to use his life to lead others to Jesus.

The thrust of the book is that discipleship should be built on relationship.  If we look to Jesus as our example he didn’t have a Bible school, or a set curriculum, or anything like that.  He lived how the Father wanted him to.  He built relationships with people to the point where they would see what he said as true and reliable. 

The book had some great points, and is definitely worth reading for men that want to make a difference in the lives of other men that want to follow Jesus.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fiddler - Beverly Lewis

Amelia Devries is an extremely talented classical violinist whose life has been planned for her from the time she was very little.  Unbeknownst to her family and manager, she also plays a few concerts as Amy Lee, a talented fiddle player.  Driving back from one such concert, she gets caught in a rainstorm and ends up completely lost with a flat tire.  She comes across a cabin and meets Michael Hostetler, a young Amishman with struggles of his own.  Michael comes from an Old Order community and struggles with the idea of pleasing his family  by taking his kneeling vow, and his love of learning, something that is forbidden.  Amelia accepts his invitation to come back with him to Hickory Hollow and immediately falls in love with the peace the small community with a simple life brings.  With both feeling the pull of duty to honor their parents expectations yet the desire to follow their own heart, will Michael & Amelia be able to find lasting contentment and peace?

I am a huge fan of Beverly Lewis and jumped at the chance to read this novel.  I was very excited to see that we were returning to Hickory Hollow, the setting of her first novel The Shunning. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  The characters of Amelia & Michael were so well written.  Their individual struggles with the choices that they each had to make were heart wrenching at points.  Neither wanted to disappoint their fathers, but both felt a strong pull to be true to who they felt called to be.   I loved seeing Ella Mae, the wise woman again.  Her conversations with Amelia about that the only person she should try to please is God so stuck out in my head.  Too often in life we are so consumed with pleasing those around us that we forget there is only One who matters.   I cannot wait until September, when the second book in this series , The Bridesmaid, comes out!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Common English Bible - Thinline Bible

I love the English language, and I love how with subtle shifts in words you can sometimes bring more meaning and relevance to a passage. Especially in translation this is true.

That being said, I love collecting translations of the bible, and recently I was provided with one for my review. The Common English Bible is new to me, but a welcome addition to my reference shelf. The philosophy of translation was to balance literal, word-for-word translation with cultural meaning, and I think it does a good job.
Here is as example:
My son went to a Vacation Bible School (VBS) on the March Break. He came home the first day with his memory verse, and the wording was not quite what I expected. He says:
“Proverbs 3:5 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence.’”

Intelligence! What was that? The word just flew out at me as he said it. I had to know what translation used that word. I went through several other translations and all of them used the word ‘understanding’. To me, the word ‘intelligence’ said the same thing, but would resonate more with the people of today.

I also do a lot of work with the tweens (9-12ish) young people in my church, and I have been using the CEB during our teaching times. I have been writing a daily devotional for them, and this is one of my translations of choice. It is edgy, modern and meaningful for reading.

Here is Psalm 23:1-3:
The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.

Love that part in verse 2. Rather than “He restores my soul” as in more common usage, they translate as “He keeps me alive.”

It is just a fresh look on the Scriptures without changing their meaning. It is the subtle nuances that make it interesting. Pick up a copy and do some comparing of the CEB to the translation you are most comfortable with. 

I was provided a complimentary copy of the Common English Bible for review.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Trauma Plan - Candace Calvert

Chaplain Riley Hale is a nurse who after a vicious assault that left her with lasting injuries, is trying to get back to her life as an ER nurse.  Struggling to prove herself capable, she volunteers at a local free clinic that is not loved at all by it's upscale neighbors.  There she meets it's director, Dr. Jack Travis, a gruff man who seems to have a lot of baggage of his own.  Desperate to save his clinic, Jack will use any means necessary to keep it open.  Even if it means using Riley's family name.  Can they both put their trust in God to fight their battles and heal their wounded hearts?

This was the first time I have read one of Candace Calvert's novels; and it definitely won't be my last.  This book starts with action right away and doesn't let up until the end.  The various trauma scenes through out the book are so well written.  Easy enough for the average person to understand the medical jargon but thrilling enough that you can't help but feel like you are right there.  The struggles with trusting God that Riley and Jack have are so real and heart wrenching at times.  I hope that there will be more in this series and now have to track down her other three novels.  I highly recommend this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my review.