Monday, September 19, 2011

Ascent from Darkness by Michael Leehan

Michael Leehan served Satan for twenty years. His life consisted of ritualistic cuttings on his arms to draw blood used to invite demons in, depression, jail time, ruined relationships, and doing spiritual battle with his enemies, the followers of Jesus. There was no end to what Leehan would do to serve his master, Satan, and it eventually led to his utimate assignment for the father of lies. The assignment: to kill Craig Groeschel, the senior pastor of

In his first book, Ascent from Darkness, Michael Leehan takes his readers on a journey unlike any they have ever been on as he recounts in detail his descent into Satanism. This is a true story of one man's giving up of himself for the darkness and emptying his entire being to evil. It contains tragedy and terror, but is filled with hope as he begins his ascent out of it.

I have read many books that deal with supernatural and spiritual issues, but this is one of the best I have given my time to. Leehan is open and honest about what he was thinking as he did the things that he did, and gives an honest assessment of what he experienced with Christians, the good and the bad. I am moved spiritually by this book as I look seriously at my heart condition and my commitment to Jesus. At one point in the book, Leehan writes "What is the difference between a Satanist and a lukewarm Christian...Nothing." Encouragement abounds between the covers of this book as you read about the many Christians that were not lukewarm as they pursued Leehan, prayed for him, and loved him where he was until God rescued him.

I recommend that everyone read this book, Christians and non-Christians alike. It will provide a realistic encounter with what the spiritual realm looks like and why the battle is there and not in the flesh. It also provide answers to the only hope we have in surviving....Jesus Christ.

I received this book free from the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Vigilante by Robin Parrish

The world is controlled by evil men, crime lords that have no limit to the pain and and agony they are willing to inflict on the innocent. Everyday citizens live in a state of fear, with no hope of positive change coming anytime soon. Is there anyone or anything out there to rescue and bring light to the darkness overshadowing all of mankind?

Nolan Gray, the most highly decorated soldier in American war history, has been killed. Can the U.S. take anymore? Gray, a symbol of heroism, taken down. Another sign of defeat and despair.

However, Gray has faked his murder only to become "The Hand" to SHOW EVERYONE A BETTER WAY. Gray, with the help of Branford, an old military buddy, and Arjay, a genius at making high-tech weaponry and gadgets, takes on crime in New York City. His vision is that his mission will change the hearts of people, reviving hope that crime is not the way to live and that there is a better way. Along the way, Gray and his team make an enemy of Yuri Vasko, the most powerful crime lord in New York City, and the battle is on.

This is the first book of Robin Parrish's that I have read and it was worth the time. It is a fast-paced, adrenalin-rushing, action thriller. The short chapters keep you turning pages until the satisfying ending is reached. Parrish has created a crime fighter in Nolan Gray that you can relate to in his humanity, as he is passionately seeking justice one minute and battling his own will and desire for vengeance the next. He was a real person with real personal demons that haunt him from the past.

Parrish has done well with Vigilante and I look forward to my next read by this gifted writer.

(I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

100 Read and Sing Devotions

God created us for praise and worship of Him. He desires for us to sing praises to Him, study His Word, and communicate with Him in prayer. He also has a special place in his heart for children, which we see in Jesus as He continually gathered the children around himself to show what the Kingdom of God looks like. 100 Read and Sing Devotions by Stephen Elkins and beautifully illustrated by Tim O'Connor is a great book to help in leading children into Kingdom life.

This devotional book is unlike most I have seen for children in that it combines several important elements to disciple a child's heart. These elements are found as the devotions follow the following format:

  1. A Bible song: The song provides the foundation for what the focus of that particular devotion. The book comes with 2 cd's containing all 100 songs.
  2. A short, easy to understand devotion that points to God and Jesus.
  3. "Word Watch": A short scripture highlighting that devotion's topic.
  4. "My Prayer for Today": A short (one or two sentence/phrase) prayer.

Also, the book is designed in a "padded" hard cover format, having the feel of a soft cover with the durability of a hardback. Some kids are hard on books and this one should be able to take it.

I really only have one minor complaint about this book, but it is good for potential purchasers to know. It contains the 100 songs (each running at about a minute in length) but the book only contains the first line or two of the lyrics. Complete lyrics would be helpful in helping parents (or grandparents) to teach the songs, since some of the songs may be unfamiliar. An online site to download the lyrics, if needed, would have been acceptable, but I couldn't find anything anything in the book addressing this.

I am impressed with this book and look forward to using it to read and sing songs with my granddaughter.
I received this book free of charge from the program in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Billy Graham in Quotes

I remember as a child going to a Billy Graham crusade at the Atlanta Stadium. The sight of hundreds of people walking onto the field toward the platform where Graham was preaching the Gospel amazed me. What was it about this man? Now 40 years later, I realize it wasn't this man, but the Word preached that moved people out of their seats and onto the field. The Word demanded a response. Graham has been in ministry for over 70 years and has managed to not be involved in any major controversy. He has received his share of criticism, but has stayed true to his calling to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Because of this, it would do us good to listen to what this preacher has to say. Now, with Billy Graham in Quotes, we can hear what he has to say. This book, compiled by his son Franklin Graham, is arranged topically (A-Z) so we can find a quote from this great minister on a variety of topics.

Here are just a few samples:

" In some churches today and on some religious television programs, we see the attempt to make Christianity popular and pleasant. We have taken the cross away and substituted cushions."

" The cross shows the seriousness of our sin - but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God."

"Many Christians want the benefits of their belief, but they hesitate at the cost of discipleship."

"The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us."

"Envy and greed starve on a steady diet of thanksgiving."

"End your journey well. Don't waste your life, and don't be satisfied with anything less than God's plan."

"The Christian life isn't a playground but a battlefield."

"If we are at peace with this world, it may be because we have sold out to it and compromised with it."

"The more worldly pleasure we enjoy, the less satisfied and contented we are with life."

"Salvation is an act of God. It is initiated by God, wrought by God, and sustained by God."

"Our chaotic, confused world has no greater need than to hear the Gospel truth."

Hundreds more gems like these are found in this collection of quotes.

This book is a great reference tool for times when you need some encouragement or insight into a particular area of struggle in your life, or if you need simply to to be refocused and re-centered on what matters most...Jesus Christ. This would make a great gift book as well.

This book was provided free in exchange for a review through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program for bloggers.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Psalm 18

This great psalm of David spoke to me this morning through the Holy Spirit. The words reveal the promises of God to protect and care for His own. The Lord is called a rock, a fortress, deliverer, a refuge, a shield, a stronghold...and all this in only the 1st 3 verses.
David writes from a place of knowing what it means to be ensnared and strangled by the very throes of death (v.4-5) and be delivered. When I am distressed, as David was, I can cry out to God because He is my God, and He will hear my voice and my cry. It will reach His ears.
When God moves, nature responds. In fact, God is speaking to us all the time in nature as he command it. He uses nature to act on behalf of His people. God always delivers his people. We see it throughout scripture: we see it on the cross and in the resurrection as Jesus provides deliverance from the eternal consequences of sin and from the wrath of God that we all deserve, but was absorbed by Christ.
The question that always lingers and hovers over all of this, and completely baffles me at times, is Why?

  • Why does God even put up with us?

  • Why does He speak to us and deliver us, even through natural means?

  • Why does He hear our cries, cries that often come from a place of being in the middle of the mess we created for ourselves?

The answer is found in Psalm 18:19 when David writes these words of healing:

...because he delighted in me.

Imagine that:

  • The God that made everything and can destroy all things to dust with one breath

  • This God that holds all things together (Col. 1:17)

  • The God who has always been (Gen.1/John1)

  • The God who said "let there be light and there was light" (Gen 1:3) and then did the same in our hearts (2 Cor. 4:6)

This is the God who delights in us, who delights in me. He wants what is best for me and will go to great length to make sure I get it. He delights in me, like an artist that creates a work of art and looks on it in joy and sees its great worth. Or the joy and delight I see in my wife's eyes when she sees her granddaughter...delight. God's heart overflows with love toward us. He is delighted when we delight in Him.

Psalm 18 is based on a passage in 2 Samuel 22. The two versions of the song are almost identical, but one difference stood out to me. Psalm 18: 1 says: I love you, O Lord, my strength. The 2 Samuel version doesn't contain this; it begins at Psalm 18:2. Is it possible that Psalm 18:1 is a dedication, where David speaks his love to his Lord before putting the song down on paper, something like this:

I love you, O Lord, my strength. I delight in you. you have shown your great delight in me through the deliverance of my life from my enemies and from death itself. Here is my song of praise to you."

This great psalm flows out of a heart that delights in God...a heart that knows and understands that God delights in him.

God delights in you. Immerse yourself in Him!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Desiring God- The DVD study

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." This is the main of point of Desiring God by John Piper and is the purpose statement that has directed his ministry over many years. I had already read the book (which I highly recommend that all Christians read), but was excited to receive the DVD set and study guide to view. The DVD set is broken down into 10 short clips of around 30 minutes each and the study guide is arranged to be used as a 12 week group study.

Piper teaches that the pursuit of pleasure for Christians is not optional, but essential. This pleasure is not a worldly pleasure where we seek to satisfy all of our fleshly cravings, but a pleasure where all desires are satiated in enjoying God. It is joy in God that we pursue and it is joy we are to fight for. Piper unpacks many scriptural texts and you will find precious jewels uncovered in the crevices of familiar passages. I had moments when I asked myself, "How did I miss that?" Piper's method of reading and understanding the Bible, through underling phrases and words and connecting them with lines and arrows, helped me to see the truths he was teaching. He teaches on finding joy in suffering, sanctification, worship, the ministry, evangelism and more.

After watching, I had an increased desire within me to enjoy God more than anything else and to pursue Him relentlessly. That will be my on-going prayer, for God to strengthen that desire and to help me be most satisfied in Him, so He will get the Glory. These DVDs are well worth the time spent watching.

I received this book free from Multnomah Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Male and Female?

Kathy Witterick and David Stocker appear to be your typical parents. They have three children: Jazz, Kio and their youngest, Storm. But these parents are anything but typical. Unfortunately, they may be what could become typical. What makes them different is the fact that they have chosen to raise their children "genderless." (the two older children know they are boys)You may be asking the same question I asked which is "How can you raise a genderless child?" To this couple, this means that they will not tell anyone the sex of Storm, nor will they contribute to any gender social norms (blues and pinks for clothing, hairstyles, etc.) for any of their children. Nor will they use "he" or "she" when referring to Storm. To quote them, this is "a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation." David says, "If you really want to get to know someone, you don't ask what's between their legs."

I must admit that when I first read this, I was hoping these people were kidding. I knew they were not. I happen to have a schoolteacher friend that has a similar situation with a student, where the parent lets her daughter be a boy. I agree that you don't ask what's between someone's legs in order to really get to know them. His comparison of what they are doing as parents to knowing someone is a giant leap of logic and reason, even silly and ignorant. In fact, for the seriousness of the issue at hand, his response was lighthearted to the point of being irresponsible and, to me , quite unsettling. Gender is not something you get to choose. Saying someone is not a girl or boy (or even surgically changing genitalia) doesn't change the fact that they are a girl or a boy. God is very clear on human creation from the very beginning in Genesis 1:27 where we read:

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

Kathy and David have bought into the cultural lie that gender doesn't matter and is limiting in some way. God created male and female for the obvious reason of procreation, but also for having two defining genders to complement each other and join together as they image God on the earth. The marriage relationship, male and female, models God's relationship to man and Christ's relationship to the church. When these images are perverted and confused (which this situation and the whole realm of other gender perversions we see on a daily basis does), the very image of God is also confused and perverted. God is glorified and honored when men and women embrace their natural gender for the proclamation and fame of His name. When a human attempts to, or even claims the right to, appoint or assign gender, he has removed the lordship of Jesus Christ and placed himself on the throne as a false creator and this is a path to destruction.

I am saddened that these children are being stripped and robbed of truly knowing who they are, as created by God. This abuse in the name of freedom needs to be stopped. How will this gender denial play out in the future relationships and possible marriages of their children and future generations? Are Kathy and David even asking questions like this or is this a way for them to play out their own confusion vicariously through their children? Witterick writes, "In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, 'Please can you just let storm discover for him/herself what (s)he wants to be?!'"

Sorry, Kathy, it has already been decided and it is my prayer that you will let God mold Storm and your other children (and you) in this decision that He has made in His divine will and surrender your will to His.

Read the whole story here:

Parents keep child's gender secret -

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen

For years I have talked about writing, both fiction and non fiction. This blog and my previous one, Thin Places, were birthed out of this desire. If it has crossed your mind to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) to create a non-fiction book, then How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen is a must read. Larsen has been a literary agent since the early 1970's and brings his vast knowledge and experience to this book. He reveals everything an aspiring writer needs to know to write and sell his or her non fiction book idea. This is not a book about writing style, though there are some helpful tools in that matter. This book is about how to outline and put everything together to get published. Larsen writes early on that "this requires a fundamental shift in your thinking from being an artist to being a merchant, from being a writer with something to say to being an author with something to sell."
Publishing is a business and Larsen provides a must-have resource for anyone with that dream or gnawing book idea that needs to get out. I plan to keep this book close by as I try to get my ideas into a marketable form. We all read enough non-fiction, don't you think it's time we write something of our own?
Get to writing and get this book.

This book was provided at no charge from in exchange for this review.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Next Story by Tim Challies

If you are reading this, you are engaged in the use of technology. You may be reading this on your computer or even your phone. If you have set yourself up as a follower of my blog, then you may have heard a BEEP! as you received an email on your phone, alerting you to the fact that I had posted something. It is difficult- I would say impossible- to live in this digital age and not be "connected" with some sort of digital device.

This digital age we find ourselves in has not always existed. In fact, I remember the day of rotary phones, 8-track players, and television with a very limited number of channels (I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Atlanta area when Ted Turner was getting his conglomerate started, so we had a few extras. If you don't know who Ted Turner is, then Google his name and you will see what I mean). I am what Tim Challies, in his new book The Next Story, would call a digital immigrant...I remember the pre-digital world. My children, however, are digital natives...they were born into it.They move from one device to the next effortlessly and , unfortunately, with little thought or reflection to how they are being affected by it.

In The Next Story, Challies provides us with an excellent resource broken into two main sections: the first helping us to understand technology and the history of the digital that has brought us to where we are today; the second part helps us to understand the implications of this digital world we live in and how to be discerning, as a Christian, in our use of it.

Because I think everyone should read this, Christians and non-Christians alike, I am not going to go over all the details of the book, but will highlight the points that I found most helpful. In Chapter 5 of The Next Story, Challies discusses "media" or "mediated information", basically meaning there is a medium ( a device of some sort) that stand between the sender and the receiver of information. He points to the introduction, and the eventual dominance, of "the screen" into our lives. This began with the movie screen, that people went to another location to view, and has become controlling in our lives where we may be monitoring multiple screens at the same time (i.e. looking at our laptop while watching television and keeping tabs on our cell phone simultaneously). Until reading the statistics Challies provides on the average time spent looking at "the screen", I was oblivious to was just a typical day for me. Is this good or bad? The answer depends on if the things that God says are important are being sacrificed on the altar of technology. It could be face-to-face time in real relationships or the false intimacy of Facebook "friends", neglected responsibilities, or disintegrating ability to think deeply about the things that matter, primarily the things of God and his purposes and will. When I seriously looked at it, I was convicted by what I saw in myself and my use of technology.

Another aspect that I found so intriguing about this book was the discussion of truth and relevance and the subtle way these can be undermined with our use of technology. Challies educates his readers about how Google and Wikipedia function and how they try to determine for us what is relevant and true about any particular topic. For instance, if you do a Google search on any topic, it will be determine the most "relevant" link for you to go to find your information, with Wikipedia usually being either the first or second choice. Interestingly, many people will blindly accept as truth what Wikipedia says, not understanding the fact that anyone can write or edit a Wikipedia article, without any regard for accuracy or truthfulness, or of the writer being an authority on the subject. I am sure you can see the implications of all this. Basically, the consensus determines truth and relevance in this digital age, which is why Christians must be discerning. We know that God is Truth, so we must hold to God's Word as the Truth source.

I highly recommend this book and hope you will read it. It will help you in traversing the digital landscape as we live in The Next Story.

Thanks to Tim Challies and Zodervan for providing me this book to read and review. I highly recommend Tim Challies'blog at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Slave by John Macarthur

"Slave of Christ Jesus." If you are in Christ, then this is your new identity, according to the latest book by John MacArthur, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. But why would MacArthur say this is a hidden truth? It comes down to one word: doulos. Doulos is the Greek word for slave and it appears 124 times in the New Testament and is the most common word that the writers of the New Testament use when denoting their identity and relationship to Christ. Surprised or confused,wondering why you never noticed it before? The answer, as identified by MacArthur, is that the word has been translated as servant in most cases. So what? you may ask. Servant, Slave, same thing isn't it? The problem is that the Greek language has a dozen or so words that can mean servant and doulos is not one of them. Doulos only refers to a slave or an attitude or status of a slave. This is very important and has dramatically altered my view of my identity in Christ.
Here is why it makes a difference in what word is used: Servants are hired; Slaves are owned.
Jesus used numerous illustrations where he used slave imagery to explain the relationship between himself and his disciples, including the well know statement "Well done, good and faithful servant" (literally good and faithful slave [doulos]) (Matthew 25:21)
Paul understood this slave relationship when he said, "You are not your own for you have been bought with a price." (1 Cor. 6:19-20) The New Testament writers commonly referred to themselves as "servants [doulos] of Christ Jesus" ( Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Revelation 1:1)

MacArthur carries the reader through scripture as he describes slavery and shows the connection and importance of slaves being joyfully loyal to their Master. The slave is given the privileged status of adoption as part of the family. What could be greater than to be a slave to a gracious and merciful Master that will provide for all your needs and give you a seat at His family's table?

In summary, there are only two kinds of people: slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness (which can only come through Christ)
Which are you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Knock 'em Dead:The Ultimate Job Search Guide 2011

When I saw the opportunity to review this book, I asked myself if I really wanted to look at another job search guide, especially one that claimed to be the "ultimate" guide. Having worked for years helping welfare recipients find employment and end their dependence on the government, I have read plenty of books telling me how to construct a resume and interview well. Why would this one be any different? I am not sure what makes a guide the ultimate guide, but this one is actually one of the better ones I have seen. Martin Yate has written a book that will help the job seeker get an edge in the search process which, in today's broken economy with record unemployed, is crucial. This book will also help those who are wanting to change careers or get a better job in the same industry. Yate begins the book by stressing the point of defining the product of what he calls MeInc. and branding the product. I thought he did a very good job in helping the reader identify transferable skills that are needed and desired by most employers. These are used to help differentiate you, the job searcher, from your competitors. Once you know who you are and what you are offering, then you can construct a resume. What stood out to me in this book is the comprehensive way he handles interview questions. Yate dedicates four chapters to a detailed look at difficult interview questions and how to prepare for them and answer with confidence. The book is worth the money for these sections alone. Other sections include negotiating salaries and where the jobs are today. If you know someone struggling in their job search or someone wanting a career change, this book would make a great gift for them. I received this book free from the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir

Ray Quinn, ex-homicide detective now private investigator, has just been hired by Mayer Holdings to recover some stolen "merchandise" in the form of a brown satchel and a hard drive containing important information. The value of this information is evidenced by the obscene amount of the check Ray is holding to take the job. Being of sound mind, at least when he is not drunk from spending time with his closest friend Jim Beam, and being broke, he takes the case. When the person suspected of taking the merchandise is found in a shady motel with a skull-handled knife protruding from his chest, the investigation spirals into complexity. Ray and his assistant Crevis find themselves neck-deep in trouble as they tackle the obstacles of the case. Add the personal struggles of Ray's alcoholism and his disability from his days as a cop and Crevis' studying to pass the police exam, tempers and stress are at a high.

This is the plot of Mark Mynheir's latest novel, The Corruptible, the second installment in the Ray Quinn Mystery series. As in the first book, The Night Watchman, Mynheir brings his knowledge as a real-life detective to play in an action packed, fun-to-read book. He has created characters that are realistic, that the reader will actually care about. I enjoy the senses of humor that Ray Quinn is able to maintain in the midst of crazy situations he volunteers himself into.This is the third book I have read by Mynheir and I would recommend him to anyone that likes crime drama. I have recommended his books on numerous occasions. I read novels for entertainment and this one, along with the other Mynheir books I've read, will deliver. Enjoy.

This book was provided free of charge by the Multnomah Blogging for Books Program in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Soul Surfer

Last night I had the privilege of attending a pre-screening of the new movie Soul Surfer which releases in theatres on April 8. Soul Surfer presents the story of Bethany Hamilton, an up and coming surf champion in Hawaii, who had her life turned upside down when, at age 13, a shark attack results in the loss of one of her arms. Hamilton, played by AnnaSophia Robb (Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia) wrestles with God's purposes as she seeks to rebuild her life and shattered dreams. Encouraged and supported by her parents(played by Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt), and refocused by her youth minister (played by Carrie Underwood), Bethany embarks on a journey of discovery, one that takes her to visit tsunami victims in Thailand, into her own heart and finally back onto the waves. Soul Surfer is a rare movie jewel in the fact that it presents an engaging true story, but is not laced with profanity and sexual content. This movie shows that with God all things truly are possible and that life, even in tragedy, is worth living to the fullest.
Support this movie by going to see it on opening weekend (April 8). Link to the trailer below.

Watch the Soul Surfer Trailer

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Ill-Tempered Klavier by Ben Shive

I love this record (CD for you younger folk). Referring to this as a record is appropriate because it hearkens back to the day when a new music release meant an entire collection of new music from your favorite band or artist. Every song mattered and it's merit wasn't dependent on the success of a single-song download. The Ill-Tempered Klavier by Ben Shive contains songs that matter. I received this CD as a Christmas gift and have listened to it in its entirety probably twenty times since then. I can't craft words that do it justice, but since you need to have something to give you reason to purchase this for your collection, here we go.

The Ill-Tempered Klavier will be satisfying to music fans that bore with the usual 3 minute radio hits. Here you will find tunes that are not unlike the Beatles with the string arrangements swirling in and out of beautiful melodies. Unexpected changes and variance of instruments keeps the listener engaged.
A Name, A Name, A Name sounds like it could have been on the White Album.
Out of Tune is a bouncy tune with an old upright piano sharing his heart. Rise Up is a song of that builds in intensity providing hope for those who believe in a final victory over all evil .
My favorite song on this record is Do You Remember?, a love song that shows the joy of remembering all that has gone into the building of a relationship. Fans of The Beach Boys will quickly notice that this one could have easily been on Pet Sounds, complete with great Brian Wilsonesque harmonies and catchy melody.
My next favorite is New Year which can best be described by considering what would happen if you blended The Alan Parsons Project with Christopher Cross (If you have to ask who these are, then see paragraph 1). Yes, you guessed immediate radio hit because of its simplicity, yet heart level connectivity so all can relate. You will hum along with this one and want to hit repeat and hear it again when it is over.
4th of July is a different take on our independence celebration.
I could go on and on about this record. It is that good. My recommendation is that you download it for only $7 from The Rabbit Room at (click on the music tab at the top). Get the lyric sheet from, grab a cup of coffee, put your headphones and enjoy.

Help this talented musician in continuing to provide quality music. His second release, The Cymbal Crashing Clouds, is now in the making and I can't wait to hear it.