Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Review of December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley

When I was first saw that I had an opportunity to read and review December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley, I jumped at the chance. One of my majors in college was history, and I grew up loving history so I hope you will understand my excitement at this chance. However, after reading Mr. Shirley's book, I was very disappointed, not only with factual errors I found during reading, but also for the various typos and misspellings in his book.

The premise of Mr. Shirley's book is to describe life in America during the month of December 1941, showing America as is struggled to maintain a neutral stance in the current war, then the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and other points in the Pacific, then how America began to come together as a unified people after the attacks. Mr. Shirley does this by taking each day in December and presenting them as individual chapters. In each chapter Mr. Shirley then attempts to show the reader life during this crucial month in American history by using various articles from newspapers and magazines found during that time period.

It is an interesting way to present the information to the reader; however, the information presented appears to me to have no structure to it whatsoever. The reader may be presented with life in Hollywood, then be switched to life in rural Alabama, only to read a few lines later about the war in Europe! I personally believe that Mr. Shirley should have broken the chapters down further into the various aspects of life he wished to present to the reader, instead of the jumbled array of information Mr. Shirley did present.

One of the key aspects of any book that touts itself as a history book, or a book dealing with history of any sort is facts and one of my main disappointments was error in facts presented in Mr. Shirley's book. One of the biggest or these errors, in my opinion was one I found on page 390. On that page, the reader is told that FDR directed Douglas MacArthur to rid Washington DC of the Bonus Marchers. The problem with that "fact" is that it is not a fact. FDR was not president during this moment in time: Hoover was. A glaring mistake like this should not happen in a book touted as a book on history. Another issue I had occurred on page 46. Quoting directly from Mr. Shirley's book: "It was raking in millions each week, mostly for the top four studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros." Mr. Shirley says the top four studios yet only three are mentioned by name. Again, these are only two examples of what I noticed as I read Mr. Shirley's book.
To simply sum up my review of Mr. Shirley's book, after reading his book, and with the mistakes found with supposed facts, typos and misspellings, I cannot recommend his book and give it only one star.

(Disclosure:  I did receive an advanced copy of this book from Thomas Nelson to review and made no promises as to the nature of my review.  The posted review is mine and mine alone.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Counting Down Christmas One Video At A Time -- Joy To the World as sung by the Mississippi Mass Choir

Let the world know that Joy has come to the it through Jesus Christ!  Joy to the World is a simple Christmas carol, but one that simply tells the truth.  Joy! to the world, the Lord has come!  What more should be said. What more could be said?

Enjoy this carol as sung by the Mississippi Mass Choir.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Counting Down Christmas One Video at a Time -- White Christmas

One of the things I like to do at Christmas is watch the old Christmas movies.  Movies that meant something, movies that the whole family could enjoy without fear of wondering if it was appropriate for children or not.

One of the movies I love is White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and the title song is today's video in my Christmas Video Countdown.  Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Counting Down Christmas One Video At A Time -- Joseph's Lullaby

This is one of the newer songs written for the Christmas season, written and performed by Mercy Me and I really don't know how popular it is, but this song has personal meaning to me.  Sometimes Joseph is called the patron saint of step fathers, for even though Jesus was God's only Son, and wasn't Joseph's son, I can imagine Joseph taking Jesus in his arms and knowing that while Jesus was on earth and Joseph was alive, Joseph would take care of Jesus, as if Jesus were his first born son.  And that's how I feel too.  No matter if I wasn't there for the conception or the birth of my first born daughter, she is and will always be my first born child.  So this one is for you and for her as well.  Enjoy.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Counting Down Christmas One Video At A Time -- Cantique De Noel (O Holy Night)

One of my all time favorite Christmas carols is Cantique De Noel (O Holy Night).  And one of the best performances of this was done by the late great Luciano Pavarotti, singing alongside Placido Domingo.  Close your eyes and let their interpretation bless you.

Merry Christmas!

Counting Down Christmas One Video At A Time -- Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth

This is not one of my favorite carols per se, but it is one of my favorite collaborations of all time.  David Bowie and Bing Crosby, singing together for Christmas was one of the most anticipated parts of the special they appeared in.  I actually remember this special and thought it was great then and it is great now.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Counting Down Christmas -- One Video At A Time -- Silent Night

Today's posting is actually a twofer!  Silent Night is one of my all time favorite Christmas Carols and the two videos shown below are two of the most unique and all time best examples.  I hope you enjoy.

                                                                  Merry Christmas!

                                                                      Stevie Nicks

                                                                   The Temptations

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Counting Down Christmas -- One Video At A Time -- Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

This is my favorite time of the year.  The music, decorations, cheer and the giving.  Of course, with my faith, this is a celebration for me and my family as well. With that said, until the day of Christmas, I would like to post videos of some of my favorite Christmas music for you to enjoy.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas At Work

I absolutely love where I work!  Employee owned, every monthly and quarterly meeting is started out with a prayer and they love to have fun!  Now I don't really do the Halloween decorating thing, but I do like decorating for Christmas, so I decided to decorate my cube this year.  It's not complete as I still need to tidy up the lights some, and hang icicle lights from the ceiling above my cube, but here is where it is at right now. 

As you can tell, I have a certain theme: The University of Texas.  Tell me what you think.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Upcoming Prison Ministry Event -- Prayer Request

Bill Glass' Champions for Life will be partnering up with the I Am Second Locked Up student ministry to have an opportunity to present the Gospel to the inmates at the Dawson State Jail this coming January 15th and we need your prayer support for this.

For those who follow my blog, or visit from time to time, you may have read of my last trip to the Dawson State Jail in Dallas, Texas back in November; this partnership with the I Am Second Locked Up student ministry has allowed me the opportunity to go back again to help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to those behind the razor wire.

This will be a smaller event that we had last time, with only a total of 80 teammates attending from the Bill Glass Ministry.  I am looking forward to this, believe me, but we do need your help.  Not financially, but spiritually.  We need prayer cover for this.  The Dawson State Jail is a very dark place spiritually; you can literally feel it when you walk in.  Your prayers are are one of the biggest helps we can have.  Pray specifically for those on the inside to have their hearts softened and receptive to the Gospel message.  Pray for those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ to be praying and studying, and living a life that glorifies God, even on the inside.  Especially on the inside.

Pray for those of us who are going in.  Pray specifically that we are prepared to speak as the Holy Spirit directs us to.  Pray for our protection, physically and spiritually.  But most of all PRAY!  That is the biggest weapon we have; the prayers of the saints.

I am looking forward to this.  Thank you for your prayers.


Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Fantastic Giveaway From Tyndale!

I haven't blogged about giveaways in a long time, but this one excites me enough to tell you about it.
Starting on November 29th until December 24th at the New Living Translation Facebook page page Tyndale is giving away lots of great prizes and something free for you, the reader, just for singing up.
By visiting the giveaway entry page (located on the NLT Facebook page, the link is under the profile picture) and entering your name and e-mail address you'll be entered to win the following prizes:
  • One random person each day will win a Life Application Study Bible Family Pack (Guys Life Application Study Bible hc, Girls Life Application Study Bible hc, Student's Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible Large Print hc).
  • One Random person each week will win an Apple iPad 2!
Everyone that signs up gets a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Study – Book of Luke!

So do yourself a favor and head over to the New Living Translation Facebook page and check it out!


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Review of The 21-Day Dad's Challenge: Three Weeks To A Better Relationship With Your Kids Edited by Carey Casey

As the dad of two girls, I am always looking for good advice on how to deal with the ins and outs of how to be a better dad than I had in my life.  Besides the Bible, this is one of the best books I have ever read on this subject, and that is not something I say lightly.

The 21-Day Dad's Challenge : Three Weeks To A Better Relationship With Your Kids offers the reader 21 articles written by dads such as Carey Casey, Tony Dungy, Jim Daly, Randy Alcorn, Chip Ingram, Josh McDowell, Shaun Alexander just to name a few.  With chapter titles such as "What's in a Name", "I'm Sorry, I Was Wrong!", "No Experience Required" and "Where's Daddy?" the reader is presented not with nuggets of wisdom, but an entire avalanche of fatherly advice for those dads wanting or needing it.

The book itself is an easy read at 128 pages, but it is designed to not just be read, but one designed to be acted upon.  Each article contains a challenge relevant to the article as well as a place to help plan out the reader's actions to accomplish the challenge. To help the reader the book also utilizes QR Barcodes, readable by any QR barcode reader downloadable on most smartphones.  For those readers who do not have a QR Barcode reader, links are provided for the reader to type into any web browser.  Each of the barcodes take the reader to an online video for more information about the current challenge.

As an example, here is the QR Barcode for the introduction of the book.

I am highly recommending this book to everyone who is a dad, dad to be, or planning on being a dad.  Don't just read this book, but act upon this book.  Use it.  Your kids will thank you for it in ways you never dreamed of.

Five out of five stars!

(Disclosure:  I did receive an advanced copy of this book from Tyndale to review and made no promises as to the nature of my review.  The posted review is mine and mine alone.)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Review of Awakening - A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems

One of the subjects I am interested in as a Follower of Christ is fasting.  Fasting is something that I do not do very often, so when I saw I had a chance to read and review Stovall Weems' book Awakening - A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom, I decided to opt for this book and see what I might be missing.

What I was missing was the feeling that I was reading the script for a 30 minute infomercial on Mr. Weems' approach to being closer to God. 

After reading through this book, and in some cases, re-reading parts of it, I am still not sure what Mr. Weems is trying to convey here.  I do not doubt Mr. Weems' faith, nor his beliefs, but there are many places I disagree with him.  I do not know if he believes in the so called "prosperity gospel" that is preached by people such as Kenneth Copeland or Creflo Dollar, but one section in particular of his book, on providing more room for God to fill in areas of your life dealt with tithing , and the prosperity message seemed to come out loud and clear.

Another aspect seemed to be weight loss.  Even though Mr. Weems stated in his book that fasting is not about weight loss, he wrote more than once about how much weight was lost after fasting.  I am not sure I can equivocate  getting closer to God with losing weight, but this is part of what I received from reading the book.

Mr. Weems does attempt to back up his writing by quoting scripture, however, anyone who actually does study the Bible will tell you that anyone can take a single scripture and make it fit their need.  It is when you read the scripture in context to the ones around it that you derive the real meaning of the quoted scripture.  I believe that Mr. Weems has taken some, not all but some scripture out of context for his book.  I am not saying that there is not any meat in this book, indeed there are some very good morsels to find, but they are few and far in between. 

I am giving this book two out of five stars, and sadly, this is one book that I am not recommending to my friends and colleagues.

Please note that this book was presented to me by Waterbrook Press for the purpose of reviewing the book.  I did not promise, nor in any way indicate a positive or negative review to the publisher.  The review as presented is mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Review of Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well by Billy Graham

There are two things a person can be sure of in this world: death and taxes.  I would like to add a third thing a person can be sure of and that is the faith Billy Graham has in Jesus Christ.

I have just finished reading Reverend Graham's latest book, Nearing Home: Life,  Faith, and Finishing Well and I can say that I am not disappointed in it.  This is not to say that there are a couple of areas in the book when I felt that the advice given by Reverend Graham seemed redundant and very basic to me as well as times that the focus of the book was more towards a more aged and elderly audience than to a general audience that included people of my age group or younger.  ( I am 43.) 

With that said however, Reverend Graham's emphasis is on Jesus Christ and the reader's relationship with Him and this is shown in every facet of his writing in this book.  Reverend Graham encourages the readers of this book to not drift away, nor fade away, but live strong as you age, passing down the accumulated knowledge and wisdom to those younger than the readers of this book.  The title of the book says it all: finishing well in life and faith. 

Reverend Graham still shows his love for everyone in this world as at least twice in this book he encourages his readers to pause and accept the free gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ.  Reverend Graham is best known as an evangelist for Jesus Christ and he is still going strong in his calling as shown in this book. 

Reading this book did feel to me like I was sitting down on the front porch with the grandfather everyone wants or needs and listening to the years of knowledge and wisdom being poured forth, and I listened to every word.  Yes, the book sometimes is a slow read, but bear with it; finishing the book will give you insight on how to best prepare for your years to come. 

I am giving this book four stars and am recommending this book to you.

Please note that this book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.  I did not promise nor guarantee in any way a positive review.   This review is mine and mine alone and was not influenced by any outside party.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Back to Prison with Bill Glass

I am exhausted. 

This weekend was the Bill Glass' Prison Ministry's DFW Weekend of Champions event.  19 prisons. 12,000 inmates.  Over 850 men and women giving their time and money to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those locked up behind the razor wire. 

The results?  3673 total responses to the Gospel including 1623 first time!  I had the privilege of leading one of those first timers to Christ, and challenged another to re-dedicate his life to Christ.

I was at the Dawson State Jail, right outside downtown Dallas and out of all of the prison units I have ever been to, this had to have been the most oppressive and depressive of them all.

Front of the Dawson State Jail
People waiting to visit their loved ones in the Dawson State Jail.

This prison unit is located in an 11 story building right across from the Dallas County Jail and Justice Complex and is run by the CCA, which is a private prison management corporation.  This is a state prison, but is run by this private corporation.   It is a coed facility with the men housed on floors three, four and five, and the women housed on floors six through 10.  Of course we had women ministering to women and men to men.

I was assigned to the third floor, pod C, which houses 54 men.  The spiritual oppression was thick, and was felt by all three of us as we walked in.  During the first hour or so of being in the pod, I watched as one of my fellow team mates talked with two of the men from the pod; I was sitting a few feet away from them praying under my breath, rebuking the enemy and praying for boldness and for God to send me those ready to hear his call.

I have to say that this had to be the most difficult unit to hold a ministry event in.  The platform speakers had to use their natural voices only; no PA system was available for some reason, even though we had one on the floor that was brought with us.  When the speakers did speak, they had to deal with flushing toilets, TVs turned on, domino games,  other inmates speaking, and sleeping inmates.  It wasn't impossible, but was difficult. 

After the first speaker, I was seated at one of the metal tables when I had first two, then three inmates sit with me, all of whom professed to be believing Christians.  I asked them questions about their spiritual beliefs and decided to go ahead and go through the tract we use anyway, as a "just in case" measure.  About halfway through this, we were joined by another younger, tattooed inmate.  I asked him about his beliefs and he said he wasn't sure about them.  I told the others at the table that I wanted to focus on the youngster, since he was not sure and they were and they all agreed with me.  It took about 20 minutes, asking him what he thought of each scripture that was read, then if he said he was confused, I did my best (with the Holy Spirit's help) to explain what each one meant.  At the end I asked him if he wanted to accept Christ as his savior he said he did.  We prayed together and we all welcomed him to the family!  I have to say it was one of the most rewarding feelings of my life.

A few hours later, I spoke with another inmate who confessed Christ as his Lord and Savior, but had fallen away in his faith.  After speaking for another hour I finally asked him why he was waiting to re-dedicate his life to Christ and he answer that he wanted to wait until he had his life straightened up.  I told him that today is the day of salvation, not tomorrow.  Finally I looked at him and told him, "You're doing a cop out and you need to quit.  Make your decision now and stick to it!"  He looked at me with a very startled look and told me no one had ever spoken like that to him until now, but that I was right.  He held out his hand which I took and he prayed right then to repent and re-dedicate his life.   I really like it when the Holy Spirit makes a move like that!

The rest of the weekend was about the same for us.  Lots of distractions, some seekers, but mostly it was lonely inmates who were very happy to just have someone new to talk to.  So that's what we mostly did.  Listen.  And in listening, I hope that we showed them the love of Christ.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Review of No Wonder They Call Him the Savior Experiencing the Truth of the Cross By Max Lucado

“I just want to know what counts.” Deep Irish brogue. Dark, deep eyes. The statement was sincere. “Don’t talk to me of religion, I’ve been down that road. And please, stay off theology. I have a degree in that. Get to the heart of it, okay? I want to know what counts.”

With that opening statement, Max Lucado voices the question that most members of the human race will ask in their life lifetime.  In writing his book No Wonder They Call Him the Savior; Experiencing the Truth of the Cross, Max Lucado tells what the answer to this question is.

Normally when I review a book, I like to remain somewhat distant and do a review based on how I believe the book will affect the reader.  With this review I can't do that.  With this book, Max Lucado details why the Cross is the answer to the question everyone asks: "I want to know what counts".  In the first section, titled The Cross: Its Words, Lucado takes the words of Jesus as he agonizes on the cross and tells the reader what those words mean in simple practical terms.

 In the second section, titled The Cross: Its Witnesses, Lucado tells the individual stories of the people who were part of the events leading up to and right after the crucifixion of Christ.  From Peter, to Pilate, Barabbas to John, the stories told by the witnesses take the reader on journeys of regret, disbelief, and grief, but then you are shown hope and joy.  Then there is the last witness.  I won't name this witness but I guarantee you that you will be surprised.

The third and last section is titled The Cross: Its Wisdom and the first chapter of this section will really surprise you by the style of writing Lucado used for it.  For the remaining chapters Lucado draws on his own life experiences and the glimpse into his life is a telling one, full of love, humor and wisdom.  The last chapter asks the reader an important question.  I know how I answered that question.  I wonder how you, the reader will.

This is a book that I read quickly, on a flight from Dallas, Texas to Seattle, Washington and it is a book whose words have stayed with me.  It is also a book that I will read and re-read time and time again.  I am recommending this book and though you may find it as quick read as I did, be sure to take your time as you continue to read it.  In its simplicity, you will find wisdom, and the answer to a question you may have asked before: "What counts?"

(Disclosure:  I did receive an advanced copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers to review and made no promises as to the nature of my review.  The posted review is mine and mine alone.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Review of The Tehran Initiative by Joel C. Rosenberg

Iran has the bomb.  The Twelfth Imam, Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali has arrived and is in the process of establishing the Caliphate. American leadership is listening to the peace talk of the Twelfth Imam and Israel seems to stand alone against the rising tide.  Welcome to the world of The Tehran Initiative.

With the second book of the trilogy, the first being The Twelfth Imam, Joel C. Rosenberg is showing once again why he is one of the greatest writers of Christian Political Thrillers in our time.

In The Tehran Initiative Rosenberg picks up sixty seconds after the ending of The Twelfth Imam and within the first few chapters the reader is taken on a action packed car chase in Iran, the attempted assassination of the American President, the Egyptian President and the Israeli Prime Minister, and plenty of political intrigue.  If you like action and are intrigued by the inner workings of international politics, then you will love this book!

Action is not the only facet of this story however.  There are very tender moments in Rosenberg's story centering on family and friendship, and there is a healthy dose of faith thrown in.  This book is Christian fiction and as such there are plenty of references to the Christian faith.  I personally am a follower of Christ and welcome the showing of faith in such a refreshing way by Rosenberg.  There are plenty of prophecy references, not only from the Christian perspective, but also from the Muslim perspective.  After reading this book, I can firmly attest that Rosenberg does not denigrate those of the Muslim faith, but instead simply tells it like it is.

Although this book can be read on its own, it is the second book of a trilogy and should be read after reading the first book, The Twelfth Imam.  If you like Tom Clancy, you will love the writing of Joel C. Rosenberg.  I am highly recommending this book to you.

You can hear Rosenberg in his own words here about his book The Tehran Initiative.

(Disclosure:  I did receive an advanced copy of this book from Tyndale to review and made no promises as to the nature of my review.  The posted review is mine and mine alone.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Review of Waking Hours by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson

In the genres of Christian Fiction especially the Supernatural genre, I have a few writers that I read and believe to be the best of the genre.  Among those are Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker.  After finishing Waking Hours I will now add Lis Wiehl to that list of writers. 

Waking Hours is book one of the East Salem Trilogy and is one of the best supernatural mysteries I have read in a very long time.  Set in the town of East Salem in Northern Westchester County, a teenage girl dies a gruesome, ritualistic death which rocks the community.  The District Attorney's office brings in Danielle "Dani" Harris, a forensic psychiatrist to aid in the investigation.  As this is her first solo involvement, Harris shows herself to be nervous, but quite capable to handle the assignment. 

Alongside Dani Harris is Tommy Gunderson, the town's hero.  A former NFL football star, Gunderson is owner of a health and fitness club in the town and an aspiring private investigator.  He is the essential All American good guy:  Christian, clean cut, and definitely the hero type.

As this is a work of Christian fiction, you will not find cursing in it, nor will you find items of a sexual nature.  However, I would not recommend this book to pre-teens as I believe that the details of the murder scene and the corresponding notes from the medical examiner as they are discussed may be too mature for those under 13. 

The book is not "preachy" in it's Christianity and I believe that to be a plus, as this book would be a good gift to friends who like this particular genre and may not be Christian.  

Overall I am rating this book a five out of five and am looking forward to the next books in the trilogy.  If you read one book from Supernatural Mystery genre, then this would be the one I recommend!

(Disclosure:  I did receive an advanced copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers to review and made no promises as to the nature of my review.  The posted review is mine and mine alone.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Review of Average Joe: God's Extraordinary Calling To Ordinary Men by Troy Meeder

After reading Average Joe: God's Extraordinary Calling To Ordinary Men by Troy Meeder, I know that I am an Average Joe and I have a lot to work on. 

Mr. Meeder is what I would consider more than an Average Joe, but I believe he would disagree with me.  Mr. Meeder is a cowboy from Oregon who has lived what most people would call an ordinary life, but has gained much wisdom in his life and that wisdom is characterized very nicely in his book.  He tells of his wisdom and the wisdom of others in the chapters of the book, ranging from Mr. Meeder's learning humility in a pit he dug that was rapidly filling with raw sewage, to  a gardener he met while attending college, to his grandfather, a soldier, and a mentor just to name a few.  

This is a book that I think every man should read, and with the study guide and questions provided in the back of the book, study.  I came across a few items while reading this book, two in particular which challenge me even now and apply directly to my life.  I firmly believe that most every man that reads this book will have the same experience and this book would be a good addition to a men's study group.

The book itself is quite short, having only 147 pages, and is a very easy read.  Mr. Meeder's style of writing is very folksy, and quite entertaining.  For me, reading this book reminded me of sitting around a campfire listening to an older, more grizzled man, wise beyond his years spill his life experiences to a captive audience of eager youth.  I think you may find it the same way.

I am highly recommending this book.

 Please note that this book was presented to me by Multnomah Books for the purpose of reviewing the book.  I did not promise, nor in any way indicate a positive or negative review to the publisher.  The review as presented is mine and mine alone.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Trial for Following Christ

His name is Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and he is awaiting his sentence after being found guilty in an Iranian court.  His charge?  Apostasy in a religion he's never been part of. 

Pastor Nadarkhani was first sentenced to death in November 2010 and in order to avoid the death penalty, he is being asked to recant his beliefs and convert to Islam. Yes, you read that right.  The Iranian officials who have convicted this man for following Jesus Christ wants him to renounce Christ and follow a religion he's never been a part of.

There is a chance that Pastor Nadarkhani could be sentenced to death and executed by Iran as early as tomorrow.  Please keep this Shepherd of Christ in your prayers and pray with me that Iran will stop this madness and release Pastor Nadarkhani.  If they do execute him, then pray that God uses his martydom in a way that glorifies God and brings more followers to Christ.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Review of Ascent From Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior by Michael Leehan

Spiritual warfare.  Satanism. 

What do you think of when you hear these phrases?  Do you roll your eyes, or shake your head in disbelief that anyone would believe in that sort of stuff?  Sadly, many people, including a good percentage of those professing faith in Jesus Christ do exactly that when they hear the term spiritual warfare, or Satanism, or anything dealing with the unseen spirit world.

Michael Leehan's book, Ascent From Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior is a book that most people will unfortunately dismiss as delusional or worse and it is very unfortunate that this will be the majority opinion.  In reading Mr. Leehan's book, which he tells upfront is the true story of his life the reader is presented with a no-nonsense, truthful  look into the real world of spiritual darkness. 

Mr. Leehan begins by telling the reader of his early years, then how he started his descent into Satanism by rejecting God outright and offering his services to Satan.  Throughout Mr. Leehan's book he speaks of his experiences, from how he was called by Satan to disrupt Christ's work on earth, from attempting to disrupt entire churches, small groups as well as  individual believers.  Mr. Leehan pulls no punches in his writing and I firmly believe that every Christian, or everyone professing Christ should read this book.  The book is a very fast paced read and will grip the reader.  The ending of the book should bring everyone who read this book to their feet, cheering God and His Grace.

To those professing Christ, be forewarned; one of the main themes I encountered from reading this book was Mr. Leehan's view of most Christians he encountered.  He viewed most he encountered as lukewarm believers, who cared more for the world than for their faith.  I had to take a very long hard look at my spiritual life and ask forgiveness after reading this book.  I believe most readers will too.

I am highly recommending this book and give it five stars. 

Please note that this book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.  I did not promise nor guarantee in any way a positive review.   This review is mine and mine alone and was not influenced by any outside party.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Review: Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free From the Four Emotions that Control You by Andy Stanley

This is the first book by Andy Stanley that I have read and after finishing it, I don't believe it will be the last.    Enemies of the Heart opens up with a very simple and basic question that most everyone never really asks themselves:  How is your heart?  Not the physical heart but the spiritual heart.  I have to admit that it was a question that I never asked myself until I started reading this book.

Andy Stanley presents to his audience the fact that out of all of the troubles we experience in life, those troubles boil down to four basic emotions, or "Monsters' as Mr. Stanley calls them: guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.  Mr. Stanley further shows how these emotions inflict their damage on us as he shows how they interact in our lives.  Guilt makes a person feel "I owe You", Anger says "You owe Me",  Greed says that "I owe Me" and finally Jealousy states that "God owes Me".  I have to admit that the further I read the more intrigued I was.

It is in part two of the book that Mr. Stanley discusses, demonstrates and delivers his point to the reader.  It was in this section that I started feeling very uncomfortable as most of what he was speaking about hit home in more than one way.  My expectations is that when you read it, you will feel the same way as I did.  In Section three of the book, Mr. Stanley shows the reader how these emotional demons can be overcome with more positive, God given ones and as a reader, I began to see how these could be had more of in my personal life. 

In Section four of the book, Mr. Stanley confronts the readers who have children in their lives, in whatever way, but specifically to parents, how to positively emphasize and encourage children to unburden their hearts of the four bad emotions and utilize the good ones explained in section three.  Also in this section is a small chapter on Lust, specifically sexual lust that I feel is a must read for both sexes.

This book's audience is geared primarily to believers in Jesus Christ, but I believe that everyone could benefit from this book if they will read it and give it a chance.  It is a short read at only 157 pages, and Mr. Stanley's style of writing is very down to earth and folksy, with sprinkles of humor intertwined.  If you feel that you or a loved one have problems in your life and those problems may be stemming from one of the four emotions Mr. Stanley writes about, then I suggest you read this book or give it to that person.

The book includes at the end helpful discussion questions, which is excellent for personal application, and small group discussion.

So, how is your heart?


 Please note that this book was presented to me by Waterbrook Press in exchange for a review.  I did not promise, nor in any way indicate a positive or negative review to the publisher.  The review as presented is mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Review of "Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission" by Pastor Ronnie Floyd

In Matthew 28: 16 – 20, Jesus outlines the Great Commission. 

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

For most Christians today, the Great Commission represents a thing of the past, something that was fulfilled by those great men and women in the early church.  In the book Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission by Pastor Ronnie Floyd, Pastor Floyd takes this modern perception and shatters it, showing that the Great Commission is as relevant today as it was back in the days of the apostles it was charged to.  He does this in chapter three, where he lays out the urgency of the Great Commission in aspects ranging from the spiritual, to the physical, to the personal.

While reading  Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission, I was constantly impressed with Pastor Floyd’s passion for the Great Commission, as well as his practical advice, both for individuals and churches in helping to fulfill this call on our lives.  Pastor Floyd maintains that this charge laid on the apostles is laid on us as followers of Christ today and it is not just a duty, but a command from Jesus to us.  I have to be blunt and admit that parts of this book took me by surprise as well as provided an avenue of conviction.  I have not looked at the world in terms of living and dead as Pastor Floyd has and does, but now I see that I need to.

The advice he gives in his book is both practical and applicable in our lives.  Pastor Floyd starts off in chapter four with transforming your family, then moving on to the immediate, local, state, country and world communities.  Showing the reader how to use the resources they have available, Pastor Floyd encourages the reader to prioritize, pray, position yourself for the future, place your trust in the Lord and use your monetary resources to the best of your ability.

This is not a book for everyone; let me warn you now.  There are people who will be offended as well as disagree, but I will tell you who I believe should read this book: every living, breathing person who claims to be a Christian.  As the movie line goes: “I see dead people all the time.”  When you finish this book so will you, but you will be further equipped to help them come to life.

(Disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for review.  I did not promise nor was I expected to give a positive review of this book.  The review is mine in its entirety and reflects my opinion only.  The disclaimer is given in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - Thomas G. Crotty

As the tenth year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it is my hope that we take a moment no matter where you are at to stop and remember that yes the world changed that day, but the lives of 2,996 families changed even more.  2,996 families lost loved ones that day and it is the purpose of the 2996 project to make sure we never forget them.

As part of the 2996 project in 2006, I the priviledge and honor to write about and pay tribute to Thomas G. Crotty.  When I went to the project website to see who needed writing about I noticed that Thomas had not been chosen to be written about.  I want to make sure his story is not forgotten.  Even though this post is a re-post of what I wrote back in 2006, please note that I am reposting it because I don't want ANYONE to be forgotten from that day.  now please keep reading and let's not forget Thomas G. Crotty, one of the 2,996 persons who died September 11, 2001

To be quite honest, I wasn't sure just what to write. There have been several memorials not only to Thomas, but to all of the 2996 that died that day. The more I read, the more I realized that even though this was a shock to the nation, I want to emphasize that Thomas is more than a statistic, more than just one of the number of people who died that day.

Thomas was a husband to Joanne and a father to his two little girls Catherine and Caroline. He was a family man who loved to be with his family. He was an athletic man who was to compete in a marathon with his brother a week after 9/11. He was a caring man towards all of his family as his brother James told Newsday reporter Lawrence Striegel how he was living in Michigan in 1996 when his wife, Fran, became very ill. Tom helped get Fran admitted to a special private room at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan during six months of treatment for Wegener's granulomatosis, an autoimmune disease, and then visited her often while James was back in the Midwest. "He said, 'Put her in there and we'll worry about the money later,"' James said.

Thomas started off his business career at Merrill Lynch as a trainee. He had spent his last seven years at Sandler O'Neill Partners, where he was a managing director for equities. His work ethic was reflected in a comment that one of Thomas' clients mad to Thomas' mother "Even though I wasn't a large investor, he always made me feel so important. ... He never brushed me off." He was at work on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks.

To Joanne, Catherine and Caroline, please know that the man to whom you gave all your love to as wife and daughters didn't die in vain. He is NOT some statistic that will be placed in some history book. He is a man who loved life and the three of you and is an inspiration to all of us. You see, I have two daughters as well; my oldest is twelve and my youngest turns 9 in two weeks. And after reading about this wonderful man I want to make sure that I show as much love to my family as he did to you for life is very precious and too short.

My heart goes out to the three of you this day, to all of Thomas' family, and to all of the family of the remaining 2995 persons who perished this day. May we all NEVER FORGET!

A Song For All Of Us

I don't know about you, but I happen to like all kinds of music.  One of my favorite groups is the southern rocking Christian band Third Day.  If you've never heard of them, I would like to start you off with one of my favorite tracks they do simply called "Thief".  This song means a lot to me for reasons most wouldn't understand, but I hope it lifts you up.


Dad To 2

Monday, September 05, 2011

Adventure Landing Labor Day 2011

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day!  Here in tinder dry Texas, we woke up to temperatures in the upper 50's and lower 60's for the first time in over six months!  After 2 straight months of 100+ degree days and 85+ degree nights, it was a wonderful change of pace.

Just had a few mundane items I had to take care of today that I hadn't had a chance to do because of the heat, things like clean the garage, make sure the yard was taken care of, things like that, and then it was off to Adventure Landing in Dallas with the girls!

Adventure Landing is quite the experience and if you have not been there, I do recommend going there and having fun.  Three putt putt courses, a go-kart race track, bumper boats, laser tag, batting cages, and a nice arcade really will fit the all day fun bill for those needing an all day place.  As for us, we had Groupons to burn (Thank you Connie!) and the kids wanted to get out in the cooler air.
We started off on the first putt putt course and finished it, with my nine year old (well, she'll be nine later on this month) finishing first.  It was Morgan shooting a 47, me shooting a 51 and Chloe shooting a 53.  After that is was on to the Kart racing.  Now I have to admit a couple of things here.  One, Morgan wanted to do this by herself and two, would I actually fit in one of these little things!?

Disclaimer:  This in NOT me in the picture!
I actually did fit in one, the shortest one they had, and the seat belt actually fit, well barely but it fit.  However, it was a scary moment when I hit the gas pedal full throttle and it didn't move....for about 6 seconds.  Then my little Kart moved and it was off to the races!  Morgan was doing fine in her Kart, and I didn't see Chloe at all.  I later found out she was at the front passing everything in sight!  Morgan lapped me once and I lapped her once.  It was easy lapping me as I was the slowest thing on the track.  (have I mentioned I am fat and probably exceeded the weight limit?)

But then came the really scary moment.  We were pulling into the pit for the end when I looked over to my right and saw Morgan coming in fast and could not stop in time as she hit a wall of tires head on at full speed!  After they let us out of the Karts I found her crying, saying her neck and chest hurt and she wanted to go home.  Well, she had, and still has a nice scrape on the left side of her neck and she's going to have a very nice bruise on her neck and chest, but she shook it off like a big girl.  That and the large size cherry slush drink helped out.

Chloe and I played a second round of putt putt while Morgan rested and kept score and I beat Chloe by two strokes.  Then we played a third round with all of us playing.  We decided not to keep score that round as all three of us were getting tired and after a call from my wife, we had to rush to finish as Chloe had Girl Scouts that evening!

But such as the life I lead and this Labor Day was a good one.  Hope yours was too.

Dad To 2

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Focus Groups

I had the privilege of participating in a Christian Fiction focus group held by Thomas Nelson Publishers tonight.  This was the first one I had ever participated in and I loved it!  I had to apologize at the end as I felt that I had probably spoken way too much, but that's just me.  I am opinionated and when you ask for my opinion, I will most certainly give it.

There were ten of us in all in the group, led by two facilitators, Eric and Aaron.  The breakdown was 2 guys and 8 women.  What was really surprising was the number of women who read the same genres I did, and had the same opinions on romance, historical and modern fiction as I do.  It was really cool to discover that! 

So what exactly did we do?  We answered questions of course.  Questions like: "How do you describe Christian Fiction?", "What types of fiction do you like to read?", as well as "Why do you read Christian Fiction?".  We looked at some book jacket cover art, including some that was in development still and some that is due to be released in the next few months, and gave our opinions on.  Overall it was such a positive experience for me.  I do hope I'll be able to do this again sometime.  The other thing that was cool, or maybe not, is that we were videotaped during this.  I'm just glad I'll never have to see that tape!

Oh, and the other cool thing about it?  Swag.  We each received a bag with a Max Lucado book, (one not released yet!) and a coupon for any three Christian fiction books on the Thomas Nelson website!

If you have never participated in a focus group, I highly recommend doing so.  It is quite an experience.

So have a great evening and God Bless!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Windows 7 Phone

I have traded my work iPhone for a Samsung Focus running Windows 7.  Since I will more than likely be developing against Microsoft's system, it made sense to change them out, even though I really, really like the iPhone and actually own and use one personally.

I'll be writing a blog post about first impressions and my thoughts on my new phone, as well as what I think about the differences between the two in a later post.  For now let's just say that it is going to take some getting used to.

Have a good evening!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Heading To Microsoft in October!

For the first time in a long time I am happy again as a software developer.

The last position I held, I rose from a purely Visual Basic.NET developer at the beginning to bringing the shop around to the C# world to becoming the Information Technology Manager of the company.

But like all things, that position had to come to an end, although the ending was on my terms.  I was blessed enough to become a partner of TDIndustries, hired on to develop software and help grow a department from scratch.  A software development department that had been gutted and was, and still is relying on outside consultants.  Officially I am the Systems Architect for the company, but I prefer to think of myself as a software developer.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that one of  TDIndustries' policies is to send it's partners to at least one conference a year.  Even though I have only been there one day, they are letting me go to VSLive! in Redmond, Washington.  Not only will this be my first professional conference I will be going to, but to go to it AT Microsoft's headquarters!  Needless to say I am excited.

So if you are interested, here is more information for you.  If you can make it, I look forward to meeting you there.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 2011

I am hoping that all of the dads out there had a wonderful Father's Day.  I know I did.  I am a University of Texas fan, so I have the new shirt and other Longhorn items, but my daughters painted the two paintings I am holding for me as well.   I am a very blessed man.

Monday, April 04, 2011

New Beginnings

It's been awhile since I've blogged.  Mostly due to outside influences that I have to maintain.  Things like work, and to be honest, at times just sheer laziness.  But mostly work and the stressfulness of it has been my enemy. 

However, there is a newness that is in the air.  I can't give too much away but by this time tomorrow my life will have changed for the better.  About three weeks ago, I confided in some of the guys in my community group about how things were going for me at work; about how stressful it had become.  The best advice I was given was to do the one thing I should have done months ago.  Give it over to my Father.  When I did that, and started praying about this, and knew, knew I had guys who had my back and were praying for me as well, things at work started going much better.  Not better as in things were great, but I wasn't stressing out as much, and then to a point, I wasn't stressing any at all.

Now I am to the point that I am at peace with my current job, and I am looking forward to what should happen in the very near future.  Am I being cryptic?  Yes, but I'll explain in the next posts why.

So I have some new beginnings happening and I am happy again.  And I am blogging again.  Hopefully this time for good.