Wednesday, December 4, 2013

“Our God Comes” by Antioch Live – CD Review

Buzz this

I recently had the opportunity to review a CD; that doesn’t happen very often! The CD is entitled OUR GOD COMES; it is a worship CD from the worship band, Antioch Live.

Here is the ‘synopsis’ of the CD and the band:

Antioch Live’s second all-original release, OUR GOD COMES, carries the heart
of the church and movement that is Antioch. Recorded live in Texas, the music is seasoned with flavors of progressive rock and pop with strains of fold. Specializing in anthems of the solid character of God (Wonderful Counselor, God and King, One Hundred Three, and the title track, Our God Comes) as well as vulnerable admissions of personal humanity (I Will Raise, How Much More and Savior Forever), Antioch Live delivers a breathtaking follow-up to their first all-original release, Forever Sound. Other songs of note are Come and God Who Saves.

Please check out this video featuring this wonderful worship band’s music; it also promotes the evening when this CD was recorded:

Here is some additional information of interest:

The worship music and lyrics on OUR GOD COMES expresses the heart cry, prayers and joy of the worship team, songwriters and musicians from Antioch, led by James Mark Gulley. From the opening strains of audience approval, joyous praise and worship floods the listeners’ ears and ageless unchanging truths find a new sound for today! The savvy musical arrangements and gifted song writing flow from Come to Our God Comes, and the glorious experience is documented from the choruses of Wonderful Counselor, How
Much More and Savior Forever.

Featuring songwriters James Mark Gulley, Stephen Gulley, Brandon Seibert, Thomas Wilson and Johanna Six. OUR GOD COMES also features worship leaders James Mark Gulley, Stephen Gulley, Johanna Six and Clare Berlinsky.

The full track listing for OUR GOD COMES is as follows:

1.     Come
2.     God And King
3.     Wonderful Counselor
4.     God Who Saves
5.     How Much More
6.     I Will Raise
7.   …Response
8.     Light Me Up
9.      Awaken Us
10. One Hundred Three
11.  …Return
12.  Savior Forever
13.  …Selah
14. Our God Comes

My review:

I really enjoyed this CD – and so did my husband, who took it with him to listen to on his fairly long commute to and from work. I particularly liked ‘God Who Saves’ featuring Johanna Six. She has such a sweet voice! Overall, I was touched by all of the songs – and was pointed to my Savior in all of them – which is the purpose of a worthwhile worship CD, after all! The songs are rich and heartfelt; the passion of the performers is palatable! They come in all tempos – slow and contemplative, and upbeat and excited in worship! I heartily recommend this CD to all ages!

You can order your copy here.  

This CD was provided to me for review purposes by the B&B Media Group. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

‘Peril’ by Jordyn Redwood – Book Review

Buzz this

Due to the fact that I don’t have as much time to review books as I used to (as I am attending seminary and have many other obligations), I try to be more selective in the books I read and review these days. The latest book that ‘passed my test’ (!) is ‘Peril’ by Jordyn Redwood. 

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Dr. Thomas Reeves is at the pinnacle of his career. The Department of Defense has awarded him a lucrative contract for his new research into superior autobiographical memory, which promises the ability to create combat troops able to quickly learn complex battle plans and enact them perfectly under the most demanding battlefield scenarios.

An elite unit has received neural grafts from fetal cadavers of genetically altered brain cells with enhanced NMDA receptors. The results are remarkable . . . until the recipients begin suffering hallucinations, nightmares, paralysis, . . . and death. Dr. Reeves searches for answers, but DOD insiders want him to stop the search.

The situation becomes public when pediatric ICU nurse Morgan Adams, Dr. Reeves’s daughter, is taken hostage by three research subjects in an attempt to force Dr. Reeves into disclosing why they are sick. If answers aren’t revealed within twenty-four hours, patients in the pediatric ICU will be killed.

This spine-tingling conclusion to the Bloodline Trilogy raises spiritual and ethical dilemmas torn directly out of today’s headlines. When does life begin? How far does commitment to family go? And can the sins of the father ever be forgiven?

Here is the biography of the author:

Jordyn Redwood has served patients and their families for nearly 20 years and currently works as a pediatric ER nurse. As a self professed medical nerd and trauma junkie, she was drawn to the controlled chaotic environments of critical care and emergency nursing. Her love of teaching developed early and she was among the youngest CPR instructors for the American Red Cross at the age of seventeen. Since then, she has continued to teach advanced resuscitation classes to participants ranging from first responders to MD’s.

When she discovered she also had a fondness for answering medical questions for authors, this led to the creation of Redwood’s Medical Edge. This blog is devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction.

Jordyn lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters and one crazy hound dog. In her spare time she also enjoys reading her favorite authors, quilting and cross stitching.

In addition to Peril, she is also the author of Proof and Poison. Jordyn loves to hear from her readers and you can contact her at

Being that Jordyn works as a pediatric ER nurse, I was not surprised at her expertise in writing about medical procedures, etc… But this novel also includes some military elements. She handled those areas with talent and ease, as well:

He [Dr. Adams] marched down the hall back to his work station and entered the order for the scan. With this current patient’s symptoms on his mind, he began to read through the nurse’s notes on several of the other protocol patients. Something was going on. Something he didn’t understand.

          Nightmares. Symptoms that mirrored post-traumatic stress. He wouldn’t find these symptoms usual in a recruit that had served an active combat mission. Problem was, some of the men experienced these symptoms hadn’t even been shot or left the US to serve on the front lines. (p. 44)

It is always of additional benefit when reading a book to actually learn something! And one learns a lot when reading a Jordyn Redwood book, apparently (this was my first time reading her work)! I’d heard this about cancer before, but Jordyn goes into additional detail – and with such flair!:

That pathology class had been a real eye opener. All cancer was, in the end, a cell that had lost control of itself. The reproductive mechanisms ran amok, dividing rapidly into a mass of nonfunctioning cells, crushing out the viable ones from doing their work. At times, they spread their havoc to distant areas of the body; metastasis. When that occurred, they grew wildly other places and pushed those normal cells from completing their bodily duties.

One cell, the building block of every organ, gone awry.

That’s it….really that’s all cancer is. Cells running amok. Unhinged. Drunk now with the power of a life without limitations. (p. 60)

In addition to all of the medical, military, and real tough-life issues, this book, being that it’s published by a Christian publisher, shares God and His love. This particular section does that very well. These wise words are spoken by Drew, a coworker of nurse Morgan Adams, to Morgan’s husband, Tyler:

“Weird thing about God is he wants everything we have. Our time. Our money. Everything turned over to him. I’ve seen parents struggle with this about their kids. Thinking about giving their lives over to God – not controlling every aspect of the decisions they make haunts them. A parent’s work is to protect their children. So it seems counterproductive to let go and let God. But, overall, it’s a trust issue. Do you trust God to do what’s best on Morgan’s behalf? I’m not saying be reckless. [Left out a line – spoiler!] God wants you to step in, but in the absence of that….I also think He may want you to step back so that He can do his work, too. (p. 138).

That trust issue, and letting God do ‘his thing’ has always been a big obstacle for me. So I appreciated this good counsel that Drew provided, as I have learned over and over that God knows me better than I know myself, and He has my best in mind!

The ending was very surprising, and satisfying! Apparently, Jordyn has rewritten the ending for the finished product, but it does not change the overall crux of the story. I find it hard to believe that the end could be any better, but I trust Jordyn’s belief and judgment in her own story!

'Peril' is the third in Jordyn’s ‘Bloodline Trilogy;’ the other two are ‘Proof’ and ‘Poison.’ Each book stands alone; one does not have to read all of the books in the series (although I recommend you do so after reading this book!).

This is the first time I have read anything from Mrs. Redwood; I was pleasantly surprised. It has been a while since I’ve read a medical suspense novel, and this one reminded me hope much I enjoy this genre. I think Jordyn is extremely gifted, and I am now going to keep my eye open for more of her novels in the future.

By the way, yesterday, I shared with you a guest blog post from Ms. Redwood. Please make sure to check it out if you missed it!

You can order your copy of the book here.

This book is published by Kregel Publication. The book I read is an Advanced Reader Copy; page numbers and final publication will most likely be slightly different. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thriller Tension: Killing your Reader by Jordyn Redwood – Guest Blog Post

Buzz this

I recently had the pleasure of reading Jordyn Redwood’s latest book, ‘Peril.’ I will be sharing my review tomorrow; please make sure to return! Today, please enjoy this guest blog from the author!

Before we get to the guest blog post, please take a peek at a synopsis of the novel, as well as a biography of Ms. Redwood.

Peril Synopsis: 

Medical mystery thrillers with a chilling diagnosis—the only cure is to keep reading! Dr. Reeves implants superior memory cells into soldiers’ brains with amazing results—until negative symptoms appear. When his daughter is taken hostage by enraged research subjects, can he discover the answer they demand before Morgan’s life is in serious Peril? 


Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two novels, Proof and Poisongarnered starred reviews from Library Journal and have been endorsed by the likes of Dr. Richard Mabry, Lynette Eason, and Mike Dellosso, to name a few. Proof was shortlisted for the 2012 ForeWord Review’s BOTY Award, 2013 INSPY Award and the 2013 Carol Award. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at 

Thriller Tension: Killing your Reader – by Jordyn Redwood

Are you a lover of suspense novels? I know I am. I read and write them. There are many authors I admire but those I crave and anxiously anticipate their next novels are those that have so much tension on the page, you can barely
keep the book in your hands without throwing it aside because you must read but can’t bear to read the next sentence.

That is perfection.

As an author myself, I want to create that experience for my readers. Tension. Angst. Worry.

Here are five tips to increase the tension in your suspense manuscripts. How many have you tried?

1. There must be death or danger of death in the first chapter: Recently, I reviewed a manuscript that’s major plot surrounded children being kidnapped. The first chapter had a father and son at an amusement park. The son goes missing for a short amount of time (maybe 1-2 hours) then is found and returned back to the father. Not a scratch on the child to be seen. Video showed an employee took the boy somewhere he shouldn’t have. Hmm—okay. Nothing really too frightening is happening. How do I know it just wasn’t an employee being helpful when the boy lost sight of his father? Too slow. Particularly for suspense, the reader must be worried in the first chapter—first page is best. Most agents/editors make a decision about your ms after reading only the first page.

2. If you’re bored, the reader is falling asleep: If the passage you’re editing bores you as the author, use this as a signal to change the scene. Possibly, it needs to be outright discarded. Another option is to write the chapter in another POV. Bring in a character that can add conflict. Or, as James Scott Bell says—have someone walk in with a weapon.

3. Say what shouldn’t be said: For this, I’m not talking about vulgar language. In my second novel, Poison, I have two characters (Nathan and Lee) that were part of a hostage situation in my first novel, Proof. It was one of my favorite scenes to write and you can find it here (Chapter 2). In the second novel, these two are teamed up working a case. In Proof, Lee disagreed with Nathan about when SWAT should respond and people died. In the original scene, Lee says, “Nathan, I don’t blame you for what happened.” Then I thought, why shouldn’t he blame him? Adds tension. Adds conflict. Adds dimension to their relationship. So—no more Mr. Nice guy and Lee let Nathan have it. Warranted or not. I love dialogue in fiction for this reason—you can say things that in real life you would normally stay mum about or gloss over in a PC way.

4. Use descriptive elements to add spookiness. The challenge of the fiction author is to use your prose to engage all five senses in a way that will add tension for the reader. The master of descriptive, tense prose (in my opinion) is Dean Koontz. Here’s one example of his from The Moonlit Mind. “His breath plumes from him as if he’s exhaling ghosts.” I just love that. Does that not add to the tension? This also speaks to a concept that Donald Maass (his books on writing are a must read) teaches about called microtension. In a suspense novel, there’s the overall story arc of murder and mayhem. Microtension is ensuring that each sentence in the novel propels the reader forward to the point that they cannot set your novel down.

5. Make it look structurally pleasing: There are several techniques you can use in the structure of your novel that will quicken its pace. Short chapters. Good use of sentence fragments. James Patterson is famous for this. But also, long sections of description will make suspense readers eyes gloss over. Shorter paragraphs interspersed with dialogue. Not every sentence of dialogue needs a tag as well.

Who are some of your favorite suspense authors and why? What are some techniques you’ve used to increase the tension of your manuscripts—suspense or otherwise? 


Thanks so much, Jordyn, for sharing this interesting info with us! Please remember to come back to my blog tomorrow to see my review; thanks! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

‘Welcome to Last Chance’ by Cathleen Armstrong – Book Review

Buzz this

It’s summertime (even though the weather here in Michigan lately has been more Fall-like), and time for great light entertainment, book-wise. The latest book on my list that falls into that category is ‘Welcome to Last Chance’ by Cathleen Armstrong.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

She’s learned you can’t count on anyone – but she didn’t count on landing in Last Chance.
The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life – especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.
Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town drama and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this small town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

Here is the biography of the author:

CathleenArmstrong lives in the San
Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico, where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. She and Ed raised three children, and when they were grown, she returned to college, earning a BA in English, and began to write. Her debut novel, Welcome to Last Chance, has already won the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction.

The most interesting aspect of this book was to see the transformation of Lainie through the love of Christ through his people. Here is an example of her mindset shortly after she arrived in Last Chance; she is referring to Elizabeth, the lady who opened her home to this stranger:

“I’m not sure how much I can pay. It took nearly everything I had to get this far.”
          “We can worry about that later. Let’s just say that for the next week or so, you’re my guest. After that, well, we’ll see.” Elizabeth led the way back to the living room, pointing out the bathroom and the kitchen as she went.
          Lainie didn’t bother to look. She had other things on her mind. Clearly, Elizabeth was a soft touch. If she could be talked out of a week’s rent that easily, what else might she come up with if she were handled just right? Lainie smiled a sweet but tragic smile when Elizabeth turned around. (pp. 32-33)

Elizabeth was a great example of how to live for the Lord, and how to view the world through God-colored glasses. She made that clear to Lainie that same first day:

Lainie knew she would feel more comfortable if Elizabeth didn’t keep dragging God into everything, but she smiled anyway and tried to answer in kind. “Well, I hope he doesn’t disappoint you this time.”
“Disappoint me? Honey, I’ve been disappointed by a lot of things in my time, but never, never, never has it been by anything God has done. Don’t you give that another thought.” (p. 33)

I also loved how Elizabeth exemplified how to right a wrong and settle a dispute:

Left in the vestibule, Lainie turned to Elizabeth. “Why did you ask her to forgive you? She was the one acting like a jerk, not you.”
Elizabeth tucked her Bible a little more securely under her arm, slung her purse over her shoulder, and led the way to her truck. “Because I was in the wrong, that’s why. I was angry and judgmental, and instead of trying to set things right, I jumped into the fight. I should have done that.”
“But Juanita started it!”
Elizabeth smiled at her. “You sound like one of my greatgrandkids. It doesn’t matter who started it. I’m only responsible for what I say and do. And I needed to ask for forgiveness.” (p. 209)

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I was not overly ‘wowed’ by it; it was a pleasant
read, but nothing out of the norm for Christian Contemporary Romance. I did enjoy the fact that it featured my favorite car, a 1966 era Ford Mustang! I would recommend it for a light summertime read at the beach or in the desert (where it’s set). I do commend Mrs. Armstrong for getting published; that’s a lofty feat in this competitive arena.

This book was published by Revell, and provided by them for review purposes. Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Monday, July 8, 2013

‘Interpreting the Pauline Letters: An Exegetical Handbook’ by John D. Harvey – Book Review

Buzz this

Being a seminary student, I love when the opportunity presents itself to review a Biblical Studies book. That opportunity is here today; I will be reviewing ‘Interpreting the Pauline Letters: An Exegetical Handbook’   by John D. Harvey.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

Interpreting the Pauline Letters: An Exegetical Handbook begins by exploring the components of narrative – setting, characterization, and plot – and then develops the foremost theological themes in each of the books traditionally ascribed to Paul. This method sets the task of exegesis within the literary context of first-century letters as well as the theological context of major truth of Paul’s first-century message to a twenty-first-century audience. Designed as a handbook for seminary and graduate students, the book provides a go-to guide that will also serve seminary-trained pastors, upper-level college students, and well-motivated lay people. As readers work through this handbook, they will begin to see and interpret the narrative writings as Paul intended them to be understood.

Here is the biography of the author:

John D. Harvey is Professor of New Testament and Dean of Seminary &
School of Ministry at Columbia International University. Harvey is the author of Listening to the Text: Oral Patterns in Paul’s Letters,   Greek is Good Grief: Laying the Foundation for Exegesis and Exposition, and Anointed with the Spirit and Power: A Biblical Theology of Holy Spirit Empowerment. Dr. Harvey is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society of Biblical Literature. He has written book reviews for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society as well as contributing articles to a number of theological dictionaries.

In the Prelude, Dr. Harvey explains the interest in Paul’s letters:

Among the books of the New Testament, Paul’s letters are second only to the Gospels in interest and popularity. From the magisterial presentation of the gospel he preached (Romans) to his personal appeal on behalf of Onesimus (Philemon), Paul’s letters have fascinated lay people and scholars alike. The message in Galatians, of salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, captured Luther’s heart and sparked the Protestant Reformation. Five centuries after Luther, the “new perspective on Paul” continues to stir discussions of Paul’s letters. (p. 17)

He goes on to explain the purpose for his book:

Yet the historical, cultural, and linguistic distance between Paul’s time and ours poses challenges for understanding and applying the teaching of his letters. It is those challenges that prompt this handbook on Interpreting the Pauline Letters. The first three chapters seek to place Paul’s letters within the genre of first-century letter writing, to set Paul’s ministry within its historical context, and to provide an overview of Paul’s theology. Then the focus shifts to the tasks of interpreting, appropriating, and communicating the message of passages from Paul’s letters. The objective is to set out a method for taking a passage from text to sermon, and two passages (Col. 3:1-4; Phil. 3:12-16) serve as examples of applying that method. (pp. 17-18)

Paul is one of my favorite people in the Bible. I am always enlightening and fascinated when I read his books. This book is therefore perfect, in my opinion.

This book came at a very opportune time for me! I had to present a talk on 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 in my ‘Teaching with Skill and Influence’ in my seminary class this summer. I was able to glean valuable information from this really helpful book.

In the chapter on interpreting passages in Paul’s letters, Dr. Harvey explains what is required in this exercise:

Interpreting a passage in Paul’s letters requires close attention to its historical, literary, and theological aspects. It is important to consider which aspects of a letter’s introductory matters might contribute to a better understanding of the passage, and what historical-cultural-religious research might shed light on details of the passage. It is equally important to consider the passage’s context – both its place in the letter’s overall argument and its relationship to the paragraphs that immediately precede and follow it – structure, and syntax, as well as key words that occur within the passage. Finally, it is important to consider the ways in which parallel, similar, and contrasting passages contribute to understanding the passage under study and the ways in which the passage contributes to the overall teaching of Scripture. (p. 144)

One thing I enjoyed about this book is the fact that Dr. Harvey not only looks at the books of Paul through the eyes of a theologian, but also through the eyes of a Christ follower. Here is one paragraph in particular that caught my attention and captured my heart:

Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are the focus of the gospel. He is the revelation of God’s righteousness, the end of the Old Testament law, and the inaugurator of the new covenant. As a result of his virtuous life, his vicarious death, and his victorious resurrection, he is supreme over all things, including the church, which he unifies as its head. At his return, he will be manifested in glory, and the promise of being manifested with him in glory is the believer’s hope. (p. 99)

Although this book is geared to seminary and graduate students, I found the book to be very user-friendly. Some academic books are written way above the comprehension of the average person. This book requires the reader to pay attention, but it is interesting and understandable. I thank Dr. Harvey (who I hope to meet at this year’s Evangelical Theological Society meeting this year) for providing this wonderful tool into the life work of Paul.

This book was published by Kregel Academic and provided by them for review purposes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

‘Biking Across America: My Coast-to-Coast Adventure and the People I Met Along the Way’ by Paul Stutzman – Book Review

Buzz this

I was one of the blessed people who had the opportunity to be on the blog tour for a great book by Paul Stutzman called ‘Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail.’ When I heard he had a new book on a new adventure, I knew it was time to hope on the new blog tour bus!

Discover the Heart of America on this Life-Changing, Cross-Country Bike Adventure.
After Paul Stutzman finished hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, he found himself longing for another challenge. Trading his hiking boots for a bicycle, Paul set off to discover more of America.
Starting at Neah Bay, Washington, and ending at Key West, Florida, Paul traverses the five-thousand mile distance between the two farthest points in the contiguous United States. Along the way, he encountered every kind of terrain and weather the country had to offer – as well as hundreds of fascinating people who represented the challenges and triumphs of the entire country. Through cold and heat, loneliness and exhaustion, abundance and kindness, Paul pedaled on. His reward – and yours – is a glimpse of an amazing country that inspires us all.
If you long for adventure, love to meet new people, and love this place called America, get ready for the ride of your life.

Here is the biography of the author:

Paul Stutzman is the author of Hiking Through. A former restaurant manager who left his career after his wife’s death from breast cancer, Paul hiked the Appalachian Trail in search of peace, healing, and freedom. He continues to seek out adventure in new ways every day. When he is not hiking or on a cross-country bike ride, he makes his home in Ohio. Find out more at

In addition to sharing stories of his trip, Paul also imparts some wonderful nuggets of wisdom. Here is one example:

We are given many choices and pathways in life. I believe God wants the best for each of our lives, but he won’t make the decisions for us. He will give guidance, but he waits for us to make our own choices. And sometimes, I imagine, he probably wishes we would make up our minds and do something so that he can work and meet us on the path we’ve chosen. (p. 13)

Great points!

Paul believed that God had given him confirmation that he should hike the Appalachian Trail. He was looking for the same confirmation for his bike ride across America. He explained what happened next:

Not much later [after his self-imposed deadline arrived], I walked to the post office. Once again, I was reminded that God does indeed work in mysterious ways. In the few minutes I was in the post office, five people asked me when I would be starting my cross-country bike ride.
“I believe it will be this summer,” I told messenger number five, and a sense of relief filled me. The decision had been made. I would ride across America. (p. 14)

Here is another word of wisdom – one I will be implementing and taking to heart:

Our conversation [about the loss of a spouse] reminded me once again that we too often take our loved ones. If you knew you only had a limited number of days to say or do what needs to be said or done, would you change anything about how you live this day?
I will say it for you: your time is limited and the moments are trickling away. (p. 41)

Paul knows well the Way, the Truth, and the Life:

I believe the only remedy for society’s ills is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The only spirit necessary for my natural highs is the Holy Spirit dwelling within me. Some folks might question whether a Christian should indulge in the ornery sense of humor that often pops into my discourse, but my relationship with an almighty God makes it possible to look beyond pain and see humor in most situations.
I believe too that as a son of God I am heir to every part of the country that I traveled on this journey. God owns quite a piece of real estate, and I was inspecting my inheritance and talking to my Father about everything I found. This corner of the universe, I reported, needed some maintenance. There was a weed here and there that needed plucking. (p. 49)

Riding through a section of California prompted Paul to think about his life:

Pedaling through wine country and thinking about those good memories from not so long ago reminded me again how quickly life can change. Today, your family is intact and all is well; but that can all change in a heartbeat. We must cherish each day as we have with each other. We really only have today to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us. Treasure those memories you make with your families. Someday you too may be on a journey where those good memories will sustain you. (p. 62)

Paul encountered so many interesting attractions on his adventure. I was not familiar with this one:

The next day I stopped and toured the famous One-Log House. In the 1940s, a man felled a giant redwood that was supposedly 2,100 years old. Over 8 months’ time, he carved a bedroom, kitchen, and living room out of a thirty-two foot section of the tree trunk. Another enterprising fellow had purchased the one-long house and wheeled it about to fairs and festivals, charging a small admission to see the wonder. It does give a new meaning to the term tree house. (p. 45)

The bike ride across America gave Paul lots of time to contemplate the deepest thoughts in life:

Christians believe that we exist in a small amount of measured time but God exists forever, before and after our dimension. Believers talk about eternity and a world without time. But our thinking here in this world is saturated with the idea of time as a measurement. Even folks that deny God and his creation of the earth need to discover a beginning. They are compelled to come up with theories such as the big bang, evolution, and other explanations for the birth of time, space, and mankind. For unbelievers, talking about a God who has existed forever and an eternity that never end is foolishness.
Even for believers, the concept of forever is hard to comprehend. How can we live forever? How can a person not age? We have no way to grasp this, no way, to understand, because we are so rooted in time. (pp. 213-214)

This book was just as great as the first one! I love Paul’s writing style – and especially his outlook on life! This is a great book for anyone who likes adventure and learning about new places and interesting people; it would be great for grads, dads – and everyone in between! I highly recommend this book, as I did Paul’s first book! He is also working on a book of fiction tentatively titled The Wanderer. I look forward to that book, as well!  

You can order this book by clicking here.

Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This book was published by Revell Publishers and provided by them for review purposes.

Friday, May 24, 2013

‘Magnificent Malevolence: Memoirs of a Career in Hell in the Tradition of The Screwtape Letters’ by Derek Wilson – Book Review

Buzz this

One of the most well-known expressions in history is ‘Know your enemy.’ It comes from the ancient Chinese military treatise ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu. As Christians, we are in a daily battle against the enemy of our soul.
Magnificent Malevolence: Memoirs of a Career in Hell in the Tradition of The Screwtape Letters’ by Derek Wilson shows us the mindset and thought processes of one of the devil’s henchmen.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

“I was a junior tempter then, but even in those days I showed phenomenal promise…”
From the Archives of The Low Command: Ministry of Misinformation
This remarkable manuscript outlines the career of the prominent devil, Crumblewit S.O.D. (Order of the Sons of Darkness, 1st Class).
Crumblewit provides a fiendish appraisal of the struggles between good and evil which dominates human affairs in the period from 1942 (when the great Screwtape’s Letters were released to the world) to the present. Crumblewit’s energies were deployed in the religious arena, undermining the attempts of Christians to carry out the mission entrusted to them by the Unmentionable One.
The account is pleasingly distorted by its author’s truly diabolical conceit and capacity for self-delusion. It sheds a very satisfying light on the tribulations experienced by humans throughout this period.

Here is the biography of the author:

Popular historian Derek Wilson is the author of over 60 books and has written and presented numerous television and radio programs. He lives and writes in Devon [UK].

I will use this review to focus on a few of the tactics; let’s beware of how we use our time and resources, and how we need to ensure we are not deceived.

Here is how Crumblewit steered a minister off track:

By suggesting to him courses of action that any of the enemy’s agents tried to promote, I induced him to lower his guard. First of all I drew his attention to radio evangelists. These rabid spouters of the enemy’s propaganda were a nuisance to us because they were able to get their sick-making message into every home to which their networks had access. Some of our colleagues had managed to use the novel phenomenon of radio (just as they more effectively use television years later) by insinuating into the preaching slots religious charlatans, who used their air time to make appeals for money. Only I saw that the medium could be used even more effectively. I induced Little Bratt [his name for the pastor] into spending more and more time listening to the radio evangelists. I got him to analyze their techniques and then try them out in the pulpit. It was not long before he was paying more attention to the method than the message. (p. 25)

Crumblewit also explains how he and his colleagues use and abuse a gift originally given by God, but perverted for their gain:

Sex remains the most effective universal tool at our disposal. Adultery, sexual experimentation by emotionally immature young people, and the unwillingness of parents to provide a firm moral framework for their teenage children are, in every human community, being justified by the grounds of “love.” Oh, the delightful spectacles of misery, betrayal, desertion, cantankerous bitterness, and murder we have been able to enjoy as a direct result of inducing couples to claim (and, in most cases, believe) that “It’s OK because we love each other.” As if they knew the meaning of the word! It is an attribute of the enemy which remains a mystery. If we don’t understand it, the inferior human creatures can’t possibly grasp its implications. Our task is to conceal reality from them by persuading them that the enemy’s hard-and-fast rules were mere guidelines, which humans are free to adapt, apply, or not apply, according to the circumstances. (p. 136)

This passage not only uncovers the enemy’s tactics (which were successfully employed in the Garden of Eden), but also shows how lowly he esteems God’s people.

Here Crumblewit talks about technology and television in particular. This section was particularly convicting to me, as I can spend a little too much time in front of the ‘boob tube:’

Television, as I knew well and had always urged, was an excellent tool offering numerous possibilities. At the lowest end it provided an endless stream of trivia with which we could fill people’s minds and divert their attention from issues concerning their eternal well-being. Handled properly, TV could even prevent them from thinking at all; they could simply take their ideas and opinions from the screens which dominated their living spaces. (p. 150)

He goes on to explain how he sows seeds of discontent:

[W]hat we can do, and have done consistently with great success, is keep the pathetic creatures preoccupied with the mundane; working feverishly to earn money to buy those trinkets – clothes, gadgets, motor cars, jewellery. houses – which give them social status and bolster their sense of self-worth. If that leaves them craving “something more,” we offer glamour. We have schooled a whole industry to dangle before the populace images of men and women whose wealth, fame, and exciting lifestyle suggest what, with luck, ingenuity, or extra efforts, their fans, too, might achieve. We have manoeuvred them into a delightfully jumbled state of mind in which fact and fiction, reality and dreams are splendidly confused. (pp. 150-151)

Can anyone say “Kardashian”?

There are many more examples of how our enemy gets us off track; these are just a few.

It was, at times, difficult to read the book from Crumblewit’s perspective, especially when he was so disparaging of people, but especially of God. His description of God as ‘the enemy’ was hard to read. In any event, I think it is important to be aware of the devil’s tactics. So I appreciate Derek Wilson for bringing these things to his readers’ attention – distasteful as it was. But that’s how satan (small s) operates. It was particularly satisfying to see what Crumblewit’s ‘reward’ is at the end of the book.

You can order this book by clicking here.

This book was published by Lion Fiction and provided by Kregel Publications for review purposes.

Clicky Web Analytics