Monday, January 8, 2018

Explore the Bible: Personal Study Guide, Acts 13-28 by Danny Akin (Editor), Dwayne McCrary

5 out of 5 stars  *****

I get so much out of this Bible Study series. Every Sunday the Fishers of Men, my study group, meet to talk about a chapter with an appointed leader who uses the teacher's edition of our study guide. This leader prepares each week to engage and explain more than what the class reads in our paperbacks. 

Valuable lessons of life become apparent with our discussions, one person's input enhancing another's perspective. Lessons taught hundreds and even thousands of years ago are still fresh today. It is as if mankind understands but is incapable of maintaining adherence to God's desire for us. This awareness imparts the necessity for such classes. The most difficult aspect in such a group is finding one that is compatible and fun. 

This month's subjects cover biblical scripture from Acts 13 - 28. I learn how "tolerance" is more than perseverance and patience; it is accepting another's point of view even though it is opposite of my own. This act diffuses my anger and frustration over any issue or circumstance where I am confronted about my opinion or perspective. 

Another key lesson is on "gossip." Gossip may cause me to bear false witness to my neighbor. This violates the Ninth Commandment. The ease at which this occurs brings up a healthy discussion about how the News is mainly negative, or bad news. We spread bad news about the world and each other without thinking whom we may hurt. Talking gossip seems to be the antithesis to sharing the Gospel, which is spreading the good news.

Out of our talk we agree that bad news spreads faster and farther than good news because it is particularly interesting to us in a morbid way. A friend suggests it is because we (mankind) are so attached to the flesh and this world. To rise above this we must be more attached to our spiritual side (born again) by being in touch with God's Holy Spirit. We conclude that we cannot do this alone, we need a Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, our inability to consistently obey the Ten Commandments.

So whether I agree or disagree with any point someone brings up in class, I am, now, tolerant of their point of view and do not try to convert them to my outlook. A debate may ensue but there is never an argument, only another observation presented with love.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Stolen Sky (Split City #2) by Heather Hansen

5 out of 5 stars  *****

Arden and Dade develop their relationship as a couple in this book. They hardly have time to work on their complex romance as he, an affluent Solizen (elite), and she, an Undercity rebel, are running for their lives throughout the story.

The Stolen Sky abounds with betrayal and perseverance in a dystopian society. The elite families manipulate the government (govies) and the rest of the population by controlling life-sustaining Vitamin D (VitD) and doling out addictive drugs to pacify broken spirits. Dade steals VitD and gives it to the impoverished as the Ghost; hence, the introduction to Arden, the self-sufficient, savvy sister of Niall, leader of Split City's number one antagonist faction, the Lasair.

This thrilling adventure catapults one on missions of rescue and sabotage. Many new characters of significance play roles in Dade and Arden's lives by rescue, healing, and plotting against competing bands of criminals, govies, and families. Through it all, the two protagonists have a virgin trust of each other that the plot continues to test. Trust for anyone else is suspect, at best. Unexpected revelations engross readers while pages turn toward the climax. When that time arrives, one is left wanting more.

Heather Hansen writes this sequel to The Breaking Light with captivating style, an imaginative plot, and most interesting characters. This reader is in the Split City from the very first page until the last.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Born to You This Day: Christmas Reflections on the Savior by Cissie Graham Lynch

5 out of 5 stars  *****

This short but deep devotional by the granddaughter of the greatest Evangelist in my lifetime, Billy Graham, settles my busy world into moments of Peace, Love, and Joy. I welcome her thoughtful words in this hectic holiday season. Time seems short until Born to You This Day: Christmas Reflections on the Savior provides a path away from my world and into the world created by He who loves and is willing to grant His blessings for my recognition of Him as the Father of Creation and worthy of my praise.

Pending tasks at hand squirm in my mind robbing me of the comfort that rests in stillness. I pick up this devotional and read with those troubling thoughts suggesting I drop the reading and get back to work; but I ignore the annoyance and discover an ease that frees my being from self-manufactured duties. What book has such a power as this.

At the end of each chapter is a list of scriptures from the Old and New Testaments that are resources for the author's enlightened summary.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques by James Hynes

5 out of 5 stars  *****

Author, James Hynes, explains how to write a compelling fiction. Readings from proven classics demonstrate chosen approaches to storytelling. This book elaborates on the particular preparation and discipline necessary for implementing a consistent flow using such tactics. Readers learn proper structure and how to avoid some common mistakes that weaken a worthwhile endeavor. Hynes also updates readers about publishing and the business changes within his lifetime. 

Through the introspective process of writing students become aware of their own proclivities. The strongest message this reader receives from Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques is that perseverance is necessary to finish any respectable work of literature. Writing, rewriting, editing, revising, quitting and returning to the story, sometimes with a completely different approach, emerges from vanity that overrides laziness and defeats failure, just so others may read the thoughtful efforts of a final creation.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You by Greg Gutfeld

5 out of 5 stars  *****

I enjoy Greg Gutfeld's wit and charm on television practically every day. Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You is the first book of his I have the privilege to listen. Zany is the first word that comes to mind when listening to this author because he incorporates unexpected humor into his well-thought-out sentences . I hear his cogent, original statements and laugh while I ponder his points. This author researches every idea his words formulate from sources expert on the topics he elaborates. 

This book compares the opinions and rhetoric of people, no matter who they think they are, to what he, Greg Gutfeld, knows to be closer to truth. In his fashion, Gutfeld seizes the opportunity to humiliate and agitate elite personalities who remark on today's issues by recycling manipulated talking points spewed with Left Progressive spin, a socialist agenda that mocks America and its rule of law. This work is an intelligent, fun rebuke of all those followers who, whether they know it or not, trend toward a Collective ruled by the corrupt. 

The most impressive quality I admire from this book and Greg, himself, is his ability to summarize the Saul Alinsky-induced chaos into a succinct, thought-provoking sentence that rests close to the heart of any matter, the truth. It is refreshing to clear the air of the smoke that chokes American values, freedom and liberty. These hard-fought blessings are easily forgotten and taken for granted by the self-absorbed. 

Evil, greedy people exhibit mankind's flaws. Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You is available to all as a wake-up call to be responsible, not just to oneself but to each other. We must strive to discern truth with a genuine concern for our sovereignty. What makes America great is the power in the sharpened, moral minds of a deserving people united and not a fake conglomerate of power riding a wave of fear that divides so they can conquer, regulate, and control.

Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck by Thug Kitchen

4 out of 5 stars  ****

This book is a most irreverent guide to good health through emotive words and proper nutrition. Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck,could be just another great vegetarian cook book but it would be lost on the shelf of healthy advice and common sense. The cursing expletives set this book apart from all others. It is a delight to learn as the shock of language piques the curious and humors the gimmick-prone public. The descriptive words are not polite nor are they for children but this book offers an alternative for healthy living. The recipes are simple enough if one is willing to put some time into the preparation. Preparing and storing many base products for recipes, like beans and grains, are recommended for those who have active, working lives. This book ranges from dips to desserts with everything in between. The few recipes this indulgent reader tries please the palate, the pocketbook, and the menu as shopping becomes more interesting when adding a variety of flavors to what would otherwise be a one-time dish on a single night.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

5 of 5 stars  *****

This daily devotional book is such a blessing. I read it first thing in the morning and it sets my thinking right by establishing a strong relationship with God. It allows me to face any circumstance that comes my way with peace, love, and joy in my heart. Forbearance is a gift from God and this book is a simple reminder to persevere difficulties with patience and understanding. 

It is more of a challenge to maintain an attitude of kindness, gentleness and goodness when my life is going well, without unforeseen challenges to upset my day. I read every morning that such challenges occur to make me turn to He who is always there. The next gift to receive during such times is faithfulness and self-control. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence informs me that God welcomes this opportunity to allay my fears, settle my frustrations. My thankfulness and trust are all He needs. My reciprocating love praises Him. His reason for creating me is then in accordance to His plan. 

Sarah Young studies and draws from all sections of the Bible to share with us words inspired by her moments of stillness while conversing with God. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence is the response she receives from our Father, the One who knows all before we formulate the question or make any request. 

I discover this book from my sister whose benevolence shares it as a gift to so many she encounters. I apply this book's profound wisdom as I read it to my dying mother earlier this year. It touches me, opens me, strengthens me while reassuring me of the righteous path to which it leads. I receive wisdom, the fear of God, because He is the only power, a power that gives everlasting life to those who honestly communicate with Him daily. 

My inspiration after reading this blessed book: The purpose of my life does not depend on what I accomplish in the world but how I am while in this world, regardless of who I am with or what circumstances befall me. Communication with God is essential and this book is one of the most poignant relationships with Him in the present that I have come across.