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Monday, May 30, 2011

“The Seraph Seal” by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner A review by Paul Emery

December 21, 2012 at 9:00PM eight children are born each with a unique birthmark, destined for… four for a New Earth and Heaven filled with dominion and control, or four for a New Earth and Heaven filled with the principles of love, kindness, and the dawning of a restored relationship with God through Christ the Lamb, and one child is born who must bring the right group together.  That is the direction this work of apocalyptic fiction takes as several stories begin, and merge into one, the question is what will be the end?

I have been an avid reader of fiction, and have read a wide variety of fiction in my life.  This is the first piece of Christian Fiction I have picked up since the “Left Behind” series.  Over the past couple of years I’ve been moving in the direction of more theological based information, or study helps in my personal devotions.  This book I choose to take a break, and see again what Christian Fiction had to offer, one thing is for sure, I was not disappointed.

As soon as I picked this book up and began to read I was enthralled.  As my wife said, she had not seen me this interested in a book in quite some time.  Even though the book bounced between places, people, and events, each section built upon the last and I was able to begin putting the pieces together.  Dr. Sweet and Ms. Wagner obviously put a lot of work into this story, as they draw a reader in quickly and effectively into the story.  The extra information was well researched, and quite intensive, so intensive is fact that they added two sections, one a look at the notes of the main character, and the second the Alphabet of the Apocalypse. 

The only thing about this book I was not sure about was some of the theological directions it took, even though they added to the story.  There seemed to be a lot of Christian and Hebrew mysticism such as Kabbalah.  This book should be read with discretion especially if one is coming to this book looking for a theological perspective of eschatology.  This book is a great work of fiction, but with any fiction, including the “Left Behind” series, one must remember it is a perspective and not truth.  If this book does encourage someone to study Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel, or any of the other true prophetic books of the Bible, well I’m all for that. 

Even with my concern with some of the mysticism of “The Seraph Seal” I would gladly give this book 4.5 out of 5.  For those who are interested in Christian fiction with on an apocalyptic nature, I highly recommend this book; again as with other bloggers I have read I would recommend caution and the remembrance that this book is fiction.  With any book, discretion is advised.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Living for God’s Glory” by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

“Living for God’s Glory” by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

“Living for God’s Glory” is an educational book on the Calvinist doctrine that has lead to many of the denominations that we are familiar with today such as the Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregational, and other fine denominations.  Calvinism has lead to many great preachers throughout history, including John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, and many others.  Yet the main purpose of this book is not only to look at the great achievements of Calvinism, but to focus on the true heart and message of Calvinism as it applies to each person’s everyday life.

In “Living for God’s Glory” Dr. Joel Beeke does not shy away from the 5 points of Calvinism, but embraces them, and carefully constructs his chapter to expound and explain each of these points in a clear and concise manner.  However, this book is not for the week of heart.  With over 350 pages of reading or so, not including all the links to references the author mentions, this book is still highly academic, and one needs to be willing to take time to read through and be willing to ask questions and seek answers.

What was most fascinating about this book is the purpose of the author.  As I said Dr. Beeke gives a great defense of the doctrine of Calvinism, however, he points that Calvinism isn’t only about predestination or election, but instead a teaching of the hope of salvation that can and is only found through Jesus Christ.  In this book he points out that many of the viewpoints of Calvinism do not produce hopelessness, as some argue, but that instead there is great hope that is found in the doctrines of Calvinism. 

I chose this book primarily because I am very familiar with the great divide that people argue the doctrine of Calvin has lead to throughout the Churches history.  I have always considered myself a Calvinist in fact, but said that without a real understanding of the doctrines of Calvin, and also while wrestling with the issue of predestination.  In fact, according to this book, I am considered by many Calvinists to be more Armenian in my viewpoint, that election is as a result of the foreknowledge of God almighty, then a Calvinist.  I cannot say if this book corrected my view, but it has certainly given me some information for which I can continue to work through this difficult doctrine.

Another main facet of “Living for God’s Glory” is the explanation, and clarifications of the five solas that are such an ingrained part of the Born Again, Evangelical, and Christian church.  Although some in the Church today could probably express the solas, they are a teaching that has been substantially forgotten by many of those who at once claimed Jesus Christ.  The five solas are, Scripture alone (sola Scriptura), grace alone (sola gratia), faith alone (sola fide), Christ alone (solus Christus), and the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria).  Dr. Beeke handles these topics as clearly as he handles the issue of the 5 points of Calvinism.

The only fault I find with this volume is the intensity of information.  Not only is this book written by Dr. Joel Beeke, but also has chapters written by Sinclair Ferguson, James Grier, Michael Haykin, Nelson Kloosterman, Ray Lanning, Robert Oliver, Ray Pennings, and Derek Thomas.  It seems to me that sections one and two could easily have been their own single book, and then these additional chapters could have been included in a separate volume.  However, each of these chapters is ripe with wonderful information, and has given me a better understanding of Calvinism and Puritanism.

There is so much more that one can discover in this remarkable work by Dr. Joel Beeke.  I do not feel as if one could successfully write a great review of this book without giving away, that which makes it so worth the read.  The ending chapters have contributions from many great writers as well who add to the beauty of this work.  As it is I must rate this book five out of five, and encourage any person who is seeking a true perspective of the doctrines of John Calvin to read this book again and again.  As it is I know that it will be a book I read yet again, and one which I will probably use for a reference in many aspects of my spiritual life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Trust Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado

“Outlive Your Life” by Max Lucado

The purpose of “Outliving Your Life” is to address the church in America with what we can do in the world at large, starting with the small things.  Although there is the very familiar attack with how extravagant the American people live, Max was not presenting a message he was not living.  In fact, one of the things I found out about the book is that all profits that were made for the book were donated in total to World Vision.

As I read over “Outliving Your Life” I was indeed challenged to look at the small things in my life to make a difference.  A few things that challenged me is do I take time to get to know my neighbors in my small subdivision? Am I involved in activities with my church, my work, my school and my community?  These are all important topics that we each look at often in our lives.

Some of the positives that really jumped out at me quickly was that in Chapter 4, “Don’t forget the bread.” Mr. Lucado gave one of the clearest gospel presentation I had seen in many of the Christian books I read.  Here in his book he not only addresses a need for those of us in the Church, but takes an entire chapter to share the message with his readers, with the hope of reaching them.  So clear was this gospel presentation, that it made even my frustration with his lambasting of the extravagant nature of Americans pale in comparison to what he was trying to communicate.

Another really great section of Mr. Max Lucado’s book was chapter 15 which chapter name escapes me, as I’ve lent my copy of the book to my pastor, which focuses on prayer.  In my own personal walk with Christ, prayer has always been a major hiccup for me.  Mr. Lucado made several interesting comments through that chapter which really spoke to me directly, and I think would speak even to the people who are truly committed to prayer.

Max Lucado has since put out another book which I’m sure is well written in well.  For “Outliving Your Life” I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Children's Art

Each and every week, if not every day, my wonderful children make/draw/color beautiful art work that simply must be displayed.  For the longest time I had no idea how I was going to do this, all I knew was that the fridge simply wasn't large enough, especially when all five(+) start making pieces daily.  I also knew that just having a piece up for a day, just to be taken down tomorrow for the next wasn't an option.  I wanted to be able to see a number of my children's work at the same time and be able to view it for a couple of days at least.  At some point, my oldest, Elizabeth, started taping individual pieces up, she had two walls going and it was starting to look like wall paper, while this was a fun way to get to see her masterpieces, I also started to become concerned that either a) other children would pull the pieces down, thus upsetting her greatly or b) the pieces would become more like wallpaper and fill our wonderful home as all of them would want to do the same thing as Elizabeth.

Recently I have been meeting with a good friend, a truly Titus 2 woman that has been guiding me along and observed my conundrum and suggested what you see in this final picture.  Now, I get to see a number of different pictures by my oldest three children, and when the other two really start coloring and drawing I'll either add more clips to the first ribbon or I'll just have to start a second line right underneath. So we put up the current pictures and when a week has gone by they get to change out the pictures and I either toss the old ones, mail them out to friends and family or scan them into the computer, and then toss them.  It has really helped me par down on my paper clutter, which became a big problem for me because my children are such a big part of my life I didn't want to throw away what they essentially made for me and my enjoyment. 


Pictures were provided by Jessica Neidigk.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Phi Theta Kappa

There are a few things I’ve wanted to blog on, but just haven’t been able to until now….. This is one of them.  Paul, my wonderful husband, has been inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Society at the college he attends!!  As you can tell from my pictures, the ceremony was a family event, we were so excited and the kids were full of energy, asking so many questions and clamoring to be with their daddy and in his lap. 

Not to mention, he just became their Student Government Association Representative. We are soooo proud of him! Yes, this does make life a bit crazier with him putting more onto his plate, but I know that he can do anything he puts his mind to, and with our God, all things are possible! 

With this latest development, he will most likely be blessed with scholarships and possibly a full one to a college of his choice.  Again, we are so proud of you Paul, and you are doing such a great job!

At the end of the ceremony there was a reception and a table with college representatives at them for the college students to talk to. Kathryn wouldn't let Paul go, even for a second.  He is so blessed, having children that love him so. 


Monday, May 2, 2011

Reshaping It All By: Candace Cameron Bure

Yes people, that's right Candace Cameron Bure, THE Candace Cameron, who was on Full House and who's brother is Kirk Cameron, who starred on the movie Fireproof. She has written a book called Reshaping it All, its a book that focuses on reshaping you physically and spiritually.  Right now she is doing a 65 day challenge, and they are planning on giving out prizes and you can even get a chance to talk to Candace through the site.  They would like those of you who blog to post about your experiences and link it to their site so they can see how you are doing........ PS you don't have to own the book, though you could possibly win it during the challenge. 

Here's an excerpt from the blog:

Just think about it for a minute: if you live well for five minutes of your life and make good choices within that time, then why do you doubt that you could carry that out? Failure is not a reason to give up--it's the reason you need to press on.

Some of you have asked, what can I do to get started? Here are five tips that I'm personally putting into practice each day:
  1. Formulate a plan deciding what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there, then pray asking God for guidance and strength.
  2. Be mindful of how much you eat and how much you move. Eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.
  3. If you aren't sure exactly how to stop when you're full. Try taking smaller portions. And after you're done, decide if you're satisfied or physically hungry for more.
  4. Stop drinking calories and start drinking more water if you aren't already. 6-8 glasses is a good rule of thumb.
  5. Incorporate wholesome food into your diet, and eliminate junk.
Here's the link my friends, hope to see you there!


Photo Contest

On Facebook, for a week, my precious twins are in a photo contest that is being done by a company by the name of London Locks.  This is a trusted company, owned by a Christian gal whom I know personally.  If you could please go to their site, like the site, scroll down to the contest and then like photo number 26, I'd greatly appreciate it.  Here is the link to make it a a bit more simple for you ;o)  London Locks Photo Contestant #26