Review: The Messengers: Discovered

The Messengers: Discovered
The Messengers: Discovered by Lisa M. Clark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this story. It is a dystopia with real hope, because the secret faction is comprised of Christians trying to preserve the Word of God.

Simon Clay loves to find hidden pamphlets, but it can get him into serious trouble with the government. When he finds out by accident that his father aids the Messengers at night, he discovers a Word that offers Truth that he wasn’t sure existed anymore.
Simon begins a journey of faith and true knowledge that leads him to share the Word to his own peril.

This novel could have used a better proofreader, but it was well-written and a quick read. I am looking forward to the next installment.

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Review: The Executioner’s Redemption: A Story of Violence, Death, and Saving Grace

The Executioner's Redemption: A Story of Violence, Death, and Saving Grace
The Executioner’s Redemption: A Story of Violence, Death, and Saving Grace by Timothy R Carter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was convicting for me. I realized while reading that I hoped to read carnal stories about people’s crimes that brought them to death row. What I got was a kick in the pants about how little I seek God’s kingdom in His Word and through prayer on a daily basis. Thank you to Rev. Carter for giving me Law and Gospel in this book.

I would recommend this book to any police officer, correctional officer, etc. that deals with inmates and law enforcement on a regular basis. I can think of a few people that work in that industry that I will be recommending this book to. It is a good reminder of how a Christian is called to love even the human wolves among us.

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Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Kathleen Olmstead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an exciting retelling of the original. My kids really enjoyed it. My 9 year old asked if we could read the original Jules Verne novel soon. This Classic Starts edition definitely did its job of introducing a classic novel to children and making them want to read the original story.

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Review: An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel

An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel
An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel by Ray Keating

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my least favorite of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels so far. The plot wasn’t as exciting, and we didn’t get to spend as much time with the main characters. Each chapter was very short, which is fine, but we didn’t get a lot of good dialogue or a very lengthy plot. It was more like a novella than a novel.

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Review: Les Miserables

Les Miserables
Les Miserables by Monica Kulling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good retelling of the fantastic story of redemption and forgiveness that is Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.” It got the main plot across so that children can understand and appreciate the stage show and the original book as they grow up.

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Review: Being Lutheran

BeingLutheran The first half of Being Lutheran has a lot of history of the Reformation and information about the time of Martin Luther (the 1500’s) and how Luther’s teachings were different from the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. However, in its talk of how Lutherans challenge being closed, lukewarm, ignorant, lazy, and pastel (which are the titles of the first five chapters) it doesn’t sound very specifically Lutheran.

A. Trevor Sutton uses a lot of modern language and wording in his descriptions. He certainly prefers the term “follower of Jesus” over the term Christian, which has been used since the time of the Apostles. Which is not incorrect, just trendy. Some of these modern words, phrases, and comparisons can be helpful, but some things like the mention of cat memes may not be understood by readers that don’t use social networks on the Internet.

My biggest issue is that the first half of the book doesn’t really make being Lutheran sound any different than other Bible-believing Christians. Of course any Scripture loving Christian is going to fight the impulse to be exclusive and to reach out to others who are different. Of course any lover of Jesus is going to see that sitting around the house and never praying or doing anything of service for anyone is a slap in the face to the freedom from sin that Jesus won for us on the cross. Of course any knowledgeable Christian is going to do his best to speak up in the face of mockery, try to remember to pray before meals in a restaurant, and not accept the scientific penchant of the day when it goes against God’s Word.The first half of the book should more appropriately be renamed “Being a Bible-Believing Follower of Jesus.”

The second half of Being Lutheran finally explains the doctrines that set Lutheranism apart. Lutherans take Jesus at his word and believe what he says about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Absolution, worship, etc. This section was very good. I would recommend lifelong Lutherans to actually read this half first. It’s a little easier to hear what you should be doing (the first half) when you’ve been filled with the Good News of God’s Word (the second half). Other Christians should read the book in order because you can see what Lutherans and other Christians have in common before reading about our differences.

My only issue in the second half of the book is in the chapter titled Ordinary. Sutton says, “The flashiest thing you will find amongst Lutherans is an overly polished pectoral cross.” That’s not an accurate or fair statement. Plenty of Lutheran churches have beautiful windows, fancy processional crosses, and pastors wearing beautiful robes. Christian freedom allows for these things. So saying that Lutherans aren’t flashy writes off a good portion of Lutherans that retain more of the “high church” things than others. So unless his definition of “flashy” is simply to mean that Lutherans don’t do or have these things for the reason that they are earning God’s favor, then fine. But if he means that we so value simplicity that you won’t hear the majesty of a pipe organ with a timpani on Sunday morning, then we have a problem.

Overall, this was a good book, though I’m not sure who the target audience would be. He probably was trying to write a little for everyone. For pastors and those with more theological knowledge he throws in Latin and German terms. For typical laypeople he uses simple language. For those very engrossed in current lingo he uses that kind of language, too. For all types of Christians this book can be a useful primer into how Lutherans belief, think, and act. And for Lutherans it can be the kick in the pants that you need to remember to fulfill your vocations and serve your neighbors “as for the Lord and not for men.

Review: The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Mouse and the Motorcycle
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We read this out loud to the kids. They really enjoyed it. They thought that Ralph was very funny and the idea of a mouse making a motorcycle toy work was great.

This book is fun, whimsical, and a little magical. The story teaches that even those who are young and make mistakes can be helpful and responsible and make a big difference.

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