Thursday, May 31, 2007

8 Random Things Meme

One of the most frequent memes going around this week--at least in all the blogs I read--is the 8 Random Things meme. Consider this the '8 Random Things: Bible Edition.'

1. My first Bible was a Living Bible. (It was a gift from Santa.)
2. The gospel of John is my favorite book of the Bible.
3. When I first get a new Bible, I like to smell the pages. I love the 'new bible' smell.
4. I once read the entire Bible in 15 days. It was the Narrated Bible, a Bible that arranges passages chronologically.
5. I often get Bible-envy when I see someone get a new Bible. (One that I don't have.) The Bible I'm most envious of is my mom's new Geneva Study Bible. It was originally published in 1599, and has study notes by the Reformers.
6. It is not unusual for me to buy in duplicate. I have four life application bibles (in four translations). And I have three MacArthur study bibles. 2 leather. 1 Hardcover. 2 translations. (Although for the record, I don't even really like the life application bible.)
7. I love to go bargain-hunting for Bible. A good percentage of my Bibles have been bought at 75% to 90% off. Buying bibles for under $5 is very fun. :)
8. The ESV (English Standard Version) is my FAVORITE translation. New American Standard is my second-favorite. Revised Standard Version is my third-favorite. New King James is my fourth. And NIV is my fifth.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Website: Pink's Archive

Pink's Archive is the online home of Arthur Walkington Pink's works. Here you will find a list of all of his works including The Sovereignty of God, The Attributes of God, Practical Christianity, The Doctrine of Justification, The Doctrine of Sanctification, The Doctrine of Election, and Profiting from the Word of God just to name a few. Pink's work is amazing. The site is maintained by Providence Baptist Ministries.

Here is a brief example of Pink at his finest (an excerpt from The Sovereignty of God):

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Borrowed Meme

I read this meme at A Patchwork of Books who had been tagged by CeeCee. I don't know know where it originally came from :)

Next Five Books On Your To Be Read Shelf

What Jesus Demands From the World by John Piper
The Prince by Francine Rivers
The Prophet by Francine Rivers
Miss Match by Erynn Mangum
In Between by Jenny B. Jones

Last Four Books You've Read

Strength of His Hands by Lynn Austin
Song of Redemption by Lynn Austin
Gods & Kings by Lynn Austin
Lonely in Longtree by Jill Stengl

Last Three Books You've Borrowed (Library or Friend)

Unafraid by Francine Rivers
Unspoken by Francine Rivers
Unveiled by Francine Rivers

Last Two Non-fiction Books You've Read

The Truth War by John MacArthur
The Bible (Isaiah to be precise)

The One Book You Wish Everyone Would Read...

It would be a battle between PUTTING AMAZING BACK INTO GRACE by Michael Horton, HOW YOU CAN BE SURE YOU WILL SPEND ETERNITY WITH GOD by Erwin Lutzer or KNOWING GOD by J.I. Packer.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

In the Face of God

In the Face of God by Michael Horton

In the Face of God addresses how it is possible even within the Christian community to be too spiritual. He believes it is essential that doctrines and not emotions or experiences be the foundation of our Christian lives. He discusses how gnosticism has infiltrated the Christian church from the very beginning and how it has continued to do so ever since. For example, he argues that nineteenth-century romanticism influenced the church (and its hymns) by allowing gnostic ideas to creep into Christian terminology. He worries that in this seeker-friendly mindset that the church will lose the true message of the gospel as they try to meet the felt needs of the community without addressing the ultimate issue of salvation. He emphasizes the need for the preaching of the Word in churches, sound doctrines in the pulpits (not pop psychology), and above all else a realization that God is a God to be taken seriously. Throughout the book he presents how different men and women (in the Bible) have reacted to their personal encounters with God. Each one reacted not with joy or giddiness but with fear and trembling. Meeting God was a humbling experience for each one. Being in God's presence--being made aware (even a small glimpse) of his glory and power--only makes one more aware of how sinful we are and how small we are in comparison to God. He worries that people are seeking a "God" of their own creation that can be sought by anyone at anytime without a mediator without fear of judgement or punishment. The truth of the matter is that unless Jesus stands as your mediator God is not a "safe" God to approach. Without Christ, only judgement can be the result of a meeting with God.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gospels Come to Life

I bought GOSPELS COME TO LIFE several years ago when it was first released. I purchased it chiefly because I love the Bible and I love Michael W. Smith. It was my first audio bible purchase (although it is only the gospels). And I appreciated it when I bought it. I was encouraged to listen to the cds at the time. But I didn't truly come to appreciate Michael W. Smith's narration until after I purchased the LISTENER'S BIBLE narrated by Max McLean several years later. Michael's reading is natural and flows smoothly. The background music never commands center stage. McLean's narration is far from natural. Never has anyone read anything so overly dramatic and unnatural. His pronunciation is so over the top and his reading rhythm bizarre. It is painful to the ears to listen to him read. I feel awful having spent so much money on a group of cds that I won't ever listen to in all likelihood because of the bad narration. Recently I began listening to these cds (Gospels Come To Life) again. Wow! What a difference the narration makes. Instead of focusing on the narrator's quirks....you focus on the Word of God. I wish that Michael W. Smith would finish narrating the New Testament because his natural understated style is infinitely better than Max McLean's over the top production.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Just As I Am

Today's post is another song from my "Becky's Themesongs" feature. It is one of my all-time favorites, by one of my all-time favorite artists: Andrew Peterson. The song: Just As I Am. The album: Love and Thunder.

What's that on the ground?
It's what's left of my heart
Somebody named Jesus
Broke it to pieces
And planted the shards

And they're coming up green
They're coming in bloom
I can hardly believe
This is all coming true

Just as I am and just as I was
Just as I will be He loves me, He does
He showed me the day that He shed His own blood
He loves me, oh, He loves me, He does


All of my life
I've held on to this fear
Its thistles and vines
Ensnare and entwine
What flowers appeared

It's the fear that I'll fall
One too many times
It's the fear that His love
Is no better than mine
(but He says that)
Just as I am and just as I was
Just as I will be He loves me, He does
He showed me the day that He shed His own blood
He loves me, oh, He loves me, He does
He loves me, oh, He loves me, He does


It's time now to harvest
What little that grew
This man they call Jesus
Who planted the seeds
Has come for the fruit

And the best that I've got
Isn't nearly enough
He's glad for the crop
But it's me that He loves

Just as I am and just as I was
Just as I will be He loves me, He does
The same as the day that He shed His own blood
He loves me, oh, He loves me, He does
Just as I am and just as I was
Just as I will be He loves me, He does
The same as the day that He shed His own blood
He loves me, oh, He loves me, He does
He loves me, oh, He loves me,
He loves me, He does
He loves me, He does

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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Strength of His Hands

The Strength of His Hands by Lynn Austin, Book 3 in the Chronicles of the Kings series.

The Strength of His Hands by Lynn Austin documents the ups and downs of Hezekiah's later reign. In his early years, the king's intentions were good, his devotion was strong. It seemed he could do no wrong. He was intent on saving his country from the evils of idolatry, but while he still finds idolatry unacceptable, repulsive even. He is not as strong as he thinks he is. The book opens with Hezekiah and his barren wife, Hepzibah, still upset over the fact that it's been a dozen years (maybe a little more) and still no child has been born. Hepzibah, never a strong believer to begin with, has fallen into idolatry. When Hezekiah catches her worshipping Asherah, and even learns that his wife has vowed to sacrifice her firstborn child, he is appalled. But in his rashness to destroy his wife's idols, he's badly burned. Now, near death, Hezekiah must face some hard truths. When Isaiah prophesies that his death is near, Hezekiah refuses to submit to God's will. He cries out in fervant prayer begging God for a second chance. A chance to continue his godly reign. A chance to have an heir to inherit the kingdom. Granted an extra fifteen years, Hezekiah may thinks this extra time is a blessing. But it's a mixed blessing at best. His reign begins to crumble as his neighboring countries all prepare for war. Should Hezekiah listen to the Babylonian envoys whose flattering lips praise his wondrous power and might? Should he make an alliance with Babylon? With Egypt? Philistine? All of the neighboring countries who worship false gods? Of course, his closest advisor, Eliakim, and the Lord's chosen prophet, Isaiah, are warning Hezekiah of the dangers of pride and human wisdom. The dangers of making alliances against the expressed will of God, but Hezekiah has become a little hard of hearing lately. Pushing God away, he begins to rely on his wisdom, on his army, and on the armies of his allies. What will happen when the Assyrians begin to invade Judah and seige Jerusalem? Can Hezekiah find the courage to repent and the strength to trust in God once more?

While the other novels in the series have focused on Hezekiah's strengths, The Strength of His Hands takes us to the difficult portions of his reign. The uncomfortable places where we see a godly man making a series of mistakes that will lead him into a dangerous place. Pride. One of the most dangerous sins. One of the most tempting sins. Easy to fall into, not so easy to escape.
The novel also focuses on the importance of discernment. Eliakim has to make a hard decision. To go along with the king's decisions and pretend he agrees with them, to resign his commission altogether, or to speak out against the king and his decisions and perhaps risk his job and his life. He knows that someone needs to say something. He knows the will of God should be voiced. He just has to make up his mind to submit himself to God and trust in him.

I love this book, and I am loving this series.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Joy of Fearing God

The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges

THE JOY OF FEARING GOD by Jerry Bridges is an excellent book on an often over-looked topic in modern Christianity. In the first chapter he states his premise clearly: "There was a time when committed Christians were known as God-fearing people. This was a badge of honor. But somewhere along the way we lost it. Now the idea of fearing God, if thought of at all, seems like a relic from the past. That's to our detriment. The fear of God is actually as relevant today as it was in bygone generations" (1). In the remaining fourteen chapters he defines, describes, and illustrates what it means for Christians to individually and corporately to fear God in their lives. Chapter titles include "Beyond Measure, Beyond Compare" describing God's greatness, "Transcendent Majesty" describing God's holiness, "He Is Lord" describing God's sovereignty, and "He Is Worthy" describing how essential the fear of the Lord is in our worship.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Technorati Profile

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Coming Soon to Becky's Christian Reviews

These are a few Christian books I've checked out of the library. While my TBR pile is truly, terrifying, I hope to get these books read (by their due dates) and reviewed for the site. (Keep in mind that this site is my second book blog and that "Becky's Book Reviews" requires a lot of time and maintenance. It's hard to have a new book to review for each site each day. So be patient, please.)

The Warrior by Francine Rivers
The Prince by Francine Rivers
The Prophet by Francine Rivers
Unafraid by Francine Rivers
Unspoken by Francine Rivers
Unveiled by Francine Rivers

A few authors have sent me books to review for this site:

Perfecting Kate by Tamara Leigh
By Love Redeemed by DeAnna Julie Dodson

If you are an author or publisher and would like to send me an Advanced Reading Copy or review copy, I would be happy to receive them. Simply email me.

And I'll open up yet another dialogue. I am relatively new to the field of Christian fiction. (I've read lots of Christian nonfiction). I am familiar with most (if not all) of Janette Oke's books and Frank Peretti's books. But that is essentially it. I'm seeing titles and authors that appeal to me as I browse the internet, but I'm a newbie. If you've got a favorite book you want to recommend, please feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments section of the site.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Burn the Ships

Today's post is the second installment in the "Becky's Themesongs" series. It is by Steven Curtis Chapman. And it is from the album Heaven in the Real World.

In the spring of 1519 a Spanish fleet set sail
Cortez told his sailors this mission must not fail
On the eastern shore of Mexico they landed with great dreams
But the hardships of the new world make them restless and weak
Quietly they whispered, "Let's sail back to the life we knew"
But the one who led them there was saying

CHORUS
Burn the ships, we're here to stay
There's no way we could go back
Now that we've come this far by faith
Burn the ships, we've passed the point of no return
Our life is here
So let the ships burn

In the spring of new beginnings a searching heart set sail
Looking for a new life and a love that would not fail
On the shores of grace and mercy we landed with great joy
But an enemy was waiting to steal, kill, and destroy
Quietly he whispers, "Go back to the life you know"
But the one who led us here is saying

(Chorus)

BRIDGE
Nobody said it would be easy
But the one who brought us here
Is never gonna leave us alone

(Chorus)

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Song of Redemption


Song of Redemption by Lynn Austin, 2005. Book Two in the Chronicles of the Kings series.

SONG OF REDEMPTION is a novelization of Hezekiah's early years reigning as king of Judah. It begins off with his religious/spiritual renewal. The land has been contaminated with idolatry for a century almost. It is time for repentance. It is time for change. With the help of a few godly advisors and priests, Hezekiah is on his way to a godly reign. The book captures his 'high' moments--the first Passover celebrations in generations--to some of his lower moments...his temptations, his weaknesses. His closest advisor, Shebna, is an ungodly man, an atheist. A man who tries to provide him worldly counself. Who tries to encourage him to stray from God's laws. To interpret them liberally. Or discard the ones he doesn't see much practicality in. With faced with threats from other nations--threats of wars--he sees no use in obeying God's laws or listening to the prophecies of God's chosen servant, Isaiah. Fortunately, Hezekiah and others close to him, such as Hilkiah and Eliakim, are there to balance out such influences. But SONG OF REDEMPTION is not Hezekiah's story alone. A much more personal story is woven throughout: that of Jerusha, an Israelite girl (teenager) kidnapped and enslaved by the Assyrian army. Can a young woman who has lived with the brutality and cruelty of repeated rape hold on to her will to survive? Is living in such horrible conditions--living with the enemy--really better than dying? What is there for her to live for? Will she ever see her family again? And if she does manage to escape, will she ever be able to live with what she's done? Can she ever get past the shame of her captivity? Song of Redemption is all about God's grace and forgiveness. All about trusting God. All about answered prayers.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Truth War

The Truth War: Fighting For Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur, 2007.

I, for one, am always excited to see a new John MacArthur book come out. He is a nice blend between thorough and knowledgeable AND readable. Yes, his books have footnotes, but they're written to be understood and comprehended. (Unlike some books where the only words you understand are "is" and "the." ) But I suppose you can say MacArthur's books are deep as well. They are always about important, relevant topics.

What is The Truth War about? In some ways it is about the "Emerging Church Movement." But in other ways it is just a generalized book about the ongoing fight for truth in a postmodern world. This world is full of compromises. The evangelical church shouldn't be full of compromises, but sometimes it is. Some churches have lost the point. Some have lost the gospel. And some Christians may not be aware of this fact. In their fight to be one with the world, to appear seeker-friendly, some churches have compromised to the point where they are unrecognizable as a true church of God. The Truth War is about recognizing false teachers and preachers from true ones. About discerning the true (and biblical) gospel message from the nicely-repackaged version for today's postmodern generation. So there is discussion about what the gospel is and about what truth is. And there is a discussion of the prophecies about false teachers found within Scriptures. This is a topic that both the gospels and epistles discuss often at great length. The book is about the need for discernment. The need to fight for the truth. The book of Jude is discussed a great deal within the book.

The idea that the Christian message should be kept pliable and ambiguous seems especially attractive to young people who are in tune with the culture and in love with the spirit of the age and can't stand to have authoritative biblical truth applied with precision as a corrective to worldly lifestyles, unholy minds, and ungodly behavior. And the poison of this perspective is being increasingly injected into the evangelical church body.
But that is not authentic Christianity. Not knowing what you believe (especially on a matter as essential to Christianity as the gospel) is by definition a kind of unbelief. Refusing to acknowledge and defend the revealed truth of God is a particularly stubborn and pernicious kind of unbelief. Advocating ambiguity, exalting uncertainty, or otherwise deliberately clouding the truth is a sinful way of nurturing unbelief. (xi)

Does anyone really imagine that many of the entertainment-hungry churchgoers who pack today's megachurches would be willing to give their lives for the truth? As a matter of fact, many of them are unwilling to take a bold stand for the truth even among other Christians in an environment where there is no serious threat against them and the worst effect of such a stand might be that someone's feelings get hurt. . . .The idea of actually fighting for doctrinal truth is the furthest thing from most churchgoers' thoughts. Contempory Christians are determined to get the world to like them--and of course in the process they also want to have as much fun as possible. They are so obsessed with making the church seem 'cool' to unbelievers that they can't be bothered with questions about whether another person's doctrine is sound or not. . . .Christians have bought into the notion that almost nothing is more 'uncool' in the world's eyes than when someone shows a sincere concern about the danger of heresy. After all, the world simply doesn't take spiritual truth that seriously, so they cannot fathom why anyone would. But Christians, of all people, ought to be most willing to live and die for the truth. Remember, we know the truth, and the truth has set us free. We should not be ashamed to say so boldly. (xiv, xv)

Truth is never determined by looking at God's Word and asking "What does this mean to me?" Whenever I hear someone talk like that, I'm inclined to ask, "What did the Bible mean before you existed? What does God mean by what He says?" Those are the proper questions to be asking. Truth and meaning are not determined by our intuition, experience, or desire. The true meaning of Scripture--or anything else for that matter--has already been determined and fixed by the mind of God. The task of an interpreter is to discern that meaning. And proper interpretation must precede application. The meaning of God's Word is neither as obscure nor as difficult to grasp as people today often pretend. Admittedly, some things in the Bible are hard to understand, but its central, essential truth is plain enough that no one need be confused by it. (xx, xxi)

Truth itself does not change just because our point of view does. As we mature in our ability to perceive truth, truth itself remains fixed. Our duty is to conform all our thoughts to the truth; we are not entitled to redefine 'truth' to fit our own personal viewpoints, preferences, or desires. We must not ignore or discard selected truths just because we might find them hard to receive or difficult to fathom. (xxi)

Chapter titles include: Can Truth Survive in a Postmodern Society?; Spiritual Warfare: Duty, Danger, and Guaranteed Triumph; Constrained into Conflict: Why We Must Fight for the Faith; Creeping Apostasy: How False Teachers Sneak In; Heresy's Subtlety: Why We Must Remain Vigilant; The Evil of False Teaching: How Error Turns Grace Into Licentiousness; The Assault on Divine Authority: Christ's Lordship Denied; How To Survive In An Age of Apostasy: Learning From the Lessons of History; and a bonus chapter, Why Discernment is Out of Fashion.

The book is great. Highly recommend it.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Creed

I am starting a new feature on Becky's Christian Reviews: a series of posts that highlight the songs that are my themes. You know, the songs you could listen to twenty times in a row. The songs that you want to sing along with. The songs you want to shout "Amen" to. The ones that capture who you are, what you are, and what you believe. Who better to start off with than Rich Mullins. Rich Mullins was the best of the best. His music was just incredible. Creed is among his best.

Creed

I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ
His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried

CHORUS:
And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man


I believe that He who suffered
Was crucified, buried, and dead
He descended into hell and
On the third day, rose again
He ascended into Heaven where
He sits at God's mighty right hand
I believe that He's returning to
Judge the quick and the dead
Of the sons of men

CHORUS

I believe it, I believe it
I believe it
I believe it, I believe it

I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son,
Our Lord
I believe in the Holy Spirit
One Holy Church, the communion of Saints
The forgiveness of sin
I believe in the resurrection
I believe in a life that never ends

CHORUS

I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe it

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Effectual Call or the Altar Call

In one of my very first posts, I mentioned that Bethlehem Bible Church was one of my all-time favorite sources for GREAT sermon podcasts. I have all of their available sermons downloaded beginning with "Upholding the Gospel in a Doubting Age" by John MacArthur (a visiting speaker), a message dating back to 1999, to the present day. Their latest sermon, by the way, from May 13th is "Jesus the King" by Mike Abendroth. While I cannot claim to have listened to all of their sermons--although one day I hope I can say just that--I can say that listening to their messages each week is something I look forward to. It's never a chore, always a pleasure.
I love a good sermon. Not a weak story-based, wishy-washy sermon, but a good expository Bible-thumping message.

One of my favorite messages is entitled "The Effectual Call or the Altar Call." The pastor is Mike Abendroth. The date, June 4th 2006. I listened to this sermon first last summer. It was one that really struck me. I listened to it twice. I burned a copy for my sister and brother-in-law to listen to as well. I *made* them listen to it as well. While I can't attest to if my brother-in-law listened to it, I know that my sister did. We talked about it. We listened to part of it together. What can I say about it? It's incredible. It's one that you could listen to over and over again and still be getting new nuggets of wisdom. It's too rich, too deep to just listen to once. If there was such a thing as required listening--I would make EVERYONE listen to this one. Unfortunately, not everyone loves a good sermon.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

God & Kings


Austin, Lynn. 2005. Gods and Kings.

Gods and Kings is an excellent novel, first in a series, fictionalizing the biblical account of one of Judah’s greatest kings, Hezekiah. Beginning with his childhood, Austin shows the legacy of corruption in Judah’s royal line. The story begins, of course, with the evil king, Ahaz. The opening of the story is powerful: Hezekiah, a young child, the second born in the royal family, is awakened along with his other brothers. It is the middle of the night, hours away from dawn, and grim-faced soldiers are forcing them out of bed. Soon, these royal princes, along with other young boys, are being marched outside of the city into the Valley of Hinnom. Their destination: to worship Molech and sacrifice firstborn sons. Witnessing his older brother’s murder--decreed by his father--changes this young boy forever. Severely traumatized, he clings to his mother, Abijah. Mourning the loss of her son, Abijah realizes that there was nothing she could have done to have prevented his murder. And there is nothing that she can do to protect her remaining son from the same fate. If Ahaz chooses to sacrifice another son, she can do nothing to change his mind. Nothing to save his life. She is powerless. The daughter of a priest, Zechariah, she had been told that it was a privelige to marry into the royal family. That she should look upon it as a great honor to bear the king’s sons. But Abijah would give almost anything to be an ordinary woman with an ordinary husband. She knows that he is corrupt. Without morals. Married to a monster, Abijah has to accept her fate and rely on the small chance that perhaps by staying on the king’s good side that her son will be kept safe. After all, if she can keep the king ‘in love’ (or lust) with her, perhaps he will try to please her.
But then the fateful day comes when the country is on the verge of war. Another sacrifice must be made. Molech must be appeased. As Hezekiah is woken up once again, he knows he’s doomed. He is now the firstborn son. He will be the day’s royal sacrifice. Unless....someone will be brave enough to speak out against the nation’s idolatry.
Enter the prophet Isaiah. Who just happens to meet their procession down to the idol, Molech. He speaks, and as much as the king would like to ignore him, Isaiah’s words haunt him. But he’s not the only one: Hezekiah hears this man of God speak and his life will never be the same: “Don’t be afraid...for Yahweh has ransomed you. He has called you by name. You belong to Yahweh. When you go through deep water, Yahweh will go with you. And when you ford mighty rivers, they won’t overwhelm you. When you pass through the fire, you won’t be burned. The flames will not hurt you. For Yahweh is your God. The Holy One of Israel is your Savior” (73). When Hezekiah’s life is spared--when his father chooses another son--a son of a concubine--over his, a small seed is planted. His journey to faith has begun. Still frightened, still overwhelmed, the idea of Yahweh is the only thing that will calm this young boy’s fear. Luckily, his mother, makes a pledge to renew her own devotion to the one true God. And she seeks out her father, Zechariah. Perhaps, this priest--this retired priest--can help train this young prince up into a godly king. It won’t be easy, with the palace full of idolaters. But maybe, Hezekiah will be the beginning of a new tradition, and perhaps he’ll create a godly legacy to pass onto his children.
The novel, Gods and Kings, is divided into two parts. The first part covers his childhood. The second part covers a brief period of his adulthood beginning with his betrothal and marriage and concluding with his coronation. After his father’s murder, this twenty-five year old man assumes the throne. But it is overwhelming for him as well. He has never had an official role in the government. He doesn’t know which officials are just and which are corrupt. He doesn’t know who to believe or who to trust. Luckily, that is where Isaiah and Micah--not to mention Hilkiah and Eliakim pop into the story. With some godly advice, can this young prince assume the throne and lead the nation into revival? One thing is for sure, expectations are high. This may be Judah’s best chance for redemption and renewal.
Gods and Kings is an exciting glimpse into a familiar Bible story. At least it’s a familiar Bible story to me. I suppose not everyone is as in love with the Old Testament as I am. But as a child, there was nothing I loved more than to read the history books. I loved reading of the kings and prophets. I loved hearing about the great battles, the great conflicts. How prophets would speak out for God and really let the corrupt leaders have it. I loved their boldness. Their perseverance. While Hezekiah isn’t my favorite king after the division of Judah and Israel--that would probably be Jehosophat or Josiah--Isaiah has always been a favorite. To see his words have life, have meaning, have depth brings great power to this story. It is one thing to read about an upcoming Assyrian invasion. As modern-day readers, most of us have never faced the threat of invasion. Never faced the threat of starvation and war. The fact that the invading army is brutal--without mercy--that they rape and murder. That they pride themselves in cruelty and brutality. It is almost meaningless to read the words off the page. But this novel brings the fear, the threats, to life. You realize that these were real people...real families. That this was a life-threatening, overwhelming fear that one would have to live with for weeks, months, years even. Let’s just say, that these fictional characters made me think a lot about the reality of the terror they faced in these final years of the dynasty. That it was their own fault makes it no less terrifying.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lonely in Longtree


Set in the 1890's, LONELY IN LONGTREE is the story of Marva Obermeier's quest for love. Her search starts in the local newspaper, Longtree Enquirer. Using the pseudonym "Lonely in Longtree" she posts a personal ad:

Single woman of good reputation, in possession of small but prosperous farm, requires godly man of solid character as husband. Must tolerate presence of elderly parents. I can manage a farm alone but would prefer companionship. I am healthy, average in appearance and education, and easygoing by nature. I neither expect nor desire romantic overtures. Interested parties may contact the Longtree Enquirer for further information. (9)

The ad catches the attention of one man, Monte Van Huysen, in particular. He replies to her ad as "Lucky in Lakeland."

In answer to your advertisement posted in a March edition of the Longtree Enquirer, I proffer myself as a candidate for the position. Age 38 this month, never married, of sound health and character, I am a God-fearing man. I lay claim to considerable wooded property in the north of the state and plan to build come spring. Your parents are welcome. Sell the farm and stock and travel north to God's country. Or come first and see if the climate and conditions suit. If you dislike pine trees and sparkling lakes, you'll hate it here. (11)

Two years later, these two are still corresponding via the newspaper, but have yet to exchange names. But Marva has a plan for getting a sneak peek at her would-be suitor! Joining a group of travelers--including her parents and several friends of the family--she will be visiting Lakeland and staying at a lodge. The only problem is to figure out which lodge is owned by a bachelor who meets his description. But Marva is confident that she can pick him out of a crowd....

From the moment his eyes meet hers, Monte knows Miss Obermeir must be "Lonely in Longtree." Unfortunately, her eyes (and suspicions) land elsewhere. Can these two come clean with each and admit their growing love...or will a case of mistaken identities cause days and weeks of heartache?

http://www.heartsongpresents.com/

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Notes From A Spinning Planet: Papua New Guinea

Carlson, Melody. 2007. Notes From A Spinning Planet: Papua New Guinea.

Maddie is back for another adventure. This time Aunt Sid is taking her along for the ride to New Guinea. Their assignment: go behind the scenes to explore the poverty and AIDS stricken communities that most people are either unaware of or choose to ignore because it's such an ugly situation. For the first time, Maddie comes face to face with people living in third-world communities. Poverty. Sickness. Hunger. No longer topics heard about in a cozy church environment. These are real problems that need real solutions. Can Maddie find the strength to reach out to those that need God's love the most? Has she finally found God's will for her life?

Notes From A Spinning Planet is a new series by Melody Carlson. Carlson is also the author of several other series including the following: Diary of A Teenage Girl, TrueColors, Degrees of Betrayal, and Degrees of Guilt. The next Notes From A Spinning Planet title will be released in August 2007.

What I enjoyed about the series is its look at world politics. It is a series about expanding your world view and examining cultures beyond your comfort zone. These may be political issues, economic issues, social issues, etc. But I think there is a real need to see beyond your own neighborhood and realize the bigger pictures in life.

Randomhouse Author Bio: Melody Carlson

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Notes From A Spinning Planet: Ireland

Carlson, Melody. 2006. Notes From a Spinning Planet: Ireland.

Maddie is a nineteen-year-old, self-proclaimed "country bumpkin" who has little experience outside of her small town. When she is given an opportunity to visit Ireland with her Aunt Sid and her aunt's godson, Ryan, she is more than thrilled to begin her "first" grand adventure--beginning with her first plane ride. Aunt Sid is a journalist on a mission. Ryan and Maddie are there for fun--at least at first. Ryan's father was Irish, and he was killed in a car bomb. His father supposedly was involved in the IRA. As these two teens (or college-aged-somethings) discover, life can be more complicated than what it first appears to be. Digging into political issues as well as exploring romantic relationships, NOTES FROM A SPINNING PLANET: IRELAND is a good start to a new series.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mike

Wolfe, L. Diane. 2007. Mike: The Circle of Friends Book IV.

My 'review' of Mike will include a brief summary and a playlist for the book of my own creation. Why a playlist? Besides the fact that I saw this 'Playlist Challenge' meme a few days ago, I was reading the book last night and all of these songs kept popping into my head. It doesn't usually work like that. Typically, I have to purposefully set out to "think" about which songs would go with a particular book. But with Mike it was natural. It was easy. I think that is a testament to how well the characters were developed.

Mike Taylor is on the verge of graduating from college. For four and half years he has played college football, but now he faces a new challenge: life in the real world. He is beginning to realize the stress of job searching, apartment hunting, and true independence. Having relied on his roommates, Matt and Sarah, and on his parents in the past...Mike has never really had to learn to cook, clean, and do laundry. When Mike accepts a job offer in Albuquerque, he begins to feel loneliness on a whole new level. Having always been surrounded by teammates and roommates, he learns that making friends isn't always easy. Luckily, one coworker is about to make a big impact on him: Danielle. Danielle is everything he's looking for: beautiful, outspoken, genuine, and Christian. She's a young woman who loves God and has the same morals and standards as his own. The problem? Mike is still bearing a heavy burden of past mistakes and shame. Can he overcome his past mistakes and learn to forgive himself so he can give his whole heart to the woman of his dreams? Or will he forever be haunted by his dark, shameful secrets?

Book/Author: Mike: The Circle of Friends Book IV by L. Diane Wolfe
Album Title: Mike
Song 1: Place in This World by Michael W. Smith
Song 2: Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns
Song 3: I Just Don’t Want Coffee by Caedmon’s Call
Song 4: No More Faith by Andrew Peterson
Song 5: Less by Josh Bates
Song 6: You’re Not Alone by Storyside B
Song 7: What’s Wrong With This World by Shaun Groves
Song 8: History by Matthew West
Song 9: Ocean Floor by Audio Adrenaline
Song 10: Hold Fast by MercyMe
Song 11: Loving A Person by Sara Groves
Song 12: Oh How The Years Go By by Amy Grant

http://circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com/

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

In Honor Bound


In Honor Bound by DeAnna Julie Dodson.

Set in a fictional medieval kingdom, In Honor Bound is the story of one king, four sons, and the raging war that threatens to destroy them all. Prince Philip never wanted to be king. As the second son, he hoped to escape the drudgery and responsibility of his legacy: a kingdom at war with no peace in sight. In love with a commoner, Philip hoped for nothing more than a quiet, simple life. But alas, none of that was to be. Within a year, his mother, his older brother, his youngest brother, and lover (whom he had secretly married) all die. Accidents. Murder. War. Betrayal and treason. Philip knows exactly who to blame: his father, Robert.

Will this future king learn to forgive and put away his bitterness? Or will he be haunted by these losses the rest of his days? Philip has vowed to never love again. To never trust again. Can Rosalynde, his new wife whom he was forced to marry, melt his heart of ice? Can her prayers melt his bitter resolve?

In Honor Bound is an exciting, fast-paced novel that I could not put down. Even with heavy eyes, I wanted to read just one more chapter. The characters. The plot. Everything was done so well. I can't wait to read the rest of the novels in this trilogy.

http://www.deannajuliedodson.com/
Interview with DeAnna Julie Dodson

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Stealing Adda


Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh.

I won Stealing Adda from a contest at Callapidderdays. I am very happy I won the book since it turned out to be so great. Our heroine, Adda, is a successful writer. In fact, she is a New York Times bestselling author. Her historical romances have been loved and enjoyed by thousands. She has many loyal fans who love to praise her. But this 'successful' life isn't quite as successful as she'd like. Adda has a problem--a big problem. Ever since her husband cheated on her with "Stick Woman," her love life has been rather slow. Nonexistent even. That might not be so bad except for the fact that she's a romance writer. How is she supposed to write romance and love scenes--she's not a believer at the beginning of the book--if she is uninspired herself? Her agent has a solution: to enter the chaotic dating world. But with a deadline fast approaching, and writer's block setting in...how is Adda supposed to find time to date. Enter Nick Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth starts out as a business acquaintance--he is hoping that she will sign on with his publishing company. But soon she is being swept off her feet...and she begins craving more than just a professional relationship. She has her past. He has his. Both have some issues they'll have to resolve before they can even begin to think about dating one another. Since her breakup, Adda has found it hard to trust another man. To trust anyone, really. And Nick, he has a bitter history as well. He has been caught in a bitter family feud. Can these two souls find the forgiveness they need to accept the past and move on?

Set in the publishing industry, Stealing Adda is an entertaining, charming read. There are authors, editors, publishers, agents, booksellers, writing conferences, award ceremonies, and loyal fans. It was fun to get a behind-the-scenes glance at the industry.

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Goals for Becky's Christian Reviews

When I first started this blog, many months ago, I had high hopes that I could manage several blogs at once. I started my first blog, Becky's Book Reviews in August of 2006. I made it my priority to update it daily. Since then, I have remained steadfast in that blog. I've blogged each and every day. Sometimes several times a day. But other blog attempts have not been as successful. While I had plans for this site, Becky's Christian Reviews, updates have been few and far between. It's not that I've wanted to abandon it. I didn't neglect it on purpose. It just happens sometimes. So I thought perhaps it was time that I made this site a PRIORITY as well.

So here are my goals for the site:

a) to review Christian fiction books (picture books through novels)
b) to review Christian nonfiction books (theology, Christian living, biography, etc.)
c) to review Christian music cds
d) to review Christian movies dvds
e) to review Christian websites
f) to review Christian blogs
g) to review Christian podcasts
h) perhaps even to review individual sermons from websites and podcasts
i) to review Christian audiobooks

I have access to some of these items more than others. So I will review some categories more than others. For example, I own few (one or two) audiobooks. But that's it. So I don't really see that being the focus--unless publishers want to send me audiobooks in which case I'll be happy to listen and review. Same with Christian dvds. I might own three or four, but it's not a priority.

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Christian Publishers

Are you a Christian publisher or a Christian author? Do you write (or publish) books (fiction or nonfiction) geared towards tweens, teens and twenty-somethings? You might consider submitting your books to me for review. Kimberly Pauley of YA Book Central has asked me to review religious fiction and nonfiction books for her site. The only problem? I have no books to review as of yet. (That's not exactly true, I have three books I can possibly review from 2001, but nothing new. Nothing crying out to be read and reviewed.) I would love to get started on this project, but it will take a little help from you.

http://www.yabookscentral.com/
beckyATyabookscentral.com

I am just as interested in reviewing adult titles (both fiction AND nonfiction) as I am young adult titles. In fact, I am more excited if that is possible. I would love to start regularly reviewing books on this site. I know I haven't always been good about updating regularly--but if I had books to review, I would have something to post about. I'd really like to make this blog as 'successful' as Becky's Book Reviews. ARCs and review copies would help me make this project work as well.

You may contact me at

My gmail account
My yahoo account

Technorati Profile

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Glory Revealed: The Word of God in Worship

Glory Revealed is a wonderful new compilation album featuring some of my favorite artists. Ten songs. Many artists. One source: The Word of God. All songs are based on scriptures. Many are taken word-by-word from Scripture.

"He Will Rejoice" is based on Zephaniah 3:17. It is performed by Trevor Morgan.

"By His Wounds" is based on Isaiah 53:5. It is performed by Mac Powell, Steven Curtis Chapman, Brian Littrell, and Mark Hall.

"Waters Gone By" is based on Job 11:13-20. It is performed by Shawn Lewis.

"To the Only God" is based on Jude 21-27. It is performed by David Crowder And Shane And Shane.

"Glory Revealed" is based on Isaiah 40:3-5. It is performed by Candi Pearson Shelton.

"Altar of God" is based on Psalm 43:4. It is performed by Josh Bates.

"Come, Worship The King" is based on Jude 25. It is performed by Michael W. Smith and Shane and Shane.

"Who Is Like You" is based on Exodus 15:2, 11, 13. It is performed by Tim Neufeld.

"Restore To Me" is based on Psalm 51:9-12. It is performed by Mac Powell And Candi Pearson-Shelton.

"You Alone" is based on Revelation 15:3-4 and Psalm 34:4-5. It is performed by Brian Littrell.

I recommend this album to fans of other compilation albums like the three City On A Hill worship albums. (City On A Hill, Sing Alleluia, The Gathering) And the compilation album, Exodus.

My personal favorites from this album??? I loved "By His Wounds" and "You Alone." All the songs are enjoyable.

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