the low down on new books

Posts tagged “salvation

Speaking of Jesus

Reviewed by Brittney

Just the Facts: by Carl Medearis. 187 p. Published 2011 by David C. Cook. Advanced review copy provided by Speakeasy in return for my honest opinion.  (Book excerpt read by Carl here).

Verdict: ★★★★★

Who Cares? Anyone who loves Jesus but finds Christianity frustrating.

Short Bio: Carl does his best to offend just about anyone who is attached to all the trappings of Christianity – but he does it with a sense of humor, a touch of reality, and with the obvious filter of being one of Jesus’s number one fans.  He challenges the traditional ideas of evangelism and salvation by pointing out not only their lack of scriptural foundation (especially when looking at Christ’s example) but also by laying out what most of us know to be true – they are terribly ineffective and often get the opposite result!

Carl makes the case that our current idea of “evangelism” is the result of believing we “win” people to Team Christian by convincing them logically that all the elements of Christian doctrine are true, but in the process end up having to defend a whole history of sinful and misguided actions committed in the name of Christianity.  He advocates that we have moved away from the heart of the gospel – that Jesus said he himself was the only way to come to God (relationship, not logical belief).  If you simply and joyfully point to Jesus rather than try to defend man’s religious version of Jesus’s message, you’ll witness some amazing things.

Eyewitness Account:  I LOVED this book.  I’m ashamed to admit that I could relate all to well with Carl’s many examples of how we can we get so distracted with Christianity (ooh, shiny!) that we sometimes miss Jesus.  In fact, although I would call myself a Christian, I found that Carl was definitely “evangelizing” to me – because I needed the reminder that it always boils down to how you respond to Jesus’s call to “Follow me”.

I loved how accessible and readable this book was – I could give it to a 5th grader, to my grandpa, or to my pastor.  Carl’s humor and humility are sugar that helps the medicine go down (I’m sure I annoyed my fellow bus passengers at several points by laughing out loud).  Ultimately, I finished the book excited and energized to know Jesus more and follow him more closely – which I think Carl would appreciate! (Apparently Carl and I are BFFs and on a first name basis – try reading his book and see if you don’t feel the same way).

Highly recommended, and I think that people of other faiths would also like this book!

Notable Quotes: 

“When we preach Christianity, we have to own it. When we preach Jesus, we don’t have to own anything. Jesus owns us. We don’t have to defend Him. We don’t even have to explain Him. All we have to do is point with our fingers, like the blind man in the book of John, and say, “There is Jesus. All I know is that He touched me, and where I was once blind, now I see.”

“We have an unfair advantage. We know the Creator. We’re friends with the King. We know where truth is found and its name. We know what brings life and what gives life and where eternal life resides. It’s not fair. While others are explaining and defending various “isms” and “ologies,” we’re simply pointing people to our friend. The One who uncovers and disarms. The beginning and the end of the story.”

“There is a place for doctrines and dogma and science and history and apologetics, but these things are not Jesus—they are humanly manufactured attempts to make people think that having the right ideas is the same thing as loving and following Jesus.”

” . . . Jesus can go toe-to-toe with anything.  There is no person in human history who holds a candle to Jesus.  When we make sharing our faith a war of ideals, we create casualties on both sides of the boundary.  We fight an “us versus them” campaign trying to show that our religion, our logic, our reason, our theology is better than everyone else’s.”

Other Books Read by This Author: None, but Tea with Hezbollah is on my list.

What are other people saying?  CNN Article on Carl’s Book (and its 73 pages of comments), Will’s Blog, Sister Chat, Rick Love  

Rating:

★★★★★ Writing Style

★★★★★ Organization

★★★★★ Original Idea

★★★★★ Page Turner

Overall ★★★★★


The Promises She Keeps

Reviewed by Brittney

Just the Facts: by Erin Healy. 352 p. Published by Thomas Nelson, February 2011. Electronic review copy provided courtesy of the publisher, through NetGalley.

Verdict: ★★★★

Who Cares? Adult Contemporary/Inspirational Fiction

Short Bio: Promise has made it her life goal to become famous as a singer, before cystic fibrosis finally claims her life and she is forgotten forever.  A series of “accidents” and the suggestion of a local gallery owner lead her to believe that she might have the power to evade death within herself.  She discovers the truth through an unlikely source – the powerful and self-sacrificing love of an autistic man.  Read the first three chapters here.

Eyewitness Account: I’ll ‘fess up, I picked this book out because of the cover. I just loved the moment it captured – and unlike many covers, this moment plays a huge part in the book! There are three reasons why this book deserves some loud props and a hearty recommendation:

1) Healy developed very good characterization through multiple storylines that all managed to support and enhance her main theme. She easily balanced about 5 main characters and several additional supporting characters without sending me back through previously read pages for “who is that person again?” Not bad for a 350 page novel!

2) I can’t stick this book in a genre! It has elements of many – coming of age, the supernatural, suspense/thriller, mystery, romance – without any one dominating in my mind. Better yet, it was a story that, although defying the normal and natural, felt completely believable to me.

3) I fell whole-heartedly in love with Chase, the autistic guy. I loved his thinking process and his narrative voice in the book, and of course the message of truth he brings to Promise. He’s going down in my book of favorite non-real people (right under Fred & George Weasley)!

Healy definitely knows her way around a story, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else she publishes!

Notable Quotes:

A longing fulfilled is a tree of life.  Draw the longing, for time is short.  Fill the heart, for days are full. All he could see were words, and then the meaning of the words disappeared and all he could see were strokes.  He saw the movement of a man’s hand gripping a grease pencil and forming each symbol, the sweeping and swooping of lines, the tight angels, the free flowing tails.  This was his father’s handwriting.”

“Can there be any greater accomplishment than saving a life? And maybe it doesn’t look like what we think it looks like — keeping the heart beating, keeping the brain alive.  I’m talking about the intangible stuff.  The reasons why a person gets up in the morning.  Because she wants to sing for the people she loves.  Or go to Paris with a friend.  Or take care of someone.”

“The promises of love are the promises you keep.  The promises of liars are worthless.  Throw those promises away.”

Other Books Read by This Author: This is my first book by Healy – she’s written a few with Ted Dekker, and another on her own titled Never Let You Go.

What are other people saying? 5 Minutes for Books, Thoughts From a Princess, Beyond the Bookshelf

Rating:

★★★★ Plot Development

★★★★ Characterization

★★★★ Writing Style

★★★★★ Original Idea

★★★★★ Page Turner

Overall ★★★★